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Rock Out with the Beatrix Girls

 

Beatrix Girls Dolls

When I was a young girl we didn’t have the kind of doll assortments available to today’s young girls. We had baby dolls and Barbies for the most part. That was fine but it’s always nice to have more to choose from.

These days there are so many wonderful doll characters to choose from.

Have you ever head of the Beatrix Girls? I haven’t until recently when I was sent some dolls to review. Since my daughter is a teenager I donated the toys to the place where I work at Family Court. I can’t take pictures of the children, but I can see how the kids react to the dolls.

If you are unfamiliar with these cool dolls, here is a little more information.

The Beatrix Girls are an accomplished pop-star band with real music that young girls are sure to adore, and they just happen to be beautiful 12” dolls. They’re young, they’re real, they’re spunky, and they are relatable to young girls. These 12” dolls not only interact in the real life-sized human world, but they produce real music, real hits, and real sales!

The Beatrix Girls dolls are very highly stylized and uniquely designed to break the mold of 50 years of “me too” dolls. They are masterfully sculpted in a unique angular design style. Their proportions are very differentiated with huge heads, LOTS of beautiful flowing hair, and very large expressive eyes, adding up to dolls that are not only original but also very beautiful.

The Beatrix Girls is an extensive entertainment brand that encompasses traditional media, music, digital media, consumer products and branded IP ripe for licensing and merchandising.

I was sent to review five dolls. Four of them I took to work with me. The fifth one I am saving for a Christmas gift for a special little girl.

Meet the girls.

Ainsley

Ainsley

Lark

Lark

Brayden

Brayden

Chantel

Chantel 

I have to say these dolls do have a lot of hair. I think that is one of the things the little girls at work seem most attracted to. Even if they play with just one of the dolls it seems like it’s their hair that they enjoy the most. I see them combing their hair a lot. Most of the dolls no longer have their original hairstyles, which is fine.

I even enjoy styling their hairs (braids, ponytails, pig tails…).

Their outfits are funky and they can be swapped with other dolls. I’ve noticed that undressing and re-dressing the dolls is also a popular activity with the little girls. Sadly I often find a naked doll or two (many of the kids we care for are very young). I make sure to dress them before we open the door.

These are good size dolls, even for little hands to play with.

Ainsley (L) and Lark (R)

Ainsley (L) and Lark (R)

Dolls 2

Chantel (L) and Brayden (R)

The only caution I have is that some of the shoes and jewelry are very tiny and I would watch those pieces around little ones who still put things in their mouth. I have removed the jewelry and the shoes off the dolls at work. I will only give them to the children if there isn’t any little ones in the room who might put them in their mouths.

I also wasn’t too find of Lark’s hair. It was cut very weird in the back (very short in some spots) so it’s not as easy to style her hair as it is the other dolls in the group.

These dolls don’t come with instruments. Some of the dolls are available with instruments.

From what I’ve seen at work these dolls have been a big hit with our “guests”. They tend to go for these dolls rather then the baby dolls we have in the room.

The other doll I have (the one that is not opened yet) is one of their special edition London dolls. I have Brayden and she’s dressed in a really cool shiny outfit. I LOVE her retro hair style too! She also comes with a sparkly guitar.

Here is an image of the special edition London dolls as well as my doll.

Brayden

 

London

I REALLY love their hair styles. Even Lark’s hair looks a lot better. Chantal’s hair style is very nice too. They remind me of the film Austin Powers. LOL!

If you would like to learn more about the Beatrix Girls you should check out their very entertaining website, www.TheBeatrixGirls.com. You can also check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

You can even to the Beatrix Girls radio station on Pandora! You can also find their music on Spotify and iTunes. I’ve listened to some of their music and it’s not bad at all. It’s kind of catchy.

The dolls are available at Walmart, Amazon and Toys R Us.

What do you think about these dolls? Have you seen these dolls before or do you own any?

Here is one of their music videos for you enjoyment.

 

Kimberly

*I received free product samples in order to do this review. There were was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Avoid Group Therapy – Switch to Cortana Smartphone

 

 

 

Have you seen the Cortana commercial where the people are sitting around in group therapy? Just in case you haven’t I have posted it (above).

The commercial makes me laugh every time I watch it. They are so serious about things. LOL!

It’s just a spoof of course. Your phone’s assistant shouldn’t put you in group therapy. Although I do think it’s funny how disappointed the people are with Siri. I have an iPhone and I have used Siri from time to time. Thankfully she hasn’t made me require therapy… yet. (ha ha).

