home stretch: bend and brews at three notch’d.

burgIMG_3039Waaaaay back in like… April… Brandy and I went to Bend & Brews together at Three Notch’d. We loved it. I mean, you get an hour of yoga led by a fully trained and competent instructor, a delicious craft beer, a donut provided by Pure Eats, and coffee from Shenandoah Joe. There are some days I would gladly shell out a couple thousand bucks for that cure-all combination, but there’s no need. All you gotta bring is your yoga mat and ten dollars.

So, last April came and went, and unfortunately, I sat on this post too long. Summer arrived, and the popular hour-long + craft beer event went on hiatus. But guess what? Bend & Brews is BACK! Yep! This Saturday, September 3, Bend & Brews kicks off its fall season.

Here are step-by-step instructions for getting back into the swing:

1. Arrive a little early. There’s quite a bit of space, but it’s not infinite.

burgIMG_30302. Sign the waiver form. These are located at the bar.
3. Enjoy some coffee and mingle while you wait for class to start.

burgIMG_30254. Bend.

burgIMG_30455. Breathe.

burgIMG_30416. Relax.

burgIMG_30517. Breathe again.

burgIMG_30538. Grab a beer and a donut, have a seat, and stay a while!

burgIMG_3028 burgIMG_3061 burgIMG_3064 burgIMG_30949. Thank your lovely instructor :)  Thank you, Casye!

burgIMG_3074 burgIMG_307810. REPEAT. We’ll meet ya there!

burgIMG_3096
Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

laughing matters: cards against humanity at pale fire brewing.

burgIMG_0871Things That Make Me Laugh Until I’m Snorting and Wiping Mascara Off My Chin
1. The episode of Friends where Ross wears leather pants
2. “Celebrity Jeopardy” with Will Ferrell and Darrell Hammond on Saturday Night Live
3. The entire Cake Wrecks web site
4. Any instance of a person (or animal) falling down, even if it’s my own child
5. And now, Cards Against Humanity at Pale Fire Brewing!

We all love to laugh. Whether you’re hanging out with goofy little kids (nature’s clowns, as my mom would say), or watching stand-up on Comedy Central, or bingeing on You Tube blooper videos, it just feels good to come home from a long day at work and unwind with humor. In fact, just this week, my first week back at school, one of my colleagues gave a speech of sorts that had us all howling with laughter one minute and stifling tears the next… his words were inspiring and moving, laced with humor and raw sentiment. And I left that meeting feeling relaxed and renewed and emotionally massaged. Sometimes we forget — we NEED to laugh, every single day. There’s science behind this. You probably know that exercise causes your brain to release endorphins (endogenous morphine) which are actually your body’s naturally occurring pain relievers. But guess what? Laughing does the same thing! Laughter also helps you learn new skills or material, deepens social bonds, and boosts your immune system. So I think it’s time to add laughter to your wellness routine, right up there with exercise, drinking water, and all that jazz. Our Friendly City has lots of ways to help you achieve that goal, and you can start on Monday nights at Pale Fire Brewing.

burgIMG_0884Brandy and I were so excited when the Cards Against Humanity host (and owner of Midtowne Market and Midtowne Bottle Shop) Lauren Penrod asked us to serve as judges last Monday. Having never played the game before, I looked forward to seeing how it worked. I really wasn’t prepared for how funny it would be. If I’d known, I would’ve dug out the waterproof mascara and brought some tissues.

We arrived and got the scoop from Lauren: The game is like Apples to Apples, but for adults. And I mean, ADULTS. If it were a movie, it would be rated R. For that reason, you might want to consider not bringing impressionable youngsters. And for that same reason, I simply can’t include all the answers we judged that night!

So. People who want to play arrive at Pale Fire by 8pm. You can arrive with a team, you can play solo, you can try to join a team after you arrive… there’s no limit to the number of teams or the number of people on a team. Easy peasy. Then you decide a team name. The teams we judged were called The Wookie Squad, Plain Old Scorcerers, Monday Night Book Club, Spiteful Lady in the Hat, and Last Call. And of course every time we said the name of that team, Jared had to yell from behind the bar, “It’s not actually last call!”, which was funny, too.

burgIMG_0867After you’ve established your team and name, you come get ten cards and a sticky note. You write your team name on the sticky note so we (the judges) know who gave which answer. Then Lauren reads a prompt and teams choose one card from the ten in their hand that they think is the best/most clever/dirtiest/funniest/most bizarre/etc. and turn it in to us. We select what we feel is the winning answer, then see who the team is that supplied it and announce the winner. This goes on for several prompts; then there’s a break, followed by a second round. At the very end, Lauren adds up the points and announces the winner. Lots of great prizes are awarded, including rounds of beers, gift cards, and the right to create your own card to be used in the next week’s competition!

burgIMG_0877 burgIMG_0874For example, Lauren read the prompt, “The healing process began when I joined a support group for victims of __________.” Teams filled in that blank with answers like “Shaquille O’Neal’s acting career,” “my ex-wife,” and “yeast” (incidentally, that card had a little fleck of dirt on it, and SOMEONE at the judge’s table asked if it was a hyphen. Bahahaha!). Here’s another one:

“Puberty is a time of change. You might notice hair growing in new places. You might develop an interest in _____________. This is normal.”

I must censor all the answers we received to this one, but let me just say that it involved poop in a bucket, hair removal, and “jobs” for everyone. Then there’s this one:

“Don’t worry, kid. It gets better. I’ve been living with ____________ for 20 years.”

We received “waiting till marriage,” “women’s suffrage,” “an inability to form meaningful relationships,” and “special musical guest, Cher.”

