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Thowback: Movies You Know You Loved As A Tween/Teen (I Know I Did!)

That Weird Girl Life
Memories of a tween/teen are so nostalgic- you know, in a painfully awkward way where you cringe at your old photos of you wearing too much shiny lip gloss (more is never enough!) and the idea that you thought you could do your hair and makeup (you couldn't, but bless you, you tried). But some memories are more sweet than bitter- like sleepovers with your friends, gossiping, trying on makeup, maybe talking about that cute guy in your class that will totally be interested in you if you spray yourself liberally enough with Victoria's Secret body splash (no, because his body spray would overpower the entire classroom. Seriously, did all guys like bathe in Axe body spray?). Even if these weren't your experiences (because they were totally mine), I know we all share at least one thing in common: we all freakin' loved these movies in the late 90's and early to mid 2000's. Deny it all you want, but as cheesy and silly (and let's face it: formulaic) as these movies were, are, and ever will be, you know they still have a special place in your heart and every once in a blue moon, you maybe throw one in your DVD/Blu-ray player, just for old time's sake. And if you haven't, you've at least thought about it. Me, I unapologetically relish in the old and awkward memories these movies bring me, to a much simpler time of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers and butterfly clips. So let's revisit these classics of our youth and remember the time when we thought that all it took was a makeover to change our lives and get that cute boy to notice us! (Being a princess would have helped though, honestly)


1. Aquamarine
Fox 2000 Pictures
A movie featuring friendship and a mermaid?? Yes, please! This movie seriously has it all: two best friends (you know you were totally picturing you and your BFF in Emma Robert's and JoJo's places), living in a beach town during the summer- seriously they lived like ON the beach!-, a super cute older (but that much older. Let's not get creepy) lifeguard, a total mean girl who's super rude to the two best friends (we all knew that one girl), and a MERMAID, who mysteriously washes into a swimming pool and then is found by said two best friends and then they become friends with a mermaid!! As silly and ridiculous as the movie is, it actually has the sweetest message about the different types of love there are, and the power of friendship. Can you say best summer ever??

2. What a Girl Wants
Warner Bros.
I miss the days when Amanda Bynes was literally the queen of tween movies. With her stick straight long hair, cool outfits (those spaghetti strap shirt and flaired jeans!), and comedic timing, Amanda Bynes was the IT girl you wanted to be. (I mean, she got to kiss some pretty cute boys in her movies! Lucky girl!) What a Girl Wants is a classic, and one of those movies that will always make me miss London whenever I watch it (the scenes of her sight-seeing and having fun in London just tug at my Anglophile heartstrings). This movie also gives me some complicated feelings about Colin Firth. I mean, he's playing her dad, but he's still really cute? It feels so wrong... but that doesn't stop me from rewatching the movie still!

3. The Princess Diaries
Disney
I think it's probably every girl's dream to be a secret royal without noticing. Even though Mia didn't want to be a princess and get a fabulous makeover (I mean, more power to her for not wanting a makeover but she didn't want people to know she was a princess because she thought it would make her more of a freak. Umm...quite the opposite, dear!), I'm sure the rest of us would have gladly accepted the honor of being a princess of the (fictional) country of Genovia. But seriously, this movie is just so good. It's funny, heartfelt, and Julie Andrews, the queen that she is, literally played a queen. If a movie could be perfection, than The Princess Diaries is pretty darn close and is a movie I'm still not tired of watching it!

4. The Prince and Me
Paramount Pictures
The 2000's obviously loved the princess trend because when The Prince and Me came out, I was so into it. I loved that Julia Stiles played Paige, a college student studying to be a doctor and despite falling in love with the foreign exchange student (aka Danish royalty) Eddie and goes back to Denmark to marry him (SPOILER ALERT), she decides to leave and pursue her dream of being a doctor and helping people in third world countries. Which infuriated me as a teen (why would you leave when you were ENGAGED to a prince! You are going to be a PRINCESS! He's cute and amazing WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???) but now as an adult, is so empowering and commendable. She wasn't going to give up her dream to be a doctor so she could help people just so she could be a princess. Obviously she and Eddie still loved each other, but I liked the fact that Eddie loved her enough to let her go and wouldn't let her give up on her dream just so she could be with him. Which made the ending even more bittersweet and I like to imagine a world where Paige comes back to become Eddie's wife and Dr. Princess Paige. (That sounds like what a little girl wants to be when she grows up, a doctor princess!)

