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Life is busy albeit a little dull. And lacking in sleep. I have the beginnings of a blog.

Reviews written

since 25/07/2013


Ergo Baby Original Baby Carrier 09/11/2017

Comfortable baby-wearing fun.

Ergo Baby Original Baby Carrier NB: Updated review in preparation for the arrival of our second child. Baby wearing - just another required (and acquired) parenting skill There are many, many baby carriers, slings and backpacks available for infants, babies and toddlers. We used a total of five different baby carriers in the first three years of our daughter's life. Several friends have or have had an ErgoBaby Carrier. I had heard so many good things about this baby carrier, and they looked so stylish but they seemed to be quite expensive. I finally relented when our daughter was eight months old. I paid the equivalent of £50 for our second-hand black Ergo which we used intermittently for about a year. I see that it is available on Amazon for £85-110 (Nov 2014). When worn with the infant insert, it is suitable for babies weighing 3.2 - 20kg. In use and my opinion This carrier comes in a variety of gender-neutral colours, and in a style that is suitable for men and women to use. We have black, as that was the one available at the time. The pale green colour seems to be the one that I have seen worn most often by others.. This carrier is designed to hold the baby in an ergonomic, natural sitting position in three inward-facing positions: facing inwards on the wearer's front, looking forwards when on the wearer's back, and on the wearer's side. We usually had her snuggling into my chest, however Millie would often get frustrated at not being able to see ahead of us. My husband preferred to carry ...

Play-Doh Spin & Style Cinderella 09/11/2017


Play-Doh Spin & Style Cinderella The background I have never been a fan of Disney, of Cinderella or of The Princess movement (as I deem it to be). However it is difficult to convey this to people outside our close circle, and also for a young girl to really comprehend this. My daughter received this item as a birthday gift for her 3rd birthday over 12 months ago. It was well used for three days and then tossed aside until this past weekend. Play-Doh Disney Spin & Style Cinderella This item is made by Hasbro. The cardboard box displays the contents very well, with life-like photographs. Inside the box you will find all the required components: base, figure, mirror, ribbon presser, roller cutter, instructions and three 2oz containers of Play-Doh. **The base** This sickly pink-coloured plastic base forms the stand on which the included Cinderella model is placed. She can stand and spin when placed onto a yellow hexagonal shaped post. This post is fixed to a spinning base of its own. The pink base is fairly intricate-looking, with several indented molds to make flowers and other small shapes such as bows and curls. The base also has a number of holes or indentations for storage of the accompanying items **The figurine** This durable plastic Cinderella has a white plastic ballgown base, over which the new ball gown skirt is placed. This already has a delicate yet simple pattern embedded into it. The upper half of the figure's body had plastic clothing incorporated into the design. Unfortunately we have ...

Soap & Glory No Clogs Allowed Deep Pore Detox Mask 16/10/2017

A super scrub mask

Soap & Glory No Clogs Allowed Deep Pore Detox Mask I was a latecomer to Soap and Glory products and I admit that I first tried this brand when I heard others say good things and when I realised just how cute and eye-catching this brand’s packaging can be. This “No Clogs Allowed” product from Soap and Glory is an at home deep pore detox mask for use on areas prone to blackhead buildup. Currently (May 2015) retailing for £11.50 at Boots, this weekly use face treatment aims to do just what you think it should. The company states that this product is suitable for oily/combination skin types and “it deep cleans, melts away pore-plugging sebum and softens keratinised skin cells to prevent breakouts and blemishes.” This is a powerful statement in my opinion, and one which I will address shortly. In use The information and use directions on the packaging are simple and clear to understand. Firstly, shake the tube to ensure the ingredients are well combined. Then massage a grape-sized amount of the product onto your face (and/or a similar amount to other areas you may be treating such as your chest or upper back). Wet your hands then scrub the product until you feel it heating and notice that the scrub is turning blue. Wait five minutes and then remove the scrub with a warm wet face cloth. I really like the feeling of warm face products on my skin. This one warms up very quickly but sadly, although typically for this type of product, it does not stay warm for a long time. I like the quirkiness of this mask’s colour change, ...

