Sunday, February 26, 2017

Congrats to our local public library for winning Race to Win. You can read my review of Race To Win by clicking here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Race to Win Review and Giveaway

 Well, the chickadees, two out of three of them, and I watched "Race to Win" the other night (read on to see how you can enter to win your very own copy here on  It was pretty much what you would expect of a family movie.  There were no surprises.  No surprises in plot, dialogue, language or characterizations.

Though I would not call this a Christian movie, it certainly has positive themes and encouragement to do your best and persevere.  It also reinforces the value of family unity.  Most of the scenes containing the father happen after his death, leaving the audience to decide just exactly how that happens.  No explanation is offered by the movie.  While it seems harmless enough (and we see this type of thing all the time in movies), I did have a brief conversation with my kids reminding them that this is not how life and death actually works.  I do not recall a single objectionable word or scene -- unless a couple of very mild bar scenes with minimal drinking is not your cup of tea.  This is a pretty safe movie for families to watch together.  Perhaps it's best for families with younger children or older children who haven't been exposed to anything beyond mild, animated movies, namely. 

For my tween and teen, and myself for that matter, the movie was slowly paced and the characters were poorly developed.   I don't need "Transformer Movie speed" to be entertained, though that would be my children's preference at this point, but I do appreciate a well-paced movie.  And I would not have minded a movie that was a tad bit longer so that the characters were developed better.  A plot twists or two would have been nice also.  Perhaps this was not the intent of the writer and director in the first place.  The main character, Hannah, has a limited character arc and shows the most range in acting.  Even the most well known actor, Luke Perry, seemed like he was merely putting in time on the set. But then, I never found him a particularly great actor anyway. Cute, but not a terrifically gifted actor.  ;)

Synopsis and **Spoiler Alert **
After the surprising death of her father, Hannah must figure out a way to save the family farm. Everyone, except Hannah, is sure that the way to round up the money needed to pay off the impatient loan shark circling the property is for her to enter a horse race and win the prize money. 

I have seen many movies of this type.  This particular movie did not give into the unlikely scenario of her winning the money, as other movies tend to do.  One of my children actually commented at the time of the race that the race was happening way too early in the movie for the audience to believe she was going to win. I thought that was an insightful comment for a kid.  And it mirrored my thoughts exactly.

It was not an unpleasant way to spend the hour and a half and it did have positive elements, mentioned earlier.  It just wasn't quite our speed of movie, nor a story-line that we found engaging.  My oldest, 15, refused to watch yet "another horse movie."  Perhaps we've watched a few too many . . .

If a mild-mannered, predictable movie with positive elements sounds just right for your family, please comment below (or on the previous post about this movie) that you watched the trailer for "Race to Win," linked here.  This giveaway will end Sunday, February 26th, 2017.  I will announce the winner shortly thereafter.

Counting it all joy,

Friday, February 3, 2017

"Race to Win" - DVD Giveaway and trailer

*** UPDATE***  
This giveaway will end Sunday Feb. 26, 2017 

Looking for a heart-warming family movie celebrates love and the resiliency of the human spirit?  Who wouldn't be interested in movies that uplift and encourage? Read on and learn how you can win a free copy.


Stars Luke Perry & Danielle Campbell

"Courage is all you need to win"

Click the link below to watch the trailer!

Debuts on Digital HD February 3
DVD February 14

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – (January 12, 2017) – Television favorite Luke Perry (“Riverdale,” “Beverly Hills 90210”) stars alongside actress Danielle Campbell (“The Originals”) in Race To Win, an uplifting family movie about courage and hope, that arrives on Digital HD from Starz Digital February 3 and will be available on DVD on February 14 from Anchor Bay Entertainment. Race To Win is directed by Teddy Smith (A Gift Horse) and has been awarded a Seal of Approval from The Dove® Foundation. The cast includes Aiden Flowers who starred in this summer’s blockbuster movie Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children directed by Tim Burton, Candice Michele Barley (The Hollow), Thomas Francis Murphy (LBJ, Free State of Jones), and Amy Brassette (“True Detective”).

Hannah Rhodes (Campbell) is faced with the biggest decision of her life when she loses her father, Gentry Rhodes (Perry). After Gentry suffers an apparent heart-attack, the Rhodes family is left to pick up the pieces and continue running the horse ranch Gentry had worked his entire life to build. Meanwhile, a local resident claims Gentry owes him thousands of dollars which the family does not have. Hannah and her family quickly become overwhelmed with the financial crisis that is upon them and unsure how they will pay off the debt without having to sell the ranch. She must find the strength to face her fears and compete in the race of her life or her family will lose everything.

Race To Win will be available on DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment on February 14 for the suggested retail price of $22.98 respectively.

