About Falon Ballard

Posts by Falon Ballard:

How to Rep Your Fandom and Still Look Cute

One of the best, hardest, most expensive parts of being a fangirl and embracing my inner nerd is the uncontrollable urge to buy all the things. Because nerd-dom is so popular these days, the merch is out of this world cute. And I need to buy all of it. I used to only rep my fandoms during fandom appropriate situations. If I’m going to see Star Wars, then I wear my Star Wars gear. If I’m going to Universal Studios, I wear Harry Potter. Etc. Now the nerdiness has spread, and I wear my fangirl goods all the time. There are some keys to dressing for your fandom without looking like a walking billboard for said fandom, and these are all “rules” I try to follow and recommend to all my fellow fangirls. However, the best thing about repping your fandom is that there are no rules. So read this and absorb, but in the end, do whatever the eff you want.

Falon’s Fandom Fashion Guidelines:

Accessories are queen. I was gonna write “king”, but let’s be real. Accessories are queen. I mostly stick to repping my fandom through my accessories. Of course I have plenty of fandom related t-shirts and even some sweatshirts, but for the most part, I keep it to jewelry and scarves. These are super cute yet subtle ways to show off your favorite fandoms. Most people will just see these accessories as another necklace or pair of earrings, but for those in the know, they will catch your fandom references, and hey, you might even make a new friend because of it.

Marauder’s Map scarf from Etsy, Harry Potter card catalog necklace from By the Book Boutique, Hogwarts is Home button from past Owl Crate box

Stick to one fandom at a time. Unless you are going to some kind of convention or nerd-dom extravaganza, I recommend picking one fandom to rep per outfit and sticking within that fandom. This has always been one of my pet peeves at theme parks. I hate when people where DC or Universal properties to Disneyland. I don’t like when people wear Disney stuff to Universal Studios. I think that has translated over to my fandoms. Each one is its own entity and it should remain somewhat separate. (I realize this gets confusing as Disney continues to buy everything on the planet, so the lines may blur, but for the most part, just pick one fandom per day and roll with it.)

Wonder Woman pin and Thor hammer necklace from Femme De Bloom, wood earrings from Vector Engraving, Avengers fabric from JoAnn

Wear only two fandom related items at a time. Again, unless you are attending a convention, the less is more rule is in effect. If you are wearing a Star Wars shirt, leggings, earrings, necklace, and scarf, it’s just too much. The point of this blog post and my angle on repping your fandom is that you should be able to do it every day and go about your normal life. In other words, you should be able to rep your fandom and still look professional and put together. So limit yourself to two fandom items per outfit.

R2D2 shirt from Target, BB8 wood earrings from Vector Engraving

Have fun and don’t be afraid to be yourself. I have had this Stormtrooper necklace for two years, and I had only ever worn it to Star Wars events. A couple of weeks ago I had  meeting with a new couple whose wedding I am planning. Normally I would have reached for one of my other, non-fandom necklaces,  but I decided to throw on this bad boy instead. I can almost guarantee that the majority of people I encountered that day just saw a silver necklace. And the ones who recognized it either didn’t care, or they loved it. I received a lot of compliments, and my bride even mentioned how much she loves my nerdiness. Win!

Stormtrooper necklace from Love and Madness

To reiterate, these are my guidelines for rocking your fandoms without being super over the top. You should wear whatever makes you happy and makes you comfortable. Don’t be afraid to show off your fangirlhood. Wear that shit proudly.

Product Links (these are not affiliate links, I just love these shops!):

Femme De Bloom      Vector Engraving      By the Book Boutique      Love and Madness

And some affiliate links because these fandom goodies don’t buy themselves:

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Embracing My Inner Nerd

If you’ve been coming around the blog at all over the past year or so, or even if you’ve been an avid reader from the beginning (hi Mom!) you may have noticed a recent shift in my nerdiness. And by shift, I mean I have fully embraced the nerd life and the nerd life has embraced me. To be totally clear, I have never been cool. I have been a nerd for my whole life. I was the kid who spent her birthday money on books and stayed up late reading under the covers with my flashlight. I will also fully admit to “begrudgingly” watching my brother’s TV shows and movies with him, because I secretly loved every second of MMPR (and if you don’t know what that stands for….well, you might not be a true nerd). But I have always been an internal nerd, hiding those nerd tendencies as best I could.

