A Sparkle of Genius 2015-01-28T23:11:06Z http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/feed/atom Courtney Collingridge <![CDATA[Achieve! and Curious George – Adventures in Learning Workbooks Review]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12170 2015-01-28T23:11:06Z 2015-01-28T23:11:06Z I received Achieve! and Curious George – Adventures in Learning workbooks for review. All opinions are my own. I was so excited when I learned that I would be able to receive some new workbooks from the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt company. My children consume pages of puzzles, word games and number counting as excitedly as […]

The post Achieve! and Curious George – Adventures in Learning Workbooks Review appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
IMG_4336

I received Achieve! and Curious George – Adventures in Learning workbooks for review. All opinions are my own.

I was so excited when I learned that I would be able to receive some new workbooks from the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt company. My children consume pages of puzzles, word games and number counting as excitedly as they do their Cheetos, and I knew they would be thrilled with some new material. Immediately upon looking at these books, I was blown away with the quality and abundance of activities that were packed on these brightly colored pages. As I sat with my children and went through some of the material, I knew that I had never been this impressed with any other workbooks we had found.

The makers of these fabulous educational resources have come up with two  new research-based workbook series for young children. Each boasts 320 pages of activities that cultivate problem solving skills and real-world exploration. These products were based on the new State Standards and Social and Emotional Standards for whole child development and offer real education with a twist to keep it fun for kids. With different books for ages 3-9, children of all ages can enjoy the playful and interactive pages.

IMG_4351

The Achieve! workbook series is available for children in Grades 1-3 and are photo-based with striking real-life images. The pages are truly beautiful and eye-catching with saturated colors and vibrant fonts. They have more than 280 activities that are able to bring classroom topics to life, including reading fiction and nonfiction, persuasive writing, math modeling, scientific inquiry, money management and citizenship. My 3rd grade daughter loved the workbook mascot, the friendly star named Cosmo. She loved how he would randomly show up on a page and give her insights and background information and bring the topics to life. My children mentioned that they felt like it was more like a magazine with the eye-popping photos, even though it took some real brain power to work through the material. Sounds like the perfect combination to me!

IMG_4343

My 4 year-old son has been obsessed with the lovably inquisitive Curious George for the last several years so he was jumping up and down when I showed him the book filled with all things George. The Curious George – Adventures in Learning workbooks are available for children in Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Grade 1. My favorite thing about this workbook is that it is story-based, with each chapter beginning with a storybook tale and then followed by multiple science, language arts, and math activities that make the application of the story come to life. The stories motivate these early readers to ask questions and hold onto what they are learning. Throughout the stories, child and parent/teacher interaction is encouraged through “talk together” moments. Sharon Emerson, the editor of both the Achieve! and Curious George workbooks said it perfectly: “Curious George is designed to develop heart, mind, and manners. The unique blend of hard and soft skills, wrapped around a chewy story center, prepares kids for today’s classroom.” My children fawned over the more than 100 stickers that were included in each workbook and I loved that it also included a free download of the entire workbooks so that I can print out favorite activity pages for endless fun and practice.

IMG_4339 (1)

I wholeheartedly recommend these books to anyone looking to feed their children’s minds with real-life application and principles while involving the magic of stories and imagination. Watching my children sit for hours (very unusual) as they poured over each page and discussed what they were learning with each other, confirmed the beauty of these books in helping children fall in love with learning. These would be excellent for after-school boredom busters or in the car for long road trips.  The possibilities are truly endless!

IMG_4346

Achieve! and Curious George – Adventures in Learning workbooks are available for $12.99 each. You can learn more at www.hmhbooks.com/workbooks

The post Achieve! and Curious George – Adventures in Learning Workbooks Review appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
0
Courtney Collingridge <![CDATA[Freshly Squeezed Orange Muffins]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12161 2015-01-28T22:59:43Z 2015-01-28T22:59:43Z One of the greatest perks of colder weather is bringing home bags of bright orange spheres of happiness from the grocery store at an affordable price. I just love orange season! The smell of orange oil, how the orange juice bursts in my mouth with each bite, squeezing fresh orange juice…it really brings me to my happy […]

The post Freshly Squeezed Orange Muffins appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
IMG_4332

One of the greatest perks of colder weather is bringing home bags of bright orange spheres of happiness from the grocery store at an affordable price. I just love orange season! The smell of orange oil, how the orange juice bursts in my mouth with each bite, squeezing fresh orange juice…it really brings me to my happy place. I’ve always been a huge fan of this round, cheerful fruit as is evident in how I have several orange scented candles around my home and often wear a citrus perfume.

Now I’d like to introduce you to your new best friend. The kind of friend that is perfect to have over on a sunny Saturday morning for breakfast. These orange muffins are packed with flavor and include a healthy dose of sour cream which takes the moistness up to an all new elevation. They’re perfectly sweet without being overbearing, and dense enough to be filling without being heavy. After they come out of the oven, you may decide to dip each muffin into the deliciously decadent orange glaze (I really insist). The recipe came together quickly – less than 30 minutes from beginning to eating – and their presence has already been requested for the upcoming weekend. I hope you’ll fall in love as hard as I have.

IMG_4326

Ingredients

MUFFINS

1 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour

2/3 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, melted

1 cup of sour cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/3 cup of freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon of zest

GLAZE

3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 teaspoons orange zest

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: butter, sour cream, vanilla, egg, orange juice and orange zest. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and gently fold together until just barely mixed. Scoop the batter evenly into each muffin tin. Place into the oven and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until the center is set.

