Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Rae Dunn Bowls GIVEAWAY

It's time for another fun giveaway!!

I've been sharing on YouTube my fun new obsession with Rae Dunn pottery items, that I've been finding at HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, and Marshall's! When I first started collecting at the end of December, I was having better luck finding items - but over time it seems like it has started getting more popular or more people have started reselling it, so it has started becoming harder to find!

I wanted to give back to the community and share a little positivity since it has been tough to find things lately, with a Rae Dunn Giveaway!

This giveaway will be hosted here on the blog and is not affiliated with Rae Dunn. I have two Rae Dunn Bowls, "Mine" and "Cereal" which I will be sending to one lucky winner!

Enter to win through Rafflecopter below! The giveaway starts today 3/28 and runs through April 10, 2017 at 12:00AM!

Thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to share this giveaway with your Dunn Loving Friends!

** This is not sponsored post. Giveaway is not in affiliation with any sponsor. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Purple Hair Style with Feria M32 Midnight Star!

Well this is an exciting change that I can't wait to share in an upcoming vlog... I routinely dye my hair at home, but this time - I decided to try something a little different!

Inspired by one of my favorite colors - PURPLE!

I had been thinking about dyeing my hair a purple hue for a while now, but I hadn't quite figured out whether the timing was right, would it go with all of my clothing? What if I needed to have "normal" hair for something like a school event? I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it!! And I'm loving it!!

I used L'Oreal Feria hair color because it is a brand that I have used for a number of years for all kinds of different shades, this is the first time trying out this color though! I chose M32 Midnight Star, which is a multi-faceted shimmery violet soft black.

The color is really interesting on my hair because it looks different depending on the light it is in, in natural light it is a deep brown-black color with a violet hue, in direct bright or artificial light it takes on more of a red tint.

I've only had it on my hair less than 24 hours, so I will follow up in the future as to how it wears - but having used Feria hair color in the past I'm fairly confident it should last 5-6 weeks with no problem! The girls are loving it, they thought it was fun and I took them with me to pick out the hair dye so they felt like they were a part of it! 

What do you think? Would violet hair be a yay or nay for you?!

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Beauty and the Beast Live Action Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast Movie

Enchanted Rose at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2017

The live action version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast was released this week and I was able to head to the movie theater on the first morning of its premiere to see the full film! I was so excited for this film to be released, being a 90's kid, Beauty and the Beast is one of the "Big 4" of films from my childhood - The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King! These were all released around each other in consecutive years and I was at a prime age for the films when they came out.

When I found out Disney was remaking Beauty and the Beast into a live action version, I knew it would be a great translation from animated film to live action because of all of the cinematic elements of the story and rich character stories. The classic story has grown on me as I've gotten older, and I've enjoyed the Beauty and the Beast entertainment at Walt Disney World, with the stage show at Hollywood Studios and Be Our Guest restaurant at Magic Kingdom.

Beauty and the Beast stage show at Hollywood Studios, Photo Courtesy Disney Parks, Gene Duncan, photographer

I will try not give away TOO much about what has been added into the movie, but please note there may be a few spoilers below. Although if you've seen the animated version and are familiar with the story, you can be sure that you'll recognize the framework for the story in the live action version!

Stand Out Parts in the Movie

The live action Beauty and the Beast had a few stand out moments for me that I thought really set the tone!

- When Belle sees the library for the first time. This scene was fantastic and you really get a sense of this wonderful connection Belle is going to have to the castle and contents inside. When it is found out that the Beast not only likes to read but knows many of the stories well it gives the audience an instant sense of the connection building between the two.

The library does look quite magnificent! Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

- Be Our Guest dining scene, this is such a fun scene! They did a tremendous job at carrying this over into the live action version and it felt very magical! We will leave it at that to not spoil any of the fun!

- Learning more about the backstories of both Belle's mother and the Beast's mother. This is a really pivotal plot line that was mainly left out of the animated version, but I felt like it added so much to the movie it really was important that this part of their stories be told.

- Belle and Beast's first dance, this is where you see their love story start to blossom.

Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Enriched Character Stories

One of my favorite parts of the live action version of Beauty and the Beast, were the enriched character stories within the movie! Every character, from Belle to the enchanted objects around the castle, is introduced and brought into the story with more depth than the animated version. I really liked how they brought more of the story of Belle's mother and Beast's mother into the story, and I felt like it showed how the two had a unique connection.

We learn a lot more about the enchanted objects in the live action series compared to the animated version, their personalities seem fuller and more vibrant. The special effects of bringing them to life blended seamlessly with the actors.

The enchanted objects all have vibrant personalities! Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

I also loved how fearless Belle appeared in the movie, Emma Watson made the character very strong yet still distinctly feminine. I felt like Belle was more involved in the final fight scene between Gaston and the Beast, and it suited the movie that she was intertwined with that scene more. Luke Evans who played Gaston, truly personified the childhood image of Gaston from the 1990's animated version - it was like looking at the animated Gaston that had jumped onto the screen. Overall the entire cast was extremely solid and I was completed immersed in the story while watching.

She's just not that into you. Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Would I take the kids to see Beauty and the Beast in the theater?

So you'll probably noticed by now in my recap it was a lot of "me" and "I"... not "we". I did go see the movie in the theater while my husband was at work and while the girls were at school. The timing hadn't worked out for our babysitter to be available on a weekend for my husband and I to go see the film - and the girls' haven't yet seen a live action film in the theater, so I wasn't sure how they would do as far as sitting through it.

The biggest issue with my girls and movies is they do get scared easily during intense parts. I knew from the animated version that there would be some tense parts with the wolves and also at the end final fight scene. After seeing the movie, I do think the few scenes with the wolves would be our toughest moments with the girls, but I feel like they would be capable of sitting through them.

The movie is quick moving and I feel like would hold the girls' attention well. Their ages are 5 and 6 currently, and Beauty and the Beast is a story that they are well acquainted with, so I am going to try to fit going to the movie theater on the weekend into our schedule if we can find a time that isn't sold out! If you have a child that loves Princess Belle, this movie is sure to capture their attention!

She really is a lovely girl. Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

I felt the content in the movie was appropriate for kids of all ages to watch with their parents, especially those ages 5 and up - I think that children will especially enjoy the added elements of "magic" during the Be Our Guest scene. The story line remains true to the story of our childhood, so if you are familiar with the animated 1990's version, the live action story will seem familiar to you with a bit more character detail added.

I hope you found my review helpful and I think that any Beauty and the Beast fan will love to see the movie in the theater! The sweeping scenes across the countryside and views inside the castle were certainly extraordinary on the big screen for sure!

Be sure to check out our Beauty and the Beast movie viewing party of the animated version at home, in anticipation of the live action release! And if we do find a time to go to the theater with the girls, I'll be sure to follow-up on their reaction!

** This is not a sponsored post. I was able to screen portions of Beauty and the Beast at Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2017. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

DIY: LeFou's Brew at Home

As a part of our Beauty and the Beast week, we recreated some of the sweet and yummy concoction typically found at Gaston's Tavern inside Magic Kingdom called LeFou's Brew! This sweet treat is a frosted apple juice with toasted marshmellow flavoring added to it with a fruit cream topping!

This is easy to make and we put our own spin on the recipe by just adding some ready made apple juice and ice cubes. Check out how we made it at home!

What You'll Need

There are a number of items that you'll need to make this drink, but it does make a number of servings. I would recommend picking up at least two frozen canisters of apple juice, however depending on the size of your blender - you will probably have to do them in multiple batches.

To make the apple juice, we used a frozen concentrate apple juice from Kroger, and added in some ready made apple juice as well which can be optional. We picked up the Torani Toasted Marshmellow flavoring in the coffee aisle.

The fruit cream topping has a few ingredients you'll need and it actually makes quite a bit - so check in next week as I'll be sharing a Moana viewing party we'll be doing as well, and I'm planning on reusing the same cream topping for a party drink for that as well! So there can be a bit of reusing of ingredients and they don't go to waste!

