Wednesday, April 29, 2015

When God Brings Us To Our Knees

When we are going through trials God literally brings us to our knees, but it is on our knees when we find ourselves in the perfect position to pray.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Age of Adaline, Mini Movie Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Adaline Bowman () hasn't aged since 29.  1937 was when the miracle took place.  As she drove through the California coastal mountains to pick up her daughter something amazing happened: it snowed.  And it was this snow that caused Adaline to plummet into a lake and reach the freezing body temperature of 87 Fahrenheit.  Then another miracle occurred: Lightning.  At just the right moment, around the two minute mark, the right age defying recipe struck Adaline, unbeknownst to her.  She later takes a medical job to try and figure out what's happened.  We as an audience, on the other hand, knows everything that has taken place, thanks to supplied information by the same Narrator who drones through the trailer.

It's this Narrator and the unnecessary scientific explanations that ruin The Age of Adaline magic.  Whenever there's a montage of time, there's narration.  Whenever there's an unwanted explanation, there's narration.  Does the Narrator have to sound so bored?   Sadly this narration takes an otherwise polished interesting film and turns it into a documentary.  We're not watching a major theatrical release; we're watching a special on the Science channel about the life of someone who's still in the luster of youth at 107 years old.  She's spent years slipping through time, but never living.  All the good moments in the film has no narration at all.  We don't need it!  And it's a shame, because the narration is jarring and sidetracks from some good performances by , , , , and .  Shame really.

The Age of Adaline could have been an incredibly enchanting film.  I like this movie, but I wanted so desperately to love it.

 MPAA: Rated PG-13 for a suggestive comment.

Friday, April 24, 2015

My House is Like MindCraft!

That's what my elder niece said the other night when she went into the playhouse.  "My house is like mindcraft."

It's a cute little house.  My Mom found it at Costco, and my Dad spent hours putting it together.  Then my Mom went to town decorating and buying knick-knacks.  I guess it's to make up for the fact that my Mom only had one girl--and I'll have you know I've totally made up for it by being super fantastic--and three boys.  Regardless, grandchildren are fun, and my Mom is loving being a Grandma.

The play house is adorable.

And it's cute that my nieces notice every little detail and change, and get super excited each time because of it.

My Mom insisted she buy these little blue chairs for the outside.  We made three trips to Tai Pan before my Mom made the purchase, and then got giddy sprucing the house up some more.  My Mom's pretty cute when she gets excited, so I know where my nieces get it from.  My Niece noticed the blue chairs and made sure to sit in each one.

After my elder Niece made the Mindcraft comment, Michael, my bro, told her they should build the playhouse in the game.

My niece is ADDICTED to Mindcraft, and she's pretty good at it, especially since she's four.  My three-year old niece is good at crafting in the game as well.  They watch a lot of tutorials on YouTube.

I haven't been lured into the Mindcraft World yet!  Though most of my family plays and shares a server  (or World, or whatever it's called).  My computer is acting up.

Heh, or I'm procrastinating because I know I'll be addicted!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

No More Movie Reviews

(Edit @ 3:00 pm: I'm contemplating the idea of doing mini movie reviews that are no longer then 2 paragraphs.  Short, Sweet, with none of the Hundred Acre Wood Owl Syndrome. (I made that syndrome up, but it should totally be a real thing.)  This Saturday I'm writing "Age of Adaline" as a trial run, and then next week I'll mini review Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I may like the new format and keep doing that.)

I've made an important decision towards my blog: I will no longer be reviewing movies, which has become a staple.  There's a few reasons for this, one of the main reasons being money.  It costs a lot of money to go to the movies!  But the main reason is because going to the movies has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and there's a certain joy about going to the movies that I've lost.

It's funny, because a month ago I was contemplating starting a new blog that focused entirely on movie reviews, so I can keep this blog a little more personal and work related (Talea Studios/Cerulean Jade).  I was going to call it "Boffo or Not: Movie Reviews," which is a title I still would like to use at some point, maybe.

Over the weekend I saw Black or White starring Kevin Costner at the dollar theater, really good, and it was so nice sitting there, able to engage without the thoughts of "I should write about this plot point" "Maybe I should start this review by tying in this fact," etc.  I've become more focused on the essay I was about to write, then enjoying the actual movie.  Like school all over again.  The joy was gone.  And this started March of 2014, because there's still movies that month I prepared and was all set up to write, but when I sat at my laptop I just couldn't do it.

