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PGMom

Do Ya Wanna Build a House?

Uncategorized By May 15, 2014 2 Comments

Women Build with Habitat For HumanityThere have been many times over the years when I’ve wanted Elsa’s powers. Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could build a whole mansion with the flick of a hand like Disney’s Frozen star? Or maybe master a project that’s a tad less extensive – like tiling a floor, using a jigsaw or hanging a light fixture. There are thousands of people across the country who need housing, live in poverty and feel isolated. The power of community and charity can not only transform not only the individuals in need, but also empower the people who want to help others.  There are problem-solving women across Canada who can help while working as a team and developing construction skills in the process. The women build with Habitat for Humanity does just this. Perfection!

Habitat for Humanity Women BuildWhat family doesn’t want simple, decent and affordable housing? As an ambassador and fan of Procter & Gamble, I have been asked to represent UrbanMommies and put together a team of women in the Vancouver area to build a home!  The program is part of a three year partnership totalling $900,000, that will see P&G support Habitat’s family home builds throughout the county, on behalf of its Household Needs brands such as Tide, Swiffer and Mr. Clean. This year there are builds happening in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and approximately 350 new builds are expected across Canada in 2014.

After a group of ten women (and any UrbanDaddies who wish to help) participate in a build in Richmond in September,  P&G will offer cleaning kits to Habitat for Humanity affiliates to help ready the newly built homes for move-in once construction is complete, and will provide welcome baskets packed full of household products to each family moving into their new Habitat home. I am going to try to slip in a few Rainbow Loom treasures from my kids in as well. Because every new home needs some of those.

Habitat Women BuildHabitat for Humanity is a special charity, and I love that one hundred percent of all administrative and fundraising costs are paid for by the operation of nine ReStores in the lower mainland. It’s great when not a dime is wasted.

So… Do ya wanna build a house? Join our team in September for a one-day build! Learn new skills, bond, help others, and be a community. Because love is an open door. (You didn’t think I’d let the Frozen theme go that easily did you?) Please email us to indicate your interest in helping out and I will be in touch!

All Women Build photos provided by Habitat for Humanity.

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February Financial Challenge

Uncategorized By February 6, 2014 No Comments

Savings Made SimpleI am horrible with money. I don’t like talking about it, negotiating or thinking about it. I come from a family who was fixated on saving and gifting money. Fights over who pays the bill at brunch and then the expectation of endless thank yous made me tempted to skip the meal in the first place. I know I’m an ostrich and want savings made simple, but really, I shouldn’t blame anyone but myself. I’m certainly not setting a good example for the kids with my avoidance.

I’ve decided to take part in the Family Financial Challenge and would love to encourage you to join me by sharing your own tips to save money throughout the month of February.

Here are what I’ll be focusing on each week:

• Week 1 – Cash, Cash, Cash
• Week 2 – Food
• Week 3 – Family
• Week 4 – Clothes
Financial guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade. will be participating in a Chatelaine Twitter Party on Thursday, February 6 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m EST. We’d love for you to join the conversation by tweeting to @GailVazOxlade and @Chatelaine using the hashtag #SavingMadeSimple with all of your questions. Learn more on Chatelaine!

So my goals? For this first week I’m focused on CASH to see where my money actually goes. (bites nails).

First I signed up on mymoneymychoices.com to begin the 23 step guide. By following the process I will examine your financial habits, understand where mymoney goes and set up financial goals. The tasks below are going to be painful but worth it!!

• I will set up my personal profile on mymoneymychoices.com
• I completed the first activity which includes a six month personal spending analysis, debt repayment plan, net worth statement and personal budget.
• After setting up my family budget, I will be living on CASH for the remainder of the month divided into jars.
• I will complete a spending journal and document every purchase, payment and credit coming into and out of your account for the next month.
I think I’d rather get a root canal. That is all.

Depending on how this all unfolds I may just be able to share some cool tips with you. Or at least share what I TRY to accomplish. Wish me luck!!!

