Friday, December 30, 2016

Power Metal Concert Brings Together Five Great Bands


On Dec 10th, my friend and I went to the Sonata Arctica*LeavesEyes*Omnium Gatherum*Infidel Rising*Millennial Reign Concert at Trees Dallas.

I’ve literally been waiting to see Sonata Arctica live since I was 12 years old and listened to their music at a friend’s house for the first time. For that reason alone, there wasn’t even a second's hesitation about going when I saw they were coming to Dallas.

Having two small kids and a husband in the military made arranging this more complicated though.

I didn't have a plan yet, but I got VIP Meet &  Greet tickets and was just hoping that something would work out. Of course, my husband had to work on this specific weekend, but my wonderful neighbor and her teenage daughter came to the rescue and watched the little ones so I could go.

That was a huge favor, because I was going to be gone a long while. Google said it was about a 2 hour drive to Dallas, then we would need time to find parking, grab a quick snack for dinner and be at the Meet & Greet check-in by 5:45pm.

That morning went by so quickly. I had decided the night before to add some purple to my blonde hair as soon as I woke up, and that turned into an almost 3 hour hair dye ordeal. I loved the result though.

After that, I had to somehow feed the kids breakfast, run a load of laundry, pick up the house a bit, do my make-up and I also had the stupid idea to put curlers in my hair – go figure.

The original plan was that I would leave around 11.30am to pick up my friend Kristena, and then head up to Dallas. I managed to leave the house around 12.10pm.

I was so excited, it was ridiculous!

Once I picked up Kristena, we hit the road. The drive was rather uneventful and traffic wasn’t too bad but Google maps 2 hour estimate turned out completely unrealistic. We really needed about 3 hours (thank goodness I always over plan!).

Poor Kristena had to listen to my singing on the entire drive!

Trees, the downtown Dallas venue, looked quite big from the outside and the tour busses were already parked in front of it. Sadly, the parking lot was locked up and we got told it wouldn’t even open until around 6pm, but right across from it we found a parking spot that looked quite safe. 

We had some tacos and beer after figuring out the parking situation, and then it was finally time to stand in line. It was cold and they ended up not letting us in until around 6:30pm. Brr!

The VIP Meet & Greet was pretty cool. I am from Germany, and I haven’t been to any concerts before in the States. I was super nervous over how this all goes here, and I also never in my life had VIP tickets for a concert.

The set up was nice. We all lined up in groups of 4 & 5 people, got a signed poster, a chance to get merchandise signed and they took a picture of us with the band.

The guys from Sonata Arctica seemed pretty cool. I somehow imagined them louder though but I was honestly just star struck at the moment. I barely remembered to hand them the cookies that I had made for them.

After that, we went to the bar a bit, got a look around the venue, and then we slowly started making our way to the stage to secure first row spots. The venue had quite a decent size and I need to point out that it was very clean, especially the bathrooms. (these things matter!)

This is my impression of each of the five bands that played:

Millennial Reign

The first band on stage was Millenial Reign, a smaller local Melodic Metal / Power Metal band. I honestly need to say, they surprised me.

The vocalist looked older than the rest, but wow, he has a great and powerful voice. I really enjoyed their opening act and from the few times that I looked around me, I could see that they got quite a good portion of the crowd moving. I don’t have much information on them but I checked out their facebook page after the concert.

Infidel Rising

Infidel Rising is a Power Metal / Progressive Metal band. 
Omg, I loved this band and was in total shock that I had never heard of them before. I loved the whole show they put on. It was just great music and I was headbanging like there was no tomorrow.

It turned out that the Drummer, Bassist and Guitarist are the same as from Millennial Reign; which honestly had me confused over the first song, because I wasn’t really sure if the first band just swapped singers and added a keyboardist, or what was going on.

The style of the music was definitely different though, and by the second song they kind of had me fascinated to the point that I decided I will have to check out that band some more after the concert.

