Goldberry Woods Bed and Breakfast | Union Pier, Michigan

For my 31st birthday last year, Markus took me to a fantastic bed and breakfast in Michigan, Goldberry Woods. Usually I plan all of our trips, but he wouldn't let me plan a thing. It was quite the reversal and it was wonderful! Goldberry Woods is quite magical.

All the rooms at Goldberry are named after types of trees. The beds are also constructed with materials from the same tree. Markus booked the American Hornbeam room and the bed was something out of a Tim Burton movie. Some people would've been terrified, but I loved it. When you looked up at the branches at night, it felt like sleeping in the woods. We spent most of our time traipsing about in the forest and visiting antique shops. It was the perfect weekend and I'm so thankful that I have a husband who plans such great trips!

Cruz Family Christmas Card

For the past nine years, all I've wanted to do is send customized Christmas cards. The most important part of this process? The photo. Thankfully Markus booked a couple nights at this awesome bed and breakfast, Goldberry Woods, for my birthday. Goldberry is in Michigan and just an hour and half outside the city. It's definitely an idyllic spot and the perfect place for a festive photo.

On Saturday morning, we woke up early and donned our matching outfits. It snowed the night before and it created a beautiful winter wonderland. We trekked through a nearby forest and found so many great spots. We took so many photos and in the end, had way too many to choose from. The photo above is the one we ultimately chose. We thought it was playful and perfectly showcased our personalities. I'm a bit sad that we can't use any of the other photos, but at least I get to share them with you!

Apple Picking at County Line Orchard | Hobart, Indiana

Autumn came and went in such a hurry. I feel like I barely had the chance to enjoy cool evenings, sweater weather and pumpkin treats. A couple months ago, Markus and I drove to Indiana to County Line Orchard and pick some apples. It was my first experience at this Midwest tradition. There weren't many apples left, so we spent most of our time frolicking in cornfields and picking flowers. We had such a great time and can't wait to visit again next year!

Noelle & Ashley | Detroit, Michigan

I love my best friend, Ashley. We've known each other for a long time now and she totally gets me. A few months ago, we spent a long weekend in Detroit and had a grand ole' time. We even made a quick stop in Canada for breakfast. We spent most of the weekend stopping at places to take photos. It was fantastic and I hope you enjoy our photos!

Creepy Cinema: Total Invasion | Week 3

This week was packed full of intense and entertaining movies. I watched some hilarious and campy films, but also some bleak and depressing ones. It was a great seven days and I'm excited for the final ten films of Creepy Cinema 2014: Total Invasion.

1. Slither - 2006
This film is directed by James Gunn, who also directed this year’s amazing Guardians of the Galaxy. Since I loved that movie immensely, I quickly agreed that we should add Slither to this year’s list. The film opens like most other films in the sub-genre, with a meteorite crashing to earth and releasing an alien parasite in a small town. In Slither its a small South Carolina town. Slither is actually really great,  and I enjoyed it immensely, screaming at every turn. It’s everything you could want in a horror movie. It’s gross and disgusting with parts that are almost too much. Throughout the film there are some genuine scary moments, but there are funny moments peppered throughout to relieve some of the tension. It’s a great film and one that I recommend you watch. 

2. Big Ass Spider - 2013
This film has one of the greatest openings I’ve ever seen. The film opens with exterminator Alex Mathis, played by the delightful Greg Grunberg, standing in the midst of chaos on a city street. A haunting song starts to play and we see Mathis intensely staring up at something. Everything moves in slow motion and then the camera pans over to a tall building and literally, a big ass spider scaling it. Unfortunately, the movie isn’t as good as it’s opening. The premise follows Mathis as he tries to take down a spider that has been exposed to alien DNA, causing it to grow immensely. I did enjoy that the plot was a bit original, I’ve never seen an exterminator as the hero, and his sidekick, Jose, is the best part of the movie. Jose is hilarious and spits out tons of one-liners that are simply comedic gold. As for the rest of the film, it’s just okay. The CGI isn’t  the best and the movie is definitely cheesy, but it’s worth at least a one time watch.

