Monday, October 28, 2013

Disaster Relief and Shelter Pet Love with #HillsPet

As a Florida girl (at heart, if not by zip code right now) this time of year doesn't just mean pumpkin spice lattes and candles (although those things are terribly important!), it also means hurricane season. From the end of summer until about the time the holidays roll around, I spend more time than usual checking the weather to see just how crazy the rain is going to be that day, or if a major storm might be rolling in. Florida has been lucky for the past several years when it comes to avoiding being hit with devastating weather, but other parts of the country haven't been as lucky.


Jasper is pretty chill about thunderstorms, even though he's afraid of pretty much everything else. 

You guys have probably noticed that I've been doing several posts for Hill's lately, so I thought it was cool to find out that the Hill's Disaster Relief Program has done some impressive work assisting the residents of areas that have been hit pretty hard by natural disasters, such as the tornadoes that hit Joplin, MO (less than two hours from where I grew up!), Hurricanes Sandy, Isaac and Katrina, last year's wildfires in Colorado, and even the tsunami in Japan. The news naturally focuses on the human victims of these events, but they can also have dramatic effects on the pet populations. Shelters are often overrun with newly homeless or lost pets after a disaster, and pets who do remain with their owners can often need medical care or have trouble accessing food.

Truck unloading Science Diet Pet Food at Tulsa Humane Society, Tulsa, OK for the Moore, OK Community Relief.

Whether you live in an area that tends to attract crazy weather or not, taking a few steps to be prepared is always a good idea. For instance, I tend to start hurricane season out by making sure I have a small stock of food and water set aside in the pantry in case we do get a severe storm, so it's a simple extra step to just add a few days worth of cat necessities to my own supplies.

Here are a few other suggestions in being prepared for emergencies when it comes to your pets:

*Set aside at least three days' worth of food in a watertight container. I tend to go for a bit more than that - it takes up almost no extra room, and definitely adds peace of mind. Don't forget water for your pets, too!
*For cat owners, some kitty litter (also in a waterproof container, because... ewwww) is also a good idea to have on hand.
*Don't forget to set aside a few comfort items like toys or a favorite blanket! Those can be soothing to your pet in a stressful situation.
*If your pet regularly uses any kind of medication, you'll want to add that to the kit, too.
*If your pet doesn't usually wear a collar with ID tag, you may want to make sure they have one on if severe weather is coming - it can be a huge help in identifying them if they get lost.
*Also helpful for finding a lost pet is a current photo of them - telling people you're missing a black and white cat is one thing, but being able to show them exactly what he looks like is a thousand times better.

You can find more info on the Hill' Disaster Relief Network on their site! It's a part of the Hill's Food, Shelter and Love program, which has donated over $240 million worth of Science Diet to shelters across the country since 2002! Their theory is that healthy pets are generally going to get adopted quicker, so providing them with healthy food is a good place to start! They also offer food at a significant discount to the shelters they work with, as well as sending pets adopted from those shelters off to their new homes with a free bag of food!

For even more info, you can join in the #BlogPawsChat on Twitter tomorrow (Oct 29) from 8-10 pm Eastern! I'll be there!

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Science Diet for Cats, but I only share information that I feel is relevant to my readers. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.



Friday, October 25, 2013

Bloggers Wanted: Black Friday Shopping Spree Event


Black Friday Shopping Spree Event

Organized by: Mom Powered Media


Prizes: $1,000 {visa gift card, amazon gift certificate or select your favorite store}
Event dates: 11/8 - 11/29
Open Worldwide
Referral prize: $50 Amazon E-Code or Paypal Cash

Requirement to join:
* No more than 2 blogs per person allowed
* Agree to post the giveaway html on the date the event begins and promote at least 3x a week

Bloggers: Sign Up HERE

I'm looking forward to this one - should be fun! If you sign up to participate, please let them know I referred you! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Squeee! Paris Fashion Week!

Are there any happier words than "Paris Fashion Week"? Okay, maybe "Free shoes!" or "Puppies farting rainbows" or something, but Paris Fashion Week has to be pretty high up there on the list. Of course, as tends to happen, I got totally busy with other things and didn't get around to blogging about the Paris shows as they were happening, so now I'm catching up! SO MUCH FUN!



If I owned these A.W.A.K.E. pants, I would call them my Cocky Pants.



And this would be my Cock Frock.



Simply in love with this Akris design.


And this... dress? coat? (also Akris). It seems like wearing it must feel like being in the center of a flower, surrounded by petals.