The Vocals were also just amazing. I loved the whole male main vocals and the female backing vocals.

Also, have I mentioned that the female vocalist and keyboardist wore the best-looking corset I have ever seen?!? I need one.

After their show, I got to talk to Pasche for a few minutes and she just seems like a really cool lady.

At the very end of the show (I mean after all bands were done that night) I got a chance to stop by their merchandise stand and got a signed album.

I loved them so much, I plan on writing a separate review regarding their album, because guys, if you consider yourself a metalhead and have a soft spot for Progressive / Power Metal, you need to hear this!

I plan to attend more of their shows for sure! (If you go, buy the shirt! Just do it! Don’t be like me who’s sitting here right now, regretting that I didn’t buy it right there and then!)

You should definitely check them out on Facebook and YouTube!

Omnium Gatherum

This was the first time I'd experienced death metal band Omnium Gatherum, and it was another great experience for me.

Death metal is just really my thing, and I am pretty sure its the main reason why my neck has been hurting so much. I don’t think I ever stopped headbanging during Omnium Gatherum's set, except for a few moments to look up to the stage, snatch a picture here and there, and check to make sure Kristena was still all right.

I couldn’t believe I had never heard of them before either, although I know why. I mean, let’s get real, since having kids, my music has not expanded. I am still listening to the albums I bought 8 /10 / 12 years back for the most part, but after this concert, I'm definitely getting a couple of their albums in the near future.

They put on a great show and are worth being seen live. I added them to my band tracker app that same night to make sure I can see them live again when they are in the area, and I'll be keeping up with them on Facebook.

Leaves Eyes

I honestly need to say, the Viking Metal band Leaves Eyes put on the most impressive show of all the bands that night.

I mean, come on, they had a stage full of Vikings and their male Vocalist changed into a Viking outfit as well during their show and was wielding a giant sword above our heads.

I also loved the classical, almost operatic voice of their female vocalist.  I actually ended up making a little video clip of their show to show to my son, Noah. He’s probably the biggest Viking Metal fan I know.

I also genuinely enjoyed their music and hope to see them again some time (hopefully with Noah!).
Meanwhile, I'll be following them on Facebook.

Sonata Arctica

This is the act that I came for. I was beyond excited when I saw them walking on stage and couldn’t even believe this was really happening.

They put on one hell of a great show and were very engaging with the audience. As I already said a couple of times, I am a headbanger. I am really that chick that dresses up cute, spends hours to do her hair just to have it all look like a crazy mess in the end because I just can’t help myself.

They had us clapping, jumping, singing, swinging. It was a great, emotional and fun experience.

There’s just something special about seeing one of your favorite bands live.

What I also would like to point out is that their new album, The Ninth Hour, received a lot of not so positive critique, especially for being ‘not as heavy.’ Some fans seemed a little disappointed in it.

I have to admit, it’s not my favorite album, but then again, I have always preferred live albums over studio albums and For The Sake Of Revenge and Live In Finland are both the bomb.

Back to the show on Saturday:  If you didn't care for The Ninth Hour, live those same pieces are a whole different story. They were definitely a lot heavier than on the album.

I think it was definitely worth seeing them, and I hope to do so again in the future. They have been such a big part of my life, and I connect so many beautiful, sad and emotional memories with their songs.

Their lyrics are also very touching and have never disappointed. I don’t want to get too much into detail at this point, but I am sure their music has saved my life once or twice before.

What also deserves a shout out, they seem to have the world’s happiest drummer. He did not once stop smiling throughout their set.

Keep track of Sonata Arcadia on Facebook.

In the end, I need to say this was well worth the $66 for a VIP ticket. I so hope to see them all live again soon. The whole mix of bands just seemed to compliment each other very well.

I thought I would be sad when it was over, but I just felt really satisfied and this was the best ‘mom’s night out’ I’ve ever had.