Siri does have it’s good points such as providing directions, helping you find nearby stores (Siri has helped me find some Dunkin Donuts and gas stations I didn’t know existed locally). She helps me to text or call people. And Siri can help me check the weather. Mostly the only thing I use her for is to find places or text someone.

Yesterday (October 19th) as my sister’s birthday. Sadly the only way I can remember it’s her birthday is because it falls on the day after my wedding anniversary (18 years and counting!).

When it comes to remembering things I’m really bad about it. I can remember something that happened when I was 8 years old but I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night. What is that? Is that old age or just the fact you tend to remember important things more so then trivial things.

My husband is better at remembering things then I am. I often tell HIM when my appointments are so he can remind me. He’s my personal assistant.

My iPhone has a calendar that I use often. Unfortunately I sometimes forgot to check it.

I recently received to review a Nokia Lumia 635 smartphone. The phone comes with a Windows 8.1 operating system. I’m an iPhone girl so getting used to the Microsoft platform is still foreign to me. I have Windows on both of my laptops and desktop too but I’m still not used to it entirely.

The Nokia Lumia 635 comes with Cortana. Cortana is Siri’s rival. She also rival’s Google Now, which I have no experience with.

C1

Sorry about the finger smudges

Cortana does a lot of the same things that Siri does. She can tell you where nearby stores are. She can give you directions and she can help you text or call someone on your contact list. The same things I use Siri for. However Cortana goes further then that.

Cortana actually gets to know your likes. She even asks you a few questions when you first use her about the types of things you like. She uses this information to supply you with things she thinks you’d like. For example, I follow entertainment news. When I open Cortana she’ll display current entertainment news for me. That saves me from having to check out the various entertainment sites I normally read. Cortana will give me all the current headlines and latest news as soon as I open her app. Siri doesn’t do that.

When you speak to Cortana she displays the words she hears, even making corrections, right there on the display. Plenty of times Siri has no idea what I am saying to her – even if I am pronouncing the words loudly and clearly. So far Cortana has not had any issues understanding me. I even asked her to help me say something in Punjabi – which is a language (a little boy in our care didn’t speak any English – he only spoke Punjabi). Although Cortana couldn’t retrieve the pronunciation for me, she was able to understand the word “Punjabi”. I was impressed by that.

Cortana has a really cool feature where she can alert you to traffic on your commute so you know if you need to leave a bit earlier. So far she hasn’t alerted me to anything, and I doubt she will. I work 10 minutes from home and take back roads mostly. I think Cortana can only pick up traffic alerts on major roadways. None the less it’s a great feature to have, especially if you are a commuter.

I asked Cortana how to make a tablescape and she pulled up this information for me.

I asked Cortana how to make a tablescape and she pulled up this information for me.

Cortana also knows where you are. It’s kind of creepy in a way. LOL! If you need to purchase something, such as cat food, you can tell Cortana to remind you to pick up cat food when you are at your selected store. Sure enough, when she senses you are at the store you listed a message will pop up to remind you to buy cat food.

I use Cortana to remind me to do things when I get home. When I am at work I often remember things I need to do but forget by the time I get home. If I tell Cortana what I need to do (call the doctor, turn on the oven, return library books…) she sends me messages alerting me to the things I need to do when I get home. I even had her alert me when my favorite show came on TV so I didn’t miss it.

Cortana recognizes things like your home and your job. She knows when you arrive at these places. It’s pretty cool.

You can even have Cortana remind you to do things like wish someone a Happy Birthday when you call them (which I should have done for my sister’s birthday). I haven’t tried that feature yet, only because I don’t use the phone much.

Unlike Siri, Cortana actually gets to know the phone owner and offers suggestions on their favorite things and gets to know the users patterns. “She” is very smart.

I am a long time iPhone user and as I mentioned earlier I rarely use Siri because she doesn’t provide much value to me. If my iPhone had Cortana I would the service all the time. I find the service very useful and helpful. It’s literally like having your own personal assistant in your phone.

C4

I have Cortana on my Nokia Lumia 635 phone. I really like this phone. I know it sounds weird but I like the way it feels. It’s a nice size and weight.

It has the Microsoft 8.1 operating system, which is how I am able to use Cortana.

It has a 5 mega pixel camera, so it takes decent pictures and video. The image quality of the photos and videos on the phone is really good. I’ve used the phone to watch Netflix at work during “down time”. I find the colors to be bright and the image quality crisp and sharp.

The sound quality for videos and music is good too.

