I believe I can fly…

Posted by miss m on Thursday, May 28, 2015 @ 1:06pm in Entertainment, General Blather, M's Birthday, Photography and Pics |

…indoors, in a wind tunnel for my birthday that is! ;)

I can’t believe I forgot to write up a post about my experience with indoor skydiving that Love surprised me with for my birthday back on May 16th!! Indoor skydiving is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now. I always thought it looked like so much fun. All the enjoyment, none of the jumping out of a plane and (potentially) falling to your death.

See, I’m terrified of heights. And I get violently sick on planes. (I haven’t flown since I was like 14 or something.) So there’s no chance in the world of getting me to actually skydive. But indoor skydiving? Flying in a wind tunnel? That sounds awesome. And it was!

photo of miss m. turner indoor skydiving, wind tunnel, flying inside, airborne ifly orlando

Me indoor skydiving at iFLY Orlando floating on air!

Late Friday night, Love surprised me with a birthday card. Inside was a print out confirming my reservation for the following day – my birthday, Saturday May 16th – at 4pm with iFLY Orlando. So the next day, we drove out for my adventure!

Located in Orlando out near Universal Studios, when you arrive, it’s a trailer, a platform with stairs and this big…tube! I thought it was all some kind of indoor thing inside a building but no, not really. You check in at the little trailer and then walk outside and up the stairs to the wind tunnel itself. The tunnel building has the wind tunnel at the center core along with viewing areas, classrooms, and such. So it’s pretty big on the inside.

iFly Orlando International Drive wind tunnel photo of the building, indoor skydiving

The iFLY Orlando wind tunnel in which you do your indoor skydiving and fly on air!

Being a first timer, my group all had a “class” talking about body position and hand signals our instructor would be using to help us position properly in the tunnel. (All of which totally fell out of my head in the excitement and RUSH of actually being in the tunnel! LOL) Proper position is super important or you won’t create enough drag for the wind to lift you. It’s why the instructor can stand there in the tunnel without blowing away while you fly.

Indoor skydiving and flying at iFLY Orlando Wind Tunnel experience

Look ma! No hands!

On the ground, it’s a super awkward position. It’s all about thrusting your hips forward (70% of your balance comes from there in the tunnel), putting your arms out at eye level in front of you (I kept inadvertently drawing them in rather than extending my arms outward) and keeping your chin up (the other 30% is in your chin and it was so hard not to want to look “down” when flying but looking down meant I would go down!) In the tunnel though, there’s no sense of how strangely your body is contorted.

A “real” skydive out of a plane is 45-60 seconds of freefall. I did two, 60 second flights in the tunnel. It’s approximately 2.5 jumps worth of air time. Having done it once now, I would recommend upgrading it to two, 2 minute flights (for a total of 4 minutes) because if you’re like me and you’re so excited you forget all the tips they told you in the classroom in the rush of it, you need the extra time to get acclimated to the tunnel. I spent half of both of my minutes getting myself into position so a little more flying time would have been better.

That’s not to say I didn’t have fun!! I think my face tells the story pretty clearly:

photo of me indoor skydiving and flying on air in the wind tunnel at iFly Orlando


Because it was my birthday, they asked me if I wanted to have an instructor take me up to the top of the tunnel during the last 30 seconds. It’s normally $10 extra, but free for your birthday. I said sure. Turns out, they grab you and SPIN really fast as you shoot up to the top, then you’re still SPINNING as you come back down and then more SPIN SPIN SPIN as they take you back up again.

Ok, the up and down part: awesome. The spinning? Oh it got touchy there for a few seconds. LOL I had to close my eyes after the fourth or fifth rotation as I was getting urpy. Spinning and I don’t get along very well. So head’s up: have them take you to the top (about 30 feet or so!) because it’s awesome, but ONLY if you’re ok with spinning while they do it! ;)

Overall though, I cannot stress enough how fun this was!! If you have a chance to indoor skydive DO IT! So much awesomeness. And so unlike anything I’ve ever done before. Being in the tunnel is a rush. It’s so exciting and so cool and everyone there is really great. They all high-five you and encourage you and everyone in our group applauded each person as they came out because we were all having so much fun, even watching the other people in the group do it was exciting.

Few tips for a first-timer

If possible, opt for the two, 2-minute flights.
The extra time will give you more time to acclimate to the wind tunnel and give you more time to enjoy the actual flying part. 1 minute or 2 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot but when you’re in the tunnel, it both goes by fast and slow. It’s harder than it looks so more time is a benefit.

Your hair will totally tangle
My instructor joked, “free dreadlocks with every flight!” and he wasn’t far off. I put my hair in a low ponytail and you wear a helmet, but…it was still a mess. Put your hair up in a small bun and put some kind of handkerchief over it and THEN put on your helmet. Trust me, I had a rat’s nest after – even the hair that was under the helmet got snarled!

