Arizona Adventures!

Hey everyone!
Today’s post is at least 3 months overdue – sorry! I’ve been having some technical issues with iMovie that’s causing delays on my Vlogs so stay posted as there’s a lot to come!

This vlog is a little disjointed as you’re seeing what was meant to be part of an ongoing series about shenanigans to get into in Arizona because I was living there & attempting to get into shenanigans – followed immediately by footage of me moving back home.
If you’re confused about when I lived in Arizona, don’t worry – you’re not alone! I was going to film a big announcement & create several videos discussing the move, however, circumstances changed quickly & creating an ongoing series seemed pointless.
Long story short, I moved to Arizona in December 2015 for a new job in an attempt to expand my Resume, broaden my horizons by living in a new state, & live closer to several friends/family members, including my godchildren. Unfortunately, my grandma was diagnosed with cancer very shortly after that & I moved back to NorCal in July 2016 to help my family & spend time with her.

Please enjoy this small snippet of my time in Arizona featuring Danny from Savage Squad, click here to see their channel! Please FOLLOW MissAl-Leigh.com to stay updated with future shenanigans, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel for more vlogs, SHARE, LIKE, & COMMMENT! Thank you 🙂

Beauty Deals 2.0

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20 Questions – Best Friend Edition Part 2

So here it is, the moment you’ve all been waiting for….Part 2 of my 20 Questions video with my best friend Danny!! I hope you enjoy our shenanigans! Click here to watch Part 1 of the series!
Please FOLLOW this blog, SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube channel, SHARE, COMMENT, & LIKE!

Book Review! Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

Hi everyone!
Today’s post will be a review on “Out of Oz” by Gregory Maguire. This is the last in a series called the “Wicked Years”, based on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” series by L. Frank Baum. It started with “Wicked”, which eventually became a Broadway show, followed by “Son of a Witch”, “Lion Among Men”, and finally, “Out of Oz”.

While I have read all 4 books recently, you won’t find reviews for them on this blog. The reason for this is, I read & fell in love with “Wicked” many years ago, but wasn’t that interested in finishing the series. Then I started this blog & compiled my “Books To Read” list & “Out of Oz” found its way on there…but I didn’t realize it was part of the “Wicked Years”. I thought it was a stand alone book. Once I realized it was the final book in the series, I re-read “Wicked” & finished the other books to get a fair understanding of what Maguire was trying to create.
Perhaps you’re thinking, why review “Out of Oz” at all, without bothering to have reviewed the other 3 books? I pondered over this & decided that as this is the final book, it made sense to put the nail in the “Wicked Years” coffin, if you will, with a final book review on the subject. As always, I will try to keep Spoilers to a minimum.

Initial Thoughts:
Hallelujah this series is OVER! I generally enjoy this genre, fantasy based on popular stories & given their own twist, but I had a tough time getting through this series. I really enjoyed “Wicked”, the Broadway musical is one of my favorite shows, but the series declined for me after that. I kept reading because I was curious to see where Maguire took the story, yet I can’t say I really enjoyed the journey.

Plot:
“Out of Oz” starts out with a short summary of all the stories, family trees, maps of Oz, & a timeline of when each story took place in relation to each other. This reminded me of Tolkien/LOTR but was a bit redundant for me because I read the stories back to back so I had good retention of the timeline & how the characters were connected.
We meet Dorothy again & she’s transported back to OZ via the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Scenes like this are what make me love Maguire’s writing. He’s so clever in the way he took something that happened in real life & found a way to make it fit with his story. However, I was disappointed in his version of Dorothy. She’s not the brightest girl in the world & after the first mention of her, she disappears. 100 pages later, I was wondering if she was ever going to make another appearance. I suppose that makes sense though because this series is really not about Dorothy.
The book continues to tell the story of the political going ons in Oz & to be honest, some of it was confusing. At a certain point I felt like I was reading a political mystery with Fantasy characters & I lost interest because it’s just not my cup of tea.
Another aspect of the plot I was intrigued yet ultimately disappointed by was Maguire’s use of characters from the original L. Frank Baum series. I appreciate him incorporating the “real” history of Oz yet I feel like he could have made it even more his own. Without giving too much away, if you’re at all familiar with the original series, theres’s a huge spoiler in regards to one of the characters that kind of kills the whole story because you already know how it’s going to end.
Maguire ends the story with a cliff hanger & when I first read it I was annoyed because I felt like he was setting it up for another book, even though this one was marketed as the last in the series. However, after re-reading the first Quote I mention below, I have a new understanding of why he left it open-ended & I think it’s kind of…beautiful. He’s acknowledging the fact that this universe he created is going to “continue on” – in a fantasy universe obviously – even though the written story has ended.

