A Princess For Christmas (2011) - Movie Review

Okay, so I know Thanksgiving isn't over yet, and I'm not trying to rush it by. But as I said in my last post, I am not going to wait. If I want to talk about Christmas, or watch a Christmas movie, or do a Christmas craft, etc, I will. So! I am going to share with you a review on the first Christmas movie of the season.

A Princess for Christmas!

This is one of the most recent Christmas movies on our list. We only discovered it on Hallmark last year. It has a simple plot, and not too altogether unoriginal, but it's sweet and pretty much well acted. The atmosphere, something that can make or break a movie, is just cozy and warm, what everyone wants for the season.

Starring Katie McGrath, Sam Heughan, and the former 007 heartthrob, Roger Moore, this film was filmed at various castles in Romania. Other titles have been Christmas at Castlebury Hall, A Princess for Castlebury, and a Christmas Princess.

So read my review and then tell me what you think!


Jules Daly is an antiques enthusiast with a touch of the out-of-the-ordinary. When her sister and brother-in-law are killed in a car accident, she becomes her niece and nephew's guardian. With this being the first Christmas without them, everyone is a little down. While trying to handle her grieving niece and nephew, and keep everything under control, times look as if they are going from bad to worse. First she loses her job and then the nanny quits. On top of all this, they receive an invitation to spend Christmas with the kid's grandfather, the Duke of Castlebury. Jules declines the offer, remembering how the Duke disowned his son for marrying her sister. But soon it becomes clear that they all need a change and going to Castlebury just might be it.

When they arrive, they are treated like royalty with their own servants and lush apartments. Right off, Jules runs into Ashton, the Duke's son and her sister's brother-in-law, but his cool demeanor prepares her for the worst. Despite her earlier feelings, Jules encourages her niece to give the Duke a chance. The atmosphere around the castle is cold and stiff, but Jules down-to-earth nature soon takes the chill off everyone. That is, everyone except for Ashton's girlfriend, nearly fiancée, who immediately sees Jules as competition.

Right before Christmas Eve the Duke decides to have their annual Ball and makes all the preparations. Since their arrival, Jules and Ashton have become attracted to one another, but when she overhears him and the Duke speaking about a woman being crass and having no title she mistakes it for her. Hurt and upset, Jules plans to leave and return home before the ball, telling the children they'll have a second Christmas together when they return. At the train station, she is all prepared to leave when a handful of the castle's staff show up to bring her back. They reveal the dress they all pitched in to buy and Jules can't help but agree to return to the castle with them.

At the ball, Jules learns the truth about the Duke and Ashton's discussion. She is greatly relieved and enjoys a dance with Ashton. But his former fiance, angry at being slighted starts trouble in accusing Jules of being there only for money. Ashton stands up for them and as well as the Duke, who ends up throwing her and her family out.

Their troubles are over as Ashton marries Jules and the Duke takes them into his home. So what started out as a bad year ends in happiness!


As I said before, there isn't anything new in the story, and honestly they could have given it a little more spice to the plot, but all in all it's a good story and nice movie to watch. A classic Hallmark film.

Fashion Opinion

Now I can't write a review without making some mention at costume. In an effort to give Jules Daly an eccentric sort of style, the costume designer chose a some random outfits for the character. The one she wears the first night at Castlebury Hall is a loose-fitting burnt orange dress that in no way flatters McGrath's figure. On the other hand, her sweater dress with black tights, red belt and socks, with brown boots makes up for the earlier outfit.

I remember when I first saw the film I was immediately drawn to her hat and scarf, the one she wears through most of the film. The stitch is obviously knitted, but as a believe in everything crocheted, one day my version will find it's way to my hook.

Her ball dress, unfortunately, looses what credit the designer had gained in my eyes. Another effort at giving McGrath's character a unique feel, it fails to meet the standards of a classy ball gown. There was potential: the colors were dreamy, and the material had elegance. But the lack of regularity in the style ruined it. She needed a stiffer bodice and more organized folds. It could have looked it great.

But these are my opinions. I am sure there are many people who would not agree and that is their privilege.

Thanks for reading! Be sure and leave me a comment below telling me what you think.

Culinary Chronicles: The Holidays Are Here Again!

The days are growing shorter, and colder, and Thanksgiving is just next week! Every year we complain that the holidays come too quickly, but this year, though I still agree, I'm setting my mind to enjoy it anyway. I told my family that I'm going to listen to Christmas music when I want and do holiday activities when I want. This might sound spoiled, but what I really mean is I'm not going to wait around and let it slip by me again. My family understands and agrees with me.

First things first, and that means Thanksgiving! Growing up, thanksgiving was the least favorite holiday of my generation family members. My cousins, siblings and I loved the festive atmosphere but the food for some crazy reason turned us off for the most part, with differing degrees of finickiness of course. Now that we are all older, though I can't say for sure about our cousins, we love the food. As for me, since it is obvious that I love to cook, it's a chance to be more involved than before. But we always have too much food, or at least pies anyway.

