Our Memom: In memory of June L. Smith

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Memom passed away two years ago today. 
Here is Memom and I are when I was only a few months old. <3

Not a day goes by where I don't think of her. Her spirit, stories, humor, feistiness and love are in my blood. I know a lot of people don't believe in spirits, but I do. I can feel her and sense her often. We both share a special gift, a sixth sense that even creeps me out!! (I know some of you will not believe me, but I have it. My mom calls me a witch all the time. She has seen it.) Sometimes when I day dream about her I sometimes feel her hand on my shoulder. There is something about her hands that I can invision them perfectly in my mind, as if they were held right in front of my face. I often see Memom in my dreams -- in my dreams she looks happy and healthy, the Memom I like to remember, not her during her final days. Many of the dreams are of me when I was a little girl, sitting on her lap as we rock back-and-forth in her rocking chair. As my head lay on her lap and she uses her hands to tickle my back, we sit there together as one and in unison, we sing together "I love you, a bushel and a peck. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck." 

I got this tattoo in memory of my Memom. It says "I love you. A bushel & a peck" with her initials J.S. at the bottom. 

Of course I have tons of memories of Memom but I thought it would be special to have other family memories express their feelings/memories/thoughts about June Smith; a woman who won over the hearts of many. Here is what they had to say.

Shelley Piccirilli (my mama, Memom's daughter) My mother was my best friend.  We played together and talked about everything.  She taught me to be strong and confident (as well as stubborn and always right).  Strong and confident has served me well.  The stubborn and "know it all" thing tends to make people really mad.  I miss her every day but especially at Christmas.  Growing up, we always had what we needed but not always what we wanted with the exception of Christmas.  Mom loved the holidays and somehow managed to make Christmas special every year.  I just saw an embroidered Winter Wonderland sweatshirt in size small which she would have rocked.  After all, she never wore an extra large!!!  What are you, some kind of a nut?!?! 

Missy Piccirilli (my sister) I think I miss Memom the most around Christmas. I loved how excited she would get about decorating. I loved looking at her mini Christmas tree ornaments. When I was a kid, I liked pulling the string on the big gold bell hanging in her dining room to make it play music. I miss her teaching me how to play Christmas songs on the organ and singing along with me. I miss her turkey cooked on the stovetop and crazy green stuffing at Christmas dinner, and her ridiculous excitement over pumpkin pie and my mom's sweetheart salad. My mom would make a huge gallon vat of sweetheart salad just for Memom, and she would eat it for days. My funniest Memom at Christmas memory is the year she wanted a leather jacket for Christmas. My mom bought her this really nice leather jacket, but it was a size or two too small. Memom loved this jacket and was going to make it fit. She went in to her bedroom to try it on, and when she came out wearing it, we realized that she had nothing on but a bra underneath. She was pissed when we told her that was really inappropriate for a woman in her late 70s to be wearing to the grocery store. My oldest son had the pleasure of knowing how awesome Memom was, and I am sad that my youngest two won't get to know her. Her spirit is still alive, though, and I am thankful for that. Her 1960's Elf on the Shelf is on my mantle right now, and I don't think a week goes by at my house without a Memom story or two. I miss her every day, but I feel like she's with me. I feel her spirit, her love, and her feistiness. And I hope my kids inherit some of her spirit too.

Jackie Smith (my cousin) Memories of Memom lead me back to some of the best times I can remember. Growing up, friends would brag about their mom mom, grandmom, nana or a nona. I remember always thinking that they were all the same, but I was special, because nobody had a Memom. All grandmothers are caring, nurturing and loving. Memom was all these things to me, but she was never like any other grandmothers that I knew. June was a rare breed, but she was also a Smith. Everyone knows that Smith's by nature have a penchant for entertainment and humor, and entertain she did. Everything Memom did or said was a grand story to retell or a memory being made. For example, even the most mundane things were made awesome just by her being her. The grocery store, boring to most, was exciting to us as kids. She would drive us to Genuardi's pretending to lose control of the car, and we would laugh and scream. We would scoot through the aisles while she gave the produce guy a  hard time for crappy tomatoes or a bad eggplant. She would spoil us with trips to Bradlees, Ports Of the World and the Mecca to all children under 12 Kiddie City. She would buy us Barbies, dolls and whatever else we had to have that week. During Summer she would skim the pool in her bathing suit, taking care not to get wet. We swam in the pool, but never made waves, we played outside and often tried to beat rampage on rainy days. Magic fries and diet Pepsi were a few of our favorite things.  I vividly remember learning how to tie my shoes while watching action news at 5pm- She taught me that. I still watch action news every morning and night, because my love of Jim Gardner was instilled at a young age. (Thank you Memom) I loved to watch her dance and sing around the house. She would tell stories and make up her own songs. She would let us sit on her lap, and watch General Hospital until we fell asleep. She was a comfort in my life growing up and could always make us smile. I inherited her wacky spirit as well as her humor and dare I say, shopping problem :) Her spirit is alive in all of us, and her presence was a staple growing up. There will never be another like her. Anyone who knew June, loved her. To all  those who didn't have the pleasure of knowing her, all I can say is "What are you, some kind of a nut?". 

