About Falon Ballard

Posts by Falon Ballard:

How to Buy Wedding Gifts That Don’t Suck

This is a sponsored post. I was compensated in the form of a discount, free product or monetary payment in exchange for writing this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Well folks, by the end of this week, engagement season will officially be over, and that means wedding season is right around the corner. For those of you who are new to the blog, I am also a wedding coordinator (that’s my real job) and so every so often I like to share some of my wedding expertise with you. Today we are talking all about gift giving. Typically as the bride and groom, most of the gifting is going to be TO you, but there are some special gifts that do come FROM you as well. It is tradition for the bride and groom to buy small gifts for their bridesmaids and groomsmen as a way to say thank you for all of the time and effort (and money) they put in to being a part of your special day.

Etiquette wise, bridesmaid and groomsman gifts should be thoughtful and personal, and should NOT be something required for the wedding (like matching ties or jewelry). However, I think on the jewelry front there is some flexibility–if your gals will wear the pieces in real life, then go for the baubles all day. Sometimes it can be hard to find one gift that works for all of your bridal party, and that is why I love Uncommon Goods. I have been an Uncommon Goods shopper for years now (we have an awesome decanter and glass set that we got for our first anniversary from them) and I love so many things about their site. I love that they feature artists and crafters, I love that they care about the environment and focus on sustainability, and I love that they have some kickass products. These bridesmaids gifts are presents that any girl would love to receive! I for sure would wear a California necklace all the time, and that heart shaped umbrella is adorbs (and perfect if your wedding is going to be during the rainy season).

uncommon goods

While I love all the options featured on Uncommon Goods for bridesmaids (hello literary candles, yes please!), their groomsmen gifts are even more awesome. Those are Scotch infused toothpicks y’all. I mean, who came up with that amazing idea? And while cufflinks may seem like a pretty standard groomsmen gift, these ones are crafted from old NFL stadium seats. For a football fan, is there anything cooler than that?

uncommon goods

If you aren’t planning on tying the knot this wedding season, chances are you will be a guest at a wedding at some point, and Uncommon Goods has you covered there too. Any wedding gift that can be personalized is always a good idea, since it is unique and specific to the couple. My favorite is probably the personalized whiskey distiller (I wish I would have been able to get Matt that for our wedding!), but I am also OBSESSED with the neon California sign (and yes, they have other states too, though the Cali one is the best, obvs).

uncommon goods

If you haven’t visited Uncommon Goods site before, head over right now and check it out (though be prepared to spend some time sorting through all of the awesomeness). And if you aren’t a bride or groom and don’t have any weddings to go to this year, then buy something for yourself!

Are you an Uncommon Goods fan? What is your favorite piece from their site?

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diy shrinky dink pins

DIY: Shrinky Dink Pins

So I got the idea for this craft because I wanted to figure out how to make a name tag for myself for when I am coordinating weddings. I was looking for different DIY methods and came upon a blast from my past: Shrinky Dinks. I did not know Shrinky Dinks were still a thing, but they are, and they are even more awesome than I remembered! Of course, I have yet to make my name tag for my, you know job, but I did find time to make some fun Disney and Harry Potter pins! These were all super easy to make and they came out so cute!

Here’s what you need to make the pins: Shrinky Dink printable paper, pins and backs, E6000 glue, and nail polish.

First, print off your chosen designs on the Shrinky Dink paper. I did two different versions of pins. Some of the designs are full color, and the Rebel Alliance sign is just the outline. Remember that the designs are going to shrink to about half their size, so you want to print them out to be about twice as big as you want the final product to be.

Cut out the designs as close as possible to the lines. You may need to use an Xacto knife or a small pair of scissors to get in the tight places.

Lay the shapes out on a baking sheet that is covered in wax paper. Cover the shapes with an additional piece of wax paper and then bake in your oven according to the directions on the package.

Once the Shrinky Dinks are done baking and have cooled, use the E6000 glue to attach the pins to the back of the shapes. For the full color pieces, this is the final step.

For the outlined pieces (like the Rebel Alliance symbol), use the nail polish to paint the pieces, Make sure to do thin coats and use a top coat to seal the color when the polish is dry.

