All the latest and greatest products

Garden Stools for Spring April 13, 2009

Filed under: Consumer Goods — shinypackages @ 1:39 pm
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gardenstoolsI was in a Target store at the end of January. All the holiday merchandise had been sold off and in its place was a collection of home furnishing that would be equally welcomed indoors or outside. A little early to start thinking about patio furniture perhaps, but any distraction from what would become the longest winter in memory was welcomed.

Hot Spring Decor

But I digress. Among the collection was many, many garden stools in various shapes, sizes, colours and styles. It appears that the garden stool has become the ‘it’ piece of furniture this spring. I see them everywhere now from Canadian Tire to HomeSense.

Out of the Garden

Garden stools, sometimes called drum tables, are not reserved for the garden.  Need someplace to set down your glass of iced tea while lounging on the patio? A garden stool is your answer. How about a plant stand for the living room? Extra seating in the dining room? The perfect might table for your bedroom?

The garden stools pictured above are from Pier 1. The price is US$115 each.


Dyson: The Review April 10, 2009

Filed under: Consumer Goods — shinypackages @ 12:05 pm

dc25-animaldc25-animalThe highly-anticipated arrival of my Dyson vacuum has finally come to pass. I paraded it out of my office building yesterday to the oohs and aahs from people on the street. I’m pretty sure I heard someone mutter ‘creme de la creme’.

Assembly: I’ve heard that Dysons go together so easily that you can use the instructions to start a campfire. It’s true. My 10-year-old son Clark had the thing snapped together while I was in digging through the junk drawer looking for a screwdriver (not needed). I’ll be using the instructions to start that fire at the cottage this weekend.

Usage: Can you image three people fighting over who gets to use the vacuum? The fun is in the ball that lets the unit move around like you’re driving a Harley. “Hey, look how close I can get to the doorway!” I have the DC25. With a push of the button, you can use it on hard floors including the tiles in the bathroom. You should see this thing corner around the toilet!

It Sucks: We vacuumed our two storey house and emptied the canister five times. Really, sort of disgusting if you think about it especially since the girls (Molly Maid) come to visit once a month and do a spectacular job of cleaning up the joint. The Dyson sucks up goodness-knows-what and leaves the carpets plump and cushy. There’s no comparison with any other vacuum I have owned, including Jaws, but that’s another story.

Blockages: While I was Dysoning the bathroom, I decided to make a pass over the bath mat. It’s one of those shaggy numbers. Note to new Dyson user: do not drive over shaggy bath mats! The vacuum ripped a bunch of the loops that instantly became tangled in the beater bar. That bar spins so fast that it makes my head spin. Luckily, Clark quickly came to the rescue (he read the instructions about blockages) and showed me how to take it apart (one turn of a simple locking device). As I was uncoiling the shaggy yarn, I also discovered the Dyson had captured the equivalent of a full head of my hair (sorry, icky) as well as about 40 yards of 10 lb test fishing line.

The Verdict: Bite the bullet, spend the $600 and get yourself a vacuum that won’t frustrate the hell outta you. The downside is that you might have some family arguments about who gets to do the vacuuming. Small price to pay.

Order your Dyson online at Costco also have a couple of models in stock. Take your pick from canisters or uprights. Prices range from $500 to $650.


Chocoholics Get Ready for a Big Weekend

Filed under: Consumer Goods — shinypackages @ 8:04 am
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In the name of product testing, I gave the milk chocolate version of these new treats from Nestle to my business partner John to try out with his family. He has two tween girls and as he says “I think they have special powers when it comes to chocolate. They can hear the cellophane being ripped off from two floors up.” John managed to snag one of the 10 chocolate-filled pillows in the pack. He said he didn’t particularly feel like having a chocolate at that moment (how silly) but knew he wouldn’t have a chance if he waited. The verdict? Smooth outer shell and creamy centre. Just the right combination. His only complaint? “There are only 10 in the box. There should be 20! Now I have to go out and find some more.”

