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chrisandmark_is_here

chrisandmark_is_here

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Ten year old Hollie is getting rid of a lot of her 'too young' toys (*sob*) - so I'm reviewing them thanks to the fact I CANNOT get new and still-available products added for love nor money!

Reviews written

since 03/07/2011

917

Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Varnish 19/10/2017

Chipped in 60 Seconds...

Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Varnish ~x~x~x~ Limealicious! ~x~x~x~ So goes the name of the Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Varnish I'm reviewing today, having used it last night to paint the nails of two of my daughters. Ten year old Hollie received a coveted 'Gold Card' at school yesterday, the reward for this being she gets to wear her own clothes instead of her uniform today and tomorrow - she asked me to do her nails and I said she could pick the colour herself (providing she didn't go for hooker red or goth black, of course). Half an hour or so later she came out of the bathroom clutching Limealicious and sagely told me that she might as well get the last out of the summery colours as winter is practically here. I've had this bottle for years and have no recollection of where I bought it, or how much I paid. I can't actually think why I'd buy a colour like this and I've never been a huge lover of the Rimmel brand, I assume it cost around £2.50 - £3 as that tends to be the price of most nail varnishes from this brand - it's lasted amazingly well to be honest and after a good shake the nail varnish was as good as new despite sitting ignored in my bathroom for (probably over) five years. ~x~x~x~ Applies like a dream ~x~x~x~ 60 Seconds uses a trademarked 'Xpress Flat Brush' which is shaped more like a long eyeshadow brush than one you'd use for nail varnish. I absolutely love the brush, it means you can paint a nail in pretty much a single stroke (although obviously you will have to probably retouch the edges on ...

State of Fear - Michael Crichton 30/09/2017

When Natural Disasters Aren't Quite What They Seem...

State of Fear - Michael Crichton ~x~x~x~ 2017. The year I rediscovered Michael Crichton ~x~x~x~ Michael Crichton is an author I've been familiar with for years, I read his Jurassic Park novels back in the 1990s and in the intervening decades have dipped into his work occasionally. This year, however, I made a resolution (and have stuck to it pretty much) that any books I bought had to come from either charity shops, library sales and any other places or situations that a book can be purchased for 50p - £1 rather than the general £5 - £15 RRPs books tend to be given in 'new' shops. Michael Crichton is one of those authors that you can always find in charity shops and over the past few months I've built myself a little collection of his novels, currently owning ten which have cost me the princely sum of around £7. State of Fear is a novel written in 2004, surrounding the surprisingly murky world of the scientists who study and experiment on our planet to find out why things seem to be going so badly wrong in the environment. Michael Crichton, when alive, was a passionate scholar of the environment - while he maintained the stance that climate change is an unknown science (because it hasn't happened for millennia past) he did keep an open mind regarding both the causes and effects of weather patterns and 'global warming' in general. ~x~x~x~ Oh god, I've accidentally started reading a climate change book... ~x~x~x~ See, man made or not - I am TOTALLY disinterested in the whole climate change thing. I find ...

Barbie My House Furniture - Dream Bath Tub 29/09/2017

Barbie In The Bath... And, Erm, On The Toilet...

Barbie My House Furniture - Dream Bath Tub ~x~x~x~ A little girl's dream bathroom set ~x~x~x~ A few years ago we bought Hollie a Barbie Cruise Ship, she was heavily into Barbie and Bratz at the time so it seemed a really good idea - the problem was although she still loved the dolls and whole 'pinkness' of Barbie, she was slightly past the age of actually playing games with them and preferred to 'arrange' and create a kind of real life Sims situation with the dolls. The ship was huge, it had cost around seventy quid (I know, yeah...) so I wasn't going to immediately get rid of it when I noticed she wasn't playing with it - I started thinking out of the box and decided to make a house out of the ship instead, obviously it was still going to look like a big pink plastic boat but the idea I had was to kit out the inside with homey type accessories and remove the various sun loungers and seating that came with the cruise ship. It didn't work quite to plan, in fact it turned out to be a ridiculous idea as I grossly underestimated how (relatively) big Barbie furniture has to be to accommodate her long legs - but funnily enough having new bits and pieces did boost Hollie's interest in playing with her dolls again for a while, albeit using it as standalone furniture while the cruise ship remained unloved and gathering dust. ~x~x~x~ The usual plastic Barbie tat ~x~x~x~ And I say that in the nicest possible way, but in the grand scheme of kids' toys I do think one of THE absolute worst quality offerings tend to be Barbie ...

Hasbro Disney Frozen Musical Lights Elsa 14/09/2017

Let It Go (Please, Hollie. Let This Doll Go...)

Hasbro Disney Frozen Musical Lights Elsa ~x~x~x~ Was this doll the death knell for Frozen Fever in the chrisandmark household? ~x~x~x~ Hollie is ten now and has zero interest in Frozen, other than to watch the film very occasionally (as when you're ten even a film that's just four years old can have a throwback feel apparently, I heard her say one day that she watches Frozen to remind her of being 'a kid' again). Anyway, while she'd rather stick pins into her eyes than use the Frozen duvet set which is languishing in the blanket box or play with any kind of Frozen doll these days - well, back when she was six it was a whole other story and she had a veritable collection of Anna and Elsa toys. Including the Musical Lights Elsa, which was a late addition to her vast array of cheap plastic Frozen memorabilia - purchased around two years ago, at the time when she was growing out of both the Frozen franchise and also out of dolls in general. It's basically an Elsa doll, looking very much like any of the other Barbie style Elsa dolls which were available at the time (and probably still are, Frozen Fever shows no signs of going away...) - she's wearing her beautiful blue gown and has the sideways braid holding up her thick ice-blonde hair. Very pretty but also very 'samey' in appearance compared to the other Elsa dolls Hollie had. What sets this apart from the 'other' Elsas is the fact the snowflakes on her dress glow when you activate the doll and she sings a short snipped of Let It Go. Joy. ~x~x~x~ One of the most ...