There has been a bit of a nerd revolution in the past few years, that has made nerd-dom cool. But perhaps the biggest shift in this new nerd perspective has been our attitude toward the female nerd. If I had worn a Star Wars shirt to school when I was a kid, I would have been ridiculed. I now probably own ten Star Wars shirts and I wear them all the time. Part of this is because of me not giving a fuck any more, but most of this is because it’s now fashionable to be a nerd.  Which is awesome. It does make shopping a hell of a lot more dangerous because I want to buy all the nerd things, but how amazing that there are so many cool things to buy. And not just for boys. There is nerd stuff in the girls’ section, and the women’s section, and the toddlers’ section, and even the pets’ section. Everyone now has equal nerd opportunity. What a time to be alive!

I honestly feel like I missed out on so much in my younger years because I never felt like I could fully embrace my nerd-dom. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, it was that my self-esteem (or lack thereof) would not allow me to to explore those interests. Even when I shifted my high school world from the cool (cheerleading) to the nerdy (theater), I still held back on my nerdiness. And this hold back went on for some time. When the Lord of the Rings movies came out, I saw them all multiple times in the theaters. A friend once asked me why I was going to see Two Towers again, and I told him I liked the movies because of all the cute actors. Now don’t get me wrong, that is 100% true. My love for Orlando Bloom runs deep to this day. But I didn’t love those movies just for the eye candy. I mean there are wizards and elves and trees that can talk! That shit is awesome!

Part of embracing my nerdiness and bringing it all out for the world to see has actually been a challenge because I now don’t know if I am nerdy enough. I mean, can I still love Star Wars as an adult even if I wasn’t an avid fan when I was a kid? Can I become a Marvel diehard through movies and TV shows, even if I never read the comics? The short answer is yes, yes I can. When The Force Awakens came out, I wrote this blog post about drinking the Star Wars Koolaid, and that may have been the trigger that released the torrents of my inner nerd-dom. Since then I have read Star Wars books, bought all the Star Wars merch, started a bookstagram, gotten two Harry Potter tattoos, co-hosted a fangirl podcast, and most recently, embarked on a challenge to watch the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe before the release of Avengers: Infinity War next May.

There is no denying my true self now. I am a nerd. And as time goes on, my nerdiness will continue to grow. And to that I say, fuck yeah. And if you want to embrace your inner nerd, I say fuck yeah to that too. Let’s get together and talk about our fandoms.

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Marvel Cinematic Universe Chronological Checklist

Guys, I am about to embark on a crazy adventure. Like I literally might be insane for attempting this challenge I am presenting myself with. But after seeing this most amazing trailer on the face of the Earth, I couldn’t resist…

Ugh, soooooooo good!

So, before Avengers: Infinity War drops in May, I am going to watch every film and TV show in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (from here on out referred to as the MCU). This is a daunting task, not going to lie, which is why I am starting this week and giving myself plenty of time to get it done. While I have seen several of the movies, I have not seen them all (Incredible Hulk, ew) and I have watched exactly zero episodes of any the MCU TV shows. So it’s a lot to take on, but I’m going to do it.

In order to keep myself on track, I created this checklist, mostly so I can stare at Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans while I attempt this madness. I compiled this list based on a bunch of other lists I found online that put everything in chronological order (mainly this one here from Cnet). Really my main goal with this whole project is to go into Avengers: Infinity War with a thorough understanding of the entire Marvel world. Because right now, it’s shaky at best, and so many things happen in the movies that I don’t understand. I want to have a firm grasp on the background and everything that has happened leading up to this point.

I will be blogging about my endeavors throughout this journey, and will definitely be tweeting and Instagraming as I make progress. I would love for you to follow along with me! And if you would like to join me in my crazy-dom, I am including a printable version of the checklist I am using for you! I differentiated the movies and TV shows with different colors so if you want to do just the movies, you can skip the TV shows easily. If you can’t commit to this list (which I would assume means you have a life, unlike me) then stick around the blog as I will be summing up the major plot points for you along the way. Click on the link below to download your own printable copy and definitely tweet at me and let me know how it’s going!


