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Nov 24, 2014

Free.ca

Free.ca is a directory of the latest Canadian contests, freebies, coupons and more. Its much like Free Stuff Finder (in fact they have much of the same content), but more streamlined, less detailed oriented and way more advertisements.

I found the way they formatted and styled their content to be rather irksome. Everything is lumped together in the same format regardless if its an advertisement, random blog post or the actual giveaway/contest being showcased - I like to refer to this as "disguised content". In other words, you have to pay attention to what you're clicking on or you'll spend a lot of time back-tracking.

With that said, there is a pro to this site, it has lots of user feedback. User feedback is great for prize claimers for many reasons, but mostly to find out whether the product is worth the effort in claiming and to provide a sort of technical support group for when you come across a glitch. For example, sometimes the way you type in your postal code will result in an error, seeing feedback from others who have had this problem generally results in some sort of solution being posted (like not leaving a space, or leaving a space in a specific spot, etc.). Also user feedback can notify you of scams or sites that are riddled with viruses and so forth.

I've added free.ca to my bookmarks as one of the sites I will return to, primarily to check for new content that can't be found on any of the other sites I frequent.

Nov 19, 2014

Jamberry Nail Wrap - Trial Pack

Jamberry Nail wrap on my pinky finger (left),
and regular nail polish on all my other digits
I received a trial pack of Jamberry nail wraps from an old childhood friend and current Jamberry Consultant (check her page out here). My cousin is also a consultant (view her page here). I've been tempted to become one myself but was a little hesitant mostly because it looks like a product that's too good to be true. Like all products it has its pros and cons; most of these are in comparison to standard nail polish:

Pros: 
  • No smell. I'm highly sensitive to harsh scents, and paint of any kind is one of those things that sets me off. I can't stand the smell of nail polish, especially when it lingers. These wraps, thankfully are odor free!
  • No drying time. Once the wrap is applied you're good to go, no waiting for minutes to hours for the paint to dry.
  • No extra coating. Unlike nail polish you only have to apply one nail wrap to get the benefit of pretty shiny nails. Not layer after layer of polish or top coating to get the pretty colors to pop and shine.
  • Lasts. So far it has held up to wear and tear, mind you I've only had it on for a day, but even so my regular nail polish has already started to chip away at the edges and has lost its initial shine, whereas the wrap looks like I just put it on. 
  • Fairly easy to apply. The method of applying is easy (wipe nail with alcohol wipes, push cuticle back, unwrap wrap, heat, apply, press while applying heat, trim excess wrap, file down edges), actually doing it can be difficult depending on the tools you're using (see cons). 
  • Non-Toxic. Its suppose to be non-toxic or at least better than most nail polishes, I don't know the actual ingredients, so I'm just going by what I was told!
  • Good for nail biters! I'll admit, I'm a nail biter and with these wraps on I have zero desire to bite my nails. I typically bite my nails because my nails are weak and brittle and tend to snap and tear, these wraps seem to make my nails stronger in the sense that it holds everything together. They're pretty tough little wraps!
  • Safe for kids. My daughter (she's 5) caught me applying mine, and of course, had to have them too. The bonus with kids is they have smaller nails so you can get more out of one stick of wrap!
Cons:
  • Requires a few more tools than just opening a bottle of polish and slapping it on. You need: alcohol wipes, cuticle pusher, scissors, nail file, heater / blow dryer and of course the wrap itself.
  • Can burn yourself depending on the type of heat source you're using. I used a blow dryer and had to pull my hand away quite frequently because my skin got too hot and it hurt.
  • Can be hard to apply / manage especially for the first time. It feels like one of those things where it gets easier to do the more you do it. It was difficult for me because I was trying to hold the blow dryer while trying to press down on the wrap - in other words I was juggling too much at once. Jamberry does sell their own heater, which will make the application process much easier as you don't have to hold it while applying the wrap. The wraps are pretty sticky too, I had a problem with my non-dominant hand getting the wrap into the right place and off of my finger (as well as using the scissors to trim off the excess wrap) but again with a little practice I'm sure that'll get easier.
  • Doesn't always cover your entire nail. Because I received one strip, I couldn't match the size of my nail to the wrap (like you're suppose to do with a full sheet). So my wrap didn't go from edge to edge, but really unless you're looking directly at it, you wouldn't be able to tell.
  • May feel heavy. If you're like me and don't often paint your nails, let alone apply a wrap, it may feel a bit "heavy" at first, but typically that feeling goes away within the first couple of hours. 
For a first time nail wrap user, I'm definitely happy with the result and even though my first attempt at applying was a little fiddly, I will definitely consider purchasing a full sheet and going to town on mine and my daughter's nails. 

