Friday, June 17, 2016

Finding Dory Lunches and Movie Review

I was given two tickets to see a pre-screening of Disney-Pixar's "Finding Dory" in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. Well, except for what my 4-year-old tells me to say... Since I was only offered one ticket in addition to my own, I couldn't take both girls. My youngest won the coin toss.
image copyright Disney-Pixar 2016, used with permission
The basic story (without too many spoilers, I hope!) starts one year after Nemo was rescued, with Dory living "next door" to Nemo and Marlin. Being someone with no short-term memory must be pretty frustrating and scary, but living and caring for someone with this condition has unique and frustrating challenges too. Which Marlin learns all too well. Along the way, Dory gets a flash of memory from her childhood, which prompts a quest to find her parents. After reminding Marlin and Nemo that they know all too well what it's like to love someone who is lost to them, the three of them embark on a grand oceanic adventure! And find some new "family" along the way!

image copyright Disney-Pixar 2016, used with permission
The title suggests that this movie is about Dory getting lost and (hopefully) found. And while this does happen (a few times!) this story is really about Dory finding herself. Finding her own strengths and trusting in her own abilities after a lifetime of being treated as "less than" - and realizing that she's not "broken" after all! This movie resonates a lot with me personally, since as a mother of a child with an "invisible" cognitive disability, I love stories that feature characters who are loved and accepted and even valued as "different, but not less." I can't wait for her to see it!

Since the oldest one didn't get to come, I wanted to make her a special lunch to celebrate getting to see the AMC Sensory Friendly showing coming soon (Regal also offers My Way Matinees now.) And I had to make a Dory lunch for the little one too, of course!

Dory and Nemo
GF goat cheese quesadillas, organic grapes and carrots
My 2nd-grader loves cheese, and has been asking for quesadillas. Normally I just use corn tortillas, since they're naturally gluten free and easy to find. But I happened to grab some gluten-free flour tortillas the other day, and it turns out they take cookie stamper imprints fantastically well! I foresee a lot more tortillas in our lunches next school year!

Since I was trying to make Little Sister's lunch at the same time, I opted to cook these quesadillas in the oven instead of a frying pan to free up some time. I accidentally overcooked them a tad. Which turned out to be a good thing, since my oldest prefers "crispy" cheese. She didn't even notice that these were quesadillas - she thought they were just fun cheese crisps! Ha!

I got the Nemo and Dory cookie cutters and stamps as part of my Disney Cakes and Sweets subscription. So many lunch-able Disney goodies! I didn't have any whale or octopus picks to represent other characters from the movie, so I grabbed some cartoony sea life cupcake picks just for fun.

Dory-tilla Sandwich
GF Dark Chocolate Dreams "fairy bread" tortilla sandwich, organic blueberries and spinach, rosemary vinaigrette
My preschooler (4) isn't a big fan of cheese, except on pizza, so instead of a quesadilla, she agreed to try a "chocolate peanut butter quesadilla." (Yes. I know "queso" means "cheese." To them "quesadilla" means "tortilla food." Ha!)

After cutting out three Dory shapes from the tortilla, pressing the stamp firmly into one of them, and carefully spreading the the Peanut Butter Co Dark Chocolate Dreams between the layers, I lightly buttered the stamped top. I then spent an agonizing amount of time carefully applying dye free natural-colored blueyellow, and black sanding sugars. (The black one was found at Whole Foods.) I used a tiny spoon to help scoop, pour, spread, and corral the different sugars, and had to resort to my bento tweezers a few times to move errant grains of sugar. For the eyes I used tubes of natural-colored blue and black icings sent from a friend in Australia (loads of dye-free food options there!) and added some natural purple sugar over the blue for the irises.

A few sea life cupcake picks finish the theme (naturally I don't have the octopus or sea turtle from that set, since the store selling them as singles only had these two options! Pfaugh!)

This lunch was definitely more time-intensive than I can normally be bothered with. "Luckily" we slept in so late that I had to just take the girls to school and go back home to pack lunches. This gave me a few hours before I had to head back to school to deliver them, so I could take the time to do them fancy!

