Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July SpouseBox

In June, I decided to look into subscription boxes. I had been curious about these for quite a while and figured it would be something fun to try out. The first box I tried out was the Popsugar Must Have box. You can read about that box on my blog today. I enjoyed it a lot and decided to try out another one for the month of July. This time, I chose the Spouse Box which is geared towards military spouses. I'm going to share my first box with you below. Enjoy!

One of the items in the box was this motivational print with a picture frame to hold it in. I am excited about this because I love motivational sayings and prints. This one fits with my goals lately as well. I have a lot of big dreams that I'm currently focusing on. I will probably pick a different frame for it but I'm looking forward to displaying it as a reminder to just go for it.

The next (and biggest) item in the box was this set of cookies that look like mini-cupcakes. I was (unfortunately) not impressed with these at all. I'm currently trying to focus on eating healthy so seeing cookies in the box went against my goals. However, there was another reason that these were not enjoyed (see the next picture!).

The packaging of the cookies at first glance seemed nice. Then, I discovered there were gaping holes that my fingers could fit into. This explained the cookie crumbs in the box. Since this was the case, I didn't even try to offer these to the husband - I figured they would be stale.

While I wasn't impressed with the cookies, I was impressed with how Spouse Box handled the situation. After hearing feedback (within a day of boxes arriving in homes), they sent out and email with a 20% off code and an apology. They are still in the learning phases and this was an experience that they said they'll learn from. Way to go Spouse Box team!

The next item in the box was a cute decal. While this isn't something I'd buy for myself, I am going to find a place to put it. They showed it on a computer for an example. I'm debating between my laptop or a journal. I'll let you know what I decided!

I found this next item very nifty but I don't have a use for it. It is a little pocket that you can put on the back of your cell phone to hold cards. While I find this to be a cool concept, I also don't have a use for it. My cell phone case already has a couple of card slots that I can use. I am going to try to find a use for this one though because I love the saying on the front. I'm debating using it to hold business cards inside of a notebook. Do you have any other ideas for me?

The last item in the box was a cute coaster. While I do think it's a cute coaster, I did have two problems with it. The first problem goes back to the cookie crumbs - they really stuck to the top of the coaster. I had to put some effort into brushing them off. The second problem is that I'm a very symmetrical person. I love coasters but I can't see myself putting this one out anywhere because it would be a loner without a match.

Overall, I wasn't overly impressed with this box. I am going to give it another shot though since it's just $25 a month and the sneak peeks for next month look really intriguing! I don't believe in basing my opinion of something on one experience alone.

I do love the customer experience of this company. I also love that they try to include things from milspo (military spouse) owned companies. They really are all about supporting our military and their families! Don't worry - I'll be sure to share next month's box with you as well!

And don't forget to go check out July's Popsugar box here!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Animated Movies with Outstanding Art

*Affiliate links are used in this post. They help us keep the blogging going but they don't harm you at all! Thank you for your continued support.* 

Almost anyone will admit that computer animation has it's pluses. The smooth transition of the characters through their world, the physical interaction of objects on each other, and the near perfect synchronization of the movement of the mouths and words being heard are all examples of steps that have taken animation forward by leaps and bounds. However, anyone who grew up with true hand drawn animation movies will agree that there is a magic to be found in the old standard animation style that is lost in the "in your face" style of computer animation. Below I have listed some of my favorite animated movies from when I was growing up. Having watched these again as an adult I can truly appreciate the mastery of artistry that the creators put into the back drops of these movies.

10- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
With a simplistic story line of the gang trying to get to the land of milk and honey to re-stock Pooh's supply, this movie boasts not only beautiful and detailed back drops from beginning to end, but also includes a level of detail on the character's texture rarely seen in those days. Texture on the characters was often avoided because of it's tendency to shift from frame to frame. Drawing the same picture thousands of times leaves a lot of room for error; however, the animator's of this movie threw caution to the wind by adding great texture to these characters, and placed them against somewhat repetitive but beautiful backgrounds.

9- The Page Master
I know - a solid piece of the movie is real actors... blah blah. I am willing to overlook this due to the back drops and unusual creativity that came in this movie. It came off a little strong, in trying to get kids to read. (A fact that is overlooked by kids who watched it and then went to the library inspired to experience something new.) This great cinematic creation fell short on their human characters, but made up for it in creative, outlandish, even dark backdrop, and neat walking talking books. This movie used it's settings and styles to create a feel that was unique from any thing else in its time.

8- The Great Mouse Detective
This is one of three mouse movies to make this list. Having the whole movie take place from the perspective of mice gave a unique artistic value of looking at things through smaller eyes. It even inspired others to attempt movies from the same size perspective that were less well known, including Thumbelina and Ferngully. This movie reached for the highest rung in the ladder of detail, boasting gallery worthy backdrops that are set in Victorian style England.  The twisted plot follows a young mouse "Olivia" in her search for her father, an inventor, that has been kidnapped by a truly dark and devious antagonist. This is one movie that could easily be watched without sound and enjoyed for the pure aesthetic mastery.

7- Little Nemo
If I had to describe this movie in one word, it would be bizarre. We follow young Nemo into Slumberland where he is trying to save the king. The story line in this movie is sporadic and bounces around a bit. However, there is great animation and imaginative characters throughout this movie that make it a truly visual adventure (including a sleazy bum clown that winds up showing Nemo around while trying for the better portion of the movie to ditch him). Given that this movie takes place in a dream world very little is off limits. Even though the vast majority is very scary and dark, it maintains a somewhat steam punk/dark fantasy feel.

