Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Springing up Disney

It may still be February (you know, until tomorrow), but it's felt like Spring here for a few weeks. To further encourage the Spring love, here are some Disney movies to help get you in the mood for all things Spring!

Sleeping Beauty
Stroll through a lush forest with Briar Rose.

One of my favorite scenes from this film is the crossing the country montage, which shows green grass, fresh breezes and adventures galore.

If it's still cold in your neck of the woods, watching Aladdin and Jasmine in their desert oasis is sure to warm you up.

Journey through the fluffy white clouds with Carl and Russell to Paradise Falls.

Wreck it Ralph
Candy trees just scream Spring to me; how about you?

Best day ever! Swing from a vine with Rapunzel and help Flynn take in the view while imagining its your feet splashing in that winding forest stream.

Toy Story
To infinity, and Andy's room! Help Woody and Buzz teach Sid a lesson against a backdrop of blooming trees and Spring storms.

The Rescuers Down Under
Follow Bianca and Bernard to Australia to soar in the sun-soaked skies and help little Cody along the way.

Nothing says spring quite like a muscular hero saving a damsel who doesn't need saving, now does it? Add in smooth dirt roads, green trees, and clear blue skies, and you've got a Spring-y flick on your hands.

What are some of your favorite Spring films? Has it warmed up in your area yet?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Deeper Meaning Behind Moana

So, obviously I'm obsessed with Moana. I saw it last November, and I can't stop listening to the soundtrack and thinking about it. Months later, y'all, and I'm still there. It's that good! There are two parts I want to dissect today, so if you haven't seen it yet, bookmark this post and come back later! Skedaddle! I don't want to spoil anything for you!

If you're still here, I'm assuming you've seen it or don't care about spoilers! The first line I'd like to highlight is in the song, now nominated for an Academy Award, entitled "How Far I'll Go." You can watch the whole song here:

The part I love the most is this:
"I can lead with pride/ I can make us strong/ I'll be satisfied/ If I play along/ But the voice inside/ Sings a different song/ What is wrong with me?"

How powerful is that, y'all? How often do we try and play along to make others happy, when all the while our hearts are leading us another direction? What courage it takes to change your life and realize the voice inside is the main one you should be listening to?

The second moment I want to discuss comes later in the film, as Moana realizes who Te Ka really is. She sings, "They have stolen the heart from inside you/ But this does not define you/ This is not who you are/ You know who you are."

The worst thing to happen to you doesn't have to define you. How many people, all over the world, need to hear that message? Whatever life or other people have thrown at you, that you've suffered through, you are still you. Perhaps a changed you, a different version. We all see the world differently after we've been hurt. But turning into a monster only makes you more similar to the one who hurt you, and removes you from yourself. It's okay to change, and it's okay if part of you stays the same. 

The overarching message of Moana is, truly, that the worst thing to happen to you doesn't have to define you. Moana's father lives in fear due to a tragic past; Maui feels as though he is missing a critical part of himself without his hook; Te Fiti turns into a literal monster after she is attacked. Moana teaches all three of them that the past, and their greatest fears, do not have to dictate how they live their lives.

Moana comes out to Disney digital on February 21 and on blu-ray March 7. I'll be here counting down if you need me!

What was your favorite part of Moana?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Knoxville Moms Blog

Hey, y'all!

I'm now also writing over at the Knoxville Moms Blog. It's a great group of talented writers, and I'm really excited to be a part of it! Here's a snippet of my first post over there. Feel free to follow the link and read the whole article!

Many a New Year’s resolution is centered around fitness. If you have any doubt, just look at any store ad during the month of January: all workout related gear is on sale. There are a lot of great forms of exercise out there, but if you’re looking for something adventurous, look to the big top. That’s right- think circus! I first learned circus skills 13 years ago, and I’m still obsessed. Some skills you can learn on your own, while others you’ll need special instruction and equipment.

Circus arts provide a variety of skills while working your whole body. For busy moms, a single activity that encourages flexibility, strength, and endurance while also building muscle and ramping up your heart rate almost seems too good to be true. You have to be daring to try it, but circus really does provide a fun and worthwhile workout. 

Go here to read the whole article. I'll meet you there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Saying Goodbye to 'Girl Meets World'

If you haven't heard the sad news, Disney has cancelled beloved (to me) series Girl Meets World after three seasons.

I'll pause here while you get the tissues and have yourself a good cry.

I was really disappointed to hear about the demise of the show not only because I love it, but also because I feel like they're tackling serious issues that teens care about in a realistic way. From Riley being bullied to having to accept that not everyone will like her, the characters deal with real world problems. They do it well, too. They don't always do the right thing first, and not every episode is realistic, but the characters themselves are. As Farkle proved, people change. Being bullied also changes people. People come together and grow apart. People move. Impossibly sad things happen.

I'm also selfishly motivated, because I want to see these characters grow more. I want to find out if Riley and Lucas are like Cory and Topanga, and if Farkle and Smackle will make it. I want to know if Maya and Josh get together. I want to know if Maya finds joy in learning besides in art class, and if Zay ever gets his revenge on Riley for the cookie incident. I'd like to continue to watch Cory and Topanga as parents and business owners. I want to see one family continue to make the world a little bit better every day.

