Monday, November 22, 2010

Phillips Sonicare Toothbrush Winner

The wiener (with apologies to the Pioneer Woman) is...


Congrats. I'll be in touch. Thanks for playing, everyone. And thanks to Aquafresh and Mom Central Canada for the prize.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Aquafresh® Advanced Futures Blog Tour: Win Philips Sonicare for Kids Toothbrush (Canada only) (CLOSED)

What are you hoping for, for your children? I wish that when they are grown up they will be happy, healthy, and not spending every day in therapy. Is that too much to ask? Probably. Oh, and a little education and good careers would be nice too - that's why we're currently putting as much as we can into their Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs). We are lucky to be able to do so.

Aquafresh, the toothpaste brand, is running a contest until November 30, 2010. If you share a wish for your child/children on their website as part of the Aquafresh Advanced Futures contest, you have a chance of winning a $10,000 RESP, courtesy of new Aquafresh Advanced.


I'll be honest. Getting my kids to brush their teeth is one of my least favourite things to do with them every day. Oliver, almost 5, is much better than he used to be, as he has a clearer understanding of what threats of CAVITIES and PULLED OUT TEETH mean. (Why yes, I do parent through threats. Don't judge me. I already judge myself!) Callum, at 3, is a little trickier. We usually have to do quite a bit of coaxing. He'll be going to the dentist for the first time soon - so I hope that visit will give him a little fear of what could happen if he doesn't help me help him clean his teeth. (Why yes, I do parent through making my children fearful. Don't judge me. I already judge myself!)

Anyway. Do you have any toothbrushing surefire tips for toddlers or preschoolers? That might improve my terrible parenting skills? If you leave me a comment, you can win a cool prize.

As part of the Aquafresh Advanced Futures blog tour, Aquafresh is kindly providing a Philips Sonicare for Kids Toothbrush valued at $70(MSRP) and a sample of Aquafresh Advanced toothpaste as a prize. Leave me a comment about toothbrushing tips and tricks and you're entered to win.

  1. Contest closes November 22nd 2010 at 9:00pm EST.
  2. One comment per person, please.
  3. No extra entries available.
  4. You can enter on multiple blog posts (there are many out there if you Google it), but you can only win once.
  5. Please make sure I have a way of contacting you (e.g. email).
  6. I'll pick one winner through soon after the contest closes.
Good luck!

Disclosure - I am participating in the Aquafresh Advanced Futures program by Mom Central on behalf of GSK. I received a sample of Aquafresh Advanced and gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review: Kraft Whipped Peanut Butter

I get really paranoid about peanut butter. To be honest, the kids haven't had that much of it, ever, which is a damn shame. But with kids who have been going to daycare since they were a year old, and then school more recently, I haven't wanted to take the risk that they'd have residue on their hands or messy faces and then happen to play with a friend with a severe allergy. I mean, I don't even want to think about it.

That's part of the reason that I agreed to review Kraft Whipped Peanut Butter - because, really, they could do with more peanut butter in their lives (and, of course, a good hosing down after wards).

Basically it's just regular old peanut butter, except with some air whipped in. Which might not sound that interesting to you. The best thing about this product is how easy it is to spread. Or it can be used as a dip. Imagine trying to dip some fruit or vegetable pieces into regular peanut butter. Thunk. Air! It's good!

We've used it, since school started, as an after school snack. I don't know about you, but my kids are absolutely starving when we all get home. So I'm hauling them and their stuff, and my stuff, in the door sometimes after 6pm, and I've got to get dinner on the table stat. At least this can give me a few minutes. Tonight we had cocoa cookie heart sandwiches. I have to say, they were pretty yummy.

Easy to spread. Looking forward to trying it on this fall's apples. Great occasional after-school snack. Thumbs up.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

Review and giveaway: New Moon Kitchen cookies (US/CAN only) (ENDED)

To perfectly coincide with the trauma of having to pack my kids' lunchbox everyday, Clutch PR sent me some New Moon Kitchen cookies to try out.

Actually, technically, I had already tried their cookies as a packet of them was included in the lovely gift bags we received at the Canadian Embassy Party at the BlogHer conference in August. I remembered they were yummy. I wanted to try some more.

And of course, I wanted to send some in Oliver's lunch - I knew they'd be great.

New Moon Kitchen cookies are:
  • nut-free
  • made with organic spelt flour
  • dairy- and egg-free
  • vegan
  • preservative-free
  • and, as they point out, lovingly made

They make the perfect lunchbox treat - because I can send them without having any pre-packaged guilt. I didn't make them myself? So what? A small bakery did. And they are pretty healthy while still being a treat. And of course having that nut-free label on them means I can throw them in his backpack without thinking about it.