Kathy Smith (my aunt) I guess it will have been 35 years or so that I first met this women.  Had to admit it was a little bit scary.  My husband Mark (her son) took me to meet his parents for the first time and we were getting married in a month’s time.  Why?  I tell you I still have no idea.  It could be because he had been engaged twice before… or maybe he was afraid of how I was going to react to a loud family!  LOL June was in the kitchen in her infamous (MOO MOO) puttering around.  Her husband Ken was in and out yelling at her (as he typically does) JUNE blah blah blah… JUNE…. God damnit June ..too funny but to me I was like what did I get myself into. Years later and after many family dinners, functions etc. I came to realize that this woman who is overbearing and hard to get to know was a wonderful woman.  Sure it took time but the time put in was worth it. To know her is to LOVE her.  She was funny, smart and always willing to do anything you needed.  Whether it was cosmetics, sweaters, books or toys for our kids.  All you had to do was visit. You never went home empty handed.  She always found the toys that the kids wanted at Christmas and the stores would never have by the time we got around to it.  And then she would say…. Here take this put it under your tree.  These grandkids of hers they had it made. I guess towards the end after Ken died she went a little wacky.  She was still a pistol and very funny.  One time Tyler (my son) had to use her car and took his friend with him to ask her. She told her daughter (Shelley) afterwards that Tyler came to visit with his friend and took her car away! She didn’t know who he was at first and her brother Bob had to keep telling her.  It’s your grandson June, Tyler!  We were very surprised she let him take the car. There are a ton of stories and all are full of fond memories and laughter.  I miss you June!  You were always good to me.

Jay Donis (my second cousin, he's in the camo shirt) One summer, Chris and I were hanging out in the backyard when we noticed a bee's nest on a tree in Auntie June's yard. Like normal kids (though I think I was over 20 years old by this point), we started throwing baseballs, softballs, and soccer balls at it. The bees did not like this turn of events and when we hit pieces of the nest they would fly around it, obviously agitated. We did not knock it down, but all of the balls we had ended up under the tree precariously close to the nest. While Chris and I decided what to do next, Auntie June just strolled out there under the tree and tossed all the balls back to us like it was nothing. She didn't even get stung. I think it showed what kind of person she was, she tried to help us, did her own thing whether it was the smartest decisions or not, and liked to be involved in what happened around the neighborhood. Oh, and with the balls back in our arsenal we did eventually knock the nest down.

Who invited the Santas?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Last night I headed down to XFINITY Live! for a random/adventurous night of drinks, socializing and fun with a few friends.  When I got there the place was dead, only about 10 people inside Broad Street Bullies pub -- a crew of dudes and two girls having a night out on the town.

After talking to an annoying New Jersey bartender who gave me her full life story about how she doesn't drink any drinks that are the color blue (this came up because the bar had a "trash can" special that equalled some blue liquid, vodka, rum and a Monster energy drink) I thought to myself 'welp, it's gonna be a long night if this girl keeps talking to me about Jersey, her hate for blue and some type of Skittles bomb.' ::In one ear, out the other::

What I was expecting to be a pretty calm night quickly took a 360 and fun was about to happen!!! As I'm sitting on the bar stool I hear a rowdy bunch come through the door. I glance, then quickly took a double take. All of these people were dressed in Santa suits. OOOOHHH hell yes, this looks like fun.

One drunk, two drunks, three drunks.... nearly 200 drunk Santas -- along with a few guys dressed up as Christmas trees, a few dudes as Buddy the Elf, a few slutty girls in Mrs. Claus outfits and a few chicks as reindeer -- came strolling in.

I spoke to one Santa who told me they were a group from West Chester that filled three charter buses and they were on a Santa bar crawl -- they were at Chickie & Pete's, then Xfinity, then to Manayunk, then I am unsure as to where next but I saw their buses later in the night in Olde City so they sure made their rounds. Santa also told me that all of the money from this group was towards charity. Well done, Santas, well done.

I wanted to make it a goal and sit on every Santas lap last night, but after seeing them all flood in I knew it was going to be impossible. I spoke to a few cute Santas and got two free beers out of it so I'll take it!!

I would like to say thank you to all you Santas for making a what I'm sure was going to be an average night into a true adventure. 

