Saturday, August 28, 2010

Two winners for Sibu Beauty!

I have two lucky winners for the fab Sibu Beauty prizes. To check out the company and prizes, read my review here.

Winner #1 will receive Sibu's Beauty and Wellness Package. And the winner is:

Winner #2 will receive Sibu's Anti-Aging Package. And the winner is:

Congratulations to the latest winners on my blog! I'll be emailing you both shortly.
A big thank you to Sibu Beauty for providing review products and sponsoring such a generous giveaway!

Just an FYI - I had to draw a second winner for Package #1 because the first one hadn't left a way to contact them. I hate to do that but it is clearly written, in red even, on the giveaway page! A good reminder to read - and follow - the instructions!

Don't forget the other giveaways going on now:
Tropical Traditions Non-toxic, Natural Household Cleaner (love this stuff! I use it every day!)
BumbleWee Nursing Wear for your choice of nursing/maternity top (beautiful and practical clothes for mums and mums-to-be!)

Friday, August 27, 2010

The gender question - place your vote!

Yes, we're finding out. I had always assumed that I wouldn't want to know until the birth, but the older I get, the less I like surprises, I guess! I can't wait to know. I'm already picturing this baby and what he or she will be like. It will be so exciting when we go for that ultrasound and find out for real!

Our big ultrasound is scheduled for the 10th of September, but there are lots of ways to play the gender guessing game ahead of time. One of those ways is the IntelliGender test - which I took this morning! I'm not telling what the answer is from this test (the big reveal on that will be Tuesday), but I can say that it was very definite in its result! And it was fun playing 'chemist', even if it did mean playing with my own pee. Hm. That doesn't quite sound like fun. Believe me, you never have to touch the pee! Then again anyone who has peed on a stick as often as I have in the last few years has lost any qualms about pee. I consider it a kind of preparation for many diaper changes.

I've done some of the other online quizzes and such as well. I'm going to share my results on those with you now - and I've got a poll going at the top left there, I'd love your vote on whether you think it's going to be a baby boy or a baby girl!

BOY results:
UPDATE: IntelliGender test says Boy!
Chinese lunar calendar
Shettles method
Wedding ring on a string
Babyzone's gender predictor
Planningfamily's gender predictor
SexWizard's gender predictor
OBFocus' gender predictor

GIRL results:
Chinese lunar calendar (a different one... see how accurate these are? ;) )
Heart Rate
Babygendertool's gender predictor's gender predictor

We have no parental intuition on this one at all, and haven't heard from our parents what they guess it will be, either.

As you can see, the overall score is 8 for boy and 4 for girl. Now, I always pictured myself as the mother of a daughter. But I will not be disappointed if we have a boy - the more I think about it, the more I know I'll be so thrilled with whichever we have. Each presents its own challenges and adventures!

My husband and I have kept our last names, so if we have a boy, he'll take my husband's surname and vice versa for a girl. So, what do you think? Will we have a Baby B or a Baby H?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lemon Loaf. Y-U-M.

This is one of our favourites, and was my husband's choice today over Chocolate Zucchini Loaf and Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf. (I guess I'm the chocolate lover in our family!)

The recipe is originally from the Muffins and More (Company's Coming) cookbook, which is my absolute go-to cookbook for quickbreads. It's got cheesy sayings on the pages and isn't pretty - especially the best-loved recipes, which are slightly gooey - but the recipes are tried and true, and oh, so good. I strongly recommend this book, even if you only buy it for this recipe and the AMAZING Best Cheese Biscuit recipe that is so, so good with chili. Totally worth it. You can find it in weird places like WalMart and Canadian Tire, or online at Amazon, or the Company's Coming website directly.