We were sent a box of Chocolate Chip cookies, which the kids completely devoured in what seemed like minutes. I kept the other box of Momints ones for myself, having a guilt-free nibble here and there. We were also sent some individual packets. I sent a packet of two Oatmeal Goldies to school with Oliver, who proclaimed them to be completely delicious.

The cookies are not too sweet - just sweet enough, really; they also seem quite filling. Importantly, I can recognize every single ingredient on the labels. That's excellent.

I took a packet of Chocolate Espresso Mokas to work with me, for a perfect afternoon pick-me-up snack. And I'm about to open the last packet of Ginger Snappers as my mid-morning-can't-quite-make-it-to-lunch-after-a-7am-breakfast nibble. Yep, took a bite now: yummy, with the sharpness of the fresh ginger.

You can use their website to figure out where you can buy them in North America. I just discovered I can get them at a Highland Farms fairly close to my house, so I'll be checking them out there.

But! You can also win some. You'll receive two boxes of cookies, and two snack packs.

Giveaway rules:

  1. This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada.
  2. To enter, leave a comment on this post before 8pm EST on Friday, September 17th.
  3. Visit New Moon Kitchen's website, and indicate in your comment which type of cookie sounds yummiest to you.
  4. There are no additional entry options. One entry per person.
  5. Please make sure your comment includes your email address so I can contact you if you are the winner.
  6. Winners will be asked to provide their postal address for the purposes of shipping the cookies only.
  7. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

UnderWAY supplement drinks

Congrats to the 5 entrants - I will be in touch regarding your postal address.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

UnderWAY supplement drinks: review & giveaway (Canada only) ENDED

I'm always looking for something to bridge that lunch and dinner stretch, especially at work. Around 3 or 4 I seem to be looking for something to eat, and if I don't have some decent snack at hand at my desk, I come home and grab the first thing I see in the cupboard. Which might just be some Cadbury's from England. Occasionally it's something healthier. But sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.

Anyway, because of this, I was interested when Mom Central asked if I'd like to review some new beverages that claim to curb hunger. underWAY drinks have no sugar, no preservatives, no sodium, no artificial flavours and have added fibre. They are only 10 calories a bottle, and come in Acai-Pomegranate and Grape flavours.

Sometimes I will have another cup of coffee or tea in the afternoon to try to tame my own hunger, or just some water. I don't normally drink juice or other beverages similar to this (e.g. Vitamin Water).

I've tried both flavours now, and I think I prefer the Grape. Both of them are fairly pleasant. I'm still trying to determine if I can tell if they impact my level of hunger or fullness or not. I think that I eat different amounts of food on different days, and without a more scientific experiment, it's going to be hard to attribute my fullness to a beverage.

However, adding extra fibre and vitamins to my body can't hurt it, right?

Would you like to try them out? Would you like to see if they can affect how full you feel?

Here's how 10 of you can try out the drinks:

1. Leave a comment on this post between now and August 3, 2010 at 7pm EST. Perhaps you'd like to say why you'd like to try them?
2. Please leave one comment per person only. There are no extra entries for any other activities (e.g. tweeting about it).
3. Please make sure your comment includes your email address.
4. Contest is open to Canadians only. Readers may enter the contests on multiple blogs participating in this underWAY blog tour, but are only eligible to win once.
5. I will use to select 10 winners if there are more than 10 comments.
6. I will contact you and ask you for a postal address if you have won. I will provide your name and postal address to Mom Central Canada for it to be used to send you your prize.
7. Up to 10 individuals will receive a box, sent on behalf of Mom Central Canada, that will include eight bottles of underWAY (four Acai-Pomegranate and four Grape) along with a Smart for Life food assortment including cookies, cupcakes, soup, cereal, shake, bagel, and crunch.

Good luck!

Disclosure: I am participating in the underWAY blog tour by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Better Health Beverage, LLC. I received a gift card as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Winner - Maple Leaf Foods giveaway

Wow, I'm bad at running contests. Almost 2 hours late, I'm drawing the winner.
Congrats, Melissa! I'll be in touch to arrange post/delivery of your bag of goodies.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review and Giveaway (CAN only): Maple Leaf Foods products

At the Maple Leaf Food's blogger's roundtable event last Thursday, we were treated to dinner cooked in a professional kitchen by some proficient chefs. They made some starters from their new Natural Selections line of deli meats. They took the Dempster's Oven Fresh baguettes and topped them with cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. They grilled some lovely vegetables, and made some nice potatoes. They roasted some delicious chicken - dijon mustard & herb chicken breast, and seasoned flattened chicken. It was really very good.

