Let's Go To The Movies - Downsizing

I saw the new Matt Damon movie, Downsizing, last night.

A revolutionary medical procedure allows humans to shrink themselves to a mere 5 inches tall. Struggling financially, Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig), decide to undergo the procedure to help the environment and live a more affluent lifestyle. Also starring, Christoph Waltz and Hong Chau.

For a film that seemed to have something very specific to say, I left the the theater confused as to what that was. Downsizing moved extremely slow - seriously, at a snail's pace. It's not until the halfway mark of the film that Matt Damon's character actually shrinks. They spend an extraordinary amount of time on the background of  the "downsizing" procedure. When the entire audience knows already that the characters are going to shrink, I didn't think it was necessary to focus quite so much on the specifics of the fictional medical discovery and procedure. When the story actually started to get interesting (aka when he shrunk), with so little time left; the rest of the film was rushed and jumbled with a surprisingly abrupt ending. The consensus among my group was that the message of the film was twofold. First, live in the moment, and second, kindness and helping others brings more value to your life than money. It was a clever concept, but clever only takes you so far if you don't have the storyline to back it up, which Downsizing, unfortunately does not. 

P.S. The highlight of the film is Ngoc Lan Tran played by Hong Chau. She totally steals the show and is well deserving of her Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture nomination. I would have much rather followed her downsizing journey than Matt Damon's boring Joe Shmoe character.


Merry Christmas!

From the Pretty Handsome family to you...
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


It's That Time Again...

Time for our annual Elf Yourself Christmas video. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend everybody!


Coming Soon - All The Money In The World

I saw a sneak peak of All The Money In The World last night. It opens everywhere Christmas Day.

Based on the true story of the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III (Charlie Plummer) the grandson to the richest man in the history of the world, John Paul Getty (Christopher Plummer), All the Money in the World follows his mother, Abigail's (Michelle Williams) attempts to convince her father-in-law to pay the $17 million ransom to get her son back. Also starring Mark Wahlberg.

All the Money in the World was not the movie I thought it was going to be. I was expecting a dark and intense thriller, but instead got a surprisingly light film that oddly enough still worked. There were still quite dark and intense moments to the film (ooh, the ear scene was awful), but I chuckled fairly often as well. Michelle Williams's performance as Abigail Getty was the highlight of the film, followed closely by Christopher Plummer as the late oil tycoon, John Paul Getty. Both were captivating and fully immersed themselves in the characters. Mark Wahlberg, as Getty's henchmen didn't detract from the film, but didn't particularly add anything to it either. You could have popped any no-name actor in that part and achieved the same result.

Further, I enjoyed the setting and style of the film as well. The gorgeous mansion/apartment homes of the characters along with the Italian countryside made for a visual feast for the eyes. In addition, the dark blue moody tones of the film cemented the vintage 70's vibe, as did the fantastic costumes. I loved all Abigail Getty's smart suits.

I didn't know much about the Getty family and nothing about this particular part of their family story, but I found the story fascinating. The elder, John Paul Getty, was a complex fellow, and I wish the film would have delved into more of what made him the way he was. There was a moment in the film where they discussed that money isn't just money for people, and that it usually represents something else - success, safety, love, etc. I kept waiting for the reveal of what money was to Getty, but left the film unclear. He was a formidable adversary for the film, yet I was surprised how often I agreed with his way of thinking. I found him mortifyingly delightful.

I'd recommend checking out All the Money in the World. If you're looking for an entertaining date movie outside the norm (or one that, you know, isn't Star Wars), this is it.

P.S.  This film was done and ready for release with Kevin Spacey playing the role of John Paul Getty. When the allegations against him came out, they recast Christopher Plummer in the role and reshot all his scenes. Like I said, Christopher Plummer was fantastic, so I think the film ended up a better one for it.


Book Report - Black Rain

We interrupt all things Christmas, to give you a quick review of Black Rain by Matthew B.J. Delaney.
In the distant future, "Naturals" (natural born humans) have created and enslaved "Synthates" (genetically modified humans) designed for every purpose imaginable from domestic help to gladiator entertainment. When Jack Saxton, heir to Genico Inc., the powerful genetic company responsible for the creation of Synthates, is accused of being a Synthate himself and framed for murder; he goes underground into the world of Synthates to escape capture. Assisted by a beautiful social Synthate, the two team up to expose a corrupted corporation and finally free the Synthate community.    

