Thursday, November 20, 2014

Golden Tote: November 2014 Review

So I was planning on skipping November's Golden Tote (shocking, I know), but I couldn't resist a pair of pants they posted as a spoiler. They looked SO comfortable! Unfortunately they were only available in the large ($149) tote so once again, I splurged. In my (sort of) defense, I'm in need of some more winter-friendly work clothes (on the rare days it gets cold in Florida) and really, I just LOVE fall/winter clothes. So what did I get? Check it out below (click here for my past GT reviews)!

French Terry Drawstring Pants
My first pick for November were these French Terry Drawstring Pants. Instead of a button or zipper, these pants have a drawstring, which is new to me. GT recommended sizing down a size (they're available in S, M, L), which made me nervous but I took their word for it - and am very glad I did! These pants are super comfortable and are going to be worn quite a bit!

Chunky Knit Pullover
I wasn't sure which item to choose for my second item (you get 2 picks in the large tote), but after flip-flopping between a sweater and a dress, I opted for the Chunky Knit Pullover, and chunky it is, indeed. I kind of drown in it when it's on, but it's hands down the coziest piece of clothing I've ever owned and I'm not going to let it go! This is definitely one to wear around the house and possibly pair with leggings (it's a little too long for jeans).

Le Lis Paisley Top
I've been loving the Le Lis tops GT has been selecting as surprise items lately, so I was excited to find one in my tote! The material is incredibly soft and feels a bit like a satin pillowcase. I could nap all day long in this Paisley Top. Unfortunately I'm not crazy about the split design of the shirt, so I'll definitely be looking to trade this one.

Miracle Sweater
Hands down my favorite item in my November tote was the Miracle Sweater. It's similar to the Lace Knit Pullover I received in my October tote (in the shoulders), and is flattering, stylish, and comfy. What more could a girl ask for?!

Priddy by Puella Dress
Priddy by Puella is the brand created by the ladies who founded GT and pop up quite a bit in totes. I received what I believe is my third Priddy by Puella Dress, always hit or miss for me. Although I like the design of this dress, it wasn't very flattering on me, so I'm putting it up on the FSOT (for sale or trade) boards.

Lumiere Blouse
At first glance I wasn't sold on the Lumber Blouse, it looked a bit much. But after trying it on I realized it'd be a great top for work and is a great addition to my closet, since I don't own anything similar design- or style-wise.

I must say, I'm pretty glad I ordered a November tote. Out of the 6 items I received, there were only 2 that I don't plan to keep, that I'll either sell or trade. I am a little disappointed that I didn't receive either of the surprise items I requested in my order though. It's never guaranteed that you'll get one (they post spoilers on their social sites prior to sale day), but I had high hopes that I'd at least get one. Womp.

December's sale is right around the corner - less than 2 weeks but who's counting?! Rumor has it they'll also be putting some exciting things up for Black Friday next week! If you're on the fence about trying Golden Tote, that might be the time to bite the bullet. I started with a small ($49) tote earlier this year to dip my feet in and have been very happy overall with the company and have some incredible additions to my closet because of them!

Are you a Golden Toter? What were your favorite items this month?

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dad-Daughter Trip to Savannah, GA

About a month ago my dad and I decided to take a dad-daughter trip, our first one in a decade! After throwing around a few destination ideas, we settled on Savannah, GA since it's only about a 5-hour drive. This was my dad's first trip to Savannah and my second - but not sure if you can truly count my first, since it was a good 14 years ago with my Girl Scout troop!

We arrived in Savannah around 9:30 p.m. and got a second wind to hit the town and go exploring. The city currently holds the title of the "most haunted city in the U.S.," so you can imagine how eerie it was walking around and only seeing a couple people here and there on our walk down to River Street. In the city's defense, it was a Wednesday night. As we ventured back to our hotel, we stumbled across McDonough's (an Irish restaurant/bar), which was packed! The karaoke stage provided for some pretty great entertainment, so we enjoyed hanging out there for quite some time!

The next morning, we ventured a few blocks over to Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room at The Wilkes House, a family-style restaurant with true southern style food (open Monday-Friday from 11-2). I read nothing but top-notch reviews while researching dining options, so I knew this was one place we needed to stop. Unfortunately no reservations are accepted and the wait can be quite lengthy (we stood in line for 40 minutes). If you're thinking not worth it, think again. The Wilkes house was INCREDIBLE. When you're let into the restaurant, the food's already waiting on the table - just about any southern food you can imagine. And if your table's ~24 bowls of food run low, new ones are rushed out. Serious food coma here. And also, cash only!