Revlon 9142 CU 16/10/2017

An Ok-ish hairdryer that's gone to hair-ven.

Revlon 9142 CU +++ The Back Story+++ Before I describe this item and my experiences with it, you should be aware that I am certainly not a girly girl or someone who spends a lot of time on her appearance. I dry or part-dry my shoulder-length hair on most weekdays. It is from this somewhat laissez-faire position that I provide my opinion. I bought this hairdryer two-and-a-bit years ago from Wilkinson's for £11. I chose this based on price, as it was less expensive than the several other hairdryers available at Wilkos, and convenience; Wilkinson's was the nearest department store so it made sense to me to try there first. It was only available in one colour: pink. I used this hairdryer until August 2013, when it died on me mid-use. +++ The Revlon PowerDry 2000W. Model 9142BU 230V +++ This pink hairdryer comes well packaged in a robust cardboard box. It is accompanied by a handy little multi-language instruction booklet, which explains the item's features to be: 2000W: apparently this is for fast-drying Three heat/cool settings plus cool shot. A concentrator nozzle Hinged rear filter Lightweight and compact The instruction booklet is very comprehensive and also includes styling, maintenance and safety tips. However as this item is essentially a basic hairdryer, I spent little time actually reading this information booklet. I usually spend no more than five minutes part-drying and "styling" my hair as my workplace requires my hair to be tied back at all times. The hairdryer is easy ...

Orchard Toys Shopping List Fun Learning Game 16/10/2017

A great game for the whole family.

Orchard Toys Shopping List Fun Learning Game Orchard Toys Shopping List I learned about the British toymaker Orchard Toys from a friend who has three children. Having grown up in Australia, I was completely unaware of this company. As this company had been my friend's favourite for several years, she quickly brought me up to date. Particularly because my friend lives in Wymondham - the home of Orchard Toys! This "shopping list" game was the first that I played with her children, and when it was time for my then three year old daughter to start experiencing these games, it was this one that I thought of first. This game Designed for children aged 3 - 7 years and 2 - 4 players, the game comes in a robust cardboard box. There are 40 pieces: 32 of them are cardboard-backed images of different food and shopping items, four are cardboard illustrations of a shopping trolley and there are four shopping lists with pre-printed items. The shopping lists have eight items listed with a corresponding illustration next to it. Each shopping trolley is designed as though the user it looking at it side on, and has square outlines for each of the eight items to be placed in the trolley. I suppose there are several ways of playing this game. The "normal" method, where all 32 items are placed face down and each player takes a turn to choose a card. If the pictured item is on your list you place it in your trolley, if it is not then you turn it back over. The first person to complete their list wins! An alternate way of playing this ...

Pumpkin Silicone Lid 02/09/2017

Food cover

Pumpkin Silicone Lid Update September 2017 - We use this item at least twice a day and it is still going strong!! Background For several years when I was in late teens and early twenties, I collected a number of useful and useless small, inexpensive kitchen gadgets. Twenty years on and my fetish has crept back up on me. I bought this silicon lid when I saw how handy it was when a friend was using it in place of plastic wrap to cover items being heated in the microwave oven. I have now owned and used it for two years, and love it! Pumpkin Silicon Lid This item is produced by Charles Viancin. There are four lids in this range of pumpkin-styled silicone lids and each is a slightly different colour. The large pumpkin lid is 11 inches/29 cm and is orange, medium is green and 9 inches/25cm in size, the medium small is a creamy-yellow colour and measures 8 inches/21cm. Finally the small pumpkin lid is 6 inches/16.5cm in diameter. Each size is said to be suitable for diameters up to half an inch smaller than the lid size. There are a number of other fruit or vegetable ranges apparently inspired by nature and these are available in the same sizes. Examples include hibiscus, lily pad, daisy and poppy. I chose the green 25cm pumpkin lid as it was on offer and approximately two pounds cheaper than the alternative ranges and sizes. This could be because the green is actually very ugly, in my opinion! This circular lid works with smooth-rimmed bowls or pots made from stainless steel, glass, ...

