Category Archives: Product Review

Parenting Product Review: Solly Wrap

I strongly believe that, as consumers, every economic decision we make leave a moral trace behind it.  As a parent, I strongly believe that every purchase made for our children influences them from the very beginning of their lives, long before they understand the concept of “shopping”.

It hasn’t been easy or always possible to find items for our child that combined the ethical values we stand for, the budget we have, and the needs that emerged as we walked the path of parenthood, one step at a time.

Why a Baby Wrap

One of the items that was easy for us to identify as an essential was a baby wrap.  When reading about the relationship between a mother and the baby she carries in her womb as described in the Bahá’í Writings, my husband and I came to appreciate that the relationship is even closer than science leads us to believe: it is a deep, spiritual connection.  And because, in a way, the wrap would be giving our baby and I an extension of sorts of the closest physical bond we would ever share.

There are a lot of other reasons why a wrap is a good idea:

  • It promotes bonding between parent and baby;
  • It may help reduce postpartum depression;
  • It frees up your hands but not at the cost of leaving baby behind;
  • It helps calm fussy babies by making them feel safe and warm in a womb-like environment;

Using a wrap was good for both baby and I especially in the first weeks post-partum.  My little one would only be happy and relaxed when she was on me, and I felt the most happy when she was with me.  And so, wrapping her allowed me to go on walks, able to enjoy the beautiful Canadian summer and basking in the joy of having a baby.  Both having her on me and exercising so soon after delivery in the form of walks no doubt helped keep away any form of postpartum blues I might have potentially been at risk of.

Why a Solly Baby Wrap

The Solly Baby Wrap also has the added—but not exclusive, mind you—benefit of distributing baby’s weight evenly all over the carrier’s upper body, which means no extra pressure on the carrier’s shoulder or the baby’s joints and spine.  The fabric is it made of is far thinner than—but just as strong as—that other similar wraps are made of.  It makes a huge difference when it comes to comfort; be it winter or summer—but especially summer—it makes for a far more comfortable baby wearing experience.

Supporting Small Businesses

It’s short-sighted to claim that all big businesses are bad and that all small businesses are good.  It seems that, at this point in time, getting the things that we need for our baby and staying within budget requires balancing out purchasing items from both small and big businesses.

My husband and I do, however, have a soft spot for small businesses for many reasons, including:

  • Small businesses can be held accountable a lot more easily than big businesses, and many small outfits hold themselves accountable in away big ones—the consequences of whose decisions are so far removed from the decision-makers that they are easy to ignore—just can’t.
  • Small businesses usually remain more connected to the grassroots and usually give more than they take.
  • Shopping small businesses encourages the development of a broader variety of products; the better suited an item is to our needs, the less we will buy overall in search for the best product.

Buy Made in North America

Every other argument else aside, the environment is why I prefer, when possible, to shop for items made in North America.  On the one hand, the item has a lot less distance to travel.  On the other hand, the manufacturing industry here is regulated with standards far friendlier to the environment than those of other countries.  Granted, it means that items are usually more expensive, but it’s money well spent, in my mind.

Lenzing Modal Textile

The Solly Wrap is made of Lenzing Modal, something I hadn’t heard of until I was researching what wrap to purchase.  The fabric is manufactured in Los Angeles from Austrian beechwood trees (not sure if the pulp is imported from Austria, or if the trees are planted in California).  The fabric itself is lightweight yet strong, cool to the touch even in hot weather, gets softer with each wash, and can handle being dried in a conventional dryer on low heat.  And it seems that its carbon footprint is a lot less than most fabrics other wraps are made of (here and here).

Customer Support

Although I didn’t have much luck personally getting extra information or support from the Solly Baby team, they have really thought through how it could provide parents with the help that they might need as they try to master the art of wrapping their baby.  A series of well-shot tutorial videos make it crystal clear how to do just that.  The lookbook is chockful of gorgeous pictures of mothers carrying their babies; I have to admit that the reality is quite far from all those shots—I didn’t manage to feel anywhere near as polished, rested, well-dressed, clean, and well put together as the mothers in those shots do.  Maybe the Solly Baby team could provide support in that regard, too!

Verdict

For balancing eco-friendliness, usability, a relatively good point price, and just plain prettiness: recommend.

Product Review: Blank Cards, Thank You Cards, and Note Cards

A little over a year ago, I wrote a piece on how cards can help build a stronger community. Pleasantries, I wrote, “have been previously defined on this blog as the hydrogen bonds of community building” which although “are not in themselves strong enough to hold a molecule together, but can still change the properties of elements such as water.” I argued that while they “might seem superficial, pleasantries—which do not, alone, create cohesion—strengthen an already present community, affecting the way it looks. Pleasantries, then, are an essential part of community building, even if they are not enough on their own to create a community.”

One such pleasantry identified was old school, paper-and-envelope, card writing. After all, “there is something to say about a handwritten card. Maybe it’s knowing that the card you are holding was specifically chosen for you by someone who took time and made the effort to either go to the store or order it online; maybe it’s the thought of how the card you are holding was held by the person who gifted it to you, or that the words you are reading were carefully put together and then just as careful transcribed. And that the person took the time to go through all of this in an increasingly busy world means even more.”

