Mulan 2020 | Movie Review

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🎥 Cinematography by Mandy Walker

👗 Costumes by Bina Daigeler

🎬 Directed by Niki Caro

🎞 Edited by David Coulson

🎼 Music by Harry Gregson-Williams

📋 Produced by Chris Bender, Jason T. Reed, & Jake Weiner

📝 Screenplay by Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, Lauren Hynek, & Rick Jaffa

🌟 S T A R R I N G

🐪 Arka Das as Red Fez

🍵 Cheng Pei-pei as the Matchmaker

🗡 Chen Tang as Yao

⚔️ Donnie Yen as Commander Tung

🗡 Doua Moua as Chien-Po

🦅 Gong Li as Xianniang

🐎 Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan

👑 Jet Li as The Emperor of China

🗡 Jimmy Wong as Ling

🦗 Jun Yu as Cricket

📜 Nelson Lee as The Chancellor

⚔️ Ron Yuan as Sergeant Qiang

👩🏻‍🦱 Rosalind Chao as Hua Li

👨🏻 Tzi Ma as Hua Zhou

👧🏻 Xana Tang as Hua Xiu | Elena Askin as young Xiu

👩🏻 Yifei Liu as Mulan | Crystal Rao as young Mulan

🗡 Yoson An as Chen Honghui

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The final Disney remake I’m reviewing is Mulan, the most recent offering to grace our screens. The original is my favorite Disney princess movie so I’m going to be very thorough & very honest. Buckle up!

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First of all, I’d like to acknowledge that Gong Li has been on this blog before. Check out this Cannes red carpet blog post from 2019. I promise you won’t have to scroll too far!

 Staying consistent with mentioning all the themed intros, a Chinese landscape was added around the castle. I actually wondered if the castle itself was a nod to the Shanghai Disney park so I looked it up. My intuition was correct! It is indeed the Enchanted Storybook Castle from Shanghai Disneyland.

It wouldn’t be right for me to start anywhere other than the cinematography because off the top of my head, there are at least five shots I want to frame & hang up around my bedroom. Seriously, the picturesque scenery is breathtaking. It’s right up there with the New Zealand landscapes that created what we know as Middle Earth. Funnily enough, some of the Mulan scenes were filmed in New Zealand. Small world! 🇳🇿

I am head over heels in love with the costume choices for each part of the movie, especially the vibrant colors in the different cities & villages. One of the most interesting costumes is worn by Xianniang. Her flowing sleeves & metal skirt mimic the feathers & wings of the hawk she transforms into. Her crown & belt are made of bones which is very creepy but also incredibly cool. On top of all that, her hands are talons, even when she takes a human form. I had high hopes for this villain, & you’ll find out my final thoughts later . . .

The score is beautiful & atmospheric, incorporating melodies from the original soundtrack which is a nice dose of nostalgia. Right before the matchmaker scene, Mulan says “I will bring honor to us all,” & the melody of Honor To Us All can be heard. The melody of Reflection plays during the night training scene, & Mulan’s reflection is visible in the water. Many fans were upset about the omission of musical numbers, but this interpretation is meant to stand on its own. I’ve seen people giving bad reviews because the remake deviated from the animated movie, & I don’t think that’s fair because Disney made it very clear that this would be a different kind of Mulan movie. It would not have worked as a musical.

This reimagining of Mulan’s story is narrated by Mulan’s father Hua Zhou, a perfect choice. At the very heart of this movie, you won’t find a romance or even a warrior’s tale; it is the story of a bond between a father and daughter. When everyone else is annoyed by Mulan’s antics and faux pas, her father is always there, supporting her the best that he can. It’s obvious that he’s proud of her, even before she returns home from war a decorated hero. In fact, when that time comes, all he cares about is that she’s back home safe & sound. I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING!! 😭

Mulan’s chi is an early indication that she could be seen as a witch by the general public, her ultimate connection to Xianniang. Hua Zhou tells her chi is meant for warriors, not daughters, & she needs to hide her gift away & silence its voice. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this addition to the story. Mixed in with some of the martial arts sequences, it felt very cheesy. For example, young Mulan jumping off the roof or adult Mulan running up & across palace buildings. I just don’t think the spiritual element blended seamlessly; it could’ve been cut completely & not affected the movie at all.

Our first villain sighting is Xianniang taking over a merchant’s body as a disguise, a hint that she’s a witch. Next we see her cohorts, the Rouran army, in black clothing riding black horses toward the outpost where she’s located. Right from the start, they’re portrayed as a brutal group. Xianniang is especially cutthroat during the invasion, killing many soldiers herself & not giving it a second thought. She is very powerful, but the leader Böri Khan sees her as nothing more than a lackey, causing division within their partnership.

I was so excited to see Jet Li as the emperor, but something was not right about his voice & audio. Every time he talked, specifically in the throne room, it seemed like his mouth wasn’t synched with the audio.I hate to say this, but it’s very cringey & something that shouldn’t have been overlooked. Speaking of audio, there’s another mistake in the first throne room scene. The lone soldier who survived the Rouran invasion tells the emperor that Böri Khan is fighting alongside a witch. The problem is that the audio says “woman,” but the actor said “witch” in the original scene. They obviously changed that part of the script & re-dubbed the audio. I know that’s such a small thing, but I’m the kind of the movie watcher who will notice.