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Swiffer Bissell SteamBoost

Uncategorized By October 15, 2013 No Comments

Swiffer Bissel SteamboostLook out dust pans, watch out bristles, brooms, and mops, you’d better be scared.  There is a new Swiffer in town and it is coming after your jobs.  UrbanMommies tried the new Swiffer BISSELL SteamBoost and you’d think we’d done a full fall clean.  A-hem.  It’s a deeply penetrating steam mop that powers through dog footprints, coffee spills and mystery spots whose origins you no longer recall.  It even cleans all the stuff your old mop leaves behind (and has left behind since the last time you were washing the floor on your hands and knees).  For me that was when I was trying to induce labour contractions a while back….

Now that my babies are growing and ever so helpful, we sometimes play ‘clean the house’.  The beauty of this product is that you can kick those nasty buckets out, throw away all those harsh chemicals and use the power of regular tap water and steam to blast away those annoying messes.  Three simple steps and you’re well on your way to a quick clean up that will leave you plenty of time to catch up on your favourite shows.

1.  fill the compartment with water.
2.  attach a Steam pad
3. plug it in and wah-lah.

Disclosure:

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom/mamanP&G. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog are my own. 

*Do not use on waxed or unfinished wood floors

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Tide and Duracell Aid Alberta Flood Victims

Uncategorized By July 30, 2013 No Comments

DuracellCan you imagine being a new mom during a disaster?  Your breast pump has no power, your mobile phone is dead and handwashing bibs with leftover water in your hot water tank seems like an insurmountable task.  Thankfully, Proctor and Gamble practiced social responsibility and gave tremendous care to families in High River and Calgary, Alberta during last month’s extreme flooding.  Duracell Power Forward Trucks and Tide Loads of Hope brought relief to victims affected by the recent Alberta floods.

As a part of Duracell’s Power Forward fleet, the trucks made several stops in Calgary and High River each day to help families and first responders reconnect with loved ones and stay powered whenever they needed it most. 20,000 batteries were distributed to help power important devices such as flashlights and radios. Each stop also gave access to charging stations for mobile devices and computers.

Having the necessary power to stay connected to loved ones during a time of adversity is a priority for everyone affected by the recent floods. The Duracell Power Forward Trucks provided the ability for residents to stay connected and power up equipment to help keep them safe.

Within days after the Alberta flooding, Tide responded and partnered with a local laundromat in Calgary to offer affected families free washes and detergent. On July 2, the Tide Loads of Hope mobile unit was set up in High River, one of the most affected communities, allowing residents and relief workers to drop off laundry to be washed, dried and folded, free of charge. Tide washed 300 loads of laundry per day to help affected families through this difficult time. Watch and share a video of Loads of Hope in High River. For every view, Tide will donate $1 to the cause, up to $25,000.

Tide Loads of HopeTide Loads of Hope was created in 2005 to provide much needed free laundry services to families affected by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Inspired by the resilience and spirit of the people of New Orleans, Tide was driven to expand the Loads of Hope program and has since helped families across the country affected by disaster. Today, the program includes the Tide Loads of Hope truck outfitted with 32 energy-efficient Frigidaire® AffinityTM washers and dryers. Collectively, Tide has washed over 55,000 loads for more than 40,000 families impacted by disasters since the program launched.

In addition to deploying the Duracell mobile trucks and Tide Loads of Hope, P&G’s relief efforts also included a donation of personal care kits with over 22,000 units of product from brands such as Dawn, Mr. Clean, Oral- B, Scope, Glide, Gillette, Always, Tampax, Herbal Essences and Pantene.

P&G’s brands worked to help relief workers and families whose homes, clothing and personal items had been impacted to help renew a sense of hope in a difficult time. These programs were made possible with the support of P&G’s valued partners: the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, the Canadian Volunteer Fire Services Association and Purolator.

Disclosure: I am a P&Gmom. As part of my affiliation with this group I receive products and special access to P&G events and opportunities. The opinions on this blog are my own.

