Saturday, April 30, 2011

Style Kid: Review and Giveaway!


My two year old just started saying "I love shopping" last week.  I was in shock, but for some reason, everyone seems to think that she learned that phrase from me!
I'm always on the look out for cool, unique, interesting, functional, practical, eco-friendly, safe products for my toddler, so when I was asked to review a product of my choosing from StyleKid.ca, I was really excited. The only problem was which item I would choose!
StyleKid.ca is a super cool, super fun retailer for all things baby and kid. Shopping online for some of the greatest baby and kid items could not be easier! They carry many well-known and trusted brand names and everything from baby carriers to toys, accessories, and kids' room decor!

I had a very difficult time deciding which item to review.  The Zoo Packs from Skip*Hop caught  my eye, as I was looking for a backpack for Little One. I needed something sturdy, well-made, durable, big enough to carry the things she needs while out and about, yet small enough to not tip her over!  Little One is a tiny toddler, so finding a bag small enough for her to carry is a challenge.
 I chose the Penguin Zoo Pack by Skip*Hop for her. Actually, she chose it! I wanted to get her the owl, but she kept saying "Pingu! Pingu!" while she sat on my lap, checking out StyleKid.ca with me!

I think it is safe to say that we made the right decision. Little One absolutely LOVES her backpack and refuses to take it off. She even slept with it last night! 

It's roomy enough to carry her books, sippy cup, snacks, and other items, but small enough that she can carry it with ease. She's so tiny, that almost every other kid bag makes her topple over!  We are both very pleased with the backpack and would definitely recommend it to friends and family.

-BPA-Free, Phthalate-free, PVC Free
-Roomy main compartment
-Insulated pouch for snacks
-Adjustable mesh bottle pocket
-Padded, adjustable comfy straps
-Write-on nametag inside
-Easy to clean lining
-10" width x 4" depth x 11.5" height


She looks like such a big girl in this pic :( She put her rain boots, hat and backpack on, and  headed for the door. She told me, "I shopping, Mama! See you!" She looks like she's almost ready for school in this photo!


If you are a new parent, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or even if you just have a special little one in your life, I highly recommend checking out StyleKid.ca! I spent hours scouring their website, as I have a zillion baby showers to attend in the next few months! I know babies are born all year round, but for some reason, Spring seems to be Baby Shower Season!

GOOD NEWS!!! StyleKid.ca is giving one of my readers a $50 gift certificate for their store!


WIN!
To enter, you must go over to StyleKid.ca and check out their site, come back here and leave me a comment telling me which item(s) you would choose if you won the gift certificate! 
(1 entry)

Additional entries:
 * Follow StyleKid and chancesmommy (me!) on Twitter. Say hi to StyleKid and let them know I sent  you and/or Tweet the giveaway using the following or similar:

"I want to #WIN a $50 @stylekid GC on @chancesmommy's blog! "  
(5 entries)

* "Like" StyleKid on Facebook and tell them that I sent you! Show 'em some luv!  
(1 entry)

* "Like" Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island REVIEWS on Facebook.  
(1 entry)

* Follow Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island REVIEWS on GFC. 
(1 entry)

* Follow Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island REVIEWS on Networked Blogs.  
(1 entry)

* Grab my blog button and send me the link so I know where you posted it.
(1 entry)


Make sure to leave me your e-mail address so I can contact you if you are the winner. Also, please leave a SEPARATE comment for EACH entry.


Giveaway open to Canadian residents. Ends May 13, 2011 (Fri).
Disclosure - I was given the Skip*Hop Penguin Zoo Pack from StyleKid.ca to facilitate this review. The thoughts and opinions on this blog are my own.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Congrats!


The winner for our Simply on Board giveaway has been chosen via Random.org.
 
Congratulations to 
 
Janelle said... 6
I left a comment on your facebook page about why I'd like to win!Janelle Kxj****** at hotmail dot com
 Please check your inbox this week! I'll be e-mailing  you re: your prize from Simply on Board!







Thank you to everyone who entered. Not a winner? Don't fret! We've got more giveaways for you!


StyleKid $50 gift certificate - Ends May 13, 2011
RONA $50 gift certificate - Ends May 15, 2011

Who Knew That It Could Feel So Good


...to brush one's teeth?

Brushing, flossing, rinsing, and daily oral care is something we do to prevent tooth decay, and maintain a healthy smile. Did you know 72% of Canadians think that an unattractive smile or poor oral hygiene equal a barrier to professional success? 5% of people say that they have experienced discrimination because of their smile.