5. The Lord of the Rings trilogy
New Line Cinema
Even if you weren't a fantasy fan (which I am not. You know Harry Potter doesn't count!), you saw all three of these movies and they were like NOTHING you had seen before. Full of action, hobbits, elves, dwarves, talking trees, and epic battles, this trilogy totally gave new life and some much needed respect to the fantasy genre and encouraged a lot of people to let their geek flag fly and be proud of their nerdom! Thanks, Peter Jackson! Also, you know you were a Lord of the Rings fan if you had all three extended edition DVD sets- which I did! And I watched aaaaaallllll the bonus features and commentaries. I was pretty hardcore, people. (Umm, also, are hobbits kind of hot? I don't even mind the big, hairy feet. Just me? C'mon! You know Martin Freeman as Bilbo is adorable!)

6. Pirates of the Caribbean
Disney
Pirates of the Caribbean seriously made all of us realize that pirates could actually be cool and attractive. Before that, when I pictured pirates, I personally just pictured all of the greasy, dirty pirate extras from Hook, but after first watching Pirates of the Caribbean, I really hoped that more pirates looked like Johnny Depp than Mr. Smee. Also, this movie is just fun (the soundtrack is epic) and pretty much the only successful movie that's been inspired by a theme park ride. (How cool would it be to have a Matterhorn or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad movie though? And an actually good Haunted Mansion movie!)

7. Moulin Rouge
20th Century Fox
Moulin Rouge brought musicals back, by way of legendary director Baz Lurhmann and the swoon-worthy Ewan McGregor (oh, and Nicole Kidman, she's pretty cool too). How romantic and heartbreaking was Christian's love for Satine? It was doomed from the start, but we still wanted them to live happily ever after, despite knowing where the story would end. But the original songs and covers of classic numbers were the best part of the entire movie, in my opinion. The soundtrack was just a work of art and Lady Marmalade is an absolute classic. (And made tween/teen us start singing some very inappropriate things in French)

8. Legally Blonde
MGM
Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde is the feminist power figure of the 2000's. You know it, I know it, so don't try to argue with me. If this movie doesn't make you want to go out of your comfort zone to achieve your goals and find yourself, then I don't know what other movie will. (Also, as cool as the bend and snap is, does it really work? I have yet to hear any success stories)

9. Miss Congeniality
Warner Bros.
This is another great girl power movie. Sandra Bullock plays a tomboy FBI agent who must go undercover as a contestant in a beauty pageant. Throw in Michael Caine in his best role ever (I know, I know, he's a very accomplished actor in some very serious roles, but comedy is much harder to do than drama, and he completely made his character the highlight of the entire movie), a makeover montage (all the best movies have makeover scenes. Everyone knows it but nobody says it) and you've got a hilarious movie with a kickass heroine who can arrest bad guys- in HEELS. (Am I the only one who still sings "she's beauty and she's grace/she's Miss United Staaates!"? I swear, it pops in my head every so often!)

10. The Harry Potter movies
Warner Bros.
It's Harry freakin' Potter. If you weren't at the midnight premiere of the movies or at least seeing it opening day, you really couldn't call yourself a fan. Bonus points if you dressed in a wizarding world inspired costume! (Not to brag or anything, but I saw the first movie eight times in theaters...)

11. Freaky Friday
Disney
How underrated is this movie? I feel like their aren't enough movies about mothers and daughters (at least no good ones anyway) and Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan (RIP her early/mid 2000's career. We miss you, Lindsay) were a dream team together. This movie (kind of) made you wish you could have this experience with your mom just so you could be closer afterwards. Actually, nevermind, that kind of experience would be horrifying! (No offense, Mom. I highly doubt she'd want to trade places with me either!)

12. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Warner Bros.
The first Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movie is perfection. Friendship, jeans, family, drama, cute boys... I honestly can't think of a better combination for a movie. Tibby, Bridget, Lena, Carmen were the original squad and friendships goals and were pretty much what all friends groups back in the 2005 aspired to be. And I know we all love our friends, but didn't we (and still do) all secretly wish after reading the books and watching the movies that there was a magical pair of jeans that fit ALL of us perfectly and kept us connected as we spent the summer apart on our own separate journeys and adventures? Sigh. If only! (Also, why can't I have relatives in a cool and beautiful country like Greece??)

13. Holes
Disney 
Your favorite kids book turned into your favorite kids movie (thanks to the awesome screenplay written by the author, Louis Sachar, himself!) Who would have thought that a group of delinquent boys sentenced to digging holes all day in the desert would actually turn out to be such a riveting, emotional, and clever story? (Well, stories, plural!) Not me, but I'm so glad this movie (and book) exist! Such an underrated Disney classic! (Also, RIP normal Shia LaBeouf. We miss you as Stanley Yelnats!)

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This was such a nostalgic post to write! I had so much fun putting it together and I hope you had a fun time walking down memory lane reading it! 💖 Were (or are you still) a fan of some of the movies on my list? Did I miss any good ones? What was your favorite movie from when you were a tween/teen? Let me know in the comments!

Stay Weird,
Emily

Need to read some more throwback posts for old time's sake? Then check out my page of even more throwback posts about kids and teen books and movies I loved as a kid!

My All Time Favorite Scary Books to Read!

That Weird Girl Life
Don't you wish that the horror genre was more celebrated year round? I mean, everyone loves a good romance novel and they get discussed year round, not just around Valentine's Day! So I'm here to remind you all that you can read horror novels at any time of the year, not just Halloween. Sure, reading them in October does make it a bit more spooky and gets you into that holiday spirit, but sometimes reading scary books at other times of the year can be just as scary. For example: it's Easter Sunday, you're all relaxed and happy from eating the chocolate from your Easter basket. You start to read a creepy novel and then you hear a loud thud. You immediately jump and think "oh my god, it's the Cadbury bunny and it wants it's delicious creme filled chocolate eggs back!" See?? It adds a scary, dark, and definitely unexpected element to an otherwise boring, pastel-filled holiday! (C'mon, you know Easter could use a somewhat dangerous and exciting element to it, like a killer Easter bunny, just to mix it up. And if you have to get that by reading something dark and twisty, then so be it!)

But in all seriousness, horror novels are something that can be read all year, because it's always fun to be scared and get goosebumps, not just when it's near All Hallow's Eve. I've compiled a list (I love lists) of some of my favorite horror novels- some young adult, some children's, and some adult- that I love and completely terrified me (though looking back at some of the kids' ones...never mind, they still scare the sh*t out of me!). I think you'll love them too (if you haven't already), so get ready to be terrified, horrified, and petrified aka have the best time of your life reading and getting your goosebumps on!

*Note: A few books in the header are not on the list. I don't own every single books on this list, so I had to make up for it for the picture by adding a few other scary books that I didn't include on the list (but you should still totally read them because they're also incredibly scary. Why didn't I include them on this list? Oh well. I'm writing this after the fact and I'm fingers are tired. Sorry, books, not adding you this time!). I just wanted to explain, just in case. Disclaimer over!

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books
Is the thought of Ikea scary to you? Same. But how about an Ikea-like store that's haunted by the prisoners and warden of the prison that used to be on that very same property hundreds of years ago? Yeah, that's probably a bit more terrifying than getting lost in an Ikea and totally missing the cafeteria. Horrorstor is a dark comedy that will have you chuckling at its dry humor and then gasping at its shocking moments. And as a bonus, the book is modeled after an Ikea-like catalog, complete with ads and profiles of the (fictional) furniture it sells. I swear, you'll never look at another Ikea dining room set the same way again.