Looks like this make me deeply wish that I was as cool as Karl Lagerfeld. The pearl necklaces in this collection kill me - they're like a riff on the idea of pearls and a Chanel suit.



There is something great happening here, I just don't even know how to begin to describe it.



Seriously, I loved this (ginormous!) collection, which is surprisingly rare for me with Chanel. I love the dress in the foreground here for looking like a much-used artist palette, and the outfit in the back for just plain being cool.



So much cooler than most humans.



Collette Dinnigan's background in lingerie probably has a lot to do with why I gravitate towards her designs. This collection makes me want more delicate, super feminine pieces in my closet.



Meh, I already have one just like this. (Comme des Garcons)

 Part 2 of PFW coming soon!

A Quick Love Letter To Tom Ford

You guys.

Tom Ford's runway show in London last month?

AMAZEBALLS.




This dress is my favorite of the whole collection. I'm dying to wear it! I was impressed when I watched it move down the runway that it doesn't look stiff at all, but flows with the model's movement.



The sides look like they might be a softer suede, or... I can't quite tell? (This photo via @LeLeValentine, the model on the left.)



I feel like these boots (is that even what you would call them?? Heel-leggings?) are a work of art in themselves. How do you even put these on? Could you wear them to the beach and get crazy tan lines?



This look totally makes me want to construct some kind of cage dress to wear atop an otherwise boring little black dress.



It took me a minute to figure out exactly what this dress reminded me of, and I finally realized that there's something very 2010 McQueen about it, but at the same time, something very Moroccan tile mosaic or stained glass. I dig it.



HOW do you even manipulate fabric to make this happen?? I can not figure this one out.

And yes, I am just now getting caught up on Fashion Week posts! Better late than never, right?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Awesome Orlando Halloween Happenings!

I'm sure that I don't even have to begin to tell you guys how bummed I am not to be in Orlando for Halloween this year! There's always so much going on that you can totally justify your desire to buy/create like six different costumes, because you can easily find plenty of events for them. Anyway, even though I can't be there, I thought I'd put together a roundup of some of the fun events going down around town for those of you who either live there or want an idea of what's up for a future trip!

I'll start off with the major events, and then work my way down to smaller things to see!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom is pretty much my favorite event of the year. Well, maybe it's tied with Epcot's Food and Wine fest because... wine. Anyway, this is a hard ticket event which means that it is not included in regular park admission, but also means that you don't need regular admission for it. I think that tickets to the event are now a bit over $50 (which seems kind of nuts considering that they were about $35 when I started going), but it's totally worth it. (And there are cast member discounts! Woot! Yep, even cast have to pay for this one.) The parade and fireworks are total must-sees - YouTube up Boo To You parade or Hallowishes to see what I mean. There's way more than that, though. The whole park is transformed by spooky lighting and effects, there are a ton of rare characters out and about (and the characters you see on a regular basis like Mickey and Minnie are out in their own costumes!), the entertainment is super fun (The Dapper Dans become the Cadaver Dans for the night) and they've now added awesome sounding treats like candy corn ice cream. Yes, please! Plus, you get to wear costumes!


My tips for the party:

*Lines for the rides are generally pretty short compared to a normal day at the park, but unless you're on a really short visit here or something, I wouldn't suggest wasting a lot of time visiting attractions. Use the hours for all of the fun things that *only* happen at the party. Space Mountain will still be there tomorrow. Five hours goes by surprisingly quickly, especially since if you add in waiting time you'll find that the parade and fireworks will eat up about 90 minutes of the night.

*The party runs from 7 p.m. until midnight, so if you're a party of adults my biggest tip is to be patient. It can be pretty crowded the first few hours, but after around 10 p.m. the crowd drops significantly as kids get tired and the families start to leave. Those last couple of hours are the best time for meeting characters without a crazy line, getting less crowded photos, etc. If you're not usually a night owl, nap first. You can actually enter the park as early as 4 p.m. with your tickets, but I've found that if I do that, I'm about as ready to leave as the little kids are by the time 10 o'clock rolls around.

*If possible, do not go to the party that's actually on Halloween or the day before. For obvious reasons, those are the most crowded. The parties usually start in late September and run into the first week of November. I'm fan of going in early to mid October, since it's close enough that you're feeling the Halloween mood, but nowhere near as crowded as those near the actual holiday.

*If you're planning on trick-or-treating at the party, save that for last. They won't be running out of candy, I promise. If anything, I think cast members working a treats shift are more likely to start chucking big handfulls of candy out later in the night. Life's just easier if you're not hauling around two pounds of candy for several hours.

