The Book of Life

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It’s been a little while since I’ve done a movie review and this is a movie that definitely deserves one! I do have to admit that I wasn’t too thrilled with the previews of this movie. Something about the way the animation showed in the commercials did not impress me.

My kids however were very excited about the bright colors and cheerful music. So I purchased the movie one night before leaving work. I put it on for the kids the next morning and they were loving it! After the first ten minutes of listening from the kitchen, I was drawn into the living room by the music and the voices.

Don’t worry, after finishing the movie with my kids, we watched it later that evening when Tony got home!

The movie is set in San Angel, Mexico, which is the center of the universe. The story opens with a field trip of delinquent kids arriving at a museum. A beautiful young guide offers to take them on a special tour. She introduces the leaders of the dead, La Muerta, who rules the land of the remembered, Xibalba, who rules the land of the forgotten and the Candlemaker, who keeps everything in balance.

She then introduces the three main characters of the main storyline, Manolo, Joachim and Maria. They are three children, growing up in San Angel and somehow become part of a bet between La Muerta and Xibalba. These three frequently get into mischief and Maria’s father decides to send her to a boarding school in Spain to improve her behavior. Joachim begins training to follow his deceased father’s footsteps as a soldier. Manolo is pushed into training as a matador, which is what the men in his family are famous for, when all he wants to do is sing his music.

Years pass, Maria has finally returned to San Angel. Joachim is a hero, visiting his hometown for Maria’s return. Manolo is now ready for his first bull fight. Both men love Maria and she seems to favor Manolo. Xibalba however, doesn’t want to lose the bet, especially since he has already stacked the deck in his favor.

Xibalba’s interference leads to the supposed death of Maria, which leads Manolo to sacrifice his life.

Don’t worry, this is not Romeo and Juliet!

Once Manolo reaches the land of the remembered, he discovers that he was tricked into his decision so that Xibalba could win the bet and gain the rule over the land of the remembered. He is forced to travel to the land of the forgotten, facing danger and judgement, to find La Muerta and beg for her help.

After facing his greatest fear, being himself despite familial pressure, he is able to return to San Angel in time for the battle with banditos who threaten his town.

I won’t give away the ending, but this is a beautiful story and the music is amazing. It brings modern music, with a mariachi feel, to this story and you can’t help but sing along!

Under it all are the lessons:

Never stop playing from the heart.

Never stop fighting for what is right.

Write you’re own story.

I hope you enjoy the movie as much as my family and I did!

Disney’s Frozen

Disney's Frozen

Wow, so it’s almost been three weeks since I’ve seen this movie, but I am still loving on the music, plot-line and characters from it, so what to do, what to do, oh yeah, blog about it! The movie is still in theatres so I feel this blog could still be helpful to some people. Even once it’s on DVD, this may give people a heads up about the movie.
I want to start by saying how amazing the movie was! The previews showed that it was going to be another cute Disney movie about siblings, an adventure and magic. There will be spoilers in this blog, because to tell you about the best part of the plot, I will have to tell how it ends. It’s just so great, I can’t keep it to myself!
I’ve been told by my husband, family and friends that I am too easy when it comes to movies, but Frozen hit me out of left field with how deep some of the story lines went. Let’s be honest, the first several Disney princesses were kind of wimpy! Snow White, accomplished nothing, ran away from her problems and had to be saved by a prince. Cinderella just went along with the status quo, not expecting better, until fate intervened. Sleeping Beauty, well her name kind of says it all, slept through her story and needed a prince to save her.
I was happy all around when Disney princesses got bolder and braver. Ariel wanted something different, so she defied her father to go after her heart’s desire. Esmerelda had a fiery spirit and defied all authority to do what was right. Jasmine ran away from home because she didn’t like the status quo anymore! I could go on and on about the evolution of the Disney female characters, but why don’t I tell you why Frozen has the best ones?
We start with Elsa and Anna, two sisters from the kingdom of Arendelle. They are best friends in the beginning, both enjoying Elsa’s power to create snow and ice. An accident leads to Anna getting hurt and her memories of Elsa’s powers are taken from her during the healing.
The girls grow up, not playing together anymore, because of their parents decision to keep them apart to keep Anna safe. The parents still clearly love both of their girls, but I can’t help but think that hiding Elsa’s powers from everyone and keeping them apart wasn’t the best choice.
When the girls are left on their own, Elsa is eventually crowned as the new queen. Anna, who is so desperately lonely falls for the first guy who gives her attention. This is pretty common in Disney movies, and you start by thinking, oh how sweet and typical!
Elsa’s power is shown to everyone during an altercation between the sisters and Elsa is so worried about what will happen that she runs away. This is the scene of my favorite song in the movie, and possibly one of my favorite Disney songs ever!

