Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 2017 J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World by LootCrate subscription box review


This is the third box in the new J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World by LootCrate, featuring 5-7 exclusive and officially licensed items in each box, delivering right to your front door the magic of the Wizarding World from Harry Potter to Fantastic Beasts and everything in between.
 
The subscription is bi-monthly, coming every other month, which means the next box will be delivered in May.  The cost is $34.99 per box plus $5 shipping.

This month is "Hogwarts House Pride"!!

Finally!

When you sign up for Lootcrate you choose a house.  For this box there was a Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor variation.  I got the Gryff box and I really like the design of the lion.  I feel bad for Ravenclaw!  Thanks to the movies they never catch a break.  Those who love the books will never get their blue/bronze colors with an eagle.  They would freak if they did, those nerds! :P  Both my sister-in-laws are Ravenclaw, and I made a blue/bronze scarf and gave one to Krista, who likes to wear the Ravenclaw sweater from time to time.  She loved the scarf and actually wore it around town.  For special events I love wearing the Gryffindor scarf I made.  You're not a true fan until you've made a scarf.

Oh, and another thing, Lootcrate gives elusive box items in their subscription boxes, and this month all five items are exclusives, which is really cool.  No Funko Pop!  Ha!


 Hogwarts Raglan T-Shirt

I LOVE this shirt!  Seriously, I do.  I'm wearing it now and I don't plan on taking it off.  I love the soft muted colors and the overall design of each house.


 Sorting Hat Pin

This is a small and simple pin, but I like the texture.  For fun I do virtual races for charity and get medals, and I like to put pins on them.  One pin = 50 miles walked/ran on the medal ribbon.  I have Hogwarts medals thanks to the Hogwarts Running Club, so I'm going to walk an extra 50 miles and put this on one of them.


Hogwarts Express Lanyard

Because you never know when you're going to ride the Hogwarts express or visit a theme park.  I love the metal Hogwarts crest, and I even have a ticket to ride the train to Hogwarts.  How cool is that?


Hogwarts House Duffle Bag

This is smaller than I thought it would be, but it's the perfect size for dance class.  If you go to the gym this would be a good gym bag.  Just the right size for my ghillies, ballet shoes for when I want to preserve my ghillies (not cheap), couple extra knee high socks, towel and water bottle.


Hogwarts House Beanie

So cool.  Love the style.


"Gryffindor" is wrapped all the way around.

It's getting warmer now, so this will wait till next Fall, but I like it.




Here's the information that came with the box.

So there you have it!  Hogwarts House Pride, Gryffindor style.

Next month's theme is Dark Magic.  I wasn't going to get the box, I need to save my money, but May is my birthday month, and I'm curious.  This is a good birthday present to myself, right?  Ah!  From some hints and spoilers I think there's going to be a Percival Graves item in it, hmmm, we'll see.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

FabFitFun Spring 2017 Subscription Box


 This is my third FabFitFun box, and I'm still loving it, and still so very glad that I'm no longer getting Popsugar Must Have.  Once again there's a good variety of items, and I feel like I'm getting my money's worth.  FabFitFun ships 4 times a year, corresponding with the seasons, and are $50 each.

 For the first time FabFitFun offered a customize option for all subscribers, and this time we got to choose between two mystery jewelry items, knowing one was a cuff and the other an earring set.  For $10 extra you can get both.  I paid extra for both. 


 Luv AJ, Diamond Kite Crawler Earring Set

I've never even heard of crawlers before, so I didn't know what to expect.  These are plated 14k rose gold.  I'm wearing the crawlers now, and it's a cool look, and rose gold is my favorite metal color.  So pretty.  This is why I love subscription boxes.  They send things I would normally not try and force me a little out of my comfort zone.


 Emerald DUV, "Joshua Tree" Cage Bracelet

This is a nice modern piece of jewelry, once again something I would normally not wear.  It's a little tight on my wrist, but I was able to stretch it a little to make it easier to wear.

Between the two pieces of jewelry I'll get more use out of the earrings, but they're both fun and classy.


 Realher, Lip Kit in Deep Red, Deep Nude, or Neutral Pink

There were three color options, and I was really hoping for pink, but I got Deep Red!  At first I didn't like it, but last night my family was over and they all thought it was a nice color.  It's not shocking red.  It's a sophisticated color.  Another forcing me out of my comfort zone item, and it's good to try new things.  I'll wear this when I want to have a little fun or be a little more bold.  Not bad to be both.