Shopping List:
- 1-2 Frozen Concentrate Apple Juice Cans
- 1 Apple Juice bottle, adding in 1-2 cups
- 2-3 tbsp Torani Toasted Marshmellow flavoring
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 4 tbsp Mango Juice
- 4 tbsp Passionfruit Juice
- 3 tbsp Sugar

How to Make LeFou's Brew

I made the cream topping first and then let it set in the refrigerator while I was making the apple drink. In the blender, I added in the 1 cup of the heavy whipping cream, 4 tbsp mango juice, 4 tbsp passionfruit juice, and 3 tbsp of sugar.

Blend these together and I poured them in a separate dish to set, so that I was able to clean out the blender to mix together the apple juice.

To make the apple juice, I added in 1 container of frozen apple juice concentrate, 1 can of water, 3 tbsp Torani Toasted Marshmellow syrup and blend. Then I add in a few ice cubs and 1-2 cups of the ready made apple juice because we prefer the taste of that over the frozen concentrate versions.

Then you just pour the apple juice in and put some cream topping on top! It naturally floats on top, which makes a cool effect!

Check out my video on how to make this fun drink!

It's a great addition to a Beauty and the Beast party! Make sure to check out our other party videos and posts from our Beauty and the Beast movie viewing party!

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan #4 + Grocery Haul!

I'm back with another weekly meal plan with grocery haul. This week, I went shopping at Wal-Mart again... it was my goal that I would test out shopping at Wal-Mart, Target, and Kroger to definitely prove my belief that Wal-Mart is not necessarily the cheapest option, like many people believe... It has been tough trying to work that in to regular life though, to be honest.

The first week I went shopping at Wal-Mart, my husband needed household items and that drove the price up to $240 - but that wasn't a typical grocery run. This week (second week trying to grocery shop at Wal-Mart) the bill came out to around $160 and was mainly food - I did have to buy two Kleenex boxes for Bella's fairy house project at school - however I realized that unless I was buying exactly the same items at all three places, then it was going to be tough to do a one to one comparison.

So that is my idea going forwards, it will take some time - but I would like to pick 10 of our most commonly purchased items and purchase them at Wal-Mart, Target, and Kroger. Then after picking them out, compare the receipt total prices to see which was cheapest and also have a dicussion about the quality vs. price topic that comes into play as well. At Kroger, I had typically been picking up a Peach Sparkling Water that was the "generic" brand, something we had gotten into the habit of doing because it seemed like the sensible thing to do. At both Target and Kroger, the generic brand seems to be on par if not better in some cases, then the major brand offerings at the store! We use a number of Market Pantry items (Target brand) and also really like the Up & Up brand that Target offers.

However, I found after trying a few Great Value Wal-Mart generic brand items, and a few generic brand cosmetic items, that I felt the quality/taste was definitely inferior to their name brand counterparts. So how do you account for a one to one comparison  between stores, if there is a difference in the availability of like products based on quality? This is what I'm wrestling with, and I've got to decide whether i'm going to pick only "name brand" items or if I'm going to allow the store brand items in my comparison and then go from there. I'll be sure to update in a blog post after I do the comparison to see which store ACTUALLY was the cheapest (if any difference at all?) when buying the same 10 items at each place!

Anyhow! On to the grocery haul...

I purchased the typical items. We have number of crock pot meals this week and the only unusual thing we have going on is I am starting to get supplies for another movie party night! I'm planning on doing a Moana movie viewing party next, since that just came out on DVD!

Here is what we bought on the grocery run this week:

And the meal plan for the week is...

Here's this week's Meal Plan (3/12/17 - 3/18/17):

Sunday: Spaghetti with homemade meatballs
Monday: Baked Chicken with gravy
Tuesday: Crock Pot Tortelini
Wednesday: Crock Pot Mac & Cheese with Ham
Thursday: Crock Pot Pork Roast
Friday: Fish & shrimp ** Moana viewing party
Saturday: Pizza

I'll keep you post on what we end up finding out with our comparisons!

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

How to make the Grey Stuff!

"Try the Grey Stuff, it's delicious! Don't believe us..." Well you know who to ask!!

We of course couldn't have a Beauty & the Beast dinner without making some of the "Grey Stuff" for dessert!! This yummy treat is available at Be Our Guest restaurant inside Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, but you can also duplicate it at home with this simple to make recipe! I've made it a few different ways, so I will share what has worked the best for me and I like the color to be a rich silvery color.