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What Teachers Really Want for the Holidays

Alright folks, if you have been hanging around this blog for a while, then you might recognize this post. I wrote the first incarnation of it a couple of years ago, back when I was still teaching, but I figured it was time for a refresher. And while I am no longer teaching, my husband and most of my friends still are, so this is a PSA for them!

First, the things teachers do want:

  1. Gift Cards: Most school districts have rules about teachers accepting cash, so a gift card is the next best thing. Teachers love gift cards, and this is hands down the best gift to receive from students. Some gift cards that are always a hit with teachers: Starbucks, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and of course, BevMo. True story, my husband had a student who brought him a bottle of wine for Christmas. That kid  (and his mom) was a hero. However, I’m sure many schools have rules against that kind of thing, so maybe just go with the BevMo gift card to be safe.
  2. Food: This is most of what my husband brings home, and I ain’t complaining. Baked goods, boxes of candy, if it’s edible, it’s usually a good gift. For the most part, any yummy goodies delivered to teachers will be eaten by them (and the lucky people who live with them), but even if they themselves don’t want to partake, they can pass the goods along to friends and family.
  3. Something Personal: I feel like there should be a big ole asterisk next to this one because it should be used sparingly. When I was teaching theater, I had a more personal relationship with my students than when I was teaching English simply because I spent way more time with them. They knew me as a person (as did many of their parents), not just as a teacher. Many of them got me awesome personal gifts over the years (mostly Disney related) and I still have all of them. Some of my favorites are a Walt Disney quote necklace, Disney ornaments, and a baby blue stuffed Mickey Mouse for Squirt.  If you are going to venture into the something personal category for a teacher, make sure it is thoughtful and from the heart.

And now for the hard part, the things teachers really don’t want. Yes, I know, it’s the thought that counts, but the thought should be about the receiver, not the giver, and I’m just trying to save you a little money, and save teachers the guilt they feel when they toss student presents in the trash.

  1. Lotions/body washes/anything to be used in the bathroom: This seemed like kind of a go-to gift when I was teaching. For the most part, I don’t mind these gifts, but it got to the point when I had so many that I started re-gifting them. I can only use so much lotion in one year. I also got to the point (when I was making more money) where I could afford to buy the lotions and scents I wanted on my own, and so the holiday gift sets became a total waste. Also, just a reminder that some people have sensitivities to scents, or to beauty products, so a lot of the Bath and Body Works combos are given away or trashed.
  2. Anything you saw on Pinterest: Oh Pinterest, you have done so much good for the world, and yet caused so much pain. Teachers DO NOT want any craft made from crayons, pencils, or any other school supplies. Teachers do not need monogrammed signs shaped out of rulers. Teachers do not want homemade body scrub in a Mason jar. Teachers do not need Christmas ornaments made out of popsicle sticks. By the time you buy all of those craft supplies, you could have just gotten them something they actually want. The only acceptable thing to craft from Pinterest is a cute gift card holder (see above). Seriously, back away from the Pinterest.
  3. Anything that includes a framed picture of your child: Chances are, that’s the child your teacher might want to forget. #sorrynotsorry

Alrighty folks, there you have it, the blunt, honest truth. Please, please, please save yourselves and your kids’ teachers a lot of trouble this year and go for the gift card. Teachers work hard, and they deserve the very best for the holidays. Give them what they want!

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Festival of Holidays

Festival of Holidays is back at California Adventure, and last week Brianna and I ate our way through a whole bunch of it. We will be discussing the Festival in detail on next week’s podcast, but for now, here are some of my preliminary thoughts.

In general, the Festival is much more appealing to me personally than last year’s. There are more food choices that aren’t quite as adventurous as last year, and the drink options seem to be much better (read stronger, and real alcohol) than the previous Festival. I actually bought the AP Sip and Savor pass this year because I am planning on trying way more items than I did last year. Here’s what I’ve had so far:

This is the pomegranate margarita. I actually bought this at Bayside Brews, but they also have a version at one of the Festival booths. It was yummy, and strong, and didn’t taste like a pre-made margarita, so win.

We sampled both offerings the Winter Sliderland booth. This is the turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing, and it tasted like Thanksgiving on a bun. I am not a huge fan of Thanksgiving turkey, but it was so moist and flavorful. This was Brianna’s fave.