There are so many possibilities with these pins! In addition to my adorable Disney food pins, I made some super cute Star Wars themed pins, and made my own Hufflepuff badge.

diy shrinky dink pins

I can’t to wear all of my new pins out and about and I am excited to come up with more ideas for new designs! What other kinds of pins should I make?

Here are some supplies I used to make this project (affiliate links):


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What I Read: January

This post contains affiliate links.

If you don’t know by now, I really love to read. I am obsessed with books, particularly those in the young adult lit category, and I devour them whenever I can. I made a yearly goal to read 52 new books this year, and made a monthly goal for January to read four new books. If you caught my goals recap for January, you saw that I crushed it in the reading department last month and actually read seven new books! Woot woot! I loved pretty much everything I read last month so I figured I would share some of my reads with you!

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon: I’ve talked a little bit about this book already, but words do not do it justice. This book moved me. Like actually reached out through the pages and touched my heart. I cannot recommend this book enough. Seriously, so so so good.

Romeo and What’s Her Name by Shani Petroff: So I was drawn to this book because I am a longtime lover of Romeo and Juliet. This comedy novel was okay, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a quick and easy read, but it was predictable and is one of those books I was just eh about. (Note: I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my opinion.)

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher: This memoir was FASCINATING. This is Carrie Fisher’s last book, and I, like many others, picked it up after her passing. I haven’t read any of her other books, but I am going to now. Carrie’s writing is so beautiful and poetic, and this particular book contains her actual diary entries from the filming of Star Wars (and her diary entries sound better than anything I have ever written). The book focuses on her affair with Harrison Ford during the shooting of A New Hope and it is a must read for any Star Wars fan.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst: This was the December Owl Crate book and for the most part, I really enjoyed this fantasy tale of a young princess who moves to a new country to be with the boy she is betrothed to, only to find herself falling in love with his sister. I loved the twist and the LGBTQ elements, though some of the writing was a bit wordy and drawn out for me. But overall, a solid and entertaining read.

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard: This was the January Owl Crate book, and it might be the first time I finished the book in the same month I received the box! I was super excited to see this retelling of Phantom of the Opera in my Owl Crate and overall I really enjoyed the book. It did take me a while to get into it, but once I was in, I was hooked. However, printing a book with red type is dumb and no one should do it ever again.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: I LOVED THESE BOOKS! I mean, it should be a testament to their awesomeness that I read two books from the same series in the same month. I am so into Jenny Han’s writing style, and the characters she has created in these novels are magic. They are so real, you feel like you are friends with them by the time you are done reading the book. The final in the trilogy comes out in a couple of months and I can’t wait. Also, these are some of my favorite covers ever!

All in all, it was a really great month of reading! I am hoping to read four more books in February, and I will be sure to share them with you next month! I’m always looking for book recommendations, so let me know what you think I should read!

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monthly goals

January Check In Plus February Goals

Holy hell folks. Where did the month of January go?!?! Like seriously, it is February 1st and I am still thinking it’s December. January obviously flew by, and while it was a great month in a lot of respects, there is also a shit ton of stuff that I just did not get done. But, I did make some progress, and that should be celebrated, so let’s first take a look back at my goals for the first month of 2017 and how I did:

January’s Mini Goals and Priorities:

–Put together my media kit — Yeah, didn’t even start this one so it’s back on my list for February.

–Start planning my sister’s bachelorette party — Haven’t done much for this, but I did research some hotels, so it’s not a complete failure.

–Start getting my tax info organized — LOL

–Read four books — Crushed this one, I actually read seven!

–Organize stuff for @mynerdycloset (my Instagram pop-up shop) and post more items for sale, and on a more regular basis — I took a lot of product pictures, but I only posted one item, and that was technically in February.

January’s Social Media Goals: Not going to lie, I pretty much killed it on social media this month! These were my goals:

Instagram: 11.5k       Facebook: 300       Twitter: 1700        Pinterest: 7000

And here are my numbers as of writing this post:

Instagram: 12.7k      Facebook: 313        Twitter: 1732       Pinterest: 8102

Okay, so Facebook and Twitter weren’t all that impressive, but Pinterest and Instagram made up for it, and I technically hit all of my numbers. #blessed

Since February is a short month to begin with, I’m sure it’s going to be March before I know it. So here are my goals for February, that I better get started on right away!

