Let's Go To The Movies - Divergent

I mentioned here that I had finished reading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth and was looking forward to seeing the film. Well, I saw it recently with some friends and really enjoyed it.

I thought they stayed pretty true to the story, and it was perfectly cast. Shailene Woodley was an ideal  Tris, and Theo James as Four...prepare to get lost in some dreamy, dreamy eyes. The two of them on their own carried the movie, and adding some of my other favorites - Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, and Maggie Q...icing on the cake.

Divergent was a good book (for a YA novel), but the two other books in the series were not nearly as so. I'll be interested to see how the next few movies play out. This may be one of those rare cases where the movies are actually better than the books. We'll see.

Have you seen it yet? What did you think of it compared to the book?


Nice Day For It

This was the view out our front door last Sunday.
A rare occurrence back in the Midwest, seeing hot air balloons floating around is becoming quite the regular thing for us. I can't wait to get up in one.


Toys for Boys

I've struck out so many times buying toys for Madeleine that I think she will just love only to discover after the initial "newness" wears off days (sometimes mere minutes) later that she could care less about them.  So, when people started asking me what they should get Seamus for his first birthday I was at a loss.  His favorite toy is the TV remote, and not the spare one we just took the batteries out of to trick him - the actual TV remote.  I don't know how he knows the difference, but he does.

Eventually I came up with a small list which included this Tools Chunky Puzzle from Melissa & Doug that he ended up getting from my parents. It has been a big hit with both him and three-year-old Madeleine.
I love Melissa & Doug toys.  I'm a fan of wooden toys, and theirs are very well made and affordable.  We have a number of their puzzles, but this was the first chunky piece one we've gotten. I totally didn't think about it until the kids started playing with it that this is really two toys in one - BONUS! Seamus still just eats and bangs the pieces together, but it didn't take Madeleine long to start using the puzzle pieces as play tools too. She goes around fixing everything now. They have a number of these chunky puzzles, but I thought this one was especially cute for boys.

What are some of your favorite toys for boys? I grew up with all sisters, so I don't have a lot of experience with what to get for boys. Are you a wooden toy snob like me? I can't help it, they are just so much more attractive to have around the house. We have our fair share of plastic, but when I can I try to get wooden.

I wasn't paid or perked by Melissa & Doug for this post.  I just really like their toys.
Photo source here.


Book Report - The Goldfinch

I decided to read another behemoth of a book for my third choice of 2014 - Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch.

This book is actually a pretty amazing feat of literature even though I didn't love it.  It keep me constantly engaged, and the amount of research that must have been done to write it was crazy.  She name drops a ton of artists, paintings, composers, and music constantly - plus there's all the Russian too.  Don't be scared, it really impressed me and it has me wanting to get out to some art museums and bring a little more culture back into my life.

Why didn't I love it?  As intriguing as I found it, it's hard to rally around a story when you're not really rooting for the main character.  I know he went through a lot, and was scared young boy, but there were so many times if he would have just spoken up his life could have really turned around.  I couldn't believe how much he internalized.  I kept waiting for a moment that never really came.  Despite that, it has a fantastic cast of supporting characters and a real, if not quite as satisfying as I would have liked, ending.

This book does bring up a lot of thought provoking questions though.  Why do good things happen to bad people? Is it okay to do bad things if the ultimate result ends up good? (i.e. maybe two wrongs do make a right).

It's not perfect, but I still highly recommend this book.

Oh, and if you're like me and had no idea what "painting" they were referring to throughout the entire book - it's this one, Carel Fabritius' The Goldfinch.
I googled it mid way through the book, and unfortunately found out a big spoiler because of my search. Wouldn't want that to happen to anyone else.


Seamus Month by Month

I still cannot believe that Seamus is one year old already!! Here's a look back at a little month by month picture project we did for him. We did the same thing for Madeleine, but Seamus' turned out better as we kept a more consistent backdrop. We used a lovely blanket that a co-worker of Bill's made for him, a white onesie, and these stickers.
It's such a fun way to capture how they grow so much that first year. There are so many creative photo projects for babies out there. One of my favorites is this one here. I wish I had those kind of skills. I'm glad I made sure to do at least this. They grow so fast!!


1st Birthday Recap

We of course had to throw a little party for Seamus' big day. My parents were in town, and we had a few friends over. The party had a circus theme with balloons, popcorn, and cotton candy.

This little kit was the inspiration. I asked our local Fry's bakery to make the cake. It looked so cute and tasted great!
Seamus couldn't wait to eat it.
He received lots of fun presents.
And had lots of fun!
Waiting for cake.
My sweet boy.
Happy Birthday, Seamus!!!


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

We're in Las Vegas visiting family (and dealing with a sick little girl), but just wanted to pop in to wish everyone a Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Stay safe out there.


