Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Milkshirt

While there are many flattering nursing shirts out there, such as Milkstars Nursing Tops, sometimes you just want to wear your "before" shirts.  What you may not want is to have to lift up your shirt to feed your baby and have a few of those soft squishy belly rolls freed for the world to see.  Even if you're not self conscious about them, it can be cold & breezy with your midsection exposed.  This is where a wonderful invention called the Milkshirt comes in. 

Milkshirt (black)
The Milkshirt is a basic tank top style undershirt, but with a special feature - holes where your breasts are.  Even though it looks kind of silly drying on your clothesline, it looks great while wearing it.  It comes in black or white, and is worn over your nursing bra and under your normal shirt.  The holes are edged/hemmed so that the shirt lies flat under your regular tops.  When I bought them online I was worried that the edges of the holes might show through my shirts, but that hasn't been a problem with most shirts, the only times they do show is if I'm wearing a particularly low cut or V-neck shirt.  I like how they add an extra layer of comfort to your outfit, and they are made of soft breathable cotton.  I do wish they were a bit longer in the waist area, because I find sometimes when I sit down, the back will come untucked from my jeans.  Granted, I tend to wear somewhat lower rise jeans - no "mom jeans" here - so this may not be an issue for everyone.

The Milkshirt sells for about $20, and if you think of how two Milkshirts (one black, one white) can pretty much turn your ENTIRE wardrobe into nursing tops, it is well worth the money.  They can be machine washed & tumble dried, and they seem to hold up really well with repeated washing/drying - no pilling or fading so far.  You can read more about the Milkshirt over at

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: Planet Wise Diaper Pail Liners

If you cloth diaper, you know that one of the most important things is having a good diaper pail to store the soiled diapers until wash day.  I have two pails, a small one for my main floor laundry room (for diaper changes that take place in the living room), and a large one in the nursery, for all the rest.  The main floor one is one of those round ones with a lid that you can buy at Sears.  The one in my nursery was a shower gift from my girlfriends and is a really awesome large square one with a lid that you can secure, as well as a replaceable charcoal/carbon filter to keep diaper smells in the diaper pail.  I can pretty easily rinse out the small pail and lid in the laundry tub when it gets dirty, however, the large pail is a bit unwieldy.  Plus, who wants to carry a large pail to the washing machine every three days, wrestle it into position, and take the chance of poopy diapers falling beside the machine instead of into it?  Not to mention what you mamas with front loaders must do!  At least gravity helps with the top loader...

The solution is to have a pail liner.  A pail liner is like a giant wet bag with an elastic or drawstring top, it fits into your pail and over the rim, so that you throw dirty diapers into it.  Then on wash day, you just grab the liner and empty it into the washing machine, then put the liner in the washing machine too.  I have two Planet Wise pail liners so that there's always a clean one available.  They are the perfect size to fit most large diaper pails, and though I haven't' tried it, I think they would also be useful to line a smaller pail, there would just be more bunched up bag fabric at the bottom of the pail in that case.  These liners are made out of the same waterproof PUL material as portable wet bags and the outside layer of many pocket diapers.  It seems to be extra sturdy, not thin or weak at all.  It doesn't wick moisture and seems to be "smell proof" as well.  The elastic is very stretchy and adjusts to a snug fit around the rim of the large diaper pail.  The bag is strong enough to hold 3 days worth of soiled diapers when you carry it to your washer.  I find it does sometimes contain a bit of water after the last spin cycle, because it is waterproof, some of the water that gets in it during wash/rinse, doesn't always escape during the spin cycle.  So I make sure it's the last thing I take out of the washing machine so that I don't spill any water on the diapers that have been spun dry.

The Planet Wise pail liner comes in a ton of different solid colours so you will have no problem finding one or two that match your tastes.  They are not overly expensive at $16.50 retail on their website (and occasionally on sale for less at various online retailers - I think I paid $14.50 each at Bootyful Baby Boutique during one of their sales).  You can read more about Planet Wise products on their website at and browse the pail liner colour selection here:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Moon Dough

Every now and then I like to take my son with me to a store and let him choose a toy, whether it's as a reward for good behaviour, a special occasion, or just because.  The most recent purchase was a product called "Moon Dough".  My four year old had a hard time deciding between it, and the Hungry Hippos game.  I opted for the less expensive choice so that part was easy for me.  He wanted to play it just as soon as we got home, and so we opened up the package and I noticed a LOT of instructions.  Like, a whole page of instructions on how to clean up the Moon Dough.  I should have been suspicious at this point, but my son's excitement was contagious, so we proceeded to take out the dough, kneaded it like the instructions said, and little bits of it kept flaking off and falling down.  It has a very strange texture, almost like really fine paper fibers that stick together.  It doesn't stick to anything else but it also seemed to have a hard time really lumping together and sticking to itself so there were little flakes of it scattered on the table and rug.  We decided to move it into the dining room where the floor is wood and easier to clean.  We put a vinyl tablecloth on the table to keep it clean, as we do when we break out the play dough, but the flakes of Moon Dough still ended up everywhere.  My son used the molding tool to make some hamburgers, which was pretty neat, but contrary to the packaging, it was pretty much impossible to make the burgers look "right" with a yellow bun and red meat filling.  I had also hoped that perhaps the different colours of dough would be easier to separate after playtime than play dough is (or am I the only one that has six cans of a brownish-blueish mixed play dough?) but that too was pretty much impossible.