If the show doesn't somehow get saved, and fingers crossed the internet will bring it back to life beyond the final two episodes (airing January 13 and 20). I know I'll be watching.

To the writers: thank you for continuing the wonderful world you first created in Boy Meets World. We loved every minute.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Upcycling 101: A Simple Canister

I really dislike waste. I don't like wasting food, or supplies, or even containers that food comes in. I try and repurpose things, because you're constantly hearing about how overflowing the landfills are and giant trash islands in the ocean and birds dying, and that's just not good. So I try and do my part without being a total hippie, and I also like saving money. 

I recently finished off a giant canister of bread crumbs from Costco, and it seemed like such a waste to throw away the container. So I removed the label, rinsed it out, and set to brainstorming.

Remember that fabulous coffee bar I made from an old dresser? I had some leftover adhesive shelf liner, and silver spray paint. So I set to work.

My beginning materials.

I measured the shelf liner and applied it. Then I used an exacto razor knife to cut off any overlap.

Then I spray painted the clear plastic lid in metallic silver.

I waited a few days for it to dry, and voila! Here's the finished product!

It was pretty easy, and that's coming from someone who is generally pretty challenged when it comes to crafting. I considered drilling a hole and putting a little glass knob on the top, but its a suction-y lid, so it wouldn't come off with a knob anyway. This is nice, simple, and pretty fun. I like immediate results! Now I can use it to store flour, or hide candy, or a million other little things.

What have you upcycled or repurposed? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2016 in Books

We all know I'm a book nerd. I'd even go so far as to say I'm a bibliophile, addicted to books, on the verge of having a reading problem. I'd say I'm on the road to recovery, but we all know I'd end up at the library.

This year I had a goal to read 52 books; a book for each week of the year. I'm glad to report I not only met my goal, but exceeded it! Bam! Take that, 2016! 

I keep a list of each book I read every year for two reasons. Firstly, I have accidentally checked out the same book on multiple occasions, not realizing I'd already read it. Secondly, I read a book in sixth grade that I adored and have yet been able to remember the title of, despite several years of working as a bookseller and searching the inventory system high and low, and despite my and  Google's best efforts to locate it, it eludes me still. So for the past several years, I've kept a list of what I've been reading so I can reference it later if I can't remember the title or author.

Without further ado, here are the books and short stories I read in 2016.
  1. Angel Falls, Kristin Hannah 
  2. The Girl Who Fell from the sky, Heidi Durrow
  3. The Memory Thief, Emily Colin
  4. The Diary, Eileen Goudge
  5. No place like home, Barbara O'Neal
  6. Chez Stinky, Susan Daffron
  7. Isle of the Lost, Melissa De la Cruz
  8. Picture This, Jacqueline Sheehan
  9. A Paris Apartment Michelle Gable
  10. Fakers, Meg Collett
  11. Best of Enemies, Jen Lancaster
  12. When the Cypress Whispers, Yvette Corporon
  13. Little Bee, Chris Cleave
  14. The Demigod Diaries, Rick Riordan
  15. Flawed, Cecelia Ahern
  16. It's Not Me, It's You; Mhairi McFarlane
  17. The Sword of Summer, Rick Riordan 
  18. Three Wishes, Lianne Moriarty 
  19. The Weekenders, Mary Kay Andrews 
  20. Out of the Spin Cycle, Jen Hatmaker
  21. The Art of Crash Landing, Melissa DeCarlo
  22. Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan
  23. The Crown of Ptolemy, Rick Riordan
  24. 7, Jen Hatmaker
  25. The Alchemyst, Michael Scott
  26. Love and Gelato, Jenna Evans Welch
  27. Things Left Unspoken, Eva Marie Everson 
  28. The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, Susan Gregg Gilmor
  29. For the Love, Jen Hatmaker
  30. The Race for Paris, Meg Waite Clayton
  31. The Magician, Michael Scott
  32. How to Eat a Cupcake, Meg Donahue
  33. Falling, Jane Green
  34. The Beach House,  Georgia Bockoven
  35. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, JK Rowling
  36. Where'd You Go, Bernadette? , Maria Semple
  37. The Chaperone, Laura Moriarty
  38. The Sorceress, Michael Scott
  39. Thrice the Brinded Cat hath Mew'd, Alan Bradley
  40. The Wedding Dress, Rachel Hauk
  41. The Necromancer, Michael Scott 
  42. The Death of Joan of Arc, Michael Scott 
  43. The Warlock, Michael Scott
  44. Billy the Kid and the Vampyres of Vegas, Michael Scott
  45. The Enchantress, Michael Scott 
  46. Two by Two, Nicholas Sparks
  47. A Vintage Affair, Isabel Wolff
  48. Trials of Apollo, Rock Riordan
  49. Change of Scene, Mary Kay Andrews
  50. Instructions for a Heat Wave, Maggie O'Farrell
  51. The Sock Wars, Maia Sepp
  52. The Garden of Happy Endings, Barbara O'Neal
  53. Scrappy Little Nobody, Anna Kendrick
  54. Arf, Spencer Quinn 

I was reading Amy Schumer's memoir, Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, but didn't finish it. 2016 marked a lot of change for me, in that I finally decided to stop reading a book that didn't hold my attention and make me want to pick it back up. I KNOW! Typically I have a little OCD about not finishing things, and I particularly dislike not finishing books. I (foolishly, irrationally) feel like the characters in any book are stuck in whatever situation they're in when I close the cover for the day, so I don't like to leave them in mortal danger or awaiting potentially terrible news. This is why I finish books so quickly and never get any sleep.

