Category Archives: Product Reviews

Now that we’re running – what are we wearing?

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My $6 running top. Deals are awesome.

So – finding modest running wear is tough. It seems that everything must be skin tight or barely there. Neither one of those fits in with my preferences. Right now I’m running on the treadmil in the privacy of my own home so what I wear isn’t all that important other than getting the sweat off of me quickly.

I wear yoga pants (not running tights) and was using my husband’s long sleeved shirts for tops. The problem is – cotton t-shirts can make you super sweaty and gross. So I went on the search for something I could use. If you’re lucky – you can buy stuff from places like The Running Room or Nike or even Old Navy in the winter that are long sleeved – however, I often found them to be too tight. I recently grabbed this top from Old Navy because it was on sale for $6. Why wouldn’t you buy it at that price?

So I searched on. I found a company called Friniggi out of Botswana. They had breathable tops with matching hijabs. Bonus! 2 in 1! I got a top but then suffered from 2 problems.  First – I have freakishly long arms – they are so long I’m more chimpanzee than human (ha, ha!) I have some seriously long arms here. So my running top from Finiggi is short in the sleeve.

Running top & hijab from Friniggi.com
Running top & hijab from Friniggi.com
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Great to run in, jut a bit short in the sleeve for my long arms. This top from Friniggi is otherwise fantastic.

Problem #2 was the hijab. I love it – I do – but I measured according to the instructions on their website not once or twice or even three times. Nope, I measured at least 5 times to be sure the fit was right for me. But it doesn’t fit me well. It’s too big and I end up having to wear an underscarf with it AND pinning it down just to wear it comfortably. Not how it’s supposed to be. I do like the cut around the shoulders though – that’s cool. They were super kind and supportive in trying to fix it for me (kudos for that!) and did end up refunding me for the hijab – which was also cool. I do love the breathability of the top. It was AWESOME on a very hot summer day and a 40 min run. If it weren’t for my apish arms – I’d have been very happy. Oh – I forgot to mention -this top and hijab came with a cool drawstring backpack that I totally wasn’t expecting!

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My top from LiaWear Action – and me, regretting not buying a hijab from them when I had the chance.

So I searched on – and came back to someone who made a custom top for me years ago – LiaWear Action. I told her what I needed, she asked for my measurements and the look I was going for – and voila – my most favourite running top ever was born.  It’s long enough for my arms – loose enough to keep me happy, and moisture wicking.  It covers all of my needs. Latifa is great at what she does – and super professional. I plan on ordering more from her (next order is for one of her hijabs…I didn’t get one and now our dollar SUCKS so I have to wait!) I have even worn this top as just a regular old top out and about because I love it that much.

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Obligatory “action” shot of my LiaWear Action top. God – I took these pics when the leaves were still green…I think this was actually August. It only took me 5 months to actually get them on my PC to write this blog post!

Shutterfly Product Review

Have you heard of Shutterfly?  If not, I truly wonder where you’ve been hiding to miss out on this company!  Shutterfly is a online photo company where you can do something as simple as print images, or as awesome as make photo books, calendars, gifts and even home decor.  I’ve never been brave enough to do anything other than make photo books (which always turn out awesome).

A while back I was contacted by a representative of Shutterfly asking me if I’d be willing to review one of their products – a photo mug.  I was more than happy to do this, as I’ve always been curious about how the end product would look but for some reason was worried to try it out.

The idea is as simple as anything else on Shutterfly – choose your product, upload your pictures, finalize/tweak anything you’d like (some have a space where you can add a little quote or saying) – and checkout.  Orders come quickly, even to Canada, and I’ve yet to be disappointed with anything I bought from them.

The same holds true for my mug. The colors are rich, the pictures are sharp, and the quality of the mug itself is fantastic.  There’s nothing I hate more than the feel of a cheap mug…that sort of grainy texture that makes you think toxins are leaking into your coffee – do you know what I mean?  This mug is fantastic – smooth and glossy, dishwasher safe (yay!) and holds the largest size cup of coffee that my Keurig makes (double yay!!).

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So – here’s my mug in all it’s morning coffee-filled glory.  I love it.  My kids know that it’s “mom’s cup” and not to touch it.  I’m so happy, and will definitely order more – as gifts for friends and family…or even another couple for me.  One can never have too many coffee mugs, you know 😉

Daily Childcare Report (Product Review)

I have to share this awesome site with you…I don’t care if you run a childcare center, a family childcare home, or bring your child to one – I’m telling you – you need to use this (or tell your caregiver about it so that you can!). I am not being compensated for this review – I just love this product so much, I feel that every childcare provider should have it!