IMG_4318

To make the glaze, mix the ingredients together and whisk until smooth. If the glaze seems too thin,  you can always add more powdered sugar to get it the consistency that you would like. After the muffins come out of the oven, allow to cool for about 5 minutes, and then dip each one (multiple times if you’re daring) and then allow the glaze to set.

IMG_4321

Ah, just thinking about these muffins makes me think I won’t be waiting until Saturday until I meet my little friends again. I hope you enjoy!

 

The post Freshly Squeezed Orange Muffins appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
0
Melissa Au <![CDATA[Interview with STRANGE MAGIC Director Gary Rydstrom #strangemagic]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12155 2015-01-27T01:26:30Z 2015-01-26T21:27:38Z Have you had the opportunity to see Strange Magic yet?  It came into theaters on January 23rd and is a really fun family friendly movie.  You can read my Strange Magic no-spoiler review that I gave earlier this week.  I have already shared with you a few of our Strange Magic Interviews.  I loved having Elijah […]

The post Interview with STRANGE MAGIC Director Gary Rydstrom #strangemagic appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
StrangeMagic5491d956bfb7eHave you had the opportunity to see Strange Magic yet?  It came into theaters on January 23rd and is a really fun family friendly movie.  You can read my Strange Magic no-spoiler review that I gave earlier this week.  I have already shared with you a few of our Strange Magic Interviews.  I loved having Elijah Kelley, George Lucas and Gary Rydstrom all in the room together because they would react and respond to each others comments.

SAMSUNG CSC

Photo Credit: Sassy Mama in LA

We Interviewed George Lucas before Gary Rydstrom and George Lucas had just finished telling us that he was sad to have so many songs from the movie cut. They two and a funny moment together when we had to shift gears to interview Gary Rydstrom. Gary gets on stage and says,” They get to talk to the guy who cut out all of George’s favorite songs.” :) In which George Lucas replies, ” And he’s also the one that made it work. He was the one that got it finished.” I thought it was a very real and kind moment to witness where you learn how much they depend on each other in making a movie.

Here are some of the questions from the Interview with STRANGE MAGIC Director Gary Rydstrom

Question: You directed Pixar shorts Lifted, and Toy Story Two, Hawaiian Vacation, uh, and you’re also the director of the English language versions of the Secret World of Arrietty from Up on Poppy Hill and the Wind Waker, wow. I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about what it was about this story that attracted you as a storyteller and filmmaker.

Gary Rydstrom: Well,the karma and the irony of this movie for me is that I did have a long career, in this building mostly, a career as a sound designer, doing sound effects for movies. By the end, I found that I often felt at odds with the composer, so it was kind of a fight between the composer and I to, you know, have our stuff heard. So I thought of it as karmic revenge from the universe that I get to direct a feature film here and it’s a musical.

I was really attracted to it as, as George is, and American Graffiti is one of my favorite movies.  The use of song to help tell a story was really attractive to me and this was such a great idea to tell a love story.  If you think about the songs in the movie that are love songs, there aren’t that many positive love songs, which I always like to point out, you know, because love is hard, it’s not, it doesn’t always, it’s not always happy. But I love that part of it and making a musical was really fun.

StrangeMagic546f78d812a67

Question:  Well it’s, it’s awesome, because as you watch the film, it has everything you’re talking about, but then your mastery of sound design actually it comes into the movie too. When you see the lizard yelling at, Sunny and Pear, I’m also recalling Jurassic Park, you know, which you did the sound design on. And so you get to have all of that plus the storytelling.

Gary Rydstrom : The sound designer on this movie is somebody that I mentored at Pixar and so this is a great chance for him to do his version and it is a beautiful chance for sound effects to tell the story too. What I like in, in our story is we have a lizard that sounds like a dinosaur but by the end, it’s fallen in love.

Question: Did you have a character that was a muse to you?

Gary Rydstrom: I actually like the Bog King, because that thing we talked about earlier about having your heart broken. And I think we all go through a thing that’s a completely natural thing, it’s when you get your heart broken, you say that’s it, I’m not going to, I’m not going to let myself be vulnerable ever again. He goes to an extreme but it’s something that I can relate to, you know, it’s so painful to go through something that makes you feel hurt and less than you should be, and- and you just don’t want to do it again. So your, your solution for it is to put up this shield and never let anyone in again. And I, I know we all do that, and I thought he was someone I could relate to. Once you get past that veneer and let your real self come out, it’s, it’s so much more satisfying both for him and for the one he falls in love with.

StrangeMagic546f78d7e0726

Question: You assembled an incredible cast for the film, we have Elijah here, but can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to work with them and what they brought to their characters.

GaryRydstrom: Well casting is pretty key for a movie like this and as George said, you have to find people who both act and sing and that the whole Alan Cumming, both actor and singer amazing, Evan Rachel Wood is as good a singer as she is an actress. Sam Palladio who plays Roland is an amazing singer, as well as a very funny actor. And then Kristin Chenoweth who is funny and as I have said before, I was in the room with her as I was with all the actors when they were singing their songs and when she hit some of those high notes in Love Is Strange, it was like my glasses broke and, it was amazing. For years again, I was doing sound effects as a career and I hadn’t really worked with actors much.

And then as I started to for animation, I really love it, animation is the same thing, animators are actors too, but I love being in the room with actors and it’s really hard for them, because they’re acting alone, they’re not acting with other actors, it’s be great if they did but it just doesn’t work out so it’s them. You describe the scene as best you can, you do line readings with them to set up the scene. Elijah made me work the hardest, because I would line read with him, but he’s very active and it requires a lot of energy, so I was often playing either the Sugar Plum Fairy or Dawn.

