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chrisandmark_is_here

chrisandmark_is_here

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Eugh, Ciao is so slow and horribly cluttered with all those ads - does a site like this REALLY need a full page banner ad for bottled water?! Crazy...

Reviews written

since 03/07/2011

904

Brillo Soap Pads 23/06/2017

Clean Hob, Sore Hands...

Brillo Soap Pads ~x~x~x~ An accidental buy ~x~x~x~ Most evenings my partner phones when he's on his way home from work to see if we need anything from the shop, most of the time we don't but occasionally I'll anticipate this offer to do a bit of shopping and write him a little list - the thing with Mark is you have to be very precise when it comes to shopping lists, he's actually a very good shopper but sometimes if I want something specific he'll use his initiative and I'll end up with something that doesn't really do the job I want it for. Like yesterday, on the list it said 'onions'; he knew we were having stew, the onions were on the list with the carrots and leeks - so he bought a jar of pickled onions. Very nice yes, but not much good with the chicken and veg I'd prepped ready for dinner... And this was exactly how I came across Brillo Pads for the first time in around fifteen years, on the list I'd written 'scourers' (meaning, obviously, the green flat ones you use for cleaning pans) - Mark bought Brillo. ~x~x~x~ A blast from the past ~x~x~x~ I think EVERYONE'S mum and nan used Brillo Pads, they're very much a traditional brand and product which were hugely popular in decades past - you don't see them so much these days, they're still widely available but personally there are so many cleaning lotions, potions and accessories to choose from that I wouldn't really give these a second look. Mark bought ours from Poundland so no prizes for guessing how much he paid, there are ten ...

Baco Rainbow Bags 21/06/2017

Rainbow Food!

Baco Rainbow Bags ~x~x~x~ Somewhere inside the rainbow ~x~x~x~ I first discovered Baco Rainbow Bags a few years ago; we'd a big day out planned to an attraction we'd been meaning to visit for years and as nice weather was expected I decided to make a picnic, not just for the fun of having a picnic but to potentially save a few quid on what I guessed would be horrendously overpriced restaurants and snack bars at the attraction. I picked the Rainbow Bags up while I was doing the picnic shopping - I needed to buy sandwich bags anyway and these seemed a nice addition to the picnic bag, after all it's not every day you get your sandwich in a pretty pastel wrapper with a funky sticker! ~x~x~x~ What's the difference between Rainbow Bags and a bog standard sandwich bag? ~x~x~x~ Well, the bags come in a range of colours, all of them pastel with the majority being unisex. Of course sandwich bags are unisex, but I have a six year old boy who would, frankly, rather starve than eat a sandwich that comes in a pink bag so it's important for me personally that there's an (ahem) masculine enough colour available for him. There are five colours of Rainbow bag, so six each of peach, blue, purple, green and yellow - no one other than David really has a preference for colour (although I do like a nice peach bag...) so I just tend to grab them out of the box in whatever order they come, each colour is together in the pack so if you like to colour code your sandwiches for each person this would be easy to ...

Illumination Entertainment Despicable Me Minions Moulding Paint & Play Kit 19/06/2017

Despicable - In Name And Nature!

Illumination Entertainment Despicable Me Minions Moulding Paint & Play Kit ~x~x~x~ Minions Madness ~x~x~x~ Like most kids, David is very much into the whole Despicable Me franchise - like nearly all of his friends so I wasn't particularly surprised when for his birthday in December 2015 he received a fair few Minions gifts from his friends when they came to his birthday party. One of the presents he couldn't wait to get into was the Minions Moulding Paint and Play Kit, I knew he'd love this as soon as he opened it as at the time he loved painting and being generally artistic - the little boy who bought it for David apparently had the kit himself and his mum said how great it was, we made our Minions on Christmas Eve that year as a little wind-down-and-chill out exercise and while it was fun I wouldn't go as far as saying 'great' to be honest. ~x~x~x~ What is it? ~x~x~x~ This is basically a set where you mould and paint your own Minions, to create the models you use squishy dough (think Play Doh) rather than a liquid clay type substance which will harden into the mould. The dough comes ready made in little foil packets, it's already coloured as per the basic and standard colours of the Minions - all you need to do is choose which mould you want to use, tear off a chunk of dough off and press it carefully into the mould. The dough doesn't need time to set which threw me slightly as I'd expected it to go hard rather than stay soft and 'doughy' - the advantage being that (then) five year old David didn't have to wait for the models to be ready for ...

