Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekend cooking

After cleaning the house and watching my husband make a snowman in the backyard (we got a ton of snow last night!), I'm about to make some cinnamon rolls. We're having weekend guests and it will be a nice treat for breakfast tomorrow! I haven't decided yet whether to use the stand mixer or the bread machine for the dough. Hm.

Tonight, I'm trying a recipe from the new issue of Vegetarian Times - a cabbage, leek, tomato and ricotta casserole. It sounds interesting. One of our guests is a picky eater so I hope it goes over alright :) I'm also making an eggless chocolate cake today... I'll let you know how it all turns out!

Meanwhile, go enter my giveaways if you haven't already. And I'll go try to get this coffee stain out of my shirt.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A couple of giveaways

(besides my own - see the top left corner for links!)

I know some of you are cloth diaper mamas (I certainly plan to be as well!). If you check out The Eco-Cheap Mom, she's got a cloth diaper event coming up for the month of April. I'm looking forward to it. It seems like a ways off, but the button's down there on the left to remind us :)

I know, we're not even pregnant again yet, but I want to build a stash in preparation. Premature nesting, perhaps. I just love the fluff.

One more thing, less baby-related - Love Veggies and Yoga has some nutty deliciousness to give away! Ends March 2nd.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

MyPleasure.com review and GIVEAWAY!

This giveaway is now closed.
Lucky winner: Megan R. (confirmed)


***adult content below!***



Be aware, this is meant for adult eyes and it’s just a little, er… racy! I’m just going to go ahead and give an honest and open review of an adult toy, so if you aren’t interested in that (or in an adult giveaway), time to move on.

Well, as you know we are back to TTC. And we’re trying to keep it low-pressure and lots of fun. You know what that means? It’s time for another review of a toy for the bedroom. This time we’re looking at MyPleasure.com, who the New York Times calls “one of the top five internet sellers of sex toys”.

MyPleasure.com generously offered to send me one of the vibrators from the Dr. Berman collection – the Aphrodite – to review. This is a toy by Dr. Laura Berman, part of her woman-friendly line of intimate accessories. She and her toys have been featured on Oprah, and are really aimed at allowing women and couples to experience their bodies. You can read more about Dr. Berman here.

The Aphrodite is a personal massager with infrared heat and two different vibration speeds. It has a flexible joint as well which means that it moves over muscles easily. The Aphrodite is designed for use both as a muscle massager and an erogenous zone stimulator. Dual purpose! Ever practical, I’m loving that.

I can see how this toy has been great for women – especially those who may not be as familiar or comfortable with their bodies. It comes with a very straightforward illustration on a fold-out panel on the box and has received some great Aphrodite from women who have rarely or even never reached a climax before.

Shipping was fast and discreet. The package it arrived in was plain and the return address suggests nothing about what might be inside. Even a small issue with crossing the border to Canada (unique to me, this wouldn’t happen to you) was sorted out quickly by MyPleasure.com.

The Aphrodite has three settings: off/charge, low vibration plus infrared heat, and high vibration (no heat). I found the heat takes a while to get going but is nice on sore muscles once it kicks in. I like that it’s cordless and rechargeable (it has a cord to charge, but is not used plugged in), with a built-in battery.

As an ‘erogenous zone stimulator’ (let’s just be straightforward and call it a vibe) – yes, it works. Anyone could find her own favourite among the three different attachments. The attachments are made of silicone (easy to clean and soft), are very easy to pop on and off the massager, but not so easy that they would come off while you’re using it. I think this is a great design. The vibration is not too strong or too fast (if you have tried different vibes before you know this is important. You don’t want to numb yourself!).

This is, however, not a discreet toy. For one thing, it’s big (it’s not an insertion toy, don’t get any weird ideas!). The whole thing is about the length of my forearm + my palm. With that size you’re not going to be tucking it away in your purse (though there are lots of other toys available with just that in mind).

It’s also fairly loud. If you’re looking for a quick and quiet ‘fix’, well, quick you will probably achieve, but quiet, definitely not.

Overall I like the Aphrodite for massages (I get tension headaches and I found it’s great on my upper back and neck muscles) and it certainly works as a vibrator, too.

