Category Archives: product review

Product Rant of the Day: Lysol No-Touch™ Hand Soap System

I talk a lot about the products I like on this blog, but here is one that I don’t like!


LYSOL® Healthy Touch® No-Touch™ Hand Soap System

So what’s my beef with something that is supposed to help you maintain clean and healthy hands?

It’s simple: Redundancy.

You just don’t NEED this product.

The Lysol marketing pitch is that this product:

  • Automatically senses your hands
  • Dispenses the perfect amount of soap
  • Provides antibacterial protection!!!!eleventyonee111!!

So that “you and your family will never have to touch a germy soap pump again.”

Pshaw. This is ridiculous.

 

First of all, the damn system takes FOUR AA batteries. They’re hard to install (yes, I actually set this stupid thing up and used it) and the sensor is a piece of crap. It’s really not as user-friendly as they claim. Multiple times I tried to get it to work, and when it finally did, it really wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be.

Second, it dispenses WAY TOO MUCH SOAP into your hands! So much was wasted down the drain, I felt guilty for trying to be clean! We’re talking gobs here, people. And there was no way to adjust how much was dispensed. We went through the soap refill container lickety-split, when normally a container of that size would last much longer. This wastage is not only bad for your wallet, but doubly-bad for the environment. The packaging was also way more than was necessary.

Third, it’s antibacterial soap. Unless you work in a hospital or doctor’s office there is NO NEED for antibacterial products. Proper hand washing with soap and warm water completes the job just as well without the harmful effects of triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals on your body and the environment. Read about the problems with antibacterial products/additives here.

Finally, it doesn’t matter if the damn soap dispenser is dirty! You’re going to be washing your hands anyway! Holy fear-mongering, Batman!

 

Overall I am disgusted by this money-grab of a product. They’re washing it with feel-good messages about protecting your family’s health, when it is anything but.

Expensive, hard to set up, redundant, requires batteries, extra soap refills, bad for the body and environment and overly wasteful in design, function and packaging!

This is one fancy gadget we ought to avoid.

/end rant

Review: Whooga Boots, The Better Ugg Boots

Ok, this is part review and part public service announcement.

I would like to start out by saying that

Any kind of suede sheepskin-like boot called an ugg or something similar is NOT a real outdoor boot! (despite what the fashion world and retailers tell you)

They are NOT meant for wearing out in the slushy snow!

They are NOT going to protect your feet from wetness nor slippery walking surfaces!

THEY ARE INDOOR HOUSE SHOES ONLY!!!!!

Thank you.

This is what happens when you wear uggs outside

—————————————

Yes, you read that right. Ugg boots are originally from Australia and made from their soft sheepskins. Most of you know that already. You also know that they are incredibly comfy, and also butt-ugly.

Hence the name.

“Ugg” = UGly

Get it?

An ugg boot is a type of houseboot that is used to keep your feet warm as you bum around the house and potentially your yard. It’s bad form to be seen in public in Australia wearing them outside of your house–a huge fashion no-no. I have no idea why North Americans seem to think it’s acceptable to wear these outside of the house. Do you wear your slippers outside? Because that’s what these really are!

Anyway, you obviously see that I have a beef with ugg-type boots and the people who wear them. But if a person and company respect the true nature of the boot, then I am all for them!

Whooga is one of those companies.

I was offered a pair of Whooga brand ugg boots in exchange for a review, so here it is.

I like them.

And I like that the company is honest about their goals and what the boots are truly meant for. I told the company I wouldn’t review them if they were touting the footwear as a winter boot, because that is just irresponsible marketing. Here is the response I got back (emphasis is mine):

We pitch them for warmth and comfort, ugg boots are fine on trips outdoors so long as they remain dry and away from the snow. The leathers are very (very) porous and so the snow will stain them. You can use a silicone based leather protector and this will go a long way to protecting the boots if you’re outside and can’t avoid the rain. The boots really are designed for indoors though, the soles are a lightweight softer wearing sole which is not rugged enough for harder surfaces. With that all said we receive emails all the time from people that actually sleep in them! They really are that warm.

So, what do I think?

The Actual Review

These make excellent slippers or house shoes. All claims regarding comfort, luscious softness and cuteness are true. The lining is thick and silky and so far I have not had sweaty-feet syndrome that other sheepskin slippers give me.

I chose the mini violet pair and they are adorable. I love the two shades of violet that are used on the outside.

At first the sole is very hard, but I’ve been wearing them for a week now (constantly–LOL) at home and it feels like it is softening up. I like that the sole is a little tougher than a traditional slipper since I have hardwood floors. It’s easier to get around the house in these as they feel more like proper boots.

