OUTFIT OF THE DAY, NOVEMBER 7 (2018) – BEATLES & PASTELS

Beatles Abbey Road t-shirt // pastel Chevron shorts // sushi print novelty socks // Doc Martens // purple lenses glasses used as hair accessory // Wet ‘n Wild pastel paint palette eyeshadow in orange 


I love the contrast between the darkness/masculine elements of the Beatles t-shirt (which is a new addition to my wardrobe, & I wore it for the first time a week ago at my Busch Gardens Tampa audition!) & the feminine pastel of this shorts (which I got in the children’s section!). The same contrast also occurs between the edginess of the Doc Martens & the playfulness of the purple fake glasses (which as they are unreasonably big for my face, I decided they looked quite nice as a hair accessory). And the sushi socks are just there to be funky. I love contrast in an outfit, & I love funkiness more than pretty much anything, so when you take funky things THAT contrast, it takes it to a whole new level of Funkytown.

WHAT I PLAN TO GET AT TAMPA REPTICON 2018

Well, first off I am EXCITED because one of my favorite times of year is coming up…

*drumroll*

Christmas?

Nope. That’s good & all, but what’s coming to the Tampa area sooner than that?

That’s right. 

REPTICON. 

Repticon, unlike Christmas, comes to my city three times a year. In February of this year, it was my first time attending. That’s where I got my first three reptiles: the wonderful crested geckos Baby Pineapple, Toe Bean, & Pinwheel Shark. Oh, & I also got to HOLD AN OWL.

The second Repticon of the Year was in June. THAT’s where I got Squiggles (my leopard gecko), Frogecoin (my PacMan Frog), & Molly (my Orthoporus Ornatus, also known as a Texas Gold Millipede). As well as a gaggle of crickets & small superworms & an eff-ton of accessories for my new pets. 

So what am I heading there for this time?

ROACHES. 

Just kidding, but also kind of serious. Roaches ARE one of the main reasons I’m attending. I’m trying to start a breeding colony of discoid roaches for my critters so I can limit having to deal with crickets (which aren’t my favorite 🙃). I went to my second Repticon with the intention of getting some Dubia roaches.

I did not come home with any roaches, & I learned two things. (A) Get your live bugs FIRST before you spend several hours examining everyone’s tables, or else the booth will be out of the bugs you want. (B) Dubia roaches are apparently illegal in Le State of Le Florida. When I asked for the Dubias, the guy made a WFT face at me & told me they were illegal. (He probably thought I was a secret shopper from the government 😂).

Anyways, so about three months ago, I bought eight discoid roaches from a kind-of-local pet store. By “kind of local”, I mean it was like a 20+ mile drive each way. It was the closest one with discoids that I knew about, so that’s why I went. And I only bought 8 because they were $0.75 EACH & they were small, so I figured I needed to get them ASAP so they could start growing out sooner.

Well, all the roaches are doing great! Every single one of them is still alive & I’m pretty sure they’re almost adult-sized. But there ARE only 8 of them. And that’s just not that many. Not enough to get a good colony going any time soon. So I will definitely get some more roaches at the show  

I’ll also pick up some extra mealworms while I’m there, because what Squiggles (my leopard gecko) doesn’t eat will join the beetle colony, which just produced its first successful batch of baby mealworms! I probably won’t get any extra crickets though, because I don’t go through those very fast so most of them would die before I used them, & it would end up costing me more than getting them at the pet store.

Another main reason I’m going to Repticon is actually for supplies this time! Squiggles will be upgraded to a 20G long aquarium very soon because he’s currently in a 10 & it’s getting small for him because he’s a growing boy. So he needs bigger gecko houses to put in his bigger cage.

But! I also am SUPER EXCITED because I’m starting to get into bioactive & naturalistic setups for my critters & Repticon is the perfect place to buy stuff for these setups. I never really paid much attention to the supplies part of the show before, but this time supplies are one of the main reasons I’m going. There will be another post about bioactive setups & why I’m so excited about them soon. My PacMan frog will be switched to one the soonest because he/she is already on Eco Earth, so it won’t be that big of a switch. When my crested geckos are big enough, they too will be switched over to bioactive enclosures. They have been having some issues growing but they’re doing well & making a lot of progress, so hopefully it won’t be long from now that they’re ready!