*I am always blown away by some of the costumes that guests come up with. Dress up - it's fun! Just make sure you're wearing comfy shoes. If you're visiting from somewhere else, keep in mind Florida weather when planning your costumes. Chances are that it will still be pretty warm (80-ish), but there's always a chance we'll get one of those random cold snaps where it's in the 50s at night. Check the forecast and plan accordingly! This is also really not the party to break out your Slutty Bumblebee costume for. Scary and sexy are totally ok, but keep in mind that there are going to be a lot of kids there. If you have an especially awesome costume, don't be surprised if people are coming up to you all night asking for photos with you!


Halloween Horror Nights is the scarier alternative that takes place at Universal Studios. As someone that is a total whimp about haunted houses, I can't offer any first hand tips on this one because I've never been! (File being chased by armed, evil clowns under "Oh hellllll no!") Another reason I haven't been? It's freakin' expensive! A single night ticket is over $90, but they do have various discounts available.

LOL NOPE. Passing on this one!

This party is all about the haunted houses and scare zones. Since this is Universal, most have a connection to a movie or TV show (for instance, this year they have a partnership with The Walking Dead.) Like the Disney party, HHN runs from late Sept through early Nov, so you can squeeze this in at your convenience. I asked a friend that works at Universal for tips, and his main suggestion was for parents to be realistic about what their kids can handle. This is billed as a PG-13 event, so unless you want to be out what you paid for the ticket plus extra for many years of therapy, you might want to stick with Disney for kids. (Or me.)

Not to be left out of the holiday party game, SeaWorld has an event called the Halloween Spooktacular. This one is definitely the most focused on younger kids, so again, I've never been. (Should I be embarrassed to admit that I would totally go to their character breakfast with the Count from Sesame Street, though?)

The always awesome Enzian Theatre has a full schedule of movies all month to get you in a spooky mood. This year's lineup includes Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alien, Killer Clowns from Outer Space and Frankenstein. Admission to these range from free to $10, depending on the night.

The Peacock Room always kills it with Halloween Decor. Here's a pic I stole from their Facebook:


Can you imagine how much a few drinks must enhance the effect?

I wish that all bars put this much effort into seasonal decorating! Other local bars going beyond their regular spirits include Wall Street Plaza's annual Plazaween (with a costume contest where the prize is free drinks for a year!) and Howl at the Moon on I-Drive, which has holiday appropriate drink specials like apple pie bombs for their party on the 26th.

HALLOWEEN STREET PARTY

Church Street Bars are also in on the costume contest/Halloween party fun! 


Orlando Brewing Taproom's free party includes a psychic and happy hour prices for anyone in costume!

I'm sure that I'm missing a ton of bar-related events, but c'est la vie.



Just because October is over doesn't mean the Halloween fun has to stop! My friends' band Darko Gray is playing at STP on Nov 1, so break out your costumes one last time! (Sloppy Taco has excellent chips and salsa, and I don't think there's ever been a time there that I didn't somehow wind up with free tequila. Go!)

Are you going to any awesome events this year? Did I leave anything important off my list?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Current Status: October


Even on a bad day, this drawing of a fancy hippogriff can make me smile. (It was drawn by an Alohomora podcast fan for Laura. It is magnificent.)

Current Book: I've been listening to the audiobook of the first volume of Game of Thrones, and I finally have just ONE hour left! (It's like 34 hours, y'all! And my library only gave it to me for a week!) At first I was all "Dude, this is a lot of characters to keep up with" (no, I still have never watched the show. I'm a books first person.) but once I got people straight in my head, I really enjoyed it. I won't post any spoilers in case you, like me, are a good decade behind the rest of the world, but I will say that I like George RR Martin's style of storytelling. (For example, a character that feels like they're set up as the main hero of the story might not make it through the first book.) I want to watch Season 1 now, but given that I have neither HBO nor disposable income, I'm stuck for now. (But oh! I DO finally have a TV again! My neighbor had a yard sale last month and I scored one for $5! The remote doesn't work, but I don't really watch enough TV for that to be an issue.)

Current Music: I'm in an odd phase where I'm not really listening to much right now. Like... there's nothing that I'm excited to put on when I'm in the car, no new band I've stumbled across, nada. So strange!

Current drink: After my second $5 Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks this season, I was sort of struck with the absurdity of paying that much for one cup of coffee. I mean yes, Sbux is always a bit overpriced, but there's something about crossing the five dollar mark for the smallest size that just seems nuts. I decided to be totally disloyal and check out the one McDonalds is offering this year, and I was pretty happy with it. It's not rock your world amazing, but it definitely satisfies the craving, and if you go during their $1 off McCafe hours (2-4 pm, I think), you can get a small one for under $2. Would I rather have the classic from Starbucks? Generally, yeah. But when I can get three of the others for the price of one Starbucks... yeeeeah. 