Moon dough does have a few advantages - it never dries out so you can use it forever.  It also does not contain any wheat, so it would be well suited for kids with allergies.  It's also said to be Hypo-allergenic.  So if you are a real play dough hater, you might like Moon Dough.  However, I ended up returning our Moon Dough to the store, I was not prepared to deal with all the extra mess, and the more I read the information in the packaging, the more concerned I became about it - the flakes could get in kids eyes and require medical attention, and any product that includes a mandatory step of washing your hands with liquid soap after use makes me a bit leery.  In the end, we spent a few extra dollars and got the Hungry Hippos game which my son enjoys all the time, and it doesn't make me want to cringe every time he plays with it.

If you want to read more about Moon Dough, or buy some for yourself to try it out, you can find out more over at

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Review: Grocery IQ for iPhone

How often have you wandered aimlessly around the grocery store, trying to remember what it was you came in for?  Or worse, how often have you come home with a small fortune worth of groceries, only to realize that you still don't have the right combination of foods to prepare a particular recipe?  I've been in both positions, and have ended up eating takeout instead of cooking more times than I care to admit.  I am going to provide a review of an iPhone app called Grocery IQ, but before I do I need to share a little before & after scenario.

Before: I used to come home from work (pre-kids) and, sit-com style, open the fridge, frown at the contents, and then either resort to chicken nuggets & fries for dinner, or pick up the phone and order pizza.  Grocery shopping happened once or twice a week and was either way over budget (and chock full of snack/junk food) or way under budget (and inevitably followed up by another trip to get the things I'd forgotten)

After: At some point I realized that I *hated* not knowing what was going to be for dinner.  At this point I started meal planning.  I like cooking, and it's fun when you have everything you need on hand.  Once I had planned out my meals (dinners only) for the week, I could easily make a grocery list that contained everything I'd need to prepare the week's dinners.  This is where Grocery IQ comes in.

I'll be the first to admit that I am barely scratching the surface at the functions that Grocery IQ offers.  I have set up all of my frequently visited stores (grocery & otherwise), and I have taken the time to go through my most frequently visited grocery store and set up the aisles in the app.  Whenever I do my weekly meal planning, I put all the needed ingredients into the app (it's checklist style, you just search for or type in what you need, and it puts it into a list for you).  Then I go through my store's weekly flyer to see if there's anything on sale that I should stock up on (sometimes I'll even switch out meals in my plan to accommodate what's on sale).  I add these things to the Grocery IQ app as well.  Finally I add to the list anything that we've run out of during the week.

Grocery IQ uses the aisle setup to put my grocery list in order, so the list shows me what I need to buy at the right time - it matches up with the flow of the store - so it starts with Produce, then Deli/Seafood, then Bread/Bakery, then Meat, Dairy, Frozen Goods, etc.  This is great because it saves me from having to double back for things in a section I've already gone past.

When I pick up an item, I just tap the checkbox beside the item in the list to cross it off.  Grocery IQ moves it to the bottom of the list.  At the end of the shopping trip, I can hit the "Checkout" button to remove the items I've bought from the list.

While this is all I really need in a grocery list application, Grocery IQ has a ton of other features (some of which unfortunately don't work that great in Canada).  It allows you to scan bar codes of items in order to easily add them to your list.  It has an integrated coupon section where you can browse through, print, or email coupons.  You can set up as many stores as you like, and as many aisles per store as you need.  You can put the aisles in order per store - so each store reflects its own layout!  It can also track your favorite items so you can quickly add them without having to type in the name each time.

Grocery IQ is FREE!  If you want to try out Grocery IQ, I'm confident you won't be disappointed (did I mention, it's free?).  You can read more over at their website,, and download it for iPhone/iPad or Android.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Eco Nuts Natural Laundry Detergent

In this day and age, people are becoming more and more aware about the chemicals that surround us, and the effects they can & do have on our health and comfort.  Although our family is blessed with good health and no known chemical sensitivities/allergies, I do try to choose products with minimal impact on our health and on the cleanliness of our environment (most of the time...).  I first tried Eco Nuts Natural Laundry Soap last year, when I purchased a couple of boxes on Baby Half Off (  I was skeptical about how they would work, given that they are just little shriveled up brown things, but they do work, and they work at least as well as any of the laundry detergents I'd been using before.  They are great for cloth diapers, but I use them for all of our laundry needs.

They go in your wash, 5 nuts to a bag (bags are included in the boxes of nuts), and the bag lasts 5-10 washes, depending on your water & whether you're washing in hot or cold.  I let the bags dry between uses, which seems to make them last longer, and also makes it easier to tell when the nuts are "used up" they get brittle when they are ready to be replaced.  The bag of Eco Nuts Natural Laundry Detergent stays in for the wash & rinse cycle, does not leave any residue on your laundry, and has no fragrance.  The clean clothes have a slight odor of vinegar when wet, but no smell at all once they are dry.  I thought it was kind of strange that you could wash the clothes in cold water, rinse in cold water, leaving the bag of Eco Nuts in for both cycles, and still have the clothes end up clean without residue, but it works great, and the hint of saponin (active "ingredient" of the soap nuts) acts as a fabric softener when you put clothes in the dryer, so they come out extra fluffy.

