Saturday, December 5, 2009

Dress troubles and.. blogger sellout?

Someone, get me a stylist.

So remember that dress I got for the Christmas party? I did a 'dry run' when I got home (when I took the photo), but I didn't think to add my dress coat. I'm just learning lessons every day these days!

First off - the nylons were so ridiculously uncomfortable - not to mention giving me that bulgy look at the waist - that they came off in the car on the way to the party! I can't understand how other women can wear those nasty things. Maybe I made a mistake buying the brand I picked. Maybe I really need to spend $25 and up (hello, Spanx - I've never tried them) on nylons to get a decent pair? But for the one time a year that I 'need' nylons, it just seems like too much money. And luckily I still have a bit of a tan from our trip to Mexico, and had actually bothered to shave my legs... so I felt cool about going bare-legged. It was COLD though, car to party, at -3 outside!

When we got into the hall and the coat came off... I discovered a much bigger problem. STATIC! The dry winter air, carpeted event hall, and I guess the satin lining of my coat all combined to attract my dress to my body like a second skin. This was at my husband's office party, about 200 people there, all dressed to the nines... and there's me in my static cling dress! I rushed to the washroom to wet down my hands and run them over the fabric. That worked long enough to get us to our table, and that's where I stayed!

The funniest thing was that when I went into the ladies' to deal with the static issue, there were a half-dozen women in there talking. When I walked in, they cried out, "Oh, look, she's doing it!" Huh? They quickly explained that they were debating whether nylons were a necessary evil. When they saw my bare legs (and I told them my nylons came off in the car on the way over), they all rushed into the stalls to remove the offending articles! Yay, female solidarity! There were lots of us there with bare legs and we were definitely happy about it!

Blogging for money

Just something I've noticed a lot more of, lately. Advertorials by bloggers about companies, no giveaway attached. I'm the first to admit, I love reading about products - honest reviews are good, giveaways make my day. But it seems there's a growing trend towards straight out advertorials, where the blogger hasn't tried the product and isn't hosting any giveaway joy.

I know blogging takes a lot of time, and it's got to be nice to get paid for it. There are companies out there that pay bloggers about $15 per post. And others that pay a certain amount per word. I've looked at these things and thought about them. I could totally do it - after years of practice in English courses throughout my education, an essay on any subject is not a hard thing to do (let's all pretend I didn't just tell you about my unfortunate art history paper). And I'm guessing you could put 45 minutes into a post, take the $15 - not a bad hourly wage, though of course it wouldn't translate into anything like a full time salary. Kind of perfect for stay at home moms, or people who want a little extra pocket money.

I don't know. On one hand, we're all smart people. As readers, we can tell the difference between a sponsored post and one from the heart. We can skip the posts that don't interest us (which kind of defeats the purpose for sponsors). And I have a lot of respect for people who can take what they love to do and make it profitable.

On the other hand, it just seems kinda iffy... it's like a fake smile on someone you thought was genuine.

I'm more of a fan of the kind of review post where a company sends a blogger something to try, they give it an honest go, and tell what happened, in their own words. Or the kind where a blogger has tried something on their own, unsponsored, and just has something to say about it. Whether it contains a giveaway or not, I am way more likely to read that than the other kind.

I don't think I'll be blogging for money. Just doesn't feel right. Not that I don't understand it or even think it's okay to get paid for blogging - as long as there's transparency and honesty there.

If you're going to do it, how about prefacing the entire post with "This is a paid advertisement," or "Hey guys! They sent me money to write this!"? And when you do, I'll probably be skipping down to the next post you wrote - about something real.

(Yes, I have accepted payment for an ad on my blog before. Is that different? I feel like it is. It's clearly an ad, and not passing itself off as anything but an ad.)


I've decided I'm having a lazy Saturday today, which means maybe some baking -

project #1: Peanut Butter Squares with Milk Chocolate & Oats from the rebar cookbook
project #2: herbed pizza dough for tonight's dinner

- and definitely some giveaways :) I will add them to the bottom of this post when I get to it. Meanwhile if you haven't entered my giveaway for some delicious tea that I'm about to make myself a cup of, go to it!