Tomy Pokemon - Collectable Pichu 12/06/2017

Pikachu, I Choose YOU!

Tomy Pokemon - Collectable Pichu ~x~x~x~ It's Pichu - all grown up! ~x~x~x~ If there's one thing I've learned since my son was born six years ago it's that 'boys toys' are faaaar more 'bitty' than the stuff girls generally play with. I've had to buy numerous boxes to keep David's figures and tiny action toys in with at least half of his toys being less than 3" tall. Take the 'collectable' Pokemon figures made by Tomy, they're very small and although they're made to be played with they have the perfect dimensions to be displayed too - David doesn't really have the shelf space to have hundreds of small toys dotted all around his bedroom so into the box they go! *Please Note* The 'collectable' I'm reviewing today is actually Pikachu which is a different Pokemon entirely, Pichu is the baby version of Pikachu but while they do have a similar look these are different products. Ciao themselves seemingly don't understand this and I've been told to post my review here - if you're looking for information on Pichu you should maybe look elsewhere, or alternatively read this review and imagine a differently shaped toy (as it's very basic, so the Pichu/Pikachu characters will differ only in their outward design). ~x~x~x~ Small but perfectly formed ~x~x~x~ Pikachu is modelled in a stance that suggests he's ready for battle with an intense look of concentration on his face and his little fists clenched to his chest. It's instantly recognisable as the Pikachu we all know and love, although this is a rather more stern ...

How will you vote in the forthcoming General Election, and why? 07/06/2017

If You Do Nothing Else Tomorrow - GO AND VOTE!

How will you vote in the forthcoming General Election, and why? ~x~x~x~ Promises, promises ~x~x~x~ It all seems to have been about politics for the past year, when Theresa May stepped in and grabbed the top job last July I predicted a General Election by Christmas - ok, so I was off a bit but I didn't for one minute believe her 'no election until 2020 bluster' and set about watching the Westminster shenanigans a bit more closely. Anyway, the election was announced back in April and is taking place tomorrow - a rather dull set of campaigns has made the intervening six weeks seem a very long time, but it's almost here (with most polling stations opening at 7am you can say it's less than 24 hours away). I'm not going to give sh*tloads of facts and figures, like Diane Abbott I don't have a head for numbers and I'll only get them wrong - at the bottom I've added links to the manifestos of the major parties so if you're an 'undecided' have a browse and see what convinces you (as I absolutely am not in a position this time around to help convince anyone to vote for any particular party, although as ever my head and heart are in agreement that the Conservatives must never get my cross...). ~x~x~x~ So, yeah. I'm voting Labour ~x~x~x~ With the fairly obvious reasoning of THERE'S NO ONE ELSE TO BLOODY VOTE FOR!!! I do like Jeremy Corbyn but I recognise he's not a strong leader, he says all the right things but I can't shake the feeling that the guy is living partially in cloud cuckoo land. I really, really like the fact that he cares about ...

Jakks Pokemon Pikachu 28/05/2017

Gotta Catch 'Em All

Jakks Pokemon Pikachu ~x~x~x~ Pikachu's Back! ~x~x~x~ Pokemon for us has been a weird one, our (now) twenty year old daughter had literally boxes of Pokemon cards when she was a kid and a bedroom which was pretty much 90% Pokemon themed - when she eventually grew out of it all the stuff was gradually given away and I didn't really think of these cute little Japanese beasties again for years. Fast forward twelve years or so... and I'm having to replace it all as her little brother and sister have decided they too are the biggest Pokemon fans in the world. It all started when Pokemon Go was released last year actually; while nine year old Hollie already had a passing interest in Pokemon (thanks to the various DS games she's played), David didn't really know the franchise at all - until Pokemon Go landed and now not only have I lost my phone to David, but he has decided he wants a toy of every single character in the game. A bit of an ask considering Pokemon toys are notoriously hard to get hold of, and because of this they often have CRAZY price tags which I'm not really prepared to pay! I bought two Jakks Pikachu toys late last year to put up for the kids for Christmas, they cost £16 each which is excessive for a small 7" plushie but such is the price of Pokemon toys I actually found that to be quite a reasonable price (I need to have a word with myself, I know...). Anyway, the current price on Amazon of £29.57 REALLY takes the proverbial so in some ways I consider the ones I bought to be a bit ...