And I was, I was actually pretty good at it.

StrangeMagic546f78d86c7d9

Question: Okay, so I’ve asked everybody else for their favorite song in the movie, and it doesn’t have to be your absolute favorite, but maybe one that you enjoy more than others.

Gary Rydstrom:  Well, I’ll give two answers, one that Strange Magic is, is my favorite musical moment in the movie because it kind of sums up the movie, it’s a beautiful song, and Evan Rachel Wood and Al Cumming sing it beautifully and the arrangement of it is beautiful. It’s a duet, and originally it’s not a duet, and it’s a beautiful duet.  But the moment that makes me cry every time is when Elijah sings Three Little Birds to Dawn at the end.

—-

I love having the opportunity to interview directors because they have spent SO much time working on making their movie.  They are involved from the beginning to very end.  They are so passionate about their craft and it is so important to them that they make a movie that is well received and loved.  I loved hearing the passion behind making the movie as well as hearing the difficulties that come through the process.  Strange Magic is definitely a movie filled with a lot of heart, passion and took a lot of talented people to make.  Strange Magic is in theaters now!  Go see it with your family! :)

The post Interview with STRANGE MAGIC Director Gary Rydstrom #strangemagic appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
0
Marisabel <![CDATA[Getting Around With Twins? Try the TwinRoo from Joovy!]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12131 2015-01-25T21:28:35Z 2015-01-25T21:27:44Z Having twins is definitely more than a handful and getting them around can be quite a challenge.  Finding a stroller that fits your budget and lifestyle (not to mention fits in the trunk) can be a tough thing to do.  Often picking a stroller can be a personal preference but here are some factors to […]

The post Getting Around With Twins? Try the TwinRoo from Joovy! appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
TwinRoo Front View 2015

Having twins is definitely more than a handful and getting them around can be quite a challenge.  Finding a stroller that fits your budget and lifestyle (not to mention fits in the trunk) can be a tough thing to do.  Often picking a stroller can be a personal preference but here are some factors to consider and reasons why the TwinRoo from Joovy is a great first option.   The TwinRoo is Compact One of the first things that you notice when you take the TwinRoo out of its box is how compact it is.  Because the stroller is designed to work with your car seat, it simply consists of a frame and a basket.  This is great for parents that do not have a lot of space but still need something to get their twins around.  It also maximizes your ability to use the things that your already have (e.g. your car seats).   The TwinRoo is Easy to Assemble   The TwinRoo is Quick to Use   Whatever your stroller needs, it is definitely a great idea to consider the TwinRoo by Joovy to get things started when you first have twins.

Joovy Logo Pic

The TwinRoo is Compact

One of the first things that you notice with the TwinRoo is how compact it is.  Because it is designed to be used with your carseats, it consists of a durable frame with a basket underneath.  This design is optimal for those parents that don’t have a lot of space because it allows you to use something (carseats) that you are already going to get with something else (the TwinRoo).

TwinRoo Side View 2015

The TwinRoo is Easy to Assemble

I was incredibly impressed with how easy it was to assemble the TwinRoo.  It basically consisted of unfolding the stroller and attaching the wheels.  Depending on the type of carseat that you have, there are also adapters included to make sure that you can secure the seat to the stroller.  Luckily, we have Chicco carseats that can lock in to place without having to use an adapter.  The fact that this is so easy to assemble is a great asset, especially to parents of twins.  Because we all know that with twins, there is no extra time at all.

TwinRoo Turning 2015

The TwinRoo is Easy to Use

We loved how mobile and easy to use the TwinRoo stroller is.  Everything quickly locks into place and off you go.  This is helpful when you have a couple of fussy twins that need some fresh air (or a couple of overwhelmed parents that need the fresh air).  Just lock in and off you go!  You’re going to love it… Just ask Michael, he did:

TwinRoo Michael 2015

You can find more information about the Joovy TwinRoo on the Joovy Website.

 

The post Getting Around With Twins? Try the TwinRoo from Joovy! appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
0
Melissa Au <![CDATA[Read my Strange Magic Movie Review]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12143 2015-01-23T18:14:28Z 2015-01-23T18:14:28Z Today is the day!!  Strange Magic is in theaters now and you should go see it.  I was talking to my husband today about how nice it is that there are so many companies that make animated Family Friendly movies.  We love watching movies as a family and it seems like there are so many […]

The post Read my Strange Magic Movie Review appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
StrangeMagic5491d956bfb7e

Today is the day!!  Strange Magic is in theaters now and you should go see it.  I was talking to my husband today about how nice it is that there are so many companies that make animated Family Friendly movies.  We love watching movies as a family and it seems like there are so many really good, high quality family friendly movies being made.  I appreciate that because movie time is very important to us.  I have been talking a lot about Strange Magic recently because I was able to attend the behind the scenes event in California.  This experience really helped me to see how much heart was put into making this film.  It is made very well so that adults and children a like will love it.  George Lucas said that he made this movie for Tween girls, but there are so many characters in this movie that your boys will relate with, too.