Pin this image to easily find again!

What You'll Need

This is such a simple recipe! Bake cupcakes and use it as a frosting or serve it on it's own (what I call "plated") to be a perfectly thematic dessert!

You'll need to have a container of Oreos, 14-18 Oreos for a large batch mix, and 6-10 Oreos for a smaller batch. Container of whipped topping, one full container for a large batch mix, or half a container for the smaller batch. Box of chocolate instant pudding or other chocolate powder. And for the larger batch, it makes sense to use a instant vanilla pudding box and you'll make the entire thing. If you need only 4-6 servings, you can make the grey stuff out of the ready made pudding cups, which I'll share that recipe down below!

I used a blender to pulse the Oreos, and you can use a food processor or other item to get them chopped into a fine cookie powder.

How to Put it Together

There are a few ways to make it, the vanilla instant pudding box way has been shared in a number of times in the Disney Facebook groups over the years, and I put my own spin on how many Oreos I use - the ingredients remain fairly simple, so there's no way you can mess this one up! This is truly one of the quickest desserts you can make!

Large Batch Grey Stuff

This recipe makes a larger batch of the grey stuff that you can use to serve on top of cupcakes or on individual plates. It can stay refrigerated for a few days if you don't use it all at your party, and makes a great snack if I say so myself!

- 1 package vanilla instant pudding mix blended together with 1.5 cups of cold milk
- Chill the pudding in the fridge while you blend the cookies
- Crush 15-18 Oreos into pieces to put into the blender and pulse them to get a fine cookie powder. I like to do only about 5 cookies at a time in my blender.
- Mix together the cookie pieces and vanilla pudding.
- Add in 1 full container of whipped topping
- Add 4-6 tbsp of chocolate pudding mix powder (just powder) to get a silver grey color

From here I chill in the refrigerator for 15-30 minutes, I place the mixture into Wilson's decorating bags and used a star tip to spread the Grey Stuff on top of cupcakes or onto plates!

Smaller Serving Ready Made Pudding Grey Stuff

This is the alternate way of putting it together using smaller single serving pudding cups! You'll need 2-4 of these cups and you mix the ingredients together the same way, it just saves a bit of time, makes a smaller amount, and tastes just as delicious!

- 2 ready made vanilla pudding cups
- Pulse 5 Oreos in blender
- 2/3 cup whipped cream topping
- 1 tbsp chocolate pudding instant mix (just the powder)

Mix the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Chill for 10 minutes, and you're ready to serve! Quick, easy, and perfect for a small family!

Small batch Grey Stuff is just as yummy!

Check out my video below showing the quick and easy process to make the Grey Stuff!

Have you had the Grey Stuff at Be Our Guest restaurant at Walt Disney World?? It's one of my favorite desserts there and I love that I can make it at home anytime I want now!

Check out all of our other Beauty and the Beast party prep posts!

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Enchanted Rose Table Centerpiece DIY

"Tale as Old as Time..."

This week on the blog we are going to have a number of Beauty and the Beast inspired activities to celebrate the release of the new live action movie by Disney!!

We had a movie viewing party where a Beauty and the Beast inspired dinner was served, along with some special desserts and treats - then we watched the animated classic movie. It was a fun night and I wanted to share some of the things that we did in case it gives you some ideas for your own movie screening party - or even a birthday party!

The Enchanted Rose makes a great table centerpiece and actually was quite easy to make! I collected materials from Michael's and Hobby Lobby earlier in the day, and completed it in under 10 minutes while I was making dinner! Not too bad!!

How to Make It!

Collect your materials! Here's what I used: glass cloche jar from Michael's. From Hobby Lobby: silk rose, loose rose petals, floral foam, dried moss, clear glue and sparkle accents optional. I also already had an LED mini light strand on hand from Target DollarSpot. They typical have these out at holiday times and cost around $3 per strand.

Once you have your things together, it goes really quick and easy! I trimmed the rose down the height that I wanted and also cut the foam in half. It was the smallest round floral foam, but I still wanted it to be a bit slimmer profile. I used the included adhesive with the foam to secure it to the wood. I wove the LED light strand through the rose petals so that light could shine through the petals in some places and wrapped the wire down the stem.

