About Falon Ballard

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Down to Fangirl Show Notes: Episodes 8, 9, and 10

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Okay, I know that I have really been sucking at keeping up with the show notes, but I’m going to try to do better, I promise! I have three episodes worth of goodies for you, so hopefully that will make up for the major delay. And if you haven’t already listened to the most recent episodes of Down to Fangirl, check them out!

A couple of weeks ago, we talked about our August book club book, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Check out Episode 8 of the podcast for all of our thoughts, but suffice to say, Brianna and I both loved it. We also celebrated Harry Potter’s birthday with some HP themed games, because you can never have too much HP.

                              

On Episode 9, we talked about A LOT of books, all of which are pictured and linked below. Check out the episode for specifics on what we thought of each one!

              

We also gave shout outs to two of our favorite podcasts, So Many Damn Books (Brianna) and Bitch Sesh (Falon).

We also announced our book club pick for September, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, which we’ll be discussing on our September 5th episode.

On our most recent episode, I talked about the fun read One of Us is Lying, and we talked about two new shows we’ve been watching: Friends from College (B) and Bachelorette (me). If you see a theme with our podcast/TV show choices, you’re beginning to catch on. And I of course have to mention the highbrow musical stylings we’ve been taking in: Biggie’s Greatest Hits and “Perm” by Bruno Mars.

             

Thank you for checking in to see our show notes! Don’t forget to download, subscribe, and leave us a review!

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Owl Crate Subscription Box: July

Guys, I am soooooo behind on my monthly posts it’s not even funny. But I’m still going to post them anyway because that’s how I roll. So I received my July Owl Crate more than two weeks ago, and I had some high expectations for this box because the theme was Wanderlust, which I love. For the most part, I liked everything in the box, though it maybe wasn’t as pretty or cutesy as I expected it to be. But that’s okay, because I still scored some cool loot! Here’s what I got:

The book for this month is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee. I have to say, this is maybe the best author letter I’ve ever seen in an Owl Crate. So cute and fun and it made me want to dive into the book. Which I haven’t yet, but hopefully will soon!

Two of the items I was kind of eh about were this owl luggage tag from Mudpuppy and this pocket mirror from Miss Phi. I haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic yet (it’s on my miles long list) so that one didn’t resonate with me personally. I did love this little notebook from Ooly. It reminds me of one of my favorite places, New York, and I am a sucker for tiny journals.

By far, my favorite item this month is the Newt Scamander Funko Pop keychain. I already have the Niffler one, so they make the perfect pair! I also really like the Lord of the Rings inspired backpack from the Owl Crate team, though it is probably not something I will use myself.

 

The book and the Newt keychain sold this month’s box for me because they are both so cool. The theme for next month is Something Wicked This Way Comes, which just happens to be one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite plays, so suffice to say, I’m stoked for it! If you are interested in checking out Owl Crate for yourself, please use my affiliate link! Happy reading!

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What I Read: July

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So I legit just almost titled this post What I Read: June because that is how crazy the past couple of months have been. I mean, I knew wedding season would be zero weekend freedom, but I was not prepared for the onslaught of meetings, walk throughs, and rehearsals I would be faced with during the week. In short, summer has flown the eff by. And now Matt is back to school, which means my days are filled with attempting to work and hang with the kiddo, which is not always the easiest combo (shocker). So yeah. That’s my long-winded excuse for being so behind on posts ;o)

But now, onto the reads! I managed to knock out five books in July, which considering how busy I was, is pretty damn good. And they were all relatively enjoyable reads, so bonus!

The Return by Kelly St. Clare: I was provided with a free copy of this novel in exchange for my review. I previously read the first book in the series, The Retreat, and for the most part, enjoyed it. I didn’t love the sequel as much. The characters felt very forced and the dialogue was extremely cheesy and fake. I still loved the sci-fi concept behind the series, but this book was not as well executed as the first. Also, while I LOVE supporting independent authors who self-publish, I cannot handle the spelling/grammar/formatting issues that come along with most indie books. My English teacher brain shuts down.

