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Goodbye Christopher Robin- a movie review

“I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Domhnall Gleeson as in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Fox Searchlight Pictures

If you read the Winnie the Pooh stories as a child, or read them to your own children, then you are like millions around the world for generations. Winnie the Pooh is considered the world’s most beloved children’s story. And it’s no wonder since it’s precious and delightful. But it also has a sad and bittersweet origin.

Domhnall Gleeson and Will Tilston in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

A.A. Milne the author and creator of the beloved bear, was a father of an actual boy named Christopher Robin. Something that I didn’t know until now!

The movie, Goodbye Christopher Robin, by Fox Searchlight Pictures, is the story of Milne and how the Winnie The Pooh books came to be. But it’s also a story on fatherhood, relationships, growing up, and the destruction of war on its survivors.

GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN, Twentieth Century Fox 2017

A couple of things to mention; this picture is not really for children. Honestly, it’s a little bit dark and sad. Plus it might be embarrassing to have your children watch you bawling your eyes out when it pulls on your heart strings. Something that might have happened to me, maybe.

I’m a sucker for a British period film. I can name all the Merchant Ivory movies of the 80s and 90s and I will forever love any story set in an English countryside. It could be the British girl in me from my dad’s side. He grew up in the English countryside during World War 2, so I feel the pull of my Anglo roots with these stories.

Goodbye Christopher Robin is set after World War 1. Milne a playwright but sent to war to fight for England, comes home from battle with emotional scars and anguish. Shell shock, or PTSD as we know it now, was definitely misunderstood in those days. He and his wife Daphne live in London. His emotional trauma from the horrors of war and being at the front cripple his writing abilities. He wants to write, but can’t figure out how to share words that are useful and important. He decides a break from the loud clamor of the city would be good for his mental and emotional health and moves them and their son Christopher, and nanny Olive, to the countryside of Sussex.

Will Tilston, Margot Robbie and Kelly Macdonald in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

It’s clear that the ‘English stiff upper lip’ syndrome is apparent in this family. It’s that kind of dynamic where the nanny does more the job of raising the youngster and the parents barely utter an I Love You or give a hug. Something those British are famous for. As Americans we’ve heard of this type of behavior from the Royal Family. But honestly, it’s something my father can tell you about firsthand. There was no nanny for him, but also no hugs. Sad, I know.

While Alan spends time with his son, he partners with his war buddy and fellow illustrator (E.H. Shepard) to watch his son play with his stuffed bear. We see the pages of his books brought to life in the images of little Christopher and his play time. It’s charming and delightful to see the origins of Piglet and Eeyore. But soon we see that the role of Christopher Robin the boy, is overshadowed by Christopher Robin the character in the books. As the stories become a success, he’s paraded around to tea parties, dignitaries and ceremonies. The British people of the 1920s adored not only the stories, but were fascinated with little Christopher. He was by far a celebrity of Kardashian standards, and clearly uncomfortable with the fame that went with it.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Will Tilston in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by Ben Smithard. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

While the people of post war-torn England and Europe embraced the adventures of the Hundred Acre Wood, the Milne family seemed to lose their compass of how to separate celebrity and family life.

As Christopher becomes disenchanted with their lifestyle, and eventually must grow up like boys his age of that time, in a boarding school, we see the effects of what stardom can do to a young person. Mostly how he just yearns for his parents, especially his father’s attention.

Domhnall Gleeson, Will Tilston and Margot Robbie in the film GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN. Photo by David Appleby. © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

The movie is gorgeous, thought provoking and surprises you with a punch in the gut and then pulls your heart to the brim of happiness. Tears flowed, both happy and sad while I watched. It was an unexpected experience I will admit. What resonates so deeply is that while Milne was suffering mentally and emotionally, he was giving the world this salve of comfort through his stories about a little boy and his bear.

Goodbye Christopher Robin,Twentieth Century Fox 2017

If you’ve quoted Winnie the Pooh, then you know his philosophy is very astute for just a stuffed bear. I encourage you to check out Goodbye Christopher Robin so you can feel for yourself the heart and mind of what those stories are made of.