Let it go is all about letting go of the past so you can embrace things you didn’t think you could have. Just a really powerful song!
Anna decides to go after her sister to bring her home. She leaves her new fiancé in charge of Arendelle while she is away. She eventually meets Kristoff and his reindeer Sven and they help her combat the elements to find Elsa. Did I mention that Elsa created an unending winter as she ran away?
Once the sisters are reunited, Anna wants her sister to come back home, finally realizing why they were kept apart, but now she thinks they can be friends. Elsa is so worried about hurting her sister again, which of course makes her powers unstable and she hurts her even worse than when they were children.
Kristoff rushes her back home to her fiancé after their troll friends tell them only true love can stop her heart from freezing. After all, in Disney movies, true love breaks all the spells! The biggest shock in my life, came when her fiancé turned out to be a complete tool who was using her for her kingdom. He left her for dead, planning to have Elsa killed for her crimes against her sister, leaving him free to rule the kingdom! I was shocked that Disney had a plot line this serious!
Anna, still worried about her sister, manages to fight off the freezing heart long enough to try and save her sister. Elsa is destroyed, thinking she killed her sister, but when the evil fiancé tries to kill her, Anna uses the last moments of her life to save her sister. Of course, what is this? An act of true love!
Disney has finally made an entire movie about strong female characters! There is a love story, both fake and real, but they take the back seat in this movie compared to the relationship between these sisters. It shows young girls that true love doesn’t solve all problems, love is important, but please don’t wait for your ‘prince’ to come along!
There are characters that I didn’t delve into, really just wanted to touch on the highlights of the movie. We have Olaf the Snowman, the Rock Trolls. It’s just all good. The music is amazing! I downloaded the soundtrack when we got home from the movie. Chiara, my three year old, has fallen as in love with the music as I did! We sing these songs constantly! This movie can’t come out on Blu-Ray soon enough to suit me!

Twilight at the Zoo

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This was the 20th year of Twilight qt the Zoo. It is the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo’s annual night of drinking, bands and good times. This was the first year Tony and I went. It was also the first time in all 20 years that they were rained on. It started out great! Twisted Tea, Samuel Adams, and Jacob’s Creek Wine were all complementary throughout the night and also some yummy snacks.
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Not all of the bands were my speed, but the best part of this is variety. They had reggae, rock cover bands and a whole lot in between. A couple of the bands were even giving out free t-shirts. I’m all about freebies!
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A couple of vendors were there too giving out little prize packs too, so I ended up with a leather padfolio, a few pens and other usually useless items, but I liks free stuff!
The rain was a bumner because the bands had to shut down unless they were one of the lucky ones under a gazebo. We were clever enough to bring an umbrella, but my flats were a dead loss in the rain. So I spent most of the night going barefoot.
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We still managed to have a good time, so we are definitely planning to return next year!
Original pin with all the details can be found at http://clevelandzoosociety.org/events/2013/08/twilight-at-the-zoo

Record Bowls

Record Bowls

I need to start by saying how fun and easy this one was! Even my kids wanted to help so it’s a good thing I have a lot of oven mitts!
Directions are as follows:
Take a record (don’t ask me about sizes, I was born in 1985 so a record is a record to me!) and place it on a foil lined baking sheet.
Preheat the over to 250* and place the record in there until it softens. The directions on the pin said about 5 minutes which may have been a bit too long as the edges of my record got a little warped. The directions said you were going for a leathery fruit feel, but if you know what that is you are wiser than I!
You will have to feel it off of the aluminum foil, at least I did, but luckily the foil was cool enough to just peel it off of the record. I did this at my own risk though, so make sure you don’t burn your hand! Once the record is softened, you place it over the outside of a bowl (this is to help shape it) and please remember to use oven mitts and tongs! It’s not super hot, but it’s warm enough to get an ouch-y!
Once you get the shape you like, and try to work quickly because it does harden back up kind of fast, just let it sit till it’s cooled.
I used a plastic bowl and it didn’t hurt the bowl at all so I’m fairly sure any material bowl could be used. This was quick and fun, even a little amusing, because my son was so upset that I “broke” the record. Obviously I didn’t use one of ours, but thrift stores always have records and usually they’re only $.50, so this is a cheap pin to complete!
Original pin is at http://www.thepartyanimal-blog.org/melted-vinyl-record-bowls-party/
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Legally Free Music

Legally Free Music

This is more of an instructional picture. You follow the basic instructions and BAM, free music! It’s nice, especially when you want quirky stuff. For example: After Ever After at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=diU70KshcjA
Then you go to youtube-mp3.com and paste the url into the box and hit convert. Now I have a copy of this hilarious song on my playlist.
Only update I would add to this picture is to make sure that you are watching a good quality video. I found a copy of My Zing, from Hotel Transylvania, and converted it. It plays ok……. If you don’t mind cranking the volume up to twice the normal volume. So I’m still looking for a better video.
This works best with official music videos and such. That’s how I got Gangam Style. Lol!
Happy listening all. This is definitely one to put in the success column!
Original pin can be found here