StrangeMagic546f78d812a67

If you are not yet familiar with Strange Magic, I recommend checking out the trailer.  It gives you a good feel for what the movie is all about but doesn’t give away anything important.  Here is some information about the movie:

““Strange Magic,” a new animated film from Lucasfilm Ltd., is a madcap fairy tale musical inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Popular songs from the past six decades help tell the tale of a colorful cast of goblins, elves, fairies and imps, and their hilarious misadventures sparked by the battle over a powerful potion. Directed by Gary Rydstrom from a story by George Lucas.”  Here is the trailer:

Strange Magic is a love story, but not the typical love story.  I think that this is why I like it.  If you would read my George Lucas Interview, you could see why he felt it is important to tell this type of love story to tween girls.  This is a story that I think girls and boys and all ages can relate to because we all understand either loving, being loved or wanting to feel loved. I’m sure that many tween boys would think this movie isn’t for them but there are so many other parts of this story that they will enjoy that they probably wont even notice the lovey-dovey stuff.  :)

StrangeMagic546f78d86c7d9

As you see from the trailer, this movie has a lot of music in it.  Around 25 musical moments to be exact.  That really was the point of the story– trying to make a love story from love song.  I love listening to music so I really appreciated hearing many of my favorite songs make it into the movie. I loved seeing how they made so many emotional moments stand out through the expression of song.  I will be honest, I was nervous when I first found out what they were trying to do with music, but I think they nailed it.  The rendition of songs mixed with the talented singers really worked well in making a powerful movie.

StrangeMagic546f78d7e0726

There is lots of adventure in this movie.  There are goblins, elfs, imps and princes that really help keep this movie exciting. Your kids will enjoy the story and all of the obstacles that they have to go through.  Strange Magic does a fantastic job keeping you excited, enjoying the adventure while also adding lots of humor into the film.  This movie is definitely enjoyable to kids and adults of all ages.

StrangeMagic54b95cee7cc64

One of my favorite types of movies is one that is entertaining but also teaches a lesson.  There are so many lessons to learn in Strange Magic but the one that I think stands out to me is Acceptance.  What an important lesson for kids to learn and apply in their life.  Both in love and friendship.  George Lucas described this movie as the ” “Beauty and the Beast” story where the beast doesn’t turn into a handsome prince in the end.” I think the lessons learned in this movie are ones where your kids could apply to all areas of their life.

StrangeMagic54b95cedbab34

 

Strange Magic is in theaters today!  Yay!  Take your whole family to see it!  This movie is an adventurous, funny, lesson-learning, musical, beautiful to look at love story that you will smile and dance your way through!  For more information don’t forget to follow them online:

Like STRANGE MAGIC on Facebook: http://facebook.com/StrangeMagicMovie

Follow STRANGE MAGIC on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StrangeMagic

The post Read my Strange Magic Movie Review appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
0
Melissa Au <![CDATA[Interview with Elijah Kelley from STRANGE MAGIC #StrangeMagic]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12132 2015-01-22T21:02:25Z 2015-01-22T20:48:33Z Tomorrow is the big day!  Strange Magic will be in Theaters!  Are you going to go see it?  I hope so because I think that you will really like it.  I mean hey, George Lucas is the brains behind in, its got to be amazing!  I loved learning the behind the scenes to Strange Magic. […]

The post Interview with Elijah Kelley from STRANGE MAGIC #StrangeMagic appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
StrangeMagic5491d956bfb7e

Tomorrow is the big day!  Strange Magic will be in Theaters!  Are you going to go see it?  I hope so because I think that you will really like it.  I mean hey, George Lucas is the brains behind in, its got to be amazing! :)  I loved learning the behind the scenes to Strange Magic.  There is so much time and heart put into this movie.  I shared with you my George Lucas Interview on Tuesday.  Today I get to share with you my interview with Elijah Kelley. Let me tell you a little bit about my first time meeting Elijah Kelley.

EntryWayThere were 25 bloggers standing in the large entry hall at Skywalker Ranch Technology Building(pictured above).  He was sitting at one of the tables above.  Suddenly I hear, “Bloggers!!!” I turn around and there is Elijah Kelley with his arms outstretched.  With the biggest, kindest grin on his face he goes from blogger to blogger says hi and gives them a big hug and takes a selfie! From the moment we met him he was nothing but kind.  After meeting him we sat down in the theater and watched Strange Magic. One of the first scenes where Elijah Kelleys character Sunny comes on, Sunny is giving a hug to someone else.  It made me laugh and really feel like we didn’t just meet Elijah but his character Sunny, too because they really are one in the same!

Go see the movie– you will love Sunny!!

Photo Credit: Merlot Mommy

Photo Credit: Merlot Mommy

As you probably know from the trailer, this movie has a lot of music in it which makes it really fun. Before we interviewed Elijah Kelley we had the opportunity to listen to him perform.  You will love hearing him sing in the movie but it is so much fun having the performance life so you can see all his energy and excitement.  Here is a clip of him performing!  Don’t be afraid to dance along! :)

Interview with Elijah Kelley from STRANGE MAGIC 

Photo Credit: Sassy Mama in LA

Photo Credit: Sassy Mama in LA

This interview was a really neat one to me because Elijah Kelley was very friendly, down to earth and open about everything. He wasn’t afraid to share the challenges with us.  Doing voice-overs were a new thing for him and I loved learning about the experience.  He also made us laugh a lot with his open desire for a sequel!  :)  We want a sequel, too!

10872914_376685759178883_1741008372704566114_o

INTERVIEWER : So I think everyone’s gonna fall in love with Sunny after, after this movie, thanks to your performance.

Elijah Kelley: That’s, that’s very weird. I can’t take compliments,

INTERVIEWER : Can you tell us a little bit about what it was like to voice him?

Elijah Kelley:  First of all, I’ve never done a voiceover before in my life, so it was a little bit of a challenge because he’s hyper and super into everything that he always does, so I thought that it was gonna be so easy. I thought it was gonna be a piece of cake, but I would go in there and guarantee you, I would leave lightheaded and sweaty from all the running and everything. It was like P90X.

