Category Archives: product review

Neato Robotic Vacuum = Household Hero

Wow, ok so I got this cool new robot vacuum because I am lazy and also like having cool house gadgets.

Guys! This thing is amazing! Kinda makes me feel gross, but also amazing. You see, because I run a B&B from my home, I am always cleaning and vacuuming. I had just vacuumed before I got this little guy, but after I ran it through the living room it was full of crap. Like, gross, floor-icky junk. I couldn’t believe it.

I’ll spare you the photo of it, but just believe me, it was gross.

I couldn’t believe it because I had just cleaned, and it still managed to pull up that much junk. I don’t know if I should be ashamed or proud of myself for getting this thing.

Like I said, this thing is cool in a Star Wars kind of way. Just look at it!

In a living room far, far away...
In a living room far, far away…

Details

This little magic trick is a Neato Robotics Xv-12/Xv-11 Automatic Vacuum Cleaner. You can find it online in a bunch of places, but I got a refurbished one from FactoryDirect.ca because I’m a little low on funds right now and really shouldn’t be buying robots for my house.

I got the basic one I think (hard to tell) and it’s been great. I just wish I had the extra brush for all the cat hair around here!

I decided to go with this brand rather than a Roomba this time for a few reasons.

  1. Price. Generally speaking, this brand is much less expensive than the Roomba models currently available.
  2. Positive Reviews. I did a bunch of research and this brand seemed pretty solid to me. We’ll see how it fares over time.
  3. Features. This is the only robot vac that is actually a vacuum and not a sweeper. I also like how it has a square shape for corners, maps the space & it’s path around it efficiently and won’t fall down my stairs. I can also program it to clean automatically every day and it usually finds it’s way back to the docking station.

I had a Roomba way back in the day, when they were still new. It was a cute little red thing we called Ruby; I had bought it for my parents. Unfortunately the battery died and they never really used it. At that time they had to be manually plugged in to charge, so that was a pain. At some point my folks threw it out which was a shame because it cost so much.

Now the Roombas are so damned popular, they can charge a small fortune for it. I don’t think they’re really that much better than the other brands, they’ve just done a great job branding themselves. I wouldn’t say no to a free one, but I don’t see myself paying $800 for a robot vac that still can’t get into the corners or get a room 100% clean.

Like any robot vac, I’ll still need the old canister vac to do a really thorough job, and also to pick up after whatever the robot misses. I really, really, REALLY want a super-sexy Dyson vacuum, but haven’t been able to justify the spending, no matter how much my allergies, cat, and guests demand it. One day. For now I shall content myself with a robot. In my house. Doing my chores.

Life is good.

Cat vs. Vac
Cat vs. Vac

SexyPlus Clothing Review

Kiss Kiss! All the bloggers at the Fall Preview
Kiss Kiss! All the bloggers at the Fall Preview

A few weeks back I was invited to a plus size fashion blogger event at SexyPlus Clothing’s new location in Mississauga.

I was excited to attend because it meant I could

  1. See all my fatshionable friends
  2. Check out the store & selection (I’d never been to SPC prior to this)
  3. Try on lots of fun stuff!

And it didn’t disappoint. Owner Stephanie Augusteijn has created a lovely, plus-friendly

Robes in the changerooms are so convenient!
Robes in the changerooms are so convenient!

boutique complete with spacious changing rooms with robes & shoes (amazing forethought!) chairs for resting (or putting your man on to wait for you while you shop) and of course a nice selection of clothes.

I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived. I never actually made it out to the previous location on Yonge St. partially because of scheduling and also because the name

Tierra doing some shopping
Tierra doing some shopping

SexyPlus Clothing made me think of slinky, cheap clubwear like Voluptuous and that just isn’t my style. The new location was also a little daunting as it is out literally in the middle of nowhere at the end of a long row of industrial units.

Despite the location, you could call it an oasis of fatshion! Stephanie had a great selection of upmarket brands like Igigi, Kiyonna and Joseph Ribkoff. I love Joseph Ribkoff stuff! And in a nod to the “sexy” part of SexyPlus there was a nice section of lingerie and other risque underthings that I was happy to see. Oftentimes you  just see them online and can’t try them on which is sooo frustrating. I liked that I could touch them for myself here.

