Thursday, May 19, 2011

Winner - Healthy Options of Days Gone By

Drumroll.... and the winner is...
Congratulations! I'll email you shortly.

A big thank you to Healthy Options of Days Gone By for the great product sampler and the prize! Please do visit their Etsy shop. The products are really very nice, and the prices are great!

Stay tuned for more giveaways, and if you haven't yet, check out my latest one - my Canadian readers have a chance to win Playtex infant products!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Long weekend! BBQ time (with Wonder+ Simply Free)

As you know, we're a vegetarian family and I care a lot about what kind of food is on our table. I ALWAYS read labels to see just what's in the food I buy. I started doing this to check for hidden animal products when I became vegetarian, and the more I've learned about additives and preservatives, the more I pay attention to the ingredients list.

That's why I'm thrilled when a company - especially a huge, well-known brand - comes out with a product that I can rely on to contain ingredients I want to see (like unbleached flour) and none of the ones I avoid (like high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives, flavours and colours). That tells me the big brands really are listening when I vote with my wallet for real food! And that's exactly what you'll get with the new Wonder+ Simply Free hotdog and hamburger buns. Nothing nasty, just real food.

Wonder is made by Weston Bakeries - I remember the delicious smell of the Weston Bakeries in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario! I went to university there and ended up living there for 12 years. Every time I took the exit from the highway, the big Weston Bakery welcomed me home with the yummy scent of freshly baked bread!

This Victoria Day weekend, we're heading back to Ontario to visit family. I'm really looking forward to breaking out some veggie burgers for the barbeque. My favourite ever recipe for vegetarian burgers is a simple one that you can whip up at home - it's Mark Bittman's Nut Burger recipe which you can find at that link or in his "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" cookbook (I use cashews as the base, truly a fabulous burger). These will go great on Wonder+ Simply Free hamburger buns! If you're a carnivore, you'll find two burger recipes at Canadian Living's Summer Fun Comes Naturally site - and more new recipes to come at that site all summer!

Wonder is offering a neat coupon for the new product as well - it's a progressive coupon on Facebook. Like their FB page, and the more of your friends who also like it, the better your coupon gets - up to B1G1 free! You can find the details on this offer at

Disclosure – I am participating in the Wonder+ SimplyFree program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of Weston Bakeries. I received a gift card and free product coupons as a thank you for my participation. The opinions on this blog are my own.

I'm happy to try the product for free and receive a gift card for my time in writing about it, but I want you to know - I don't promote products that my family wouldn't use or products that go against my grain. These new products by Wonder, to me, are a step in a very good direction for a big company. This IS the product I look for in the grocery store.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Playtex® Infant Products - Review and Giveaway!

***This giveaway is closed***
Winner: Robyn

Just before Mia was born, I received a number of Playtex® products to try! Yes, that's how behind I am on reviews (sorry!!). I have had some time now to give some of them a test run and am finally happy to get this review written!

We received:(clockwise from left to right - the new Playtex® Infant Lil’ Gripper cup, Playtex® Drop-ins System, Playtex® First Sipster, the classic Playtex® Binky, and the Playtex® Ortho-Pro® Pacifier (with sterilizing cover, shown between the pacifiers).

What a selection for little Mia!

The Playtex® Drop-ins Original Nurser System is probably familiar to most of us, as it's been used for generations. The collapsing, BPA-free liner (available in helps prevent baby from swallowing air, and the NaturaLatch® nipple is designed to mimic a mother's breast. I honestly hate pumping and since I'm not away from her much, we haven't had a chance to test this one out. As she gets older I am sure I will want the chance to skip a feeding here and there, and this will come in really handy for dad or a babysitter to take over! This system is super easy because you don't need to sterilize the bottle; the liners are sterile.

The Playtex® Infant Lil’ Gripper cup is a brand new design. Of course, it's slightly above Mia's current skill set, but we are looking forward to using it with her when she's a bit older! This new product is squeezable and has a straw, as well as those easy to grip handles. Designed for children four months and up, it is meant to help transition to a cup. Mum can give it a squeeze to get the liquid started and show the little one how to sip, using the natural grasping and sucking abilities of even very young children. It is guaranteed to be break-proof, spill-proof and leak-proof, and comes in blue, purple, green and pink. It's BPA-free and phthalate-free!

The Playtex® First Sipster is the next step towards drinking from an adult cup. What I like about the design is that the handles are attached to the lid, so you never have to worry about the spout not lining up properly. Just like the Lil' Gripper, it's guaranteed to be break-proof, spill-proof and leak-proof! It's also BPA-free and phthalate-free.

The Playtex® Binky is another classic. It's meant to simulate the shape of mother's nipple and comes in many sizes and colours to suit newborns to older babies. I know every baby has a favourite soother, and I must say that this one is not Mia's. Again, BPA-free and phthalate-free.

However, the Playtex® Ortho-Pro® Pacifier has been good for those moments when she just wants to soothe herself with sucking but isn't hungry. My husband uses it to get her to sleep when she is overtired. I always felt kind of anti-pacifier, but I'll be honest... sometimes it's just the best thing to help her relax and I have accepted that.

Here she is just over a month old snoozing with the Ortho-Pro® Pacifier. I know those pants look way too tight - it's just the cloth diaper bulking up her booty! She has a tiny waist, a big belly, and a fluffy butt :)

And I can't resist posting one more pic of her with her favourite paci at six weeks old. What a cutie!