Another reason I started writing the reviews was so that I could put into words an analysis of what I was experience and thinking.  Ultimately I want to be a published author.  I want to see musicals on stage where I did the book (script), music, arrangement, and lyrics.  Maybe I'll one day be apart of a theatrical movie release, though I think it would be cooler to see my sci-fi idea turned into a 26 episode Japanese anime.

I've come to the point where I'm tired of watching other people live their dreams and create.  I want to start focusing on my own stories.  Yes, I'm going to keep going to the movies.  I can't wait for The Age of Adaline and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

But really, I've achieved what I wanted with these reviews.  I've learned a lot.  This has always been a hobby.  And now I can stop stressing if I can't see a certain movie opening weekend, or being upset with myself for taking two weeks to write a review, or simply not getting a review out at all.

It's been fun.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

1911 Vintage Postcards from Utah, Boston, New York, and Iowa

 A couple years ago I started collecting vintage postcards.  I don't have a lot, but a few special ones that I've picked out while visiting antique stores.

While visiting Arroyo Grande CA last Autumn, I stepped into Something Different, where, hidden away, I found a box of postcards from 1911, a dollar each.  I would have bought so much more, but I paid with cash, and was determined to only spend what I brought with me.  A lot of the postcards were the correspondence between a George to a Miss Emma in New York, each postcard with a little message. 

 The Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

Of course I bought all the Utah postcards.  I love seeing what Utah used to look like.

 Snow covered Wasatch Mountains; Park City is just over those peaks.

 Utah Hotel, Salt Lake City.

I believe my Grandparents stayed here back in the day.  Now it's the Joseph Smith building which holds a nice cafe, a couple nice restaurants, genealogy center, and the Legacy theater, which is now showing Meet the Mormons for free.

 I picked up some Boston postcards, because that's where my Grandpa R. grew up.  I've been meaning to show them to him and ask if any of these buildings were familiar, or if they triggered any memories.  I've sat down with him a couple times to record some stories, but haven't for awhile.  I should do that today.

Two postcards showing Franklin Park in Boston.

 Massachusetts General Hospital.

 Hotel Brunswick, Copley Square, Boston.

 Mechanics Building, Boston.

Even though my Grandpa wasn't alive in 1911, my great-grandma Agatha Mahoney was born in Boston, and I believe my great-great grandfather Joseph Mahoney was an Engineer of sorts--I need to get more information--so I wonder if members of my family went into this Mechanics building.

 Fanueil Hall, Boston.

 My only ties to New York state is from the 17 hundreds, but I couldn't resist this 1911 postcard from 5th Avenue.  Really neat.

My Grandma A was born in Iowa.  I have deep farming roots from that side of the family.  Men and women of high integrity.  I have a couple books printed in Des Moines from when my Granny married my Gramps, one in which is a cook book.  And when I was in Iowa last year going to the Worlds OotM comp., we drove by the Iowa State Capitol.  It's stunning.  I wish I could have visited.

I love these Snap Shots from the past.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Woman In Gold, Movie Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Woman in Gold, the new movie by , seems to pick up right where Monuments Men left off.  Where in the later film we see pieces of art stolen by the Nazis and then rescued by a select group of WWII service men, in Woman in Gold we see Maria Altmann, played with spunk by , trying to reclaim precious art stolen from her family in Austria decades after WWII.  The art in question is that of the masterful Gustav Klimt (1862-1918).

Klimt's close friend and patron, Adele Bloch-Bauer, is the only woman Klimt painted twice.  Adele Bloch-Bauer is also Maria's aunt.  The least known of these paintings is entitled Adele Block-Bauer II, in which Adele stands in full color, covered in modern Edwardian beauty.  Statuesque and strong.  But it is Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, aka Woman in Gold, that is the true masterpiece, and what the Austrians consider their Mona Lisa.  It is also this portrait, looted by the Nazis, that Maria Altmann wants returned to her family.

When it is discovered that the museum displaying Adele Bloch-Bauer I does not hold a legal claim to the piece, Maria Altmann enlists the help of Randol Schoenberg (, Grandson of composer and creator of the twelve-tone technique Arnold Schoenberg (I have a few choice words towards the twelve-tone row and atonality thanks to my music degree, but such lamentations shall not be written here  . . . and don't get me started on Pierrot Lunaire), to work as an attorney to reclaim her families treasures.