Quotes:
– At the beginning of the book with the maps/timeline etc: “We believe the explanation we hear last. It’s one of the ways in which narrative influences our perception of truth. We crave finality, an end to interpretation, not seeing that this too, the tying up of all loose ends in the last chapter, is only a storytelling ruse. The device runs contrary to experience wouldn’t you say? Time never simplifies – it unravels and complicates. Guilty parties show up everywhere. The plot does nothing but thicken. – Michelle de Kretser, The Hamilton Case”
WOW! I love this. This quote really made me think. I ended up sharing it with a friend & we debated its meaning – that’s what I love about good literature. It should make you think, feel, & want to share it with others. To me, this speaks to the idea that these stories are their own universe & continue to change & grow even though we’ve closed the book & think it’s over. I could go into way more detail about my analysis of this quote, but I’ll just leave it for you to think about.
– Pg 544/567: I picked up on some song lyrics from “Wicked” the musical & the “Wizard of Oz” film being used as dialogue. Maguire is definitely the kind of author that would sneak in this kind of reference. I think it’s brilliant.

Overall:
Nothing can compare to “Wicked” for me. “Son of a Witch” was pretty good, but I could barely maintain interest in “Lion Among Men” & “Out of Oz”. I think Maguire is a clever writer but sometimes I get tired of how he draws everything out. He puts a unique adult touch on his stories, however, sometimes the sex scenes are a little much for me. I also find it annoying that while many of the male characters are bisexual or gay, (kind of a SPOILER) there is potential for a lesbian love story that gets pushed aside as “unacceptable”. “Wicked” might have some staying power because of the musical, but otherwise I don’t think the series as a whole will be remembered for years to come like the original series or film.

Rating: C+
As I’ve mentioned, quite a few times, I had a hard time getting through this book. I feel like “Best Selling Authors” especially in the Fantasy genre always write extremely long passages of descriptions that drag on & on & really serve no purpose. About 100 pages in, I was annoyed. If you like prose, great. If you like writing that’s a little more direct to the point – you might not enjoy this. I also had to rate this book down for the political nature of it – as I said, just not a genre I enjoy. If you’re interested in seeing a popular Fantasy story from a different, more adult angle, especially one that includes heavy descriptions & politics, you will enjoy this novel & series as a whole.

Have you read any of the books in the “Wicked Years” or seen “Wicked” the musical? If so, what are your thoughts? Am I being too harsh? Please feel free to share your thoughts & book suggestions with me in the comments below!

Vlog #5 – Filoli Gardens

Hi everyone!
I know it’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted something 😦
As I explained in my Short Hiatus post, I’m not currently able to post as much but I have an important announcement to make pretty soon that will explain everything. However, in the meantime, I am working on stuff when I can – so without further ado!

Please join me on my trip to FILOLI Gardens in Woodside, California!
This video is an extremely quick sneak peek of what I saw during my tour. Each docent has their own connection to the property and presents the tour with their own flair. My docent was really interesting & provided a lot of rich detail & fun stories! However, I felt that it was unfair to FILOLI & my readers/viewers to simply piggyback off my tour, so I turned off the audio. My goal is to pique your interest with some footage of the beautiful house & grounds, then hopefully you will be inspired to visit or do research yourself!
Bottom line:

  • If you’re at all interested in history, this is the spot for you! FILOLI Gardens is a registered California Historical Landmark & on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • If you’re familiar with the Winchester Mystery House, also located in Northern California, this MAY be the spot for you. The WMH is known to be haunted/spooky, with an aura of great mystery surrounding it. FILOLI Gardens is similar in the sense that you’re being allowed access to an estate built in another time, but there’s no spookiness or mystery to be solved. It’s basically one big history lesson about the families that lived in the house & the time period they lived in.
  • If you like nature &/or architecture, this is the spot for you! FILOLI Gardens features a country manor, lush landscapes, & beautiful gardens on over 650 acres worth of land.