I picked Black Rain as one of my free monthly books offered by Amazon Prime. It sounded like a fun Sci-Fi read, but ended up being excruciatingly painful for me to get through. If I was one to abandon a book midway, this is one I would have. The story took a while to get going, and who they first focused on (the detective investigating the murders) ended up not being the protagonist of the story. When it switched gears to then follow Jack Saxton, I was confused and annoyed to be essentially starting the story again with a different point of view.

I was also confused as to what exactly a Synthate was. I kept thinking they were, well...robots (like on Westworld), but they were supposed to be humans as well, just made, not born. It just felt odd to me that humans would have felt superior to them when the Synthates were so obviously superior to the humans. In other words, the power dynamic felt off throughout. 

Finally, as a feminist, I didn't enjoy the way women were treated in Black Rain. In a world where you can create your own human for any purpose you want, you can imagine what purpose some female Synthates were created. It was gross to read and unnecessary to the story.

If Black Rain is on your "To Read" list, I'd highly advise just striking it off now. It's not worth your time.   


Album Alert - Christmas Edition

I cannot express how much I love when my favorite musical artists make Christmas albums!! I adore Christmas music, but do try to refrain from listening to them until after Thanksgiving. Well, it's officially December, so I wanted to share some new Christmas albums I added to my collection this year.

Gwen Stefani | You Make It Feel Like Christmas
I've been a longtime admirer of Gwen Stefani. She has such a great look and I could listen to her unique and pouty voice all day long. Her Christmas album is very bouncy, fun, and is certain to put you in a good mood.

Best Original Song: You Make Me Feel Like Christmas (feat. Blake Shelton)
     Runner Up: Under the Christmas Lights
Best Christmas Cover: White Christmas
     Runner Ups: Silent Night & Santa Baby

Next up...

Lindsey Stirling | Warmer in the Winter
If you're unfamiliar with Lindsey Stirling (as I was before this album), she's a violin performance artist who combines violin and dance, which happen to be two of my favorite things. How did I not know about this woman earlier!! Anyway, her Christmas album is classic with a jazzy/big band twist.

Best Original Song: Warmer in the Winter (feat. Trombone Shorty)
Best Christmas Cover: You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch (feat. Sabrina Carpenter)
Runner Ups: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy & Carol of the Bells

And finally...

Sia | Everyday is Christmas
A holiday album from Sia was an unexpected surprise this year. Her album is a quirky mix of blues, reggae, and pop. It's also all original songs, which I have never seen before on a holiday album. Amazing!

Best Original Song: Candy Cane Lane
Runner Ups: Snowman, Ho Ho Ho, & Puppies Are Forever

What are you listening to this holiday season?


Touring Phoenix - Camelback Mountain

As per usual, Bill and I took the entirety of Thanksgiving week off from work. With the kids still in school Monday and Tuesday, we were able to get a little quality time together before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Last Monday, we decided to hike Camelback Mountain!
Camelback Mountain is a very popular Phoenix hike; a very touristy thing to do, so it's always crowded. Bill has done it once before, but it was a first for me. We were hoping getting there early on a Monday morning would mean nice cool temperatures and not too crowded. I'd say we were right, but it did end up being hotter than I was expecting.

Here I am at the beginning of the hike feeling all confident and such. We did the Cholla Trail which is only about a mile and half, but goes up 1250 feet in elevation in that short distance.
The beginning is not too bad, but that last half mile was pretty difficult. Bill kept telling me to keep three point of contact on the mountain at all times, and he was right - it got real steep.
Not feeling so confident anymore. Just keeping it real for you guys.
We did make it to the peak though and were soon all smiles once again.
The views were pretty good, but for me, the satisfaction was accomplishing the climb.
The adventure wasn't over yet, as the trek down was just as difficult as it was going up. The less than 3 mile round trip took us about 2 and half hours, and we were pretty wiped the rest of the day. 
It was well worth it though. I love getting outside and spending time with Bill.
What sort of things do you do with your significant other? I enjoyed our hike, but I equally enjoyed the hours we spent binge watching Stranger Things the rest of the day. It's all about keeping a healthy balance, right?