 

 

 

Be Your Best Panda

Everybody’s Kung Fu fighting.

And now YOU have the theme song in your head too. You’re welcome.

It is time for the student to become the master. Can you reach inside yourself and overcome doubts, and be the best you that you can be?

This is what Kung Fu Panda 3 is all about.

Kung Fu Panda 3 via Dreamworks

So recently I received an email from a media company asking me if I wanted to preview Kung Fu Panda 3, interview the two directors and tell my readers about it.

Uhm, sure? This is the fun side of blogging!

I immediately started thinking of questions to ask these directors- Jennifer Yu and Alessandro Carloni. Both of whom worked on Kung Fu Panda 1 and 2. AND Jennifer is the first female lead director on a Dreamworks animated movie with Kung Fu Panda 2, that was also nominated for an Academy Award. Kind of a nice resume.

My first question I thought of was will there be snacks at the interview? Okay, I know. That’s not really a question, but you know how my mind works. Then my second question was Why Kung Fu Panda 3? Aren’t we done already?

Well, let me explain.

Here’s the gist of the film- Master Shifu tells Po that he needs to pull his weight. Po will now be the master and do the teaching. That’s right. Well, that’s a tall order for a Dragon Warrior who likes to eat dumplings and high five the villagers all day like he’s a rock star. Because by now, Po IS a rock star where he lives and folks love him. It’s the same gang back- Tigress, Crane, Monkey, as well as a new villian- OF COURSE.

But since the KFP2 movie finished with a clip of a panda looking off in the distance wondering if Po was his lost son, director, Jennifer Yuh felt that story arc needed to finish and for Po’s panda dad to find him.

Thus, we get to meet Papa Po, Li, and it’s a fun reunion that really connects audiences with the way Po has his adoptive father, Mr. Ping, and meets and gets to love his biological Panda dad. Big stuff regarding adoption that is beautifully handled in the story line to make everyone happy.

A new villian, Kai enters from the spirit realm and is stealing the chi that flows from Kung Fu masters in order to take over the world. Kai is headed to destroy the panda population, who are the Masters of Chi, and Po must  save his village from the evil Kai.

KUNF FU PANDA 3

This requires Po to travel with his panda father to the secret panda village in order to learn the ways of being a Chi Master. When they arrive and Po can see every little baby panda, old panda, grandpa panda, chubby pandas, roly poly pandas- he feels right at home.

Here’s where when you’re watching the movie you say in your head, “wow Dreamworks, way to nail the merchandising.” There are adorable pandas everywhere. Panda babies galore. Dang are they cute. And roly poly. And cute. And they love dumplings. And finally Po is back where he belongs with his people, er pandas.

But wait. I don’t want to give anything away, but there are many lessons learned, there’s good over evil, and there’s self acceptance. Pretty great for kids of all ages to see played out. Oh, and parents, don’t worry- NO ONE DIES! You don’t have to worry about any trigger moments for your kids going in to this because, thank goodness, it’s not going to have a giant zinger at some point that makes you scream at the screen going, “REALLY?” and comfort your kids or have any crazy explaining to do.

When I sat down with Jennifer and Alessandro, I had a great time asking my questions, and I think they enjoyed answering them. Here’s my interview:

Me- Why KFP3?

Jennifer- We wanted to finish the coda of what we started in the movies all along and have Po meet his Panda father. We wanted to bring the story full circle to Po’s origins.

Me- What’s your favorite message of the movie?

Alessandro- That the struggle within continues. Even when you triumph over one thing, there’s always something else to tackle. You’re never finished.

I asked Jennifer about Dreamworks’ future plans for more female lead characters in their animated films. Jennifer was the first Dreamworks female lead director to work on Kung Fu Panda 2.