Tools of the Trade
      
image copyright Disney-Pixar 2016, used with permission
Like FINDING DORY on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PixarFindingDory

Follow FINDING DORY on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FindingDory

Follow Disney/Pixar on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/PixarFindingDory/

Follow Disney Studios on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/disneystudios/finding-dory/

Visit Disney/Pixar on Tumblr: http://disneypixar.tumblr.com

Visit the official FINDING DORY website here: https://disney.com/findingdory

FINDING DORY is now playing in theatres everywhere!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Alice Through the Bento Glass!

Image copyright Disney 2016, used with permission
My girls had seen a few previews for Disney's new Alice Through the Looking Glass movie and were excited. The visuals and costumes alone are stunning, and add in a few adorably fuzzy creatures and my 7-year-old is smitten! Plus they happen to be doing a version of Alice Through the Looking Glass for her classroom's annual school play! So when I was offered free tickets to an advance screening for the movie earlier this week, I knew we had to go!
[I received 4 tickets, no strings attached. I was not compensated in any other way, other than some free promotional items that were offered to anyone attending. All opinions are my own.]

Image copyright Disney 2016, used with permission
Once again the star-studded live-action and CGI cast joins together for an amazing adventure through Underland - this time with Alice on a quest through Time himself to try and save the Mad Hatter! [So many fun time jokes and puns in this movie!]
Image copyright Disney 2016, used with permission
Sasha Baron Cohen does an amazing job as the personification of Time, with a fun blend of human and elemental traits, and makes a great addition to the world of Underland. There were a lot of subtle undertones to his character that added a depth and richness that I enjoyed a lot. The "fallen soldier" line when he meets Alice for the first time had me in tears, once I realized what he was talking about.
Image copyright Disney 2016, used with permission
My girls both agree that their favorite parts of the movie involved the Cheshire Cat, mostly because they are huge cat lovers! But when Alice travels back to the Hatter's childhood, the Cheshire Kitten was definitely their favorite scene! Alice learns a valuable lesson while travelling through time - that while you may not be able to change the past, you can learn from it! A great lesson for anyone!


I was going to celebrate the film's release with some fun themed lunches, but I don't think I can ever top my "Curiouser and Curiouser" lunch from a few years ago... My creative juices haven't been so juicy lately, now that I have two kids to pack for, and not enough time to play Candy Crush pack in the mornings. But not to worry! I've found tons of great ideas for lunches and treats to share with you below!

alice4
Bento Ninja has some great and easy Wonderland bento ideas - my favorite one is the talking flowers, but her Mad Hatter lunch is a good fit for this new movie! Her Red Queen ones are a great fit too!

Check out a "full deck" of other Wonderland lunch ideas shared at the Through the Looking Glass linky party over at Bent On Better Lunches!

Need some fun Wonderland party ideas? 
Check out these fun Mad Hatter marshmallow treat hats from What's For Lunch At Our House? A fun and easy-looking treat that would fit in a lunchbox!

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These Cheshire Cat Cupcakes are perfect (and look easy!)... and disappear just as quickly!

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Don't these character macarons look amazing! Check out the video here!

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If you have the Time [see what I did there?] be sure and check out these cool clockwork gear cookies!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Divided We Fall - Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Image copyright Marvel 2016, used with permission
I was invited to an advance screening of the new Marvel Captain America: Civil War movie and given two tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.


Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.
Get ready to pick a side and join the nonstop action playing out on two fronts when Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” opens in U.S. theaters on May 6, 2016.