Since then, I have discovered so much more than I ever thought possible about cards. I still love Fox & Velvet, Anne Garrison Studio, and Cove Home, three great Etsy stores. And, if you are the kind that likes to make their own cards, I have also put together a Pinterest board filled with the ideas of some really talented people out there. I purchased a few sets of cards myself; during the process of reviewing them, I also learned that I really should take photography lessons, because I couldn’t do any of them justice.

Capital Flat Correspondence Cards, by Crane & Co (Set of 10)

Crane & Co has some of the most beautiful quality cards I have yet to see that are not over-the-top expensive. They typically use thicker cardstock on their cards, the envelopes are smooth to the touch and embossed with the company’s name, and the sizing is impeccable—as far as I know, you will never fight to slip a Crane & Co card into the envelope! Their simplistic designs make them much more readily accessible for a broad set of occasions. The Capital Flat Correspondence Cards are very easy to write on; all types of ink leave behind little to not bleeding and dry quickly. I use these cards for unique, super special occasions—weddings, births, the like—or more serious ones—death.

Live Colorfully Foldover Notes and Gift Box, by Kate Spade New York

While I love almost everything Kate Spade has to offer, I feel that their stock is overpriced—including this gorgeous card set. The quality is excellent, although the card doesn’t slip as easily into the envelope as it does with the Crane & Co cards. The envelope’s yellow interior is a particularly appreciated touch. I use these cards for happy occasions—births and cancer remissions, for example.

Mint on Pink Blank Foldover Card, by Mudlark

I discovered the Mudlark brand at Papyrus and have used cards from their collection a few times over the last couple of years. They are typically printed on thick cardstock in vibrant colour which feels textured to the touch and usually come in a box like this. This same texture though that makes for a great sensory experience makes the cards a little difficult to write on except with felt tip writing devices. I’ve been using these cards when I want to show someone my gratitude for either something they did or for just being themselves.

Hello Notes, by Andrews + Blaine

Available at Chapters, Andrews + Blaine cards tend to be more modern and minimalist. The Hello notes I purchased make for great random mailings that I send to people just because I want to—usually people with whom I have had recent online conversations lasting hours and hours that I almost want to transfer into the material realm through this card. There are two things though that I don’t like about this particular set. The golden polka dots seem to have been stamped onto the thin cardstock, making circular impressions on the inside that requires an extra steady hand to navigate a pen around. Also, the paper is glossy and slippery, making the good old ballpoint pen the best option so us. I love that the envelope matches the peach colour of the font rather than the white of the card.

Black and White Note Cards with Envelopes, by Target

These were by far the cheapest cards that I purchased and I have to say, I got what I paid for. The envelope is so thin that almost all inks bleed through; the cardstock is so slippery card that it doesn’t take well all the inks I tried on it; and the print quality makes part of the card’s design look blurry. I’ve been using these cards for daily, almost routine thank yous, such as dropping off a homemade loaf.

Black and White Thank You Cards, by Spr!tz

It seems that Spr!tz cards might be a good balance between price and quality for those of us who cannot afford the higher range cards. The envelope is thick enough, the cardstock is sturdy enough, matte and easy to write on with pretty much any pen, the printing is clear—making for a card both affordable and a pleasure to send.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! Some thoughts on the cards I have been using in the last year. I’m also looking into reviewing the experience of card-writing, so stay tuned for that post in the coming months!

First published on 24 February 2016 Sahar’s Blog.

Product Review: Bioré Baking Soda VoxBox (Part 2 of 2)

It’s been two weeks, and as promised in the first part of this post, I have an update on both the Bioré Baking Soda Scrub and Cleanser.

Now I don’t know if it’s because of winter or because I have been really tired lately, but after a wonderful beginning with this product, it started irritating my skin a little. The irritation is limited enough for me not to want to give up on it in the long-term, but enough for me to reconsider using it at this time. I have also considered the possibility that it is just too harsh for the recommended usage of 2-3 times a week for the scrub and daily for the cleanser.

I have also been thinking a lot about using a product from a large company like Bioré and a smaller one, however great the larger company may be. I have been reading up on companies such as Stowaway Cosmetics which, because they are smaller sized, seem to have a better ability to read their reality and adjust to it. Meaning that a small company is much more agile and able to stick to its original principles. So while I trust that reports that Bioré’s parent company has the desire and the will to be a leader in ethics, I trust that smaller companies like Stowaway Cosmetics to be able to more quickly and efficiently make the necessary changes in remaining at the forefront of ethical practices. There are also a lot of implications at the level of the community that I’m still struggling to sort through. In short, wouldn’t a number of smaller cosmetic companies spread throughout the world be better suited to respond to the needs of the members of the community they are located in? These needs would be both personal—a certain range of skin types within a certain specific climate—as well as community-based—using local ingredients, decreasing pollution, creating local jobs and, with people from the same community working on a home-made product, creating stronger bonds of friendship.

More thinking needs to be done about this…

Where does this leave me? I will reduce the frequency with which I use both cleanser and scrub to see if it helps my skin feel less irritated and, instead, just as soft as the first times I used it. If I see no change in my skin, I’ll put them both away until summertime and test them then again.

Recommend? Yes, for now.

Important: I am not an expert when it comes to the environmental effects of products on the environment; I am just a concerned consumer trying to have the least negative impact on the global community. I received these two products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.