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
Quirk Books
The 80's were a scary time. Big hair, neon colors, leg warmers, I mean, how disturbing does that sound? But throw in the fact that your best friend is now possessed by a demon? Things just got a lot more scary! Like Horrorstor, Grady Hendrix brings some dark humor and surprisingly beautiful moments of female friendships into this tale of 80's music and best friends. Oh, and demonic possession. It's kind of hard to forget that part of the story. (Also: one word: tapeworm. You'll never be able to forget that part either)

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
Kindle Edition
The Exorcist may be my all time favorite horror novel. Of. All. Time. If you love horror and haven't read it yet, please do yourself a favor and read this book. You thought the movie was scary? Nuh-uh. You ain't seen (read) nothing yet! (Trust me, the special effects in your head when you read this book are way better and much more terrifying than the ones in the 70's movie. I mean, pea soup? Really? Not scary. Well, it was to me but that's just because I hate peas)

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
Harlequin Teen
If you've been following my blog for a minute, you know I looooved Daughters Unto Devils. Not liked. LOVED. It was the perfect blend of historical fiction and pure horror. I wrote a book review a few months ago where I sang its praises and if you want to read it, the link is here. I would write a blurb here, but when I get enthusiastic about something I tend to ramble and I'm already writing enough for this blog, so just go over to my review and read my GLOWING review of the book. And yes, I did ramble on it. I loved the book, okay?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Scholastic, Inc.
If you didn't read or even glance through this book as a child, consider yourself lucky. Not only are the stories incredibly scary, but the illustrations just add a downright disturbing element to this collection of scary stories. I still sort of shudder whenever I look through this book for old time's sake, and wonder why I'm not as messed up as an adult after reading this tome. (Wellll... now that I think about it, this book may have influenced my love of horror and the paranormal. Hmmm....)

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Broadway Paperbacks
You know how everyone was simply shocked and so taken with Gone Girl? They thought it was so ground-breaking and never saw that twist and ending coming. I personally thought it was overrated and kind of just a formulaic thriller. So when I read Sharp Objects, I was completely blown away. This was the book that people should be talking about, not Gone Girl! More disturbing than scary, this book is just a twisted and I actually had to set it down a couple of time, just to take a breath and recoup. Brace yourself for a disturbing read. It's not horror, but it will horrify you. You've been warned!

Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine
Scholastic
You know this series scared the daylights out of you as a kid and still does now. Or at least gives you that fun shiver down your spine. Either way, the Goosebumps series are a fun, nostalgic (I swear I used to drink Hi-C juice boxes and eat String Things as I read these books back in the day), and creepy read to get you in the spooky spirit!

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
William Morrow
This is another exorcism/demonic possession read (the third on this list, in fact!) but it's a totally different take on this familiar genre. A Head Full of Ghosts is more of a psychological thriller, rather than horror, that will still have you feel like you're being watched, as a family has to figure out if their eldest daughter is really possessed, or if there may be something even far more sinister may be going on. Trust me, you'll never guess the ending and once you finish the book, you'll have to take a day to process what actually happened.

The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco


Samara who? If you loved The Ring (and the original Ringu) and other Japanese-style horror movies, you will love this book. The whole book is chilling and atmospheric and our heroine (who is actually the vengeful spirit of a young girl) Okiku's friendship with the living and haunted (literally) teen Tark, will tug at your heart strings. Which helps the balance of frightening images and terrifying events that happen in the rest of the book, because there's a whole lot of frightening and terrifying things!

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
Ballantine Books
I'm sure almost everyone has heard of Interview with the Vampire, or have seen the movie (I'm not a Tom Cruise fan, but he killed it as Lestat!), but have you read the book? I'm not into vampires (at all!) but this book is good. Like, really, really good. It's a long but incredibly engrossing read and is considered a horror classic. And if you love it, Anne Rice has more books in her vampire series and then some! (She's a hard working lady. Get it, girl!)