You will be sore the next day
Defying gravity is not free. And extending yourself against 140mph winds puts a lot of strain on your muscles. That’s a lot of force you will feel later. During the flight? Pure adrenaline. Next day? Felt like I helped someone move. My right butt cheek was especially sore as the instructor told us a lot of position comes from your butt as you thrust your hips outward. Remember too, I did 2 minutes total. If you take my advice and double your flight time, YOU WILL BE VERY SORE. But I still think it’s worth it for the extra flying time.

There is no sense of falling
If you’re like me and the sensation of falling makes you sick, terrified or miserable, you can still indoor skydive. You have zero sense of falling. Even when they took me up and down to the top of the tunnel and back I never had a moment of stomach-in-your-throat falling feeling. None. It’s blissfully like floating.

Plan on possible additions, add-ons and upcharges when you get there.
You will probably wind up wanting photos and video after your first flight too. The pics here are those taken from a camera within the tunnel. It cost me another $40 for the full video and half dozen photos but it was worth it. Just a head’s up there are a lot of add-on options like extra time in the tunnel, having them take you to the top, pics, merchandise, etc. Bring some extra money just in case you want to opt for options.

I cannot wait to do it again. I had so much fun and now that I’ve done it once, I feel like next time will be even better. People who do real skydiving train in the tunnels to learn advance positioning and all kinds of cool movements. The instructors make it look effortless and amazing and it’s like Cirque du Soliel without any rigging!

Google auto-awesome’d an animated my photos from the flight so I’ll finish with that. I’m pretty sure the excitement on my face sums this entire post up nicely.

iFLY Orlando
6805 Visitors Circle
Orlando, FL 32819

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Birthday Sale

Posted by miss m on Friday, May 15, 2015 @ 5:08pm in General Blather, M's Birthday, PhoenixFire Designs |

It’s my birthday tomorrow, May 16th!!

Save 16% off any order this weekend only in the PhoenixFire Designs etsy shop to celebrate my birthday! Instant savings and promo code good for discounts on all our handmade, wire wrapped jewelry, tree of life pendants and more!

Save 16% off any order this weekend only in the PhoenixFire Designs etsy shop to celebrate my birthday! Instant savings and promo code good for discounts on all our handmade, wire wrapped jewelry, tree of life pendants and more!

You can join me in celebrating and save a huge discount of 16% off any order with code “BIRTHDAY” at checkout. Valid this weekend only!

To use, enter the promo code in the “apply shop coupon code” field in your cart after adding your items during checkout to see the instant savings!

handmade wire wrapped jewelry, silver wire tree of life pendants, wire tree pendants etsy, phoenix fire designs handmade jewelry, artisan, handcrafted

Here’s your chance to get a HUGE savings on the world famous PhoenixFire Designs handmade artisan jewelry including our signature wire wrapped tree of life pendants!

Shop now: www.PhoenixFireDesigns.etsy.com

*Valid May 15th-17th 2015 only. Not valid on previous order. I cannot make adjustments if you do not enter code properly and/or forget to apply it.

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Daughtry in Tampa

Posted by miss m on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 @ 11:40pm in Entertainment, General Blather, Photography and Pics, Things To Do |

Chris Daughtry came out to give a concert performance at Busch Gardens Tampa’s “Food and Wine Festival” on Saturday, April 25, 2015. I of course, knew him from American Idol all those seasons ago and liked the songs on the radio, but I didn’t really know more than that. I was really curious how he would sound in person because we both liked him a lot on Idol. So I made us brave the oppressive heat and head on out for the show.

Chris Daughtry performs live in concert at Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival April 25, 2015

Chris Daughtry performs live in concert at Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival April 25, 2015

Chris Daughtry performs live in concert at Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival April 25, 2015

Chris Daughtry performs live in concert at Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival April 25, 2015

Turns out, he puts on a truly fantastic show! Love said, “He’s a rock star!” because he just worked the audience, joking, chatting with us and his band and just really had a great stage presence. I am so glad I was nosey and wanted to check it out because it was a really good show.

Poor Chris though was clearly not prepared for the Tampa heat. He kept wiping down his face and head and drinking after every song. At one point, he said, “How long have you guys been out here waiting? All day?? Bless you!” and laughed. It was about 87F with a feels-like about 97F that day so definitely a typical Florida scorcher! ;)

Really good time though and if you get a chance to see Daughtry, I would recommend it!

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Ginger Turns Two!

Posted by miss m on Wednesday, April 1, 2015 @ 1:27pm in General Blather, kitties, Photography and Pics |

My little orange fuzzbutt, Ginger – aka FLÖÖF – turns a whopping two years old today!!

fluffy orange tabby cat laying in a sunbeam

Ginger taking in the morning sun.