The concert was on a Friday, and the following Wednesday was the first day that I did not have to put Tiger Balm on my neck to get through the day. It was great and so worth the pain lol

Big shout out to my friend Kristena who went there with me. She was far from being a metalhead but I feel like we might have converted her that night. Kristena, I so appreciate you and that you went there with me.

I also would like to mention how great I thought it was that they had local bands as openers.
A lot of times we are all so focused on the ones who already made it big that we forget to pay attention to the smaller ones that are rising all around us (I am sooo guilty of this, but this will change!!).

It is just such a great way for them to get their name out and I am sure I found a new favorite band from among the local ones.

Important: When you go to a metal concert, get the ear plugs to protect your ears! I did not, and was deaf on my right ear until about Monday around noon. I had serious concerns that I might have ruined my ear completely.

Be smarter than me, get the plugs for your ears' sake!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Awesome Life Friday #93

Welcome to Awesome Life Friday and Happy New Year just a couple days early!

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 what some of us have been up to here at RCH over the past week:
Cherry Cheese Danish

We hope you'll check them out if you haven't already!  Don't forget to peek at the sidebar and check out what other giveaways we currently have going.

And now our favorite part - the FEATURES !  This week we are all about the pumpkins! 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!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Review: Harrison Blake Apparel Subscription


Everybody has heard the saying “clothes make the man.” It’s certainly true — any man looks nicer in a tailored suit than in worn out jeans and a t-shirt — but there’s more to it than that. Clothes make the man, but accessories make the clothes. Take that tailored suit and add a colorful tie, a coordinated pocket square and an eye-catching tie clip to it and the effect increases even more.

For the professional man especially, looking well put together is important every day. But even those of us who have less frequent occasions to dress up have the occasional business meeting, semi-formal dinner or other special occasion that calls for a suit.

However, accessorizing doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Coordinating the necessary of elements takes a certain understanding of complementary colors and the willingness to take some time selecting the items.

Harrison Blake Apparel’s monthly subscription box can help. For $25 a month you get one necktie and four other accessories. The two collections I received (November and December)  each contained a tie, pocket square and socks, along with two other items.

Unlike many subscription services, my Harrison Blake items arrived well packed in padded envelopes, but without a box; the presentation is therefore nothing noteworthy, which detracts a little from the overall experience.

Should you purchase a subscription as a gift, just be aware it does not come in the typical subscription box packaging.

The said, each month's collection is made up of good quality, well-coordinated accessories.

I used the items from the first collection, which Harrison Blake subscribers received in November,  to take my wife out for a Christmas Eve dinner.

I dressed in my navy blue suit and a white button-down shirt. The Harrison Blake items I wore were burgundy-striped socks, a knit tie, a microfiber pocket square and a tie clip shaped like a car.

(I will be reviewing the December collection separately in about a week.)

I haven’t had a knit tie in a long time, and had to retie it a few times to get it to the proper length and to lay flat. It looked nice with the suit, though, once I got it right. (Very tall men might want to think twice, however: for now, Harrison Blake offers only standard length ties.)

The pocket square is reversible, with a similar color palette but a different pattern on each side. It set off the jacket with a splash of color nicely.

The socks fit comfortably on my size 12 feet, which is not always a given.

The tie clip wasn’t one I would have picked (I have no special fondness for or interest in cars), but it held the tie in place securely while providing another eye-drawing bit of flash.

The fifth item in the November collection was a shoe bag for travel. I haven't actually used it yet, but it is sturdy, and I will use it to keep my dress shoes safe when I next travel.

According to the card included with the collection, the 'average retail cost' of the items bought separately would be $84. However, I checked the prices of each item on the Harrison Blake website, and the total cost of the five items if ordered directly from HB would only be $48, or you can currently purchase the November collection for $40. 

This means the $25 subscription price is still a bargain, but not as much of a difference as the prices listed on the card would suggest.  

I liked that each month provides a coordinated look, and would recommend Harrison Blake Apparel as a cost and time effective way to pull together a well groomed appearance, whether you dress up often, or only now and then.