INTERVIEWER : When we were developing genuine characters we wanted to make the characters relatable to audiences of all kinds and all ages. Are there any themes in the movie that you relate to or think people will connect with?

Elijah Kelley: I think that people will connect for fighting for what you love because as you can see everybody goes through a lot of trouble to be able to grasp the love of their life, and I think that love is so complicated. I think that the wiring of love is just so weird, you know, and the fact that people can go to the ends of the Earth to capture something like that is, very, very inspirational. And I think in a time like this where we are in the world, it’s an animation, but the subject matter is universal and it’s timeless, you know?

StrangeMagic546f78d86c7d9

INTERVIEWER : What was your, your favorite song to perform in Strange Magic?

Elijah Kelley : My favorite song- actually my favorite song in Strange Magic isn’t there anymore.

AUDIENCE : Ahhh.

Elijah Kelley : Yeah. Well, maybe if we get a sequel, we can put it in there. It was a song called “Hold On, I’m Coming.”  But my favorite song in the movie is not even a full song. It’s when the little, the little birdies, they sing, uh, Gotcha Looking So Crazy Right Now.

INTERVIEWER : How much did you improvise in the roll?

Direction: A lot.

Elijah Kelley : Yeah, it was it was a lot, but it was a lot because Gary, they were so gracious in allowing you bring the character to life in your way. The funny thing was, the first time I came up here the elves in the forest, they were all-everybody looked the same, like they, they were little white elves. And I was like, okay, somebody’s gonna have to get some tanning lotion, put in a super soaker and just spray everybody. So, you know, when that happened, it just like, you know, you wanna put a little flavor in there and put a little swag in there. I think Sunny has that.

Question : What’s the difference between doing a voice for an animated feature versus like what you did in Hairspray or even singing?

Elijah Kelley : The difference between doing a voiceover in a movie and a real movie is you can literally look horrible. You can look like crap. You can just go in the studio and just- be just the most disgusting looking person ever, but nobody will ever see you. But Hairspray, you know, you’ve gotta do hair and makeup. Red Tails; we had to, you know, I wore a big, thick mustache for Red Tails, and that’s pretty much the difference.

Question : What characteristics did you find similar to your character?

Elijah Kelley : Sunny doesn’t quit. Sunny doesn’t quit. You know, once you understand that there’s a task at hand, you can’t stop until that task is finished. So throughout adversity, throughout trial, you have to keep going, and I think that’s something that Sunny carries.


Go see Elijah Kelley as Sunny in Strange Magic-  In theaters TOMORROW!!

The post Interview with Elijah Kelley from STRANGE MAGIC #StrangeMagic appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
0
Melissa Au <![CDATA[You are a “Fin”tastic Friend Valentine Printable]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12121 2015-01-21T21:40:13Z 2015-01-21T21:10:24Z It is almost time to start thinking about Valentines again!  My kids love coming up with cute ideas to hand out to their kids.  I always find it fun to find ideas that aren’t store bought or candy.  My pre-schooler will be handing out Goldfish this year with her You are a”fin”tastic friend Valentine Printable! […]

The post You are a “Fin”tastic Friend Valentine Printable appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
FintasticFriendPrintable

It is almost time to start thinking about Valentines again!  My kids love coming up with cute ideas to hand out to their kids.  I always find it fun to find ideas that aren’t store bought or candy.  My pre-schooler will be handing out Goldfish this year with her You are a”fin”tastic friend Valentine Printable! This is really simple to make but turns out really cute!

FintasticValentine

You are a “Fin”tastic Friend Valentine Printable

What you need:
White Cardstock
Printer
Small Bags of Goldfish
Hole Punch

Optional
Orange Cardstock
Cricut Machine
Animal Kingdom Cartridge

YouAreAFinTasticFriend

1.  Print out the You are a “fin”tastic friend Printable. You can click on the photo above for the dropbox file which can be printed out in sheets of 6.

2. Cut a circle shape around each printable.

3.  Hole punch top of Gold fish bag and printable and tie in place.

4.  Write to and from on Printable and you are done!

Optional

If you have a Cricut Machine you can cut out a goldfish bowl using the Animal Kingdom Cartridge.  The goldfish bowl is approx 4″x5″. You would then glue that printable on the goldfish bowl and tie that to the Gold Fish.

Here are some other ideas you might enjoy:

I would love to hear if you enjoyed our Printable!  Please comment if you like it! :)

The post You are a “Fin”tastic Friend Valentine Printable appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
0
Melissa Au <![CDATA[Interview with George Lucas about his new movie Strange Magic #StrangeMagic]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12111 2015-01-20T20:40:15Z 2015-01-20T20:40:15Z When I first got invited to California for the Strange Magic event my husband and I joked around about how maybe while I was at Skywalker Ranch, I would bump into George Lucas.  When I was leaving for my trip, he told me to give George a hug for him.  All as a joke.  Because […]

The post Interview with George Lucas about his new movie Strange Magic #StrangeMagic appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
StrangeMagic5491d956bfb7e

When I first got invited to California for the Strange Magic event my husband and I joked around about how maybe while I was at Skywalker Ranch, I would bump into George Lucas.  When I was leaving for my trip, he told me to give George a hug for him.  All as a joke.  Because of course, we all know that no one meets George Lucas.  That would be just TOO AMAZING.  I wish you could have been with us on the tour bus when Marshall told us that we would be INTERVIEWING GEORGE LUCAS!!!  There was a lot of screams and I instantly texted my husband who was VERY jealous! I interviewed George Lucas.  I never thought those words would ever come out of my mouth!

