Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cavalia's Odysseo - Ethereal Dreams Brought to Life

Disclosure: I received two complimentary VIP tickets to see Odysseo in DC to facilitate this review, but as always, opinions stated are all mine and not influenced by comp tickets or products.

Imagine your most fantastical, magical and ethereal dreams, then multiply them by 1,000. Only then can you begin to comprehend the beauty behind Cavalia's mesmerizing show Odysseo, now on tour at the National Harbor in Washington D.C. Created by the co-founder of Cirque du Soliel, Norman Latourelle, Odysseo is a 30-million dollar extravaganza that celebrates the beauty of the ancient relationship between horse and man amongst a background of unforgettable landscapes.

My husband and I had the privilege of attending the November 8 show in DC as VIPs and it was a night we will never forget. I HIGHLY recommend the VIP experience if you go, as you are treated to gourmet food and an open bar in a private, intimately lit "Rendezvous Lounge," backstage tour, amazing seats and more special perks that add to the magic of your experience.

VIP Experience in the Rendezvous Lounge

If you have not yet heard of Odysseo, treat yourself to a sneak peek of the stunning beauty that awaits you:


As an animal lover, I was excited to see the horses most of all, but I was not prepared for how emotionally moving it would be to see these beautiful creatures in all of their glory amidst the most majestic scenery and soul-soothing music possible. I was seriously moved to tears.

La Sedentaire | Credits: Color-ish Company

Odysseo blends the equestrian arts with theater and and stage arts as well as technical/visual effects that will leave you breathless. This is the world's largest touring big top (it takes 10 days to build this virtual city and 3 days to tear down), the biggest stage, and the greatest number of horses at liberty.

There are 63 horses total and 47 artists, and the trainers have a very special relationship with their horses. They know when a horse is not feeling up to performing and will communicate that to the directors so that another horse can take its place.

Indigo, Named for His One Blue Eye

Indeed, these horses are so well-loved and cared for that it is palpable in the performance and behind-the-scenes. For every hour of training, the horses receive two hours of play and are treated to a two-week vacation on a vast, beautiful ranch at the end of every tour. The horses, all males, range in age from 5-18. Once they retire, they are sent to enjoy life on a large farm on the Canadian border where they can roam, play and live happily ever after.

Each horse is given a therapeutic wash after the show and their manes are braided to keep them healthy and long.

Post-show Wash and Braiding

Because the horses are the stars of the show, each performance is unique and geared towards their moods and needs. A live band plays at each show to keep pace with the horses. During some performances, the horses move slower than usual and other times they may move faster, so the band must play to their tempo.

The horses are so connected to the music that if they are backstage and not performing (the horses are on rotation so as not to be overworked and their routines are changed up as often as possible to prevent boredom), but hear the music that they normally perform to, they will get excited and start kicking up their legs as if to say, "Hey! That's my cue! I want to play!"

Zajn, The Black Stallion Who Knows He's a Star

Each horse is also allowed to express its individual personality as we witnessed in the performance we saw. A black stallion named Zajn (pronounced "Zayne") decided to run to his own tempo and got off-track with his group of horses during a run around the ring, which sent the audience into applause and laughter. As he caught up with his group on his own time, he kicked his front legs up into the air as if to say, "That's right! Look at me! I'm the star!" It was so endearing and it quickly made Zajn one of my favorite horses!

Tempete | Credits: Lynne Glazer

Though the horses are the center of the show, the talent displayed by the artists is just as stunning. From silk, pole and ring artists to dance troupes and musicians, I was left in awe of the raw beauty and artistry displayed.

(Spoiler alert- I will be touching on a few of the surprises during the show so if you wish to avoid spoilers, stop here, and go grab your tickets at!)

The dance troupe we saw perform was brand new from Guinea, Africa and they trained in just six short days. You would think they had been performing all of their lives by their form and rhythm and their ability to incite the crowd into clapping and shouting out to them.

Human Pyramid / Pyramide Humaine | Credits: François Bergeron

We learned before the show that coming to perform straight from their villages was a bit of a frightening experience for them and that they send most of what they earn straight back to their families at home. Knowing that made their performance even more emotional for me and I found myself wishing each dancer well and smiling for their success.

No More War on Earth

At one point during the show, the dancers had the crowd chanting, "O walu guere moufan!"The mantra was in Susu, a language spoken in the coastal region of the performers' homeland, Guinea. As the audience wondered exactly what they were chanting, at the end of the number, the translation for the phrase appeared on the screen. "No more war on earth." Soft murmurs of heartfelt emotions rose from the crowd as we all sat humbled by what we had just chanted.

There was a complete hush over the audience, though, as the silk and pole artists performed. You couldn't help but stare in awe as these artists held their bodies perfectly in-line horizontally while holding onto the pole with just their hands.

