Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mamaway Baby Ring Sling Product Review #Mamaway

As I have mentioned what feels like about a million times at this point, I love babywearing.  I don't know how I would make it through a day without babywearing.  So, I am always on board to try a new carrier.

Somehow despite my love for babywearing, I've never tried out a ring sling.  Many of my friends in the babywearing community swear by them, but since we spent our money on SSCs, I've only recently been able to branch out to other carriers.  My stash only includes SSCs, mei tais, and a toddler pouch sling which was an impulse purchase as it was so pretty.  I wanted to try a sling for quick ups like running into a convenience store when I need to hit up the ladies room or make a quick purchase since people swear slings are awesome for quick ups.  Unfortunately, my daughter despite her age isn't quite big enough for a toddler size anything yet.  In steps this opportunity to try out a ring sling, and I jumped on it.

I was smitten with some of the color options Mamaway offers.  Personally, I'm a huge fan of orange which they offer both as a solid and in stripes.  However, they sent me a lovely and non drab grey sling.  The day after I ordered, I was surprised by an email from Mamaway including a pdf of the instructions as well as a link to their blog which includes links to videos with on how to thread your sling as well as several videos on positions you can use your sling.  After reading through their site, I discovered that the company also sells maternity and nursing clothes, so they really emphasize the ease of nursing in the sling.  Sadly, our breastfeeding journey is over for medical reasons.  However, I can certainly see after using the sling how much easier it would be to breastfeed even with some privacy in a ring sling than my SSCs.   I thought the emailed instructions were a nice touch as well since I hate having to search for paper instructions for things I've purchased anymore and prefer to have them in a digital format where I won't lose them.

 I also appreciated the emphasis on toddler wearing in their ring sling not just infant wearing.  In the states, we seem to be more critical of babywearing once children can walk.  Personally, I think I wear my daughter even more so now that she can walk.  My daughter began walking at 8 months when she was only 14 lbs and 24 inches tall.  Letting her loose in a crowd or store seemed like a recipe for her to get hurt.  She still hasn't fully grasped danger yet and is quite fast.  I feel safer having her on me.  When I'm home, I find the only way to prevent running after my little one while cooking is to just strap her on me.

I've harped on safety with carriers before, so I had to do my due diligence with this one as well.  The rings are nylon which is one of the two types of materials considered safe for rings for babywearing.  The material is a cotton which they state has been tested up to 110 lbs.  I had babywearing educators look at the cotton as well and felt it was durable enough for use for a carrier.

When the sling arrived, the box it came in had a qr code you can scan with your smart phone for instructions as well.  The sling was folded into the pocket sewn on the sling for easy storage.  Folded, the sling is about the size of a pack of baby wipes making it easy to fit in your diaper bag while out and about.

Even though I am part of a local babywearing group, I decided to use the video to learn to use the sling as if I was any other purchaser of the product.  I found the videos quite easy to follow.  I got my sling threaded without any twists on the first try.  Since I have a toddler, I was not able to try either of the infant carries.  I did try the koala or hip carry.  My little one was quite wiggly the first few times I used the ring sling making adjusting the sling a bit more difficult.  She is used to my other carriers and knows what they are.  The more she has seen me use it, the easier it is to get her in it.

One of the few issues I had with this ring sling is that it has a box pleat for the shoulder which limits its ability to spread across the shoulder in the way that a gathered or even pleated should would.  I, actually, have broad shoulders; so I found it difficult to get the shoulder spread across my shoulder as you can see below.  Without a good spread, the rings tended to come down more easily as well as not providing as much support and comfort as if it could have spread over my shoulder fully.  This is probably not as much of a problem for women with less broad shoulders.

I was impressed with the length of the sling.  Many ring slings are sized.  When I saw this one wasn't, I worried that it might be small since I am fluffier than usual these days.  However, as you can see below, we had plenty of tail left.

Additionally, the sling has a slightly padded area to support baby's neck which I've never seen on a ring sling before.

Since the sling is cotton as opposed to many of the specialty materials many ring slings are made from, you can use your regular detergent which is certainly easier than  having to purchase a special detergent for your carrier.

I have since received a follow up email from the company asking how the sling is working for me as well as some helpful reminders.  Mamaway's customer service has blown me away.  I've rarely dealt with a company so interested in making sure their product is working for me.

You can purchase the Mamaway Ring Sling from Amazon here.  
I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are honest, genuine, and my own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

RFID Blocking Sleeve Giveaway

Since I was sent 10 RFID Blocking Sleeves by KD Brands to review, I have decided to give away 2 of them to one of my readers.  These days, this is a product most of us can use.  Entering the giveaway is simple.  Just follow the directions below.  This giveaway will run through midnight, Sunday evening.  I will then mail out the sleeves next week once I announce the winner.  Entries are limited to the United States.