Ikea Forsiktig Children's Stool 24/06/2017

Cool kids' cool footstool

Ikea Forsiktig Children's Stool **December 2016 update: This stool is still working well. It is mainly used by our second child who has just turned two. Ikea Forsiktig Children's Stool Our daughter is now three years old, toilet trained and finally sleeping through the night on a regular basis. I am now in a better position to reflect on which baby-related products I recommend as near necessities, those that would be "nice to have", and those that one could really do without. This Ikea Forsiktig Children's Stool was given to us when our daughter started to show an interest in toilet training. Despite having a gorgeous froggy potty to use, she preferred copying me and some of her friends by using the toilet. Additionally it helps her reach the taps and wash basin, enabling her some independence when in the bathroom. Product Specifics This is a lightweight stool manufactured as one piece of molded plastic: perfect for easy cleaning! It is 13cm high, 24 cm deep and 37cm wide, hollow and has an anti-slip layer on the top surface. There is also an anti-slip protector on bottom rim of the to reduce the chance of the stool sliding. This white stool with blue spots is produced by and for Ikea, so is therefore only available there. The current price is £2.50 (as at June 2013). My Experience Like many Ikea products, this is lightweight, affordable and useful. This cute, simple stool has been mainly used by our daughter to get up onto and off the toilet. She also uses it occasionally to try to make ...

Dora The Explorer Pain Your Own Canvas Board 24/06/2017

Exploradora! Not such an adorable item.

Dora The Explorer Pain Your Own Canvas Board Dora the Explorer: the background Dora the explorer is an educational television program that was originally shown in the USA and is now transmitted in many countries. It became a regular series in 2000 and is shown on Nick Jnr channel (part of the Nickolodean cable network). The show is in English and has lots of Spanish words. Exploradora is the Spanish word for a female explorer, hence the name Dora. Dora is a Latina girl possibly aged eight or nine and who gets up to all kinds of interesting activities with her cousin Diego, a purple backpack and a map. There is also an accompanying monkey called Boots. There is also a fox called Swiper. There is a lot of routine and predictability in each show, which is usually arranged some kind of problem to be solved. My daughter watched this television program since she was probably 13 or 14 months old. Yes, I realise that this is far too young and I have no idea what I was thinking. However, it has taught her many Spanish words. I will never forget the time when our daughter was 15 or 16 months old, it was 2am and she wanted to get out of her crib. She was standing up and calling out "help me help me, ayumame ayumame" ** while simultaneously beating her chest which is sign language for "help me". We new then that Dora the Explorer was definitely educational. Our daughter is now four years old, and we have bought many Dora themed items and books. I though that she would tire of this character, but she hasn't yet. This paint ...

Melissa&Doug Patchwork Farm Animal Jigsaw Puzzle 16/03/2017

Patchwork farm animal jigsaw

Melissa&Doug Patchwork Farm Animal Jigsaw Puzzle Background I was totally unfamiliar with Melissa & Doug products until I became a parent. We have, and have had, numerous items from this company. This Patchwork Farm Animal jigsaw puzzle was one of many first birthday gifts for our now pre-school aged daughter. I know that I had a similar jigsaw puzzle when I was a toddler, but this company was not yet formed so clearly it was made by a different manufacturer. Melissa & Doug Melissa & Doug is a US-based company that started in the garage of Doug's parents home 25 years ago. They purport to be the manufacturers of all their named products, which are aimed at children of many ages. It is unclear where the item is actually manufactured. There is no obvious ethical information included on their website. However, a quick online search is very revealing and indeed the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting article regarding many dubious practices in the hiring of staff. gives a medium rating for this product's levels of chemicals of concern. This jigsaw puzzle This is a 24 piece, wooden jigsaw puzzle aimed at children 3 years and older. The style of the image is appropriate - there is a red barn in the middle, which is surrounded by seven differen barnyard animals. Each of these animals has a different colour surrounding it. In use Our daughter was interested in this at about 24 months, and we used to do it together. She was able to do it alone at around 2.5 years of age. The backing board/wooden ...