The music was playing, the beer was pouring, the whole room was laughing in what was like a huge communal improv exercise, and the three of us were pretty much LOSING IT every two seconds. Plus we were all trying to use different accents while reading all of it out loud, and at one point Lauren mixed up “sushi burps” and said “surshi boops” instead, and I just didn’t think I’d be able to breathe again.

burgIMG_0843 burgIMG_0836 burgIMG_0831Then things got real because there was a tie. That means a sudden death situation. The two tied teams came to the table, chose two answer cards, and had to quickly apply only one of them to the tie breaking prompt. In the end we had a winner: Monday Night Book Club!

burgIMG_0881 burgIMG_0883I can’t think of a better way to end a crappy Monday than to go laugh my butt off with some buddies at Pale Fire. Go check your calendars, move a couple things around, make other plans for your children, and go get a healthy dose of funny! See you there!

burgIMG_0858 burgIMG_0861Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

here’s the deal: harrisonburg pokemon league.

burgIMG_2639The kids and I returned from a 24-day tour of America this week, and my original plan was to publish this post sometime during that trip. However, because I was driving a lot and doing a lot in places with little or no Internet connection, I just never got the opportunity to put it all together, until now. But, you know, it’s a good thing, because my knowledge of Pokemon increased about 200% during the trip.

The size of my car severely limited what each of us could bring on the trip. Just a couple changes of clothes, a tent and sleeping bags, a few books, and one – ONE – toy per child. So Bree and Cal decided to bring their Pokemon cards. Every night, wherever we were camping, I insisted that we all be in the tent before dark, and since we weren’t always ready to sleep at that time, we stayed up playing Pokemon. And I joined in, too.

Before the trip, if I had tried to write about the game, it would have sounded very much like this post about roller derby, when I didn’t understand a dang thing that was happening. All I knew about Pokemon just a few short weeks ago was that cards are dealt, characters battle each other, points are deducted, and players speak in some weird Star Trek language, saying things like “charizard” and “kyogre,” “gengar” and “voltorbe.” Now I understand, and I owe my new-found knowledge not just to our trip, but to the group that started it all for my family: the Harrisonburg Pokemon League.

burgIMG_2634The League was created nine years ago by a Harrisonburg couple, William and Juanita. They have six sons, the oldest of which is now 21. In essence, they created the club for him, and they have generously continued it for any kid who’s interested. When their first son was little and became interested in Pokemon, William and Juanita looked for a place where he could practice and play with other Pokemon fans. Along the way there were some groups; one group met, for a short time, at the library. Then a few groups formed at stores like Books-A-Million and Toys ‘R Us. William and Juanita learned the game, they took their boys to the club, and it sort of became a family hobby. But eventually, all the local clubs closed. At that point, with a growing family of Pokemon fans, the couple took it upon themselves to start their own league.

The League currently meets on Sundays from 1 – 3pm at 8Bit Oasis, a gaming store owned by Lauren Davis in the Cloverleaf Shopping Center. Anyone who wants to play Pokemon is welcome. It’s completely free and open to all people of all ages. Even if you’re not ready to sit down and play with the others, a visit to the store to check out the scene is a must. Walking into 8bit Oasis gave me an overload of sense memories. They’ve got a huge inventory of vintage gaming systems, equipment, accessories, and games. I was an Atari girl, myself. My childhood friend Kathy and I would play Missile Command and Frogger and Yars Revenge for like twelve hours straight, eating nothing but Dr. Pepper and pixie sticks. We’d have thumb cramps and bloodshot eyes and all. So seeing that wall of Atari cartridges – wow! It made me swoon. Other vintage items include Gameboys, Gamecubes, joysticks, and old games like Top Gear Rally. They also carry new and used games for current systems – Wii, Xbox, Playstation, and the like. At the back of the store is small gaming lounge. You can borrow a game to try out on their system, or you can play one of their arcade games, like Donkey Kong Jr., Mario, Galaga, or PacMan.

burgIMG_2621 burgIMG_2620The League is very organized. On our first visit, William sat down with all our kids and led them through a battle, explaining all the official rules in detail (believe me, Bree and Cal had improvised at home A LOT before learning the proper way to play). Even though there were several other players there, William took the time to patiently coach each child. One of William and Juanita’s sons also helped answer questions and strategize with the kids. All the kids picked up really quickly and have been able to play independently ever since. A battle starts with the dealing of cards. Each player gets seven cards for his hand and six for his “prize cards.” The rest of the 60-card deck remains face down. The deck is composed of a variety of Pokemon (characters), energy cards (you need those to make your Pokemon be able to attack), and trainer cards, which usually grant a player some special advantage for a single turn or for the remainder of the battle. Next, each player chooses which Pokemon will battle. Then it’s a series of picking cards and discarding, attaching energy cards to the Pokemon, attacking (things like “peck,” “stomp,” “continuous headbutt,” “hopeless scream”), and deducting points for each attack. Once a Pokemon’s “health” score is decimated, it’s been defeated, and the winner gets to pick up one of his prize cards. The player who gets through all six prize cards first wins the battle.

burgIMG_2625While William walks around to facilitate the battles and serve as referee as needed, Juanita keeps track of everyone’s wins. After you’ve accumulated a certain number of wins, you get a prize. And once every three or four months, they hold what’s called a Booster Pack Tournament. They purchase newly released cards in packs of ten. Each kid pays $20 and gets six packs of cards. They sit at tables, open one pack at a time, take their favorite card from that pack and pass the rest to the left. The cards keep moving around the table until they’ve all been distributed. Then they all open pack #2, and repeat the process. By the end, each kid has more than 50 new cards, which they use to create a 40-card deck and play two battles right then. It was really fun for everyone, and a cool way to add excitement and anticipation to an already challenging and complex game.

burgIMG_2640Brandy and I have been so impressed with William and Juanita that we felt compelled to share this with you. They are just the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. Their patience and friendliness to all the kids… their willingness to create and maintain this league for nine years with no compensation… their relaxed demeanor and acceptance of anyone who wants to play is exactly what should come to mind when one thinks of The Friendly City. Thank you, William and Juanita (and their sons!), and 8bit Oasis, for providing a fun, educational, and wholesome activity for kids of all ages.

