Archives for May 2021

Arm & Hammer Garbage Disposal Cleaner is a must-try!

It’s time for Spring cleaning and a new favorite of mine is the Arm & Hammer Garbage Disposal Cleaner. It’s so easy to use and you instantly smell a wonderful citrus scent within 15 seconds! I really was amazed at how quickly one of these works! You simply run your garbage disposal with a full stream of water for a minute and then turn off the disposal and run a slow stream of water. After that, you simply drop a capsule into the garbage disposal and turn on the disposal for 15 seconds. As I said, you will instantly smell the citrus scent.

It actually cleans with the power of baking soda and smells wonderful! You can even revive the scent by running the disposal with bursts of hot water. Now, how cool is that?! It is recommended that you use at least twice a week.

You can purchase at many locations including Amazon, and Lowe’s. Find out all the locations to buy them at here.

Self Disclosure: I am participating in the Arm & Hammer Ambassador program and received free samples/compensation to post. Photo Credit: SoCal City Kids.

Cruella * A Very Audacious Take For A Disney Movie – Bold, Strong, Raw And Filled With Creativity

Before she becomes Cruella de Vil? Teenaged Estella has a dream. She wishes to become a fashion designer, having been gifted with talent, innovation, and ambition all in equal measures. But life seems intent on making sure her dreams never come true. Having wound up penniless and orphaned in London at 12, four years later Estella runs wild through the city streets with her best friends and partners-in-(petty)-crime, Horace and Jasper, two amateur thieves. When a chance encounter vaults Estella into the world of the young rich and famous, she begins to question the existence she’s built for herself in London and wonders whether she might be destined for more after all. When an up-and-coming rock star commissions Estella to design him a signature piece, she begins to feel as though she has truly arrived. But what is the cost of keeping up with the fast crowd- and is it a price Estella is willing to pay? KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Zoe C. comments, “Cruella, the film,is a very audacious take for a Disney movie. It is bold, strong, raw, and at the same time flourishing with creativity and joyful to watch. The acting is superb and all aspects of production—costumes, locations, art and design—are on point. Last but not least, the soundtrack is definitively one to remember.” Tiana S. adds, “The message of this film is that sometimes the worst memories are the ones that have the greatest impact on your life. In this film, Estella experiences different events in her life that would break the typical person, but it led to her experiencing some of the greater moments of her life, such as meeting Jasper and Horace or having a chance make clothing.” See their full reviews and interview below.

Cruella

By Zoe C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Cruella, the film,is a very audacious take for a Disney movie. It is bold, strong, raw, and at the same time flourishing with creativity and joyful to watch. The acting is superb and all aspects of production—costumes, locations, art and design—are on point. Last but not least, the soundtrack is definitively one to remember.

This origin story tells how the well-known villain from the original book and subsequent animated movie The Hundred and One Dalmatians becomes Cruella. Sadly, it takes bullying, cruelty and hate to turn a wonderful character to evil. In Cruella we see a young Estella (Tipper Steifert-Cleveland) surviving as an orphan, struggling to create a family with two boys she meets on the street, along with the noble company of two dogs that are humans’ best friends. This is one of the aspects I love about Cruella: despite that Cruella de Vil is well known for animal cruelty, this movie honors dogs by having two canines, Buddy and Blink, as important cast members.

Tipper Steifert-Cleveland’s performance is the perfect predecessor to the stunning grown-up Estella (Emma Stone) to shine in a multi-layered character. We see how 12-year-old Estella is bullied at school which is one of the most important messages of the movie to its younger audience, showing how people that surround you can hurt you when your appearance doesn’t match what they see as “normal.” As Estella, Emma Stone is full of creativity and ideals and an absolute survivor. She’s a hard worker who’s determined to make her dreams come to life. We see her cleaning floors and toilets at the iconic fashion store Liberty of London, pursuing a career in fashion design—but society sabotages her plans.

The Baroness (Emma Thompson) is despicable and charming at the same time. Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser play Jasper and Horace, respectively; little thieves that show unconditional love to Estella and are literally partners in crime. John the Valet (Mark Strong), besides being perfectly cast, should have had more presence in the storyline since he could have brought more humanity and hope to the film. My favorite part? The music, brilliantly composed by Nicholas Britell to match the narration and the era. And the visuals and cinematography are just stunning.

