Rhino Shield Impact Resistant Screen Protector

It's that time again - time to renew our cell phone contracts and upgrade our phones. We had debated waiting a bit, but decided to take advantage of current offers and upgrade from the iPhone 4s to the 5s. That meant it was time for a new round of phone cases and screen protectors too.

We've always had screen protectors and I certainly didn't want to pass on one for our latest investment especially with one young child in the house and another on the way. Kids can be crazy rough on electronics even if they don't mean to be. And, then, of course are the times like when my last phone fell out of my pocket and hit the ground. Not a good thing, but always a bigger sigh of relief when you know you have protected your screen.

I was grateful for the opportunity to try an impact resistant screen protector from Rhino Shield and received the small yellow envelope pictured above. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside is the protector along with everything you need for quick & easy installation.

And the Rhino Shield was so easy to install! I've installed (and sometimes paid & watched installation of) screen protectors in the past and this was by far the easiest. No sprays or wetting. Just clean the phone screen, peel the backing from the protector, stick and smooth out. No waiting. You can immediately use your phone and, in my case, I immediately put the case back on.

I've been using the Rhino Shield for about a month now. It has firmly stayed in place. There are no scratches that I can see. It has gotten a bit smudged up on occasion. I've had a similar issue with past screen protectors and fully blame my make-up (but I'd rather battle the smudges that go without that!). The Rhino Shield also feels more like the original iPhone screen to me than other protectors I've used. A nice smooth finish.

Overall, I'm very pleased with Rhino Shield and would recommend to any smart phone or tablet users who want a little extra protection for their device. To get your own, visit their website or check local stores such a Best Buy, Target, Etc. Rhino Shield retails for $24.99.

Note: I was provided with one Rhino Shield Impact Resistant Screen Protector free for review. No other payment or compensation was received. The opinions expressed are are strictly my own.


Small Coat Closet Makeover

We're fortunate to have two coat closets in our house. The larger one is at the back of the foyer by the kitchen and isn't as convenient, but works best size wise for our coats. The smaller is near the garage and laundry room, but is too small to hold all our coats and, honestly, has become a disastrous catchall since we moved in. Until this past weekend. While Dylan was off having fun with grandparents, Trent & I tackled several projects around the house including a full makeover on the small coat closet.

Small Coat Closet Makeover for under $60

Rewinding to last week, here's what the small coat closet looked like:

See what I mean? Disastrous is the correct term. I had made little attempts since we moved in in September 2012, but mostly it was just a dumping ground where the door could close and we could almost forget it. "Almost" in that the shoe boxes on the top shelf hold my work shoes so I literally open this closet at least 5 days a week. No forgetting there was a mess in there.

We started by emptying everything out. I quickly got rid of anything we no longer needed such as some random empty shoe boxes. Then sorted and listed what I wanted to keep/organize. Next I measured the closet and, as with most of our bigger projects, sketched a plan so we could determine how it would all lay out and how much wood we would have to buy.

I knew I wanted one shelf higher. This would be a spot for something that we needed to store, but didn't need often as I have to use the step ladder to reach it. Turns out to be the perfect spot for the cat carrier. We keep this in the house vs the garage because, well, spiders. Eww. And having been through cat emergencies, I like it easily accessible and clean just in case. The step ladder is "next door" in the laundry room so it's not a ton of effort for me to retrieve the carrier.

The existing shelf I decided to keep for my work shoes - it's nice and convenient to quickly grab the pair I want before heading out the door. We had a couple of existing boxes that fit well in the leftover space so we can easily store other items we need but want out of "kid reach" - i.e., ponchos, shoe polishing supplies, etc.

Below this in the middle of the closet, I created an area for our pool/beach bags and towels as well as our yoga mats. I added a hook to hang the pool bag we use the least often. This left enough space below for our extra beach towels. The taupe bag is our "go to" pool bag and constantly packed with sunscreen, fresh towels and our pool key so we're ready to grab and go.

Toward the front, I added a hook on each side. One for Dylan's backpack and one to hang Baby Girl's backpack eventually (for now I'll probably use it for the diaper bag). I made sure to hit a stud for both of these hooks as, obviously, kids are tough on such things.

At the bottom we added two shelves. The upper holds the pool stuff mentioned above. The lower shelf holds two baskets. One for each child to contain their hats and gloves.

Finally, at the very bottom we added a large laundry basket to contain extra shoes. I store my own sneakers here. When searching online and in stores, I found a number of suitable options, but honestly, the price and durability of a laundry basket can't be beat. (The Target bag to the left is temporary - school supplies for Dylan's first day of kindergarten in less than 2 weeks. Eek!)

Best of all, the floor is now clear and there is still some space left in this closet. I almost don't want to put the door back on. Almost. It is nice to know there is a beautiful, organized space hiding there now.

Cost breakdown: approximately $60
- wood for new shelving $37
- paint (already owned)
- nails (already owned)
- 4 robe hooks (only used 3 so far) $6
- 2 black plastic containers $8 (50% off clearance find)
- laundry basket $8


14 Years

Our four legged kid celebrates 14 today! We spoiled her yesterday with a new toy:

Trent found her a cute mouse that can be filled with catnip. She took to it right away. I honestly haven't seen her play so happily with a toy in a while. Although, funny I now spot the smaller mouse in the background of the photo - I guess those still get a little love too. They show up in the most random places in our house.

