Farewell to Nova Scotia…

Good morning, Baltimore!


Yep! You read that correctly. I’ve travelled south from the sea bound coast and have settled in Baltimore, Maryland in the ol’ U.S. of A.

Listen, I’m as surprised as you are. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a devout Haligonian (now as much as when I first arrived seven years ago). I will continue to proselytize the virtues of Nova Scotia to any and all during my tenure abroad — don’t you fret about that. Alas, a research opportunity for my partner arose here that was too good to pass up. So, for the next 2 years, I will be blogging about life as a displaced Canadian (with every intention of returning to my home and native land).

Despite my heartbreak when leaving NS, I’ve decided to embrace this experience with open arms. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a wee bit culture shocked here already. It’s so interesting how close we can be geographically, yet still be so uniquely different cities. (And we both know my politics don’t align with the current US agenda…to put it lightly.)

I’ll also be continuing to work on growing BlogJam Atlantic and will keep you apprised of all the exciting developments we have this year! Have you registered yet? Click here to do so now!

If you’re interested in checking out Baltimore and my neighbourhood here, check out my insta stories! Follow @halitrax on Instagram.



Random Acts of Feminism


The other day I was at a local thrift store searching for some vintage kitchen treasures when I strolled past the toy section. I stopped. dead. in. my. tracks. WHAT THE EFF IS THIS? Oh, I’ll tell you what it is. It’s a list of “the best toys for boys” and “the best toys for girls” separating into two toy sections.


Well, I OBVIOUSLY could not allow this to stand. I mean, I can still barely wrap my brain around how it was even happening. Did I open a door to the past?

Take a look at that image. The “girl’s toys” are Barbies, dresses, and jewellery. On the sign for boys, there are pictures of video games, building toys, a tent, and superheroes. What the actual hell?

So, I went into the “boy” section, grabbed a big car and placed it directly under the girls only sign.

Then, I went into the “girl” section, found the biggest, pinkest toy I could, which happened to be a sweet My Little Pony, and positioned it to peek around the boy toy sign.


Oh, hello My Little Pony! I hope a nice young boy finds joy in your sweet face and pretty blue hair!

Come on people. Toys don’t have genders. Any child can find joy in playing with any type of toy. It’s 2016 and we still need to waste energy on this BS? I’m so over sexism. I can’t even.


An “Ethical” Product Review: Part 1, Influenster

Influenster sent me a Keurig 2.0 for review

I thought of a dozen different titles for this post:

  • the Ethics of Product Reviews
  • How to Review to Your Own Standards
  • Balance in Blogging


  • An Environmentalist Reviews a Keurig 2.0

dun dun dunnnnnn

Yeah, you read that right. Buckle up folks, this is going to be a long one. In fact, I’ve decided to turn this into a series. Parts 2 and 3 will include the product review and aligning its uses with my environmental standards.

How the Influenster Review Works

So far, reviewing products through Influenster has been fun. The website partners bloggers (and other social media types) with companies for product reviews. The site also hosts a number of themes under which users can post reviews. Users are also encouraged to link their various social media networks through Influenster to generate a “social impact” score. The more reviews and linked networks (and, I’m assuming, followers within those networks), the higher a user’s score.

Based on scores and other profile, Influenster selects users to complete a survey to “qualify” them to receive a Vox Box (Vox Box = free product for review). The surveys are generally vague enough to indicate a category of product but rarely a brand and never the product itself. I’ve completed a number of invited surveys and have only been selected to review a few products (including shampoo, mascara, and some smaller items like gum, candy, stick-on nails, etc. ).

The most recent survey I was emailed was regarding coffee. It included questions about how I brew my coffee, what types of coffee I enjoy, and so on. I was truly, genuinely surprised to receive a follow-up message indicating that I had been selected to review a Keurig 2.0! (And that’s not all, the Vox Box also included a set of Van Houtte Specialty coffees.)

I was so surprised because I never expected to have the opportunity to review something big and expensive like that, and also because it seems kind of odd that a self-proclaimed environmentalist would be selected to review a product that has been overwhelmingly criticized for its negative environmental impact. Perhaps, though, it has something more to do with the fact that I talk about coffee ALL THE TIME.

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Naturally, however, my excitement to participate in a product review was tempered by the fact that I was clueless as to how to review the Keurig 2.0 objectively and stay true to my own standards (both as an environmentalist and blogger). Hence, breaking the review into several posts. My aim in doing so is to be as transparent as possible.

I suspect some might ask why, if I wasn’t sure as to how to proceed, I didn’t just refuse the product and skip the review. Well, my friends, that very suggestion in and of itself was part of the the conundrum. I enjoy doing product reviews (read: I like free stuff) and, as a small-time blogger, being paired with products through Influenster is the best way for me to do this. (Side note: if any big companies want to send me some other great stuff, I’m open!) Influenster, though, has a huge network of users just waiting to be selected for reviews. I’m a teeny fish in a huge pond. If I refuse to review – or worse, accept the product and skip the review – I’ll be removed from the pool altogether and be ineligible for future reviews.

So, with all this in mind, I commit to you, dear readers, that I will be has honest as possible with my reviews of the Keurig 2.0 and the accompanying Van Houttee coffee. Check back on Wednesday for Part 2!