So, favorite of the year. Anything by Barbara O'Neal was incredible, and I'm a tad obsessed with her (but in a totally non-stalker-y way, in case she wants to be besties). Where'd You Go, Bernadette? was one of my favorites, for sure, as was Arf. As you can see, I tend to read an author's entire catalogue, so when I discovered Jen Hatmaker I went on a bit of a binge. I adore her and her 'life is for real so here's what it really looks like' take on life. She's hilarious, and loving, and making the world a better place.

Irish author Cecelia Ahern is another favorite, and her new young adult series is fabulous so far. If I had a Top 10 of 2016 books list, Flawed would definitely be on it. Mary Kay Andrews is another beloved author, and she had a novel and novella come out this year, so I was one happy camper.

I'm not sure what my reading goal for 2017 will be. I'm honestly still kind of reeling that 2016 is over; I've been ill since Christmas and time has been rather foggy, so I keep forgetting it's 2017. This is the year my oldest starts preschool. This is a year of change. There will be a lot of adjustments and learning for all of us, and books are my adult version of a security blanket. I'll keep you updated on what I'm reading!

Did you read anything wonderful last year? I'm always looking for recommendations! I highly recommend BookBub- they email you daily ebook deals in the genres/authors of your choosing. I don't have an endless book budget (or endless storage space on my Nook!), so I keep a list of books I want to read from BookBub and check the eBooks out from the library. You can also recommend books to the library. I feel a bit like a literary rock star every time they buy a book I've recommended!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Moana Movie Review

My Disney love is no secret: I adore almost everything they create. I have good reason, as their films are detail-filled complete mini-universes that completely sweep the viewer away. Regardless, I'm totally head over heels in love with Moana. I cried all the tears, y'all. Even when times when it didn't seem appropriate, there I was, blubbering away.

The characters are beautifully developed, with exquisite details and great depth of personality. I felt connected with these characters as if they were dear friends or beloved family members. Oceanic and Polynesian culture is treated with reverence, as the story is set in this very real culture. I loved learning about it- what is treasured, the contrasting pull for family honor and loyalty contrasted with personal desire. Creating a character of the sea itself was both respectful and genius, as our main character wouldn't have been able to even attempt her quest without an ally in the water.

The music- oh my stars, the music. It's gorgeous. I've been saving an iTunes gift card for nearly two years, not wanting to waste it on something I don't truly want because I so rarely spend money on iTunes. Within an hour of leaving the movie theatre, I used those funds to buy the Moana soundtrack. Normally I'd be on a Christmas-music only playlist this time of year, but I can't stop listening to Moana instead. Lin Manuel Miranda collaborated with Disney prior to his Hamilton success, and the music definitely has a Broadway feel as a result. The songs are a bit expositional, yet they're mostly about allowing you to understand the individual character more.

The animation is just gorgeous. I want to live in this movie, it's so amazing. The water, especially, is just magnificently animated. Water is difficult to do, because of the varying properties, yet it's perfect every time. When the sea is behaving as a character, it looks just slightly different than when it's the natural back drop of the film. The blend of CGI and hand drawn animation is done flawlessly. The only hand drawn animation is Maui's tattoos, which are reminiscent of the style of animation utilized in Hercules, but it fits well with the rest of the film.

The storyline is detailed and wondrous. Moana, the daughter of the village chief, is always drawn to the water. Everyone on her island is content to stay there, yet she feels the draw of the horizon. She is kind, fierce, intelligent, and diligent. She's also quite real, in that she has moments of doubt, when she feels like she's on the wrong path. The relationships between characters are exceptionally well done as well. There is conflict, internal and external, as Moana juggles who she wants herself to be with who she feels she must become due to her lineage. She has a wonderful relationship with her grandmother, the self-described village crazy lady, who consistently encourages Moana to be herself, even if that goes against what everyone else wants for her.

The lessons are great as well. It's okay to not know who you are, to journey to find who you want to be. Tragedy doesn't define you. You carry your loved ones with you wherever you go.

As we head into another holiday season with certain family members no longer with us, this film was a well-timed one for me.

I will carry you here in my heart,
You'll remind me,
That come what may,
I know the way.

I highly recommend seeing this movie as soon as possible, as often as possible. I'll probably be pre-ordering it in the next five minutes, and if I can sneak away to watch it again in theaters, I definitely will. 

What did you think of Disney's latest animated wonder?