The story of Cruella is fascinating, but my only issue is how long the storytelling takes, including scenes that could have been edited out. At times, there are a couple instances of self-explanatory dialogue related to the turning point in the story: the world is cruel, making Estella become the meanest villain in response. Ultimately, the message of the film is that environment, nature and nurture play a decisive role in one’s being and in our role in society.

I give Cruella 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for kids 13 to 18, plus adults. There are some mildly violent scenes and themes that can be inappropriate for the very young. Cruella opens May 28, 2021 in theaters and on digital platforms.


Cruella
By Tiana S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 10

Cruella is an all-new, live-action feature film that is fashion-forward and villainous! The fashion and soundtrack really help drive the film. The camerawork is astonishing and connects you to the protagonist’s journey.

Based on the novel The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, Cruella takes you on the journey of how the most fashionable villain goes from being a mischievous, rebellious and fashionable young girl (Tipper Seifert-Cleveland) to becoming Cruella De Vil (Emma Stone). After suffering a great loss, Estella meets two young homeless thieves, Jasper (Joel Fry) and Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and they instantly become family. Estella uses her fashion sense to design costumes to allow them to run scams to survive. Then, she gets the job of a lifetime, creating outfits for the chic, terrifying fashion legend, the Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson). After a revelation connecting the Baroness to a horrific event from her childhood, Estella seeks revenge and gets a chance to let out her inner “Cruella.”

The main characters in this film are Estella/Cruella de Vil, the Baroness von Hellman, Jasper, Horace, Anita Darling (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) and Mark Strong (John the Valet). Cruella is narrated by none other than Cruella herself and is set in 1970s London during the punk rock revolution. The camera techniques used are sensational; at times they make you feel like you are walking with the characters. The party scenes stay true to the red, black and white color pallet Cruella is known to wear. My favorite part is when the rebellious Cruella goes to a black and white ball wearing an all-white outfit and drops a match on it. The dress burns up and reveals a red dress underneath. It is also remarkable how costume designer, Jenny Beavan up-cycled materials, such as trash, and uses the infamous Dalmatian pattern, to create Cruella’s outfits.

The message of this film is that sometimes the worst memories are the ones that have the greatest impact on your life. In this film, Estella experiences different events in her life that would break the typical person, but it led to her experiencing some of the greater moments of her life, such as meeting Jasper and Horace or having a chance make clothing. The only parent warning I have is a short scene where Estella is drinking.

I rate Cruella 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 10 to 18; adults are sure to love it too. Cruella releases simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ with Premier Access on Friday, May 28, 2021.

Recipes to Help Keep Memorial Day Weekend Fun and Easy

As we enter Memorial Day weekend with most of us now vaccinated, what better way to celebrate than with a few delicious recipes that will help keep the holiday fun and easy! 

If you are looking for dishes that will taste as if you have been cooking all day, yet allow you to enjoy all of the summer fun, look no further. Here are a few of Food 4 Less and Ralph’s top trending “easy meal ideas” recipes: 

As we slowly get back into the swing of things, and our lives start to become busier once again, these recipes could be helpful for easier Memorial Day meal planning.

You can find all of this month’s trending recipes (most viewed/downloaded) from Ralphs and Food 4 Less here

Credit: Ralphs and Food 4 Less. Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

Book of the day! Mucky Truck by Ammi-Joan Paquette

This book is perfect for fans of the bestselling Little Blue TruckMUCKY TRUCK (Henry Holt BFYR, Macmillan Kids / on sale June 1 / ages 2-6) by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Elisa Ferro. 

In this sweet read-aloud picture book, a little truck gets stuck in the mud and it’s up to his other truck friends – crane, digger, forklift, and fire engine – to help him out. MUCKY TRUCK is a vehicle book about friendship, perseverance, and play, and will be a definite storytime hit for preschoolers. 

I had my youngest reviewer (he’s 4) check this one out and he really liked it! He really liked the rhyming and said it is fun. I hear that it has been a book that he looks at every day since he received it.

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book to facilitate this post. The cover image was also provided.

Fun Activities to Do With Your Kids At Home

Like everyone else, children have had to stay at home for the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The youngest had to get used to remote learning, with schools not being a viable option at this time. In such a situation, parents found their hands full with both their full-time jobs and full-time childcare.