P.S. Touring Phoenix  - Tom's Thumb


2017 Turkey Trot

I hope everybody enjoyed their Thanksgiving holiday. We stayed local this year, and of course participated in our favorite Thanksgiving tradition - the Turkey Trot!!
You'll notice we are missing someone here. We were literally in the car ready to go when Madeleine said she felt like she was going to get sick. Bill's dad was in town for the holiday, so he graciously agreed to stay home with her so the rest of us could still participate.
We missed Madeleine, but it was also kind of nice for both of us to spend some quality time just with Seamus.
Another first, I actually ran the entire 5K! I haven't run a 5K in years. My official time was 43:24, which I thought was not too shabby considering we were in no hurry and pushing a stroller the entire time too. Speaking of which, I'm glad we had the stroller as Seamus only ran a bit at the beginning and the end.

Check out our big finish!

The rest of Thanksgiving was...interesting. Madeleine rallied, but Bill soon had the nausea that hit her earlier in the day plus a fever and chills. We relaxed by watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, the National Dog Show, and football throughout the day. Then, our big Thanksgiving dinner ended up just being my father-in-law and myself!! Seriously, Bill passed out upstairs, and the kids left the table after like 10 minutes. Oh well, we enjoyed it, and it was definitely one for the memory book.

How was your Thanksgiving? Have you ever had one that didn't exactly go as planned? I'd love to hear about it. 

P.S. Turkey Trot | 2015 Turkey Trot | 2016 Turkey Trot


Let's Go To The Movies: Thor: Ragnarok

Bill and I went to see Thor: Ragnarok for his birthday yesterday. Let me tell you, these Marvel movies have been hit or miss with me lately, so how did the newest Thor film fare?

While attempting to defeat a new evil rising against his home planet of Asgard, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself imprisoned on a strange planet where he is forced to fight as a gladiator against his fellow Avenger, the Hulk. Thor must find a way to escape and return to Asgard before his home and all those who live there are destroyed.

So much fun!

Thor: Ragnarok was an incredibly lighthearted and humorous superhero film. Chris Hemsworth carried the movie and himself quite well. (hello haircut!) The amazing Cate Blanchett just oozed a sophisticated evil in her performance as the villainess Hela. What delightfully surprised me though, was that Thor: Ragnarok was so much of an ensemble film - Tom Hiddleston's Loki and Mark Ruffalo's the Incredible Hulk rounded out the cast nicely, as well as fine performances from Idris Elba, Jeff Goldbloom, and Anthony Hopkins. However, it was Tessa Thompson as the last of the Valkyrie warriors who really made the film for me. I loved her character and the amount of screen time and amazing fight sequences she received. There were no damsels in distress here, and these movies are always stronger films when the studios remember that. Thor: Ragnarok is a rockin' and colorful film, funny and full of action that is definitely worth the price of admission. See this one in the theater if you can.

P.S. Thor: Ragnarok was directed by Taika Waititi who also directed a favorite of mine from last year, Hunt for the Wilderpeople (see here). Everything I've seen that he's directed (Eagle vs. Shark, What We Do in the Shadows) has been quirky and fun. I'm officially putting him on my short list of favorite directors.

Check out more Marvel movie reviews below:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
Dr. Strange
Captain America: Civil War
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier


Fan Girl - The Crown

You guys, the trailer for Season 2 of The Crown is out. Are you as excited as I am? This was by far my favorite new show last season. It was perfection!

December 8th - Mark your calendars!


Coming Soon - The Greatest Showman

Have you guys seen the preview for the new Hugh Jackman movie, The Greatest Showman?

I love a big colorful musical!! Besides Hugh Jackman, it also stars Michelle Williams, and past Disney Channel darlings Zendaya and Zach Efron. I can't wait to hear Zach Efron sing again! He's come a long way since High School Musical.

What movies are you looking forward to?


