Harry Potter

Excuse Me, Your Nerd Is Showing by Rachel Abrahams

Have you ever had a secret you wanted to share but knew if you did, people would judge you? A part of you that felt a magnetic pull towards something and you just spent a lot of energy digging your feet into the ground, clawing at the dirt in the hopes of not finally get sucked into its vortex? Yeah, I spent many years doing that. I feigned being too cool and above it all and yet deep down inside there was a part of me that was 100%, dyed in the cloth, there’s no denying it Nerd (with a capital N).

In school, I did not shy away from working as hard possible to excel in every way. I refused to dumb myself down in order to be cool or have boys like me. I went to my AP and Honors classes to make the best grades and graduated high school with a bunch of college credit under my belt. I had great social skills and was really good at being able to make friends with pretty much anyone. Well, except for when people pointed out I constantly used words they didn’t understand (I have always had a huge vocabulary due to reading). Then I would try to speak more……normal? FYI – this still happens.

 Hogwarts Express - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

 Hogwarts Express - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

It wasn’t the book smarts I hid but my inclination to be interested in things many of my peers made fun of.  I pretended I didn’t like them either because I knew, deep down inside, once I embraced my true nerd nature there would be no turning back.

You know the fantastic news? As you get older, you don’t give a crap anymore and start doing the stuff you really want to do. Now I have no issue admitting I love awesomely geek culture. Websites, Facebook, Tumblr’s, Pinterest boards – I follow whatever is going to share info and inside jokes of the multiple nerd topics I love.

You probably realized all this about me already. I feel like hearing I like nerdy things is no true surprise here as I’ve touched on some of my fave subjects before but today I am going full tilt. I am laying it all out on the table and it’s kinda nerve wracking, ya know? I’ve spent so many years quietly enjoying whatever I want and not really telling too many people. 

Three Broomsticks - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

Three Broomsticks - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios


I have (secretly) read comics almost all my life. I read Asterix and Obelix (a comic from France) as a kid while living in the Middle East and collected as many of the books as I could but then never saw them again when we moved to the U.S. Then I visited London, found them in a comic shop, and was back at it. With the digital era, I’ve gone full tilt into reading all sorts of comics. It’s a favorite pastime for the inspiring art and fun storylines. Marvel Unlimited, Comixology, trade paperbacks – yup. All of them. According to the guy at the local comic store (after I inquired if they had several comics I wanted to read and they didn’t) I tend to read “girl comics”. Whatever that means. If it means rockstar, then yes I read rockstar comics.


My dad watched a lot of science fiction shows and I didn’t have a TV in my bedroom, so I watched them too. Star Trek: The Next Generation, Babylon 5, Xena, Stargate, Doctor Who (the 80s episodes) and more. I have no doubt it influenced my affinity today for pretty much any show (or movie) that involves fantasy, superheroes, make believe, science fiction, unicorns, and general awesomeness. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Arrow, Supernatural, Once Upon a Time - and the list goes on and on.

Ollivander's Wands   - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

Ollivander's Wands  - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios


Young adult paranormal and fantasy books are my Achilles heel. I have long left the idea I have to force myself to read novels that are usually on those “Top 600 Cultured Books To Read Before You Die” lists (thank you public education for making me read many of them and not want to read them ever again). Do I want to slog through a book just because the book critics say it’s what adults do? NOPE. Give me my Harry Potter, Hunger Games, The Giver, Wrinkle In Time, and whatever else escapist books that make me feel like magic is real, tangible, and if I look closely enough there are fairies hiding in the bushes at night.


Well, we all know majority of the best movies are based on wonderful comics and books, right? Yes, I do own every Marvel movie. Yes, I do have all of the Lord of the Rings movies. Do I own multiple versions of the Harry Potter films? Ummmm – hell yes. Did my husband give me the iTunes release of all 6 Star Wars movies? Yup, cuz he’s amazing. Are the books better than the movies? Most of the time it’s a definite yes except for Lord of the Rings. Those books were a total snooooozefest for me (cue the internet rage and rotten tomatoes thrown my way). In other words, stick some imaginary creature, superhero, or trip into space into the plot and I am pre-buying my ticket while figuring out my popcorn/candy/soda combo (very important).

Potage's Cauldron Shop  - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

Potage's Cauldron Shop - Harry Potter World, Universal Studios

For all my nerd affinity, there are huge pop culture things I haven’t gotten into (ya know, day job, photography business, and marriage kind of take up some of my time) and it usually shocks the hell out of people who know me that I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, or the latest seasons of Dr. Who, played video games since Nintendo, gone to a comic convention, or read the His Dark Materials trilogy. I’ll get around to them at some point (maybe not the video games).