This is a liquid lipstick, lip gloss, lip liner set.  Certified cruelty free, paraben free, natural ingredients, infused with jojoba seed oil and shea butter.  It feels nice.


 Karuna, Hydrating+ face mask

I love face masks!  But they're so dang expensive, so I love getting them in boxes.  Sheet masks are so nice because they don't make a mess and are simple.  These are hydrating.  Haven't tried them yet, but I'm looking forward to it.


 Briogeo, Rosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray

I've received Briogeo leave in spray in another box a year or so ago and loved it.  This product smells so good!  And it works really well.

Glad to have another bottle. Big win.


 Milly, Zip Pouch

This water-resistant pouch from Milly came in 4 varieties: Resting Beach Face, Beach Please, Slay All Day, and Haute Mess.  Honestly I was hoping for Beach Please, but Resting Beach Face is nice too.

Is resting beach face a constant look of peace and relaxation?


 Dr. Brandt, Microdermabrasion Age Defying Exoliator

Another cool beauty item.

I love a good scrub, and this gets really good reviews online.


 Deborah Lippmann

Nail Polish Set in Blue Orchid/Like a Virgin or Shape of My Heart/Like A Virgin.

I got the blue option, though I was really hoping for the pink one, and I don't look good in blue shades.  This is the only item I'll be giving away.


 Gypsy 05, Roudie

There were three options, and I got the one I wanted!  I realized in hindsight I wanted this one because it reminds me of Santa Barbara, and I miss it so.  I've seen these roundies pop up in other boxes, so I guess it's a thing now?  It's like a sitting blanket for the beach or a picnic.  Looking at this picture it could also double as a table cloth.  I tried wearing it like a scarf, but the texture isn't right for that and the fringe doesn't work.  I'll put this away for the next time I need to sit on the grass, or simply want a blanket.  It's pretty big.




The info booklet and an advertisement for FabFitFun TV which has exercising videos for streaming.  There's a good variety, and I'm looking forward to using these videos.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Checking Out Calico Ghost Town, California


 I have no idea how many times I've been through the Mojave desert.  So many times.  It's a rather boring strip along the I-15 with highlights ranging from Barstow to Baker and this little sign with Zzyzx written on it.  Joshua trees dot the horizon while golden hills line the distance.  I'm making it sound far more romantic than it really is.  There's also a ghost town of a failed water park right off the freeway.  Another ghost town I've never actually been to, and far more easily accessible than I knew, is Calico, 1896, the largest silver mining camp in California.

Calico is only 13.4 miles north of Barstow, about 4 miles directly off the I-15 from the Ghost Town Rd exit.  I've always seen the signs advertising Calico from the freeway, always curious, but I never made an effort to go.  Studying up on Calico last month I read many people saying that it's a little tourist trap, a convenient, interesting stop if traveling from California to Las Vegas and back.

The big complaint I read was that you have to pay an entrance fee of $8 an adult and $5 a kid, 5 and under free, and on top of that pay for all the little things in addition to the entrance fee such as the train ride, self mining tour, and so on.  I read someone write that you pay to shop, and I have to agree with that.  I only did the train ride on top of looking through some stores, which was $4 an adult, if I remember correctly, and $2 a kid.

Calico closes at 5:00, and we got there around 3:30.  1 1/2 hours isn't enough time to properly explore.  I've read that 3 hrs. is a good average amount to experience the basics of Calico.  With that time we were only able to venture up half the street and do the train ride, no eating. 


 A map and a listing of stores you can shop in.



 A view from the entrance of the street.  It curves, but we never made it to the curve.




 The general store is one of the few original buildings in Calico.  Many of the buildings have been restored or replaced and given a facade that looks ol' time western.  I would have liked something a little more authentic, though it's fun.




 The soap and candle store.  This was my favorite shop.  It smelled so good!


 The store I really wanted to go into, but we ran out of time.  I love geology.


 Going to the train ride.




 The train ride was much shorter than I thought it would be.  It was interesting, and we learned some history about the area that was cool, but really you just go slowly around a hill.


