Monday, February 27, 2017

A CLUE Balancing Act

 Last night my family played a rousing game of CLUE.

Okay, not rousing at all.  My Dad didn't join in because he said the game can take too long and he needed to be in bed early for work.

Ironically the first game game ended before the second round fully started.  I was the first to play, and by a stroke of luck, serious luck, I won the game on my second turn.  It was the first room I went into, poison was already there so I just went with it, and I choose the right person to accuse.

On our second game Lindsay won on her second turn!  I only got to play one round.

And then my Mom incorrectly guessed on the third game, and instead of putting the cards back in the envelope she laid them face up on the table!  We all yelled at her in surprise, but secretly I was glad.  That round I was seriously distracted by showing people the video for The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom, and being distracted by Utada Hikaru's new album, which I played through Bluetooth over the speakers.  And I honestly wanted to finish watching Texas Flip N Move, which my Mom and I are currently addicted to.  It's a fun show.  So, yeah.

But before all that my Dad and brother decided to balance all the weapon pieces into a little sculpture.  They were quite pleased, and it was pretty funny.  Suddenly I thought of the game Mouse Trap, which was my favorite game as a kid, but I never actually played, because all I wanted to do was set up all the traps and then set them off, doing that over and over again.  And who actually plays dominoes?  The real fun with that game is standing them up and knocking them over by chain reaction.


 Another win for good ol' fashion family play.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Trying My First Frozen Banana on Balboa Island

 When my Mom was a kid her family would take trips to Balboa Island, and one of her favorite memories was going to the frozen banana place to get ice cream.  It seems to be one of her more enduring memories, as she's talked about it often, a core memory my 5 year old niece would say, and so my Mom wanted to pay a visit to Balboa island after our Disneyland trip.  It meant a lot to her for many reasons to make this visit happen, but I think one main reason was to share this place with her granddaughters.  I visited Balboa island once over a decade ago, but just to walk around a get something to eat.  No frozen anything.

When we made it to Balboa she wasn't sure if it was Sugar 'n Spice or Dad's Donut & Bakery Shop.  Both have giant banana signs claiming to be the first frozen banana.  Both claiming to be the original.  One with a 1940's date; another with a 1960's.  The Los Angeles Times has an article about it titled: "This Treat's a Rivalry on a Stick." has an article entitled: "The History of the Frozen Banana Stand."

Who's to say who's right and who's wrong?

In the end what was important was to visit the place my Mom remembered, and that was Sugar 'n Spice.  She remembered the counter the door.

She got an ice cream cookie sandwich.  The nieces got small ice cream cones dipped in sprinkles.  I got a frozen banana because it seemed a shame not to, and I had always wanted to try one.  Growing up I remember frozen banana's being sold at Disneyland and being curious about them, but never actually getting one.  At least, I remember them being sold there.  Maybe it was Magic Mountain?  No, I think it was Disneyland.  That's the problem with memories, they blur.

 So I got the Frozen Banana, and there was a choice of two toppings or a little of everything.  I couldn't decide so I got a little of everything, and it was pretty good.  Next time I want to get a Balboa Bar: Vanilla Ice Cream dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts.  It's a good thing I don't live near here.

 Visiting Balboa was fun.  It was a quick visit, one that involved driving around trying to get parking space (we parked off the island and shopped at Rite Aid before walking over), Chinese food, walking around seeing nostalgia, and buying postcards.

I'm very glad we went.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Experiencing A Little Disney Magic

 I've been back from California a week, which doesn't seem possible, because it seems longer.  My Mom and I took my two nieces on a 10 day trip, counting travel days.  This trip was originally scheduled for November to take place after my third niece was born, but the trip got bumped to early February.

We wanted something fun to do with the nieces that allowed Michael and Krista some one-on-one time with my nephew and third niece, and to create fun memories with my 5 and 6 year old nieces.

By the way, at the end of the year I'll have another nephew or niece because my sister-in-law Lindsay is now pregnant!  5 nephew and nieces!

