Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday #3 - Christmas Time

There's nothing like opening Christmas presents.

Winners - Costume Squad & Rockin Green

The winner of Costume Squad T-Shirts is - #9 Jennifer L

 
The winner of Rockin Green Detergent is - #267 Sophia

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Winners - Baby Dipper Bowl & Raw Gaia

The winner of The Baby Dipper Bowl is - #46 renee


The winner of Raw Gaia is - #126 Jasmine1485


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!
I will be attempting to roast a turkey this year! Wish me lots of luck :)

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

If you just realized that Christmas is tomorrow and you don't have a gift, here are some tips!

Gift Baskets
I LOVE making gift baskets. If you make your own, you won't spend nearly as much as you would for a prepackaged one. The ones stores sell usually aren't good anyways (with the exception of GourmetGiftBaskets.com). All you need to do is go to the nearest dollar store and get a clear wrapping paper roll (one roll is good for a big basket or 2 small ones) and a small basket or plastic tray.
Hit the store and look for a couple of prepackaged gift items. They are most likely on sale right now! By prepackaged I mean packs of 5 different hot chocolates or chocolate bars or anything else that looks good. Separate them and voila - you got a couple gift sets each containing different items.Of course you can buy items separately, but I advise doing that in advance, not last minute.
You will make someone very happy by giving them a gift basket. You will show that you actually put some thought and time into their gift. 
It's very easy to wrap one up. I had no skills and somehow my baskets turned out pretty nice! Look below for a photo.

Gift Cards
I keep reading over and over again that gift cards are horrible presents. Am I the only one who doesn't think so? I love gift cards!!! Just make sure that the person you are giving it to actually likes that store or goes to that restaurant. You are always safe with Starbucks, Tim Hortons or big chain grocery stores.

Here is what I gave my girlfriends last year. Each basket only cost me $10!

Successful Blogging 101 - Tips For Entering Giveaways

I see these posts all over blogs, but there are still a great number of people who don't follow the rules properly. Lets all work together to make the blogging world as user-friendly as possible! Whether you are a blogger or a giveaway junkie, you might want to read this.

I have been entering contests for a couple of years now. I never had any luck with big company contests. The ones where they have 1 prize and thousands of entrants. Earlier this year, I discovered blog giveaways and after I won my first couple of prizes, I was hooked! It's great odds and great prizes. I have been pretty lucky with my prizes and I believe that it's because I set up an "entering system" for myself to make sure I follow all giveaway rules.

Here is what I learned from entering contests as well as hosting them.

Mandatory Entry
Always complete the mandatory entry first. Usually it will ask you to visit sponsor's website and comment with another item you would like to try. Unless the rules state that you will get what you select, you can put down any item off the website. Do not mention what has been already mentioned in the review. (Tip - I used to spend a lot of time selecting other items I like, now I quickly put down a random item and if I like the company, I bookmark them to check out later.)

E-Mail
Leave your e-mail address with every comment! To avoid spam you can use this format (only on Blogger blogs where comments are visible) - yourname at hotmail dot com.

Many blogs will tell you to get a separate e-mail account for entering giveaways. I use one account for all e-mails and another for communicating with sponsors. I actually liked it better when I had just one. I'm also in favor of Hotmail over Gmail or Yahoo, because you can view e-mails without having to go to another page.

I only subscribe to blogs if I enter a lot of giveaways there. If it's just one time, but I like the blog, I bookmark it first. If I subscribe and the realize that 98% of giveaways are open to US only, I cancel subscription. I try to keep my mailbox tidy and I don't want a million of e-mails. I'd rather have 20 subscriptions and actually look through e-mails.

Social Media
For Facebook bonus entries - leave your facebook first name and initial so the blogger can confirm your entry. Same goes for Twitter, leave your @name. When you tweet, leave the direct link to your tweet (you can do this by right clicking on the time stamp right under your tweet and selecting "copy link location".

