Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life Festival - Seneca Falls, NY: 2013

Oh. My. God.

I don't even know where to begin this post, but last weekend was the most amazing weekend maybe in my life.  (Okay: when I met Sharon, Lois and Bram and hung out in their trailer singing songs while waiting for the rain to stop? This is up there with that.)

Every year, Seneca Falls, NY holds the It's a Wonderful Life Festival.  The whole town gets involved and it's incredible. It seems to be something of a hidden treasure, and I'm slightly hesitant to blog about it because I'd like to keep it that way! But really, it was too amazing to not talk about. This was my first year, and I definitely plan on going back next year!

The town: Seneca Falls is a cute small town with quaint little shops lining the center.  Back before It's A Wonderful Life was made, Frank Capra stopped in the town to get a haircut, and happened to mention the movie to the barber.  After the movie came out, people started to realize strange similarities between Bedford Falls and Seneca Falls--the most glaring, being the bridge.  There's a plaque on the bridge honoring a man who jumped in to save a woman who was trying to commit suicide. (This detail was added to IAWL by Capra: originally George Bailey simply had a conversation with Clarence instead of jumping in to save him.)

For one weekend a year, the stores are transformed into iconic Bedford Falls stores: Antonina's restaurant becomes Martini's bar, the bank becomes the Bailey Building and Loan, the welcome center becomes Anderson's Emporium, etc.  They give horse drawn carriage rides and roast chestnuts on street corners. About half of the places we went to had live bands playing Christmas music. The whole thing is very Christmassy and picturesque.

Karolyn Grimes (ZuZu Bailey) and Carol Coombs (Janie Bailey) were there, as well as Mary Owen, Donna Reed's daughter. I got to meet them, take photos with them and get their autographs.  They held Q&A sessions and introduced the film.  While signing an autograph for me, Carol Coombs took one look at me and told me that I have a "movie star smile" and that I "should be in pictures." I'll never watch the film the same way again!


A cast performed the Lux Radio show version of It's a Wonderful Life.  There were characters on the street who were beautifully and hilariously in character the whole time.  Sara and I kept running into Bert the cop at inopportune moments--like when we were just about to jaywalk, or when I was trying really hard not to fall down some icy stairs while exiting the hotel, and instead looked like I was drunk.  "Had a little too much fun at the Gould Hotel?" He asked me.

They had a passport, which was probably the best part.  It got my shy self out and talking to everyone (in order to get stamps for your passport, you had to ask local businesses and the characters on the street for them) and the interaction, especially with the characters, was memorable.  Everyone in the town was so friendly and nice.

They hold this event every year, and this year they got probably 6 inches of snow.  This apparently never happens, so it made certain things interesting.  There were a lot of outdoor events, including the It's A Wonderful Run 5K.  (Sara and I are planning on going back next year, too, and maybe even doing the 5K. We'll see.)

My only gripe, and it's a small one, is that some events were off the beaten path and difficult to find, and they really lacked in signage. We weren't able to find the venue holding the "Dance By the Light of the Moon" event, or Anderson's Emporium (until Sunday, when it was closed) and the film was screened at the "Old Mynerse Academy" which had no signs at all to let us know we were in the right place.  It seemed like most people were locals, so they already know where everything is.

Anyway, if you're as It's a Wonderful Life-obsessed as I am, I definitely recommend checking out this event.  They don't have a Facebook page or anything (trying to stay low profile, I assume?) but you can check out there website here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good news!

I'm happy to report that grades have just rolled in, and I passed my first grad school course with a B+! Yay!  It was a little challenging at points (the final paper kicked my ass, officially) but I think my next course will be a bit more my speed.

I also had one of the most incredible weekends of my life: I went to the real Bedford Falls with Sara.  I'm hesitant to even blog about it, since it seems like an undiscovered gem. But I will, in time, once I can do it justice.  Just know that if you love It's A Wonderful Life as much as I do, you'll fall all over yourself to get to this event next year!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Paint Nite!

My final research paper for the semester is due Sunday by midnight and it's less than half done.
This is as good a time as any to blog, right? Right!

Last night Sara and I checked out a Paint Nite.  It was her second time going and my first…a very interesting experience because I am somehow both a perfectionist AND not a very good painter.  I was paralyzed at certain points, but at least it was amusing.  My owl didn't come out TOO bad…although I have to laugh at those two fat branches I made.  I didn't even realize how they looked until I got them home! They seemed perfectly proportional at the time.
Sara added some snow to her painting at the last minute, even though it wasn't part of the instruction. I was really nervous for her because we both weren't sure if it would look good or wreck it!  But it came out good.  I feel like mine could have benefitted from some snow, too.

Anyway, it was a good time, even though the venue was a bit cramped.  I would make it a monthly outing, but to be honest, in my on-going quest for minimalism, I have absolutely no desire to collect a bunch of random paintings!  Maybe if I get better at it, I'll feel differently, but at this point I doubt it. 

I am SUPER excited now that December is here--I'm looking forward to checking TWO big events off my 30 by 30 list…and maybe more, we'll see!  Stay tuned for the updates!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

30 by 30 (Post 2)

Welcome to my second installment of my 30 by 30 list!  I'm dividing it up so that I can hopefully finish it all by 6/21/14!


5. Get a pet.
6. Go to a drive-in movie.
7. Have tea at The Plaza Hotel.
8. Buy something at Tiffany's.

I also did all of these…yay!  I'm sure you all remember Major Tom from my blog posts.  He's my big baby…no, really, he's huge though…both in stature (even though he was the runt of the litter) and in poundage.  The vet weighed him last month and he weighs 17 pounds!  I'm glad it was at least under 20…I've had him on a diet for a while.


I saw a drive-in movie for my first date with Shaun back in May of…what, 2011 was it? I can't even keep track of the year anymore.  I think it was 2011.  We've been back to the drive-in a handful of times since…we always say we're going to see everything and go a ton of times each season, but there never seems to be many shows we are interested in.

I had tea at the Plaza Hotel with Sara this summer.  It was a crazed whirlwind New York trip where I did TONS of things and spent way too much money.  (I always forget the insane sales tax in New York while budgeting…ick!)  But it was a great time and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
As you can see in the above photo, I also bought my first piece of jewelry from Tiffany's that same day.  I -almost- talked myself out of it, but I'm so glad I didn't.  I'm not much of a jewelry girl, but I haven't taken my necklace off since I bought it!