If you haven’t been to 8bit Oasis or the Harrisonburg Pokemon League, you should come Sunday and check it out!

burgIMG_2638 burgIMG_2630Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

wheely good: trucks.

trucks signRecently Brandy and I had a sudden, unexpected opportunity to go out at dinner time, followed by a massive bout of indecisiveness because without all the kids to please, our options were overwhelming. Sushi? Barbeque? Burgers? Wings? Then we thought, why not go somewhere we can just get a little of everything and share? And that magical place is TRUCKS, Harrisonburg’s very own dedicated food truck lot — one of my most favorite ideas our city has ever cooked up. The last time we were there, only one truck occupied the large space. It was time to pay a visit and see what had changed. And stuff our faces.

trucks GCMDespite an impromptu rain storm that delayed our arrival, coupled with our general ineptitude that always delays our arrival anywhere, and despite the fact that it was like ten minutes before closing, all the trucks were still open and serving customers. Grilled Cheese Mania was the first truck on the lot. Brandy and I published a story about them last July, and now twelve months later, they still draw a sizable, hungry crowd (one girl said, upon receiving her grilled cheese, “Thank the Lord!”). And now they’ve cozied up to their friendly neighbors: Lobsta Rollin’, La Taurina II, and Taste of Soul.

trucks GCM tentCan I just pause here for a second and direct your attention to the awesome VARIETY provided by these four little trucks? Next time you and your friends, or coworkers, or family members, or heck, even your whiny kids can’t agree where to eat, just come here. If you’re still whiny when you get your plate, which I doubt you’ll be, you can even eat at separate tables, grouchy-pants! But I predict that, inspired by the fellowship and solidarity of these trucks and their staffs, you’ll get a case of the warm fuzzies and chow down peacefully.

Anyhoo. Lobsta Rollin’ most always offers Lobsta Tacos (which we ordered), the Lobsta Roll (the dish that started this whole thing rollin’, ha), and a Lobsta Wrap. They’ve also served Lobsta Quesadillas, Lobsta Mac and Cheese, Lobsta Bisque, Lobsta Poppas, and Clam Chowdah. Oh, and they sometimes get truffles from Truffelicious!

trucks lobster tacosOriginally from Miami, they brought the lobsta craze to Harrisonburg just a few months ago, have been wildly successful, and are already expanding (spoiler alert!) to a store front near Massanutten! They’ll also be expanding their catering and delivery services so you’ll never be far from your lobsta.

trucks lobsta2The ladies at Taste of Soul — Ebony, Angela, and Areyl — served us some side dishes that will make you miss your grandmother in a most visceral way. The homey look of their truck, the mason jars lining the counter, their smiles and laughter, and their time-honored family recipes elicit a giddy yearning for a world that seemed only to exist when I was a carefree child. We ate their collard greens, their mac and cheese, their potato salad, and even a cupcake. All that was missing was the succulent pork chop, a sell-out that particular day. Also on the menu are fried chicken wings, boneless tenders, and hush puppies, and THIS MONDAY, you can get breakfast! Chicken and waffles plus a coffee. The newest addition to the lot, they’ve accomplished all this in a very short time.

trucks soul food trucks taste soulRounding out the lot is La Taurina II — II, because you might have already visited the first one. It’s been on North Main for about five years, and I’m so excited they were able to expand to a second location. They serve flavorful, delicious, fresh food at bargain prices. You really get a lot of food. They make tortas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and sopes, with a variety of meats to choose from. We ordered Tacos Campechana (Mexican sausage with pork shoulder) and we pretty much licked the plate, and then, I admit, I continued eating the sauce with my finger.

trucks tacos trucks taurinaSo, yes, if you were keeping track, the two of us ate three large plates of food and didn’t feel bad about it for one second. TRUCKS is located at 1321 South High Street, next to Tangier Seafood. Each truck has similar but not identical hours of operation, so we created a page dedicated to ALL of Harrisonburg’s food trucks. It’s called Truck, Yeah! and it lists all the trucks alphabetically with their hours and locations. If you know of a truck not listed and can supply the details, please email katie@ilovemyburg.com and I’ll be happy to add it! See you out and about!

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

more flower to you: sparrow’s floral design.

sparrow floral design collage6

Sparrow’s Floral Design

sparrow floral design DK sparrow floral design ella3 sparrow floral design table sparrow floral design tattooCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

plant one on me: sparrow’s floral design.

sparrow floral design table

sparrow’s floral design

sparrow floral design snipsparrow floral designbwsparrow floral design ella2 sparrow floral design lapCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

leaves in good hands: sparrow’s floral design.

sparrowsflowers signThe simple, lovely flower has long been a source of joy and comfort to us humans. We look forward to spring when we can dig in the raw dirt and plant beauty. In the fall, we sentimentally press those coveted blossoms between the pages of heavy, thick books in the spirit of preservation. In winter, we might delight ourselves in the purchase of a bouquet, just to brighten the dull grayness of the room.

You’ve likely given or received flowers at least once in your life… for flowers deliver a message much larger than you can fit on that itty bitty card. They are nature’s poetry. Flowers transmit feelings – love, admiration, grief. At weddings, the hope tied to catching the bride’s bouquet. An anniversary gift that says, “I love you more than life itself.” During illness or bereavement, the encouraging reminder that life does, in fact, triumph.

sparrowsflowers sauceBrandy and I were invited to a Flower Party and Potluck Dinner hosted by Amanda Tutwiler, owner of Sparrow’s Flowers. It was at Hillandale Park on a lovely evening. We all (14 of us) brought a few stems of whatever bloom we could pilfer and something to eat, and Amanda supplied the vases, greens (for the flower arrangements, not for eating), and of course, her expertise.

sparrowsflowers taco bowlssparrowsflowers food2 sparrowsflowers food1While folks arrived, we chatted about the usual: work and children. We talked about how irritating it is when your kids tattle on each other. I’ve basically told my kids, unless there is blood pouring from your body or something’s on fire, work it out yourselves! (Mother of the Year?) But they still tattle. Maybe I should implement a point system. Each kid starts with, say, five points. Whenever a kid tattles, he loses a point. If the accused is actually guilty of the crime, that kid loses two points. If anyone has any points leftover at the end of the day, he or she doesn’t get rolled up in a carpet and dangled off a bridge (Mother of the Year!). You know, it’s the whole “choose your battles” thing. Anyhoo. Food continued to arrive and we continued to drool… but the guest who was bringing plates and cups didn’t make it, so I hopped in my car and scooted down the street to Food Lion. Once back at the picnic shelter, I was hailed a hero and we chowed down.

