25.7.14

Movie Review :: How to Train your Dragon 2...

In the school holidays (yes, that was like 2 weeks ago now), my sister and I took my younger sister to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. Granted, I would have gone to see it with or without her, but it sort of was a good excuse to go. We were lucky enough to grab up the last 3 seats (phew!), and though we were right at the front of the theatre, it was totally worth it.

I love the first of these movies (How to Train Your Dragon....1....), so I was looking forward to seeing what they had done in the second one. I was mostly very pleased. I say 'mostly' because i thought that the first one was a lot more funny...but I liked the story line in second one better. I think it's because it's been established that dragons are actually all good and if you treat them right they're not gonna rip your heads off...and because of this epiphany from the first movie, the friendly dragons were a lot more involved in the story line as 'characters'. We saw more of their personalities in the second one than in the first because they actually became about of the good-guy team. Does that at all make any sense?

So the main plot line of this 2nd movie is this. It's 5 years after the events in the 1st movie, and Hiccup and his friends are now young adults, rocking being 20 years of age. Hiccup's relationship has blossomed with Astrid, and they are definitely not kids any more (as showed by light arm touches, kisses on cheeks, and general cuteness). Toothless the dragon and Hiccup are flying around the place, finding other islands and mapping out the surrounding area, and life on the island of Berk is thriving, dragons and people living in harmony together. But then! Dun dun dun.

Hiccup and Astrid are out one day and they come across a mob of angry dragon trappers, who are complaining that someone else is stealing the dragons that they've trapped. Hiccup learns that these guys are catching dragons for a guy called Drago Bludvist, who is building a dragon army, but then there's a dragon thief, running off with them before the trappers can return them to Drago. Of course then Hiccup has to go and stop all this from happening, and *spoiler* everything is a-okay in the end.

With dragon racing, capturing, freeing, killing, and saving, as well as restored relationships, loved ones lost, mind control, growing up, and a little bit of young romance, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was definitely a good watch, and one I will be adding to my DVD collection.




24.7.14

Ghost Post :: The Tooth Fairy Discovery...



Warning: Do Not Read if you still believe in the tooth fairy

I was 6 years old when it happened. When the realisation hit me. When I discovered the secret. I was 6 years old when I learnt that the tooth fairy wasn't a cute small pixie-like creature in a pretty pink tutu, wielding a tiny magic wand that dusted sparkles and goodness over children’s pillows, carrying a tiny Mary Poppins-like bag where she popped all the baby teeth in when she collected them…but my hairy 35 year old father.

That’s right my friends. I’m sorry I’ve shattered your worlds and beliefs, but it’s true. The tooth fairy is my dad.

I remember exactly what tooth it was that fell out that afternoon. I had lost my first few teeth while we were in Mongolia and Hong Kong, but I remember this tooth. I was all ready, and I remembered to put it in the little container I had by my bed (coz let’s face it, friends, if you put a tiny child’s tooth under your pillow, your either going to move around so much it falls away somewhere or gets stuck in your pillow, or the tooth fairy will get crushed trying to reach it), and I went to bed, trying not to think about it.

I woke up in the early hours of the morning, it was way too early to get up yet, but I was awake and thinking of my tooth money. I was naughty: I peeked under my pillow for the gold coin the fairy should have left me already…and it wasn’t there. The next logical place was in the little container. But it wasn’t there either! I couldn’t believe it! In her tooth-collecting rounds that night, the fairy I had relied on had forgotten my tooth!

I jumped out of bed and ran to my parents room where I declared my problem to them in a loud, put-out voice. My mum looked at my dad, and he got out of bed, exclaiming his surprise, and telling me that perhaps there were lots of teeth to collect that night, and she was on her way. ‘Go back to sleep’.

So I went back to bed, but there was no way I was sleeping now. Later on, perhaps half an hour later, I heard someone come into my room. I pretend I was sleeping (I was good at that), and lay very still, listening for the pitter patter of tiny fairy feet, or the fluttering of small glittery wings. I felt a little movement on my pillow, and a lump move under it, then draw away. Then I heard a little clink of a noise, and a shuffle as they left room. I peeked through my eye lids, and saw to my utter dismay, not the tooth fairy at all, but…well…you know who it was.

And there shattered my own belief in the tooth fairy. At only 6 years old. Now that I’m 23, I can clearly state with full confidence that 6 is way too young to discover this. However, I did get $2 for that tooth, so that’s a bonus.




23.7.14

10 Great Photo Editing Apps...

Half this post was originally published on This Splendid Shambles (which I hope to get back into one day). 

These days it’s rather rare to come across someone who doesn’t have some sort of photo-capturing device. Whether it’s an iPhone, a Smart Phone, an iPod Touch, or one of the many others, people snapping pictures are everywhere. With photo-capable-devices come photo editing apps. Like kinds of phones, there are so many options, some free, some not. I thought I’d just share with you some of my favourite photo editing apps that I have downloaded either for free, or for very little, on both my iPod Touch and also my Samsung Smart Phone. I've discovered that having both an Apple device and an Android device means that I get the best of both worlds, as some apps are only available on Apple, so I can download those on my iPod...but I get to use my Samsung phone, which I love. Anyway...here we go!


1. Instagram
Instagram is the obvious first app that comes to mind. I actually bought my iPod Touch just so I could have Instagram (long story...later I upgraded my old flip top and got my Samsung, so Instagram was the first app I got), and it opened up an exciting world of lo-fi, vintage looking photos, ‘wait let me take a picture of that’ and following other people who also took pictures of their meals and their dogs. But in all seriousness, I love the filters that Instagram has, and the little things you can do like add a frame, or up the contrast. My favourite filter is Valencia, and is the one I use most often.
Cost: Free
Device:  Apple and Android devices.