Banana Guard 07/02/2017

Protect your fruit

Banana Guard Banana Guard I discovered this fantastic protector of bananas in a Lakeland shop over 10 years ago. I have since tried other brands' versions, but none are as good as this one. I recall that I paid around three pounds for it at that time. The current price is five pounds from that same store and similar prices elsewhere. I had never previously seen such a thing, but as I had at that time just become a student (again!) I knew that it would be very useful. I have since bought Banana Guards as a present for multiple friends in the USA, most often via the internet from a cycling store in Minnesota, USA and where they are around six dollars. (The same company sells Fruit Guards for peaches and plums.) What the heck is a banana guard? A Banana Guard is a trademark-named banana-shaped yellow plastic gadget designed to protect bananas when they are on-the-go and stuffed into places such as school bags, hand bags or cyclists' pockets. At 25 cm long, the Guard looks just like a large banana. The container's shaped, curved design is supposed to enable more than 90% of bananas to fit comfortably inside. Even very large bananas are held in place with the snap-lock closure. The plastic material it is fabricated from is very sturdy and reliable - it has last me nearly a decade. The banana remains fresh due to multiple aeration holes within the plastic, which prevent the banana from sweating. Caring and Sharing The attributes I have listed above mean that this trendy gadget ...

Fisher Price Sparkling Symphony Gym 07/02/2017

My Millie's music maker.

Fisher Price  Sparkling Symphony Gym Our family's review of the Fisher Price Sparkling Symphony Gym. Background Our daughter is nearly four years old, toilet trained and sleeping through the night a lot of the time. My husband and I are now in a good position reflect on which baby-related products we can recommend as near necessities, those that would be "nice to have", and those that one could really do without. It occurred to me at around the time when Millie was six or seven months old, that I actually had no idea what toys or gadgets might be suitable for her. I have several friends whose children are less than a year older than our daughter, so thankfully one was able to give me suggestions and - better still - loan us several items, one of which was this fantastic Fisher Price "Symphony Gym". The product and my thoughts The best way that I can describe this "musical gym" is as a toddler-proof plastic keyboard with legs that enable it to be played at different levels: flat (can be propped up so that baby can use their feet), mid height (for seated use) and full height for standing. Full height is approximately 18 inches. The three levels work well, and having such a variety of heights really is a genius idea! This battery-operated music-make comprises a five-key keyboard and four batting toys. Each key is a different colour and each has a matching star-shaped light above it. This light glows when the matching coloured key is struck. The batting toys are a star, a moon (with beads inside) and a sun ...

Ikea ANTILOP High Chair 07/02/2017

Does as good a job as expensive high chairs.

Ikea ANTILOP High Chair Background We have a daughter who is now four years old and are awaiting the arrival a sibling who is due in early December. As part of my nesting and baby preparations I am reflecting on which baby-related products I recommend as near necessities, those that would be "nice to have", and those that one could really do without. We were lucky to be given this Ikea Antilop High Chair by a friend who'd purchased it as a spare for visiting friends' children. We had previously been using a portable "Clip-on Table Chair" and were very happy with that. However it could only be used fixed to our kitchen breakfast bar or to our dining table. We were reluctant to spend silly amounts of money on a high chair, and furthermore we were also finding it difficult to choose a chair as they all seemed very bulky. Fortuitously this inexpensive Antilop High Chair satisfied all our needs. The product and my thoughts Like many Ikea products, this high chair requires assembly by the purchaser. I cannot comment on the ease of this, as it came to us already constructed. I understand that this chair is supposed to be portable and that the tray can be removed, but neither my husband nor I were able to work out how to do this. This is a simple, basic and functional high chair that could match most interior decor. The plastic chair and tray table are white, the legs are silver and there is a matching silver safety belt. The item's dimensions are described on the Ikea website as width: 58 cm, ...

