Friday, November 29, 2013

mimiTENS: Children's Mittens That Stay On With No Strings Attached! {Review and Sale Alert!}

Let's face it - there's a LOT of baby and kid gear out there, and it's certainly a challenge to figure out what's actually useful and what just looks good on paper! But every once in awhile, I stumble upon a product that makes so much sense I feel it's my duty to sing its praises at every opportunity.

Enter mimiTENS, a quirkily-named brand of childrens' mittens made right here in Canada. Unlike your all-too-common "traditional" mittens which just cover the hands (and maybe a small part of the wrist), mimiTENS include cuffs which go all the way up to the elbows. This simple design ensures that they stay on and keep wrists warm, two things that traditional mittens fail to do. Like I said before - it Just. Makes. Sense!

There are a few other brands which incorporate a similar concept and I've tried a couple of these. However, I have to say I prefer our mimiTENS hands down (no pun intended) for two reasons. First, the arm fabric of mimiTENS is super stretchy which makes them easy to pull on and able to be layered in different ways - underneath everything, between clothing and outerwear, and on top of outerwear. By contrast, one other brand I've tried has stiff, tight arm fabric making them a pain to pull on, and another can only be worn on top of outerwear. Second, mimiTENS come in the most redonkulously adorable array of colours and styles.

mimiTENS are available in two main styles: SOFT (made with Oeko-Tex certified bamboo/organic cotton fleece, thumbless and designed for babies up to 18 months) and ALL WEATHER (made of water-repellent nylon, Thinsulate insulation and Oeko Tex certified bamboo/organic cotton fleece, and available in sizes ranging from 18 months to 5 years).

For review purposes, mimiTENS owner Anna-Marie Mountfort generously agreed to equip both our children with brand spankin' new all weather mittens from the latest collection.

CJ (almost 1 year) received a pair of Classic Red mimiTENS in the baby size (i.e. no thumbs).

S (almost 3 years) received a pair of Silver Butterfly mimiTENS in the 2-3 year size.

The Silver Butterfly is one of several in the latest collection boasting an extra safety feature - decals made of 3M Scotchlite Reflective to help make kids even more visible!

Both pairs are made with the same super-stretchy cuff material. This should give you an idea of the "stretch factor":

Our children usually wear their mimiTENS in between their clothing and outerwear...

...but as you can see here, the mitts work perfectly well pulled on top of outerwear too - even a super-puffy jacket! This saves us those times when we put a jacket on one of our kids, then realize his/her hands are still bare. No problema!

During our li'l photo shoot, I asked S if her thumbs were in the right spot and she held up both hands proudly to show that they were. Yet another nice thing about mimiTENS - easy access thumb holes!

Mr. CJ has been super-grumpy the last few days (battling both a cold and ear infection, poor guy) so he hasn't been overly eager to show off his own mimiTENS. :( I'll post a picture or two when he's feeling better so you can see the thumbless style in action.

In terms of longevity, I'm happy to report that mimiTENS totally rock! I was lucky enough to discover the brand a couple years back when my daughter was a year old, and I purchased both a soft and an all weather pair at that point. I'm happy to report that after extensive wear and numerous washes, both original pairs have held up extremely well and look almost as good as new!

I can think of only one minor criticism with these mittens; they occasionally "ride down" a bit so that the hand ends up in the cuff area. (This happens more often with CJ, who writhes around a lot more & whatnot.) That said, this is the point where a traditional mitten would fall off, so the mimiTENS are still in much better shape here! :) 

Finally, I want to quote a couple more cool things about mimiTENS as a company:
  • All mimiTENS mittens are produced in Canadian factories known for their excellence in making winter gear. Through our manufacturing partners, we supports safe working environments and provides respectable wages. mimiTENS are proud to create work in Canada. 
  • mimiTENS will happily accept defective merchandise. While we have every confidence in our products, sometimes things go unexpectedly wrong – especially when you are making something a few thousand at a time. If your mittens come apart at the seams or something else lame, please contact us and let us know.

All in all, I can't recommend mimiTENS mittens highly enough. If you have children 5 and under and don't live in a tropical climate, you really have no excuse not to own some yourself!

Buy It:

mimiTENS can be purchased directly from the company website or from numerous online & "brick and mortar" retailers (in Canada, the United States and Worldwide).

** Black Friday Sale Alert!! ** - mimiTENS is currently offering 20% off orders placed on their website from now until end-of-day Monday, December 2nd. Use code blackshopin to receive your discount!

Follow mimiTENS:

Disclosure:  I received no financial compensation for writing my review, although I did receive the sample items free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Janine's Place - Upcycled Wool and More {Etsy} - Review & Giveaway! (Closed)

A few months back when CJ started outgrowing his small wool diaper covers, I searched for a Canadian cloth diaper retailer specializing in wool so I could begin stocking up on the next size. In doing this, I stumbled upon Janine's Place, an Etsy shop selling wool covers (both soakers and longies), upcycled wool slippers (how cool!), carrier teething pads and other nifty hand-made goodies.

The shop is located very close to me in Woodstock, Ontario and the owner (Janine - you probably could've guessed that, huh? ;) is not only a talented seamstress but also a mama to a beautiful one-year-old daughter and a holistic nutritionist. That's quite the resume! :) Janine was eager to partner up with me on a blog review and giveaway, and provided me with my review package in person at a lovely store called Organic Oasis, which has since become one of my favourite places to shop.

My package consisted of two items, which Janine customized just for us - a pair of 100% upcycled merino wool night time longies (sewn from scratch to fulfill CJ's rise, waist and inseam measurements) and organic bamboo/flannel teething pads designed to coordinate with my Ergobaby carrier. Let's take a look at each one!