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My Dishcloth's Ugly Secrets

Uncategorized By July 29, 2013 No Comments

Bounty DuratowelAs I mentioned in our Kitchen Tips article, I was part of a scientific experiment sponsored by Bounty Duratowel.  I used a brand new dishcloth in my kitchen over three days and sent it to a lab for testing.  I will never use a dishcloth again.  I can hardly even bear to keep the results email in my inbox.  Typically hard on myself as a Mom and woman, the results make me feel like quite the ogre.

My results: “Your dishcloth was sent to a professional lab in Toronto where it was clinically examined to reveal exactly what was hiding inside. Your dishcloth, after three days of usage showed 52,000 counts of bacteria and 48,000 counts of yeast and mould.  In comparison, an unused dishcloth only harbours approximately 1,080 counts of bacteria and five counts of yeast and mould. Ready to ditch your germy dishcloth? When you use a dishcloth to clean and wipe your countertops you could actually be spreading around germs.

As if this wasn’t enough of a wake-up call, I attended a luncheon in Cincinnati where a scientist wiped a contaminated surface with a towel, then wiped up a typical kitchen floor spill and then rinsed the towel and wiped a counter.  Shining a black light on all of the areas that were wiped revealed that the original contaminant had been transferred to all three surfaces. EEEEWWWW!

The Bounty DuraTowel difference:

  • A unique structure that provides outstanding performance when wet
  • Feels and cleans like a cloth with a new cloth-like embossed design
  • A fresh sheet is cloth-like and strong enough to tackle tough jobs like cleaning countertops, sinks, and even small appliances
  • Clinically proven to leave surfaces 3 times cleaner than a germy dishcloth that could redeposit germs on surfaces families come in contact with throughout the day

Bounty DuraTowel is clinically proven to leave surfaces three times cleaner than a germy dishcloth, so make the switch today.

Done and Done.

 

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6 Tips for a Germ-Free Kitchen

Uncategorized By May 30, 2013 2 Comments

As Moms, we desperately try to keep the kitchen clean.  It’s almost as if we feel like a bad mommy otherwise.  The kids can be dirty, laundry unfolded and homework not done (who me?) but as long as the counters are clean we’re good, right?  Bad news. When it comes to cleaning the kitchen, the majority of Canadians (60 per cent) use a dishcloth, which can harbour and redeposit millions of germs on surfaces and puts families at risk of cross-contamination*.

I’ve just done a dishcloth vs. Bounty DuraTowel challenge and was thrilled with the research that the paper towel that is clinically proven to leave surfaces three times cleaner than a germy dishcloth**.  If you are wiping your countertops with a used dishcloth or sponge, you could be spreading around germs in the home.  I’ll get my dishcloth test results soon and will add the scientific findings as soon as they’re in!  But we also have 6 tips for a germ-free kitchen that you’ll want to take a peek at.

Dr. Elizabeth Scott, Co-director, Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community, recommends the following tips for a happy and healthy kitchen and home:

1.  Wash your hands – Prior to any meal preparation, wash your hands often with warm, soapy water and dry them using Bounty DuraTowel

2.  Wash and sanitize surfaces and utensils – Reduce the risk of contamination in the kitchen by washing and sanitizing all countertops, cutting boards and utensils that come into contact with food. Do this before and after preparing food and use Bounty DuraTowel to help clean up larger messes and wipe down surfaces

3.  Separate your food – Make sure to always separate your raw foods, such as meat and eggs, from cooked foods and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination which is one of the leading causes of food borne illness**. Use separate cutting boards for meats and for vegetables etc.

4.  Wash produce thoroughly – Immediately before prepping, wash all whole fruits and vegetables and dry using Bounty DuraTowel. This reduces the risk of transferring pathogens from the rind or skin to the inside of the fruit or vegetable when it is cut***

5.  Keep your fridge clean – One way to reduce the risk of cross-contamination is to keep the fridge clean and to keep foods covered since many bacteria and molds are able to grow at refrigerator temperatures. Clean your fridge using a kitchen sanitizer and Bounty DuraTowel

6.  Wash reusable grocery bags – Wash and thoroughly dry your reusable grocery bags frequently, especially if you are carrying raw meat, fish, poultry, seafood or vegetables.

