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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fandemic Tour Brought the Fun to Houston

I was invited to Fandemic Tour's first run in Houston the weekend of September 14-16th, and I'm here to tell you, this has to go on your Houston bucket list when it returns!

Fandemic Tour brought a variety of pop culture icons to NRG Center, including several cast members of The Walking Dead (Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Stephen Yeun, and Pollyanna Mackintosh), a Smallville reunion (Tom Welling, John Schneider, and Michael Rosenbaum), legend Bruce Campbell, Guardians of the Galaxy's Sean Gunn, Michael Rooker, and Chris Sullivan, wrestlers Paige and Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Superman Dean Cain, Boondock Saints' Sean Patrick Flannery and David Della Rocca, Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Clare Kramer, and quite a few more.



The celebrity guests could usually be found at their tables signing autographs, but there were also scheduled photo ops where you could have your photo taken with your favorites, and many of the guests did panels upstairs where they spoke to guests about their various projects and answered audience questions. I was able to attend the panels for Michael Rooker, Bruce Campbell, and Sean Gunn and Chris Sullivan. Being the bucket lister I am, I took the opportunity to ask them what was on their personal bucket lists. Michael Rooker said he doesn't have one and just takes life as it comes. Bruce Campbell marked the number one thing off his bucket list when he was able to watch a movie he was in, in the movie theater he frequented. Chris Sullivan wants to get a tattoo. I highly recommend attending the panels, as you can get so much insight into the movies and shows, as well as the personalities of the celebrity guests. I have to say that all of the above I saw were hilarious and highly entertaining, and were also amazing with their fans. Bruce Campbell called one fan's father and spoke to him on the phone, brought a fan on stage for impromptu acting lessons, and told part of a story while laying on the floor. Michael Rooker walked around the room talking to his fans. You just never know what will happen!





In addition to the celebrity guest panels, there were also other panels you could attend upstairs. I attended panels for casting with resin, body painting for cosplay, and a Hamilton sing along with some adorable kids. Not only were the panels a great break from walking around on the main floor, I learned quite a few things about casting and body paint. I honestly think I may have gained a new hobby with making items from a casting mold. That's something for the bucket list for certain!


One of the coolest parts of the convention, to me, were the artists that were in attendance. My husband and I were able to get ourselves drawn as The Simpsons characters by actual The Simpsons artist Phil Ortiz and colored in by Hanna Barbera artist Tom Cook. We also met original Jim Henson cartoonist Guy Gilchrist, who drew my very favorite Muppet, Sweetums, for me. I will treasure these illustrations for ever and already have them hanging on my wall at home.


And of course there were vendors galore, selling a myriad of toys, autographs, comic books, art prints, cosplay items, soap, and more. My favorite were the authors, being the bookworm that I am. I spoke to several and was very impressed at how great their books sounded! I can't wait to read them.



I had an amazing time and am already very excitedly looking forward to next year, to see what else I can cross off my bucket list at Fandemic. Here are some more of my favorite photos from the Fandemic Tour convention! Hope to see you all next year. 












Thursday, August 30, 2018

Fandemic Tour Houston Is Coming


Fandemic Tour 
A New Convention Experience
September 14th, 15th, and 16th 
at NRG Center in Houston Texas



There's a new convention rolling in to NRG Center in Houston on September 14-16th, and you are definitely going to want to add it to your bucket list! Fandemic Tour, by veteran comic convention producer John Macaluso, just finished a successful run in Sacramento this summer and will be joining us in Houston for the first time ever.  Get your tickets now!

Comic and Pop Culture fans alike will be intrigued by actors from The Walking Dead, Smallville, Guardians of the Galaxy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, This is Us, Gilmore Girls, and Boondock Saints, as well as WWE's Paige, Lois and Clark's Dean Cain, Green/White Ranger Jason David Frank, and The Evil Dead's Bruce Campbell, amongst others. There will be many artists, creators, attractions and fan groups as well.  A full lineup of guests and attractions can be found at Guest List. Photo ops and autograph tickets can be purchased here.





There will be three main stages to visit while you're at Fandemic. The first stage is where the celebrity guests will be, signing autographs and doing photo ops. The second stage will feature local artists, creators, shops, and the like. The third stage is the live stage which will feature live streaming podcasters throughout the weekend.

In addition to the spectacular line up, attendees will also be able to participate in the Cosplay Contest. Starting at 8pm on Saturday, September 15th Fandemic will feature an on-site cosplay contest hosted by Clare Kramer and Jason David Frank on the main stage. It's free to enter and there will be some really cool prizes to win for several different categories such as Best Group, Best Child, etc. Registration info can be found at the Information Booth.  I marked doing Cosplay off my bucket list years before, and it's so much fun! Don't be shy, lots of people will be in costume!