"National Oral Health Month this April, Crest and Oral-B reveal the 2011 Crest and Oral-B Great Canadian Smile Survey with new insights on how Canadians perceive oral care, smile attractiveness and what it means to have a healthy smile".  I realize I am  just under the wire here, since today is the last day of April, but I wanted to share this with you.  Did you even know that April is National Oral Health Month? 

In the 2011 Crest and Oral-B Great Canadian Smile Survey, survey respondents were asked what the most important factor was in determining the attractiveness of others.  33% said that the smile was the most important. A close second were eyes at 30% and physical fitness ranked third with 18%.

When asked what my biggest oral health concern, I worry about gum disease and fighting gingivitis. I don't know why, but it's just something I'm really paranoid about. I diligently brush my toddler's teeth, especially since she  now has a full set of teeth! Though we brush in the morning and before bed, I know we should be brushing and flossing after meals as well. This is something I'm going to work on.
I was given a customized oral care package from Crest and Oral-B for sharing what my biggest oral health concern was.
I was given Crest Pro-Health toothpaste, Crest Pro-Health mouthwash, and an Oral B Professional Care Electric Toothbrush.

I have to say that I never knew brushing my teeth could feel so good. The soft bristles are gentle on teeth and gums and the pressure sensor stops pulsations when you are brushing too hard. It removes 2x more plaque than a manual toothbrush. My teeth and mouth feel as clean as if just left the dentist's office.


What’s your top oral health concern? Are you worried about gum disease and/or treating gingivitis? Do you want to whiten up your smile? Or, is fighting plaque and tarter build-up your main concern?
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fear


 

Something I have been suppressing is that I have a terrible fear of getting pregnant again after my 28 weeker's long stay in the NICU.  I haven't really spoken about it to anyone other than my best friend and my husband. Now that Little One is a toddler, everyone has been harrassing asking me when #2 will be here.  I get the "Little One needs a sibling" or "You're getting too old, you better have another one now while you still can". 

I realize she is now two years old and a sibling would be good for her (and a welcome addition to the family). I realize that I am 35 years old already, but I can't help my feelings.  I'm worried, terrified, and full of anxiety. Part of me desperately wants to have another baby, but the other part wonders if we should.  Our experience with Little One being premature and in the hospital for so long makes me wonder if we should even take that chance. We may not be as lucky as we were with Little One coming out of it all so well.

 
I wrote about my feelings and concerns over at Mom Nation (my first post on the Mom Nation site!).
Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow


 Yesterday, we said goodbye to one of my ESL students. He came to study with me last September and the time has come for him to end his studies on the Island. For the past eight months, he has been a regular fixture in Little One's life. I sometimes think she believes that he is her brother.  They play together, she argues with him, he spoils her, keeps her occupied...and they have become best buddies.

It was so sad to say goodbye.
 She really loves her buddy, DW!
 We took the students on a field trip to Bridal Veil Falls the day before our student left. Little One got to accompany us on our trip.
 P.S. Isn't her backpack just adorable? You can win one on my reviews blog!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Totally Melts My Heart




Lately it seems that all I write about is what my toddler has been up to, what kind of interesting baby/toddler products I've discovered, and pretty much all of that boring stuff that comes with everyday life. I could write about how depressing it can sometimes be to be a former city girl trying to adapt to life on a farm. Let me first say that I love the farm and I love where we live. It's just the hardships that come with farming, and the death and dying part I have a hard time with. I could write about how difficult it is to watch a newborn calf die or how incredibly sad it is to see a mother cow die after childbirth. These things do happen.
Instead, I will write about how my ESL students say that "the outside air smells like caramel" when we boil our maple sap to make maple syrup.

Instead, I'll blog about how my two year old daughter makes me all mushy and gushy with all the cute things she comes up with.

In the past two weeks, she's had big jump in her speech. She comes up with things like "I happy, Mama!" or "Ahhh...Funny!"

She was having a minor meltdown the other day because she was tired and I had to wake her up so we could hit the road early in the morning (we were driving back to the Island from Montreal - an 11 hour drive!). I told her, "Honey, crying is for when  you're sad or hurt, and..."  then she interjected, "I sad, Mama! I sleeping!!!"  Good point. What was I thinking?

