Monday, October 30, 2017

A Useful Site

 I once told you about the difficulty I find when face to face with all the product choices available these days. In recent years I have been testing a multitude of samples through such programs as BzzAgent, Influenster, Shopper Army, Chick Advisor and Sample Source.  Even Proctor & Gamble sends out a box of their products from time to time.

I've tried new products in categories from dried pasta to electric toothbrushes. There were many shampoos, face creams and even makeup items like lipstick and mascara. I've been introduced to so many products I might never have discovered otherwise and some of them have become family favourites.

I've discovered that in some cases you really do get what you pay for. John Frieda and Vichy are two companies that I likely never would have gambled my money on. Their products are quiet pricey, but now that I've had samples to try first, I know they are well worth the money. I now have favorite products amoung these brands.

Still, there are new products introduced everyday and the choices are still hard to make in many cases.

In another blog I mentioned the Oral B toothbrush I received from BzzAgent. That post was spotted by a member of the staff at Reviews.com and she reached out to me to see if I would include a mention of their site in that post or some future one. Well, that's an old post and I doubted many people would find it (or would have if I had not mentioned it here) so I didn't really see the point of adding anything there until now.

The thing is, I have now explored their site and decided it might be helpful to some of you in sorting though products to find one that's right for you. It may even help you with your upcoming Christmas purchases. They do extensive research on a wide range of products and name what they feel are the best. They tell you how they reached those conclusions and realize everyone likes different things for their own reasons. They even welcome your input.

The first review I found, of course, was about the electric toothbrushes. The amount of research and effort put into this one review is so extensive it boggled my mind. But it proved to me that this is not just some lone person, like me, with an opinion. Looking further I discovered there is a team of at least 50 people in this company and they really do look into not only products but services as well, before giving an unbiased review.

It is an American company so some of the things just don't apply up here. On the other hand, a great deal of it does and is very helpful. The only thing I can compare this site to is Consumer Reports but the lists of things they review don't often overlap. I suggest you go to https://www.reviews.com/ and check it out for yourself. Decide what type of product you would like to see their top choice for and put it in the search box. Play with it a bit. Decide for yourself if this site will be useful to you in helping you make difficult product choices in the future. I think it is at least a site worth knowing about.



Thursday, October 5, 2017

Sugar Celebrations

Well, I did it. I survived 30 days without sugar. That means I had no cookies, cakes, muffins, squares or pie; no ketchup, pizza or barbeque sauce; no soft drinks or specialty coffees; no potato salad, pasta salad or even a typical salad dressing on a veggie salad. And most important, no ice cream during all that hot weather even though one of my sponsors offered to buy me some.

I was one of 6,529 people who took part in this challenge. Together we raised $122,145 for the Canadian Cancer Society so far. People are still free to donate, so if you were putting it off until you knew I'd stay the course, you still have time to add to the total.  Personally, I managed to gather $287.28, and I'm thankful to everyone who donated to my campaign. I'd love to get over that $300 mark though.

As a bonus, along the way, I managed to lose 6 or 8 pounds, but one day of celebrating when it was over likely put half of that back on. It's okay. That wasn't the goal anyway, and I'm sure it will drop back down again over the coming week.

Saturday was the last day to pick up our annual Buttermilk pie from the North Gower Farmers' Market. Even if I couldn't eat it that day, we had to go get it. Franks makes the best baked goods anywhere, and at a more reasonable price than most. I would never consider drinking buttermilk like my Mom did, but it sure makes a great pie. This year I chose one with raspberries in it.

As if that wasn't enough of a reward, my sweet husband thought I deserved to celebrate the end of these self-imposed restrictions. He was impressed with what a good job I did of sticking to my promise to avoid sugar for the month. What better place to indulge in whatever caught my fancy than at Rideau Carleton Raceway. They have a buffet that has something for everyone. It was so nice just to choose to eat whatever I wanted without having to stop and think about how it was made and if any of the ingredients contained sugar when we went out on Sunday, Oct 1st.

My first plateful was from the salad bar, as usual, so I got my potato salad, pasta salad, seafood salad, and a veggie salad with a real creamy dressing. I don't know if it was Ranch or Caesar but I really enjoyed it, sugar and all. I also had some egg rolls with a chicken stir-fry later. Plum sauce definitely has sugar, even if they do call it something else in commercial versions. The third plate was probably safe as it was surf and turf. But of course one never has just one dessert at a buffet. I had four. The butter tart that I'd looked forward to all evening was less interesting than the trifle, blueberry mousse cake or the coffee cheesecake. I'm sure I got a month's worth of sugar all in one meal. And I finally got a butter tart worthy of my craving on Wednesday at Treats in Ottawa. I'll be good for the rest of this week and eat pie with my Thanksgiving dinner. I still have not had any ice cream yet. I will do that soon, before it gets too cold. Really though, I'm likely not to go back to eating quite as much sugar in the future as I have in the past. I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. I just found I wasn't as hungry as often as usual. Unfortunately, the experiment didn't do anything for my sore joints though.


Near the end, I found a totally sugar free muffin recipe.It was so easy I will definitely make it again. I only wish I'd found it sooner. I didn't even have to share them with my son as he thought they looked funny and was afraid to taste them. They look different because there is no flour in them. They are not only a quick snack but also nice at breakfast time. Here's the recipe:

1 cup mashed bananas
1 cup oatmeal
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup of blueberries
I added 1 tsp cinnamon
You can also add nuts if you like, or any other berries

Bake for 5 minutes at 425F and then decrease the temperature to 375F and continue to bake for another 12 minutes.
This makes about 8 muffins. If you only have tins that hold 12, put water in the empty ones.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did, but since it was the first baked goods I'd had all month, I highly doubt it.