Category Archives: Holiday Gift Guide 2016

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

While I watch a lot of movies, I can’t say that I watch very many that use stop motion. But the uniqueness of Kubo and The Two Strings really caught my attention. I was happy when a copy was sent to me to review.

kubo and the two strings combo pack

From acclaimed animation studio LAIKA comes an all-new epic adventure starring the voice talents of Academy Award® winners Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar). Young Kubo (voiced by Art Parkinson of Game of Thrones) mesmerizes the people in his village with his magical gift for spinning fantastical tales. When he accidentally summons an evil spirit seeking vengeance, Kubo journeys on an action-packed quest to solve the mystery of his fallen samurai father, discover his own magical powers, and reunite his family.

Kubo and the Two Strings stars an all-star supporting voice cast including George Takei (Star Trek), Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (The Man in the High Castle), and Academy Award® nominees Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter), Brenda Vaccaro (Johnny Bravo), and Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). 

Kubo and the Two Strings is a very  good movie. The animation is amazing! I loved all the details. I also enjoyed the creative storytelling.  It is a little dark along the lines of Coraline so I wouldn’t recommend it for very young children. It may be a little too spooky for them. This movie will definitely spark some conversation because it covers some emotional topics liking losing a loved one. Kubo and the Two Strings stresses the importance of family and understanding one another.

Bonus Features Exclusive to Blu-ray™ 3D Combo Pack & Blu-ray™ Combo Pack

  •  Introduction by Director/Producer Travis Knight: Director/Producer Travis Knight introduces “Kubo’s Journey.”
  • Mythological Monsters: The filmmakers and crew discuss the new techniques they used to create the terrifying antagonists. Learn how each monster differed in scale, design, and execution.
  • Braving the Elements: A particularly challenging aspect of filming was animating water and rain effects. Discover how LAIKA was able to animate water in the context of a stop-motion film.
  • The Redemptive and Healing Power of Music: Learn how traditional and contemporary musical styles were combined by Academy Award®-winning composer Dario Marianelli (Atonement) to infuse the film with such a heartfelt sound.
  • Epilogue by Director/Producer Travis Knight: Director/Producer Travis Knight discusses what attracted LAIKA to Kubo and the Two Strings.

Bonus Features on Blu-ray™ 3D Combo Pack & Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD

  •  Japanese Inspiration: The LAIKA creative team and the cast discuss the inspirations for the story.
  • Corners of the Earth: Filmmakers and crew discuss the challenges of the varied landscapes and locations in Kubo and the Two Strings.
  • The Myth of Kubo: Cast and filmmakers discuss the story at the core of Kubo and the Two Strings.
  • Feature Commentary with Director/Producer Travis Knight

Buy Kubo and the Two Strings Combo for $24.99 at Amazon.

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Aloe Infused Socks Are Perfect Stocking Stuffers!

My family knows I love socks. I like all different kinds, but especially soft and fluffy socks. Every birthday and Christmas I get a few pairs and I don’t mind at all. I was recently sent some Aloe Infused Socks from AirPlus to try and I am loving them.

air plus spa socks

I like the fun colors and designs because life’s too short for boring socks! From the outside these socks look like my regular fluffy socks. The inside is where you notice the difference. They are very soft and infused with Aloe and Vitamin E. These spa socks warm your feet while making them nice and soft. They do a great job of moisturizing your feet and are very comfy. Perfect for these colder days. I know I love to relax with a good book, cup of hot chocolate and fluffy socks!

AirPlus has a wonderful line of Spa Products that would make a great stocking stuffer for women and teens. My daughters love these types of products because they love to pamper themselves. You can pair these socks with nail polish, remover, nail file and cotton balls to make a nice gift.

Visit the AirPlus website to find out where you can purchase these Aloe Infused Spa Socks near you for $5.99

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You Can Finally Bring Finding Dory Home!

It has been 13 years since Finding Nemo has stolen the hearts of Disney fans everywhere. I am happy to share that you can bring the sequel, Finding Dory home. The summer blockbuster hit, Disney Pixar’s Finding Dory, swims home just in time for the holidays on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) on Oct. 25 and on Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray, DVD and On-Demand on Nov. 15.

