Thursday, 15 November 2012

3M Command Clear Caddies

I was recently sent a couple of clear caddies from 3Ms Command Brand to review.  The idea is that they hang without the need for glue or nails (no bashed fingers - always a plus in my book!) but can be easily removed and repositioned elsewhere.

This is what they promise:

The clear caddies are supplied with easy-to-hang and easy-to-remove Command Clear Strips. The new Clear Strips from Command are virtually invisible on the wall and allow you to hang the caddy without the need for nails or screws. The adhesive holds firmly and strongly in place, yet is quick and simple to remove, leaving no holes, marks, residue or stains.
Command Clear organisation products can be hung on any painted, tiled or metal surface and because the adhesive strips can be easily and quickly removed, you can reposition your caddie whenever or wherever you need it.
The smaller caddies are ideal for holding make up essentials, whilst the smart-phone holder is designed for mounting on the wall above your desk or near your charging socket and comes with a charging lead hole at the base.
The larger caddies are perfect for using in the office, kitchen, playroom or bathroom and can hold up to 1.8kg or 4lbs in weight. If you prefer to keep your clutter hidden from sight, why not mount them inside a cupboard? 

Small caddy

Large caddy

Not being the most DIY minded of single mothers, anything that doesn't require tools has got to be worth trying. I was sent one of the larger caddies and a small caddy to try out.
The caddies come with 2 sets of adhesive strips so that they can be positioned twice, but I have seen further sets available to buy in Sainsburys. Asda, Boots, B&Q, Homebase, Robert Dyas, Ryman, Staples, Tesco and WH Smith also stock them.

Depending on the size of the caddy you position 1 or 2 of the strips on the back in the obviously marked places. The strips come with black on one side and blue on the other so that it is easy to work out which backing paper to take off first. Once the adhesive strips are in place you can then remove the other backing paper and then press the caddy to the wall/cupboard/fridge/boiler. I think you are supposed to wait 30 minute before actually using the caddy.

To remove the caddy from the wall you pull down on the tab at the bottom of the adhesive strip whilst holding the caddy in place. You have to pull the tab down about 15 cm, so make sure you leave enough room wherever you hang it. This is the bit where you have to hold on to the caddy because otherwise, when it releases, it pings off and you can end up with bashed fingers!

Although it says on the instructions not to hang on wallpaper, I did try this out on wallpaper (my kitchen needs redecorating anyway!) and I was very impressed when the caddy came off clean as a whistle, leaving no marks, and leaving all of the paint and paper on the wall.
I was a bit puzzled though, as to what I was actually going to use them for. The small one works as a phone or pen holder - I stuck mine next to my calendar so I'd always have a pen to hand. The bigger one I wasn't so sure about. The packaging shows the caddy holding nail polish, but I have rather a large collection (500+?) so there's no way I could fit THAT in there. Then inspiration struck! I struggle to keep my tablets and inhaler close at hand so I don't forget to use them, whilst keeping them out of the way of small people. And when those small people aren't so small and are climbers that is not easy to do! So I stuck the large caddy onto the side of my boiler and put those necessary items in it - apparently not such a bright idea as it gets hot and probably not the best thing to have my inhaler next to, as my mum kindly pointed out! But at least they are handy and out of the way, and, with the second set of strips I can always stick it somewhere else.

Ok, so may be boiler wasn't the best idea!

So this product gets a double thumbs up from me and I would definitely recommend it to other tool shy people like myself!  

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Just When You Think It's Safe...

It was one of those moments which, although I knew it was coming, I was totally unprepared for. I thought I would get advance notice, a clue that this momentous event was about to happen. As it was I was caught totally off guard!

What was this life changing moment? Our first lost tooth! Girl had mentioned her tooth was sore but hadn't gone on about it, and certainly hadn't said it was wobbly. So when I sent her to brush her teeth and 2 seconds later she came up to me with a tooth in her hand I was completely off guard!

My initial instinct was to panic and phone my mum! What's the protocol for lost teeth? Should it be bleeding? Do I need to stop the bleeding? Do I congratulate or commiserate her? And what do I do with the damn thing?!

Being one of those terrible parents who will not persist in lying to their children about mythical creatures, I don't buy into the whole tooth fairy lark. However I will give her a pound for her tooth. But when do I give it to her? And how, because with her special needs she doesn't really have a concept of money, or keeping things safe for that matter. And what DO I do with the tooth? Keep it for posterity? Throw it in the bin?