I just love my fluffy girl and she brings so much to my life with her silly antics and oh so orange self.

fluffy orange tabby cat in paper bag

Ginger claims this paper bag in the name of cat kind!

I’m so thankful that she came into my life!

orange fluffy tabby cat in window yellow green eyes

Ginger peeks out behind the headboard on the windowsill

fluffy yellow orange tabby cat in window sill peeking out behind headboard frame

Ginger loves the windowsill behind my headboard and hangs out there all the time.

Who knew this little ball of orange fuzz would turn into my fluffy love?

baby orange tabby kitten fluffy kitty

Little baby Ginger kitten via a bad cell phone photo of my mom holding her on the first day she came to “foster” with us. (Which clearly didn’t go as planned since she’s still here for her 2nd birthday!)

Happy Birthday to my FLÖÖF today and many more!

longhaired fluffy orange tabby cat sleeping on blanket on lap, lapcat snoozing kitty

Nothing like a fuzzy orange kitty snoozing on your lap to make for a great evening!

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Sarah McLachlan Clearwater Florida

Posted by miss m on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 @ 12:39am in Entertainment, General Blather, Photography and Pics, Things To Do with Comments closed |

I was so excited last November when I heard Sarah McLachlan was coming back to the Tampa Bay Area – after nearly a decade absence! Even better, she was going to perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall. A wonderful, acoustically beautiful theater that seats just under 2,200 people. The last time I saw her was at the then-named Ice Palace (currently the Amelie Arena) where the Tampa Bay Lightning play; a venue that holds more like 20,000!

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

As ever, she was beyond wonderful! It was so good to see her.

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

I spent a lot of time trying to find out the camera policy for Ruth Eckerd Hall and was only told “flash photography is prohibited at all performances.” So I figured I would bring my DSLR and my point-and-shoot as backup just in case. Because “no flash” is not the same as “no cameras.” The security guard questioned if it was a “detachable lens” on the DSLR and I admitted yes, but that I had no plans to detach it since I did not bring other lenses and he waved me in. Many people were using their cell phones for photos and I did see some point-and-shoots.

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

We were row W, seats 26 and 27 so about 2/3 back just off center. There is no center aisle in the stadium seating but they are nice, comfy seats with plenty of leg room. The view was wonderful and I used my EF-S 55-250mm IS lens to get a combination of full stage and close-up shots.

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

The set was a variety of both current songs off the most recent, “Shine On” album (released in 2014) as well as classic songs from older albums. It was a great variety.

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

She also took time to talk about some of the meaning behind some of the songs and even joked about the fact she has a large number of “depressing love songs” because she said they’re just so much fun to write!

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

She further joked when she did two “happy” songs in a row. :)

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

The lighting was dynamic and ever-changing throughout songs, shifting through colors and really made for a beautiful visual companion to the music.

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

Sarah McLachlan performing at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater for the Shine On Tour March 28, 2015

It was absolutely wonderful and I truly enjoyed my “Evening with Sarah McLachlan.” She promised not to be gone so long next time and I think we all will hold her to that!

Click any photo for a larger version.

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Goodbye Nanny

Posted by miss m on Saturday, March 21, 2015 @ 12:23pm in Family, General Blather, Grief |

My Nanny – my Mom’s Mother; my maternal grandmother – passed away this morning. She was 98. She had been suffering from dementia for years though so we’ve mourned her in spirit for a long time, today we mourn her in body as well.

Nanny was a widower. My grandfather was killed in a car accident when my mom was only 9 and she never remarried. Nanny had 6 children and I am the youngest of 13 grandchildren. I’ve lost count at the great-grandchildren at this point! She owned a flower shop in New York for years and continued running it years after her huband’s death. Later, she worked at the Social Security department from which she retired.

I used to spend weekends with her when I was a little girl in PA. She’d make me pancakes in funny animal shapes. I’d go with her to church and she’d braid my hair – always too tight! ;) – to keep it neat. I spent several summer vacations being her Navigator as we drove from Florida, up to North Carolina, then PA, NJ and NY to visit with her children and my extended family. We’d be out for two months driving thousands of miles together as I helped keep an eye on the maps and pick out good hotels from the AAA guide books for us to stop at.

Nanny, me (at age 7) and my Mom in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World 1984.)

Nanny, me (at age 7) and my Mom in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World 1984.)

I have so many warm memories of her and us together. Decorating her Christmas tree while listening to old Christmas albums; baking cookies; the special pineapple cream cheese roll she made for me because she knew how much I loved it – just moments of love and kindness.

I’ll miss you Nanny. I love you and thank you for being a strong woman. And instilling that into several generations of women – myself included.

