Paper Planes movie review

paperplanes2We reviewed the movie, Paper Planes, and it was a treat!  This uplifting family film, starring Sam Worthington (Avatar, Wrath of the Titans) and Ed Oxenbould (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day), just received the Common Sense “Great for Families” Seal of Approval for kids 10+ and called it “an inspired look at what creativity really means, and what winning ought to be about”. You can read another review for the movie here and see others’ reviews. You can read all about the movie, what it is about, and based on below (see more).

The movie is set in Australia, produced by Entertainment one, and on the review version we received, we could not turn captions on, so if you watch this movie, I highly recommend captions for the kids.  Sometimes it is hard to make out words even when it’s English – British and Australian accents are tough for kiddos to make out at times.  The recommended age for kids watching this movie is 10 and older, but I think 7 and up (based on maturity) is fine too.

paperplanesMy girls were just making paper planes and flying them today to see how high theirs would go.  Inspired by the movie, they love making creations and seeing how high and how far theirs can go. They both liked the movie, but the kids under age 7 were getting distracted easily – the movie is inspiring, but if your attention span is short, you may not stay engaged.  I would definitely recommend this for kids, ages 7 and up.  Our 5 and 6 year-old kids in attendance started running off and playing 30 minutes into the film.  We had 5 kids in attendance at our screening of differing ages.

Great movie, inspirational, and only 96 minutes long. I loved the actors, even the child antagonist. It is a good movie,with many lessons to be learned – it will make your eyes water, and it’s a unique concept – paper planes, you can get it on DVD now.

*Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of the movie for an honest review of this film.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

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LEGO Brick Fest Live- Denver Review

Last weekend, we were very fortunate to be able to attend LEGO© BrickFest Live here in Denver, and had a blast!  We did not know what to expect because the sessions August 28 through Brickfest pictureAugust 30, were four hours for each session. Your ticket allowed you entry into one of those 4-hour sessions.  We were not sure what to expect since it was a 4-hour session.  For planning, you do not need the full four hours, and likely will be in done in 2 hours tops.

There were various stations for the kids and grown up kids to enjoy – pits where you can build your own creations (sad to say you cannot take it with you).  Also, unlike going to LEGOLAND© or previous BrickFest events, the kids do not get a small token to take with them.  So that is a little disappointing.  I think at the entrance or exit, each paid admission should get a small Lego or token to take with him or her.  For $25 per ticket, I think it would really go a long way.  Plus, we were not aware we would have to pay for parking.  20150829_162513Granted, it was only an extra $5 at a venue where parking is generally free, but still unexpected.  I have been to the merchandise mart many times for shows and that is the biggest advantage we thought to this event being held at the Merchandise Mart as opposed to Downtown Denver (we despise going downtown for anything).  We do love the Mart- it is easy to get in and out of, right off of I-25, and close to us, and convenient.  When we went a couple years back to the Convention Center, it was tough to get in and out and parking was not cheap.  But the tickets that year were cheaper I believed – like $12-$15 with discount codes.

20150829_162721Also, since this is BrickFest, another thing which would go a long way is discounted kits for the kids to buy.  The kits were either at retail or pricier than Walmart/Target.  I am truly grateful that we were able to attend since my kids spend hours upon hours building kids, and sometimes are running late to school due to the distraction.  But, those were some recommendations that I saw from this otherwise fabulous event.

20150829_163112The kids built their own cars and raced them, played 9 rounds of putt-putt, lego-style, visited storm troopers, a mini Darth Vader, and met R2D2, and we saw the model Lego© villages, and even a battle of the ships in a display of water.  There was a stand there selling LEGO© jewelry – you name it, you imagine it, you can build it.  All the stations were fun, including 20150829_171228the quilt where you make your own square design and post it up.  All in all, a great time at BrickFestLive, and if you used discounts code from U.S. Family Guide or others, the tickets were a bit cheaper.

Disclaimer:  Our tickets to attend were free in exchange for a post prior to the event and a review of it after the event. Opinions expressed here are my own.


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread – a family favorite

wpid-20150824_213735.jpgNot sure what to do with all that zucchini from your garden?  You can make bread out of it, or freeze the zucchini after grating, and make bread all winter long.  I am sure these would make great teacher gifts too!  My favorite recipe that I like to use is this one at Simply Recipes, and then I modify as you see below.