I'm sure that after my next couple of teeth and certainly by the time I get to Bug I will be handling this like a seasoned pro. That's a point, how many teeth do kids have? 26? So I've got to do this 78 times?! That's a lot of money! Who on earth thought up this pocket money for teeth lark?! Certainly wasn't a parent! I had better start saving! In the meantime if you have any tips on handling this whole business I would be very grateful! Now, off to search the settees for spare change...

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Persil Limited Edition Warm Spice Washing Up Liquid

What do you like your washing up liquid to smell of?  I'm quite fussy about my smells, I don't do florals or heavy scents.  I have been known to giveaway perfectly good bottles of washing up liquid, polish, nail polish remover, all because I can't stand the smell.  So I usually go for something safe, like lavender or camomile.  But if it doesn't say floral on the bottle I'll give it a try!

Persil have brought out a 'festive' Warm Spice washing up liquid. The press release says:

Persil’s Warm Spice washing up liquid has warming notes of ground cinnamon, hints of cloves and additional scents of citrus, creating a fabulous fragrance which will add the perfect festive feel to your kitchen this winter. Persil’s Warm Spice washing-up liquid also has a vibrant red colour to match its festive aroma.
Persil washing-up liquid not only cleans your dishes, bowls and utensils with ease, removing even the most stubborn baked on food and grease, but also refreshes your washing-up bowl and kitchen with a fabulous festive burst of fragrance each time you use it.  

It's a really good scent, the smell is very similar to similar warm or winter spice fragrances that can be found in other products and candles.  The smell isn't too strong, although it can be a bit much if you are using the washing up liquid neat when cleaning the cooker.  However, it did have an interesting side effect.  It made me hungry!  The smell really got my taste buds going, and I'm not sure that's what I want if I'm washing up after a big dinner!  But it is a lovely smell to have in the kitchen.

The washing up liquid did a good job of my burnt on veggie stew, so it is multi-functional!  To be honest I don't often use Persil, but a retail price of £1.00 for a 500ml bottle it is competitively priced against my usual brand, and the smell does it make it stand out against other washing up liquids.

All in all it is a good buy and one I will definitely be looking out for in the supermarket.

I was sent this product for review purposes but received no other compensation.  The opinions in this review are my own honest views.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Ben & Holly's Little Castle Magical Playset Review

Right, I need to tell you a secret.  I love Ben & Holly.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom is a tv programme aimed at 3-5 year olds, from the makers of Peppa Pig.  In fact if you listen carefully you will recognise most of the voices.   Ben is an elf and Holly is a fairy princess, and between them, Nanny Plum, the Wise Old Elf, a ladybird called Gaston who thinks he's a dog and magic jelly they cause confusion and delay!

What I really love about Ben & Holly is that although designed for small children, quite often the humour is designed for adults.  For instance no child is going to understand the reference in 'It's mutiny!  Mutiny on the Bunty'!!  It has me in stitches quite often and I think it's just a shame that Girl has decided to leave Nick Jr behind in favour of Disney Jr and Boomerang.  But when she's not around the other 2 quite happily sit and watch Ben & Holly.  In fact Bug refers to all ladybirds as ''olly'.

So when we were offered the chance to review the Little Castle Magical Playset I eagerly snapped it up!

The Little Castle Magical Playset is aimed at boys and girls aged 3-5 years old.  Both Girl and Boy couldn't wait to play with it!!  This beautiful magical castle opens up to reveal 6 rooms, which have various play features and are activated by using Holly’s magical wand! The wand has a magnet inside which opens different things or makes something pop up.  This colourful set includes the castle with Courtyard, Holly’s Wand and figures - Princess Holly, King, Queen Thistle, Nanny Plum, Ben Elf and Gaston.

It arrived and we eagerly tore the box open - only to find it needed assembling.  Actually putting it together didn't take too long but it had lots of fiddly stickers which needed to be put on in the right places, over 50 I think, and it took me nearly an hour to do - and that was without help from small people!

The children were delighted with the Castle - all the different rooms, stairs, doors, and they loved using Holly's 'magic' wand to open the fridge and light the fire.  However I was surprised and disappointed by the size of the figures.  Ben & Holly are barely an inch tall - they are really tiny, which means I have to keep the playset out of the reach of Bug as she could easily choke on the figures if she put them in her mouth.  Gaston in particular is easily swallowable.  For a playset designed for 3-5 year olds I would have expected much larger pieces, similar to the Peppa Pig characters that come with the Peppa Pig playsets.  Also, it is quite hard to get the adult characters to stand up.  Having said that though, the children were very happy and didn't seem to mind the characters being a bit small.  They did find the stairs a little fiddly as these have to be tucked under to close the Castle, but with some help from a grown up they managed.