sparrowsflowers eatDuring dinner we chatted about the upcoming Art Lotto (can’t wait!!), summer plans, and the show Fargo on FX that I’m completely obsessed with. And then the real fun started. We each grabbed a vase and just started piling in the flowers.

sparrowsflowers vasessparrowsflowers collage1There were irises and lamb’s ear, daisies and azalea blossoms, baby’s breath and peonies and lots, lots more. It was fun, and festive, and pretty, and relaxing, and I thought, this would be a great activity to do at a wedding while waiting for the bride and groom to get to the reception. You know, while they and the wedding party are having photos taken, the rest of the guests could create centerpieces for the tables. Huh, huh? You are free to use that idea, and may I suggest hiring Amanda to facilitate it.

sparrowsflowers arrange1 sparrowsflowers arrange2sparrowsflowers collage2 sparrowsflowers collage3 sparrowsflowers collage4The bouquets were all different and spectacular, and we realized they sorta represented each of us. My arrangement was tall, extending way past the rim of the vase and sorta leaning over to one side. Like me. I heard, “Mine’s all over the place” and “Mine doesn’t make any sense.” And of course, Ella’s was just plain cute.

sparrowsflowers ellaEveryone meandered back to the food table for a last nibble or two, and we all got to bring our beautiful arrangements home, plus a couple of floral sachets, too! My bouquet is still intact, still tall and lopsided, and still just as pretty as ever. It reminds me how nice it is to have fresh flowers in my home. I could get used to it.

sparrowsflowers sachetssparrowsflowers groupYou can contact Amanda at Sparrow’s Floral Design through her Facebook page, or if you don’t have Facebook, you can email her at sparrowsflowers@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

read it and keep: altered book contest, massanutten regional library.

altered book voteHaving been teaching and studying literature, and reading and writing for a long time, I’ve amassed a small library of books. They’re everywhere… all over the house. I haven’t quite made the leap to the e-reader yet, partially because I remember The Great CD Conversion of 1988 during which I spent a small fortune (for a 16 year old) replacing all my music cassettes. The thought of replacing just a tiny percentage of my book collection (say, the Joyce Carol Oates part, for example) is just too much to absorb. Plus, books are just prettier than an e-reader. I love how they look piled in a stack. I love moving them from the “To Read” stack to the “Finished” shelf. And some of their covers are nothing short of exquisite. In many cases, commissioned artists design those covers. And so a real paper and cardboard book is a work of art, through and through.

It’s sad to think of a book in a dumpster. In the landfill. But to hoard every book I’ve ever owned to prevent it from ending up in the trash is… well… hoarding. The neat freak in me can’t do that.

Much to my relief, my inner neat freak and my inner art lover reconciled once and for all when Brandy and I attended Massanutten Regional Library’s Altered Books Contest and Gallery last Friday. The practice of altering gives old, perhaps worn out books — books on the very brink of disposal — a new life and purpose. Their tattered pages no longer have endure the flips and tugs of careless readers; that pressure is gone. All an altered book has to do anymore is sit somewhere and look awesome, interesting, beautiful. The newly rendered “book” even gets a new name, as I noticed at the library’s display. Truly, a rebirth.

altered book balloonsSo we browsed the altered books, submitted for competition by adults (ages 18 and older) and youngsters (ages 12 – 17). We saw the piece created by last year’s contest winner, Diane Landis, entitled In a Dark, Dark House — she’d used several discarded books to create a majestic castle. Some were quite useful… like Carol K. Smith’s Hooked on Books. She turned books into a coat rack with a frame. Some were really large, like From Tree to Book to Tree Again — a big tree sculpture made by several artists out of pages of books.

altered book tree loomNancy Dauer built this huge loom thing out of torn up and disassembled books (From Words to Yarns — ha ha!). And Ben Fraits somehow glued the pages of his books together so they became completely solid, then carved them like a block of wood.

altered book fyodor altered book castleAnna Thornbury and Andrew Shantz cleverly constructed literal interpretations of their books. For example, a wooden stake pierced the cover of the book Dracula; the book Titanic appeared to be split in half by an iceberg; Joan of Arc was partially charred. They called this collection A Novel Death.

altered book stakeThe kids’ entries were even more impressive. Explosion featured origami exploding from the center of a school textbook. For Bird’s Eye View, Chantel Pence made a diorama out of a book. And in Alice is Stuck in Wonderland, a barbie doll Alice protrudes — stuck, indeed — from the center of the book.

altered book alice fans altered book foldsbwAll this awesomely creative art work simply is not something you can do with your Kindle. Sorry. Soon the library will announce winners in both categories — adult and youth — the winning “books” will be on display April 14 – 19. Can’t wait to find out how this story ends! And stay tuned for more photos this week!

altered book hostsCopyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

the thaw.

What do people do when they’re cooped up during an extra-long winter? They come up with tons of good ideas, and then unleash them all at once at the first sign of (finally!!) spring.

This is one of those weeks where you need serious equipment and endurance. A LOT of people have been working hard to put together A LOT of events, for YOU. Including First Friday artists and hosts. And Progressive Party hosts. And MACRoCk crazy people. And Women in Focus organizers. YES — all that and more is descending on our city this week. So pack your tent (just kidding — I don’t think you’re allowed to camp out), your Camelbak, your orthotics, and some Power Bars, because this week’s gonna deplete the heck out of you. In a good way.

Check out what’s Happyning right here!

xoxo!

a hop and a skip: factory antique mall, verona.

