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My Review of Paddington 2

January 10, 2018
My review of paddington 2

My review of Paddington 2

Ha! I’m a poet and don’t even know it! Oh yeah!!

I was invited to a free screening of Paddington 2 for review, however the views are my own. 

One of the best parts of blogging is that sometimes you get to see a great movie. And sometimes you get to see several. The weekend we saw Paddington 2 we also went to pre-screenings of Ferdinand and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I was also invited to The Greatest Showman, and really wanted to see it, but I couldn’t do one more movie in such a short period of time. Also the smell of popcorn was no longer appealing at that point.

My Review of Paddington 2

I wasn’t sure about Paddington 2. I missed the first one and barely remember the books. Also, I’m not a huge fan of live action mixed with CGI so my expectations weren’t that high. My daughter and her friend however, were super excited to see it. 

They were right to be. It was wonderful. From the moment the movie started to the final credits, we were all captivated and even a little choked up. 

Paddington 2 is the story of Paddington who lives with the Brown’s in London. Paddington loves the Browns, but misses his Aunt Lucy and decides since she can’t visit London, he will send her a pop-up picture book of London he found in his friend’s second-hand store. Of course, there’s more to the pop-up book than meets the eye and it is eventually stolen. Paddington enlists the help of his friends and new family in getting it back from the thief. 

It’s a heckuva ride!

This is a movie the whole family will love. I don’t care if you’ve got older teens (my daughter and her friend are both 14), college students or 30 somethings, this is a wonderful movie everyone will love. It’s too bad it wasn’t released before the holiday break because this would have been a perfect movie to see. 

Of all the movies we saw that weekend, hands down Paddington 2 was the favorite. In fact, the kids are looking forward to seeing it again when it is released.

For fun, check out the Paddington website.

 

 

Blogging Kids Reviews

Review of Ferdinand the Movie

December 19, 2017

What follows is my review of Ferdinand the movie. I was asked to review the movie and given complementary tickets. The opinion and views are mine alone.

The golden age of blogging might be over, but there are still some perks to blogging. One of them is being invited to review some pretty decent movies. Recently I was invited to Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ferdinand and Paddingting 2. I was also invited to see The Greatest Showman, a movie I really want to see, but after all the movies in two days I just couldn’t do it. Also, if I smelled popcorn again I was going to be sick. 

I had a vague recollection of the book Ferdinand, about the bull who refused to fight, prefering to sit on the hill under the tree smelling flowers. That’s about all I remember about the book. When I learned I was going to see the movie I considered reading the book again, but never got around to it. I do recall liking the book and remembered it was my father’s favorite book from his childhood so I was looking forward to the movie, especially after seeing the trailer.

I was allowed to bring guests to the movie so invited my 14 year old daughter and one of her friends. It was the first movie of the day and we were excited. The theater was filled to capacity but we scored some decent seats and proceeded to munch on popcorn and other treats. There were no movie previews which was actually refreshing. 

In a nutshell, Ferdinand is a bull who prefers to enjoy the simpler things in life – like flowers – and would rather not fight. When we are introduced to him he is a calf more interested in the flowers growing in the bull pen than the rough housing going on with his bull friends. His father has recently been selected to fight the bullfighter and he is excited for such an honor and waits for his glorious return.

Of course, Ferdinands father never returns causing Ferdinand to run away to the other side of the canyon. He finds a new home with his girl Nina and her father Juan, who happen to have a farm where they grow beautiful flowers. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, Ferdinand is taken from his home with Nina and her father and returned to the ranch he escaped from when he was a calf. 

All of his former friends are still at the ranch hoping to be chosen by the bullfighter to participate in the greatest bullfight. Ferdinand wants nothing to do with fighting and does his best to escape, once again, and return home to Nina.

Along the way he meets several misfit animals including some hedghogs, a calming goat and a bull that had been created in a petro dish. Hilarity ensues and the movie ends predictibly enough.