As a result of so many things being closed, parents had to keep their kids entertained to tire them out at the end of the day. While life is slowly returning for adults, going back to complete normalcy might still be a few months away. There are places like Jumbaloo Playgrounds where your kids can have fun safely. Along with this, here are some activities that you can occupy your kids with when they’re at home beyond just reading books and spending time watching videos.

Build an indoor cave or fort

Building an indoor den or fort is a classic activity that almost all of us have enjoyed at some point in our lives. It’s a sure way of keeping your kids busy and entertained. The best (and safest) way to build an indoor fort is with blankets, bedsheets, pillows and some furniture pushed together. You can gather some of your kids’ toys and put it in the fort to create a playful area. Their imagination will run wild as they make up their own stories around the fort.

A treasure hunt

Creating a treasure hunt around your home is another way to keep your children engaged. You can hide small things like chocolates or toys and give them a map with the hidden treasures marked for them to find. You can explain the map to your children and even help them with clues if you have the time. This can be a family activity as the adults can get involved with guiding the kids around.

Life-size drawings

This activity is bound to keep your children busy for hours. You can stick together a load of sheets of paper, or you can buy a big paper roll instead, and place it on the floor. Ask your kids to lie down on it and outline their body on the paper. Once the outline is ready, they can go wild with crayons, paint, stickers, glitter and other accessories. You can then use these drawings as wall decor in their room walls afterwards.

Being locked inside can be difficult for children, as they likely miss their friends and being active. As kids continue to spend most of their time within their homes, it is important for the parents to keep them entertained and engaged in fun activities while helping them to think creatively. Many activities can also be turned into family activities to provide the adults a much-needed break from their work.

Photo Credit: Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

P!nk: All I Know So Far * Each And Every Second Is Enjoyable

This documentary offers a behind-the-scenes look at P!NK as she balances family and life on the road, leading up to her first Wembley Stadium performance on 2019’s “Beautiful Trauma” world tour. The film follows P!nk as she balances being a performer with her role as a mother, wife and boss. It mixes footage from the road, behind the scenes interviews, and personal material. On the tour, P!nk played 156 shows in 18 countries. The film is produced by Michael Gracey and Isabella Parish, with Luminaries, Silent House and Lefty Paw Print.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Hazel A. comments, “I was intrigued by P!nk: All I Know So Far and enjoyed each and every second of it, from its realistic aspect to the behind-the-scenes showing them working on the performances. We see that P!nk loves her family just as much as she loves performing and how she makes time for both. Each and every part of this documentary is amazing.” Nathalia J. adds, “This film shows the true meaning of kindness. What I took away from watching it is: you are perfectly perfect just the way you are. You may appear “weird” and “not normal” to others, but do not let them define who you truly are.” See their full reviews below.

P!nk: All I Know So Far

By Hazel A., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 15

I was intrigued by P!nk: All I Know So Far and enjoyed each and every second of it, from its realistic aspect to the behind-the-scenes showing them working on the performances. We see that P!nk loves her family just as much as she loves performing and how she makes time for both. Each and every part of this documentary is amazing.

This documentary gives the audience an inside peek into the life of P!nk as a performer and  a mom, while counting down to one of the biggest moments in her life – her 2019 Wembley Stadium performance. This film gives you a taste of all the hard work that P!nk and her team put into every performance. Plus, it shows how she balances her profession with being a mother of two and being absolutely great at both.

The beginning of P!nk: All I Know So Far pulled me in immediately as it gave me the feeling that I was about to see something incredible. And, I was one hundred percent right; I love everything about this documentary. I loved seeing the honest and hardworking P!nk on screen. She conveys how hard being the boss can be, especially as a woman in this industry. In P!nk’s case, her team respects her and is committed to perfecting their performance as they practice dance moves and rework blocking to make things easier on P!nk. This film shows you that Pink is just as human as the rest of us. She may be a singer with many hits, but at the end of the day, she is back with her family doing what most people do. She wants to be a great mom and that’s the main reason she brings her kids on tour with her. Seeing how much P!nk loves her family brings a calm and heartwarming aspect to the film. I learned a lot about P!nk that I didn’t know before and that helped me understand her better. I love seeing P!nk give advice to her younger self as well as to her kids. I found myself learning some things to use in my own life. My favorite thing was, “Lead by example, work hard.” She does both as she participates in this beautiful but overwhelming business, while absolutely killing it. You might find yourself learning new things about the pop-star P!nk and you will be inspired by what is on screen.