OH, and thanks for your comments about grudges. I'm glad I'm not the only one hanging on to a few! There oughta be a national grudge day to celebrate all our stale old grudges.

What you came for...

For baby:
  • Win a Glow Baby Baby's First Journal at My Wee View. I have one of these in hopeful preparation for our future little one and it is fabulous - so of course, I'm not entering this giveaway, but I wanted to share it with you. Moms of newborns need to keep track of a lot of stuff, and this is the perfect tool (plus it's a Canadian mom's design & company!). Ends December 11th.
  • Win an organic Hotslings baby sling at Best Baby Organics. Ends December 29th.
  • Win a $25 gift certificate to Wild Dill at Mkokopelli. Ends December 15th.
  • Win a Bummis Organic Diaper Kit at Happily Domestic. Ends December 19th.
  • Win an EsBaby customized fitted OS diaper at The Cloth Diaper Report. Ends December 16th.
  • Win a GroBaby shell set and soaker pads from Fluffy Bottom Babies at My Wee View. Ends December 18th.
  • Win a Snugfits tee at Oh My Baby. Ends December 21st.
For tots:
For the ladies:
For anyone:
  • Win a $20 Starbucks gift card at 4 Fabulous Families. Ends December 12th.
  • Win a $110 Visa card from Kodak at {Natural} Mommie. Ends December 14th.
  • Another chance to win a $110 Visa card from Kodak at This Mom Can Shop. Ends December 12th.
  • Win a Limited Edition Clarisonic at Mommy Goggles. Ends December 19th.
  • Win an amazing PC holiday products basket from Loblaws at Postcards from the Mother Ship. I *love* PC products - lately I've been gorging myself on their Stone Wheat crackers. I almost didn't want to tell you about this one. Open to Canadians only! Ends December 7th.
  • Win a Popcorn Snowman Snack Tin from The Popcorn Factory at Guessing All The Way. Ends December 16th.
  • A Simple Kind of Life is hosting a free tea giveaway! Check out Golden Moon Tea to find your perfect cup, from oolong tea to black tea! Giveaway ends December 9th.
  • Win a tea set from Golden Moon Tea (red teapot, tea filter bags, and a tin of Tippy Earl Grey) at unpaint. Ends December 11th.
For the home:
  • Win a wall decal by Wilson Graphics at Project Nursery. Not sure when this ends.
  • Win a $100 Crate and Barrel gift card at Half Baked. I love C&B! Ends December 10th.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Now that that's out of my system...

It's time for some giveaways! :)

For baby:
  • Win a babysoy year round cardigan top + cozy pants (4 winners!) at Organic Girl. Ends December 17th.
  • Win a Baby Ette Boutique ring sling at Organic Girl. Ends December 10th.
  • Win a Planet Wise WetBag at Jabbering Jessi's blog. Ends December 15th.
  • Win a $25 gift certificate to Beba Bean at Mommy PR. Ends December 18th.
For the ladies:
  • Win a hand/body creme, body wash and whipped body souffle from Body Delices at Simply Stacie! I guess the guys could use this too, but... I'm not sure I'd share! Open to Canadians only! Ends December 15th.
  • Win a Blush topless undershirt at My Silly Monkeys. Ends December 11th.
For anyone:
  • Win a $40 Bamboosa gift certificate at A Kindred Spirit's Thoughts. They have bamboo clothing for men, women and kids. Ends December 15th.
  • Win a $40 gift certificate to CSN's bedding or cookware stores at Organic Girl. Ends December 21st.
  • Win a copy of the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer at Northern Mama. This book's on my must-read list! Ends December 16th.
  • Win $75 of assorted Burt's Bees products (wow) at Simply Stacie. This one I think the guys would love too - most of these products are pretty gender neutral. Open to Canadians only! Ends December 10th.
  • Win a WrapNatural reuseable gift bag at Simply Living on a Budget. Ends December 13th.
  • Win a Limited Edition Clarisonic Plus system at Shop With Me Mama. I'm curious about these Clarisonic thingies! I'd love to try one out. Ends December 10th.
AND I wanted to mention - today's SwagBucks Swagananza (one gift card a day goes on 'sale') is a $10 Starbucks card for only 110 SwagBucks! I just snagged one! Yay!