I modify it to be eggless (yeah, I'm still on the eggless kick, eight months later). So if you're like me and have egg issues, instead of the 2 eggs, you can use any of these:
  • 2 tsp chia seeds in a scant 1/2 cup (just a little less than half a cup) of water. Let it sit a minute or two, and stir with a fork to break up any clumps. The chia seeds form a gel! You can use white chia seeds if you don't want visible specks in your loaf.
  • 4 Tbsp ground flax mixed with 6 Tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup tofu (puree this with the milk in the recipe before adding)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce or mashed banana (this will change the flavour of the loaf, of course, but yum!)
  • store bought egg substitute (I found this finally at Bulk Barn, in a box. It's a powder you mix with water.)
Okay, on to the Lemon Loaf recipe.
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (or whatever)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • grated rind of 1 lemon
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs one at a time while mixing, then mix in the milk.
In a medium bowl, combine the remaining four ingredients. I like to use a whisk to do this as it does a thorough job and fluffs up the flour, too.
Pour the dry mix into the wet, stir only to moisten (over mixing quickbread batters will cause them to become tough - it activates the gluten in the flour), and pour into a greased loaf pan. The recipe calls for a 9x5" pan, but I use an 8.5x4.5" one, no problems.
Bake at 350F for an hour or until a tester comes out clean. I find with eggless recipes, they are a little more moist and often need a bit more time. So if you've gone the eggless route, don't worry if it takes an extra 8 minutes or so (check every few minutes).

When the loaf is almost done, prepare the glaze. You absolutely must glaze this loaf. Because this is the secret to its magical deliciousness.
  • the juice from that lemon you grated the peel from
  • 1/4 cup sugar
Mix these together (in a pourable, microwave-safe bowl or a Pyrex liquid measuring cup). 30 seconds in the microwave helps to dissolve the sugar.
When the loaf comes out of the oven, pour the glaze all over it. The edges of the loaf pan should contain the glaze, but you might have to go slow as it soaks in some. Let it cool in the pan. I just leave it in the pan and slice as needed right in there!
This is seriously delicious. No need to top your slice with anything - it is moist and flavourful as is. If you need some extra sweetness, homemade strawberry jam is pretty yummy on there. Cream cheese (fresh, please, not the plasticky Philadelphia stuff) is good, too.

OH, and the glaze is really just a lemon-flavoured simple syrup - I've made lemonade with it (add water to taste); you can use it in mixed drinks to add a wonderful sweet-sour lemony flavour. Or pour over crushed ice for a lemony snow-cone. Or add a couple tablespoons to ice and top with sparkling water for a delicious fresh soda. Bonus!

BumbleWee Nursing Wear - Review and Giveaway!

By now, you should have heard of BumbleWee Nursing Wear - whether by reputation as one of Canada's premiere maternity and nursing wear online boutiques, or maybe because of the awesome contest they are running - they're giving away a nursing top every day until September 15th, and an awesome coupon for every entrant (Read more details here)!

BumbleWee stocks gorgeous and high quality nursing and maternity clothes (many pieces are transitional, which the practical side of me loves!) from brands such as Japanese Weekend, Mamajamas, and 1 in the Oven. Brands that are known for bringing style to maternity and nursing wear - no more giant tents for pregnant ladies! And the nursing wear is functional as well as modest. What I really like about BumbleWee is the way each top or dress describes the nursing feature, whether it be pull aside, pull up or pull down. That way if you have a preference you will know exactly what you are getting into: whatever's most comfortable for you.

Besides tops and dresses, they also stock comfy nursing bras (at truly reasonable prices), pajamas, gifts and nursing accessories like covers and pumping bras. This company is dedicated to making maternity and nursing a time to be stylish, comfortable, practical and as discreet as we want it to be. I love that they have informative and supportive articles about breastfeeding in public, and tips on how to prepare for baby's meals out!

The other thing to love about BumbleWee is the free shipping to the continental US and Canada! I've been doing some online browsing lately, and have noticed that often the shipping charges are higher than the cost of the items I'm considering buying, which drives me nuts and means I generally end up abandoning my online shopping cart. Right in the middle of the virtual aisle! I just click away! But there are a few online retailers catching on to the notion that customers don't want a great deal to be negated by an outrageous shipping fee (and if you US readers think you have it bad, shipping to Canada is usually b-r-u-t-a-l!). Of course, with a Canadian company it's not as bad, but you really can't beat free.

For my review, I was sent the Mamajamas Uganda top, in a gorgeous shade of teal. I love the asymmetrical neckline and the ruching makes it forgiving for before and after bellies! The fabric is super, super soft and that makes this top SO comfortable. The nursing function is a pull up style with an underlayer which I find very discreet. I know this will be a wardrobe staple for me throughout the coming fall, winter and spring. And I think my belly looks super cute in it! Which is why you need to see two pictures - a front and a side view! :)

I have to mention that the shipping was really fast, too. I placed my order on an afternoon, and the fifth business day later, I received it in the morning. You can't always count on the postal service to get things there, but I would expect that if you placed an order on a Monday afternoon, you'd have it by Friday morning - or early the next week! Compared to some two-week or longer waits that I have had for products ordered online, I found this impressive.