Once the Eco Nuts are "used up", they are in fact not useless - I haven't tried it yet, but apparently you can make hand soap or natural cleaners from them by soaking them in hot water.  Or, if you're like me, you can put them in the compost.  No mess and no plastic bottles to throw out when you've used them up - Eco Nuts come in simple biodegradable packaging.  Since they are all natural, they are perfectly safe for septic systems too.  Oh - and the price is right - less than $0.10 per load!

I should probably include a link!  Check out Eco Nuts Natural Laundry Detergent and other eco cleaning products here at

EDIT:  A few people have expressed concern because their children have nut allergies, and would they also be allergic to Eco Nuts?  Eco Nuts on their Facebook page answered this way: "Eco Nuts are actually a fruit and not a nut and are used successfully by many people with severe nut allergies. Eco Nuts are in the lychee/horse chestnut/maple family, so if your child has any reactions to any products from those trees, do a patch test, first."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband (vs generics)

I bought my Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband when I found out I was pregnant, thinking it would, as advertised, be great for holding up my "normal" pants in early pregnancy and covering the gap between the bottom of too-short maternity tops and low-rise maternity pants in late pregnancy.  It did both of these things well, but what I consider the BEST use of the Bellaband is the containing and hiding the post-pregnancy midsection jiggly bits.  I wear it with normal shirts and it turns any shirt into a nursing top by hiding the midsection that tends to hang out and greet others when I am breastfeeding.   It comes in a ton of colours (though I just have one, in a neutral cream shade) so you can co-ordinate it with any wardrobe.  Because it is basically an elastic tube, it not only hides your midsection, but it also helps rein in any post-baby muffin top and smooths any other lumps and bumps so that you can look sleek (if not slim) in your summertime tanks and tees.

After buying an Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband (on eBay, to save money), it occurred to me that I might want more than one, in different colours, so I went splits with a pregnant friend on a set of five generic bands from another eBay seller.  I think I bought the wrong size, because I find the generic bands to be too stretchy to really hold anything in, and a bit too tall to wear post-baby.  I like to use the back pocket of my jeans (yes, my iPhone gets sat on ALL.THE.TIME.) and so I don't like to pull the band down so far that I don't have access to the pocket, but with the generic band, I have to pull it down this far so that it doesn't bunch up under my bra.  I was a size 8/10 pre-pregnancy, and so I bought the Bellaband in their size 1 (sizes 0 to 8).  I bought the generic bands in a size Medium (sizes 6-12) because I thought that would be more appropriate than their size Small (0-8).  If I were to do it over, I think I would have bought either two Ingrid & Isabel (one light, one dark), OR I would have gotten a 5 pack of the generics in a size Small.  I still think the Ingrid & Isabel brand has a better stretch and "holding power" so budget permitting, that's what I would choose.

Check out the Ingrid & Isabel Bellaband on their website at  Or, opt for the generic brand bands over on eBay at

How about you - did you wear a belly band in your pregnancy or afterwards? Did you have a preferred brand?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: Moby Wrap

One of my good friends sent me a Moby Wrap as a new-baby gift when I was pregnant with my daughter.  I had used a sling when my son was very young, and a snuggly-style front carrier when he got older, but had never tried a wrap before.  I remember though that I didn't use the sling for very long because my son didn't fit into it very well, and I had done some reading to suggest that the style of front carrier I had used is actually not that good for baby (go Google infant carrier + spondylolisthesis for some thoughts on that front).  Regardless of how many of those articles were truth and how many were just thriving off the new-mom fear/guilt combo, I wanted to try a wrap carrier because of how comfortable they looked - both for baby AND mommy.

The Moby I received was an off-white shade, perfect for a girl or a boy, and nice for using in the summer when the extra fabric would be warm enough without also absorbing lots of sunlight like a black or navy one might have done.  It is not difficult to put on, but it does take a bit of practice to get it right.  I went to a local store that promotes babywearing (BLISS, located on Oland Drive in Bayer's Lake Industrial Park outside of Halifax) and they were very kind to show me how to put it on, and how to put baby into it.  I even went back when my daughter was just a couple of weeks old because I had previously just practiced putting a teddy bear into it, and wanted an expert hand to show me how to put my tiny new baby in.  (Thank you so much, BLISS!)

I don't want anyone to think it is difficult, there are a ton of YouTube clips out there to show how to do it, and once you do it, it's easy to repeat.  The reason I decided to review it today is because I used it at the grocery store and thought to myself how handy it was, and that every mom with a young baby should have one.  I was able to shop hands-free, my cart was not cluttered up with a heavy infant carseat, and my daughter was able to nap comfortably in the wrap carrier while I shopped.  And it's so nice to have her close enough to be able to look down and kiss her forehead or the top of her head whenever the mood strikes (which, I'll admit, is all the time).