Mulan’s horse Black Wind looks exactly like Khan from the animated movie. That detail alone tugs my heartstrings! ♥️

Spotted: Mulan’s cherry blossom comb! I respect the changes made to give this remake it’s own voice, but I also love the details brought over from the 90s movie that make it feel like a familiar book I’ve read over & over again. 🌸

Remember the chaos the spider caused in the matchmaker scene? I felt that in my arachnophobic soul! 🕸 🕷 😱

First of all, it’s incredibly messed up that Mulan’s father is expected to fight with a leg injury. Second, I love that before he bravely commits to fighting, he pointedly says he has no sons but the blessing of two daughters. Later on while he’s  preparing for battle, Mulan says that if she were a son he wouldn’t have to fight. He tells her that he regrets nothing about his life, implying he doesn’t wish his daughters were sons. I must reiterate that their bond is the heart of this story. I cannot praise Tzi Ma’s performance enough! 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻

Around the 25:30 mark, Mulan’s face can be seen in her father’s sword reflected back from the camera. Yifei Liu improvised knowing that would happen, & it was executed so well that it was kept in the movie.

I’ve seen some negative comments about Mulan not cutting her hair. Even Ming Na Wen poked fun at this omission! The crew did this on purpose because Chinese soldiers kept their hair long. Mulan would’ve looked more feminine with short hair, making her disguise useless. I’m not an expert on this subject, but one quick Google search says this is historically accurate, at least for certain dynasties.

Just like the animated movie, Mulan prepares to take her father’s place while the score takes on an 80s vibe. It feels very much like a Rocky training montage before a big fight. I dug it in the 90s, & I dig it now. 🎶

When Mulan walks away from her home dressed in her father’s armor, the shot ends with the white phoenix statue bathed in warm light. Nice touch! Later on a real, colorful phoenix appears & becomes Mulan’s silent guide for the rest of the film. I understand that it was meant to be a more serious replacement for Mushu, but it was too cheesy. Perhaps it would’ve been better as a white spirit like her father’s crest, a bit more subtle than a colorful bird.

 I’m so glad I saw a comment about the character named Cricket because I had no idea he was meant to be a namesake & tribute to Cri-Kee. He is so sweet & adorable! He tells his fellow soldiers that his mother calls him a good luck charm because he was born under an auspicious moon. 🦗

Donny. Freakin’. Yen. That’s literally all I have to say about him. WOW! 💥

The remake isn’t dripping with comedy like the animated movie, but there are bits of humor added at appropriate times for lightness. One such moment is Mulan’s first time in the soldiers’ tent. It doesn’t take long for her to close her eyes & quickly volunteer for guard duty. Hilarious! 😂

I haven’t seen anyone else mention the statue from the 31:30 mark. It’s the same statue seen in the daylight at the 29:10 mark. At night in the darkness, I think it resembles Shan Yu, the villain from the animated movie. I’m not sure if this was purposeful, but it caught my eye.

Before training begins, Sergeant Qiang references lyrics from I’ll Make A Man Out Of You: “We’re gonna make men out of every single one of you.” Later on Commander Tung says “Tranquil with a forest but on fire within.” The line is supposed to be “Tranquil as a forest but on fire within.” I’m not sure if that was a mistake or intentional.

Eagle-eyed fans should be able to spot Yao, Ling, & Chien-Po. Their appearances aren’t exactly the same as their animated counterparts, but they’re easily recognizable based on personality.

During the meal scene, Chien-Po quotes the song A Girl Worth Fighting For. I’m pretty sure there’s a few more lines from this conversation inspired by the animated movie. Please note that Chen Honghui doesn’t laugh when Mulan, disguised as Hua Jun of course, describes his perfect girl as courageous & smart with a sense of humor. *sigh*

The bathing scene is another nod to the animated movie. It’s a little different without Mushu & the rest of the soldiers, but it’s meant to be a serious moment between Mulan and Chen Honghui. Well, as serious as it can be. Obviously it’s still a humorous situation!

I thought the martial arts stunts were a great addition to this movie. I do have a note from my brother John who’s an avid martial arts movie-watcher: “Most international martial arts films have a director and a martial arts director. This movie would’ve benefitted from that.” I’m not sure if this movie had a martial arts director or not, but I think his point was that the martial arts scenes could’ve been better.

I know I mentioned the scenery before, but I need to rave a little more. The landscape in the battle scene when Mulan & Xianniang meet is stunning. The fog, the green hills, the yellow ice (Is that what that is?!). It doesn’t even seem real! . . . probably because it isn’t. The crew searched for a real landscape to fit their sulfurous vision but ultimately built it themselves.

Just like the animated movie, Mulan’s identity is revealed after an injury. The difference in the live action remake is that Mulan isn’t truly injured, & she decides to reveal who she really is. When she enters the battle as herself, WOW WOW WOW!!! What a warrior moment! I definitely sobbed the first time I saw that scene. After she reveals herself as a woman & kicks butt, the enemy runs away thinking she’s a witch. This is another hint at her connection with Xianniang, setting up the very end of the movie.

I hate to be nit-picky (not really), but I have to mention another audio error. A Rouran soldier yells “Enemy on the ridge” when Mulan shoots an arrow their way. The audio doesn’t match up with whatever he said in the scene, specifically the word “ridge.” It’s possible he messed up the line in the heat of the moment & had to fix it in post.

Just like her animated counterpart, Mulan sets off an avalanche to take out the enemy. It is just as genius when you see it happen with real people. 🏔

When Mulan & Xianniang meet for the 2nd time, the witch invites her to join her cause so they can form a powerful team. Basically, it would be a slap in the face of all the men who’ve held them down. Mulan says no because she is nothing like Xianniang.