The popular Drink and Draw event will be held at 7pm and hosted by Clinton Hobart. This event is open to anyone with an admission ticket.

Sunday will be Family Day. Kids 10 and under will be welcomed free with a paying adult. There will be a lot of kid-friendly, socially-responsible programming on the second stage, face painting. a kid's merchandise shop, as well as a cosplay contest just for the kiddos. Be sure to bring the little ones along with you on Sunday Sept. 16th!


Are you as excited as I am yet? Make sure you set a reminder to join the Twitter Party on Thursday September 6th at 8pm CST/9 pm ET. Lots of great prizes, including TWO VIP tickets and more, will be given away and you'll get a sneak peek at the great stuff happening at Fandemic Tour!


I hope to see you all there!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Malawi's Pizza with a Purpose

During the latter months of the year many people are on the look out for ways they can give back and do some good while they're celebrating the holidays. I recently discovered a fun restaurant in my area, where you can help the less fortunate and enjoy some amazing food at the same time. I was invited a bit over a week ago to try Malawi's Pizza at a private event they were holding to celebrate having donated over one million meals (Yes, you read that correctly!) to hungry children in the African country of Malawi from the sales of their food from their pizza restaurant chain. It's in Sienna Plantation in Missouri City Texas, on the Southwest side of Houston, and I drive by it often but hadn't had the chance to stop by yet, so I jumped at the chance.








The ambiance is just breath taking, with African art and even an acacia tree in the middle of the restaurant. As my husband and I sampled dish after dish, we were able to listen to the owner of the Sienna (and soon-to-be Katy, TX), franchise, Cheryl Franco, speak about how Malawi's Pizza got its start, after co-founder Blake Roney had taken a humanitarian trip to Malawi and witnessed the poverty there, with almost 3 million people struggling with hunger. He teamed up with chef Kent Anderson to provide a way to help feed the children in a regular, and sustained way. With the Meal-for-Meal Exchange program the company is able to deliver nutrient-dense meals to children and families in villages throughout Malawi. Local franchise owners Cheryl and Frank Franco have also been giving back in the area, donating meals, money and supplies to first responders, community groups, and local charities as well as volunteering at the Sienna Shared Blessings Warehouse nearby in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.




 Of course as wonderful as all the giving back is, it doesn't mean much if the food isn't good, right? Well, don't worry, I tried almost everything they had to offer and it's all delicious. If you've ever seen the episode of Friends where Joey says there are no unselfish good deeds because of the pleasure we get from doing them, well, eating at Malawi's Pizza is one of those good deeds that is so pleasurable it's hard not to forget you're helping others at the same time.
Dining at Malawi's Pizza is absolutely an experience for the Houston Bucket List, and I'll leave it up to you whether you file that under food or charity.

If you want to stay up to date on specials and more at Malawi’s Pizza, follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/malawispizzasiennaplantation/ or on Instagram at @malawipizzasienna







*I was invited to try Malawi's Pizza for free in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Wings Over Houston Air Show 2016 Twitter Party Giveaway!

* I received compensation of air show tickets in exchange for this blog post. *

Houston, it's time again to feel the need, the need for speed! The Wings Over Houston Air Show is coming back again and it's going to be amazing. Did you know it's been rated number 4 out of the top 10 air shows in the country? I don't even know what to tell you about first. The Blue Angels? Tora! Tora! Tora!? Or the fact that Wings Over Houston is one of only six North American air shows that will have an actual flight by the F-35 lightning. This may be your only opportunity to see it in action! 


Used By Permission Tora! Tora! Tora!


The Wings Over Houston air show has a special place in my heart. When I was a kid, my grandfather would always take me every year and try to teach me all about the planes flying over. He was a an airplane obsessive,  or a "wing nut" as he called himself. At the time I wasn't interested much in the history or technical workings on the planes, I just enjoyed spending time with my grandparents and watching the dragon-like machines roar over head as I covered my ears. Now that I'm older I care more about the history behind the re-enactments. Back in 2007 I had the amazing experience of visiting Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, learning about the attack on the USS Arizona by the Japanese that prompted the US's involvement in World War II. I read the names of the men who died in the attack, and even met a elderly vet who was a survivor from the USS Arizona. That's why I'm so excited to see the live re-enactment of Tora! Tora! Tora! at the air show this year. They will show you exactly how it was that fateful day on Dec 7, 1941 when Japanese planes dropped the bombs. You'll hear the explosions and see what the men saw as they looked up in to the sky on what may have been their last morning. 