I found that Alessandro’s answer was the most interesting. He said that he talked to actress Geena Davis, and she said the day we can accept our leading ladies with flaws is when we’ll have more female characters. Po is very flawed, and chubby, and obnoxious. And when we can portray women like that without any offense, we’ll level the field. Because both Jennifer and Alessandro agreed, that of course, more lead characters should be female. But also to hopefully come to a time when we’re no longer keeping score of boy versus girl because great stories are not gender specific.

Jennifer also loves when she can talk to film students about their work and their passion. She says whenever she talks on campuses, there’s a large majority of female film students and she loves to inspire and make those future colleagues proud.

I asked both of them who their favorite characters from the stories are- Tigress is Jennifer’s answer. Why? Because she’s a bad ass, of course! Alessandro’s answer was Po. But when he described his reason for it, I had to agree, even though mine is Tigress too. He said he loves how Po is enthusiastic about everything. He has joy in his friends, his Kung Fu, his appetite! All of it. I brought up the example of how a dog is happy to just go outside and doesn’t look at it as ‘oh I have to do this run now’, but instead, ‘Yay! Outside!’. That’s how Po is. A happy panda that comes to life with 100% enthusiasm.

When I asked both of them how they feel when they see the finished product, I was surprised by their answer. Coming from my personal background of writing, or even performing on stage, I’m highly critical of my individual work. I asked if they watch the movie with a lense of how it could be better, or do they sit back and enjoy it.

Both of them, and especially Jennifer, shared how much they appreciate the finished product. And it’s because that they have a team. A whole army of animators, creators, writers, and more that put their work and love and life into the project. When they see these gems of gold or treasures throughout, even they are in awe of the finished work. In their words, they still ‘geek out’ over the results!

Jennifer described even the score that went into this movie. She said that they were sitting in on the orchestra scoring the final battle and culminating scene and they were literally composing it as they went. Honing it, fine tuning it (for lack of a better phrase!) as she sat there and watched the screen and heard the music simulatenously. She said it was such a goose bump moment that she truly appreciates every piece that goes into the final work.

My last question had to be about food. There were no snacks during the interview. Just water. But THAT’S OKAY. Really. Even though every time I watch a Kung Fu Panda film or even see a trailer, all I want is Dim Sum. I asked Jennifer and Alessandro if they could only eat one thing for a year, which would they choose- noodles or dumplings?

Jennifer- Noodles. (That’s my girl! I’m a noodle lover too.)

Alessandro- Dumplings. And he said that every time Jack Black came in to the studio, they always had a big platter of dumplings that they would eat! That’s the job I want! Because basically, Jack Black IS Po, and Po is Jack Black. I mean right?

If you can’t wait to take your kids to see Kung Fu Panda 3, it will be in theaters, January 29th. I got to see it in 3D and it was truly beautiful and entertaining. If you don’t want to shell out the dollars for 3D, I don’t blame you. You’ll enjoy it just as much in 2D. And then save that money to go out for Dim Sum after!

Thanks Jennifer and Alessandro! I look forward to your future Dreamworks projects.

Frugalista Blog, Jennifer Yu, Alessandro Carloni, Kung Fu Panda 3

Jennifer Yu, me and Alessandro Carloni

 

 

How to dress for a summer wedding

how to dress for a summer wedding frugalista blog

When you get an invitation to a friend’s wedding, do you get as excited as me about the prospects of getting a dress for the occasion? Because let’s be honest- that’s really the first thing I think of!

Of course, after my internal good wishes to the happy couple. But next- what to wear???

I probably own at least 20 (ahem, cough-cough) dresses, or more. I haven’t counted. What I know is that I can’t turn down a dress that makes me feel pretty when I try it on. If the 50s came back and ladies wore dresses like Grace Kelly- I’d be set. Not that I WANT to go back to the 50s, oh you know- minus the civil rights, lack of proper birth control and a whole bunch of other stuff… but I digress.

In this modern age of easy to wear fashion and an almost ‘anything-goes’ dress code, I still like to put forth my best effort and wear what makes me happy.