So, after two years, some soul searching, and a few beers, Brandy and I decided to OCCASIONALLY stretch our pens and lens beyond Harrisonburg and cover some events and places elsewhere. Mainly because there aren’t any vineyards within the city limits. Lol. And dang it, we wanna have more wine-related experiences. So I created a new category here called “A Hop and a Skip!” and that’s where I’ll file posts that are about places that are just down the road from the friendly city, places that no doubt Harrisonburgonians frequent and would appreciate.

factory antique mall signDown the road a piece, in Verona to be exact, is a magical, mystical fortress filled with ancient relics, the likes of which you’ve maybe never seen. They have several of these bizarre contraptions called “telephones.” After you gain your composure, you might dare to gaze upon the “metal lunch boxes” — like The Muppets, Dukes of Hazzard, and — eeeek! — Knight Rider!!!!

factory antique mall trains and phonesfactory antique mall lunchboxesAnd lastly, they have these things called Laserdiscs — the very rare prehistoric ancestor of the DVD. Actually they have some 8-track tapes, too. I had a massive sense memory when I touched on of them: My friend Shannon and I once wrapped the dining room table and chairs in 8-track tape (man, I was a stupid kid) — The Muppets Soundtrack, Bay City Rollers, and Crystal Gayle, if you wanna know — and Dad was less than pleased. Brandy seemed to float on nostalgia itself, clear to another world, when she wandered into the record section. She got tangled up in there a while.

factory antique mall records factory antique mall records2She also got hung up looking through these boxes full of old photos. Photos of people she didn’t know at all, and photos of familiar places, captured before her birth. She must have looked at 300 old, loose, curled-edge photographs. She selected like four of them to purchase.

Set up like a giant flea market, the Factory Antique Mall has hundreds of vendor “booths” — some large, some small — where collectibles of all ages and prices are sold. The only windows are at the front, and that, plus the long, intersecting walkways caused me to be pretty much lost beyond hope after the first left turn. Mind you — I was not born with an internal GPS. I can’t play Minecraft because I lose myself in my own creation. Heck, I can’t even point to the parking lot when I’m in the grocery store. So I’m not saying it’s the Factory Antique Mall’s fault if I get lost in there. It’s definitely mine. I’m just saying that if you’re directionally challenged, consider bringing a compass or harnessing yourself to your companion with one of those kid-leash things. After all, it’s the largest antique mall on the east coast at over 90,000 square feet.

factory antique mall corridorAnyway, I couldn’t possibly list all that’s in there, but they have weapons (guns, knives, swords), movies and music in all formats, tobacco pipes, old bottles and tins, masks, hats, and clothing.

burgIMG_8498They have TONS of furniture and books, and the toy section is crazy. Just crazy. On a previous trip I scored a 12″ Luke Skywalker for Bree, a 1968 Spirograph, a 1971 Battleship Game, and a pumpkin Beanie Baby for Cal. They also have Star Wars, Star Trek, and GI Joe figures, Transformers, comics, and even Beverly Hillbillies paraphernalia. Oh, and Alf.

factory antique mall alfAnd this wall of games. Of particular note — “Crow Shoot,” “Smurfs,” and “Mork and Mindy.”

factory antique mall gamesAnd don’t forget Barbies!

factory antique mall barbiesFor your more adult side, there’s all sorts of sports memorabilia (Stadium Suite used to be downtown but moved in here), jewelry, Americana, lamps, dishes, crystal, holiday decor, and lots of other household items.

factory antique mall furniture factory antique mall collectibles1factory antique mall americanaIf you decide to go, wear comfortable shoes. Allow plenty of time. There’s a little cafe for re-energizing snack breaks. Don’t forget your compass. Expect to say “Wow!!” about a thousand times, and prepare yourself for the onslaught of memories and emotions that will overtake you when you see the Six-Million Dollar Man on a clock. That place is a trip. And it’s only a hop and a skip!

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

things are happyning.

This week brings us St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of, uh, spring. And Harrisonburg just wants to celebrate all week from the looks of this line up! Sheesh! Put on your cute spring dress, drape a wool coat over it, and put your flip flops in your purse for when you get there. There’s LOTS to do this week! Check it out here!

precipitation.

As I sit here, the rain is pouring down. Soon it’ll be sleet, then ice, then apparently a whole lot of snow. Yes, I went to the grocery store today. But hardly anyone was there. Hundreds of loaves of bread stuffed the shelves. Not one empty space in the milk cooler. There were a few dents in the beer aisle, but that’s probably normal no matter what the weather. I think collectively the city has declared to Mother Nature, “Eh, who cares,” even though we’re getting every form of precipitation there is in a 12-hour span.

But “precipitation” isn’t just about weather. It also means a sudden acceleration. And when you get a peek at this week’s Happynings, you’re gonna want to put on your boots, shovel out your car, and accelerate on down the street to some awesome events! Have a look for yourself! xoxo!

heart of the city: little grill collective.

we love everything in this place. about this place. from this place. of this place. 

little grill bike little grill event calendar little grill front window little grill little window little grill sign 2

Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

 

attention! attention!

I was gonna say that the Happynings this week might look a little skimpy… but they don’t, really. The reason they might look skimpy is because I REMOVED ALLLL THE FOOD AND DRINK SPECIALS that I suspect might no longer be valid. The reason they DON’T actually look skimpy is because Harrisonburg’s so awesome that there’s still plenty to do unrelated to eating and drinking.

So, if you are a bartender/employee/owner of a local restaurant not listed this week, please email me at katie@ilovemyburg.com, or message me through our Facebook page, describe your weekly food/drink special, and I will gladly add it back on. If I’ve never mentioned your event on Happynings, I’m happy to do that, too. It’s a free service, so please send me the info! I’m also working on reconnecting some links that were glitchy/nonfunctioning/generally flicted.

