Friday, June 25, 2010

Misikko: Corioliss Classic Pro Flat Iron - Review and Giveaway!

***This giveaway is closed***
Winner: Jenn

I have a confession to make. I am not a hair person. Not that I don't appreciate good hair - I do - it's just that I have no skills. I go to a stylist (not a junior one, either) at a fairly pricey salon, and the day she cuts and styles my hair, it looks great. Then, every day after that until I visit her again, it's a hair disaster. That profile pic over there? Taken immediately after a salon visit.

It's not that I don't try. I do! Honest. (I mean, sometimes I do. Sometimes I just stick it in a pony tail and be done with it.) But no amount of blow-drying with a vented round brush will convince my hair to curl under on both sides instead of in on one and out on the other. No curlers will leave my locks in pretty ringlets - it reverts to a strange wave in the back and random flips at the front.

It's a problem. Okay, not a huge one (I do have a global frame of reference here), but really... there are times when I'd actually like to look put together. I'd love to look like I took control of this crazy hair and it submitted to my whims.

Now I have a new tool in my arsenal. Misikko has sent me a Corioliss Classic Pro Flat Iron (1") to review. Misikko, if you haven't heard of it already, is the site for professional hair straighteners. These are the brands that the salons use. I don't know if you've noticed, but when they straighten my hair at the salon, the iron gets hot faster, and works better, than the one I had at home. Ha! No more.

They also carry some of the best hair dryers out there. I personally love travel hair dryers for how little space they take up in my bathroom cabinet. I mean, who has room to store a giant hair dryer with all its accessories? This one's cute - the T3 Tourmaline Overnight Hair Dryer. And it has a pile of 5-star reviews from customers! Always a good sign.

And of course, they have curling irons too. Check out the HAI Digital Ceramic Styling Rod - it's pretty cool. I've seen stylists use these tools on tv. They don't have the spring arm like regular curling irons, they're just a heated rod (please don't let me end up in some weird google category because I just wrote "heated rod"...) that you wrap the hair around for more natural looking curls.

Okay, back to the Corioliss Classic Pro. I did before and after pics so you can imagine me on some awesome makeover show on tv. Of course, nobody fixed my makeup or wardrobe, or gave me a free shopping spree in New York City (sigh). So here is the before...As you can tell, I didn't have a professional photographer with flattering lighting, either. Anyway, you can see what I mean... Random waves. And I look kind of resigned and sad. That's how I usually feel about my hair. Like, "come ON! really? do you have to look like that, hair?" Now on to the after, once I'd spent some time with the Corioliss Classic Pro.Now I'm going to be honest - it took me a while. Like, maybe, 40 minutes. It heated up fast but I'm slow and despite having fine hair, I have a lot of it so it took a while to do all the sections of hair. That said, I only had to do each section ONCE, not twice like my old hair iron. And the result is nice straight hair with a slight curve under, just like my stylist does it. No, really! Compare this to my profile pic! YAY! See, I look happy! And I swear it made me look skinnier (and bustier!). Straight hair gives me cheekbones and boobs! (disclaimer: YMMV) Okay, it's not plastic surgery. But it was good times at our house when I saw the results.

And it will be good times at one of my lucky readers' houses when one of you wins the same awesome flat iron that I reviewed! Eeeeks! Let me just share a photo of the package I received - check the extra touches - packed with pretty lightly scented roses AND a pouch to store it in! And ps, it has a really long cord which I love!
The giveaway:
The Corioliss Classic Pro Flat Iron 1" from Misikko!

How to enter: Head over to Misikko and let me know one other thing you'd like to try, OR one thing that you learned there. Make sure I've got a way to contact you if you're the winner!

Extra entries (please leave an extra comment for each. If you already do any of these things, leave the comment - you do get the entry for it!):
  • Subscribe via email to the Misikko newsletter (on the left sidebar of their page) for 3 entries, leave 3 comments!
  • Follow @misikko on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!)
  • 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 the awesome Corioliss Classic Pro Hair Iron from @Misikko at Emily's Latest @emilyisland US/CAN 7/10
  • Follow my blog (publicly) – 2 entries, leave 2 comments
  • Add my blog button to your blog– 2 entries, leave 2 comments (please leave a link to your blog)
  • Blog about this giveaway, linking back to this post and to Misikko – 2 entries, leave 2 comments and please include a link to your post
I will be verifying comments so please actually do the things you say you do ☺ If you already do any of these things, it still counts for entries!

