Tagged with " homepost"
About six months ago, I started hearing a lot about Influenster, more specifically “Vox Boxes,” and with curiosity piqued, decided to check them out. Influenster serves as a near perfected evolution of what Klout hoped their “Perks” would be. It’s a free to join community where active members earn the right to receive complimentary products to test and review by earning points via social media-based activities in their self-indicated areas of expertise. One of the reasons I think social media savants and bloggers jumped on board with the platform is because the Influenster team found a way to playfully engineer a gamification element into the formal brand review process, by rewarding members for doing what they already love to do: share their opinions.
My Colgate Optic White Vox Box arrived this afternoon, and I must admit I was a little excited when I saw the postman drop off our mail. (Who isn’t excited to receive something other than junk mail or a bill?) I grabbed my umbrella and braved the downpour to see what the box would consist of. Now I don’t consider myself to be any sort of expert on ondontology or dentisty, but for some reason (likely due to my demographical information, interests and activity level on social), I made it through the first round of the review screening process. Prior to signing up for the Optic White Vox Box, I received an email letting me know that I made it through that first round. I was asked to fill out a short survey, which consisted of questions revolving around whether or not I’d ever used any whitening products. After a week or two wait, my Optic White Vox Box arrived in the mail.
Optic White Vox Box
Included in the Optic White Vox Box:
- 1 Colgate Optic White Toothbrush + Built-In Whitening Pen
- 1 Colgate Optic White Toothpaste (Travel Size)
- 6 Colgate Optic White Toothbrush + Built-In Whitening Pen Manufacturer’s Coupons
Looking at the design of the Colgate Optic White Toothbrush and its built-in whitening pen, I found myself pretty impressed with its design and functionality. I haven’t had the opportunity to use it yet, but admit that I like the idea of ditching the time-intensive (not to mention awkward) strips and trays. As someone who has used whitening strips in the past, they never fit quite right, and are easily displaced with normal mouth movement (like breathing).
According to Colgate’s Optic White website, using the toothbrush and whitening pen is easy as “Brush. Whiten. Go!”
- Brush. Brush as you normally would with your regular toothpaste (or in this case, the ever so conveniently provided Optic White Toothpaste). Their toothbrush is specially designing with something called “polishing bristles,” as well as stain removers to help you remove surface stains through your regular brushing routine.
- Whiten. Here’s where I think things will get interesting. You turn the dial at the bottom of the whitening pen and apply the gel. According to their site, it will only take seconds to apply and adhere to your teeth – no strips or messy trays (apparently no waiting or rinsing either). The whitening gel dissolves naturally on your teeth over time. (I’m curious to see how long it will take and how strange it will feel. Will I notice?)
- Go. Store the pen inside the brush, so it’s ready for your next brush session.
I naturally had a few questions I wanted answered before trying out this product – the first being whether or not this whitening method would be safe for my tooth enamel (I’ve heard horror stories about other whitening techniques), as well as whether or not it would cause tooth sensitivity. The answer to both comes down to the operator. When used as directed, Colgate states that your tooth enamel should be A-OK, and while use may cause temporary tooth sensitivity for some consumers, the whitening gel shouldn’t cause any lasting harm other than the discomfort.
Over the next week, I’ll try these products, and will follow up with what I liked or didn’t about the experience. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Colgate’s Optic White product line-up, I recommend checking out @OpticWhite on Twitter or visiting their Optic White microsite.
It also appears that I have an abundance of coupons now for their Optic White Toothbrush + Whitening Pen, so if you’d like one, give me a shout out in the comments. First come, first serve!
There’s nothing my cats love better than Craft Day. Seriously. It’s like Christmas, catnip, empty boxes, felt mice and warm laundry fresh out of the dryer, all wrapped up into one glorious event. It could have something to do with the fact that my craft room/office is strictly off-limits to them without supervision, so they leap (quite literally at times) at the chance to enter the restricted area. But it could also be because they’re also pretty social creatures (you may not have realized that about cats), so they look forward to opportunities to show off for our house guests. TicTac, pictured above, is the worst offender.