I thought the movie was light hearted and enjoyable. Since it was a cartoon or animated movie I didn’t spend a lot of time getting hung up on things that didn’t work or make sense, except for the fact that no one knew Ferdinand’s name at his new home after running away. He did not have any identification or tags on him so how they knew his name was a pretty big gaff. Calming goats were not a thing for which I was aware (they’re a thing, usually used for horses before running a race). I’m not a fan of Kate McKinnon, the actress who played the calming goat Lupe, so the character grew tiresome very quickly. Other than that, I enjoyed the movie and found myself laughing throughout the many adventures and applauding at the end.

That said, my daughter and her friend picked the movie apart pretty thoroughly on the drive home from the theater. In fact they punched so many holes in the story and pointed out so many shortcomings I started to question if I actually liked the movie. Their criticism was accurate, but they are 14 year old budding activists so they might have been hypercritical compared to a young child for which the movie is intended.

 

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Blogging Reviews Things I Really Like

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review – No Spoilers

December 12, 2017
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review - no spoilers

This is my Star Wars: The Last Jedi review – no spoilers so don’t worry about reading the review. I give nothing away. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend a pre-screening of the latest Star Wars installment, even better I was allowed a +1, so I pulled the daughter out of school and brought her with me.

This is my second Star Wars review, I was also invited to Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. Full disclosure – I am probably one of 2 people who have not seen the original Star Wars movies – the other person being my daughter who went with me yesterday. It doesn’t really matter, in my humble opinion. Star Wars is such an iconic movie that it’s impossible to not know what it is about even if one hasn’t seen the movie. I know there are some who would call that hubris and sacrilige, but it is what it is and you don’t need to see any of them to enjoy this one. 

Seriously people, stop shaming me for not seeing the damn original!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review – No Spoilers

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was directed by Rian Johnson and stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver…. just to name a few. Carrie Fisher died last December and I wondered how her death was going to be handled in the movie. One has to assume she was finished shooting her scenes because there is no disruption or scenes of just her back (using a double). Carrie Fisher’s Leia features largely in Episode VIII as does Mark Hamill’s Luke. Which is nice as their roles were limited in Episode VII, especially Luke’s. In The Last Jedi both are integral to the plot, not just there for nostalgia’s sake.

While I have not seen Episode IV, or any others, I have seen enough clips here and there over the years to know the general storyline – good vs evil. It’s Hamlet, it’s the same story told thousands of times over and over. The Last Jedi is not different and in many ways very similar to the original Star Wars movie. This is not a bad thing at all. The movie is intense, it is deep and it is incredibly thought provoking. I suspect more than the original Star Wars ever hoped to be.

Women play a big part of this movie. I’m not sure that is in response to the recent awakening of new feminism, the #metoo movement or just plain luck, but it is done well, with humor and without being condescending or preachy.

One of the elements I loved about this movie was how the characters were real. These are not Photoshopped actors who look better than any human could hope to Rey looks healthy, strong for sure but not the least bit worried about her waist size or how appealing she might be to the men around her. Rose, another strong woman who will hopefully be back for the next chapter is also a delight in her average, realness. There is one scene, somewhat humorous scene, where Kylo Ren has his shirt off. It may have been the camera angle or that I was sitting in the second row, but his chest looked way to big for his head. I don’t know if this was just a case of too much working out for the movie or if the actor just has a tiny head, but it was odd.

A big theme of the movie is balance – light and dark, love and hate, strong and weak – The movie itself is balance, even though there is an awful lot going on. The movie is funny, cute, sweet, dark, deep and thought provoking. It is action packed and a great way to spend a dreery afternoon in early winter. I don’t believe there is any swearing and while there is plenty of fighting, it is not gory. Young children shouldn’t have any problem with seeing this movie even though it carries a PG-13 rating.

OMG it is difficult to write a review without giving away any major plot lines or spoilers. There isn’t much I can say that won’t give something away. I will say this, just when you think you’ve figured some things out you’ll discover you might be wrong… or not.