The movie Woman in Gold serves as a bridge between the past and present. of Orphan Black fame plays a wonderful Young Maria Altmann.  In the present we see Maria come to terms with the past through a myriad of court battles, a trip to Austria, and so forth.  In the past we see the opulent wealth and culture of her family, and then the horrors of the War and how the Jews were treated.  Watching Austrians literally go out of their way to turn in the Jews was chilling.  It's a sad reminder of the horrors of WWII and the inhuman practices of the Nazis and their followers.

It is this going back and forth between past and present that quickly brought to mind Saving Mr. Banks, the behind the scenes Disney movie about Mary Poppins.  Even the movie poster is similar.

Where Saving Mr. Banks is a more polished, tightly woven story, Woman in Gold tugged more at my heartstrings.  When the movie ended my Mom turned to me, tears down her face, exclaiming that I better give this movie a 5.  My brother Steven, who has a passion for art, also agreed that Woman in Gold is a 5 out of 5, and that it's better then Saving Mr. Banks.

And thus my struggle for writing this review was born.  I haven't even told them yet that I've decided to give this movie a 4!  A part of the problem for me lies in the technical: A couple rough scene transitions and plot pacing, a melodic motive in the musical score that felt unoriginal and borrowed.  The more I study the history of the story, the more I see missed opportunities.

The battle Maria underwent to acquire the Klimt paintings took 8 years.  That's a lot of information to narrow down into a nearly two hour movie.  And maybe that's where some of the plot suffers.  The court cases feel rushed and simply too easy is some ways, amongst other pacing problems.  From Movie Mom Nell Minow: "[Randol Schoenberg] didn’t let his wife go to the hospital to deliver their baby alone while he went to argue the case at the Supreme Court, but he did get a call from her when he was in Washington and about to appear before the Court, telling him she had gone into early labor. Fortunately, she did not have the baby until later. But that may be part of the reason that he really did get so nervous at the Supreme Court that he told the Chief Justice he did not understand his question."  little truer-to-life plot changes like this would have accounted for a far more interesting movie.

Many aspects of this movie is absolutely beautiful and heart wrenching.  And I found myself in anticipation of whether or not justice would be done.  Overall an important movie, and one worth seeing.  

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some thematic elements and brief strong language.

Arnold Schoenberg really was the bane of my music education experience.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wisdom in Our Subconscious: Slamming unopened Doors

This last week I've been organizing my ideas.  Years of jotted down one liners, lyrics, and inspiration have been stuffed into my file cabinet, only to end up forgotten.  It's been quite a task, much larger then I first anticipated.

In the midst of these written down ramblings I stumbled upon a piece of wisdom.  It was a story idea I once had, and in this scene one character is giving relationship advice to another.  I wish I could remember the full context.

"Don't fill yourself with self doubt.  Don't tell yourself you're not good enough or worthy enough.  And don't tell yourself that he will never like you or care for you.  You don't know, and such things are unpredictable.  You may fill your head with an ideal of him, and who he can be with you.  And in the end it may turn out to be an empty ideal.  But you need to take that step forward.  Don't slam the door before you've had a chance to open it."

That's what struck me: Don't slam the door before you've had a chance to open it.

How true is that?

How often do we slam doors before we've even opened or walked up to it?  How often do we look at a door and then walk away? Symbolically of course.

I don't know where my subconscious found this wisdom,
but it's my deep self speaking to me.

I need to stop slamming doors.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hanging Flowers of Wonder

"Perfumes are the feelings of flowers, and as the human heart, imagining itself alone and unwatched, feels most deeply in the night-time, so seems it as if the flowers, in musing modesty, await the mantling eventide ere they give themselves up wholly to feeling, and breathe forth their sweetest odours. Flow forth, ye perfumes of my heart, and seek beyond these mountains the dear one of my dreams!"

~Heinrich Heine, "The Hartz Journey" (1824), Pictures of Travel, translated from German by Charles Godfrey Leland, 1855

Last week I went to a local nursery in search of flowers.  There's something about a nursery that gets my senses all a fire, rows upon rows of color, living plants awaiting the moment they'll be chosen and planted in their permanent homes.  Flowers I've never seen before, exotic or classic, sparking my wonder.