I love love LOVE that Chen Honghui doesn’t hesitate to call out Commander Tung’s hypocrisy. He point blank asks why he won’t believe Hua Mulan when he would believe Hua Jun. FACTS!

I knew Jet Li wouldn’t see much action as the emperor, but it was nice to see him fight a little bit. Actually, that’s when he looked most comfortable. 😊

The animated versions of Yao, Ling, & Chien-Po are the comedic relief of the army. I don’t mind that, but it was nice to see something a little different in the remake. They go from weak boys in training camp to brave men on the battlefield. They don’t disguise themselves as women to distract the enemy. They just fight!

In the final battle scene, Mulan is still wearing her red soldier robe. I love the symbolism! She joined the army to take the place of her disabled father. Whether she’s Hua Jun or Hua Mulan, she’s still a soldier.

In their third meeting, Mulan pleads with Xianniang to do the right thing & save the emperor from Böri Khan. This is where the villain arc loses me. Xianniang barely needs convincing to help Mulan. She already didn’t like Böri Khan, but it still seems like way too quick of a turnaround. There are hints throughout the movie leading up to this moment, but it doesn’t hit me emotionally when she takes an arrow to save Mulan. I understand the strong female empowerment message her story arc was meant to embody, but it didn’t work for me. She was brutal as a villain but never reached her full potential therefore her transformation doesn’t feel as dramatic as it should. That would’ve been rectified had we witnessed another brutal villain onscreen, but Böri Khan did not live up to Shan Yu. He had the appearance and intimidation working in his favor, but all that fizzled in the final scene. I didn’t think the martial arts choreography flowed well, and the chi was over the top. Mulan leaping from roof to roof looks like a person being carried through the air by wire, and the sequence of the emperor catching Böri Khan’s arrow & Mulan kicking it into Böri Khan’s chest is too cheesy. Two mediocre villains leading up to an anticlimactic ending left me feeling let down. It was probably my least favorite part of the movie because I thought the villains had so much potential in the beginning.

Speaking of the final scene, I was not a huge fan of the phoenix, but I do love the camera shot of the wings behind Mulan after the emperor tells her to rise up like a Phoenix. Gorgeous! 🔥

I would recommend you have tissues handy for the end of the film. The classic song Reflection plays once again while fireworks erupt in the sky. Inside the palace Mulan is introduced to the emperor by Ming Na Wen, the voice of Mulan in the animated movie. I cannot tell a  lie. This part had me SOBBING! 😭

Fun Fact: When Mulan apologizes to the emperor before rejecting his offer to join the emperor’s guard, Ming Na Wen’s daughter Michaela Zee can be seen in the crowd turning her face toward the camera.

Mulan is not the typical Disney princess so I’m glad this film didn’t rely too heavily on a romance. Mulan & Chen go from rival trainees to respectful colleagues to friends. Their final scene together hints at something more, their true feelings for one another. *SQUEAL* I love that! I also the love the pinkish purple hue of the lighting. Incredibly romantic! 🥰

Mulan’s reunion with her family had me crying AGAIN. Her mom Hua Li gets so emotional despite being so harsh early on. STOP! I didn’t mention this earlier, but I like the addition of her sister Hua Xiu; they obviously have a very special bond. STOP IT! It’s her dad Hua Zhou who really turns on the waterworks for me. In the animated movie Mulan presents her dad with the sword of Shan Yu & her medal from the emperor; he throws them aside to hug her because that’s all he truly cares about. That sentiment is exactly the same in the remake. Mulan apologizes for everything she’s put her family through, & her dad says it is his daughter that means everything to him. STOP IT RIGHT NOW! 😭

The red & black visuals behind the closing credits are stunning & made even better by Christina Aguilera’s new song Loyal Brave True. This is followed by Reflection sung in English by Christina and a Chinese version from Liu Yifei. 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6PZm8vhm6I

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNprQYHenNI

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxPGNjhpOAc

💬 Closing Thoughts: Even though the martial arts movie shell wasn’t perfectly executed, I think the heart & soul of the story hits deeper than people are giving it credit for. I’ve seen a lot of criticism regarding the acting & lack of connection with the characters. I strongly disagree! I think Mulan’s personal journey & relationship with her father are the best parts, grounding the movie and saving it from being mediocre or worse. Addressing the nostalgic lamenters, most of the elements people missed would not have fit into this version: Cri-Kee, Mushu, musical numbers, etc. I think the element I missed most was Grandmother Fa, but there’s an easy solution: watch the animated movie! Let’s address one more criticism: Many people complained about how many times the word “honor” was said. If I counted correctly, “honor” was said 6 times & “dishonor” 2 times. Personally, I never felt annoyed by it. My biggest issues were the cheesy chi & the mediocre villains. Other than that, I like this remake & definitely see myself watching it again.

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🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 73% Critics | 50% Audience

🏆 Major Awards: TBD

❓ Original or Remake: The remake should be applauded for its efforts to be different. However, the original movie is perfect so this decision is easy. Original!

