Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book & Movie Review - The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray goes out to Pandemonium club and witnesses a murder. It's a little hard to report the crime, though, when the body disappears into thin air and no one can see the three tattooed, teenage murderers. No one but Clary, that is. This was her first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors committed to ridding the Earth of demons. One of the Shadowhunters from the club is named Jace, who looks like an angel but is a total smart-ass. In less than 24 hours, her mother and Clary are attacked by a demon, and Clary is pulled entirely into the Shadowhunter world. There are mysteries surrounding Clary: What would a demon want with mundanes like Clary and her mother? Why does Clary all-of-a-sudden have the Sight?
The Shadowhunters want to know.

My Review: This book was great. I knew that I wanted to see the movie, so I had to finish the book before watching it. I really felt like I understood Clary, her emotions, etc. and I felt like I could relate to her easily. Jace came off as an ass but there is good reasoning for it, and I really love him as a character. The other Shadowhunters were a little rough around the edges, but when you go around slaying demons all day, it is to be expected. The story was really gripping, it drew me in, and I want to know more. I'm glad that this is a series because I don't think that I would be satisfied with just one book! 
My rating: 4/5

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie
My review: I truly enjoyed this movie. Sure, it didn't match up with the book in several parts, but for the most part, the movie stayed true to the book. Some of the lines were an exact match, which I always love hearing! Casting was great, although a bit too old, considering they were all suppose to be teenagers. Not one of the "teens" looked like they were under age 20. 
But anywho, the story progresses much more quickly in the movie, so if you haven't read the book, I can see that it would be difficult to understand what was going on. I took my mom out with me, and she was really confused at certain points. My main problem was that they gave away a major plot twist right before the actual plot twist! It was very discreet, apparently, because while I knew it was coming and was looking out for it, my mom missed them giving it away entirely. So at least there's that.
Overall, it could have been handled with a bit more care and explanation for those who have not read the books, and I hope they do a little better with City of Ashes, which I'm currently reading.
My rating: 3/5 
Would recommend, but read the book first!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Pre-K Wednesday: Dinosaur Week!

My example
Since we have had a lot of boy students this summer, most of whom are headed to Kindergarten, we had to find some dinosaur related activities for them. They've spent weeks finding all of the dinosaur books possible in the classrooms, so I came up with an activity sure to get their attention: paper-plate stegosauruses! 

Pretty close to the example! 
They were all so adorable, but I really liked the ones done by the younger kids (age 3 and 4):

Aren't they just the cutest?
Some of the books the kids loved to read were: Dinosaur Dinosaur by Kevin Lewis and Dinosaur A-Z: For kids who really love dinosaurs! by Roger Priddy. We also told many dinosaur jokes, which always make the kids crack up. A personal favorite is:

What do you call a sleeping dinosaur?
A dino-snore!


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fall Fashion Essentials: Shoes

Fall Essentials: Shoes

Hunter wellington boots, $125 / Short wedge boots / Chelsea Crew oxford / Almond toe flat / Chelsea Crew low pumps / Steve Madden ballet flat / Flat shoes / TOMS flat / Chinese Laundry stretch thigh high boots

Who doesn't love shoes, right? They really are the finishing touch to any outfit. While I do love to run around barefoot (benefits of living by the beach), I have always had a soft spot for a cute pair of shoes. 
Since I have already given you a list of my fall fashion essentials, and expanded into recommendations for sweaters & cardigans, and tops, I figured I'd get to my favorite part: the accessories. Shoes are by far the easiest way to add a little something special to an outfit. As you can probably tell, I'm into cognac brown shoes, and I love flats! 

What are your favorite shoe choices for Autumn?


Monday, August 26, 2013

Quote of the Week: 8/26/13

It was here, but now it's out of stock!
"I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should just go ahead and be one." - Calamity Jane

I think that this week's quote really speaks for itself! But anyway, if you know what or who you want to be, find a way to be that person. You only live once, so do what makes you happy and find ways to be happy with yourself!

Caryn Elizabeth

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lighthouse Adventures

The Walton Lighthouse, Seabright Beach, Santa Cruz, CA
This past week, I had an afternoon off of work, and the sun was shining. My roommate and long-time best friend were faced with a dilemma: what do we do with all of this extra time?
She's really been eager to go to a lighthouse, any lighthouse, since we moved in, so we put ourselves in Siri's hands and went for an adventure! Siri did not know how to get to the lighthouse because there is no specific place to park for it. You have to park at Seabright Beach in Santa Cruz, California, and take a long beach-hike to get there. It was quite the workout. But we made it! 