Current food: I've been obsessed with Campbell's Slow Kettle Tuscan White Bean soup. Like, in an "I want to eat this at all meals" way. 

Current need: Warmth. It's not even winter yet, and I'm already like "I can not deal with this cold!"

Current Wish List: Oh, how I need a new phone. I guess not "need", I will not fall over dead without it, but my dinosaur of a BlackBerry is on my last nerve. And yet every time I almost have enough spare cash to finally get something Android-y, something comes up. (Yeah, I suppose I should probably fix that tire that's missing a chunk and might blow any time before I get a new phone?)

Current bane of my existence: Remember my cracked tooth from August? Yeeeah, it broke in half. It's a DELIGHT. #BeingPoorIsFun

Other Randomness: I emailed Canon at like 5 am last night (or "this morning", for you normal people) asking why the eff I'm getting such crappy image quality from my new PowerShot. Seriously, the graininess of these photos makes images from my decade old 3 MP Nikon look super crisp and clean in comparison. And yep, this is the camera that I bought in July. I got an email back from Canon's support team like 45 minutes later suggesting that I take the batteries out, clean their sensors with a pencil eraser, and see if that fixed it. Are you totally shocked to hear that this didn't solve the problem? It's still under warranty, so I may send it in to get checked out this week. 

An example of the sucky quality I'm getting:



Yes, I just grabbed the closest object to take test photos with. But seriously, doesn't this look like it was taken with a lower end cell phone, and not a 16 MP brand frickin new Canon on one of the higher image quality settings? Grrr! Have any of you guys ever had a similar problem? (And yes, I know that one of the obvious conclusions is "Hey, Crystal, maybe you're just a shitty photographer?" But a) hey man, be nice to me, and b) I feel like if I've been able to get rockin' photos on my dinosaur of a Nikon for the past decade, I should be able to at least get acceptable ones on a new camera, and c) is for cookie, and d) this is an entry level point and shoot camera, y'all. A kid should be able to use it and get decent photos. 

This turned into much longer of a rant than I expected, but I'm grumpy. I bought this because my old camera was so close to dead that it was totally that guy in Monty Python and the Holy Grail who is all "I don't want to go on the cart! I feel happy!" and I needed something for everyday use until I can afford a snazzy new dSLR. (Because let's face it, with my general poverty level, it's gonna be a while before I can throw down hundreds of dollars for a shiny new fancypants camera.) But this level of sucktasticness is totally not acceptable, especially with how often I need to take photos for things like product reviews and giveaways. If a company is sponsoring a post, I feel like I owe them pretty pictures, ya know? 

Okay, rant over. Let's end this post on a less grumpy note, shall we? 


Better? I thought so.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Delayed

I am terrible at waiting. I can have nearly infinite patience with the people I care about, but when it comes to life in general, I don't like to be stuck waiting. (It's ok if you just broke out into a Paula Cole song. I did, too.)


So, here's the totally sucky thing - I was supposed to move back to Orlando at the end of August. The girl who was going to be my roommate and I talked about nothing but this for four solid months. I went through the process of getting rid of tons of belongings and packing up everything else. Everything was ready to go. And then about two weeks before we were supposed to leave, my roommate totally disappeared. We'd been communicating via Facebook, and then one day her profile was gone, and I had no other way to get in touch. (We worked together about a decade ago, but live in different states and I didn't have her phone number.) I know she'd been having some privacy issues and had deleted some info recently, so I wasn't all that surprised to see her profile disappear, but I expected her to contact me in some other way within a few days. That was in mid August. Two months later, I still haven't heard from her. Most of my stuff is still packed, but I guess it's past time to give up hope and settle back in here. To say I'm confused, a bit hurt, and frustrated by what happened is an understatement. (I won't even get into how many things this screwed up for me. Arrgh.)

The thing is, there's no way I can afford to move right now without her - the arrangement we had worked out was the only way I could afford to go. I've never been a roommate person (I need a lot of alone time), but I was soooooo desperate to get home that I talked myself into being okay with it.

So, I'm stuck here for a while longer, with no set idea of when I can actually move back now. It beyond sucks. Not only am I missing all kinds of fun fall things at home, but I have to now *unpack* everything that I spent about a month packing up, and settle back in. For winter, which I hate.