Let me just set the stage for you – from a provider’s perspective:

I have 6 kids here from 6 different families.  These kids all range in age from 0-12 years.  All day long we do a variety of activities and crafts and eat our meals.  I plan on taking them on a Field Trip to (random place) and now I have to nag each family to sign a permission slip.

Meanwhile, as my day goes on – I have to prepare the meals and snacks, ensure that everything is clean and sanitary, remember to tell Little Johny’s mom that he is developing a bit of a diaper rash, tell Sally’s grandma that she’s has been tugging at her hear all day (possible ear infection?) and not to forget to ask Mary’s dad about her pickup schedule for the following week.

While I’m doing all of that, I also have to write out – by hand – every where we went, everything we did, and everything we ate.  You can bet that by the time the 3rd of 4th report – my writing is illegible.

Then there’s the chaos of pickup time.  Mom is thinking that she forgot to pull out the meat for dinner, so now she’s going to have to figure something else out for dinner.  Dad is worried about leaving here with his kid so that he can get to the school to pick up the other one on time.  A thousand other worries are running through parents’ heads as I try to give them the low down on what went on that day, bundle a kid into his coat/shoes, jam a piece of paper into the parents hand (hoping that I’m giving the right paper to the right parent) and trying to get them to initial the sign-out sheet while I’ve got 5 other kids pandering for attention in the background.

This is not an unusual day for a childcare provider.  Notes sent home often end up crumpled in the back seat of the car.  Rushed conversations between myself and the parent are quickly forgotten.  Chaos ensues.

Enter the DailyChildcareReport.

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Now my day looks pretty much the same – but instead of having to fill out 6 different reports, I am putting notes into my DailyChildcareReport.  Checking off if a child needs a change of clothes, more diapers, or if a parent needs to sign something.  The foods served, and how much the child ate are completed with a click.  Same thing for naps, mood, and diaper changes (right down to the consistency of the stool!).  It takes me less than 5 minutes to fill out a complete report.

There’s a section where I can type a quick note to the parents about their child – knowing that it will be legible, and is going to the right guardian is great!  Parents can even have it set up to go to aunts, uncles, grandparents…whoever they like.

And how does the parent get their child’s info?  Through an email or text that’s sent automatically at the end of the day!  Simple, quick, easy.

My brain is no longer fried.  I’m no longer telling kids “just a minute hun, I have to write this down for mommy to read….sorry baby, just another few minutes, now I have to write a note for Emily’s mom…”  Now, I get to say “You built a tower? Awesome, let me come take a picture!”

Oh – and speaking of pictures – you can attach pictures, video and PDF documents for parents to see.

I love DailyChildcareReport, and I love that I can contact Christian, the creator, if I have a question, comment, idea for improvement…whatever I need – and he’ll reply within 24 hours.  So, what does it cost?  Free for parents it’s free and for providers, it’s a whopping $3.12 per child (and it’s a tax write off!)

I would never go back to any other way of communication with parents.  This works, works well, and I find that my parents are more involved now that I use this than they ever were before.

Click on the site – and scroll down to the bottom where they have a YouTube video explaining the process.

Best of all – you can try it for FREE for the first 30 days.  What’s better than free??

Islamic Design House (Product Review – and a voucher code!)

I did my last review for Islamic Design House nearly 2 years ago.  I loved them then, and I still love them now.  I believe I now have a total of 6 of their pieces.  They’re just as good as they were when they were new – and still as fun and funky as ever.  My kind of thing – quality, style, and worth every penny!  All of the points that I made in that post remain true today – the 100% cotton, the different fits available (slim, regular, and loose), and the length options (5 different lengths to choose from!).

A few weeks ago, I saw that they were offering up an abaya for people who qualify to do a blog/video review of them…so I filled out the request form and was approved.  I chose this one.

Not long after being approved and giving my sizing info – it arrived.

Look how beautifully it was wrapped!
Look how beautifully it was wrapped!

And, as beautiful as it looked all nicely tied up like that – I ripped open that package to see the abaya itself.

Lovely, as usual, just needs a bit of pressing.
Lovely, as usual, just needs a bit of pressing.

I don’t recall the IDH abayas having funky little sayings on the tags – but I loved this one:

"to dress is to express my faith, to be free is to live my deen."
“to dress is to express my faith, to be free is to live my deen.”