The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright
Scholastic Paperbacks
We all know that dolls are scary. But what about dollhouses? This was another book from my youth that completely terrified me but was one of the books that got me hooked on ghost stories. When I found it at my local Goodwill, I knew it was fate that the book came back to me (who would seriously donate their copy of The Dollhouse Murders? Laaame!) and when I reread it was still scary. But in a fun let's-tell-scary-stories-while-eating-s'mores-at-my-sleepover kind of way.

Sweet Valley Twins series "The Beast" trilogy
Bantam Books
I'm sure you've heard of the Sweet Valley High books or the TV show, but when I was younger, I was obsessed with the Sweet Valley Twins books, about twins Jessica and Elizabeth when they were tweens (I thought they were so cool. They were twins, blondes, and had amazing adventures together! It's all I ever wanted in my young life...). And this special trilogy in the series has the twins baby-sitting a single mother's three children who just moved into an old, creepy house (sound familiar?). And when the kids start having nightmares of a frightening "beast" and wake up with scratches on them, Elizabeth and Jessica must stop the nightmares and the beast from torturing this family. Which, now looking back, is a lot to put on two twelve year olds. Like, they were probably dealing with a demon and didn't even know it. Needless to say, this trilogy chilled me to the bone as youngin' and still gives me the creeps to this day. Not too bad for a 90's kid series!

Nina Tanleven books by Bruce Coville
Yearling
Best friends solving mysteries after encountering a ghost who needs their help? Yes, please! Adolescent Emily loved this series (why am I talking about myself in the third person? Oh, that's right: I'm weird) and I still do. I found The Ghost Wore Gray at a local used bookstore and I'm currently on the hunt for the other two books (sometimes it's more fun to go book shopping for books at a used bookstore than just buying it off of Amazon. At least I think so. Does anyone else think so or is it just me??) to complete the trilogy. Until then, I can only imagine a pretend past where my best friend and I visited old places and a ghost would pop out and need us to resolve their unfinished business. Actually, I'd love to do that now! Uh oh, am I about to rebrand my blog?? (Just kidding, I'm not, but I seriously would make a section of my blog dedicated to ghost hunting!)

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There you have it, my list of my all time favorite scary books! It was a pretty eclectic mix, and my list is constantly growing, so who knows what will be on the next list of my favorite scary books! Let me know in the comments what your favorite scary book is (or books!). Is it fiction or nonfiction? Adult, YA, or children's? Let me know, I'm always looking for new scary book suggestions! Thanks for reading!

Stay Weird,
Emily

Still in the mood to read more blog posts dedicated to book lists? Well, have no fear, I have a whole bunch more for you to read! Enjoy, fellow bookworms!

Book Review: Can't Buy Forever by Susan Laffoon

Page Publishing Inc
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, opinions, and ramblings are my own.

Book: Can't Buy Forever
Author: Susan Laffoon
Genre: Fiction
Subgenre: Romance, historical fiction

Can't Buy Forever is the story of nineteen Odessa Drake (who hates her name: one part Swan Princess, other part ugly duckling), living in 1950's upper New York state, with her aunt who runs a lodging house mostly occupied by workers from the nearby mine. Odessa, despite thinking herself an ugly duckling, from her description and the way other male characters act around her, seems to be just as beautiful as the Swan Princess. At her Aunt Flo's lodge a few years before, she meets the mysterious dark haired Nicholas, with piercing blue eyes that seem to change shades as his mood changes. Everyone seems to love and trust him, pronouncing him a good guy and perfect for Odessa, despite the pretty substantial age gap of being four years older than her. Making friends with everyone and always being kind and helpful, Nicholas seems wise beyond his years, but hesitant to start a relationship with Odessa (even though the way they act and touch each other seems like they're in a relationship, but it's made very clear that they are not, despite everyone's approval by way of knowing glances). Things start changing though when Roark, a local boy in town seems to be obsessed with Odessa and his hellbent on having her all to himself. From there, secrets are revealed about Nicholas and the love between him and Odessa as they must go on the run, and the history between Nicholas' and Roark's feuding families.