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I was provided product for review purposes. Opinions are 100% my own. 

When Dory, the forgetful blue tang (Ellen DeGeneres), suddenly remembers she has a family who may be looking for her, she, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Nemo (Hayden Rolence) take off on a life-changing quest to find them … with help from Hank, a cantankerous octopus; Bailey, a beluga whale who’s convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny, a nearsighted whale shark.

My kids were just as excited as I was when I found out about Finding Dory. We saw it at the movie theaters and there were more adults than kids! The movie is very funny and we fell in love with Dory all over again. The colors in the movie are absolutely beautiful and I really enjoyed the message of friendship throughout the movie. Like during most Disney movies I watch, I did end up tearing up at a few scenes. Even though this is a sequel, you can still enjoy the movie if you have not seen Finding Nemo.

finding-dory

The film’s playful and plentiful bonus offerings include “Piper,” the theatrical short film starring an irresistible sandpiper hatchling; an all-new mini short featuring interviews with Dory’s pals from the Marine Life Institute; a behind-the-scenes look at the most challenging character Pixar has ever created; never-before-seen deleted scenes, including a digital exclusive featuring the Tank Gang from “Finding Nemo” who make it their mission to get Marlin and Nemo to the Marine Life Institute; and much, much more.

Curious about all the details and weird facts about the work that went into creating Finding Dory‘s favorite Octopus, Hank? Well I have some fun facts and a bonus clip about Hank to share with you.

Hank Fun Facts

LUCKY NUMBER SEVEN – When designers were working on Hank, the cantankerous octopus in “Finding Dory,” they created tapered tentacles for the cephalopod. The tentacles were modeled separately from the body, but when they tried to attach them, only seven would fit. Filmmakers later decided that it made sense that Hank would have an affliction, so they worked it into the script.

 350 suckers are found on Hank: 50 suckers on each of his seven arms.

11,041 rigging prims were created just for Hank’s simulation (the average character requires around 20).

118 weeks were required of the team of technical directors who were responsible for building and articulating Hank.

22 weeks were spent shading Hank to give him extra texture and color, as well as making it possible for him to camouflage himself. (An average character takes less than eight weeks.)

Power to the Octopuses

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Alpha And Omega: The Big Fureeze DVD

I have mentioned before that it is the time for holiday movies. A lot of families have started to watch them since Halloween is officially over. I have a new one that you can add to your movie collection, Alpha and Omega: The Big Fureeze.

alpha and omega the big fureeze review

The newest installment of the animated series, Alpha and Omega: The Big Fureeze has arrived just in time for the holidays on DVD (plus Digital), Digital HD, and On Demand from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

Join everyone’s favorite alpha and omega wolves for a heartwarming holiday adventure! When Kate and Humphrey get lost in the woods and fail to appear for the holidays, their wolf pups—Stinky, Claudette, and Runt—take matters into their own paws and venture out into a blizzard to rescue them. Joined by Brent the sleepy bear cub and Agnes the feisty porcupine, the pups prove that neither blinding snow, nor rival wolves, nor hungry bears, will keep them from spending the holidays together as a family.

Alpha and Omega: The Big Fureeze Trailer

Alpha and Omega: The Big Fureeze Activity Sheets

Click below for a free  Alpha and Omega Christmas ornament activity and a word search puzzle.

We really enjoyed Alpha and Omega: The Big Fureeze. It is such a cute and family friendly movie. We all love those adorable pups! This movie is perfect to curl up on the couch with and it is not too long at 45 minutes. It includes two deleted scenes, Failure to Launch and Flying Blind.

I was provided with a free copy of the movie for review purposes. Opinions are 100% my own.

Buy Alpha and Omega: The Big Fureeze at Amazon for $9.89

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Pick Me Up Review and Giveaway

As a person who deals with social anxiety and depression, I tend to be in my head a lot. I can get a little obsessive with over analyzing things. This is never good because it causes a lot of doubt and clouds my mind. As I get order I am learning different ways to deal with this. I like to focus on self care.

