Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2: Movie Review

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Stars.

It's crazy to think that only four years ago we met the brave dragon trainer Hiccup () and the loveable toothless, amidst beautiful viking scenery and Scottish influenced music.  It was a surprise hit, and one of my favorite animations to date.

And in these 4 years Hiccup has been up to quite a lot.  There's been at least two seasons of Dreamworks Dragons: Defenders of Berk on Cartoon Network, which I honestly haven't seen.  (I have seen several episodes of the Kung Fu Panda series on the same network, and it's FANTASTIC.  So Dreamworks Dragons is probably pretty good, too.)

In How to Train Your Dragon 2 we see Hiccup, Astrid (), and the gang looking older.  They're not the same age as before, which we see a lot in animation (are those Simpson kids Ever going to grow up?).  I love the change and maturity.  I love the fact that the gap between both films are noted, and that we're ready to see the next adventure village Berk is about to embark.

The village is fully embracing dragons now, no longer deathly terrified.  They're everywhere!  And the dragons are loyal friends to everyone.  This change is fun to see.

Yet Hiccup is restless, wanting more, curious to see what is beyond the horizon.  Curiosity killed the cat, and though there's no cats in Berkland, curiosity has it's consequences, which Hiccup will learn in a huge way.  Hiccup's journey also leads him to the mystery of his Mother and personal self discovery.  (Love how vague I made that?  The trailer gives away too much!)

The music is just as stunning as before, with new themes and elaborated old motifs.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a fun ride, and in my humble opinion better then the first. (Though my brothers do prefer its predecessor.)

MPAA: Rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yuzen Summer 2014 Box Review and Spoilers

Yuzen, which delivers 4 times a year, corresponding with the 4 seasons: Spring (February), Summer (May), Autumn (August), and Winter (November).  It's $33 a box, and the theme is all about bringing a little Zen to your life.  The site states, "Each box has the very best Eco-conscious products to nourish the body and soul."  

"Each box includes high-quality natural and organic personal care products, healthy snacks, and lifestyle items carefully chosen from about 6 companies."  It's mainly filled with deluxe sample sizes, which are smaller then the original size, but big enough to try and use.  Sometimes there's full size items, too!!

 Beautiful packaging, as always.

 The reveal!

 Each box comes with an info card detailing why they choose each item, and a coupon code to use if you want to order more.

 The seven items we received.

I can't believe this is full size!!  Incredible value.  I haven't tried this yet, but I really need to, because I'm curious.  And I love how it's natural.  I once won a bottle of Latisse, but choose not to try it because it can permanently stain the skin.  This will be good.

I didn't try these because they have green tea, so I gave them to my aunt.  I bet they were wonderful, though.

 Hugo Naturals Handcrafted Soap, Vanilla & Sweet Orange, valued at $3.99.

"Our soaps are truly special: a hand-crafted blend of all-natural essential oils and botanical extracts that gently clean and deeply condition skin. Creamy lather and the rich scent of natural Vanilla and Sweet Orange extract create a luxurious experience in bath or shower. Proudly made in the USA by Hugo Naturals."

I love the smell of this soap, and that they use essential oils.

Shamanuti Seaweed Toner, valued at $10.

"Skin loves this delicious nutrient and mineral rich toner. It adjusts pH and refines the pores. It will nourish and hydrate the skin while removing any residual make-up or cleanser."

I'm a diehard Clinique 3 system follower, but I'm super excited to try this out.

Oh my goodness, I love, love, LOVE this!!  It smells so good, and I love the moisturizing feel it give the skin.

Another wonderful lavender product.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love lavender?  I love it.  Haven't tried this yet because I've been saving this for a special day.

Aromaflage Botanical Fragrance & Insect Repellent, valued at $4.

This sample is Soooooo Small!  Not large enough to try out, and I did, on my Idaho cabin trip, in which I was feasted upon by mosquitoes, so I turned to DEET for protection.  If I was able to get a good spritz the results may have been different.  Like the smell.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Transformer: Age of Extinction, Movie Review

Rating: 3.25 out of 5 Stars.

Wow, this movie is long.

Nearly 15 minutes shy of 3 hours long.

A full 2 hr. and 37 min. of Summer action and explosions.

