Thursday, September 23, 2010

About Swagbucks...

I just cashed in for my 19th redemption... so far I've picked up $45 in Amazon gift certificates and $100 worth of Starbucks cards.

If you're not using Swagbucks as a search engine, I can't imagine why not. It's free to use, simple, and you end up with some really nice little treats as a bonus just for doing your regular searches online.

I usually go for the Starbucks cards and the Amazon codes because I know I can use them in Canada. If you're in the States, there are lots more prizes available. There are lots more for Canada as well, btw, those are just the ones I like!

It's a nice little luxury for me to get a Starbucks card in the mail - I love their drinks but usually have guilt over spending the money. The card lets me treat myself and my husband, guilt-free.

How does Swagbucks work? Well, you sign up (free), and simply use their site to do your searches instead of Google or whatever. Random searches are rewarded with varying amounts of Swagbucks, and the Swagbucks add up until you can redeem them for prizes. You can also download the toolbar. I have the toolbar for Firefox on my Mac, and find it easier to use than remembering to hit the site for searches.

You can earn even more Swagbucks if you pay a little attention; they release codes on their Twitter, blog, and Facebook, as well as on the toolbar. (I usually miss those because I forget to look.) The numbers add up pretty fast if you just use it to search.

Anyway, if you decide to sign up, I'd be honoured if you'd use my referral link. I know some bloggers have a zillion referrals to SB - I don't - but I'd love some more.

Search & Win

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Natural (Pregnancy) Deodorant - Review & Giveaway!

***This giveaway is closed***
Winner: Tirza!

You may recall
my previous review for FairHaven Health - this is the company that makes the FertilAid preconception supplements that my husband and I were taking when we conceived!

Besides fertility products, FairHaven Health also has products for pregnancy and nursing. I have been lucky enough to get to try out a couple of the pregnancy products.

The product for today's review and giveaway is the Natural Pregnancy Deodorant.
***Before I get too far, I want to say that although this is marketed towards the pregnant, you don't have to be up the duff to use it. Anyone interested in natural products or concerned about nasty chemicals in standard deodorants should try it!

If you've done any reading about deodorants and anti-perspirants, you may have learned some scary things. Regular deodorants (the big brands you'll see at the drugstore) contain not only parabens but also aluminum. Parabens, in case you forgot, are those pesky chemicals used to deliver scents which also are xenoestrogens (they mimic the hormone estrogen) and are associated with breast cancer. Aluminum, as we all know, is a neurotoxin and its cumulative absorption increases the risk of Alzheimers. Um, no thanks!

FairHaven Health's Natural Pregnancy Deodorant is paraben- and aluminum- free. Phew. It contains a whole pile of recognizable ingredients and some I didn't recognize. So I'm going to go through them and see just what they are (my comments in blue):
Water, Saccharomyces Ferment (a yeast extract that improves the barrier function of the skin, stimulates elastin production, and defends against ozone and free radicals), Potassium Sorbate (a preservative that is non-toxic and inhibits the development of microorganisms), Hydroxyethylcellulose (a plant-derived gelling agent), Usnea Barbata (Lichen) Extract (anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory), Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract (anti-inflammatory and astringent), Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil (anti-bacterial), Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil (acts as a binder, increases viscosity, and is a skin conditioner), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Benzyl Alcohol (a plant extract which prevents bacterial growth - often used in IV solutions), Sodium Benzoate (this is a preservative which has concentration restrictions in cosmetic products because it does have negative effects at high doses), Sodium Gluconate (a binder made from glucose; non-toxic and biodegradable), Citric Acid (a natural preservative).
Now that we know what's in it, I'll tell you about my experience. I have been using deodorants and anti-perspirants interchangeably for, oh, let's say just over 20 years. I've tried the gels and the sticks, although I haven't tried sprays (I don't really want to inhale aerosols). I usually find one I like the scent of and use that for a while until I tire of it and move on. With all the information I've been accumulating lately about harmful ingredients in skin care products (again I'm recommending everyone go watch CBC's documentary The Disappearing Male), it has occurred to me that I might want to re-evaluate my thinking on stink sticks.