Thanks for helping me get up to speed! Have a super week, and here are your Happynings!

happy blogiversary, with love: little grill collective.

little grill menusIn case you didn’t know, today isn’t just Valentine’s Day. It’s ilovemyburg.com’s 2nd anniversary! Yep — Brandy and I launched the site exactly two years ago, on a date we felt appropriately expressed our feelings for the Burg. Of course, we all love this city all the time, not just on one day of the year, but it sure is fun to celebrate milestones. In our second year, we published 156 posts, each one a testament to Harrisonburg’s awesomeness. Our readership exploded. Most importantly, our friendship grew in ways that make me ever grateful for my life, my home, Brandy, and the countless loved ones who shared in our experiences… including you. You, who keeps coming back here to read about our shenanigans. We love you!

So a celebration was in order. Brandy lovingly put together an album of our favorite moments from 2013, and we decided to go on a double date at one of Harrisonburg’s oldest and dearest loves, the Little Grill Collective. That place has been a part of my life since I moved here when I was just twenty-one. Brandy and Ben have memories of the Grill that reach way farther back than that. And Michael and I had our first date there. Needless to say, it’s pretty special.

Although it was only Tuesday, we’d all had the sort of week that makes you want to poke yourself in the eye. Thankfully, we were in a place that hugs you as soon as you walk in. Even more thankfully, I was about to smother my problems with all-you-can-eat tacos. Mexi Nite fixes everything!

little grill table foodIf you haven’t been to Mexi Nite (and it kinda scares me if you haven’t), you’re served a lovely plate containing (and these are my terms, so pardon me) two tacos, a potato roll up, a delicious delicacy I like to call “the floppy,” beans, and rice. And when you finish, they bring you MORE! And MORE again! And because the Grill is always conscious about waste, you can order your plate without certain items if you don’t think you’ll be able to eat it all. So I got my plate with no rice. Michael got his with no tomatoes but added a bit of chicken. Brandy added some guac, and Ben ordered his straight up. We also ordered a bucket of Negro Modelo. Yes, a bucket. There was so much love at that table I thought I would pop.

little grill beer bucketThe boys were a bit chatty, so chatty that Brandy and I silently plowed through plate number one and ordered a second lickety split. We were a little more leisurely with our second helping and managed to have a conversation. It had been a couple months since I was in there, and they’ve made some upgrades! First, their gorgeous new tables, made by  Aaron Harper Johnston and Kurt Rosenberger. Also, there’s a staircase near the restroom. I think it goes up to their sound booth, or maybe to a secret fort. They revamped their cash register area (did I see a COMPUTER?) and now bring your tab to your table for you. Fancy! The bathroom’s been painted, and instead of the scrawled graffiti, it’s all been framed and organized.

little grill registerOf course, some of the things we love haven’t changed. Like the Dylan painting. The giant bulletin board of announcements and happenings around town. The Go Ask Alyce (I love that lemon tahini!). BRUNCH. Trivia cards. Yoda. Jesus. Metal lunch boxes full of notes and photos. Beer buckets. And that cute little window into the kitchen.

little grill dylanlittle grill little window2All of it caused us to think about the past and the present. What’s the same and what has changed. All the beautiful things still to come. Then we looked at the time and had to scoot: Team Trivia was starting at Clementine in like fifteen minutes (that post will be up next week!). If you’re still looking for something to do tonight for Valentine’s Day, you can head on down to the Grill and see The Leeroys perform at 8pm! It’s also Down Home Night, so get there a bit early for some good old-fashioned southern home cookin’!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Harrisonburg. YOU ARE LOVED.

little grill sign1Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

all in a day’s (and a night’s) work: the 24-hour project.

24-hour project mike and laurieAfter the awesomeness of Friday at the 24-Hour Project, Brandy and I decided that Saturday we’d return, this time with Michael and some of the kiddos in tow. We scoured the program, reading through the descriptions of the 24 performances scheduled for day two, and with input from all involved, decided to try to make it to the theater in time for Mike Hudson at 1pm, because according to the program, he was “a guy you haven’t heard of” who “plays songs on the piano that you haven’t heard, in ways you haven’t heard.” Our curiosity wouldn’t allow us to miss THAT.

So after some breakneck-speed sledding down a steeper-than-we-thought hill, we raced home to put on dry clothes and then raced to Court Square Theater. We managed to score seats right up front again. I don’t know why more people don’t sit in the front row. We love the front row: I love the leg room, and Brandy likes to be able to get where she’s going without awkwardly squeezing between seats, bonking people on the back of the head with that giant lens.

Mike did exactly as promised: he played songs on the piano — some we’d never heard. A sad one called “I Couldn’t Say It To Your Face” about a quiet exit from a relationship. An unusual assortment of other covers, from “Music for a Found Harmonium” (Penguin Cafe Orchestra — you might recognize it from Napoleon Dynamite) to a Belle and Sebastian song, to Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes.” As many times as I’ve heard that old number, I’d honestly never heard the lyrics so clearly as when Mike sang it. A primitive protest song. At one point Mike told the sound booth he’d “feel a lot more confident if I could get a little more in the monitor.” They made the adjustment, but take it from us in the front row: we detected no such lack of confidence.

The female vocal ensemble Shekinah (which means, roughly, God’s presence among the people) performed next, bringing with them only a bongo, a tambourine, and a chair. At first I thought the chair was just in case the pregnant lady needed to sit down… but no, it was for the bongo player. Brandy and I saw these ladies at the Our Community Place Christmas Concert in 2012. Cal was enthralled and loved their purple dresses. I remember he asked me if he could “pet” them. ??? Anyway, they dressed in purple on this day, too.

Shekinah proves with their voices that the human being is the greatest musical instrument in existence. I can’t understand the concentration required to do what they do. Each of them must somehow hear only herself, because each woman seems to sing a distinct part, but she must also pay attention to the group so she doesn’t veer off and end up somewhere else. Not only that, but they sang ten songs in seven different languages, including a Dolly Parton cover, a traditional Irish children’s song, a Finnish song based on Psalm 100, and a sassy Bulgarian number.