Walton Lighthouse, up close!
There were a bunch of warnings about dangerous waves and such, but the bay looked calm, so we walked up and took a bunch of cheesy tourist pictures, of course.

Posin' all tourist-like
We just had to! We couldn't resist! We also hugged the lighthouse. We looked ridiculous but it was so much fun.

"for the people and mariners of Santa Cruz"
It was a fun adventure, and I cannot wait to explore the other lighthouse in Santa Cruz! 


Slightly Tweaking the Name!

Before this day, my blog was called Mason Jars and Southern Charm, to match my tumblr of the same name: here. However, since I live in a coastal town and post much more content relating to the ocean, I thought a name change was in order! 
Sorry if there was any confusion. 


Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review: Twenty Boy Summer

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Anna Reiley is getting out of town with her best friend forever, Frankie Perino, for a twenty-day-long trip to sunny California. Frankie thinks that the trip to Zanzibar Bay will make it the "Absolute Best Summer Ever" (A.B.S.E. for short). According to Frankie, if they meet at least one new guy a day, it is likely that she will find her first summer romance. Even though Anna agrees to the game, there is a secret Anna's been keeping from Frankie: she has already had her summer romance. A year ago, with Frankie's brother, Matt, right before he died last summer.

My review: For starters, let me just say that the cover art is absolutely perfect. It's rare that the cover fits so perfectly with the content of the book. Moving on, the beginning of the book totally grabbed me by the heart, and then broke it (my heart, that is). It really gets you involved, right from the beginning, making you feel like a part of the story. When the pace began to slow, I will still so emotionally invested in what was going to happen to Anna and Frankie that I had to get through the book. Anna's emotions and thoughts/memories about Matt were sad but made it so easy to relate to her. While the story was filled with sadness, there was also rebirth: a new beginning in California, meeting new boys, etc. It was hard to Anna to stomach at first but even after everything, I did not walk away from this book feeling sad. I felt hopeful, and that is something that I rather like in a book.

My rating: 4/5


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fall Fashion Essentials: Tops

Fall Essentials: Tops

Top / J.Crew stripe tee / Purple top / Merona striped top / LC Lauren Conrad bow top / See through top / Women

I am so excited for fall! You could probably tell from this post, and of course, this one. Fall is all about apple picking, long drives, coffee dates, and pumpkin carving. And with all of that activity going on as the air gets chilly, I always like to wear comfortable yet cute long sleeve tops (preferably with a cute puffy vest over it)! 
These are some of my favorite picks for this season.
Can you tell I love stripes? 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pre-K Wednesday: Ocean & Sea Creatures!

Hand-print crab!
Since the Summer is drawing to a close, we wanted to make sure to include a week (or two) dedicated to the ocean before we send off our kindergarten kids and begin our new school year.  Since we live by the beach, it was easy to create a sensory tub full of shells and seaglass, and I even found a fully intact sand dollar to show the kids! We created hand-print crabs (my example is pictured above) at the beginning of the week, hand-and-foot-print lobsters (example pictured below), and paper-bag jellyfish.

We also did a variety of circle time activities involving music and books. The kids' favorite song to sing is called "Slippery Fish," and it goes:
Slippery fish, slippery fish
Swimming in the water
Slippery fish, slippery fish
Glub, glub, glub
OH NO! I've been eaten by a...
Octopus, octopus
Swimming in the water...

And it continues with a tuna fish, great white shark, and finally, a humongous whale! After you sing about the humongous whale, rather than saying you've been eaten again, you sing, "Glub, glub, glub... BURP! Excuse me..." The kids love to hear their usually-ladylike teachers letting out a huge, fake burp!

We've also been reading a large number of sea-related books, like Eric Carle's Mister Seahorse (you can buy it at my Amazon store) and A House for Hermit Crab (buy here). We also read The Ocean Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, and the kids loved hearing all about the creatures we could find in the ocean.

Enjoy your last days of summer!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Synopsis: The story begins many years after the zombie apocalypse; we meet a young girl named Mary, who lives in a small village. There, she has a few simple truths: The Sisterhood is not to be questioned; they know what is best. The guardians are there to protect the village. And the unconsecrated will always be there, lurking just outside the gates surrounding the town. Always searching for their next victim. But then all of Mary's truths are failing: she finds herself questioning the Sisterhood, which has more secrets than it should. Then the fence is breached, and Mary's entire world changes. She and her lifelong friends must enter the Forest of Hands and Teeth that has always been home to the unconsecrated. Could there be other life in a place with so much death?