Tiny Love Tummy-Time Fun Frog 07/02/2017

Baby's First Workout

Tiny Love Tummy-Time Fun Frog ~~~ The Back Story~~ As our daughter is now three years old, toilet trained and usually sleeps through the night on a regular basis, I am finally in a better position reflect on our too-numerous-to count baby-related products. Some I recommend as near necessities, others "nice to have", and then there are those that one could really do without. This gorgeous "tummy time" mat was the very first baby-related present we received. It is extra special to us as it simply turned up on our front door as an unexpected gift several weeks before our daughter's birth. When our daughter was born, the midwives and paediatricians explained to us that babies need chest-based tummy time from their first days of life, and floor-based by the end of their second week. Tummy time isn't only when a baby is lying prone (ie stomach to the floor). In the early days it is also when a baby is being held at a persons chest or shoulder and when they start lifting their head and/or torso a very small distance away from the holder's torso. I had known that tummy time helps prevent babies having a flat head, but at the time of Millie's birth I hadn't appreciated the developmental benefits as best explained by a quote I found on one of the baby websites: "Tummy time helps your infant build strength in his back, legs, arms and neck," says Joanne Cox, M.D., a pediatrician at Children's Hospital Boston. "This helps with further development, such as rolling over and sitting." ~~~ This Product ~~~ The ...

Utility Room 5 Bar Radiator Indoor Clothes Airer 07/02/2017

Drama-free drying

Utility Room 5 Bar Radiator Indoor Clothes Airer My background This household item was one of few that I purchased when I returned to work in England. I prefer to lead a minimalist lifestyle, but this has not always been possible. Until very recently I dried my clothes in several ways, depending on the time of the year, the nature of the item and my housing arrangements. The latter has been slightly complicated, as I live in southern California but until earlier in 2014 I was working in the NHS where I also slept in hospital accommodation. I described this as "sleeping", as it really was not a home of any kind. The product in use I bought this five rail clothes drying "airer" at the beginning of the northern winter in 2012 as it seemed to be the most suitable thing that would meet my clothes drying needs. You may way appreciate that there is a noticeable lack of privacy in shared accommodation. This drying rail meant that I could dry my smalls in my room and away from the prying eyes of fellow hospital workers! I cannot remember the exact price, but am sure that it was less than five pounds when I got it from Wilkinson's. This lightweight airer's main component is plastic-coated metal. Just as in the picture above, there are five thin rails in the centre. These are surrounded by a thicker, supporting bar around the outside. The dryer is robust and sits nicely and safely on my radiator. It's attached with two hooks. The radiator paintwork is protected via the foam "feet" that are part of this dryer. It measures 52cm ...

Avent Microwave Steam Steriliser 07/02/2017

Useful! Steamy!

Avent Microwave Steam Steriliser Useful! Steamy! Avent Microwave Steriliser This review updated April 2015 (First written November 2013) When I was 37 weeks pregnant with our first child, I received a present from a friend of my husband: this Avent microwave bottle steriliser. Clearly she was unaware that I was a die-hard pro-breastfeeding advocate who would never need such a thing. How wrong I was! This steriliser helped preserve our sanity for at least six months! For various reasons I needed to breastfeed our daughter every 3 hours for the first 6 weeks of her life, in addition to expressing (pumping) in order to maintain and enhance my breast milk supply. I used an electric breast pump (also reviewed on this site) which had a number of components requiring regular sterilisation. Once finished with this item, we gave it away. Four years later we received a second-hand version of this product, which we used for the first four months of our second child's life. Obviously a bottle steriliser is designed to sterilise bottles, and although this item was designed for Avent products, we used it for our Dr Brown's bottles. It easily fits four large bottles at a time as well as various expressing accoutrements. Well also sterilised our daughter's dummies and a few other small items such as spoons. The company website explains that the steriliser is made from BPA-free material, and the dimensions (166 (H), 280 (W), 280 (L) mm mean that it is suitable for most microwave ovens. User Instructions All the ...
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