We did TONS of much needed walking in Savannah, since when we weren't walking we were stuffing our faces! One pretty interesting thing we came across on our way down (literally) to River St. was the historic steps. This picture doesn't do them much justice (I just thought the sign was funny), but yikes! You definitely need to move slowly up/down these.

In the historic area of Savannah, there were quite a few houses that offered tours. We ended up doing 3 during our 2 full days in the city. The first was Juliette Gordon Low's (the founder of Girl Scouts) childhood home and by far our favorite. The tour guide was a hoot! We also toured the Owens-Thomas and Mercer Williams houses. It was so crazy to imagine what life was like back in the 1800s and that people actually lived in these huge extravagant homes!

Juliette Gordon Low's Childhood Home
I will admit, we were a bit disappointed with our tour at the Mercer Williams House though. Although both my dad and I have been meaning to read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (this is the house it was based on and movie filmed in), neither of us have gotten around to it, so we didn't have any specific questions to the creepy events of the house's past. Our tour guide briefly mentioned the filming of the movie, but didn't dare dive into the bad/evil history of the house, which was a bummer. That's what we really wanted to hear about!

Another pretty great meal we had was at The Public, less than a block away from our hotel in the historic district. The weather was really nice so we sat outside and were able to people watch and enjoy the breeze without being too hot or too cold. I opted for the lasagna and more or less took over the cheese platter appetizer that Dad and I shared. YUM!

Being in a super haunted city, we couldn't pass up doing a ghost tour! There are SO many to choose from (it's a pretty big business in Savannah), but we went with Blue Orb Ghost Tours, on their adults-only "zombie tour." The walking tour lasted about 2 hours and we heard some pretty crazy stories, as well as a little history of the city. I'm also pretty convinced that I captured a couple ghosts in pictures I was taking - it's kind of difficult to see though!

Madison Square
More amazing eats? B. Matthew's Eatery! If I lived in Savannah, I'd definitely be a frequent visitor there! The brunch was incredible. I went with a traditional breakfast (eggs, bacon, biscuit) and a mimosa and was set until well past my normal dinnertime!

On our last night in Savannah, we found our way to the City Market area, which was filled with stores, restaurants, and great live music! Not to mention the cutest little cookie shop, Byrd's Cookies, where I may or may not have purchased 3 bags of cookies to bring home.

Despite our issues with the hotel we stayed at, we had a really great trip! I'm so happy we were able to have some quality dad-daughter time! Taking the "long way" back home, we stopped in Senoia, GA, where they film one of our favorite shows, The Walking Dead! I posted about our day in "Woodbury" last week. So much fun!

Dad and I in Madison Square
Have you visited Savannah? What was your favorite part?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Tunes: Do They Know It's Christmas? (Band Aid 30)

I've resisted the urge to start playing Christmas music as long as possible, but with the release of "Do They Know It's Christmas," by Band Aid 30 (the original Band Aid + current artists such as One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Bono, and Ellie Goulding), I couldn't resist. Not only is this one Christmas song I really love, but this version is a remake of the original, which is now 30 years old! This charity single benefits West African nations battling the Ebola virus, and will help start getting you in the Christmas spirit! Listen below and purchase the song on iTunes to donate!

Read More - Tuesday Tunes: Do They Know It's Christmas? (Band Aid 30)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chatting With Ron Smith + A Charlie Brown Christmas Giveaway #4

We're getting closer to Christmas and the airing of the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas! To help get us prepared for it, I'm giving away another awesome prize, thanks to my friends at Peanuts (find out what it is at the end of this post)! 

This month, some other bloggers and myself chatted with Ron Smith, who has worked on a number of Peanuts specials throughout his career at CBS, Paramount, and now Technicolor. At Technicolor, Ron and his team work to restore the original footage and update it to 4K technology. What does that mean? A richer, higher quality image than ever before, preparing for the day ultra-high def TVs are the norm in households. 

Read the interview below to learn about the new technology and enter this month's giveaway!

From the viewer’s point of view, what’s the first thing we’ll notice now that the special is in 4K?