I preferred the ham slider with pineapple relish. This was available last year and I loved it then and I love it now. The ham is so yummy, and the combo of the ham with pineapple is delish.

This might be my favorite new offering this year, the pomegranate mule. It was ah-mazing. Seriously, such a yummy cocktail, and it tasted strong, so bonus. The rosemary is the perfect addition.

We of course tried the mac and cheese from the Holiday Duets booth, and it was just okay. It was a little bland and needed some salt for sure. It would have been vastly improved with a kick of spice like jalapeno, or just something a little more flavorful. But I do think this is a bigger portion than last year so that’s good.

The mac and cheese, pomegranate mule, and these adorable cookies are all at the Holiday Duets booth. I mainly got these cookies because they are so stinking cute, but they also tasted yummy!

And we obviously had to try the mimosa flight from the Making Spirits Bright booth. They were all delicious, but my favorite was the white cranberry. I would drink that all day ery day.

I still have quite a few items to try before the Festival ends. Have you checked out the Festival yet? What should I try next?

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Thor Ragnarok Might Just Be My New Favorite Marvel Movie

After a somewhat heated discussion with Brianna on last week’s podcast about the awesomeness that is Thor Ragnarok, I decided to take some action. Brianna seemed to think the movie was overrated, particularly because Thor is not a witty humor/fun music kind of superhero. I couldn’t fully disagree because I didn’t have enough background knowledge, but I have since completed my research.

First, I watched Thor: The Dark World. And by watched it, I mean I left in on in the background while I was getting ready to go out because the fifteen minutes or so I actually watched of it was boring AF. Sorry Natalie Portman, I love you, but Jane is a flat character and I was so not into it. Then I rewatched Avengers Age of Ultron, which I had not seen since I saw it in the theater. And while I have always paid attention to and appreciated Thor (you so pretty), he was never my favorite Avenger, because hello all the eye candy. But this time, I paid close attention to Thor, and I think Ultron is the set up for Thor Ragnarok. Thor is much more sarcastic and witty with the Avengers than he is in his standalone films. And at this point we all know that audiences like their superhero action flicks with a dash of humor (thanks Guardians of the Galaxy!). So when you watch the Avengers and Ragnarok back to back, Thor makes sense. His character has evolved since the original Thor movies, and since the evolution has brought us hilarity, I’m okay with it.

I went to see Thor Ragnarok in theaters for a second time to complete my study and prepare my final arguments. And guess what? It was just as funny and entertaining the second time around. I literally saw this movie twice within eight days, and I liked it just as much the second time as I did the first. So here is my dissertation on the cinematic masterpiece that is Thor Ragnarok.

Chris Hemsworth. This is the most obvious piece of evidence in support of this film, so let’s just start here. Chris Hemsworth is possibly the most good-looking man ever to have been in a movie (sorry Richard Madden, I still love you endlessly, and you’ll always be my Prince Charming). Thor has always been hot, but in Ragnarok, he is beyond. The muscles, the haircut, the war paint. It is all working for me. Like soooooo working for me. Yum.

Also, everyone else in the movie. Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, and Tessa Thompson are the notable newcomers, and they join an already stellar crew that, along with Hemsworth, includes Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Mark Ruffalo, and Benedict Cumberbatch. These Marvel films are killing it with the casting and everyone was fabulous.

The music. The soundtrack for this film is on point. The music is always a highlight in Guardians, and I loved that they brought the same sensibility into Thor. The rock/80’s vibe worked with this movie because of the settings, and it was rocking.

Girl Power. Tessa Thompson as the alcoholic badass warrior trying to escape her past is effing awesome as Valkyrie. But as much as I loved her, Cate Blanchett was absolutely phenomenal as Hela, the Goddess of Death and Thor’s long lost sister. First of all, Cate looks like she is 25, which is just not fair. And on top of that, she is ferocious and fierce and terrifying and I loved every minute of her performance. I love having a female villain and she nailed it.

The settings/backgrounds/graphics, etc. Sakaar, the new planet Thor ends up on, is super cool looking visually. I loved the costumes, the colors, the vibe, the characters, everything. The bright colors of Sakaar and the Bifrost Bridge really work with the humor and soundtrack of the film.

