Archives for November 19, 2021

“SPREADING TACO CHEER” GIFT BOX AVAILABLE FROM RUBIO’S COASTAL GRILL

Cozy Collection Includes Fleece Blanket & $30 in Rubio’s Meal Cards

Rubio’s Coastal Grill is offering a limited-edition “Spreading Taco Cheer” holiday gift box, specially curated for the ultimate taco fan. Available beginning on Black Friday, November 26, boxes can be purchased at www.rubios.com. Each gift box is $49.99, plus tax & shipping, (valued at $120), and features a unique collection of hand-selected items, perfect for a tacos & chill night this holiday season. The box includes:

·      $30 in Rubio’s free entrée cards, redeemable at any Rubio’s location

·      A 50″ x 60″ fleece blanket

·      Beanie with custom-embroidered taco

·       Lined, 5″ x 7″ notebook  

·      18-oz mug, perfect for sipping cocoa

·      Exclusive dessert taco recipe card, created by Rubio’s culinary team

“Last year’s gift box sold out in 24 hours,” said Rubio’s Co-Founder Ralph Rubio. “This year,  we’ve created the ultimate box for taco fans and expect the boxes to go quickly. Our “Spreading Taco Cheer” box is filled with specially curated items to send holiday warmth and good vibes to family and friends this holiday season.”

For more information about Rubio’s Coastal Grill, visit RubiosFacebook and Instagram.

Self Disclosure: Information and images were provided. Some form of compensation was received to post.

Perfect Portion Author Mona Dolgov Launches New Cookbook

Looking for a cookbook with healthy recipes? This one is a must-buy! These recipes will not leave you hungry either! satisfy (978-0-578-71699-2, $29.99), is based on creating balanced meals from minimally processed ingredients that provide generous and satisfying portions. Each recipe is gluten-free and includes at least 2 cups of vegetables, making every meal nutrient dense while also staying under 500 calories.

Recipes are quick and easy and can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. “I use a variety of spice blends, secret sauces, dressings and marinades in mindful portions that can provide a lot of variety, even with your own recipes,” Dolgov explains. To help reinforce the skills and techniques outlined in the book, Dolgov will also be teaching virtual cooking classes. You can find more information and sign up at her website, www.monadolgov.com.

satisfy is being launched by You Live Right Publishers alongside Dolgov’s existing cookbook, The Perfect Portion Cookbook (9781495179211, $29.99)which provides classic comfort foods in easy-to-count, 100-calorie portions. Together, the two cookbooks give home cooks hundreds of healthy, delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes based on traditional dishes. 

Dolgov has a degree in Nutritional Biochemistry from Cornell University, but her 25 years in marketing and product development—including an MBA from NYU and stints as an innovation expert in the health & wellness space—has given her access to the trends and behavioral data that drive readers to eat well. She has authored nearly 30 cookbooks for corporate partners and celebrity chefs, and she continues to improve engagement for health-focused brands. 

satisfy released nationwide on November 9, 2021. This book would also make a great holiday gift! I know that I will be trying many of these recipes during the holiday season!

Self Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book to facilitate this post. Images were also provided.

A Gift From Bob * A Holiday Story With A Touching Message And A Loveable Cat Named Bob

Christmas gifts come in all shapes and sizes. For James (Luke Treadaway), a struggling street musician, a very special one arrives in the form of Bob, a strong-willed stray cat who wanders into James’s tiny flat. Bob enriches James’s life, giving him companionship, purpose, and a large, new audience. When Animal Welfare officers threaten to take Bob, the local community rallies to help James and Bob — sparking a journey that takes the pair to places they never imagined in this heartwarming, spirit-lifting movie for the whole family.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Carlee S., comments, “A Gift From Bob is a holiday story with a touching message and a loveable cat named Bob. The film shows how a musician and a cat come together and form a bond that touches everyone around them. It’s based on a true story and is an uplifting reminder of the true spirit of Christmas.” See her full review below.

A Gift From Bob
By Carlee S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

A Gift From Bob is a holiday story with a touching message and a loveable cat named Bob. The film shows how a musician and a cat come together and form a bond that touches everyone around them. It’s based on a true story and is an uplifting reminder of the true spirit of Christmas.

This movie begins with the main character, James Bowen (Luke Treadaway) at a party. He has published a successful book about his cat Bob and is struggling with an idea for his next book. When he walks outside with his cat, he sees a young man being accosted and he intervenes. He learns the young man is homeless and decides to tell him about his past struggles. The majority of the film centers on this flashback.  Life has not been easy for James. He has experienced many misfortunes and he struggles to make ends meet as he tries to escape his past and care of Bob. Throughout the film, James meets a lot of people along the way, including Bea (Kristina Tonteri-Young) and Moody (Phaldut Sharma) who are willing to help him. He also meets people who are trying to take away the one thing he loves most. He must try to figure out his path in life and what is best for Bob.

My favorite scene is when James is dealing with a tough dilemma and suddenly, all the people of the city gather around him with gifts. This display of affection shows how much they all care for Bob and that they all agree James and Bob are perfect for each other. His friend Moody tells him some stories which are inspirational and interesting to hear; they also add to the message of the film. The setting is perfect for Christmas with the city decorated in lights and Christmas trees and, even Bob wears a holiday outfit. I also like how James’ apartment changes to reflect what is happening in his life. It is a big contrast from the beginning to the end. The music in the film is enjoyable. I particularly like how James turns a traditional Christmas song into one about his cat.

