Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 is in Theaters Now!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Lions Gate. I received a book, products, and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I am generally quick to try something new- except when it comes to books. I don’t have a lot of time to read, and since my attention is divided constantly it’s not always easy to just pick up where I left off. Since I switched to eBooks, I don’t have to worry about clutter that much, but not having a physical book always makes it harder for me to justify spending the money for some reason. I always love hearing book recommendations, but even still I’m wary until I’ve had the same book recommended to me several times.

Mockingjay Part 1 Poster

A few years ago, the Hunger Games trilogy was recommended to me at least half a dozen times- in one weekend. I took it as a sign that it was time to at least download the sample to my phone and when Shane was in bed I finally gave it a shot. I finished the sample, bought the full book, and proceeded to read half of it before going to bed that night.

To say that I devoured the Hunger Games {no pun intended} would be an understatement. I read the entire trilogy in less than a week- which is way more impressive than it sounds considering I had a two year old and an office job at the time. I just couldn’t put it down until I knew how the story ended!

Hunger Games Mockingjay

When I learned they were making the trilogy into a series of movies, I was nervous. I had recently been disappointed by another series-turned-movie franchise, so I feared that those who hadn’t read the Hunger Games series would write it off as “just another YA series” when it was so much more. Luckily, when the first movie came out in March 2012, I realized that I had nothing to worry about. The movie was great and was very close to the book, albeit some details had been left out for brevity. Still, I was proud to call myself a fan and very much still am! {That’s me rocking a Mockingjay pin up there, in case you didn’t notice.}

Mockingjay Part 1 Teaser Poster

As you MUST know by now {if you have a tv, a radio, or the internet}, Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1 is out in theaters today! I am so excited to go see it- Justin and I both read the series so we will be using it as an excuse to have a date night as soon as we can get a sitter. This is the first part of the final book in the series, and it was my favorite book of the three, so I can’t wait!

A bit more about Mockingjay:

After literally shattering the Hunger Games during her second trip to the arena, Katniss Everdeen finds herself in District 13- which she had been told no longer existed. On a quest to save Peeta from President Snow and the Capitol, Katniss joins her friends and District 13’s President Coin to fight. For them, she is the ultimate symbol of freedom- she is their Mockingjay.

This book probably had more action than the other two, and it was just rip-your-heart-out emotional in some parts. I’m not sure what parts will be in this movie and what will be saved for the final installment of the movie franchise, so I’m not quite sure what to expect. What I do know is that this is a must-see movie! You can catch the trailer below:

Have you read or seen any of the Hunger Games books or movies?

Disney’s Maleficent is Available Now!

Note: I received a copy of the movie to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

Everyone has their favorite Disney character. Over the last few years, I’ve been surprised to find out just how many people seem to love the Disney villains. As a kid, I was a bit of a scaredy cat, so I have to say that I never really liked them. For me, they were always the “bad guy”, there to threaten the happily ever after of my favorite characters. I never gave them much thought beyond that. So when I heard about Maleficent, I was intrigued because of the good things everyone else had to say about it, but I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect, beyond the summary:

MALEFICENT

Explore the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain in this wickedly fun twist on the classic “Sleeping Beauty.” In an unforgiving mood after a neighboring kingdom threatens her forest, Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) places an irrevocable curse on the king’s newborn daughter, the Princess Aurora. But as the child grows, Maleficent finds herself becoming fond of the girl. And as the conflict between the two realms intensifies, Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land. Journey beyond the fairy tale in this soaring adventure that is “visually arresting, brilliantly designed” (Andrew Barker, Variety).

So what did I think? This movie blew me away. I never expected the storyline behind Maleficent’s evil to be so touching or so deep. I never considered that she could have a connection to the Princess or the King beyond their roles in the kingdom. I certainly never thought that her evil actions could be the result of a love story overcome with greed and selfishness.

Disney's MALEFICENT

I also didn’t expect the movie to be safe for my five year old to watch, especially since he’s usually kind of a scaredy cat {like his mom} with this kind of stuff. However, there was really only one instance where I looked over to make sure he was okay- and he was perfectly fine. He was never scared by the movie and definitely enjoyed it!

If you’re looking for a good movie to watch over the holidays {or any time, of course!} be sure to pick up your copy of Maleficent! It came out on November 4th and is available at mass retailers near you or on Amazon.com{where the 2-disc Blu-ray combo pack is currently 49% off}. You can also buy it on the Disney Movies Anywhere app!

Download Maleficent Activity Pages

Don’t forget to download these great activities to go with the film! You van make your own lantern or scepter- or even your own wings and horns! These would be fun to make and then wear while watching the movie. Enjoy!

Who is your favorite Disney villain?

Bears Now Available on Blu-ray! {Prize Pack Giveaway!}

I received a copy of the movie to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

I’ve wanted to see Bears since this time last year when I got to catch a sneak peek of it. I was 13 weeks pregnant with Zac and a hormonal mess, so of course the trailer had me bawling as I watched sweet moments between a mother bear and her cubs.