We were provided with a cooler bag to bring home with samples of these products. Over the weekend, my family tried them all.

I'm quite happy with the Natural Selections meat - it tastes good, the package re-seals possibly the BEST of any re-sealable package I've ever come across, and the ingredients (which are all recognizable) are stamped across the front. It's like someone did their market research and asked me what I wanted in a sliced deli meat.

I also like the Dempster's baguettes. When we lived in England, Mark always had packages of part-baked baguettes around. It means anytime you have a hankering for fresh bread, it's 8 minutes of cooking away. (which, is dangerous actually...carbs!!) The kids just adore fresh bread and butter. Who can blame them.

I wouldn't normally buy pre-seasoned chicken - I pretty much always buy plain chicken and season it myself. The dijon mustard & herb chicken breast cooked up quite nicely - quite moist, but I found the seasoning a bit salty for me.

My family, particularly Mark, adored the flattened chicken. Can we just say spatchcocked, though? Because that's an awesome word. We made it on the barbeque, probably over-cooked it a bit, but it was really very flavourful, and the meat was very good quality.

Would you like to try some of these? Thanks to Maple Leaf Foods, I'm giving away a cooler bag of the following products:
  • 2 white Dempster's Oven Fresh Baguettes (vacuum sealed)
  • 2 multigrain Dempster's Oven Fresh Baguettes (vacuum sealed)
  • a butcher's apron
  • a meat thermometer
  • a Maple Leaf Foods pen
  • a coupon for a FREE box of Prime Frozen Meat Products ($11.99 value)
  • a coupon for a FREE package of Natural Selections deli meat (~$5 value)
  • a coupon for $5 off your next purchase of any Prime Naturally product
I'm going to be covering shipping myself, so I'd really prefer if the winner was in Southern Ontario, but if not, we can work something out!

Here's what you need to do:
  1. Leave a comment on this post (just say hi, if you want)
  2. Make sure your comment includes your email address
  3. Only enter once, please
  4. Do it by Tuesday, June 8th at 7pm EST, please
Good luck.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review: Lysol Healthy Touch anti-bacterial soap dispenser

When I was asked if I'd like to review some new anti-bacterial soap, I replied with an enthusiastic YES because there's this person living in my house who is obsessed with hand washing. Obsessed with having buckets of anti-bacterial soap in the house. Someone who washes their hands before they even get their kid safely off of the diaper changing surface, no matter how high that surface might be, no matter the safety risk! Hint: it's not me. Hi Mark!

The Lysol Health Touch anti-bacterial soap dispenser features a fully automatic, sensor-activated and hands-free dispensing mechanism. You move your hands underneath and out comes the soap. I decided to put it in the kitchen as that's where we handle things like raw chicken (not, like, everyday, but a couple times a week or so!) or putting out waste or dealing with the dog or whatever.

So let's call this portion What Mark Thinks About Stuff. As he thinks the most about soap.

Mark, quoted:
"I quite like it. It dispenses slightly too much soap for me. It's easy to use. It seems to be reliable. I haven't checked to see how easy it is to change the refill or if it's refillable yet. If you have to get specific refills, it could get very expensive. I think it's pretty good, though, yeah."

Now, What Emma Thinks?

I like the smell of the scent we were provided, Hydrating Cucumber Splash. It didn't dry my hands out. I like that you don't have to touch the pump. But it's not that important to me.

I prefer to use mostly environmentally friendly cleaning products. Right now we have a 'green' competitors' foaming hand soap in our powder room and I really like that.

I also prefer to use reusable containers. In fact, just before I received this product, I had just bought a new kitchen soap dispenser from Kitchen Stuff Plus that also holds dish cleaning scrubbers in the front. It's probably meant for dish detergent but as we go through so much hand soap (MARK) I thought it'd be good for us. I think I prefer that. If they combined the no-touch automatic dispensing system with a reusable dispenser, I'd be much more likely to buy it.

But overall, not a bad product. Probably just not for us.

Disclosure: I was provided with a sample of this product to review. I was not compensated in any other way.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Book review: Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor

Thanks to Penguin Canada, I was provided with a copy of Even the Dogs, by Jon McGregor, with no obligation for a positive review.