 We got to Disneyland Sunday night, February 5th.  We were hoping to get there sooner so we could head into California Adventure, wishing to see the last day of the Lunar New Years festival as we wouldn't have another chance, and then see the Remember Dreams Come True firework show, my favorite fireworks show of all time, anywhere, which was just brought back and is only being shown on weekends.

We got to Anaheim much later than we hoped.  The timing couldn't justify using one of our 5 day entries for only a couple hours.  Instead we watched the firework show in the gap between both parks.

(Off topic, but I just realized how German "Anaheim" sounds, and thanks to Wikipedia I just found this: "Anaheim was founded by fifty German families in 1857 and incorporated as the second city in Los Angeles County on March 18, 1876.")

Honestly I was bummed we didn't go into the park that day, but hindsight is better than foresight, and I'm glad in retrospect we made that decision.

Halfway during the firework show the rains came and there was quite a downpour.  They kept up with the fireworks regardless, and even though I wish I could have heard the music it was a pretty good show.

 (My Mom and nieces)

 It rained on and off on Monday and Tuesday.  Before the trip I looked online and saw there would be rain.  My Mom was disappointed, but I was glad and told her rain equals lower line wait times, which held out to be true.

The temperatures stayed nice as well.

 (Though it seems strange writing this knowing how bad the rain has been this last week in California with flooding and sink holes.  Hope everyone in Cali is doing okay.)

 (Waiting in line for Alice in Wonderland.)

I regretted not going on Alice in Wonderland last November 2015, so I wanted to make sure this time we went at least once.  Did you know California's Disneyland is the only one that has Alice in Wonderland?  They don't have it in the other parks, unless I missed something, but I believe it's a Cali exclusive.

Anyhoo, when we got to the end of the line the ride shut down due to a technical issue.  Everyone in front of us left, but we decided to wait it out.  It was interesting watching the employees and mechanics go over things, turning the sound and lights off and then on again.  The ride was down about 40 minutes, and when it started again we were the first on the ride.

It's one of the better kid rides, and longer than Peter Pan.

 The Main Street Electrical Parade!  Yes, it was nostalgic.  And No, I didn't see it on Main Street.  Ironic when considering the blog post I wrote a while back talking about the importance of the Main Street parade being back on Disneyland's Main Street.

We watched it in Fantasyland, which was less crowded, and we had an amazing spot.  Later in the week I did see the beginning of the parade on Main Street while eating a late dinner at the Jolly Holiday, so it was seen from a distance.

Around the Alice portion I left with my 6 year old niece to go on Indiana Jones and Thunderbolt Mountain.  We had an hour to do both rides before the park closed and made it on both.

Talking about Indiana Jones, it was my niece's first time going on the ride.  I specifically told her nothing about it so she would be completely surprised.  She loved it, and said it was like going down a river.  I never thought about the ride like that, but river rafting comes to mind and that totally makes sense.  Indiana Jones is like river rafting without the water.

 Thank you for bringing back the original World of Color!!!

So good!!!

And so much better than the 60th anniversary whatever that was.

 The Disneyland Band was exceptional.  They're seriously amazing.

But it's Disneyland, big surprise, right?

 I built this little guy at the Star Trader store.  Cute, right?

 By the end of the week a bit of the Guardians of the Galaxy update to the Tower of Terror peeked through.  Seriously looking cool.  I hope it's fun.  Am I sad to see Twilight Zone go?  Not really, as the ride at Disney World is far superior.  Man, I screamed so much riding that version.  The Tokyo Disney Sea version has the cursed monkey antiquity theme, which is cool, so I think it's neat that there's going to be, at this time anyway, so many different versions of this ride.

 Our last day, Friday the 10th, turned out nice.

We did early entry into California Adventure and rode Soaring Over the World a couple times with prime front center seating both times.  (That ride is so awesome!!!!!)  Got fast passes to Radiator Spring Racers, as it was down that first hour.  Ate at the Rain Forest Cafe.  And by the late afternoon the rains started.

A lot of people seemed prepared with ponchos and umbrellas.