Kiss me under the mistletoe

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Like every day, I was on Twitter and Sara Vogel (I went to high school with Sara!!) she sent out a tweet that said "i don't know why, but i enjoyed watching this - Trending Mistletoe Kissing Prank bit.ly/W13hj2"

Something about the tweet had me intrigued and I'm sure glad I did. This is too cute. :) Here is the video she linked to.

Maybe it's because I'm a hopeless romantic, but that just made me smile. However, it now makes me wish I had someone to give a smooch to this holiday season. Any takers?!?! Also, being that these kids are BYU kids, I hope no one has mono/strep throat or all these fools are getting sick. #collegelife

Cheers and happy holidays!  

Ugly sweater photo contest, win $20 gift card

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Check out my last and final project for work. Good luck!!

Did you ever think wearing your ugly Christmas sweater could give you the chance of winning a $20 gift card? Well guess what, it's your lucky year! Ugly Christmas sweater parties have been one of the biggest trends over the last 10 years and we want to see your attire.

(L) Community Engagement Editor, Amanda Piccirilli, wears an ugly Christmas sweater, during the winter of 2008.

The Reporter is hosting its first ugly Christmas sweater photo contest, giving one lucky winner at random the chance to win a $20 gift card from Giant. (A perfect time with it being the holiday season and many hosting family/friends.) Submissions will be accepted now through Wednesday, Dec. 19 at noon. We will announce our winner and create a slide show of all submitted photos. The Reporter will also be making this a 'Town Center' page in our print addition.

Want to participate? Here is how: 

1. Take a picture (past or present) of you in your ugliest Christmas sweater.
2. Submit your photos -- feel free to email your picture to apiccirilli@thereporteronline.com; Tweet @Lansreporter using the hashtag #LansUglySweater; or post your picture on Instagram using the hashtag #LansUglySweater.
3. Please include your name and where you are from when submitting

Please remember, if you post your photos on Instagram, your account must be public or we will not be able to see your photos. 

Best of luck and we can't wait to see how ugly your sweaters are!

Tunes Tuesday: A New Found Glory in an old love

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Being a writer I feel as though I am strong at expressing things: emotions, thoughts, dreams, goals, whatever it may be. But there is one thing in life that for some reason words can not do justice; for some reason the feelings and passion that sits within my soul, my body, MY BONES, can not be expressed. And that is through music. Is anyone else like this? Can you simply not put in to words how much songs and lyrics mean to you? I find myself muted, unable to dialect what I am feeling as guitar rifts and drum fills fill my ear drums. But I am completely ok with that because my heart bursts and my body feels completely whole at the sounds of some songs and certain bands. It's my euphoria. 

On Sunday I had the chance to see one of my all time favorite bands, New Found Glory, at the TLA with my awesome cousin, Tyler. (Well, I kinda made him come with me because no one else was interested, but whether he was in or not I was either riding solo or he was going to be my partner in crime. He got a free ticket and cheesesteak!) 

Most people will read this and say to themselves, "Christ, these guys are still around?" Simple answer, YUP. I first got into NFG in 9th grade when my friend Kimberlee introduced me to these guys and I have been hooked for nearly 15 years. While I have been to over 10 New Found Glory shows this one on Sunday was super special because it was their Sticks and Stones 10th Anniversary Tour, so all they did was play songs from that album (and about eight others which were all classics!!) 
Instagram @ampiccirilli

Instagram @ampiccirilli

Instagram @ampiccirilli

Instagram @ampiccirilli

They played the album in its entirety, in the order it is on the record. Song after song they brought back so many memories: like my high school boyfriend and now good friend Mike and how we would write school notes to each other and include song lyrics, and like the time Mike, Aaron, Ashlee and I snuck down to the city on the train to see a show, and how these lyrics relate to current issues/relationships in my life yet the songs had different meaning to be 10 years ago. It's nuts!! 
Hahah this was from about 10 years ago where we snuck on the train to the concert, meet the entire band after the show and everyone signed my shirt. That is actually a LIGHT grey t-shirt which turned into heather grey from sweat. Cant believe I use to crowd surf and get in the pit. NUTS!!

Some of you may not give two shits about today's post but I can't help but have some much love for this post. For the album, for it's lyrics and so many emotions that are dear to my heart. So here is the album, check it out on iTunes or Spotify. There are definitely some songs you all know, always good to listen to an old throw back. I'm also including some of my favorite lyrics incase anyone is looking for a lyric to through in your Facebook status or Twitter feed, because lets be honest, we use social media as a way to express ourselves to make people think they know what is going on with you without you really having to tell them. 