Craft Days are a pretty special event for me too. They’re a chance to spend time with some of my girlfriends, catching up on life, the universe and everything, while trying (and figuring) new crafts and projects. We only had a couple in 2013, but we’ve resolved together to try to find time to have them more frequently. Last year’s projects included water-coloring, spray-painting plant silhouettes and sculpting little animal figures from polymer clay, and this year’s ideas are proving to be just as exciting.
As you may imagine, a lot of our ideas come from projects or products we find on Pinterest, but they also come from things we stumble across in real life or on Etsy.
Steph stumbled across the first idea for our January Craft Day over at Apartment Therapy. They had a blog that highlighted some artwork that someone had created for their home by adding monsters to thrift store paintings - brilliant! I’m not a great painter (mostly from lack of practice), but I fell in love with the idea and immediately went on the hunt for a painting. I found the little metal sign, pictured left, at the Goodwill by my house for a whopping $2.99.
The second idea was to try our hand at crocheting our own version of these cute friendship bracelets. Steph found on Etsy. I love to crochet, so was definitely on board with giving this a try. Because they were a for-sale item, we didn’t have a step-by-step guide to follow, but thankfully we both knew enough about crochet to muddle our way through.
The great thing about both projects is that between Steph and I, we had all the supplies we needed (minus the thrift store paintings) already on hand. That almost NEVER happens. When Steph arrived, we wasted no time in jumping into to Project #1, and by some crazy happenstance , we both ended up purchasing watery-themed pieces, so had similar ideas of creating a kraken-like creature for our paintings.
I absolutely LOVE how Steph’s kraken turned out, and the poor fisherman never saw it coming!
I ended up painting a little octopus, who ended up better than I had hoped, which means that I’ve stumbled across a new hobby (like I needed another one), but I can’t help myself. I can’t wait to try this again!
Stitch made an appearance after all the hard work was done (typical Stitch), but seemed to enjoy hanging out and getting to know Octavius (the little guy had to have a name after all). I was actually so excited about how the painting turned out, that I immediately hung it up in our guest bathroom.
While our paintings dried, we started on the crocheted bracelets, which worked up much faster than I expected. We kept things simple by making one really long single crocheted chain, then sewing a button on one end to serve as a fastener. I didn’t have any charms on hand to embellish the bracelets with, but if I try this project again (which I very likely will) there’s a lot of versatility and customization to play around with – stitch styles, buttons, charms, yarn types and colors.
And because we like to know where our next craft is coming from, we’ve already decided what to do for our February Craft Day. Steph found a pretty great (if daunting!) tutorial on how to make rustic, handpainted wooden signs that we’re dying to try.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear what crafts you’ve tackled already this year. Share your favorites in the comments below!
Hands down, my favorite thing about 2013 so far has been the birth of Sophia, my brother and sister-in-law’s first child, and my first niece. There’s something pretty spectacular about being an aunt (I know Rhiannon would agree), and something even cooler about the fact that Sophia was born the day before my birthday (Happy Early Birthday to me!) So when Bianca mentioned an idea she had for a photoshoot for Sophia about a month ago, I was thrilled, because I knew it’d be adorable. Little did I know that events would transpire that would put me in the role of photographer, but man, was it fun!
Because Halloween is right around the corner and we were dealing with a rainy forecast for the weekend, Bianca wanted to make sure we started out with her first Halloween costume (ever) – Snow White. With a borrowed bridge and mirror, a basket of apples, and the seven dwarves, we managed to stage a pretty magical outdoor retreat in just a few minutes.
This was Sophia’s first time playing in the grass, and we definitely had our hands full trying to keep her attention. But she was a trooper, and gave me enough time to take about 100 photos or so before she’d had enough of outfit #1.
Because Sophia was born right after my brother deployed to Afghanistan, she hasn’t had a chance to meet her daddy face-to-face yet. When Bianca told me what she had in mind for outfit #2, it took everything I had not to tear up. (I’m a total marshmallow.) While Bianca got Sophia ready, Chris and I set up the backdrop for our “Welcome Home, Daddy” pictures. Equipped with Sean’s white barracks cover, combat boots (which he wore while in Iraq) and dog tags, as well as an American flag, confederate flag and camouflage, we were ready to add Sophia.