I laughed my ass off. Both times I saw this movie, I was laughing out loud at multiple points. As funny as I found it the first time, it was the fact that I found it equally as funny the second time that impressed me. A lot of times with action type movies, the humor is a one and done, and doesn’t hold up after multiple viewings. This is so not the case with Thor Ragnarok.

Brilliant fight scenes. The final battle was by far my favorite, but all of the fight scenes were very well done. There was something really visually appealing about watching a battle on a rainbow bridge, so that was the standout for me, but as usual with Disney and Marvel, the fight choreography was beautiful (not as good as Wonder Woman, but that’s to be expected).

Brotherly love. As someone who has not really seen the previous Thor films, my experience with Loki is limited to the Avengers, but one of my all-time favorite lines from the brothers is Thor’s quip in the first Avengers about Loki being adopted. Even though Loki had some moments of bad little brother in the film, it was cool to see Thor and Loki fighting on the same side. I guess all it takes to bring brothers together is a psycho sister.

Did I mention Chris Hemsworth? Seriously. So so pretty.

In conclusion, while Guardians of the Galaxy is always going to be up there as one of my favorite Marvel movies, I think that all together, Thor Ragnarok might have it beat (by just a little bit). I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, and guess what, I would consider seeing it in the theater again. I didn’t even see The Force Awakens in the theater three times, so that should tell you something. Even if you take the gorgeous man out of Thor (but please don’t ever do that), I think the other fantastic elements would make it a movie worth watching.

Have you seen Thor Ragnarok yet? What did you think?


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I Had a Shitty Day and Was Reminded I Am #Blessed

A couple of Fridays ago, I just had one of those days. At my wedding rehearsal, the mother of the groom was, to put it nicely, a bitch to me for no reason. I left Malibu at 5:00 on a Friday night. The Dodgers were playing in the World Series and I was stuck in my car.

It sucked. So I decided to pull off the parking lot that is the 101 on a Friday evening and find a bar with a TV and beer. Islands was the closest thing I could find, and though I mostly try to stay away from chain restaurants, I figured I might as well park it for an hour or two and let traffic die down (haha). I walked into the bar, found a table with a perfect view of the game, and ordered myself a beer. The waitress carded me, which was ridiculously unnecessary. I am 34. I do not look under thirty. And I was dressed for a rehearsal, which means I actually did my hair and make-up and was wearing something other than jeans and a T-shirt. I showed her my license, and she informed me it was expired. I told her I know, I already paid the fee, I just haven’t gotten my new one yet, but here is the paper that says I paid it and it’s renewed. She then told me she couldn’t serve me a beer because it was illegal. First of all, no, it’s not. Second of all, you didn’t need to card me in the first place, you were just trying to suck up. And now, I’m leaving. And also, I would have been the easiest $5 you made all night. And when I left the restaurant, it was 0-0; mere minutes later the Astros scored four runs and won the game. So basically this dumb waitress is the reason we lost the World Series.

But I digress (shocker). All in all, it was a shitty day. I was talked down to, denied my beer, missed my Dodgers, and sat in traffic for two hours. But by the time I got home, I was over it. I drank some wine, watched some crappy TV, and moved on with my life. As I’m writing this post, weeks later, I am totally detached from the events of the evening. In the grand scheme of life, it was all a bunch of petty bull.

And that’s when I realized (or remembered really, not like it’s the first time I’ve figured this out) that I am hashtag blessed. When I was teaching, I had more than one day that ended with me pulled over on the side of the road, hysterically crying to the point where I was unable to drive home. The bitchy parents and administrators I dealt with on a daily basis made the bitchy mother of the groom look like a saint. And how lucky am I that I was able to walk away from that situation? I now have a career I love, one that allows me the freedom to enjoy my son, enjoy flexibility with my time, and enjoy the people I work with. A career that stokes and inspires my creativity instead of crushing it.

So even though I had a shitty day, it was one of few these days. And I didn’t end up huddled in my car sobbing, so it really wasn’t all that bad. It didn’t leave me emotionally scarred, and by the next day (even with MOG continuing to be a bitch) it was over and done with and I was perfectly happy.

So thanks shitty day, for reminding me of all that I have, and how great my shitty days of present are compared to the shitty days of the past. I really am #blessed.

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