Used By Permission U.S. Navy Blue Angels



Of course the Blue Angels are always a huge hit. Over 484 million people have seen them perform since they began in 1946, and it's always quite the show. The men and women of the Blue Angels are from the Navy and Marines, and they perform expert maneuvers with breathtaking precision. The rolls, turns, and formations include some they've been performing since 1946. 
Anyone who is interested in airplanes, jets, the military, or history will surely be entertained by the show, but it's also a great way to create life long memories with your kids and grandkids. Just make sure you bring some earplugs for sensitive ears as it can get very loud! 
In addition to the things I've mentioned above, there will also be lots more performances, the chance to meet pilots and get autographs, many planes and jets on display (it's like the museum coming to you! How cool is that?), a kids zone with a rock climbing wall, go karts and more, as well as food and souvenir vendors. To see the full lineup and schedule, go to https://wingsoverhouston.com


How would you like to win tickets to the Wings Over Houston Air Show and see all this amazing stuff live and up close? Join the Twitter party on October 6th at 8pm CST and you could win one of these prize packs - 
2 Family Pack of tickets - that's 2 adult and up to 4 children ($55 value) (2 winner each receive 2 tickets ) Adult General Admission tickets (value $21.50 each ticket) 2 Eagle Squadron Sunday (VIP tickets) (Value $300.00)


Two winners will be randomly selected from the Twitter Party to receive a Family Pass to the Airshow good Saturday or Sunday.
Two winners will receive Two General Admission Tickets to the Airshow good Saturday or Sunday.
One GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive 2 VIP EAGLE SQUADRON TICKETS good Sunday only.
Must be 18+, travel to and from the airshow is not included. Winners are randomly selected and announced during the Twitter Party. Your email will be needed in order to fulfill prizes.
Don't put off buying your tickets until the last minute as you can get some great discounts buying online . Ticket prices will go up on Oct 1st!

My family, my fellow panelists, and I are really excited about this year's show and I hope you will come out and join us. Other panelists who will be attending and covering the air show are -


@greatbeernow                @creative_meli       @daddystylediary  
and don't forget to follow @moneysvgparent  @HoustonAirshow and the hashtag #wohairshow
If you're on Facebook you can join the Facebook Event as well. Invite your friends and family to come out and join you for the show!


Disclosure: This giveaway/Twitter Party is brought to you by the CAF Wings Over Houston Airshow. All opinions are 100% my own and my family’s. Participating panelist and Houston Bucket Lister/Get Off the Couch are not responsible for items lost in the mail or not shipped by the sponsor. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. Odds of winning are based on number of entries received. Giveaways on this blog are in no way affiliated with Facebook or any other social media networks on which they may be shared.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Review post - 42 Travel Hidden Neck/Belt Wallet

*Disclaimer - I received this product at a discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and the product price does not affect my rating in any way*

Travel is a huge priority on  many bucket lists, including my own. When you're overseas or even in heavily populated areas at home, it's always nerve wracking to think of losing your wallet, to pickpockets or your own bad luck. Considering the many important things we carry inside our wallets, it's imperative that we protect it as well as possible.
When I went to China in 2006 I used one of the kinds of hidden wallets that go around your waist, but I ended up ditching it halfway through my trip because it was hot, sweaty, rubbed uncomfortably, and it was embarrassing having to lift up my shirt to get anything out. I can't count the number of weird looks I got from people after they told me how much my purchase cost and I started lifting up my shirt. Thankfully with this new hidden neck/belt wallet from 42 Travel, which you can purchase on Amazon here - 42 Travel Hidden Neck/Belt Wallet I can hide my important documents, credit cards and cash without sacrificing my comfort doing so.
The 42 Travel Wallet also has RFID protection up to 99.9% so you don't have to worry about nefarious people trying to access your information or having it be magnetically erased.
Here's a short video I recorded to show how it works to protect against thieves -

I'm looking forward to using this wallet on my trip to Italy next year! 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

What's on a Celebrity's Bucket List?

What does a bucket lister do when given the opportunity to speak to some really cool guests at Comicpalooza? She asks them what's on their bucket list!
I was given the amazing experience of being able to interview some very talented people before and during the Comicpalooza comic convention, held annually here in Houston Texas, and I couldn't help asking them about their own goals and dreams. Here's what they answered - 

Livvy Stubenrauch (Young Anna from Frozen) - moving to Los Angeles, continuing to do voice acting and movies, and going to college.

Eva Bella - (Young Elsa from Frozen, Shimmer and Shine, Parenthood) - traveling to all 50 states. 


Ming Chen - (Comic Book Men on AMC) - it varies from visiting every country to becoming a Yoga instructor, going into space, hang gliding over the Serengeti, and swimming with great whites sharks in South Africa.


Anita Long  (President of Women in Film) - continuing to build her girls' program globally. 

Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk, Celebrity Apprentice) - would like to work on a TV sitcom on a weekly basis.

Chuck Huber (Star Trek, Dragonball Z, Soul Eater) - to make more movies, climb Mt Everest, and own a flying car or a flying machine and be able to use it legitimately to commute. 