They are SO WARM AND COMFORTABLE. And it’s best to wear them barefoot! :) I really don’t like to take these off at all! They are the first thing I put on when I come home from a cold trek outside.

Before these boots, I was a skeptic. I couldn’t understand why people would want to wear something so ugly on their feet. But now, I understand.

I don’t ever plan to wear these out in public. They are a replacement for my old traditional-style sheepskin slippers. If you want something so-ugly-it’s-cute to wear around the house, then I would definitely recommend these for their superior fleecy comfort and nice styles (as far as ugg-ly boots go! Ha!).

Lessons Learned

So children, what have we learned today?

  1. Ugg boots are not meant to be worn outside of the home
  2. “Ugg” is a generic term for a sheepskin indoor boot. There are several brands that make them, Whooga being one of the better brands
  3. Whooga uggs are best when worn barefoot!
  4. If you’ve stuck around this long, you deserve a discount code!


To receive 10% off your order, just enter code 1485GINGER at the Whooga checkout before February 27, 2011.

Giveaway: 3 Free Blurb Books!

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a special event at the Gladstone hosted by Blurb.com.

If you’re not familiar with the site, here’s the deal in a nutshell:

Blurb.com is a book printing and self-publishing website, and it’s great! Regular people like you and I can use their free online or downloadable software to create beautiful photo books. You can print just one, or print thousands!

The service is really popular for wedding photo albums and photographers’ portfolios, but you’re really only limited by your imagination on what you can do in your book.

I originally learned about Blurb several years ago, when my friend was getting married. She told me she was thinking of doing up their wedding album in that fashion. I thought it was a great idea—it saves you the costs of printing out the film versions of the photos, they won’t accidentally slip out of the sleeves and doing a Blurb book gives you a lot more license for creativity!

Anyway, I was delighted to be invited to their special event! Each year Blurb has a contest for the best photo book (anyone can enter). The event was to showcase the winners’ work, bring together fellow Blurb-ers in a social setting and have a good time!

I’m glad I went to this event because I had some great conversations, met the VP of the company and finagled some books for a blog giveaway!

Quality

The books themselves are beautiful when you get them. The paper is good quality and the printing is top notch. The binding options were also sturdy and good-looking. All-in-all they make nice books. Before seeing them in person I was a little hesitant about the quality, but I can honestly say that they passed my snobby book-lover’s test.

I’m currently pulling together a photo book of my travels, as well as a cookbook to print out! I’m so excited, and I want all of YOU to share my excitement, too and win a free book from Blurb.com!

Giveaway Details

There are 3 free Blurb book codes to be given away by random draw. To enter, leave a comment below telling me what your idea for a personal book is! It could be a cookbook, portfolio, family history book, anything! I can’t wait to see all the ideas. Please include your email address if it is not in your profile already.

I will be randomly selecting 3 winners on Friday, December 3rd and they will be notified via email.

Fine Print:  This will give the person a chance to make a book and get CAD $50.00 off the order total. This will cover a nice sized book as well as shipping.   Each customer can use this promotion 1 time. Offer valid between 2010-11-23 and 2010-12-31. Promotion only valid for books created by the customer.

Good luck!


I need a new camera!

Random question for all my photography-savvy readers out there, what kind of camera do you recommend?

I’m looking for a new one that I can use for everyday life stuff as well as for more decent photos for this blog!

I want to be able to take nice photos (like Rina and Mel) of places I go, swag bags, food and products when I review them. I know I haven’t been around much (new job is taking up a lot of my time!) but I really want to take my blogging up a notch and I think decent photos would really help out.

I don’t need a giant SLR camera since I’m pretty clueless when it comes to settings and stuff for it, but I’m ok with something more advanced than a cheap point and shoot.

I’ve been using a Canon Powershot for some time now and it’s held up really well but I want to graduate from this level of camera. I’d be happy with another Canon or another reputable brand (except for Nikon since I had a Nikon and it was crap!)

Does anyone know where I should start looking, and what features are most important in a quality camera?

Here are some features I would like:

  • Flash
  • Video & sound recording
  • Decent night time & action photos
  • Decent optical & digital zoom
  • Timer (so I can take photos of my outfits!)
  • Good battery
  • Small enough to fit in my purse
  • User-friendly
  • Up to $400

Here are some things I would be using the camera for:

  • Outfit photos
  • Recipe/food photos
  • Photos of friends, family, etc.
  • Photos of products I review, swag
  • Night time party shots!
  • Outside photos

Like I said, pretty basic stuff; but I want them to be really good photos! Lol

Can you help a girl out?