Touring Phoenix - Phoenix Zoo

We had wanted to do something special for Seamus on his 1st birthday, so we decided to explore the Phoenix Zoo. After all, it's not every day this little guy turns one.
I was very impressed. The animals all have such beautiful and big enclosures. Zoos, as fun as they are, usually make me a little sad. I always wonder if the animals are as happy as they would be in the wild, so I was happy to see the Phoenix Zoo obviously put a lot of thought and care into these animals' homes. 
The giraffe enclosure was great. All the giraffes were out and about.  They have a Giraffe Encounter activity where they bring you eye level with the giraffes and get to feed them. Full disclosure, I didn't find out about this until the next day from a co-worker, so we haven't done this yet. Next time though, we'll definitely check it out. 
My dad brought his zoom lens and got some amazing shots of the animals.
They have some different animals here than at the Milwaukee Zoo (another fantastic zoo). The Komodo Dragons weren't out the day we visited though. Next time, I guess.
We took this picture on the anniversary of the exact minute Seamus was born. We did the same thing with Madeleine when she turned one.
We had such a fun time. It's not the biggest zoo I've ever been to, but again; so pretty and a really nice collection of animals.


Book Report - Allegiant

Book number two for 2014 was the conclusion to Veronica Roth's Divergent Series, Allegiant.
I enjoyed both Divergent and Insurgent, so I was looking forward to see how Veronica Roth wrapped up the series.  I have to say, I was a bit disappointed.  After writing the first two books from heroine, Tris' point of view - Allegiant jumped back and forth between Tris' and Tobias' (aka Four's) point of view.  I thought it was odd to give Tobias' view so much weight all of a sudden.  The big reveal as to what was beyond the wall was a bit of a let down too.  All that work to get out of the city, and it was just like - hey, welcome to life outside the city.  Glad you could make it.  It just seemed strange.  The momentum of the first two books stalls big time in Allegiant.

Obviously, if you read the first two, you should read Allegiant just to see how it all ends - just don't expect it to be more than what it is - an ending.

Note - it was very funny reading this after Diana Gabaldon's behemoth, Outlander.  I opened Allegiant up, and was struck by the huge font size.  LOL  I sometimes forget the big difference between adult and young adult skill level. 

Are you a fan of this series?  Did you like how it ended?  What about the movie?  The first book was the best, so I'll probably check it out.


One Year Old

Well, we did it!  We survived the craziest year of our life that was Seamus' first year.  My little boy turned one recently, and I'm so excited for him.
It gets so much easier once they turn one, doesn't it? It's like, boom you're one, and just like that no more formula, bottles, or baby food. This next stage is one of my favorites. I can't wait for the walking and talking.


Metallics and Nudes

It's the last day of my Oscar fashion recap.  I mentioned before there was little color on the red carpet, but there were a number of noteworthy nudes and metallics - including my choice for best dressed of the night at the very end of this post.  First off though...

Angelina Jolie
My number one girl crush, Angelina Jolie, wore this gorgeous Elie Saab number.  Angelina usually goes full on sexy or matronly on the red carpet, and she went for matronly this year - as she was receiving a humanitarian award that night matronly was the right call.  My only complaint was that the beading along her bust was not super flattering.  Her hair and makeup were beautiful, and she just really looked happy all evening.

Goldie Hawn
Goldie Hawn stepped out in gold Versace.  It was a little slinky for my tastes, and her hair was a pretty unkempt for such a formal occasion.  However, she's 68 years young, and looks fantastic!!  If at that age you still got it, you might as well flaunt it.

Jessica Biel
The statuesque Jessica Biel wore a lovely Chanel column dress with a small train. If it weren't for the pretty shimmery lace this would have been a completely forgettable gown.  I was disappointed in her hair too. The side swept hair messed up the ombre effect.  All in all, I thought she could have done better.

Julie Delpy
Julie Delpy wore this nude Jenny Packham gown that suits her well (especially as a nominee for writing).  I loved the sleeves, and how all the draping starts in the center and spreads outward like a star.  I'm glad she did the bold lip color - it really pops.  I thought this was a great look. 

Sally Hawkins
I'm not too familiar with Sally Hawkins as an actress, but the nominee chose this long sleeved, high necked, gold Valentino that just overwhelmed her small frame.  This dress is wearing her, and not well.  Her hair and make-up looked very cute though.

Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson donned Elie Saab as well for the evening.  It's also long sleeved and gold like Sally Hawkins' was, but this dress fits Sarah perfectly.  It's not an exciting ensemble by any means, but she wears it well.

Jennifer Garner
I actually loved Jennifer Garner's silver Oscar de la Renta gown.  I must have an inner flapper girl because that fringe just looked so fun and flirty.  This was actually my third favorite look of the night, and my favorite metallic dress. The bust was very simple, but with all that movement going on at the bottom, I thought it worked.  Well done, Jennifer.