Sticks and Stones (2002)

Track 1: Understatement "don't worry your pictures are already burned"
Track 2: My Friends over You <--- classic you alllll know
Track 3: Sonny "Every breath that you remember. Pictures fade away, but memories last forever."
Track 4: Something I Call Personality "Before you jump to conclusions about all the friends I have. Just remember they were born that way." 
Track 5: Head On Collision "And it feels like I'm at an all time low. Slightly bruised and broken from our head on collision." 
Track 6: It's Been A Summer "It's burning up in here, even though the bed is cold on your side. I'd rather die than spend this night here without you." [possibly my favorite song/lyrics from the entire album]
Track 7: Forget My Name 
Track 8: Never Give Up "Don't back down. I don't really care about before, before you met me."
Track 9: The Great Houdini 
Track 10: Singled Out
Track 11: Belated
Track 12: The Story So Far  "I can't remember the time or place, or what you were wearing. It's unclear about how we meet. All I know it was the best conversation that I've ever had. To this day I've never found someone, with eyes as wide as yours. I've been searching up and down this coast. Overlooking what I need the most." 

Hey YOU!! Love your 20s

Monday, December 10, 2012

My friends and I were chatting the other day about how Dec. 21 is suppose to be the end of the world while we were at a happy hour. Someone asked, "If this really is the end of life, would you be satisfied with what you have done with your life?" I was quick to jump at the gun and I said no. But you know, after sitting on it and looking at the past 25 years of my life, maybe I should have said yes. Or maybe I was right. 

Yes -- I've accomplished some pretty cool things that some people don't have checked off their list [played a Division I sport in college, was a collegiate  coach, ran a marathon, had a byline, been a maid of honor TWICE,  I'm an aunt.] But to be honest, I can't help but have this dark cloud over my head -- a feeling that there is lots I have not accomplished [I still live at home, no where close to being in a committed relationship, never been on a cruise, cant' pay my car insurance without help.]

I doubt I'm the only 25 year old doing this, but I'm often comparing my life to other people. I can't help but be a negative Nancy sometimes, filled with jealousy of how happy many of my friends are and envious that they get to go to THEIR home with their partner at their side each night.  I know I should not compare and I'm working on it -- but being in your 20s is tough. Who else is with me??!!??

One of my best friends, my ride or die girl, is my biggest cheerleader in life. She sees things in me that I don't even see in myself. (oh what I would do to see myself in her eyes for one day. Maybe that would give me a wake up call to life.) But anyway, she sent me this article by Shelley Armenta called '20 Things That Will Make Your 20s Even Better.' The article was featured on the website LOVE TWENTY

So for my fellow 20-something friends who should look on the brighter side a little more, here is a killer list to tackle. 

1. Step away from the computer long enough to get some fresh air.
2. Acknowledge moments of happiness and be grateful for them.
3. Invest in a good camera (or even a phone with a good camera) and take more pictures than you know what to do with. (I'm getting one for Christmas, woo hoo!!)
4. Pack a bag and get out of town. Travel as often as you can to wherever you can.
5. Make a point to spend more time with your friends and family in person. Texting, Facebook, and Skype are great, but nothing can beat sharing the same air with those you love.
6. Don’t let your mood or your self-worth be directly tied to your bank account balance. Money is important, but it is not everything.
7. Don’t let your mood or self-worth be tied to anyone else’s mood or self-worth. There will always be people who try to bring you down, but do not let them.
8. Never forget that while you are getting older your parents are, too. Spend time with them and always say “I love you.”
9. Spend less money on clothes and makeup and more money on experiences like concerts, trips, baseball games and dinners with friends.
10. Get a library card and use it. Time spent nourishing your mind and soul is never time wasted.
11. Find an activity you love to do that is good for your body. Dancing, running, yoga, kick boxing, cross training, roller derby and paddle boarding are some workouts that kick your ass but that you will have fun with, too. Win win? Win win.
12. Learn to accept yourself for who you are and what you have done in your life. Made some mistakes? Good. Learn from them and don’t look back.
13. Get some friends together and take a cooking class. Learning to cook well for yourself and others is a skill that all of us should have tucked away.
14. Educate yourself in politics. You don’t need to be an expert if you don’t want to, but you should know how you feel about big issues.
15. Start a gratitude journal. Spend a few moments every morning jotting down a few things that you are grateful for. Having a visual of all the good in your life will be an amazing thing to have when you are having a bad day.
16. Don’t be scared to fall in love, but remember to fall in love with yourself first. (been trying to work on this one for years!)
17. Learn to defend yourself intelligently. Fighting gets you nowhere. Name calling makes you look like a child. Whooping someone’s ass mentally is the way to go.
18. Walk away from relationships where you are treated like an option and not a priority.
19. Always be kinder than you feel like being. You never know what other people are going through.
20. Let go of the need to rush through life. When we are young, all we want is to be older. Pretty soon, we’re going to be wishing to be young again.