Nestle Noir Mousse Delicate chocolates cost about $4 for the 100g box. You can find them at most department and drug stores. Still time to tuck a few boxes into my Easter basket.


your Weekend Treat: Green & Black’s Eggs April 9, 2009

Filed under: Consumer Goods — shinypackages @ 10:37 am
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I went to a chocolate-making workshop in Canmore, Alberta a couple of years ago and the chocolatier was appalled that I liked my treats cold, as in right outta the fridge. He tried to convince me that the only way to enjoy the subtleties of chocolate was at room temperature. So in the interest of getting the most out of a mouthful, I tried this for a while. And then I went back to the fridge. For me, the snap of a chunk-o-chocolate right out of the crisper is where it’s at. And that’s the best way to indulge in these decadent eggs from organic chocolate makers, Green & Blacks.

The milk chocolate butterscotch mini eggs are new to the line up this year. They have little bits of butterscotch inside that snap when you bite into them. If your tastes range to the dark side, there are also dark chocolate mini eggs (also fantastic in the fridge). Go ahead, pretend to buy them for the kids. I won’t tell.

Get them at Shoppers Drug Mart for around $7.50 for the 110g bag.


WIN! Baby Days: Botanical Paperworks Birth Announcements April 8, 2009

bundle_blue1Looking for an eco-friendly way to announce the arrival of your bundle of joy? Winnipeg-based Botanical PaperWorks will guarantee your cards don’t get tossed into the recycling bin. Instead, they’ll get covered in mud. But that’s a good thing. Birth announcements, shower invitations and thank you cards are made with plantable paper embedded with North American wildflower seeds. Plant the paper and before too long, you’ll have Bird’s Eye, Clarkia, Poppy and Snap Dragon srouting in your garden or windowsill pot.

Simply visit to order your hip design, colour and add a personal message. Most cards start at about $4.95 each but remember it’s a gift as well as an announcement. Most of the products are tree-free, made with 100 per cent post-consumer waste.

WIN! Enter your name to win a pack of 50 personalized baby announcements! VALUE: $250


Contest ends at midnight tonight. Good luck!


WIN! Baby Days: PC Green Diapers

Filed under: Consumer Goods — shinypackages @ 7:33 am
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pcg-diaperHave you ever been to a landfill site? I know this isn’t the prettiest thing to be talking about during Baby Days but the number of disposable diapers in any given landfill site isn’t pretty either (don’t get me started on the number of plastic grocery bags blowing around—that’s another story).

When our son was born, we tried to do the responsible thing by using washable diapers. We even used a service that would drop off clean ones and pick up the not-so-clean ones. To get right to the point, it didn’t work out. There were issues with storing the not-so-clean ones until pick-up day. Yuckie!

Thankfully, disposable diapers have come a long way so parents can feel a little better about using them. The PC Green diaper is fragrance- and dye-free. They are made from wood pulp harvested from sustainably managed forests.  There’s no chlorine bleach used in the process. All good things. Plus they have a good fit and excellent absorbency.About $16 for the pack at Superstore and Loblaws. A pack is included in our prize giveaway.



WIN! Baby Days: Funny Faces from LUSH April 7, 2009

Filed under: Consumer Goods — shinypackages @ 4:36 pm

icklegroupThere’s nothing like a bath before bed to help settle a wee ones who is having a day. The soothing sound of running water and a few gentle spashes from mom or day will help wash away those tantrum tears. Plus the pop and fizz of a kid-friendly bath bomb will distract them long enough so that they forget what was so upsetting in the first place. LUSH offers the pink Ickle Baby Devil or blue Ickle Baby Angel. Both have the calming essentials oils of lavender,
sandalwood and chamomile. Toss one into a warm bath and enjoy the lovely color, fragrance and fizzy action! $2.95 each at LUSH. A couple of Ickle Babies are included in our prize pack.


NOTE: If you have already entered your name for the Baby Days prize packs, no need to enter again. All names will go into the pot for the draws at the end of day Wednesday.