So far we have not had any problems with this phone. My daughter is currently using this phone because she dropped her iPhone and cracked the screen AGAIN (twice in a matter of 3 months). We can’t afford to fix her phone right now. I also think my daughter is liking the Nokia Lumia 635 a bit too much because not once has she nagged us to get her other phone fixed. She seems content with this phone and coming from a teenager I take it as a compliment that she really likes the phone.

Have you had a chance to experience Cortana yet? What do you think about Cortana vs. Siri? Which system would you rather have? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Colorful tiles and display

Colorful tiles and display

Kimberly

*I received a free sample phone in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Book Review: Unlikely Heroes by New York Times bestseller Jennifer Holland

 

Unlikely Heroes

I am a huge animal lover. I love all kids of animals. I would own a zoo and a farm if at all possible. For now I’m happy with our “mini-zoo” which consists of five cats, a dog and two fish. We also feed a wild bunny that lives in our condo complex.

I have always had animals in my life – both big and small. I grew up with several dogs, cats, hamsters, birds, fish and even a horse. I can never imagine a life without pets. They mean the world to me.

Most pet owners will agree that our pets provide us with unconditional love. They don’t expect much in return except for a warm place to sleep, fresh food, clean water and your love.

Pets prove themselves time and time again. There are so many stories about pets who rescue their owners from dangers and uncertain death. Even animals that are not pets have turned into heroes.

A new book by New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Holland highlights 37 incredible stories about how animals became heroes.

Jennifer Holland has shown us animal friendships and love with her New York Times bestsellers Unlikely Friendships and Unlikely Loves. Packed with beautiful full-color photos Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom (Workman Press, October 2014) uncovers and celebrates a side of animals that we often think belongs primarily to people—heroism—and shares heartwarming stories that can only be described as remarkable.

A pod of dolphins who protected swimmers in New Zealand from a great white shark. A cat who provided comfort to soldiers in Afghanistan. A llama who shines his very special light of love on the elderly patients in an Oregon rehab center. A paralyzed bunny who brings joy to paralyzed children. An abandoned puppy who lost all four paws to frostbite—that’s him, smiling on the cover of the book—who learned to walk on prosthetics and inspires others with disabilities.

I have another book from Jennifer Holland (Unlikely Friendships). You can read my review here – Unlikely Friendships book review.

When I was offered this book to review I knew I wanted to read it. I does break my heart to hear about animals such as Alyna the paralyzed bunny and Naki’o (pictured on the cover of the book) the abandoned puppy who lost all for paws – but at least their stories have happy endings. Sadly many other animals in the same situation don’t.

These incredible TRUE stories show how ordinary animals go above and beyond without any thought to risk to themselves to save others or to make a difference in someone’s life.

You hear stories every day about dogs and cats who are heroes, but what about a sea lion, otter, camel, horse and a cow? There are animals featured in this book that you would never expect to have the metal capacity to protect others – especially humans. These stories only prove just how intelligent animals really are.

The book has over 200+ pages. You could easily read it in one day if you’d like. I personally enjoy that it’s broken up into individual stories so you can read a few at a time or what ever “free time” allows you to read. I often don’t have time to read so it worked well for someone like me. I actually took the book to work with me and read a story or two whenever we had “down time”.

You don’t have to be an animal lover to enjoy this book. It’s a great read even if it was human’s in place of the animal heroes.

I found this book to be inspiring. I am in awe of these amazing animals. They did things even humans wouldn’t do. Often they were heroes for complete strangers too without a thought for their own safety.

Unlikely Heroes: 37 Inspiring Stories of Courage and Heart from the Animal Kingdom is published by Workman and is available where most books are sold.

This book would make a great gift for an animal lover. Even children could appreciate the stories in this book. Plus there are plenty of pictures to go along with the stories too.

My teenage daughter is currently reading this book. :-)

Jennifer Holland PHOTO SOURCE: Workman

Jennifer Holland
PHOTO SOURCE: Workman

Kimberly

*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Movie Review: Don’t Blink

 

Don't Blink

Now available on DVD is the psychological thriller Don’t Blink.

I’m a fan of horror movies. Some might consider Don’t Blink to fit in the horror genre, but if you ask me this is more of a psychological thriller and suspense film.

Don’t Blink stars Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, Joanne Kelly, David de Lautour, Leif Gantvoort, Emelie O’Hara and Zack Ward (Scut Farkus from Christmas Story).

In this gripping suspense-thriller, 10 friends head to a remote mountain resort for a quiet, much-needed, weekend getaway. But upon their arrival, the rustic lodge is more than just sleepy … it’s apparently deserted.

