Thursday, October 23, 2014

All A Glow

In August I got an e-mail informing me that I had been chosen to take part in Glow Magazine's November You Tried It program. That meant they would send me a box of products to test and comment on. 

I was expecting samples, but what I got was five full sized items.  I don't know how I got so lucky, but I have to say I was thrilled when I opened the box.  Inside were some things I was very excited about, and other things I had never heard of.

As I only had two weeks to test the products, before submitting my feedback, I was confused about how to test two of the products in particular. One was a day cream and the instructions on the other said to use it day and night. I sent an e-mail to ask for guidance and received a prompt reply, with suggestions on how to solve the problem. I decided to use the L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal  during the day and the StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Mark at night.

At the end of the test period, I filled out the following report and sent it in.

Product #1: NIVEA Crème Care Shower Cream 
My skin is really silky smooth after using NIVEA Crème Care Shower Cream.  I didn’t even have to use any body moisturizer after bathing with this.

Product #2: NIVEA Sensitive 3-in-1 Micellar Cleansing Water 
NIVEA Senstive 3-in-1 Micellar Cleaning Water is capable of removing dirt left behind by normal washing.  No matter how carefully I washed first, it would still manage to find enough dirt to discolour the cotton ball.  I trust it to get my face really clean.
Product #3: L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal
I was very excited to see L’Oreal Paris Age Perfect Cell Renewal in the package. It absorbed well, and left my skin soft, with a fresh dewy look.  It did, however, tend to turn my face red for a while each time I put it on.  I think I’ve gotten used to it now as it doesn’t seem quite so bad anymore. 
Product #4: RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum 
RapidBrow Eyebrow Enhancing Serum is a quick easy way to groom my brows.  If it were to make them any more full though, it would be better suited for my mother than more me, as she over plucked hers at an early age and they never really grew back.  I like the controlled look it gives my brows as that helps them  frame my face better.

Product #5: StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Mark 
I had never heard of StriVectin SD Advanced Intensive Concentrate for Wrinkles & Stretch Marks before, and when I first saw the package I thought I’ll test it and then pass it to someone who needs it.  Now that I’ve tried it, I know I will not be passing it on. This stuff is magic. I put it on my face, neck and chest and see an instant transformation.  My skin never looked so good. It actually makes me look several years younger. It has even done wonders for the wrinkles that had appeared on my upper chest in recent years. Of course, that was the one place I always forgot to moisturize, but with this, I know I’ll never pass up a chance to do it.  Amazing!

Now that I've had a couple of months of using these products, I think I'd happily buy the RapidBrow Eyebrown Enhancing Serum. It goes on with a wand, much like mascara, but it's clear and just lets me sweep my eyebrows into place, and then helps make sure they stay there all day. I now feel that it lifts them nicely and gives my face a finished look.

I have had a chance to search for the StriVectin and discovered that this one product alone would cost me $139 to replace the size of tube I was given. That's definitely out of my price range, but this may be one product that proves the theory that you get what you pay for.  I'm wondering if I'll ever be happy with the cheaper products I've always used ever again. As I said in my report, this stuff is pure magic.

Back when I was doing this project, I checked to see if I would be allowed to blog about it, and was asked to wait until after October 20th as the results would be published in the November issue of Glow magazine.  I checked today, and the new issue is out. Upon closer inspection, I found they quoted what I said about the NIVEA Crème Care Shower Cream on page 44.  I'm hoping that might give me a chance to do this sort of thing again sometime.  I really enjoyed getting to try things I might never have thought to buy otherwise.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Thanksgiving Pilgrimage

I like to spend Thanksgiving by celebrating Mother Nature's last hoorah, wandering around some forest trail, looking at the pretty leaves. I didn't think I was going to get to do that this year, but we did go off towards Mayberly to check out part of the Perth Autumn Studio Tour. We only had time to do a few studios this year as we were due at a dinner later in the afternoon.

 We could have done some of the studios closer to Perth, but opted to go to the far end of the tour, so that we could, once again, visit Fieldworks, an art installation we found when we did this tour last year.

All three of the studios we visited were actually barns with several artists represented in each one.  There was glass work, and pottery, woodwork and weaving,  and purses and even garden elements, as well as the usual paintings.

Though no one mentioned The Fieldwork Project this year, it was indicated on the map, and we remembered it from last year, so we stopped by to see what was new there.  Not too much has changed, and some of the older stuff is getting a bit bedraggled, but the area is still fun to wander around, and we did find a few new things.
 The first new thing we spotted was this jumble of plastic tile drainage pipe. It's called the Knot, and is meant to represent the tangle of inter connectivity that is so prevalent in our world today.

While the knot is rather an ugly thing to see in the wilderness, a Mayfly seemed to fit right in.
 This giant bird, perched on some suitcases was here last year, and seems to have stood up well to the weather.
The biggest surprise, was finding this stack of books in the woods. It's called "Speaking Volumes - In Memory of a Book" It makes me a bit sad to know that 1500 books are being sacrificed to the elements.  The idea is that they will slowly return to their source as they disintegrate and fade away.