The premise for the book going in was somewhat unclear to me and even more unclear as I was actually reading it. I knew it was a love story between the innocent and lovely Odessa, and the older, perfect Nicholas. But the author threw in numerous story-lines and plot points including an immortality and gypsy curse story-line, along with the history of the newly founded Mormon Church moving to Utah in the 1800's, that I'm not at all quite sure how to exactly describe the book. Is this book strictly romance, or is a mix of magic and fantasy with not-so-subtle religious undertones? Or all of the above?

While I didn't mind Odessa and Nicholas as a couple, I just felt like despite all of the history and obvious multiple descriptions of their pure love and yearning for one another (their intense love for each other is the only way I could imagine that Nicholas could sense where Odessa was when she was scared or hurt. Or maybe it was part of the Gypsy curse...?), those two characters and their love story weren't compelling at all and just fell flat for me. Despite thinking of herself as insecure, Odessa was still pretty much perfect and everyone found her pretty and lovely, and Nicholas, with his worldly, but generous heart, seemed to just be so overprotective of Odessa that instead of trusting her with information about himself and the danger he was in,  kept it to himself to protect her (oh, but he did tell other people so they could protect her when he wasn't there. Makes sense). So overprotective of her that a twist (more like a familial switcheroo) that comes at the end of the book seems downright bizarre and not at all romantic like it was described, and almost somehow cancels out the love story that we took with Nicholas and Odessa.

The story itself (or multiple backstories) seems to meander in many aimless directions throughout he book. The author throws in so much information, history, and characters (So. Many. Characters! And of course, they all love Odessa and Nicholas. Well, most of them), that it all seems a bit too jumbled and confused and we never truly get a good payoff for a lot of the dramatic plots. What could have been an interesting story line of trying to remove a Gypsy curse is instead almost forgotten until the end when it resolved without anyone truly knowing. Instead we get multiple story changes and breaks with newly introduced characters that are either friends or foes of Nicholas and Odessa, nowhere in-between. And pretty much every character introduced finds or has a romantic partner, as if almost every character has to have a happy ending, just like the perfect couple Odessa and Nicholas hopefully will.

I felt like Can't Buy Forever was too all over the place for my taste, and the writing, while not the greatest, was descriptive (sometimes a little too descriptive) and made the story move along in a choppy sort of way. I think if you're into clean (no bad language or sexual references at all), somewhat religious (the Mormon undertones were fairly obvious) romance novels, then you'll probably love this book. I think the novel could have had a lot of potential to actually be a story I would have liked (maybe if they had explored the actual Gypsy story-line and went back to Europe, and brought more of that magic and fantasy quality to it), but in all honestly wasn't my type of book. There were just too many pieces to the puzzle and not all of them fit to make a cohesive and entertaining story for me.

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What did you all think of my newest book review? It wasn't my cup of tea, but how did the plot/story line sound to you? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay Weird,
Emily


Where to Buy:
Amazon

Goodreads:
Can't Buy Forever

(Not So) Ghostly Misadventures at the Winchester Mystery House!

That Weird Girl Life
It may seem a little weird that one of the places I've always wanted to visit since I was a kid was the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. But really, what would you expect from the girl who stumbled upon the supernatural section in her local library when she was in elementary school and just become fascinated about the very idea of if ghosts truly exist or not. Last December, my ghost-loving dreams finally came true: thanks to a visit to see my uncle in northern California, I got to go see my dream house (I don't think I could ever afford to buy a historic landmark/tourist attraction anyway). And it. Was. Incredible!