I like how this is the one recipe that tells you to drain the zucchini after grating.  I didn’t realize how much water was in this stuff, and you do not need all the water, although maybe my bread would not be so dry if I left it some of it in – I will try that next time.  All I know is that this bread tastes super yummy and with some icing on top, the veggie properties of this bread can easily be shielded from prying young taste buds.

wpid-20150808_105128.jpgI base this recipe on needing 4 cups of shredded zucchini, but lots of others out there only call for 2 cups and split the instructions from wet mix and dry mix and keeping the zucchini separate.  You can cut this recipe in half if you choose to do so or have a small zucchini.  I like to add chocolate chips to the entire batter, and for my husband and I, I like to add in chopped walnuts- yum!

  • 4 cups grated zucchini – I recommend a food processor to shred/grate.  I did it by hand the first time, it was a nightmare and messy.  When I used the food processor, it was done in 5 minutes, and less messy.  If you only have a small zucchini to yield 2 cups of grated zucchini, cut the rest of the recipe in half.
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (white granulated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1.5 sticks)- melt in microwave safe container
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa (natural unsweetened cocoa)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (not milk chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans) – optional, or add to your batch
  • 1-2 or more greased pans- whatever size you want (loafs, square, or cupcakes) –  I like to make a combination of all
  • preheat your oven to 350 degrees at this time


Shred it, and put it in a colander over a bowl or over the sink so it drains a bit while you do other things.  I have shredded it by hand or by food processor, and a food processor takes the cake (pun intended)!

Wet mix

You need a larger bowl for this because you will end your mixing in this bowl.  Beat together the eggs, the sugar, and the extract – use a mixer or your hand.  I have tried both ways, and it is fine either way.  Make sure to get the consistency to where it is a smooth mixture and not lumpy.

Dry Mix

In a smaller bowl, you can mix together the flour, cocoa, the baking powder (or soda), salt, and cinnamon.  Mix it together so it is not lumpy – I use a small egg whisk to just mix it all up.  I also add in the chocolate chips here, but it is optional. You can add nuts too, or add them later if your kids do not like them.

First, put the Zucchini into the wet mix, then slowly (about a quarter of the mix each time), stir in the dry mix.  Stir and put in the dry mix fully until mixed in well.  You do not want to put it in all at once or it creates giant lumps.  But, fermenting apparently has begun the minute you mixed wet and dry, so get the pans ready, and scoop in the right portions for the pan you chose.  I generally leave enough for the “adult” pan or loaf of this bread and then mix in the nuts into that smaller portion.  Then, scoop it into the pan.


Bake for 50 minutes (if at lower altitudes) at 350 degrees, depending on size of pan, but in Colorado, you need only bake for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  I like to check it after 30 minutes for cupcakes, 35 minutes for a loaf size pan, and 40 minutes if you go 8×8 brownie pan.

Happy baking and yum!


Am I cheating?

Am I cheating? I sure feel like I am.  We just had our 10-year anniversary and ever since that day, I am thinking about and looking at others.  I am with another, and yet, daily I am thinking about them, the other ones, analyzing them, studying them.  Each day, I am trying to figure out when I will have time to go test them out to see if I enjoy the ride, to see how they feel as I clench my hands, and let it rev. That may help make my decision easier, but each day, I feel super guilty.  It feels like I am cheating emotionally and mentally on my 10-year, dependable love.  But each day, I see the others and I can’t look away, I admit, I am totally checking them out!  The decision is not made yet and I hesitate, I feel like all is fine, and I don’t really need to make the leap yet.  But I know soon I will need to decide which one I will choose to spend my next 10 years with.  That will also be the day I will need to say good bye to her- my faithful Subaru.

When hubby and I got married over 10 years ago, she was there, and we took many road trips with her.  She saw me through the Colorado Bar exam and I commuted back and forth to and from Colorado Springs and all those AF assignments.  So many life and career changes, and she was there each step of the way.  We safely brought home both babies in this car for their first ride and she protected them each time we rode thereafter.  Sounds cliche like the commercial but both girls grew from infants to toddlers, to the girls they are today in my Su.  I know she is just a material object, and I am not one to dwell on material objects, and after all, she’s just a car.  But there are so many special memories with my Subaru that I have never had as hard of a time car shopping as I do today.

Dedicated to you, Su.


Brick Fest Live is coming Aug 28-30 to the Denver Merchandise Mart

bfl-denver-120x90Do you love Lego bricks as much as we do?  Then don’t miss this!  Brick Fest Live is coming to the Denver Merchandise Mart August 28-30.  Get inspired, educated and entertained with LEGO bricks!  Play with huge attractions built to set your imagination free and witness mind-blowing creations made entirely of this timeless toy at the Brick Fest Live.  Save $2 with code:  DENFAMGUIDE, or #brickfestlive  brickfest2index

Come and build with us!