We recently attended a wedding in Hayden Lake, Idaho. The setting was beautiful. It was an after 5 wedding which can mean a number of things: Black Tie and formal. But considering the setting and the possibility of 90+ degree temps, I didn’t know what could happen. And most often a wedding that is Black Tie will indicate on the invitation and our friends had not stated that. But I knew they had impeccable style, so I had to bring my A game. When you receive an invitation and you’re not sure about what to wear; consider not just the setting, weather, and time of day, but the couple’s personal style as well.

I took two dresses with me for the weekend. I had a long chiffon maxi, and a shorter, fit and flare style. I figured it was good measure to have a back up in case we wanted to head to a nice dinner, or meet up with wedding party friends, or guests for any gatherings/cocktails/brunch, etc.  Thankfully, the temps cooled down considerably for our weekend, so I knew what to wear to what.

Our first night in Idaho, McSweetie and I went to dinner just the two of us. It was nice and relaxed, but I still wanted to feel special. So I opted for the fit and flare dress. I lucked out and found this Taylor brand dress at the Nordstrom Rack for a fraction of its full price!! And do I feel like I’m channeling my inner Grace Kelly? Yes!

 

 

 

 

Taylor dress from Nordstrom/ Nordstrom Rack Shoes from Nordstrom and bag from Big Buddha

Taylor dress from Nordstrom/ Nordstrom Rack
Shoes from Nordstrom and bag from Big Buddha

taylor dress collage

 

For the big day, which was a wedding at a country club, I chose the chiffon maxi from Eliza J dresses. Eliza J knows weddings! Whether you’re in a wedding or a guest, mother of the bride or groom, there are so many choices. The floral design of this, with the defined waist and halter shoulders seemed to feel effortless. I loved the color scheme and accessorizing my jewelry and makeup around it was fun too!

 

 

Eliza J dress from Nordstrom, retail $158.00

Eliza J dress from Nordstrom, retail $158.00

 

 

 

 

 

Eliza J dress, wedding, frugalista blog

Sandals from Marshalls, bag is Big Buddha

 

frugalista blog, eliza j dresses, weddings

This backdrop- COME ON!
Earrings, Kate Spade, lipstick- Anastasia of Beverly Hills in Carina

 

So maybe now the next wedding invitation you get in the mail, you’ll have ideas and enthusiasm for dressing up, just as much as I do! Happy wedding season!

Thanks to Eliza J for sending me the dress, thanks to McSweetie and our friends for a fabulous weekend, and thanks to Hayden Lake for being such a gorgeous setting!

 

 

 

An air purifier you need

We are having the worst summer or the best summer, depending on how you look at it. I hate the high temps.  It’s been a solid 3 weeks of 80 degrees and reaching into the 90s here in the great Northwest. I’m DYING. I know that is overly dramatic (ahem, hence my byline) BUT, seriously, this isn’t cool. Knock it off Mother Nature! You’re pissing me off. And the forecast this week is for mid 90s. Seriously. I’m starting to look forward to Christmas at this rate.

We don’t have central air. Most homes in Seattle don’t. If we lived in Texas we’d be sitting pretty because this would seem like average summer weather and we’d have our air conditioning cranking out to keep us cool. Instead, we have fans. And screens. So we wait until 10 o’clock at night when it’s cool and open everything up and blast whatever cooler air there is outside to bring inside. As well as hope and pray that none of the neighbors are using their fire pits which just sends campfire smoke straight into our house. That’s a whole different rant from me!

Thankfully, we have a portable a/c unit in our master bedroom that hooks up to our window and we can run that for a couple of hours to cool off just our room. Owen has been sleeping on the floor with us because his room is still 90 degrees even at 10 pm, and he has a loft bed. That means, he’s 5 feet off the ground and heat rises, so he doesn’t want to sleep up there!

What does this all have to do with an air purifier you ask?

Well. With the ratchet nasty air quality we are having because of the extended heat, that is leaving a hazy film in our sky, AND the constant running of fans and a/c units, my skin and sinuses are not happy.

venta airwasher frugalista blog

This is not me. Duh.