That it actually fits on your widescreen television! The picture is now designed for that screen. All the other presentations are designed for the old 4x3 screens. You’ll also notice the soundtrack and music have been upgraded for modern viewing: it’s in stereo surround 5.1 We’re lucky that the original negative exists for these shows, and all the original soundtracks and magnetic tracks. We were able to go in, separate those tracks, and clean them up, along with the sound effects. You’ll get that nice stereo music in your surround speakers. So the special not only looks better, but sounds more current, too.

Is there any scene in particular where we’ll notice the difference?

When I watch one of the shows at home, everything looks kind of small. Particularly any of the group scenes, the skating in the beginning, the rehearsal scenes for the Christmas play, they all look kind of distant. Now you’ll be able to see it much more clearly.

Where do you start when you’re doing this work?

Like any good project, you have to start with research. There’s a lot of information to be had out there. I was amazed to find how many websites there are devoted to the show. I found everything from show listings, descriptions, and some downright fanatical—meaning, created by big fans—analyses of each episode.

Some of it was just cataloguing all the shows. Of the 80 or 90 shows that have been done, 55 of the titles contain “Charlie Brown,” and 14 of them start with the word “It’s.” When you’re working on 10 or 20 at the same time—and when the first two you’re working on are Christmas shows—it gets really confusing! So we knew we were going to have to be really careful with the elements.

We have the original film elements on A Charlie Brown Christmas. Since this is priceless and irreplaceable art, we do a film inspection to see if it needs to be repaired. There may be cement splices in it, and when the show is 50 years old, those splices can come loose and appear a little bit jagged. So we make sure the show is completely repaired. We check for any obvious wear and tear, and make sure that the film will hold up going through a scanner. That’s how we digitize it. Each frame becomes a digital data file, and each one needs to be cleaned and color-corrected.

This also happens with the sound. You take the analog or magnetic soundtrack and digitize it. The first thing is we take out the snap, crackle, and pop, and clean up the individual tracks, then recombine them to make the restored version.

The scanner also takes a picture of the surface dirt on each frame, so we can figure out where it is, which makes it easier to clean and restore. And there was a lot of dirt.

What are some of the dos and don’ts of restoring classic animation? Is there a danger that it can it look “too good,” so you lose the charm of the hand-drawn originals?

There are some classic mistakes. It can look too sharp or over-enhanced. With the Charlie Brown stuff, you have to embrace the original look. The picture changes from frame to frame. You’ve got to realize you can’t fix everything. You’ve basically got to take the show as a whole, not nitpick it, then go back and smooth it out.

We were lucky to have the original artwork, the original cels, so we could see what the original colors were for characters and what they wore. Everyone in Peanuts family has been involved in this in some way, and they’ve been very helpful.

How important is it for classic animation to be restored?

For every film that gets restored, there are 1,000 that haven’t been restored. There’s always an underlying race-the-clock mentality that’s associated with preservation. So many films have been lost and so many are at risk. Particularly with shows like this, we want our kids and our kids’ kids to experience the same things we did.

Separate from your professional experience, are you personally a fan of Peanuts and A Charlie Brown Christmas?

Coincidentally, I am. I know I’m not alone. It’s probably my favorite Christmas show, no doubt. If the Linus scene doesn’t get you all choked up, then nothing will. My kids like it, and my daughter has a child who just turned 5, and she loves it. I’ll take her for a ride in my car and play the soundtrack, and when the picture comes up on the player, she’s in heaven. It just makes it that much more special that I can re-experience it through their eyes.

One of the things that really struck me when we started working on it here at Technicolor was that I discovered I wasn’t the only one with special relationship to the material. The colorists here, grown men and women, were fighting over the project. That’s how fondly it’s remembered by so many people.

This month is the biggest (literally) Peanuts giveaway thus far - a festive Peanuts inflatable from Gemmy for your yard (style will vary)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you started decorating for Christmas yet?

*Disclosure: I was provided with the information and images as a Peanuts 50 Years on TV Brand Ambassador

Read More - Chatting With Ron Smith + A Charlie Brown Christmas Giveaway #4

Friday, November 14, 2014

Fun Findings Friday

Ultimate List of Companies With Secret Menus for Your Pup:
My dog Sheba is super spoiled (as you well know), and there are several companies helping to further that for dogs across the country! Thanks to BarkPost (part of the BarkBox family), we have a list of 27 dog-friendly restaurants/stores that are ready to pamper your pooch. Below is a photo of Sheba enjoying her usual (and favorite) "puppuccino" from Starbucks. One of the many items on BarkPost's list. Check it out!