So there you have it. All laid out in one space to either make you laugh (with me), cry (in happiness), or run away (to go find other things to recommend to me). It's on the internet, loud and proud, so next time someone says “Man, you are such a nerd” I can respond “Yup and let me recommend something awesome for you. I promise, it will blow your mind.....”


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Some People Call Me Foreign Kid | Getting To Know Me Series by Rachel Abrahams

I am a big believer that our life's stories shape how we view the world and especially how we create art. I realize although many of you appreciate my photography and enjoy reading my stories, you may not really know all that much about me. Today is my first post in a series I’ll be doing in the hopes of giving you a chance to “see behind the curtain”. Along with these fun facts, I have decided to share some of my favorite photos I have taken so far in this photography adventure.

I spent the majority of my childhood until I was 9 years old living in the Middle East. We lived in Turkey and then Saudi Arabia and by being there I missed the 80’s (as I jokingly say). When I came to the United States, New Kids on the Block and L.A. Gear were all the rage, I had only seen a Nintendo once before, and I had no idea what MTV was (let alone a Bon Jovi or Def Leppard). Immediately upon my arrival in my class the girl I sat next to grabbed me, shoved a Teen Bop magazine photo of New Kids On The Block at me, and pointed at Danny telling me “we all picked our boyfriends and he can be yours”. I just wanted to fit in, despite my weird clothes and moving from a country none of the kids in my class had heard of, so I just nodded my head and said “Uh, sure, ok” and let them sweep me up into their play world of dating boy band celebrities I had never heard of (by the way – I figured out quickly the girls had given me the leftover member of the band, the one they didn’t think was cute. So generous). It helped to have this group of "friends" during this transition where kids would say "You lived in Turkey? Like INSIDE a Turkey? I bet that smelled AWFUL (yuck yuck yuck)". Smart kids, I tell ya. 

I pretty much spent the next 15 years of my life having people reference phrases, movies, and pop culture I had never heard of and then getting the wide eyed look when they would incredulously say “You’ve never seen THE BREAKFAST CLUB?!?!?!?” in a tone only dogs could hear and then they would take me by the hand to educate me on whatever essential U.S. pop culture I had missed out on.

Living overseas for my childhood is something I cherish every single day. I wear it like a badge of honor and embrace how it altered my perception of the world around me. I saw a mixture of cultures so very different than what I now knew as home (Florida) and, as a result, it made me constantly question the WHY of doing things. I push hard at the answer of “we’ve always done it this way” because I have personally experienced how others do things and know there can always be a better system to get stuff accomplished.

It also put me slightly on the fringe of my peers which, instead of hiding it away and trying to make myself blend as much as possible (like most teens), I embraced it fully and actually made it part of the package deal of my friendship. Oh, you want to be friends with me? Be forewarned I can sometimes be a bit of a foreign kid, local news doesn’t interest me but international news does, sometimes I have no idea what movie/phrase/pop culture you are joking about, and I will tell stories of things I experienced as a kid which you will think is SO WEIRD (Oh, it’s NOT normal to see camels riding in the beds of trucks down the street? You don’t sit around a platter using pieces of bread as silverware? There’s more than 2 TV channels here and they are ALL in English???? My mind = blown). You’re good with that? Cool – let’s do this.

I credit this altered perception of the world for influencing my photography as well. I feel like experiencing something so distinctive automatically gave me permission to just push my boundaries and not fear the possible negative feedback saying it’s too much or too different. I’ve SEEN different. I’ve lived in a world completely unlike where I am today – and I loved it. I know I am incredibly lucky. I realize not everyone has this freedom automatically ingrained in them and I wish they did. I feel like it’s for the better when we push back. Push the envelope, live on the fringe, think differently – because absolutely beautiful things come from behaving differently and embracing being the weirdo.

I like to think I am a good example of that.

P.S. It is definitely a small world. In high school I figured out the girl in my math class also went to the same school as I did in Saudi Arabia, at the same time, and I found her in my yearbook. Also, I am currently friends with someone who lives near me here in Florida that ALSO went to the same school in Saudi Arabia, although we were several years apart. In this tiny Florida town, twice I have found people who had similar adventures to mine. 

Working Smarter - Not Harder - To Be Creative by Rachel Abrahams

It's been awhile! I've missed all you amazing people and WELCOME to all the new people who signed up during my canvas wrap giveaway. Lots of new faces around here.So, where have I been? After Christmas I decided I was doing things the hard way when it came to my photography (and life in general). It was making me not want to sit down and do one of my favorite parts - edit photos - and I ended up with photos just sitting on my memory card, in my camera, forgotten.