One thing I love about the Playtex® pacifiers both is that they are available in a two-pack with a sterilizing cover. You just click them into it, fill to the water line and microwave for two minutes to sterilize. So easy and convenient. We used this feature while on the road as we drove to Calgary - every night at each hotel we stayed at, we could be sure her paci was clean and germ-free. Not that we're super paranoid about germs, but it's so easy to do, why not? If it fell on the hotel carpet (ick) or ground, it's better than just trying to rinse it off or wash with harsh soaps that might leave a residue.

It is also very thin and shaped so as not to interfere with normal oral development (hence "Ortho-Pro"!). The handle has teething nubs, too. And like the other, it's BPA-free and phthalate-free and comes in different colours and sizes.

The only thing about the pacifier that is frustrating for all of us is that Mia can't seem to maintain a hold on it. She will suck, it falls out, and then she is upset because it's not in her mouth. She hasn't learned in all this time how to keep it in her mouth herself. She is starting to use her hands to hold it there finally, but is not particularly coordinated yet. Anyway, I'm sure that is just her special style...!

Playtex® products are available pretty much everywhere across Canada - check your favourite department store, pharmacy, or grocery store. You can check out all the product offerings at the Playtex Baby website.

You can also check out the new online forum Playtex Mommyville, which has resources, articles, product info, sweepstakes, and forums for mums! There's also a Playtex Mommyville Facebook page. It's Canadian, too :)

Playtex® has generously offered a prize package just like the one I received to one of my readers!
The giveaway: One winner will receive the five products I tried: the new Playtex® Infant Lil’ Gripper cup, Playtex® Drop-ins System, Playtex® First Sipster, the classic Playtex® Binky, and the Playtex® Ortho-Pro® Pacifier!

How to enter: Visit the new Playtex online community PlaytexMommyVille, 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! This is the mandatory entry - do this first!

Extra entries: Bonus time! Leave a comment for each extra entry.

  • Become a fan of/"like" PlaytexMommyVille on Facebook (mention your first name and last initial in your comment). Already do? That counts!
  • Follow me on Twitter (leave your Twitter name!). Already do? That counts!
  • 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 FIVE Playtex Products for baby (inc. the new Lil' Gripper!) at Emily's Latest @emilyisland Canada only, ends 6/1"
  • Follow my blog (publicly) – 2 entries, leave 2 comments. Already do? That counts!
  • Add my blog button to your blog - leave the URL. Already have it? That counts!
  • Blog about this giveaway, linking back to this post and to PlaytexMommyVille – 2 entries, leave 2 comments and please include a link to your post
  • Let me know if you've tried Playtex products before - and what was your baby's favourite one? If you haven't tried one yet, do you plan to?
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 mailing addresses only, please. Giveaway ends June 1st at 11:59 pm EST. A winner will be drawn within a day or two of the giveaway's end, announced here, in a separate post and emailed!

A big thank you to Playtex for the products I received to test and the giveaway for my readers!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Weird things about Calgary

Coming to a new city, there are always little things you notice that seem strange.
Here's what's weird about Calgary:
  • Drivers heed the speed limit. I have seen this bizarre phenomenon in Nova Scotia as well. Motorists actually drive at the speed limit! In Ontario, 10km above is the norm. Seriously, everyone does it - and people honk if you drive at the posted limit. I'm not saying that's right; it's just the way it is. But here in Calgary, if it says 30km (eg in a playground zone), everyone drives 30 km/hr. Really. Weird, right?
  • Drivers stop for pedestrians. Even when I'm crossing a road with a 60km/hr speed limit, not at a cross walk... they'll stop. If you tried that in Ontario you'd either better be quick or you'd wait a loooong time for a break in traffic. Here, all I have to do is stand anywhere near the side of the road and everyone stops and waves me across.
  • The streets all have the same name. Have you ever tried getting around in a city where every street is called the same darn thing?!? It's incredibly frustrating! The neighbourhoods are all named, and each street in each neighbourhood has a name based on the neighbourhood's name. For example, in the neighbourhood Evergreen, you'll have Everridge Drive, Everridge Close, Everridge Lane, Everbrook Street, Everbrook Gardens, Everoak Way, Everoak Circle, and on and on in that manner. I got lost my first time out walking... I am going to have to start leaving a crumb trail or something. Who thought up that idiotic system?
  • The housing looks funny. I guess there's no clay around, because a brick house is nowhere to be seen. Sure, there might be a little decorative brick here and there, but in general, houses are completely siding or stucco. How depressing to have every subdivision in varying shades of greige! Not only that,
  • The driveways are concrete. That's weird to me, because back home suburban driveways are (in general) asphalt. I would think it's a pain in the rear to shovel snow off of a concrete driveway because of all the seams. And they do have to shovel all winter long. However, I hear the snow here is lighter than at home because it's so cold in winter.
  • They have enormous rabbits. I mean, we have rabbits in Ontario. They're cute little things. The rabbits here are bigger than cats and wander around during the daytime, even! Wow. They're really BIG! DH insists on calling them jackrabbits (which they are) - but I just call them Big Freakin' Monster Bunnies.
  • Groceries cost a bundle. I'd estimate 20-40% more than at home. Wow. At least the taxes are lower!
  • The washing machines play little electronic tunes. Okay, this one is probably limited to the one in the condo we're renting! It plays a little happy tune when the laundry is done. And there's no way to turn the sound off. Weird.
Hm, that's all I can think of for now. I'm positive that there are more weird things going on out here, though.

I wasn't done... there are More Weird Things About Calgary