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK8FHdFluOQ

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Christopher Robin 2018 | Movie Review

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 2019 | Movie Review

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🎥 Stay tuned for my final rankings tomorrow! 🍿

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Ballad of Mulan

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THIS IS NOT A DRILL! In seven days, my favorite Disney princess Mulan will have her own live action movie,  a Chinese ballad brought to life by an all-Asian cast. This version of the 1998 animated movie will not be a musical but instead focus on Chinese culture & serve lots of martial arts action. I am here for that! 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻 Mulan is a kick-butt princess, & I need the world to give her the respect & support she deserves. Because of COVID-19, the original March release was cancelled. Instead it will be released digitally on September 4th & available to stream for $29.99 on Disney Plus as well as Apple, Google, & Roku. I’ve read that it will have a cinematic release in countries where it’s not available to stream. Let’s rewind back to the price to stream it early on Disney Plus. I know many people are struggling financially right now, and the idea of paying for a movie on top of what you’re already paying for the Disney Plus streaming service is off putting. However, this is a brand new movie that is losing out on movie theater revenue. It was never going to be free! The average movie theater ticket costs around $9.30, & a Blu-ray can cost  $25 or more, bringing your total to approximately $34.30. I don’t know how it will work on other apps, but once you pay $29.99 on Disney Plus, the movie is yours to keep as long as you have an account. You’ll also be able to share the movie with family & friends by logging into your Disney Plus account. They might even split the cost with you! Please join me in supporting my favorite Disney princess & putting aside thirty dollars to purchase her new movie. I have a feeling it’s going to be amazing, & I can’t wait to see it after years  of waiting. Don’t forget to spread the word & support the soundtrack!

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-eFm–k21c

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6PZm8vhm6I

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 2 | November 13

9am – Rise & shine! 🌞

9:30am – Christmas music + Shower 🚿

10am – Blogging + Doug 💻

S1E1 – Doug’s Last Birthday

S1E2 – Doug’s New School

S1E3 – Doug Grows Up

11am – Breakfast + Ducktales 🍳

S1E1 – Send in the Clones

Magica uses “Bibbidi bobbidi boo!” to keep Mrs. Beakley under her control. Also, Magica’s brother Poe was turned into a raven, & he uses “Evermore” & “Nevermore” often, a reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s poem The Raven. Those are just two of MANY easter eggs in Ducktales. 😲

S1E4 – Where No Duck Has Gone Before

. . . I blinked, & suddenly episode 5 was playing. I thought I was so invested in the show that I lost track of time. NOPE! Certain episodes are missing in the lineup so I only watched two. It seemed like 5 because of the episode numbers.

11:30pm – Getting Ready For Work + Ducktales Emperor’s New School 💄

S1E4 continued! ( D )

S1E1 – Rabbit Face ( ENS )

“He’s gotta ACE. THAT. TEST.” Such a catchy theme song! 🎶

S1E2 – Squeakend At Bucky’s / Kuzco Fever ( ENS )

2pm – Work 🛍

4:25pm – 15 Minute Break + Emperor’s New School ⏰ 

S1E3 – Empress Malina / The Adventures of the Red-Eyed Tree Frog Man

7pm – Dinner + Emperor’s New School & Goof Troop 🍲 

S1E3 continued! ( ENS )

S1E1 – Everything’s Coming Up Goofy ( GT )

8pm – Blogging + Goof Troop & Emperor’s New Groove 💻 

S1E1 continued! 

S1E2 – Axed By Addition

S1E3 – UnReal Estate

10:30pm – Bath + Ducktales 🛀 

S1E5 – Armstrong ( mislabeled as Hero For Hire )

*Note: I made up for my earlier mistake & watched a 3rd episode of Ducktales.

Can we talk about how creepy Armstrong is?? He’s a robot that becomes power hungry & uses his technological abilities to wreak havoc. In 2019, that is S C A R Y.

Final thoughts for the day: Ducktales is amazing, & I forgot what a gem Emperor’s New School is. Also, we need to talk much MUCH more about the friendship between Kuzco & Pacha. I am so excited to be watching this stuff through older eyes. It validates my memories of an amazing childhood in the 90s & 2000s. There’s a bit more variety coming soon from my list so hang tight if you want to hear about films & shows that have yet to be mentioned. I ended the day with 12 TV episodes & 1 movie. We have 28 days left. On to day 3! ➡️

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   T W O   A R T 

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Night of the Living Moths

Be honest. You love my bug stories. Need I remind you of the june bug saga?! You can’t make this stuff up!!