My Mom was doing photo stuff at the Kodak store while I took the nieces to peek in on the Tangled melodrama and then ride the Buzz Lightyear blasters.  My 5 year old niece didn't want to go on Star Tours again, so I got two more rides on that with my 6 year old niece via fast passes both times, with different segments on both.

We wore ponchos that I got off Amazon before the trip, which was originally intended for Splash Mountain, though we didn't use it on that ride.  Good thing we had the ponchos.  Both the firework show and Electrical Parade was canceled.

Though, a note about Splash Mountain.  My 5 year old niece was super excited that she was finally tall enough to ride that ride.  For months she exclaimed, "I'm tall enough to ride Splash Mountain!" like it was a badge of honor.  Man, she was prepared wearing her jacket fully zipped up, hoodie over her head.  She walked in line prepared like that.  I sat behind her, she was in front, and when we came down the huge drop she let out a cry at the bottom through big sobs, "That was so scary!!"  It was hilarious and sad all at the same time.  She liked it, but will never go on Splash Mountain again.

And check it out!  2 weeks and 2 days after getting this fun Disneyland balloon it's still floating!  You have no idea how happy this makes me.  So happy.  I'm just amazed this balloon survived the trip home!

P.S. The replaced Aladdin musical is better than Frozen.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Space Between Us, mini movie review

 "Courage is just fear that has said its prayers."

 ~ Sarah Elliot (character), best line in the movie.

Rating: B-

Many of us look up to the stars and dream about living among them.  What would it be like?  How different from Earth would it be?  We get so caught up looking up that we forget to look around, failing to realize the beauty we already have.

Nathaniel Shepherd () dreams of Mars, but due to a health issue he is not allowed to participate on the first mission to live on Mars he helped start.  Gardner Elliot () is the first child born on Mars to astronaut Sarah Elliot who dies giving birth.  Gardner's was never meant to exist, and so he's kept a secret, hidden on isolated Mars, dreaming of Earth as he searches Earth's online network for his unknown father.

Nathaniel would give anything to live on Mars.

Gardner would give anything to live on Earth, but growing up on Mars has allowed his heart to grow twice the size of a normal human heart and his bones to be weak, therefore making life on Earth impossible.

Thanks to a risky experimental surgery Gardner is allowed to come to Earth, despite Nathaniel's objections, to see the beauty we all take for granted and search for his father.  He finds Tulsa (), a girl he found online and has fallen in love with, and together they set out on a journey.  The movie truly soars while watching Gardner's wide-eyed wonder and innocence during his discovery of Earth.

Is the plot predictable?  Yes.  Is it a sappy teenage love story?  Yup.  And unfortunately the plot is spliced together, particularly in the beginning, feeling jagged at parts.  The anti-gravity scenes felt off with hair tied up, lack of seat-belts dangling, and so forth.  Despite this Asa Butterfield does a fine job carrying The Space Between Us.  He's charming in the role.

I liked this movie!  I cried.  My Mom cried.  This movie has a lot of heart (And I'm not talking about Gardner's enlarged heart).  The story is sweet.  I don't know if this movie is for everyone, but if you like sci-fi and a nice love story this movie is one you might like.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for brief sensuality and language.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Watch Out For Those Seesaws!!

I had never seen this sign before!

A few months ago my Mom, Grandma, and I drove around Mesquite Nevada to see if there was anything worth doing, besides casino stuff.  It's where we stay when my Grandparents and Mom visit my Uncle who lives in Southern California, as it's the halfway spot.  My Uncle, Aunt, and Grandfather gamble, while my Mom, Grandmother and I twiddle our thumbs.

Usually we just stay in the hotel room or walk around Wal-mart.  Sometimes we see a movie or drive to St. George.  Mostly we don't do anything beyond this.  After many, many visits to Mesquite we finally drove around to see what this town is all about.  We didn't even make it a half hour before getting bored.  hardly any shops and eateries.  Mostly communities and golfing developed for retirees.  A few casinos here and there. A movie theater.

But after going down one street I spotted this sign: A yellow diamond with a silhouette of kids playing on a seesaw.