Anchor Bay Entertainment, a Lionsgate company, is a leading independent home entertainment company that acquires and releases a wide array of theatrical and home entertainment content, including STARZ Original series, children's programming, fitness (Anchor Bay Fitness), sports and specialty films on Blu-ray™ and DVD formats. The company has long-term distribution agreements in place for select programming with The Weinstein Company, AMC Networks and RADiUS, among others. 

 Your name will be put into a drawing when you comment below that you have watched the trailer.  That's all you have to do!  Once I receive the DVD to giveaway, I will update this post as to when the cut off date is for the giveaway.


Monday, January 16, 2017

BYOU Magazine - The Long and Short of the tween magazine - A Review

(I was given a pdf. copy of this magazine to review and will receive a subscription in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.)

I can honestly say that I have been looking for a magazine that would be appropriate for my young teen daughter. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I was approached to review just that, a tween magazine. It's called BYOU.  In other words: Be You.

The Upshot: 

I liked the magazine overall (with a few reservations) and was glad to have the opportunity to talk with my daughter about things that are very specific to our family and very specific to her.  There are so many good things to say about this magazine.  It's a magazine that helps a girl with her self esteem, helps her celebrate who she is exactly the way God made her (my words underlined) while at the same time, encouraging her to be better, to grow and mature.

The Longer Version: 

There is a caveat with this review.  Any of you who know me IRL will not be surprised what is about to come next.  The magazine has of course, a non-Christian world view. It doesn't claim to be anything else. In fact, I would assume that they would be proud to proclaim to be very worldly.  So, I didn't expect anything different.
I mention it bc I strive to make sure that my children are surrounded with things that support our Christian worldview.  Having said that, there are some things that do not have a Christian worldview that we do allow in our family. But one must be vigilant for their children's sake. Every family must make those choices for themselves.  Perhaps this review will give you the opportunity to decide if this magazine falls into line with the things you are allowing for your children.

*Themes: accepting and honoring your body and not comparing yourself  (whether you body, your talents or material things) with others.
* Unique tips to relieve stress and to develop good sleeping habits.
*Suggestions like drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.  Great advice that back up what I am always reminding my kids everyday:  DRINK YOUR WATER, KID!
*Child/teen celebrity blurbs that give advice and encouraged readers to be unique, not worry about what others think of you and making good food choices.
 *The magazine was not a flimsy 11 or 16 pages like many magazines geared toward kids.  It had a total of 48 pages.  To me, that's pretty good for a kids magazine, even if it is bimonthly.
*I appreciated the featured articles of Ella Anderson (actress) and Rachel Parent (teen activist) that have taken it upon themselves to make a difference through making healthy beauty products and getting the word out about GMO'd food, respectively.  Pretty cool.
* The approach to using essential oils and regular grocery store food (ACV, coconut oil, baking soda and sea salt, to name a few) as cures for common ailments and body treatments. There were even recipes, so readers can try them out for themselves. Very cool.

My favorite part?  The pages that featured readers and their advice, their favorite things and what they feel makes them unique.  Sometimes they even spoke about their own struggles, so that other readers can relate to them.  And the readers were a diverse group of kids.

What I didn't like so much:
*A lot of talk of self love, being a "goddess" and intuition. Now, I believe in woman's intuition, to an extent, but this particular issue had some buzz words (seemingly harmless) that can lead one further into the New Age movement. I like to think of my daughter as a princess, but a "goddess?"  Well, that takes things to a higher level. Though the word is used casually and not literally, there is a danger in often being exposed to that kind of thinking: we begin to believe it.
The quiz, "How Intuitive Are You?" and "Developing Your Intuition" was very zen-like as was the Mandala coloring page, though of course no idols were featured  (A mandala is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the universe.
 You can read more about that by clicking here.)

My advice: be very, very careful.

*It also struck me that the magazine had a theme of kind of praising the creation (the person we were made to be) as the ultimate object to be praised. It also advocated being your own authority.  Now, girls do need to set boundaries, know who they are and would like to become, be aware of  their own limitations and overcoming them if necessary. However, children need a firm foundation of beliefs and values.  Those don't just come naturally.  If you aren't guiding your children in beliefs and values, the world is definitely doing that for you.  That is a scary and dangerous proposition.We cannot successfully be our own authority, especially in spiritual matters and it just made me wonder how future magazines would handle this important issue.

For our family, the Bible is our ultimate Authority, not ourselves.  This magazine does not support that very important conviction. Obviously, this is not shocking as this is not a Christian publication; just something to be aware of when reading.  It did give me a chance to talk to my daughter on her level with the things that she is interested in.  It wasn't just Mom "lecturing" her again.  It gave us an avenue to start some very good discussions on why we believe what we believe and some things to be careful about as we filter what we take in from the world through our Christian worldview.

