Archives for July 1, 2019

9 Ways to Plan Your Destination Engagement

Everyone grows up believing that their wedding day will be the best day of their lives. Though dreams of candyfloss dresses and romantic first dances color many people’s’ childhoods, it is their engagement day which will eventually hold an extra special place in their hearts. Some engagement traditions have changed over the years, but there is no denying that you will want your proposal to go off without a hitch. Choosing to take your engagement overseas adds even more luxury, romance, and beauty to your big moment.

Choose the perfect destination

The most important part of a destination engagement is the location. Ideally, you will need to choose somewhere that oozes romance, like a sunny beach destination, a European city, or a secluded mountain retreat. Wherever you choose, you must do so with your partner in mind. This will be a day that both of you remember for the rest of your lives, which means that you should follow your heart when you are searching for somewhere to go.

Pick luxury lodgings to match

Once you are happy with your location, you can get to work on looking for some luxury lodgings to stay in. In the past, even the thought of splurging on a destination engagement was enough to make hearts skip a beat- and not in a good way. Luckily, these days there are various adults-only resorts that are ideal for such an occasion. Some couples may also see this as a great way of testing out resorts for their honeymoon.

Create time in their schedule

Clearing your own schedule is the easy part. The real challenge is finding a way to whisk your partner away without arousing suspicion. Most people cover their tracks by claiming their getaway is merely another romantic weekend away. However, you could go all out and organize their time off work with their boss. They may be willing to spare your partner when they know what the trip is for. If you have kids, try asking for loved ones for help.

Pack the ring carefully

An engagement isn’t an engagement without a ring. There have been countless times where people have lost their ring on the way to their destination, causing extra stress to arise. Sometimes, this can ruin the entire engagement. Before you depart, make sure you pack the ring away somewhere safe. This could be in a bag close to your body, or in a hidden pocket in your luggage. In any case, remember to keep it out of sight of your partner.

Plan for the proposal

All your vacation planning and well-meaning secrets will be leading up to one moment: the proposal. Without a plan, you could find that unwanted nerves and sleepless nights stop you from enjoying the time with your partner. If you can, write a small plan about how you are going to propose. It could be that you take your partner out for a candlelit meal, or that you write out your proposal in the sand. There are lots of options, so make sure you choose one you are most comfortable with.

Or keep it understated

For lots of people, taking their partner away for their engagement is already a grand gesture. This means that an unplanned proposal may suit them better. If this is you, always keep the engagement ring on you. This way, you can propose during any moment you feel is best. Sunsets, morning breakfasts, and even beach hikes are all understated but beautiful times that could work. This spontaneity can even bring a whole new kind of romance to your engagement.

Build the excitement

When married couples look back on their engagement, they will say one of two things: that they always saw it coming, or that it was a total surprise. Building the excitement can add some more fun to a stressful process for you, but it can also keep your partner on their toes. It may also be helpful for people trying to gage the reaction their partner may have. This can be tricky to do, but you can start by dropping tiny hints before you propose.

… But also keep it a surprise

There is a very fine line between dropping hints, and implying that a destination engagement is definitely on the cards. For example, telling your partner’s friends could mean the plan gets back to them. Telling a select few about your ideas will instead allow them to keep your partner distracted from your planning. When your big moment arrives, you will notice how there is nothing more wonderful than seeing the surprise light up your partner’s face.

Don’t forget the engagement shoot

You may think that your engagement is all over once you have popped the question and sealed the deal. However, you will still have a few more days to relax in your location. Use this time to have an engagement shoot. This moment won’t happen again, so it’s wise to capture the memories you have made. Hiring a photographer is the best way to have a high-quality shoot, but those keeping track of their finances may prefer the simple beauty of using their own camera.





Queen Mary’s All-American 4th of July Celebration

Queen Mary’s Mega Fireworks Display Paints the Night Sky at 9 p.m. culminating the Royal Rendezvous with Cunard sistership, the Queen Elizabeth

Celebrate Independence Day aboard the historic RMS Queen Mary with an action-packed day at the Queen Mary’s All-American 4th of July Celebration from 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, 2019. The red, white, and blue ship-wide event offers multiple stages of live entertainment, family-friendly activities, carnival games, patriotic-themed food, razzle-dazzle drinks from multiple bars, a vintage aircraft flyover, and culminates with one of SoCal’s top 4th of July fireworks displays above America’s “shining seas.”

Independence Day revelers will voyage throughout the Queen Mary’s many decks and salons for a day of celebrations with live music performances, DJs, dueling pianos, dancing, and more! On the Verandah Deck, DJ Rod Epic will bring the house down with original mixes to get the dance party going, then guests can rock out to rock-interpretations of Crowd Theory as they continue the festivities with a mix of alternative, classic rock and modern pop.