Food is served … baths are drawn … and signs of guests are everywhere. Eerily silent, not even a bird chirping or a fly buzzing can be heard. But with no gas, cell service or phone to be found, the anxious group is left wondering what to do next.

When one of their own suddenly vanishes – seemingly in front of their eyes – terror grips them.  Miles from the nearest town, tensions run high and loyalties falter as others abruptly, and inexplicably, go missing.

Desperately seeking salvation, the survivors realize, Don’t Blink or you might be next …

To be honest with you I was expecting some kind of a supernatural (alien) force that was making people literally disappear into thin air. What else could do something like that?

This is not a scary film but rather one that keeps you on the edge of your seat because you know eventually everyone is simply going to vanish, but you don’t know who or when. You also don’t know if anyone will be able to make it out alive.

First and foremost I would never want to visit a place far off the beaten path. That can only spell trouble. It makes me think about the film The Shinning.

dont-blink

 

 

The idea of being some place so desolate where people have vanished and there is not so much as a butterfly fluttering about is stuff that nightmares are made of. The characters in this film find themselves living the nightmare.

It’s a scary thought to think about a friend or loved one vanishing in thin air without a trace in such a brief amount of time as a blink of the eye.

I like that this film gives you a chance to get to know the characters. I think being vested in who they are makes their disappearance even more tragic.

The crazy thing is that even when the film ends the viewer is left with more questions then answers. This is why I consider this a psychological thriller – because it makes you put on your “thinking cap” to try and figure out why everyone is disappearing. There is no blood. So signs of struggle. No screams. No monsters. No aliens… nothing!

If I had to venture a guess I would say the disappearance were due to an alien force, but without any concrete evidence it’s just a hunch. Other viewers might have other ideas.

I was surprised that I liked this film as much as I did. I was a bit worried about the actors in the film. They are not excatly popular actors and actresses (at one point they were). They all pulled it off very well. They really got into character.

I think this film would lead to some interesting discussions where people share their theories as to what is really happening. I like films that can really get your thinking.

Look for Don’t Blink where ever movies are sold.

Check out the trailer.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Caillou 25th Anniversary DVD & Book Gift Set

 

Caillou 25th Anniversary Gift Set

Are you familiar with the adorable little boy named Caillou? You can find him at PBS Kids.

Caillou is celebrating a big anniversary this year. The popular children’s series is turning 25 this year. I can’t believe it’s been around that long. I remember my kids watching the show when they were little but I never could have imagined that the show was around for so long.

If you are not familiar with Caillou he’s a four year old boy who lives with his parents and younger sister Rosie. He has a wonderful imagination and is able to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Every day is an adventure for this inquisitive and imaginative little boy.

To celebrate his anniversary, PBS Distribution is releasing today (October 14, 2014) a special 25th anniversary DVD and book gift set. The DVD features “Caillou’s Family Favorites” (14 episodes in total). The beautifully illustrated book has 48 pages and features not one but two stories – Training Wheels and Captain Caillou.

The episodes featured on this special DVD include;

Caillou’s Surprise

  • Caillou’s Surprise
  • A Surprise for Miss Martin
  • A Surprise Sleepover

People I Love

  • Mystery Valentine
  • Dancing at Grandma’s
  • Play Ball!
  • Caillou’s Sleepover Guest

Captain Caillou

  • Captain Caillou
  • The Loudest Noise
  • Caillou’s First Wedding

Knowing How!

  • Skating Lessons
  • Where I Live
  • Just Like Me
  • Just In Time

In addition to these episodes the DVD also contains fun interactive games and coloring pages which are sure to delight any Caillou fan. There is also an option Spanish audio.

As a parent I know that some “kiddie” shows can easily get on your nerves, especially ones which repetitious music or scenes. Caillou is not one of those shows. I find the show to be delightful and charming and I absolutely love Caillou. I always have. I think he’s adorable. We even had a Caillou doll at one point (we either gave it away or it’s packed away in the basement).

The book is a wonderful addition to this gift set. Each page features colorful illustrations and enough text to keep a little ones attention. It’s an easy reader too so older elementary aged children could easily read this on their own.

With the holiday season fast approaching this would be a wonderful gift for the Caillou fan in your life. The set has a suggested retail price of only $14.99. It also runs for about 100 minutes.

Look for Caillou 25th Anniversary DVD & Book gift set where ever movies are sold.

For more information about Caillou, games and coloring pages visit the official Caillou website at PBSKids.org/Caillou.