You can also get the latest news from BumbleWee by liking the BumbleWee Facebook page! They announce sales, contests, and new stock there (even asking for fans' input!) so definitely worth a 'like'!

Now, the part you've been waiting for - BumbleWee has generously offered one of my readers a choice of top from the Sweepstakes category!

The giveaway:
A maternity/nursing top of your choosing from BumbleWee's Sweepstakes category!

How to enter: Head over to BumbleWee Nursing Wear and let me know which of their products (from any category) catches your fancy, OR let me know something you have learned from their informative articles! 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 BumbleWee Newsletter (the bottom right of their site)
  • Tell me something you learned from the BumbleWee blog
  • Follow @BumbleWee 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 your choice of gorgeous nursing/maternity tops from @BumbleWee at Emily's Latest @emilyisland US/CAN 9/13 #bfing
  • 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 BumbleWee Nursing Wear AND mentioning their awesome contest as well – 3 entries, leave 3 comments (please include a link to your blog 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. Giveaway ends September 13th 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 US entrants: BumbleWee Nursing Wear is not responsible for customs, taxes or duties that the US may charge if you decide to participate in this sponsored blog giveaway.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A book recommendation and manners

Hiya - it's been a while since I've done a personal post. I have actually been racking my brain trying to think of what to write about. It seems like life is pretty quiet these days and I mainly spend my time waiting. Waiting for my husband's next visit home. Waiting for the next ultrasound (on the 10th! We'll find out the gender!!). Waiting for the dog's ear infection to clear up. Nothing too exciting to write about.

But I realized last night, 4 hours into a "20 minute" reading session before bed, that I should share about the book I'm reading. I came to this book a little late; it's been out for a while. A friend of mine recommended it to me years ago when she was reading it for book club, and I picked it up to look at but never did read it. Now my book club is reading it (yeah, I'm sticking with the book club) and I have been gobbling it.

The book is The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. Now here's why I didn't read it years ago. I'm not a particularly religious person, and it seems at first glance to be all about religion. Not that I don't respect other people's religions, it just isn't an interest of mine. Also, I had never read any of Kingsolver's books, and had an assumption, based on nothing substantial, that they were chick lit.

So now that I am reading the book that I made so many judgments on, I am so glad I was 'forced' to read it for my book club! The book IS about religion, but it's not at all proselytizing; it's really about a clash of religions, and how fanatics can go too far and be too closed-minded. And while it is primarily about women, it's by no means light and fluffy chick lit. It is totally captivating.

Just to give my review some cred, I read about 4 books a week, and have gone through thousands in my life so far. There are certain books that stand out for me among those thousands, and this is going to be one of them, I can tell. Give it a chance and you will be hooked!

My other topic for today is a little rant about manners.

We posted an ad on Kijiji because, in the process of emptying the office to become nursery and tidying things up around here (did I mention we got hardwood put in upstairs? Chaos ensued! But it's nice now), we have an office chair to get rid of and one of those floor mats that protects carpet. The chair is a few years old but in perfect condition and has all the adjustments and ergonomic qualities you'd ever want. We're asking $65 for the pair which is a pretty good deal for someone, I think. Anyway, what's making me growl is that we've gotten a few emails about it that are completely lacking in any kind of social decorum. Here's the sum content of the first email I got:
That's it. How many things are wrong with that? Way. Too. Many. Grr. The next email I received (from a different person) reads:
when can i come see it call me (phone #)
Arghhhh! Really. How hard is it to add a greeting, for goodness' sake? Or to sign a missive with your name? To use at least some punctuation, make some effort towards grammar or politeness? I'm just waiting for the number to be long distance, and then I'm really going to lose it. ;)

Am I asking too much of the standard Kijiji user? Is this listing somehow a magnet for the uncouth?

Sigh. I was one of the many who read Miss Manners and Ann Landers daily as I grew up. My parents instilled a strong belief in courtesy and respect for others in me. I know I'm not a perfect writer, but I do make an effort to use English with some regard to the rules of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

And I'm feeling like a dying breed here.