Have you signed up yet? It's free and I have already cashed in for $35 in Amazon gift certificates and now this $10 Starbucks card. You can collect SwagBucks by doing searches. It's just like any search engine, only there's a random reward of SwagBucks here and there. Try it out and see. If you sign up with my referral, it helps me out too!

One more sweet little deal for Canadian Christmas shopping - if you become a fan of Chapters Indigo on Facebook you will get a 25% off coupon for one item in-store, expiring December 24th. What's better than buying a gift? Getting a deal on a gift! :)

Three things

Food, fury and forgiveness (or lack thereof)


Last night for a quick dinner, I made one of Donna Hay's recipes from the latest Style at Home magazine. It was the only one of five 'fresh quickies' that was vegetarian (hey, at least there was one).

The recipe is for ricotta + spinach pasta and it goes something like... add 1/2 cup of fresh ricotta to 200g of cooked warm short pasta (I used half a box of fusilli). Toss with baby spinach leaves, lemon juice (I used half a lemon or about 1/4 c - it was a juicy lemon!), extra-virgin olive oil, cracked black pepper, sea salt and basil (I'm so glad I chopped all that basil at the end of summer! Fresh from the freezer, it still tastes like August). Serve with grated parmesan.

Oops. I completely forgot the parmesan - and I knew I would. I always forget the garnish! Next time I will absolutely add that. But I think next time I will add some of the roasted red peppers I froze in the fall as well, and some toasted pine nuts.

The pasta was really fresh tasting, and I made it with a high spinach to pasta ratio (trying to keep the pasta to around 1/2 cup per serving). I liked the lemon flavour, though DH said it was a bit weird and 'yogourty' (the ricotta-lemon combo did have that fresh/sour taste). I will definitely make this again, but I'll be modifying as I go.

What I like about the recipe is the vague ingredient quantities (I cook in vague, I understand that kitchen language), the fresh ingredients (cold weather seems to bring so many heavy dishes, this was a light and fresh-tasting dish that was filling and healthy), and honestly the food photography & styling in the article is gorgeous (I don't always notice that, but it made an impact!). It was a relatively quick dinner - the most time consuming thing is boiling the pasta.

FYI I'm not sponsored by Style at Home or anything - I know I've written about the magazine before - it's just one of my favourite magazines. I can't think of anything I don't like about the magazine, unless it's that it only comes out once a month! Hopefully they won't mind my sharing the recipe and my modifications.


This morning I woke up when my husband got up for work at 5:45 am. Early. Especially after going to sleep at 12:30 last night. I usually can get back to sleep after his morning ablutions, but this morning I had an absolute rage on. About something that happened over 10 years ago.

Let me tell you.

When I was in university, I shared a house with a group of other art students. Since I was the only one with a computer, I had set it up in a common room for my friends to use. One winter term we had a sub-letter who was a year below me in the program. Let's call him Chris.

The following summer, as I was cleaning out the old files on my computer, I discovered an art history essay on Sleep in 16th Century Art. I'd written this essay for my third year art history class. Let's just say art history is not my strength - I'm a studio artist through and through - and I only got a C on the paper. Really, it wasn't that good. It was about 2000 words and mostly filler.

But... this version of my essay didn't have my name on it. It had Chris' name written at the top. The creep had found my old essay on my computer, re-named it, put his name on it, and handed it in as his own. I felt a little smug at first that the paper I'd written wasn't actually that good. But I found the paper copy later and (insult to injury) - he got a B on the same darn essay! Leave it to the cheater to get a generous T.A.!

Being that the term was finished, marks had been handed out and I was moving on in my life, I never did anything about it. He'd already moved out for the summer, so I didn't ever have the chance to confront him. And every once in a while I am still mad about it.

