Lightning Strikes this Friday when Cars 3 Comes to Theaters + $25 Fandango Gift Card Giveaway with THREE Winners!

My son’s bedroom has been decorated with a Cars theme since he first saw the movie back when he as just two years old.  Lightning McQueen has been one of his very favorite characters ever since, and as you can imagine, we’ve seen Cars more times than I can count.  Needless to say, he was VERY excited when he learned that Cars 3 was coming out, and he’d been waiting rather anxiously to see it.  The big moment finally happened for us last night.

Cars 3 - Lightning & Cruz

Over the past couple of months, I’ve heard people expressing concerns over the new addition to the Cars franchise.  Some didn’t like what they saw in the trailer–no one wants to see our beloved #95 hurt, right?  Others were disappointed in Cars 2, and I have to admit, I happened to be one of those.  Still, I had hope, and after seeing the extended sneak peek of the film at the Cars 3:  Road to the Races Tour, I was pretty confident I was going to like this one.  I was right.

Cars 3

After more than a decade of racing, Lightning McQueen finds himself surrounded by younger, faster cars.  A devastating loss to his main rival, Jackson Storm, prompts him to team up with  high-spirited, high-tech trainer Cruz Ramirez, with the hope that she can keep him from having to retire and become just another brand promoting merchandise to his fans.  Lightning only has one chance to get himself back on top, but he finds that the latest technology isn’t what’s going to get him there.  With Cruz by his side, he goes back to his roots and they both get a little dirty.  Okay, maybe more than a little.

Cars 3 - Miss Fritter

Lightning’s return to his roots allows some screen time for the original characters we loved from Radiator Springs, including a few heartfelt flashbacks featuring the late Doc Hudson. Surprisingly, it’s also an effective way to introduce a few interesting, new characters, like the formidable Miss Fritter pictured above.  There’s plenty of action in that scene, and it really throws Cruz into the middle of things.

We also meet a group of veterans whom Pixar based on real life racing legends.  They’re a great bunch of characters who provide an important link to the Fabulous Hudson Hornet and to the roots of car racing.

Cars 3

Lightning and Cruz both learn a lot about racing and about themselves, and they come out winners in their own ways.  As for the ending, I can’t say I’m totally on board with it, but I would say that I’m about 95% there.  (See what I just did?)  While it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to see happen, you have to love where they went with the story.  That’s about as much as I can tell you without giving too much away, but I think you’ll like it too.  Cars 3 is a story about relationships, and it really brings back the warmth and emotion of the first movie.  If you were a fan of that one, you won’t want to miss Cars 3.

Cars 3 opens this Friday, June 16th, so you won’t have to wait long to find out exactly what happens.  Grab your Cars 3 tickets from Fandango now to make sure you get a seat at your preferred showing!  If you want to get really fancy, you can also pick up some Cars 3 themed gift cards:

Fandango - Cars 3 Gift Cards

Fandango is also giving you guys a chance to win one of three $25 gift cards! (These are good for use on Fandango.com and not restricted to Cars 3.)  Open to US residents who are 18 and older.  Ends 6/29/17 at 11:59 PM ET.  Good luck!

Cars 3 Fandango Giveaway [Read more…]


The New VIZIO SmartCast Sound Bar System Has Chromecast Built Right In!

I remember the days when televisions were televisions, radios were radios, and we had cassette players in cars like it was yesterday.  Ah, the simplicity of a small selection of channels to choose from, and the satisfaction of popping in that brand new mixtape your crush made you…

Things are all-in-one these days, and as much as I miss the simplicity of days gone by, I really do love the convenience of having plenty of tech options around my home–especially when it comes to audio.  Two of my favorite things to do are listen to music and watch movies, so good speakers are kind of a priority for me.  The sound that comes through a television’s built-in speakers, however, is often underwhelming. I’m the kind of person who loves good, strong, rich audio whether it’s movies or music–a good sound system is a must when buying a new car, so of course I want that kind of premium sound in my home too. Sadly, TV speakers just don’t really do it for me.

VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar System SB3651-E6

In addition to wanting good sound, I also want something low profile that won’t stick out like a sore thumb, as well as something cost-efficient. I know, I’m picky. But these are my requirements, and they’re happily met by the VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar System, which we received in exchange for review.

We’ve been using this sound bar system in our home for the past month, and we’ve been really pleased with its performance!

Vizio Sound Bar

The setup was incredibly easy and only took a few minutes. For once, the included instructions were clear, well-written, and featured lots of helpful illustrations. I really wish more companies would use VIZIO as an example here, because they honestly made installation a breeze.  You can wall mount your speakers or go with a simple table top like we did–what ever fits your space best.

As for the sound quality, we’ve been impressed. The last time we went shopping for a sound bar, we tested and returned three of them before we found one that actually seemed to make a difference. Since we’ve used so many of them, I feel confident that this one is awesome – it definitely beats the competition. The dialogue is really clear, which is important when you’re watching movies with kids who won’t sit still or keep quiet.  Have you ever discovered new dialogue in a movie you seen millions of times before?  I’m always fascinated when that happens, and this system will do that for you.   The bass sound is great too, and while it won’t disturb your neighbors, it will add an extra level of depth that will make you feel like you’re watching in a real movie theater or listening at a live concert.

Vizio Sound Bar Subwoofer and Side Speakers

And now we come to what I love best about this sound bar system.  As a family, we have just loved what the VIZIO Sound Bar has done for our weekend movie night experiences, but I’m the one who really gives it a workout.  In the past, I’ve mentioned how I almost always have music playing in the house, and during the workday, you can bet either Pandora or Spotify is on in the background.  Since Chromecast is built right in, you can play audio from any Chromecast-enabled app, and that’s just what I’ve been doing.  With a simple tap, I cast my music directly to the sound bar–no TV power required.  I wasn’t unhappy with the single speaker I was using previously, but a nice 5.1 system is definitely a big sound upgrade.  With the satellite speakers and subwoofer, it provides a much richer surround sound that really does fill the whole room.

Vizio Wirless Sound Bar Remote

The sound bar system comes with a remote control for basic functions like subwoofer settings and volume, but you can also control it with your mobile device through the VIZIO SmartCast app.   Again, you can cast directly from within a Chromecast-enable app, but if you have multiple SmartCast devices, the app is an easy way to control them all from one place.  It’s also Bluetooth-enabled, and if you’re a Google Home user, you can even control the sound bar with your voice.  There are a lot of options here, but don’t be overwhelmed.  There are real, printed instructions for setting up everything.

If you’re looking for new speakers for your home entertainment system, I think you’ll really like the VIZIO SmartCast Wireless Sound Bar System.  With tons of great features and superb sound quality for just $249.99, it has to be one of the very best values out there for sound bars.  Check it out at Vizio.com.

 


A Motorized Umbrella that Opens AND Closes with the Touch of a Button + Giveaway

How’s the weather where you are?  The sun is trying to come out here, but lately, it’s been rainy more often than not.  Don’t tell my husband, but I have a Father’s Day gift that will help him keep dry and looking pretty snazzy during his daily commute in less than perfect weather:  the ShedRain e-Motion™ Motorized Open & Close Compact Umbrella.

Note the “Open & Close” in the name.  With the push of one button, the ShedRain e-Motion can be both opened and closed, and the canopy doesn’t just close, it also slides all the way down to the handle.  That means you only need one hand to operate this, so you can go ahead and do what you like with the other hand.  I suggest using it as a bagel holder, but if you’d rather carry a briefcase or a coffee, I’ll understand.

ShedRain E-Motion Motorized Umbrella

I can honestly say this is my first experience with a battery-powered umbrella, and it’s just as cool as it sounds.  The built-in, rechargeable battery is responsible for the motorized magic of the e-Motion.  The package includes an international voltage charger (100-240V), and you get between 120-150 open/close cycles per charge.  That’s a lot of rain between charges.

ShedRain E-Motion Umbrella Buttons

Press and hold the Up Arrow to open. Press and hold the Down Arrow to close.  Easy peasy.