I've been tempted to make my own deodorant but never seem to find the inclination, even though I do have the ingredients (apparently all you need is coconut oil, corn starch & baking soda, with essential oils for scent if desired). I've searched the store shelves for an alternative without success - granted, I do live in a fairly small town. I've tried that crystal deodorant a couple of times over the years and it simply doesn't work for me. So I approached this with a little skepticism.

My result: it does work - with some exceptions. On regular days, it works just great. On super hot days like we had here a couple weeks ago (37C and up plus humidex), it didn't work for me.

One thing I did notice was that switching from an anti-perspirant to a deodorant recalled to me the difference between the two. A deodorant, of course, is a stink fighter (best case) but does not prevent perspiration. An anti-perspirant stops the sweating (best case) and uses scents to mask any odour that does occur. So this being a deodorant, I remembered what it's like to sweat. But if your sweat doesn't smell because of the deodorant, and you're not a heavy sweater (I'm not, unless it's crazy hot), no biggie.

This product is a liquid in a roller-ball applicator. You give it a quick shake and then apply. It's clear (YAY, no more white marks on clothing... I hate that!) and smells like nothing, really. And at the end of the day, I smell like nothing, really. Which is just about perfect to me. It dries fairly quickly - you're not immediately dry like a stick applicator, but it's dry long before I finish applying makeup and drying my hair. Also, it doesn't cake up like the pasty kinds sometimes do... I mean how embarrassing is it to lift your arm and see white chunks in there? Ickkkk.

Overall, I really like the Natural Pregnancy Deodorant. I don't have that guilty feeling in the morning that I got when I knew I was applying something harmful but hadn't sought out an appropriate alternative. I like that I don't smell like some industry nose's version of "Fiji" or synthetic vanilla or whatever; I just smell clean and like myself.

You can buy it for $6.95 at Fairhaven Health (and get free shipping!). That's about a buck more than the drugstore brand I used to buy, and so far from my experience, it looks like it will last quite a while (ie months). I'd say going guilt-, aluminum- and paraben-free is worth an extra buck.

Fairhaven Health has also offered a giveaway for one of my readers!

The giveaway: a full-size Natural Pregnancy Deodorant!

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! This is the mandatory entry - do this first!

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

  • Become a fan of/"like" 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 Natural Pregnancy Deodorant (aluminum and paraben free!) at Emily's Latest @emilyisland @FertilAidAmy ends 10/6"
  • 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 if you've tried any natural deodorants, or tried making your own - and did it work for you? 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 October 6th 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!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Denizzzzzens of the backyard

The latest addition to our backyard is not a particularly welcome one - I went out there today to find a swarm of honey bees congregating on one of our deck chairs. That brown mass dangling off the back of the chair frame is 100% bees!

My first call was to the Ministry of Agriculture, to get the numbers of local apiarists. Left messages with two of them, asking if they could kindly come and remove the swarm.

My husband called and is quite worried that they could be the Africanized honeybees - the kind that go mad and kill people - no more backyard for me, or the dog, until they're gone!

Next call was to the Ontario SPCA - no answer. What the heck? What if there were a dog dying in a closed car in a parking lot or something? Don't they have a responsibility to answer the phone, or at least have a message service?

The York Regional Police were more helpful. They gave me the number for a "bee swarm removal" guy. I called him up, and, less helpful, he's in Schomberg - about an hour from my home. He's going to try to get one of his more local bee buddies to get in touch with me. Worst case, he'll come all the way out himself.

On the plus side, he did say they were not likely to be the African bees, and also that they would probably move along of their own accord in a day or so.

Meanwhile, the dog and I will go for lots of walks, I guess. It's kind of cool to see all the bees (from a distance). I took the picture with a zoom lens when I first spotted them, before I got all worried about them being African bees. We hear so much about the decline of honey bees, I'm actually pretty thrilled to see so many in one place. Just... not at my place, please!

Oh! One last thing. I think you should go visit Everything Mom and Baby. Erica's got a great blog with two awesome giveaways on right now (an amber teething necklace and a Baby Hawk Mei Tai!). I was super lucky and recently won some Wean Cubes (glass baby food storage) on her blog!