After Shekinah, we took a little break at the Explore More Children’s Museum. The beauty (well, one of the many beauties) of the 24-Hour Project is that you could come and go. When the kids finally got all their wiggles out, we returned in time to see the Ears to the Ground Family take the stage.

ears to the ground family 1Any time you get a chance to see this band, you MUST. I mean this sincerely — I can’t believe how great they sound. Beautiful harmonies, clear as bells, never a sour note, never a lackluster performance. It’s probably not a priority to be “famous” or whatever, but they totally could be.

They have a few instruments — guitar, trumpet, bongo — but they also make use of their hands and feet, shoes and skin. My favorite of their set was Nichole’s song for her mom, in which she repeats, almost chants, like a prayer, “With a love like this, I will not despair.” Also, “Prison Cells,” a song about, essentially, forgiveness (and hypocrisy) inspired by a judicial system that just won’t “let them forget what they done wrong.” And the song about time: “Why waste so much precious time when we can float downstream in the living water, be grafted to the vine?” Thank you for that reminder!

ears to the ground 2Lastly, Chris Howdyshell took the stage. Yes, he was the last performer. The closer. By this point, a certain… euphoria hung in the air. Maybe it was sheer loopiness emanating from everyone who’d been up for 24 hours. It became clear that Chris’ job was to keep everyone from keeling over in exhaustion. He was their Red Bull. And really, there’s no better person for that task.

chris howdyshell 1He sang a few songs… “He Is a Friend of Mine,” accompanied by the story of Oliver’s birth. The one for Mariana, with the Alan Watts backstory. The song about workin’ and money and family — mighta been called “Walkin’ With the Devil.” But no, it’s actually called “Happiness.” But mostly he just talked to us. He entertained with a string of meandering anecdotes, like how he once ran into Nick Melas at the community health center, and even with a mask on, Nick was the “best looking guy in the place.” He also recalled the history of Open Mic at Little Grill… let’s see, it started with Ron Copeland, then Jay Zehr hosted it, but “only for a year because he got old,” and then Chris took over in the year 2000 until he left the Grill a year or two ago to become a restaurant manager.

chris howdyshell 2Which led to a story of his near-death experience. He’s taking phlebotomy classes, and during class, students “practice” on each other, and someone accidentally pushed IN on the syringe. Chris expected to die instantly, but he didn’t (obviously)… but his hand, where the needle went in, did swell up and get huge and black and horrifying… and after that big, long story he reminded us that he “paid money for that!” And the last thing I remember was  something about a wicked book from elementary school that scarred him for LIFE.

I wonder, next year… could there be a 36-hour project? Or 48? <cringe> Or, how about this — have a 24-hour project every quarter. This one was so much fun, I’m sure people will be eager to participate and attend the next. Here’s hoping that happens soooooon!

24-hour project survivors 2Copyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

 

 

all day and all of the night: the 24-hour project.

24-Hour Project programsThe week leading up to the 24-Hour Project at Court Square Theater, I only worked one day. It was a teacher workday – we were finishing up first semester grades and planning for the second semester. I had a most productive day. I finished my grading and made a couple weeks’ worth of shiny, pristine, gorgeous lesson plans.

As usual, when I get ahead at work, we get a snowstorm, because the Universe can’t allow me to be fully and confidently prepared for tomorrow. So, we missed school the rest of the week. And each day, I thought, “Surely we’ll go back to school tomorrow,” so I made sure to be AS LAZY AS POSSIBLE that day, staying in bed as late as possible, returning to bed as often as possible, exerting as little effort as HUMANLY POSSIBLE. If I had known, lol, that I’d have a whole week off – man! I would’ve accomplished sooooo much more. I would have cleaned out the fridge, painted my kitchen cabinets, and laundered the linens on all five beds. Instead I ate Cheez-its, drooled on my pillow, and junked up on Dr. Phil. My mind grew as soft as the Playdoh my kids had dropped all over the family room carpet. Meh.

But Friday, January 24, I showered. I dressed. I did the hair and makeup. And I met Brandy at Capital Ale House for a sip before we embarked on the 24-Hour Project. Did we make it the whole 24 hours? Pffffffft. Heck no. For one, we got started a couple hours late. Two, I’d reverted to such an infantile condition that week that I worried what might happen if I wasn’t back in bed with a Binky by 11pm. So… this is a recount of what we actually saw.

When we got to the Capital Ale House that evening, the bartender immediately asked if we were responsible for “those love notes.” Did you see any of those? Someone (and no, it wasn’t us) sent love notes to local businesses. We could tell – based on handwriting and content analysis – that the notes came from a group of people. Creative people. People who could write a love note using the phrase “bloodless corpse” (Midtowne Market’s note). Dragonflies Toys and the Yellow Button also received notes, among other businesses. And Capital Ale House got this one:

Capital Ale HOuse love note frontCapital Ale House love note backWhat a nice ray of sunshine in that dreary week! Ah, Burg. You are so loved!

More evidence of Burg love: the attendance of and participation in that evening’s main event. The 24-Hour Project welcomed 46 acts (more than 200 performers!) who gave of their talents and time to put the Harrisonburg arts community to an “endurance test.” Could a theater stay open for 24 hours straight, managing back-to-back performances, patrons who arrived at all hours, and their own sleep deprivation? Yes. Could artists of all kinds get themselves to the theater and deliver a quality performances at any ungodly hour? Yes. Would patrons be so excited by the variety of performances that they would stay awake and attend the event for 24 full hours? Yes. And this 24-hour period is merely a microcosm of our arts community and the endurance needed to continually promote it and grow it.

We arrived at the theater, got a couple beverages, and found empty seats on the front row. I leafed through the program and read the descriptions of the performers. Some were quite intriguing, like Chris Howdyshell’s invitation to take a shower. Or Akota Chase: “the place you find yourself after drinking just enough to realize you’ve been conversing with the devil.” Or Crab Action, who managed to include “corpse paint,” “space opera,” and “uplifting” in their 40-word description.

First up for us was the JMU Horn Society, who for thirty minutes soothed and entertained us with several French horn pieces… from Handel’s Watermusik to a more playful number, “Hide and Seek.” In fact, JMU was quite involved with the Project, contributing eight performances and more than three hours of entertainment.