I challenged myself to try something new and STREAMLINE my process. It meant signing up for tutorials and classes, taking time to learn new things, and unlearn my old habits. It wasn't easy because it meant I had to sloooowwww waaaayyyy down (while thinking in my whiny voice "noooo, I don't wannnnaaa, I wanna do the longer way that is ingrained in meeeeee") and keep looking up my notes and tutorials on how to achieve what I was imagining.

That is not an easy thing to do and I know many of us face that same challenge. We create habits and, even though we know there could be a better way, we keep going with those habits because steering the ship in a new direction can be so darn hard.

In the end, it was absolutely worth it. You know that saying "Work smarter, not harder"? That's my goal is this year. I also came up with a new tagline:

Photographer - Traveler - Dreamer

I feel between working smarter and following my new tagline I am more in line with what's a great creative process for me. I've also been taking care of a work-life balance by working out with a trainer, taking this free 30 Day Push Challenge to be more organized (http://www.30daypush.com/), and learning how to just chillax about all that small stuff so I won't feel overwhelmed.

And you know what I've learned? If it's not enjoyable - it's not worth it.

Confession: I never learned the proper way to type and now I type using 2 fingers on my left hand and 3 on my right. I can see your brain twisting trying to imagine what that looks like. It's not quite monkey at a keyboard but it's definitely close. I type super fast this way but get crazy looks when people watch me. I know that typing with all 10 fingers would make my life easier but the idea of trying to unlearn years of wacky typing makes me wanna sweat.

Maybe next year?

**Note: The 30 Day Push Challenge is not an ad or affiliate link. Just truly something I've been enjoying and wanted to share.

P.S. Are you on Snapchat?

I'm having fun sharing the random daily things of my life (including videos of my visits to the beach!) and interacting with fellow SnapChatters! Just open up your Snapchat, snap the ghost to the left, and it will automatically follow.

Search by username: rach.abrahams

Hogsmeade In Real Life | Universal Studios Photography Harry Potter by Rachel Abrahams

Islands of Adventure Harry Potter - Hogsmeade Entrance - Spell Limits Sign by Aspiring Images by Rachel

I recently decided to re-read the Harry Potter series from start to finish. I was watching one of the movies and realized I was now remembering the stories based on the movie plot lines and forgetting a lot of the amazingly intricate details and characters from the books. I mean, there were entire plot lines and characters removed from the movies (Hello, Peeves the Poltergeist - you were sorely missed).  I'll admit, I read the first 4 books several times but the last 3, I read only once each so my memories were also a bit fuzzy due to lack of repetition.

I've been totally nerding out over the books and it has been getting me super amped over the expansion opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, scheduled to open this summer. Yes, that means it's only MONTHS away before we get to see Diagon Alley, including Gringotts Bank, in super-sized real life. I know it's going to be slammed with visitors, so I will just have to be patient and wait a bit, like I did when the first part of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened with Hogsmeade Village and Hogwarts. At the beginning, they would actually start turning people away from just that section of the park (!) it was so full of visitors. That's redonkulous.

The movies were still pretty amazing. It was my first chance to see what I'd imagined now visualized but getting to actually walk around what I'd only imagine or saw in the movies? Absolutely fantastic.

My patience paid off and when I visited it was a perfectly pleasant amount of visitors. Don't let the photos fool you, even though the roofs are snow topped, it was pushing 100 degrees the day we visited (Yay, Florida! Blech). I even found a new ride that is my most favorite ride - ever - and that says a lot since I am such a Disneyphile. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (which takes place inside Hogwarts castle on the property) is an insane mix of visuals, movement, and storyline. It's very original and I was absolutely blown away. My advice? Don't drink adult beverages beforehand. Well, at least not too many.

You know the one thing I didn't try even though I'd been dying to do so ever since reading about it in the books? Butterbeer. The line was about 30 people deep and I was just not having it. I'm also spoiled with the mentality of thinking "Next time, I'll hit it up". Most people who visit don't have that luxury and have to now-or-never these things. I've seen some interesting knock-off recipes for butterbeer on Pinterest. Tempting, but I'd rather wait for the real deal. FYI - It's alcohol free. Yeah, I can hear the adults groaning now. There's nothing wrong with spicing it up yourself, right? Hmmm, what liquor goes with Butterbeer? I bet Google has the answer. I can't be the only person who has wondered this.

Islands of Adventure Harry Potter - Hogsmeade Entrance - Hogsmeade by Aspiring Images by Rachel
Islands of Adventure Harry Potter - Hogsmeade Entrance - Hogsmeade by Aspiring Images by Rachel

Who are my fellow Harry Potter obsessives? Raise your hand if you've only watched the movies and never read the books (ain't no shame)? Have you tried the real Butterbeer and did it live up to your imagination? Anyone else drink possibly one too many before riding a topsy-turvy-spinny ride and live to tell the tale?