IMG_5844

I know that everyone is familiar with Star Wars.  It is very popular and my own family is a huge fan of the Star Wars franchise.  This interview, though, was not about Skywalker Ranch or Star Wars.   It was for his new movie that is coming into theaters on January 23rd.  The new movie Strange Magic is such a fun movie. Have you heard about it?  We had the opportunity to see his movie while we were at Skywalker Ranch.  Want to know the neat part? George Lucas watched the movie with us.  I watched George Lucas’s new movie with George Lucas at George Lucas’s theater.  Woah.

IMG_5846

So on to the interview. George Lucas is kind, down to earth and obviously very passionate about the films he makes.  You could see his love of his movies in the way that he talks about them.   I was grateful that he was so willing to talk to us about his movie, life and family.  Learning about the motivation behind his movies really helps me to truly appreciate the finished product.

Interview with George Lucas about his new movie Strange Magic 

Question: Can you tell us a little bit about why you wanted to make this film?

GEORGE LUCAS: It started quite a while ago, about 15 years ago, and I just got the idea that it would be fun. I love to do musicals, so it kind of harkens back to my pre-Star Wars days.  I thought it would be fun to make a film that was more for tween girls than Star Wars which is for tween boys.  Even though in the end everybody loved it. I’m hoping that this one, even though it’s more teen girl-centric,hopefully it will engage boys and everybody will like it.

We started with a small group here, designing things and doing animation tests. It went on for years and years and years, you know I was kinda doing it on the side and it kept growing and it’s one of those fun movies. I loved doing it because I love the music, I love coming to work on it, and I love watching it. Which is the key in the end for me,  it’s something I did for the fun of it.

To me adolescence is a key period in a child’s life, and to make movies that say look, these are the issues, they may seem obvious to us because we’ve been through it, maybe your parents have told you about this, maybe they haven’t but you need to know the story of why you have friendships and what a friendship means. Why there are things in the world that are bigger than you are. Why you have complicated feelings with your parents and all these kinds of things are not unusual, they’re not just you, this is something that everybody goes through.

It’s a story that needs to be told every generation you know because the little girls and boys are growing up. They don’t know any of this stuff, by the time they reach 12 they’re very confused. And, even though we all know it, well it needs to continue to be told over and over again, you can’t let kids slip through the cracks and say, I was in the generation that didn’t get that message. The message is so simple and, you know it’s been around for thousands of years that it’s, you know it can always be retold.

StrangeMagic54b95cedbab34

Question: Can you tell us a little bit about what attracts you to popular music as a filmmaker? And also after that I wanna ask how you got, how you decided to work with Marius DeVries on the movie.

GEORGE LUCAS: Well I love music. Music’s a huge part of my life, I love all kinds of music, and obviously I listen to music every day. But with this one, one of the inspirations was, I wonder if I could tell a love story using love songs, I could just take them and string them all together so they actually told the story. Which was the original challenge and in the beginning, the movie was about twice as long as it is now which means it had about twice as much music .

I said I wanted songs that had these words and so he came up with three or four songs and we go through them and say well that doesn’t really tell the story. This is a little off or this is, you know until we found the right one.  That actual one, had the musical mood that would get us from point A to point B but also actually say the words that the actors were supposed to say to each other.That’s where Marius came in which is to say how are you gonna stitch all this stuff together when it goes, you know from one.

Different genres, different time period, different everything, but knit it all together so it sounds like it belongs in one thing. And he’s a genius at doing that, he did it and, you know long version we had a lot of faith in him, you know being able to pull it off, although, ultimately with all these guys I beat them to death, finally to the point where Gary came in and said well we have to make these decisions we can’t just keep all this music that George loves. You know we have to, we have to get this down to a reasonable length.

StrangeMagic546f78d7e0726

Question: So I read that that you originally had a bunch of Beatles’ songs for the movie, what were those songs and were you actually listening to those songs when you came up with the idea?

GEORGE LUCAS: Well things like you know, you could go to the Beatle catalogue and anything that’s got love in the title is something we had in there. All You Need Is Love, you know? But again it’s, you know there’s a real world. This is a relatively inexpensive movie, small, so, just like American Graffiti I couldn’t afford to put Elvis Presley in there. So I didn’t but I survived you know, it’s like everything else you have to kinda be strong, be brave and sometimes trim some of the things you really love.

They were all wonderful, they were all spectacular, and now what do we have, about 40 songs?

GARY: 25 or so.

GEORGE LUCAS: 45?

Gary: 25.

GEORGE LUCAS: Huh?

GARY: 25.

GEORGE LUCAS: 25?

GARY: Yeah.

GEORGE LUCAS: Oh no wonder it was so painful. But they’re all great. You know we don’t go through long periods without music. It’s fun and again there’s the part where you actually have to tell a story so I think it melded correctly between the actual story and the dialogue and the characters and the music.  They all feel like it belongs together, to me anyway. But I’m very, kind to my own movies.

StrangeMagic54b95cee7cc64

Question: Compared to the animation and visual effects that ILM used in Rango, how have those changed or improved at all since that movie, you know compared to what you see now in Strange Magic?

GEORGE LUCAS: They are different, you know every movie has a style.  I mean animation, some people have made mistakes in animation by trying to say we want this to look realistic, which one, isn’t really possible and two, is not very bright. Because the whole idea of animation, the art of animation, is to create a style that is different from shooting a live action movie.