Happy birthday to our sweet, chatty tortie! We're blessed and grateful to celebrate another year with you.

Do you celebrate your pet(s) birthday(s)?


Forest Friends Infant Car Seat Cover

Friends of ours were expecting their first baby next month (in about 2 weeks). She showed up early on Monday - healthy & perfect. Oops in that I hadn't yet shipped the gift! Luckily I had made it already.

They had a car seat cover listed on their registry so naturally I made one instead. I had fun shopping for fabrics. I was trying to find something feminine but not pink overload. This fun forest friends print jumped right out at me. Surprisingly, Dylan also loved it when I showed up with it asking if it was for "our baby." Aww. At the time we still didn't know whether we were expecting a boy or girl so I assured him I would go back after to buy fabric for our baby. (Note to self: still need to do that  - but we have a few months still.)

For the inside I chose a complimentary light green check patterned flannel. Just dark enough to help block a little extra light during nap time.

I packed it up and got it in the mail yesterday. Thankfully, they are in the same city so it should be delivered today - just in time to welcome the new family of 3 home.

PS - thanks to LM for once again letting me use her infant car seat for photographing!


Snackeez review

Do your kids beg you for products they see in commercials? We've started to reach that point which is why I was happy to get the opportunity to review Snackeez for free.

Snackeez All-in-One Snacking Solution

Snackeez (if you've missed those commercials with the catchy jingle) is an all-in-one snack/drink cup. It holds a 16oz drink along with 4oz of a snack in a separate compartment that attaches to the top and features a lid. Sip your drink through the straw. Flip the lid to enjoy your snack. Easy for kids of all ages to use.

After removing our Snackeez from the packaging and washing the pieces (very easy - overall cup, snack cup plus straw and all are dishwasher top rack safe), Dylan was anxious to fill it and give it a try. His choice? Blackberries and water.

Snackeez All-in-One Snacking Solution

As a parent, I do like the all-in-one design. Often he's trying to juggle a cup plus a snack and will drop or spill something. With Snackeez, he simply has to hold the one container and can enjoy both easily. I also appreciate how easy it is to clean.

If you are interested in purchasing Snackeez for your family, visit their website or check your local stores. We've spotted them in Target and Walgreens. Snackeez retails for $9.99 and comes in 4 color combinations.

Note: I was provided with a free Snackeez cup for review. The opinions expressed are are strictly my own.


Preschool Graduation

A week has passed and I'm still in a bit of shock that we had "preschool graduation." The entire idea makes me giggle. I mean, really, they are 4 & 5 year olds. But ridiculously cute in the little caps & gowns and did an amazing job during the entire program which was held at night at a local elementary school. A long day for these kids.

Afte a couple of songs, the director called each child up by name. The staff had asked them during school what they wanted to be when they grew up and the kids had each drawn a picture to match. At her asking, they each stated their answer and shared their picture with the crowd. Dylan's response? A big brother. He drew a picture of himself and his sister dancing he told us after. Melt my heart. Yes, I definitely started to cry at that moment.

Now we have 3 more weeks until he starts kindergarten as his school is year round. Three weeks! Hard to believe we're so close. And, yes, I'm sure I'll be all teary-eyed that morning too.

Supplies: Challenge Me - Vol 1 template by Dawn by Design; Destination Adventure by Robyn Meierotto; Elementary and The Road to Success kits by Karen Funk.


England, the photo book

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Before our trip to England, I bought a Smash book with full intentions of creating a traditional scrapbook. Somewhere between losing the glue stick cap on the end of the pen mid-trip to returning home and waiting on prints, I lost steam. I still have the book, photos, and assorted memorabilia stacked in a corner of the craft room waiting for me. In the meantime, I decided to jump on a special Shutterfly was offering and create a photo book. Here are a few pages ...


Title Page



Oxford & Train Ride to London

I'm thrilled with the completed photo book and finally having an easy way to share our adventures.


Ivory Soap Experiment

A bar of Ivory soap was included in the recent Influenster #TLCVoxBox I received and reminded me of an experiment I had meant to try for some time. A friend actually gave us a bit of Ivory soap as part of a "Mustache Bash" birthday party to try the experiment a couple of years ago. I set it aside for a rainy day and darn if it didn't get misplaced during our move. But now we had an entire bar to play with.

Ivory Soap Experiement #SudLife


  • bar of Ivory soap
  • microwave safe plate (we used a paper plate)
  • microwave
We unwrapped the bar and I asked Dylan to uses his senses (well, not taste - that wouldn't be nice!) to inspect the Ivory soap. We looked at it reading off the letters, touched it and smelled it.

Then I carefully cut about a quarter of it off stashing the rest in a plastic bag for another day. We put our piece onto a paper plate and put it into the microwave.

We microwaved it on high for about 20 seconds and it quickly began to expand! As I opened the door to look closer, the "cloud" of Ivory soap deflated a bit, but was still much greater in size than the small piece we had started with.

We carefully removed the soap from the microwave and began to inspect it. Looking at and feeling the changes. It was larger and softer in texture. If you squished a bit between your fingers it turned into flakes.

We carried the entire plate upstairs to the tub and got his bath prepped. Then it was play time.

Dylan squished it and placed handfuls in the water observing how they floated.

Lots of good clean fun! Thanks Influenster and Ivory Soap for helping us play and giving us an easy weeknight kids' craft.