ShedRain Umbrella Charging

The LED light on the handle will turn red to let you know it’s time to charge.  (Another sign is if the umbrella opens and closes slowly.)  Once it’s fully charged, the light turns green.  Don’t worry if you forget to charge it; the ShedRain e-Motion will also operate as a manual umbrella.

This is a nifty gadget, and it’s made me think of an umbrella as a tech item for the first time ever.  It’s more than just a gadget though–it’s a really nice umbrella with or without the motorization.  As you might expect, there’s a little more heaviness in the handle than you find in your average compact umbrella, but overall it’s fairly lightweight.  The frame is made of fiberglass and aluminum, and the fabric is coated with Teflon.  It’s a very sturdy umbrella, and I can see this being just what my husband needs on those rainy and windy days in NYC.

ShedRain E-Motion Umbrella Cover

Another feature worth mentioning is the case.  Getting a case back onto an umbrella can be like trying to refold a map.  This case that comes with the ShedRain e-Motion is roomy AND it has a zipper.  You will not have any problems getting this cover on over a sloppily closed umbrella, and despite it’s roominess, the cover stays put.  The fabric is nice and thick too.

ShedRain E-Motion Umbrella

The ShedRain e-Motion can be purchased at ShedRain.com for $99.00.  You might be thinking that’s a heavy price tag, but let me assure you, this is a very high quality umbrella.  Once you get your hands on one, you will be able to feel the difference.  ShedRain offers a limited Lifetime Warranty, and every umbrella they make is designed to hold up in adverse weather conditions and withstand the stresses of use over time.  I’d say this one umbrella is worth about a billion of the ones my husband buys in the city.   Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but seriously, this is the real deal.

ShedRain is generously offering Game On Mom readers a chance to win an e-Motion Motorized Umbrella!  Giveaway is open to US residents who are 18 and older.  Ends 6/23/17 at 11:59 ET.  Good luck!

ShedRain Umbrella Giveaway [Read more…]


Our Favorite EWG Top-Rated Lip Balms with SPF

I recently talked to you a bit about sun safety and sunscreens, and I want to follow up on that with a chat about an area of our body that’s often left neglected when it comes to protection:

Lips.

For a long time, I ignored my lips. Not on purpose; they just didn’t automatically register when people talked about sun damage or aging. I thought about my skin in general, the developing wrinkles around my eyes, and even constant eye protection in the form of sunglasses, but for some reason, my lips held a low priority. It’s ironic, really, considering how much complaining I’ve done over the years about chapped lips. Go figure.

Lips
Anyway, the older (and hopefully wiser) I get, it’s finally starting to sink in that lips need just as much care and attention as any other body part, and I’m trying my best to make up for lost time.

Like many beauty and personal care products, lip balm can be good and bad (very, very bad). It’s one of those things that often comes loaded with terrible ingredients and fragrances that can cause anything from mild irritation to a worst case scenario I don’t even want to think about. The bottom line is this: if it’s going onto your lips, then it’s going into your mouth, which means it’s going into your body. So when I choose a lip product, I’m very picky.

Our Favorite EWG Top-Rated Lip Balms with SPF [Read more…]


Grilled Cheese & Beer: Recipes for the Finer Things in Life + Giveaway

Does the idea of a sandwich dripping with ooey, gooey, cheese make your tummy grumble?  Me too.  If, like me, you are also of the opinion that such a sandwich can be improved by the addition of the perfect beer, then this is definitely the post for you, because today, I am sharing with you a wonderful new book:  GRILLED CHEESE & BEER from authors Kevin VanBlarcum and Eddie Davis.

VanBlarcum, a brewer at Keegan Ales in Kingston, NY, and Davis, a skilled chef, have collaborated to bring their experience and good taste together in one clever and mouthwatering volume.  GRILLED CHEESE & BEER has more than 50 sandwich recipes, and each comes with suggestions for craft beers that will draw out the flavor of each ingredient.  These guys know their beer and food, and we are the lucky beneficiaries of their wisdom.

Grilled Cheese and Beer Book [Read more…]