March 29, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
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Signatures restaurant at the InterContinental Yorkville

I love food.

I am a foodie.

I take pictures to make “food porn” because, well, I love food. Even just looking at it. Though eating it is better.

I have a pretty discerning palate, and I’ll try anything once (you don’t want to know).

I’ve enjoyed some of the finest restaurants, eating at the likes of Nougatine at Jean Georges in NYC, Buca and Lee in Toronto, Murray Street in Ottawa, and the list goes on. So, I feel like I have a good appreciation for food that’s not only served with exquisite presentation but also has a whole whack of flavour and texture going on beneath the creative aesthetics.

I tell you all of this because I hope it clears a path for me to credibly write about the yumminess that is Signatures restaurant.

Located in the InterContinental Yorkville hotel, Signatures is about to spring into a new menu. (See what I did just there?) And my lovely #FamilyTravelCA team — comprised of Lena, Stephanie, Sheri and Candace – was there for a first taste a couple of weeks ago.

And taste, we did. And drool. And oooh. And ahhh. Signatures is one of Yorkville’s best-kept secrets.

Because Chef Andy (who generously took these photos for us in the bright kitchen light) is doing some pretty innovative work, with ingredients you know and love and some that might make you go hmmm, but — trust me — you have to try.

Not pictured here but exceptionally notable:

  • The marinated octopus and tomato salad, with black olive crumble, baby basil and olive oil. There isn’t a bit of rubber in Chef Andy’s octopus — it’s meaty but light, and melts in your mouth in a way you’ve probably never experienced with octopus. Set among the black olives and tomatoes, it’s almost like a ceviche in its presentation. Like all of the salads we try, it just screams fresh
  • The seared Euro seabass (a.k.a. branzino) was on the menu in lieu of the black cod, which is what I tried to order. Chef Andy didn’t like the looks of the cod that day and sent it back to the fish monger, instead choosing this Euro-bass and preparing it with the same sides as the black cod. It was done to perfection, which can be tough with white fish, and the cauliflower base was really interesting and more flavourful than one might expect with what can be a rather boring vegetable when cheese isn’t involved
  • The avocado ball filled with delectable crab, atop a smear of jalapeno guacamole. WOW. One of my absolute favourite dishes throughout the night and one I plan to try re-creating at home flavour-wise (because there’s really no way I can make it look as spectacularly perfect as Chef Andy did)
  • The butter tart was beautiful; not too sweet and served warm with maple ice cream
  • Signatures beet and watermelon salad

    Fresh watermelon medallions surrounded by gorgeous golden beets, with presentation so pretty you probably need to Instagram it before you eat it. I've never had these two flavours together, but they're so perfectly complementary that I wondered why they aren't paired together more often on menus.

  • Signatures foie gras

    Oh, foie gras, how do I love thee? 

    Let me count the ways...

    I've had foie gras in cities all over the world, and I've had it prepared a few different ways. But my favourite is a foie gras paté, like it's served at Signatures. But on this menu, Chef Andy pops a coiffed patty on top of rye toast and nestles it beside cherries, macadamia nuts and a tasty little kumquat marmalade that makes "kumquat" sexy.

  • Signatures radish salad

    This radish salad is Signature's "signature" salad. I'm generally not a radish fan, but being able to try various radishes prepared in at least six different ways was a fascinatingly delicious experience. And, look how pretty it is!

    Plus, anything paired with creme fraiche gets my vote.

  • Signatures steak

    I didn't order the steak because, really, you can get steak anywhere. But when I saw Lena's face taking her first few bites, I accepted her offer to try a bite.

    OMG. Food orgasm.

    This cut of meat was so tender, so melt-in-your-mouth, that I'm salivating as I write this.

    I loved my fish dish, but I'm not ashamed to say that if Lena had left a bite behind, I'd have stuffed it into my full belly.

    (All photos courtesy of Chef Andrew Frastacky.)

March 22, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
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Wheat Canada: spring/summer ’15

If there’s one thing we know for sure about springtime in Canada, it’s that we don’t know a damn thing.