JMU Horn Society1 JMU Horn Society 2

Bourbon Barrel Congress hit the stage next, and if you haven’t seen these guys perform, you need to find out when you can and make arrangements. THEY ARE SO GOOD. Ethan Hawkins’ voice made me want to sob during the first number… sadness tinged with a weeeee bit of anger/vengeance/romantic tension: “I want you so bad… I want you so bad.” But then Chris Davis sang. Lordy. “I put some whiskey into my whiskey, I put some heartbreak in my heart” and that whole mournful thang. JUST STOP IT. We were mildly confused when they sang “Nothing Gets You Down Like Your Hometown”… Brandy pointed out that they must be from Staunton. Wamp! Good one!

Bourbon Barrel Congress 1 Bourbon Barrel Congress 2Luke Gibson and friends were… well, hilarious. I laughed continuously for their 15-minute set, even during the “uncomfortable silence” advertised in the program. At times he stood, at times he sat, at times other people came on stage… he joked about the stress of having to perform, his math teacher who sells drugs (it’s a JOKE, people), and delayed sentiments leading to heartache… None of that sounds funny as I read over it now. I guess you had to be there.

Luke Gibson 1 Luke Gibson 2I probably won’t adequately express how, ahem, funny Ivan Christo was, either, during his stand-up routine. He joked about how Virginia is just North Carolina upside down, what if hats could talk, and how some jokes only make sense in Wilmington, and his props (a piece of neon green poster board) added a much-needed element of awkwardness :) Punchlines included “drop your drawers,” “bald beagle,” and “it’s freakin meowt.”

Ivan ChristoDead Professional (aka John Harouff, aka the guy who’s also in Cinnamon Band) is just awesome. He does this thing with drum loops and two vocal tracks and his guitar. He harmonizes with himself. It’s part trickeration and part sheer talent… except it’s no trick: he’s responsible for all the sounds… playing music with his hands and feet and heart and lungs, all by himself.

Dead ProfessionalIt was getting kinda late and my Playdoh mind was wandering. Do musicians ever, during a performance, just get tired of singing? I mean, I love to sing, but I never sing for ninety minutes because I run out of hot water after like thirty. I also sing in the car while my kids cringe in the backseat. And even that’s never longer than thirty minutes or so… and even still I find myself saying, “Man, singing makes me tired!” Maybe I’m just doing it wrong.

The last performance I saw on Friday night was Medicine Calf. They are the loudest two people I’ve ever heard. And I mean that in the best of ways. The drummer played with those giant Q-tip things, and the brushy things – I love that sound. I loved their complicated rhythms and tempos; I heard tones of Pink Floyd and Radiohead at times, and at other times, I’m not exactly sure what happened. But they were phenomenal.

Medicine CalfI got in the car. I was bushed. I thought about the many long hours ahead for the theater staff, volunteers, and performers. I thought how committed and caffeinated they must be. I resolved to return the next day, kids and all. There was too much good stuff; I didn’t want to miss more than I had to.

Growing an arts community isn’t easy. Many people have forgotten that art is a natural part of daily life. It brings depth and meaning to the rest of life. It softens the demands of work. The stress of family. The pinch of finances. Art suspends time, and that suspension is about as good for the soul as anything. After a long day of work, it’s sometimes hard to go back out just to see a couple paintings or a performance. But once there, you are infused with such energy that you want to return soon for more. And that’s why, after a week of Cheez-its and Dr. Phil, I NEEDED to get into that theater for an infusion. The arts cannot be looked upon as extra-curricular, as something one enjoys on a special occasion, or something reserved for those of a particular class. Harrisonburg works hard to provide regular, affordable access to all forms of art, and that work – the constant fundraising and promotion and creation – takes a level of endurance many communities just don’t have. Thankfully, our community does have it.

Stay tuned for the story of Saturday’s performances at Court Square Theater.

Court Square Theater nightCopyright © 2012 – 2014 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

get your act together, Winter.

Does anyone else feel like Nature’s just a wee bit disorganized this winter?
Sheesh. We had that bizarre monsoon last week, followed by a little snow, more rain, wind, rain again, now an “arctic blast” with crack-your-face-in-half wind chills, and later this week it’ll be in the fifties?? Come on!

Meanwhile, my daughter has come down with some horrible virus that doctors can’t identify. I mean, she’s okay… she’s going to be fine… but how much snot can one tiny nose manufacture?? And the fever!! Jeepers!

And because I’m frustrated and need someone to blame, I BLAME THE WEATHER. Get your act together, Winter! Anyway, to help you feel somewhat organized, here’s a list of what’s happening in the Burg this week. Remember, you can email me here (katie@ilovemyburg.com) or send me a FB invitation and I’ll be happy to include your local event on the Happynings page. But you gotta do it by Saturday of the week before your event.

Have a great week, everyone! Stay warm! and then cool. and dry. or whatever — may you be comfortable!

holy cow, it’s almost Christmas.

Today, I’m pooped.

Somehow, in 6 hours yesterday, Michael and I started AND finished our Christmas shopping for five children, AND got all the presents “wrapped.” I use that term loosely, because some of the presents look like wadded up holiday paper you normally see after the gifts have been opened. Oh well. I doubt they’ll notice :)

Have you started your shopping?

Wait, are you one of those people who finished their Christmas shopping before Halloween? If not, don’t worry! You’ve still got plenty of time and plenty of awesome, local businesses with really super gifts. Trust me, I have horrible shopping endurance. If I can get it done on time, anyone can.

So get out there, Harrisonburg, and spend some local bucks. And while you’re out, have a little fun with all the great things happyning this week!

okay, so it’s a little icky.

Okay, so it’s a little icky out there, and maybe your Christmas shopping plans went out the window. I hear ya. I’m a tad behind, too. But maybe today can be one of those spend-time-with-family-get-caught-up-on-laundry-redo-all-my-todo-lists days. And then when this icy stuff clears up, you can hit ground running! Lots happening in the Burg this week!

Check out the Happynings here!