My husband, sad to say, is not having anything to do with the Aphrodite. I think it may be the purpleness of it – he hates purple and as a big purple toy (and after seeing the box illustrated with a big picture of lady parts), he’s decided it’s all mine. Which is a shame, because I know the massage and heat feature would be great for him, especially as he tweaked his neck last week and it’s been pretty painful.

Of course, the Aphrodite is just one of many, many different products available at MyPleasure.com. They have everything you could think of from a huge variety of toys (for her, for him, for couples), as well as games, books, dvd’s, bath and massage products, lingerie, even bondage & fantasy toys if you’re into exploring that. They also have a great education section on their site, and a blog – I loved the recent posts on travel with sex toys!

MyPleasure.com is offering one of my lucky readers a treat –
so you can have some fun of your own!


The giveaway: a $50 gift certificate to MyPleasure.com.

How to enter:
Visit MyPleasure.com, and tell me something that piques your interest (they do have candles and such for those who like to keep their racy side private), OR something you learned from the website. Make sure I've got a way to contact you if you're the winner!

Extra entries (leave an extra comment for each):
  • Become a fan of My Pleasure on Facebook (mention your first name and last initial in your comment)
  • Follow @My_Pleasure on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • Subscribe via email to the My Pleasure blog
  • Follow me on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • Tweet about this giveaway for ONE entry, this is not a daily! You can use this if you like: Win a $50 GC to @My_Pleasure at Emily's Latest @emilyisland http://tinyurl.com/yfwplb4 US/CAN 3/12
  • Follow my blog (publicly) – 2 entries, leave 2 comments
  • Add my blog button to your blog - leave the URL
  • Blog about this giveaway, linking back to this post and to MyPleasure.com – 2 entries, leave 2 comments and please include a link to your post
Please be sure to include your email if it’s not public in your blogger profile! Anonymous comments without a way to contact you will be rejected. Canadian or US mailing addresses only, please. Giveaway ends March 12th at 11:59 EST. A winner will be drawn the next day, announced here, in a separate post and emailed!

This review was based on a product that I received at no charge from the sponsor. No payment was made for this review. Prize will be shipped directly from the sponsor.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Winners!

Ooh, I love announcing winners.
Before I get to that, though, I want to point out the fantastic giveaway I posted yesterday - to win a bottle of FertilAid from Fairhaven Health. I know some of you are trying to conceive!

Also, there will be another giveaway posted tomorrow!
Okay, okay, here are the winners for the butterfly decals from Wilson Graphics:



Winner number one, who chose the

... is Josie!






Winner number two, who gets the

... is Robyn!

(Both winners have confirmed.)

If anyone's wondering why 1-32 when there were 33 comments, it's because comment #26 wasn't an entry, it was just a nice comment :)

If you didn't win but just adore the pretty butterfly decals, you can pick them up at the Wilson Graphics Etsy shop. They're a fantastic deal at only $3 each - you could do a whole flock on the cheap for a big impact.

Now, go enter my other giveaway :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fairhaven Health Review, Discount & GIVEAWAY!

This is a long review, but if you are TTC I think you will find it very interesting!And bear with me, there is a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow!

The giveaway is now closed! Winner:
USCGWifey (confirmed)

As you probably know, we’ve been trying to conceive for a while now. Since November of 2008, to be precise. And while we have succeeded (twice!) in conceiving, we’ve sadly lost both pregnancies – the first to a miscarriage at 11 weeks and the second to an ectopic pregnancy.

After the ectopic pregnancy, we had to wait three months for the drug they used to end the pregnancy to leave my system before we could try again. While we waited, I was talking with Fairhaven Health. When they heard my story, they were kind enough to send us not only a bottle of FertilAid for Women for me, but a bottle of FertilAid for Men for my husband as well, and a Digital Basal Thermometer so that I could try charting.

Now, I’ve been taking prenatal vitamins since August of 2008, so I know the routine. I have mainly stuck to the generic version. One big, heavy, rock hard pill every morning. I’m okay with that. So what makes FertilAid different?