Please be sure to include your email address 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 (this iron is not dual voltage!). Giveaway ends July 10th at 11:59 EST. A winner will be drawn the next day, announced here, in a separate post and emailed!

Prize will be shipped by sponsor. Note for Canadian entrants: Misikko is not responsible for customs or duties that Canada may charge if you decide to participate in this sponsored blog giveaway. (FYI - there was no extra charge on my iron, which came to Canada quickly and packaged most beautifully!)

EcoMom Winner!

The EcoMom gift certificate giveaway has come to an end. Here's who won the $20 gift certificate:- who got her entries in just under the wire! Congratulations and enjoy - they really do have something for everyone, and it's all eco-friendly. Our family has loved everything we've tried from there so far!

If you didn't win this time, keep in mind the coupon code they have offered - use SBBL220 to get 15% off your first order. This code expires July 30, 2010.

A big thanks to EcoMom for sponsoring the giveaway!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fish drama and tea (not together)

It's the last day to enter the EcoMom giveaway, BTW!

Two things.

Remember how my husband has gone to Calgary for six months? He left last Sunday. (Luckily, he's home again for the next two weekends in a row, and we video chat every day.)

Anyway, before he headed off, he gave the fish tank a really good, thorough cleaning. I mean, he took everything out, pulled up, trimmed, and replanted the plants, changed out the water, flushed the filter - the works. And it looked great. Nice and clear, the plants were pearling (this means they give off bubbles of oxygen that look like a string of pearls, because they are happy), fish seemed alright...

Until yesterday. When I noticed the fish were all gathered at the top of the aquarium, not swimming about. Then on a closer look, one of the shrimp was lying dead on the bottom of the tank. At another glance I saw that one of the diamond tetras had suffered the same fate, and the remaining fish were gasping, with red gills and lethargic movements. Uh oh.

The fish tank is my husband's project. I like the fish alright and it's pretty, but I wouldn't be a person that would have a tank, because I'm not interested in maintaining one. I don't like icky fish water, I don't like icky dried brine shrimp fish food, I don't like dealing with dead things. And I don't like the idea of a tank failing and 40 gallons of water flowing across and through our hardwood floors, into the finished basement (my painting studio). (This would not have occurred to me as a possibility if it hadn't happened once while we were living in an apartment - luckily a basement one with tile floors, so it didn't do too much damage. But let me tell you, it's a shock to come home to an inch of water on the floor and an inch of water left in the tank with desperate looking fish wondering where their home has gone!)

I gritted my teeth, bared my arm and fished out the corpses. Not the highlight of my day.

Later in the evening, I saw another fish had gone floaters. And another. Two more tiny fish bodies to remove. Finally, I got my husband on video chat and we talked about what was happening. I told him I didn't think the fish would last the night. He did some research after we hung up, and learned that he'd just given the tank too good of a cleaning. The bacteria that are necessary to deal with the fish waste had died or been cleaned away. The poor fish were dying of ammonia poisoning from their own waste.

I was already in bed when he rang me up and told me that if I got the fish out of the tank and put them in a bucket of conditioned water, they might make it. So at 10:30 at night (yes, I go to bed early), I'm downstairs in my bathrobe, catching fish and shrimp in the net and transferring them to a bucket on the floor. All of the fish were pretty sad looking at this point. Most were lethargic. Some were lying on their sides at the top of the water, gasping. One shrimp was lying on his back, flailing sporadically. The other shrimp had turned red (usually they're grey). The Siamese algae eater (very 'cute' fish that are long and gold with a black stripe) didn't make it. She (?) died within a few minutes of transfer.

I put the tank cover on the bucket so they wouldn't jump out, carefully washed my wet fishy arm off, and went upstairs, back to bed. I tossed and turned all night long. This morning the first thing I did was go down and check the bucket. I expected to find one or two survivors.

To my surprise, all of the fish and both remaining shrimp are swimming about in the bucket. They're not thrilled to be in there (the last diamond tetra was freaking out, actually) but they're alive.

Today I'll pick up some bacteria and ammonia reducer to replenish the tank and deal with the poisonous waste that remains. So it's a happy ending for some... a much less populated tank... a sad, awful death for some.

Lesson learned.

The other thing I wanted to share is a great recipe. Just clear your mind of fish now, and think about vanilla tea lattes. We love tea lattes over here. This recipe is so simple, and makes a jug of concentrate that you can keep in the fridge for up to a week for practically instant tea lattes whenever you want.

Tea Latte Concentrate

For this recipe I use Rooibos tea, but you can use any tea you love - an Earl Grey, English Breakfast, or Orange Pekoe would be good.