My brother is coming home from Afghanistan toward the end of October, and I can’t wait for to see his reaction when he meets his little girl for the first time. Sean’s dog tags and boots were a hit with the littlest princess (which made all of us smile), and she put up with Bianca and I rearranging her constantly quite well, although toward the end of this round, she let us know in no uncertain terms that she was close to her limit.
Outfit #3 proved to be the last straw for our little darling, and she had a mini meltdown before letting me take any pictures. She still looked ridiculously adorable dressed up in the butterfly fairy outfit Bianca made for her, but she was tired and hungry and ready for a break.
I’m still going through all the photos I took yesterday, and haven’t had a chance to add any filters or make any edits, but as a proud auntie, I couldn’t help but share her cuteness as soon as possible.
It’s hard to believe that our trip to Hawaii is only a week and a half away. With a little help from my friend (and current local) Emily, we’ve managed to put together a pretty substantial list of things to see/experience while Chris and I are there. While I doubt we’ll manage to squeeze in everything I’ve listed below – it definitely gives a great jumping off point. I can’t wait to follow-up post-trip with photos and highlights from our adventures!
- Lanikai Pillbox
- Maunawili Falls
- KT Hill
- Pali Lookout
- Diamond Head
- KoKo Head
- Makapu’u Lighthouse Hike
- Deadmans catwalk
- Manoa Falls
- Chinaman’s Hat
- Kaena Hike
- Olomana Trail
- Lanikai Beach
- Kailua Beach
- Sharks Cove (snorkeling)
- Hanauma Bay
- Waimanalo Beach
- Bellows Beach
- Halona Blowhole/Beach Cove
- Waikiki Beach
- Hickam Beach
- Island Snow shaved ice
- Haleiwa Joes
- Pinky’s Pupus Bar & Grill
- Kona Brewing Company
- Maui Tacos
- Champa Thai
- Shrimp trucks (North Shore)
- Chief’s luau at Sea Life Park
- Sam Choy’s Island Style Seafood Grill
- Pearl Harbor – Arizona Memorial
- Pearl Harbor – Museum & Bowfin Tour
- Valley of the Temples Memorial Park
- Summer Palace
- King Kamehameha Statue
- Waikiki Downtown
Byodo-In at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park
Been to Hawaii? I’d love to hear your recommendations. Leave them in the comments below!
A couple of weeks ago, Chris asked me if I’d be willing to help his team at work by making something for their bake sale to support Light the Night. If you’re not familiar with the event, it’s a walk to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Our Jacksonville walk will be taking place on November 7 at the Jacksonville Landing, and leading up to the event, teams from all over Merrill Lynch are working to raise money to support the cause.
It’s been awhile since I’ve baked anything spectacular, and I wanted to make sure I made something that people would love (purchase), so I scurried off to Pinterest for ideas. It didn’t take long for me to stumble across Lizzy’s (Your Cup of Cake) recipe for Andes Mint Cupcakes and after salivating over her photographs, I knew I’d found a winner.
Photo Credit: Lizzy from Your Cup of Cake
You can find her incredible Andes Mint Cupcake recipe here.
I did make a couple of modifications to her recipe to cut some corners on time (no, I didn’t make my frosting from scratch), and overall was pretty happy with the result. I think Chris’s co-workers agreed, because all 24 cupcakes sold, raising $48 for the cause, which makes me think I should have made more. (Can I now take a moment to lament the fact that I didn’t get to sample one?)
I’m looking forward to making another batch in the near future so that I can actually taste them for myself and make the frosting from scratch according to Lizzy’s recipe (she also has a cupcake cookbook for those looking for even more tantalizing treats.
For anyone who was curious about my frosting shortcut, it took 2 1/2 containers of cream cheese frosting, 1 tsp. of peppermint extract and 10 drops of green food coloring to get the desired result. On my next go-round, I also want to purchase some frosting tips and disposable frostings bags, because while my cupcakes were cute, they lacked the “finished” look you get with the decorative frosting tips. Lesson learned.
What’s your favorite kind of cupcake?