The one bad thing about holiday meals is they tend to get unhealthy, and for those of us who desire to eat better, the holidays get to be a bit difficult. Perusing helpful blogs like Healy Real Food Vegetarian gives ideas to find the same foods you love and expect just better for you. Here is 20 ideas she has collected for our convenience.

Today I tried her Simple Roasted Carrots and loved it. We often roast carrots for a veggie side but this was a slightly different version. Here is what mine looked like.

One of my all-time favorite dishes has been the Green Bean Casserole. But with unhealthy fats and MSG in most cream of mushroom soup, it is hard to make it healthy. Not to mention the french fried onions. Here's a recipe from Grass Fed Girl that I'm going to have to try.

Now gluten free pies is a horse of a different color. I've experimented a little and will have to talk about it on a further date. So don't forget to check back real soon!

In the meantime, I've written a guest post on my sisters blog Life In A Palace, so be sure and check it out as well as all her past posts. It's a journal of the life of Queen Emerald and the kingdom of Krespania, a fiction world created by her and our brother. It will definitely get you interested! So be sure and tell her (and me) what you think!

An excerpt from The Journey Home, a Life In A Palace post:

The shadows have long since grown and faded as night has once again fallen on the camp. But tonight we have reason to rejoice, for victory has been won!

We are finally on our way back to Krespania. When we made camp, my Lady insisted on writing of the consequences of the ambush but I refused. She was exhausted and barely able to hold her Jomacha cup. So she entrusted the duty to me. Thus this entry will be written by Meredith de Barra, her lady-in-waiting. Read more!

Holothurian Distinction

After first being introduced to the "live" world of ocean exploration this last June, I have wrote a few articles on the finds of both NOAA's Okeanos Explorer, and the Nautilus, which is funded by many different exploration groups as well as by NOAA.

Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library

A creature that both have seen at their different destinations on more than one occasion is the holothurian, or sea cucumber. The terrestrial equivalent to these exciting creatures are the earthworm, as they share the common goal to recycle base nutrients in their environments and return them to the ecosystem. Thus their primary diet is earth.

Like the sea stars I have spoken of before, holothurians are Echinoderms. What all of the creatures in this phylum have in common is that they are radially symmetric, among other things. There are some classes of echinodermata that do not appear to be radially symmetric, such as the holothurian and echinoid, or sea urchin, but a closer look at their body structures reveals that they are.

Most of the holothurians we witnessed were purple or pink and usually very gelatinous. In the case of the Nautilus and their most recent expedition in the Caribbean, the holothurians have been seen time and again swimming through the water in a graceful sort of dance. The first thing that stood out to me when beginning my research was the continual reference to their benthic tendencies. Obviously, I was confused. The images I saw were of fat and solid-looking worms, more often than not prickly, nothing at all like the gentle, clear organisms I had seen live. I changed my objective to finding the difference in the species and found out a great deal.

Courtesy of NOAA Photo Library

The species I was looking for are called free-swimming holothurians. For example, the genus Enypniastes and species of Peniagone and Paelopatides. I was thrilled when I found this distinction. My research stump had a breakthrough. But unfortunately for you, this post has drawn to an end. More on the subject coming soon, so stay tuned!

The Best Intentions...

So much for the best intentions! Long ago I had intended to have written a post on Holothurians (sea cucumbers) in the Caribbean, as well as more on ROV's. Unfortunately, since I spend so much of my time trying to figure out which is more important to me, crocheting and marine science, I find myself falling behind in my plans. My crochet schedule is subject to a deadline not my own, while there is no such demand for my science articles. I can't say I like it this way, but beggar's can't be choosers.

Courtesy of NOAA Ocean Explorer

I have had a chance this week to do some research. Trying to find a specific species of holothurian isn't the easiest thing to do. I've searched encyclopedias and science sites and have found every species but the one I am looking for. Distressing to say the least. But I am not giving up. Except for the tension of keeping up with my posts, I enjoy a good search. Finding details is an appealing pastime. The loss of time is what stresses me. Anyhow, I might have a lead so all is not lost.

Besides researching sea cucumbers, I have been... well, crocheting, obviously. My fall list of projects so far amount to my Indian Bracelet, Trellis Wrap, and Autumn Leaf Earrings, all of which you can find on Crochet Spot and my Pinterest board. Coming up is my Pumpkin Appliqué, Scarecrow Hat (name debatable), and Acorn Appliqué. Around Christmas I hope to have an exciting new capelet and/or wrap, but I'm not giving away any details. You'll have to keep your eyes peeled.

If you've kept up with my movie reviews you'll notice I'm not really settled on the style I want to write in. I love old movies, as I'm sure you have guessed, and I enjoy reviewing them. However, the time I spend writing some of these reviews hardly makes it worth it. I have to admit, I feel a lot better spending that much time on a scientific post than a movie review. I suppose I expect everything I do needs to be "worth" something, and if I don't feel like it is, I get frustrated. Either way, I'm working on finding the perfect review template for me, so if you can bear with me, I'd be so grateful.

That's it for now but return soon for my (hopefully) next post on Holothurians in the Caribbean!