Website Wednesday: Crock pot paradise

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A slow cooker .... a crock pot .... whatever you shall call it, it's a genius invention! And that is exactly why crock pots are being featured today on Website Wednesday.

I was at work the other day and popping up on my Twitter feed I saw @crockpotgirls  is currently hosting a 30 Day Crock Pot Challenge. 

Intrigued by the Twitter post, I had to check it out. Sending me to their Facebook page, I had the chance to learn about all the rules: 

Rise to the 30 Day Crock Pot Challenge! Crock at least one dish every day for 30 days straight! 

Choose if you will make breakfast, lunch ,dinner or dessert on any day. 

1 - Post what you are crocking every day (here or on the Crock Pot Girl main FB page). We'll keep track and announce everyone who completes the challenge!

2 - If you are piling up with leftovers, I suggest that you make a dessert that day instead, a soup that you can freeze, or breakfast! 

3 - The crock pot just HAS TO BE CROCKING EACH AND EVERY DAY. 

4 - Repeat meals are permitted, as we all know, families have their favorites!

My personal opinion?? I think this challenge absolutely rocks!! I am a frequent crock pot cooker: just made roast beer on Monday, can make a mean pulled pork sandwich, and have yet to dabble with soups (although I think my first take will be a corn and chicken chowder yummmm yum!) I'm really looking forward to the day I get my own place so I can cook out of the little mini crock pots. Dinner for one, thank you very much :) 

While I know most of us missed the challenge, I think this could be something fun to try out yourself. It doesn't have to be 30 days straight, but maybe challenge yourself to cook a meal once a week in that crock pot you HAD to have on your bridal shower/wedding gifts. Try new meals, make your boyfriends/husbands/wives/girlfriends be your tester.

Being that she is the crock pot queen, here are some of Jenn Bare's crock pot recipes that I thought sound delicious. I also promised my bestie Ashley Raffle that I would give her some new ideas. Bon appetite!!

Main course: Crock Pot Fajitas 

Are you now drooling? No worries, her site is full of drinks, desserts, main dishes and much more. Enjoy! 

Monday Madness: Life is full of madness

Monday, December 3, 2012

I love how it’s time to post for Monday Madness and that is what my life has been all about lately – MADNESS. Pure madness. (This video goes out to you S.G.)

While life in general is a little crazy right now (which I am not going to get into), I had a bit of a curve ball to my Monday (well technically my Sunday, your Monday.) It was a day filled with appointments and plans, but a call at 7 a.m.  from my sister which has me playing Aunt Amanda the babysitter/caregiver/servant because Maxie is sick today.

Jack (L) and Max (R) -- I love these hambones! 

What started out as an okay start had us hit a bit of a speed bump this afternoon with Max getting sick, throwing up all over, me cleaning up both him, my car AND the driveway.  But so far, we’re ok again, him demanding more food because he’s hungry and me being told he’s ready for dinner (it was 2 p.m. when he asked for this.) He is back to his bossy 3-year-old self again so that is a good sign. Annndddd.... he's out for the count. Poor baby! :(

For my Monday Madness report, I tip my cap to single moms and dads all over the world; in particular my sister who is raising three beautiful kids.

Juggling work, schedules, sports teams, illnesses – I’ve seen you do it all, Missy, and I hope I am HALF the mom to my kids as you are to Jack, Max and Quincy.  Bless the hearts of parents, day care workers, school nurses and all other individuals who tend to children on a daily basis. These last seven months I have been more involved in my nephews’ and niece’s life more than ever, and it really has me appreciating parenthood and a real wake up call to the MADNESS of what being a parent is all about. 

Carrie Underwood blew me away

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Last Wednesday night I had the opportunity to see Carrie Underwood in concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia with my mom. I am happy to say that her "Blown Away" tour blew me away!!

My mom and I headed downtown early so we didn't have to deal with much of the after-work traffic. We cruised right down and made reservations at Broad St. Bullies Pub for dinner. Not going to make this into a food review but my take on Broad St. Bullies Pub: I was not impressed. I dealt with a sassy hostess the second we got there.  Our waitress was good, but the food was only ok. We got our appetizer with no silverware or plates, and we were basically finished by the time it arrived. My mom and I both got the Pattison Ave. burger. Our buns were not tossed at all so we had a burger on a bun that was SOAKED in butter. Pretty gross - easy to say I will not be going back there for food, drinks sure.

But on to the fun -- so after dinner we headed into Wells Fargo and before we knew it, it was show time. Hunter Hayes was the opener. The spicy little (yes, he's only 5'6") southern boy made teenage girls SCREAM their brains out with excitement. I only knew his song "Wanted" which he performed amazingly. While all of his songs were good, a song that stood out to me was "Everybody's Got Somebody But Me." 