February Mini Goals and Priorities:

–Put together my media kit.

–Contact hotel’s for Sister’s bachelorette party

–Organize tax info

–Read four books

–Write 10k words in my novel

February’s Social Media Goals:

Instagram: 14k        Facebook: 450        Twitter: 2k        Pinterest: 10k

Here’s hoping February is a productive month! Business is starting to pick up on the wedding coordinating front so I might not have as much time to devote to my blog/social media/novel goals, but I am going to do my best to kick some ass and take some names! Happy February y’all!

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Owl Crate Subscription Box: January

This post contains affiliate links.

It was another amazing month to be an Owl Crate subscriber! I have been an Owl Crate member for almost a year now, and I swear, these boxes keep getting better and better! The theme for this month was Classic Remix, and full disclosure: I am not big on the classics. Despite having an English degree and being a former English teacher, I have read pathetically few of the classics canon and I don’t really have any intention of starting now. BUT I was stoked to see that the main classic featured in the box was Phantom of the Opera, which happens to be the first Broadway musical I ever saw, sparking a lifelong love of theater that continues to this day. So that was super exciting! Enough of my babble, let’s get to the goods!

This month’s novel was RoseBlood by A.G. Howard, and I already finished it! It got off to a slow start, but by about halfway through, I was so intrigued by this Phantom of the Opera retelling. It was a fascinating read that I would especially recommend to all you theater lovers out there. If you are not familiar with the story of Phantom, I would definitely watch one of the movie versions first so you have some background on the story and the history. The other Phantom themed item was this beautiful magnet from Sweet Sequels. My fridge is becoming so literary thanks to Owl Crate!

Also included in this month’s box was a classic themed calendar from Obvious State. Each month features a quote and an illustration from a different classic novel. I’m not a tea drinker (coffffffeeeee), but the packaging of this The Little Prince themed tea from First Edition Tea Co is so cute that I might just put it on display somewhere.

I LOVE this Secret Garden inspired book soap from TeaSoapBooks! Her Etsy shop is closed for a short break right now, but I will definitely be ordering some of her other bookish soaps as soon as she reopens (I got my eye on a Shakespeare soap!). Also, this gorgeous bookmark from Lexy Olivia has such a great quote on it: “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” I may or may not have purchased another one of her bookmarks already because they are just so pretty!

As always, we got a sneak peek at next month’s box, which is circus themed and looks amazing! I am hoping the novel is what I think it’s going to be, because it is a book I have been lusting after for a while. Fingers crossed! If you want to get in on the Owl Crate action (seriously, highly, highly recommend it), please use my referral link and help me save some moola! Now let me go begin the countdown until my February box arrives!

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main street electrical parade

The Main Street Electrical Parade Comes Home!

You guys. I literally CAN’T EVEN. If you grew up going to Disneyland in the 80’s and early 90’s, then there is no doubt that you have some pretty epic memories of the Main Street Electrical Parade (from here on in referred to as MSEP). I have so many memories of watching the nighttime spectacular, and before Fantasmic came along, it was my favorite part of nights at Disneyland. I was devastated when the parade left in 1996, and though it came back to California Adventure in the early 2000’s, it was just never the same (also, I never went to DCA then because it was lame and I wasn’t old enough to drink yet).

I have to say, one of the main reasons I was bummed about Paint the Night not becoming a regular fixture is because I thought PTN would become Squirt’s MSEP, something so epic and visually stunning that he would remember it well into his adulthood (where he WILL continue to love Disney or so help me…). I am still a little bummed/annoyed by all the ambiguity around PTN’s future at Disneyland, but it was partially eased a couple of months ago when we got the news that MSEP was coming back to Disneyland!!! Cue the music and the tears! As soon as its arrival date was announced, I booked dining reservations for preferred seating and started counting down the days.

Of course, the day of the parade’s public premiere (those willing to fork over $100 for the advanced premiere party saw it the night before the rest of the public) dawned cold and rainy. Cold is fine, but rain is a no go for the MSEP. But I already had reservations, and conveniently Matt had a conference in OC that same night, so I bundled up Squirt in about five sweatshirts (since I sure as hell am not spending money on a raincoat for my toddler in Southern California) and we headed down to the parks. Luckily the rain was just a light drizzle most of the day, but it was enough to totally derail the on the go meal option at Aladdin’s Oasis, which meant I got an anytime preferred seating Fast Pass instead of the usual timed and dated one. And even more luckily, the rain cleared up just in time for the parade to be able to run. Not gonna lie y’all, when this train came around the corner, there were some tears.