Will it be sunny? Rainy? Warm? Cool? Or all of the above in the same day? Yes, yes. Probably that last bit.

So that means we need layers. Lots of them. To hit up the mall/park/movie theatre/indoor playground/insert-other-fun-activity-or-location-here without the option of going from five degrees up to 25 degrees, and you’re going to end up with those horrific noises children make when they’re too hot or too cold. (And not in that cute Goldilocks kind of way.)

This is what I love about my friends over at Wheat kids’ clothing — they get it. They get that parents want fashionable, comfy clothes that all go together without being too matchy-matchy or too cutesy. And the newer collections also still need to go with the older collections because some stuff actually still fits from the previous season.

Welcome to Wheat Canada’s SS15 (spring/summer 2015) collection. It’s a beauty. As always, the clothes are “contemporary adorable” and blend seamlessly with most of the pieces we already own.

Wheat Canada SS15 - girls

But if you’re not quite sure how to narrow it down, or you’re just starting out on your Wheat obsession, I’d encourage you to let Wheat do the choosing by purchasing a Mystery Bundle. For a fixed price point (usually around the $100 mark), all you do is provide your child’s size and sex, and Wheat will hand-pick several co-ordinating items and ship them to your front door.

The best part? You get every item at a discount because of the bundle promotion. You’ll save at least 20 per cent more than if you’d bought the items separately. And way more if you consider what Wheat sells for in the U.S. and Europe — where prices are double what we pay here for many of the pieces.

The only downside of the Mystery Bundle, of course, is that you might get foundation garments (socks, undershirts and underwear) when you really didn’t need any. Or you might get nearly white-coloured leggings for your daughter who thinks playing in the mud is hilarious. But those are about the only downsides as far as I could tell after Wheat Canada sent Miss Q and The K Man their own Mystery Bundles.

Miss Q’s arrived with an underwear set (one tank and two pairs of boy-shorts in a pink polka-dot pattern), a pair of ivory leggings, a fitted pale pink T, a looser graphic T that dips down around the bum giving it a great shape, a lightweight ribbed pink cardigan and a bamboo floral-print dress that buttons up the back.

The K Man got a lovely light blue cotton “poor boy”-style dress shirt, fitted navy T, graphic-print T, a pair of slate cargo-style capris (that fold up into long shorts), a set of three pairs of navy socks and an underwear set consisting of a tank and two pairs of boxer-briefs with great button detail.

Wheat Canada SS15 - boys

As always, there are pieces from the Danish-designed collection that can’t go in the dryer, which I don’t love. Because I wash way more laundry than I’d like to as it is, and stopping to hang stuff up slows me down. But that doesn’t negate the fact that Wheat’s clothes are just lovely. Soft-to-the-touch cotton, silky bamboo, and beautiful details.

If you’re concerned about ordering kids’ clothes online without trying for fit first, the fit is somewhere in between GAP Kids and H&M. If it helps, Miss Q is a tall four year old who is already well into size 5s and 6s in these brands; above, she’s wearing a size 5 from Wheat in all but the leggings and undergarments — those are both 6s. She would be fine in a size 5 legging from Wheat but the 6s give her a good inch or two of room to grow and they’re still narrow enough around the waist that they actually stay up. The K Man, a six year old who’s also on the taller side and wears a size 8 from GAP Kids and a 7/8 from H&M is shown wearing a size 8 in Wheat, except for the undergarments, which are a 10.

In between working with Wheat Canada for a couple of posts (like this one and this one), I’ve also purchased a few (OK, a lot) of clothing — not only for my own kids but for birthday gifts, too. Shhhhh! Don’t tell my nieces! And that’s because it’s a brand I trust, and one I’m proud to support beyond my blog, too.

But don’t just take my word for it; check out all the new Wheat Canada spring/summer ’15 pieces for yourself. And be sure to watch Wheat Canada’s Facebook page for Mystery Bundle offers.

 

March 20, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
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Travel FOMO? Join us for this month’s #FamilyTravelCA chat!

Travel FOMOJust the other day, I read that those who suffer most from FOMO (fear of missing out) are considered upper middle-class.

Imagine that.