This film really shows audiences how much hard work P!nk puts into her art. We usually only see the final product of P!nk being on stage. This shows the ups and downs she goes through as a performer and how she deals with everything thrown at her. 

I give P!nk: All I Know So Far 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18, plus adults.  P!nk: All I Know So Far can be streamed on Amazon Prime now.

P!nk: All I Know So Far

By Nathalia J, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

P!nk: All I Know So Far, a new Amazon concert documentary on the singer, by Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman) highlights the daily struggles and fortunate moments through the eyes of Pink, showcasing how she balances being a wife, woman, Grammy-award winning singer and above all, a mother. 

The documentary shows Pink during the summer of 2019 as she travels throughout Europe on her “Beautiful Trauma” world visit with her kids and spouse, Carey Hart, a previously proficient motocross competitor. The opening minutes effectively compare two sides of the artist – the brave entertainer swinging on a chandelier-like structure over a swarmed stadium in a dark sparkle leotard and the active mother taking her family from one city to the next.

Beginning in Amsterdam, Pink talks about the road bumps of life on the road and the new struggles with being a mother of two children. She is not only hoping for a wonderful experience on tour for her fans, but also for the moment of a lifetime for her kids. “The only way I can justify dragging my family all over the world is that we are making memories together,” she says. It’s truly wonderful to see how passionate and dedicated she is in bringing out her best with every performance. However, it’s sad to see how much pressure she is put under and how tough she is on herself. 

P!nk: All I Know So Far reveals show rehearsals, bike rides through different cities and unplanned moments. These scenes highlight her family’s dynamics, showing her open communication with her kids, and showing Pink’s parenting style. Pink works hard to foster an inclusive nurturing environment; she wants her children to stay quirky and fun, and she encourages them to be nothing but themselves. P!nk: All I Know So Far doesn’t ever get as raw as promised. The film spends far more time telling rather than showing, and uses lots of explanatory narration. I found that a bit distracting and it didn’t hold my interest as much as when we actually got to peek behind the scenes of her life. After all, this is a film, not a short story or novel.  My favorite parts are the moments when Pink is hanging out with all her background dancers and seeing their connection with Pink’s oldest daughter, Willow and her youngest son, Jameson.  Of course, getting to see her practice all her stunts and almost flying through the air is exhilarating. She has so much love for everyone she associates herself with and who supports her. One moment that is extremely heartfelt, is when Pink reads messages from her fans. One woman that shared her story and battles told how Pink’s music and ‘I don’t care’ attitude has influenced her and ultimately saved her. 

This film shows the true meaning of kindness. What I took away from watching it is: you are perfectly perfect just the way you are. You may appear “weird” and “not normal” to others, but do not let them define who you truly are. 

I give P!nk: All I Know So Far 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 to 18, plus adults. It’s available now on Amazon Prime Video.

Books of the week!

WHAT THE ROAD SAID by Cleo Wade; illustrated by Lucie de Moyencourt: Bestselling author and activist Cleo Wade’s picture book debut celebrates the journey we are all on, and the questions we ask along the way. This is a fun book to read and I recommend it for ages 4-7.

WITH LOVE: MOMMY, YOU’RE AMAZING: Filled with gentle rhyming text and charming illustrations which show all the reasons why baby thinks that their mommy is amazing, this unique keepsake book is the perfect gift for new Moms. Find both of these books here.

Self Disclosure: I received free copies of the above books to feature. I also received cover images.

Diana Iris, May 27th Pet of the Week!

Diana Iris—such a lovely name for a springtime flower! This spunky little girl was found tied up outside a restaurant. It must have been miserable for her to not only smell the food but also be abandoned by her people. Diana Iris wants to go home with a fun family who’ll be there for all seasons, dine on restaurant patios with her, and of course, bring home doggie bags! Adoptions are conducted through appointment only, so call 562-570-PETS or email PetAdopt@longbeach.gov to meet Diana Iris. Ask for ID#A657003.

(This rescue encouraged by the usual suspects.)