Premier Face Lift Product Review

Luckily, even as I approach 40, I am only beginning to get fine lines and wrinkles.  I have good genetics to thank on my mom's part not taking care of my skin sadly.  As a new mom though, I'd prefer not to have any of those wrinkles and look more like the rest of the young moms out there.

So, I decided to give Premier Face Lift a try.  It comes in 5 small vials.  Each vial though can be reused multiple times since per the directions you only use a small pea sized dot of the product.  It would be nice if the vials were resealable, however, they are easily stored in a small baggie.  I've used the same vial 3 times and still have over half of the product left in the vial.  Of course, the amount you have left is dependent on how many problem areas you are targeting.

When applied, I almost immediately felt my skin tightening.  My skin was not painfully taut nor did it in anyway prevent me from emoting which was nice.  I didn't feel like I looked fake but more a more youthful version of me.  If I had more wrinkles, I am sure my results would be more dramatic.

Super closeup of my wrinkles on my forehead beforehand

The results are temporary though and go away as soon as you wash your face or according to the directions 8 hours though face washing occurred earlier for me.  I didn't notice any improvement in my fine lines when I wasn't using the product though they do not make any claims of lasting results.

I thought it might leave my skin looking dry considering the taut feeling, however, if anything it made my skin appear slightly shiny as you see in the after picture.

This is certainly a cheaper and safer option than Botox.  I will definitely use this for special events in the future.

It can be purchased on Amazon here.

I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are honest, genuine, and my own.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Eunectes Art Paint Brush Set Review #eunectes

I took up painting back in 2012 while in therapy back in 2012.  Even though I had been part of an artist collective for my photography, I thought myself completely untalented when it came to art.  However, I pushed myself to try my hand at painting since I was willing to try anything therapeutic at that point.  Much to my surprise after just a couple of attempts and once I let go of my preconceived notions, I loved creating abstract paintings.

With my little one and limited space, I rarely get a chance to paint anymore.  So, sadly most of my brushes need replacing.  I was glad to review a set of brushes since I was in need of replacements for many of my brushes.

When I received the product though, the first thing I noticed was the packaging was flimsy.

The package did arrive slightly crushed as you can see in these pictures.
However, it does include basic brushes one would need including a liner brush often excluded from sets as well as a sketch pencil and blending sponge which I felt were nice touches.

These brushes are sturdy without the annoying loose bristles cheaper sets leave behind while painting.  They create smooth strokes when I tested them with watercolors as seen below.

They also easily loosened back up after drying unlike some cheaper brushes. 

My only complaint was with the packaging.  I would have preferred something sturdier that would have protected them during shipment and perhaps allow for storage after use.  

These brushes can be purchased from Amazon here.  

I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are honest, genuine, and my own.

RFID Blocking Sleeves by KD Brands

Like most of us, I am worried about the security of my personal information especially when it comes to my bank cards.  Having a kiddo, I can't afford to have my account frozen due to a security breach .  So, when my bank started recommending using RFID Blocking sleeves on our cards, I made sure to get one.  Sadly, the ones the bank hands out are pretty crappy quality.  They have a tendency to get pushed down and stuck in our wallets since they are made of thing paper.  We've actually gone through several of these sleeves as they pretty quickly fall apart.

My current sleeve from my credit union

Until recently, I was unaware you could even purchase RFID Blocking Sleeves.  The ones from KD Brands I received were sturdier than my previous sleeves.  They are resistant to tearing as the seller claims.  You can see the sleeve looks slightly open below.   That is all that happened when I tested ripping it.  

Additionally, the sleeves are made of a material that is slick which allowed me to easily insert and remove them from my wallet.  They left lots of white space on the sleeve where you can label your cards to easily identify them in your wallet which makes them way easier to use.

In addition to the 10 sleeves for bank, credit, or id cards, the set also included 2 passport sleeves which is a nice bonus.  

I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are honest, genuine, and my own.

Cozitot Mei Tai Review #CozitotBabySlingCarrier

As someone who is a huge fan of babywearing, I actually looked in to doing product reviews with the hopes that I would eventually get the chance to review a carrier.  I was so happy when I got the opportunity to review a mei tai.  

The majority of the time I wear my little one, I use a soft structured carrier(SSC) aka a buckle carrier as I find them to be most convenient.  I did already own a mei tai, though.  I got my mei tai last summer as they can be cooler than soft structured carriers as their structure or better put lack thereof allows for more airflow.  Mei tais are also often a more budget friendly option than SSCs for people who want to start babywearing.  They also tend to be able to be folded more compactly, so they can be included in your diaper bag for outings.  So, they have their benefits when it comes to babywearing.  Many mei tais are more budget friendly than other types of babywearing options as well. 