Stroll into the Royal Salon to sing along with the crowd as the Traveling Keys Dueling Pianos light up and dazzle the stage, while the Kids Imagine Nation is sure to impress even the youngest of guests with a high-energy, interactive musical dance party. Attendees can kick-up their boots with DJ Coral and Morgan Leigh Band in the Queen’s Salon for some country fun, or visit the decks and ballrooms to marvel in patriotic strolling performances by both Cirque Berzerk and Love in the Fire, including themed magicians, holiday-inspired baton twirlers, and unicyclists.

Grab the kids for a full day of fun with strolling jugglers, stilt walkers, balloon artists, and more. The Kid Zone on the Sports Deck will offer inflatables for tons of bouncy fun and the sounds of Dj Mikey O, while down at the wharf, guests can play carnival games and try their hand at the dunk tank.

VIP ticket holders will have access to premium firework viewing and two exclusive areas, the Verandah Grill (VIP Lounge) and Britannia Salon. In the Britannia Salon VIP guests can sing along to classic songs as the American Bombshells perform a modern day twist on an All-American tribute to troops, veterans, families and friends alike. The party never stops for VIPs—guests can then put on their dancing shoes and watch in amazement as the Straytones show off their powerhouse vocals, shredding violin and high-energy acoustic rhythm to everyone’s favorite Motown and Oldies dance hits.

Above the Queen Mary, attendees will be treated to a breathtaking air-show by the flight team of John Collver and Brad Lang, both professional pilots with over 35 years’ experience. Together the two will salute Independence Day and demonstrate the sights and sounds of past generations in the WWll-era Marine Corps T-6 Texans.

Dubbed Southern California’s top 4th of July fireworks display, the 15-minute long mega fireworks show will culminate the festivities at 9 p.m. in sync to patriotic music. This year’s ship-wide celebration promises to be spectacular as the Cunard Line’s namesake Queen Elizabeth will greet the Queen Mary in the harbor for a “Royal Rendezvous” before the fireworks show. This reunion will mark the third time the sister ships have crossed paths since 1967; when the original Queen Elizabeth was still in commission.

The Queen Mary’s All-American 4th of July Celebration will run from 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. Tickets start at $29 online for children ($39 day-of) and $49 online per adult ($59 day-of). The VIP-patriot pass is $119 ($129 day-of) for ages 4+ and includes festive party favors and additional access to the VIP Lounge, the Britannia Salon, and premium firework viewing. Hotel and cabana packages are also available. For more information, schedule of activities and to purchase tickets visit queenmary.com/events/july-fourth/.

Credit: The Queen Mary.

Yesterday – An Unbelievable Plot and a Film Filled With The Beatles Music

Jack Malik is a struggling singer-songwriter in an English seaside town whose dreams of fame are rapidly fading, despite the fierce devotion and support of his childhood best friend, Ellie. After a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, Jack wakes up to discover that The Beatles have never existed. Performing songs by the greatest band in history to a world that has never heard them, Jack becomes on overnight sensation with a little help from his agent. KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Kimbirly O. comments, “Imagine a world without music from The Beatles. As I type these words, I realize how far-fetched this sentence appears and, as a music lover, it’s preposterous! The Beatles have influenced thousands of musical artists who followed in their hallowed footsteps post-Liverpool. While unbelievable, this is the premise behind Director Danny Boyle’s (Oscar-winning Director, Slum Dog Millionaire) latest film, Yesterday.” KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. adds, “This new world that Jack now lives in, is crazy. It does not have The Beatles. And John Lennon is alive. Can you imagine?  The movie is creative in many ways, including using locations that inspired several Beatles’ song titles such as Eleanor Rigby’s grave and Penny Lane.  My favorite character is Ellie, Jack’s manager. She is sweet, funny and beautiful. My favorite part is when Jack searches for The Beatles on the Internet.” Ethan P. wraps it up with, “This is a very entertaining and funny movie!  This film has two hours of comedy, romance and music.  I really enjoyed watching this movie and listening to some of The Beatles classic songs.” See their full reviews below.

Yesterday
By Kimbirly Orr, KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

Imagine a world without music from The Beatles. As I type these words, I realize how far-fetched this sentence appears and, as a music lover, it’s preposterous! The Beatles have influenced thousands of musical artists who followed in their hallowed footsteps post-Liverpool. While unbelievable, this is the premise behind Director Danny Boyle’s (Oscar-winning Director, Slum Dog Millionaire) latest film, Yesterday. When a 12-second global power outage occurs, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, EastEnders) is riding his bicycle, collides with a bus, and lands in the hospital with serious injuries. During his recovery, he casually utters statements, which are song lyrics from the Fab Four, and no one gets it. His confusion leads him to Google, where Jack types “The Beatles,” only to received definitions of beetles. Try as he may, he can find no reference of The Beatles anywhere and, throughout the film; we learn other brands are also nonexistent in this alternate universe, such as Coke. Jack suddenly realizes he is the only person on Earth who remembers The Beatles.