    I hope you enjoyed my mini tour! What do you think? Will you be making a trip to FILOLI, or have you already visited? If you’re interested in visiting, please visit the FILOLI website – here for more information. Thanks for reading 🙂

    Thank you to Kevin MacLeod for providing music for this vlog!
    Please click the links below to support him!
    Breaktime – Silent Film Light by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
    Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100302
    Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Vlog #4 – National Friendship Day

Happy  (Belated) National Friendship Day!!!
Watch the video below for a quick recap of how I spent Friendship Day with my two buddies, Jeri & Jeremiah! Hint, hint – it involves a LOT of sugar!!

As promised, here’s a quick Recap of the two bakeries we visited.

1. Zombee Donuts & Bake Shop
802 E. Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA
Instagram Twitter Yelp Facebook
OH MY GOSH – beyond delicious! I’ve seen reviews complaining about how sweet these donuts/pastries are & I don’t understand. Why are you upset/surprised that pastries taste super sweet?! Don’t get me wrong, I agree these things are gonna give me diabetes, I’m just not upset/surprised by that. I purchased the “Monster” and the Fruit Loop “Cereal Killer”. I ate the “Monster” but only ate a few bites of the “Cereal Killer” because I was in a sugar coma. However, I don’t see anything wrong with that. Let’s be honest, donuts aren’t great for us. Should we really be eating more than one a day? Nope! So it didn’t bother me that one donut satisfied my sugar cravings & I had another left over for the next day…okay, again let’s be honest, I ate it later that day! The “Monster” was literally the best donut I’ve ever eaten. I’m not usually a fan of cream filled items, but I had to take a chance because the filling is made with Monster Energy drink & I was highly intrigued. It was so light and fluffy! I would go back just for that! The “Cereal Killer” was good, but a tad dry & nothing could compare after I’d eaten the “Monster”. The decor of this place is adorable & the girl that helped us was incredible! She let us film & take pictures (obviously), & helped us decide what donuts to order. Zombee offers a vegan donut of the week, plus an amazing assortment of delicious “dark” themed treats – I highly recommend this shop & can’t wait to go back!

2. Hapa Cupcakes & Cakes
105 W Amerige Ave, Fullerton, CA
As great as my experience with Zombee was – that’s how negative my experience at Hapa was. You may have noticed I did not include information to their social media as I did with Zombee because I don’t feel like they’re worth promoting. I was so disappointed with their treats & customer service. The girl behind the counter was extremely rude, sighing heavily when we asked questions, rolling her eyes, & even leaving the counter & telling us to ring a bell when we were ready to order. I understand it can be frustrating when guests don’t know what they want, but 1. We’d never been there & told her so, 2. There was no one behind us so we weren’t creating a line, & 3. Pricing was not clear & if your guests don’t understand the options, how can they make a decision? We were trying to split one box between the 3 of us & every time we picked items, we were told our combination didn’t work. I could’ve forgiven Hapa for bad customer service because maybe the cashier was having a bad day, however, I can’t forgive their inedible treats. I had the Vegan Potato Chip & Chocolate Cupcake, the Captain Crunch Cupcake, and a Strawberry & Champagne Truffle (not shown in the video). They were all disgusting. I felt like they had been sitting out on the display way too long. The cakes were dry & the frosting was hard yet had a greasy texture – you can see in the video the icing is sliding off the cupcake but maintaining it’s shape. I took mine home to share with my family, took one bite of the Potato Chip/Chocolate & spit it out. Captain Crunch had no flavor, & the Strawberry/Champagne Truffle had a weird mushy/gooey texture. I was living in a house with 3 teenage boys at the time & after sampling the treats, even they wouldn’t finish them. You know it’s bad when teenage boys won’t eat something!  I would only recommend this place to someone that’s never been because maybe I just had a bad experience, but I would definitely warn them about what I experienced. I would not return here unless brought by someone else that really wanted to go.