The wrap is made of a stretchy cotton material, can be machine washed (thank goodness, because it gets its fair share of spitup on it...), and thrown in the dryer.  I've also hung mine out on the line to dry, but prefer the dryer since it is a huge piece of fabric and takes up a ton of space & clothespins on the line.  Plus, putting it in the dryer restores the elasticity for the next wear.  My daughter was pushing 15 lbs at her 2 month checkup, and is almost 3 months old now, and she still fits comfortably into the Moby Wrap carrier, and I don't have any strain at all having to carry her.  It's so convenient - I have used it while preparing dinner (not by the stove or oven though!), gardening, walking, shopping... basically anything where you are standing up and moving around.  It's also nice for shopping trips where you are in and out of the car, instead of lugging the carseat with you each time, just put the Moby Wrap on once, then put baby into it whenever you leave the car.

You can buy your Moby Wrap locally at Nurtured ( or at BLISS (, and possibly other retail locations, or of course you can visit their website at and find out other retailers.  The $40-$50 price tag is quite reasonable especially when you consider the added comfort of the carrier and the fact that they have excellent resale value on the secondhand market.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: Snuggy Baby Wetbag (Large)

When we cloth diapered my son, we only did it when it was convenient.  Whenever we left the house, we put him in disposable diapers.  Overnight?  Disposables.  Naptime?  You guessed it - disposables.  When we decided to cloth diaper our daughter, I wanted to be able to use them all the time.  I plan to put up a separate set of posts around the cloth diapers we use, so I won't get into those details now.  One of the things that makes cloth diapering outside of the home possible is a good wetbag.  It will allow you to carry home soiled diapers without having them leak or smell or otherwise contaminate your diaper bag or the things in it.  It's washable and reusable, so much better than a plastic bag.

I purchased two Snuggy Baby wetbags from one of the popular baby product deal sites (I can't remember which one, so I'm not going to name any of them here) quite some time ago.  We first used them for my son's swim lessons - the large size bag (14" wide x 17" tall) is the perfect size to hold his swim trunks, a towel, and my flip flops (bare feet on pool deck = ew, gross!).  Now that my daughter is here, I keep one in my diaper bag at all times to hold soiled diapers.

They come in three sizes - the Medium wetbag (12"x11"), the Large wetbag (14"x17"), and the XL hanging diaper pail (22"x28").  On Amazon the "Large" wetbag is named "XL Wet Bag" which is a touch confusing, but not Snuggy Baby's fault, I'm sure!  Just be aware of that if you intend to buy one.

The Snuggy Baby wetbags are made of 2 layers of fabric, cotton print (gorgeous!) on the outside, and white PUL on the inside (waterproof!).  They are sewn in such a way to make them completely waterproof.  The tops are zippered to ensure no messes can escape.  The Large size bags even have a nice 6" handle of sorts that can be snapped around something (doorknob, stroller handle, your wrist) which can be very handy (like when you're using it as a makeshift diaper pail while visiting Grandma).

The wetbags can be put in the wash with your diapers if needed, however I've found that since they are waterproof, a simple rinse of the inside layer, and then turning the bag inside out to dry, is sufficient to keep it clean & odor free.  I did wash the wetbag once and made the mistake of leaving the zipper open and turning it inside out... the pulling and agitating in my washer caused the outside cotton layer to separate from the zipper about 2"...  Thankfully this a) did not affect the bag's useability and b) was super easy to fix with my somewhat OK mending skills.  I would recommend if you are going to wash the bags in your top loading washer, that you do them on a delicate cycle, and not with the soak-wash-rinse-rinse process that the rest of your diapers go through.  I always line dry my wetbags, though the website says you can occasionally put them in the dryer without harming them.

I find the regular price on these wetbags to be quite high (considering you can get some cheap ones for under $10), however, they have a lot of beautiful prints to choose from, the snap-on handle is very convenient, and the size ranges they offer are good to cover just about every need you might have for a wetbag.  Now if you are lucky and can find them on a deal site, good for you!  Buy two!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Milkstars Nursing Tops (Styles: Joan and Jenny)

I bought two Milkstars nursing tops from Babysteals when I was still pregnant, for the same reason that I bought my Bravado nursing bras (check out the full review here) - so I could nurse my baby in comfort and style.  Boy, do these shirts deliver in both departments!

Milkstars nursing tops are made of the softest fabric that drapes perfectly against your figure without being tight or clingy.  The two styles that I bought have short sleeves, and have 2 layers of fabric all around.  This is so that you can lift the top layer of the shirt to give your baby access to feed, without having to bare your belly or any other unfortunately lumpy bits.  The openings in the bottom layer are generously sized so you won't have to tug at the shirt to keep fabric from getting in baby's mouth or face.