My husband says (jokingly) the moral of the story is "Don't be nice to people." If I had kept my computer to myself, it wouldn't have happened. But I think the true moral is... some people are just users. And you can't not be nice because other people are jerks. That would just lead to a horrible world. All I can do is have faith in karma. Who knows what's coming to him. Maybe his teeth will fall out and the foundation of his house will crumble.

Why I was lying awake, thinking of this at a ridiculous hour of the morning, I have no idea. I guess it's still lodged in my mind as a wrong not righted.

Forgiveness. Or, not.

Can you forgive people who wronged you ages ago? I'm mostly not a grudge holder, but I just can't seem to forgive and forget that art history paper incident. I can think of a few other people who I can't forgive.

Sarah, from grade 8, who told me that I wasn't invited to her birthday party because I "just wouldn't fit in". That was mean. And happened over 20 years ago. Still, not forgiven.

Brad, also from grade 8 (a bad year for me apparently), who wrote - in pen - in my yearbook, "Hope you grow out of your training bra." How cruel is that to a 12 year old girl? Way to ruin my yearbook and create a lasting, crappy memory. Brad, you'll be sorry to hear that yes, my cups floweth over and you'll never get anywhere close. Not forgiven. FYI, if I ever meet you again, I owe you a good solid slap. You can pick which side of the face. And I'll even take my rings off. 'Cause I'm nice like that.

Cynthia, who betrayed a confidence and spilled a secret. In 1994. She was one of my closest friends before... and things were never the same after. She's since passed away, tragically. While I still value the solid friendship I had with her, I can't seem to get over the betrayal of trust. How messed up is that? Much as I'd like to forgive and forget, and although it's been 15 years (!)... not forgiven. There's no anger associated with this... it's more like a fact than an emotion. I simply can't forgive her.

My ex-husband, who told me after 9 years that he didn't want kids after all, and had only told me he did so that I would stick around. I can thank him for a valuable lesson learned about communication in relationships (although if one person is lying, it doesn't work so well). And I am also so happy that it led me to be with my husband, who doesn't ever hesitate to state his opinion. That can be good and bad, but at least he's honest! We're very happy together. Ex? Not forgiven. Nice guy overall, but really. That was lousy.

Wow. That's a lot of grudges. And they are all years old. I know there's no point in hanging on to old anger. I know it's counter-productive. I'm not the person who swears at other drivers on the road, gets upset at retail clerks, has a short fuse or is prone to temper tantrums. I'm pretty laid-back and laissez-faire for the most part. When people are stupid, I think to myself, "Yep, people are stupid," and move on. Usually I don't think of these things at all. But once in a while... grr.

Have you got a grudge? I'm calling it - it's okay to hang on to a couple old grudges. Yep, I forgive you - and myself, why not - for this character flaw. A little imperfection makes us human, right?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Catch-up Thursday

I found a dress for the Christmas party we're going to tomorrow night at Winners. The dress was originally $70 marked down to $40, the shoes are Guess, marked down from $120 to $70 (eeps, still pricey), and I also picked up Calvin Klein nylons ($5) and a bra ($8). I know it's not a great photo (blurry much?) and no, I didn't bother doing my hair or makeup today! It's not a super fancy dress, I figure as a LBD it will last me through a few different functions. I will dress it up with some jewelery.

The only thing I'm not happy about is the control top panty hose... the waist slides down after only a few minutes and leaves me with a bulge above and below the elastic. Not cool. I am smack in the centre of the size category so they shouldn't be too small like that. Argh. I will have to go through my old pairs and try to find one that isn't holey, doesn't slide down, and hasn't shot the elastic... that might be tough. I hate nylons!

I wish I could post pics from our trip to Mexico. Unfortunately I was the one with the camera most of the time, and there are no decent photos of me... My DH took over once in a while, but although I love him to bits, he's not the best portrait photographer I know. Of course I'm not exactly the most photogenic person either so it's probably not his fault the pics of me came out looking like I have crazy-face. Some of our friends took photos here and there, but I haven't seen any of them.

Don't forget to enter my delicious giveaway as well if you haven't yet!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A few giveaways for the end of the day

I was going to just leave it at my new giveaway, but I came across a few more that I'm not going to enter and still wanted to share with you. I have already been lucky enough to win each of these products already - hope it's your turn now!