It’s a group of relatively high income earners — the top two per cent once you’re past the $150,000 per year mark, in fact — who are worried about what YOU’RE doing. So worried, actually, that there’s a new “it” word.

Social media doesn’t help, obviously. And it’s probably what piques my own FOMO. Seeing images of the loveliest cocktails, beautiful handbags, white sandy beaches or adventures in yonder lands is enough to make just about anyone feel a bit anxious about what’s on her own bucket list — or shopping list.

But let’s face it: FOMO can also be a healthy driver, as long as it doesn’t sink us into debt. It’s what makes someone start surfing the net for the next family vacation, for example. And that’s all about memories. I’ll probably die penniless for this attitude, but I really do believe that you can always make money, but you can never get time back to make memories.

So join your @FamilyTravelCA crew for a chit-chat about travel FOMO this Tuesday, March 24 at 8 p.m. (ET).  Joined by @NickCowling from Citizen Relations, we’re talking FOMO and how it impacts people’s travel planning and purchases.

Oh, but what would a #FamilyTravelCA chat be without some prizes? RSVP using this here linky and join us for the chat, and you’ll be eligible to win $500 in Future Shop gift cards (including one $250 grand prize gift card)! HOW? Enter your Twitter handle “@yourTwitterhandle” in the Link/Blog Title field, and your Twitter URL “www.twitter.com/yourtwitterhandle” in the Link Field.

Until Tuesday…



March 17, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
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Have a very KINDER® Easter!

KINDER Egg Hunt KitWhat’s better than finding a KINDER® SURPRISE® egg inside of a Hollow (chocolate!) Bunny this Easter? Winning an Easter basket filled to the brim with everything you need to create one heck of a memorable holiday.

But that would just be fun, right? KINDER® is going to take fun up a notch and turn it into amazing with its Unwrap the KINDER® SURPRISE® to Win contest and Easter-fun content for your family. How does it work?

  • From March 16 through 31, 2015, open the new KINDER® Easter app tab
  • Digitally “tap to unwrap” the 100-gram egg
  • Once “unwrapped,” the egg will reveal an instant prize or the option to try again
  • You will be automatically entered to win a $3,000 grand prize gift card to create some family awesomeness

After you’ve tried your hand at winning, stick around and check out all of the additional Easter-themed activities, games, crafts, recipes (and so on and so on…). There’ll be new stuff every day until March 31 — so keep coming back for more!

 

DISCLAIMER: KINDER® Canada is my client. And yes, I love the product, brand and the people who work on my team. Opinions are all still my own.

March 15, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
0 comments

Pawsh Pads pad your puppy’s paws

This winter has been brutal. And for many of us across the Eastern Seaboard, it’s far from over. So if you thought you could escape the slush and snow and salt…think again.

And with that in mind, are you really surprised to hear that I’m on Chester’s fifth pair of dog footwear?

We’ve tried Muttluks (hard to get on when your pup has protruding dewclaws; plus they flipped off as soon as he took a leap); Pawz (which stay on through 85 per cent of fast and rough dog-park play but are essentially tiny balloons…so look like balloons on your dog’s feet); Neo-Paws (which are pretty fantastic but involve a time commitment to get outside); and dog socks (that don’t stay on for longer than 12 seconds if you have a puppy who has a thing about chewing socks).

So when I saw Pawsh Pads Paw Protectors at a posh puppy place in the city, I knew I had to try them with our dear Chester. Thanks for sending us a set to review, Pawsh Pads peeps!

Pawsh Pads Paw ProtectorsTHE GOOD

Easy peasy to get on your dog’s paw. They slip on like a sock, but they’re wide so there’s no cajoling stray toes or dewclaws to co-operate. Then you just fasten Velcro around itself at the base of the paw and then up around the ankle (or whatever ankle-like area exists on a dog if it’s not actually called an ankle). You don’t need a PhD or rocket science-worthy instructions to get Pawsh Pads on, which will come in handy when we leave Chester with my parents who took one look at our Neo-Paws booties and cackled at me.

They’re perfect for keeping salt and gravel or other small bits of debris out of your pup’s paws.