And while I was walking about I suddenly found myself in a room, flowers hanging from the ceiling and coming off the ground, all at different levels.

It was like walking in a dream.

Even now as a reminisce, going through the pictures I captured, deciding what I'll post here, I'm sitting at my desk, a familiar classical piece playing on the radio, wind chimes singing outside my window, the air cool and crisp:  I love Spring.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Price of Things

This was my amusement for the week: 4 short pieces of chalk for $5.79.  

I was at Staples ordering Talea Studios business cards when I spotted this after a little perusing.  If someone is willing to pay this much money for chalk, that's fantastic for Martha and the person who enjoys the product.  Hopefully the quality of the chalk makes it worth it.

Of course, it helps to do a little research, because the packaging, at first glance, doesn't clarify what this product is used for.  These chalk pieces were designed to work with chalk board labels.  The ease of writing on labels without the smudge and the mess, wiping away easily.  On this Martha Stewart Home office: 4 pack fine tip chalk has a 3 1/2 out of 5 star rating.

Still, I wonder how Martha Stewart chalk compares to other brands who sell a 12 pack between $1-$5.  Or simply, would it be better to invest in a liquid chalk pen?  You wouldn't have to deal with chalk on your hands mess or the fine tip wearing out and going flat.

Friday, April 10, 2015

April 2015 POPSUGAR Must Have Box Review

 "Spring, Simplicity, Markets, Outdoors"

These words were the inspiration for the April 2015 Popsugar Must Have Box.
Popsugar Must Have hit it out of the park this months.  I love this box; it's my favorite box in quite a long time.  Well curated, and it feels like a spring, April box.  Luxurious, too.  I'm going to actually use everything here!

This box only has 5 items, instead of the usual 6, and because if this there feels like something is missing.  Maybe a yummy snack?  But overall a successful box.

 POPSUGAR Must Have is a monthly subscription lifestyle box for gals.  The cost is $39.95 a month, free shipping, but it's cheaper when you subscribe with a 3, 6, or 12 months subscription.  On any month you can receive goodies for home, a book, fitness, snack, makeup, pampering, fashion, etc.  You never know what you're going to get, only that it will be fun and worth around $100, give or take a little.
The April box is sold out, but the May box is currently on sale.  If you like this box you can sign up and click the "wait list" box for the April box, but it's not a guarantee at all that you will receive it.  Coupon code MUSTHAVE5 saves you $5!

 Each month Popsugar Must Have provides a really nice pamphlet describing each item.

This is an all natural soy wax candle, crafted in Charleston, South Carolina.  The scent is wonderfully soft and sweet, but not in a sickeningly sweet way.  I burned this candle last night, and am currently burning it, and I love it.  A really lovely candle that smells like Spring.

 And Popsugar took such care packaging this candle for safe travel.

If you go to their site there are so many color variations that are fun.

I like this navy and grey combo.

 The ball opens up into a bag, so you can take it to the grocery store or a farmers market.

When you open up the bag, the pouch that you stuff the bag into doubles as a pocket.  After I had opened it all up I was intimidated, but it was super easy and fast stuffing the bag into a ball.  The ball is the perfect size to carry anywhere.  This bag can hold up to 35 pounds and is well made.

An umbrella!!  Too bad I didn't receive this box a day earlier, because it rained all Wednesday, and I don't have an umbrella.  This umbrella is so well made and sturdy.  And it has an auto open and close!!!  My favorite feature of any umbrella.

 The shape of this umbrella is really cute, and I like the little ruffle on the top.

 This is the luxury item of the box.  It's so light on the skin, and the smell is warm and springy.  I'm not a huge gardenia fan, but I love this.  The trick, now, is to not use it all up super fast!

"With each decadent mist, Gardenia + Tea Antioxidant Body Serum intensely nourishes, hydrates and promotes firmer, smoother and more supple skin. This formula features clinically proven Antileukine 6®, an antioxidant powerhouse, to help defend against environmental stressors and elemental dryness. Ultra-light and easily absorbed, Gardenia + Tea Body Serum can be used alone or layered with your favorite sunscreen or lotion for an intensely hydrating treatment.  100% of the total ingredients are from natural origin 21.7% of the total ingredients are from organic farming Natural and Organic Cosmetics certified by Ecocert Greenlife according to Ecocert Standard available at"

 Potting Shed Creations, Garden in a Bag Organic Basil, $10

The food item this month is one in which we grow.

