Taking The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

My friend Nicole at SAHMReviews nominated me for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yesterday, to which I said: Challenge accepted. Jai was a good sport and joined in the fun, so we spent our Monday evening dumping cold water on each other in the Oregon fog. The point of this challenge is to raise awareness and funds for ALS, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, by encouraging people to click, watch, laugh, and learn more. Those challenged are asked to make a donation to ALSA.org, which I was glad to do, as the organization has been given a four-star rating by Charity Navigator. You can donate online and learn more by clicking here.

Have any of you been nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge?

RhinoShield Screen Protector: Keep Your Phone From Getting Hammered


RhinoShield Screen Protector provided for review.

I am very, very protective of my iPhone. I guard it carefully because I’m so worried about getting it scratched or worse. But vigilance can only help so much – as careful as I am, I travel with my phone constantly, and one of these days it’s going to flying out of my pocket at the airport or get eaten by an alligator or something. I have a really nice case that Jai got me for Christmas that cushions it nicely, but I’ve been meaning to get a screen cover as well to avoid scratches and help protect it in the event that it falls out of the case or has an accident while I’m charging it.

Enter RhinoShield. This screen guard inspired me to finally get around to this task because their marketing is a little more ingenious than most screen protectors. This is meant to protect your phone from shock in a way that most traditional scratch guards just can’t – watch the video above where they test it out by dropping it on concrete. I was intrigued!

RhinoShield kit

The RhinoShield kit comes with the screen protector, an applicator to smooth it out, and a cleaning cloth with dust removal stickers to clean your phone thoroughly before application.

Applying RhinoShield

After giving my iPhone 4S a thorough clean, Jai and I set about putting the screen guard on. Well, he put it on, I took the photos. ;) The screen protector comes sandwiched between two layers of protective plastic, with markers telling you which side goes down. You line it up to fit the screen, and remove the “Back” piece of plastic so that it will stick. Then you take the thin applicator tool to smooth out any bubbles. It went on pretty well – there’s a teensy tiny bubble on the side that didn’t squeeze out, but it’s not really noticeable.

Once you have the screen protector smoothed out, you remove the top layer labeled “Front” – this makes it so that the RhinoShield screen itself is protected through the whole application process.

iPhone 4S With RhinoShield Screen Protector

And here’s the finished product! I’m quite satisfied with it thus far. It looks like a nice sturdy screen shield, and it has been easy to clean as advertised. Above and beyond that, I can’t attest to its protective powers, because I’m not about to take a hammer to my phone for the sake of this review – sorry about that! ;) But it seems like a no-brainer to me that my phone is more protected now than it was sans screen. As I embark on a week of travels tomorrow, I’m very happy to have some extra protection for my precious phone!

Learn more about RhinoShield by visiting their online store and following them on Twitter and Facebook.

Merrick Flossies: Dental Chews For Doggies

Merrick Flossies

Merrick Flossies provided for review.

Grandma regularly buys dental chews and treats for her dog, Bob, as a way to give him something healthy for his teeth to chew on. I recently brought over a bag of Merrick Flossies, a new-to-me-treat, because I thought this would save her a trip to the store for Bob’s nightly chews! She’s always happy to get new, quality treats for her beloved doggie, and this was no different. She noted that these treats are both grain-free and gluten-free; and beyond that, they are also made in the USA. They looked a little like licorice candy and we all joked that we might have to steal one from Bob and try them ourselves. ;)

Bob gets ready to taste a Flossies treat

It was a beautiful day, so we took Bob down to the beach for a walk. As he ran around and got excited to dig in the sand, we added to his happiness by pulling out a Flossies treat for him. The #1 sign that a dog likes something? When he chomps it down too fast to get a clear photo:


CHOMP! Bob devoured these greedily, and although he made short work of them, it did take a few seconds for him to chew them over – which, for Bob, is pretty good because he can demolish a snack VERY quickly. So I think these will be a great little chewy for his teeth, as well as being obviously tasty gauging from his reaction!

Merrick Flossies are available on Chewy.com in 5 oz bags (8 chews total) for $13.99.

Harry Potter Stars at Red Carpet Preview of Diagon Alley

On June 18, 2014, Harry Potter film stars including Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and others attended an exclusive preview of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Ð Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort.

Yesterday, several of the stars of Harry Potter stopped by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park for the red carpet preview of Diagon Alley – check out these fun pics! You can click on the images to view them full-size.

On June 18, 2014, Harry Potter film stars including Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and others attended an exclusive preview of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Ð Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort.

On June 18, 2014, Harry Potter film stars including Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and others attended an exclusive preview of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort.