As for the event, it was smashing! There was yummy food and a gorgeous cake by Cake Star

Stephanie with the yummy cake!
Stephanie with the yummy cake!

Sweet Boutique and Ms. Tierra Sedgemore of  Size Sexy Clothing line herself was there! Tierra led a size sexy self esteem activity at the event that got us all talking about what makes us “size sexy”. It’s great to see such positivity and support in our community.

I think all the ladies can agree that we had loads of fun shopping, modelling and socializing that night. I got to hang out with lots of great people, and meet some new ones. Here’s a list of the blogs represented that night:

Candi Apple Couture
Petite Plus, Meow
Curvy Canadian
Cloud 14+
Erica Exposed 
Big Hips, Red Lips
Clothes and Shit

Gorgeous!
Gorgeous!

 

Rebecca Northcott of Rebecca Northcott Photography was there to capture the night on film for us. She’s a great photographer! Maryanne Walczak of My Beaded Designs was also there displaying her beautiful creations. We even got a pair of earrings, how nice! I love mine.

 

Of course no blogger shopping night is complete without me coming home with something… *sigh* here’s what I picked up at the event:

Perfect for all my client meetings
I wore this one out for my anniversary with the bf
I wore this one out for my anniversary with the bf, with some spanx underneath

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Review: Essie Resort Fling Collection 2014

Whew, what a “summer” it has been here in Toronto. We’re in July and it’s finally starting to feel like the summer. June was mostly a washout until the end of the month.

It has been super-busy though! Working on my business, becoming a real estate agent to make my business even more valuable and I got myself a boyfriend. He’s super sweet. We’ve just passed the 3 month mark and a friend of mine invited us up to a beach house on Georgian Bay for a few days.

I haven’t had a getaway in ages so I was really looking forward to this with my man… and beach! Glorious beach! Plus the timing for this review was just perfect.

Recently the folks over at ObessedLook.com sent me two shades from the new Essie Resort Fling Collection to test drive. I think everyone knows what a sap I am for nail polish. I just can’t get enough of doing my nails and I love the Essie brand (Essie and OPI FTW!) so this was great for me.

Out of the collection I chose the shades Cocktails and Coconuts and Resort Fling because they were the most different from what I already had in my collection.

Cocktails & Coconuts

Cocktails & Coconuts by Essie

I love this shade, even though I was a bit iffy at first. The neutrals I’ve tried in the past have all looked a little cheap on me, but this one wasn’t cheap at all. It goes on nice and thick and is described as “a light neutral with a very subtle shimmer.” I agree with this description and found the colour true to the bottle & photos.

Resort Fling

Resort Fling by Essie

This shade is bright and cheery, but a little more “liquid” to apply, if you know what I mean. I like the colour but it didn’t suit my skintone quite so well. I’ll probably keep it around for design details when I get creative. It’s described as ” a light pinky-orange crème with a jelly finish.”

Honestly I don’t know what they mean by jelly finish, but the rest of the description is accurate.

Here is what my nails ended up looking like:

IMG_2274
Please excuse the poor manicure, I was just farting around with the colours!

I really liked the light neutral, so I actually wore it on my beach vacation, though I forgot to take a photo. When I actually spent time on my nails it looked much nicer! As a side note, it was pretty close to the shade of the sand I was on, too cool!

I’m interested to learn more about the site that sent these to me. It looks like they have a massive collection of colours in nail polish, and the prices aren’t bad, either. It’s Canadian and I also learned that Essie nail polishes ship for free within Canada. Don’t know if that applies to other brands though.

Product Review: Truvia Sweetener

I was sent some Truvia to try out recently and I’ve been using it in all sorts of applications to see how it compares to regular sugar and sweeteners.

I’ve been trying to make small changes in my diet to be a bit healthier (a never-ending journey!) so when the PR company offered me the sample I was happy to try it.