 Honestly, I'm a little nervous about growing this basil, as my windowsill doesn't get enough direct sunlight during the day, but I'll give it a go.  I love basil, especially with mozzarella/cream cheese and tomato, sitting happily on a cracker.

I will admit that I'm a little bummed about not having an immediate snack to eat.  This is the first month Popsugar hasn't had a treat/food item, granting you don't kill the basil.

Special Extra

I'm not a big fan of gift cards in Sub boxes.  I do like the clothes on the site, and the idea of having shirts and whatnot with UVA and UVB protection.  Even with the gift card their clothes are still a little steep for my wallet.  I am thinking about that baseball cap.  The gift card doesn't cover shipping and tax.  Each card has a unique code.

We also got a Flip & Tumble 20% off coupon and a Produce Candles 35% off coupon.

These are the Hints and Spoilers for the May 2015 Popsugar Must Have Box: Colorful, California Sun, Glowing Skin, Fresh Flowers.

I'm not so sure about this necklace.  It looks cute, but this style typically works well on only small chested women.  We'll see.  I'm curious.

The May box is currently on sale.  Use coupon code MUSTHAVE5 to save $5!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mind Drift, The New Game App by Talea Studios

 Mind Drift!



 (RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue)

 I have been teasing for some time that my brothers and I have been working on a cell phone game app.  I'm happy to announce that it's available for download from the Google Play app store for android!  Just search for either MindDriftRGB or Talea Studios.  I wish searching Mind Drift would bring the game up, but for some reason it doesn't, but the two other search terms will bring the game right up for download.  Click here to download the game.

Mind Drift is free with the occasional ad.  My brother Robbie has the ads popping up every 5-10 losses.

So what is Mind Drift?

 It's a color matching arcade game.

As the colored jewels fall from the top of the screen, touch either the right side of the screen or the left side to spin the the three colors at the bottom.  Match red with red, blue with blue, green with green.  

Mismatch the colors and the round is over.

There are a few "difficulty" levels.

Zen: This mode was newly added with today's update.  Essentially the game stays at the basic level, never increasing in difficulty, promoting a zen like state.  It's the "relaxing" mode, or the mode for kids or anyone who wants to play without the added challenge of increasing speeds.

Standard:  Mind Drift starts at its easiest, slow pace speed, increasing in difficulty bit by bit until you mismatch colors.  (I was going to write "until you fail miserably," but that would be mean.)

Medium: Unlocks at 101 points reached.  After you unlock Medium, you can select this as your difficulty, and whenever you die and need to restart, the game begins at 100 points, not 0 points. 

Hard:  Unlocks at 300 points.  Once again, when you unlock this mode and can select Hard as your difficulty level, the game starts at 300 points instead of 0 points.

Playing in Zen mode will not unlock Medium or Hard difficulty levels, nor will the points be added to your high score.

My brother Robbie is the crazy one whose achieved 540 points.  The highest I've ever achieved is 180 points.  Steven has reached 211 points.  Neither of my parents have made it over 100.

Currently the game isn't available for Apple products, as we haven't started the process of getting the game on iTunes.  That's one of our goals.

We also have the goal of adding a couple more playable modes for Mind Drift.  "Zen +" will act like Zen, only it starts around the 50 point difficulty speed, and will continue at that speed.  A little more challenging.  And there's going to be "Interchange" mode, where there are no repeating colors, aka no blocks of colors falling down.  Even though we're working on more games, we're going to continue to work on Mind Drift, improving it and making it better.

Oh!!  And a biggie!!  My brother Steven and I wrote the song for Mind Drift.  It will soon be available for download on Band Camp, under our band name Cerulean Jade.  We composed a completed version of the song, with an ending instead of the loop, we just need to do a final master of the song.

My brother Robbie did the programing for the game, and Steven did the art.

Here's a sneak peak for two more games we're working on.

And there's another game in development after these games that I've started story boarding and creating characters for.  That game, which will remain nameless for some time (though the name makes me giggle :0) is going to be fun.  Can't wait.  Those characters are so much fun to write.

So much awesomeness ahead!! :0)