Pawsh Pads stay on. Period. We took Chester to the dog park on the weekend and he raced around for more than an hour, probably covering 10 kilometres by the time he’d finished running about. Unlike the Pawz balloon-type boots, these stayed on all four paws through the entire park visit.

Since we’ve only tested them for about a week, I can’t tell you how Pawsh Pads are going to do durability-wise, but we’ve been through wet, muddy, dirty, snowy and icy areas (welcome to March in Ontario!) and they’ve performed well.

THE GAFFE

They’re soft-structured, so unless you fasten them on REAL good, you might find one or two of them twist around a bit, leaving the bottom suede part sort of on its side. Practise will help.

Pawsh Pads are perfect for cool temps but I found Chester’s paws were very chilly in the coldest weather; for those days, I’ll revert to the Neo-Paws for sure.

I do find the design a bit wide around the ball of Chester’s paw, but I suppose not everyone has a skinny dog like I do, so this is probably not going to be a universal gaffe.

THE GEARS

4/5

So…where can you get them?

March 12, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
0 comments

The InterContinental Yorkville is your March Break hub

I love me a good staycation. You still get the thrill of a getaway and new scenery without having to spend much to get there, and you’re close to home, so if something goes awry it’s easy to race back.

Now that we don’t live in Toronto anymore, there’s something about sneaking off to the city (with our whole family or by myself like I did last week) that lights a little fire in me. I love the energy of the shopping, restaurants and people — all racing to get…somewhere.

And with March Break just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to tell you what’s happening in the city and feature a standout hotel that you could make “home base” while you’re off discovering all that Toronto has to offer families.

A standard room at the InterContinental Yorkville, with a king bed and plenty of space to play and lounge.

A standard room at the InterContinental Yorkville, with a king bed and plenty of space to play and lounge. For longer stays or those who need more space, book a suite.

First, let me tell you a bit about the InterContinental Yorkville. It sits at the most western end of the Bloor-Yorkville area, a few steps away from Avenue Road. If you happen to find a couple of hours just for yourself, take advantage of the shopping. I rarely make it up to that end of Bloor and forgot about the great shops like Club Monaco and InterMix, but the Winners on Bloor with its Runway section is pretty fab.

It’s part of the IHG group of hotels, which boasts the world’s first (and largest) hotel loyalty program. The  next time you’re at an IHG property, grab a free rewards card; you’ll be closer to earning free hotel stays and it also gets you free WiFi in your room — ahem…around the world.

But back to the family stuff. The InterContinental is itself a nice place to spend time. There’s a pool — and not just any pool but a lap pool located on the penthouse level. You’ll feel posh. Even if your kids act like monkeys.

The hotel is pretty compact. With only around 200 rooms, you won’t feel like you can get lost in the hallways and there’s a distinct customer service flavour at the InterContinental that you can taste the minute you’re ushered through the revolving front doors. It’s a very personal, intimate feel that you often get only at a really high-end five-star property like Langham Place in NYC or the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando. I love that feeling — the one that makes you feel cared about as a person rather than just another customer.

The rooms are very quiet! There were kids staying a few doors down from me, and although I could hear them in the hallway, as soon as I retreated to my room and closed the door, there was nothing but silence and sunshine. I always hate the guilt that overcomes me when we bring our kids to a nice hotel and they’re loud at 6:45 a.m. and I know the guests beside us are affected. I wouldn’t worry about that here.

Oh, and it’s pet-friendly, too, which is now more important to us since bringing a pup into our home.

Best of all, the March Break package gets you a night at the hotel with valet parking (hello!) and early check-in/late check-out, a free in-room movie, popcorn for the whole fam (and pop, too, if you drink the stuff), a four-person family pass to the Bata Shoe Museum or the ROM. Just use the booking code “IKLS2″ online.