Then it was on to the real star, Carrie Underwood.

She warned us right from the start of her show that if we have anywhere to be we most likely won't be getting there on time because she has a lot to sing and perform. Boy was she right. Carrie sang for nearly two hours and I am AMAZED at how she can belt out songs like this day in and day out.

She played old songs, she played new songs. She had the crowd energetic the whole time and she looked stunning with every wardrobe change. Granted, I didn't know every song of hers but I stood on my feet the whole time and had a blast dancing! I waited all night to hear "Blown Away" which she used as her finale song. (Obvi, this is what the tour is based off of)

I was able to grab a few photos and took a few videos. I hope you all enjoy :)

Sorry, I had to. This sweatshirt was tears! 

Website Wednesday: For the dog lovahs

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It’s the holiday season -- LET THE STRESS BEGIN!!

You have to figure out what to buy -- does your receiver already own it? Will it fit them? Did you spend enough money? Should I buy them something even though they won’t be buying me something? Maybe I should put down that fifth cookie… (oops!)

Picking out a holiday present is always tough but there is one person in particular who won’t give you any lip. YOUR PET!

My college friend, Michaela, is absolutely like me (in many ways: hobbies, interest, movie taste, etc.) but most importantly she has an unconditional love for animals, especially her two pups: Harold and Henry. (I'm determined to get Gatsby a play date with this dynamic duo, but shes in Pittsburgh. womp womp. But come on, how CUTE are they!!!)
Harold (L) and Henry (R)

She is a pet foster mama and is always willing to open the doors of her home to those in need. Michaela's heart is bigger than any other's I've ever met. 

She happened to introduce me to an amazing website- www.baxterboo.com - just in time for Website Wednesday.

If you’re looking for some holiday flare for your pets, this is a great place to check out! Sweaters, bow ties, hankies, you name it. 

What is also awesome and what I found to be amazing customer service technique, is that someone with the website contacted me via chat box to see if I needed help during my visit to the site. If that’s not customer service, I don’t know what is. Rock on, baxterboo.com, you’ve won my vote.

Have fun shopping this holiday season, but most importantly, don't forget man's best friend. They deserve to look just as stylish as you do and just as spoiled! 

I just bought Gatsby a holiday sweater this year, now we just need to find an Ugly Sweater party to attend :)

“Write drunk, edit sober”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A little over two years and four blogs later, I’ve decided enough is enough. I’m ready to blog what I want, what I feel, what I LOVE!!

For some reason I’ve always thought a blog and its title/content/expression needs to be on one topic; on one subject. Cohesive and consistent. But you know what, I’m over that thought.

I’ve had a total of four blogs now: one highlighting events, one highlighting my social media experience, one about my love for baking and my most successful blog that documented my training for my first marathon. 

This blog, my most recent, I’m going to be keeping it and sticking with it. I named it “Take Your Pic” for a reason – and that is exactly what I am going to be doing. I’m going to take MY pic(k) and write about what I love, what I enjoy, what I want to share, WHAT I FEEL.

A few months ago I came across the Ernest Hemingway quote “Write drunk, edit sober.” The day I read that quote, it really did change my life. I’m not going to go into my interpretation of this quote, but from experience (sad to admit) you usually say what you mean when you’re drunk. So here I am, drinking away on that funny cool aid!  

After talking over dinner with my friend Jessica Lawlor - who has an INCREDIBLE blog by the way – she said something to me that I took to heart. She said “You know what, I write about what I want. If people want to read it, GREAT, if not, they can always click off the page. It’s my blog and I’m going to do what I want.” AMEN SISTER.

So here I am, making a pledge today that this blog is going to have a bit of a transformation and HOPEFULLY more content, more frequently. I’m a true believer to trust your gut and that is something I should have done almost two years ago. For content (which is what I ORIGINALLY wanted to do) I’m a big lover of themed days: Mission Monday, Tunes Tuesday, Website Wednesday, Text Thursday and Fun Friday. (Why didn’t I just do this from the start, I’m not too sure.)

Of course there will be random posts, missed entries, lame weeks and completely random stuff on here, but so what, that’s who I am – LA DOLCE VITA!

Thanks to my bff Ashley for taking the photo, here I am getting my "La Dolce Vita" tattoo back in September 2010 in Baltimore. It's one of five tattoos I have. Did you know I have that many?!?!  SURPRISE! 

I’m ready for the new ride, the new feel, the new taste of expressing who I really am and what I really love to blog about. 

I will leave it up to you: “Take Your Pic” at what you want to read. 

Let it snow, let it snow!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

GUEST BLOG: 'Party in the U.S.A.'