Things get very interesting as Jack has always been a struggling musician. Think kid’s birthday parties, lackluster music festivals and coffee shops. He is lovingly looked after by his lifelong friend Ellie (Lily James) who is also his manager, roadie and his only faithful supporter. If this level of closeness was not enough, we also witness unrequited attraction between the two main characters and, since the script comes from Richard Curtis (Love Actually), we know where this is headed.

Jack decides to learn the songs of The Beatles and make them his own – and he finds success! So much success, Ed Sheeran (playing himself) discovers him. Along with the pop superstar, comes his agent (Kate McKinnon), a money-grubbing, tremendously offensive yet also a funny woman who thinks she found the proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow. Things don’t quite ‘Come Together’ entirely.

Things get ridiculous as Jack and Ed Sheeran embark on a world tour and meet a few interesting people along the way. The song selection is impeccable with “‘Help” providing an accurate reading of the song’s rarely spoken meaning, appropriate to the character and plot. The “Long and Winding Road” of the film is truly a musical journey.

I give this film 3 of 5 stars for the some of the casting, the humorous interludes, Kate McKinnon’s performance, UNBELIEVABLE MUSIC (kudos to whoever had to manage clearances for this film – WOW!) and female empowerment. This film will appeal to ages 12 to 18 and introduce or re-introduce the music of The Beatles to younger generations. This writer found herself toe tapping, singing along and loving all the memories this music holds. Check it out when it opens in theaters June 28, 2019.

Yesterday
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

This movie is very entertaining. It has great songs, great singing and a little romance. The acting really pulled me into the story.

Yesterday is about a man named Jack who wants to become a famous singer. While riding his bike, the world’s power goes out and Jack gets hit by a bus. After recovering, his friends give him a new guitar and he tries it out by singing a song by The Beatles. His friends have never heard the song before or even know who The Beatles are. So, Jack gets an idea to claim those songs as his own, so he can become famous.

This new world that Jack now lives in, is crazy. It does not have The Beatles. And John Lennon is alive. Can you imagine?  The movie is creative in many ways, including using locations that inspired several Beatles’ song titles such as Eleanor Rigby’s grave and Penny Lane.  My favorite character is Ellie, Jack’s manager. She is sweet, funny and beautiful. My favorite part is when Jack searches for The Beatles on the Internet. 

The message of Yesterday is to follow your dreams, put love first and tell the truth. It has a bit of bad language and a lot of drinking, but hey, it takes place in England, so I guess that is to be expected. It has some negative behavior and other risky things that kids might try to do.

I give this movie 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18. Adults will like this as well. This movie is in theaters June 28, 2019.

Yesterday
By Ethan P., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

This is a very entertaining and funny movie!  This film has two hours of comedy, romance and music.  I really enjoyed watching this movie and listening to some of The Beatles classic songs.

Yesterday is about a British musician name Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) who writes his own songs. Jack is not a successful musician and is about to give up his career as a singer/writer, but his long time friend Ellie (Lily James) encourage him to continue with his dreams to keep writing and singing.  One night, while Jack is riding his bike, the entire world suffers a 12 second blackout.  Jack gets hit by a bus and sent to the hospital.  For some reason, after the global blackout, The Beatles are erased from history; they don’t exist.  No one knows who The Beatles are except Jack.

The combination of comedy, romance and music is really good.  Not only does Himesh Patel sing all The Beatles songs himself, he has an extraordinary voice and plays several instruments as well. My favorite part of this movie is seeing Ed Sheeran as himself.  Ed visits Jack and invites him to sing with him.  Ed’s manager Deborah (Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live) is extremely funny.  She becomes Jack’s manager and helps him make a great album singing The Beatles’ songs.  Jack becomes super famous. 

My favorite scene is when Jack sings “Help!” on top of a roof, in front of huge crowd.  I also love the cast, because they are all very funny. For example Jack’s best friend Rocky is played by Joel Fry, who is hysterical and James Corden plays as himself and he is always very funny to watch. . 

The moral of this movie is not to lie.  In the movie Jack lies by telling the world he wrote all the songs and becomes famous.  Also, he is in love with Ellie and doesn’t have the courage to tell her.  Lying can get you into more trouble than you are already in.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 to18. This movie comes out in theatres June 28, 2019. Look for it.

Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! – Tons Of Fun, Appealing To Young Kids And Families

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney.  Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their safe, friendly hometown and make childhood memories. On this DVD, join Llama Llama as he camps, boats, floats and swims his way through his BEST summer ever!  Adventure and learning awaits with Llama Llama and pals! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content.  The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.” Selene W. adds, “Llama Llama is an animated series full of family values and nature adventures!…There are eight episodes on the new DVD Llama Llama BEST Summer Ever! Llama Llama has exciting adventures with his family and friends which include valuable life lessons at the beach, camping and around the town.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Jennifer V. wraps it up with, “Through Llama Llama and his friends Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat, kids will learn how to problem-solve, work as part of a team, help others, develop friendship and enjoy their families with awesome summer activities such as making lemonade, camping, boating, swimming and kite flying.” See their full reviews below.


Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever!

By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content.  The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.

This DVD is about Llama Llama and his friend having the time of their lives on their summer vacation. Episodes include Let’s Go Camping, Beach Day, Boat Float and Last Day of Summer. Wherever Llama Llama goes, there will always be fun.

The Llama Llama animated series is so cool, because they are based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney.  There are several lovable characters including Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu and Luna Giraffe. This DVD is approximately 90 minutes long with eight episodes.  My favorite episode is Last Day of Summer, because it shows that even if the weather is bad you can still have fun indoors during the summer.

There are a lot of positive messages in this DVD including keeping a positive attitude when your plans change unexpectedly and, if you go with the flow and have a positive attitude, the outcome can still be fun.  We also learn that a little bit of practice can make you feel more confident and that if you feel as if you are not getting enough attention from your parents, just know that they still love you. This DVD has no bad language and there is nothing risky or dangerous that kids might try to do.  However, there are scenes showing jealously.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. This DVD is available now. I totally recommend this DVD for your kids.

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever is a DVD filled with episodes that are full of family values and nature adventures!  This heartwarming animated series is based on the beloved children’s books by Anna Dewdney who also illustrated the books.  There are eight episodes on the new DVD Llama Llama BEST Summer Ever!

Llama Llama has exciting adventures with his family and friends which include valuable life lessons at the beach, camping and around the town.  The series features Jennifer Garner as the voice of the loving Mama Llama.  My favorite episode is “Last Day of Summer” where Llama Llama seizes the day with friends and goes to the park to fly kites and ends up using imagination when the weather complicates their plans.  Change can be exciting and fun!

The message of this series is to learn from family and friends and to enjoy  childhood.  Change can be tough but you can always enjoy time with family and friends.

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 6.  The DVD is available now.

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever
By Jennifer V., KIDS FIRST! Juror

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever! DVD is tons of fun and will appeal to kids and families. It’s a bright and happy animated series that is based on Anna Dewdney’s books about an adventurous llama and his circle of family and friends. This DVD has eight episodes with an option to play all the episodes or select them one at a time at an approximate run time of 90 minutes of lively entertainment.

The series employs bright colors, fun animals and engaging story lines that align with the daily activities that many kids are involved in, to capture their interest. The cute story lines deliver positive messages. For example, Llama Llama’s kite is torn on the last day of summer and his mom teaches him resourcefulness. There’s no need to buy a new one, we can fix this one and it will be better than before. The writing structure is straightforward and geared towards its target audience. The continuity and style reinforce each episode’s message, teamwork, resourcefulness and helping others. The series uses vocabulary that appeals to young kids. For example, when Llama Llama’s kite is torn his mom states that she will help him make a swirl-o-rama kite!

Through Llama Llama and his friends Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat, kids will learn how to problem-solve, work as part of a team, help others, develop friendship and enjoy their families with awesome summer activities such as making lemonade, camping, boating, swimming and kite flying. The series visually appeals to kids with its bright colors and cute animal friends. The DVD cover is appropriate and appeal as it features Llama Llama and his friends. There is also a listing of each episode included, with a picture next to it representing what the episode is about.

There are educational benefits as kids are taught about problem solving and teamwork. For example, Llama Llama wants to help his friend buy a new bike tire, so he opens a lemonade stand to earn the money. His friends help him improve his product and help with marketing it. Additionally, kids are shown that everyone can be included even if they don’t do the same things. i.e. Euclid the Sheep shows up when everyone’s flying kites. He doesn’t have a kite, but he can make calculations on wind, temperature and time to help the other kites fly. There are several messages in this series about teamwork, resourcefulness, friendship, family and helping others. The DVD menu has an option to watch all the episodes or select them one at a time. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 11.