Basically, this is me:


(image obviously by Allie of Hyperbole and a Half)

Is there a bright side to it? The best that I've come up with is that I got to be with my oldest kitty Tallulah when she died (I had planned to leave her with my mom when I moved - I felt like it would be too much for her.). Cheerful, eh? Maybe the delayed gratification will make finally getting home all that much sweeter?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nutrition for aging cats with #HillsPet

It's hard to believe that my mom's cat Tiger Lily, who was born right in the middle of my bed...



...is now ten years old!



She's still what is considered a "mature adult" (ages 7-10), but next May she officially makes the jump to "senior" (11+)! According to the cat age calculator I found, a 10 year old cat is equivalent to a 56 year old human, and an 11 year old cat is about 60 in human years.

People aren't the only ones who can see anti-aging benefits from what we eat; as cats start to enter the senior stage of life, their nutrition should start to focus on foods that help prevent diseases that often accompany aging. Healthy cat food can fight the signs of aging, helping your cat to maintain their quality of life and continue to have the energy to interact with you and play!



I'm thinking about picking up the Hill's Science Diet Active Longevity food for Lily, since it's made for her age group and is made to reduce stress on kidneys while improving skin and coat health. Hill's says that within a month of feeding it, you should see less sleeping and increased activity - that would be awesome! Lily has definitely become more sedentary, not to mention putting on a few pounds! Hill's offers two formulas  of dry food for mature adult kitties and three for seniors. I love that the variety of options means that you can have food made for older cats that still addresses specific needs, like the hairball control formula. (There's a selection of wet foods available for both mature and senior cats, too!)

I love the idea that the right nutrition can slow down the signs of aging! I'm definitely going to keep this in mind when Jasper hits 7 years old (He just turned 5! I can't believe we've already been buddies that long!), and I'm curious to see if there really is a noticeable difference within a month if I try it out for Lily! 

Do you guys feed your older cats anything special? What's the oldest cat you've ever had?

This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Science Diet for Cats, but Straight On Till Morning only shares information I feel is relevant to my readers. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sensitive Underarms Are The Pits! - Dove Clear Tone Deodorant Review

“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Dove. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”


Let's talk underarms! (Sexy, I know!) Dove recently sent me their new Clear Tone deodorant to check out and share my opinions on. It's a new formula designed to moisturize and help your skin quickly recover from the harshness of shaving. Although most of us are pretty good at remembering to moisturize through the dry winter months, I know that I rarely pay that much attention to this particular area of skin, so I was interested to check this out!



I'm a sucker for cute details, so I loved the little dove imprinted in the top of the deodorant!

I have to admit that any time I hear a skin care product claim that it "reduces the appearance of dark marks", I instantly think of that in Harry Potter terms. 


Probably not what they mean in this case? And do you know how tempted I was to photoshop a stick of deodorant into Draco's wand hand?


I usually use a totally fancy (but worth it!) shaving cream that keeps my skin from getting irritated, but I think we all have those days when we're in a hurry and end up doing the quick razor swipe before throwing on a shirt. For those instances, it would be especially nice to have a deodorant that isn't going to freak your skin out when it's already in a sensitive state! Nobody likes red bumps and irritation! 

I got to try out two scents, Pink Rosa and Sheer Touch. (This deodorant also comes in a third scent, "Skin Renew", which has notes of lavender, violet, rose and vanilla musk.) I have pretty hit and miss luck with scented products - many make me sneeze. I had sort of ironic luck with these scents; My favorite of the two was Pink Rosa, but that one definitely gave me the sniffles in a very short time (even through two layers of shirts!) so I had to wash it off. I'm able to wear the other scent without sneezing, but I'm not really fond of it. Sadness! If Dove ever comes out with a fragrance free version of this formula, I'd love to give it another try! (I used the product recommender on Dove.com and found that they have fragrance free version of the Go Sleeveless formula, but not this one yet. Although to be honest, even after a lot of poking around on the website, I'm still not sure there's a huge difference between the Go Sleeveless and Clear Tone formulas.) The good news for people who do like scented deodorants is that the scent of these lasts a LONG time! I could usually still catch a trace of it an entire day after applying - that's serious staying power!

The info on the front of the packaging says that it protects from odor and wetness for 48 hours, but to be honest I was way too much of a chicken to test that! I'd feel way too weird skipping a day! I've only had a little over a week between receiving the samples and posting this, so I can't yet say much about the long term benefits of using it, but I've been pleased by the limited experience I've had! (Other than the whole sneezing thing.) For more info, you can find Dove on Facebook and Twitter!