OK, so what’s happening in and around the city if you don’t want to swim all day at the InterContinental? PLENTY. This is just the tip of the March Break iceberg:

  • Royal Ontario Museum: it’s a “Futurology” theme at the ROM — which is located right across the road from the InterContinental — with most family activities happening between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., all of which are included with your museum admission. I strongly suggest you buy tickets in advance online because March Break is usually a bit of a circus when it comes to ticket lines at the city’s top family attractions, but the ROM is so worth a visit. We’ve been twice and our kids had an absolute blast each time. We’ll be heading there during March Break and I’m excited to check out the new Douglas Coupland-inspired exhibit “Build a city of the future,” and my water babies will be stoked to learn more about whales in the “Exploring whales” area. And I’m already brainstorming ideas to “Create a slogan for the 22nd century”
  • Wizard World 2015: I have to admit that I’ve never even heard of Wizard World, even though this is apparently its twelfth year. It’s a self-proclaimed “indoor March Break extravaganza” and it’s happening from March 15 to 22, 2015, at the Better Living Centre (Exhibition grounds). There are a couple dozen rides, a little tots area (kids under five only), arts and crafts, what’s supposed to be a hug exotic petting zoo, pony rides, shows and mascot meet and greets. Tickets appear to include unlimited rides, which is music to any parent’s ear who’s had to buy tickets at the fair
  • Glama Gals March Break Camp: It’s a beach tour, y’all! And who doesn’t need to feel a little sand and sun after the winter we’ve just had? You can send your little princess in for a day or a whole week of glam camp, and trust that she’ll be pampered AND empowered. If you don’t know much about Glama Gals and its philosophy, you can read all about it in my Glama Gals review. But trust me — it’s not all unicorns and nail polish. There’s a lot of confidence-building and girl power stuff happening, too, and for $275 a week, it’s not much more than even the community-run camps and I trust this program implicitly
  • Ripley’s Aquarium: If you haven’t been to the Aquarium yet, be sure to put it on your Toronto bucket list. Because it’s great. Like, really great. I’ve been twice and still feel like I need to go back a third time to dig even deeper. My kids ooohed and ahhhed at the marvels they discovered there and it’s one of those great attractions at which you can spend three hours or the whole day and feel like you got a lot out of the experience. Be forewarned, though: buy tickets online before you go, and get there EARLY. This is no joke, friends. It gets busy. The good news? From March 16 to 20, 2015, the Aquarium opens its doors at 8 a.m. so you have every opportunity to be the early bird. Don’t make me say “I told you so.” Get there before 9 a.m. during March Break and you get a cup of coffee and a SunRype snack…see? Even the Aquarium staff want you to come at the crack of dawn
  • Meet Thomas the Tank Engine at Ontario Science Centre: Spending the day at the Science Centre will be all the more merrier on Monday, March 16 if your little ones are Thomas fans. There’s a live, interactive show — which lasts about 20 minutes, so even the most impatient kids should be able to manage — at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. We’ve been to these shows before and they’re great fun, bubbling over with more energy than you’re probably able to muster in a whole month. Just arrive early to secure a spot; in our experience, people line up an hour before the show to get into these things! And remember, it’s a free show but you still have to pay for Science Centre admission and parking. You’ll want to do this on your way home from your Toronto staycation since it’s quite far from the downtown core

Have a fun March Break activity to share? Feel free to leave it in the comments.

 

DISCLAIMER: I work for the public relations agency that represents IHG, however I would never share positive news/products/services/travel destinations with you if I didn’t genuinely feel positively. Because that’s how I roll.

March 11, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
1 Comment

Make it a Bulletproof Coffee

It’s just not every day that you put butter in your coffee. Or put your coffee in your Vitamix.

But that’s precisely what we’ve been doing since Bulletproof Upgraded Coffee beans arrived at our doorstep last week.

In case you haven’t heard of this java phenomenon taking North America by storm, here’s how you make it:

  • Slow-steep Bulletproof Upgraded freshly ground coffee beans (the company recommends using a French Press to ensure the grinds steep for four minutes, but if you have a Breville YouBrew like we do, you can trust it to grind the perfect amount of beans, heat your water to an optimal drip temperature and steep them for at least four minutes, but usually longer)
  • Pour about 1.5 cups of black coffee into a very high-quality blender, like Vitamix
  • Pop 2 tbsp. of unsalted grass-fed butter into the blender (this is super-important: don’t get salted and don’t use anything but GRASS-fed)
  • Add 1 tbsp. of Bulletproof Brain Octane Oil to the blender
  • Blend for about 30 seconds
  • Drink and enjoy

Need to see that on video?