If you don't know the story of Sarah Winchester, I'm going to give you the cliff notes version: in the 1800's Sarah Winchester married the heir to the Winchester rifles company and after losing her daughter and her husband over the years, according to legend, a medium told a grieving Sarah Winchester that the reason her daughter and husband died was because the ghosts of the people who have been killed by Winchester rifles over the years were haunting her. The medium informed Sarah that the only way to appease these spirits must be to move west and build a house- and keep adding on to the house for the REST OF HER LIFE- for herself and the spirits to live in. And the legend says that the spirit of the victims, the builders who worked on the house, and Sarah Winchester herself, haunt the mansion. Got all that? Great!

The reason why the house is so famous (you know, besides being owned and built by a very rich woman who randomly moved to California and built a giant mansion which she kept building for years until she passed away), is because of it's bizarre architecture. There are doors and staircases that lead to nowhere, windows looking into other rooms, and there's even a the Door to Nowhere that opens to a two story drop outside!

For years people attributed all of these strange architectural designs to the mediums Sarah Winchester consulted about building the house, but most historians now think that was just a crazy rumor that people started about her after her daughter and husband died and she moved out west. Maybe others were jealous of the fortune she was left or just confused about her sudden need to move out to California. As for her crazy architecture... some historians believe that maybe Sarah Winchester was just a bad amateur architect. Maybe she enjoyed designing, but she obviously didn't go to school to study for it, so maybe that's why she designed such strange house plans (I mean, she had enough money for all of the contractors to just agree with what she wanted to do with the house). Plus, there was a large earthquake that damaged the house quite badly (some of the cracks in the walls from the earthquake are still there) and maybe instead of tearing down certain walls and rooms and starting over, she kept adding on to the house- hence the doors and stairs that lead to nowhere. I'm sure the continuous building of the house kept her occupied while she mourned her losses over the years (talk about an expensive coping mechanism!). But the rumors about it being haunted by the ghosts of the victims of the Winchester rifles has stayed and the Winchester Mystery House definitely capitalizes and encourages the thought (in a really fun, entertaining way!).

Yes, it's a tourist attraction, so there's a gift shop, a small pretty courtyard area between the gift shop and the actual house that somewhat reminds me of Disneyland, and some of the tour guides were in 1800's costumes. Our tour guide was totally decked out in a dark purple suit and top hat and was totally chewing the scenery- I've only read that phrase before but had never seen it in a real life situation. (I did that day.) The tour guides definitely try to play a bit of a theatrical part to be more entertaining, especially with the stories of spirits being seen in and around the house, though honestly the tour was interesting enough without one man show of a tour guide (but he really did make the tour pretty humorous and fun).

All in all, I thought it was well worth the trip, and while it wasn't paranormal at all (despite the ghost stories our tour guide told us, he himself just thinks that Sarah Winchester was just a lonely woman who was trying to distract herself from the losses of her husband and young daughter), I had a great time. I would have loved to have taken pictures of the inside of the house, but the tour guide said that we couldn't for legal reason. He mentioned in a hush-hush voice that a movie about Sarah Winchester and the house was in the works and whispered that "Helen Mirren may be involved." To which I replied SIGN ME UP! (And I just checked and it is going to be a movie! Yay! Buying my tickets now!) Though the outside of the house was just as impressive as the inside of the house, and while taking pictures at exactly 3 o'clock in the afternoon may not have produced the best looking pictures, I still think I captured it's strange, odd beauty.

I'd absolutely go back to visit, especially around Halloween time or at least at night. I know they offer more extensive tours, so maybe they do offer more of a ghostly tour. You never know who may be walking those spooky halls at night....

That Weird Girl Life
The sign let us know that we were in the right place!

That Weird Girl Life
Okay, I know it's kind of weird to take a picture of stained glass/mosaic door-shutter things that are on either side of the bathroom entrance, but look how pretty they are! This was in the courtyard behind the gift shop/restaurant, which was such a pretty area filled with trees, string lights hanging overheard. Of course I tried to take pictures of the courtyard but they turned out horribly. That's basically just my life...