It’s more than just a multivitamin. FertilAid for Women is a preconception vitamin that contains all the essential vitamins (including the crucial folic acid), but also contains herbs that regulate the monthly cycle. Have I mentioned that my cycle is a disaster? I was between 31-34 days before my first pregnancy, but my last few cycles have ranged from 31-38 days. So this for me (and for many women with irregular cycles like me, or PCOS) has a lot of appeal. I did a little research on what’s in there. Let’s take a look at these herbs (click on the numbers for sources)

  • Red Clover Blossom Extract: Red clover is considered to be a phytoestrogenic herb, useful in restoring estrogen balance in women. 1
  • Siberian Ginseng: is thought to stimulate the immune system (and) to help the body better cope with stress, either mental or physical… Siberian ginseng is generally considered safe when used as directed. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Siberian ginseng.2 This is important to note. FertilAid does state on the bottle that it should be stopped when pregnancy is confirmed.
  • Vitex, or Chaste Tree Berry: acts on the hypothalamus and pituitary glands by increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) production and mildly inhibiting the release of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This results in a shift in the ratio of estrogen to progesterone, with a rise in progesterone.3 You can imagine how that would be helpful in regulating periods and helping with PCOS. Again, because of its complex hormonal actions, chaste tree is not recommended for use during pregnancy.4 Another thing to note is that this is not an immediate effect – it may take several months to really have an impact.
  • Ginkgo Biloba extract: I think this is included as it is believed to improve blood flow. Again, pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take gingko. 5

Okay, so you can see that these herbs might be beneficial to a woman trying to conceive. Regulating hormones, improving blood flow, reducing stress – all great for the wannabe mama. I’m kind of hesitant to trust in herbals – my Western upbringing includes a skeptic’s view of these things. Much as I like the idea, I find I don’t have a lot of faith. But I’m willing to give it a try.

The capsules themselves are pale green, very light in weight (easy to swallow), and made with a vegetable protein casing – which, as a vegetarian, I was very happy about (many pill capsules are made with gelatin, which is essentially made from boiling bones and hoofs. Ick.). You take one capsule three times a day, which distributes the vitamins more evenly than taking one giant dose once a day. Your body eliminates vitamins it can’t absorb, so it makes sense to me that a massive dose once a day is less effective than three smaller doses. I simply took one with each meal. I was worried that I’d forget to take them, but in a month (90 pills), I only missed four. Not bad. For the record, I did ask my OB/gyn for his opinion on multi-dose vitamins over single-dose, and he didn’t really weigh in one side or the other.

So what were my results on FertilAid?

Well, how do I put this… I felt like a teenager again. Remember when you were, say, 18 - and you were (ahem) raring to “go” all the time, both mentally and physically? Remember the crazy mood swings that went along with that? Yeah. I felt like that. Very happy, but also hot-tempered and I had mood swings. Physically (overshare?) I noticed a definite increase in cervical mucus and in my sex drive.

Now, I was not taking FertileCM (another Fairhaven Health product that is meant to have exactly those effects). Just the FertilAid for Women. And I can’t be absolutely certain that it was 100% a result of the FertilAid, but not a whole heck of a lot else changed about my life.

As for regulating my cycle, well that is yet to be seen.

And of course, hubby is taking his FertilAid for Men. This is meant to increase sperm count and improve motility. It has different herbal ingredients (along with the traditional vitamins) to that effect. One thing I wish were included in his supplement is lycopene, for prostate health. But other than that, it seems pretty comprehensive. The herbal ingredients include:

  • L-Carnitine: which, among other things, is said to improve activity, number, and fertility of sperm (I was unable to find an unbiased source for this),
  • Maca Root: often used to enhance sexual desire and sperm count and function. (click for a really interesting article that disputes this claim)
  • Grape seed extract: from what I read, it’s primarily used as a source for antioxidants.8 (All very good but I’m not sure how that helps fertility.)
  • Asian Ginseng: seems to affect sperm count, motility, and libido. 9
  • CoQ10: Preliminary clinical studies suggest that CoQ10 may… increase sperm motility leading to enhanced fertility 10

Now, hubby hasn’t reported any effects. But he’s only been taking one pill each day rather than the three. He has a reason, which I believe involves feeling scammed by 90 pills only being 30 days’ dose. Don’t ask.

Pricing: Single bottles of FertilAid supplements are $28.95 (US). Considering that a prenatal like Materna, for example, is about $26 (CDN) and does not contain the herbal ingredients, this seems reasonable. And remember, this is a preconception supplement - you switch to prenatals once you get a positive pregnancy test. So it’s, hopefully, only for a few months if you decide to try it.