6 cups boiling water
12 tea bags
2 Tbsp sugar*
1 tsp vanilla extract

Add the boiling water to the tea bags (I do this in a pot, so as not to release any chemicals from the plastic jug I later put it in when it's cool). Let steep for 3-5 minutes, then remove the tea bags, stir in the sugar and vanilla.

For a quick hot latte, add about 1/3 to 2/3 cup concentrate to a mug (depending how strong and sweet you like it), and fill the mug up with milk. Pop it in the microwave for a minute or more, depending on how hot you want it.

For an iced latte, pour the concentrate over ice cubes and top with milk.

For a coffeehouse style latte, heat the milk first on the stovetop and use a frother to get some foam. Or if you have an espresso machine, steam the milk until foamy. Add the hot milk and a dollop of foam to concentrate that has been warmed in the microwave.

*You could leave out the sugar and vanilla and add maple syrup instead. Or use agave syrup or brown sugar.

I'd love to hear if you make this. It takes less than 10 minutes and makes about 10-12 delicious drinks. We make it all the time - there's a jug full in the fridge now and I had a mug with my breakfast. Yum!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm looking for...

A recipe for eggless french toast. I've tried several (mostly banana* based), and haven't been really satisfied yet. The trouble is, bananas are so sweet that the sugars in them cause the bread to stick to the pan. So all the goodness gets stuck to the pan (even my ceramic non-stick GreenPan) and the bread just stays kinda soggy. It's yummy, but not the golden crispy morsel I'm looking for. So if you know of a good egg-free french toast recipe, please let me know. Meanwhile, I'll be experimenting in the kitchen. I do still eat dairy, but eggs are out.

A DHA supplement (Omega-3) from an algae source. Most Omega-3 supplements contain fish oil (ew!) which is obviously not compatible with my vegetarian diet! Also, many in pill form contain gelatin (made from boiling animal skin and bones), also a no-no for me. So I'm seeking a good DHA supplement (as opposed to ELA or ALA which are related, but must be converted by the body into DHA). I want to take about 600mg daily so I want one that has a fairly high mg-per-tablet (I don't really want to be taking 6 extra pills every day!).

I went to our very small local health food store yesterday to check for the supplement, and after half an hour of searching, they came up with:
  • a bottle of oil (about 700 mL, of which I'd need to take 6 tablespoons a day (ugh), so it's about 8 day's worth at a cost of $24. Too icky to take 6 Tbsp of oil a day - and too expensive!
  • a bottle of tablets that only had 100mg each (so I'd need to take 6 a day), had 30 tablets in the bottle, and cost $17 - and that was on sale at half price! Five days' worth for $17? Regularly $35? That's madness.
I wonder if I'm way out to lunch looking for this product for a reasonable price. I think an online source has got to be the solution - if anyone can help me out, let me know!

*fyi, bananas are one of the worst crops for pesticide use, that puts workers at risk, kills songbirds, and persists in the environment, affecting sensitive coastal wetland areas. Apparently there are 286 different pesticides approved for use in banana farming in one of the biggest production areas, Costa Rica. That's 286 poisons applied to fruit, just to keep it pretty. Please, if you buy bananas, spend the extra 20 cents per pound and buy organic!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

So this is it...

It's just me and the dog.

My husband flew out today for his stint in Calgary. We get to ease into it a little, as he's coming home on Friday night so that we can go to that wedding on Saturday (with a little family visit thrown in as well over the weekend), and back again to Calgary for him.

We have video chatted already, and he said it's about 7.5 hours of travel time to get from one place to the other. Poor guy will be doing that a lot over the next six months.

All this is just in time to see the end of our major backyard project which we started in May (click for 'before' pictures!). Here's a view from the top of the hill (with that hammock I was talking about): We also finally finished the shed yesterday -We re-used the windows from our old front doors (you may remember this picture from when I blogged about the new glass we had installed. The transom, of course, has since been finished with the new design as well). I love having the windows in the shed. The siding matches our house siding as well.

The whole thing was a huge project but my husband's planning and design skills really shone. Most of it went very smoothly, with only a few minor hiccups along the way.

So, for the next while, we're in a different kind of upheaval with him living halfway across the country. It will be a big adjustment. I'm so glad he'll be back for frequent weekends - I miss him already and he's only been gone for 10 hours! I can't imagine what it must be like for military families or people in other jobs (fishing comes to mind) where one spouse is gone for much of the time. That would be tough.