BUT- to the rescue is the Venta Air Washer. What is a Venta Air Washer you ask? Well it’s the finest German engineering for a humidifier and air purifier there is.

venta airwasher frugalista blog

Small, medium, and large. Pick your size, Goldilocks.

My first experience with a humidifier was way back when Emma was 2 and she had the worst croup. It was the first time she was so sick. It was Christmas Eve and I didn’t know what was going on. The doctor said when she coughs like a barking seal, she needs a humidifier in the room she’s sleeping in. I had never used a humidifier before. We went to Rite-Aid and bought one. It was decent, I guess. It had these gauzy filters inside that needed replacing often. If you didn’t replace them, they would mold and then of course, you’re pushing moldy air around and that isn’t healthy! I was grateful for the effects of the humidifier for Emma’s cough, but it was such a pain to maintain. It would get moldy quickly and it was loud.

When the Venta company reached out to me, I was very curious to see their product. We haven’t had croup in this house for years! Yes, I have still considered a humidifier, especially in our room while we sleep to improve the air quality. Now at least allergens, pollen, dust, (even bugs) are getting filtered out without having to even think about them. I don’t know how to explain the saturation of steam in the air as a function of temperature- and if I did, you wouldn’t believe me, right? But I do know that the Venta is pretty freaking simple.

venta airwasher frugalista blog

See the wheels turn and then the fan spins. Got it?

You take it out of the box, add water and plug it in. That’s it. Yes, you have to add water every day. Yes, you do need to clean it out once in awhile, but it’s gosh darn easy.

If your family is in need of something that will work like a Mercedes on the Autobahn to improve your indoor air quality, whether you just want to, or you need to for medical or allergy reasons- check out the Venta Airwasher. It’s ausgezeichnet!

 

I was not paid for this review. I was given product for the purpose of the review only. All words and opinions are my own.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

It’s that time fellas, daughters, sons- mom needs a gift. Sure, you can go buy her a box of chocolates at Rite-Aid that you picked up on your way home from work, be sure to include the inflatable foot bath. Or you can get something a little more awesomer and then she’ll know you appreciate all the work she does washing your socks and wiping the toilet seat.

These items are my own personal favorites. I have experienced these products for myself or found out about them and want them in my life. In the end, if you want to make a macaroni necklace with a hand print and call it good- I’m fine with that too.

Jord Wood Watches

It’s a watch made out of wood. Yep. And it’s lightweight, comfortable and completely handsome for both a Mother’s day gift, anniversary or birthday gift. You want something that’s treasured, smart and wears beautifully? It’s a Jord watch.

When my Jord watch came and I unwrapped it, McSweetie said, “oh, I’m jealous.”  The best part- they sized it for me before they sent it!

Jord Wood Watches Sully Timepiece in Cherry

Jord Wood Watch Sully Timepiece in Cherry

I recommend this for Father’s day too- especially for the guy who has everything. Why not something really unique?

What about the woman who likes to be pampered? Hmm, well if you have a hard to please matriarch in your family, how about Spoil?

https://www.spoil.io/

https://www.spoil.io/

You’ve seen subscription boxes all over the place. You can get meals, you can get pet supplies, makeup, period boxes (yes, that’s right) and snacks delivered every month. But, what about a gift box for Mother’s day delivered with exquisite items beautifully tucked in a package and sent to your mom like she is the Duchess Cate Middleton, herself? Yeah.  It’s called Spoil. If you need a fabulous gift for a different occasion, they have that too. Plus they have a discount for my readers! Enter “FRUGIE” at checkout.

Spoil Box for Mother's Day

Spoil Box for Mother’s Day

 

In the interest of doing for others, isn’t that what our moms always taught us? I want to share the company Women for Women International. If it is too much for your budget to sponsor a ‘sister’ each month, there’s an opportunity to purchase much needed supplies for a mother in Rwanda, the Congo and Afghanistan to name a few. If your own mom has enough tchotchkes and scarves or jewelry but has a calling to do something good and better in this world- think of what a baking basket or seeds could do for a woman providing an income for her family in a developing nation. From goats to seed packets, you can shop for a mother across the world and share it in honor of your own mother. She’ll be so proud.