Last but not least, I’ve been using the Digital Basal Thermometer. Improperly. And I know it. You’re meant to take your basal body temperature (BBT) at the same time each day, immediately on waking after a solid amount of sleep. That would be fine, except

  • I’m a light sleeper and am often disturbed, especially lately as hubby and I get used to his new CPAP machine, and especially towards the end of my sleep;
  • Hubby’s alarm goes off at 6:00 am, then he hits snooze at least one, sometimes three times. I can’t fall back asleep in that time. So I’m awake (but wishing I weren’t and trying my hardest to not be) for up to an hour as he snoozes, then showers, etc.;
  • I never afterwards wake up at the same time.

So I have been using it, but relatively ineffectively. I’ve been charting on Fertility Friend, which has been interesting for me as I can really see how things change over a cycle, despite my sloppy temperature taking. (If you really want, you can see my chart here. If you want to try FF for yourself, I’d love it if you shoot me your email address so that I can refer you.)

What I can say for the thermometer is this: It seems accurate (having nothing to measure against). It has two decimal places, which is important for BBT charting. It is quite quick to take the temperature (orally). It sounds four very quiet beeps when it’s got a reading. The beeps are almost too quiet; that would be my only complaint. It remembers the last temperature reading, too, so if you fall back asleep it shuts itself off and you can go back later and check what the reading was.

Just a side note, I looked months ago for basal thermometers at my local Shoppers; this was during flu season, so they were sold out of every kind of thermometer at the time, and I noticed the prices there were $40-60 (CDN). I wasn’t going to pay that so I forgot about it. But the Digital Basal Thermometer is on sale right now at Fairhaven Health for $8.95 USD (down from $11.95). Um, hello? No question, this is a great price.

The ordering experience at Fairhaven Health is easy. There is lots of info on the site -from a detailed ingredient list for each supplement and straightforward information, to lots of testimonials from happy (read: pregnant) couples. There are also a few negative reviews on there, lest you think they are cherry-picking the reviews. Their customer service staff is also really friendly and quick to respond to emails – I love that. You can even follow them on Facebook and Twitter and get super quick responses there if you have any questions.

Fairhaven Health also sells other fertility products aside from the supplements, like Pre-Seed (which we’ve also been using – FYI, much cheaper than what I paid at my local hospital pharmacy), teas, and an ovulation microscope (which I am utterly fascinated by) and lots more.

Overall I was thrilled with my Fairhaven Health experience. Here’s the proof – I’ve already ordered a supply of FertilAid for Women as mine ran out. I’m a cheapskate and a hesitant shopper rather than a splurger or impulse-buyer. I’m not going to buy it if I have any doubts. This, I’m wholeheartedly buying into.

Shipping is free, even to Canada! The only thing I am frustrated with is the time it takes to get to Canada. This is the downside to cross-border shopping! The bottle I ordered took 12 business days. I’m not saying this to discourage you (quite the contrary) – just to let you know to plan ahead!

If you’ve tried any of these products, or are thinking of trying them based on my review – I’d love to hear about it!

And rest assured, this whole review is my own writing and opinion (well, not the bits about the herbs, which I’ve footnoted below) and not copied from any promo text or anything like that. They didn’t pay me to write this, though they did send me the initial products I reviewed.

I do have a referral link in my sidebar at the top right (with the cute baby), but all links in this review are not referral links. So if you want to hit me up with a referral, you can do that through the sidebar. If not, well, that’s okay too.

FYI, I found the University of Maryland Medical Centre’s site VERY informative in researching herbs and supplements!

Now for the excellent sharey part!

Fairhaven Health has offered all of my readers a discount code for 10% off!
The code is
newyearsavings and it expires on March 31st.

and -

Fairhaven Health has also offered a giveaway for one of my readers:
a full-size bottle of FertilAid for Women!

How to enter: Visit Fairhaven Health, and tell me something that piques your interest, OR something you learned from the website. Please be sure to include your email if it’s not public in your blogger profile!