The shirts come in many different styles and colours, I bought the Jenny (scoop neck, cap sleeves) in a bold purple shade, and the Joan (scoop neck, flutter sleeves) in a hot pink.  I wish I had ten of these shirts, whenever they are clean, I am wearing them.  Once they've both been worn, I usually will do a load of laundry just so I can get them back into the rotation.  The Milkstars website recommends hand washing the shirts but acknowledges that busy moms probably won't have time for this (exactly!) so they also state that machine washing on a gentle cycle and then laying flat to dry will also work.  I have a philosophy about clothes that are supposed to be hand washed, which is as follows: if they can't survive the delicate cycle on my washer, then I wasn't meant to own them.  The Milkstars shirts have not let me down in this department.  I have even hung them on the line to dry, but I don't recommend this as the clothespins do leave dents/marks wherever it is clipped.  They do dry nicely on an indoor rack where you can fold them in half to hang them up.

I do wonder why the shirts have the double layered fabric in the back as well as the front, perhaps it is to help the material fall nicely around the body, but it does add a bit of extra warmth which I don't really need, I find that breastfeeding is enough to keep me warm most days without extra layers on top.

If you'd like to buy a Milkstars nursing top, you can do so from their website at - they offer flat rate shipping to the US ($7) and to Canada ($12) so you might as well get more than one!  They are currently advertised from $56 to $60 for shirts, $79 for pyjamas (be still, my heart... I would LOVE to try these out!), and $85 for a dress.  I was fortunate enough to buy my two shirts when they were on for half price ( but if you were to spend $30-$40 on a regular nursing top from a maternity shop, you might as well put in the extra $20 and get one of these, because you will love it forever.

DEAL ALERT!  Right now on their Facebook page (search for Milkstars Nursing Wear) there's a 25% off sale code that's valid til Wednesday - so move fast!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Skype

I've been using Skype on and off for years now, first for computer to computer audio, then computer to land line audio, and more recently, computer to computer video chat - now that my parents are on high speed internet, it makes sharing parts of our life much easier, and they get to "see" the kids more without having to make the long drive up to visit.  So when my husband told me that Skype is having a sale on paid subscriptions (half-price on all Premium subscriptions til end of July, or 15% off 12 month subscriptions of regular service), I did the math and realized that the cost of two months of our current long distance plan costs could pay for an entire year of unlimited calls to anywhere in Canada and the US.  We decided to give it a try.  We canceled our long distance services and signed up for 12 months of Skype.

Having Skype applications available both on our computers and our iPhones makes it easy and accessible, so I am not tethered to my computer screen to make a long distance call.  We have a wireless network in our house so I'm not using any of my data plan bandwidth when I make calls from home.  Even when making long distance calls away from home, it's still way cheaper to use Skype than it is to pay the long distance rates with the cell phone provider.

Now it's a bit early for a full review, since we just signed up yesterday, but I made two phone calls and had mixed success.  The first call was around noon, and the call quality was fantastic - my mom couldn't even tell I wasn't calling from a land line.  The next call was around 8pm, and it started out OK but about 10 minutes into the call, the audio connection failed - I could hear my dad, but he couldn't hear me.  Looking at the screen there was a message indicating my network quality was poor, but I couldn't tell why that would be, since my wifi connection had full signal strength, and my 3G connection was showing three out of four bars.  I called them back from my cell phone itself since I do have them in my "Fab Five".

I am hopeful that this was a one time issue, and honestly for the money I'm saving, a few glitches here and there are understandable.  You can use Skype free for computer to computer audio and video calls, or you can buy credits (pay-as-you-go) or a subscription to add the ability to call land lines as well.  Check out your options at and let me know your experiences with Skype in the comments.  Depending on how things go, I may post a follow-up review in a few months after having more time to evaluate the service.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review: Goo Goo Baby Perfect Pocket Bibs

I bought my first Goo Goo Baby Perfect Pocket Bib at a local boutique kids store (read: everything is expensive there).  It didn't come cheap - $24.95 plus tax for ONE bib.  But with all the use it has gotten, I am grateful every time I reach for it that I didn't cheap out and leave it there.  My son is 4 now, so it doesn't get a lot of use, but we do still pull it out whenever soup is on the menu, or anything served with syrup.  I bought a more girly one to use for my daughter when she is old enough to need a bib, and we'll make sure that when my son is finished with his, we'll find a good new home for it.

What's so special about these bibs, you may ask?  Well for starters, they are made of really REALLY cool fabric prints.  My son's bib, for example, is a fabric print called "DIG IT" and is a bold orange, red, yellow, green and blue construction gear print on white backing.  Then, the fabric comes laminated on the front side, so it can be easily wiped clean.  It's a really generous size, and has cleverly placed snaps so that you can fold the bottom bit up into a pocket, then the corners of the pocket fold behind the bib to make the pocket open up a bit so it catches any falling food.  According to their website, the pocket will catch up to 1/2 cup of liquid food (that's a lot of syrup!)   The neck snaps are adjustable to 3 different sizes, and it has fit my son for several years now without any problems.  I love that they don't have Velcro closures, as kids do learn to pull those off.  My son will actually ask for this bib when he's eating something messy, which has got to be saying something good about the bib!

You can have a look at the bib (and available patterns) here on Goo-Goo Baby's website.   They also have a Retail Store Locator page here, but beware, the city search is case sensitive, so while there are several stores in Halifax, typing in HALIFAX will get you nothing.  I got my daughter's bib at a local online boutique called My L'il Package ( - I'm just mentioning that because they don't seem to be listed in the store locator (probably because they are an online shop, not a brick & mortar store).

Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: Earth Elementals Mid-Summer's Night Cream

My son's cheeks and chin tend to get very dry and chapped in the cold winter, in part because he frequently licks his lips, and often bites his bottom lip, resulting in the area under his bottom lip becoming very red and raw.  I had been using a calendula based homemade cream to treat him, and it worked great, except it came in the tiniest jar imaginable, and soon ran out (especially since I was also using it for my dry cuticles...)

So I went on a mission to find a new balm/lotion that could be used to soothe and heal his dry skin.  I came across the Earth Elementals line of products ( and emailed the company to find out more.  Turns out that this product is made right in my community, and that my local spa sold it at the time.  I was informed that it would be safe for my son, and would not sting his sensitive skin, and so I bought a jar.

This cream is a subtle creamy pink/peach colour, and comes in a dark brown jar.  It smells amazing, thanks to the natural essential oils it contains, and goes on easily without stinging the skin.  Best of all, when I put it on my son's chapped skin at night, I can notice a real difference when he gets up in the morning - the redness is gone, and much of the chapped areas are healed!

I have started to use this as my regular night cream for my own skin (face and hands) and I love it.  I didn't think I'd like using it on my face, as it contains rich shea butter, and I have quite oily skin, however instead of clogging my pores and causing acne issues, it seems to have the opposite effect, making my skin smooth, soft, and helping blemishes to heal.  I also use it on my hands to help my dry cuticles to heal and stay soft.  It does not absorb super fast, especially into my hands, so I make sure it's the last thing I do before lights-out (I don't want to leave greasy fingerprints all over my bedtime reading material).

This cream is well worth the price it costs, and it will last a long time since you don't need to use very much of it at any one time.  50ml is $8 and 100ml is $14.50, and can be purchased directly from the company's website at  They also list retail locations where the cream can be bought here:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Review: WhatsApp Messenger for iPhone

I don't send enough text messages to justify the cost of having an unlimited text plan with my cell phone provider.  I mostly send quick messages to the same people who are in my "Fab 5".  However, every now and then, especially when my friends and I are trying to organize a get-together, I text a bunch of people a bunch of times.  And it's times like these that make the $0.15 per message fee add up really quickly.

Enter an iPhone app called WhatsApp Messenger.  At present this app is #4 on the iTunes app store charts.  This app is available for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Nokia phones.  My review focuses on the iPhone version as that's the phone I use it on.  WhatsApp Messenger can be used to send free normal text messages to any other user that has the app, but also has some terrific other features such as:
  • send Photo/Video - choose from an existing photo/video from your camera album, or use your phone's camera to take a new photo.  Perfect for your husband to use in the grocery store when he needs a little help figuring out exactly which granola bars you wanted him to buy...he can instantly send you a picture and you can reply and set him straight.  You can even respond with a photo of the empty box you have at home, to make things really simple.
  • send Audio Note - I love this feature to use when I've got a longer message to transmit, I can just record what I want to say instead of having to type it all out.  This is really handy when I'm in a hurry and just can't type fast enough.
  • Group Chat - you can set up quick chats with up to 5 participants, really handy when you need to get several friends on the same page about what's going on when the plan changes.
The biggest downside to WhatsApp Messenger is that not everyone has it.  In order to send a WhatsApp message, both the sender and the recipient need to have WhatsApp Messenger on their device.  However, at a cost of $0.99, it's cheaper for you to buy the app for a friend than it is to keep paying $0.15 per message sent and received!  (Yes, I've done this.)

The good thing is that when your friends eventually buy it (because you will tell them how great it is...) they will automatically show up in your contacts list on WhatsApp Messenger - no complicated adding process needed, as long as they are in your iPhone contact list.

Read more about WhatsApp Messenger on their website (, which also has links to purchase the application for supported devices here

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: Envirosax Designer Reusable Bags

I first developed a crush on Envirosax Designer Reusable Bags several years ago, in a store named Faces on a walk down Main Street while visiting Northampton, MA, USA.  I purchased one single bag, one of the now discontinued Planet Green series.  I found myself using it all the time - it was sturdy, folded up to a very compact size, and was strong enough to hold a fair amount of groceries.  One day, I noticed the side seam coming apart (gasp!) so the bag entered the "mending pile".  If any of you have a mending pile and a busy life, you will understand when I say that it sat there for a long time.  And I missed it!  Now, I could have probably gone and stitched the seam up again and continued to use it, but instead, I bought more of the Envirosax bags.  In fact, I went all out and purchased the entire Origami 5 bag pouch.  It was a bit like opening the floodgates - once I bought that set, I couldn't stop.  Thankfully one of my favorite deal sites,, had a deal one day of 3 packs of Envirosax for a nicely reduced price.  So, I stocked up.  I bought bags for myself, bags for my friends, bags to give as gifts to my family members (they love them now too!)

