Review: Google Home Mini

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Last month I received one of my favorite little gifts for my birthday in which during that time I didn't think I needed. I never thought I was would need to have a smart device in my home (because I am superwoman that's why!) but this little donut has become one of my most helpful tools in my house. Since I can't afford my personal assistant yet, Google Home Mini is the cheapest way to get into turning your home into a smart home. PSA: This is my own review and I was not paid or sponsored by Google. I literally want to share my honest opinion on a product that would make a great holiday gift for a reasonable price. Ok soapbox done, you can read on ...

First thing: The main selling point for the Google Home Mini is its price. It only cost $49. But this Black Friday you can literally get $20 off the price at major retail stores like Target and Best Buy. If you're looking for an easy way into the smart home, Google Home Mini is the cheapest way to do that. And yet it doesn’t feel cheap. In truth, if you have a Google Home, you pretty much know how the Google Home Mini works. And, if you don’t, it’s easy enough to figure out. Once you download the app onto your phone, it basically sets itself up and teaches you how to use it to ask for information, set timers and control whatever other smart devices you may have about.

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Where do I use it: It sits by my bedside and has the main function of controlling my bedroom lights, turning Netflix on my TV, setting the alarm, telling me what the weather is every day and playing music while I work. As a stand-alone speaker, Google Home Mini is decent. It’s best for background music while I work or do chores.

How to use it: The Mini, just like the Google Home, is always listening for its trigger phrases, “OK, Google” or “Hey, Google.” Google Home Mini has a mute function, which will shut off the microphone. If ever you want to, you can flip that mute switch. Hey Google, turn on The Punisher on Netflix ... easy peasy. Google Home Mini has all the new features just like Google Home, as well, including the ability to make hands-free calls through the speaker, using your smartphone. So, if you’re busy working around the house and need to call somebody, you can do that, and it can show up as a call from your own number. If you lose your phone, ask Google Home to call it for you – on Android devices, it will even ring if your phone is muted. (It can’t override a mute setting on the iPhone.) You can also use Google Search as a sort of phone directory, to call the “nearest pizza place,” etc. 

So, while Amazon may have a wider spread of products and Apple may pursues hardware excellence, Google’s focus is on function. So far, it’s working. There's probably still alot I haven't discovered yet with Google Home Mini, but for what its worth, it has become my little assistant around the house. This is definitely a must-have for that techie in your life without breaking the bank.

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Hello Yellow

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Mustard yellow is a color that I enjoy wearing year round. It is a great color to wear when the summer sun is shining or that color to brighten your day during those dreary winter months. When wearing such a bold + bright color I like to keep everything else pretty neutral or dark. Dark, or in this case this black off-the-shoulder long sleeve shirt and minimalist black pointed mule shoes, tone down the brightness of the yellow making it not as obnoxious. I absolutely fell in love with this belted trouser from Forever 21, and for under $20 it's a steal! I can wear these pants to work or for holiday parties. The high-waist and looseness makes this belted trouser so comfortable to wear all day. Next time you're feeling bored or need a little pop of color just say hello to yellow (well, mustard yellow that is).

Photo Credit: My daughter Mariah

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Movie Review: All In? Justice League

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So, the reviews are in and … yeah, the critics didn’t like Justice League. It’s certainly fair to say that DC has been less successful with movie adaptations of its superheroes compared to its comic rival, Marvel. In recent years, only the Wonder Woman film has been given a general thumbs-up; Suicide Squad was okay-ish, while Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was as just plain bad, starting with the word ‘Martha.’ But, I will have to fight them on this one – Justice League definitely entertained me! DC made two movies in a row that don't suck. Finally, so ... good for them. Well done. 

Justice League is not the mess it could have been, and that is actually saying a lot. The film was shot, reshot, lost Zack Snyder as a director, and director Joss Whedon stepped in and reshot again. Look, this one isn't going to win any movie awards, but for whatever reason, it worked. It's fun, the team feels like a team, and all the cast for what its worth played their part … well. Maybe it's just that the bar has been set so incredibly low, but I'm perfectly happy with a Justice League movie that does almost nothing more than move from plot A to plot B and so on until it ends.

The plot, of course, is pretty standard. Steppenwolf, a really big bad guy, is about to destroy the world by collecting the mother cubes, which will let him... destroy the world. The only way to stop it is to form a team -- a team of justice. With Superman (Henry Cavill) gone, Batman (Ben Affleck) decides he has to pull this team together and recruits Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). And you get the rest of the story without me giving any spoilers out.

Side note: Justice League could have really used four or five more movies leading into it. Good job to Marvel who does that well. While the character introductions are handled pretty slick they are clearly rushed, especially for The Flash (no pun intended) and Aquaman, whose introductions leave open so many unanswered questions. The beginning of the film jumps around so much from character to character it's tough to ever focus on what's actually going on. Batman to me (sorry Ben Affleck) felt flat and seemed like he was just going through the motions. He didn’t have his coming out the darkness, one-step-ahead thinking, and fight in him like we see in his previous movies and his suit in this movie looked pretty fake (sorry not sorry). 

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Maybe my expectation levels have sunk low, but I was pleasantly surprised by Justice League. Of course, Wonder Woman’s moments were definitely some of my favorite parts as she gets me hype everytime she fights. Flash was definitely the comedian in this film, and Aquaman's body -OH MY GOODNESS! As far as the movie goes, this was hugely enjoyable and the ten-year-old me left the cinema looking forward to the next Justice League. It tells a good-enough story and executes it in a good-enough way, so it's good enough to make me excited for what's to come next. If you saw Justice League, let me know your thoughts. I give it 3.75 out of 5 stars. Have a great week everyone! - xo Mel