The Program by Suzanne Young: I talked about this book on the podcast a few weeks ago. I really loved the entire concept overall, and it is very well written. I’m a sucker for a good futuristic/dystopian novel and this one was really interesting. It does deal with suicide, so I would urge everyone to check out the summary if you have any trigger issues. But definitely a thought-provoking read to say the least.

The Siren by Kiera Cass: I really only picked this one up because I enjoyed the Selection series so much. This was a good summer read: easy, fun, romantic, and light. Cass noted in her acknowledgements at the end of the book that she actually wrote Siren before the Selection series, but wasn’t able to find a publisher. It wasn’t until the popularity of her series that she was able to get this book published. It definitely reads like a first novel, but at the same time, Cass has such great style that it’s an enjoyable read.

Champion by Marie Lu: After struggling a little with Prodigy, I was so happy to read and love Champion. I loved the ending of the series, even though I cried my eyes out. It was such a moving and emotional end that it really cemented my love for the series as a whole. I highly recommend starting with Legend and reading the entire series.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: I LOVED this book. In fact, I finished the rest of the series already, though technically they were August reads. Such a great concept, and Aveyard’s writing is amazing. Her battle scenes are some of the best I have ever read and I was enthralled by the details in her writing. We talked about the final book in the series, King’s Cage, on the podcast last week so if you’ve already read the books, go listen to hear all my thoughts!

All in all, a pretty awesome month of reading! I’ve already knocked out three books this month, and I am aiming for three more, so come back next month to read all about them!

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12 Things Your Wedding Coordinator Wants You to Know But Probably Won’t Tell You

As I’m sure you all know, we are in the throes of wedding season, which means I am bus-y. I am coordinating weddings pretty much every weekend this summer and as I realize in these busy times, there are a lot of things wedding coordinators want to (and maybe should) tell our brides. But we don’t because some of it sounds kinda bitchy. In fact, I am hoping that this post doesn’t piss off any of my current or past brides who may see it. But the truth of the matter is, these are tips that can help brides have an awesome wedding, and thus, I have decided to share them with you. Hopefully, it will help! (And to any of my former or current brides reading this, I love you all!)

Whatever you do, do not lie to your wedding coordinator. Think of your coordinator like your doctor. Lying to her is only going to hurt you. I have had several weddings where brides fibbed about the scope of work that needed to be done in terms of set up. I’ve had brides tell me other vendors would be responsible for set up, only to have said vendors show up, drop off and leave. I make my plan for the day of your wedding based on the information you give me. If you give me incorrect or incomplete info, I can’t do my job to the best of my ability. Be honest about what is going to need to be done on the day of so that I can insure I have the tools/hands needed to make it happen.

Trust your vendors to do their jobs. It’s really hard for wedding pros (or any pros for that matter) to do our jobs when we are constantly being bombarded by family members or bridesmaids questioning whether or not we are going to do our jobs. All the time it takes for us to reassure those family members and bridesmaids is time taken away from us actually working on your wedding. One example: I was coordinating an outdoor wedding and the day before it had rained. The chairs at the ceremony site all needed to be wiped down. I saw this immediately upon arriving at the venue and promptly added it to my to do list. The mother of the groom–at three different times throughout the set up–asked me to clean the chairs. Each time, I assured her it would get done. Each time, I had to stop what I was doing, explain to Mom that it was on my list, and then return to my task at hand. I understand that in highly emotional times, people can get a little frenzied, but you gotta trust the pros to do what we’re being paid to do. And if, for whatever reason, you don’t trust a pro, don’t hire them. Period.

If I ask for something, it’s because I need it to do my job. I have been doing this for a while now (six years). I know exactly what I need in order to have a smooth wedding. I send a checklist to all my brides a month before the wedding with everything I need from them, including two specific forms that need to be filled out. I can’t tell you how many times I don’t get everything I asked for. I’m asking for these items to make sure your vision is fulfilled. If you don’t provide me with the info I need, I can’t do that.