The next day, I pressed out the wrinkles and paired it up with some Pearl Daisy hijabs and underscarves.  The end look:

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Loved that my shoes matched!
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The funky printed jersey shoulder panel is my favorite bit!

I love everything about this abaya – with one exception…the sleeves are short on me.  You may know that I complain a lot about my “chimpanzee” arms – they are freakishly long, and I found that this abaya could have used an extra inch or two on the sleeves.  I wrote to Islamic Design House about it – and it turns out that the size I ordered (58) is one size smaller that I typically order from them, a 60 would have been perfect.  Oh well, my mistake – and it just means that I can wear some sleeves or a shirt underneath to match my hijab, underscarf, or shoes.

BUT WAIT – THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

You can get 10% off your purchase of an Islamic Design House abaya by simply using the voucher code STYLEMOM at check out!  Click here to start shopping now!

 

A Monster!

I bought a book for my daycare kids.  I remember reading it way back in the day when I was going to Mrs. Dianne’s Home Daycare.  I was young, I don’t remember much about her other than she taught me how to wash a table off, and every nap time, she would give me a little jiggle as she tucked me in and my soup would slosh around in my stomach – and, she had a book about a monster.

This was possibly my favourite book growing up that wasn’t a Dr. Seuss one.  Funnily enough, I’d forgotten all about it until I saw it in my recent Scholastic flyer.  I saw it and was filled with excitement…had to order it.

I was able to pick it up on Tuesday evening.  And guess what the boys here have been doing for the last 3 days?  “Reading” the book.  They read it to me, to each other, to themselves.  They re-enact it.  They color about it.  They talk about.  They dream about it.  They are NUTS for this book.

So…yeah…buy the book.  Read it to your kids in the best Grover voice possible.  They’ll love it, and you will too!

I’ve said I’m cheap, right? (Edited to add recipe in the post)

Well – now you’re going to think I’ve just gone crazy.

I started making my own shampoo.  I’d looked at it before, but put it off because I’ve got really long hair that’s prone to oiliness…nothing can work as well for that as stuff you BUY, right?

Well – A girlfriend of mine has this fabulous shop (yes, I’ll post the other things I bought from her too) and though she could have charged me (and you) a hefty price and just made the shampoo herself, she was kind enough to post the recipe on her blog.  Honestly, she gave me that recipe probably 3 or 4 months ago.  I thought she was off her rocker crazy.  Then, a few weeks ago, I thought to myself, why not give it a try?

**Your shampoo will be watery, not thick like the commercial stuff, that’s why I recommend using a squirt bottle (condiment bottles from the dollar store work well and a lot of them have measurements on them). It will also have no foaming action due to the lack of detergents and sulfates. It’s more of a cleansing rinse than a traditional shampoo, but you don’t need the foam to get clean hair :). It may take some getting used to, but it’s so worth it!

Shampoo

In a squeeze bottle (even an old shampoo bottle) use approximately 8 oz of either black tea, herbal tea, soapnuts liquid or water and add 2 TBS or so of baking soda and any essential oils (if you want). The baking soda will cleanse all build up and oils out of your hair, it’s too base to just leave so be sure to follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse. This is what I use as the post shampoo rinse, it smooths/conditions the hair cuticle, acts as a shine enhancer and restores proper pH to both hair and scalp.

Saturate your hair, massage into scalp, you can leave it for a couple minutes if you like, then rinse.

Rinse or Conditioner

Mix approx 6 ounces of water and 2 ounces of cider vinegar in a squeeze bottle and add essential oils of  your choice if  you like. You WILL NOT smell like vinegar once your hair is dry :).

Apply rinse to hair, you can leave on for a few minutes or just rinse out.  

Taken, with permission, from Divine Earth Body Care

Seriously people. This is EASY to do (I may be cheap, but I’m also lazy – if this involved too much work, I wouldn’t ever bother doing it again!).  My hair is shiny, clean, and healthy looking.  I cannot believe how much better my hair is now that I’ve used this stuff exclusively for the past 2 weeks.  Sure, there are no soapy suds…but that’s easy to get used to.  The bonus…if some gets into your mouth as you “shampoo” – it tastes good.

I’ve also been using the recipe she’s posted for Conditioning Rinse…same post as above.  Sure, you smell like vinegar in the shower, but seriously, once your hair is dry, there’s no smell.  Again, my hair is just as smooth and detangled as it was from my $10 bottle of conditioner….why I haven’t made this switch sooner, I’ll never know.