I highly recommend this movie. If you’re looking for a great family movie over the winter break, this is it. It’s got something for everyone to love about it and it’s just so much fun! Can’t wait for the next one!!

 

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Dumb Shit I Do Recipes Reviews Things I Really Like

Did You Know You Can Make Wine at Home?

September 25, 2017
You Can Make Wine at Home

Did you know you make wine at home? And for a fraction of the cost of the box wine you’ve been choking down? I’ve been sitting on this information for several months now. I’ve meant to share it with you, but damn it’s been a busy summer. 

I started making wine this summer and it’s some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I caught on bit on Kare11 back in the spring. The hook was “if you can open a bag, you can make wine”. 

I can open a bag!

Winemaking has changed a lot since my parents attempted in back in the late 70s. I really don’t know what they did, where they got the grapes or if they had to stomp them. All I know is that in the early 80s my brother and a couple of his friends found that jug of wine that had been sitting in the basement, forgotten, and proceeded to drink it. 

It was nasty, that’s all I remember. Though that didn’t stop anyone from drinking it.

You Can Make Wine at Home

Now, it’s so much easier to make decent wine and you don’t have to stomp the grapes yourself. It’s not quite as easy as opening a bag (and the bag can be a little challenging to open, I have to use a huge ass wrench to get the cap off), but it’s a pretty uncomplicated process.

I wasn’t sure how the whole process would work so I started small. My first batch of wine was only one gallon. I did this because I figured if I screwed it up I wouldn’t be out that much. It’s hard to screw it up and it’s just as easy to make 6 gallons of wine (that’s 30 bottles!) as it is to make 1 gallon (about 5 bottles). If you like wine, just take the plunge and start with 6 gallon wine kits. You’ll thank me later, I promise.

I started with Master Vintner’s Small Batch Chardonnay. I’m not a huge fan of Chardonnay, but I can’t stand Moscato and they didn’t have a small batch of Sauvignon Blanc. So Chardonnay it was. The nice thing about these wine recipe kits is that they can be completed and ready to drink in about 5 weeks.

The directions were a little complicated, but only because I hadn’t made wine before, and they included really crappy directions. I later learned this was a mistake they were aware of and had corrected, I must have gotten an older kit. No big deal, there are plenty of YouTube videos you can watch to learn how to make wine.

Before you can crack open that bag of juice and start fermenting it, you’re going to need some equipment. Master Vintner sells complete wine making kits, these are a great way to start because you have all that you need (hopefully, I had a kit that was missing a few key items but the store was happy to provide them to me free of charge). The kits contain the carboy in your choice of plastic or glass, cleaning solution, sanitizing solution, the grape juice, yeast, wine thief, hydrometer and everything else I’m forgetting. 

Glass or Plastic?

6 gallons of liquid is heavy, the glass carboy weighs about 15 pounds when it is empty. Filled, you’re looking at about 60 pounds that you’re going to have to haul around. That’s like lifting a 10 year old. If you’ve got the upper body strength, then go for it. If not, stick with the plastic. The downside of the plastic is that it can get scratched and bacteria get settle into the scratches. You’ll be replacing your plastic sooner and more frequently than glass, something to keep in mind. You won’t mind because that means you get to go to the brewery supply store.

I live in the land of craft brew and micro brews. Every male in this state over the age of 21 is making their own beer. Some with more success than others. If you’re a single woman you’ll love the brewing supply stores. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t see a lot of straight single women in these places or if they just think we’re awesome because we like to make alcohol too, but I get asked out every time I go to one of these stores. It’s better than online dating.

My first gallon of Chardonnay didn’t turn out that well. I racked it wrong and got all kinds of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. It tasted fine, and I drank it, but it looked like crap. I didn’t have an auto siphon so I got all the gunk in it. The Fermtech Auto-Siphon is a lifesaver. For $11 it’s well worth it. 

1 Gallon of 6 Gallons?

It’s just as easy to make 6 gallons of wine as it is to make one gallon of wine, so you may as well make 6, you’re going to drink it anyway. You’ll also save a lot of money. If you make one gallon your wine ends up costing about $5 per bottle (including the bottles and corks). If you make 6 gallons it’s about $2.25 per bottle (Including bottles and corks). When you’re talking about 30 bottles of wine, that’s a significant savings. How do they compare to the wine you’d buy in the liquor store? So much better. The $2.25 bottle of wine you just made will taste as good or better than a $10 – $15 bottle of wine. Let it age a few months and you’ll have an even better bottle.

 

Reviews

Modern Map Art – A Great Gift Idea

August 10, 2017

Summer is almost over and before you know it, it will be time to start thinking about the holidays. If you’re like me it’s harder and harder to find unique and interesting gifts for old friends and family. Modern Map Art is a great gift idea, especially for those friends and family members who have moved away.

Modern Map Art is a company that produces map posters of your city, county, town and even skyline prints. You can also get these designed on a pillow or iPhone case. 

I got a map of St. Paul, because I live in St. Paul, and I love it. I could see getting a print of the town where our family cabin is located as well as some of the places I’ve traveled to over the years. I need more free wall space, however. 

The skyline prints are beautifully designed watercolor prints. Perfect for hanging in the office, dorm or living room. 

Modern Map Art is also a great way to commemorate a trip such as honeymoon or family vacation to Europe. 

The maps are printed on museum quality matte paper and Ultrachrome ink. The ink is rated to last 200 years if framed properly and 100 years without framing. Maps can be printed in a variety of sizes and just about any color can be used. Modern Map Art also does custom designs.

Click here to learn more. 

 

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Dumb Shit I Do Reviews Things that piss me off

RAH’MN Review – The Ramen Place on Snelling

May 2, 2017
RAH'MN Review - The Ramen Place on Snelling

This is my RAH’MN review. This is not a sponsored post, all views are mine. All my Twin City peeps, I know you’ve been seeing these ramen places popping up all over town in the last year. You’re probably wondering is it really worth $7 for 25¢ worth of ramen? I’m here to tell you – probably not.

RAH’MN Review – The Ramen Place on Snelling

RAH’MN opened up in Saint Paul on Snelling Avenue about a month ago. It was packed the first night – crowds in line around the corner – so I figured we’d wait a bit. We’d gone to the Mac’s take out place two doors down, which had also just opened, and were disappointed. I wanted to give the new restaurant some time to get it’s sea legs since they are close and convenient and who doesn’t like ramen?

The daughter asked if we could give it a try, so I said sure. I went to look up the menu online, to get an idea of cost (because it’s ramen, for cryin’ out loud) and was frustrated that I had to place an order to see what was offered and what things cost. RAH’MN does not have a menu on their website, although it looks like they are trying to get one up quickly. That they tout their meats are gluten free had me laughing but irritated. 

The daughter is picky and she has food allergies, it’s always nice to be prepared when trying a new place. So, already I was frustrated. I asked some friends on Facebook about their experience and they said it was “solid”. I took that as a positive and headed on over.

Right away the ordering process was confusing. Or maybe that was just the way the door was positioned. No one seemed to know where the line began. The place was pretty busy and it smelled nice so I continued on. When I got to the counter I had a difficult time talking to the nice young man who was dishing up the ramen. The sneeze guard was too high, or he and I were both too short. I had to stand on my tippy toes to shout my questions at him. He responded with a smile, but I couldn’t hear a damn thing he said over the sneeze guard or the loud music and din of people talking to one another over the loud music. 

It’s a build your own ramen bowl, just like at Chipotle. Chipotle is stressful, it’s not as bad as ordering coffee, but it’s up there. I have been ordering Chipotle for at least a decade now and I always get the same thing for fear of holding up the line to avoid the kind of stress I endured last night.

I had no idea what my daughter wanted, but she likes all things Asian inspired so I started building her ramen.  I threw in some tufo, some bok choi and some tomatoes – all things she likes and figured I was safe. 

I wasn’t sure about the meat so I texted her a picture of the RAH’MN menu and one of all the add-ons, including 4 or 6 choices of broth.

RAH'MN menu

“No vegetables” was what she texted back.

Thanks, that helps, a lot. 

All the while the couple next to me is pushing me to the right, even though the friendly guy behind the sneeze guard hadn’t started on my order yet. In fact, he only had one bowl going. 

This caused a fair amount of anxiety because now the one he just put together for my daughter was going to become mine even though I am not supposed to eat tofu and tomatoes in ramen sounds disgusting to me. I didn’t really want pork either, which is what the kid wanted. 

Lawd knows, as a Minnesotan, there was no way I was going to ask them to start over again. 

I got pushed in front of the cashier and explained to him that there was another bowl that needed to be prepared – plain. Just ramen and broth. 

We stood there, awkwardly waiting for the guy to produce the bowl of $7.95 ramen and then he asked if I was paying for the people next to me. 

Um, no.

He bagged up my ramen bowls, cautioned me not to swing the bag around, and I was on my way.

I took a deep breath when I got outside and told myself I would not cry.

(probably more hormone related than ramen related)

A few minutes later I’m home with a dripping bag of $20 worth of ramen.

When I asked what the daughter though of it, if she liked it, her response was:

“Meh”

She’s 14. Everything is “meh”. She did eat most of it.

Mine on the other hand wasn’t what I wanted, but if it had been something I would have ordered I am sure it would have been ok.

It was ramen, it was way too salty and the noodles were soggy. I was disappointed, mostly because of the experience, but the cost of something that is pennies to make at home also irritated me. That’s not their fault, I walked in there willingly. I guess I figured ramen could be delicious, especially starting at $7.95 per bowl. 

It’s not.

I couldn’t finish it. The dogs like it, though I didn’t give them the broth since it was so salty.

I’d like to say we’ll give them another try, but probably not. The daughter will want to, but she’s going to have to do that on her own.

The place was clean, the staff was friendly, though not as helpful as I would have liked. The place was too loud and the food was overpriced. But other than that, it was great!

Blogging Books Minnesota Nice Reviews Things I Really Like Things that piss me off Writing

Let’s Talk about 13 Reasons Why

April 28, 2017
Let's talk about 13 reasons why

By now you’ve heard all the hype about the Netflix series, so let’s talk about 13 Reasons Why, shall we? This is about my 5th attempt at writing about the show, and it probably won’t be my last. 

Before we go any further **** Major Spoiler Alert**** don’t read anymore if you haven’t seen it and don’t want to know what happens.

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix series based on the Jay Asher book of the same name. It covers the themes most high schoolers, and many middle schoolers face every day – including bullying, rape and suicide. It’s graphic and the internet is losing its collective shit over it. Schools are sending notes home about it, every single newscast has covered it and you can’t surf the web without finding blog posts just like this one defending it or criticizing it. Paris Jackson is one of many people telling people not to watch it. I’m here to tell you, if you have kids, you should definitely watch it if for no other reason to understand what kids go through on a regular basis. 

While I have some issues with the series, I think it is always a good thing to talk about the stuff that scares us. Bullying, rape and suicide as well as teen drug and alcohol use, is scary stuff, but if we want to help kids navigate these complicated thing we’re going to need to have a dialog. 13 Reasons Why gets that dialog started.

Suicide is Never Painless

You can read a much better synopsis here, but in a nutshell the story is about a Clay Jensen, a shy high schooler who is given a shoebox of numbered cassette tapes created by Hannah Baker, a friend of Clay’s who recently killed herself. Each tape details one of the 13 reasons why she killed herself and those responsible have listened to the tapes and have been instructed to pass them along to the next person on the tape, which is why Clay has them. According to Hannah, he is partly responsible for her suicide.

Clay is responsible for her death in that he didn’t come out and tell her how he felt about her. His is one of the lesser reasons why she killed herself, though it torments Clay that he didn’t do more. Other people on the tape have teased her, bullied her, humiliated her, stabbed her in the back, and finally raped her. She even includes her guidance counselor who suggests she move on after she tells him about the rape, instead of going to the authorities and having the little snot arrested. 

It is then – when the counselor lets her down – that she comes up with the plan to create the tapes and then kill herself by getting into the bathtub and slitting her wrists – depicted rather graphically in the show.

I should mention, I have not read the book. I understand it has a different flavor to it, and I suspect it doesn’t come off as flippantly as it does in the series. I loved them, but the series felt like a too long After School Special. 

Aside from how it ends – with Hannah killing herself – there is nothing in this series that I, and many of my friends, didn’t experience at that age. What happened to Jessica – raped while passed out drunk, and Hannah – overpowered and raped, is actually quite common. Now we call it date rape, but when I was growing up it was called being in the wrong place at the wrong time or asking for it. We’ve come a long way, because we’ve been willing to talk about it. So let’s keep talking about it because clearly it’s still happening.

Teenage Wasteland

I thought the depiction of teenage life was incredibly accurate. Kids drink, they take drugs, they have sex, and they do a lot of stupid things – all while parents and teachers look the other way because they don’t want to dig too deep. My book, Minnesota Nice, is about all of these issues (I’m working on publishing soon, stay tuned for more info about that).

I also thought the depiction of the aftermath of her death – how her parents react and how the kids deal with it – was pretty well done. I didn’t see any glorifying of suicide. 

My issue is with Hannah’s storyline. She’s depressed and yet she is still motivated enough to create these 13 tapes. I get that they’re a device to move the plot along, it just seemed heavy handed to me. Plenty of teenagers kill themselves each day, most do so quietly because they already feel as though they don’t matter and that no one cares. Hannah obviously thought enough people would care to listen to the tapes. Hers was the sort of suicide most teens have fantasized about – getting even, even if it means getting dead. 

Trigger Warning

Since the show has come out, many teens, teachers and parents are worried that the show is triggering and therefore shouldn’t have been made. I can’t even begin to understand that kind of reasoning. If something is triggering then it absolutely needs to be discussed. Possibly with a professional, but certainly with a parent or trusted teacher. 

I lost three friends to suicide when I was a teenager. It’s an absolutely horrible thing to experience. And yes, cluster suicides are a thing, which is why we need to bring suicide out into the light. Thinking about suicide shouldn’t be taboo – because I promise you every single teenager (and more and more middle schoolers) have thought about their own suicide. I would hazard a guess that every human that lives and breathes has at one time or another contemplated taking their own life. And yet, we make the thought of it something to be ashamed of. 

When asked on most pediatrician questionnaires if they’ve considered suicide before, most teens will lie because they fear being pushed into therapy or the psych ward for thinking about something that is actually pretty normal. I know I have. 

It Gets Better, Promise

Life is scary, people are mean, and bad things happen, but that doesn’t mean it won’t get better. It usually always gets better. And that’s the point of the series, to show how wasteful suicide is. Hannah was a smart, funny, caring, and loving young woman. She had everything to look forward to in her future, she just couldn’t see past what she was experiencing to believe it would ever get better. We need to impress upon our kids that the pressure cooker that is middle school and high school gets better. If they can just hang in there (with professional help) they will be okay. Life is always a struggle, and for some it is much worse than for others. Life is not fair, but it does get better. The more we talk about these things the less damage they can do. 

