Thursday, January 19, 2017

Awesome Life Friday #96

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday!

We're so looking forward to seeing what you've been cooking, creating, growing, decorating, reviewing, giving away, and thinking about this week!

While you're here, leave your posts at the other link up we co-host here - Party in Your PJs!  It starts on Tuesday evenings, and runs through Sunday.  I hope you'll join us there as well!

Here's a bit of what we've been up to this past week - if you haven't checked these posts out yet, I hope you will!


And now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  If you're one of our featured posts, we'd love it if you'd grab a button, and thanks to all of you who shared with us last week!

If you are one of our FEATURED bloggers, this button is for you!

Thank you all so much for sharing your awesomeness!

Are you all ready to party?  If you like, we'd love it you'd help spread the word by grabbing our button:

Here we go!

Review: Dunking Buddy Cookie Dunker

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Everyone loves a cookie dipped in milk, right?? Okay, maybe someone doesn't, in which case this product just isn't for you....

I often opt out of milk dunking, simply because I don't feel like the mess. I have a large aversion to touching messy foods. I don't eat saucy wings, I get very upset with tail on shrimp in my pasta that I'll have to touch, and I hate milk on my fingertips from dipping a cookie.

Dunking Buddy has created a fun tool to aid in a less messy cookie dunking session.

Available in both blue and pink, Dunking Buddy's two-piece magnetic basin is large enough to fit almost any thickness of cookie. The circular knob that goes on the outside of your cup is simple to slide down toward your milk, lowering the cookie inside the cup.

Each Dunking Buddy comes with a color changing cup, though the magnetic cookie elevator seems to be able to attach to any cup thin enough for the magnets to penetrate.

The magnets slide up and down the cup with relative ease and minimal drag. I have not tried it on my 2 year old, but my 7 year old was a big fan of its magic. Her favorite part was the the cup itself, which changes colors where the cold milk is touching.

My least favorite aspect is that the cup is, understandably, hand wash only. As a busy mom of two, I'm a lot less likely to use anything that is going to add more work than usual to my day. But for the occasional fun time treat, this cup system sure puts a smile on our faces.

My daughter even insisted that it be a Dunking Buddy cup that was left out for Santa's milk and cookies.

A single cup with the Dunking Buddy gadget, available in either blue or pink, is $9.95. You can also buy sets of the Dunking Buddy cups, which could be useful for gift giving season, or perhaps if you run a daycare or have a large family. A 12 pack is $82.50, a 6 pack is $44.95, and a 3 pack is $24.95, all available for purchase on their website. Shipping and tax is added at checkout.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Unboxing: Anime Bento Subscription Box November

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These past few months I have been lucky enough to be able to try out AnimeBento, a monthly subscription box for fans of anime and Japan. Each box comes with a tee shirt, a few little collectibles, and a fun Japanese snack. This last box was no different.

This month's collectibles were stickers, a rubber bracelet, and a figurine.

I was very happy to add the little buildable figure to my growing collection. Though I'm not familiar with the anime (but friends have said I should watch!), this blue haired cutie makes an adorable addition to our Japanese figures!

The rubber bracelet from Blue Exorcist is a fun accessory, but I don't often get to wear it as my daughter tends to think that every bracelet is hers.

Stickers, to me as an adult quickly approaching thirty, are kind of a novelty that I don't really have a use for, but I still see the appeal.

The tee shirt this month was an exclusive Food Wars design. This royal blue tee, like the others, is in unisex sizing and made of cotton.

To be honest, I've not worn it more than a couple times, and I'll probably turn it into a reusable shopping bag, because I'd like to get good use out of it.

For a snack, this box had a bubbly candy. Apparently, there were two flavor options, grape or soda, and mine was grape.

I was a little apprehensive about it because I really dislike artificial grape flavoring, and I was certain that I was going to try one and give the rest of the package to the Mr or to a friend.

Happily, I was mistaken.

These were a very tasty subtle grape candy that had a fizzy feeling in the mouth. Think a gentle poprock. I did not share these because I wanted them all to myself!

Once again, I was pleased with the Anime Bento of the month.