As far as supplies, I’m looking to get the aforementioned gecko houses for Squiggles, as well as some naturalistic hides/plants/etc for Frogecoin especially. If I see something really awesome that I just can’t pass up for my crested geckos, I would get it, but as it will likely be a few more months at minimum before they’re big enough to be in their permanent adult-sized enclosures, their stuff would be better left until the next Repticon. So mostly I’m focussing on naturalistic supplies for my PacMan frog & Leopard gecko. 

I’m also hoping to find some of the infrastructure supplies I need for a bioactive setup, such as springtails cultures, while I’m there.  

So, what about the animals?

I’m actually not looking to get any reptiles or amphibians this time. While there are some species & patterns I would like to own as part of my reptile collection in the future, what I have right now is pretty good. I might even get some of these species within the next year. But as I’ve went from zero to five herps this year alone, I figure it’s best not to “spend it all in one place”, & instead wait until next year before acquiring more herps.

I will, however, be on the lookout for invertebrates. 

Tarantulas, you ask?

Tarantulas are pretty cool & I will probably own one at some point. But my mom thinks they’re the creepiest, so I’m probably not going to get one this time. But you never know 😏

So no. Probably no tarantulas. 

But other bugs are up for grabs. I’m especially hoping to find some cool novelty roaches, like the Death’s Head Roach (or green banana roaches, or horseshoe crab roaches, but I’m yet to see either of those two species at Repticon). Or a praying mantis would be cool. Or really any type of non-spider, non-centipede invertebrate. Possibly even including aquatic ones. 

And if they have millipedes for sale there, you can bet I will be bringing more of them home because millipedes are awesome & I love them so much ❤️ 

Another primary reason I’m attending is also so I can do market research on some reptile products I am developing, so attending is actually pretty important for that. And I want to pick the brains of some of the breeders while I’m there.

So, I am so excited for the arrival of Repticon, & I will be waiting impatiently in the corner for it’s arrival. 

The countdown is ON!

Sparky Was Sick, But I’m Happy to Say He’s Completely Healthy Again!

It’s always tough when pets are sick.

Disclaimer: I am not a vet. And I haven’t even played on on TV (not yet). None of the advice or opinions shared in this article should be taken as veterinary advice. These are just my opinions and should not constitute veterinary advice. It is up to every pet owner to decide when & if their pet needs medical attention & their responsibility to get it for their pet if the owner deems it necessary. 