Family members and bridal party members are rarely as helpful as they think. This might sound harsh, but for real, sending your entourage to “help” with set up usually does more harm than good. Things they can help with: unloading/loading boxes from cars, moving/setting up furniture…..that’s about it. I don’t need a groomsman to attempt to arrange the gift table, because chances are I’m going to have to go back and redo it later (however, I am always uber grateful for groomsmen who help with load out at the end of the night!). Set up goes much more smoothly when (usually) well-meaning helpers stay out of the way.

I can’t control the elements. I am lucky to live and work in Southern California, where over my six year career I have had one wedding rained out (as in, was planned for outdoors and had to be tented as there was no other option kind of rained out). Wind is typically the biggest weather issue we face in So Cal and it can mean knocked over centerpieces, flyaway place cards, and flipped up linens. Unfortunately, there is not much than can be done to combat the wind, so sometimes you just have to go with the flow (get it?) and accept the weather for what it is and whatever limitations it may cause.

Please don’t tip everyone but me. It sucks. As most wedding vendors will tell you, I don’t really expect tips. I would say that at least half, probably more, of my couples do tip, which is amazing and I am grateful every time. However, more than once I have handed out a tip to every other vendor–DJ, photographer, bartenders–only to be the only vendor (the first to arrive and the last to leave vendor) not to receive a tip. You don’t have to tip, but if you do, don’t exclude just one person (especially not the person handing out the tips to everyone else).

Speaking of tips….I can’t tell you how many times I have had to hand over an envelope of cash to a vendor who didn’t deserve it. Part of my job is to make sure you, my couple, think the day runs seamlessly, but many times behind the scenes things aren’t so pretty. I’ve had vendors show up hours late. I’ve had vendors drunk on the job. I’ve had vendors treat me, other vendors, and venue staff like shit. And unless something really terrible happens, I’m not going to tell you about it. Ever. Not even after the wedding. I would never want to ruin your image of your perfect day by telling you the gritty details of what happened out of sight of you and your guests. My suggestion: tell your day of coordinator to award tips at her discretion. Then appoint a friend or family member to collect any unawarded tips at the end of the night. That way your friends/family can give you your money back at a later date without ruining your wedding high, and only vendors who have earned a tip receive one.

If you aren’t going to be organized, you don’t get to be picky. 90% of the weddings I work are solely day of. While any coordinator out there would tell you “day of” doesn’t just mean on your wedding day, it does mean that I am not a part of your planning or your conversations with other vendors along the way. If you are not organized with your instructions for me, or your actual stuff (think guest book, centerpieces, place cards, etc.) is not organized, then you don’t get to be picky about how things look. My general motto: You can give me thorough instructions and I will set up your wedding exactly how you want me to, or you can give me no instructions and I will set up your wedding how I want to. Honestly, both of those options are fine (I actually enjoy having control of the decor as that is the fun part of my job). What you can’t expect to be is unorganized in your preparation and super picky about how things turn out.

Prep your stuff. Again, this pertains mainly to  couples hiring day of coordinators. I am seeing your decor for the first time on the day of the wedding. When I open the boxes to set up your stuff, said stuff should be ready to go. That means tags cut off, stickers removed, items unwrapped from individual plastic wrapping, etc. Also, ALPHABETIZE YOUR PLACE CARDS. It can take an hour of set up time for a large wedding guest list to alphabetize all of those place cards. I don’t plan for that, so when it happens, it puts me way behind schedule.

If you choose not take my advice, don’t get mad at me if it doesn’t work out. I will answer any questions my brides have about planning and I give my opinion freely (when asked). They are then free to decide whether or not they want to take my advice. Honestly, I don’t even get mad when my advice is not taken. It’s your wedding, do what you want. What I am not cool with is being blamed for something that happens when I advised against the situation in the first place. One example: I always recommend that place cards and/or seating charts be set up in the cocktail hour area. That way guests have the whole hour to find their seats and there is no back up when people move from cocktail hour space to reception space. Many brides want to put place cards and seating charts right at the entrance to the reception space. If that’s what they want, then that’s what I do. But then don’t get snippy with me when there’s a line of a hundred people waiting to find their names, thus pushing back our schedule and making everything else run late. And yes, in those instances, I am saying I told you so in my head.