I was a bit confused by the picture on Amazon when I went to order the mei tai as it shows a baby in a forward facing carry which is generally not recommended in mei tais.

When I first received this mei tai, I began by reading the instructions even though I already own a mei tai, so I would be able to assess the product properly.  Two things struck me when reading the instructions.  The first thing is that the instructions were for a front and back carry though mei tais usually allow for a hip carry as well.  The lack of this inclusion is not that big of a deal just surprising.  Since only the two positions had instructions, I infer that the manufacture does not recommend a forward facing carry for their mei tai despite the pic on Amazon.  The second thing I noticed reading the instructions was the recommendation of single knots for tying off the straps.  I have always been instructed to use a double knot for tying of mei tai straps.  When later reading through all of the Amazon reviews of the product, I noticed several complaints that people had problems keeping the straps tied which I think double knotting might solve.

I am huge proponent of safety when it comes to products for infants and children.  So, I always check products before using them with my little one.  I fill out an mail all of my registration cards for products and actively check for product recalls on products for my daughter.  I would be horrified if my daughter suffered serious harm I could have prevented due to me using an unsafe product.

Closeup of the embroidery
Initially, pulling out the Cozitot Mei Tai, I was pleased with how pretty I found the embroidery to be.  The colors are also gender neutral.   I thought the padding at the baby's neck area was a nice touch and liked how thick the shoulder padding felt.  However, when I looked at the stitching more carefully on the carrier, I began to be concerned.
Closeup of the shoulder and neck padding

I took the carrier to a local babywearing meeting to speak with babywearing experts to double check my concerns.  Both of the babywearing educators were in agreement with my concerns that this carrier is unsafe.  When feeling at the shoulders where the straps meet the panel, it does not feel like the shoulders have been countersunk into the panel.  Even if they had been, there is no x box stitch for reinforcement of the straps into the panel only decorative triangular stitching shown below.   Countersinking the strap into the panel allows room for a large x box stitch which secures the strap to prevent it from easily being pulled out of the panel by the weight of the child and pressure of being pulled around the wearers body.
An example of x box stitching

 Additionally, the straps have two lines of stitching attaching them to the panel with no bartacking.   Bartacking is common in both carriers and traditional backpacks as an additional stabilizing stitch to secure straps.   All three of these being missing creates a situation where the straps could easily detach from the panel due to the stress of carrying an infant or toddler.  If the straps detached while in a front carry position at least there is a possibility you could catch your child before he or she feel to the ground.  I don't see much of a chance of catching a child falling out in a back carry.

Closeup of the left shoulder stitching

Links explaining the importance of x box stitching, countersinking straps, and bartacking:
Baby Carrier Sewing and Safety from the Babywearing Institute
Mandatory ATSM Standards for Mei Tais  

 I tried to contact the seller to verify the product I received was not defective and thus an aberration., But ,after over 10 days, I have yet to receive any type of response from the company.  I scoured all of the product reviews on Amazon.  I did note that one other reviewer commented on the lack of x box stitching which leads me to believe this is the way the product is meant to be. 
The product is sold here at Amazon.  I would never recommend doing anything to endanger your child, therefore I do not recommend purchasing this Mei Tai.

I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are honest, genuine, and my own.

ArtNaturals Organic Daily Argan Oil Shampoo Review

I was one of the unlucky mamas whose hair changed after pregnancy.  Prepregnancy, I had relatively straight hair. Post baby, I ended up with wavy almost curly hair.  I didn't know it prior to my pregnancy, but post baby changes to hair texture are common.  I have since been struggling with my new hair.  Straight hair reflects light more easily thus appearing shinier.  On top of that, with it being extremely cold by my standards this winter(Today's high is supposed to be 27 degrees.), I find it necessary to blow dry my hair daily which seems to be taking a toll  on my hair.  My poor hair just doesn't appear as healthy as it had in the past.

I've tried several products in the last year hoping to find something that works well with my new hair.  I know argan oil has been all the rage in the hair world.  I have even tried a drugstore brand with little success.

ArtNaturals is paraben and sulfate free, vegan, and cruelty free.  They even use recycled materials in their packaging.  All things I am looking for in health and beauty products.

The first thing I did when I got the shampoo was to sniff the bottle since I'm a fiend for nicely scented shower products.  I found it to have a rather pleasant herbal scent.

Unlike most shampoos, the directions instruct you to leave on your hair for 2-3 minutes which I assume is to allow the argan oil to set in your hair.

I was quite surprised at the difference I could tell in my hair even after just one shampoo.  My hair was soft, shiny, and less frizzy as the pictures below attest.  Hair products do seem to be one of the items where you pay more for better results.

I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are honest, genuine, and my own.