This was the most colourful of the displays, and just like the autumn leaves, they deserve one last look, before they are gone .......

I hope you all had a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Finding the Silver Lining

One day last week I planned to take the senior's shopping bus into Ottawa for the day.  I got dressed and walked the half mile to where I would catch the bus. I chatted with a friend for a little while, before being left alone to wait. Then I waited and waited, and waited some more. It was strange that the bus wasn't coming. It was even stranger that the others who normally catch this bus were not there either. I decided that they had changed the pick up point once again, and that I just had not heard about it. This bus only runs once a month, and I don't often take it.  Obviously I wasn't going to be able to take it that day either. I wandered over to the local Drop In centre, and joined the gang there for some treats and a cup of tea.

Someone said, "I thought you were going into Ottawa today."

I admitted that had been the plan and that they must have moved the pick up point as the bus never came. They asked what time the bus comes to pick us up, and that's when I realized my mistake. I had gone to wait for the bus a full hour late. Most everything else I tend to do starts at 10am, while the bus leaves here at 9am.  I was ready on time, but I was on auto pilot, and didn't leave the house until I normally would if I was going to go somewhere. I started wondering if I was going senile or something.

This week I attended a function in a nearby village, where a lady who sometimes rides that bus into Ottawa asked me if I had gone last week. I told her I had intended to, but somehow managed to miss the ride. She told me that the bus had broken down on the way, and everyone had to sit on it for a couple of hours while they got a replacement bus to pick them up and continue the trip. They didn't get to Ottawa until noon. I'm so glad I missed the bus as it would have been lunch time when we got there and after eating (which I'm sure I would have done) there wouldn't have been a lot of time to shop before the bus was ready to take us home again at 2pm.  I would have felt I'd spent too much on the trip for the amount of time I would have had in the mall.

Sometimes it pays to be absent minded.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Autumn in Ontario

Three of us went on a little photo expedition last Friday. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, and one of my friends knew of the perfect spot for us to wander around. This week, I think I'll just share what nature had to offer.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Product Trial - Shirriff Pie Crust

I've found another way to get good free products through the mail.  The BrandSpark people have recruited a Shopper Army, which is designed to use regular people test new products.  The item I was offered was the new Shirriff Pie Crust Mix.  The instructions were to use the product to bake a pie within a week and complete a brief 10 minute survey about the experience.

There was a little glitch though, as I received a message on Friday saying that I needed to bake the pie that weekend, and I had not yet received the pie crust package.  I sent off an e-mail to let them know. I was so disappointed as I was afraid that if I didn't get this mission accomplished, I might get knocked off the list for future products.  The response I got was friendly and positive, and it told me the deadline was not until Wednesday and if the package didn't get to me in time, to just enjoy the product and not worry about it. 

The package arrived on Tuesday, and I had plans for Wednesday, so I decided to get busy and bake a pie.  The next question was what did I have on hand to put in one, as there was no time to go shopping.  I had just barely enough raisins, and not enough of anything else, so raisin pie it was.  There was a difference between the temperature the recipe said to bake it at, and what the pastry package said, but since I was testing the pastry, I decided to go with their instructions.

The package was meant to make a double crust for a 9 inch pie. I rolled the dough as thinly as I dared, but I wasn't convinced there was enough to make a top crust with. It would be just my luck that I would roll it either too small, or place it on so that it didn't cover the whole pie on the first try. As the raisin filling would then make the pastry too sticky to deal with, I decided to not try to make a proper top crust. I cut out a shape instead. Then I used the scraps to make cinnamon and sugar cookies. Looking at the results carefully, I guess there was enough pastry to make a top crust, but I'd like a little extra just to cover my bases, and of course, the pie.

The pastry rolled out more easily than my standard homemade one, but there were little flecks of stuff still visible in the dough. The instructions said to "mix slowly to  make a dough that clings together and cleans easily from the bowl."  That's what I did. I didn't feel that I could work it further, and possibly make it tough. The little flecks didn't hurt the taste of the final product, but the pastry didn't look as smooth as mine would have.

The biggest disappointment was when I cut the pie and tried to lift the pieces from the plate. The pastry stubbornly clung to the glass dish and had to be forcibly scrapped off. I was glad I wasn't serving this pie to a guest, but my hubby and I certainly enjoyed it.

The survey asked for ways the manufacturer could improve the product, and so, hopefully these problems will be straightened out. Though I normally make my own pastry, I tend to do it with a whole pound of Tenderflake, so I have enough to make as many as 7 crusts at one time.  When I just want one or two, I tend to buy the frozen Tenderflake ones, but then I have to juggle the contents of my small freezer, and hope that I don't break them before they are used up. I think I would prefer to buy this new Shirrif Pie Crust in the future. It could be handy to have in my cupboard.