Review: Jessica Biffi For Addition-Elle Fall Collection

Just got my order in from Addition-Elle; I ordered 4 pieces from the new Jessica Biffi fall collection.

First thought: Not impressed.

I have this feeling, it feels to me like this “collection” was a bit rushed and lacking heart. The capsule this fall is much smaller in terms of overall number of pieces as well as versatility compared to the spring launch. Not to mention that it is only available via Addition-Elle, with no accompanying pieces from their MXM or Pennington’s lines.

After seeing the post-season sales racks at Pennington’s I’m not overly surprised (I wasn’t a fan of that capsule, it was very cheap-looking and ill-fitting. Trust.)

But yeah, I’m a little bit disappointed. There wasn’t very much hype or notice about this collection (though I may be biased because I was jilted and didn’t get my invite to the launch party this season) and it just feels… lacking. There really isn’t much else to it. I expected a lot more from Biffi/AE’s sophomore collection.

The colours include a beautiful purple and shades of olive and teal green with hints of (what I assume) is Biffi’s signature bronzey-gold in the details. The remainder is black. I’m cool with black (what blonde isn’t??) but after her spring collection I was hoping for some bolder fall colour choices.

The pieces and my thoughts below.

Jessica Biffi Military Dress

(here)

I mostly like this “dress”, though let it be noted that I am prone to military-inspired looks and crisp shirt-dresses! As with the spring collection, this dress has been constructed well compared to standard AE fare. I’d say that it fits true to size, though the hem hits a little lower on me since I am not an Amazonian model.

The colour is actually a bit darker than appears online, but it goes well with the gold details. I would call this more of an olive shade rather than khaki. But I would also call it more of a tunic than a dress. You definitely need some leggings or skinny pants below this baby!

I like the crisp clean lines, pockets and waist-narrowing effect that the belt gives. But let’s talk about the belt for a minute. It’s crazy. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to buckle the damn thing because the prongs kept sliding all over the place. There also wasn’t a second loop on the buckle head to hold the tongue (?) down after it passed through the buckle.

I had to reference the photo on the site several times in order to figure this thing out. Definitely not user-friendly!

But once I got it in place the look was quite nice indeed! The belt cinches your waist a little while the bottom and top of the dress flare out a little, giving a nice hour-glass shape. The mandarin collar opened to a V also directs attention to your face. I like the 3/4 sleeves–I think that any other length would have looked awkward on this piece.

Verdict: It has earned a place in my closet.

Jessica Biffi Black Skinny Leg Denim Pants

(here)

These pants are… ok. Though I wouldn’t really call them denim; they’re very, very thin and also very stretchy which is nice in a pair of pants like these, but I don’t think they qualify as denim.

I like the detailing, the construction is solid and I’m digging the real pockets on these bad boys! None of those faux pocket-slits here!

Length is good though I don’t think you would want to be more than 5’8″ and wear these. If you’re apple-shaped like me you may also want to try these on in-store before purchasing as the waist doesn’t hold you in much at all. Low-rise indeed.

I don’t have much else to say about these pants. They’re adequate but not mind-blowing. I’ll keep them and likely wear them with the military tunic as well as my spring tunics from Biffi’s collection as well.

Verdict: It has earned a place in my closet

Jessica Biffi Printed Shark-Bite Top with Smocking

(here)

You know, I had mixed feelings about this top when I saw it online. On one hand the smocking and camouflage-effect of the print interested me, but on the other hand WTF is up with shark-bite hems this season?!?!? Can we say EWWW???

I decided to give it a shot anyway. I didn’t like much of Biffi’s spring stuff on the models or rack, but when I put it on it looked great. Maybe this would be the same?

Uhhh…. No.

Unfortunately this shirt has the ability to make one look preggo, especially if you have apple-tendencies such as myself. I thought the smocking and pattern might counter that effect (it is empire-waisted after all so I should have known better) but I was mistaken.

This may work better on gals with a larger bust, or gals that have a longer torso, but on me it didn’t really do much.

The pattern is a little cheesy (most patterns are) but when it’s all together the colours actually work quite well together. It’s a shame this didn’t work out for me. Did you have any luck?

Verdict: Return to sender.