To me this means having a space that surrounds me with positive quotes and affirmations. I like to see these things everyday and look at them when I am feeling stressed. I make sure to do things that make me happy. This was hard for me for a long time because I used to put everyone else before myself. That lead to a very stressed and overwhelmed unhappy person. I have learned that I do deserve happiness so why not do things that put a smile on my face. Since I like to read, I also try to check out self help books. I currently reading Pick Me Up by Adam J. Kurtz.

pick me up review

Well Pick Me Up is more of a journal but not the typical kind.

pick me up review

pick me up review

pick me up review

The regular way of journaling does not work for me. I need a better way to to get my emotions out and Pick Me Up does that for me. I like that I can pick and choose what page I want to write or doodle on. It is fun while offering a little perspective. This is a journal I will actually use and not get bored with! I think it will be pretty interesting to look back to see how I have dealt with things in the future.

This journal would make a great gift especially if paired with some nice pens.

Buy Pick Me Up on Amazon for $10.15

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The Giveaway

Three readers will win a copy of Pick Me Up by Adam J. Kurtz

Book for review and prizing provided by a PR firm. Opinions 100% my own.

Pick Me Up Book Giveaway

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Shaun the Sheep: We Wish Ewe a Merry Christmas DVD Review

Bring home some “ewe-ltide” cheer when the seven-episode holiday special Shaun the Sheep:
We Wish Ewe a Merry Christmas
arrives on DVD (plus Digital), Digital HD, and On Demand November 1 from Lionsgate. From the creators of the Academy Award®-nominated film, Shaun the Sheep Movie (Best Animated Feature Film, 2015), everyone’s favorite Aardman characters are back for the “baaa-lidays” with their signature laugh-out-loud comedy for the whole family to enjoy.

shaun the sheep we wish ewe a merry christmas dvd review

’Tis the season to be woolly with Shaun the Sheep™ and his farmyard friends. Frolic with the flock as they decorate the farmhouse for the Farmer, watch Bitzer and Pidsley battle for a spot by the fire, join a massive snowball fight and much more in these seven hilarious episodes.

As fans of Shaun the Sheep, we were happy to bring him into our home with this Christmas themed DVD. It definitely will put your family in the mood for the holidays. There are 7 different episodes and the funniest one is Shirley Whirley. Shaun comes up with the idea to put Shirley on wheels to help her move around the farm. Everything is ok until it crosses signals with the Farmer’s remote. The We Wish Ewe a Merry Christmas is perfect for the holiday season because everyone works together to make Christmas special for the Farmer.

In addition to 7 Shaun The Sheep episodes, there are also two special features. The Sheep-Shearing Game and Timmy’s Tune #1 song.

Buy Shaun the Sheep: We Wish Ewe A Merry Christmas for $9.40

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Stocking Stuffers: Softsoap Luminous Oils Body Washes

My daughter Savannah and I love our body washes. We each have a collection of different scents we love. She likes a lot of the same ones I do so she is always borrowing mine. Long hot showers are one of my favorite ways to relax so I was happy when I was sent some of Softsoap new Luminous Oils Body Washes to try.
Softsoap Luminous Oils Body Washes.

I love how these bottles look. Even my daughter Jazz saw them and thought they looked all nice and fancy. I have been using oils for the last couple of months for washing my face. I love the results so I was eager to try a body wash made with oils.

I went straight for the Macadamia Oil and Peony body wash. It has a wonderful floral scent. I like that the scent is strong without being overwhelming. The Avocado Oil and Iris has a slight sweet smell. The scent is very subtle. Both of the body washes lathered up very well and a little goes a long way. I like how the scents lingered on my skin. They did a great job of moisturizing my skin without making it feel greasy.

Softsoap Luminous Oils Body Washes would be perfect for stocking stuffers. Another idea is to make a gift basket with some body wash, nice shower cap, loofah, slippers and a candle for nice relaxing experience.

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Visit the Softsoap site for more information about their other products and find out where to buy them near you.

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