100 Films in 2011 – Poetic Justice

by Jamie Sanford on January 14, 2011

I have watched 4 movies so far in 2011, so hopefully I can keep it up.  I caught Poetic Justice as it was just beginning tonight on Encore or something like that and watched it.  I had never seen it all the way through.

#4. Poetic Justice (available to stream on Netflix Instant Watch)

Poetic Justice is available on DVD from Amazon for $9.99.

I enjoyed this movie.  I am a big fan of Janet Jackson and think that this was a great way to introduce herself as an actress.  I remember when the movie came out because her song “Again” was popular, and it is featured in the movie.  I think the video had clips from the movie as well.

Anyway, this is really Janet’s movie, even though Tupac is really good in it too.  Maya Angelou’s poetry is woven throughout the movie in a way that doesn’t feel forced (at least to me) and adds to my interest in the character of Justice.  Regina King is also great in the movie – but I don’t think I’ve seen a movie with Regina King where I didn’t think she was great. I love her too.

This movie really bounces between sweet moments, funny moments and dramatic/sad moments – it was at times a bit jarring but for the most part moved the story along pretty quickly.  The end of the movie was satisfying.  I don’t think I would buy the DVD, I’d be fine with keeping it available via Netflix.

96 movies to go!

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Alligator Gifts from Gatorland

by Jamie Sanford on January 12, 2011

I really like alligators.  I found out after moving to New Jersey that people like me who grew up in Florida have a really different view of alligators than those who didn’t.  I’m not particularly scared of them – but that is because I would not put myself in a situation where I would be in danger of being attacked by an alligator.  You learn that you aren’t supposed to go swimming in lakes or play near the edge of the water, etc.  If you see one, don’t try and go pet it.  More often than not, they don’t want to be near you and if you approach one near the water, they’ll just go in the water to get away from you.

My parents now live on a lake that has a population of alligators, and I was lucky enough to visit them once when an alligator that had become a bit large was being removed to be relocated to an area with fewer human residents.  After the Fish & Wildlife guys taped the alligator’s mouth shut, they let me pet it!  It felt like a dinosaur on top and a purse on the sides.

Tarpon Springs, FL - April 2005.

The alligator was about 6-7 feet long.

Anyway, so I haven’t been able to see alligators as much while living in New Jersey, but I like to see them when I get to Florida, and one of my favorite places that I’ve been in Florida is Gatorland.  Gatorland is a giant sort of alligator farm in Orlando, near Disney World.  They have shows with jumping alligators, alligator wrestling, and such things.  When I was there, the thing I enjoyed the most was just walking around and seeing the different species of alligators and crocodiles that they have on display.  I would recommend a trip there to anyone in the Orlando area.  Wear sunscreen though – I got a sunburn on my visit.

So here’s where the gift item will be tough for some people.  I think that coming along with my understanding of alligators, is the understanding that there are A LOT of them in the south, and that they are farmed much like pigs and cows.  Also like those animals, every part of them is used, including for decor. While most people aren’t interested in owning a cow head, a taxidermied alligator head is pretty badass.  Today I will feature all of the taxidermied items from the Gatorland Gift Shop!

Everyone has someone that this would be perfect for – and the small alligator head is a deal at $20.

Get to shopping on the Gatorland Gift Shop now!

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Gifts for Ancestry Research Buffs

by Jamie Sanford on January 6, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve received an email with a gift challenge, but I received this one from YZ yesterday.

I have a manager that will be leaving. I just need an idea of a gift that she can use. She has been doing a lot of reach on her family tree (ancestry).

Any thoughts for that special gift?

Ms. Z didn’t provide me with any sort of budget for the gift, so I’ll try to cover a variety of price points.

If the person you are shopping for has a lot of documentation related to their family history, archival-quality scrapbooks or albums might be a great choice for them.  These acid-free products will provide a great storage space for the album and will allow for continued viewings of those items.  This is the Big Book archival album and is available for $66.59 from Light Impressions.

Light Impressions also has a large array of albums and scrapbooks in other price points, including additional insert pages and other accessories.

If your gift recipient has a sense of humor about their genealogy interest, there is an array of items available from T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, mugs, aprons, posters, binders, tote bags, mouse pads – there are many things to choose from.

Prices on these items on Zazzle range from $0.95 to $39.95.

I like the idea of giving someone a magazine subscriptions, since it’s the gift that keeps on giving all year long.  Family Tree Magazine costs $27 for 1 year, and Family Chronicle Magazine is $27.95 for a year’s subscription.

I’ve already showed my love for in a previous post, which you can read here. The site also offers family tree creation software,  which is available from for $47.91.  There’s also a more basic version available for $32.63, also from

The other website I found with a paid membership to join was  I don’t have experience with this site and so cannot vouch for it, but from their website it doesn’t look like they have any international records.  A gold membership for 1 year costs $199.99.

I hope this helps to give some ideas on what to give as a gift to someone who is interested in researching their family’s history.  Ancestry research has recently become very exciting for me and I think I might need to pick up some of these items for myself!

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Letter to Myself: On Decorating the Christmas Tree

by Jamie Sanford on January 4, 2011

I smell a new feature with Letters to Myself. I think this might be another good way to bring interesting content to my readers while also maintaining the shopping aspect that started this blog to begin with. 2011 blogging, here we come.

Dear Jamie,

Your 2010 Christmas tree was pretty fabulous. You’ve taken the gold theme pretty far, and finally have been able to use the ornaments you’ve been buying since putting up the last tree in 2007! The new pre-lit tree (similar to this one, available for $154 from Amazon), bought post-Christmas in 2007, worked out well, save the fact that the tree stand is a bit wonky and the tree is so tall that no tree topper is possible.

Tree, lights off.

The finished Christmas tree, 2010.

The gold lights that sparked the whole gold theme died during the tree-trimming process, and the executive decision was made to replace them with ball-shaped lights in different textures (similar to these, available for $22.21 from Amazon) that were floating around unopened in the Christmas box. They’ve added great light and interest to the Christmas tree, the different shape of the bulbs would be interesting enough but the texture adds something too. Definitely keep up a tradition of using different kinds of lights and not just different colors.

Disco in the tree.

Note the giant bokeh there caused by the new ball-shaped lights.

While I didn’t put the garland on the tree until the end of the process, I’m putting it here in the blog post, where it should be for next time. I decided that I didn’t want the puffy garland on the outside of the Christmas tree, but when the ornaments were done, the tree looked a bit thin. So I spent time putting the garland inside of the tree – which turned out great but was a wicked pain to accomplish. So – next time? Lights, then garland inside of the tree to get the filling effect without the unfortunate ornament-blocking. Another note – Mom said that she has lots of extra gold garland, remember to get that from her if you don’t have it yet. This might get out of control since I also bought more puffy gold garland at CVS after Christmas.

Tiny Edward in the tree.

Tiny Edward in the tree, you can sort of see how the garland is tucked in.

I wonder if the garland should be even deeper in the tree, and should go on before the lights. This is something to re-think when the time comes.

Ornament application went well – William actually did most of it while I took everything out of the boxes. We got to use all of the random gold ornaments I’ve purchased at Cracker Barrel on road trips in the last few years. I am especially enamored with the translucent gold leaves which let light through and look really beautiful on the Christmas tree. I paid something like 50 cents for each one, so that was a hot deal.

Leaf in the tree.

If you take a road trip for Christmas, stop at Cracker Barrel for hot deals on tree ornaments.

We also ended up purchasing more small red balls (sort of like these) to sort of break up the large amounts of gold on the tree, and used spare red balls to decorate the garland hanging over the kitchen arch too. The theme seems to have expanded to gold with touches of red.

The railing at the top of the stairs was also decorated this year. I wrapped the whole outer perimeter with puffy gold garland and then hung spare gold ornaments from the top between the bars. Everyone seemed to like it.

Tree, lights on.

The railing decoration is sort of visible here in the picture with the lights on.

I have a feeling that we will move before the next time we decorate for the holidays, but this year’s ideas and lessons learned should be helpful in the future.

Am I the only nerd who wants to remember the good and bad things about putting up the tree and decorating for the holidays? Did you come up with any tips or tricks this year during your own process?

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Crime Scene Scarf, Great Winter Accessory

by Jamie Sanford on December 27, 2010

You might have heard that we’ve had some snow here in the Northeast.

Will after opening the front door.

My husband, at the bottom of our stairs last night. Note that there is a foot of snow piled on the porch, and that my beautiful wreath is now a snow sculpture.

So, the office is closed today and I just talked to a friend on Google Chat and she told me that she received this scarf for Christmas and I love it.

It’s crime scene tape, but a scarf!  I love it.  I think that scarves are one of the best ways to jazz up your winter dressing situation – most of us tend to own black coats so colorful scarves are the way to go.  I have a big collection of colored scarves, mostly due to lots of contributions by my mother-in-law and others, everyone who notices that I wear scarves a lot tends to buy me another scarf!

Anyway, this one is really fun and fabulous, and is a practical gift to give but with such a fun twist that no one would mind receiving it.  The Crime Scene Tape Scarf is available from the Crime Scene Store for $16.

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