• Big Bad June Bug Attack of 2015

• Those Summer Nights

This story begins at midnight on August 28th. I was the last person awake in my household and decided that reading a crime novel would be a great stimulant for sweet dreams. I happened to glance up and see something on the wall. I immediately knew it was a bug and what looked like a moth. Even though I know that they’re harmless, they still make me anxious. While deciding how the heck I was going to dispose of him without disturbing my sleeping family, I didn’t dare move or breathe. In a heart-stopping moment, the moth flew to a new spot on the same wall. Simultaneously I dove off the couch and ran down the stairs, making a beeline (get it?!) for the bug spray & fly swatter. Armed with weaponry, I slowly made my way upstairs. The moth had now moved even lower down the wall, low enough for me to see him up close. Even though I was scared out of my mind, I inched closer until I was halfway behind a wall but still about a foot away from my foe. I thought my fear couldn’t possibly get worse, but then I saw it. This was no ordinary moth. It was the Moth From Hell a.k.a. Mothra. I had never seen a moth with a head like this, if it was actually a moth. It had wings like a moth but a big head that appeared to be red, although I cannot defend the accuracy of what I saw since I had been reading a crime novel. The only thing I can compare it to is the round, red nose of a fighter plane; I’m not even joking.  I couldn’t swat him because my brother was sleeping right behind the wall and had to be up early for work. I knew I had to risk it and use the spray even though Mothra could potentially fly into my face. I’m sure it’s not hard for you to believe that it took me several moments to summon up the courage. Thank God he didn’t move!! I finally pulled up my big girl pants and inwardly commanded myself to JUST DO IT. I assumed the proper stance for quick reaction, said a quick but heartfelt prayer, and sprayed Mothra with the vengeance of Godzilla. Of course he moved so I naturally ran and hid. Big mistake!! When I inched back around the wall, he was G-O-N-E. I thought his movement had been downward due to the lethal spray, but I wasn’t quite ready to search just in case he still had enough life left to fly at me. It was now 1am, and I was panicking. Unfortunately my mom saw the lamplight and decided to see who was still up. She was now part of my late night soap opera episode. We spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes searching the entire house for Mothra. We never found his body. Also, my fear became too much for me, and I cried. I don’t mean pitiful tears; I mean my body was shaking and water was leaking out of my eyes like the California drought was at stake. I calmed down a little bit, but nerves still ruined my night. I shut my bedroom door, which I never do, and after a few more hours of reading because I didn’t want to shut my eyes, I tentatively turned off my light. I had a difficult time falling asleep and woke up several times but did eventually get some rest. It still upsets me that Mothra disappeared. I know what I saw was real, but that’s hard to explain when you’re the only one awake and you’ve been reading a crime novel which amps up imagination. If Mothra reveals himself again, dead or alive, I will add an update. Hopefully tonight is uneventful because I am exhausted. 😭

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Charmed Aroma

*Disclaimer: I was sent one free candle in exchange for a review. It was my choice to purchase more products with my own money.

– C A N D L E S –

☀️ Aloha Mango Necklace Candle ☀️

“Treat yourself to this luscious tropical getaway!! Juicy mango,freshly picked mandarins and sugared blackberries come together for an energizing burst of island aromas.”

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🍏 Green Apple Bracelet Candle 🍏

“Savor the first bite of crisp green apples in a sun-kissed orchard! Refresh your spirit with this juicy fragrance that combines the scent of apples with a sophisticated blend of peaches and exotic flowers.”

T h i s   b r a c e l e t   i s   w o r t h   $ 5 0 .

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💋 Sugar Kisses Ring Candle 💋

“Love is in the air! Fall in love with this romantic blend of strawberries, peach, cotton candy and warm amber. The sweet aromas will fill the air with magic and passion.”

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 1 5 0 .

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🍓 Sweet Berries Earrings Candle 🍓

“Lure your imagination into a luscious field with juicy strawberries and plum blossom. The perfect blend of rich strawberry, juicy pomegranate and creamy vanilla will have you feeling ‘berry’ relaxed!”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I sat within a few feet of each soy candle while it burned. The scents smell exactly as described. They are subtle at first but grow stronger after the first hour; they don’t hit you all at once but rather in waves every few minutes. For the Green Apple candle, I changed the location to a central room in my house; after the three-hour burning time, every open room smelled like green apples. The fruit scents are my favorite because I’ve transitioned into spring/summer mode; they smell even better when the candle is lit, like grilled fruit for a summer BBQ. Sugar Kisses was a pleasant surprise because Charmed Aroma was nice enough to send it to me for free. I am happy to announce that it is not sickly sweet like candy but rather soft like vanilla.

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💲 Comparing Jewelry Candle Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $25.99 to $44.99

• Diamond Candles – $24.99 to $39.99

• Fragrant Jewels – $24.95 to $26.95

• Jewelry Candles – $24.95

• Jewelry in Candles – $19.99 to $39.99

• JewelScent – $23.99 to $74.99

E X T R ABath & Body Works – $10.50 to $24.50 ( no jewelry! )

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

– B A T H   B O M B S –

🌊 Sea Breeze Bath Bomb w/ Ring 🌊

“Ever dream of swimming with the dolphins? Take a dip into the turquoise waters and drift into a dream state.  This fresh-scented bath bomb captures the pure marine notes of the sea that will have you dreaming of your next getaway!”

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 1 5 0 .

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 1 5 0 .

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This bath bomb turned my bathwater into a gorgeous shade of turquoise blue but didn’t leave any stains. After one hour my skin smelled like I had spent a day at the spa. I’m not really sure how to describe the scent.  It’s kind of floral but also a bit like watermelon. This is an odd thing to say, but the only thing I can compare it to is the Seabreeze Squeeze smoothie at Jamba Juice (cranberry/apple juice blend, orange sherbet, banana, raspberries, strawberries).

The first bath bomb arrived broken. I filed a complaint on March 31st and received a response on April 1st that my broken bath bomb would be replaced. I received an email on April 7th that Sea Breeze was out of stock and replied that Green Apple would be fine as a replacement, even though it isn’t what I ordered. My package shipped on April 19th and arrived on April 22nd. I wasn’t expecting it, but I did receive Sea Breeze. I am happy that the problem was resolved, and the customer service representatives were very nice. However, the process was frustrating. I initially wanted to place my first order back in February, but all the bath bombs on the website were out of stock. I waited a little over one month, and finally a new bath bomb was introduced. It arrived broken, and when I tried to get a replacement, it was out of stock. I said Green Apple would be fine, but my package took another two weeks to arrive because I was sent Sea Breeze. I ended up with what I ordered, but I wish someone had told me that was why my package took so long to ship. Due to lack of communication, I had no idea what was going on.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

💲 Comparing Bath Bomb w/ Jewelry Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $15.99

• Fragrant Jewels – $14.95 to $15.95

• Jewelry Candles – $16.95 to $17.95

• Jewelry in Candles – $14.99 to $16.99

E X T R ABath & Body Works – $6.50 ( no jewelry! )

E X T R ALush – $4.50 to $12.95 ( no jewelry! )

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– B O D Y   B U T T E R   &   S C R U B –

🍓 Acai Berry Body Scrub w/ Ring 🍓

“Engage your senses every day with the tropical sensation of Charmed Aroma’s Acai Berry Body Scrub. Our unique sugar scrub formula contains a balance of gentle exfoliants and deep moisture that leave your skin healthy and refreshed. Massage generously onto skin with warm water.”

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 8 0 .

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💲 Comparing Body Scrub w/ Jewelry Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $24.99

• Fragrant Jewels – &19.95

• JewelScent – $27.99

• Jewelry Candles – $25.95

• Jewelry in Candles – $24.99

E X T R ABath & Body Works – $13.50 to $25.00 ( no jewelry! )

E X T R ALush – $6.95 to $22.95 ( no jewelry! )

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

🌴 Mango Coconut Body Butter w/ Ring 🌴

“Pamper your skin with an indulgence that lasts throughout the day. This rich, luxurious cream with natural coconut oils penetrate deep into the skin’s surface, infusing it with deep moisture and a silky soft feeling that lasts for 24 hours.”

T h i s   r i n g   i s   w o r t h   $ 1 5 0 .

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💲 Comparing Body Butter w/ Jewelry Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $23.99

• JewelScent ( créme ) – $21.99

• Jewelry Candles (lotion) – $22.95

• Jewelry in Candles – $24.99

E X T R A – Bath & Body Works ( cream & lotion ) – $5.00 to $16.50 ( no jewelry! )

E X T R A – Lush ( butter & lotion ) – $3.95 to $40.95 ( no jewelry! )

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

🍓 Acai Berry Body Scrub & Mango Coconut Body Butter Bundle 🌴

“Pamper yourself with The Sterling Body Butter & Body Scrub Bundle. Each bundle contains (1) Sterling Mango Coconut Body Butter and (1) Sterling Acai Body Scrub.”

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The scrub isn’t chunky and abrasive but rather like a gritty silly putty. I know that’s a weird description! Basically it’s great for sensitive skin. I recommend soaking in the tub after using the scrub to let the numerous oils soak into your skin; the silky smooth results are worth it. The creamy body butter adds even more moisture, and the combination of scents are a tropical match made in heaven. The lotion did make my sensitive skin a little red, but the irritation went away within a few minutes. After nine days, I had used approximately 75% of the scrub and 15% of the lotion. Perhaps I used too much scrub at once but I would say the lotion is a better value for the price.

*Note: If you like the Mango Coconut body butter, you will like the Aloha Mango candle and vice versa.

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💲 Comparing Body Butter & Scrub Set w/ Jewelry Prices 💲

• Charmed Aroma – $48.98

• Jewelry Candles – $59.95 for 3 products ( bath bombs, lotions, and/or scrubs ) or $65.00 for 4 products ( bath bombs, lotions, scrubs, and/or soaps )

• Jewelry in Candles – $30.00

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I placed my order on March 23rd. The package shipped on March 24th and arrived on March 31st. I am very happy with the quality of each product, and the beautiful jewelry is an added bonus. The earrings don’t hurt my ears, and the rings don’t make my fingers turn green. My one complaint is the Sugar Kisses ring has some kind of yellow glue on it which cheapens the look. The products are pricey so I wouldn’t recommend Charmed Aroma for value but rather a special treat every once in awhile. They are also a great resource for gifts. Happy shopping! 🛍️

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⚠️ For More Info on C H A R M E D   A R O M A ⚠️

➡️ Facebook

➡️ Instagram

➡️ Pinterest

➡️ Twitter

➡️ https://charmedaroma.com 🇨🇦 | https://us.charmedaroma.com 🇺🇸

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Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele <3

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You Can Make a Difference

🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍

You might be thinking “I don’t hold a position of power.  How can I be effective and help eradicate prejudice?”  You can talk and keep the conversation going in a civil manner.  You can also take action.  That doesn’t mean becoming a one-person revolution.  It can be as simple as looking someone in the eyes and smiling.  I want to share a story with you that furthers my point.  Read until the end and keep an open mind. :)

Thank you NikkieTutorials for sharing!  Why is Natasha Howell’s story important?  The tragedies that have taken place are heartbreaking, and our reactions dictate the future.  Reacting in anger and causing a divide changes nothing.  If each and every one of us does our part to treat people with kindness, those small puzzle pieces will create a chain reaction and fit together to create something big.  Perhaps I’m a bit naive, but I truly believe the people who care about unity outnumber those who allow prejudice to affect their attitude.  You might be one person in a big world, but it is better to make a difference in at least one person’s life rather than stand by and do nothing at all.

🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍  🌏  🌎  🌍

I want to share a video that was posted on Facebook today.  It made me cry, but it also made me happy and hopeful.  You might know Candace Payne as “Chewbacca Mom.”  In this moment, it doesn’t matter what your personal opinion is regarding her claim to fame.  What matters is that she continues to use her newfound platform to make people smile.