Cate Blanchett
Red carpet Queen, Cate Blanchett, did not disappoint in this stunning Armani Prive gown.  Besides winning Best Acress; she wins both best nude/metallic dress and best dressed of the entire night!!  I loved this gown, and her hair, and her accessories.  It was, in my opinion, perfection.  It's hard to make a nude dress exciting, but this dress has so much intricate detail with the crystals and beading; yet she also looks like she is not wearing anything at all.  It perfectly matches her skin tone in the best way possible.  Loved it, loved it, loved it!!

And with that I'll end my week of Oscar fashion.  I had so much posting these.  I hoped you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Photos courtesy of here.


Pretty Pastels

It was nice to see a few pastel colors on the red carpet too.

Laura Dern
Laura Dern wore this soft pink Alberta Ferretti.  I thought it was very simple and pretty.  I liked the corset top and texture on the bottom.  She was there to support her dad, Bruce Dern; I don't think she even presented, so as a "date" dress this was spot on.

Penelope Cruz
Penelope Cruz was also in pink in this Grecian Giambattista Valli.  I liked the color, cut, fabric, and even the little black belt. I wasn't a fan of all the extra fabric draped over her arm though. A dress like this is supposed to flow, and the extra fabric distracted from that affect a bit.  I also wish she had worn her hair down.

Jada Pinkett Smith
Jada Pinkett Smith also went pink grecian in this Versace number.  I like this dress better than Penelope's - the halter and interesting waistline work, and all the extra fabric is flowing nicely behind her.  My problem with the overall look is that Jada has a very hard and angular body.  She's beautiful, but it competes with the soft color and fabric of the dress.  If this dress was a deeper color I think it would have worked much better.


Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita is my pastel winner in this Prada Grecian gown (another Grecian).  It's so lovely, she's so lovely.  Her hair and makeup is perfect.  The deep V neckline works on her small build - it in fact makes this dress.  I love the fabric (can you tell there are sequins or something sparkly on it?) and how it falls and flows behind her.  It was a dress worthy of an Oscar winner, and she rocked it.

What did you think of the ladies in pastels?  I didn't have a picture of Jada Pinkett Smith by herself, so I'll say that Will Smith was one of the best dressed men of the night - love the ascot!!  Jared Leto looked great too. I saw quite a few white jackets on the fellas, and at least one maroon and one blue tuxedo too.  Nice job gentlemen.

Photos courtesy of here.


Jewels in the Crown

We looked at the black and the white - now let's get some color going up in here.

Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence in Christian Dior was the only red dress I saw all night, and I thought she looked great. The cut is perfect for her, she pulls off the color (and that's a tough color), and her hair, makeup, and jewels were perfect.  I even liked the little peplum on her hips.  My only complaint - she was a nominee, so I was hoping for a little more glam from her for her possible back-to-back win.

Viola Davis
Viola Davis wore this tealish Escada number.  I actually love everything about her look (her hair is so cute), except for the color of the dress.  It reminds me of a prom dress.  Just imagine though, how great this look would be if the dress was a deep royal purple instead.  The color is just too distracting, but great job on everything else.

Gabourey Sidibe
Gabourey Sidibe chose this bold Theia dress in fuchsia.  I love the color, and think it looks great with her skin tone - but it maybe was a little too much color to wear head to foot.  I also know that it must be extremely difficult to find an Oscar worthy plus-sized dress, so I give her an A for effort.  Ultimately though, I think the texture and cut of the sleeves is not working for her.

Amy Adams
Amy Adams walked the red carpet in this sapphire Gucci gown.  I love a good navy blue dress, and this one is good.  The small train ups the fanciness factor from all the other column gowns we saw that night, and the cute folds on the neckline provide much needed visual interest to the otherwise simple gown.  Her strawberry blond hair and make-up were simple, and her cute coral drop earrings added just a touch of contrast.  It all came together perfectly.

Idina Menzel
Broadway darling, Idina Menzel, donned a lovely emerald green Vera Wang gown.  I really loved this dress - the sweetheart neckline, color, and draping; it's right up my ally.  It had some styling issues though.  I think the necklace was the wrong choice.  It's competing with the neckline of the dress.  It would have worked better with just the bracelet and some statement earrings instead.


Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock wins the jewel tone category with this gorgeous sapphire Alexander McQueen gown. (I love a good navy blue dress, and this one was FANTASTIC!) This is what I expect from a nominee, and she did not disappoint.  The sweetheart neckline, sheen of the fabric, train, and draping are all perfect. Her curled side swept hair, dark smoky eye, and simple bracelet and earrings all complimented the dress perfect.  She looked amazing.

Sandra came very close to being my best dressed pick of the night, but I ultimately decided on another I'll reveal on Friday.  What did you think of her look and the other jewel toned looks?

Photos courtesy of here.