All in all, this is a lovely toy which the children will get much use from, as long as they don't lose the tiny figures.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

4M Girls Craft - Design Your Own Jigsaw Puzzle Review

I was sent the Design Your Own Jigsaw Puzzle by 4M to review.  It comes with 3 blank precut jigsaws and pens to draw your own designs.  Your child can then create their own picture or design which then becomes a jigsaw.  I particularly like the idea suggested on the box of using them to create secret messages - very Famous Five!!!

Girl, while enthusiastic, is still working on her artistic talent and with her autism at present currently has the attention span of a goldfish, so I asked some daughters of a friend to have a go when we were having a craft night.  They came up with 2 lovely, different designs as shown below, and had great fun doing it.

These jigsaws would make a great project to have in for a rainy day, or a present for a girl who is into secret clubs!!!

I was sent this product for the purpose of review - no financial incentive was given.  The opinions given are my own.

Monday, 25 June 2012

By way of explanation...

Sorry I've not been around much lately.  The past 9 months have been pretty hellish all round and I'm still not through it all.  Hence the reason for just review posts.  Which isn't what this blog was supposed to be solely about.

One of the biggest things I've been dealing with lately is coming to terms with my eldest daughter's autism.  I've had suspicions about her behaviour for a long time but it has really hit home over the last year.  The meltdowns, the tantrums, the hiding of food (and that's just me lol!) have all made her autism all the more real. For a while it was something I could just forget about most of the time except for the odd occasions it reared it's head.  But now it's with us nearly every minute of every day.

Probably the behaviour I've found hardest to deal with is the 'inappropriate urination' to use the posh term.  Basically, when she's stressed, she wees in the wrong places.  On people's lawns, on the settee, at the playbarn etc! At first it was usually a signal that something was wrong but would stop once the problem, whatever that was, had been removed.  But after me and my husband split up in September it became an intermittent problem until the beginning of this year when it became a regular occurrence.  It is mostly limited to her bedroom but it's been so frequent that her room just stank like a urinal.  This weekend I ripped her carpet up and have replaced it with cushion floor so it's easy to clean up.  I just wish I understood what makes her do it. Unlike 'normal' children where it would be a bid for attention, this is almost a compulsion for her.  I'm not sure if it's part of OCD, where she has to wee in her bedroom else she can't settle, or if she does it for the sensory input.  I wish I knew.  I wish I could get in her head and work out what goes off in that overworked, confused little brain of hers.

Meltdowns are a part of every day life now.  She has an obsession with the TV.  She wants it on every minute of every day.  Before I realised the obsession I showed her how to change the channel to one of the children's channels and she very quickly learnt all the numbers for all her favourite channels off by heart.  Unfortunately, in her hurry, she doesn't always hit the buttons right meaning that a couple of times I had to wrest the remote off her and hurriedly change the channel from one of the adult channels that Sky sticks on.  Fortunately there was never anything too bad on and I quickly worked out how to disable those channels so there's no chance of her doing it again!

The Girl comes home from school, demanding the doofer (remote) and 'her TV' and there are major meltdowns if there is any reason why she can't watch TV.  Heaven forbid I should want to watch something of mine!  I can see us having battles over the next fortnight while Wimbledon's on!  She squirrels the doofer away so no-one else can change the channel, having learnt that a 19 month old baby sister is very effective at finding the buttons and doing things to the TV.  Unfortunately she has also realised that you can pause channels, so the TV gets paused if she needs the toilet, or for tea, and she's also discovered the +1 channels so sometimes we have to watch the same programme twice.  And every so often, for some unexplained reason, she will watch a programme and then half way through rewind it back to the beginning and watch it again.  I love my Sky+ but sometimes I wish I could disable it!  

Boy and Bug love Ben & Holly and Peppa Pig but they aren't allowed to watch them anymore.  We used to be big Dora fans but she's on Nick Jr and we don't like the rest of the programmes on Nick Jr so instead I now know all the words to the theme tune of Jake and the Neverland Pirates, the dance to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Hot Dog song and have learnt about ants on a log from Special Agent Oso (now this one bemuses me.  How can a bear who can drive a car, navigate a submarine, operate a boat and various other vehicles, not know to stand on a step next to a table to reach what's on it, how to rake up leaves or any of the other special assignments he's given.  It worries me.  And how does he reach the pedals in a car anyway.  He's only a stuffed bear!)

Of course with the exposure to all this TV, my children are gradually developing American accents.  According to the Boy we have garbage.  And they play soccer.  And jump rope.  It's also affecting their aspirations.  Most boys dream of becoming a footballer or engineer or a car mechanic or something really cool when they grow up.  Who does Boy want to be when he grows up?  Mr Bean.  Poor kid.  He doesn't stand a chance.