I grew up reading books like The Bell Jar, Go Ask Alice and other rather dark tales about teens descent into the abyss. Teenage years can suck for a lot of people, they did for me and many of my friends. Having those books, seeing the After School Specials, helped me feel less alone. Because if people are writing about these topics and they’re making movies and TV shows about these heavy subjects, it means someone else has experienced these shitty things and managed to not only survive, but somehow thrive.

Let’s keep talking about Thirteen Reasons Why.

 

 

Advice Books People Reviews Things I Really Like

If You Want to be a Badass with Money, You Need this Book

April 27, 2017
If You Want to be a Badass with money, You Need this Book

If you want to be a badass with money, you need this book by Jen Sincero. By now you’ve heard of the book You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life also by Jen. It’s bright yellow and stares back at you from most best seller lists – for the past several years. It’s tough to miss. If you haven’t read it you should – if you want to be a badass in all things. It’s a fantastic read and even better audio book (Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks – look at me saving you money, too!) as it is read by the author. Jen Sincero is funny, witty, goofy, charming and she has some great ideas. I highly recommend it. 

I know, I’m always telling you to buy these books I haven’t even finished yet, but I can’t help it because I don’t want you to miss out on these inspiring books. I’m pumped up and I want you to be pumped up!

If You Want to be a Badass With Money, You Need this Book

Now Jen has come out with a new book – You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth. Even if you hate money, don’t want to make more of it and never want to have enough of it, you’ll still love and benefit from this book. 

Jen takes all the excuse we make about money and shreds them – in a really funny way. 

No matter where you are in life – a happy and secure corporate position or you’re a freelancer trying to beat the odds and actually make money – this book has some great tips for mastering the elusive and almighty dollar. 

It’s even got some great ideas about becoming more fulfilled, creative, motivated, inspired and satisfied. If you like the self-help genre and are looking for a great read, this is the book for you. If you’ve already read it you can find some other great life-changing books here

 

Kids Reviews

EZ Stax Review

March 2, 2017
EZ Stax Review

A few weeks ago I saw a video on Facebook for EZ Stax. Immediately used my clout as a blogger to get a sample so I could write this EZ Stax Review. EZ Stax are a set of thin plastic interlocking dividers that work perfectly for clothing, papers, basically anything that is reasonably flat and relatively thin. You could use them for crafting if you do a lot of scrap booking. Do people still do scrap booking? 

Anyway, I got them so I could organize my daughter’s dresser. Watch the video below to see how easy they are to use.

They are easy to use. They are also made out of recycled plastics, which is nice.

They are lightweight, easy to use and sadly, too big for any of the dressers in my home. At least to put in the right way. I had to put them in sideways, which wasted a lot of space in the drawer. This is not the fault of EZ Stax, I just happen to have all antique furniture from the turn of the century, the 1800s not the 1900s. I’m sure if I had something from Ikea it would fit beautifully. 

EZ Stax Review

Still, I was able to organize my daughter’s drawer full of t-shirts. She can remove a t-shirt from the middle of the stack and not disrupt the rest of the t-shirts. Theoretically, she could put one back in the middle of the stack, that just hasn’t happened yet.

Look, two weeks later, the drawer still looks great!

I highly recommend EZ Stax, just measure before you purchase to make sure they’ll fit in your dresser. 

Advice Books Reviews Things I Really Like Uncategorized

Buy This Book Now!

January 24, 2017
Buy this book now!

OMG I haven’t even finished this book and I had to stop and tell you to go and buy this book now! 

Buy This Book Now!

Seriously, go now, I’ll wait.

Wait, if you buy it now you won’t come back. Wait a minute. Buy it after reading this which is only going to be a few more paragraphs because honestly, I want to get back to it asap.

What book?

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight.

Yeah, I might be on a bit of a self-help binge, but that’s okay, in fact it’s great. Get Your Sh*t Together is an anti self-help book by an anti-guru who happens to be funny as shit. If you liked You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero, you will love Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight.

While both will get you fired up about getting down to business, they take a very different, albeit funny, approach. 