Jessica Biffi Warrior Draped Top

(here)

I’m going to do this bullet-point style…

  • Colour is gorge.
  • Fabric is not
  • Neck is actually a cowl-neck and not a random V like the photo shows you
  • Shoulders are weird but mostly ok
  • Epaulettes are a mixed bag… they seem a little small and strike me as somewhat tacky (icky gold braid) but overall they add to the look
  • Definitely lives up to the “warrior” name!
  • Hem smocking is a good width however it may travel up your rump so beware!
  • Clingy fabric may accentuate your middle roll
  • Good for the club but you’ll sweat for sure! 95% viscose!

I sort of ordered this so I could get the discount online. I didn’t really think it would work for me, other than the colour which is one of my power colours.

With it on I actually like it a little more than on the model, however it DOES show off my roll a little bit and seems like it might be a bit snug across my bust which is odd. I want to keep it because of the colour and overall idea (I look like a warrior! tee hee!) of masculine & feminine blended into a purple shirt, but the fit just doesn’t flatter me much.

I think some gals will be able to rock this, and rock it hard. But I think a lot of gals will also fail horribly with it and come off looking like a fashion victim. I think this is a shirt that takes a certain kind of personality to pull off. It’s  a strong top. I know that epaulettes and stuff are really IN right now, but I don’t think it will last long and it’s a really niche trend that has the potential to become horribly overdone. Do YOU want to contribute to the downfall of the cowl-necked, epaulette-bedecked fashion top?

I didn’t think so. Make sure you know what you’re doing before purchasing this!

Verdict: On the fence.

So those are the pieces I have tried. The rest of the collection is only so-so, however I may give the dress a shot if I’m near the store anytime soon. But the bubble shape scares me. Fat girls should avoid bubbles like the plague.

I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has tried this collection and what their thoughts are? Are you as disappointed as me in the lack of selection and odd cuts?

SOUND OFF (one, two…) in the comments below 😉

Review: AirBnB.com – Travel Like A Human

Wow, it’s not often I will find a service or product that is so cool it will kick me out of a writing slump! I am so stoked to share this article with you guys and I’m not even getting compensated for it or anything!


As a blogger with a strong bent towards personal finance I am always looking for ways to either save money or make more of it! Luckily my roomie is on the same page. One day she told me about her friend who was renting out her apartment for a month through an interesting online service and she suggested we check it out and see if it was something we could use for our extra room. So I did.

AirBnB – Air Bed & Breakfast… Get it?

So what is AirBnB?

From their site:

Called the “Ebay for space” by Time Magazine, Airbnb is an online marketplace allowing anyone from private residents to commercial properties to rent out their extra space. The reputation-based site allows for user reviews, verification, and secure online transactions. Listings include vacation rentals, private rooms, entire apartments, bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, castles, treehouses, and many other traditional and non-traditional accommodations.

In short, it’s a great way to rent out an extra room or space of yours in the short-term and make some cash!

So, how does it work?

If you’re a host like me, you take some nice photos of your place and write up a listing. It doesn’t cost anything to create a listing for yourself, though for each booking AirBnB takes a 3% service fee.

When someone wants to book with you they complete the booking process and you’re emailed and asked whether you would like to accept or not. If you accept, your contact details and exact location of your space are released to your guest, and you also receive their contact info. At that point you start talking to them about check-in times and whatever else you like.

If you are a guest, you do a search in the area you want and see the listings. You can send a quick email inquiry if you have a question, or you can book right away. You pay upfront to AirBnB who holds onto your payment. The money is sent to the host after the first day of your stay. This is in case you cancel or something happens. This is a great way to travel– you save a lot of money and learn about the local culture much more. Or you could, you know, rent a castle or something.

Ginger, what was your experience like?

Well, so far it’s been great! We are lucky that our apartment is in a desirable location, close to public transit, a clean & safe neighbourhood, etc. so we’ve had more booking requests than we can actually handle. I had to turn two people away last night, actually!

Since I’m an advertising person *wink wink* I wrote a really stellar ad. I think that that is one of the main reasons we’re getting so much interest. I included a lot of details and listed exactly what was included. I also posted nice, but realistic photos not only of the room, but the common spaces as well so that guests could get a feel for the apartment and us as hosts before they booked.

I know that this helped because I asked some of our guests this weekend why they chose our place over all the others out there. One reason was we have a slightly lower price, but the other was because we looked “friendly”, “normal” and “welcoming”. All good things to hear!

Good customer service is also important. We responded quickly and politely to all inquires and did a great hosting job when they got to the apartment as well.

My roommate and I compiled a list of local activities and sights for our first guests from Spain this weekend. They wanted to know more about the Toronto culture and do less of the touristy stuff. They were real travellers and wanted to go where the locals went!