 

❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

– John 3:16

❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

– John 15:12

❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele 😘

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Show Your Colors

July 4th, the day that Americans put the flag on display and shout their pride from the rooftops in honor of freedom.  Now is the perfect time to share what makes me feel patriotic.  I love my country, but I’m not the most vocal about it.  However, there are two things that make my blood run red, white, & blue.  Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I respect that.  But, I can’t help feeling rage when someone born and raised outside the American borders feels the need to judge.  I am American-born and American-raised.  I can count the number of times I’ve left this country on one hand.  I speak English with an American accent.  I received education and now work as an adult here.  I can criticize this country because I am a citizen and know what I’m talking about (for the most part 😉).  Think of it this way.  As a brother or sister, you can tease your sibling(s) to your heart’s content, but God help the outsider who feels led to do the same.  Suddenly you’re on the defensive!  Perhaps that paints a clearer picture of my point.  Moving on.  I see or hear stories about soldiers every day, but nothing compares to seeing or meeting them in the flesh.  As a retail employee, I meet military personnel of all races and ages and feel an indescribable level of honor and pride to serve them.  I respect the diverse group of people willing to train and fight for this country.  If any soldiers, past or present, are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

Go out & have fun readers!  I wish you a safe, happy holiday.

🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸 🇺🇸

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– Lauren Michele <3

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January 2016 Favorites

Hello readers!  Today I’m going to be sharing my favorite event & products from January 2016.  Feel free to leave comments down below. :)

– Riverdance –

Being the totally awesome parent that he is, my dad bought tickets to a 20th anniversary performance of Riverdance.  The seats were one row back from the stage!!  Unfortunately he got sick, but my mom sacrificed and took his place. ;)  It was my fifth time seeing the show, and I still got emotional.  It was absolutely incredible sitting so close and seeing the emotion and camaraderie between the dancers.

– Seared Ahi Spinach Salad –

After the performance, my mother and I had a lovely dinner at Claim Jumper.  Having said that, NEVER eat dinner at a mall on a Saturday.  The restaurant was across the street from the theater, and by the time we ate, the show had been over for three hours.  However, the salad I had was amazing and worth the wait.  Here is a list of ingredients for those of you who desire such details: ahi tuna, crunchy noodles, red onions, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, feta cheese, glazed pecans, sesame seeds, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Everybody in my church subconsciously decided to make tamales and give them to my family at the same time.  I dove in headfirst and never looked back.  I want to clarify that my newfound appreciation is directed towards one specific variation: tamales with olives.  My Mediterranean blood compels me to love olives, and I do.  Tamales with olives are muy delicioso!

– Plantain Chips –

Plantain chips are the bee’s knees, and I want the world to know it.  They are crunchy like dried banana but savory like chips.  I recommend the lightly salted Pampa plantain chips because I strongly dislike heavily salted foods.

– Winterberry Wonder Lotion –

This delightfully scented concoction was a Christmas gift, and it has been my go-to lotion ever since.  The keynotes are red winterberry, ruby apple, sparkling cranberry, snowkissed camellia, and crystal vanilla.  It smells mostly floral with hints of berry and apple.  Call me crazy but I almost always smell a hint of watermelon in Bath & Body Works lotions, this product included.

– English Lavender Linen Spray –

I struggle with insomnia, and one of the commonly known remedies is lavender.  I researched and found several different products but ultimately decided to give the spray a try.  Even though this spray from Bed, Bath, & Beyond isn’t made specifically for insomnia, it works.  The scent is distinctly lavender and very fresh.  I spray it all over my pillow and bed right before going to sleep.  Sometimes I read a book post-spray, another helpful trick for treating insomnia.

– Fragrant Jewels Candles –

I bought these candles to review the company for my Youtube channel.  Even though the draw of this company was the rings hidden inside the products, I ended up loving the candles.  The Frosted Gingerbread candle is spicy, and the Winter candle is woodsy.  They can burn for up to four hours at a time, and the scent is detectable within a few minutes.  For more information, watch my video:

– Soda Scribe Womens Booties –

I wore these boots to work on New Year’s Day and received so many compliments.  They are comfortable and look great with or without socks/tights.

– Adult Coloring Book & Colored Pencils –

 

I’ve been wanting an adult coloring book for a long time and used a recent family trip to Barnes & Noble as my chance to get one.  It was a little embarrassing paying for a coloring book and colored pencils, but I got over my pride and did it.  I can already tell this book will last me a lifetime because I haven’t even finished half a picture yet.  Coloring is relaxing and a great creative outlet, and I highly recommend you give it a try. :D

– “Sisters of the Quilt” by Cindy Woodsmall –

I’ve already discussed this series on this blog so all I will say is this series is fantastic and impossible to put down.

“I live in a home full of strict rules, even for an Old Order Amish family. My Daed doesn’t believe in allowing our tradition of a rumschpringe. At its best, the running around years is meant as a time of extra freedoms that gives singles an opportunity to find a spouse. But sometimes young people take advantage of it, so my Daed all but forbids.  Still, I have found love, and even though Paul isn’t Amish, I know that if I spent a lifetime looking, I’d never find a better man. He’s gentle and kind, and his sense of humor is every bit as strong as his sense of responsibility.  But if my Daed knew of our friendship, he’d put an end to it, and I’d be grounded from stepping off the farm for even a stroll for months, maybe a year.  Paul leaves Owl’s Perch each fall, and even though he writes me letters and sends them to his grandmother’s house, he’s never hinted at how he feels beyond friendship.  Despite my Daed, despite that I’m only seventeen, despite that Paul goes away to a sea of girls each year, I choose to believe that he cares for me like I do him, and that love will find a way for us.”