Nov 17, 2014

Save A Loonie

Love the name, but not a fan of the content layout. Maybe its the Graphic Designer in me, but wow this site is busy - at least until you get used to it. Once you adjust to having to scroll halfway down the page to get to the actual content, its not so bad. Much like Free.ca you have to pay attention to what you're clicking on because many of the advertisements (pro: they at least put headers on the ads!) are disguised as content within the page. Another pro, they seem to update their content daily, unlike their competitors who claim to but really only post once a week or every few weeks. Even though they have much the same content as other directories like Free Stuff Finder they do seem to have more variety for each topic such as store offers, contests, print coupons, mail coupons, etc. I'd say after you get by the visual chaos its a fairly decent site and one I will bookmark and return to regularly for the latest deals.

Nov 13, 2014

Hasbro's GameNight VoxBox - Monopoly Jr

Getting Ready for #GameNight with Monopoly Jr
Last night we received our Hasbro VoxBox courtesy of Influenster containing Monopoly Junior for testing*! Our family was so excited to try it out that we had our #GameNight right away.

When you have two kids jumping off the walls with excitement to play a game that you've never played before and have never opened the box to... the number 1 most important aspect is: how fast can you set up the game and learn to play before the kids loose interest (or drive you crazy). Am I right?

Luckily, we managed to get rolling in about 2-5 minutes. The longest part was counting out the currency for each player (the paper money was stuck together making it hard to separate) and popping out the cardboard "house" pieces. The next time we play (which will probably be tonight!) it should be easier since the money has been played with and the gaming piece are all separated. Learning how to play the game may take longer if you've never played the classic adult version; the instructions are straight forward and we only had to refer back to them once or twice during game play. Honestly, its the classic adult game striped down for kids - that's all it is. It has the same concept, same goal, same layout, and so on.

Where it differs:

  • No silver character game pieces. They've been replaced by fun plastic pieces of a cat, dog, boat or car
  • No red / green houses. They've been replaced with cardboard cut-outs of your chosen character
  • No real estate cards. You just put your cardboard cutout on the lot you've bought
  • No community chest - its just not there!
  • No rail roads, utilities or taxes to pay. No complaints there!
  • No multi-colored currency. There's one currency for everything and it's based on a $1 domination so it's perfect for kids learning how to count by 1's up to 10. The only part I saw where they may have to count higher is when the Banker doles out the money at the start of the game. I think it went up to 18 per person depending on how many players. I believe the game only goes up to 4 players.
Where it's the same:
  • Still collect when you pass Go ($2)
  • Still get free money when landing on Free Parking. You get whatever amount is in the pot, usually not much since it only costs $1 to get out of jail!
  • Still go to Jail. Which unfortunately I went to a lot! You can get out by paying $1 and continue on as normal (don't have to miss a turn) or be lucky enough to get a "get out of jail free" card from the Chance pile.
  • Still buy up real estate lots. The more lots you own the more money you make and the faster you can oust your opponents!
  • Still collect double rent if you buy lots side by side of the same color
  • Still have Chance cards. They're straight forward, but the younger kids will still need help reading them. My oldest (8) can read them without help, but my youngest (5) needed us to read them for her. 
  • Still need a Banker to manage the money 
  • Still one winner - the person who has money left over when everyone else runs out

The only thing I never liked about Monopoly, from a parent stand-point is all the "house" pieces and paper money. They're the first things to be lost or misplaced. If there was a way to make the houses stick to the board while playing and have their own little packaging container to return to after playing - it would make Monopoly gaming life so much easier!