Let me start out with some advice - if you haven't seen Captain America: Winter Soldier or Avengers: Age of Ultron, you'll be missing a lot of important back story. Out of all the Marvel movies, guess which two I haven't seen yet? Sigh. I was totally lost. "S.H.I.E.L.D. did what now?" "Who the what?" It was very difficult to sit still and watch quietly and not pester my husband the whole time to fill in the back story!
You'll probably want to have seen the other previous Captain America and Avengers movies as well, which means that seeing the other Avengers-characters' (Thor, Iron Man, Hulk) movies, for important back-story too.. And while Ant-Man isn't required viewing before seeing him appear here, it's fun to know more about him! (They've rebooted the Spider-Man storyline for this movie, so other than watching the previous movies for fun, they won't apply here.) So if you haven't seen them yet, have a movie marathon weekend! Worth it!
Image copyright Marvel 2016, used with permission
I've always had difficulty with the "good guy vs good guy" scenarios in comics and the corresponding movies, because they've all had pretty weak premises to me. It takes a lot for friends to turn on one another so violently. They seem scripted - like the dispute is there because the writers wrote it that way, and not because it is what those characters would actually have chosen to do. Sure, they come up with "reasons." But they feel very manufactured to me.
So I went into the theater expecting to be annoyed with this here too, but I must say, they did a great job making the sides and choices fairly believable in this movie! I thought Tony Stark was a little more pig-headed and close-minded than I felt was appropriate, but it was needed to keep the dispute going. That was really the only weakness for me. But I hear that a lot of his motivations are based off events in Age of Ultron, so it might all make more sense to me after watching that!
I felt that the views and actions of Steve Rogers (Captain America) and Natasha Romanova (Black Widow) were very believable, and I could follow their logic the whole time. The other characters seemed to take sides more based on who they chose to follow rather than which side they felt was "right." It was clear the writers chose to break up pairings (like Hawkeye and Black Widow, or Vision and Wanda) for the sake of drama, but it was believable enough for me.
Image copyright Marvel 2016, used with permission
Captain America: Civil War was full of truly epic action sequences, some really beautiful battle shots, and lots of great staging and special effects. I got to see it in 3D IMAX, and to me, CGI often starts to really stand out as being fake because you can see it so intensely in this format. But ILM did a fabulous job blending everything together, and there were only a few moments where I was distracted by noticing that a character didn't move like a real person. Mostly I was impressed with all the "pew-pew" and "POW!" Hahaha!

The only thing that really bothered me, and they got it over with quickly so I was able to move on, was the argument behind forming the government oversight. Basically (you see it in the preview above,) this guy goes, "Look at all the collateral damage and deaths you caused..." and left out the "...saving us from the horrible [aliens/villains] who were going to cause even more death and destruction..." Um. So accidentally killing a few people to save hundreds is a bad thing? I completely understood the world's governments' desire to regulate people with super-human abilities or really cool technology that makes them, well, super. But to approach it from a "some people died because of you" angle using examples of events where masses more of other people were saved because of them was pretty weaksauce. But not enough to ruin the premise behind the division of those wanting government oversight to assuage guilt or to try and work within the system versus those worried about being used and controlled to further an agenda.

If you like the Marvel Universe, this movie is a must-see. If you like superhero or action movies, but aren't up-to-date on the Marvel Universe, it's still a great movie, but be prepared to have a huge portion of the plot and character motivations not make any sense without the back story. Go with someone who can tell you what's happening! Lots of great new characters, lots of Marvel's trademark interwoven humor and deep moral themes, and lots of the famous characters you came to see in action once again!

Like CAPTAIN AMERICA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaptainAmerica

Follow CAPTAIN AMERICA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaptainAmerica

Follow Marvel on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marvel/

Visit the official CAPTAIN AMERICA website here: http://marvel.com/captainamerica

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR opens in theatres everywhere on May 6th!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Marvel Universe LIVE on Tour - opening TOMORROW in Tacoma!

Copyright ©2015, Feld Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  Used with Permission from Feld Entertainment
[Feld Entertainment has provided me with a 4-pack of tickets to take my family to Marvel Universe LIVE® in exchange for this post and a review. All opinions expressed are my own. ]
When I heard Marvel Universe Live was coming on tour to my area, I couldn't say no! My nephew would never forgive me! My girls are still a tad young to watch most of the Marvel Universe movies that my husband and I enjoy, so aren't as familiar with the characters as their older cousins... But who wouldn't love watching superheroes fight villains amongst motorcycles, aerial acts, and pyrotechnics? Since I was offered 4 tickets for opening night, I'll be taking my 4-year-old daughter who was dazzled by the video trailer I showed her, my 9-year-old nephew who LOVES Marvel, and my brother-in-law (who pretty much tripped over himself to shout "YES!" at "Hey, Marvel Live is coming to Tacoma...") My older daughter would prefer to play video games with her other cousins at my sister's, so that worked out well for me, since I'm not up for taking 3 kids on my own, especially when at least 2 of them are known for wandering or losing their adult!