 We didn't go into this store, though I would have liked to.  I bet it looks really cool inside at sunset with the green glass bottled walls lighting up.


Old China Town ruins.

It was a fun little stop.  I do agree with the sentiment that you pay to shop. I bought some things from the general store, print shop, and soap.  But if you have a long drive through the Mojave desert and would like an interesting place to stop, not minding the entrance fee, I recommend Calico.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

In Which My Niece Believes Jungle Cruise is Real

 (Ha! I totally look like I wasn't paying attention in this photo, but I was. 
Also, our guide was really funny.  One of my favorites yet.)

In a five years old mind everything is possible.

When I was five years old I actually believed Star Tours, the ride at Disneyland based on Star Wars, was real. I wrote about that in 2012, and since then I've thought about it.  Was I exaggerating?  Was I remembering it correctly? That was my memory, but how much of my memory remained intact?  Really I've just been wondering if I could have been that easily fooled.

My nieces did the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Disneyland last month, and while they were waiting they were told that Cinderella's mouses were preparing their dresses.  I thought it was cute, but my five year old niece came over to me and asked, "Are the mouses preparing our dresses?"  She said it with such excitement that I couldn't say no.  It would have been like denying Santa Clause, who I think she still believes in, not sure.  Who am I to destroy a little Disney magic? I honestly went along with it.  You're only young once.

A day later we went on Jungle Cruise.  It was both my nieces first time as the ride was under refurbishment November 2015.  I just assumed it was pretty obvious that the animals weren't real.  During the first part of the ride I looked back to see my five year old niece with a look of uncertain discontent.  My Mom said to me that she started snuggling into her in fear, asking if the animals were real.  My Mom told her they were robots.  Technically I believe they're animatronics, but that's besides the point.  She calmed down a little, but was still uncertain.

We went on Star Tours a couple days later.  I told my five year old niece several times that it was an interactive movie in a moving box.  With her believing in Cinderella's mouses and questioning the reality of those Jungle Cruise animals I couldn't take a chance.  For starters she doesn't care for fast/intense rides.  The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is more her speed, and as she told me several times during the trip it's one of her core memories.  She seemed to like Star Tours, but I couldn't get her to go on it again.  Thankfully my six year old niece was game.

I believe the day a child loses the imaginative belief that all things, including Santa Clause, is possible is a sad day.  We all need a little Disney Magic.  That suspended belief.  I love Disney magic . . . except with Star Tours.  I couldn't let my niece go through the same trauma I endured at her age.  The line had to be drawn.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Power of Small and Simple Things

(Photo by Robin Stufflebeam)

"Ordinary people who consistently do small and simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results."

~ David A Bednar
 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Overlooking Where My Parents Got Engaged: Corona Del Mar


 After visiting Balboa Island on February11th  my Mom wanted to head up the coast to watch the sun set over the ocean.  We talked about Corona Del Mar, which is apart of Newport Beach, I believe, and I plugged it into Google Maps.  This also happens to be the place my Dad proposed to my Mom.  I've never been, but right before their 30th anniversary I interviewed both of them and typed up their dating/proposal story for a scrapbook I put together.  My Dad proposed on the rocks; He was so nervous about dropping the ring and losing it.  Thankfully that didn't happen and my Mom said yes, all at sunset (which is a story in itself).

Google Maps took us to the overlook area which is where a lot of homes are with no official parking, just everyone trying to find a space to parallel park.  We were very lucky to have found a spot while driving around only a few minutes.

The sunset was beautiful.

After the sun descended my nieces wanted to go down to the water.  We only had a few minutes of daylight, so my Mom stayed above, giving us only 15 minutes, and off the three of us ran towards Little Corona Beach.  I read about it online before the trip and wanted to see it, as the pictures reminded me a lot of the Central Californian coast, which is my favorite.


 When we got down there were a few other people enjoying the beach.  Some men had fishing polls set up, lines still in the ocean.

The nieces wanted to play in the sand.  I had to hurry them up, so they quickly played, and then they wanted to go play in the water.  That wasn't an option, so I let them throw sticks in the ocean instead.  My 5 year old niece insisted on using a giant piece of drift wood.  It was pretty funny.

Going down to the ocean and back took longer than 15 minutes, but it was so worth it.

How can you visit a beach and not walk on the sand!!??