Bakery Basket on womenforwomen.org

Bakery Basket on womenforwomen.org

 

Vegetable seeds for 30 acres womenforwomen.org

Vegetable seeds for 30 acres
womenforwomen.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And of course, for the sassy and funny mom in your life, who wouldn’t want the anthology I Still Just Want To Pee Alone?

 

Buy her all three! I Just Want To Pee Alone (a NYT best seller!), I Just Want To Be Alone, and I Still Just Want To Pee Alone.

Look how pretty! Thanks letmestartbysaying.com for the awesome graphic

Look how pretty!
Thanks letmestartbysayingblog.com for the awesome graphic

And then actually give mom a few hours peace!

 

Disclaimer: The opinions in this post are all mine and I wasn’t paid for any of it.

 

 

Even better than brown paper packages tied up with string

Like the song says, these are a few of my favorite things.

PRESENTS!

I am not one of those folks that writes ‘no gifts please’ on an invite.

Is it because I’m a Leo? Is it my status as the baby of the family? I love presents.

And if it is a present wrapped in something beautiful, like Martha Stewart beautiful, then all the better!

However, as of late, my wrapping and gift presentation abilities of my own are sadly waning. It’s as if I’m the George Costanza of gift givers and reusing an old gift bag from Great Aunt Edna seems acceptable. Let me just disclose that Aunt Edna passed away in 2005 and she probably had kept all her gift bags from before 1987. I suppose it depends upon your recipient. Would my 18 year old nephew care if he got a birthday gift in a sad, dog-eared Christmas bag from 1998? Probably not. But would my best friend from 5th grade mind? YES.

Also, lately, I’ve become somewhat forgetful. So if I remember the person’s birthday or that it’s Father’s Day the following weekend, and I can just get myself to come up with a decent gift, the wrapping and packaging of said gift is a whole other challenge!

But not to fret. The subscription box gods have answered our calls. We not only get monthly boxes for makeup, pet snacks, or the time of the month(!) we can get gift wrap subscription packages of carefully selected artisan papers, bows, tags, cards and tissue!

Artistry Gift Wrap asked me if I would like a package of gift wrap? Uhm, would I like a package? See above. Heck yes, I’d like a package!

So I was able to try a beautiful array of papers, get this, made of limestone! I don’t know how it is done, and it assures me on the label that it is eco friendly. But honestly, this is the most amazing gift wrap paper I have ever seen. It cuts beautifully. Doesn’t tear and is sturdy as all get.

Not only that, but her package came to me back when it was my wedding anniversary, and in it, was the perfect anniversary card I gave McSweetie!

I should have let him use that card for me since he’s a little bit slacking on his gift planning. Did I tell you the time when we went to the opera for our anniversary and during intermission he said he needed to ‘go to the car’ and instead he really needed to hoof it to the corner store to find an anniversary card for me because he had FORGOTTEN up until that point? Oh, well, there. I just told you the story. That guy. What a goof. Because he needed to go through all that trouble to just sign a card that with his usual, “Love you sweetie, James”  Yes, I’ve looked through at least a dozen cards that are all signed the same way. No more, no less. HUSBANDS.

Okay, back to gift wrap.

Please check out the website- Artistry Gift Wrap. You can choose a subscription plan that suits you. Is it more than heading to Walgreens or Target for a roll of paper? Yes. BUT- it is like nothing in the stores, and you get a selection tailored to the season or your preferences. Tell her Frugie sent you and I’m sure she’ll pack your box with extra care.

How cool is that?

Here’s the products I received: (not all subscription months or paper styles are the limestone paper, just FYI.)

Frugie blog Reviews Artistry Gift Wrap, limestone papers, subscription gift wrap to your door

Frugie Blog for Artistry Gift Wrap, subscription box of luxury gift wrap to your door each month

I received product for this post in exchange for this review. Thank you.