Archive for Reviews

Cruel Summer: Stock Up for Hay Fever with the Personnelle “Summer Festivities” Tissue

August 14, 2013  |  Tissue Throwdown  |  1 Comment

Winner of the Coolest Tissue Box, Summer 2013: Personnelle “Summer Festivities” 3-ply, 65, ($1.79) at Jean Coutu.

Just when it seemed like nobody could top Kleenex’s ode to ice cream in 2011, or Scotties Supreme Peacock box of tissues, Sinus Sister found this psychedelic box on the shelves of Jean Coutu. It’s classy. It features flip-flops. It sparkles like the sun glinting off a rippling lake. If you have to reach for a tissue 25 times a day when Hay Fever hits, it should be this box.


The Artist: Black & White Film, Scotties Tissue Box Make a Case for Class


Rating: ★★★★★ 

“Colour is so…last year”, thought Sinus Sister, emerging from a post-Oscar party for The Artist. It’s impossible to see this film and not want to take tap dancing lessons. But before I gush about the charm and grace in this silent film, FULL DISCLOSURE: Sinus Sister is “romantically linked” (wink) to the first cousin of the The Artist‘s director/writer, Michel Hazanavicius, but nobody put me up to this review. Michel hardly needs the endorsement of a small-time blogger when he has Harvey Weinstein in his corner. The Artist debuted at Cannes, where it was robbed of the Palme d’Or. Film critics loved pulling for this underdog entry, a clever homage to the silent era in our over-stimulated culture. With only a film score to highlight the action, Hazanavicius tells the tale of a washed-up silent movie star (Jean Dujardin) and the upstart actress (Bérénice Bejo) who brings him back to life.

Why see a silent film: for the unexpected sound gags

Who to take: someone on a first date

Who we loved: Bérénice Bejo, who is all moxy with no mugging

What we didn’t miss: colour

What we wanted afterward: elbow-length gloves

Inspired by the film’s classy black and white palette, Sinus Sister banished all Christmas-sy tissue boxes from the house except one—the seasonal two-ply penguin design by Scotties. It’s understated yet grand, somehow, just like The Artist. Now, let me practice pulling off my long gloves, tugging on one finger (tug) at (tug) a (tug) time (tug).

Fisherman’s Friend with Benefits: The Losenge that Needs a Restraining Order

February 22, 2012  |  Drug Reviews  |   |  1 Comment

Sucrets are From Mars, Fisherman’s Friend is from Venus

Wait a sec, as I pry a losenge off my molar. That can’t be good for the enamel. My hacking cough hasn’t stopped, but my dependence on big, sugary losenges must come to an end. It’s time to graduate to a more adult solution—one that isn’t candy in disguise. (I’m talking to you, Cherry Sucrets!)

Emboldened by maturity, I reach for a pack of Fisherman’s Friend. Tearing open the package, I nearly spill the contents. Open with care. Looking at the package again, I catch site of the word “menthol”, but it doesn’t make much impact. Menthol, schmenthol.

People talk about Fisherman’s Friends being strong , so I’m ready—or, as ready as you can be for a turbo-powered menthol kick to your respiratory system. FIRE IN THE HOLE. In full panic mode, my tongue plays hot potato with the losenge, which cannot be confused with its less lethal competitors. Will someone get this losenge a restraining order? Once the panic ends (two long minutes), I make peace with the Fisherman’s Friend and let it do its thing….Hmm. The cough eases up within five minutes and the losenge doesn’t become a carbuncle on my molar. It was a Fisherman’s Friend…with benefits.

CBC Takes on COLD-FX: A Lesson in Hair Splitting

CBC’s Marketplace nitpicks COLD-FX

If COLD-FX is a fraud, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! Nobody would be happier than Sinus Sister to partake in their public shaming (Flogging is illegal, right?). To date, I’ve gladly shelled out about $900.00 from my purse for COLD-FX. Then came a CBC exclusive report, which you can watch here. When Peter Mansbridge introduced the segment last week, a chill went down my spine. The CBC’s Markeplace earns its reputation for outting charletons. Did this broadcast spell the end for COLD-FX?

Jaw clenched, I watched the segment, admiring host Erica Johnson’s hair. Her composure and style distracted me, momentarily, from the fact that the segment was a dud. It failed to launch. Here’s what I think happened: Marketplace devoted considerable resources to bringing down COLD-FX. When they couldn’t disgrace the cold remedy, they started nitpicking about the word “immediate” on the packaging, which is already being phased out anyway. Marketplace asked unbiased experts to look at the clinical trials behind COLD-FX and the experts concluded there is no evidence it offers immediate relief, as the packaging claims. The experts also say there’s scant evidence that COLD-FX decreases the duration of the common cold. It only reduces your risk of getting a cold by 15%, if you take it every day for two to six months. This is interesting. Except what about all the happy customers? Are we all suggestible dupes?

