Les Miserables…Bring Tissues & Get Ready for a Musical Masterpiece…

Les Misérables Hits Theaters Christmas Day

LMB_1Sheet.jpg Have you ever walked out of a film with tears streaming down your face convinced it’s one of the best you’ve ever seen in your lifetime? Well get ready for a feature film that’ll literally take your breath away when Les Misérables arrives in theaters on Christmas Day.
The film takes place during the French revolution and tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption–a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Hugh Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (played by the brilliant Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (uber talented Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen and Amanda Seyfried), their lives change forever.
I recently got the chance to meet the stars of “Les Miserables” and here’s what they had to say about this musical masterpiece:
Hugh Jackman on taking on the role of Jean Valjean:
To me (it’s) one of the most beautiful journeys ever written, and I didn’t take the responsibility of playing the role lightly. I think it’s one of the greatest opportunities I’ve ever had. And if I’m a tenth of the man Jean Valjean is, I’ll be a very happy man.
Hugh Jackman on his incredible transformation in the film:
We’ve actually have an opportunity here for all the characters to show time, scale, all these things. So, he (Academy award-winning director Tom Hopper) said, “I want to make you unrecognizable. And if people in your life aren’t saying that you’re sick, something’s wrong, what’s going on with you,” he says, “Then you haven’t gone far enough.”
LMB__HUGH_0927_RGB_1_SM.JPG So, I did lose a lot of weight and then had the joy of putting weight on, which was a 30 pound journey from the beginning. But, I have to say all that pales in comparison to what this lady next to me did (Anne Hathaway), because at least I had time to prepare and do that. Annie was doing it over 14 days. I think you lost about 300 pounds in 14 days.
Anne Hathway on channeling the role of Fantine:
I came to the realization that I had been thinking about Fantine as someone who lived in the past, but she doesn’t…She’s living in New York City right now. She’s probably less than a block away. This injustice exists in our world. And so, every day that I was her I just thought, “This isn’t an invention. This isn’t me acting. This is me honoring that this pain lives in this world.” And I hope that in all of our lifetimes, like today, we see it end.
Samantha Barks as Eponine on crying in the rain:
I think that kind of realism in your voice adds to the emotion of that live singing. And especially in moments like “A Little Fall of Rain” with me and Eddie (Redmayne), it allows you to be so intimate. And we were crying, but kind of trying to add that to your voice. Because when you speak and you cry, you can hear it in someone’s voice. And to be able to hear that when somebody’s singing, I think that only adds to the emotion of it.
LMB__FANTINE.jpg Anne Hathaway on Hugh Jackman’s performance:
I just want to make sure that I impress upon everyone, I don’t want you to walk out of here charmed by Hugh Jackman, because we all know that he’s a miracle and we all know that he can get up and make friends with everyone and be totally friendly. And sometimes I think that keeps people from seeing his genius as an actor. What he does in this film is inspiring, and we were all inspired by him. He was absolutely our leader. So, I just don’t want his nice guy thing to distract you from the fact that he is a deep, serious, and profoundly gifted actor.
Hugh Jackman on making a difference in the lives of others:
I think in many places, but for all of us, the idea that the philosophy, that you don’t need to go to a top of a mountain in Tibet to find self realization. You don’t necessarily need to do great things or listen to spiritual leaders. The first thing we have to do is be present, know what you stand for in life, and face what is in front of you. And as Annie reminded me this morning, that’s that cop in Times Square, the humanity of just seeing what was required. And that’s real love.
Anne Hathaway on why the entire cast loved being a part of Les Miserables:
We’re all massive Les Mis geeks. And I think we’re all kind of like slightly worried that this is not really happening, that we’re all kind of in some strange, odd mutual trip. And we’re hallucinating. But, we were all such fans of it that I think we all showed up on the first day with enormous gratitude, as you said, that the responsibility of telling this story was entrusted to us.
Hugh Jackman on the camaraderie he experienced while filming Les Miserables:
I remember one of the first days of filming, I was singing the soliloquy, that first number in the church. And I remember the church was this beautiful little place in London, a real old church. And I came up the steps, these winding stone steps, and Annie was at the top there and she had tears in her eyes and she was hugging me. And I said, “Hey, what are you”–she goes, “I’m not going to miss this for the world.”
I’ve never known that on a film before. We were all kind of there for each other. It had the feeling of the closest stage show I’ve ever been involved with but it was a film, which is unusual. And yes, we’ll be bonded for life for what we went through.
Produced by Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh productions, Les Miserables opens in theaters on Christmas Day, December 25. Run, don’t walk to buy a ticket. It’s truly an experience you will remember for a lifetime.

Virtual Piggy

VirtualPiggy_125x125.png My husband and I have tried to instill the value of a dollar onto our kids from a very young age. For example, they both wanted iTouches last year for their birthdays, so we made them “earn” the money themselves by doing chores around the house and helping out in many ways. My daughter is at the age where we can start giving her allowance and she can really learn how to budget. Financial responsibility is an important part of raising smart and savvy kids in the digital age and Virtual Piggy is the safest way for children to save, spend, and give online.
How Does it Work?

A parent registers their account, providing information such as their preferred credit card for future purchases, and a shipping address. Then, the parent can create accounts for each of their children and establish detailed parental controls (such as approved merchants, transaction limits, levels of transaction approvals). Because financial and shipping information is stored in the parent account, the child never has access to it.
The child is then able to check out at Virtual Piggy merchants, using only their username and password.
Why is it Safe?

