Monthly Archives: October 2016

Not a Con 4.0: VEGAS WARS

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Soon after the very first Ice & Fire Con in April 2013, a group of friends and I planned a trip back to the convention’s first location, Ravenwood Castle. It took place in October of that year – about halfway between Ice & Fire Con 2013 and 2014 – and even though the “attendees” (and now the location) have changed, Not a Con continues to be an annual tradition that I wouldn’t miss for the world.

(Although I guess technically it’s being replaced by Beach City Con next year, but I swear we’ll have a winter Not a Con to make up for that!)

We held three Not a Cons at Ravenwood; in 2013 we went with a pirate theme (for the most part, anyway); 2014 was A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones; 2015 was Harry Potter. While we didn’t go all-out with the theme this year like we did the first three times, that was mostly due to the fact that Not a Con 2016 took place in Las Vegas. Still, we threw a bit of Star Wars into the mix and therefore dubbed Not A Con 4.0 “Vegas Wars”.

Not a Con Vegas Wars

So what do you get when you mix four nights in Vegas, a Mirage hospitality suite, ten amazing people, and a whole lot of crap…s?

Well, one of the best Vegas trips I’ve ever had, that’s for sure.

While I used to visit Vegas more often, the past few years I’ve limited my visits and instead made sure that when I do go, I go all out. This time around, I hadn’t been out to this crazy city for almost two years (the last time being over New Year’s 2014-2015), and thanks to the fact that my friends were willing to go along with so many of my crazy schemes, we stayed in an amazing suite *that had a pool table*, I got to spend an evening riding around in a limo, we all took a day to laze and drink at a pool party, see the Chainsmokers perform, and then we wrapped up the trip by experiencing an absolutely perfect VIP table at HYDE Bellagio (with a view of the fountains and all).

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Oh, and yes, we played (or watched other members of our group play) a lot of craps.

So without further ado, I bring you the basics of this Vegas trip, because to tell any more would be to forsake that infamous rule, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”…

NOT A CON 4.0: VEGAS WARS

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE THEME
Star Wars…sort of

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE CAST
“Auntie Tara” a.k.a. the one who got stuck with a $14 charge when someone touched the mini bar in our suite
“Brian E” a.k.a. Chocolate King
“Katherine” a.k.a. The Newb
“RJ” a.k.a. The Responsible One
“Jasmine’s Brian” a.k.a. The Quiet One
“Jasmine Venusaur” a.k.a. The Slot Queen
“K2D2” a.k.a. The Napper
“Frank” a.k.a. Poop Trousers
“ASHURISAN” a.k.a. The Best Selling Author of “If I Did It”
“Ser Dunkin Keith” a.k.a. The White Castle Culprit
* With special guest appearances by: *
PHYLLIS JAGER
&
CHUCK MALCOLM

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE LOCATIONS
Basically everywhere on the Las Vegas Strip but mostly…
– The Linq
– Harrah’s
– Any “Shoot to Win” Craps Machine
– The Mirage (specifically suite A22)
– Sephora at The Shops at Caesar’s
– Mon Ami Gabi at The Paris
– That shady casino across from The Mirage
– The Las Vegas sign
– Fremont Street
– Some Brazilian Steakhouse
– A horrible California Pizza Kitchen
– Chuck Malcolm’s ledge at Hakkasan
– The Rockhouse at The Venetian…or the Palazzo…whatever, I can’t remember
– The Drunk Canadian Tour Guide’s Luxor Experience
– HYDE Bellagio
– Cravings Buffet at The Mirage

Not a Con Vegas Wars

THE EVENTS
Drinking
Gambling
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
A couple decent meals
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
Awful late-night snack decisions
The Bathtub Incident
Drinking some more
Gambling some more
Oh and dancing, there was dancing too
(And a lot of walking. Like almost too much walking, even for me.)

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

Not a Con Vegas Wars

All I have to say is that this was definitely one of my best Vegas trips ever – certainly in the top three – and that I can’t wait to plan another Vegas trip, OR another Not a Con…though next time I think we’ll continue our trend of visiting different places. Let’s just say that I’m still pushing for Not a Con 5.0 a.k.a. SKI KHAAAANNN 2.0 in Colorado in early 2018 😉

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Find Me at MegaCon Tampa Bay This Weekend!