Flair Stencil Activity Book The Backyardigans 25/05/2017

Draw Your Own Backyardigans

Flair Stencil Activity Book The Backyardigans ~x~x~x~ A Backyardigans blast from the past ~x~x~x~ Hollie is ten in a couple of weeks, I actually cannot believe where the time has gone - it doesn't seem five minutes since we were popping Nick Jnr on at 8.40am for her to watch her daily dose of the sweet little characters that make up the Backyardigans gang (or rather, made up as the Backyardigans don't seem to be around anymore). They were always a strange bunch of characters though as despite the fact the show was extremely popular with pre-school children there was very little merchandise available - I've always been very big on buying my kids toys that are endorsed/feature their favourite characters and I remember the frustration of not being able to find Backyardigans stuff in the shops, other than the occasional plushie and (very rarely) a t-shirt featuring the characters. In 2009, when I first suggested this book, I won tickets to a 'festival' for babies and toddlers - this was organised by Nick Jnr and was amazing fun, but for me the best bit was the pop up shop which Nickelodeon had erected at the exit. Here they had an extensive selection of various Nick Jnr merchandise including a whole range of stuff featuring the Backyardigans which had previously only been sold in South America and Canada (the show is made in partnership between Canadian and US companies). I spent a bomb , not particularly to spoil Hollie (although that was nice too!) but also because I knew that if I didn't buy the toys I'd regret it once ...

Characters 4 Kids High School Musical 3 Wrapping Paper / Gift Wrap 18/05/2017

Thank God We've 'Broken Free' Of The HSM Hysteria!

Characters 4 Kids High School Musical 3 Wrapping Paper / Gift Wrap ~x~x~x~ Remembering a past birthday... ~x~x~x~ You know sometimes you look through your 'drafts' folder and see a review you've part written, realising after a minute or two that this review is a year old and that much of the information is out of date, you've lost the photos or you simply can't remember the product well enough to complete the review. Well, I've gone one better - this review is EIGHT years old. I vividly remember the wrapping paper as (then) ten year old Alice was a mahoooosive High School Musical fan - her birthday fell in the March of 2009 and as our local Clintons was closing down I managed to bag a dozen packets of this High School Musical 3 wrapping paper for the tiny price, if I remember right, of 29p each. So why am I reviewing it now? Well, simply due to the fact I'm running out of things to write about on here - for every ten products I suggest at least seven are being rejected, so I've been browsing the catalogue looking for inspiration. Not that I call kiddie wrapping paper inspiring, but it was there to be written about and just seeing it made me smile at the memory of Alice coming downstairs that morning and bursting into excited tears when she saw all her pressies were wrapped up in this paper featuring her (then) idols. ~x~x~x~ It's a wrap! ~x~x~x~ This wrapping paper comes (or came, I'm not actually sure if it's still available) in a pack of two sheets and two gift tags - the sheets were a decent size, comparable to the modern equivalent ...

Great Gizmos Create Your Own Plate Design Kit 12/05/2017

It's Not A Kit, It's Just A Plate...

Great Gizmos Create Your Own Plate Design Kit ~x~x~x~ Clutching at straws... ~x~x~x~ My nine year old has been plagued with tonsillitis since she was a toddler so we were thrilled when (after literally years of begging Birmingham Children's Hospital) they agreed to remove them. Thrilled but nervous, not only of the upcoming operation but also due to the fact Hollie was going to be off school for two weeks afterwards and I really didn't want her to turn into a couch potato during that time - with that in mind I set about getting a few bits and pieces in to occupy her while she was recovering, including this Plate Design Kit made by Great Gizmos (a company which makes kiddie-sets that tend to be of either fantastic or, frankly, dire quality). Ours came still sealed, so obviously new, from a local charity shop and cost me £2 - the same kit is available for around £6 from places like Amazon and Gameseek. ~x~x~x~ Create your own plate... ~x~x~x~ ...or rather 'draw on a plate that has already been created'. I'm not sure what I was expecting but I was quite surprised when we opened the box to find just a single white plate and a packet of unbranded marker pens - there's an instruction sheet too but as it basically says 'Draw on the plate and allow to dry' (in about 200 words...) I'm not sure why that was included, especially since the 'instructions' are repeated twice on the actual box. The plate is packed well with a custom-cut cardboard insert holding it securely to prevent it being damaged as the box is handled, I'd be ...