Carosello | Credits: Shelley Paulson
The ribbon artists were just as graceful, mirroring the winter backdrop of elongated, elegant icicles while spinning and posing in what appeared to be effortless movement. They truly looked like angels floating on air.

Les anges / Angels | Credits: Pascal Ratthé

The biggest surprise of the night, though, came as a horse appeared to tap dance in a silhouette against a dreamlike, waterfall backdrop as the stage began to fill with 80,000 gallons of water.

The Travelers V / Les voyageurs V | Credits: JF Leblanc

The coyly dancing horse was then joined by dozens of others who raced and frolicked through the water with such jaw-dropping power and beauty, it left the audience mesmerized.

Les voyageurs VI / The Travelers VI | Credits: François Bergeron
One by one, horses and their artists then raced across the front of the stage while riders posed in various stances such as on the side of the horse while quickly jumping onto the back before disappearing again backstage faster than the blink of an eye.

Odysseo Finale | Credits: Lynne Glazer

It was the perfect crescendo to the anticipation that slowly built during the entire show and the audience showed its appreciation with a standing ovation.

As part of the VIP experience, we headed back to the Rendezvous Lounge after the show (we also got to enjoy dessert and coffee there during intermission), where guests await a backstage tour of the stables and meet and greet with the artists.

My Husband and I Backstage in the Stables

To facilitate this review, we were given a special, private tour as well to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes before, during and after each performance.

Backstage Practice Arena

There are two distinct backstage areas, the first being a large arena for the horses to practice. The area obviously needs to be large enough to practice runs and other distance maneuvers.

Backstage View From the "Mountain"

The second area is similar, but smaller and leads to the ultimate arena/stage that viewers see during the performance. The large hill that plays such a significant role in the show is much more grand when viewed from the stage itself and the distance between the back of the stage to the front also appears more vast from the backstage view.

To our surprise, the 80,000 gallons of water that filled the bottom of the stage were already almost completely gone by the time we got backstage, which was only about 10 minutes after the show. The official drain time is 15 minutes total.

We then went back into the stables to meet some of the artists and visit with the horses.

The artists signed autographs for VIP members, discussed what goes into their performances and happily posed for photographs. Some fun facts that Matt and I learned about the show include:

  • Odysseo features 64 horses of 11 different breeds, including the Appaloosa, Arabian, Canadian, Holsteiner, Lusitano, Oldenburg, Paint horse, Quarter Horse, Spanish Purebred, Warmblood and Lipizzan.
  • The horses are from Spain, Portugal, France, The Netherlands, Germany, The United States and Canada.
  • The 49 artists are from around the world including the United States, Canada, Brazil, France, Belgium, Guinea, Russia, Spain and Ukraine.
  • There are over 350 costumes and 100 pairs of shoes and boots in a show. An artist may have up to seven different costumes and may only have less than 90 seconds to do a costume change before numbers.
  • The white big top is 125 feet tall, the size of a 10-story building.
  • The canvas used for the white big top is from Milan, Italy.
  • The surface covered by the big white top is 106,700 feet, the size of two NFL football fields.
  • Seating capacity is for 2,000 people.
  • The stage is approximately 17,500 square feet, larger than a hockey rink.
  • The stage is made of 10,000 tons of stones, dirt and sand as well as 16,038 square feet of specialized carpet and pool liner to help build the basin. An "advanced sand team" is in charge of purchasing new sand in each city the show tours in.
  • The water used in the finale must be tested regularly for potability since the horses may decide to drink it during a show.
  • The high-definition backdrop is the size of three IMAX screens.
  • 110 semi-trucks are used to move the production from city to city.
  • The carousel used in the performance was specially created for the show and is modeled after Cavalia's horses.

    The DC show runs until November 17, after which it will head to Vancouver, BC, Canada. A "Farewell Offer" was just announced where guests can receive 4 tickets free with the price of 4 regular tickets to the DC show (limited quantities). Click here for more information.

    Be sure to follow Cavalia on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and on their official website where you'll find even more fun facts, info, photos, history and videos.

    Stay tuned to upcoming tour dates and locations here (under "Tickets & Info") and be sure to catch the show if it arrives in your area! Odysseo is this generation's "greatest show on earth" and you won't want to miss it!

    Saturday, September 21, 2013

    Share What's Good Photo Contest by Welch's

    Disclosure: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Welch's. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

    To me, nothing is more important than family or the memories that we create with our children. Time just goes by way too fast to waste even one day. My kids are now 23, 17 and 13 and my stepchildren are 7, 15 and 22. My husband and I know all too well how fast they grow and how crucial it is to savor every moment we have with them.