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PhoenixFire Designs Sale

Posted by miss m on Friday, February 13, 2015 @ 12:25pm in General Blather, PhoenixFire Designs with Comments closed |

Love is in the air this weekend and I love my fans! So I’m running a sale this weekend now through Monday. Use coupon code LUVU15 at checkout to save 10% on any order!

Coupon code, promo code, discount code for PhoenixFire Designs 10% off discount sale handmade wire wrapped tree of life pendants and gemstone jewelry

Use code LUVU15 to save 10% off any PhoenixFire Designs purchase now through Monday February 16th, 2015!

Been eyeing a rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendant? Maybe my glow in the dark full moon tree of life pendant? Or one of my new wire wrapped heart necklaces? Perhaps you’ve wanted to get a custom family birthstone tree of life pendant to celebrate family? It’s ALL included with the coupon code!

But hurry! Discount only good through Monday, February 16th 2015.


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Excuse me, have you seen 2014 around here anywhere?

So…um, this is awkward. I’ve been meaning to write an entry for awhile now and it looks like it’s been more than two months since I last did. Whoops. And here we are not only in 2015, but midway through the second month of 2015. Yeah sorry about that.

I did get around to making a fun infographic summing up my PhoenixFire Designs year-in-review over on TreeofLifePendants.com, but…I apparently never got around to doing any kind of recap here, nor any sort of new year post either. So let’s see if I can do a quick drive-by of 2014 and an update of what’s going on now.

January 2014
Hrm, looks like nothing terribly memorable, with perhaps the exception of my now quasi-famous shot of Ginger:

My beautiful little fuzzbutt, Ginger.

My beautiful little fuzzbutt, Ginger.

Which wound up later in the year being voted as one of the sample images used by iPrintfromHome.com calibration pack.

February 2014
Had some problems with my car on Love’s birthday. It was the start of me eventually having my mechanic disconnect my overdrive gear since it was getting stuck engaged which left my car stalling out as a result.

March 2014
I literally didn’t write a single entry that month apparently. The final weekend of the month I did my first ever stint as a guest vendor at the Bay Area Ren Fest though.

PhoenixFire Designs booth premiering for the first time at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival March 31st, 2014.

PhoenixFire Designs booth premiering for the first time at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival March 31st, 2014.

April 2014
Little FLÖÖF cat, Ginger celebrated her first birthday on April 1st. Aw…my fluffy orange girl.

I also got invited back to do the final weekend of the Bay Area Ren Fest again:

Me! (Miss M. Turner) of PhoenixFire Designs in front of my booth for the second week in a row on the final weekend of the Bay Area Renaissance Festival, April 2014

Me! (Miss M. Turner) of PhoenixFire Designs in front of my booth for the second week in a row on the final weekend of the Bay Area Renaissance Festival, April 2014

And, I continued to have problems with my car stalling out. (We still hadn’t figured out the source of the problem at this point.)

May 2014
Well, May is always my birthday month. So I turned 37 on May 16th 2014.


I got my awesome EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM lens for my birthday. It’s a beast. L-glass quality (even according to Cannon) but without the official designation because they don’t ever officially label crop-body lenses with the “L” designation.

June 2014
Ginger’s photo (shown earlier) was a finalist in June and would eventually win one of 8 spots in the iPrintfromHome.com sample calibration kit I mentioned.

I made my first ever tree incorporating genuine diamonds for a custom order:

Custom Birthstone Tree of Life Pendant and Matching Bird Nest Pendant set in sterling silver and featuring freshwater pearl (birthstone for June), Aquamarine (birthstone for March) and natural rough diamond (birthstone for April.) Bird nest has the same three gemstones. By PhoenixFire Designs

Custom Birthstone Tree of Life Pendant and Matching Bird Nest Pendant set in sterling silver and featuring freshwater pearl (birthstone for June), Aquamarine (birthstone for March) and natural rough diamond (birthstone for April.) Bird nest has the same three gemstones. By PhoenixFire Designs

July 2014
No blog entries posted this month either.

I received my custom cut, massive 16mm blue flash natural rainbow moonstones from my supplier:

Which allowed me to introduce the stunning, LARGE natural rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendant people had long requested:

Stunning large natural blue flash rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendants in your choice of eco-friendly reclaimed and recycled solid Argentium sterling silver or striking black wire. By PhoenixFire Designs and available on etsy.

Stunning large natural blue flash rainbow moonstone full moon tree of life pendants in your choice of eco-friendly reclaimed and recycled solid Argentium sterling silver or striking black wire. By PhoenixFire Designs and available on etsy.

August 2014
August. Ugh, that was a month. August 1st, Love was in a major accident and our beloved Element was totaled. Love was ok – really battered, bruised and sore – but he walked away.

Our beloved 2003 Honda Element in Galapagos Green was in an accident and totaled.

Our beloved 2003 Honda Element in Galapagos Green was in an accident and totaled.

We had to search and search because we needed an SUV for me to carry stuff for my shows like my tent, tables, etc. And we eventually settled on a 2011 Nissan Rogue:

September 2014
Ginger’s winning photo was put on display in a gallery opening by iPrintfromHome.com.

Love’s PS3 gave up the ghost, leaving us with a couple dozen games and no console system. :(

We celebrated our 16th anniversary by a wonderful dinner at Capital Grille.

October 2014
Ginger helped celebrate Halloween by being festive:

I dressed up in my Steampunk costume and handed out candy at my Mom’s again this year:

And I premiered my glow in the dark full moon tree of life pendant:

Glow in the dark tree of life pendant, wire wrapped  pendant handmade by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.

Glow in the dark tree of life pendant, wire wrapped pendant handmade by PhoenixFire Designs on etsy.


November 2014
November was SUPER busy so I didn’t write any blog entries.

But we packed up the Rogue for the first time for a show and everything went in so easily:

PhoenixFire Designs did Crafts & Drafts show November 15th:

PhoenixFire Designs did Shopapalooza November 22nd:

Love and I celebrated Thanksgiving just the two of us (having missed his family’s event which took place the day of Crafts & Drafts!) and we made a turkey:

December 2014
PhoenixFire Designs did the Westchase Holiday Market on December 7th:

And I had a whopping 117 orders in my etsy shop for the month of December!

Including the one that made me reach 2,000 sales in my etsy shop!!

Ginger made best friends with the Christmas tree and spent all of December underneath it:

Love and I enjoyed some seasonal fun at the Magic Kingdom:

Love and I had a lovely Christmas:

And I made gluten free sugar cookie for my Mom who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease earlier in the year:

And the cats helped us celebrate a simple New Year’s Eve at home:

So there you go! A brief look at 2014. Maybe I’ll get around to writing an entry for 2015 at some point. But…not right now. Because now I need to feed the kitties then ourselves. But soon. Look, I brushed the dust off and wrote this, right? ;)

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How Disney and Marvel Ruined My Christmas

Posted by miss m on Thursday, December 11, 2014 @ 11:30am in Blog, Customer Service, Finances, General Blather, Holidays |

I ordered the Disney Infinity Marvel Super Heroes starter set from the Shop Marvel website for $39.99 on November 26th. Christmas gift for my guy. I add an Iron Man cell phone case as filler to get free shipping.

A few days later, I also buy a couple extra figures on amazon during a sale.

So. November 26th was the order. I wait. And wait. And wait. By about December 2nd, I email customer service. And wait.

December 3th I try calling. I get a “customer service is not available at this time, leave a message” voicemail. I leave a message. And email again. And wait.

December 4th I get a reply to the first email asking me for my full name and address before they will give me any info. I reply back with it.

December 5th I get two copy-and-paste replies telling me I will “receive my order in 7-9 business days.” I reply back asking how I’m going to get something that hasn’t even shipped yet?!

December 6th I finally get an email that says if it’s not shipped by Tuesday the 9th or if I don’t receive it by Wednesday the 10th, to let them know.

Tuesday the 9th I get a shipping notification. And they recharge my credit card because the initial hold had expired.

Late last night (Wednesday the 10th) the tracking number finally updates. Supposed to be here Friday.

Then this morning, I get this email:

Thank you for placing an order with DisneyStore.com. We always strive to provide a superior experience to you. Sometimes, though, due to unforeseen circumstances, we may not be able to fulfill the high standards that you have come to expect from us. Please know that when that happens, you have our commitment to work with you to find a satisfactory resolution.

Due to overwhelming demand and limited availability, your order, 36492062 will not include:

INF2 MVL STR PK PS4, quantity of 1

Please be assured that in the event that you were charged for this item, a credit has been issued to your account.

We invite you to contact us so that we may help find another item that will meet your needs. Please call one of our Personal Shoppers toll-free at (866) 537-7649. A Cast Member will partner with you to create a “happily ever after” for your recent Disney Store experience.

Again, thank you for shopping with Disney Store


How I feel when I find up Disney's Marvel Shop online ruined my Christmas 16 days after placing my order.

How I feel when I find up Disney’s Marvel Shop online ruined my Christmas 16 days after placing my order.

So after like five emails, customer service phone calls that don’t get answered, two days after the order was shipped and SIXTEEN DAYS after initially ordered, I’m not actually going to get the item I put the order in FOR??!!!

Of course, I also tried to call the number and just got voicemail.

So now they’ve charged my credit card the full amount. They shipped me a fucking cell phone case I only bought to get free shipping. I have purchased accessories to go with a starter kit I’m not actually getting AND the $39 sale price is of course nowhere to be found any longer and the cheapest I can find is now $59 fucking dollars. I passed up other opportunities to buy it for $39 at other stores because I HAD ALREADY ORDERED IT.

Thank you SO much Marvel and Disney for utterly and completely screwing me and ruining my Christmas!!!

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Holiday Gift Guide

Posted by miss m on Friday, December 5, 2014 @ 12:49pm in General Blather, Holidays, PhoenixFire Designs with Comments closed |

The holidays start showing up in store decorations months in advance these days, yet it seems we STILL manage to get ourselves overwhelmed trying to figure out the perfect gift every year! And despite “Christmas creep” taking over Thanksgiving and even Halloween, it still normally blindsides us.

My first suggestion: Avoid the mall and mass produced stuff from China. Support handmade this holiday season and you will also be supporting a real person; an artist a local maker. Here are some gift suggestions to help you pick awesome things for your friends, family and loved ones!

Luxury Lover
Do you have someone in your life that loves the finer things? You can rarely go wrong with jewelry! And of course, not just any jewelry but something unique and made from gorgeous, natural gemstones.

14k gf Natural Rough Diamond Tree of Life
14k gf Chrome Diopside (Russian Emerald) Tree of Life
14k gf Multicolor Natural Sapphire Tree of Life

Reclaimed/Recycled Argentium Sterling Rainbow Moonstone Tree of Life
Large Full Moon Rainbow Moonstone Black Tree of Life
Natural Blue Sapphire Full Moon Tree of Life

14k gf Ethiopian Welo Opal Tree of Life
14k gf Ivory Freshwater Pearl Tree of Life
Peachy Pink Freshwater Pearl Tree of Life

Nature Lover
Tree huggers, natural lovers, animals lovers – people who love the Earth and all it’s splendor!

Apple Tree in Peridot with Ruby Red Jade Apples in Brown
Four Season “Wheel of the Year” Tree of Life (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter)
Opalite Moonstone Full Moon Tree of Life with Owl

Star Gazers
Fans of the nights sky, astronomy, celestial images, moon and stars, or just people who enjoy looking up at night!

Feldspar Full Moon Tree of Life in Gunmetal Wire
Mother of Pearl Crescent Moon and Hematite Stars in Gunmetal Wire
Glow in the Dark Full Moon Tree of Life

Abalone (Paua) Shell Crescent Moon Tree of Life
Opalite Moonstone Full Moon Tree of Life (#1 most wished for item in my shop!)
Mother of Pearl Crescent Moon Tree of Life in Silver

Gifts for Mom
Personal is always best when shopping for gifts for Mom! Mothers love to have family trees or pendants with birthstones; things that represent the bonds of family. And if she is a new mom or soon to be new mom, nothing will make her prouder than letting everyone know about the new addition to the family!

Custom Family Birthstone Bird Nest Pendant
It’s a Boy! bird nest pendant
It’s a Girl! bird nest pendant

And there you have it!! Just some of the available items by PhoenixFire Designs on Etsy that will make wonderful gifts this holiday season!

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Happy Halloween!

Posted by miss m on Friday, October 31, 2014 @ 3:17pm in Blog, Holidays, kitties, Photography and Pics with Comments closed |

Happy Halloween from the FLÖÖF!


(No kitties were harmed in the making of my fluffy orange cat wearing a witch hat. She was highly annoyed but not injured! LOL)

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Afternoon at Honeymoon Island

Posted by miss m on Sunday, September 21, 2014 @ 2:03am in General Blather, Photography and Pics, Things To Do |

Love and I went down to Honeymoon Island State Park Saturday afternoon. I hadn’t been down there in years and years and the weekend before, it poured so we our idea of heading over that way got rained out.

Located just off the mainland cost of Dunedin and north of Clearwater Beach, Honeymoon Island is accessible by causeway and cost us $8 admission for two of us in the car. It’s a pretty scenic drive down the Dunedin Causeway and for those who just want to fish or canoe, there are public access parking lots all along which cost nothing.


Since I hadn’t been in years, I really didn’t remember what the beach looked like. It’s quite a bit different from most of our local Gulf Coast white sand beaches because it’s very rocky. Tons of limestone rocks – some quite large! – covered much of the beach. This was the first time in pretty much forever that I left my shoes on as we walked the shore. It was just easier to get around without worrying about rocks this way and let us venture further down the shoreline.


There is a narrow sandy beach though and not all areas are as rocky. So there is space to set up an umbrella or beach towel.


We noticed some amazingly neat patterns in the sand, which is not something I see in other beaches like Clearwater or Madeira. I can only assume it is a result of the rocks and the way the water comes up on the island. Whatever the cause, it made for really neat photos!


There are also a large number of shells on the beach in addition to the rocks. This is just a tiny handful; at some places there were literally piles of them.


There is also a large trail of unspoiled woods but a few steps onto the trail and we were set upon by swarms of mosquitoes. Bug spray is DEFINITELY a requirement if you want to explore the forested northern tip of the island. It didn’t help that it was getting towards dusk as that point – a time when mosquitoes come out in larger numbers.

Overall though it was a unique beach and very different from our typical Gulf Coast beaches. The rocks, while a deterrent to barefoot walking/swimming in many parts of the northern shore, made for really interesting and almost alien landscape. The island is very natural and unspoiled and on a Saturday afternoon in September had a very low crowd. Parking was ample and there were several pavilions with restrooms that I saw right off the beach. (I didn’t use the facilities but it wasn’t for lack of ease to get to them.)

If you’re looking for something a little different, with a focus more on exploration of wild Florida and less on sugar sand beaches, Honeymoon Island is certainly a neat afternoon. Though it’s a bit pricey at $8, that does include parking. (And parking on most beaches in the area will run you $5-15 for an afternoon anyway.) It’s also really wonderful for those wanting to partake of watersports such as fishing or kayaking. Additionally, there is a ferry ($14/person) which takes you to neighboring Caladesi Island if you want even more places to explore.

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We’ve Gone Rogue

Posted by miss m on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 @ 1:11pm in Car Issues, Finances, General Blather, Love, Photography and Pics |

As you may have read previously, Love was in a serious car accident the morning of Friday, August 1st on his way to work. He had a sudden, catastrophic brake failure and, unable to stop or swerve enough, he collided with the minivan in front of him at about 40-45mph. He came out of the accident bruise and battered but unbroken. Sadly, the Honda Element suffered worse and was deemed a total loss.

My car is much older – a ’99 Grand Am – and while it’s perfectly fine for the small, around town trips I use it for, it wasn’t up to the task of being our only car. Especially given Love’s 30 minute commute each way everyday. So a frantic hunt for a replacement car was on!

Since our settlement for the Element wasn’t enough to buy a new car, we first contacted my credit union, Achieva to discuss financing options. We were able to get pre-approved for a loan in just a few days.

Given that I do art shows/craft fairs for my jewelry business, PhoenixFire Designs, we needed some kind of SUV. Didn’t want anything massive, but it had to be able to fit my tables, tent, and stock easily. A hatchback and fold down rear seats with a minimum length and width requirements were mandatory. Problem was, we didn’t even know what was out there! We had been happy with the Element and really hadn’t paid any attention to vehicles we might want to purchase for years!

We spent hours just walking car lots, looking at one make and model after the other. Opening doors, measuring cargo area, taking in the aesthetics and features. Love kept being drawn towards the Nissan Rogue but the first place we went to, it was well outside our budget. Later though, my sister sent me a link on autotrader.com for one with excellent mileage right in our budget.

My Mom and I went to test drive it during the day while Love was at work. I was impressed. It was absolutely immaculate on the inside! Looked literally brand new. 2011, one owner car, 22,800 miles on it. Love and I came back the following day, negotiated and wound up driving it home. We bought the car Thursday, August 7th! (Then it rained for days preventing me from getting any non-soggy pics. LOL)




We love it. It’s so nice. And so…new! ;) It drives really nice and it’s very exciting to have such a “grown up” car. Love and I are still trying to believe it’s ours and not just a rental or something. Seems too nice!

Of course, with a new car comes a car payment. Unfortunately as I said, our payout for the Element wasn’t enough for a replacement. We used the money as a downpayment though and were able to finance the rest. My loan officer at Achieva was amazing and stayed until 7:15pm so we could drive it home that evening!

She sent us our loan documents via email and Love and I signed for them on our phones!! since she was in another city from us at the dealership. I laughed because it’s definitely the future when you can buy a car, signing with your finger on the touchscreen of your cell!

I admit, I’m a bit nervous adding in this new expense to our monthly bills. It definitely wasn’t something we had planned for. But, it was a necessity and we’ll make it work. (I joked with Love that now we need to put the SUV to good use and book more shows so it can work for it’s payment. Heh)

I’m still sad that we had to say goodbye to the Element. It was such a fun car and we had so many good times in it. It’s a shock to lose it so quickly – especially when the decision is taken from you. But, I’m happy that we were able to find something we both are happy about and that Love is so thrilled with it too. Makes the transition a little easier.

I look forward to many more adventures and new memories in our Rogue!

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A world less funny

Posted by miss m on Tuesday, August 12, 2014 @ 1:52pm in Blog, General Blather, Grief with Comments closed |

Like many last night, I heard the shocking and sad news of Robin Williams’ death. Like a punch to the gut, it came out of nowhere and it stole my breath away. And like many, I’m left with a jumbled mess of emotion about this, unsure how to properly feel or react.