We can make copies of people, but they can’t be human. You need a human being behind them to be the voice, and that’s why, when we go and you put a camera on the actor, you wanna capture the magic of that actor. An animator can do it, and that’s part of the art of animation, but it helps an animator if he’s got something to work with.

And so, those two work as a team to create the character, and of course, like with digital technology, you’re just gonna create all the actors and eventually the actors will go ahead. It takes twice as many actors to do an animated film as it does to do a real one.

You know it’s not something that people do to save money or for whatever other reason, they do it because ultimately in this particular case you’re de-using a style, a particular style, and in this case I wanted the style to be very realistic, much more realistic. Rango is, you know an animated film, it’s got some, you know realistic looking stuff but this is a whole different level of realism.

And the idea was that you could go out in your backyard and these guys all live out there somewhere.

Moderator:  Right. They’re in the grass.

GEORGE LUCAS: Yeah, they’re in the grass.

StrangeMagic546f78d86c7d9

I loved having the opportunity to interview George Lucas.  He was very real with his answers and made me laugh many times.  One of my favorites is shown above when he was talking about the number of songs in the movie.  He thought there were 40 and realized it was only 25.  His reply, “no wonder it was so painful!” I can imagine as a film maker that it would be difficult taking out parts of a movie that you love.

StrangeMagic546f78d812a67

Make sure and take your family and friends to see Strange Magic in Theaters January 23rd!

The post Interview with George Lucas about his new movie Strange Magic #StrangeMagic appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
0
Melissa Au <![CDATA[What would you do if someone told you that you were being given an extra hour for each day?]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=12097 2015-01-19T18:30:14Z 2015-01-19T18:15:55Z What would you do if someone told you that you were being given an extra hour for each day. Let’s just imagine for a second that with this gift, you now have 25 hours in every day.How would you spend this gift?The overwhelmed mom in me thinks about how much more I could accomplish on […]

The post What would you do if someone told you that you were being given an extra hour for each day? appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
ExtraHourWhat would you do if someone told you that you were being given an extra hour for each day. Let’s just imagine for a second that with this gift, you now have 25 hours in every day.

How would you spend this gift?

The overwhelmed mom in me thinks about how much more I could accomplish on my to do list with 365 free hours each year. That is a lot of folded laundry.

The procrastinator in me thinks that I will lay in bed one hour longer or take an hour nap. Life is busy as a parent and sometimes you just need more sleep.

The blogger in me thinks about how many blog posts I could write, tweets I could schedule or emails I could answer.

The dreamer in me would think of all the hobbies that interest me. Maybe I would learn to sew a quilt, take better photos, or learn to ski.

The Lover in me would pull my family close. I would laugh, talk, snuggle and just be together.

The traveler in me would plan a day trip to some local destination that I had always wanted to visit.

The cook in me would pull out all my cookbooks ( or stalk Pinterest) and make the worlds most delicious menu plan to feed my family.

Now let’s imagine if you just re-evaluated your schedule each day and you realized that just by shifting a few things around you could find that hour.

You could wake up ten minutes earlier. You could check Facebook while eating breakfast. You could fold clothes while watching your favorite tv show. You could ask for help if you need to! You could multitask those items that we often spend too long on and give yourself this gift.   It wouldn’t be hour 25, but a free hour nonetheless, given to you, by you.

Now what would you do with that hour?

This New Year I didn’t make any New Years resolutions. Maybe it was the procrastinator in me, but I knew if I set specific “resolutions” I would fail. When I make resolutions , I feel like I have to do each and everything on my list perfectly from day one. Quickly feeling overwhelmed and like a big failure.  This doesn’t work for me.  I decided to wait a few weeks and let the New Year crazies settle down and then make a goal list.

You may say goals and resolutions are the same thing, but to me, they are not. Goals are realistic items I want to accomplish with achievable step by step directions of how I am going to achieve this. If I miss a step or miss a day, I can start over at any time. Without failing. You just have to keep trying.
ValueHourThis year my 2015 goals are to find areas in my life that I can multitask or better use my time so I can give that one hour each day to something that I value.

Some days this hour might go to sleep, dishes, snuggling a sick kid, writing a blog post, calling a friend, baking cookies, going on a bike ride or reading a book. 

It doesn’t matter what it is, if you value it, then it is worth taking the hour.  Finding value in what you do can bring you more happiness in the long run.
ValueHappinessMy amazing sister-in-law over at chubbyfortoolong.com, made me this beautiful printable so I could pick 4 goals that can help me give more time to what I value.  I wanted to share this printable with you because I know that many people are in the same boat as me.  They want to better themselves day to day but in a realistic do-able way.  Click on the photo below to Download printable via dropbox.
Goals-A-Sparkle-Of-Genius
You can start as simple as you want. You could do one goal per month and print out new sheets for each month, you could do 4
each month, or something in between. Whatever is achievable for YOU!

To help you find one hour each day to give to something you value we have a great giveaway for you! One winner will receive a $100 PayPal prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks You When I Work for sponsoring this giveaway. If you know anyone that schedules hourly workers – have them check out their employee scheduling software.