Over the past week and a half or so, I’ve had the good fortune to attend two conferences: the first was hosted by the American Advertising Federation’s 4th District and the second by Converge Florida. I’ll be following up later this week with a more in-depth look at both events, but an interesting commonality I found between them was the idea that it’s important (both in life and the workplace) to foster an environment where it’s okay to make mistakes. (Note: Let’s be clear on the fact that it’s not okay to DELIBERATELY make mistakes.)
Ideation is a huge part of what I do and who I am as an individual. My job requires me to be innovative and creative on behalf of my clients and agency, and my inner muse demands the same things from me at home. However, an important part of that innovation/creation process is the realization that not every idea will be perfect, and that that’s okay. If I’m being honest with myself, as someone who has a tendency to be a little OCD, it never feels okay, which means it’s a concept I’m going to have to work to apply.
I think this really hit home for me on Friday during the keynote from Jessie Shternshus, founder of The Improv Effect (which is where I pulled the quote above). As part of her overall discussion, she noted that in order for creative environments to succeed and ideation to occur, the following concepts needed to be understood by the group at-large:
- Don’t be afraid to fail.
- Be self aware and actively listen.
- Mistakes are opportunities for gaining new perspectives.
- Blocking gets you nowhere. (Shutting down another person’s idea isn’t helpful to the brainstorm.)
- Say “yes and…” (Instead of blocking/criticizing a teammate or partner’s idea, take what they’ve shared and add to it to see how you can grow the idea. It says, I liked your idea so much that it inspired me.)
I work in a lot of collaborative environments: at the office, at home and with organizations I volunteer for, and this philosophy of seeing mistakes as gifts, and not being afraid to fail, is a challenge I hope to apply in the days, weeks and months ahead to take my creativity and ideas to the next level.
It may be a scary prospect to share things that are only half-baked, but as Daniel Burka from Google Ventures mentioned in another session, “You may think you’ve got a great idea, but really all you’ve got is an inkling. Until your start building it, you’ve got nothing.”
Oh my god, they’re back again…and I couldn’t be more excited. The Backstreet Boys (prefaced by DJ Pauly) hit Jacksonville by storm last night, and it was amazing. Words can not do justice to the ridiculously good time I had last night with Devon, Tyler and Desi, as we danced our butts off and sang our hearts out to the adrenaline inducing harmonizing of the Backstreet Boys. To make the night even better, we bumped into our friends Kendall and Shannon at the show, effectively turning the concert in a mini-AAF Jacksonville outing.
Things I Learned
- Devon is (and always has been) a Kevin Richardson fan
- Desi likes them all as long as they’re harmonizing (but secretly has a thing for AJ)
- Brian (my fave Backstreet Boy) and Kevin are “cousins from Kentucky.” (Thanks for that random trivia, Desi.) :)
- I really should pick up their latest album – they’ve still got it.
- And apparently, Brian’s son will be following in dad’s footsteps. He kicked off the show by singing Mariah Carey’s Fantasy, and did an AMAZING job.
What were some of your favorite bands/groups from the late 90s early 2000s?
The last couple of weeks have been a little more stressful than usual due to a perfect storm of proposals, projects, and personal stuff. And because I have a tendency to internalize my frustration and stress, this trifecta really took a toll on me both emotionally and physically, and I swiftly found myself running on the dregs of my usually indomitable enthusiasm. But as often happens, I was reminded of a song, which set me on the path to getting myself sorted out again.
Believe it or not, it was actually the chorus from En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” that went skittering through my thoughts, sending me down a path of introspection about what it means to “free your mind” that helped me get back on track.
I think it’s easy to fall for people to fall into patterns of thought and even easier to move from those patterns into making assumptions about life, the universe and everything. Because your life has a certain ebb and flow, a routine – you take some things for granted, because you experience them every day. They’re a constant, and so they occupy very little of your conscious thought.
Need an example? How many times have you been on the road, lost in thought, and when you become aware of your surroundings again, you found you were much further along or heading in a different location than you last remember? Your mind turned on cruise control, and you were just along for the ride.