When presented with Marketplace’s findings, former COLD-FX spokesperson Don Cherry didn’t budge. He’s a believer, based on personal experience. Sinus Sister doesn’t scoff at the science, like Cherry, but I’m not willing to quibble over the wording on the package. Does COLD-FX cause “immediate relief”? Of course not. Did you expect it to? What it offers me, personally, is assured relief, soon. If that’s snake oil, I’ll take another bottle, please. But thank goodness the crack team at Marketplace caught up with COLD-FX, before we all….felt better?

Accusing COLD-FX of making false claims to provide “immediate relief” is like:

1) accusing the Concord of not getting you to Paris fast enough.

2) accusing your dentist of having a messy waiting room when you fail to nail her for malpractice.

3) accusing a tried-and-true cold remedy of being snake oil despite the fact that it works for millions of Canadians.

Oil of Oregano: Hold Your Nose,Think of England as it Fixes Your Sore Throat

January 13, 2012  |  Drug Reviews  |  , ,  |  1 Comment

Nobody buys it for the flavour

Things that might taste better than Oil of Oregano:

1) Band-Aides

2) Roadkill

3) Chernobyl

So, why does Sinus Sister spend a small fortune on little bottles of this fowl tincture? Because it works! Germs and bacteria in her throat are decimated with oregano’s scorch-and-burn powers. She can feel it clear-cutting its way down her throat, smiting infection.

Recently, I got a 50 ml bottle of Hedd Wyn’s Wild Oil of Oregano for $35, on sale from $60—almost half price (If you’re flush with cash, you can get it directly from Hedd Wyn). While laying out that kind of “tin”, as they say on Breaking Bad, I like to read up on the science to justify the purchase. I learned oil of oregano is anti viral, anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti parasitic, anti oxidant, and anti inflammatory. That’s six reasons to keep it close. It works because of the carvacrol, a natural phenol that contains powerful anti-microbial activity. Flavonoids provide natural antiseptic properties, and terpenes (long chain hydrocarbons) are natural anti-inflammatory agents. It also helps re-balance your body after a nasty course of antibiotics.

Winner of the Worst-Tasting Must-Have Winter Health Item: Oil or Oregano

Rating: ★★★★½ 

COLD-FX: How 27 Little Pills Saved Christmas

January 11, 2012  |  Drug Reviews  |   |  1 Comment

Rating: ★★★★½ 

What did Sinus Sister get for Christmas? Traumatized. A parade of house guests and soirees left me vulnerable to everyone’s head cold—or, what I like to call The Party Plague. Refusing to shake hands seemed too rude, so I gave preemptive hugs, head turned sideways. The dodge worked, mostly. But around midnight on December 25th, I felt the germs rising. Hotter. Higher….HELP!

Dumping my Christmas stocking on the bed, I found my last hope: an econo-sized bottle of COLD-FX. Santa knew to get me Extra Strength. He also knew to get me hand sanitizer (travel size), Russell Stover chocolates and a cashmere sweater.

“If it works for the NHL, it’ll work for me,” I thought, gulping down three COLD-FX. The company doesn’t claim COLD-FX will cure you, but it claims to decrease the severity and length of your cold. There’s a regime to follow: the first day you feel crappy, take three capsules twice a day; the second day, take two capsules twice a day; the third day, take one capsule twice a day. That’s what the lawyers let them print it, so it’s safe. But my immune system is so rickety, that I gulped down nine pills a day for three days….and felt marvelous. Just marvelous. Sinus Sister would be the first to cry foul if COLD-FX was an expensive placebo. Not so. Maybe it only works for weaklings like me, but then why does it work for Marc Messier…

#1 Stocking Stuffer: Cold-EEZE Oral Spray, Breaking Bad and Walt White Explains Zincum Gluconicum

Walt White explains Zincum Gluconicum


WALT WHITE, a chemistry teacher and cancer-ridden drug lord, watches SINUS SISTER, who wears her FUR HAT indoors. CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS cannot improve the shabby diner where they sit, with a PAPER BAG on the table between them.

SINUS SISTER sneezes. She takes a bottle of COLD-EEZE from the FUR MUFF in her lap and holds it up to her ruby-red LIPS.


What’s that crap you’re spraying in your mouth?



It’s not crap. It’s Cold-Eeze. Mint flavour.


It’s probably just candy. Let me see.

SINUS SISTER whips the bottle of COLD-EEZE at WALT, so he can read the ingredients.


No, no, I stand corrected. There’s an active ingredient in here. Zincum Glyconicum.