A seesaw.

I looked around and there were no seesaws.  There wasn't even a playground, so it was just odd.

It's been ages since I've seen a seesaw at a playground, only seeing them as jokes used on old cartoons.  Do modern playgrounds even have seesaws?  As a kid I remember playing on one with no success.  Seesaws are tricky.  But remembering the playgrounds of my youth I suddenly got quite nostalgic.  Playgrounds are not what they once were.  Now play equipment is plastic, blue and yellow, designed for optimal safety with no room for imagination and wonder.

I'm glad that I got to play on "dangerous" playgrounds in my youth, drink water from a hose, play outside, and spent nights looking up at the stars, back when you could vibrantly see them.

We need to bring back seesaws, playing in dirt, monkey bars, and old fashion play.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

What Our Life Focus Should Be

(Photo by Robin Stufflebeam)

"Being humble means recognizing we are not on Earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others."

~ Gordon B. Hinckley 

Friday, February 10, 2017

FabFitFun Winter 2016 Subscription Box

I got this box last December, and I'm finally reviewing it!  Really, I was just going through my pictures and thought it a shame that I took the time to take these photos, but never shared them, so here it is!  FabFitFun Winter 2016.

There's a number of subscription boxes I've stopped getting.  It's fun getting these boxes, but month after month it becomes stuff I'll probably won't use and is taking up space, or I give the items away as gifts instead of using it.  Popsugar became one of those boxes, and since I stopped getting that box early last year I don't regret canceling.  There isn't a single Popsugar box that I wished I received.

Fabfitfun is fabulous because it only comes four times a year.  It's $50, $10 more than Popsugar, but 4 boxes verses 12 makes it manageable, and the boxes are quality.

 Anderson Lilley Beach Butter Body Cream, $24

There were two possibilities for this item: Sicilian Tangerine or Winter in Manhattan Beach.  Between my Mom and I we got both.  We didn't like Winter in Manhattan Beach, but my sister-in-law Lindsay did, so she got it.  But Sicilian Tangerine!!  Ah man, it's good.  And I love the fact that this body cream is made in the USA.  The Tangerine is really such a heavenly smell.

 D.L. & Co Candle, $45

Once again there were two variations: Bergamot Woods or Blackberry Nectar, and once again my Mom and I got the two different ones.  I like Bergamot Woods.  It's really soft, I wish it was stronger, but it's a nice woodsy smell, and I love the woods.  The candle burns clean and has a very nice glow.

 Marie Maw Company Thank You Card Set, $24

I don't see how these are Thank You cards.  They're more like celebration cards.  Cheers . . . I guess that's like wishing someone good luck or something.  Don't know what I'm going to do with these.

 Gorjana Necklace, $75

There was a silver drop style that I think would have suited me better, as I got the gold toggle dangle style, which doesn't suit me.  How should I say it?  Doesn't suit us larger women.  There, said it.  It dangles oddly.  It will look better as I continue to get more healthy with weight loss being a happy byproduct.  This style seems to be in fashion, so it's a good item in that way. 

 O.R.G. Skincare Mineral Peel Face, $44

This item is one of those reasons why it's good this box comes every three months, as I haven't used this yet!  I really need to.  It's an all-natural enzyme defoliant, and that seems cool.

 Moleskine 2017 Weekly Planner, $20.95

This came in Green and Purple, and I would have loved either, as both are my favorite color.  I love this color, and I love how much space is allowed for each day of the week, and how there are a full page for notes each week.  Awesome.

 Butter London Iconoclast Mega Volume Lacquer Mascara, $20

I love this mascara!  This is the first time I've tried something from Butter London.  I'm not that aware of this brand.  But it does give good lash coverage and look.  As an add-on item to the box I got one of their lip glosses, and I love that as well.

 The charity FabFitFun donated to for this box was Starlight Children's Foundation.  Before the box shipped out I was able to donate some money to them.  It's a charity that helps brighten the day for sick kids in the hospital.  It's a wonderful charity that's worth checking out.