It’s always tough when our pets get sick. Regardless of what happened or how serious it is, it’s always sad & frightening. And it always feels amazing when your pet makes a full recovery & is happy & healthy again.
Sparky, my 8-year-old Boston Terrier/Shih-Tzu/Chihuahua mix is getting over what I believe is a respiratory infection. He got sick 3 days ago & is already back on his feet & almost entirely back to normal.
But a few nights ago, that wasn’t the story.
On break, my parents texted me & said Sparky had thrown up a little. While that’s rare for him (he typically only throws up probably twice a year on average), it wasn’t in itself strange. Dogs eat crumbs off the floor. Dogs get small samples of safe people foods. Dogs lick the floor. Dogs lick their butts. So when one throws up, it’s not exactly unexpected. I was still kind of worried, because of course I’m going to worry when one of my pets doesn’t feel good.
I told my parents I hope he felt better, & while I thought about it the rest of the evening, I figured he’d be feeling better when I came home.
He wasn’t. When I walked in, he hobbled over to me, snorting & looking very sick. His eyes looked moist & dull. I sat on the floor & started petting him. Normally, when I come home he’s a ball of energy. He typically runs over to me, bolts around the house, goes off into my room to lick his feet, or brings me whatever his favorite toy is that day so we can play.
Instead, as I petted him, he just stood there lethargically. His bed was nearby. He went to lie in it & as I petted him, looked exhausted. His breathing was still kind of snorty, & his lungs sounded congested, like they had mucus in them & his nose was stuffy. He didn’t really seem to be having trouble breathing any more than how you’d expect it to be if your nose was stuffy & your lungs mucusy. He wasn’t coughing though, so it may have mostly been in his nose & not his lungs. Apparently, he’d been like this all evening. My parents had been observing him closely & trying to figure out whether he needed a vet or not.
Alarm bells went off. I was really worried about him now. With his congested-sounding breathing & worst of all, how lethargic & exhausted he seemed, I was scared.
Now, there’s a very fine line sometimes between whether to take a pet to the vet or not. Obviously if your dog loses a toe or something, it needs to go. But what do you do when you can’t tell how bad your pet actually feels?
I was debating about what to do with him. It was midnight on a Saturday night. I didn’t THINK he needed to go to an emergency vet that night, but I wasn’t sure. I have some money in an emergency fund for things like that, but the trouble sometimes is telling whether it’s actually an emergency or whether your pet is just sick.
So I did what I believe is the best option when you’re not sure whether your pet needs to go to the vet or not: wait, observe closely, & see what happens.
This is the exact same standard I would judge (& have judged) whether or not me or a family member needs to go to the hospital or to a doctor. Like I said, some things are obvious emergencies. But even as humans who can describe their symptoms, sometimes it can be really hard to tell whether you just feel bad or whether you feel bad enough to go to the hospital. Especially if you don’t have insurance & you’re on a budget.
So this is the same standard of judging whether medical care is needed that I’d use for myself, except I’d take my pet to the vet sooner than I’d go to the doctor for a similar problem. And for some problems with my pets, I’d take them to the doctor immediately. It depends on the pet, their age, & the problem. For example, if one of my small mammals or reptiles developed respiratory infection symptoms, because they are smaller, easier dehydrated, & less capable of fighting off an infection than a healthy dog, they’d go ASAP. But in this case, I decided it was a time to wait, observe closely, & see what happens.
If he gets any worse, he’s going to the vet tomorrow. Maybe tonight, if he gets a lot worse. 
What if he dies though?
Vet or no vet, any time any of my pets act weird or aren’t healthy, I’m always worried about them dying. Even when they’re acting normal, I still worry about that. Because I love them & sometimes my brain likes coming up with all the random worst-case-scenarios.
So nervously, I waited. I spent the next fifteen minutes or so googling his symptoms & doing research. Dog flu? Respiratory infection? Something else?
Then I went to eat dinner. This was probably only about half an hour after I got home.
I went into the kitchen & served up my food.
To my surprise, a minute later, Sparky wandered in. He still looked sickly, but he was wagging his tail & his eyes definitely looked clearer. He walked over & skimmed the floor under the table for crumbs. NORMAL! My face lit up. This was a good sign! He then came over to me & looked up at me, hoping I’d give him a sample. NORMAL! I didn’t, so he walked over to his food bowl & finished his dog food! NORMAL! He was eating!!!
Sparky is Feeling Better
It’s my personal belief that as long as an animal is eating & drinking water, it’s probably going to make it. Obviously this is a general rule or thumb I use with everything from fish to dogs, but from my experience it’s usually been true. If an animal isn’t eating or drinking, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to die, but it does mean it needs medical attention. But once they show an interest in food & hydration, it typically means they’re on the mend.
I was suddenly incredibly grateful for these little, normal, everyday behaviors. Things that I normally didn’t think much of suddenly meant a great deal of joy & relief to me. Sparky was feeling better! He was going to be okay!
I proceeded to feed the rest of my pets before I showered. I went to check on him in the middle of this. Sparky was lying on the blanket on my bedroom floor. When I walked in, he lifted his head & looked at me.
Another good sign!
I finished feeding my pets. When I went to get my clothes out of my room, Sparky had managed to jump up onto my bed & was nesting in his blanket on top the bed. He lifted his head & wagged his tail as I walked up. He still seemed petty exhausted, but he Looked world’s better than when I’d got home just a little more than an hour before. I swear, each time I saw him his eyes were a little clearer.
I hugged him & told him how much I loved him. I believe love is very motivating to sick pets & helping their bodies do their jobs to heal them. When I walked away, he adjusted himself on his side & looked comfortable.
After my shower, I went to take him outside. While I was walking around trying to find his leash, Sparky was actually trotting after me, appearing reasonably energetic & normal! YES! Then he went & drank half of one of his little bowls of water. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I was so overjoyed by watching him do normal things.
I took him out, & we went to bed. He brought one of his “children” (his favorite soft toys) into my room, which is another normal behavior. I told him if he needed anything to make sure he let me know, & made sure he knew how much I loved him.
Sparky is Feeling Better
I personally believe that seeing me when I came home stimulated his body to fight off whatever was hurting him & that my love for him & his love for me kicked his body into action & made him want to get better as fast as possible.
I checked on him several times throughout the night. His breathing still sounded a little congested & snorty, & he snored a pretty lot, but he was doing fine. The next morning, as soon as I woke up I checked on him again. His breathing was still kind of congested, but his eyes looked almost back to normal.
Throughout the rest of the day (which I had off so he got to spend most of the day with me or at least knowing I was home), he seemed pretty much back to normal. When I would pick him up, I’d notice his breathing was a little mucousy sounding, but he only seemed slightly more tired than normal. My mom & I only took him on a small walk because we didn’t want to tire him too much, but he really was pulling to go further. Of course I didn’t let him, but he put his best, most stubborn effort into trying to take a longer walk.
I also did a short color therapy session on him. Color therapy is healing using the power & energetic vibrations of color, & can include shining certain colors of lights onto people or animals with the intention of healing them or easing their symptoms. I would NEVER use color therapy, Reiki, crystals, or any other energetic healing technique alone to try to cure or treat something that actually requires medical attention. I do however use these things for mild health issues in myself & my animals that do not require the help of a doctor, or in conjunction with a treatment plan prescribed by a medical professional.
In a case like this, because Sparky was feeling almost back to normal, I did not see a reason to take him to the vet at this time, & decided that the color therapy would not hurt & it could potentially help.
I must note that I did a lot of research on the symptoms of pneumonia in dogs & watched him closely for these symptoms. I was fully prepared (& still am) to take him to the vet if he develops these symptoms because pneumonia is NOT something to mess around with.
Sparky lies still while I used a flashlight with a purple towel over it to shine light at his head, neck, & chest area for a total of about 8 minutes while gently petting him & trying to send healing energy into his body.
When I was done, he woke up & proceeded to energetically run away under my parent’s bed & go to my sister’s room, because I think he thought this was some sort of grooming tool & he HATES anything related to grooming.
As of yesterday, he is almost completely back to normal! He was only snoring a little when he was waking up & sounded very slightly mucusy now, but when I pick him up his lungs sound clear. He is eating great, bothering everyone for food again, & playing with his toys.
Sparky is Feeling Better
And as of today, I’m pleased to say that Sparky has made a complete recovery, & I’m so grateful that he got feeling better so quickly.
This whole incident reminded me that I need to increase my pet emergency fund so that whatever medical help one of my pets might ever need, I will be able to afford it. Like I said, it’s decent, but not enough to easily cover anything more serious. I’m going to start contributing even a few dollars a week to this fund to grow it (with the hopes of never having to use it, of course).
It also was a reminder to be grateful for the little things our pets do on a daily basis, the things they do that mean they’re healthy, & a reminder of how important my beautiful animals are to me. ❤

