Friday, April 4, 2014

Foot Races Are the New Car Chases

Let me tell you about a hot date I went on with my wife. No, this isn’t Mama Sparkles. It’s Hubby again, with a guest movie review of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I say “hot” because we’re talking about an action movie sequel and on a funny side note, it was announced before the screening that it would be “overwhelmingly loud,” so it could’ve been “hot” in that the theater speakers nearly exploded. My wife says my reviews have too many tangents and my sentences are too long, so I apologize for that.

Back to the movie, anyone going into any sequel wants two things (whether they realize it or not): something (1) more and something from (2) before. It’s obvious that by “more” I mean more action or comedy, bigger budgets and better special effects. But a successful sequel shouldn’t just expand on top of the original movie, it should deepen its roots. By “before” I mean character background that precedes the original movie without contradicting it, context as opposed to content.

Captain ‘Merica (as the guy sitting behind me pronounced it) definitely has more action and more comedy. Where the original movie had (spoiler alert) a death at the end, this sequel starts off with a death and who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? There’s a deeper political context this time around (although I’m going to leave that open for you to interpret how you will) and most importantly (to me anyway), the relationship dynamics between Cap (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) are deepened.

Yes, The Winter Soldier makes for a hot date. I say “hot” because we’re talking about some good, old-fashioned sexual tension. If you don’t care about superheroes but you do like romance, you should still watch this for something that I never saw coming. At first I didn’t get it (typical aloof guy that I am) when the superheroine kept trying to set our hero up with different people. By the time they reach a certain underground bunker (metaphor for “deep”), his all-business-and-no-pleasure mentality becomes apparent for what it really is, her unrequited love.

Be still my beating heart! Not only that, but the actress they got to play title character’s actual love interest, Agent 13 (Emily VanCamp), was always my pick to play Katchoo, the love interest in a Strangers in Paradise adaptation, another comic book movie with love triangles that probably won't get made. Now if you don’t care about other comic book characters but you do like celebrity cameos, you should still stay through the '60s-style
end credits for the DOUBLE ZINGER. That’s right, not one, but two different sneak peeks of future franchise films starring Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson (who will both appear in the remake of Godzilla, my most anticipated movie of 2014)! Awww, I’m a nerd, but thanks for reading me on Mama Sparkles.

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our DisneySide Celebration!

Last month, I had the opportunity to host a Disney Side Home Celebration. This meant that we got to have an awesome party at our home with this amazing kit that was sent to us:

Try spinning the American Tourister luggage - I bet you can't do it just once.

Any excuse to have a party is fine by us...especially if it involves Disney! In addition to all the cute Mickey cups, plates and decorations, there were other great items as well. Mickey cookie cutters, HP photo paper, stickers, and fun games all played a role in our party.

We decided to bring a bit of Disney magic to our guests and recreate one of our favorite moments. Ariel's Grotto at Disney's California Adventure is a delectable place to eat. In fact, I posted about it here. We love the three tiered presentation of the appetizer plate, so that's what we did for our party:

We served cucumber mint and egg salad tea sandwiches, along with scones and cut strawberries. We also cut up cheese, meat and bread with the Mickey cookie cutters to make sandwiches. It was all delicious!

We also did a little cookie decorating:

My mom was in town and she showed off her mad face painting skills:

The adults enjoyed playing Disney Bingo and Disney Trivia. We also used the tablecloth that came in our party kit and used it as a backdrop for our photo booth. I downloaded the Disney Memories HD app on my iPod Touch and took cute pictures of all the kids. Then we printed them out on our HP photo paper, so people could take home a souvenir.

Thank you to Disney for providing the party kit and allowing us to show our Disney Side with such a fun party!

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mama Sparkles Holiday Gift Guide 2013 - Chick-fil-A

Welcome to Mama Sparkles' Holiday Gift Guide! This month, I'll be sharing a few of my favorite gift ideas for everyone on your list. Be sure to check back often as I add more items.

It's no secret that we love Chick-fil-A around here! I really think I would eat their chicken every day if I could. Not only does Chick-fil-A provide excellent service to go along with their amazing food, but they also have a few affordable gift items that would make any cow jump for joy. Check these out:

Chick-fil-A 2014 Calendar - $6.00

The Chick-fil-A 2014 calendar is not only entertaining to flip through, it comes with a promotional card that, once activated, contains delicious FREE offers throughout the year. These offers include items such as fries, drinks, chicken sandwiches, breakfast entrees and more. Once a month you can go and claim the offer for that month. This calendar is only $6.00, people! To me, that's an incredible deal, for a gift that keeps on giving. Go here to learn more about the calendar.

Next up:

Chick-fil-A Elf Cow - $5.99

Chick-fil-A Sports Arena sent me this adorable plush cow elf. We have a collection of plush cows at home, but I think this one is my favorite. Pinga is going to flip when she sees this. It will be going in her stocking this year.