How cool does that look? It feels almost like a "people circus" (no animals,) which I LOVE, but with a superhero theme! SO FUN! I cannot WAIT until tomorrow night!

Here's the "official" plot synopsis blurb -
Marvel Universe LIVE! will captivate audiences with an authentic and original story that brings more than 25 Marvel icons together on one awesome quest.  The Cosmic Cube, the source of ultimate power and one of the most feared and coveted treasures in the Marvel Universe, has been shattered into pieces by the Mighty Thor in order to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. With the pieces scattered across the globe, Thor’s villainous brother Loki devises a scheme to clone its powers, inciting a threat that could not only decimate Earth but also obliterate the Universe.
Copyright ©2015, Feld Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  Used with Permission from Feld Entertainment
Tacoma, WA Event Schedule : Thursday, February 25 – Sunday, February 28

  • Thursday, February 25           7:00 PM
  • Friday, February 26                7:00 PM
  • Saturday, February 27            11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
  • Sunday, February 28              1:00 PM & 5:00 PM
Buy tickets for this weekend here, or check for shows in other areas! And be sure to follow all the Marvel Universe LIVE action on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Copyright ©2015, Feld Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  Used with Permission from Feld Entertainment

Monday, November 2, 2015

Satva Eco-Conscious Activewear for the Lazy Mama

[Disclaimer: I was given a top and pants from Satva in consideration for this review. All opinions are my own.]

When I was contacted to receive and review some Satva organic cotton yoga clothes, I was intrigued.  I love that the cotton is organic and Fair Trade Certified™, and that their dyes are low-impact or natural. But... I don't do yoga. I do, however, do lazy! And even lazy people can be mindful and eco-conscious about their clothing and food, and support companies that give back to their farmers!

I'm short but wide-boned, so stretchy clothing fits me best, since anything wide enough for my hips or shoulders is often too long or too loose everywhere else. But I don't want to look like I'm just wearing my PJs when I go to pick up the kids at school! (Because apparently I'm an "adult" now.) So I have to wear "real" clothes when out and about. But the second I get home, off come the jeans and on go the stretchy pants!

Lounging Around
Satva sent me an Ambar Strap Back Tank (in Molten Lava, Medium) and Mantra Leggings (in Ocean Depths Eastern Tile print, size Small. I could have gone up a size in these pants I think, but otherwise they fit perfectly!) And they're GORGEOUS! I could totally wear these out in public without looking like I didn't bother getting dressed when I left! Which is great, since then I can be comfy lounging around at home, and I don't have to bother getting dressed when I leave...

 
Check out the back of this tank! It's so pretty - reminds me of a butterfly! I was worried I wouldn't have a bra I could wear with that intricate back, but no worries - the Ambar tank has one built-in! I cannot wait for the weather to warm up so I can show this off!

Around the House or Out and About
Whether I'm snuggling my kittens, reading a book, plopped in front of the TV, waiting for my coffee to brew, taking a snooze, or just lounging around staring off into space, the Satva organic cotton clothing line would be perfect! Or, you know. For exercising and running errands and going out in public and stuff too.


Check out this beautiful clothing "in action" and follow SatvaLiving on their Instagram page, and check out all fifty of their comfortable and mindful styles (plus their toddler tees!) at SatvaLiving.com

Winging it with KitchenIQ - Lemon-Rosemary Zoodles with Roasted Carrots

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for KitchenIQ. I received promotional items to thank me for my participation.