Please note, it's against Facebook's rules to use Facebook as an extra entry into a giveaway. It's okay to "like" someone for any extra entry, but not ok to post on sponsor's wall for an extra entry. I would avoid such bonus entries as Facebook can cancel your account at any time. You can read more about it here.

Bonus Entries
When you say you do something like subscribe via e-mail, make sure you do and your subscription is confirmed. Same goes for everything else. If you are not sure if you have already "liked" the sponsor on Facebook, it only takes a second to check.

Rules
Always read the rules. You don't have to read every word, but look through to make sure you qualify. If like me you are in Canada (or other country), make sure the rules say that giveaway is open to Canada. If it doesn't say anything - don't enter. You will most likely waste your time, because the sponsor won't ship to Canada.

Quick Tips
Have your information ready so you can copy and paste your bonus entries. I have my information in a notepad. It's basically a list like this -

subscribe via email
myname at hotmail dot com

like you on facebook as Jen M.
myname at hotmail dot com

- this way I never forget to put down my e-mail, facebook name, etc. and it definitely cuts down on  entering time.

For my daily tweets, I have a 'draft' in my e-mail account where I write down all tweets by their expiry dates. If the original tweet message doesn't have an expiry, I add one in. It takes a second, but will make your life easier.

Prioritize your entering time - I only do daily tweets if I really want the prize. I tried doing daily tweets for everything I entered and that ate away 2 hours each day. You might think that it's impossible to win without lots of extra entries - I win a lot of great prizes by just entering once. It's all about luck. If the prize is meant to be yours - you will win it!  

If you really want to win a specific prize, you can do a search on Twitter or go to company's Facebook page. You will find more of the same giveaway and if you enter them, all you chances of winning that prize will really increase.

If a prize is a Gift Certificate - check company's shipping rates before entering. The giveaway might be open to Canada or Worldwide, but shipping might cost you $20. It's not really worth it to enter for a $25 Gift Certificate prize.
 
Can never say this enough - please leave always your e-mail address when entering giveaways. I sometimes go through all comments on my giveaways and guess what? Out of say 60 entrants 10 won't have their contact info which automatically disqualifies them. Another 10 say they do something like follow via GFC or subscribe via email, and their email is not on my subscriber's list. It's a shame, because a lot of the times it's people who do the bonus tweets every day.

More to come

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday #2 - Michael's New "High Chair"

Why bother make high chairs?

Winners - Gourmet Gift Baskets & Otterbottle

The winner of Gourmet Gift Baskets is - #270 409cope


The winner of Otterbottle is - #191 Emma


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

*Money Saving Tip* Tuesday #6 - Fabric Softeners

Do you always use fabric softeners in you laundry? I used to use softener sheets, I even bought special scent-free ones when my son was born. One time I forgot to throw one in. To my surprise, I didn't notice any difference in my laundry! Towels and the rest of my clothes felt exactly the same. Since then, I completely stopped using softeners! I read somewhere that Vancouver has "soft water" type. I don't know what that means, but can only assume that our water is good and softens clothes on its own.

Next time you do laundry, try to do a load without a softener and see if you can notice any difference. If like me, you don't notice anything than it's great news for you! Less chemicals on your clothes and less money spent.

Winners - The Cream Perfume Company, Crazy Dog T-Shirts, Orglamix & iStyle Originals

The winner of The Cream Perfume Company is - #35 Jennifer L

 

The winner of Crazy Dog T-Shirts is - #72 Auqakuh

 
 
The winner of Orglamix Mineral Makeup is - #183 erinb80
 
 
 
The winner of iStyle Originals is - #14 Claude


Monday, December 20, 2010

7 Things Monday #1 - Baby Edition

A while back I wrote a quick post about my 7 random food facts. You guys expressed in comments that it was fun to read! I don't have too much extra time and writing point form is something I like! It's easy to write and easy to read. You might have noticed this technique in my Reviews.