This is either good or bad, depending on how you wish to view the situation.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth movie in the Transformers Saga, brought to us by Michael Bay who has faithfully held the Transformer reins since the beginning. This movie is a continuation, free, which I'm honestly glad.  The consequences from the last Transformers play out with a whole new set of characters, namely through the Yeager family ( as father and as the daughter.)  Cade Yeager is an inventor who's trying to better the future through robotics.  Tessa Yeager is a teenager playing adult, worrying about bills and college while a scattered Cade hopes his inventions will lead them to wealth, meanwhile they face losing their home.

The Autobots, the good guys in the Transformer universe, are being hunted down and destroyed.  If you find one, you call and report it to the government.  If you don't report your findings, there are consequences of the unpleasant variety.

Cade finds an Autobot.  Reporting means getting reward money that can be a huge help.  Not reporting, but helping, means getting tracked down and becoming fugitives.

There's many aspects to this film I loved and found quite entertaining.  Good humor.  Great action.  And I like some of the new characters.  Unlike the past movies there wasn't as much sexual innuendo and potty humor.  Huge plus.  And the "Age of Extinction" plays off of the extinction of the dinosaurs and our own potential for extinction.  There's some really fun ideas presented, and I love the ancient dinosaur transformers.  Really fun stuff.

I didn't like how long the movie was.  There were points where I just mentally checked out.  The editing was poorly done at times, and could have been a whole lot tighter, allowing for less time in the theater, and a more concise plot.  I'm glad the story played out, because I didn't want a "Desolation of Smaug" situation.  Don't-Get-Me-Started.  So I'm glad everything was tied up, because there were times I was thinking, "They're going to end it here!  Oh wait, it's still going."  "It's going to end here!!" . . . "Still going . . ." " . . . yeah."

Still, this movie is a good Summer flick, and there are some great moments, especially with 's character in the later half of the movie.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo.

Friday, July 25, 2014

One Pin Down, Many More To Go or The Un-Sporty-ness of Sarah

I'm not sporty.

I'm not sporty at all.

Not even a little bit.

It has something to do with the fact that I'm a mesh up of accident prone mingled with bad luck, tied up with a pretty pink bow, broken bones and glasses to match.

* Cue Sad Music *

I was always the last gal picked during P.E.! (Dodge ball and four square aside.  Four square was the best.) Ashamed!  Despair! The absolute model of pathetic!  Okay, not that bad.  But being the last person picked for the class football/baseball/basketball team has its effect. 

It builds character.

You know, Physical Education was the only subject I participated in that I never won a school assembly award.  Science, arts, English, history, math, leadership, citizenship, home economics, student council, class spirit, etc, but no P.E.  It wasn't for a lack of trying. 

My Parents were both super into sports growing up.  My Mom did tennis, basketball, soft ball, and so forth.  My Dad was on the Cross Country and Track and Field team.

My brothers and I . . . I don't know what happened to us.  

(Oh, I did track and field in Middle School.  Made it to the Talure regionals in the 800 meter race.  Side note, so I've got potential . . . to be more sporty.)

Then there's bowling.

I've got family pedigree in this sport.  My grandparents, back in their youthful marriage days, had personal bowling balls they played with.  That's huge.  Somewhere in the attic there's a box full of bowling trophies my Great-grandpa Rhoads on my Dad's side won.  And my Grandma's sister played professionally.

Anyway, a couple months ago I played after a super long absence.

Want to know how fantastic I did?

I earned 49 points my first game!!!

Forty-Nine Points!!!!

That's not good.

My Mom, equally absent from the sport, earned 134 points.  She got a higher score then the dudes playing next to us.

The second game I earned 87 points.  An almost 100% improvement.

See . . . I've got a little sporty-ness potential . . .

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gundam Wing = Pure Happiness

Gundam Wing = Pure Happiness?

Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration . . .

No, no it's not an exaggeration.  I was wondering the aisles at Barnes & Noble when I found these Gundam Wing model kits.  It was like stepping back in time!

And the awesomeness made me giggle.

 You even get a miniature Heero and Duo in the kits!

How cute is that?

I actually think that's pretty cool.

And for the record: I really need a Wing Zero for my collection.

Just saying.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

All Those Pretty Star Wars Peeps, LEGO Style

I'm not ashamed to admit that I love toys.

I really love them!

They're fun.

'nuff said.

Every time I go to the store for practical items, I budget a little time to walk the toy aisles just to see if there's anything new, fun, and/or interesting.

When visiting Target the other day to buy a new planner, I couldn't help but get distracted by the new Star Wars LEGO display featuring the new little figures.