Joseph Joseph Nest Compact Storage Containers 09/05/2017

Keeping Organised In The Kitchen

Joseph Joseph Nest Compact Storage Containers ~x~x~x~ Oh Joseph, once again you save my bacon (literally!) ~x~x~x~ Until fairly recently I've never really given much thought to storage containers in the kitchen - my partner is a lover of Chinese food and our daughter is a chef so we invariably have dozens of cheap plastic boxes floating around that have been recycled from whatever food has arrived at the house over recent months. Which has been all well and good, but I'd noticed that food wasn't keeping so well in the fridge and definite ice crystals were forming whenever I kept anything in the freezer for more than a couple of weeks. This wasn't a problem as I've never been one for keeping food chilled or frozen; as a housewife I have all the time in the world to shop and cook fresh, but I've become interested in cooking in bulk and menu planning which meant my previous method of storage (ie. chuck it in a cheap (free) container and hope for the best) wasn't actually the most efficient way of storing my food. ~x~x~x~ Enter Joseph Joseph ~x~x~x~ I had a short browse online and pretty much immediately came across these Nest Storage Containers on the Joseph Joseph website; I didn't buy them straightaway as, frankly, I found the £40 price tag 'excessive' but after a while I went back and placed an order as (while expensive) I've always been ultra-impressed with anything made by this fantastic homewares company. What you get for your money are six storage containers, each a different colour and ranging in size from a 4.5 ...

Wooden Thomas&Friends: Roundabout Action Turntable 25/04/2017

Thomas On The Turn?

Wooden Thomas&Friends: Roundabout Action Turntable ~x~x~x~ Thomas on the turn? ~x~x~x~ Well yes, in this house he is - at six David very rarely plays with his Thomas trains; while he does still watch the little engines on the tele and has a few Thomas related toys and bits of clothing which is still likes, the days of making tracks (and finding a seemingly never ending supply of batteries for his engines) are over. During the time when David was a big Thomas fan his dad and I clashed over the style of tracks and trains, I much preferred the wooden selection whereas Mark likes the plastic Trackmaster sets which have the bonus of being run by battery (those never ending ones...) making the trains self powered rather than having to be pushed around. Obviously David has benefited massively with our disagreement as he's ended up with a masssssssssive amount of track, both plastic clippy track and the (better) wooden tracks which fit together using a kind of jigsaw shaped join. The Roundabout Action Turntable was actually one of the last things I bought for David just before his Thomas obsession ended, bundled with a wooden Tidmouth Sheds I thought he'd love it - and if I'd bought it six month previously he would have loved it, unfortunately (as kids do) he decided he was no longer the world's biggest Thomas fan a few days after receiving it so the sheds and turntable haven't been used as much as I'd hoped (and in all honesty the turntable is a bit naff anyway so I doubt it would have ever been a favourite toy). ~x~x~x~ Marketed ...

Yankee Candle Wax Melt Jar Macintosh 16/04/2017

More Mackintosh Than Macintosh!

Yankee Candle Wax Melt Jar Macintosh ~x~x~x~ It's a wax tart in a different shape - and not as smelly... ~x~x~x~ I love Yankee Candle and buy their candles, tarts and reed diffusers regularly - it's rare to find a real bargain from this brand though, and while you might see offers of a couple of quid knocked off occasionally you'll usually find yourself paying full price. I'd read reviews on these Wax Melt Jars but hadn't seen them available in the shops where I buy my Yankee Candle bits and pieces from, I later found out they'd been quickly discontinued after not receiving a very good reception from Yankee Candle Fans - when I spotted a couple in a charity shop recently for the bargainous price of 49p each I decided to grab them and make my own mind up. The two I ended up with were Buttercream and this Macintosh tart, I've had the Buttercream fragrance in several formats of Yankee Candle several times so knew what to expect with that one but as far as I remember had never sampled Macintosh - being predominantly apple scented I thought I'd like it so decided to use that one first as it seemed a good fragrance for springtime to start freshening the house up a little. ~x~x~x~ What's a Wax Melt Jar? ~x~x~x~ Well, basically it's a wax melt but instead of the fluted circular tart this takes the shape of a Yankee Candle Jar candle. It's moulded into a thick shape so breaking it is a problem, but don't let the stock photo deceive you as this looks a huge piece of wax but in reality it's very small. One full Wax ...