Is your family a fan of the adorable little boy Caillou? Do you have a favorite episode or character? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Caillou

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Movie Review: Kingdom of Heaven 10th Anniversary Edition

 

Kingdome of Heaven 10th Anniversary

Available on Blu-ray tomorrow (October 14, 2014) is the Ridley Scott film Kingdom of Heaven which is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary with a special “ultimate” movie edition.

Kingdom of Heaven is truly an epic film. I never saw it in the theater, only on the small screen. This is one of those films that would be totally amazing on the big screen.

The film is about the holy war in Jerusalem against the Muslims. To be honest I am not overly familiar with their war which has latest hundreds of years – even today. We didn’t learn about it in school and it’s not a subject I would randomly research on my own. I’m not a fan of war or battles. It’s not my “cup of tea”.

I’m not sure how much of the film is an accurate historical account and how much is made up to tell a story.

Kingdom of Heaven was directed and produced by Ridley Scott, the same man who brought us such wonderful films as Thelma & Louise, Blade Runner, Black Hawk Down and Prometheus.

The film stars Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Jeremy Irons, Michael Sheen and Liam Neeson.

In a nutshell Kingdom of Heaven is about a young blacksmith named Balain (Bloom) is suffering from the suicide of his beloved wife. Around the time of her suicide an army of crusaders comes to town. They are on their way to the Holy Land.

One of the crusaders, Baron Godfrey, is Balain’s father. He reaches out to his son and asks him to join them on their crusade. Balain is content to be where he is and the army leaves the village without him.

After murdering his stepbrother, Balain heads off to find his father and join the crusade in hopes he can find redemption for his wife’s suicide and killing his stepbrother.

Soldiers came after Balain to arrest him for the murder of his stepbrother but Godfrey refuses to hand over his son. A fight ensues and Godfrey is injured. Before he passes away he knights his son serve the King of Jerusalem.

KOH SS

Balain soon makes a name for himself as kind person (freeing a servant, surviving a boat wreck). Balain also gets tangled up in a lot of politics in Jerusalem and their war against the Muslims.

Without giving up too much details, I’ll say that the situation was not what Balain wanted for himself after all and he needs to find a way to depart from the crusade and return to the life he was meant to live.

Will he succeed? To find out you need to pick up a copy of Kingdom of Heaven where ever movies are sold.

This is a truly epic film. The costumes, backdrops, make up… it’s all done perfectly to reflect the period. This has to be one of Orlando Bloom’s best films ever. The filmmakers did an excellent job casting him in the lead role of Balain. He “IS” Balain.

The film did seem to drag from time to time but that is to be expected. It’s a historical film about a religious battle. It’s not meant to be “sweet” and “fun” and exciting at every moment.

The interesting thing about this Blu-ray set is that it comes with not only one but THREE different versions of the same film. There is the original theatrical release, the director’s cut and another director’s cut with more music.

I watched the director’s cut which added about 45 minutes to the film. The only difference I noticed was that you got more of a glimpse behind some of the characters. This version is over 3+ hours which I felt was too long. The theatrical version is about 2 hours and 20 minutes which is more “doable”.

I’ll watch the third version one day. Since I just watched the movie I’m not in a hurry to watch it again. Plus it’s a long movie. Most movies are around 90 minutes. This one is two to three hours long, depending on what version you watch.

KOH SS2

There are A LOT of bonus features. The bonus features total up to 9 hours! I think that is a record. I have never come across a film with that many hours of bonus features.

Disc One

  • Original Theatrical Version
  • Director’s Cut Version
  • Director’s Cut Roadshow Version
  • Ridley Scott Introduction to Director’s Cut Version
  • Commentary by Producer/Director Ridley Scott, Writer William Monahan and Actor Orlando Bloom (Director’s Cut Roadshow Version Only)
  • Commentary by by Executive Producer Lisa Ellzey, Visual Effects Supervisor Wesley Sewell and First Assistant Director Adam Somner (Director’s Cut Roadshow Version Only)
  • Commentary by Film Editor Dody Dorn (Director’s Cut Roadshow Version Only)
  • The Engineer’s Guide (Director’s Cut Roadshow Version Only)
  • The Pilgrim’s Guide (Theatrical Version Only)

Disc Two

  • The Path to Redemption
  • Production Sequence

There are a lot of bonus features on this disc including deleted scenes, costume design, visual effects, trailers, tv spots, interviews and more.

I have not seen all of Ridley Scott’s movies, but I would like to think this is one that he is most proud of. It must have taken a lot to bring this film to life.

Have you seen Kingdom of Heaven? If so, what do you think about the film? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Kingdome of Heaven Screen Shot

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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