*Findings from Proctor and Gamble Bounty Survey 2013, a national sample of Canadian consumers were randomly selected from TNS Canada’s Internet research panel from March 7 to March 11, 2013

**1tsp. spaghetti sauce, 10 mls. coffee, 1/8 tsp creamer on laminate countertop

***The Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health

I am a P&Gmom. The views, opinions and photographs expressed on this blog and in my social networks are my own. 

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Smart Cookies: Sandra Hanna’s Top 10 Tips for Saving Money

Uncategorized By February 20, 2013 1 Comment

February is my least-favourite month.  And not just because the only time I was ever dumped was on Valentine’s Day.  Daft cow.  Anyway, holiday bills are still flowing in and the Canadian and US governments are all talking about budgets and fiscal responsibility.  Ugh.  But where finances and family budgeting used to be considered ‘I wish I were an ostrich’ words, Sandra Hanna, co-founder and CEO of Smart Cookies has turned me around.  In sharing her top 10 tips for saving money, she suggests throwing out the term ‘budget’ (too much pressure) and finding hidden ways to save money – making it into a game.  She had so many tips I couldn’t write them fast enough.  I was so inspired and challenged to take charge of my finances.

A Smart Cookie’s Tips on How to Save Money

1.  Sell things you don’t need.  Along the ‘game’ lines, we’ve had a blast taking photos of items and being creative with descriptions.  Taking interesting photos and using terms like “Pottery barn-style dresser” and “shabby chic” can get an item sold quickly.
2.  Instead of heading to the store constantly, save time and money by using food you already haveSupercook.com and Myfridgefood.com will give you recipes with items that you have on hand (and may be craving…)  The recipes they suggest may also get you out of a rut and help your kids to expand their culinary horizons.
3.  Cardswap.ca is a gift card swap so that you can mail in a card you’ll never use and replace it with either cash or a card you need.  While Aunt Betty was kind in giving you a giftcard for a movie, the extra dinner and childcare costs make it not so budget-friendly.  Swap it for something like a new slowcooker – and save even more on comfort food.
4.  Search for the hidden money in your household.  This can be a fun one for children too.  Turning off lights, using Tide Coldwater to save on hot water bills and making a fire instead of turning up the heat can be fun as well as rewarding.  PGeveryday.ca is a great resource for coupons on products you use all the time and the PG Brand Sampler allows you to be sent free products to try.
5.  Hair schools provide a great inexpensive alternative to pricy salons.
6.  Rent, don’t buy expensive clothes.  If you live in the US, Rent the Runway. Enter your zip code, size and event date up to 6 months in advance and our calendar will help find available dresses and accessories. You can book rentals for a 4 or 8 day period.  In Canada?  Rent Frock Repeat. They send you 2 sizes to ensure a good fit.
7.  Choose your apps wisely.  Purchasing apps can be fun – .99 cents here, $2.99 there.  It can add up.  Buy when they are free or on sale – with  Freeappaday.com and Appminer.com and make sure you try the free versions first to ensure you will actually use them.
8.  Apps like www.groceryzen.com allow you to eliminate impulse grocery buys by organizing your grocery list aisle by aisle. (And you won’t forget the milk).
9.  Control your own Entertainment: Vimeo lets you live stream your apple TV and curate your own content.
10.  Save your time (and money) by never waiting on hold with Gethuman.com

One of the key changes I have made is registering for Mint.com, an app and website that tracks my bank accounts, credit cards and budgets.  (Why, exactly did I think $50/month was adequate for clothes?  Funny joke..)  It takes a bit of investigation to realize that your information and passwords are secure, but once you make the leap, you will never be in the dark about your spending patterns.