For parents: Your credit card information is kept under our PCI-DSS Level 1 Certified security, the highest level available. Because this information is stored under your parent account, your child never has access to it.
For children: Because the child only needs their Virtual Piggy their username and password to checkout, they never use your credit card, or provide personal information like their name, age, birthdate, contact information or home address. Virtual Piggy is also a certified licensee of the TRUSTe® Children’s Privacy Program, which has been approved by the Federal Trade Commission as an authorized safe harbor under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.
What Controls Do I Have?

Virtual Piggy provides you with lots of options when it comes to controls on your child accounts. 
 You can set monthly allowance amounts, savings targets and charity goals.
You also have the option to require approval on every purchase your child makes, or just some of them. You can set a maximum limit per transaction, per day or per week, or restrict which merchants your child is able to shop at.
How Does Virtual Piggy Teach Financial Responsibility?

Research shows that teaching financial literacy for their kids is a major concern for 97% of parents, but many are not sure how to start. By using Virtual Piggy, you can empower your child to make his or her own financial decisions within the budget and controls you set up. It’s a great way for parents and kids to sit down and discuss how to manage their money.
Virtual Piggy also offers an online store (shop.virtualpiggy.com) with gift cards from major brands, such as Papa John’s, Foot Locker and Regal Theaters. Many of these gift cards can be printed and used at regular stores.
How Can I Learn More?

Visit their website at www.virtualpiggy.com. We can also be reached at www.facebook.com/virtualpiggy and www.twitter.com/followpiggy
Date: 12/13
Time: 9-10pm ET/6-7pm PT
Hashtag: #virtualpiggy

More details and an RSVP here: http://splashcreativemedia.com/2012/12/virtual-piggy-twitter-party-1213-rsvp-to-win/
Check out MVP Deals (Available from 11-14 to 1-15): http://bit.ly/MVPiggy
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post from Splash Creative Media on behalf of Virtual Piggy. All opinions are my own.

Behind the Scenes at “The Talk” in NYC

Today started like any other average day…
Wake up at 6:30 am.
Return emails.
Wake up my kids.
Get dressed.
Make lunches.
Zip the kids off to school.
Work, work, work.
Race into Manhattan while singing showtunes from my iPhone.
Tweet from the set of “The Talk” in NYC
While most of my day was pretty status quo, sometimes, I get to inject a bit of entertainment into my day and this week, I got to spend an hour tweeting live from the audience of “The Talk” on CBS. I even got a really nice shout out from host Julie Chen and was featured in the same segment as Andy Cohen from Bravo’s “Watch What Happens Live.” Sure, I was just tweeting from my seat and Andy was weighing in on the latest “Real Housewives” drama, but it still was fun being the show’s officlal blogger for the hour.
The one thing I can tell you about sitting in the audience of a live talk show is that you do a lot of laughing, a lot of smiling and a lot of clapping. Our audience warm up guy, Joey Cola was a riot. He even tried to confiscate my phone before the show until he realized that I needed it to tweet some great one liners from the hosts. And l have to say that between Sheryl Underwood, Aisha Tyler, Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne and Sara Gilbert, the jokes are plentiful, the conversation is totally relatable and the laughter is non-stop.
Today’s guests included “Smash” star Angelica Huston, Taraji P. Henson from the CBS drama “Person of Interest” (she is adorable, btw) and the winners of “Amazing Race.” I have a special place in my heart for any Amazing Race participant since I was a publicist for that show when it first launched. What I loved most was that I was able to engage with viewers in real time while sitting right in my seat. Plus, when I tweeted “Amazing Race” host Phil Keoghan, he tweeted me right back — as did Pier 1 Imports which gave away an amazing $250 gift card to each audience member in time for the holidays. Favorite moment of all…when the fabulous Sheryl Underwood grabbed my hand after the show and asked me if I had fun. How much do I love Sheryl? Let me me count the ways…
If you’ve never attended a talk show, I’d highly recommend it for anyone feeling down in the dumps. By the time you leave the studio, you’ll have a smile plastered across your face and a little spring in your step. No need for a gym membership to get those endorphins going…just head to “The Talk,” sit in the audience and get ready to be thoroughly entertained! If you live in the Los Angeles area or if you live in New Orleans (or nearby),
“The Talk” will be shooting a week’s worth of shows from the Superbowl. Visit their website to find out how you can be an audience member and trust me, you’ll have the best time!
Check out my shout out and please ignore the part where I scrunch my eyes — even my kids call me out when I do that uncomfortable move!

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

Pretzel Pecan Hake Fillets:

Often times we don’t have an ingredient that we need to complete a recipe and we throw our hands up and order in. No need to do that if we think out out the ingredient box! When I realized I had no breadcrumbs left, I substituted crushed pretzels and the outcome was better than the original recipe. Enjoy!!
Pretzel Pecan Hake Fillets:
6 4-5 oz Hake or similar fish fillets (i get the Wild Caught Hake from Costco)
One beaten egg
1 cup pretzels plus one cup pecans, ground together in a food processor
3 TBS butter for frying
salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Defrost Hake fillets or other fish you are using if it was frozen and dry as much as possible with paper towels
3. Grind up the pretzels and pecans so they look like coarse breadcrumbs and set aside in a shallow bowl
4. Beat an egg and set aside in a shallow bowl
5. Salt and pepper the dry fish , dip in egg and then dip in crumbs, letting loose crumbs fall off. Set aside on a separate plate
6. In an ovenproof skillet over a low to medium flame, heat up the butter
7. When butter is melted and bubbling, lay down the fillets and fry for about 4 minutes on each side until golden brown and then place in the oven for 7-10 minutes or until opaque in the fattest part of the fillet.
8. Serve immediately with a creamy sauce or just a lemon wedge, a grain and a side salad-YUM!
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.