My review: I really wanted to like this book, I really did. But I couldn't. I couldn't connect with the main character at all, which was my main problem. She was willing to throw aside family, her friends, her village, the love of her life... to see the ocean. To see if the stories her mom told her about the olden days (read: our present) before the "unconsecrated" were true or not, and she was willing to throw everything away to have a glimpse at a body of water. Unfathomable.
I felt as though this book was split into two parts: the first part was great. The part in which Mary lives in the village, where she falls in love with Travis, and loses her mother to the unconsecrated outside of the village gates. Travis's brother, Harry, intends to marry Mary, but after her mother turns into a zombie, he turns his back on her. She is forced to join the Sisterhood, a very religious group of women that controls the lives of all of the people living in the village.
In the second part, which I greatly disliked: Mary, Travis, Harry, and her friend Cass all head into the Forest of Hands and Teeth, trying to find a way to the ocean. This half was suppose to be more action-packed, but I found the first half of the book far more interesting. In the second half, Mary seems to forget about the Sisterhood's secrets that haunted her throughout the first half. I would have much rather heard about what happened with the Sisterhood than hear that Mary killed a bunch of random zombies.

My rating: 2/5, Only because the first half of the book was so interesting!

Caryn Elizabeth

Monday, August 19, 2013

Quote of the Week: 8/19/13

Found here
"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." -Joseph Chilton Pearce

Let go of your fears and dive in: immerse yourself in a new language, find yourself in a new book, splatter yourself in paint, cover yourself in ink... Just find what you love to do and pursue that interest. If you don't like it anymore, find something new. Life is too short to follow a dream that is no longer yours. Let go of your fears and follow your dreams. 

Caryn Elizabeth

Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Beauty Favorites: {Summer}

Summer Favorites

When I was little, I was really into makeup: it fascinated me, and because my mom never really uses beauty products, I was enthralled with everything to do with makeup or hair. I wasn't allowed to wear makeup until I was sixteen years old, and for a few days here and there, I really enjoyed it. But now, I'm a person of minimal makeup: I do really like using Maybelline's Dream Fresh BB cream, because it evens out my facial color, moisturizes my skin, and provides SPF 30! It's also very light, I can't even tell I'm in makeup! I also use Maybelline's Cat Eyes mascara, which makes my eyelashes longer and more pronounced (as well as making my eyes pop!) without clumping. 
As far as hair goes, I'm usually just a brush-and-go girl, unless I'm braiding my hair or putting it up in some other way. Not Your Mother's Beach Babe texturing spray gives my already wavy hair something a little extra. 
And last but not least, nails! I love to paint my nails to match the season or my mood. It's a good way to express yourself. During the Summer months, I really go for the bright colors: turquoise, corals, pink glitter, bright blues, etc. But my favorites this summer were Essie's Turquoise & Caicos (also Naughty Nautical!) and Sunday Funday. 

What are your favorite beauty products this Summer?


Friday, August 16, 2013

Fall Essentials: Sweaters/Cardigans

Fall Essentials: Sweaters/Cardigans

Earlier this month, I made a post containing all of my fall fashion essentials. First on the list was sweaters and cardigans! I live in California, so I don't usually need big jackets, so I love love love a good knit cardigan or pullover. 
I'm on a budget, so I like to find clothing that is fairly reasonable in price, or wait for a more expensive item to go on sale!

What's your favorite sweater?

Caryn Elizabeth

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Current Obsession: {Bumble Bees}


I have always been a fan of the letter "B." I have not always been a fan of bumble bees, though, seeing as I am allergic to them. Not deathly so, I just get a welt that lasts for a long time. Anyway, since I've been gardening more and spending a lot of time outside for my job, I have been around quite a few bees (no stings! Whoo!) and I have grown fond of the little bugs. It turns out that bees and I have more in common than I would have thought: we like flowers, being outside in the sunshine, and flowers. 
Seems like a good life to me.
So I've been stocking up on things bee-related and I am really hoping to snag the Nordstrom "Let it Bee" tote above. And those gold bee hair pins are so cute for fall! 

What is your obsession of the moment?

Caryn Elizabeth

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Succulent {Garden}

The final product!
So, in an earlier post, I said that I would update y'all when I began to work on my own garden, and now my garden is complete (for now, at least!). I added moss roses to some of my planter boxes that had plants left by the previous owner of my home:
Although the moss roses added a little something to my garden, the plants I was most excited for were the succulents:
Echeveria Chroma
I wanted a nice mix of the colors, heights, and looks of succulents, so I started with my favorite, (pictured above) called Echeveria Chroma, and (pictured below) Graptosedum, otherwise known as "California Sunset": 
Graptosedum "California Sunset"
After that, I wanted to add some height and interesting-looking succulents...
Elephant Bush
The one pictured below, called Blue Chalk Sticks, is super funky! I love it!
Blue Chalk Sticks
String of Buttons
Last but not least, I bought the String of Buttons, which is super cute and fun, in my opinion! The finished product is shown at the top of the page. I really like how it turned out!
It's really important, with succulents, to have a well-draining soil, so I used Miracle Gro Moisture-Control Potting Mix, which you can buy here if you so please. 