Amy Poehler's Yes Please: 
Comedy queen Amy Poehler released Yes Please ($18) last week, a candid book featuring stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus. I haven't purchased it yet, but this is definitely one I hope to read soon! I always find books by comedians to be some of the best. So many laughs!

Kate Spade's "The Waiting Game": 
I'm a big fan of Kate Spade's products and fabulousness all around. Add actress Anna Kendrick to the mix, and BOOM. Perfection. Earlier this week the brand released "The Waiting Game," a video starring Kendrick who's locked out of her beautifully decorated brownstone in NYC after a shopping trip to KS. This is the best Christmas promo I've seen so far! P.S. Kate Spade's offering 25% off your entire purchase through Monday with code "BEMERRY" at checkout!

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cause of the Month: TOMS One for One

This month I'm choosing to support TOMS' One for One as November's Cause of the Month. You're probably familiar with the TOMS brand from their fab shoes. But what you might not know is that with every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need, hence the organization's name, One for One.

Since the non-profits inception in 2006, it's expanded beyond providing shoes, and now also helps restore sight to a person in need with purchases through the TOMS Eyewear line, and one week of clean water with a bag of coffee purchased from their Roasting Co. line.

In about 8 and a half years, TOMS has donated over 35 million pairs of new shoes, helped restore sight to over 250,000 people, and is currently provide clean water in 5 countries (this initiative is brand new - just launched this year).

I love finding new charities to support, especially when I can do so by purchasing an item I'll get good use out of! This month, I splurged on TOMS Desert Wedge Booties ($88.95) to help support both someone in need and my wardrobe! This is my first pair of TOMS and are hands down one of the most comfortable (and stylish) pair of shoes I've ever owned. Definitely a win-win.

As you start to do your Christmas shopping, keep TOMS partnership with Target in mind. Beginning this Sunday, 11/17, through March, Target will be selling limited-edition TOMS products, donating shoes, blankets, or meals to those in need for each purchased. There are some pretty awesome items for everyone on your list - men, women, kids, and home! 

What're your favorite TOMS products?

Read More - Cause of the Month: TOMS One for One

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Exploring Senoia, GA (a.k.a. Woodbury)

This post is for all of my fellow fans of The Walking Dead! I just returned from a trip with my dad to Savannah, GA, including a day in Senoia, GA, or as you may know it, Woodbury. This was actually my second trip to the small Georgia town. The first being on a trip up to Nashville about a year and a half ago with one of my bet friends, Kayla. And from a Walking Dead perspective, TOTALLY different experiences.

First of all, Woodbury as we know it is no more. We all saw the Woodbury Town Hall burn down behind the Governor last season on TWD. That was an actual building in the middle of the main road in town. But you can still recognize the charming little town. The photo below shows the look up the street from around where the barriers were in Woodbury, and in real life, standing in front of the Senoia Cafe.

Our first stop was the Cafe for a quick bite at the only place in town that still boasted its Woodbury name, the Woodbury Cafe. It was packed and had a steady stream of people coming in for the hour or so we were there. You could definitely tell the locals from the Walking Dead fans!


After browsing several of the stores on the main street (Table Talk was my favorite - wish I could shop there all the time!) we made our way to The Woodbury Shoppe, which has more than doubled in size since my last visit! You can buy all kinds of TWD merch - from comics to t-shirts, games, home decor and more. It's pretty exciting!

Although it's quite small, there's also a little Walking Dead museum downstairs in the shop. Here we were able to see things like the "Don't Open, Dead Inside" doors from the pilot episode (season 1, episode 1) Daryl's motorcycle, and a prison cell.

And at the end of the small room, a little coffee shop, named The Waking Dead. Kind of brilliant. From chatting with some locals I also learned that this location (the shop + cafe) is frequented by cast members, who are filming just up the street.

Yes, STILL filming in Senoia. Just because Woodbury (just a few steps away) is no more, doesn't mean the show's done with this area. At the end of Main St., you'll see railroad tracks (which we obviously needed to stop and pose at - because who knows, they could've been one of the filming locations of the MANY railroad tracks scenes we see in the show).

Just beyond the railroad tracks, a sea of white trailers, a security guard sitting out front, and a huge wall surrounding the beautiful colonial homes you can make out in the distance. Washington D.C. spoiler, perhaps?! This is a major location that TWD will be filming at least through 2016 (when their deal to keep that fence up expires).