Why do I love these bags so much?  Let me count the ways...
  1. BEAUTY : There is no denying it, there are so many different colours and patterns that just about anyone will be able to find a bag (or bags) they love.  Every time I pull them out of my purse (or these days, my diaper bag) I get compliments from strangers commenting on how attractive the bags are and asking "where did you get those?"
  2. STRENGTH: Other than that very first (now discontinued) bag where the stitching on a side seam started to come undone, I have not had any quality problems with the bags.  On the product website it says they can hold up to 44lbs per bag (!!!).  Now I don't think I've ever weighed them but when I fill it up at the grocery store with a bag of milk, a couple of tubs of yogurt, and enough Lean Cuisine meals to last me a week, I am usually more concerned with being able to lift the bag than I am about the bag being strong enough to hold the contents.
  3. PORTABILITY: The Envirosax bags are simple to fold up, and hold together with a single snap closure.  Once folded, they are smaller than an iPhone and can easily fit into even the fullest purse/diaper bag.  I carry one or two with me everywhere I go (you never know when you're going to be needing it), and on grocery day I pack all of my bags into a little cosmetic case so that I have them all handy to hold whatever I buy.
  4. VERSATILITY: On different occasions, I have used my Envirosax to hold groceries, beach toys, wet swimsuits & towels, potluck contributions, and library books.  They have doubled as wrapping paper, and have even been used as a mini blanket to sit on some damp grass (yes, they kept my bum dry and made sure my white golf skirt didn't get dirty!).
  5. AWESOMENESS: In this day and age of environmental awareness, we all know about the impact that plastic bags have on our environment.  While I believe they have their place (carrying raw meat home from the grocery store, for one), I love that I have drastically reduced my family's usage of plastic bags by having Envirosax handy all the time.  They can be washed and dried so that if they get grubby, that's OK!  In fact it's good to regularly wash bags in which you carry food, in case of any leaky packages or wet/muddy produce.   It's recommended to handwash and line-dry the bags, though I always wash mine on my machine's delicate cycle and then line dry, and they seem to be holding up just fine.
Envirosax Oasis Shopper,Copacabana,one sizeIn case it isn't obvious from this post, I think you should go out and get some of these bags for yourself if you don't already have any.  They are priced about $9 per bag, or $40 for a set of 5, which seems like a bit of cash, but they are definitely worth it for all the different uses they have and how long they last.  Check out the current selection at (Canada) or (USA)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review: Buncha Farmers Stain Remover

I picked up one of these stain remover sticks at a local natural parenting store, hoping it would help out in the laundry room and not leave me resorting to the awful smelling stain removal spray that literally burns my nostrils (goodness knows what it's doing to our clothes or skin).

Buncha Farmers stain remover comes in a 60 gram stick, about 1 inch by 1 inch by 4 inches long, and sort of resembles a long thin bar of soap.  (According to their website it is, in fact, soap, "enhanced with Borax to soften the water and aid the cleaning process").  It has a clean smell which I assume comes from the Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil in the ingredient list.  It has just 8 all-natural ingredients, one of which is water, and is advertised as being 100% biodegradable.  This is a good thing as we are on a septic system and I don't like to put anything down the drain that I wouldn't want to end up in my soil!

To use it, the instructions state "Wet Stick! Rub directly on stain."  I find that wetting the garment/stained area is more effective, as the stick lathers up nicely when there's a good bit of water involved.  Simply wetting the stick doesn't seem to be quite enough to get the soap to rub into the garment, so what I usually do is hold the stained garment under the water flow in the washing machine as it fills up, then I place the garment on the dryer and give the stain a rub with the stick til it lathers up.  Then I toss the garment into the wash.

I haven't had too many stains to deal with since I bought it, but so far it's done a good job on tomato based sauce messes, Crystal Light spills, mashed blueberries, and ground-in dirt.  I will definitely continue to use this stick as my first line of defense against stubborn stains.

If you want to check it out, you can buy it locally at Nurtured ( on Robie Street in Halifax or at  BLISS ( for about $3.  Buy it on Amazon here: Stain Remover Stick (60g) Buncha Farmers Brand: Buncha Farmers, or you can have a look at the product website at for more information.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Netflix

A few months ago my husband signed us up for a free trial month of Netflix.  I was adamant that we cancel the subscription before it auto-renewed on our credit card, because come on, we're already paying for cable.  Why would I spend an extra $8.99/month for more TV?

Turns out, Netflix is the next best thing to sliced bread.  Not only does it provide an endless supply of suitable shows for the preschooler set (especially since most kids in that age range like watching the same shows over and over again), but it also has a pretty darn good assortment of shows for grownups too.  I've barely scratched the surface of TV shows, and I know there are tons of movies available on Netflix as well.  So far we've really enjoyed watching the following TV series: Life on Mars, Being Erica, Arrested Development, Coupling, and Pulling.  My 4 year old son's favourites are (of course) Mighty Machines, Word World, and the Wonder Pets (sigh).

 It's so nice to be able to browse through such a variety of shows, and there are new ones added all the time.  Netflix will recommend shows to you based on others you have enjoyed, and you can browse by the type (movie vs TV) and genre of show.  Once you start watching something, Netflix saves your spot, so if you need to pause your show for some reason, you can come back the next day and pick up right where you left off.  This works even if you switch between shows - it will remember your spot in each show.