I loved watching the MSEP so much, that I went back the next night and used my Fast Pass! Two nights in a row of pure childhood nostalgia. Seriously, I loved every second of it!

To be fair, Squirt couldn’t have cared less about the MSEP. Maybe because he was tired or cold or thinking back to the technological wonder that is PTN, but he was not impressed. Granted, he is two and a half so we’ll give him that.

Despite Squirt’s completely lukewarm reaction to one of the defining highlights of my childhood, I was thrilled to welcome MSEP back to its rightful home. Also, it was super fun to see others in their mid 30’s-40’s as excited as we were when we were kids. THAT is the magic of Disney, folks.

The MSEP is only back in town for a limited time, and as of right now is scheduled to depart Disneyland for good on June 18, 2017. One can assume that this will be the final run of the parade (which had stints at both DCA and Disney World after leaving Disneyland originally), but with Disney you never know. I do know that I am going to be soaking up as much of the parade as humanly possible while it is here because my love is deep. Also, I am super excited to see what Disneyland has in store for its upcoming retro/MSEP themed AP Days, which are starting in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more info on that!

If you want to see more shots and videos from the parade, make sure you like my Facebook page as I will be adding in new media each time I see the parade! For now, here’s a little snippet of the beginning!

Do you have fond childhood memories of the MSEP? Will you be making a visit to the parks in the coming months to see it again? If so, let me know (I’ll probably come with you!) in the comments!

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My 2017 Reading List

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If you were around for any part of 2016, you might have noticed an influx of book related posts here at Falon Loves Life, mainly due to the fact that as Squirt gets older, and now that I am working from home, I actually have more time to read. Which is awesome because reading has been a passion of mine for like thirty years (not even exaggerating there, which is a little scary…I’m old). I did an okay job completing my 2016 Reading List, though I didn’t finish all the books on the list. But that’s okay because I read about a hundred others. This year, I need to get through the fifty books I bought last year but haven’t read yet (only a slight exaggeration). I would like to say I’m not going to buy any new books until I finish the ones I have, but that would be a big fat lie. I’m sure I will veer from this list, but these are the books I hope to read in 2016:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas: I polished off the entire Throne of Glass series last year, and despite some slow moments, I really enjoyed all five books (so far, there is still at least one more to come in that series). I have heard that ACOTAR is even better so I am excited to start this one.

Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin: Okay okay, so this one was on my list last year, as was Game of Thrones. I finished GoT and managed to get about halfway through CoK, but I gotta buckle down and finish.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven: I LOVED All the Bright Places and I have heard great things about Niven’s latest release. Hopefully it’s not quite as emotionally devastating as her first book, but I’m pretty sure it is.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: This book is going to see an upsurge in popularity due to the HBO limited series coming out this February, starring some kickass ladies like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Laura Dern.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover: I own this book already, and yet have legitimately no idea what it is actually about. But it was all over bookstagram last year, so it’s probably good!

Heartless by Marissa Meyer: The Lunar Chronicles were some of my favorite books from last year so I am super stoked to dive into the latest offering from Marissa Meyer.

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero: This is another one that really made a splash on the blog/book community scene that last year. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a while now, I just need to find the time to read it!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: When it comes to YA fiction, I am not typically drawn toward romance, but this series seems to be pretty popular, and not going to lie, I love the cover.

Everything Everything by Nicola YoonI just finished Nicola’s other book, The Sun is Also a Star, and I freaking loved it so much. Probably the best characters I’ve read in a love story in a long time. Looking forward to reading her other work!

Yes Please by Amy PoehlerI picked this one up a couple of weeks ago because it was on clearance at my local bookstore, and I’m excited to read it. Amy is hilarious and I have heard great things about the book.

These are just ten of the many books I plan to read in 2017. With the exception of Everything, Everything and Holding Up the Universe, I already own copies of all the books on my list, so there are no excuses! Time to brew some coffee and get to reading! What are you looking forward to reading in 2017?

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