It's heartbreaking though.  I hate having the TV on all the time.  I'm not a Jeremy Kyle mother!  When the kids aren't around then the TV is off.  I watch a bit in the evenings but I can't stand having it on all day.  And if Girl didn't have her special needs then she wouldn't watch so much TV.  But it's the one thing that calms her down and keeps her settled at home, and she has major meltdowns without it.  Life isn't going to go her way all the time but I have to pick my battles and choose which ones are worth having meltdowns over, and for me, TV just isn't one of them.

This wasn't supposed to be just a post about Girl's TV habits but about how her autism is affecting us as a family every day.  I can hear the baby bumping around upstairs - she's awake and has probably climbed out of her cot by now.  I'm going to leave this post now and come back to Girl's autism another post (yep that's the baby out of her cot, there will be a little face at the stairgate at the top of the stairs in a minute, shouting 'Mamma, tea-lunch, juice!')

If you've had any experience with autism I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback because at the minute I feel like I'm wandering in the dark.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

London 2012 - Winning Wenlock Review

Apparently there's some sports event going off in the summer in London.  And I don't mean Wimbledon!  Anyway, for this sporting event someone came up with an interesting mascot called Wenlock.  Who has one eye.  I'm not sure if this is so that he can see the games better or what, but there you go.  We were sent a singing, dancing Wenlock to review.

When he arrived we were just on our way to the seaside but my postman was very relieved to have caught us on our way out the door as Wenlock had been singing to him all morning (which may explain why the batteries went flat rather quickly)!

Wenlock is 35cm tall and stands firmly on his feet.  He has poseable arms (which can be quite fun), and when you press a button on his toe the official mascot song plays and he dances to it.  I thought he was hilarious as he has quite a bum wiggle!  Which my son copied to a T!  All the kids loved it, including Bug who keeps bringing him to me saying 'On, on!'.  Boy, in particular, loves him, which pleasantly surprised me.

Well here's a video of the kids playing with Wenlock.  Please go easy on me, it's my first blogging video!

We were sent Wenlock for the purposes of this review but no financial incentive was given.  The opinions within this post are my own.

Bob the Builder – Let’s go to Work Playsets Review

I receive a fair few parcels so my son was delighted when a parcel arrived with something for him!

We were sent 2 Bob the Builder Let's go to Work playsets, the Builder's Yard and the Suppliers Yard.  Both playsets are sturdy with lots of fun construction activities and one Bob the Builder character.

The Builder's Yard is great fun!  It comes with Bob himself, a skip, a wheelbarrow, little pieces of 'concrete', a pneumatic drill and loads more accessories.  There's a concrete chute where the lid lifts up and the child can drop the little pieces of 'concrete' (or anything else he can find!) down the chute and into the wheelbarrow.  There are also tiles which lift up to reveal pipework underneath, and the pneumatic drill can be used as a lever to lift them up, which is a nice touch.

The Suppliers Yard comes with Charlie, various building supplies, shelving and a little pallet lift.  In fact there's so many accessories it's hard to know what to play with.

Something I loved about these playsets is that although they can be played with perfectly well on their own, they can also be added to - you can buy track to connect the playsets up, and the skip and the pipes come with loops which you can use Lofty (if you have him) to lift them up.  I shall definitely be buying some track and a Lofty as I think they will complete this set, although they are complete playsets on their own.

Boy was really happy with the playsets and keeps playing with them.  The only slight problem I have with them is that there are loads of little bits which could easily get lost, and there's nowhere to store them, so I've had to supply him with a box to keep them in.  Also, the accessories are very small so I've had to make sure to keep them out of the way of the Bug.  At 18 months old pretty much everything goes in her mouth!!  But other than that I think these playsets are great and would thoroughly recommend them.

One Boy, very happy with his new toys!  Thomas and the penguin aren't included in the playsets but appear wherever my children are!

I didn't realise you could connect them up with tracks so just connected the 2 playsets together!

I was sent the playsets for the purposes of this review but no financial incentive was given.  The opinions within this post are my own.

Friday, 16 March 2012

My favourite read ever - Mammywoo

There is a blog I follow which I believe is the best thing I've ever read.  Seriously.  If she turned her blog into a book I would buy it. The hardback.

You may be familiar with her, Lexy, from Mammywoo.  Last year she won Best New Blog in the MADS awards.  In my opinion she should win best blog every year.  Lexy's blog chronicles her adventures through motherhood and a heart-wrenchingly honest account of a battle against severe depression.  Her style of writing is awesome, sometimes almost poetic, and so many times I have laughed and cried while reading a post.  Lexy's writing can't help but touch your heart, whether it moves you to tears or fits of giggles.  Or both.