I was originally going to make this Cilantro Lime Chicken zoodles recipe from iFoodReal, but the grocery store was out of cilantro and I was too lazy to go across the street to the other store. So I grabbed some rosemary and figured I'd wing it... I was also going to make Garlic Roasted Carrots from Damn Delicious, except that when my guests voted for garlic instead of cumin for the zoodles, I didn't want to garlic up the carrots too. So I just used seasoned salt and called it good! Unless my friends were just trying to make me feel good, both dishes were a hit!


First off, let me start by telling you about my knives. We have old knives. From before my husband and I met 19 years ago. And they have been sharpened approximately once a never. I am just used to hacking and forcing my way through fruits and veggies, and maybe lopping off a bit of skin along the way. So I was excited to try KitchenIQ's Edge Grip Knife Sharpener (it's a bestseller on Amazon!) It didn't really come with instructions, and I clearly have not been honing my knife-sharpening skills [see what I did there?] so I had Hubby sharpen the knives for me! Besides, I'm better at taking pictures than he is. And also clearly better at weaseling out of doing prep-work! Hahaha!

My guests and I were really impressed with the Edge Grip Knife Sharpener. I tried cutting one carrot before sharpening, for comparison, and they saw how hard it was. After sharpening, my knife went through those carrots "like buttah!" It was surprisingly easy to use the Edge Grip's unique design to sharpen my straight-edge double-bevel knives.
There are actually two stages of sharpening in the one unit, and it pretty much worked the way I had guessed (but don't tell Hubby that I could have done it after all!) There's a Coarse sharpening slot with carbide blades for quickly sharpening dull or damaged knives with just a few pulls. The Fine slot has ceramic rods for finishing and polishing the edge, or to touch-up an already sharp knife. And thanks to the Edge Grip Bottom, the whole thing stayed stable on the counter top without sliding around. All that, and it's small enough to store in my cutlery drawer!


We used the Potato Tool to scrub and peel the carrots. And by "we," I mean my husband. This tool includes a scrub brush for cleaning potatoes and other veggies, a straight-edge peeler, and a paring knife tucked safely in the handle. Both the peeler and paring knife have non-stick stainless steel-coated blades, and the paring knife can be sharpened using the Edge Grip Knife Sharpener!
The ergonomic soft-grip, non-slip handle made it very easy to use, and it was handy being able to scrub each carrot then just rotate the tool to immediately begin peeling. Plus it's top-rack dishwasher safe! Bonus!

 

Since I was provided with extra Better Zesters to gift to my guests, I let Hubby have a break from doing all the labor and had my friends zest the lemon for us.
The Better Zester features a stainless steel V-etches zester blade, which makes it perfect for zesting all kinds of citrus fruits. Would probably work great for grating parmesan too, but I'm lazy and buy it pre-grated! The non-stick food-safe coating allows for smoother zesting and easier clean-up, plus it's dishwasher-safe! But our favorite features were the plastic cover to protect little hands from the blade while rooting around in the utensil drawer, and the Fresh Zest container, which collects and holds the grated zest and includes measurements to help you know when you have just the right amount!

Lemon-Rosemary Zoodles and Roasted Carrots
Lemon-Rosemary Zoodles with Beans
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 large zucchini, zoodled or sliced into thin strips/sticks
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp minced)
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed (red or black beans work just fine too!)
1 lemon, zested and halved
1/2-1 tsp salt, or to taste

Directions:
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large skillet on medium-high. Add beans and garlic. Saute until warm, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zoodles, rosemary, lemon zest, and salt. Saute 1.5 minutes, stirring frequently. 
Remove zoodle mixture from pan and sear cut ends of halved lemon until browned, roughly 1-2 minutes. Halve or quarter each seared lemon half into wedges.

Divide evenly between 4-5 plates. Serve hot with seared lemon wedges.

Simple Roasted Carrots
Ingredients:
2 bunches small carrots
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Seasoned salt or garlic salt, to taste (1/2 to 1 tsp)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
Trim greens off carrots, leaving 1/2 to 1" of stems. Wash and peel carrots, then slice in half lengthwise. Toss in oil and lay on baking sheet. Sprinkle with seasoned salt. Bake for 20 minutes.



Products are available on the KitchenIQ website or on Amazon.com
  
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