    Welch’s believes in the magic of “kitchen table” moments, and has been helping families enjoy them for generations. In the time it takes to drink a glass of juice or share a sandwich, a special moment can happen. That’s why Welch’s just launched a new movement called “Share what’s good™”

    It’s all about sharing those special moments that occur each day with family, friends and loved ones – whether it’s at home or on the go. At you’ll find a variety of great content from fun family ideas to delicious recipes. You can share photos of your every-day moments and see how others are doing the same.

    Because my husband works in television news, we don't have the privilege of sharing family dinners like most families do (he works from 3-11:30 pm), so we find other ways to spend time with our kids, such as dinners out on the weekend or creating recipes at home together on his days off. We find activities that we know all of our kids will enjoy so that they'd rather be spending that time with us than being on their iPods or playing xBox.

    I would have to say our numerous road trips with our kids are definitely at the top of my list of favorite family memories. We've traveled with them to Florida, New York, the Outer Banks, etc. and we have so much fun blasting the radio, singing along, cracking jokes and laughing. That time with them is simply priceless.

    Do you have a favorite family memory to share? If so, Welch's wants to hear from you and your memory could make you the winner of a $5,000 prize! As part of the Share what’s good campaign, Welch’s has launched the “Share Your Moments” photo contest! From 9/16 to 10/25 upload a photo of your favorite family moment for a chance to win $5,000!

    Simply post your photo to Twitter and/or Instagram with the hashtag #sharewhatsgood to enter, then follow the rest of the steps on to complete your entry! While there is only one grand prize, everyone who enters will get a $1.50 coupon for Welch’s 100% Grape Juice – or $2.00 if you share the news.

    Be sure to check out Welch's on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more information and to enjoy the memories that others share from their favorite family moments.

    Monday, June 10, 2013

    Rootflage Review, Giveaway and 25% Off Coupon Code

    I am ready to launch my new site with my first review and giveaway! (Note: My copyrighted content is no longer being stolen on the main page of my old domain. If you go to, you'll see nothing but spam. However, my other pages, such as old posts, my about page, etc. are still showing up on their servers. I'll be working on getting that removed as well as on a new banner soon for this site, so stay tuned!)

    I recently was followed on Twitter by Rootflage, and, being a blonde, I was intrigued by their product description: "Battle of the roots. But this time, you win!"

    I went to their website to find out more and read this:

    "If you are anything like me you are constantly battling your roots. You pay an arm and a leg to have your hair highlighted and your roots grow out so quickly! The last week before your next highlight you feel like you need a hat to hide your unsightly roots. However there is an answer to your war on roots! Rootflage will camouflage your roots to subtly blend them in with your highlights. Rootflage will buy you time to get you through another day without a highlight appointment or dye job. Rootflage will temporarily touch up your roots. Go ahead, push back your next hair appointment by another week. Because now you can Rootflage your hair to looking fabulous."

    A product that would help me win the battle that I keep losing with my roots? Count me in! Rootflage uses a natural blonde mineral powder (think dry shampoo...only better) to temporarily cover hair regrowth in between coloring/highlighting. It washes out easily each time you shampoo and can be reapplied as often as you wish.

    I contacted Rootflage and they kindly sent me a review kit to try. I happened to receive it after a weekend at the beach. After leaving early Sunday morning for the 4 hour drive home without washing my hair, my roots were definitely making themselves known by the time I got home!

    Rootflage comes in three different tones, Light, Cool and Warm. I decided to try Warm as it seemed to match my hair color best.

    As the directions state, I turned the Rootflage dial to my desired "speed." I started out at the highest "speed" but realized quickly I only needed to set it to O or I. I prefer to control the amount applied myself by pushing it against my roots numerous times. A little bit goes a long way!

    I decided to try it out on the darkest part of my roots to really put it to the test...under the many vast layers of hair on the side of my head. I really feel like the before photo below does not do my roots justice as they are more dark than they appear here, but as you can see in the "after" photo, Rootflage completely hid the roots and gave me a gorgeous, warm blonde color immediately!

    I was honestly shocked as I did not think it would work that well or be that easy. I thought it would slightly lessen the darkness of the roots, but it really made them look blonde! I was hooked from first application!

    I tried it again on the other side of my head where the roots seemed even darker and still, Rootflage delivered! I've experimented with Light and Cool and have been just as impressed. I am definitely a fan now!

    Check out the before and after pictures on Rootflage's website, and see how Rootflage owner Lucy hides her roots in this video:

    Easy peasy! Check out more photos and info on Rootflage's Facebook page.

    Want to try it for yourself? One lucky reader of will receive a 3-pack of Rootflage in Light, Cool and Warm...a $60 value! I also have an exclusive 25% coupon code for you to use!

    Simply enter "blondebloggersentme" at checkout to receive 25% off your total Rootflage purchase (offer expires August 31, 2013)!