**I just wanted to say Kristen’s recipe says to add essential oils (if you want) — I don’t have any…and the stuff works so good without it, why bother paying the extra couple cents for scent?  It just rinses out anyhow!

As promised, I’m also going to just do a quick review of some of her other products that I’ve bought.

These three can be found on the face care page.  I got everything at the end of September…I need to reorder the cleanser and scrub, but that night cream will last me a LONG time yet!

Soap Free Face Cleanser  – Love this stuff.  I had her add some essential oils to mine…and next time I order some – I will probably forego that luxury…this stuff is just awesome…my face is clean, not irritated – and it’s managed to clear up those blackheads that seem to stay forever in and around the nose.  (Yuck!)

Soap Free Cleansing Scrub – I don’t use this, but Mr. Delusional does – works great on the ingrown hairs he gets on his neck and cheeks.  Come to think of it, I haven’t seen him have any ingrowns at all in over a month.

Face Souffle Whipped Face Butter Night Cream – Apparently it busts wrinkles.  God knows…I don’t have any yet!  It’s great though.  Heavy, so better for night, but I also use it in the mornings during our cold winter.  Bonus – Adam had some nasty eczema develop on his hands – put all the medicated creams I had on it and nothing worked.  Out of desperation for his poor cracking hands, I put some of this stuff on after his bath – the next morning the eczema was GONE.

She also sells natural mineral makeup.  I used to use Bare Minerals – and loved the stuff.  She convinced me to try her stuff.  Oh my gosh – SO much better than the Bare Minerals!  It covers better, it feels nicer on my skin, it’s cheaper AND you use less of it…it’s just fantastic.  You’ll have to contact her, either through her Divine Earth Body Care facebook page, or just use the contact form on her website to get yours…

 

Funkilicious Clothing – A Review of Islamic Design House

It’s no surprise that I’m Muslim – it’s also no surprise that I have a style and attitude that is all my own (if you haven’t learned that yet, you haven’t been a blog follower for long!) I’ve never been one to follow the fads, (just ask my friend, The Princess, who cringes when she sees me all glammed up only to be wearing my beloved red chucks!)  So, Islamic clothing has always been a sore spot for me.  It’s just so….drab.

Photo from Islamic Design House

Then, Amenakin of YouTube fame did a review of Islamic Design House.  Oh my, I was in love!  These things have style and funk and still cover all the basics requirements of my faith.  I looked at the site on and off for months.  Eventually, one of the jlbabs went on sale, our Canadian dollar was at an all time high, and I thought, “give it a shot.”  I ordered this one (in navy) and then sat worrying that I’d regret it.

When the package came in the mail, I was trepidatious.  I was worried it would be stiff or uncomfortable.  I was worried it would wrinkle when I sat and I’d be spending hours ironing (God knows, I hate ironing!)  I was worried the seams would fray or buttons would fall off or the material would be cheap and thin – but all my fears were for nothing. When I pulled it out, I happily found that the cotton was so lovely.   In fact, I was so impressed that I ordered another one – yes, you’ll notice a trend, I’ve only ordered from the discounted, old season stock – I’m cheap, I can’t help it!!

All of IDH’s garments are made from 100% cotton.  This is great for many reasons, but for me the biggest benefit is the breathability of it.  I can easily wear this in the hot summer months without swealtering, yet when it was cooler here, I was still warm (granted, to go outside in Canada in the winter, you MUST wear a jacket!!)

Photo from Islamic Design House

The sizing is great too – As a tall(ish) person, I’ve always found that clothing is never long enough for me.  Buying pants is a nightmare that I don’t even want to think about (you know, you sit down and your pants are halfway up your shin?  I hate that!!)  Anyhow, the IDH jilbabs come in a variety of lengths (5 different options from 52-60 inches) I chose the longest, but likely could have gone with the 58, the 60 however allows me to wear heels (if I should ever choose to – I don’t usually, but it’s nice to know I can if I want!).  They also have different fits; slim, regular and loose. I love these options because it means that you can open the package and wear it – not take it to a tailor to be “fixed.”

Finally, my main reason for loving them so much; the design concepts are fantastic!  They have an edginess that still manages to be graceful.  It’s just not something that you can describe. Their sporty, casual and simple looks can appeal to a variety of tastes – and there’s a new collection launched every season (so you’re not stuck looking at the same ones all year long!)

I know that these are really meant for a “Muslim” wardrobe, but I think that non-Muslims could just as easily look fantastic in these as the Muslim women do!

Agoo!