I will do it by monthly editions (I think) and see what comes of it. I think it's a great way to share a bit about myself, but not overwhelm you with info :)

7 Things #1 - Baby Edition
  1. His favorite TV channel is the music channel and he dances all day.
  2. He is the pickiest eater in the world (I actually believe so) and barely eats at all.
  3. He is the the fastest drinker I have seen.
  4. His favorite toys are remote controls, phones, tooth brushes, keys, etc. (Buying real toys is a waste of money)
  5. He loves to go anywhere as long as he gets to leave the house. (Mommy is the same way)
  6. He hates wearing socks and always takes them off, even though it's cold right now.
  7. He is the biggest flirt - loves girls and never smiles at guys.

What's to Come

Thanks for entering the Holiday Gift Guide giveaways! I have finally posted all my reviews and now am in the process of drawing winners. A couple of my sponsors went MIA, not sure what happened there, but it's their loss :) I thoroughly enjoyed this Christmas Event and hopefully I'll be around to host another one in the upcoming year.

So what are the plans for My Secret Home blog? I will try my best to stick to a regular blogging program. I got plans for every day of the week (except weekends). I hope my toddler will understand and let me take an hour each day to do some work on the blog :)

I will keep bringing you awesome reviews and giveaways. I already have 4 planned ;) They will be posted shortly.

I am also considering moving to Word Press. I have used it before, I know it's capabilities, but for some reason I was never able to make it in the blogging world using that platform. Why switch? Everyone is saying how great Word Press is and the opposite about Blogger. I don't know, I love Blogger so far. It's a big dilemma for me. 

Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winners - Superior Sopanuts & Scrubz

The winner of Superior Soapnuts is - #102 Jen
(Winner has been contacted and has 48 hours to reply)
 
 
The winner of Scrubz is - #54 Chi Kittie
(Winner has been contacted and has 48 hours to reply) 
 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weekend Blog Hops & Ongoing Giveaway Linky 12/17

Welcome to my blog! Please leave a comment here and I will follow you back :)



Promote your giveaways by entering them in the linky below. This linky is ONGOING, meaning that you only have to enter once. I will delete all expired links.

RULES
- specify PRIZE
- specify END DATE
- specify who the giveaway is open to i.e. US (United States), CAN (Canada) or WW (Worldwide)
- link to the actual gveaway post 

Example - Amazon $15GC (11/11 US/CAN) 

Gift Guide: Jenulence Review & Giveaway 12/30 US/CAN


What girl doesn't love makeup and skincare products? I don't know about you, but I might as well say that I am obsessed with beauty products. I've always been tempted to try the mineral powder eye shadows at the mall, all my friends said they look very bright. I am very glad that I never gave into  the temptation to try them. They are full of cancer-causing chemicals and to apply it to the eyes where its so easy for chemicals to penetrate into the skin - no thanks!
Jenulence has been around since 2003 and their cosmetics are completely free of anything chemical/harmful.

Review
I like sparkly/shimmery colors and I chose to review Sparkling Bisque and Mauve Pearl Shimmer eye shadows from Jenulence. They came in tiny jars with sifters. These jars are wrapped with plastic to guarantee freshness and the sifter parts are also sealed. I couldn't wait to test these out. I used a simple eyeshadow brush to spread color over the eye lids and then touched up with my finger for a more even spread.

There is a considerable difference between Shimmer & Sparkle. Shimmer is literally shimmery and looks very natural and classic. Sparkle looks very sparkly, but not over the top and is great for when you need something extra in your makeup routine. I can't decide which one is my favorite as I love the both and they are very different. The colors themselves look and feel very natural. I thought they would be brighter from looking at pictures. I think it's because I chose very simple shades, but I love them none the less! The shimmers and the sparkles will last you all day.

I don't even have to explain why Jenulence products would make great gifts this holiday season. I would love it if someone gave me eye shadows for Christmas.Jenulence doesn't just have eye shadows, they have a lot of other natural makeup as well as some funky items such as Fizzing Bath Salts. Now that would be an amazing gift!