3. Day of the Dead - 1985
This film is the last of the George A. Romero Living Dead trilogy. I’ve seen all three and this one was a doozy. I’ve been told by Markus that this movie is for real trolls who love zombie flicks. The film follows a small group of survivors consisting of an army unit and a few scientists, who are researching zombies. They are hoping to find a cure or a solution for the epidemic. I can see why zombie aficionados love it, but it was really hard for me to watch. I had to stop watching in the middle, because it was too intense. The acting was great because all I felt was depressed and desperate. The villain in this film is so awful and disgusting that I was waiting for his inevitable death. Of the three films, this is probably the one that I wouldn't watch again. It’s a great movie and really captures the desperation of a helpless situation, but it’s just a little more than my sensitive heart can handle. 

4. 28 Days Later - 2002
Even though I used to steer clear of horror movies, my friends managed to coerce me into watching 28 Days Later. Strangely enough, I loved it and I’m still a huge fan. I have to admit, I think a lot of my love comes from my adoration of Cillian Murphy, but it’s hard not to get lost in those baby blues. The film follows Jim, a bicycle courier, who wakes up from a coma and has to deal with a world that is reeling in the aftermath of a highly contagious virus.  I’ve seen tons of  zombie movies, thanks to Markus, and I can honestly say that 28 Days Later is one of my favorites. It’s real, gritty, and focuses on how people react and deal with extremely dire circumstances. At times, it can get really intense, but it’s such a great movie that I’ll suffer the stress of suspense.

5. Cloverfield - 2008
An action-packed entry in the Found Footage subgenre, this film takes place in New York where a mysterious alien rises out of the depths of the ocean to terrorize America’s most iconic metropolis. I remember Markus being so excited for this movie because it was the closest he was going to get to an American kaiju movie. Cloverfield is very successful due to it’s originality, and at the time of its release there weren’t many giant monster movies, especially ones that were found footage. This film was really clever and I spent most of the film sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen. Even though this was another alien movie, it was unlike anything on the list. The CGI, effects and acting are exceptional and this is definitely a must-see invasion film.

6. They Live - 1988
This film was made by the prolific and delightfully cheesy John Carpenter. I haven’t seen many of his films, but one that will always stand out is The Thing. That movie terrified me and I still cringe whenever Markus talks about it. I thought that They Live was going to be just as scary, but I was surprised to find that it wasn’t. Despite They Live being a popular, cult classic, I knew nothing about the movie. I even knew the famous line, “I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum,” but I didn’t know where it originated from. The film follows Nada, played by Roddy Piper, an unemployed drifter as he discovers a huge secret about the upper class. I really enjoyed They Live, the acting might have been stale at some points, but I think Piper was quite good as the lead. The campiness of this movie is what makes it so great. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I’ve seen a lot of serious movies this month. It was like an oasis in the midst of body snatchers and meteorites, and for that alone, I loved this movie.

7. Signs - 2002
This is easily one of M. Night Shyamalan’s better movies. Once there was a time when people enjoyed his movies and actually rushed to see his films, alas the Shyamalan empire is no more. Signs follows an ex-preacher, played by Mel Gibson, who discovers a series of crop circles in his cornfields. He becomes convinced that the occurrences are not manmade, but created by extraterrestrials. The film has genuine scary moments especially when they are trapped in the house. I really like Signs, despite the ending being a bit weak. How could the alien’s weakness be something that is so prevalent on earth and conveniently all over the house? Despite all this, Signs is one of the strongest of Shyamalan’s movies and one that I enjoy immensely.

Creepy Cinema 2014: Total Invasion | Week 2

The second week of Creepy Cinema was chock full of alien invasions. Despite sharing similar premises, the films were all so different. I saw one of the most depressing films I've ever seen and it was a bit difficult to watch. The other films were less depressing, thank goodness! Right now, we're at the halfway point and I'm a bit sad. This month is moving way too quickly. Can't wait to share the rest of Creepy Cinema: Total Invasion with you!