Chris Kirkpatrick (N*Sync, Fairly Oddparents, Dead 7) - jumping out of a plane.

AJ McClean (Backstreet Boys, Dead 7) - flying in a fighter jet and playing with wolves in the wild. He just marked off swimming with dolphins 5 days before I spoke to him. Go AJ! 

Erik-Michael Estrada (O-Town, Making the Band, Dead 7) - being in any upcoming Star Wars movie. 

Kel Mitchell (Kenan and Kel, Good Burger, Game Shakers) - jumping out of a plane and being able to swim well.

Burton Bell (Fear Factory) - going into space.

Dino Cazares (Fear Factory) - as far as Houston, finding the best Mexican restaurant. Overall, making the band as big as possible.



I wish all of these great people the best of luck in achieving all their goals. Appreciation to everyone for talking with me!

(I was given four 3 day passes in exchange for my participation at Comicpalooza, however all thoughts, opinions, and experiences are entirely my own)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Comicpalooza 2016

Sadly my favorite time of the year has come and gone once again. I am so grateful to have been able to be a part of Comicpalooza again this year in Houston. I decided shortly after leaving the convention last year that I was going to dress up this time, and immediately started working on a concept for my cosplay. I ended up going with Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series of video games and movies. I was nervous, as a 41 year old mother of 5, if I could pull it off but the wonderful thing about Comicpalooza is that anyone can be who they want to be there and it doesn't matter what your age, physical ability, or appearance is. When you don your costume and enter the George R Brown, you are accepted and appreciated. One of my favorite cosplay I saw this weekend was a man in a wheelchair dressed as Super Mario and his chair was outfitted as a Mario Cart. The woman with him was dressed as Princess Peach. How wonderful is that?














I started off Friday morning by checking out the 22,000 Mars Orion mock-up that NASA brought to their exhibit. I was also able to speak with Darrel Raines about the Orion.



Although some of the guests were not scheduled to be at the convention until Saturday and Sunday, there were still plenty of people to get autographs and photos with, and the shorter lines were definitely a big plus. As I was standing at the booth of Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali with my friend Josh Barry, also a drummer in a band called Jealous Creatures, before the convention, I mentioned to him that Josh was a huge fan and asked if he wouldn't mind speaking to us on camera. He agreed and I let Josh do most of the talking as meeting Mr. Banali was on his bucket list.




In addition to the celebrities, there are numerous artists and vendors in the main exhibit hall. As tempting as it was to spend an entire paycheck on all the cool art and merchandise, I managed to restrain myself and only buy a few prints and an autographed X-files picture for my husband for Father's Day. My son was excited to be able to get autographs from Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and David Prowse (Darth Vader).




Saturday I decided to spend some time talking to various celebrity guests about what is on their bucket lists and how they were enjoying Houston. I got some really great answers from Greyston Holt and Steve Lund from Bitten, the metal band Fear Factory, Chris Kirkpatrick of N*Sync, AJ McClean of Backstreet Boys, and Kel Mitchell of Game Shakers and Good Burger, which I will discuss in my next blog post. The big highlight of the day for me was getting my photo taken with Bill Paxton, who was there for the big Aliens 30 year reunion, along with many other members of the movie's cast. I've seen Titanic and Twister probably hundreds of times, no lie, so I was giddy with glee over meeting him. He was incredibly nice and let me know that he didn't think it was crazy at all that I'd seen his films so many times (imagine that!). He started to tell me about a new series he has coming out, but the little girls in line behind me jumped in and he couldn't finish. I know I'm looking forward to it though.
I can't talk Julia, we've got cows!

Sunday I got my photo op with Norman Reedus, aka Darryl Dixon of The Walking Dead, and I attended two panels. One was for Michael Rooker of Walking Dead, Guardians of the Galaxy and Mallrats. I arrived late due to having waited in line for Norman, but still managed to catch lots of fun stuff. The second panel I attended was the Boondock Saints Q&A. I've loved this movie for years so I was quite excited to be able to cover it. About 26 minutes in to the panel, Norman Reedus came out and sang Happy Birthday to Clifton Collins Jr and gave him a cake. Amazing moment!



If you have not yet attended Comicpalooza because you don't think there's anything for you, let me just put that notion to rest immediately. Yes, there are comic book illustrators, and there's also celebrity guests from various genres such as film and tv, wrestling, and music, there are panels on topics such as writing, paranormal investigating, obtaining scholarships, origami, drawing, film making, as well as celebrity panels. There's NASA, laser tag, costume contests, roller derby, Doomsday wrestling, BMX biking, and this year there was even a Japanese fashion show. The lineup changes from year to year, but one that that never changes is that Comicpalooza has something for everyone. And I am already excited for next time!

Charlie Hunnam AKA Jax Teller walked right past me!