And finally:
Chick-fil-A Gift Cards - Denominations of $10 and $15

Some people are more difficult to buy for than others. In this case, a Chick-fil-A gift card is the perfect solution! Kinda like having a passport to delicious chicken whenever you please.

Do you eat at Chick-fil-A? Will you be buying any of these gifts this season?

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Monday, December 16, 2013

Harry Potter Holiday Gift Guide 2013

For all you Harry Potter Fans out there...
Warner Bros. has released an official Harry Potter Gift Guide! These amazing Harry Potter inspired products feature everything from wizard wear and accessories, to collectibles, to home decor. Wouldn't you love to have one of these?

Harry Potter collectible wand

This year’s catalogue offers a host of new items, including the Harry Potter Remote Control Wand from The Noble Collection, which allows the user to magically control any IR device with the flick of the wrist. Also newly available is the United States Postal Service Harry Potter Limited-Edition Forever stamp collection – perfect for stocking stuffers and for all those looking to send their holiday cards the Muggle way. Leggings from boutique fashion label Black Milk, fresh Hot Topic-exclusive apparel from Bioworld, a limited-edition Hogwarts castle ornament from Hallmark and more can also be found within the guide.

Needless to say, I am ridiculously excited about this. I also have this AMAZING Harry Potter Prize Pack to give away to one winner! It includes:

Dumbledore Wand Pen and Bookmark Set
Harry Potter Collectible Wand
Harry Potter Glasses

Enter for your chance to win, below! A winner will be chosen on Monday, December 23rd. Giveaway open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Disney Christmas

To me, there's nothing better than spending a day at the Disneyland Resort during the holiday season - even if it's cold and rainy! Last week, we shared a wonderful day as a family and got to experience a few new things that had never seen or done before.

The first thing we did was purchase these awesome rain ponchos for everyone:

The ponchos did a great job protecting us from the rain!

All of us...Pinga is in there somewhere.

If you think you can't enjoy Dole Whip in the rain, you are wrong.

We got to attend a super fun reception, which had lots of games, character meet and greets, coloring, dancing, yummy snacks and other activities like face painting and a caricature artist. This was also the perfect way to dry off from the rain!

Beautiful Setup
Yummy "Frozen" cupcakes!
Bean showing off his skills
Coloring was a big hit

Allow me to take a minute and talk about Pinga...Pinga is the sweetest and most loving little girl. She's also quite wary of strangers and takes a while to warm up to you. She has never let a costumed character touch her - until now. She expressed interest in taking a photo with Daisy, and even gave her a hug afterwards. This is just a small example of the Disney magic radiating throughout the parks.

This is also the first time Pinga agreed to get her face painted. At first she didn't want to do it, but when I said she could have something sparkly on her face, she immediately wanted to do it. Another success!

What's a trip to the Disneyland Resort during the holidays without Santa? Elias and Company at Disney California Adventure Park has a wonderful Santa for children to meet, and without much of a line either.

Christmas time also means you can catch A Christmas Fantasy parade, which is Disney holiday splendor at its best. It's a Small World Holiday and Haunted Mansion Holiday are also decked out and tons of fun. We also visited the princesses in Fantasyland, which was a huge hit with Pinga. Bean even got in on the action!

Rapunzel and Flynn Rider!

Something we had never checked out before, but did this time because it was rather chilly outside, was the Innoventions attraction. We were impressed with the interactive exhibits and how much there was to do here. So glad we visited!

A little gaming
Suiting up as Iron Man. Bean LOVED this.

We ended our incredible Disney day with a viewing of World of Color - Winter Dreams. It's hosted by Olaf the Snowman from the movie Frozen, which we all loved. And if you thought that Olaf couldn't get any "cooler", he does. He is magnificent here, and I got a little teary eyed at the end.

If you need just one reason to visit the Disneyland Resort for the holidays, this is it.

*Thank you to Disneyland Resort for inviting us to experience holiday time.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FROZEN - The True Meaning of Love

Disney's new movie Frozen opens today, just in time for Thanksgiving! My family had the opportunity to attend an advance screening a few weeks ago, and I've been thinking about it ever since.

The story follows two sisters - Elsa, who has been born with a curious power and therefore shuts herself out from the world. Anna, her younger sister, yearns to explore the world. Anna eventually finds herself teaming up with a mountain man and his reindeer to save the kingdom of Arendelle from an eternal winter, set on unknowingly by Elsa.

My whole family was captivated the entire time. Not only is the sweeping animation gorgeous to look at, but the songs are well written and the humor that is sprinkled throughout is perfect. Also, if you don't believe in true love now, you will after watching this movie. And? Olaf the adorable Snowman is worth the price of admission alone. Check out the trailer, then go see the movie!

*Thank you to Disney for providing press passes to see this wonderful movie!

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