This game is perfectly designed to keep little fingers and minds working in a fun family environment without being too cumbersome or frustrating. That is, if your kids can count with ease to 10, know a few of their colors (red, blue, yellow, etc.), know what a cat/dog/car/boat look like, and can read a few words they should have no problem playing this game with little to no assistance.

Pros: Easy to set up, easy for kids 5+ to play without much help, a classic game made for kids, fun for everyone
Cons: Lots of little pieces to loose, only 4 people can play at a time, the game can go on for a long time depending on how you play it (ex: if you play to the last man standing it can take longer than quitting after the first person looses their money - but that's all personal gaming style.)

* The Federal Trade Commission requires testing program participants to disclose that they have received products for complimentary testing purposes in all review materials so for the record: received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Tide Pods

I received a sample pack of Tide Pods from P&G the other day. It arrived just in time too! One of the cats pee'd on our bed comforter and it just happened to be a day that we were all out of our usual laundry detergent (we use Cold Water Tide). My main concern was I didn't want it to just mask or cover the smell (of the cat pee) but get it out as much as possible. My other concern was staining - some detergents if they don't dissolve before you add the clothes can sometimes leave stains on them. When I pulled the comforter out to put it in the dryer it had a very refreshing scent (no lingering cat pee smell) and it was stain free. So I'm very happy with the outcome of the product. I don't know if we'll switch from Cold Water to Pods, the last time I checked it wasn't economical for our family. We do 1-2 loads a day and up to 4 on bad days. With the Pods you have to use 1-2 depending on the size of the load (1 for small, 2 for large), whereas with the powdered or even liquid versions you can customize the amount used. In other words you don't always have to use the recommended amount you can "conserve" the product; with the Pods you have to use at least 1 regardless of the load. Prices for Pods are reasonable, but just not beneficial for our family to switch to. I would use Pods again, especially in a pinch or when I want my clothes to smell extra fresh.

Nov 10, 2014

Swagbucks

I signed up to Swagbucks the other day and wow, there's a LOT to sift through. This is definitely not a user-friendly site for those who are "website challenged". My mom would quit on this site in a heartbeat - and I wouldn't blame her. I'm overwhelmed and I've been using, building and viewing websites for over 15 years. There's just soooo much "stuff" and no clear direction.

With that aside, it's basically a site where you earn tokens (or swag bucks) which you can then turn in for prizes / rewards which are mostly in the form of gift cards in the price range of $10-$100 value from shops like Amazon, Foot Locker, iTunes, Facebook and more. I even noticed you can make donations to charities like the Red Cross and UNICEF using swag bucks, which is nice for those of us who lack credit cards for making online donations :)

I ended up downloading the Chrome browser extension just because its one of those sites that you literally have to spend all day on participating in as much as possible in order to rack up enough points to be able to buy anything with. I mean, I've been at it for about 3 days now and have only 80 points, most turn in items require an upwards of 1-8k worth so I have a ways to go before I can cash in on some goodies.

Unless you have a lot of spare time to dedicate to participating or don't mind waiting an eternity to be able to cash in, it is kind of a waste of time for the average person. If you do sign up, I would definitely recommend getting the browser add-on. It helps notifying you of special events for bonus bucks and keeps track of how many bucks you've earned so far.

Nov 3, 2014

Free Stuff Finder Canada

I'm a newer user (within the past month) of this website: Free Stuff Finder: Canada, and so far its proved to be very helpful in finding the latest freebies, coupons, contests, giveaways and more.

Its one of those websites that you add to your bookmarks and check it every now and again to see what's new and happening in the world of free stuff. Its updated quite frequently, at least a handful of new posts per week from what I've seen so far. They go as far as informing you of what the giveaway includes, how to access it, what you need in order to participate in it, any special info (like if you have to sign up to participate or if you can just go to the site and cash in) and even let you know when the promotion is out of stock or expired.

As far as being a hub for a collection of the latest freebies, its by far one of the better sites I've come across. Its easy to use, easy to read and easy to get to the freebies, contests, coupons and giveaways of your choice.