The message in this film is that treating others with kindness is a gift that gives back. The film captures the essence of Christmas by showing how gifts of kindness are more powerful than material gifts. The bond James creates with his cat and those in his community help give him the strength and encouragement he need. The only warning I have are the references to drugs that occur a few times in the film, plus some mild violence.

I give A Gift From Bob 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 17, plus adults. It opens in select theaters November 5 and On Demand, Digital and DVD November 9, 2021.  

Belfast * The Equivalent Of A Stormy, Rainy Day, Calm-Before-The-Storm Kind Of Feeling

Belfast is a 2021 black-and-white coming of age comedy-drama film written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. It is a movie straight from Branagh’s own experience. A nine-year-old boy must chart a path towards adulthood through a world that has suddenly turned upside down. His stable and loving community and everything he thought he understood about life is changed forever but joy, laughter, music and the formative magic of the movies remain. The film stars Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, and newcomer Jude Hill. The film, which Branagh has described as his “most personal film,” centers on a young boy’s childhood amidst the tumult of Belfast, Northern Ireland, in the 1960s.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abigail L. comments, “Belfast is the equivalent of a stormy, rainy day, creating a perfect calm-before-the-storm kind of feeling. Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, this family story is a tasteful, bittersweet masterpiece.” Samantha B. adds, “Belfast shows how a talented child actor, the use of black and white film and a powerful emotional story can make an independent film pack a powerful punch. The heart of Belfast is the lead character, Buddy (Jude Hill). I like how we see the story through his eyes. The black and white photography and close-up camera angles also highlight the joy and terror of Buddy’s neighborhood in 1969 when religious tensions explode.” See their full reviews below.  

Belfast
By Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17



Belfast is the equivalent of a stormy, rainy day, creating a perfect calm-before-the-storm kind of feeling. Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh, this family story is a tasteful, bittersweet masterpiece.

Set in a small neighborhood in Northern Ireland during the late 1960s, Buddy (Jude Hill), a young boy from a small-town family, experiences life in tumultuous times. As religious tensions between the tight-knit community members grow, his family dodges shady neighbors and argues the question of moving out of Belfast while Buddy tries to ace his time tables. Belonging to the struggling working class, Buddy’s father (Jamie Dornan) often travels for weeks at a time leaving him and his older brother (Lewis McAskie) to explore Belfast on their own. However, their father and mother (Caitriona Balfe) are always there to protect them when danger comes their way.

Four things really stand out to me watching this film. First, the use of black and white with some color is really outstanding. It creates a sense of nostalgia and the few choice moments with color helps those scenes stand out. Second, the sound is absolutely fantastic. In every scene, there is a sound effect that enhances it, it’s the sound of rain, fire, or a buzzing television. The quality of the sound effects is astounding, adding another layer of engagement when watching this film. Third, the acting is especially impressive. Young talent Jude Hilly, especially, is quite a star and steals the show. I also love the talent of Caitriona Balfe, who masters the strength and emotion of a mother. Lastly, every scene is very intimate; the camera is always up and close to the action and the family, making audiences feel closer to the main characters.
 

Kenneth Branagh’s film, based on a true story from his own childhood, touches audiences’ hearts with an intimate view of family and the struggles of the working class. Parents should be aware there is some profanity, mention of religion, aggression and minor violence.

I rate Belfast 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18, plus adults. This film opens in theaters November 12, 2021.

Belfast

By Samantha B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 12

Belfast shows how a talented child actor, the use of black and white film and a powerful emotional story can make an independent film pack a powerful punch. The heart of Belfast is the lead character, Buddy (Jude Hill). I like how we see the story through his eyes. The black and white photography and close-up camera angles also highlight the joy and terror of Buddy’s neighborhood in 1969 when religious tensions explode.

Belfast was inspired by director Kenneth Branagh’s childhood in Belfast, Ireland, in the late 1960s. We meet Buddy, his older brother, his parents, grandparents and the neighborhood where everyone knows everyone, kids play safely in the streets and residents may not have much money but are happy. This reality is quickly shattered when violence breaks out between Protestants and Catholics, pitting the once friendly neighbors against each other. Buddy’s parents have to make a difficult choice about whether to stay or go.    

In addition to a standout performance from Jude Hill as Buddy, I love the character of Ma (Caitriona Balfe). You feel the agony of her decision about whether to move the family out of Belfast. I also love the grandparents (Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds). Their love for each other is so genuine. I also enjoyed the music in the film, which is by Irish singer Van Morrison. The sound design for the violent scenes is very powerful and creates a lot of tension. In addition, the film shows how going to the movies was a way for Buddy and his family to escape the growing violence. Finally, the period details bring Belfast to life, especially the red bus from the late 60s that appears in so many scenes like when Buddy’s Pa comes and goes every two weeks from his job in England.

The main message of Belfast is that being a good person is more important than what religion you are. Also, it addresses the importance of family and community and how sometimes change is hard, but necessary. Be aware that the film contains some profanity, gambling, fighting and gang violence but also promotes positive behavior with great role models who stand up for what is right. I give Belfast 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. I left this movie smiling, and I think you will, too. Belfast opens in select theaters on November 12, 2021.

Samantha’s interview with Ciaran Hinds and Jude Hill from Belfast (see below).