Here are the longies. Anyone else compelled to play tic tac toe on 'em? ;)

Merino wool is known for being soft, and these longies are no exception! They definitely feel nice & smooth against the skin. Since we went with night longies, Janine sewed a single layer of fabric on the legs and a double layer in the soaker area for added all-night protection (vs. day longies on which she sews a single layer throughout).

Janine definitely nailed the fit, dont'cha think?

At first I thought they were a tad on the small side, but Janine reassured me that they'd stretch a significant amount and thus give us a long period of wearing time. She was right!

Performance-wise, these guys have been bullet-proof! We generally outfit CJ with a fitted + doubler and the longies on top, and we haven't experienced a single leak in 20+ wearings. The inside does get damp after a full night of wear, but the moisture never makes it to the outside of the wool. When we change him in the morning, we just turn the longies inside out and they're generally dry enough to wear again the next night if we want.

When we received the longies, CJ was workin' the army crawl so he really put the leg material through the wringer for the first month or so. Happily, they held up quite well to all the punishment, ending up with the general integrity intact and just some superficial pilling around the knees.

In terms of maintenance, we've followed standard wool care procedures (lanolize and hand wash) and have had no issues! Note that Janine offers a wool lanolizing service for those who'd rather not deal with this part.

Next up - the teething pads! I hafta say pads are a must when using a soft-structured carrier. If your baby is teething, he/she will inevitably latch onto your carrier straps and could potentially damage them, especially once those chompers start coming through! It's also a heck of a lot quicker and easier to wash a pair of pads than the whole carrier itself.

Janine makes her teething pads with two layers of organic bamboo French terry fabric and one layer of printed flannel. Unlike many/most pads on the market (which have applix closures), she uses resin snaps on hers for a more secure fit and improved longevity.

When I first tried our pads out, CJ immediately began chomping on them so I eagerly snapped this pic.

....and then I realized I had them on inside out! The off-white terry side is supposed to be on the outside as this material feels nicer on baby's gums. Like this!


Either way, the pads fit perfectly (not too loose and not too tight!) and the pattern does, indeed, look nice with the "Sienna Sunset" style of my Ergo.

I've now worn the pads on many occasions, and they've proven themselves quite durable. CJ "uses" them a lot, I've washed them several times and they still look almost brand new.

The one critcism I have is that they tend to ride up so they're above baby's head. This is easy to adjust when front carrying, but a bit tougher when you're sporting baby on your back. That said, my other pair of pads do the same thing so this isn't a specific issue with the pads from Janine's store.

Overall, I'm happy with both items we got to try from Janine's Place. The longies are soft and comfy, fit well, perform great and have held up quite nicely over time, and the teething pads are lovely, durable and obviously enjoyed by our little guy! Now I'm eyeing up those wool slippers as potential stocking stuffers for a few folks on my list! ;)

Buy It

You can purchase Janine's upcycled wool products, teething pads and other goodies from her Etsy store or her Facebook page. She ships to both Canada and the United States.



Win It

One lucky Manager to Mom reader will win a $20 credit to spend at Janine's Place! (Note - shipping is not included.) Open to CAN/US.

To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Please follow all instructions within each entry option to ensure your entries are valid

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  The prize is being provided and shipped to the winner by Janine's Place.  I received no financial compensation for writing my review or offering this giveaway, although I did receive the sample items free of charge.  This is my completely honest opinion above and may be different from yours.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Butternut Squash Soup with Sweet Potato and Coconut {Recipe}

It's that time of year when winter squash is coming out the wazoo, toppling out of large crates at grocery stores and dominating roadside produce stands. This ubiquitous fall veggie is tasty, easy to prepare, super-inexpensive and packed with nutrients such as vitamins A and C, dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. And it's a perfect early food for babies too!

One of our favourite ways to prepare squash is pureeing up a big batch of soup. We've tried numerous variations but always come back to this one which has the perfect (in my opinion!) balance of savoury, sweet and aromatic flavours. We use butternut squash but any (or most) of the other types of winter squash could probably be used instead.

Butternut Squash Soup with Sweet Potato and Coconut

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Yield: 4 large bowls


  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 3-4 gloves garlic
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

(Note - choose organic ingredients where possible.)


  1. Cook the squash. I like to cut it length-wise and bake it cut side up at 350 degrees on a baking sheet with a little water at the bottom until tender. (60-80 minutes usually does the trick.)

  2. Cook the sweet potato. I cut it into medium-sized chunks, throw 'em in my stove-top steamer, bring to a boil and steam for 8-10 minutes.

  3. Saute onions in coconut oil (medium heat) until translucent - about 6-7 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another 3-4 minutes.

  4. Once the squash, sweet potato and onion/garlic mixture have cooled slightly, use a standard or immersion blender and puree these ingredients together with the chicken stock. If using a standard blender, you'll probably need to puree in batches.

  5. Transfer pureed ingredients into a large pot or dutch oven. Stir in coconut milk and spices, bring to a low boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

  6. Serve with an additional sprinkle of cinnamon and pepper (and/or a dollop of yogurt or extra coconut milk, if desired) and enjoy!

Do you enjoy winter squash? What's your favourite way to prepare it? 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

CJ at 10 Months: Open & Shut

I'm running around like a crazy person these days with almost no time to blog, so month 10 is gonna be a "cheat" update. But that's OK, because the whole month was basically a whole lotta this:

Over half way to 11 months now, so stay tuned for a meatier update soon!