Today was the first time she has ever told me, "I love you, Mama!" and it totally melted my heart. Moments like these are priceless. I must always remember these moments of pure love...especially when my toddler tests my patience.


Today she also said "I like shopping!" when we were at the mall. Where on earth did she learn that sentence from!?!

BMO Eco Smart Mortgage


Mortgage.  Everyone's favourite word, right? 

As a kid, the word 'mortgage' once was a word I thought was only used by people my parents' age.  It was a 'grown up' word.  I find it interesting that when we were younger, our biggest worry was what we were going to wear to the NKOTB concert (just in case Jordan Knight should happen to spot us in a crowded stadium and fall in love with us).  Now, my peers and I are thinking about mortgage rates and other fun stuff related to home ownership.

Another thing I noticed was that more and more of my peers are also thinking "green". Whether it be because we are more environmentally conscious than we once were or because now we have families of our own and being green helps not only the environment, but also our bank accounts, more and more of us are looking for eco-friendly solutions.  This is especially true of our choices when it comes to our homes.  I know for us, Hubby and I have installed all brand new windows and properly insulated our old farm house.  We have passive solar energy from our greenhouse and we've replaced most of our large appliances to make sure they are Energy Star approved. We also replaced our water system to make sure it is Energy Star approved.

I was excited to discover that BMO wants to encourage and reward Canadian homeowners who are looking to reduce energy consumption and offer them a special mortgage rate!  Canadians who meet BMO's energy efficiency criteria can be offered the BMO Eco Smart Mortgage -- a new mortgage product with market leading five-year fixed rate of 3.89 per cent.

HOW IT WORKS
Homeowners can simply download the appropriate checklist (for house or condo) from the BMO website.The check-list includes things such as: High-efficiency heating and cooling systems, Solar, tank-less or ENERGY STAR qualified hot water system and ENERGY STAR qualified windows, doors and major appliances. After going through the checklist, if the homeowner feels their home meets all the criteria and qualifies, they can contact BMO branch to speak with a mortgage specialist. An appraiser will be sent by BMO to confirm whether or not the house qualifies.

To qualify, 6 out of 7 items must be met. We almost qualified. Not all of our appliances are Energy Star approved (we have three old chest freezers in the basement that store our meet and produce from our farm and one of the freezers isn't Energy Star approved ). Our greenhouse is attached to our kitchen and it isn't insulated according to the guidelines set on the checklist.

Though Hubby and I are environmentally conscious, our house is indeed old and does need some improvement to be even more energy efficient.

For the checklists and more information on BMO Eco Smart Mortgage, click here.

WAIT! There's more!

WIN a $50 RONA gift card! One lucky winner will win a $50 gift card (you know, so you can use it to buy items from RONA to make your house even "greener")!

All you have to do is tell me in a comment here what your future plans are to make your home more energy efficient.


Giveaway open to Canadian residents only. Ends on May 15, 2011.

Disclosure – I am participating in the BMO Eco Smart Mortgage program by Mom Central Canada on behalf of BMO - Bank of Montreal.  I received a gift card as a thank you for my participation.  The opinions on this blog are my own.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011

You Know You Need 'Em!


Tired of losing Baby's favourite toy or sippy cup when out for a stroll?  Tired of Baby tossing Sophie the Giraffe overboard and dropping her on dirty shopping mall floors?  Simply on Board has the perfect solution for this everyday dilemma. The Simply on Board Toy Straps!

They're 100% cotton, washable, adjustable, and keep items where they ought to be. Oh! I almost forgot to mention that Simply on Board is Canadian too!

Looking for a set of Simply on Board toy straps?  There's a Canadian list of retailers is listed at www.simplyonboard.com, in the top right corner. U.S. friends, you can find the straps on Amazon.com!

Here's some good news.  Simply on Board is giving away a set of straps (yes, that's TWO straps in a package) to one of you lucky readers! We will be giving away a set of straps to one lucky person who responds! At 20 people, we'll be giving away 2 sets. At 30 people, we'll be giving away 3 sets! You get the idea! LOTS of chances to win this amazing prize!

How to Win:
Go to Random Thoughts and Musings from the Island REVIEWS on Facebook. Leave me a comment there, telling me why you would like to win a set of Simply on Board straps! (Let me know in a comment here that you entered on my Facebook page) Please leave your e-mail address so you can be contacted if you win!