So, a while back I was contacted by Agoo Apparel Inc about a review opportunity for some Agoo leggings.  I said sure, and here is my honest and fair review:

The package came in early March, simply wrapped up in grey shipping type plastic.  Inside was a pair of the Agoo Bamboo Leggings – bright green with little lizards all over them.  I couldn’t have been more excited to get a “boyish” pair!  They are super soft and were way beyond my expectations.  I’ve used other leggings before, but they just can’t compare to the Agoos!

Let me just do a quick review of leggings in general, and then why I like the Agoo so much.  Leggings are fantastic things for little babies – especially those that like to crawl around in a diaper and T-shirt (like my Adam used to) – and the thing is, his legs were always cold. After chatting with some friends about this, I discovered little leggings that he could wear.  They’re great – they keep their legs covered enough to be warm, but (apparently) aren’t bothersome to little dudes.  They’re great under shorts/skirts especially on spring fall days.

I thought that leggings were only good for babies, but I soon discovered that my older kids were snagging them to wear on their arms (for the same reasons as you put them on the babies!)   They’d head to school on a spring day — too warm for a jacket, but still a bit too chilly in the morning to wear just a shirt.  They’d mix and match the leggings that I have and were the talk of the school.  Everyone wanted them.

The Agoo Leggings, however, are even better – I cannot describe how soft they are.  They have been through the wash many times and have not faded or shrunk (a major reason it took me 6 weeks to review – I wanted to put them through the ringer!)  They are fantastic.  They are also bigger than the other brands that I have.  This means that they fit Adam’s 3 yr old legs/arms and come up to mid-bicep on my older kids (as opposed to the other brands which barely made it over their elbow) — those extra two inches are fantastic!  I also noticed that the elastic isn’t as tight…some of the other ones that I had would leave some harsh red marks on Adam’s chubby thighs, and though he’s no longer a baby with chubby thighs, I don’t think the Agoos would have left any mark on him.

All in all, they are a fantastic product – very happy with them — especially right now – they are great chickenpox-on-the-arm covers!  My little man is stylin without itching!

Just call me Mrs. Brady — why are you laughing?

So, I’m on a new kick…I wonder how long it will last.  I have a fairly clean home (except for the never ending dust – God how I hate dusting!) and have been keeping on track with my cleaning routine (thanks to Flylady – if you’ve never heard of her, you may just curse me) and have been cooking relatively decent suppers thanks to a whole lot of cook books (my favourites are Company’s Coming, but I’ve got tons of different ones).

Kitty Forman – She’s like a super happy version of me

Why doesn’t my family appreciate this though?  Monday I made a Hungarian Stew, it was good — but my picky kids wouldn’t eat it.  Actually, Adam was digging right in until Isaac said “I….don’t really like this” Then all hell broke loose and no one wanted to eat.  It makes me want to scream when I go to the effort of cooking and no one eats it.  Moe and I ate it (really, it was good!) …and then were “mean” because we wouldn’t let the kids eat cereal instead of the perfectly fine meal on their plates.

Tuesday I made Pastito – I love pastito…you get pasta without a typical Italian pasta taste — likely because it’s more of a Greek dish.  It was heavenly — and again, Adam was happily chowing away when the older two “didn’t like” it.  I nearly stabbed them with my fork.  Again, they went to bed with “nothing good” to eat.  Whatever.

In anger – last night I refused to make anything.  Yup, I let them gorge on cereal…what do I care?  I was mean and nasty and grumpy all day (but damn, my house was clean — because I didn’t give up on that!).  Then I started feeling bad — these are growing kids, they need more than carbs and milk to get through the day.  So, I went onto Allrecipes to find a nice healthy and hearty breakfast for them.  I chose an oatmeal – it’s cold here, I thought it would warm their bellies and stick to their ribs.  I wake up and gather the ingredients (this one had egg — odd, no?) I happily am stirring away and the kitchen is smelling like a warm cinnamon hug….it was great.  I spoon the oatmeal into their eagerly awaiting bowls…they take a bite….and — you guessed it “I don’t like it”

And I’m a bit like Lois on my bad days…

I was enraged, but quietly made my own bowl….this stuff was NASTY.  The people on the site all gave it a near 5/5…what the hell were they on?  It was friggen disgusting!!  I’ve made my own porridge/oatmeal before – and it was delicious…this was the equivalent of hospital grade oatmeal with a dash of cinnamon.  *gag*

So – I’ve decided that I’m done trying to be Mrs. Brady — I’ll settle for Kitty from That 70’s Show with a side of Lois from Malcom in the Middle.