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Everyone meet Donavan and Kyle. She is one of my beautiful and talented best friends and Kyle is her amazing husband! 

Donavan started her blog, A Marathon Runner's Wife, in July of this year to document Kyle's (and her own) journey as he prepared for his first marathon (which he KILLED the last weekend in October.) Now that the marathon is over, Donavan is still using her blog and I loved her post today.

For those of you who are looking for a fun read on this Election Tuesday, check this post out:


Tunes Tuesday, Volume 12

Happy Tuesday – and Happy Election Day! I don’t like to talk about politics (for many reasons!) but I do think that it’s incredibly important to get out and vote. People die every day for the right to democracy so I think that voting is something every American should do every time the opportunity is presented. And now I’m off my soapbox. :)
Although elections can be terribly polarizing, they also have a way of making me feel incredibly patriotic. Go figure. So, in honor of the good old U-S-A, I am dedicating this Tunes Tuesday to a real American song. A song that makes red, white and blue pump through your veins. A song that makes us all proud to be citizens of the greatest country in the world. A song by … MILEY CYRUS?
You think I’m kidding? I’m not. Today’s song is none other than “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus. You may be thinking, “She just called the election polarizing? What’s more polarizing than Miley Cyrus?” Well, save your opinions, friends – because we live in a democracy and I can like any song that I want. It’s my right!

For the full post click here 

Election 2012: @LansReporter building content from voters

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A helping hand to pick up after Sandy

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Since Monday, my coworkers and I have been listening to the community talk about the struggle they are facing as Sandy swept through our region - taking out homes, power lines, trees and affecting the lives of millions.

Post after post on The Reporter’s Facebook page we here “I’m out of power,” “I can’t get my medicine,” and “I lost all of my food!”

Some of my closest friends (both here in PA and NJ) and my coworkers were sitting in the dark and cold for DAYS, complaining about how awful it is and my heart ached with every conversation.
While I sat at my desk the other day, something inside me said ‘I need to do something to help the community, I need to lend a hand in any way I can.’

But how?

Then the light bulb went on. Here was my Facebook post at 3:20 p.m. on Wednesday: 

Readers – after talking with so many of you and hearing your struggles of power loss, The Reporter is opening its doors to our Community Media Lab tomorrow and Friday, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2. 

The Community Media lab is not fully renovated at this time (it will be having a complete transformation at the beginning of next year) but with a crisis like this, we know having access is much more important than not having it at all.

We have several laptops for your use to check emails, pay bills, etc. There are plenty of power cords to use to charge cell phones, laptops and other devices. If you are a group or organization that would like to hold a monthly meeting or gathering, please feel free to contact Community Engagement Editor, Amanda Piccirilli, at apiccirilli@thereporteronline.com to set up a time to use the space. 

If you would like to warm up for a while, please stop by The Community Media Lab which will be open on Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Please share with your friends.

With our Community Media Lab not fully updated AT ALL, I knew having this place open is better than not having any space available at all. We have plenty of plugs and plenty of resources.

So here I sit on Thursday in our Media Lab…

We did not have one person come in today and I am unsure about the result for tomorrow, but I hope the community knows both myself, and The Reporter, are there for them.

We are just like you all – just a normal person who lives in the community wanting to give aid - and this is the best way I can reach my hand out to support others (with plugs, computers and internet haha.) Just knowing people saw the gesture (which I can tell nearly 30 people did by “LIKES” on Facebook and whomever read it in print) really warms my heart. 

A Woman of Many Hats

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I've always been a dabbler.

Always trying to get my feet wet and try new things. Try a little of this and do a little of that (except foods, I'm a wuss when it comes to trying new foods, but I've got better over the years.)

And dabbling is exactly what I've been doing here in the work force at The Reporter. I can write. I can make videos. I can post to the web. I can interact via social media. I like to get involved in everything I can possibly do here in the newsroom. (More skills = more opportunities in my eyes)

So when the opportunity came up for me to take pictures this week because we are down a man with a photographer on vacation, I of course jumped all over it ... well actually Geoff volunteered me, but I didn't back away. I enjoy a challenge

Now, one may think 'how hard can it be to take a picture?' And I thought the same thing. I can be artsy and creative when it comes to photos. Here are a few:

However, yesterday was one of the most challenging things I've had to do in my career -- I had to go take photos of a high school field hockey game. I have NEVER shot pictures at a sporting event in my life, unless with my iPhone or on Instagram. Despite being a rookie and getting the opportunity to use the "big girl camera," the thought of failing never passed through my mind. My mind set was 'take lots of photos, something is bound to be usable.' I knew I've had decent photos in the past - I GOT THIS!!!