Truvia is a brand of stevia-based calorie-free sweetener. Unfortunately it is very loosely based on stevia, with only 0.05% of the product being Rebiana, which is a derivative product of stevia. I was pretty disappointed to discover this in my research. I was hoping the product would be more natural and higher in stevia, since I was concerned about chemicals entering my body. When I visited the website for the product they made it seem like it was a natural, safe, stevia-based sweetener, but again it was super-misleading. Just because there is a tiny bit of a trendy ingredient in it, doesn’t make it legit.

Originally I wrote this as a positive review. I found the product to be a decent alternative to sweeteners and sugar, but I find the name to be quite misleading. Shame on me for assuming it was made from stevia, I guess. :(

If you’re in the market for something other than Sweet n Low, Equal or Splenda, Truvia would be a good choice. However if you are looking for a natural alternative to sugar I would suggest something else. Personally I’ll stick with my honey and agave syrup.

You can learn more about the ingredients in Truvia from this great article from a dietitian. Another one is here.

Take this as a lesson to always read the ingredients!

Holiday Preview – Lots of Photos!

My dear friend Karen from Curvy Canadian brought me along to today’s holiday preview for Addition-Elle at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel in downtown Toronto.

Actually, it turned out to be more than just AE that was presenting their holiday lineup! There were loads of brands to check out and lots of nice perks waiting for us that day. I wasn’t officially invited but the organizers were gracious enough to cobble together a nice little gift bag for me as well. Thanks, Brill Communications!

Addition-Elle

AE has a nice new lineup of lingerie coming out this season. I like the feminine touches, details and colours that they are presenting. I feel like as plus size women we’ve got our bases covered when it comes to “fun” bras and panties; now it’s time to get the grown-up versions, too! I’m really into the whole romantic theme this year. I think the film The Great Gatsby has a lot to do with it, and a general nod towards our more refined eras. I’m very glad to see this coming around.

New Ashley Graham lingerie at Addition-Elle
New Ashley Graham lingerie at Addition-Elle

The holiday collection from AE was a little bit disappointing. Recycled designs, patterns and embellishments were throughout and really didn’t do anything for me. Some of the pieces looked downright cheap, so buyer beware! I was happy to see an improved offering in the outerwear category with snowpants and sporty jackets for winter. I also liked the jewellery offerings with the deep sapphire and cobalt gem hues. A little over the top, but it’s the holidays, right?

IMG_1179

Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts

The college was also present for the preview, offering a glimpse into what their classes have to offer. They had a pastry chef making a lovely winter cake, and a cookie decorating bar! Karen and I both took a shot but sadly forgot to pick up our cookies on the way home :(

Cookie bar!
Cookie bar!
Karen makes good cookies
Karen makes good cookies
IMG_1189
I love decorating stuff!

IMG_1190

Ecco Canada

I love this brand. They make such nice things of good quality. I was really drawn to their leather goods for this season. They have some great classic styles in wallets and handbags coming out. I am in love with the leather purse!

I need this.
I need this.

 Emjoi Micro Pedi

OMG I love this thing! It was like they read my mind or something. I noticed my feet were getting a little rough despite my recent pedicure and I was contemplating getting out the ol’ “cheese grater’ for my feet and getting an upper body workout. This little gizmo saved me from having to do that. It’s like a Pedi-Paws for your feet, gently sanding away the calluses and dead skin easily. We got a demonstration on our feet and then got to keep the product. Very nice! I will definitely be using this in the future!

Pedicure time!!
Pedicure time!!

Josephson Opticians

Another brand I was impressed with was Josephson Opticians. I know, I know, I got the laser eye surgery a while ago, but I love glasses as an accessory, and sunglasses are mandatory!

I love all things retro, so their seasonal offerings were right up my alley with lots of tortoiseshell, cat-eyes, embellishments and style! They were also very nicely made, which will justify the higher pricetag.

I’m styling a photo shoot this fall for myself and a male model so I might pop by their store to borrow a few sexy frames.

I loved these frames so hardcore, but I don't know if they suit me. Thoughts??
I loved these frames so hardcore, but I don’t know if they suit me. Thoughts??
The second from the right were my choice!
The second from the right were my choice!