Fallon the Wizard #1: King of Darkness, Thief of Souls

Fallon the Wizard Book #1 by Ashlee CraftThe first book in the Fallon the Wizard series. Fallon Bennett, the 16-year-old daughter of the King & Queen of Elwin, is out for her daily horseback ride when she hears a woman screaming from inside an abandoned castle. Knowing she won’t be able to get help in time, she goes in herself to save her. But she comes face to face with the darkest of Evil itself the moment she steps into the castle. The torment she suffers inside threatens to rip her very mind away from her body. It will take everything she’s got & more for her to survive the hour.

Published :: July 29, 2018
Paperback 106 Pages
Genre :: Fantasy / Dark Fantasy

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Epic Florida Road Trip: The Crazy, Beautiful, Nerve-Wracking, & Magical Journey That Changed My Life

Epic Florida Road Trip by Ashlee CraftClimbing the only Canopy Walk tower the Southeastern USA. Watching the sun set from the Naples Pier. Camping in my SMART CAR (of all things), in the Everglades (of all places!). Going on an airboat ride through the Everglades. Holding a baby gator & visiting an alligator farm. Snorkeling in a breathtaking reef off Key Largo. Training baby sting rays & petting sharks. Parasailing over Key West & seeing the island from more than 150 feet up. Feeding giraffes, tortoises, chickens, emus, rhinoceroses, sting rays, nurse sharks, a variety of fish, & parrots. Visiting an ancient Spanish monastery shipped to America from Spain & reassembled in Miami. Watching baby armadillos forage for food in the leaves. Touring the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine. Climbing 219 steps to the top of an 165-foot-tall lighthouse & seeing for 25 miles. Climbing 236 steps down into a prehistoric sinkhole set in the center of a miniature rainforest. Seeing Blue Morpho butterflies in a huge tropical aviary.

All by myself. All on my first-ever vacation away from home.

I had my share of pitfalls (& mosquito bites). But it turned out being one of the most transformational experiences of my life.

And you get to hear about every detail of it right here.

Published :: September 26, 2018
Paperback 601 Pages
Genre :: Non Fiction / Memoirs / Road Trip Stories

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