BEARS_OS_07_03-185 copy

This last weekend, I finally got to watch it- this time no longer a hormonal mess. Yet, I was bawling while I watched sweet moments between a mother bear and her cubs! While there were definitely some moments that had me on the edge of my seat in concern, I spent most of the movie just admiring the strength and determination that Skye {mama bear} had in raising her two cubs. I think my life is difficult because I have to keep Zac from eating cords, but Skye had to keep her cubs from getting eaten!

Disneynature's BEARS

The movie is a fun family movie- it has a cute story, even cuter cubs, and a lot of fun jokes along the way. We found ourselves giggling as we watched the cubs do adorable bear things like frolic on the beach or climb on their mom, and we held our breath as an avalanche tore through the mountains and threatening animals came around.

The movie was so heartwarming, especially since I now have my own two cubs at home!

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If you have little ones at home, be sure to download the free printable Bears activities available by clicking the image above!

Buy It: Bears is available now in stores or on Amazon.com{the 2-disc Blu-ray combo pack is currently 43% off at just $22.99!}

Disney Bears Giveaway

Win It: One lucky reader across participating blogs will win the ultimate Bears prize pack:

-1 sterling silver eco-friendly Limited Edition Bears Pendant (retails for $218- see more below!)

-1 Blu-ray combo pack of Disneynature’s Bears

-1 Disneynature Bears Dodo brand iPad Air cover

About The Pendant:

Alex Woo has partnered with Disney to create pendants for Bears where 20 percent of each sale benefits the National Parks Foundation (to further protect and conserve endangered or threatened wildlife and wild places as well as enhance field research across more than 2.9 million acres of National Park Service land). All of Alex Woo’s jewelry is manufactured in NYC from sustainable resources.

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Despicable Me Minion Cupcakes Recipe

Do your kids love Despicable Me? They are a favorite around here! Shane loves the minions- in fact, a whole year ago he told me that he wanted a Minion birthday party! While we haven’t for sure settled on a theme yet, these Minion Cupcakes are just so cute, we might have to center our party around them.

Whether you’re planning a birthday party or just want a fun dessert to bring to your next barbecue, these cupcakes will have everyone impressed- and they are easy!

Minion Cupcakes Recipe

Vanilla Cupcakes

Ingredients:
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp pure vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup milk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In a mixing bowl, stir together flour and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In a stand mixer or hand held mixer cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until fully mixed.

4. Add flour mixture in small batches. Stir in milk and mix until fully combined.

5. Spoon into cupcake liners or a greased pan and bake 15-20 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes clean.

Minion Cupcakes How-To

Minion Cupcake Decorations

Ingredients:
Yellow food coloring
Blue food coloring
Large marshmallows
Candy eyes
Chocolate icing
Bamboo skewers

Directions:

1. Dissolve food coloring in two bowls with water.

2. Skewer marshmallows and dip them in the water- dip one marshmallow in yellow and one in blue for each double minion. {For single layered minion do not dye the blue marshmallow, use only the yellow head.}

3. Place in a cup or holder to dry (about 1 hour).

4. Once dry, soak marshmallows again until they reach your desired level of color. Place in a cup or holder to dry for at least 2 hours to ensure color is set and marshmallow is hard on outside.

5. Attach eye to marshmallow with a tiny bit of chocolate icing.

6. With the same chocolate icing and a fine tipped icing bag or squeeze bottle draw on eye glasses and smile. Set aside.

7. Assemble the blue and yellow parts of the minion onto a small toothpick and insert into cupcake.

Note: You can find the candy eyes in the baking section of your local craft store. Sometimes stores will have it in their baking section too, but typically I’ve only seen them there around holidays like Halloween when they do their special decoration displays. If you have trouble finding them in stores, you can buy Wilton Candy Eyeballs on Amazon year-round. {Affiliate link}

What little minion in your life would love these cupcakes?

This Minion Cupcake recipe comes from contributor Kerrie.

X-Men: Days of Future Past Axe Promo & Movie Ticket Giveaway!

Note: This post is brought to you by Global Influence. All opinions are my own.

Shane’s a bit young for superhero movies, but I have to admit I’m kind of a sucker for them. I have never been into comic books but I have never seen a movie based on comic book characters that I didn’t like. Way, way back in the day when Justin & I were dating, we watched a DVD of X-Men & I loved it. {It didn’t hurt that it had Hugh Jackman.} Then when X-Men: The Last Stand came out, we went to the theater to see it. Now, I’m excited that there’s a brand new X-Men movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past, opening next weekend!

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If you can’t wait for the movie’s release, then visit a Walgreens near you for an exclusive X-Men: Days of Future Past Axe® gift pack with a FREE movie poster inside! {This would make a great gift for Dad or Grads!} Enter your zip code into the store locator below to find a Walgreens near you:


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Win It: Three lucky readers will each win a certificate good for 2 movie tickets to go see X-Men: Days of Future Past! Just enter using the simple form below. Good luck!

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