Album Alert - Taylor Swift: Reputation

Taylor Swift's new album, Reputation dropped today!
It's not bad, although no 1989. I'd describe it as edgy pop. I'm sure you've heard a few of the singles on the radio by now (videos below for your purusal), but my favorite track from the album is actually No. 13 - This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Are you a Taylor Swift fan? If so, do you already have this album? What did you think? Let's talk music!

P.S. My New Video Jam - Bad Blood | My New Jam - Look What You Made Me Do


Silky As A Snake

I found the cutest top at Target the other day. It's the Long Sleeve Silky Doll Blouse from the Who What Wear collection.
The sexy green and black snakeskin pattern is a fun juxtaposition against the modest neckline and long sleeves. It's so flattering, and hello, only $25! I've gotten so many compliments on it already!

P.S. The photo above makes the color appear teal, but in person, it's definitely a forest green.

P.P.S. I promise to start posting some personal fashion posts soon. I just never have time to take the photos!! #bloggerfail


Musical Monday - Something Rotten

Over the weekend, I saw the musical, Something Rotten, with a friend of mine.
I had no idea anything about this musical going in, other than it was a comedy. I meant to download the music to familiarize myself with it, but just ran out of time. So, I went in blind, which is always a little daunting.

No need for worry though, Something Rotten was fantastic! It was hilarious and entertaining all around - great music, dancing, and story.

It takes place during the time when Shakespeare was at the top of his game - churning out hit after hit. Competing playwrights, the Bottom Brothers, dream of writing a play as good as the Bard. After consulting a sleuthsayer who tells them that someday the biggest theater draws will be something called a musical, the brothers decide to put on the world's very first; even if it makes absolutely no sense at all.

If it sounds, silly, it is - but you'll smile and laugh throughout, so just enjoy the ride. If you're a fan of Shakespeare, you'll like it. If you're a fan of musicals, you'll really like it. And, if you're a fan of both, you'll definitely be loving, Something Rotten. If it comes to your city, I highly recommend checking it out.

P.P.S. Something Rotten made me want to read some Shakespeare again. It's been ages!


Halloween = David S. Pumpkins!!

It's almost Halloween!!  Just for fun, I thought I'd share my favorite SNL Halloween sketch. Enjoy!

I will never forget watching this with Bill the first time and laughing hysterically at the sheer absurdity of it. Those skeletons get me every time!!


What I'm Watching - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Have you guys seen the preview for the new Amazon show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel?

This looks right up my alley as far as plot, setting, and style; then to top it off, it's from the creator of Gilmore Girls!!!!

Seriously, I saw those two words flash on the screen, and I was all...

Which then quickly turned to...

What are you watching lately? Looking forward to anything in particular? Let's talk TV!


Officially A Soccer Mom

That's right, with the three digit temperatures behind us (fingers crossed), all the fall sports have started up here in Phoenix; and Madeleine and Seamus are bona fide soccer players now!
The kids got to pick their team name, so everybody put your hands together for the SUPER ROCK STARS! Not just Rock Stars, mind you, but SUPER Rock Stars. They're playing through i9 Sports (which is a national program btw), that is purely a rec league; so no keeping score or anything like that yet. 
That being said, Madeleine totally scored her first goal!! She's such a natural at all things athletic.
Seamus? Well, Seamus was a bit more...let's say - hesitant. He got kicked in the leg before practice even started, then pretty much refused to go in the game at all. 
He did eventually give it a go, and I'm betting next week will be better (here's hoping). I forget how young 4 is still, you know? Wish us luck, I guess.

What fun extracurricular activities do you have your little ones in? This is Seamus' first, but Madeleine also does karate, Brownies, and piano lessons. 


2017 Emmys Fashion - Black and White

Did you guys watch the Emmys last night? I actually missed it, but made sure to still check out all the red carpet pics. Let's dive into our fashion review with all the black, white, and black & white dresses of the night. Here we go!
Laura Dern | Proenza Schouler
Winner, Laura Dern, wore this tea length black and white number. There's a lot going on here, but I think it came together well. The white flowers bring visual interest, and the feathers loads of texture. The shoes felt a little heavy, and I would have liked to see a pop of color on her lips; but otherwise, not bad at all. 