What’s that?


Zinc, you moron. Didn’t you just learn about zinc last week?

SINUS SISTER pulls a GUN from the FUR MUFF on her lap. She points it as WALT.


You can talk to Jesse that way, but not to me. EXPLAIN ZINC.

WALT looks at the CANADA DRY CLOCK and swallows.


We don’t have time for this.


No, we don’t have time for me to have a bad cold during the Christmas rush.

He sighs, shrugs in agreement, and reads the BOTTLE more closely. SINUS SISTER puts away her gun.


Zincum Gluconicum is a form of zinc bound to a substance which makes for better absorption.


So it works?


Hang on. It recommends two sprays a day. That’s about 26 mg.


That’s enough.


 Studies have shown that zinc can reduce cold symptoms drastically…


…if you take it fast enough. Which I did. Two sprays last night.




Steady and holding, instead of full-on sick .


So, why are you asking me?


You’re  Heisenberg.

SINUS SISTER slides the PAPER BAG toward WALT. He tucks it into his coat.


Are you going to tell me what’s in there?


Stocking stuffers for the crew.

Misery Loves Company: A Poem on the Common Cold by Samantha Reynolds

The questionable plot device of the common cold

by Samantha Reynolds, on

My tongue is a woolen mitt
the ones you see abandoned
on the wet street
run over and over
by buses.

My head is a soggy cave
my only ambition
to find the nomadic cool patch
on the bedsheets.

Having a cold
makes me question
whether there is a God

not because it’s merciless
quite the opposite

if God is the playwright
why conjure up such an undramatic bug
that does little
but render
your cast

Asian Ingenuity: Cup Shitsuki USB Humidifier (Review)

 Sinus Sister lets off steam at work

Dear Santa,

Is it too late to add this to my Christmas list? It’s a portable humidifier disguised as a cup of ramen noodles. And it runs off a USB port. How cool is that? James Bond’s inventor, Q, would approve. So does Sinus Sister, who has often felt like a lizard in the desert while stranded at a desk with dry heat billowing from baseboard heaters. No more.

While the Air-O-Swiss Ultrasonic travel humidifier is perfect for hotels, the Cup Shitsuki USB Humidifier ($80 USD) blends into the average desk—a graveyard of take-out containers. The Cup Shitsuki holds about 75 ml of water. creating cool mist in about 3 minutes. It’s supposed to last about 4 hours (reviews concur) and it has stabilizer feet so it won’t tip over. Most importantly, it’s red, which my favourite colour. For a real review, check back in 2012, after Santa delivers. That’s a direct hint to Handsome Manling, if he’s reading.

Dream Steam: Air-O-Swiss Travel Ultrasonic Humidifier Review

December 11, 2011  |  Humidifiers & Gear  |  ,  |  2 Comments

Sinus Sister dusts off her passport

Rating: ★★★★½ 

“Freedom!” cried Sinus Sister, plugging in her new Air-O-Swiss Ultrasonic travel humidifier ($49). A column of steam came shooting out, silently. No hiss, no whirling motor. HIGH FIVE, Air-O-Swiss. You just gave me wings. To sinus sufferers, a traveling humidifier is liberation. It means we can visit people’s ski chalets (see you soon, Carolyne!) and not wake up to a blood-spattered pillow that would make Dexter Morgan blush.

Previously, Sinus Sister’s only defense against dry hotel air was to put a wet towel on the heater (i.e. mood kill). Hotel towels dry in about 10 minutes when draped across a radiator. Maybe I need to stay at better hotels, you’re thinking. Not true. As a hotel reviewer for Fodor‘s, I’ve stayed at some of the world’s best properties (shout out to The Merchant in Belfast and The Point in the Adirondack’s) and still got nose bleeds from dry heat. Money can’t solve it. Only moisture can.

What I love about the Air-O-Swiss: it’s light, with its own black travel pouch
Best feature: ultrasonic silence
What your inner decorator would say: it doesn’t look like a humiliating medical aid
What your inner vixen would say: it looks like a sex toy (while it’s in the travel pouch)
What airport security will say: “Please explain and assemble your device, Ma’am”
How you felt when the VISA bill arrived: no remorse
The only downer: the small water bottle (500 ml) doesn’t last very long, so I had to refill it three times during the night.

Here are the specs, for all you gearheads:

  • Main Voltage: 100 V / 50 Hz
  • Power Consumption: 15 W
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs (when empty)
  • Size Dimensions: 4.4″ x 2.6″ x 3.2
  • Recommended bottle size (not included): 17oz / 0.5 liter
  • Humidity Output: up to 1 gallon a day
  • Tank Capacity: ≈17 oz. (.5 L)