I was specifically interested in this book for a number of reasons: it's set in the UK (I used to live there); it's about "lives fallen through the cracks...and the havoc brought by drugs, distress and the disregard of the wider world" (quoted from the back cover), and I have worked directly with people living such lives in a social services & educational capacity; and, the book is getting rave reviews in the UK, and is being mentioned in the same sentence as the Man Booker Prize.

The book starts with the discovery of Robert's dead body in his flat. It continues with snippets of information about him, his friends, and how the authorities are dealing with his body.

I'm not actually finished reading the book. I'm about halfway through. I'm being totally honest here: it's hard to read. It's good, it's interesting, and it's very authentic - but it's hard to read. Due to the nature of my life (working full-time, 2 little kids, all the odds and ends that come with parenting and keeping a house habitable), I find it quite hard to have time to read. So I usually read before falling asleep in bed. And a book on these topics of drugs, and death, and poverty, with a narrative style that involves unfinished sentences, and dwelling on darkness - it's hard to read at that time of day.

However, I want to finish it. I want to know what happens. Because this one paragraph at the beginning, on page 4, has sucked me in:

"They don't see us, as we crowd and push around them. Of course they don't. How could they. But we're used to that. We've been used to that for a long time, even before. Before this."
So who is the narrative voice in this book? I don't know yet. Is it Robert's friends, alive, but invisible to most people (as many homeless or impoverished people are)? Or is it a group of ghosts, of friends who have gone before? I want to know.

And it's true. I know from my limited experience working in a homeless shelter in Ottawa, and working to support people who are homeless or who have limited opportunities to access adult education in the UK. We don't see them. So I'm reading. To see them more clearly. To be reminded.

You can find this book at many bookstores, on shelves now. You can also meet Jon McGregor tonight at Ben McNally Books, in Toronto, at a book launch complete with reading and signing.

PS: the Torontoist has an interesting interview with the author here, too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

hydraSense Mom Central blog tour: hydraSense Nasal Aspirator review & coupon

Keep reading to the end if you are interested in receiving an $8 off coupon for a hydraSense nasal aspirator. snot.

One of the things that no one tells you about parenthood, one of about 3000 things that no one likes to share because otherwise the human race will end in this generation, is that you are going to end up removing snot from your kids' nose by any which way necessary. Which can include your finger. I'd never do that, of course. Pick someone else's nose? Ew. *whistles*

Anyway - here's a better solution! A hygienic & safe snot sucker! Sorry, official name: a nasal aspirator, brought to you by hydraSense®.

Before Mom Central Canada gave me the opportunity to review some hydraSense® products, I had already signed up for their Dolphins Club. I'd heard about their products on TV, seen them in the stores, and thought the Mists for congestion relief seemed like a great idea.

Particularly because ever since they decided that cough syrup and decongestant was of the devil? Parents have very few options for treating colds. And a snotty, stuffed up, congested nose can mean little Johnny can't sleep very well, and suddenly Johnny's parents are also losing sleep, and the whole family collapses into tears. (Never happened to us! Nope!)

Anyway, so, I don't have a baby to try the hydraSense® nasal aspirator on. I do, however, conveniently have a 2 year old with a snotty nose! Hurray! So he was my guinea pig for the Ultra Gentle Mist. And instead of freaking out, it made him laugh, having water up his nose. And immediately, his nose was running. Which is good, when you have a 2 year old who isn't so skilled at blowing into a tissue yet. We are going to keep using it until that nose stops running. Perhaps in high school.

The 4 year old is very interested in "the science of the sea" as he keeps telling me (which is slightly freaky as my kids don't see very many commercials - so good marketing, hydraSense®!) and may end up as a guinea pig himself for the box of Easydose nasal care drops we also received. If he gets his brother's cold. If. Ha ha.

I'm going to give the hydraSense® nasal aspirator I received to a friend about to have a baby.

Do you have a baby? Or a friend with a baby? Sign up for the Dolphins Club using this link (see the promo box at the bottom, Mom Central) by April 10, 2010.

Once logged back into your account, you can enter the code MC2010 under the online coupons tab, in order to get an $8 off coupon to be used towards the purchase of the hydraSense® Nasal Aspirator (the coupon expires December 31, 2010).

Want to know more about how the nasal aspirator works? Watch this video at this link.

Happy snot sucking! (Oh come on, it's kind of fun.)


Disclosure: I wrote this post while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central and received a Mom Central gift pack to thank me for taking the time to participate