With her permission below is an extract from a recent post on her blog, Carry on... Curry (Aunty Pat? You may want to give this one a miss).

Anyway. Cucumbers.
I am so positively childish that I find buying a cucumber more embarrassing than selecting and then purchasing a job load of Tena lady or even Tampax.
Reminding myself that Therapy has taught me to be honest, I switch Cbeebies on for Addison and pick up my phone.
He answers after the second ring.
‘Irish one, I am not buying the cucumber’ I state clearly, channeling my inner lion.
‘We need wipes as well’ he replies, seemingly not hearing my roar.
A cucumber, wine and wipes?
Is he trying to kill me?
No. Way.
‘Irish one,’ I say trying not to laugh ‘There is no way in hell, I am walking up to the till in Morrison’s with a cucumber, a bottle of wine and some wipes’
‘Why not?’ he asks confused, while I nearly cry laughing.
‘Think about it!’ I shout.
‘I have done and I don’t get it. Am I missing the joke here?’
I start to try and explain but he interrupts me, his voice dropping an octave.
‘We need some condoms too.’
I throw my head back and howl.
‘What?’ he asks, confused but trying to be assertive (confused and assertive, not a good combination!)
‘Are you serious?’ I spurt out in between gaspfuls of hilarity ‘you want me to walk up to the VERY BUSY check outs at Morrison’s, in the middle of the afternoon and buy condoms, wine, a cucumber and some wipes?’
‘Yes.’ He states matter of factly before finishing the call ‘I don’t know what is so funny but I have to go now. Love you.’
An hour later after I have got Addison dressed, tried and re-tried in my head over and over again to make the shopping list sound less seedy and more motherly, blushing just thinking about what the check out girl or boy might think I am planning, I get a text message.
Thank god for that, I think putting my phone down just as it beeps again.
The man has a point.
Compromise reached.
Another win for therapy.
Hang on… Condoms?
It’s not christmas yet is it?

Monday, 27 February 2012

Xia-Xia Hermit Crab and Confetti Cottage - Review

We were recently sent the XiawXia (pronounced Sha-Sha, as confirmed by my daughter!) Interactive Hermit Crab and Confetti Cottage to review.

There are currently 4 crabs available as shown below and we received the orange one in the bottom right hand corner of the picture.

These are really cute little creatures which scuttle forwards and backwards when you squeeze their pincers.  They have a little sensor which tells them when they've run into something, so they change direction.  It's scuttling caused mass hilarity in our household as it ran about all over the place. They reminded me a little of the wind up toys that I had as a child, although these run on batteries.   

Each crab comes with a 'micro friend' which lives inside its shell, but can also perch on a little peg at the front of the shell.  The shells are interchangeable between crabs and there are separate shells available to collect so a little girl into collectables would really enjoy these, assuming that more characters become available.

The crabs can also be turned off, so they don't wear themselves out running backwards and forwards when they're not being played with.

Confetti Cottage is a sturdy little house which the crabs can live and play in.  It has a main compartment and something like an attic.

Confetti Cottage
It is also a good way to carry the crabs around, and has a 'front' door and a 'back' door.  However I really struggled to get the full sized door open - there is nothing really to grip on to to pull it down.

I was really impressed with the sturdiness of the cottage.  Unfortunately, the attic part is a little tight to get the crabs in and out of, and when my daughter was trying to get her crab out, one of the pincers snapped off.  I was surprised and disappointed that it broke so easily, basically within a few hours of playing with it.

The micro friends were really cute but easily losable and a bit of a worry when you have tots around - my 15 month old would easily have put it in her mouth and choked on it or swallowed it, and my 5 year old who helped me review this isn't that careful about where she puts things.

The crabs retail for about £9.99, which I think is a little pricey for what they are, taking into consideration how easily the crab broke and as Confetti Cottage also retails at around £9.99 - I would happily buy more if the crabs were around £5 but I can't see me paying around £10.  The shells on their own retail for about £4.99, which again, I would be prepared to pay up to £3 for.  Personally I think they've got their pricing a little bit wrong but we are pretty new to collectables so I'm prepared to be corrected!

Despite the couple of problems we had with it, I still love this toy - the crabs are so cute!  I imagine they would also keep a cat entertained for a while!  I hope the problems I've highlighted are addressed as with a lower price tag and a slightly more sturdy tag we would definitely be buying more.  Even if just for me to amuse myself with!

We received one crab and the Confetti Cottage for the purposes of this review - no other reward was given.  The opinions given in this post are my own.