My only (slight) frustration is that I don't seem to get the box in the month they are supposed to be for. I got the September box early October, the October box early November, and the November box in early December. This isn't that big of a deal, but by receiving them just a tad late, I do end up missing out on holiday specials (like for the October Halloween theme) in a timely fashion.

If you are interested in getting AnimeBento for yourself or someone you know, you can get them here with plans starting at $35.00 a month.

To redeem a 10% discount enter RCH10 at checkout on!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Party in Your PJs! #141

Happy Tuesday!

Welcome to the Party in Your PJs Link Party, where your posts will be seen on four different blogs each week.   In addition to Kim from The Cookie Puzzle, you'll also find Party in Your PJs every Tuesday evening at Grandma IdeasWood of Bell Trees and... here!

You'll also find the Awesome Life Friday link-up here at RCHReviews, every Thursday evening at 8pm ET so we hope to see you there as well.

Are you ready to party? I can't wait to see what you've brought to share!

Kim ~ The Cookie Puzzle | Facebook | Pinterest 
Nina ~ Grandma Ideas | Pinterest | Twitter
Lynda ~ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos | Facebook | Pinterest
Heather ~ Woods of Bell Trees | Facebook | Instagram

 Meet the Co-Hosts

Kim @ The Cookie Puzzle 

Kim is a small town girl who love simple things. Simple cookies, simple crafts and simple people. She is a wife, mother to one son and two adorable fur babies. Slightly addicted to reality TV and sitcoms, but she loves curling up with a good book or a good walk while listening to podcasts. You can find her at The Cookie Puzzle, where she shares her love for cookies and crafting. 

Nina @ Grandma Ideas 

How is this: Nina is wildly in love with her grandchildren. She delights in doing activities with them that strengthen their relationship –- playing games, doing crafts, snuggling, reading stories to them, and cooking together. She enjoys reading, technology, and traveling. (Tahiti is her most favorite place on earth!)

Lynda @ Reviews, Chews & How-Tos 

Lynda lives outside DC with her husband Michael and elderly beagle, Sadie. She and her daughter Jackie started RCHReviews as a way to spend time together in spite of living across country, and along the way they've added several friends as regular contributors. Between them all, they bring together many different perspectives and lifestyles with one common philosophy - try new things, have fun, and remember you are awesome!

 Heather @ Wood of Bell Trees

Heather is a wife of a peanut butter fanatic and mom of one silly human and one furry canine, wrangling life on 2nd shift and glitterizing everything as she goes!

The rules for the group board include:
1. Limit of one pin a day.
2. Just like the party anything goes, but clear wonderful pictures with great descriptions are most successful.
3. Please no Spam ( Spammers will be deleted without warning)
4.  If you pin to the Pinterest Board, please link to the Party in Your PJs Party also, the party runs from 7 pm Tuesdays-Midnight Saturday (Central Time)
5.  Finally have fun and share this group board  with blog friends and followers!  The more success the group board is the more success you will see from your pins.

Want to be added to the group board?  Follow our Party in Your PJs board and email Kim at

Features from Last Weeks Party!

 to see their features - we each pick our own!

All links are pinned to a Party can follow the board on Pinterest...feel free to follow the board, there is lots of inspiration to be found there.

Ok...let's party!

Rules -Link to post, not your home page
-Link to something YOU made, wrote or thought
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- Don't Link and Run! Please visit other links, make friends, learn something new, leave a comment, we all love comments
-If you were featured, grab a"Featured" button, found below.
-Consider adding our Party button to your Party Page or Post.

Harrison Blake Apparel: December Unboxing

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I dressed up nicely for a wicked witch a few days ago. She was green.

The occasion was a performance of the Broadway play Wicked at the Kennedy Center in Washington. The tickets were our Christmas gift to each other, and we picked a show date well in the future from when we bought them, and somehow ended up with front row seats.

I wore the second set of accessories that I had received from Harrison Blake Apparel.

This one, their December set, was based on golds and browns — a brown tie with white polka dots, gold and blue striped socks and a coordinating pocket square. The set also included a tasteful boutonniere, which worked well with the rest, and a bracelet made of wooden beads.