Extra entries (leave an extra comment for each entry please!):

  • Become a fan of FertilAid on Facebook (mention your first name and last initial in your comment)
  • Follow @FertilAidAmy on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • Follow me on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • Tweet about this giveaway (once - this is not a daily!) and leave me the permalink. You can use this for your tweet, if you like:
    "Win a bottle of FertilAid for Women at Emily's Latest @emilyisland @FertilAidAmy
    http://tinyurl.com/fertilaid"
  • Follow my blog (publicly) – 2 entries, leave 2 comments
  • Add my blog button to your blog - leave the URL
  • Blog about this giveaway, linking back to this post and to Fairhaven Health – 2 entries, leave 2 comments and please include a link to your post
  • Let me know how long you've been trying to conceive. It's a long journey for some of us and a short one for others! I'm just being curious here.

Please be sure to include your email if it’s not public in your blogger profile! Anonymous comments without a way to contact you will be rejected. Canadian or US mailing addresses only, please. Giveaway ends March 9th at 11:59 EST. A winner will be drawn the next day, announced here, in a separate post and emailed!

A Groovy Kind of Muffin (Eggless Orange Muffins)

Only because as I was making these I was singing to the dog (it sounds less crazy than singing to myself, right?) -

When you're feeling blue,
All you have to do

Is bake a muffin or two

Then you're not so blue...

Okay. Maybe nothing about that is "less crazy". I definitely bake when I'm needing comfort. And when Genesis is running on endless loop in my head I need comfort, bad.

Regardless, these are some groovy muffins.
Eggless Orange Cranberry Muffins

1 tsp chia seeds + 1/4 cup warm water
1 orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup softened butter

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or raisins)

Whisk together chia seeds and warm water in a small bowl and set aside, whisking occasionally to prevent clumping. (This makes chia gel. If you eat eggs, you can substitute one egg.) Preheat the oven to 400F.

Scrub the peel of the orange to remove any nasty fungicides or pesticides, or use an organic orange - yeah, still scrub that. Chop the orange into large pieces (including peel) and toss it in a blender with the orange juice. Puree. Add the dates, chia gel, and butter and blend. Pour that mixture into a large bowl.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and sugar in a separate bowl. Pour over orange mixture and stir just to combine (over-stirring muffins makes them tough. Don't do it). Fold in the cranberries and spoon into greased muffin tins (or use silicone cups like I do). The batter will be fairly dry; don't worry.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out crumby instead of goopy. (If you're using an egg, check at 18 minutes.)

Makes a dozen delicious muffins, pretty much guaranteed to make your morning happier.

This recipe is adapted from the Company's Coming Muffins and More cookbook. My copy is well-used and most of the recipes have notes and additions on them. I recommend this book if you are a muffin lover!
____

*** Just a little note to the Welcome Wagon lady who called our home and left the message that she was calling about our "new baby" and wanted to stop by for a visit. I don't know where you got our number (when we signed up for our untaken birthing classes? When we signed up for a hospital tour that we didn't go to? From the midwife we weren't able to use? From our family doctor who botched the aftercare for the miscarriage I had? From the OB/gyn and ER doctors who sorted out the ectopic pregnancy I had?) - but please don't call.

And when we don't return your call, DON'T call my husband on our cell phone and when he tells you we had a miscarriage, hang up on him without saying a word! That's ... just ... rude!

A little giveaway goodness

Today is the very last day to enter my giveaway for butterfly cuteness - two Canadian winners each get a butterfly decal by Wilson Graphics. There aren't that many entries so odds are good :) I'll draw the winners tomorrow!

OH and I know I keep talking about upcoming giveaways on my blog, really, just stay tuned... There are some doozies coming up. I promise. And I'm kinda excited about it :) If you don't follow my blog yet, now would be a good time to start so you don't miss out.

I haven't done a giveaways list in forever, so I'll do a little one today. Really I have moved a lot of this to Twitter (to the dismay of my Twitter followers, I'm sure. Unless they're giveaway junkies like me, in which case they may like the hints on great giveaways I'm entering). Daily twitter entries are evil. Just saying.

For baby:
For the ladies:
hmm, I was going to add more, but I've got too much to do right now. I'll catch up with the giveaways some more later - maybe tomorrow.

ps, thank you for your comments and kind words on my recent blog posts. I do read every single comment and I appreciate them.