10 Things You Should Bring with You to Harry Potter World

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If there was one thing we learned when we were in Harry Potter World (LA) it’s that stuff is reeeaaaalllly expensive, in a kind of unnecessary way. Not that we didn’t expect for things to be expensive in an amusement park, but the price of things in Harry Potter World were just ridiculous (with the exception of the food which seemed to be pretty similar to what you’d expect).

I guess I just don’t feel like I should be hearing kids ask their parents for allowance from the past 6 months so they can buy a journal, a pen and a pin. That really happened. I’m not kidding. The 8 year old kid paid $90 of his own money for three things. This is wrong.

Needless to say, I didn’t end up buying much of anything there. And once I reached my house, I actually breathed a sigh of relief because I DID THE RIGHT THING. There is no reason to spend those prices at the park itself. We had an amazing time running around the grounds with our wands and my Harry Potter glasses (both of which got a whole lot of compliments from the people who worked there — in total I had bought them both before the trip for $15).

Before you, or your family, venture to Harry Potter World I thought I would make a list of a few things so that you can shop like a Malfoy on a Weasley budget. Because hey, I want you to look amazing and I believe we all deserve to be able to look straight outta Hogwarts.

Phew, that video gets me every time. But here they are, 10 things that I found for way cheaper than when we were at Harry Potter World (click on the images for links). Let’s start off with the things I bought before going:

Where to Buy Your Wand: 

I bought my wand on Etsy at the shop: Osbornes Wand Shop. And this was my best purchase…maybe ever — definitely in regards to my Harry Potter fandom. I got so many compliments on it while I was in Harry Potter World! The best part? It’s not some mass produced item – it’s customized to me!

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Harry Potter’s Glasses: 

Here’s a fun fact, these aren’t even sold at Harry Potter World. Which is such a missed opportunity, I feel. I still don’t understand why they weren’t there. I also got a lot of compliments on these. In fact, one of the ladies who worked there was like, “Where did you get those!? I’ve been looking for a pair everywhere!”  You can snag your pair by visiting this shop: Harry Potter Platform 9 3/4

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Everything Else:

*Disclosure* I am a very proud Slytherin and hence all of this gear will be Slytherin based. If you participate in a Hogwarts house that has a problem with that…

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Mugs:

I really wanted a mug because I sit at a desk 8 hours a day and having a Harry Potter mid-day reminder is never a bad idea. But I was a bit shocked when I turned the mug at HPW upside down and saw the $40 price tag! That was just a no-go. Buying something that will potentially break during the transfer back home, for $40, was just not going to happen. Luckily, I found literally the cutest Hedwig mug the world has ever known AND a Slytherin mug both of which could be purchased for less than that price. At $10 for one and $18 for the other it’s an investment I can definitely swing.

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Sweatshirt: 

I’m not even going to tell you how much I wanted to buy a Slytherin sweatshirt when I was in HPW but with prices at $60 – $80 that just wasn’t going to happen. BUT I found some beautiful sweaters online that don’t break the bank, and actually look better! In love. Check out this beautiful Slytherin Quidditch sweatshirt from Etsy!

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Journals:

I’m a writer, so obviously I can never have too many notebooks, journals etc. I pretty much always carry one with me, so it was kind of disappointing to find out that the journals for sale in HPW were like $40. I mean, come on, they didn’t even have real leather covers. I was trés sad. When I got home I found this beautiful journal for $13 from Amazon that looks pretty much exactly on point with what I was holding in my hands at HPW, at a fraction of the price.

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Passport Cover:

Obviously I travel a lot. So when I saw that HPW was selling passport holders I kind of lost my mind. Then I looked at the price $25…not bad. But then I looked at the quality: shit (sorry mom – but it WAS). The passport cover wasn’t real leather and the stitching wasn’t even in a straight line. So, for this one, it’s not even about the price, just about the terrible quality. I found a beautiful leather (customizable!) passport case on Etsy that is just about the stuff of dreams…for the same price.

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Banner: 

Wall banners were a really big thing at HPW and I really wanted one. Maybe it’s because I’m a Slytherin and want everybody to know it (we tend to be very pro-us). Who knows? All I know is that there was a big green thing on the wall with a snake that said “I’m better than you” (that’s what the Latin translates to, right?) and I wanted it. Good thing I waited. Those bad boys were pushing $40 and I found a much prettier adult one, for $20 (by adult I just mean that I can actually hang in my house without people staring).  P.s. If you want a more colorful one, you can find them on Amazon for much cheaper, as well.