Logically, I know that all too often the creative, funny types suffer from the darkest depression and self loathing of all. And that the funny persona is usually just a mask to hide those inner demons. Make fun of yourself before someone does it to you; make them laugh so they can’t see the pain within. I get it.

But I guess I thought Robin Williams was one of the rare escapees who had battled hard, fought long and overcome his personal demons. I’ve heard him talk openly about his addictions and his past and I thought he was in a better place emotionally, having come through the other side of it.

So to hear that not only did he die, but that he took his own life…shocking.

I feel so bad for anyone who feels that there is literally nothing worth living for; nothing worth fighting for. The fact that he had to reach the point in which suicide was the “only” option for him and the “only” way past the pain he must have been feeling is just so sad and upsetting. I deeply sympathize with people who reach that breaking point.

I’ve battled depression in my life and I’m no innocent to thoughts of permanently escaping that inner pain. As a child, I grew up terrorized by my biological father; a hell that left me traumatized and it was during those early years I often fantasized and daydreamed about suicide as if it were a magic elixir or potion. When other little girls daydreamed about Prince Charming, I did so about the poisoned apple that represented relief and freedom from the torment that was my daily life.

I also find myself feeling so bad for the family left behind. The most difficult, personal and private time of their life is international news; the topic of discussion on lips the world ’round. (And here I am talking about it too so I am no less guilty. Though in my case, the prompt was his actions, I truly just felt the need to talk about how the topic made me feel personally.)

I’m just at a loss what to say. Or how to process this. I know that I did not know him personally, yet I was a fan of him and his work for years and like many, greatly enjoyed the gift of humor he gave to the world. It pains me so much to know how the same time he made us all laugh, he was dying inside.

Like many, I’m going to link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. They provide resources both for those battling depression and suicidal thoughts, but also resources to help others.

You can also call 1-800-273-8255 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to get help or even just to talk to someone.

So I have no clever wrap up for this entry. Nothing witty or poignant to finish it off with. I just find myself thinking a lot about the topic today and wanted to put some of my feelings down in words.

I truly hope those of you who are also battling your own personal demons continue the fight and push on for another day. The sadness many of us feel at the loss of someone we don’t even know personally is hard enough, so imagine how much worse for the loved ones left behind. Please keep fighting. And know you don’t have to do it alone.

Rest in Peace, Robin. Thank you for the laughter. I’m so sorry you didn’t get to laugh with us too.

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The Day the Element Died

Posted by miss m on Friday, August 1, 2014 @ 1:17pm in Blog, Car Issues, General Blather, Grief, Photography and Pics |

First off: Love is ok. The car, however is dead.

It’s been a fucking morning from hell. My phone rang at 7am. I had been asleep 4 hours. It was my guy in a shaky voice telling me he was in an accident.

I threw clothes on and drove to his work. (About 30 minutes away.) On the way, the radio updates traffic and accidents and mentions the location he’s at. Holy shit, that’s him!




Here’s the other car:


He went to McDonalds to get breakfast for the guys on his way in right next to work. Car shudders, brakes engage out of nowhere. He tries to them push the pedal to stop and it goes to the floor and nothing happens. He swerves but can’t stop and hits the car ahead of him corner-on instead of head-on at about 40mph. Air bags deploy. Engine cuts out.


I get there about 7:30am. Two lanes of traffic are blocked, two cop cars on scene. He gets a $166 ticket with 4 points for “careless driving” because he rear-ended her. Insult to injury!

Paramedics had been and gone. Had his left hand wrapped up, suggested the ER for x-rays to check for a break.

Get the car dragged – oh dear gods, DRAGGED – onto the tow truck. Tell them to take it directly to Progressive claim center instead of our mechanic because it’s likely totaled.

We go to ER. Seatbelt bit hard into his left shoulder leaving a hell of a bruise. Minor cut on his wrist and jammed the hell out of his pinkie. X-Rays show nothing broken.


Progressive already looked at it since it’s sitting – dead – in their lot. Adjuster said $5300 after our deductible. More than I thought but nowhere near enough to replace it. (About only 1/2 or more of the replacement cost actually.)

The car was really special to us because our best friend Rand helped us buy it. Rand passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly 4 years ago. So in a way it’s like losing him all over again. He LOVES that car.

The end of the day though, the car did it’s job. It’s dead but he’s ok. And I’m trying to focus on that. But fuck it’s hard when I’m overwhelmed with what to do now? (I drive a 1999 Pontiac Grand Am. It’s got issues. So we’re going to need a replacement ASAP. And adding a car payment to our monthly budget..? Ugh, not sure how that’s going to work. Let alone how much insurance is going to go up for an accident + points.)

He’s sore. I’m in shock. So is he. It’s just been a hell of a fucking morning.

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