 The booklet.

FabFitFun offers Add-ons, items you can get at a discount that ship with your box.  I picket up a yoga mat, yoga socks, Butter London lip gloss, and a Tiger Tail muscle roller.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Super Villain Voodoo Dolls

 All I know about voodoo dolls come from television and movies, therefore I must be an expert, though I haven't consulted Wikipedia, therefore not a super expert.

You know how geologist can look at any rock, strange or not, and tell exactly what it is?  Well, I don't have that gift, with rocks or voodoo dolls, though I'm pretty good at spotting amethysts, though not so good that I could be tricked with purple glass.  Are these voodoo doll?  I'm not sure.  My television viewing expertise makes me think so.

 Aren't they creepy?

For 75 cents I splurged on one and got The Riddler.

I just don't know what to think of it, besides being weirded out a little.

I bet Bruce Wayne would like one. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Trolls, mini movie review

Rating: C

Sparkles!  Sunshine!  Giddiness!  Laughter!  If I didn't add sparkles you may have thought I was talking about the smurfs, but I'm not.  Instead I'm talking about Trolls, a movie based on those funky troll toys with fuzzy hair that was so popular when I was a kid.  I owned one, because everyone did, even though I thought it was ugly.  It had a jewel on its belly button.  Playing with its hair was amusing.

Bergens are giant like miserable creatures who discover that if they eat a happy, joyous, singing troll they get to experience a little bit of joy.  Trolls are Bergens Prozac. The Bergens enslave the trolls in a caged tree where they get to attack and steal trolls to eat.  Awesome plot point, right?  Wait, it gets better . . .

When the Trolls escape to safety, this safety is threatened, leaving Poppy (), the happiest Troll ever born, and Branch (), the most depressive troll in existence, to go off on a merry adventure full of music, singing, and understanding.

As this is a musical I did enjoy some of the songs, but overall I was disappointed with Trolls.  I was hoping for so much more, and the plot itself left me feeling discombobulated.   (discombobulated may not be the right word, creeped out is more like it, but discombobulated is such a fantastic word that I want to use it.)

And then the movie ended and I went home.

There is one great thing Trolls has given the World: "Can't Stop the Feeling" by Justin Timberlake.  It's a really great song.  So catchy and fun.

Rated PG for some mild rude humor

Monday, February 6, 2017

Getting Sentimental Over Old School 1980's Strawberry Shortcake

 Strawberry Shortcake!!  1980's style!  Just as I remember her.

Early last December, while Christmas Shopping at Toys R Us, I stumbled upon these classic Strawberry Shortcake dolls and friends.  This brought back so many memories.

I don't like the latest incarnation of Strawberry.

Her style seems so cold and boring.

For the longest time I tried to remember what Strawberry was like when I was a kid.  She was cute and adorable, smelled of strawberries, and was one of my favorite toys.  The 1980's had so many wonderful toys and shows: Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, Rainbow Brite, Gem, and the original My Little Pony (though I do like the new version).

I was worried the only place I would find old school Strawberry was at an antique shop, which is where I found one back in High School, but I couldn't afford the price.

Strawberry has now been re-released in all her cuteness!

 So, so cute!

On Facebook someone posted a video showing pages of an early 1980's Christmas Catalogue.

(Man, I remember looking through the JCPenney's Christmas Catalogue as a kid, making up a wish list.  Can't remember if I got anything from it, but dreaming is part of the fun.  You know, when I was in High School I remember ordering a couple special edition Barbies, but the memory is really faint.)

In one of the videos was the Strawberry Shortcake dollhouse!  I about died!  For my fourth birthday I got it, and boy was I excited.  I even remember my Dad putting it together.  That thing lasted for many years, until my brother Steven, who is 6 years younger than me, was old enough to walk and stomped all over it.  Sad day.

I would have loved to buy all the dolls I saw at Toys R Us, but money and space wouldn't allow it, so I got these three.  Such a cute reminder of my past.

Cute, cute, cute.

Cute, cute . . . cute, cute!


There, sugar overload finished.