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BONUS!

One of the best things we saw someone wearing at Harry Potter World couldn’t even be bought there. We were obsessed with a Gryffindor letterman jacket of British girl in front of us was wearing and seeing the Slytherin version is even better! Right now you can grab one at HotTopic for under $40!

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Fantastic Beasts…Anything:

The most disappointing part of HPW was that there was absolutely no mention or anything close to purchase from Fantastic Beasts. I was so sad because I had planned on buying the screenplay there, and then it wasn’t even for sale. I did find it for sale at the airport for $30 but even that was a stretch. Luckily Amazon has it right now for $15, so it’s a must buy.

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As a side note, you definitely should buy some butter beer and have a meal at The Three Brooms restaurant. Comment below with your favorite Harry Potter themed items, and let me know if you end up buying any of these awesome pieces above! 🙂

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Los Angeles Day 1-2

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It’s pretty hard for me to rest when I travel. In fact, even though it’s called a “vacation” I usually generally end up trying to fit in as many things as possible. This trip is no exception.

When we first bought tickets to LA, for a trip to Harry Potter World, it was pretty spur of the moment. And by that I mean there was no plan or thought that went into that purchase at all. We saw cheap tickets, we bought them. And after that I pretty much forgot about the trip, with the exception of buying a wand and knitting my roommate a Gryffindor scarf.

Usually I plan out trips pretty crazily with mile long lists of what I want to do and see in each place. This trip didn’t start with a list, but one somehow one manifested itself by the time we checked into our Airbnb. So here we are, at the end of the second day, and I haven’t had one moment of down time. Luckily LA is a huge city filled with awesome things to do – how could we NOT fill our itinerary?

Yesterday
We boarded our plane from Seattle to LA pretty early yesterday, and were lucky enough to get seats next to each other (despite Spirit airlines trying to up-sell us for the exact same seats we got for nothing). The flight itself was perfectly fine once we took off into the air. But, true to their reputation, Spirit airlines made us wait a full hour on the plane before taking off. Needless to say, we arrived quite a bit later in California.

Nothing could dampen our spirits, though…except, perhaps, the impossible task of getting from the airport to downtown LA. We finally (and by finally I mean after asking three people) we were told that the “only way” to get there was via taxi. This was a lie. And I guess we should have seen it coming, since we were asking someone who worked for the taxi company. After stumbling around we finally figured out you can take a shuttle to the metro from the airport, or a bus to the transit center and then go to the metro.

We met an all too happy bus driver who exchanged his life story for every transportation related or directional related question we asked. With his help, figured out that the best way to get around on the metro and the buses is to buy a day pass and use that, unlimited, for the whole day. It’s definitely a good deal once you’re jumping from bus to bus from each tourist attraction to the next.

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Once we finally found our way to downtown LA we visited Last Bookstore which is a bit like Powell’s Books (for those of you from the PNW) but with pillars, book art and a mammoth head on the wall. It was fun, but most of the books were priced higher than my budget. Not to mention that, in order not to be charged $60 for our backpacks (thanks again Spirit Airlines) we needed to keep them under certain restrictions, such as size and weight.

After the bookstore, we headed to our Airbnb, which was described to us as an “up and coming” neighborhood. For those of you who don’t know what that means in LA, if means that it probably could be considered the ghetto, but slowly people with higher incomes are moving in…house by house. Sadly it’s still a bit scary to walk around in the dark or anything, but the house itself is a converted residence to now almost dorm with somewhere around 10 sparsely decorated rooms. Oh, and the walls have absolutely no sound proofing…and I do mean none.

Once we got to our house yesterday we were just about to call it a night when we saw an add for a museum we wanted to hit up. Buuuuuut it was closed. So we started brainstorming other ideas. I thought of Roller Derby for absolutely no particular reason (except that it’s awesome – duh) and it turned out that not only is there Roller Derby in LA but their Championship game was last night.

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Let me tell you something about Roller Derby: those girls are insane. The energy was an A+ in the warehouse turned Roller racing rink (or is it called a race track?). The language was definitely rated PG-13, and there was a gloriously bizarre amount of black lipstick and face paint. Throw that in with some short shorts, fish nets and tight tight clothing and you’re in for business!

A few highlights from the night:
– That time a girl triple lapped the other team
– When one of the teams literally had more than 100 points on their opponents
– When one of the smaller players got slammed over the railing by the elbow of an opponent…which by the way is against the rules (although I don’t feel like that girl gave a shit that she was breaking them)

All in all I left the place grinning from ear to ear. What a night. The energy was insane. If you ever have the chance to go see a Roller Derby or go to the LA ‘Dolloseum’ do it.