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Book Review: The Runaway Princess


The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne
Synopsis: Amy Wilde, a young gardener from Yorkshire, England, is in for a large surprise when she starts dating Leo. He's handsome, understands her, and treats her like a princess: it's quite fitting, because as it turns out, Leo is actually Prince Leopold Wolfsburg of Nirona. Dating Leo comes with many perks (read: going to the opera, charity galas, etc.) but for Amy, who was raised in jeans and wellies with dirt caked in her fingernails, adjusting to the glamorous life of royalty is difficult. Her anxieties about things like meeting the parents are doubled when things like discussing the line of succession become the topic of dinner conversation. To make things worse, the press is showing interest in Amy's very normal, not royal family. Unforseen events then push Leo closer to the throne, and his family pushes Amy to be less gardener and more princess. As much as she loves Leo, is Amy willing to change herself and her life to be with him?

My review: I was very excited to pick up this book, but I found that it was difficult for me to get into the story at first. The main character, Amy, is a gardener for a living, so there was a lot of garden-theme talk, and a lot of talk about how she's "just a normal young woman," etc. that became a bit redundant. But I suppose if I was being courted by a very handsome young man, err, prince, I'd be a little discombobulated and convinced that I'm way too "normal" to have a prince fall for me, too. After I got into the story line, it really picked up and I finished it in less than a week. It was a very cute story, and I did enjoy the ending!

My Rating: 3.5/5

Caryn Elizabeth

Monday, August 12, 2013

Fall Fashion Essentials

With Autumn approaching rapidly, I thought that I would make a list of my personal fall fashion staples, and as summer continues and fall grows near, I'll expand on each of the "essentials" below:
  • Cardigans, both lightweight and heavier fabrics for when it's closer to winter
  • Button down shirts (white, chambray/light blue, striped, etc.)
  • Flannel button downs (great for layering!)
  • Black leggings
  • Boatneck shirts
  • Cable knit sweaters
  • Dark wash jeans
  • Knee-length skirts for layering
  • Tights and knee-high socks
  • Scarves. And lots of them. I adore scarves. 
  • Riding boots and ankle booties, preferably in cognac brown, but black will do!
  • Wellies, preferably colorful! (My favorite pair are red, white, and blue, striped). 
  • Ballet flats in black, brown, and a bright color.
  • Skinny belts for belting in cardigans, high-waisted skirts or dresses!
What are you stocking up on this Fall? What are your Fall fashion essentials?

Caryn Elizabeth

Quote of the Week: 8/12/13

Evening in Santa Cruz, California

“When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.” 

- John Lennon

This week's quote is really special, I find, because often we do good things because we want to be acknowledged for it, and that is not the point of doing something good is not suppose to be to gain praise. To do something noble and good just for the sake of doing it, out of the goodness of your heart, is something to hold dear, whether there is praise or not. As long as you know you did a beautiful deed, that is all you need. Cherish the feeling and harvest in yourself the ability to do noble and beautiful things just because you can and you want to. That will take you far. 

Also, wake up every so often to enjoy the gorgeous sun on a chilly morning. You will not regret watching the beauty of a sunrise, promise. 

Caryn Elizabeth

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cupcake Adventure!

The best cupcake shop in the world. 
That is the exterior of the best, I mean best, cupcake shop. They have great and unique flavors, and everything is local and organic, which I love. 
I actually first found out about this shop at a bridal expo for my friend last year, and man, were we hooked. I then decided to take my roommate, who has a huge sweet tooth, here a few months ago. Whoops. Now she requests that we come here all the time! I love cupcakes but these are so rich that I have to be careful not to eat too many! 
We were downtown yesterday and just had to stop in for a bite:

I ordered the "Bramble" cupcake, which is Vanilla Butter Cake with Raspberry Rose and Cream frosting, and the "Chocolate Hibiscus," which is, you guessed it, a chocolate cake with hibiscus and cream frostings, topped with a blueberry! Delightful!

Caryn Elizabeth

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pre-K Wednesday: Zucchini Bread and Graduation!