So there you have it! A celebration of Friendship & sugar! Have you been to Zombee or Hapa? Will you try out either of them now that you’ve read my review? Obviously you know which one I’d recommend more, haha! Please let me know of any more delicious treats you think I should try out! Thanks 🙂

Vlog #3 – Trip to Napa!

It’s finally here – another Vlog – almost 2 months late, whoops! Please watch the video below to get a little taste of Napa & see how I celebrated with my mom for her birthday!
Thanks for stopping by, please FOLLOW me here & on YouTube to stay up to date with all my Vlogs & Blog posts 🙂

Vlog #2 – Melrose Ave Adventures Part 2

Hello all! Please click play on the video below to watch the continued adventures of my friends Jeremiah, Jeri, and myself as we do some shopping and explore Los Angeles! I’m still learning how to film and move around, talk to the camera, how long to make eye contact with the camera haha, things like that – so please bare with me as I go through this learning process.

A little explanation of our first stop – Sevenly. Sevenly produces unique “cause art” with profits going towards designated charities depending on what the product is. I have previously talked about them in my Veteran’s Day post. Normally they sell shirts for a week, then retire the style or apply the profits to the next Charity, so you have to act somewhat quickly if you like something or the specific charity it’s supporting. They don’t have a “Sevenly store” but for one weekend they decided to have a sale on old shirts. As I’m financially strained at this point in my life, I haven’t been able to support Sevenly or many charities as much as I’d like to, so when I saw the words “SALE” – I knew I had to stop by & see what they were offering. I ended up falling in love with 6 shirts & the causes they supported, but tough decisions had to be made and I only walked away with 3, descriptions are below!

Something I didn’t mention in the video – the location we were at is the Sevenly headquarters, but there is an actual store attached called “Share and Do Good”. They sell charity items as well, some from the Sevenly website & some from other brands that support specific missions. So if you’re in the SoCal/Orange County area, please don’t hesitate to go check out “Share and Do Good”!

I purchased these 2 shirts…
1. Black Flowy Tank – “Be the Change You Hope to See in the World”, one of my favorite quotes! This top supported Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program, which gives a cuddly stuffed animal to a child undergoing chemotherapy. This print is still available on the Sevenly website but I don’t believe Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program is a designated charity anymore.
2. Black Oversized Batwing Top – “It’s Not Okay” This shirt supports a charity called The Sheepfold, which helps women & children take shelter from Domestic Violence.

The following 3 items are the shirts from the video I did NOT purchase.
3. Grey Flowy Tank – “Slavery Exists when People Stay Silent” I’m not sure exactly what charity this supported but it was geared towards helping woman escape from Sex Slavery in the United States. I don’t believe this is available anymore.
4. Black T-Shirt with Eagle – “Fallen but Not Forgotten” This design supports TAPS – Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors – a Non Profit that supports the families of fallen Military members. This shirt was insanely difficult for me to leave behind. Currently this design is still available on the Sevenly website – at full price $28 – which unfortunately for me is just not something I can pay for a shirt, especially knowing I could have purchased it half price. However, I’ve signed up to Volunteer with TAPS at the Disney 1/2 Marathon the first weekend in September, so I’m really excited!
5. Purple T-Shirt – “Destinies are Made When People Get Involved” Again, unfortunately, I’m not sure exactly what charity, but it was made to support families dealing with the loss of a child. I can’t find this design on the Sevenly website, so I’m assuming it’s no longer in production.

If you liked any of the shirts in this video & can’t find them on the website, please don’t be afraid to contact Sevenly. Mention that you watched my video, tell them which shirt you liked, & perhaps they’ll be able to help you. I am in NO WAY making promises for them, but I have talked to their Customer Service before & they were extremely polite & helpful.

So there’s a little background & more information for you. Hope you enjoy our adventure, FOLLOW me to stay up to date on all my posts! If you’re reading this on a mobile device, click on an individual post title (rather than looking at the Home Page), scroll to the bottom & fill out the email form. If you’re looking at this post on your laptop/desktop, the form will be on the top right of the page. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns & I’ll help you as best as I can. Thanks for reading!