1. The Mist – 1997
This is the second film based off a Stephan King novel on this year's list. The Mist is a classic bottle movie, with a large ensemble cast spending a majority of the film trapped in a supermarket. We basically see these people slowly begin to unravel as they deal with unforeseen monsters. Despite having terrifying creatures invade the world, the real villains are the people. The writing and acting were so good in this film, because I really began to resent the antagonists. They were so awful and I spent the whole time being annoyed. As the film progresses, everything slowly erodes to a very dismal and hopeless situation. I mean it genuinely shifts to an oppressive tone, and it’s hard to want to watch something like this again. I felt depressed afterwards.

2. I, Frankenstein - 2014
After being thoroughly depressed watching The Mist, I needed to see something a little lighter and a bit more fun. I, Frankenstein was exactly what I needed and even though it has a B-movie quality, it was still enjoyable. This film follows Frankenstein's monster as he prowls about the earth, brooding about his existence and soon becomes a pawn in the war between gargoyles and demons. I know it sounds slightly ridiculous, and it was, but it was the levity that I needed in between dark and depressing films. The storyline is a bit convoluted and hard to follow. There was so much potential with this movie and it could’ve been something really awesome, but it fell a bit flat.  

3. Seed People – 1992
When we were creating this list, we watch the trailer for Seed People. Just from the trailer, we thought that this would be another Troll 2 and be full of bad acting, classic lines, and non-stop fun. We were so wrong. The film is based in a small town where people begin to act strangely. Like most of the movies I’ve watched this month, aliens are converting humans into “seed people.” The design for the creatures was really good, but that was the only good thing about this movie. I had a hard time watching this because it was so slow and the acting was terrible, but not in a good way. By the end of the film, I was ready to watch something else.

4. The Day the Earth Stood Still – 1951
This is one of two 1950s films on this year’s list, which makes me a little sad. I love old movies and it’s slightly crushing that there aren't more for me this year. The Day the Earth Stood Still is a great movie and has been regarded as one of the greatest films released in 1951. There are so many iconic things about this movie and it’s highly recognizable. This film follows an human-like alien that travels to earth with a powerful robot that is charged with delivering a message to the people of earth. Despite being a film from the 50s, the look and feel was quite impressive. The design for Gort, the robot companion of the main character, is really cool and has that retro atomic age look.

5. The Faculty – 1998
I don’t know how I escaped the late 90s without seeing this movie. There are so many famous people in this film, directed by Robert Rodriguez, and serves as a who’s who of 90s teen actors. It has Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Usher and that girl that always plays a manic depressive goth (Clea DuVall).  This movie follows a group of misfit teens as they fight against an alien species that has taken control of their teachers. I really enjoyed watching The Faculty. Even though the themes and plotline are similar to other film’s on the list, it was different because there was never really a feeling of helplessness. It stars a band of teen outcasts that normally can't stand each other, but eventually have to work together to save the world from an alien invasion. It’s kind of like The Breakfast Club meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It’s a great movie and I’m glad that I finally had the chance to see it.  

6. Starship Troopers – 1997
The year 1997 was a great year for movies. There was Titanic, Batman and Robin and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. Of all these great movies, there was only one that won its way to my heart, Starship Troopers. I know it sounds strange to think of 14-yr old me being obsessed with this film, but I was. I had an intense and unreal love with it and everyone knew. My brother even bought me the dvd for my 15th birthday. Starship Troopers, originally a novel, stars Casper Van Dien as Johnny Rico, a man that made my teenage heart flutter. Arachnid aliens are at war with humankind and it’s up to Rico and his comrades in the Mobile Infantry to overcome their enemy. It’s a fun film and one that I still enjoy to this day.

7. War of the Worlds – 2005  
This film is based off the classic novel of the same name by H.G. Wells. It’s such an iconic book and any version of film should be amazing. The movie follows Ray, portrayed by Tom Cruise, a divorced father reunited with his two children during an alien attack. Ray treks from New Jersey to Boston in the hopes of reuniting his children with his ex-wife. The aliens in War of the Worlds are so memorable because of their look, and I love their design in this film. It’s something that originates from the novel, and the huge tripod machines that loom over their prey gives such a strong feeling of dread and hopelessness. I’ve never read the novel or seen the 1953 version, but this adaptation was very enjoyable. It’s not the greatest movie I’ve seen, but it’s definitely not terrible. It was overall pretty enjoyable.
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