Get everything in writing. If you have a conversation with a vendor and they tell you they will do something extra or something not in your contract, get it in writing. And then send it to your coordinator. As vendors, we have a lot of conversations with a lot of couples, and if we promise to do something out of our normal pattern, we might forget. If I have it in writing, it is much easier to make sure you get everything you were promised.

Realize that at the end of the day, if you are married, you had a successful wedding. This is my number one motto when it comes to weddings. We often forget what the day is really about. Yes, you’re spending thousands of dollars on this party, but the most important thing you are doing on your wedding day is getting MARRIED. If that happens, then you had a good wedding. Maybe things went wrong along the way and the flowers wilted and the place cards blew over and everything was an hour later than it was supposed to be. In the grand scheme of life, none of that matters. If you find yourself freaking or stressing out on the day of, think about the real reason you are there. And let your coordinator take care of the rest ;o)

In Southern California and looking for a kickass wedding coordinator? Please check out my website and send me an email! I’d love to work with you!

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Game of Thrones at Library Bar

This past weekend, Matt and I were invited by some friends to attend a viewing party at Library Bar in downtown Los Angeles. When you combine books, Game of Thrones, and booze, I am a happy camper, so we obviously jumped at the chance. I had never been to the bar before, mostly because it is downtown and getting there and parking is a pain in the ass. However, because it was Sunday, the drive was less awful than it normally is. As soon as we walked in, I fell in love. If I didn’t have a kid, and a job, I would spend every weekend hanging out at this bar. It’s the best, and I seriously wish it were closer to my house.

We arrived around 4:30 to get spots for the 6:00 Game of Thrones (they also show the episode at 9:00 and 10:30). While we were some of the first ones there, I’m glad we got there early because we got an awesome spot. For my first drink, I ordered the Tequila Mockingbird, for obvious reasons. It was super tasty, though the spicy “rim” that was actually all over the side of the glass was a little inconvenient. Next time I will ask for it as just a rim. But the drink itself was super yummy.

At around 5:00 they started serving their themed Game of Thrones drinks. Between everyone in our group, we tried them all, and they all got positive reviews.

This one is the Mother of Dragons. It tasted similar to a pina colada. It was good, but it wasn’t my favorite of all the ones I tried.

This one is the Blood and Fire. Epic failure on my part, I was not ready with my camera at the bar, because they actually light the sprig of rosemary on fire. I’m always down for a little spectacle with my cocktails, and as a bonus, it tasted great! I would definitely order this one again.

Matt and I split the fried chicken sandwich, which was very tasty. The fries were the best part though, they had a great seasoning. This is definitely the kind of bar that has good, but pricey snack type foods. We split the sandwich and then ate another snack when we got home.

They show Game of Thrones on one big main screen and one other smaller TV. We had a great spot since we got there so early, but it did seem like most people in the bar had a decent view of the show. They also showed the previous week’s episode, though they didn’t turn the sound on until the new episode started. I was a little worried about watching the show in a bar with a big group of people, but it was actually better than expected. A couple of people were talking, but for the most part, everyone paid attention and no one was too obnoxious. We did go home and watch the episode again, but I always do that so I can do my notes for the podcast.

I am so happy I discovered Library Bar. I will 100% visit there again, and I would definitely check out another Game of Thrones episode there in the future. How do you feel about viewing parties? Do they enhance your experience or take away from the show for you? Let me know!

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Down to Fangirl Show Notes: Episodes 6 and 7

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Hi friends, and sorry I have taken so long to get these show notes put together! But thank you so much for checking out the Down to Fangirl podcast! We’re going to cover two episodes in one post here since I am so behind. We’ll start with Episode 6, which aired way back on July 19th. Here’s what we covered:

Our current reads were The Siren by Kiera Cass (Falon) and Graceling by Kristin Cashore (Brianna). I have read both books, and they are both great reads.