(Is there an official term for that?)

Any who, miniature people, LEGO Star Wars style!!  With lights flashing on and off above the pieces. 

I was dazzled. I want all of them.

As a kid I was LEGO deprived. First because the sets are super expensive.  And second, because I have 3 younger brothers, and we're each three years apart (Robbie's nine years younger), and kids like to eat small things, possibly swallow said small things.

I was also playdough deprived, too, but that's because my Mom got tired of the colorful dough ending up smooshed into the carpet and drying, solid, unremovable, unless the carpet itself was snipped.

Regardless, these LEGO pieces are cool, and it's on my bucket list to visit LEGO land, just to see all the miniature cities built out of LEGO.

That would be fun :0)

Monday, July 21, 2014

Learning to Cook at Melanie's; My First Cooking Class

I've always wanted to take a cooking class.  It's been on my bucket list.

The opportunity came with Sunsational Gourmet Melanie's, which is located in Pleasant Grove. The cooking school is upstairs, and down below is a shop that sells British goods and a British bakery:

587 W. State Street, Suite A-1, for those who want to check it out.  (It's next to a Dance Studio).


 We took two classes, the first week being an Italian theme, and the second week French in theme.  Both weeks we arrived with all the ingredients we needed at our station, complete with an apron to wear.

We never had to do dishes once as we prepared each meal, which was awesome.  Melanie was there taking each item that needed to be cleaned and then giving it back to us.

Chef Scott has a lot of experience in the culinary world, and he's an excellent instructor.  I learned so much each time I went.

 The recipes.

 Cooking the Chicken Cordon Bleu.

I was intimidated when I found out I was cooking this, but it was really easy!

 And it's the best Chicken Cordon Bleu I've ever eaten. Pretty awesome since I made it, and can cook it again.

 Italian Wedding Soup.  So easy and affordable to make at home.

 Beet Salad.  This was so, so good!

 The brochure.

The classes are $65 dollars a person, and for a class there needs to be 6 people in attendance.  Classes must be scheduled 2 weeks in advance.

That may seem like a lot of money, but you definitely get your moneys worth.  Chef Scott and Melanie work very hard, and they go out of their way to get the best ingredients.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quidditch World Cup vs the Fútbol World Cup

 The FIFA fútbol, aka football, aka soccer (because we Americans are weird) World Cup ended this last Sunday, and it's been a crazy month.

(And for the record I believe Soccer in the States should be called Football, and American Football should be called Grid Iron, but that's just my two cents.)

Anyway, Spain not surviving the group round was a total shock.  That game they played with the Netherlands was tragic.

And the USA making it to round 16, kicking out Portugal, was such a pleasant suprise!  And it put Tim Howard on the map.  (He's a total Time Lord BTW, in case you were wondering :0)

And then Argentina and Germany played their final match.  My brother Robbie, who lived in Argentina for two years serving a mission, was so focused on the game: curled up in a ball, pillow to his chest, eyes glued . . . I'm only half exaggerating.

Robbie: This game is going to be so intense!
Steven: I'm rooting for Germany.
Robbie: Shush! Shush your mouth!

* Later *
(Steven catching the last minute of the game) 
Steven: Robbie.. Are you ok?
Robbie: ... *Looks left, then right* ...

Me: Robbie?
Robbie: Yeah.. I'm just super bummed.

Poor kid.

Germany won.  They played a great game.  Germany played many great games, including beating us in Group G, earning 7 points to our 4.

But still . . .

 This happened, coldness between Manuel Neuer and Lionel Messi, the Golden Glove Winner and Golden Ball winner, respectively.

Meanwhile, over in the magical land of Hogwarts, aka, the Quidditch World cup was underway.  Quidditch World Cup 2014!!  And we even got the last match in real time via instant posting on the site.

The top 4 teams was USA, Japan, Bulgaria, and Brazil.  We took 3rd and 4th with Japan, meanwhile Bulgaria and Brazil went for first and second.

Ginny Weasley Potter is the Daily Prophet sport reporter. You can read all her commentary under the Daily Prophet tab on Pottermore, all 23 entrees between all the countries.  Honestly, it's a lot of fun.

Rita Skeeter, that ol' snoop, provided the gossip, which was hilarious!  If you want to know what modern-day Harry and friends are up to, you need to wander over to the Daily Prophet.