There were a bunch of other great brands there as well, including Donato Salon & Spa, Nespresso, Ecco and Kohrani, but I didn’t get many photos of their stuff.

By the end of the tour, we had spent a few hours more than the 30 minutes we had planned! We also ran into fellow blogger Jessica from Clothes and Shit. Group photo time!

Jessica, Karen & Ginger
Jessica, Karen & Ginger

All in all it was a great day and I look forward to seeing some of the great new stuff in stores soon.

Review: Your Big Sister’s Closet Boutique

With no guests, no more parties and nothing else to do, I made a trip a few blocks over to Karen Ward (Curvy Canadian)’s new plus size boutique Your Big Sister’s Closet.

Quelle suprise! It’s adorable! I’ve been there before when they were under construction, so when I was headed there today I almost missed it due to the lovely and professional-looking window display out front. I was so used to the papered windows…

Anyway, the store looks great. The space is light and bright and really lets you focus on the clothing racks around you. Karen has organized things logically by colour and then size, and has a good variety of pieces to browse through.

I felt comfortable browsing in the store. The layout was neither to sparse nor too oppressive; a difficult balance to strike in a start up boutique. There was a good, relaxed vibe in the store and Karen herself was totally pleasant to interact with. I also liked that she was wearing her own products, I found her pink dress on the rack! I just love seeing the clothes on a real body!

I’m really in love with the design selections Karen has made. As a fellow fashion blogger and avid shopper (who just spent 2 weeks clothes shopping like mad) I’ve seen just about everything. Your Big Sister’s Closet has a refreshing design and colour palette and I got that warm, fuzzy feeling while browsing. You know, the one where you feel like you really found something great?

I think the prices are reasonable for what you are getting. Most of the dresses I looked at were between $60-$75 which is par for the course these days. Almost all of the fabrics are synthetic which is a bit of a downer, but then again every retailer seems to be going that route, and these labels are no exception. However the construction was good and the designs flattering. As with all imported boutique lines, watch out for the sizing! Many of the lines run small, so you may find yourself fitting in a 3x when you normally wear only a 1x. Karen has a pretty good idea how each of the pieces fit, so just ask her if you want some advice.

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular (having spent all my money over the holidays) but nonetheless I felt compelled to try on a couple of dresses that caught my eye. I had to limit myself to two because I knew that if I started, I wouldn’t stop! I just can’t get over how fresh and different the clothes there are. So much better than Addition-Elle or Pennington’s.

The pug was not amused.
The pug was not amused.

In the end I walked away with a stunner of a dark red peplum body-con dress with black contrast piping. It didn’t look like much on the rack, but once I put it on I was sold!

Taking self-portraits is waaay hard for me, but here’s a dork shot of the new dress. I like it because it looks nice, and mainly because it is comfortable! The dress is currently available in-store only for $75.

I definitely encourage all my plus size sisters to check out this new boutique. Karen’s got the right mix going with great clothing selection & quality, the price is right and the atmosphere is genial. I think you’ll really enjoy shopping there, as will I!

Here’s how you can find out more about the shop:

www.yourbigsisterscloset.com

Facebook

3126 Dundas Street West, Toronto
(647) 351-7587

 

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…

Look what I got in the mail today!

Courtesy of KitchenAid Canada, I’ll be testing out the new 13-Cup Food Processor this holiday season, and I can’t wait!

I have been lusting after it ever since I got the email. I LOVE KitchenAid products because they’re so well-made and stylish. I invested in a professional grade stand mixer several years ago and also have their bake ware, cookware and other little gadgety things. Everything has stood up well against my kitchen experiments, and overall they make cooking much easier for me!

I have been considering the purchase of a food processor for some time now. As I grow more adventurous and throw more events in my home, having one would be very helpful. I think the Gods were listening to my prayers because not only do I get a free processor, but the Cadillac of food processors. I can’t wait to learn how to use this puppy and make some delicious noms!

Now to figure out how to set up the bazillion pieces of this…

My stand mixer won't be so lonely anymore