The post What would you do if someone told you that you were being given an extra hour for each day? appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
63
Melissa Au <![CDATA[Behind the Scene Look at Skywalker Ranch: Strange Magic Press Day #StrangeMagicEvent]]> http://www.asparkleofgenius.com/?p=11979 2015-01-16T20:28:27Z 2015-01-16T20:28:27Z Skywalker Ranch seems to be one of the places that everyone knows exists but they know nothing about it.  I even had someone tell me that they though that Skywalker Ranch was just a myth and that it really didn’t exist because you hear so little about it.  It does exist, though and you can […]

The post Behind the Scene Look at Skywalker Ranch: Strange Magic Press Day #StrangeMagicEvent appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
Skywalker-Ranch_01-bc6ad1c6bb7cSkywalker Ranch seems to be one of the places that everyone knows exists but they know nothing about it.  I even had someone tell me that they though that Skywalker Ranch was just a myth and that it really didn’t exist because you hear so little about it.  It does exist, though and you can find Skywalker Ranch 40 minutes north of San Francisco.  Skywalker Ranch is about 7000 acres.

TechnicalBuilding

I had the amazing opportunity to spend the day at Skywalker Ranch while I was in California and get a tour of the property.  At Skywalker Ranch you will find Skywalker Sound which occupies the 153,000-square-foot Technical Building.  This building features a “world-class scoring stage, six mix studios, ADR and Foley stages, 34 editing suites, and a 300-seat screening room. The property also includes the iconic main house and the beautiful Lake Ewok.” We had the opportunity to tour all of these areas.  

IMG_5866

This beautiful arch is at the entrance of Skywalker Ranch.  You cannot see it from the photo but it says “Viandante del Cielo” on the arch which means Skywalker. You drive through this archway to get to the Technical Building.  This is where are tour started

FrontEntrance

The Technical building, like all the buildings at Skywalker Ranch is absolutely beautiful.  They In this building they use the combination of brick and stone a lot which is one of my favorite building styles.  It looks timeless and beautiful. Here are some pictures of the entry way:

EntryWayBrickWhen you first walk in to the Technical Building there is a very inviting sitting room.  This is where the employees hang out and eat their meals.  There are lots of sitting areas with tables around the building to make it of inviting.  I loved the ceiling and that it let in so much natural lighting.  This main room was such a beautiful place to hang out with the fun colors, brick, stone and foliage.

MainEatingArea

We had the opportunity to go into the Movie Theater and watch Strange Magic.  I will tell you all about this on another time but I just wanted to show you a picture of this beautiful screening room. This room has 300 seats and is an amazing place to watch a movie.

IMG_5837_2

The Technical Building had many rooms that really had such a home-like feel.  There are lots of couches and sitting areas where you can take a break, read a magazine, or rest. 
SittingAreasThe Technical Buildings walls were covered with large movie posters and movie artwork.  This is all George Lucas’s personal collection and one of the largest collections of its kind.

MoviePosters Immediately upon exiting the back of the Technical Building you walk out to a large winery.  I can image this looks amazing when it is full of grapes.  When you look to the left you can see the main house and straight ahead a beautiful lake.

Winery

We had the opportunity to walk to the lake at Skywalker Ranch. Fittingly, this lake is called Lake Ewok.  I was surprised to learn that it was actually named after the Miwok Indians that used to live in this area. Everywhere you turn at Skywalker Ranch you find the most beautiful views.

LakeEwok
  We had the opportunity at this point to visit the main store and do some shopping as well as seeing the pool and another eating area.  I loved that many areas you went you would find bikes laying around.  This was because Skywalker Ranch provides bikes for their employees so they can enjoy the property.  I love bike rides and would have loved a chance to ride a bike to explore all the land has to offer.

MainHouse

I fell in love with the Main House.  All 50,000 square feet of it. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to live in a Victorian style home and the Main House is everything that I could have ever wanted.  This George will let me move in?  :)  We had the opportunity to go on a tour of the Main House but we were not able to take pictures when we were inside.  
GeorgeLucasOffice

In the Main House you will find George Lucas’s office.  The gable on the top right of the building where the light is on is where his office is located.  We did not have the opportunity to see it but I’m sure the views out his windows were amazing.

LFL_IA_5394_C

© Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

I am so glad that they provided us with a photo of the Library to show to you because it was the most amazing library.  This is a reference library that the employees have access to so they can check out books for research.  In all their locations, they have over 30,000 books available for reference.  In the main house you will also find movie props, trophy displays, media rooms and meeting rooms. Each room is different and stunning.

MainHouseGrounds  I loved all of the large trees on the property.  Everywhere you turned were different types of large beautiful tress.  The weather couldn’t have been better and everything was simply beautiful!  Here are some facts about Skywalker Ranch that you may not have known:

  • You can find George Lucas’s office and Movie Theater in the main house.
  • Skywalker Ranch has a fully functioning Fire Department.
  • Skywalker Ranch has an archives building which housing original movie props.
  • There is a Skywalker Ranch Inn where employees can stay when they are working
  • The buildings are designed in a way where you look out the window and cant see another building.
  • George Lucas Established Skywalker Ranch in 1980 because he wanted to go back to his roots.
  • The main house features George Lucas’s personal collection of Original Norman Rockwell paintings.

IMG_5960

One of my favorite features of the Main House was the large wrap around porch.  The views are amazing so I could imagine spending hours drinking lemon-aid, reading a book and rocking on the rocking chairs.  Really sounds like such a dream! :)    I hope that you enjoyed our tour of Skywalker Ranch!

unnamed

Don’t forget to check out Strange Magic In Theaters January 23rd!  We had the opportunity to see this movie and I will share my review with you soon.  Here is the trailer for you:


I received an all expense paid trip to visit Pixar Animation and Skywalker Ranch in exchange for sharing my posts.

The post Behind the Scene Look at Skywalker Ranch: Strange Magic Press Day #StrangeMagicEvent appeared first on A Sparkle of Genius.

]]>
3