Interesting Jenulence Facts
- Jenulence company motto - If you can't eat it, don't use it on your skin
- All Jenulence products are environmentally friendly, biodegradable and never tested on animals.
- They are hypoallergenic, non-drying and long lasting.
- Jenulence are free of additives, dyes, waxes, fillers, talc, preservatives, nano-particles, micronized minerals or FD&C, D&C or Aluminum Lake dyes.
- Mineral Eye Shadows ingredients: Mica, titanium dioxide, sericite, cosmetic grade pigments: iron oxides, ultramarines, may contain chromium oxide green.
- Any eye shadow color may be used as a mineral eyeliner - just use a wet eyeliner brush or to use as a mineral brow color use a dry brow brush.
- You can mix shades to create your own colors.
- Mineral eye shadows may be applied dry or wet.
- Try before you buy - eye shadow samples are only $1 each.
- A full-sized eye shadow retails for only $6.
- Jenulence is also on Etsy!




Giveaway Prize:
One lucky winner will receive 2 Jenulence Eye Shadows in their choice of color (ARV $12)

How to enter: 
- Leave your e-mail address in every comment or make it visible in Blogger
- Complete the mandatory entry and leave a separate comment for each bonus entry

MANDATORY entry
- visit Jenulence and tell which 2 eye shadows you would choose if you won (by name)

EXTRA entries
- follow My Secret Home publicly via Google Friend Connect
- subscribe via RSS reader
- subscribe via e-mail & confirm
- subscribe to Jenulence newsletter (link is in the left column)
- add me as a friend on Facebook & leave your first name and initial
- like My Secret Home on Facebook & leave first name and initial
- like Jenulence on Facebook & leave first name and initial
- follow My Secret Home on Twitter & leave your twitter name
- follow Jenulence on Twitter & leave your twitter name
- tweet (1 time per day) - #Giveaway - 2 Jenulence eye shadows - US&CAN Ends 12/30 http://bit.ly/hug1ND (leave direct link)
- grab my button & tell me where I can find it
- grab my Gift Guide button & tell me where I can find it

Rules:
This giveaway is open to residents of USA & CANADA and will end on December 30, 2010 at 11:59PM PST. The winner will be determined randomly via random.org. The winner will have 48 hours to respond back or another winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation to write this post. I received a free product mentioned above in order to provide my honest opinion. I am in no way responsible for shipping of the prize.

Gift Guide: Banana Guard Review & Giveaway 12/30 CANADA

I'm always on the lookout for innovative reusable containers. This company has sold more than a million of their products. You can't become a success unless you really do have great products!

Review
Banana Guard sent me one of each of their products for review and giveaway. I've decided to keep the S'wich Guard and Fruit Case and give away the Banana Guard itself as well as the Fruit Guard.

I love these Guards, they are made of very thick brightly colored plastic. My favorite is the S'witch Guard. I used to often take sandwiches to work and they always got smashed in my purse. It's no fun eating something that looks like it's been run over by a car. S'wich Guard will keep your sandwiches safe as well as eliminate the need for plastic snack bags. My only problem with all these guards is that once you finish your food, you are left with a bulky container. But it's a small price to pay and worth it if you want to keep your food in good condition. I also like the Fruit Case. Since it's winter, there aren't many fruits available but I found just a perfect item to carry in this case - a hard boiled egg! It makes a great healthy snack.

I didn't try out the Banana Guard and the Fruit Guard since I'm giving them away to you. Wouldn't be too nice of me to give you used food containers :) Why wouldn't I keep the most popular Banana Guard to myself? As much as I like the idea of this container, I'm not a fan of bananas. But if you are a banana fan, you will love this funky guard product!

Interesting Banana Guard Facts
- It is a Canadian company based in Vancouver, BC.
- All products are made of FDA approved recyclable plastic, BPA-FREE and made in Canada.
- All products are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.
- Besides Banana Guards, this company offers Froot Guards/Cases and S'wich Guards.
- Banana Guard features multiple small perforations to facilitate ventilation thereby preventing premature ripening and a sturdy locking mechanism to keep the Banana Guard closed.
- There's been more than 1 million of Banana Guards sold.
-  S'wich Guard fits most common sandwich bread sizes and as a bonus it can double as your plate! It is also microwave safe. 
- Each products retails for $6.99 (less if you buy a couple).