But I must admit, the 'doubt' and 'un-sureness' I know that a few of my co-workers had (I won't name names, but I know there were a few) really gave me some drive. I understand when there is a newbie you might question or be a little nervous, but negative energy is easily felt. Be positive because you may never know what will happen.

I can now check off 'be a photographer' off my bucket list after a very successful day of shooting at the Christopher Dock field hockey game on Tuesday afternoon. My arms are COMPLETELY sore from holding that camera. Woke up this morning feeling like I was in a boxing match and put two-and-two together realizing it was from the camera. (I'm weak, I know.)

So here you are, a taste of my photos from Dock field hockey yesterday. Excuse my sass, but I think I did a damn good job! Watch out Mark Psoras, I'm coming to get ya :) (Just kidding, Geoff hurry back!)

Everyone, meet Ashley!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Journal Register Company and Digital First Media own HUNDREDS of newspaper across the country. The Reporter, here in little old Lansdale, is one of few that we consider in the "Philly Cluster." Other papers include The Times Herald, The Mercury, Souderton Interdependent, Montgomery News and many, many more.

While interaction with the #JRC and #DFM world happens over Twitter, Facebook and email, I thought it's important to meet face-to-face with some of the other people in the industry, especially our sister papers that we interact with so frequently.

Everyone, meet Ashley Campbell. Ashley is the online editor and community engagement editor at The Times Herald in Norristown.

Ashley and I have been chatting back and forth for well over a month now and we thought we would finally sit down and chat about ideas in person.

With both of us being from Lansdale, we met up at a little bistro in town where we were able to chat about work, our roles, our success and what we both need to work on.

For both of us, we totally agree on the fact that photo submissions are a difficult at both our papers, much of which we believe has to do with the readership age range. But we will both continue to press on with using hashtags and email submissions.

The topic of Instagram came up and both Ashley and myself have created Instagram accounts for our newsrooms. Ashley said she sometimes uses her Instagram to show "behind the scene" glimpses at The Times Herald and she has been getting lots of feedback from that. I did the same thing a few weeks ago, posting a photo of our two photographers who were wearing the same outfit. We received SO much interaction on that photo. (I know what you think, 21 likes is nothing, but that is LOTS for a post on The Reporter's FB page.)

I told Ashley how we provided the user name and password to all of our writers/photographers so they can Instagram while they are out at a scene and she told me how a new photographer has been doing a great job of using Instagram. Slowly but surely, the Instagram world is stepping up!

However, when it comes to Instagram, we know the best interaction with the application is going to come from the people who use it the most -- the kiddies.

Ashley is in the works of creating a Instagram themed scavenger hunt for high school kids, with hopes to launch it next spring. She told me about the kids having to take 15-20 pictures of certain objects, use a specific hashtag and the team with the most points wins a prize - first, second and third place winners. Local businesses could become involved allowing their store as a location. I think this idea is absolutely genius!!! After she told me the ideas, I thought we could do the same thing here at The Reporter (with our four main districts) and then after all of the scavenger hunts are done, The Times Herald and The Reporter could have a finals where the first place winners from each school have a championship round. This will be a lot of work, but I think if both papers can pull this out, it would be a awesome tradition for the years to come.

The topic of Pinterest came up, and like The Times Herald and The Mercury, I have created a "Police: Most Wanted" board where we will post the pictures of local fugitives. The Mercury has great success, getting recognized in the national media for increasing arrests in their area because of their board. Way to go team!!!  Our executive editor, Ann Cornell, has reached out to the local police and hopefully this board will kick off soon!

With a few other ideas to bounce off each other, I would say Ashley and I had a nice visit and it was great to finally meet face-to-face. I hope we can get together soon, maybe next time with another community engagement editor in the area. 

Your pet photos > any other photo

Friday, October 12, 2012

I may be on the newer side of the journalism game and my feet haven’t been in the business long, but there is one thing I can confidently say since working in a newsroom -- PETS ARE THE ULTIMATE SUCCESS OF A PHOTO CONTEST! 

And to be honest, I’m not surprised about this at all.

I love my dog. My co-workers know my obsession with my dog. My friends make fun of me all the time. He’s my baby!  And truthfully, I don’t care if people poke fun at me for my love for Gatsby because he is the most loyal person (yes, he’s a person) in my life and I treasure everyday with him.

According to a 2011 study by the American Pet Products Association, there are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs and approximately 86.4 million owned cats in the U.S. If you ask me, THAT IS A WHOLE LOTTA’ LOVIN’!!!

Photos contests are starting to become an issue for me here at The Reporter with lack of interest and submissions. If there isn't an incentive, there is no interest. People want money, gift cards, books, etc.

However, I've found that every photo entry/contest I have held involving pets has been an overwhelming success. 

No price can be enough for man's best friend.

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