Kate McKinnon | Narciso Rodriguez
Winner, Kate McKinnon kept it simple in this black and white spaghetti strap column gown. It's rather plain for a nominee, let alone a winner. The white fabric seems too flimsy against the heavy black bodice, and I wish she would have worn her hair down. Despite that, I think she's still pulling it off. Good job, Kate. 

Mandy Moore | Carolina Herrera
Nominee, Mandy Moore, wore this black and white tiered gown. Kudos for taking a risk! The block of white is a bit jarring to the eye, but I still felt this look was playful and fun. Her hair was perfect and I loved the pop of pink at the lips. Nicely done, Mandy! 

Claire Foy | Oscar de la Renta
Nominee, Claire Foy, opted for a black jumpsuit on the big night. I love the idea of this, but in my opinion, it didn't quite come together. The sparkly knot and sash make the entire look top heavy. I would have loved to see the accent at the waist instead of the bust. Nice shoes and face, but overall, this one was just okay for me. 

Michelle Pfeiffer | Oscar de la Renta
Nominee, Michelle Pfeiffer, looked ladylike and lovely in this tea length black applique number. I love the length, the sheer black over nude lining, and the entire silhouette. The simple shoes, natural hair, and bare face let the dress take center stage. Beautiful job, Michelle! 

Julie Bowen | Alberta Ferretti
Julie Bowen's black column gown with ruffle detail is anything but basic black. The silhouette is simple (love the neckline), but the ruffle adds both texture and visual interest. I enjoyed the little pop of color, courtesy of her nails. However, it's the gorgeous jewelry that really made the entire look for me. Good job, Julie!

Emmy Rossum | Zac Posen
The sparkle of Emmy Rossum's a-line strapless dress was a fun little detail. As were the great pops of green from her ring and earrings. The smokey eye and old Hollywood hair pull the entire look together. Well done, Emmy!

Tatiana Maslaney | Reem Acra
Tatiana Maslaney's off-the-shoulder column gown is a fine example of keeping it simple. The dress fits her like a glove, and the small accents of the shape of the neckline and train add just enough to detail to attract the eye. The hair, jewelry, and make-up all compliment the look well. Good job, Tatiana!

Keri Russell | J. Mendel
Nominee, Keri Russel, was looking sexy in this lace and feathered number. I loved the long sleeves and crew neck, and the feathers are a fun detail as well. Of course, I'm going to say that I wish it was fully lined, but other than that, no complaints. Lookin good, Keri!


Evan Rachel Wood | Moschino
Nominee, Evan Rachel Wood's tux game has been unstoppable lately. She is killing this look from head to toe. Absolutely gorgeous!

What's your favorite of the bunch? Did I miss a favorite black or white gown?

All photos from here, except for Laura Dern and Claire Foy's which were from here.


Musical Monday - Fun Home

Bill and I saw the musical Fun Home over the weekend!
I had actually downloaded the soundtrack for this one, but never got around to listening to it, so I went in totally blind.

Based on Alison Blechdel's graphic novel of the same name, Fun Home chronicles the author's childhood. Her father is a high school English teacher, runs the local funeral home (aka Fun Home), and also a closeted homosexual. Alison struggles with her relationship with her father as well as her own sexual orientation; eventually coming out as a lesbian. Shortly thereafter, her father kills himself. Alison is left to ponder whether her coming out was a trigger for her father's suicide and reflect on the impact he had on her life.

So, you know, fun stuff!
It actually was fun, and poignant, and funny, and sad. It was an odd story for a musical, but it oddly worked. Bill and I both enjoyed it. If Fun Home comes to your town, I highly recommend checking it out.


My New Jam - What About Us

One of my favorite musical artists, P!nk, released a new single recently - What About Us.

It's a powerful ballad with a timely social message too. Her talent is amazing, and I never tire of listening to her music. Download this one now!!


Yay for Crochet!

I have been wanting to learn how to crochet far too many years now. Seriously, my sister tried to teach me and my mom tried to teach me, but for some reason, it just wasn't sticking.