That last item seemed out of place. It’s wrong for any kind of business or formal occasion, and wrong for almost any man who isn’t also wearing Vans and carrying a surfboard.

So, I left the bracelet out of my ensemble, but used all the other items with my charcoal grey pinstripe suit.

Just as with the November box, all the items are well made and coordinate perfectly.

Against a neutral shirt further set off with light grey suspenders, they added splashes of contrast and created visual interest. We attended the play in high style and felt very much a part of the Kennedy Center set.

Having received two sets from Harrison Blake, I can say their items are consistently quality, and appropriate for any business or semi—formal occasion.

Just be prepared to have an occasional oddity that doesn’t really fit.  My wife snagged the bracelet, so it all worked out fine.

The show was spectacular, with surreal sets, effective special effects and marvelous performances from all of the actors and the orchestra.

It was our first experience at the Kennedy Center, but will not be our last.  Wicked has now moved on from DC to tour around the country.  If you have the opportunity to catch it this year, you should.

As noted in my previous review, the Harrison Blake Apparel Subscription Box is available for $25 per month, and each box includes a tie along with a coordinated collection of other items, providing the well dressed man with an easy way to build up an interesting collection of accessories to round out his wardrobe.

Harrison Blake is offering $10 off the first two months of a subscription for RCH readers. Use code RCH when ordering.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Stenciled Affirmations For Self-Care & Relaxation


One of the ways I deal with stress relief is to immerse myself in a bit of crafting therapy.  Just after election day, I was in great need of some focused self-care, and now that we are coming up on the inauguration, looking at my wall art reminds me we are bigger than the outcome of the election.

I mean, everyone who looks at this wall art knows probably what I was aiming for with it and what my views are on the current political situation.

Now, Reviews, Chews & How-Tos is written by a number of people with a variety of political, religious and lifestyle views, so I will not use this post to discuss politics, but I think anyone can relate to sometimes needing visual reminders to keep them going during dark times, regardless of what is causing the darkness for them.

For me, during a year that's been hard in many ways on a personal level, the election's tone of pointless drama, hate and disrespect towards soooo many things that I believe in made it hard, sometimes, to get through the day without feeling anxiety and despair.

I found a personal way to cope with it: Motivational Wall art.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the opinions of others, the media, the internet and what-not, but to me it is important that I keep a clear view on what’s important for me and my family. And, personally, I like for other people to see right away what we are about and what we don’t tolerate.

This is how this particular piece of art was born:

I need the people who enter my house and the life of my children to know that hate is not an option here.

And there is just no better way for me to express my love for something other than by creating. I love creating, whether it is an art project, food items or fiber arts. I need to do things that have an end result that I can view and touch and smell (sounds creepy, but hey, at least I am honest! Especially as the mother of young children, you need proof sometimes that you completed something!).

Now, there is more to this though:

I am not a professional in the psychology field, but there are basic techniques that you can do to improve yourself and your mental health. One of them involves focusing on words of affirmation.

What do you think happens almost every time you walk by a positive sign? You may not actively read it but your brain most likely does recognize it. Now imagine reading positive and happy things all day – consciously and subconsciously. It will eventually have an impact on your perspective.

We have motivational Wall Art all over the hous,e and I constantly add more or replace old ones with new ones.

I take my inspirations from many sources but my favorites are from books, songs and movements that I support.

Word Porn (a facebook page), as well as Pinterest are also great sources.

You could do something as simple as jotting motivational words on sticky notes, or print them out and frame them. Since I find artwork to be calming, I made this piece using canvas, paint & stencils.

Here is the how to guide:

You need:

  • Paint
  • Canvas 
  • Paper, the same size as canvas
  • Brushes
  • Stencils (optional)

Once you have the quote or idea you like, sketch it out on some plain paper, the same size of the canvas.

This is a great way to make sure everything will end up centered, or the way you want it. You can also easily change things that way.

Pick your color scheme and start by painting the background for your picture.

With a sharp pencil transfer the sketch from the paper to the canvas. Make sure to only make really fine lines that your paint will be able to cover.

Write your quote on it or paint out the stencils that you choose.