That Weird Girl Life
Since I wasn't able to take pictures inside, I had to settle for taking pictures of the grounds. Which were honestly stunning and is it weird to want to get married there? Think of the wedding pictures! Also, do you notice that open door on the second floor...?

That Weird Girl Life
Yep, that would be the Door to Nowhere! Of course, the inside is roped off before you can even get close to the door, but the view from near the door made my heart stop. I may not be afraid of heights, but I am positively scared of falling and going SPLAT.

That Weird Girl Life
I mean, look how gorgeous this fountain is. There are stone frogs spouting water! If that doesn't say class, than I don't know what else does.

That Weird Girl Life
I visited in December so of course the house was all decked out in garland, ornaments, and Christmas trees, which really kind of took away from that creepy vibe they try to advertise but instead made it so lovely looking and cozy. At least from the outside!

That Weird Girl Life
Has someone made a dollhouse version of the Winchester Mystery House? Because I want one now.

That Weird Girl Life
The house looks pretty in its Christmas mode, but I wonder what they do for Halloween. Do you think it looks like Disneyland during Halloween? Do they have pumpkins in the gardens and a Jack Skellington dressed as Santa on the roof trying to slide down one of the house's many chimneys? (I'm sure they'd have to use non-Disney Christmas movie characters, but I think the house would like super spooky with Halloween decor!)

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I love that the people in charge of the house have a sense of humor. I was just delighted with this 13 topiary. Creepy and kitschy!

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Like, really: imagine your wedding taking place here. With the fountains babbling (or do brooks babble? I think fountains can babble too) in the background and the sounds of rifle victims moaning from the world between the living and the dead... it sounds like a beautiful wedding. I'm tearing up as I type this, honestly.

That Weird Girl Life
Can you imagine if this was your front door? I bet if kids trick or treated at the Winchester House, Sarah would have definitely have given out full size candy bars (girl could afford it!).

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I would have never had any dates as a teen if my front door had looked like that. Guys would have been terrified to ring that doorbell. (So good thing I didn't really date as a teen! *ba-dum-tissss!*)

That Weird Girl Life
Prepare yourself: lots of pictures of the front of the Winchester Mystery House are coming. (Hmm...not quite as catchy as "winter is coming." Maybe if Jon Snow/Kit Harington said it...)

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MY.

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DREAM.

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HOUSE!!!!!

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Even the back of the house is pretty! That gazebo area would also be lovely for some wedding photos...

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I have a soft spot for topiary trees/shrubs/plants. I just think it's so fun and I got super excited when I saw this topiary lady that was in the process of growing. I'm sure she'll look lovely covered in leaves! (Weirdest sentence I've ever written)

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Pretty plants! I don't think that's a historically accurate garden hose though...

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This was the old timey shooting range game! (With, I'm assuming, Winchester rifle replicas) It was an entire room filled with random, antique tchotckes, furniture, and just so much stuff. I loved it and I think it's my new decor aesthetic.

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I didn't play the shooting game (not my style), but I just admired the creepy decor and the eerie music they played in the background. For sure some of these toys (including THAT doll) come to life at night. I know it.

That Weird Girl Life
I don't trust that dress form in the wedding dress. Not. At. All.

🏡

I hope you enjoyed my experience at the Winchester Mystery House! It may not have been as spooky and goosebump-inducing as I would have liked, but it was really fun and very interesting. The architecture is beautiful in a strange way, and it's a great way to learn some information about the early days of San Jose, CA, the history of Sarah Winchester and the maybe dark history the house holds (it probably doesn't, but it's fun to imagine!) If you want to learn more about the house (you know, because I'm not a historian and other people can explain it so much better and in a much more riveting way), you can check out the Winchester Mystery House's website to learn more! (And there is so much more that I didn't include!)

Let me know what you thought of my visit! Have you ever visiting the Winchester Mystery House? Do you have any interest to? Do you think it's haunted? Let me know in the comments below!

Stay Weird,
Emily

Interested in seeing where else I've traveled? (Some places more scary than others!) I have a whole bunch of my blog posts over here ready for you to read!