Worth it!

 And just so you know, us Muggles can play Quidditch, too . . . 

And yes, they run around with a broom between their legs.

There's A LOT of teams around the US that play.  And you can even support the USQ (United States Quidditch) team by buying your very own USQ jersey.

I want one!!

It's a very cool design.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Planes Fire & Rescue: Movie Review

Rating: 3.9 out of 5 Stars

Planes: Fire & Rescue is a step above its predecessor Planes, a Disney Toons flick that was released only last year.  Even Cars didn't get a sequel this fast.

But that's okay with me.  I might be in the minority, but I really enjoy these movies that live in the world of Cars.  And my Nieces love them, too.

In this round we meet up again with Dusty, a crop duster turned racer.  He lives in a humble town, but outside those fields Dusty is famous, winning race after race.  Problem arises when Dusty's gears have problems, and while trying to prove he can race, Dusty takes flight only to crash, causing a huge fire and getting the local landing strip closed down.

It's at this point where the movie really soars.  When Dusty begins learning the art of Fire Fighting, flight style.

Usually when a movie throws in a set of new characters it's easy to feel bogged down and lose interest, but in this case I loved these new characters Dusty meets up with.  I like them so much more then Dusty's hometown friends.

And the fire scenes are intense and beautifully animated.

As a kid I first became aware of Fire Fighting Planes and their danger through the movie Always, a 1989 film directed by Steven Spielberg.  (Must watch film, by the way.)  And this movie plays tribute to the brave men who fight fire, saving those they've never met.  Risking their lives.

I went with my Dad, taking my two nieces, and they sat through the whole thing!  Completely engaged with the movie.

I wish more time could have been spent with the new fire fighting characters and their perils.  Planes: Fire & Rescue would have been a stronger movie.

MPAA: Rated PG for action and some peril.

BTW, I LOVE the song that plays during this trailer, which always plays during the film.  I need to download it.  Great song.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

In Which My Grandpa Flies in a B-29

 Yesterday morning my Grandpa R. got to fly in a B-29.

FiFi, the planes name, is the only operational B-29 in the World.

This occasion was all the more special because my Grandpa was a B-29 Crew Chief during the Korean War.  Back then he was apart of the 15th Air force.

 And he was in Strategic Air Command.

 We watched Strategic Air Command staring James Stewart, all about the B-29, in preparation.

I love classic movies.

 Waiting for the flight.

 Getting debriefed.

 My parents waiting after the flight to take some pictures.

 My Grandpa loved it!  Heh, he was actually pretty nervous, saying over again that "He's too old for this."  There just happened to be a 90 year old WWII vet. who flew as well, who also said "He was too old."  By the end they both had fun.

 My Grandpa with the pilot.

Good times :0)

Funny story: My Grandpa R originally enlisted as a Marine, went through basic training and everything, but when the Korean War started he had an inkling his regiment was going to be shipped out, so to speak, so my Grandpa immediately transferred to the Air Force.  He never heard back from his Marine friends who went over to fight at the start of the war.  

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Weird Al Combats "Word Crimes"

Weird Al Yankovic released a new music video today entitled "Word Crimes."

The song is one of many on Weird Al's latest CD release Mandatory Fun.

It's fun a catchy!!

For the record: I'm a huge, unashamed fan of the Oxford comma.

I offer no apologies.

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 2014 Your Bijoux Box Review with Spoilers

 Your Bijoux Box is a Jewelry Subscription monthly box, costing $35 with free shipping.  Ships to the USA and Canada.

And this is the anniversary box with 4 pieces instead 3 :0)

 The big reveal!

  Each box comes with an info card talking about each piece, why it was selected, and some styling options.  The Your Bijoux Box Blog also has some styling tips.

 Tropical Firecracker Necklace

This was the spoiler necklace for this month, and I love it!  Unfortunately it arrived damaged.  I emailed them this morning, and usually I hear within a few hours, but haven't heard back.  Hopefully they can send a replacement, because I already have an outfit I want to wear with this necklace.

 Fiji Drops

I love these earrings, simple and elegant.

 Daisy Adair Collar

This is my favorite piece in the box.  I can imagine this looking beautiful with a lace top.  Heh, unfortunately I don't have one, so I'll keep a look out :0)

Pretty Parfait Earrings

This months birthday gift.  Simple in a beautiful mint green.  These will look nice with the Daisy Adair Collar.