Giveaway Prize:
One lucky winner will receive a yellow Banana Guard and a green Fruit Guard. (ARV $13)

How to enter: 
- Leave your e-mail address in every comment or make it visible in Blogger
- Complete the mandatory entry and leave a separate comment for each bonus entry

MANDATORY entry
- simply tell me why you would like to win this prize

EXTRA entries
- follow my blog publicly via Google Friend Connect

- subscribe via RSS reader
- subscribe via e-mail
- add me as a friend on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- like My Secret Home on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- like Banana Guard on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- follow My Secret Home on Twitter (leave your twitter name)

- tweet (1 time per day) - #Giveaway - Banana Guard & Fruit Guard - Open to Canada Ends 12/30 http://bit.ly/f36NJv (leave direct link)
- grab my button (tell me where I can find it)
- grab my Gift Guide button (tell me where I can find it)

Rules:
This giveaway is open to residents of CANADA and will end on December 30, 2010 at 11:59PM PST. The winner will be determined randomly via random.org. The winner will have 48 hours to respond back or another winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation to write this post. I received a free product mentioned above in order to provide my honest opinion.

Winners - ReUsies & Nacho Mama Tees

Congrats to the Holiday Gift Guide Winners!

The winner of ReUsies is - #28 Auqakuh!
(Winner has been contacted and has 48 hours to reply) 
 
 
The winner of Nacho Mama Tees is - #61 Katy!
(Winner has been contacted and has 48 hours to reply)
 
 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gift Guide: Rockin Green Detergent Review & Giveaway 12/28 US/CAN


Just a few years ago all I was interested in were clothes. Now that I live on my own and have a little guy to take care of, clothes are off my priority list. What do I care about these days? Finding safe options when it comes to stuff we use everyday. Such as a laundry detergent. When my son was born just a bit over a year ago, I couldn't find any chemical-free detergents! I had to settle for a  brand-name chemical scent-free (so they say) detergent (which only one store sold!) Thank God, now there are more options on the market, but I really wish I knew about Rockin Green company back in the day.

Review
Rockin Green's main target are cloth diapers. I don't use cloth diapers (shame on me), and it's fine, because you can use it  for regular clothes as well. I chose to review Rockin Green laundry detergent in Rage Against the Raspberry scent (later I read that it's one of their most popular scents). When I opened the sample package I was greeted to a very lovely raspberry scent. Really, it wasn't just lovely, it actually smelled like lollipops. If the package didn't say it was a detergent, I'd assume this was powdered candy (maybe keep it away from you kids in case they think the same)!

I followed the instructions and loaded my washer. I only use cold water for washing and this load came out great! Clothes were clean, did not have any scents and felt soft. I am very impressed with Rockin Green and will keep using it for my clothes. I'd love to try some of the other scents they have and I'm usually a scent-free kind of person.

Rockin Green will make a wonderful gift for mommies. No really, as much as I like jewelry, makeup and other fun stuff, I would be just as happy to receive something useful like an eco-friendly laundry detergent!

Interesting Rockin Green Facts
- Rockin Green ingredients - sodium carbonate , sodium percarbonate, natural chelating agents, sodium sulfate, biodegradable surfactants, natural fragrance oils (if scented is chosen)
- Rockin Green is free of phosphate, dioxin, petroleum, fat, dyes, enzymes, whiteners and brighteners.
- It is also animal by-product free, never tested on animals and biodegradable.
- Rockin Green comes in Soft, Classic and Hard formulas (depending on your water type - if in doubt pick Classic)
- Rockin Green comes in 8 lovely scents including an unscented version.
- Try before you buy - samples are only $0.75ea and come in all formulas and scents.
- 45/90 loads bag of Rockin Green retails for $13.95
 