If you have children,I also recommend that you wait until your kids are in bed to do this part or when you have a moment of silence (otherwise all the work you put in to center it may just be a waste of time because your kid may switch out the sketches – this is the reason why mine isn’t centered as I originally planned to do!).

Once it is all done, put it in a safe spot to dry.

What’s your favorite motivational quote? Do you keep it in view to remind yourself of it? Tell me in the comment section!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Review/Giveaway: Infidel Rising - The Torn Wings of Illusion Album Review


Before I start this review I would like to say a few words: I did not get paid or received any free products in return for this review. I am not an expert on music. this is just my opinion about this album and how it makes me feel. I did not do this review because I was asked to, I do it because I deem the album worthy of spreading the word about it. The Giveaway is also not sponsored - I was just so excited to share my thoughts on Infidel Rising's album, The Torn Wings of Illusion, that I wanted to give a copy away to one of our readers!

New fan!
After seeing Infidel Rising live on December 10th 2016, and buying their album that day I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve listen to it over the past month. To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of studio albums. There’s no particular reason as of why, I just always enjoyed live albums a tad more, but after spending so much time it, The Torn Wings Of Illusion has become one of my favorite studio albums.

Infidel Rising is a Power / Progressive Metal band local to Dallas, Texas with a heavy sound, classical symphonic and ethnic overtones and the lyrical artwork has depth and a richness of ideas.

According to  the band's Facebook bio, "the concept for Infidel Rising was always inside Travis Wills before he even realized it. Growing up in Houston as a drummer, it wouldn't be until he moved to Dallas as a vocalist that the calling would take hold.

It was difficult to find the right band members to create the sound they envision, and it ended up taking almost 2 years to find and put together the current members: Travis Wills - Lead Vocals, Wayne Stokely - Drums, Jason Donnelly - Guitar, Daniel Almagro -Bass, and Pasche Simmons - Keys and vocals.

I had the good fortune of starting todevelop a friendship with some of the band members on Facebook after my mentioning them in the Power Metal Concert Review and I totally took advantage of it by asking Travis Willis directly about the backstory of The Torn Wings Of Illusion.

This is what he told me (quoted from our conversation with permission):

“The Back story to the album is personal experience, or a different perspective to what has always been told.
The songs like Power of Goodbye, Reflections, Talitha, Torn Wings, Alive, those were all personal experiences dealing with death, or loving someone that dealt with depression, or dealing with my own demons or joys.
Holodomor, was a piece of history that never gets told, I thought it was important to bring it to light.
Exodus to Kadesh, Cloning Appearance, Finding Nevermore, were observations, and also a different approach into the main stream biblical teachings, which I don’t agree with. I believe that the Bible should be viewed thru the eyes of Jewish, and middle eastern view...not western.... we know nothing about the culture, all we know is what we think we know... Meaning, we may dismiss something written in the bible because we may think it’s no big deal...While that is the case thru western eyes, it is a big deal on the other side of the world. So this modern approach to religion has killed lots of what the original intent was, and it’s sad, and I try to expose it.
The Great Discovery is a song about an idea that you view the world the way you would want to live in... and that it’s in each of our powers to make a great world... to manifest it...stop depending on others to make the world special. it starts with you, and if everyone thought that way then the world would manifest itself differently. “
That should give you a good idea of where this album is coming from - now I'd like to share a few impressions of some of the tracks.

Infidel Rising – The Torn Wings of Illusion

Year released:   2015
Tracks:                  11
Run Time:            66:25

Artists on the Album:
Travis Wills – Lead Vocals
Wayne Stokely – Drums
Rafael Rivera – Guitars
Aaron Walton – Keyboards & Violin
Daniel Almagro -Bass

1.       1932 – 1933 (Passaeaglia)

The prologue to Holodomor is in Ukrainian and you can hear a dramatic sounding conversation between an older man and a boy. It talks about how the Government is to blame for the Holodomor.

