Archives for June 3, 2015

San Andreas – Terrifying and Realistic


In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter. Starring Dwayne (the Rock) Johnson, Carla Gugino, and Alexandra Daddario, this film addresses what might just happen should the big one hit California. To the credit of the marketing people for this film, they adjusted their promos to include information about how to prepare for natural disasters after the recent devastating earthquake in Nepal drove home the importance of doing just that.  KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Will S. comments, “…in this film the interplay between the action scenes and the family scenes keep you emotionally involved.” See his full review below.


San Andreas

By Will S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 13


I like this movie a lot. It is a good disaster film. San Andreas is directed by Brad Peyton and stars Dwayne Johnson, Carla Gugino and Paul Giamatti. While this movie is well done, it doesn’t quite compare with movies by the disaster movie king, Roland Emmerich. After seeing one of Brad Peyton’s other movies, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, I had my doubts, but he does a pretty good job here.


There are three reasons why I enjoyed this film so much. First, are the special effects. Special effects in a disaster movie can make or break it. In this film, the CGI is eye-popping. At certain moments, it feels like there is a little too much going on all at once. But at the same time, it makes you feel as if you are in an earthquake, which probably feels pretty overwhelming.


The second reason I like this film is the acting. The acting is pretty strong for a disaster movie.  Sometimes in disaster movies, it’s all about stunts and action sequences. In this film, the acting makes you feel invested in the characters and you are really rooting for them.


The last reason I like this film is the story. Though corny at times, when adding humor or romance into the big earthquake scenes, the interplay between the action scenes and the family scenes keeps you emotionally involved.


There is a bit of a downside. The dialogue, characters and the some of the story are very predictable and filled with clichés. While some of the lines are clever, they often seem out of place. There are lots of pretty standard panic, action lines such as “Run,” “Hold on,” and similar. The main characters are well fleshed out, though some of the cast seems like simple stereotypes representing selfishness and greed.


They spend a lot of time showing the destruction of the earth quake and less on the aftermath of the quake, such as having the main heroes trying to survive riots, gas leaks, crumbling buildings, etc. With all the devastation, it is a bit dull seeing the Golden Gate Bridge collapse for the 1000th time in a disaster flick.


It is humorous that scientific accuracy is thrown out the window. For example, they say the earthquake is a 9.1 but, according to what I’ve read, that magnitude cannot happen on the San Andreas fault.


I give San Andreas 3.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. If you like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Paul Giamatti and disaster movies, you’ll like this one.


Salamander Season By Jennifer Keats Curtis, J. Adam Frederick, and Shennen Bersani


One cold, rainy, spring night, a young girl and her scientist father participate in “Salamander Night” to follow hundreds of spotted salamanders as they venture into a vernal pool to breed and lay eggs. Together, the father-child team studies the salamanders through their complete amphibian metamorphosis, culminating in the adult salamanders’ disappearance into the woods in late summer. In easy-to-understand text, the girl relates the tale through her illustrated, photographic journal.

Great fr grades K-3! For Creative Minds includes: Salamander Classification, Salamander Nights and An Environmental Biologist.

Find out more at Arbordale Publishing.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes.



Father’s Day with Melitta Coffee! Special Father's Day Giveaway!

Travel_red_front    Vienna Roast    Classique Supreme


Father’s Day will be here before we know it! I can not believe that it is already June! We have teamed up with our friends at Melitta USA for a special Father’s Day Giveaway! What better gift than a Melitta Pour-Over Travel Mug Set? This is a super quick way for Dad to make his coffee to-go on work mornings or any time he is on his way to work. The new cones design enables you to see into the cup without lifting to avoid overfill. The set also includes a start-up supply of Melitta #2 cone filters.  Melitta also has really great tasting coffee! I know! I have reviewed before and the Classique Supreme is one of my husband’s favorites!

To enter our giveaway leave a comment below (after visiting the Melitta website) and tell us which coffee you think your husband or Dad would be most excited to try! One winner will win the Melitta Pour-Over Travel Mug Set and two bags of coffee. You can actually look on the website and choose your own two roasts. Deadline to enter is June 11th, 2015 at noon PST. One winner will randomly be selected via

Self Disclosure: No compensation or products were received to review. Prize will be sent to winner.

Summer Must-Haves from CVS/pharmacy!