THE GOOD

Let me start by telling you that I’ve been drinking coffee for about 20 years, and drinking it on at least a weekly (and, yes, sometimes daily) basis for the better part of about eight years save being pregnant. And up until Bulletproof coffee, I would have NEVER had my caffeine fix without heavy cream and two teaspoons of sugar. In fact, I’ve been known to turn down coffee if cream isn’t available. The Bulletproof coffee ends up so super-rich and creamy that I doubt I’ll ever bother going back to old-school coffee concoctions — there’s just no comparison. It’s like a latte, but way, way better. And I added merely a pinch of Xyla (xylitol) my first few tries and haven’t needed to this week at all because I find a cup so supremely satisfying.

Bulletproof coffeeAll those good fats from the butter and oil fill me up and I don’t crave anything beyond the bit of breakfast I might have had alongside my coffee. Nor do I go hunting for a mid-morning snack but instead look up, notice it’s lunch time and casually think of what I’d like to eat.

I don’t feel like having any more coffee ALL DAY. At all. That great top-of-the-mornin’ buzz that comes with your first few sips of coffee each day but sends you diving into a deep spiral a few hours later that requires rescuing from another cup (or two) just doesn’t happen with Bulletproof.

Did I mention the coffee is organic, fair trade and “processed” with so much care and attention to quality that I feel almost shameful thinking of buying most other coffee beans?

J’adore the cacao butter and chocolate powder, both of which make even a non-Bulletproof cup of coffee divine.

I honestly didn’t think I’d consciously notice the mental acuity that the brand promises on its website. But I actually did, and so did Big B. I commute once a week into the city for work and it usually takes the better part of two hours. This is after getting two children fed, dressed and out the door for school and a dog fed, dressed and out the door to doggy day care (don’t judge me). So by the time I hit the DVP (for those of you outside of Toronto, this is basically the worst, most congested mini-highway imaginable where there are traffic jams at all hours of the day and night), I usually have to hit the air conditioning on full blast and slap myself in the face once or twice to stay alert. Not so with the Bulletproof coffee running through my veins; and I noticed that my “alertness” stuck all day and into my drive home around 8 p.m. Very impressive.

Bulletproof ships internationally, but…

THE GAFFE

You’re gonna pay for it, starting at US$15.95 for Canada and a whopping US$43.95 beyond Canada or the USA. So if you have cause to be at a U.S. hotel, order at least $135 worth of products and take advantage of the free domestic shipping…just be sure to leave enough room in your luggage and be mindful that the Brain Octane Oil is too big to take in a carry-on because of stupid terrorists. That, or find a Canadian retailer, which — lucky for you — I did (see below).

The cleanup is obviously more labour-intensive than a regular cup of Joe because two appliances are involved.

It’s really, REALLY freakin’ hard to get grass-fed butter here. We spent three weeks searching high and low between at least five cities before finding a stick of unsalted Rolling Meadow (watch for it in a future review).

Bulletproof products aren’t for the faint of wallet. A three-quarter pound  bag of coffee beans will set you back US$18.95, which in Canada is about $947 right now with our lovely exchange rate. The Brain Octane Oil is US$23.50 (although this feels easier on the pocketbook because you only use a tablespoon at a time). But will I pay for it following my review period? Yes. Yes, I will.

THE GEARS

4.5/5

So…where can you get it?

March 5, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
0 comments

Garden of Life Organic Plant Protein (mini-review)

GOL Organic Plant ProteinTHE PRODUCT

Garden of Life’s Organic Plant Protein.

THE GOOD

So if you’ve ever had Garden of Life’s very healthy and quite delicious RAW Fit protein powder, you know that while it’s chock-full of incredibly good-for-you ingredients, it’s a bit chalky and grainy going down. But you deal with it because it actually has flavour and it’s basically the cleanest protein powder out there. So here’s the exciting news: the new Organic Plant Protein is sooooo much smoother. Still very flavourful but because it’s plant-based, that gritty texture is GONE.