Sandra’s other inspiration?  Respect moms.  Whether you work outside the home or focus on saving money inside the home (or both), Moms are a very powerful bunch in the financial and budgeting world.

Jill Amery was given the opportunity to interview Sandra Hanna as part of the #PGMom program through Proctor and Gamble.  As always, her opinions are her own.

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On being a brand ambassador

Uncategorized By November 17, 2012 2 Comments

As my readers know, this is a magazine – not a blog.  From time to time I (as the publisher) feel the need to pontificate.  (Hopefully with wit and good grammar.)  Hold your tongue  – you readers with hefty English degrees..  This one is  ‘on being an ambassador’ (and I’m one for writing like I speak).

I was invited to an overview of P&G products.  Having been a McDonald’s All-Access Mom I know what it means to align yourself with a brand.  (Insert nail biting here).  You must know everything about the company and it’s practices – often more than the employees or executives.  You must field questions via social media, be honest on camera and willing to put in 14-hour days.  You must be an investigative reporter with discerning questions (without being kicked out of the program entirely – for what good would that do?).

I admit that I hesitated.  The McDonald’s experience was more than I had bargained for and yet I discovered a company and culture that were incredible.  And then I was asked to be a P&G Mom.  Who was I to demerit another ‘huge’ company based on rumour and social media pressure?  But the term ‘ambassador’ has certain responsibilities.  I agreed to see what they had to say.  I knew that given my experience, I was able to ask the right questions.  I was willing to take the social media heat.

So I went.  And I am so thrilled I did.  Of course I’m a ‘Four Season’s girl (they hosted it there) and love trying new products (which many of us have donated and have been sent to Hurricane Sandy victims in New York with the help of Coach USA).   But there was more.  More good.  More positive.

The executives I spoke to about toxicity and environmental responsibility emailed me back the next day (on a Saturday) with specific answers.  The PR folks were proactive in addressing my concerns.  Other executives from Proctor and Gamble delved into my mind, looked into my eyes over dinner – and they REALLY wanted to know how I felt about…  laundry – not just their laundry products.  I felt as if I could make an impact.  If I am honest, open and transparent – when I bring concerns from my readers to the appropriate people – perhaps I / we can help guide the direction of the company.  I really believe this is what P&G had in mind with the program.

On the big day of the conference, P&G hired a moderator to get feedback from real moms on so many of their products.  That’s corporate responsibility.  That’s smart.  (It also gives them a huge savings on big-idea consulting.).  When the McDonald’s executives discussed their program over dinner with the 4 moms involved in the All-Access program, I certainly felt as if we had made an impact.  The CEO took handwritten notes. He asked a hundred questions.  (And only a portion of our feedback was positive. But they didn’t want to hear the positive stuff.)  They wanted the moms’ perspective on what needed to be changed to make them a better company.  They know what they do well.  They want to be better.  And as true ‘ambassadors’, we were in a position to tell them.

That’s what an ‘ambassador’ means.  You need to know more about the company than most of the employees.  And be willing to be smart and mature on social media.  You need to think outside the box.  To seriously consider negative feedback from social media and take a risk to get the real answers.  You need to meet the people behind the company – the chemists and farmers and salespeople.  This is why companies are paying attention to Mom ambassadors.  That is what will propel the profession and help the public connect with the brands.  And that is why any time we agree to the role of ‘ambassador’, it is a big job.  A big responsibility.

From what I have heard and read so far, I am very much an ambassador.  But I chose to get my BA in theatre and politics – not in chemistry or sales – and I cannot learn all of these arts in a few days.  So I invite all of my readers – just as I did as a McDonald’s All-Access Mom – to ask questions.  You know more than I do about your own experience as a Mom and a professional – and as an ambassador, I am simply a conduit to extracting honest and relevant answers.  We’re all parents.  We all want healthy, happy kids.  Ask me.  I assure you I will get the answers.  That’s what an ambassador does.

 

 

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