I was lucky enough to be a guest at MegaCon Orlando earlier this year, and I’m super excited to have the opportunity to attend MegaCon Tampa Bay this coming weekend as a guest, as well! I’m still tossing around cosplay ideas, but I’m pretty sure I’ve finalized my daytime schedule with Pearl from Steven Universe, Cersei Lannister in mourning from Game of Thrones, and Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park. I may end up switching which days I wear what, but keep an eye out for me nonetheless!

Tara Lynne MegaCon Tampa Bay Cosplay

I’ll also be on a panel Saturday at 2 PM – “Cosplay for Beginners” in Room 18. But I have to be honest, I’m most excited about the official MegaCon afterparty on Saturday night. It’s being held at Orpheum in Tampa’s Ybor district, and yes, there will be a cosplay contest! Tickets are only $15 in advance so I highly suggest purchasing yours soon if you plan to attend. I know I’ll be there, along with some of the other cosplay guests…and who knows what celebrities might show up 😉

MegaCon Tampa Bay

(Of course, now I’m trying to decide what cosplay I want to wear for the afterparty…if I can dig up Playboy Bunny Effie Trinket, that’s a possibility…though I also have Katya from Archer laying around, or I can always go more comfy with Starbuck from BSG or Wendy from Gravity Falls…I’m not sure if I have too many options or not enough of them!)

Meanwhile, if you’re wandering the convention floor and want to stop by and say hello, you can find me at booth #535, which is on the aisle where the Community Zone abuts Artist Alley. I’ll be selling copies of my novel and promoting some of the conventions on my 2017 schedule – including Ice & Fire Con and Beach City Con, of course.

MegaCon Tampa Bay Tara Lynne

 

Are you attending MegaCon Tampa Bay? What about the afterparty? (Which is bound to be the best Halloween party in Tampa, let’s be honest.) If so, I hope to see you there!

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Spicy, No Onions, & Italian? Challenge Accepted!

I owed someone a favor and wanted to cook that person dinner. The only requirements were that it would be spicy and/or Italian, and not include onions.

Needless to say, I was stumped. I knew that I also had to limit cheese, so I went to Google…and found Real Simple’s recipe for Cauliflower Penne Puttanesca.

Granted, I changed a few things about the recipe, but here’s what I ended up with 🙂

Recipe Cauliflower Penne Puttanesca

CAULIFLOWER PENNE PUTTANESCA

  • 3/4 lbs Penne pasta, cooked by package directions
  • 3-ish tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb. cauliflower, cored and chopped into small florets
  • Salt & Pepper, to season
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • One 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (DO NOT DRAIN!)
  • 1/3 cup pitted kalamata (calamata) olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat-leave parsley, chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for serving

– While pasta is cooking, head up olive oil over medium high heat. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook 5-6 minutes (tossing occasionally until slightly browned).

– Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.

– Add the tomatoes and their juices, the olives, and the capers. Cook approximately 10 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes and stirring every couple of minutes.

– Toss the pasta with the sauce and then gently mix in the parsley. Serve with grated Parmesan if desired.

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Throwback Thursday: Emotional Wellness with Alpha Sigma Tau

So back in college I was in a sorority – Alpha Sigma Tau (trust me, if you’re surprised to hear this, you’re not the only one who has been). Was it the most amazing experience of my life? Well, to be honest, no – at least not in terms of the people. But I really enjoyed being Recruitment Chair and Social Chair and the work those positions involved, and from time to time it has provided me with some networking opportunities post-college.

All that said, I was contacted last year about the possibility of being featured in the Fall 2015 edition of The Anchor, our sorority magazine. This issue focused on the “six dimensions of wellness“, and I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent emotional wellness. In this respect, emotional wellness is defined as having “a positive attitude, high self-esteem, a strong sense of self, and the ability to recognize and share a wide range of feelings with others in a constructive way”.

The thing is, I don’t always fit that description, but apparently a fellow alum thought highly enough of me to suggest me for this feature, and after speaking with my interviewer and reading her article, I’m really happy that I was able to participate. So for today’s Throwback Thursday, here is the full article that was published last year 🙂

Throwback Thursday Alpha Sigma Tau

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Why I’m Voting for Hillary Clinton

I think it’s about time that I announce that I’m giving in and voting for Hillary, despite the fact that I’m not even voting in a swing state, but one that is solid red.

Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton

I don’t want to vote for her – I was a solid Bernie Sanders supporter and hated how this year’s primaries turned out, and even when Bernie told us we should vote for Hillary, I still couldn’t bring myself to make that decision. I don’t like her. I don’t like many of her policies. She is on the worst end of the career politician spectrum. I do not doubt that she will screw up quite a bit when she’s in office.

But I would rather have four years of Hillary than four years of Donald Trump. The man is a menace. We’d be lucky if he didn’t cause World War III. At best we would have to face four years of him demeaning literally anyone who isn’t a white male.

And hey, remember the election in 2000? If you are too young, let me [very briefly] explain what happened: There were so many issues with certain states ::cough cough FLORIDA:: that Bush only squeaked by in winning the election BY ELECTORAL VOTE.

I honestly can’t vote third party right now because if I do and that means that Donald Trump SOMEHOW, some way, eeks out a popular vote or electoral college vote “win”, then I would be one of the people who caused that, and I would seriously dislike myself for having done so.

Hillary is horrible, but she’s not the worst. And there are plenty of exaggerations and lies being spread about her, and people trying to make her sound worse than she actually is, while we have physical evidence of Donald Trump ACTUALLY BEING THE WORST.

Please, I’d just rather you not vote at all (or, if you just REALLY have to, vote for a third party candidate) than vote for Trump. Look into your heart and ask what you stand for, because if it’s anything like what Donald Trump is, then honestly I’m not sure if I care to have you in my life.

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Thirsty Thursday: Tara’s Pumpkin Pie Martini

I’ve actually been cooking a lot lately. It’s something I did several times a week for many many years, but the past couple of years I slacked off a lot. There are a lot of reasons behind that (not the least of which was depression), and I’m still working at really getting back into the cooking groove.

Of course cooking only rarely meshes with the “geeky” side of my life, but it is something I love doing. I’m probably better at cooking than I am at mixology, but I still have fun making new drinks once in a while…so I figured I might as well make a Thirsty Thursday post!

I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to keep up with Thirsty Thursday every week, but I’m going to do my best to post one of these…let’s say at least every month?

As it’s October, I figured it was the perfect time to bring up one of my very own creations…my personal version of a Pumpkin Pie Martini 🙂

Tara's Pumpkin Pie Martini

I stumbled upon Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur many years ago, and I even though I’m not big on pumpkin SPICE, I thought that I could probably make something generally-pumpkin-PIE flavored work. Of course I brought it home and realized that most recipes called for Baileys and other liquors/liqueurs that I simply didn’t have. So I made up my own recipe and thankfully it was delicious!

Tara’s Pumpkin Pie Martini

  • 1 (slightly overflowing) shot Fulton’s Pumpkin Pie Liqueur
  • Approx. 2/3 shot Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka
  • 1 shot regular Vodka
  • 1 shot half and half

– Put some ice in a shaker, add all ingredients, shake well and pour in a Martini glass. Drink immediately and then make another one and drink that too. Repeat. (haha)

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Recipe: Chicken Broccoli Ring

This recipe may not be super healthy, and yeah, it’s a bit of a pain to put together. You definitely won’t see some fancy Buzzfeed-style videos of me making something like this (or really anything) with seemingly no effort at all.

But this meal is delicious, and can be easily halved if you want to make a smaller portion. It can also be sliced into neat little triangle appetizers…but if you can make it and eat less than three sections I applaud you 😉

Chicken Broccoli Ring recipe

CHICKEN BROCCOLI RING

  • Two 8-oz packages of Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 2 cups boiled chicken breasts, pulled/chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped fresh broccoli florets
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Miracle Whip
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (about 2 cloves…a little more is never too much!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees
– Place chicken breasts in large pot with room temperature water; set burner at high and let sit/boil for 20 minutes before pulling/chopping
– Combine chicken, chopped broccoli, cheese, diced red bell pepper, mayo/Miracle Whip, dill weed, garlic, and salt in a large bowl; mix well.
– Separate the crescent rolls into triangles and arrange them, slightly overlapping, in a circle on a baking stone, with the wide ends approximately 2 inches from the edges of the stone. The points will extend off the edges!
– Scoop the filling evenly over the dough in a continuous circle.
– Bring the points of the triangle up over the filling and tuck under the dough at the center to form a ring.
– Bake 25-30 minutes (until deep golden brown).

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