"Like" Simply on Board on Facebook and tell them I sent you :)

**Open to Canadian and U.S. residents.  Giveaway ends at 12AM EDT on April 30th, 2011.**

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ice Cream


BornFree Canada and NewBornFree were hosting a Green Birthday Twitter Party tonight and one of the questions people asked was: "Does anyone have any recipes for homemade ice cream?"

I know that deep in the far corners of this blog's recipe archives, I have a recipe for ice cream. I don't have an ice cream maker because I prefer to do things the old fashioned way and use all the elbow grease I can. Okay, I just haven't gotten around to getting an ice cream maker yet. It's been on my mind, but these days, things tend to leave my mind as quickly as they came. Anyway, scrolling through all the recipes I have on here, I got impatient and just grabbed it from my recipe folder on my computer.

Here you go:

C's Homemade STRAWBERRY Ice Cream
1 pint of strawberries (I keep a bunch in my freezer, as I find frozen strawberries make the freezing part go faster)
A little bit of sugar or any natural alternative to sugar
1 c. milk
2 c. heavy cream
vanilla

Since I don't have an ice cream maker, I put the frozen strawberries and sugar in my blender and then add the milk and blend those together.  Because the strawberries are frozen, they make the mixture turn into a slightly less thick version of ice cream. I pour the mixture into a cold metal bowl, and then I add the heavy cream and beat with an electric mixer.  I have done this with a whisk before, and let me tell ya, it is a lot more work! Make sure to keep the ice cream mixture in the freezer for a few hours to freeze to desired consistency/thickness.

I found an alternate recipe online ages ago, but I can't find which site I found it on. Be forewarned, there is a lot of sugar in this recipe. It's pretty much the same recipe, with more sugar though. This recipe also has step by step instructions on how to make homemade ice cream without an ice cream maker...and not the lazy person's way   the way I do it! The results are much better (I've tried both), but we keep sticking to my method. Perhaps it's because we're lazy we just want our ice cream ASAP! :)

Strawberries
16 oz fresh strawberries (1 pint)
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

Ice Cream Base
1 cup milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pour the ice cream mixture into a wide, airtight container.
  • Metal bowls work best. Ice cream has a smoother consistency when it is frozen faster. Metal bowls speed up the freezing process. If you don't have a metal bowl, plastic bowls are fine as well. Make sure the bowl you choose is wide. A wide bowl helps freezing and allows you to mix your ice cream easily.
  • Place ice cream in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  • Ice cream will need to be in fridge longer if the mixture has been heated and cooked. Ice cream must be well chilled before going on to the next steps.
  • Place the chilled ice cream mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  • Beat ice cream mixture with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • The edges of your ice cream should have started to thicken. Scrape the edges with a fork or spatula and beat with an electric mixer to add air to the mixture and break up ice crystals. You can use a fork instead of an electric mixer, but the ice cream will be less smooth and creamy.
  • Place ice cream in the freezer for 40 minutes - then beat with an electric mixer.
  • Repeat "40 minute freeze-then-beat cycle" 3 times
  • This should total 2 1/2 hours of freezing.
  • You can choose to either beat your ice cream mixture every 40 minutes until frozen or let your ice cream mixture freeze on its own.
  • Either method works fine. The more you beat it, the softer it will be. Total freezing time can take anywhere between 3-5 hours.
  • Add mix-ins to your ice cream.
  • If you want to add mix-ins to your homemade ice cream, wait until the ice cream is thick enough to "hold" the mix-ins so they don't fall to the bottom of the container. Generally, add mix-ins after 2-3 hours of freezing.
ENJOY!!!
Saturday, April 09, 2011

How Did I End Up Here?


 There are days when I  have to stop and pause for a while to think of how on earth I ended up where I am today.  How did this former vegetarian, English Literature Major, world traveling city girl end up living on a farm on an island and married to a beef farmer?  How?

Simple.  I fell in love with a beautiful island and its inhabitants and I fell in love with a kind farmer.  Don't get me wrong.  Life is still sometimes always a struggle to get used to here.  Some days are more challenging than others.  Though I love it here and have made it  my home, I miss my family and my friends.  I do have a great bunch of friends here, and on the Island everyone is your neighbour (even if you live 30 km away!), but I sometimes miss the city.  I miss being able to eat at Japanese, Thai, and Indian restaurants whenever I please.  I miss getting together with girlfriends for Bellinis, Martinis, and a movie.