Get to work Dr Oetker, and make Shirriff Pie Crust Mix one of my favorite products of the year. And Shopper Army, I'm so glad to have been recruited. I'm already looking forward to my next mission.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Seniors Become Sitting Ducks

I told you recently about an enjoyable visit to the Fifty-Five Lifestyle Show. I mentioned at the time that I had filled out a number of contest forms and expected that I would get a lot of calls that would nor necessarily be about things I had won.  Well, let me tell you about some of them.

First I had a call about the 3 course dinner that everyone who filled in a ballot was entitled to.  A chef would prepare it, using the Cuisine Sante International cookware I saw at the show, to demonstrate how easy it would be to cook healthy meals without fats or oils. I was naturally busy on the dates he had available within the next week or so, and he will call back in October, when the chef would be available for the next round of meals.  I likely won't answer the phone now that I know what name will appear on the screen.  I have now had time to look up the company, and the "deal" along with the comments from other people who either loved the cookware or found the trip that came with it to be a scam.  I'm certainly not interested in paying exorbitant prices for pots and pans, or any of the other kitchen equipment they may try to foist on me after I've eaten a meal they invited me to.  If you want to know how these people operate, check this website and investigate further for yourself.

The second call came from  Arbor Memorial Inc.  I was walking by there, thinking it wasn't anything I'd be interested in, when I was called over to fill out a ballot for .... well I couldn't imagine what. I asked him if it was a cemetery plot or a funeral or what, and I'm not sure I got an answer to that, but just for filling out the form, I was going to get a free book where I could record where everything was, so others could find things if something ever happened to me.  Well, we really all need one of those, as I realized recently, and this one looked like a decent book that was well laid out.  But suddenly, he couldn't find one to give me, and seemed, after rummaging around in the booth, to only have the sample copy left.  However, he now had my address and he would  make sure I got one.  Ya, well, with the phone call, it was clear that it wasn't coming by mail, and would be delivered along with a sales pitch on future funeral arrangements or something. I just told him I'd just pass on the book thanks. He had time to say, "Are you sure?" before I said, "Yes," and hung up.

The third call was from a company I didn't even remember seeing there. The lady said, "Well, you filled out a form for a $20,000 draw. Do you remember that?"  I laughed and replied that I had filled out a lot of contest forms that day. I had a good time, actually.  She said that, though I was still in the running for the $20,000 there were also daily draw and I had won one of those.  She said there were three choices.  One was a 3 day, 2 night stay at a quality hotel, from a large list that covered all of North America. The second was something that sounded rather like CAA coverage, with towing and battery boosting, etc. and the third choice was a 50 foot PVC garden hose.  I had to laugh at that, as there is such a large difference between a trip and a hose, but she said that as some people can't travel, and some people don't own a car, they had to provide something for everyone. (Well, I could argue that some people may not live in they type of housing where a hose would be useful, but I was still being good at that point).

I, like many others, chose the hotel room (or, as they hoped you believed, the trip).  Then she wanted my physical address.  I asked why, and she said so they could deliver the "travel package".  I asked, "When that gets delivered here, then what happens?" I have to wonder how many people never think to ask that.  She said that they would want feedback on their air filtering system.  I said, "So someone will want to come in here and show me your product?" and she said yes, as they wanted feedback.

At this point I told her I thought I'd pass on the whole thing as I had played this game before, and really wasn't interested in doing it again. I then quickly said, "Thanks anyway," and hung up.  For any of you who don't know, falling for a demonstration of an "air filtering system" is really just allowing a vacuum cleaner salesman into your home.  I had a really great time confounding one of these fellows before, but once was enough.  You see, my first job was in door to door sales. I was trained in how not to take "No" for an answer. This makes it easier for me to see how these people try to maneuver their customers into making a purchase.  Guilt and embarrassment often work well.  The time the last vacuum cleaner salesman got to practice on me (and I actually told him that was all he was going to do), I had him convinced that I didn't care how dirty or germ infested my house was. Since he couldn't convince me how badly I needed his product, he couldn't sell it to me. He did have a quick mind though, and I asked him if he was doing this to put himself through university. He said he was. I told him he would do well in life.

Most recently I have been getting a number of phone calls from Breath EZ Homes.  I have not answered that call.  I know they will just have me do a survey, and then call back in a couple of days to tell me I've won a prize.  Then, of course, they will want to come and deliver it and do a product demonstration.... oh yes, it's another vacuum cleaner sales pitch.

At this point I'm starting to think that the whole Fifty-Five Plus LifeStyle show was a way to put the scammers in touch with the vulnerable senior citizens, and I think they should find a way to screen their exibitors better next year.

If you attended this show and had similar experiences, I'd be very happy to hear from you as I think I may try to find a way to alert the promoters before this sort of thing happens again. The more people I hear from, the more convincing this complaint will become.