Hide and Seek 07/04/2017

Robert de Niro In Mediocre Film Shocker!

Hide and Seek ~x~x~x~ When Hide and Seek isn't all fun and games... ~x~x~x~ I'm a huge fan of Robert de Niro and remember when Hide and Seek was released (was it really twelve years ago?!), we'd planned to go and see it at the cinema but things hadn't quite gone to plan so it wasn't until a couple of years later that I got around to watching it on DVD. I'm not at all into horrors so wasn't sure if this was going to be something I'd watch all the way through (I'm such a wuss...) but it's not actually as scary as you think based on the trailers and various posters I've seen, I'd probably class it as more of a thriller really although there are certain parts that make you jump through the film! But I'm getting ahead of myself, let me tell you what the film's about. Emily (Dakota Fanning) and her father, David (De Niro), move house following the suicide of Emily's mother - a beautiful woman with apparently everything to live for, it's a huge shock for both of them as they both witness her body in the bath after David finds her. David is a psychologist so when Emily begins to display signs of the shock affecting her mental health he is distraught that he can't help her, she starts to carry a doll around with her and talks to an imaginary friend called Charlie. Charlie isn't a good influence to have around Emily and as the film goes on you realise he may not be imaginary at all, when things start happening (and people start dying) Emily admits Charlie is to blame - but is everything as it ...

Humf Volume 1 - Humf & the Balloons (DVD) 03/04/2017

Fun With A Little Furry Thing

Humf Volume 1 - Humf & the Balloons (DVD) ~x~x~x~ A blast from the recent past ~x~x~x~ When Humf first started on Nick Jnr back in 2008 my (then) one year old daughter absolutely loved it, like most small children she had a love of 'cute things' and Humf certainly is one of those even if I've never been quite able to work out exactly what he is! This is very much a pre-school show/character and unlike many other kids shows I've noticed that once a child is 'too old' for Humf they never tend to go back to it, and if you don't have a child under ten you may not even have heard of it as there has never been all that much publicity for the show (and surprisingly very little merchandise available). Fast forward a couple of years and Hollie's brother came along, eventually learning how much fun television (and particularly Nick Jnr) was and discovering Humf for himself. I forget which child we bought this DVD for, it's the first of three 'box sets' and was released in 2011 (so probably David was the lucky recipient) - box set being in quote/unquote as this is ten episodes on a single DVD, presumably the first series of the cute little show. ~x~x~x~ What the heck is a 'Humf'? ~x~x~x~ Humf, as described by Nick Jr themselves, is a 'little purple furry thing' - he's very sweet and lives with his mum and dad in a flat, neighboured by his friends Loon and Wallace (who are also unidentified but very sweet little creatures). You meet Humf's parents for brief periods during each episode but the focus of each short story is ...

Horrible Histories 26 Episode Collection (Box Set) (DVD) 30/03/2017

Make Learning Fun

Horrible Histories 26 Episode Collection (Box Set) (DVD) ~x~x~x~ History wasn't all beautiful dresses and lounging around! ~x~x~x~ My kids have all enjoyed Horrible Histories but it was only when I home schooled my daughter for a while that I really paid much attention to the TV programme, I've read the books and found them an easy and interesting read for any age but a weird coincidence saw me buying this full collection of Horrible Histories episodes in the charity shop the very same day that Hollie had complained about the quality of them when she watched them via You Tube. I was a little surprised when I first watched an episode as I thought Horrible Histories featured real people, when in fact they are in cartoon format following two kids called Stitch and Mo as they travel back in time to see how the ancient (and sometimes not so ancient) civilisations worked. There are several different 'complete collections' of Horrible Histories, ours is a nine DVD set with each DVD featuring three full episodes (each episode runs for around 20 minutes). Produced by Scholastic they are designed to be a fun look at history, you can expect to learn the names of various things and experiences of whatever era you've decided to study - but as well as that there are all kinds of 'horrible' facts to find out as Stitch and Mo discover it for themselves. ~x~x~x~ Press 'Play' and travel back in time ~x~x~x~ When Stitch and Mo go time travelling they find themselves in the dress of the time and on a mission to learn something about the history of ...
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