The article "How to have a Clear Mind" had good advice, but the title sure threw me for a loop.  Those are words often chosen to open oneself to the spirit world.  If you have rolled your eyes at that statement, you may have swallowed this thinking yourself; we certainly have been conditioned for at least four decades to accept this as normal and okay.  As Christians we are to fill our mind with the things of Christ, not empty our minds.  The article, thankfully, actually contained advice like being prepared, making new friends, enjoying the outdoors and cleaning your room.  All of that is great.  But like I said, the wording in the title is setting up kids for New Age methodology and ideology.  It has made me think twice about how much of the magazine I will allow my daughter to read.  We probably will read some of each issue together so that we can talk about what to watch out for, what is good about the advice, my own opinions and what the Bible has to say about what we have read.  Some of it will be set aside as not appropriate for our family.

As parents, we need to be vigilant for our children. I probably don't need to remind you of that, but I am anyway:  BE VIGILANT!

So, there you have it: the long and the short version of my take on the magazine BYOU.  I do hope you will check it out for yourself and make your own decision as to whether or not this magazine is right for your family.

Stay tuned because next time I will give you my daughter's take on the magazine. Hope you come back for that.

Counting it all joy,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Is Jessie Steele Really Bringing "Happy Home?" - A Review

(I was given the apron and cocktail napkins in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to give a positive review and all opinions are my own.)

Well, the holidays are here. And with that in mind, I wanted to share with you a fun company with some pretty beautiful products. Introducing . . . .

The Jessie Steele company is looking
to raise awareness for the nostalgia
that holiday meals bring to family lives.

They proudly grow their company guided by
The values that their company was founded on:

The company sells aprons (including salon aprons and aprons for men), oven mitts, towels and other kitchen textiles, bags that range from tote bags to cosmetic bags, and accessories like headbands and shower caps. You can even shop by print, if you are looking to match colors or themes like cherries, nautical or vintage prints. As a side note, the clearance items are very economical. The aprons range in price from $11.99 (a clearance price) to 39.99. The cocktail napkins range from $5.99 (a clearance price) to $14.99.

I was happy to agree to participate in their offer to try out two of their products: cocktail napkins and a gorgeous little apron. This is The Affectionate One modeling the Cream and Black Polka Dot Josephine Apron. It retails at $30.99. She is just under five foot, so it's a little long. But it's still cute on her. I guess the ruffle is actually supposed to fit up higher upon the hips. Which would nicely accentuate nearly any figure.

You may notice the adorable bow, in the above photo, and the monogram on the pocket there in the picture on the left. It's so fun that Jessie Steele thinks of these touches. The bow even detaches by a small safety pin inside the pocket for when it comes time to wash the apron.

 I did find some things that made an unfortunate impression, however. There are a couple places where the stitching is sloppy (where the neck straps are sewn to the top of the apron) and the other of those places the stitching of the hem actually pulls the material above it into the hem.

I also wished pieces of the ruffled bottom, a sophosticated scalloped cut, had been more carefully planned as to meet the polka dots on the other pieces. It is a small detail, but for the price of these aprons, it would be worth the few extra minutes and material it would take. Here are a couple of photos to show what I mean. Perhaps there was a conscious decision to not match up the polka dots in an effort to add to the ruffled look. I am certainly willing to believe that to be the case.

In spite of these details, I loved the apron so much that I intend to give it as a gift, but in order to give a proper review, I needed to wash it to see how it came out. Wash it I did. And it came out just as one would expect from a 100% cotton garment. I did not catch my son before he threw it into the dryer with the other clothes in the load. It's supposed to be lined dried. Either way, it would need to be ironed. I know that because I did wash and line dry the cocktail napkins and they came out just as wrinkled as the apron when it came out of the apron. I personally am not in the habit of ironing aprons and napkins. Okay, let's be honest. I'm not into ironing -- At All. Just keeping it real.

Allow me to show you the photos I took of the cocktail napkins before and after washing and line drying.

Completely adorable, right? I love the colors. The gold dots do tend to stick together when taken out of the package, but I didn't mind that one bit. Once they were washed, this didn't happen again. Even the band around the napkins is cute with a flower and scalloped edges.

The stitching on the napkins were of the same quality on each corner of each napkin as the stitches on the apron. I am assuming it is difficult to hem corners since all four corners of all four napkins had the same look.

I still intend to give the apron as a gift. But the cocktail napkins, I just cannot part with. I love them too much. I know 'tis better to give than receive, especially in this season, but I am definitely keeping the napkins and proudly giving the apron -- right after I iron it, of course. ;)

Give yourself a treat and check out their site. The patterns of the material are beautiful. My favorite is the Watermelon Stripe Viola Apron. But the apron I was sent, is a very, very close second.

Counting it all joy,