Arriving on a red carpet that stretched from King’s Cross Station to the picturesque ‘London,’ the cast celebrated the announcement of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s grand opening date – recently revealed to be July 8, 2014. Robbie Coltrane led event attendees inside the land by ceremoniously tapping the bricks of Diagon Alley – just like Rubeus Hagrid did in the Harry Potter books and films.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley will bring even more of Harry Potter’s adventures to life. The new area will double the size of the sweeping land already found at Universal Orlando, expanding the spectacularly themed environment across both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Guests will pass through London and the iconic brick wall archway into Diagon Alley – a bustling, wizarding hub within a Muggle city. Inside the land, guests will enjoy themed shops, dining experiences and the groundbreaking thrill ride – Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts.

On June 18, 2014, Harry Potter film stars including Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and others attended an exclusive preview of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Ð Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando Resort.

Harry Potter News: Webcasts This Week + Interactive Wands

Diagon Alley

There are three different Diagon Alley webcasts this week that Harry Potter fans won’t want to miss, available online at UniversalOrlando.com/DAwebcasts. Here’s the schedule:

Wednesday, June 18 at 8 p.m. ~ The Diagon Alley Red Carpet Event

Enjoy interviews with some of your favorite Harry Potter film stars as they arrive for the exclusive red carpet preview event for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Thursday, June 19 at 12 p.m. ~ All Aboard: A Journey on the Hogwarts Express with Oliver and James Phelps

Join James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter films) as they take you on a journey aboard the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade station to King’s Cross Station.

Friday, June 20 at 12 p.m. ~ Behind the Bricks: A Tour of Diagon Alley with Tom Felton and Matthew Lewis

Get a virtual tour of some of the most iconic places within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley with your hosts, Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter films) and Alan Gilmore (Art Director for the Harry Potter films and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter).

Another fun announcement today relates to a new interactive experience at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Interactive wands that you can take through the park to perform “Spells”! Just take the map that comes with your wand to find the “Magic” spots throughout both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Click here for more details and a video of the wands in action!

Straight Talk on Blogging – and Teeth?!

Blog Basics

This is a sponsored post.

Recently, I attended a “Mini Bloggy Boot Camp” presented by The SITS Girls. I’d heard high praise for their events from several colleagues, so I made a special trip to Seattle so that I could attend this workshop. I wasn’t disappointed: Tiffany and Francesca gave informative presentations on everything from “Facebook Math” to blog design. Having a day to step away from the computer and brainstorm was really helpful for me; I left feeling re-inspired and invigorated to complete several big projects once I returned, including a complete overhaul of my portfolio and migrating the Bloggers Britain community to Google+.

I also left feeling re-inspired about a rather different topic: My teeth. This Bloggy Boot Camp event was hosted courtesy of Invisalign, who were on hand to tell us a little about their unique form of nearly invisible braces. In the last year or so, I’ve been seriously considering getting braces, as I never had them as a teen and would love to have straight teeth. However, I got turned off after doing a little research into traditional braces and finding out that it can greatly restrict what you can eat and even how you floss. Uh, no thanks! That sounded like a huge pain, and I assumed all tooth straightening methods must work the same way, so I dismissed the idea of getting braces and figured I’d just live with my crooked smile.

Always smile, it makes people think you are up to something.

But when I got to this event and saw the spread of food at our table, I realized I was wrong: Invisalign purposely put snacks like popcorn, pretzels and nuts at our table to make the point that there are no food restrictions with Invisalign. Unlike regular braces, Invisalign is a removable aligner that you take out while eating and brushing your teeth. All of a sudden, my ears perked right up and I began to reconsider my “Forget braces” stance!

Apparently, I was wrong about a lot of things when it comes to Invisalign. I also thought that treatment could take a long time, but I learned that the average treatment time for an adult is one year, depending on the condition of your teeth upon starting. For those starting the tooth straightening journey a little younger than I am – ahem! – there is the specially developed Invisalign Teen, making this treatment available to teens and pre-teens as well as old fogies such as myself. ;)

Invisalign compared to braces

To help set the record straight, Invisalign also produced this infographic with more information on the treatment process. And that brings us to the next myth: That Invisalign and Invisalign Teen are a more expensive option for patients (And their parents!) than regular metal braces. As it turns out, the price for treatment is generally comparable to traditional methods and is also covered by many dental insurance plans. To determine the cost of braces with insurance, you can utilize the virtual cost calculator on the Invisalign Website.

Aside from price, why would a parent choose Invisalign Teen for their child? Well, stop for a moment and remember your own teen years. If having the option for clear, unobtrusive treatment is a relief to me at 30, just imagine how much of a relief it is to teenagers who already have more than enough to feel self-conscious about on a daily basis. Teens can take the smile assessment online to get more information about what treatment could potentially do for them. Millennials can also learn more by following Invisalign on Twitter and Facebook!

Are you considering braces for your children (Or yourself)?