Netflix can be watched on game consoles (such as Xbox 360, PS3, Wii), streaming players (such as Apple TV), networked Blu-ray players, networked HDTVs, mobile devices, home theatre systems, and of course, your computer.  There's nothing better than being woken up by a newborn for a 45 minute feeding than to be able to catch up on a favourite TV show while feeding the baby.  (OK, I'll admit, sleeping through the night would be better.  But while you're up, you might as well have some fun!)

You can check out Netflix at (for Canadian readers) or (for US readers).  Your first month is free!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review: Bravado Lifestyle Microfiber Bra

With my first pregnancy I had no idea how flubby and unattractive I would feel after giving birth and before getting my figure back.  I had purchased 6 cheap cotton nursing bras, with seams in unfortunate places (so they were never smooth under t-shirts), and they did not offer much support.  The colours were good, I had two white, two black, and two nude.  However, I never really felt good wearing them.  They did what they needed to do, but weren't exceptionally comfortable, and definitely were not attractive in any way, shape, or form.

So this time when we found out we were expecting again, I resolved to only wear maternity and nursing clothes that made me feel good about myself.  I bought 3 Bravado Lifestyle Microfiber bras in the "Enchanted" colour scheme, which is a really nice chocolate brown and has dark aquamarine coloured lace and ribbon trim.  I also bought two Bravado Lifestyle Microfiber bras in the "Sugar" colour scheme, which is an ivory colour and has a peach coloured lace and ribbon trim.

The bras are the most comfortable I have ever worn, and are very supportive.  I normally wear bra size 34C so I bought four bras in size 36D and one in 34D.  The 36D ones have a triple hook closure which is really nice and wide for extra support and helps to rein in any back chub.  The 34D has a double hook closure but is otherwise the same as the 36D.  The cup fabric is not padded but is made of two layers of fabric.  The outside layer is the coloured microfiber, while the inside layer is cotton which feels really nice on your skin.  They are well put together and very elegant, even my husband loves the look of them (or maybe it's just the larger breasts?  Regardless...)

I normally wear a padded underwire bra so I am very surprised how I enjoyed wearing this bra.  I haven't had too many moments where my "headlights" were showing as the two layers of fabric do a nice job holding everything in close.  I love the wide shoulder straps - they are almost 2cm wide - as they distribute the weight nicely on your shoulders without digging in at all.  I have even worn them to sleep in the early weeks with our new daughter when my normal sleep bras were in the laundry, and they were so comfortable that I did not miss my sleep bras at all.

One last thing I have to mention about these bras is the way you wear them when nursing.  The clasp is super easy to open and close with one hand, and the entire cup folds down.  There is a non-stretchy piece of fabric that runs along the outside edge of the cup (near your armpit) that connects the strap to the band, but there is no fussing with an opening that has to be lined up just right (is it just me, or do other bra manufacturers make these openings way too small to be helpful?).  The clasps feel nice and solid, and make a distinctive click when they close so you know things are put back together.  I've heard some people say they find the click too loud, but it's never woken my baby so I don't mind it at all.

You can find out more about these bras and purchase them here:  They are worth every penny!

*Disclaimer:  Geekmommy Reviews was not paid to post this product review.  In fact I purchased the product myself and was not compensated in any way.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why Product Reviewing?

As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed shopping, and as I've become a wife, homeowner, and mom, it's become more and more important to spend my money wisely.  I think it's important to have products in your life that make life better, easier, and happier, not ones that weigh you down, make things harder, or frustrate you when you try to use them.  However, it can be hard to know whether the thing you are buying is really going to be useful in your life.  And what's useful for one person may not be that great for another.  My intention on this new review blog is to take a look at products I have purchased and owned, and to tell you my experiences and thoughts with them.  I promise to spill all the details when I love something, but also not to hold back when I feel that a product doesn't measure up.

To put my reviews into perspective, you should probably know more about me.  I'm a married mom of two kids (boy, 4 years old, and girl, 2 months old).  I live in the suburbs in a home that we own (well, OK, the bank owns most of it, but every 2 weeks we get closer to owning it!), and we have 2 older cars.  Right now we are living life on my husband's income as I am on maternity leave, but even when I'm working, I like to find a bargain, and try not to spend money foolishly.  I enjoy running, baking, cooking, shopping, and spending time with my family.  Obviously there is so much more to life, but those are some of the highlights.

Some of the product types that I intend to review are:
  • "mommy" products - maternity wear, pregnancy related products, must-have gadgets, lotions & creams, around-the-house items, such as:
    • Lilac Maternity
    • Milkstars
    • Bella Band
    • Buncha Farmers stain remover
    • Earth Elementals Midsummer's Night Cream
    • Mrs Smiths Elite Diaper Bag
  • "kid" products - anything and everything kid-related, cloth diapering, toys, accessories, baby products, such as:
    • Moon Dough
    • Babyland Pocket Diapers
    • Innobaby Packin' Smart
    • Sling Sisters Reusable Snack bags
  • "geek" products - gadgets and iPhone/iPad apps (sorry, Android users, I just have an iPhone and iPad), such as:
    • Netflix
    • WhatsApp messenger
    • GroceryIQ
    • LoseIt!