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

Also, check out their social media to get lots of other special deals:

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Party in Your PJs! #138

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!

Each of the Party in Your PJs hosts have decided to take it easy this month, so there won't be any features for the next few weeks - but we'll be back to it in the New Year!

Meanwhile, we love visiting you, so keep sharing!

 Make sure you head over to the other member of Party in Your PJs
 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
-No Etsy or Business Pages
-Link Parties, Roundups and Giveaways welcome
- 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.

Review/Giveaway: Block Island Natural Face Moisturizer SPF30


I workout with friends a few days a week when my schedule allows, and it's always outside, never a gym. There's just something about the outdoors, let's call it fresh air, that inspires me to push longer, and my friends push me harder. I'm striving for a healthier me mentally and physically,  and Block Island face moisturizer keeps my skin healthy, too!

Years ago, people were not aware of how damaging the sun can be. Even in the crisp and cold California fog, the rays can still be negatively effective. 

We hear about UVA, and UVB, but do you know what they stand for? Ultraviolet burning, and ultraviolet AGING.  

Aaaahhh, no, not aging!!! 

Yup, lines, wrinkles, sun spots, cancer, just to name some sad side effects of not taking preventative measures. 

Those same lines and wrinkles will also be more apparent without proper moisturization. Sad but true, we need both!

The award winning Block Island Natural Face Moisturizer 30 SPF does the trick to protect against sun damage, so we can enjoy our time outdoors without worry. 

There are many 2 in 1 sunblock/moisturizers out there, but Kelly Hsiao, one of the co-founders of Block Island Organics found that most 2 in 1 products in the market were overdone with chemicals, and didn't really moisturize the skin well especially in cold or dry climates.

Block Island face moisturizer is made with clear zinc, and a vegan formula, with no parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, dyes, or artificial fragrance. I also noticed a main ingredient is aloe, which is a great natural moisturizer that I am very fond of.

Because Block Island is very moisturizing, only a small amount is needed, about the size of 2 small peas will cover the entire face. 

I noticed separation if you don't shake the bottle well, which makes sense as it's all natural ingredients. 

The separation made me think of organic peanut butter. Mmm, now I'm hungry.

Back to the block, Jen!

I personally am not a fan of the classic “sunblock scent”, which I found is a thing, there is a fragrance called Beach - it smells like sunblock. Really!? No thanks! 

This 30 SPF moisturizer, however, has such a mild non existent scent, I became excited to try it! The texture after mixing well looks almost grainy, though is silky and emollient, immediately moisturizes the skin, leaving a dewy finish.

When going to my workouts in the morning, my routine is get dressed, brush my teeth, moisturize, eat and run. Super easy, and this was a perfect and easy fit!

When getting ready for work, and I add a makeup routine, I've noticed I have had to change it up with this moisturizer.  My skin has changed from its ever oily complexion to combination dry, which so much easier to manage! 

That being said, I have been in the practice of using a natural finish foundation with no powder to set. 

With this moisturizer however, the finish was too dewy for my taste, and it would stay emollient, or “wet” longer than I was used to, so when I applied my powder bronzer to contour, I gummed up the brush.

The next day I added a translucent powder to set, and was much happier with the finished product.

I would suggest a powder foundation with this moisturizer if makeup is being applied, and wait 5 to 10 minutes to allow the moisturizer to fully absorb into the skin. Maybe moisturize, brush teeth, get dressed, then makeup. 

I'm all about making a plan!

As I mentioned previously, Block Island face moisturizer is award winning - the Environmental Working Group (EWG) 2016 listed Block Island as best moisturizer with SPF, and best beach and sport sunscreen!

For your chance to try a bottle of Block Island Natural Face Moisturizer SPF 30 (a $27.99 value), enter our giveaway,  open to US only.  Read on to see how you can enter to win!

And check out more about Block Island Organics, and all their products on:

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 ONLY and will end just before midnight ET on 1/9. 

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!