There’s less than a gram of sugar in a scoop of this stuff.

It’s still organic, vegan and double-certified, just like the rest of the Garden of Life line.

If you have trouble with grains or brown rice, this is your answer. It’s got neither.

I mixed the Smooth Vanilla powder with only a handful of frozen strawberries and some organic almond milk and it was like a freakin’ milkshake, people! No joke.

THE GAFFE

The package is quite small. So that could get pricey.

THE GEARS

4.5/5

March 3, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
2 Comments

Eco Chic Movement: made-in-Canada natural baby products

I honestly thought I’d written this post before the holidays. So when I noticed that the founder of Eco Chic started following me on one of my social channels (Instagram, maybe?), I wanted to check in with the fine doctor and see how she liked the post.

But when I went to search for the post, I noticed two things: first, that I really need to have a developer reinstate my search bar that went missing after a January hack attack on my site; and, second, that there was no Eco Chic post to be found.

Now, here I am, tail between my legs. And I’m going to tell you all about the Eco Chic Movement products we’ve had the pleasure of trying out for…well…months. Many, many months.

THE GOOD

Made by hand. The products are handmade, friends! And not just that: handmade right here in Canada (Ottawa to be more precise).

No nasty chemicals. And I can be a bit aggressive about chemicals, so when I first met Dr. Alexis at a baby show, and she told me she’d created chemical-free products, I probably had a pretty cheeky smirk on my face as I grabbed the closest bottle and flipped it around to read the ingredient list. The big thing for me was that I couldn’t find any of those preservatives that are often what separate the really natural products from the ones claiming to be natural.

Eco Chic MovementNo fragrances either, and I’ve explained in other posts that when you read “fragrance” in a product ingredient list — run. Run fast. It’s a clearinghouse for chemicals. The only fragrance you’re going to get from the Eco Chic products are from the natural oils and such. The good stuff.

There are also no nuts, soy or wheat in any of the products, so if there are intolerances or sensitivities to any of these ingredients, this could be a line that works for you and/or your baby.

The Eco Chic line was created by one smart cookie. Dr. Alexis Reid is (drum roll, please) a chemical engineer, pharmacologist, toxicologist and naturopathic doctor. Yes — all of them.

I know it’s super shallow, but I really like the packaging. It’s simple and clean.

The products are nicely concentrated, so you won’t use up a jar of diaper cream, for example, in a few short nights. Speaking of the diaper cream, it’s less than $10 and has oodles of great ingredients designed not only to help fight a rash that’s already presented itself on your babe’s toosh, but also act preventively. By way of an example of the amazing ingredients you’ll find in Eco Chic products, here’s what’s in the diaper cream (an asterisk denotes that it’s certified organic):

  • Olea europaea (Olive) Oil*
  • Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) Butter*
  • Cocos nucifera (Fractionated Coconut) Oil*
  • Cera flava (Beeswax)
  • Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Extract*
  • Hypericum perforatum (St John’s Wort) Extract*
  • Stellaria media (Chickweed) Extract*
  • Azadirachta indica (Neem) Extract*
  • Avena sativa (Oat) Extract*
  • Echinacea purpurea (Echinacea) Extract*
  • Althea officinalis (Marshmallow) Extract*
  • Calendula officinalis (Calendula) Extract*
  • Vanilla planifolia (Vanilla) Essential Oil

The baby oil is also lovely. My kids, now four and six years old, still LOVE getting a post-bath massage. Before I ever knew better, I used mineral oil for these massages. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS. All you need to do is Google “why shouldn’t I use mineral oil on my baby’s delicate, virgin skin” and many others will be able to tell you why. ALL I WILL DO IS YELL: DON’T DO IT. The Eco Chic baby oil is a beautiful massage oil. Use it instead.

Then there’s the baby shampoo and body wash, and I’m in love. I like how the product performs, even in Miss Q’s long, thick hair; and I really like that there’s no sodium lauryl sulphate in it. That’s a chemical used in just about every baby shampoo you can buy at a major chain retailer or grocer, and it’s what helps make it all sudsy. You get a lot of suds? Guess what: those are chemical suds. Trust me, you can still get your kid clean without enough bubbles to fill Lake Ontario.