And…I was planning on including day 2 in this post but I’m falling asleep so I’ll write it up tomorrow. Time for some sleep!

One Glass Of Unicorn Blood: Shaken, Not Stirred

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If I was Voldemort, art would be my unicorn blood.

Okay, okay. Kinda gross and sort of dramatic. But it’s true!

Before you walk away gagging, let me explain: 

Art is my life blood and keeps me sustained.

And while it doesn’t require a life long curse, it does require a lot of sacrifice. How often is that the case, though? The things we love, the things we are passionate, what makes everything ‘just feel right’ comes at a price.

Adulting.

Here I am, sitting the morning after a show I painted at, and I can barely keep my eyes open. I slept a full 7 hours, but this is one of those moments when I’m blatantly aware that I am no longer the college freshman who did homework until midnight, then sprung out of bed at 6am for work the next morning.

Lately, I’ve been VERY aware of my own limitations.

And let me tell you, it’s a feeling that’s pretty upsetting and kind of annoying. I hate being limited. I hate not being able to do every. single. thing. that pops into my head. I want to travel everywhere, live on Twitter, blog everyday, paint everything, work 80 hours a week and still have time to maintain healthy relationships and exercise 7 times a week.

Wouldn’t that be nice? If only I wasn’t human.

The reality is – I have limits. And I don’t think enough of us admit that. I’m not talking about being lazy, so don’t think leaning back in a pile of potato chips on the couch, while streaming soap operas, is what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about good ole-fashioned lack of ability to have more hours than life provides.

And while I know you gentlemen feel this way, as well – I’m going to call out the pressure that we, as women, feel to be EVERYTHING.

A lot of the time it feels like I need to be the perfect career woman, the perfect blogger, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect daughter the perfect roommate, the perfect friend, the perfect writer, the perfect editor. Oh, and also volunteer every weekend, be devastatingly fit, and have all my student loans paid off like 10 years ago.

(NOTE: I wasn’t even in college 10 years ago)

The point is, this is INSANE.

And I’m calling it.

There is no way to live up to this constant standard of perfection, and while I do very strongly agree that healthy life = happy life. Let’s reevaluate what that means.

Not to compare the U.S. to France, again, buuuuuuuuut…

In France women are not perfect mothers. They don’t have to be, and honestly I don’t think they want to be. Motherhood is just one piece (like being a vegetarian or a yogi) that makes up who they are.

In France there are days and days of vacation time when people literally sit around and “do nothing.” Or, to be specific, they lay around in gardens and on lawns and in front of amazing buildings that look like movie backgrounds.

In France you work so that you have more time to enjoy your life. Not so that you can pay back student loan gods who hold you in shackles for 40 years.

Obviously there are problems with any society, and France is not immune. But the overarching culture is sometimes storybook-esque.

Sometimes that drove me crazy, when I was living there. But now, I think I’m starting to get it.

I’m starting to understand that there’s no way to win in this American system.

Last weekend I got to hear some of the most successful people I can think of talk about their success, and guess what? They still don’t feel like they’ve “made it.”

Why? Because we’re holding ourselves to an impossible standard.

Okay, now the happy part:

We don’t have to live this way. We don’t have to do everything and be everything. In fact, I don’t believe we were ever meant to. courtney-e-martin-quoteLet’s refocus for a minute.

One of my favorite quotes is by author Courtney E. Martin, who wrote a fantastic book called Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body.

“We are a generation of young women who were told we could do anything and instead heard that we had to be everything.”

Every time I read this quote, it’s like a slap in the face and a breath of fresh air.

This has been resonating with me a lot, lately, as I try to tackle 60 hour work weeks while maintaining a semi-normal life outside of my 3/4 jobs. It’s not easy. But I do my best, and I’ve decided that that is enough. I might not be producing my best ever art, or updating my social media/Etsy more than once a month but that’s okay. I’m still pressing forward.

Can I get an amen?

Okay, but really. I AM a huge advocate of hard work. But I also think it’s really important that we realize — we are not robots. We’re divinely created temples. And temples are places to be valued and loved.

So, today, wherever you are in life, that you’re reading this, just know that it’s okay not to have “it all together.”

I give you permission to be tired. To be a little messy. To be a little human. And to love your life, and yourself a little more.

Love extravagantly. Be kind to one another. And…