After the LED lights were in place, I was ready to place the rose in the floral foam and cover the foam with dried moss. I added a few gold star accents using clear glue as a finishing touch, and that's it! 

It also looks super cool lit up at night!!

I'll have additional videos coming up showing how we made the Grey Stuff and LeFou's Brew at home as well!

Watch the Tutorial on YouTube

Check out this video to watch how to put together the Enchanted Rose!

We had so much fun with this movie party at home! I'm looking forward to sharing all of the details with you! Just let me know if you have any questions!

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Beauty & the Beast Week!

It's Beauty and the Beast week around our house - the new live action movie starring Emma Watson and Luke Evans releases on March 17, 2017! We've already been having lots of imaginative fun inspired by the classic Disney movie!

We had a great time enjoying a Beauty and the Beast inspired dinner, which included some fun decorations, themed food, and watching the classic animated movie at home!

Coming up, I'll be sharing different recipes and planning tips in case you're planning on having your own Beauty and the Beast movie release party! I thought I would share an overview in this post and I will link the recipe posts as they come available on the blog.

We are looking forward to seeing a new twist on this magical classic! Join in on the fun this week and "Be Our Guest" for Beauty and the Beast week!

Check out how to make an Enchanted Rose Centerpiece HERE.

** This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Food of the Week + Weekly Meal Plan #3!

Well, this week is what we like to call a "slacker week" in the world of making dinners, ha! It was for (somewhat?) good reason... Occasionally I like to take a week off, just taking it down a notch on the amount of preparation meals take, sometimes either because we have a lot going on that week or because I have a main focus going on over the course of the week that I'd like to turn my additional on. This week it was the latter, because the majority of my focus over the week was for a big "Beauty and the Beast dinner" that I wanted to have on Friday!

I'll be sharing that special dinner, the prep, and different recipes in vlog & blog posts coming up... For today, let's look at what our week looked like in pictures and also our weekly meal plan!

Also, it should be noted - although I of course didn't plan it - that this turned out to be a good week to be "low key", because our area in metro Detroit suffered a huge windstorm on Wednesday that knocked out power to over 860,000 people in our region! We luckily never lost full power, but we have been without Internet for the past 3 days, it finally just coming back up last night! So luckily I had a few things scheduled, but posts like this one that I write and then immediately post were put on hold until we had Internet again! So it turned out to be a good "low key" week anyhow!

Real life, real family, real food!

Weekly Meal Plan #3:

Here's this week's Meal Plan (3/5/17 - 3/11/17):

Sunday: Shrimp with garlic noodles
Monday: Burrito Bake (pre-made)
Tuesday: Fish with veggie side
Wednesday: Porkchops
Thursday: "Frozen" Chicken Nuggets
Friday: ** Beauty and the Beast Dinner Night** I will have a whole video and blog series on this night!
Saturday: Hot Dogs/on the go - we have a school function this night and may be getting food while on the go!

So let's dive in and see what the week looked like in pictures!

Sunday: Shrimp with garlic noodles

Kid's version!

Monday: Burrito Bake
This was pre-made and something I purchased in the frozen section at Wal-Mart! It took about an hour after I popped it into the oven and actually was pretty good! It is something I would get again if I have a week where I have less preparation time available!

This came pre-made from Wal-Mart. I do believe you could easily make it from ingredients. It was pretty good!

Kid's version!

Tuesday: Fish with veggie side (a "go to" easy meal!)

Kid's version!

Wednesday: Porkchops, another go to easy one to make in the broiler!

Thursday: "Frozen" Chicken Nuggets... and I do mean both literally and figuratively, "Frozen"!

Friday: Beauty and the Beast dinner night! We had a ton of fun with this night! The main course was sirloin steak served with green beans, potatoes, crescent rolls, and a number of fun desserts!

Saturday: Free Space! On the go!

Coming up, I'll be sharing different recipes on the blog that I've been videoing along and also will be sharing the written recipe as well so you can more easily reference in the future! I've been getting good feedback about sharing this type of content on the blog, so I hope you are enjoying it!

**This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.