                                                  

Brianna mentioned how much she is loving the new Anna Faris podcast, hilariously titled Anna Faris is Unqualified, where she and celebrity friends give relationship advice to total strangers. I have been listening to another fangirl podcast, called Fangirl Fridays, which features tons of fun episodes about 90’s and early 2000’s throwback fandoms (I still heart you JTT).

Last week on Episode 7, I talked about two books I recently finished reading, Champion by Marie Lu and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I loved both and will be writing more about them soon in this month’s What I Read post.

                                               

I also talked about two shows I recently watched season finales of, West World and Supergirl. Another two thumbs up for both. Brianna and I will be talking West World details in a couple of weeks.

Brianna has been listening to a super cool new scripted podcast called Homecoming, that I am definitely going to be checking out soon. I have been hearkening back to Hamilton, since I am going to be seeing the show for the second time in just a couple of weeks (and I’m just a little bit excited about it).

And some exciting (I hope) news for you guys: We are going to be releasing new episodes on Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays for the foreseeable future! We would really love it if you would download, subscribe and leave us a review! Also, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram, @dtfangirlpod! Thanks for tuning in!

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10 Things I’m Obsessed with Right Now

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It’s been a while since I have shared one of these posts, and I have a ton of new things that I am obsessing over that I want to share with you. From books to booze, these are the things I am seriously crushing on this summer!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: If you have listened to Down to Fangirl, or checked my bookstagram, or read any of my What I Read posts, chances are you have seen/heard me talk about ACOTAR. Guys. For real, this is my favorite series since Harry Potter. Book two, A Court of Mist and Fury, is one of the best books I have ever read. Period. If you like to read, or even if you hate to read, this series is a must. Go buy it and thank me later.

Soap and Glory beauty products: I have been using this face wash for most of the summer and I have seen a huge improvement in my skin. Even though I am now mid thirties, I still suffer from acne and I have had a lot of problems finding a cleanser that works consistently for me. This one has been awesome so far and I am loving it. Soap and Glory also has a ton of other great products, my other favorite being their lip glosses.

Rose: I know, I know, I’m basic AF. But nothing beats a yummy rose during the hot summer months. And it goes down so easy I can drink it all day long! (Not that I do that…often.)

Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew: This is my go to summer coffee drink from Starbucks and I have been consuming them almost every day over the past few months. I love them a little too much.

Supergirl: I just finished watching season two of Supergirl, and guys, I legit cried actual tears during the finale. My heart is aching just thinking about it. I have a huge crush on Chris Wood, who plays Supergirl’s boyfriend (and is gay in real life, of course) and I am ride or die with Jeremy Jordan. Plus, Calista Flockheart came back for the last two episodes, and the original Wonder Woman Lynda Carter plays the president. Binge it. And then come cry with me when it’s over.

Making buttons: Okay, this is weird, I know, but I started making some Disney inspired buttons a couple of weeks ago and I got so into it I bought a button maker. I will be posting a tutorial soon, suffice to say I am going to be doing a lot of giveaways because I only have room for so many buttons in my life.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: I finished this book a couple of days ago, on my birthday, and then went to two different bookstores that day to try to find the sequel, Glass Sword. I LOVED this book and have been dying to start number two, but I had to order it online so I’ve had to wait a few days before being able to start it. I have a couple of books I need to review that are next on my list, but I might be diving into Glass Sword instead. Because it’s that good.

Podcasting: If you haven’t listened to Down to Fangirl yet, get on it! Brianna and I have recorded seven episodes now and I am so loving podcasting. Honestly, I’m enjoying the whole process way more than I thought I would, and I am hoping our little show continues to grow!

Champagne and Strawberry Lemonade: I feel like this is self-explanatory, but this combo has become my go to summer alcoholic beverage of choice. It’s a perfect combo and it also makes for a pretty pink drink.

Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout: Okay, so as trepidatious as I was of the ride in the beginning, and as much of an eye sore as it is in the park, it is a damn good ride. Plus, I am loving discovering all of the different versions. I need to ride them all!

What have you been obsessing over this summer? Let me know so I can maybe share in your obsession!

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