If you’re in a rut, want to break out and try something new, are tired of making excuses, or just really need a kick in the ass to do the things you already know you need to do — then buy this book now! Hell, buy them both, you’ll thank you, I promise.

Get Your Sh*t Together is a really quick read, or listen, that will help you to well, get your shit together. Sarah Knight will show you how to prioritize the things you need to do so you can do the things you want to do. 

You may have heard of Sarah Knight before, she also wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do (A No F*cks Given Guide).

It seems oh so simple, and really there is nothing she says that you don’t already know, but she lights a fire under your ass all while making you laugh out loud.

Seriously, I cannot recommend this book enough. I do plan on writing a complete review as soon as I finish the book, which will probably be later this evening, so check back. Of course you don’t even need that, it’s awesome, trust me, and it will provide the motivation you need, right now, to do what you know you need to do. 

Blogging Minnesota Reviews Things I Really Like Winter

Ice Castles in Stillwater

January 6, 2017
Ice Castles in Stillwater

One of the greatest thing about being a Minnesota Blogger is that I get invited to some pretty cool events. Last night I was lucky enough to attend a preview of Ice Castles in Stillwater, MN. It was a beautifully clear night out because it was -1°F, the windchill was -24°F. Trust me when I say it was cold. It might not be on your list of things to do in Minnesota – to visit a giant ice sculpture when it’s that cold, but that’s what I did.  

And you should too. 

Ice Castles in Stillwater

Ice Castles in Stillwater

The Ice Castles in Stillwater are made with a combination of hand placed icicles and running water. The people who build these magical ice structures place around 15,000 icicles by hand as they grow the ice around them using running water.

I believe this is the first year Ice Castles has been in Stillwater, MN. It’s been at the Mall of America in Bloomington before and Eden Prairie before this. Stillwater is a great place for Ice Castles. Not only is there ample free parking, but it’s such a picturesque town, something special like Ice Castles fits right in.

Controversy

You’d think something as lovely and beautiful as these ice sculptures wouldn’t have any controversy around them but you’d be wrong. Evidently there are some people who are upset that the ice structures are named Ice Castles, they argue they should be called Ice Stalagmites and Stalactites because of the way they are created. That may be so, but it’s silly to get worked up over something so petty. 

However, Ice Castles are not to be confused with the ice castles created for the St. Paul Winter Carnival. Those structure are build out of blocks of ice, not grown using running water. 

Ice Castles in Stillwater

They’re Beautiful

It doesn’t really matter how Ice Castles was formed, they’re beautiful. I toured the structure at night so the various ice walls and fountains were lit up in a stunning display of blue, red, orange, and green. I would have loved to have stayed longer to really get a good look at the way the ice was formed, it was really cool. It was also really cold and difficult to stay for too long. 

Things to Know

The floor of the Ice Castle is chopped ice/snow. This is not wheelchair or stroller accessible. Walking in the inches deep ice/snow was slightly challenging in big old lunky boots. Pets are not allowed. It is cold inside the structure, it might even be colder than outside – you know, because you’re inside a ice. There might be some science about it one way or the other but at -24°F windchill, it really doesn’t matter. 

Ice Castles in Stillwater

Dress Warm

I wore fleece tights under jeans and my legs still felt as if they had frozen. I wore boots rated to -30° and my feet were just fine. Tennies or any other kind of shoe is not going to be comfortable or easy to navigate through the ice/snow floor. Wear warm boots that have some grip to them. Mittens, hat, ear muffs and a scarf or ski mask to cover your face is completely appropriate. 

Tickets

Buy your tickets online, you’ll save a ton of cash. Click here to purchase tickets. And click here to learn more about the ice structures and how they’re made.

Ice Castles in Stillwater

Make a Day of it

Stillwater is a lovely town. If you plan on visiting Ice Castles make a day of it and have yourself an adventure. There are whimsical shops to visit and some great restaurants all within walking distance of Ice Castles.