THE GAFFE

Eco Chic’s baby lotion is goes on nicely enough, but I don’t understand why there’s benzyl alcohol in it, which the Skin Deep database (my ingredient Bible) rates a 5. I don’t even like seeing a “2” in a natural product, so a 5 really throws me. Then there’s the salicylic acid, which is a 4. And finally sorbic acid, which earns itself a 3. I’m sure Dr. Alexis will want to weigh in when she reads this, but I’m inclined to just skip this one in the lineup.

THE GEARS

4.5/5 (except for the baby lotion, which gets a 2/5)

So…where can you get it?

February 26, 2015
by Mommy Gearest
3 Comments

That time we ran out of batteries (sponsored post)

It happens to the best of us. We’ve all gone to reach into our trusty battery repository in the far corners of our homes to grab a set of double-As, and – nada.

Your fingers hunt in the dark. Nothing. So you turn on the light to broaden your search: flashlight, check; screwdriver with the little “x” on it, check; those little pads for the feet of your furniture, check; random hooks to hang 13 different sizes of picture frames, check. But batteries? Zilch.

I don’t know about you, but batteries don’t often make it onto my weekly grocery list. I tend to buy a huge pack once we’re out, shove them into storage and reach in for a couple here and there when we need them. I don’t keep track.

But there are times when this strategy doesn’t work out so well. Like when your kid gets something so brand new and shiny and exciting that they can barely refrain from peeing their pants, despite being potty trained for three years.

And that’s precisely when it happened to us. The K Man had been given the opportunity to test drive a new Skylanders game (and basically fainted when he opened the courier box). So we unboxed it as quickly as possible, slid the DVD into our Wii console, picked up the controller, turned everything on and tried to start the game. We didn’t get very far. It was one of those slow-motion moments when you can see the train wreck that’s about to happen, but are keenly aware that you can do nothing to stop it.

As soon as we figured out that the wireless controller’s batteries were on their last legs, Big B raced upstairs to retrieve replacements. But when he reached for those two magical cylinders of joy, he was met with the sad realization that we were completely out.

You know what happened next, right? The crying. The devastation that can only come from a (then) five-year-old whose entire world is brightened and crushed inside of five minutes.

Oh, don’t worry…we weren’t total jerks. We ran out, grabbed some fresh batteries from the corner store and tried again. Successfully.

But maybe if we’d had the new Energizer® EcoAdvancedtm  batteries, we could have squeezed a bit more life out of that controller and avoided the corner store entirely that day. (Because I truly hate shopping at corner stores.)

I love that they’re the world’s first battery made with recycled batteries; it’s four per cent, but it’s a start. And if Energizer is telling you that it’s the longest-lasting alkaline battery they’ve ever made, that’s saying something. I mean, they’ve got that pink bunny who just keeps going, and going, and going, and…

Lucky for you, if you need to put batteries on your grocery list this week and you grab yourself a package of Energizer® EcoAdvancedtm, you get to visit energizerwinsmart.com where, now until March 16, you can enter your UPC and be entered  to win a smart fortwo vehicle (worth an incredible $26,000!). OK, OK – so there’s only one of those up for grabs but you could also win one of ten $100 President’s Choice gift cards, too. (Just think of all the batteries you could buy with that sucker.)

Just make sure you shop at one of these Loblaw banner stores to qualify: Loblaws, Maxi, Maxi & Cie, Atlantic Superstore, Real Canadian Superstore, Zehrs or Dominion.

And since we’re talking giveaways, let’s do one here, too! Enter HERE to win an Energizer® EcoAdvancedtm prize pack, with some fancy new batteries, an Energizer flashlight and a Loblaw’s gift card valued at $25.

Energizer ECO

DISCLAIMER: Energizer compensated me for this post, but my personal story and opinions are my own. Loblaw Companies Ltd. is one of my firm’s clients, and I am in no way beholden to promote brands or companies with whom we work. Unless I really, really want to…and if you see it on my page, you can trust that I wanted to.