Giveaway Prize:
One lucky winner will receive 45/90 bag of Rockin Green laundry detergent in their choice of scent & formula (RV $13.95)

How to enter: 
- Leave your e-mail address in every comment or make it visible in Blogger
- Complete the mandatory entry and leave a separate comment for each bonus entry

MANDATORY entry
- visit Rockin Green and tell me which scent you would choose if you won (by name)

EXTRA entries
- follow my blog publicly via Google Friend Connect
- subscribe via RSS reader
- subscribe via e-mail
- add me as a friend on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- like My Secret Home on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- like Rockin Green on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- follow My Secret Home on Twitter (leave your twitter name)
- follow Rockin Green on Twitter (leave your twitter name)
- tweet (1 time per day) - #Giveaway - Rockin Green Laundry Detergent 45/90 loads bag - US&CAN Ends 12/28 http://bit.ly/dTWl68 (leave direct link)
- grab my button (tell me where I can find it)
- grab my Gift Guide button (tell me where I can find it) 

Rules:
This giveaway is open to residents of USA & CANADA and will end on December 28, 2010 at 11:59PM PST. The winner will be determined randomly via random.org. The winner will have 48 hours to respond back or another winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation to write this post. I received a free product mentioned above in order to provide my honest opinion. I am in no way responsible for shipping of the prize.

Gift Guide: Costume Squad Review & Giveaway 12/28 US/CAN

Costume Squad is an online store which offers a great variety of funny t-shirts and Halloween costumes for men, women and even dogs! If you ever wanted to dress up for Halloween as an Adult Stewie from Family Guy or Woody from Toy Story - here's your chance!

Review
I thought to change things up a bit, I would get my husband to review a t-shirt! I picked a Superhero Batman t-shirt, because I know that it's one of his favourite movies and his current Batman t-shirt has faded dramatically. He was happy to find a brand new t-shirt awaiting at home for him. He usually wears a Medium and I got a Medium as well. It's hard to follow the sizing chart when you can't measure the person. But it's way easier to estimate a size for guys than girls!

The t-shirt is a bit tight on him, but he's still been wearing it around the house since he got it . It had a paper clothing back tag which I successfully removed since my husband is a picky as I am and hates tags. If you are buying a present for a guy, I suggest going a size up from what he usually wears.

Here are a couple of other cool t-shirts which caught my attention:



Giveaway Prize:
One lucky winner will receive a Costume Squad mystery tee in mens size (US only) OR a $15 Gift Card (Canada only)

How to enter: 
- Leave your e-mail address in every comment or make it visible in Blogger
- Complete the mandatory entry and leave a separate comment for each bonus entry

MANDATORY entry
- visit Costume Squad and tell me your favorite t-shirt by name (besides what I've mentioned)

EXTRA entries
- follow my blog publicly via Google Friend Connect
- subscribe via RSS reader
- subscribe via e-mail
- add me as a friend on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- like My Secret Home on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- like Costume Squad on Facebook (leave first name and initial)
- follow My Secret Home on Twitter (leave your twitter name)
- follow Crazy Dog T-Shirts on Twitter (leave your twitter name)
- tweet (1 time per day) - #Giveaway - Costume Squad - mystery tee OR a $15GC US&CAN Ends 12/28 http://bit.ly/eIhxNL (leave direct link)
- grab my button (tell me where I can find it)
- grab my Gift Guide button (tell me where I can find it)
- "Like" or "Share" one of the products on the website. (The buttons for these are on all product detail pages, above the main image.)

Rules:
This giveaway is open to residents of USA & CANADA and will end on December 28, 2010 at 11:59PM PST. The winner will be determined randomly via random.org. The winner will have 48 hours to respond back or another winner will be chosen. Winners cannot have won a shirt from Crazy Dog T-Shirts/Nacho Mama Tees/Costume Squad or have been sent a shirt for promotional purposes in the last 90 days.

Disclosure: I did not receive any compensation to write this post. I received a free product mentioned above in order to provide my honest opinion. I am in no way responsible for shipping of the prize.