Our homemade zucchini bread
We made zucchini bread with the kids this week! We let them grate the zucchini into small bits and allowed them to measure out our other ingredients. The zucchini was from our garden! It was a fun and time-consuming activity. We used a recipe from the Better Homes & Gardens' New Cook Book. You can buy the book here or see the recipe below:

Zucchini Bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. 
In a mixing bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg. In another mixing bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup shredded unpeeled zucchini, 1/4 cup cooking oil, 1 egg, and 1/4 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. If you please, stir in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts before pouring batter in a 8x4x2-inch loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, remove bread from pan and cool thoroughly on a wire rack. Wrap and store overnight before slicing, makes 1 loaf (16 servings). 

Graduation cupcakes
Many of the families were excited for their children to graduate for the first time ever, and one mom even made these great graduation cupcakes! She used funfetti cupcake mix (I'm in my twenties and funfetti is still my favorite). She made the graduation "caps" with a lollipop stick, a Reese's peanut butter cup, Hershey's chocolate (2 pieces per cap), an M&M, a sour worm-type candy, and melted chocolate as "glue." 
They turned out so cute! 

Hope your baking adventures are turning out delicious! 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My Wishlist: Back to School Edition

As August has just begun, so has the back-to-school shopping season. It's one of my favorite times of year. This is because, in true nerdy fashion, I love to shop for office supplies. And a first-day-of-class outfit. I think it's very important to be prepared and well-dressed for your first day of classes. For some, classes start very soon, or by the end of the month. I don't start until the end of September, and I can't wait! So, here is my back to school wishlist for this autumn:

Back to School Wishlist 2013

What is on your wishlist this back-to-school-year?
Caryn Elizabeth

Monday, August 5, 2013

Quote of the Week 8/5

Happy August! I know I've already posted this month, but I just thought I'd say it now, given that today is this month's first quote of the week. This week's quote is actually a Greek proverb:

Found here
"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."
It's a simple proverb, but it holds so much truth. We, as a society, spend so much time worrying about the latest trend or newest technology that we don't take the time to appreciate Earth and what it's done for us. Our planet has done wonderful things for us, and generations before us have kept it going, mostly. But now it's our turn to take care of our world and make it healthy for our future generations to come. By doing that, our society will become great.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book Review: The Pledge

The Pledge by Kimberly Derting

Synopsis: In a country called Ludania, language is the dividing factor of the classes. Someone in a lower class cannot look upon a member of a higher class while they are speaking in their own language, is punishable by death. This is where our protagonist, 17-year-old Charlaina "Charlie," who has a secret: she has the ability to comprehend the languages of all the classes. But then she meets a mysterious boy, named Max, who can speak a language that she has never heard before, and she almost exposes her secret. As she is drawn to Max, she becomes aware that she doesn't truly trust him, nor does she know where his loyalties lie. When things in her violent country grow worse, and more  information comes to light, we learn that Charlie may be the key to change in a country with a powerful, and deadly, regime. 

My review: This book was a fast read, but I was hooked so I really didn't put it down for a whole day! I found it easy to relate to Charlie, the main character, but I could see some people having issues relating to her. As a lover of languages, I was hoping to get a peek of some of the fictional languages described in the book (with translations!) but it was all written in "Englais," our English. However, I could see how adding the other languages could be unnecessary and make the book a tad lengthy. The plot was a bit slow to start, but it gave us time to get to know a bit about each character first, which I enjoyed. The best part of this book, though, was that we readers got an ending of sorts, despite the fact that it is a book in a series. NO CLIFFHANGER! It was actually kind of wonderful. All in all, this was a good read. 

My rating: 4/5


Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Alcatraz Island, photo by me

When I decided to move to Santa Cruz, I knew I would be leaving behind a lot of places I love in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even though San Francisco is just over an hour away from my new home, it's harder to make the trip out to the city than when I lived somewhere close to BART. I really miss being able to hop on the train for 45 minutes and find myself in the middle of such an amazing city.
Building with bougainvillea, SF, by me

I'm going back home but I still won't get to stop by the city- there just isn't enough time! I'm hoping to be able to head out there sometime before my classes start in September. I will definitely need to stop by my favorite tea shop in the city to pick up their special "After Seven Fifty Nine" tea (it tastes like chocolate and mint):
This Union Jack chair is adorable! It's not in their store currently; they had to change locations but they're opening up a second location so this beauty should be back!

Their Marie Antoinette felt dolls are just fabulous!

This lovely tea shop, called Crown & Crumpet, has been a favorite of mine for about 4 years. The owners are British and so kind! If you're ever in San Francisco, you should check them out! They come highly recommended. 

Caryn Elizabeth