Travis was so nice and provided a transcript for me:

Made by Stalin."Holodomor"
The man said: "Run away child, because they are gonna catch you and cook you"
Kid: "and you?"
Man: "well, they will cook me as well if they catch me. But it's no use, there's only bones in this body."
Kid: " is that a plague?"
Man:" no, son, that's the government, run away son, run away…"

2.       Holodomor

3.       Exodus to Kadesh

This track seems to deal with the new Testament and the different approach that Travis mentioned in our Facebook conversation.
“Believing all scriptures of darkness in truthThe lies of Sanhedrin abandon their truthLet us run to the mountains of JordanAbandon society’s violence and lies”
4.       The Torn Wings of Illusion

5.       Alive
Fun fact: Travis told me that this was actually the first song he wrote.

6.       Reflections

7.       Power of Goodbye

8.       Cloning Appearance

9.       Finding Nevermore

10.   Talitha Koum

11.   The Great Discovery
“The love of all grow cold, the hate for kindness unfolds. We’ve lost our way in humanity, and tensions grow. Our patience have grown thin, for others what they believe in. Embrace the cultural decay, has become society’s way.”
I honestly would love to quote every song in full just because of how fulfilling I find the lyrics, but I won’t. The lyrics are listed in full inside the album ;)

My personal favorite would have to be The Torn Wings of Illusion and Cloning Appearance. The Torn Wings of Illusion lyrics are just very deep and I can find myself in them over and over.

I think this album is in general wonderful, and the merge of Power Metal and Progressive Metal couldn’t be better. Many try and can’t pull it off, but Infidel Rising does.

Even with the longer songs like Cloning Appearance (8:47) and The Great Discovery (11:39), I never felt like they overstretched a song.

I feel like that’s the struggle with a lot of albums in that sub-genre - - that many have overstretched songs or that the symphonic & classical elements can seem out of place. But Infidel Rising balanced it out very well without causing boredom or losing interest while listening to the songs.

The lyrics are very deep and managed to provoke all kinds of emotions in me. Some of their songs make me question things, others cause me to tear up a bit (don’t judge me! I never said I wasn’t a tad over emotional when it comes to great music) and others just make me feel great, hopeful and empowered.

I think overall the album is very positive sounding but it has its dark edges.

Another thing I wanted to say about this album is that it comes in a standard Clear CD case with a small booklet which includes the lyrics as well as thank you notes from the members.

The CD its self has a matte finish and the overall design is beautiful.

In our conversation, Travis described the story behind the album artwork like this:
"The album cover is us "butterflies" going back to our past feeding off of it ....Black swan....hence black swan in regret... thinking if we would have done this or that we could have prevented the out come....”
You can purchase the physical CD of The Torn Wings of Illusion through their Facebook page for $10.00 which includes free shipping within the US.

Or you can also find them on Amazon Music as a digital download for only $8.99!

Overall, I think this band deserves a lot more attention for their work and if you enjoyed this review, got a chance to see them live yourself or liked their music, be loud about it and give them the attention that they are worth!

I also wanted to take a second to mention their band shirts. They have multiple design but I just went with the plain logo one instead of getting the one with the Album logo on it.

The quality is great. The shirt is on the thinner side, which I personally prefer, and they run true to size!

If you order a small you actually get a small and not some teeny tiny piece of fabric that’s more like a XXS.

Also, their merchandise looks pretty cool. I’ve gotten compliments for it quite a few times!

These shirts are priced at $20.00 each.

For more info about their merchandise check out the pinned post on their Facebook page!

I hope you have enjoyed this review and take advantage of your chance to win a free copy of their album!  Read on to see how!

This giveaway is for 1 audio CD: The Torn Wings of Illusion by Infidel Rising, and is being offered by Patricia Reazin, one of the contributers to Reviews, Chews & How-Tos.  We are not affiliated with Infidel Rising, and they did not provide the giveaway item, nor are they responsible to provide the CD.

To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment in this entry as instructed by the Giveaway Tools Entry Form below. This will open up additional optional entries to increase your odds of winning. (If you don't leave a comment, any additional entries will be void.)

This giveaway is open to US RESIDENTS (& APO/AE) ONLY and will end just before midnight ET on 1/27. 

The winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the end of the giveaway. In order to claim the giveaway prize, the winner will need to respond within 24 hours of notification, or an alternate winner will be selected.

Once the winners have responded and confirmed, their first names will be posted on our Giveaways  page.

Good luck!