This was very well-received so we’re actually going to step things up a notch and do up a beautiful digital booklet to send to our guests. It will include photos our friends have taken, the traditional tourist listings (CN Tower, ROM, etc.) as well as our “local” suggestions such as our favourite bars, restos and concert venues. My roommate is also very into the local hipster art scene so she can provide all kinds of party and gallery recos.

As we get more accustomed to being hosts, we have plans to kick things up a notch as well by offering breakfast, doing tours, etc. We really want to make a cool experience for our guests. Not only will this be kinda fun for peeps like us, but it will allow us to charge more per night and increase our profits!

A key point of the AirBnB system is the recommendations and reviews. After every booking both the host and guests review the stay. The more positive reviews you have, the better (and the more money you can charge!). You can also get friends to write recommendations about you personally; this also helps guests learn more about you and helps them make their decisions.

We are still waiting for our reviews from our 3 guests this weekend but I expect that they will be quite positive. I have also left them positive reviews. Our Spanish guests were even so sweet as to bring us a bottle of local Spanish wine to thank us! Awwww!

Additional Thoughts

I obviously think this is a really cool concept for both hosts and travellers. I like that I can make money off of my extra room and I will use this service the next time I travel.

It can be a little bit weird though. While my roommate and I enjoyed having our guests, it can be stressful having strangers in your home. We had to be there at specific times and it was mentally tiring; even with good guests.

You will always want to use your best judgment and be cautious when doing something like this. We locked away our expensive items and tried to find the balance between being at home enough, but also giving the guests their space and privacy. It is important to really think things through, establish rules and communicate those to your guests to avoid any problems.

Overall I would say that my first 2 bookings were a good experience. We will definitely be continuing as hosts and also refining our listing as well as house rules so that we’re not so frazzled the next time. I really think it is a learning experience!

If you have an adventurous personality and an extra room, I would recommend trying out AirBnB!

Have you ever traveled or hosted via a service such as AirBnB? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments!

Review: SWAK Designs Redux

Me in my Veronica SWAK Dress

After my negative review in March of my Sealed With A Kiss items, the company contacted me and wanted to know how they could make it right.

It seems that my post on this blog and also in the fatshionista! community had caused quite a stir, and the CEO contacted me himself so they could better understand my beef with their clothes and how they could improve.

Right off the bat I was impressed. It takes a certain kind of person and a certain kind of company to step up and take responsibility for their inferior product. Not only that, but they were willing to go straight to the source (aka me, the shopper) to find out what I really want out of a clothing retailer. Believe me, I had lots of suggestions to make!

After several long and educational conversations (for us both!) I am happy to report that SWAK appears to be one of those companies that want to go the extra mile and please their customers. They listened to my suggestions and addressed many of my issues and I feel that if they can run with this and actually implement some lasting changes/improvements they could become a major player in the lucrative plus-size clothing market.

To show their improvement progress, they sent me their new Veronica Maxi Dress to test-drive.

Here’s what I think

I like this dress. For around $60 CAD it’s not a bad buy and is a marked improvement over the last two dresses I purchased from SWAK.

A very long maxi dress, this garment comes with adjustable straps and a waist tie which helps you adjust the dress to your figure. Thank goodness because at 5’6″ I was almost too short to rock this!

I really liked the pattern on the fabric and the colour choices. I received it in the violet colour and it looked great. The pattern was an appropriate scale and had enough visual interest to not only make a beautiful dress, but also to give me a more slender look when I wore it.

The “boobie cups” at the top (I know, I’m so technical, right?) were molded foam which gave my chest a pleasant shape. With the adjustable straps I was also able adjust how much cleavage I wanted to show.

In terms of construction and fabric… well, you get what you pay for. For a $60 dress it wasn’t too bad. The polyester/spandex material was rather thin, but draped well for a synthetic. I also enjoy the silky feel to it and how it feels swooshing against my legs as I walk.

I wouldn’t recommend wearing it on a very hot day, however. The material tends to keep the heat close to your body (as all synthetics do) and could easily become uncomfortable. I didn’t actually get a chance to wear this until today since the weather has been SO hot and humid!

I might also try and hem the bottom a little bit. Most of the stitching and seams were solid enough but I worry about the flimsy hem on this dress. It skims so close to my feet that I’m worried I will step on it and tear the fabric.

All in all, I am pleased with this dress and would recommend it to my (taller!) friends. I can see myself wearing it a lot more this summer, since I got a lot of attention in it today as I was out & about! (and my mom wants to steal it)

I like that it’s not too expensive, it feels comfortable & stable and that the colour and design are so eye-catching.

I also want to mention that it looks better in person than on the model!

Worth it?

I think so!