For baby:

My new favourite tea - and a giveaway! [CLOSED]

***This giveaway is now closed. Winner: Trish ***
***Redraw winner: Pam! (confirmed)***

I am a BIG hot drink lover - along with coffee and three varieties of hot chocolate in my cupboard, I currently have 22 (!) varieties of tea on hand, though I usually stick to my four all-time faves: Twinings decaf Earl Grey, Tetley decaf Orange Pekoe, Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime (with honey! yum) or the delicious President's Choice Moroccan Mint. I thought I'd got my favourites down to a science (I even time the brew for every cup... I'm serious about tea). I'm not averse to loose tea, but I do find that it's so much more convenient in bags.

Much to my surprise, I have recently discovered a delicious new tea (well, it's new to me - not sure how new it really is). It's President's Choice Chocolatey Chai Herbal Tea. They've actually just redesigned the box, so it doesn't look like this any more...I'm not sure I would have even noticed it in this old box. But I spotted the new box on the shelf at the store and decided to give it a try.

I love chai, but I find it's usually too strong or spicy for me. I usually go half and half milk and chai, and if it's the chai concentrate in the cartons, I use about a tablespoon to a full mug of milk. Guess I'm a big chai wimp. But this tea is just a perfect strength - it's got the exotic character without being overpowering. It has a bit of stevia for sweetness, and I find I can drink it clear, or add milk (usually clear tea is too strong for me - I even add milk to jasmine).

And the chocolatey part is so perfect. It contains a bit of cocoa, and a bit of cocoa shells, to impart a rich yet light chocolate flavour. It sounds so weird, but it is the perfect combination of tea and hot chocolate flavours. But with none of the high calories of hot chocolate drinks. I know, it sounds kinda wrong and strange, but believe me, it's so extra yummy!

I am so pumped about this new tea (is it wrong to drink four mugs in a day?) that I want to share a box with one of my readers. This isn't a sponsored post or anything... I'm going to go to the grocery store, buy a box and mail it out. Call it Christmas or just investing in my karma.


The prize: one box of delicious President's Choice Chocolatey Chai, sent from me to you!

How to enter: simply comment here with your favourite home-made hot drink and if this would be for you or perhaps a delightful stocking stuffer for someone you know!

Extra entries? You bet. Add an extra comment for each that you do:
  • Add my button to your blog, comment with the link for me to see
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back here (2 entries! make two comments)
  • Follow my blog (become a new one, or be a current follower)
Five sweet chances to win!

Who's eligible: Anyone in the US or Canada. Just cause I'm nice and plus you probably can't get this tea in the US so it would be a special treat for someone!

This giveaway will end on December 15th, midnight EST... Hopefully that's enough time to get it to the winner before Christmas, although I can't guarantee that. Canada Post gets busy in December! I do promise to send it out asap once I have a confirmed winner!

Winner will be announced on this post, a fresh new post and also emailed... so don't forget to include your email address if it is not on your profile so that I can contact you!

***This giveaway is now closed. Winner: Trish ***
***Redraw winner: Pam!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Back from holiday

...and back to reality! We had a great time in Mexico. I wanted to stay a little longer. The resort was great, the food was good (although, as usual, the vegetarian options were rather limited), the ocean was warm, the company was wonderful. I am missing the big buffet breakfasts already, though the scale tells me it's a good thing to leave those behind.

I have a zillion things to catch up on, hopefully I will get to a few giveaways to share today. I'll start here:

For baby:
For the ladies:
For grown-ups:
For anyone:
  • Win a $20 gift certificate to Ecorations (reuseable gift bags!) at Mkokopelli. Ends December 10th.
  • Win a $50 gift certificate to at CoolCanucks. Ends December 18th.
  • Win a ReliOn Temple Touch Thermometer at My Wee View. Ends December 4th.
  • Win hourly prizes from Dell in their Holiday Gift Hunt! Open to Canadians only! Ends December 11th.
  • Win a Head to Toe Kit from J.R. Watkins at Feisty, Frugal and Fabulous. Ends December 5th.
For the home: