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Halloween DIY: The Grand Budapest Hotel

This Halloween, I put on my rose-tinted spectacles and entered The Grand Budapest Hotel.

If you have yet to watch this film or any other movie by the incredibly talented Wes Anderson, you need to run to your nearest movie store, click to your favorite online site, or purchase it as a download — I don’t care how you do it (as long as it’s legal), but do it now!

I love the way Wes Anderson creates technicolor worlds, not just stories, for the viewer to become completely immersed in. I emerge feeling bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and inspired.

After viewing The Grand Budapest Hotel earlier this month, it hit me: Agatha & Zero!

Anderson’s characters are so unique and iconic that they make great costumes. For those unfamiliar with The Grand Budapest Hotel, Agatha is a professional pastry chef at Mendl’s Bakery and Zero Moustafa is a lobby boy (and the eventual owner) of the Grand Budapest. They become friends, fall in love, and Agatha assists Zero in helping M. Gustave, the hotel’s concierge, after is he arrested for murder.

Agatha’s most striking feature is the large birth mark on her face in the shape of Mexico. She’s most often seen in a dress and apron, baking treats in the Mendl’s kitchen or hand-delivering boxes of desserts.

For my Agatha costume, I wore a super cheap dress I purchased from a thrift store, and an apron I made from a length of blue fabric purchased at a craft store. I made her Society of the Crossed Keys necklace from a wooden circle (craft store), leftover apron fabric, white paint, and black permanent marker. I covered a small, white cake box in pink paper and pasted a Mendl’s logo on one side. I braided my hair on each side and used a brown eyebrow liner to add Agatha’s birthmark to my cheek.

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Zero Moustafa is the Grand Budapest’s dedicated lobby boy, as indicated by his hat. Zero’s work uniform is a head-to-toe purple suit. He draws on a thin mustache each morning to begin his day at work.

For Austin’s Zero costume, he wore a purple silk shirt we found from a local antique store. We cut off excessive fabric and the collar to match Zero’s. For his “Lobby Boy” hat, we used card stock to create the basic hat shape. He covered it in leftover fabric from the shirt (you can use purple vinyl), and added the letters with gold pen.

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Listen up fellas — you need a freshly shaved face to pull off Zero’s look. Don’t forget to pencil in your mustache!

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We nixed the purple pants because we couldn’t find a pair that was less than $30, and we wanted costumes on a budget. In total, my costume was around $12.

We were so excited to dive into Wes Anderson’s world and share our Agatha and Zero looks for Halloween. While not many people recognized the costumes (I was asked if I was a Girl Scout), we loved every bit of it and thought we looked fantastic.

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How do you think we did? Are you dressing up for Halloween? Share with us in the comments below!

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My Secret to Reading Tons of Books

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray

Go throw your TV set away

and in its place, you can install

a lovely bookshelf on the wall.”

  •  “Television” by Roald Dahl

 

I like to believe that people who don’t enjoy reading simply haven’t found the right book yet, but more and more I see that this isn’t the case for most people.

Our attention spans have decreased. We can’t sit still enough to read books. Instead, we pick up a book only to then take out our phones and endlessly scroll. When we stop scrolling, we forget why we picked up the book in the first place.

The beautiful stories that lie in literary fiction are awaiting us.

 

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For me, reading is like breathing. Sometimes when I’m reading, I’m so immersed in the other world that I can’t even hear my mom calling me for dinner. Reading lets me get out of my head and explore something else. In the words of Rory Gilmore, “I live in two worlds, one is a world of books.” Among many things, reading broadens your perspective, relaxes your mind, amplifies your creativity, expands your vocabulary, and sharpens your focus. 

In fact, the one habit ultra-successful people have in common is their reading habits. (Check it out!)

And there’s nothing sexier than a book shelf.

 

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When I’m not doing other things, you’ll find me like this, curled up with my nose buried in a book, which stirs a question by many — “How do you read so much?”

Always be reading. That’s always my first answer. The single best way to read a lot of books is to always be reading. On your commute. Before bed. At lunch. It’s not about reading at the cost of doing something else, it’s about reading when you aren’t doing anything. You’d be amazed at how often you can sneak in a few pages. Baby napping? Read a page. Waiting in the doctor’s office? Read a page. Five minutes until class starts? Ok, you get the idea.

 

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Set a goal. On January 1, I set a reading goal for the year. Note: it’s important to make it a realistic goal. It’s always better to start low and surpass your goal than struggle to hit it. I set a goal to read, on average, a book a week, or 52 a year. It doesn’t work out to exactly a book a week, but the goal keeps me on track.

Read what you love. I do think you can cultivate a love of reading. Many of us learn to not like reading because in school, we’re forced to read in a way that doesn’t work for us — the wrong content, the wrong pacing, the wrong explorations. If you are trying to cultivate a love of reading, read things that you love. It could be comics, it could be memoirs of your heroes, or it could be small town mysteries. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t know, start something and see. The important thing is to be honest with yourself. If you don’t like it, stop reading it, even if it’s the book of the year, and even if your best friend said you’d love it.

 

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Don’t be afraid to quit a book, but do so sparingly. If some book isn’t doing it for you, it’s okay to quit reading it, but I’ve found that persevering often reaps rewards. A good rule of thumb is to only quit a book after you’ve gotten a third of the way, or even half of the way through. 

Wean off social media. Try to cut down on time-wasters. Turn off your phone. Think about the hours you spend mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. With all that stimulation gone, your mind will find reading literature a lot more appealing.

Get a library card. Reading is free! Get all the books your heart desires. The library is truly my happy place, and it is gravely underutilized.

 

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Build a reading list. I am a die-hard Goodreads fan. Right now I have about 713 books in my queue. If you finish one book, pick up the next. I like to read a single page of a new book as soon as I finish the last book. This way, I’m committed to reading another book. 

Download Goodreads. It’s the only social media I will ever tout. When I type ‘goo’ into my browser, Goodreads comes up before Google.

  • It makes reading social. 
  • It encourages you to read more books. 
  • It helps you keep track of books you’ve read and want to read
  • It recommends books based on your interests

And much more!

It’s like the happiest cult I’ve been a part of. Anytime someone mentions anything to do with books, I say, “You know what would help with that? Goodreads.” Go ahead and follow me while you’re at it. 

 

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Get started. That’s it. The final tip is to quit with the excuses and just dive in! I’ve compiled a short list of some of my 5-star rated books of a variety of genres to get you started:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Happy reading!


Finding Joy in Everyday Life

We spend A LOT of time waiting. It’s almost like we’re spending the majority of our time waiting for something to happen – for that Friday to come, for something better to come along, for vacation, for the weekend.

You can spend your entire life, saying things like “I’ll be happy when I [fill in the blank]“. You can spend the rest of your life waiting to start living. Or you can start now. Because your life is now.

Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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