– “Child Genius” –

Does anyone else love this TV show?  I have been watching it since the first season, and the kids never cease to amaze me with their knowledge.  The premise is children with high IQs competing for the title of “Child Genius.”  Every episode features two rounds, each focused on a different subject such as math, history, or logic.  For more information, follow this link: http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/child-genius

– “The Bletchley Circle” –

I am in love with this miniseries!  Netflix recommended it to me.  The show follows a group of codebreakers post-WWII.  Once the war ended they were required to move on with their lives without telling anyone what they had done.  They find themselves brought back together by circumstance in order to solve a crime; this occurs three times.  For more information, follow this link: http://www.pbs.org/program/bletchley-circle/

– “Dance Academy” –

I have watched this show at least three times all the way through.  It is definitely one of my favorite TV shows of ALL time.  WOW!  That’s a bold statement.  I relate to this show on a deep emotional level because of my dance background.  I understand the family-like bonds that develop and the struggles that come with being an aspiring professional dancer.  On top of all that, it’s a great show.  All three seasons are currently available on Netflix.  For more information, here is the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1551948/

– “Gossip Girl” –

I realize that I am way late to the “Gossip Girl” party but better late than never.  I’m not that far into the first season, but I like it.  It’s a good show to turn on when I have hours of work to get through.  The show follows the drama surrounding a group of wealthy teenagers living in Manhattan.  It is currently available on Netflix.  For more information, here is the IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397442/

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Let’s Make Polaroids

Let's Make Polaroids

Hello hello hello!!  Today I am taking you through the steps necessary to make polaroids in the comfort of your home.  You will need a picture file on your computer desktop, Adobe Photoshop (I own CS6), photo paper (I use Red River UltraPro Satin, 8.5 x 11), and a printer with the capability to print photographs.  I know I am most likely not the first person to come up with this idea, but this particular process was developed during my time in college.  This digital art project is perfect for days when there is not much else to do.  Why not get those creative juices flowing?!  Let’s get started!

***Note: Click any of the images to make them bigger.

Step 1. Open Adobe Photoshop.

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Step 2. Drag the picture into Adobe Photoshop.

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Step 3. Use the Crop Tool to crop the image into a square (4 x 4, 8 x 8, 16 x 16, etc).  As long as the width and heighth are the same dimensions, you are good to go.  For best results, keep the image at its native resolution (72); do not increase it!

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Step 4. Check the bit depth.  Do not make any changes!

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Step 5. Make sure the color profile is set to Adobe RGB (1998).

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Step 5. Create a new canvas, and set the width to 3.5 inches and the heighth to 4.25 inches.  You can make the resolution 72 to match the image, but I went ahead and made it 300.  Set the bit depth according to the image.  In this case, the image’s bit depth is 8.  Make sure the color profile is Adobe RGB (1998).

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Step 8. Using the Move Tool, press down your mouse over the picture, drag it to the blank canvas, and release.

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Step 9. Press Command Quotation Mark/Apostrophe.  A grid should appear over the entire image.  Use the Move Tool to make the picture bigger.  According to the grid, there should be one square of space on the top and sides; there should be four squares of space on the bottom.  You now have a recognizable polaroid format.

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Step 11. Press Command Quotation Mark/Apostrophe to get rid of the gird.

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Step 12. This step is optional.  My image has a light background therefore I am placing a thin, black stroke (size 2) around the outer perimeter to make it pop against the white canvas.  If your image has a dark background, a stroke is not necessary.

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Step 13. Save your polaroid as a Photoshop file (.psd).  I labeled my image “Winnie the Pooh Polaroid_Layers.”  This is the file I will come back to if I want to make any adjustments or changes.

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Step 14. Flatten the layers and save the image as a JPEG (.jpg).  I labeled my polaroid “Winnie the Pooh Polaroid.”

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Step 15. If you plan on posting your polaroid on the internet, save an alternate JPEG with an sRGB IEC61966-2.1 color profile.  I labeled my polaroid “Winnie the Pooh Polaroid_Online.”

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***If you are not interested in printing your polaroid, skip the following steps.

Step 16. Create a new canvas.  Make the width 8.5 inches and the heighth 11 inches.  The resolution should be 300, the bit depth 8, and the color profile Adobe RGB (1998).  I labeled my canvas “Winnie the Pooh Polaroid_Print.”

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Step 17. Using the Move Tool, press down your mouse over the polaroid, drag it to the blank canvas, and release.  Make sure the polaroid is flattened before moving it.

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Step 17. Add a thin, black stroke (size 2) around the picture.  This will make it easier to cut out the polaroid once it is printed.

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Step 18. I use 8.5 x 11 paper because I can print four polaroids at once.  If you are doing the same, repeat steps 16 and 17 for every polaroid.

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Step 19. In the Print dialog box, choose your printer, layout (vertical, located on the left), Color Handling (Photoshop Manages Colors), and Printer Profile (name of the paper you are using).  If you are unfamiliar with how printer profiles work, you can look it up online or contact me for further help.

How To Use ICC Color Printer Profiles For Inkjet Printers: http://www.redrivercatalog.com/profiles/how-to-use-icc-color-printer-profiles.html

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*** The Final Results! ***

 

Pile of Polaroids

Click the following link to watch me go through the process: https://youtu.be/nlcewD0t3yE

I hope you have enjoyed this project.  It is a great way to display cellphone pictures, collages, and quotes you are inspired by.  For even more flair and personalization, add text in Photoshop or with a sharpie.

Say cheese! :D

– Lauren Michele <3

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