20150429_185650   20150429_185701    20150429_185706  20150429_185714

It’s almost officially Summer! Time to spend more time outside walking, hiking, swimming and going to the beach! CVS/Pharmacy has you covered! Sunscreen in a Must-Have everyday! I really like the CVS brand Ultra Sheer SPF 55 because it is non greasy and works really well! For staying healthy, CVS/Pharmacy has great products like Ibuprofen Soft gels and Vitamin C! These are a Must-Have in the Summer time. My allergies are worse in the Spring time but it is always handy to have CVS/Pharmacy Dye-Free Allergy tablets on hand.

Stay healthy and happy this Summer! Be careful and have fun! Find these products and many more at CVS/Pharmacy.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this post. 


Selfie Stick SnappyHappy Self-portrait Monopod Giveaway Opportunity!!


Looking for a great way to take Selfies?

My selfies used to always come out so terrible but not anymore with the Selfie Stick SnappyHappy Self-portrait Monopod. What I really like the best is that it is so easy to use! I love that it is also very Kid-friendly! There are no small parts that can be broken off or lost. It is so easy to use and isn’t just for the iPhone! It worked great with my Android phone. It doesn’t work with tablets and iPads but works with bigger phones. My husband has what we call a tabphone…it’s bigger than most phones but not quite as big as a tablet and it worked. I also like that this isn’t so big that it can easily fit in my purse! I was leery that this would work so well but it really does. I can not imagine taking selfies without it!

More info:

LIFETIME WARRANTY AND FREE SLING GRIP! SnappyHappy is extendable up to 40 inches and includes a rugged, spring-loaded phone clamp that will NEVER wear out! We’re so confident in its durability, we give it Lifetime Warranty! If it wears out or breaks for any reason, we’ll replace it, no questions asked. AND for a limited time, we are giving away a free Snappy Sling Grip for your SmartPhone – a $7.95 Value!! (All we ask is that you give us a product review – that’s not asking much is it?)The Only Selfie Stick You Will Ever Need Comes with a Lifetime Warranty.

The SnappyHappy Selfie Stick Features the Following Key Benefits:

– SnappyHappy comes with a rechargeable USB Bluetooth control that allows you pair it with your Android or iPhone to take selfies remotely and trouble-free!

– SnappyHappy is extendable up to 40 inches and includes a rugged, spring-loaded phone clamp that will NEVER wear out! We’re so confident in its durability, we give it Lifetime Warranty! If it wears out or breaks for any reason, we’ll replace it, no questions asked.

– Its small, compact design folds to 8 inches allowing you to take it anywhere without the hassle!

– Unlike other Selfie Sticks, there are no small parts that can get lost or broken – making it frustration free!

– The SnappyHappy fits ALL sizes of iPhones and Android smartphones – even the biggest ones! Its long battery life means hours of happily snapping selfies before recharging is necessary.

– For a limited time, all SnappyHappy Selfie Sticks include a FREE SlingGrip cell phone holder – a $7.95 value! Hurry, quantities are limited! Click “Buy Now” to get your SnappyHappy today and receive a FREE SlingGrip as a thank you for buying their product!

You can find on Our readers get 10% off the purchase of one SnappyHappy. Use the code: SNAPPY10 when checking out.

We have teamed up for a really quick giveaway! One winner will win their own SnappyHappy! To enter, leave a comment below telling us why you would love to win! Deadline to enter is June 6th. 2015 at 6 pm PST!! So, enter now! One winner will randomly be selected via

Self Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for an unbiased review.

Peter Jenny Expands “Learning To See” Book Series Giveaway Opportunity!

LOhkq0XYLiQZ3BUjCy1_mml0ELyop8Zm-3rDS9oJG1k     EiVDAw-wIygpfSchzzXtRbTxmQV5ZYiuG5CAe5Jni9U

Peter Jenny’s LEARNING TO SEE series is adding two new books to its roster, Unlearning to Draw and The Kitchen Art Studio. For anyone who has ever wanted to learn to draw, or draw better, the series features everything you need to get started.

Unlearning to Draw Learning to See Peter Jenny 4 x 6 inches / 168 PP / 90 B+W illustrations / Paperback ISBN 978-1-61689-373-6 / $12.95 May 5, 2015
Unlearning to Draw asks you to take a step back from the normal conventions associated with creating new works. Through exercises that utilize your own family photos, Jenny pushes you to set aside the personal meaning behind those photos and find the unconventional in these immortalized moments, rearranging them to create something new.