Unfortunately we missed the filming/cast by less than 10 hours. WOMP. But supposedly they film Monday-Friday - an FYI for anyone who wants to try to catch a glimpse. We did see a MAJOR spoiler though, which I guess we'll find out details on later this season (they have a few weeks left of filming before they wrap up the current season)!

That was it for our self-guided tour walking around Senoia. But after trying to get more scoop on the filming, we headed back up the street to catch our Atlanta Movie Tours bus, where we were shown around Senoia and some surrounding towns, seeing some of the filming locations for TWD and some other movies and TV shows filmed in the area, which was really awesome!

Are you a fan of TWD? What do you think of Senoia a.k.a. Woodbury?

Read More - Exploring Senoia, GA (a.k.a. Woodbury)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday Tunes: Agape

Happy Tuesday! Apologies for not getting a post up yesterday, I'm still recovering from my 4-day vacation up to Georgia (more on that to come). This week my song pick falls under the alternative/indie genre. "Agape" by U.K.-based Bear's Den is a beautiful song. Although there's a cheerful sound to the song with the banjo and drums, the vocals are filled with emotion. "Agape" translated in Greek  means "love" (the selfless kind), and this song is all about not wanting to live a life without it.

What songs are you digging this week?

Read More - Tuesday Tunes: Agape

Friday, November 7, 2014

Big Hero 6: Movie Review

Earlier this week I was able to catch an advanced screening of Disney's newest animated film, Big Hero 6, which hits theaters nationwide today. I'm always excited to see anything Disney puts out, because let's face it, they're always incredible films. I didn't know much about Big Hero 6 going into it, other than the fact that it has a little anime inspiration and there's a marshmellow-looking robot. But I often find going blindly into movies like that is the best.

The film starts off in "Sanfransokyo," where 14-year old genius Hiro Hamada is found participating in illegal robot ("bot") fighting by his older brother Tadashi, who decides to take his little brother under his wing and show him how to use his significant brainpower, rather than wasting it away on local bot fights.

Tadashi takes Hiro to the "nerd lab," where his four best friends, Gogo, Wasabi, Honey, and Fred spend most of their time. Each bring a unique skill and personality to the group, and together make an epic group. Hiro falls in love with all of the incredible inventions the group's working on and decides he wants to join the team, and comes up with the perfect invention to introduce at the school's showcase. But when a fire breaks out, things quickly take a turn for the worse.

Hiro spends the majority of the film next to robot, Baymax, who's hands down the star of the film! Although originally programmed to be a health monitoring robot, Baymax becomes the perfect sidekick alongside Hiro, investigating and solving crime (to say the least).

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up enjoying this movie! My emotions were all over the board with some terrible sadness, TONS of laughter, and a little bit of anger (toward the villain). My 9- and 7-year old sisters loved this one as well, so if you were thinking this was a movie geared toward boys, think again. If you're able to get to the theater, whether this weekend or in the coming weeks, I absolutely recommend bringing the family to see this one!

Read More - Big Hero 6: Movie Review

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reasons Why You Should Travel

2014 has been an incredible vacation year for me so far (the best EVER) - and I still have a few more adventures to come before the year comes to an end! I feel so fortunate to be able to have all of these amazing travel experiences, since vacations aren't something easy to achieve by any means. So why splurge on vacation(s) when there are so many other financial obligations we have in our lives? It's simple. There's so much out there in the world than what you see out your window. Different sights, cultures, experiences.

I recently downloaded an app to map all the places I've traveled to in my lifetime, thinking to myself that my list was pretty impressive. When I completed it I had just under half of the 50 states, Mexico, Canada, and the Bahamas. My total outcome? 3% of the world. That's it! There's so much more out there to see. And really, to travel is to live.

TripAdvisor has been running a #whywetravel campaign, and I've been following a lot of the quotes submitted as to why people travel. I couldn't relate more! Here are some of my favorites:

In the words of Dalai Lama, "once a year, go someplace you've never been before." Even if it's a trip an hour away, branch out of your comfort zone and treat yourself to a new experience. It is possible. Look at your finances and budget. Cut back spending on other splurge items throughout the year and put a little aside at a time. Consider starting yourself on the 52-Week Money Challenge and you'll save up a little over $1300 without even realizing it!

What are some places on your bucket list to travel to?

Read More - Reasons Why You Should Travel