Cruise control can sometimes be a handy thing. It allows you to free up and focus your attention on tasks that require more attention to detail, but it can also blind you to some warning signs that you’re heading off in the wrong direction. For me, it wasn’t until Chris called me out for being uncharacteristically negative in a situation where I would have usually responded with empathy that I realized that my pattern of thought for the past month had been taking a more pessimistic bent. And because your brain is trained to pave larger paths to the things you’re thinking most often (it tries to be helpful like that), thinking negative thoughts leads to dwelling on negative thoughts leads to being infused with negativity overall.
Thankfully, once aware of what I was doing it was pretty easy to take steps to “fix” myself. I spent this past weekend convalescing – both physically (I wasn’t kidding when I said the long hours and stress had taken a toll), as well as emotionally. My weekend’s accomplishments included spending time with my family (and niece!), reading two books, and finally playing a game I’ve been dying to get my hands on for months – Ni No Kuni: The Wrath of the White Witch.
The result? After a weekend of focusing on the positive, my spirits are up, I feel better than I have in over a month, and I’m ready to tackle whatever comes my way. After all, at the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s holding you together. Your attitude and approach are what make all the difference. So friend, this week I challenge you to free your mind. You’ll be glad you did.
My dad, sister and I have a joke about the fact that we think differently than most people. Whereas most people’s thoughts logically progress from Point A to Point B and then to C, D, E and beyond, we’re more like a stone that you’ve skipped across the surface of a pond. While we cross over those same points as everyone else, we only touch the surface every other point or so, which sometimes makes it difficult for others to follow our thought progression. I only mention it because the manner in which tonight’s art project unfolded serves as a real-life example of that process of thought progression come to life.
When it comes to home décor, it’s probably safe to say I have an eclectic sense of style, which probably explains why I’m so drawn to the home accessories (and to be perfectly honest, EVERYTHING else) at Natural Life. I pop into their store semi-frequently and often stalk their social channels and website to check out their latest stuff. One of the things that I’ve really had my eye on lately is the wall art pictured below. (It will be coming home with me soon – it just doesn’t know it yet.)
(In love with this as much as I am? You can get it here.)
Earlier this week, I finished a crochet project (yes, it does occasionally happen). The project stemmed from a pattern for an infinity scarf that I’d “pinned” early last month. Last night, we re-watched the Hunger Games, and I took the opportunity to finish the pattern. It’s teal, of course, in honor of my beloved Jacksonville Jaguars. I’m hoping it will come in handy during some of our winter games, although in Florida, one can never tell how winter weather will be, but I digress.
I also made time to draw a little bit this week and worked up a quick sketch of an owl (only my second ever drawn to-date) with some new Crayola colored pencils I picked up during this time of year’s legendary back-to-school savings. (See, you don’t have to have children of your own in order to get excited. Go running down the aisles and pick out your own BTS stuff. You’ll be glad you did!) :)
But getting back to the subject of this evening’s project, I knew I wanted to do something crafty, but was at a loss for what to do. Then I remembered the rustic print from Natural Life, was inspired by its charming quote, and decided to try my hand at making my own bit of wall art (although narrowing down a single quote to use for the painting was tough).
- Used canvas from an earlier failed art project (you can always recycle them, if things don’t work out!)
- Craft Smart acrylic paints in purple, black, white and neon pink
- Alphabet sponges (picked them up ages ago from the Dollar Tree
- Paint brushes
- Clean palette
- Jar (to hold water to clean my brushes)
- Lots of paper towels (I tend to get paint everywhere.)
- To kick off the project, I grabbed the above-mentioned used canvas and painted a purple base coat over its predecessor.
- While I was waiting for the base coat to dry, I amused myself by making a little nonsense video and posting it to my Instagram account.
- Once the purple coat was dry, I used a rough brush to add a neon pink coat, and before the paint was dry, took another rough brush without paint to texture the surface and blend the two coats.
- Using a small brush, I painted the edges of the canvas black, then splattered white paint across the top of the canvas to add some interest to the purple/pink background.
So what about the quote?
Here’s where we get to the “geek” part of the post. In thinking about what I wanted to place on the canvas, I began reflecting on some of my favorite quotes from movies and books I feel in love with during my childhood. Given the size of the canvas (and my letter stencils), I knew it would have to be something short and to the point.