Then, for Christmas last year, Seamus got me the cutest little Marvel amigurumi set. It was so thoughtful and so adorable, and I was determined to finally learn.
Then, the months went by, and...nothing. I did take it out and try a little, but it was far beyond what I could manage on my own.

Recently, Seamus asked me when I was going to make the little dolls for him, and my heart just broke. It was time to step outside my comfort zone and finally figure this out. I scoured YouTube videos and watched this video over and over again until I could finally make a proper granny square.
I can't believe I finally did it! I'm a long way from making those little dolls for Seamus, but it's such a great feeling to finally learn something you've always wanted to.

I also learned that I can keep going around and around with this pattern to make an actual blanket. I'm going to start there and see how it goes. There are countless stitches yet to learn, plus learning how to decipher a pattern as well, but I'm finally on my way.

P.S. My 5-Year Plan | Checking In On My 5-Year Plan


Nifty Nails - Desert Sands

I've been trying to take more time for myself lately. My latest pampering of choice has been mani-pedis at my neighborhood nail bar. It's so relaxing, and I always feel so pulled together when my nails are done.
This time around I went with the color Desert Sands by Gelish. I wanted a neutral with a bit of shimmer. It was a little more clear than I was hoping for, and I thought it made the whites of my nail tips appear a bit yellowish. So, not a color I'll probably choose again, but totally fine as a two-week commitment.

How often do you get your nails done? Do you get gel manicures? I love how long they last, but they're an awful pain to remove.


My New Jam - Look What You Made Me Do

Taylor Swift dropped her new single Look What You Made Me Do yesterday, and I'm loving it!!

The tune is catchy and doesn't take itself too seriously. She makes great videos too, with this one being no exception. It's the perfect mix of glam and goof. So much fun!


Removing Wine Labels

Back when I was doing my Crush List posts, I mentioned that I wanted a wine journal (see here). Well, I got the wine journal, plus a few bottles of wine from Bill for my birthday earlier this year.
I was excited to start tracking my wines and attaching the pretty labels to each page. The only problem - I had no idea how to remove a wine label without damaging it. Turns out, it's really not that hard.
When you're ready to remove the label, just boil up some water. When the water has boiled, pour it gently into the empty wine bottle. I usually put the wine bottle in the sink for this step. Let it sit a moment to loosen the glue from the label. Then, after about 2 minutes, the label should peel right off. Before I peel, I put on an oven mitt to pick up the now very hot bottle first, and put it on my counter with a wooden cutting board underneath. I like it to get really close to it when I peel off the label. I start at one corner, peel down the side to the corner directly under the one I start with, then peel it off from right to left (or vice versa). It should come off easily, but you still need to go nice and slow.
When the label is off, I immediately put it into my journal where it sticks perfectly to the paper . Isn't that fun?

I'm a little behind yet on filling out the rest of the details in the journal, but I'm getting there. I can't wait to fill this thing up. Better start drinking!


2017 Total Solar Eclipse

Did you get to witness the Total Solar Eclipse? I watched on the roof of a parking garage with a bunch of my co-workers. Bill, however, did it up right.
He picked up a special lens for his telescope, and with our camera attached; took some amazing pictures.
We weren't in the path of totality, so this is the most coverage we saw here in Phoenix.
This one is my favorite. I love the effect the clouds add to the shot.
Oh, and these shots were straight from the camera too - no editing, no filter. He's a man of many talents, my Bill.


Hosting A Bunco Party

I've been part of a Bunco group for about a year now, and it was finally my time to host.
I went with a Parisian theme for my party because, well..., it gave me an excuse to get two of my favorites - champagne and macaroons! I also broke out the china and stemware. It's all in the details, my friends.
All of my wine selections were from France.
And, I picked up the macaroons from a local fine foods grocery.
I served some Brie, crackers, and fruit; and topped off the kitchen island with fresh flowers as well.
In the other room, I set up the two additional tables. I was so excited to break out my Eiffel Tower table cloth again!
It was an easy and fun little party. All the guests brought food to share, and we had quite the array of French goodies to enjoy all night.

Do you play Bunco? What was the last party you hosted? I really need to entertain more.