The Kitchen Art Studio Learning to See Peter Jenny 4 x 6 inches / 168 PP / 90 B+W illustrations / Paperback ISBN 978-1-61689-365-1 / $12.95 May 5, 2015
The Kitchen Art Studio, the fifth book in the series, turns the kitchen into an art studio. As Penny states, “Art does not have to look like art. It arises out of unusual combination. It can look like cuisine.” Much like cooking, art is a process of transformation through experimentation. The exercises throughout the book ask you to play with food! Witness and explore the order in disorder, the beauty of messes, and the many uses of ordinary kitchen objects.
Unlearning to Draw and The Kitchen Art Studio join the first three titles, The Artist’s Eye, Drawing Techniques, and Figure Drawing, in the Learning to See series. Each book covers a different drawing technique, offering twenty-two exercises guaranteed to increase you skills and confidence. These playful activities encourage you to discover the language of drawing in a spirit of experimentation, spontaneity, and freedom.

I received copies of these books and I really like that they are unique and really great for when friends or family visit! They are real conversation starters! I also love that each book has different drawing exercises. They are very helpful!

About the Author:

Peter Jenny is professor emeritus and chair of visual design at the ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

The books can be purchased directly through the Princeton Architectural Press website at the following links:
– Unlearning to Draw:
– The Kitchen Art Studio:
The retail price: $12.95.
We have teamed up for a Giveaway! One winner will win a copy of each book! To enter, leave a comment telling us your favorite thing to draw! Deadline to enter is June 8th, 2015 at noon PST. One winner will randomly be selected from all entries via 
Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the books to facilitate this post.

Come along on an adventure with Zoonicorns™, the magical plush pals that make learning life lessons fun!

IMG_0467  cropped Severin and the Zoonicorns - Copy

Welcome to the world of Zoonicorns™, where magical animals (half zebra, half unicorn!) meet children in their dreams.   Kids love to accompany their favorite furry friend as they visit young zoo animals to help them discover important life lessons through imagination and adventure.  With a coordinating book series, children will enjoy hours of reading and playtime when their Zoonicorn comes to life in the story!  Because Zoonicorns™ come in a variety of colors and personalities, there is a Zoonicorn for every boy or girl:
Valeo (Blue): The Zoonicorn leader who overcomes his shyness when meeting new friends and loves hanging out with his buddies near the Africa exhibits!
Promithea (Purple): Reliable and shy, Promithea epitomizes intelligence and gentleness and is the perfect secret keeper for all of her pals.
Aliel (Pink): Spunky, fun, and always zooming at full speed, Aliel is friends with every animal at the zoo and makes a great companion for any child too!
Ene (Green): A charming practical joker who loves mischief and his naps! Great for snuggling when catching some Z’s.
Each plush pal stands 7 inches tall and makes the perfect companion for playtime, bedtime, for long car rides and everywhere!
Coming soon:  Zoonicorns™ mobile app and interactive website!  The Zoonicorn™ world will provide a fun, entertaining digital world where kids can play alongside their favorite animal through interactive stories, games and activities! Parents will feel assured knowing their children will be actively engaged in something positive with their new best friend!
Debuting at the 2015 Toy Fair with their new line of plush animals and books, Zoonicorn LLC is passionate about enriching youth through imagination and adventure.  “Dreams are one place that parents can’t go to help their children,” said creator Mark Lubratt.  “The Zoonicorns exist to take anxious young zoo animals on fantastic and encouraging adventures in their dreams in ways that teach them an important lesson that helps them.”
We received samples of these adorable plush Zoonicorns and the book. The Zoonicorns are just adorable! My 11-year-old son is a bit old for them but we gave them to a friend and her two daughters just love them and play with them all the time. I also read the book and highly recommend it for younger boys and girls. I love that these Zoonicorns have names and different personalities!  My favorite? Promithea! 
For more information visit
Self Disclosure: I received free samples to facilitate this feature. No other compensation was received. Top photo credit: Zoonicorn. Bottom photo: SoCal City Kids.

Treble is the Pet of the Week!

Treble, June 4  Pet of the Week

Treble, age 5, is so named because he had to have a leg amputated when he arrived severely injured at our shelter. But he seems to be humming a pretty happy tune—he’s in great spirits, has been neutered and is ready to go. Want to be bass to his treble and make great harmony? Then meet Treble at the shelter side of the Companion Animal Village at 7700 East Spring St., (562) 570-PETS, and meet Beth. Ask for ID#A547767.


(The usual suspects contributed to this rescue)

Credit: Companion Animal Village.