2. A Beautiful Mess
With a blog of the same name, Elise Larson and Emma Chapman created this app about 2 years ago and it’s amazing. I absolutely love the cute doodles and colour variations that can be applied. They have created lovely filters, fun frames, chosen some cool fonts and have their own hand drawn doodles that you can add to your pictures. There are so many variations that can be created, and they continue brining out extra packs you can buy, as an addition to all those that come with the app. Although this isn’t free, it’s well worth the £0.69 you’ll pay for it. Each extra pack you buy is also only £0.69, so you’re never spending much at all.
Cost: £0.69
Device: Apple and Android devices. 




3. Repix
Repix is a lot of fun. Like all photo editing apps it has great filters and level changers (brightness, contrast, hue, etc), but it also has these sort of brush or pen things, where you can add pretty things like bokeh, sparkles, hearts, stars and ravens to your images. They also have brush/pens for making your image look like it's been spray painted, or like Van Gogh got his hands on it, or you can even make it look like Hollywood, vintage, or covered in drips. Pretty darn awesome! While the app itself is free, there are additional things, like extra brush/pens you can purchase.
Cost: Free, with optional additional effects for purchase
Device: Apple and Android devices.




4. Studio Design
I love this app. While I don't use it for their filters much, I do like to use the neat overlays they have. As well as 'normal' type overlays like shapes, lines, frames etc, you can add other packs to your app that have an awesome set of cute doodles or quotes. For example, you can get a Travel Icons pack - with boats, planes, luggage, iconic buildings, and camera doodles; various Christmas packs with all things Christmassy; a Wanderlust pack - with quotes on travel and freedom and exploring. You can get Halloween packs, love packs, inspirational quote packs...everything. And they are often coming out with new ones, and more often than not they are free. So much fun.
Cost: Free, with optional additional packs at low prices
Device: Apple and Android devices. 





5. Lapse It
I don't use this app as much as I would like, but it's pretty neat! It's basically a simple time-lapse app where you can set the time it snaps pictures to whatever you'd like it, and then push go and let it do it's thing! It's a free app, but you can upgrade to 'Pro' which costs money.
Cost: Free, with optional upgrade to Pro at a cost
Device: Apple, and Android devices.





6. VSCO Cam
I actually only discovered this earlier this year, but it's such a great app. It has the most beautiful filters, and it's such a breeze to use. You can do the normal things, like change contrast, brightness etc, but you can also add these great filters to it. When you first download it, it comes with several filters, but if you'd like more variety you can go to the store and purchase some more. Sometimes they have sales, and occasionally they'll offer a free pack of a couple of filters. I always grab them up.
Cost: Free, with optional additional add-ons.
Device: Apple and Android devices. 




7. Piclay
If you like crazy photos with overlapping parts, then this is the app for you. Piclay is so much fun, because you get to either take an image and mirror it, or you can take two separate images and layer them over each other. You can then add these cool effect filters, which are mostly crazy, but they're very addictive to use. While you might not use this app for your everyday photos, when you to go a little nuts and pull your creative side out, then Piclay is the app you want!
Cost: Free
Device: Apple and Android devices.



8. Frametastic 
Okay, so it sounds kinda lame, right? But it's actually really great for those of us who take about a hundred photos but have a good enough conscience not to share all 100 on Instagram or Facebook. With Frametastic you can create collages of your images, or you  can choose from a bunch of simple frame layouts (for example, one large picture on the left, and two smalls on the right) to pop your photos into. You can change the colour of the frame as well, and make the images have rounded corners, not pointy ones. While the app is free and comes with a whole lot of great frames, you can go to their shop within the app and purchase different frames, photo effects, and collage backgrounds.
Cost: Free, but optional additional features are available for cheap purchase
Device: Only available on Apple devices.




9. Afterlight
One of my favourite discoveries on my iPod last year has to be Afterlight. I love this app, and, after the A Beautiful Mess app (and their new PartyParty app), it’s probably my favourite. This app allows you to edit your photos in a way that is much more detailed and specific than, say, Instagram. There are functions like brighten, sharpen, saturation, and a vignette tool like usual, but they have a wide range of filters, frames, light leaks and dust layers. It’s a lot of fun playing with the functions and seeing what looks you can get. You do have to pay for this app, but it's so worth it!
Cost: £0.69
Device: Only available on Apple devices (however! Apparently there's an Android version coming soon! Wahoo!)




10. PartyParty 
I thought I'd leave this one to last because it's one of my new favourites. Thanks to the team at A Beautiful Mess, this app was just released mid July this year, and it's so much fun! The PartyParty app allows you to take either 1, 4, 9, or 16 photos, which you can then either turn into a little motion clip, or pop them into a grid, or turn them into a photo-booth strip. You can set the photo capturing speed from 0.5 seconds up to a 5 seconds delay, or you can set it to manual and take the images when you'd like. There's even a count down that gives you three seconds before it starts taking pictures. I'm a little bit addicted to this app.
Cost: £0.69
Device: Only available on Apple devices 

So there we have 10 photo editing apps that I love and I recommend taking a look at if you haven't already!

What are you favourite photo apps? 



Disclaimer: None of these companies/app making people have asked me to write this. They are simply some great apps that I love and recommend. :) 



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