6- The Fox and the Hound
I think most everyone alive through the 90's will remember this heart breaking tale of two great friends destined to be enemies. The interaction between human and animal in this movie was almost unparalleled in any other animal based animated movie of its time. The forest scenes and backdrops of this movie looked as if they belonged in a Thomas Kinkade gallery, and for all I know may have. The outstanding artistry is not only in the backgrounds that covered multiple forest scenes and views from all over three different cottages, but also in the characters that gave the whole movie a realistic feel that touched the heart.

5-American Tail
Another movie that utilizes the unique perspective of the mouse. Brutally attacked by the Soviet cats that followed around the Russian military, (for some reason, wiping out both people and mice) Fievel and his family flee to America to escape the brutal cats. However, the problems are only starting as Fievel gets separated from his family while out at sea. The adventure takes us from the skies, to the sewers of New York and everywhere in between. The spectacular use of the perspective coupled with truly talented artists makes you can feel the settings that they put the characters in. Utilizing incredible color schemes and contrasts, this movie pops like nothing else in its time.

4- All Dogs Go to Heaven
This movie holds a special place in my heart (mostly because I'm a dog lover). In this movie, we meet Charlie and his kind-hearted companion Itchy. the story starts off with the stars of this artistic masterpiece being not so savory. The pair of stray dogs wind up taking advantage of a cute little girl who happens to be able to talk to animals - but that's not what this post is about. The artists of this movie were masters of the imagination. They managed to piece together entire areas by creatively connecting random things. When the characters aren't in the "real world" they are moving through what appear to be giant scrap sculptures. The detail exhibited in these settings adds a texture to the movie all it's own.

Who doesn't know Bambi? There is honestly nothing about this movie that I can say that hasn't been said a million times over. This is one of the most seamless movies I have ever seen. In any animation of this time period, you can tell when something is going to move in the background, because it is a slightly different color. This is one of the only movies that almost completely erased the lines between the characters and the background. As they did with The Fox and the Hound, Disney once again brought in masters of their craft to draw the backgrounds. The animators of this movie had to have worked tirelessly to make the characters every bit as intriguing as the background giving a rare look at a truly animated world.

2-Alice in Wonderland
To anyone who read the book you will understand why this movie had to be animated in it's time. Strange and unusual do not even begin to describe what went on in this story. That being said, the people involved in the making of this movie went above and beyond just telling the story. The artistic mastery that consumes the various odd and creative backgrounds of this movie is staggering. This is the only animated movie I have ever seen where you can almost see the brush lines and pencil markings. I can do nothing but stand in awe of the attention to detail in this wildly bizarre movie, and how beautifully creative the artists got with it.

1- The Secret of Nimh
This movie has made the top of my list, even though I have met so many people who have never even seen it. This is the animated mouse movie that leaves the others eating dust in its artistic mastery. The story is about a mother mouse that has to go see the rats that have set up shop in the farmers rose bush to save her son, Tim. this movie takes us through a visual experience that includes the inside of the farmers house, an old abandoned water wheel, the field, and the inside of the rose bush. The rose bush is its own world of mystery. The genetically modified rats have built a world of their own out of various items they have found around the farm and have even included electricity. The gloomy and textured world that these characters live in express an edge of beauty unparalleled by anything else I have seen.

These movies are my picks for the most beautiful animated movies done in traditional animation. There are several that are great and didn't make the top ten list. They are worthy of an honorable mention - Peter Pan, The Rescuers, The Little Mermaid, and Lady and the Tramp. I will even give an honorable shout out to the interesting and obscure Tom and Jerry movie (the first one) for all of their beauty and attention to detail. To all of the artists who had a hand in any of these movies, I have one message...
"Please come back."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Netflix Shows to Watch Together

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Netflix has probably been one of our best investments. We watch it more than cable and have found several TV shows on there that we can enjoy together. Below are our top three shows and a mini story of how we started watching each show.

1. Being Human - Being Human is a show about a vampire and werewolf who move into a new house together and discover that there is a ghost lingering in the house. The three encounter many adventures and obstacles as they try to navigate being supernatural in a human dominated world. We first found this show on Syfy one day when we were channel surfing. A random episode was on and we found ourselves enjoying it a lot, so we headed over to Netflix and after a quick search, we found it and started watching. We've now finished the entire series and highly recommend it to others!

2. Supernatural - A love for Supernatural is one of those things we had in common when we first started dating. We both chose not to have cable and it meant that we had fallen behind on watching episodes of this enjoyable show that follows two brothers who are fighting supernatural beings in order to prevent the apocalypse. (There's much more to the plot than that but I don't want to spoil anything or go on for too long!) We recently decided to revisit it on Netflix and started watching from the beginning. We're currently on season 7 and it's definitely among our daily rotation of shows.

3. Once Upon a Time - Once Upon a Time was a show that was recommended to us by our best friends. I started watching it during a deployment and after a few episodes, I decided to set it aside until the husband came home. I hoped he would enjoy it as much as me and I was right! He randomly picked it from the list one night and we started watching all of the episodes that were available on Netflix. We're currently waiting for the latest season to come available. It's an interesting show that follows the lives of classic fairy tale characters who have been trapped in our world.

As you can tell, we enjoy fantasy and supernatural shows a lot. We're also open to other suggestions as well. These are the shows we've watched together - if you were to look at our list, you'd see tons of variety as you branched into the shows we've each watched alone.

Do you have a Netflix account? (If no, it's totally worth the $8.99 a month! Those links above go to the first season of each show so that you can get a better synopsis. They also prove that a season of each of these shows costs more than one month of Netflix! Side note: I'm just sharing my love of Netflix...we are no way affiliated with Netflix.)

What's your favorite Netflix show?