Then I look at the world Hubby and I have created together.  How could I ever want to be anywhere else?  Well, unless it's the Dominican Republic or somewhere warm!
 There are moments where we delight in the sheer pleasure of the simple things in life (like watching our goofy toddler eat her Japanese okonomiyaki with chopsticks).
There are moments of beauty.
 The celebration of life.
 The sadness of death and loss.

Yes, that's a turkey vulture waiting for a free meal.  Calving season is no fun when death is also looming.  Sometimes you lose a cow or a calf...or both.  Farming is definitely not for the faint of heart. 
There are moments of bliss.
Nothing beats the smell of maple syrup in the air!
 Moments of love.  Little One is such a happy kid.  I love her.
On the farm, there are also moments of disbelief and thankfulness.  I often catch myself saying, "Whoa. This is all ours?! How blessed and fortunate we are!"
There are moments of  frustration. It's not an easy life.
Moments of happiness...
 ...and, moments of taking it all in and relishing every moment.

It may seem crazy, but somehow it all makes sense.


Friday, April 08, 2011

Life is a Special Occasion


"Life is a special occasion"




That's the new mantra I have to keep chanting.  Oftentimes, we forget about the everyday things.  It's normal.  Life gets busy, we get distracted...and we forget to cherish each and every moment we have with our loved ones.

For over a hundred years, Hallmark has helped families and friends show their love and appreciation for each other for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and other special occasions.  Now, Hallmark is reminding us that life is a special occasion too. Yes, Hallmark wants us to remember to "Press Pause" and appreciate life's everyday moments as well.





As a member of Hallmark's Press Pause Panel, I received for review:
- Recordable Conversation Book
A sweet way to create memories! Each page has one or two open-ended questions for your child to answer. Your child's answers can then be recorded at the touch of a button. It's a very thoughtful way to make memories last. What a great keepsake to play back time after time! Little One and I are going to record her voice and answers for her grandma. Perfect, since Mother's Day is just around the corner!
Sells for $29.95








- Totally Ticklish Duck
Last Easter, Little One was only a year old. This year, she's still not old enough to understand what Easter is really about, but more aware of what Easter egg hunting is. Okay, she's more aware of what chocolate is (thanks, Grampy!). I really don't want her to eat any chocolate Easter eggs or chocolate bunnies. I intended on giving her a book or puzzle instead. However, my Hallmark Press Pause Panel Member package arrived today, and this adorable Ticklish Duck was in the box! I wanted to give it to Little One at Easter, but she saw it and immediately swiped it from the box! She is in love with the fuzzy singing duck and very quickly learned how to tickle him to make him laugh even more!
Sells for $29.95 ($14.95 with the purchase of 3 cards)

- Easter Webcam Greeting Card
The card comes to life on your computer! You have to go to the Hallmark website and click on www.hallmark.com/extra to view it.
Sells for $5.99

- Watson the Raccoon & Interactive Story Book
Watson, the adorable raccoon is a stuffed friend that every kid will love. My toddler LOVES story time. She LOVES being read to. I have to say that the reaction she had from reading the story book with Watson was incredibly adorable. She was surprised that Watson talked while I read! When the book is read aloud, Watson reacts to certain sounds and phrases. Watson and the Case of the Sneaky Stealer interactive storybook is FREE with the purchase of Watson the Raccoon (stuffed animal).
Watson the Raccoon with book sells for $29.95.







- Memory Keeping Recordable Frame
I'm all about picture frames, photo albums, scrapbooks, and anything that will help me preserve all the memories I have of my beautiful family and friends. I'm all about leaving something special for posterity and capturing memories. The Memory Keeping Recordable Frame is ideal for this. The elegant solid wood frame has recordable technology that can capture your voice as you tell the story being the photo in the frame. What a perfect gift for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or "just because"!
Sells for $29.95
 
- Feminine Grand Bag
The perfect wrapping for the perfect gift. It's all about presentation, and this bag is really trendy, pretty, feminine, and the handles are made of durable fabric. A very pretty gift bag for Mother's Day presents!
*hint! hint!*
Sells for $4.99




What wonderful ideas for Easter, Birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Graduation, weddings, and more!  These are just a few ideas to share your love and appreciation with those you care for.  Head on over to Hallmark for more ideas! www.hallmark.com

 




*Disclaimer:  I received the above products for review purposes as part of the Hallmark Press Pause Panel. All the opinions and thoughts expressed on my blog are my own.

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About the Blog Author


City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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Life on Manitoulin: Just a bunch of ramblings from a city girl gone country!

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