My favorite quote from Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension, “No matter where you go…there you are.” (A close second would’ve been “Everybody Need See Buckaroo,” but I didn’t think it had the same inter-dimensional appeal, although if you haven’t seen Buckaroo Banzai, you REALLY should.)
“Who is this Buckaroo Banzai?” you ask. Excellent question. The multi-talented Dr. Buckaroo Banzai is a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician, who has to save the world by defeating a band of inter-dimensional aliens called Red Lectroids from the Planet 10. The novel and movie fuse the genres of action/adventure with science fiction while weaving in elements of comedy, satire, and romance.
Of course, the story would be incomplete without the Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo’s trusted team and band (pictured above). They are:
- Rawhide, Buckaroo’s lieutenant who also plays piano.
- Reno Nevada, who plays saxophone.
- Perfect Tommy, who plays rhythm guitar, and is generally accepted to be perfect. (My favorite, btw.)
- Dr. Sidney Zweibel, aka “New Jersey,” a neurosurgeon, and a colleague of Dr. Banzai’s from Columbia. He sings a little, dances and plays piano. (Played by Jeff Goldblum in what I believe to be one of his best roles.)
- Pinky Carruthers, one of Buckaroo’s Blue Blaze Irregulars who also plays bass guitar.
If this description has just confused you more about why you should care, you could always check out the movie’s trailer below (although to be honest, unless you watch the movie, I’m not sure it helps):
And because, I’ve probably kept you long enough – the finished work! I was pretty happy with how it turned out, although if I do another quotes canvas, I’ll likely make some tweaks to the process. It could be fun to do a whole series using my favorite quotes from Moonheart, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, Harry Potter and more. Which begs the question, actually, what’s your favorite quote?
I’m going to lead this post off with an assumption (dangerous, I know) that I’m not the only one who occasionally googles my name to see what comes up in the search results. I was doing that very thing this evening and was dismayed by the results. On pages 2 and 3 of the results, I found a string of Internet orphans – blogs and websites I’d abandoned (some which had been dormant since 2004).
A deeper dive into the results showed a total of four blogs that had been lost to time (posts covered topics like fitness, my creative writing program at FSU and preparing for my wedding), as well as a poetry site I’d set up during my senior year in high school (there were some embarrassing gems on that site, let me tell you). The evening’s scavenger hunt yielded an important lesson and reminder, that just like the real world, it’s a good idea to do a thorough scrub of your online presence every once in awhile.
I’ve been a ravenous consumer of online content since the ripe old age of thirteen (bringing us back to 1998 if you’re keeping score), which has given me more time than I care to think about to grow my digital footprint. Couple that time spent online with the natural pull I felt to social applications on the Internet, and that leaves an impressive wake of old data lying around the interwebs for anyone to find.
So what did I do with the Internet orphans who’d found their way into my search results? I welcomed them back home, which ended up being no easy feat. Each of the blogs that I’d created were keyed to a different email address with passwords long forgotten. Though it took me awhile to crack my past self, I eventually came up with the passwords for each of the sites, and promptly archived old posts to my computer for safekeeping. From there, the blogs were deleted one by one.
The poetry site I stumbled across ended up being a tougher nut to crack. As I mentioned, my profile/site within the site was created back in 2002, and the email and corresponding password used to set them up were no longer in existence. Couple that with the fact that this site was built before “recover your password” prompts, and I was in a serious pickle. After ten minutes of fruitless password combinations, I blanked my mind in an attempt to let the old password float to the top of my thoughts. I’m happy to report that my jedi mind trick worked, and I was able to remember the old code. After backing up 51 poems (most of which I fervently hope never resurface), I promptly deleted my profile.
The whole experience tonight actually ended up reminding me of an article I read back in 2011 about protecting your digital afterlife. While it sounds a little macabre, your online presence could very well outlive your corporeal existence (sometimes to you or your family’s detriment) unless you take steps to be a better steward of your digital self and assets. Thankfully in my case, it just ended up being an interesting (and occasionally embarrassing) trip down memory lane.
Have I inspired you to do your own digital excavation? I’d love to hear about what you uncover!