    To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post stating why you'd like to win, then follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below to complete your entry. There are bonus methods for entry as stated on the Rafflecopter widget.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Entry deadline is 12:00 am on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. By entering, you automatically agree to all the rules and disclaimers listed here. Please also see my disclosure policy here.

    Good luck!

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary 3-pack of Rootflage to facilitate this review, but as always, opinions expressed are all my own and are not influenced by complimentary products and/or payment.

    Sunday, April 14, 2013 Hijacked

    Photo Credit: ivanpw

    If you're a blogger with your own domain, let me issue a STRONG warning to you: Do not ever, for even one second, allow your domain to expire. There are bad people out there waiting to snatch up legitimate domains for very bad purposes.

    I was under the mistaken impression that my domain,, was set to auto-renew. I had not updated my site for a few months and someone watching knew that my domain might become available. They bought it up the second it became available to them.

    My loss, true, and I was ready to accept that and move on. However, I still had control in the beginning of the Google Apps portion of the domain...meaning I still received all emails directed to

    Before I was even aware of the domain expiring, I began receiving confirmation emails for dozens of identities being set up on LinkedIn, PayPal, etc. as well as read receipts and "out of office" notices from dozens and dozens of legitimate companies. I also received many emails saying, "Your email has been marked as SPAM. Please click here to confirm you are not a spambot," and "Thank you for registering at such-and-such resorts."

    The emails were being sent out with addresses such as "criticism@soablondewalksintoareview," "," etc. I assumed they were just SPAM emails that I would sometimes get in the past and I sent them to my SPAM folder. But they became more and more frequent.

    I went into my Google Apps and Blogger accounts to see if it had been hacked and it was then that I discovered that my domain had expired through GoDaddy. I immediately contacted GoDaddy and they informed me someone had purchased the domain and that their is information protected so they cannot be contacted.

    Photo Credit: utnapistim

    Again, I figured my loss. I bought a new domain to redirect all of my content to (the one you are reading now, However, after this domain was purchased, and I redirected my content, all of my content was still showing up on I thought maybe I just needed to wait 24 hours for the transition to fully take place. It has now been a couple of weeks, however, and all of my content is still up on the old domain.

    I immediately realized that the unscrupulous person/s who purchased my domain for phishing/scamming purposes had obviously copied all of my coding and content and put it on their server. I wrote a test post via Blogger to see if it would update this new domain and not the old (thereby proving theirs is a copy/forgery and is in no way connected to my account). Sure enough, this domain updated with the test post. The old one did not. Also note that Google Friend Connect in the sidebar is not working on their site but is working on this one (because it is tied to my Blogger account).

    One other giveaway...if you visit my old domain,, via a mobile device, you'll see the desktop version. If you visit my new domain,, via a mobile device, you will see the mobile version. That's because my settings in Blogger are set up to show readers the mobile version on mobile devices. Scammers can copy my content and coding but they cannot control settings such as this, so their version of my site will always be the desktop one (for which they stole the coding).


    So now I am doing all I can to fight back. The hard part is, they are out of the country (a friend of mine did some digging and found out some basic info). Fighting identity theft and copyright infringement when the perpetrator is out of the country is extremely hard to do, a fact I am sure they are aware of.

    I have alerted GoDaddy to the issue and am hoping they can help me reclaim the domain because of the abuse. In the meantime, I am trying strategies such as posting TwitPics and Instagram photos with a warning that the domain is hijacked since they have my widget code for those sites copied and in "their" sidebar. Those photos will also show up in the sidebar of this site as well so I have to be careful to be very specific about which domain is which.

    They also have my StatCounter code copied so I am able to see all of the hits and outgoing clicks that they are receiving. Because I worked hard over the years to build up my reputation, my site is the number one Google result for certain keywords, so the scammers are now reaping the benefits of that traffic.

    Most concerning, however, are the numerous PR agencies clicking "Contact Me" on the old domain, which leads them to my old email (which I no longer have any control over and can no longer read.). PR companies are emailing their pitches to who they think is me...however it is going to the scammer/scammers.

    I want to offer HUGE props to Google Apps who helped me transfer all of my data (emails, contacts, documents, etc.) from the old domain before it could go into the scammers' hands. Because I upgraded to the business version of Google Apps, I was able to contact them by phone and have a special case opened just for resolving my issue. I spent hours on the phone with Google while they guided me through a very complicated process step-by-step, even taking over my computer to do certain steps themselves a couple of times.

    Google saved me from losing all of my data and contacts and prevented the scammers from having access to any of that information. That account is now deleted, however, any new emails that are sent to my old address could land in the scammers' hands.

    I'll keep everyone posted on how this process ends up going and if I'm able to recover my domain, identity and content back from the scammers. In the meantime, please update your bookmarks to this new domain and my email to blondeblogger AT TheBlondeBlogger DOT com. Thank you!


    Friday, April 5, 2013

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