Shopkins Series 7 Surprise Party 5 Pack 23/08/2017

Shopkins. The Great Fleece Of The 21st Century.

Shopkins Series 7 Surprise Party 5 Pack ~x~x~x~ Shopkins... well... ~x~x~x~ I count myself quite lucky that my (now) ten year old daughter was never really struck by the Shopkins fad - she had a couple of pairs of pyjamas but none of the toys until this Christmas, when her sister bought her a set of the tiny figures as a stocking filler. ~x~x~x~ What on Earth are 'Shopkins'? ~x~x~x~ Well, aside from being an absolute waste of money they're... I mean... the toys are... Yep, they're totally pointless . Shopkins are basically TINY little representations of things you might, or might not, pop into your trolley on any given shopping trip - these 'things' have been given eyes and made to look reasonably animate in a weird you're-a-parent-and-will-buy-any-old-crap kinda way. In each pack you get five or six Shopkins figures, one of which is sealed so you have an 'exciting' surprise character - there's also usually a shopping basket or trolley included to give you the full 'shopping in miniature' experience. They come in a box which is much bigger than it needs to be, but still feels like a pretty rubbish present (at least these smaller sets, I'm not sure how well packaged the bigger sets are) thanks to the fact the manufacturer uses that floppy type of clear plastic which is a pain in the backside to wrap and also feels quite crumply to the touch. Shopkins do have a role in some game or other, or at least I'm assuming they do as there are myriad accessories available for them including a vending machine and various ...

Plan Toys 7110 My First Dolls House 16/08/2017

The Plan Was To Find A Dolls House...

Plan Toys 7110 My First Dolls House ~x~x~x~ A dolls house with a difference ~x~x~x~ I've always loved wooden toys, and more so as the years have gone by and seemingly everything is now plastic. For Hollie's second birthday my mum asked if she'd like a dolls house, I knew she would as despite being so young she always loved the kind of games which involved role play - and in a very non-PC way she's always enjoyed games that involved her 'keeping house' and being a good little mummy and organiser. I remember that year we looked everywhere for the right dolls house for her - bearing in mind two years old is usually under the recommended age for this kind of toy, and also we had to consider the fact that Hollie was a very dainty toddler so most of the dolls houses we looked at were far too tall for her to play comfortably with. This one was recommended to me by one of my boring mum-friends who knows everything about what is right for other people's kids (and bugger all about disciplining her own, but that is a whole other review). She didn't exactly recommend this dolls house but told me to take a look at what Plan Toys had to offer; this is a brand I'd never heard of before but in the years since then have bought a fair few of their toys - the dolls house was my first Plan Toys purchase, and the reason I started buying the brand semi-regularly as we got on so well with it. ~x~x~x~ Get your tools (and patience) out ~x~x~x~ This dolls house comes packaged in a large flat box, mum ordered hers online to be ...

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Thickening Blow Dry Lotion 05/08/2017

Crud, by John Frieda...

John Frieda Luxurious Volume Thickening Blow Dry Lotion ~x~x~x~ Let's boost those roots! ~x~x~x~ My hair is, by and large, fine and limp. That's not to say it's not perfectly nice hair (I'm not one of those people who really gives a proverbial about my hair, but if I had to describe my style I'd say 'not very exciting'); I've had the same hair style since I was around nine years old, simply because it's so straight and fine that it won't really hold a style so I'm left with very long hair which sometimes has a fringe and sometimes doesn't. The sum total of my hair care 'routine' is wash, towel dry, brush and hope for the best - I'll use a hair mask occasionally but really I can't be bothered with the faff of creating anything other than a nice sleek ponytail or well brushed loose hair 'style'. A couple of months ago, however, one of my partner's bosses invited us out for dinner - knowing we'd be going somewhere a bit more upmarket than usual I started panicking about my hair, which by complete sod's law had decided to be even more awkward than usual. I was bemoaning the fact to a friend that I was going to look like a limp haired wonder next to the bosses very glamorous OAP wife (think beautifully cultured silvery waves of hair) when her daughter, who is training to be a hairdresser, offered me a few lotions and potions that may help - the John Frieda Luxurious Volume Root Booster Blow Dry Lotion (catchy name, eh?) being the item she raved about the most. **Please note that this is the correct product for the category, the ...

hasbro Pokemon Battle Figures With Pokeball 02/08/2017

Do YOU Want To Be The Very Best?!

hasbro Pokemon Battle Figures With Pokeball ~x~x~x~ Gotta Catch 'Em All ~x~x~x~ Pokemon has very much made a comeback in our house; thanks mostly to the fact my youngest two have remained OBSESSED with Pokemon Go for the whole year it's been out, but also due to the fact Hollie was given a 3DS recently so has been playing the new Pokemon Sun & Moon game. My older girls' were Pokemon fanatics but at the time I never really took much notice, between them they had boxes of the cards and toys so it's kind of irritating that ten years later I'm buying it all again as neither of them kept their collections. Pokemon toys haven't moved on much from 2005, there's still very little choice and not everywhere actually stocks Pokemon stuff at all - one shop I've found which does have a decent selection is Smyths toys, where a small section of one aisle is dedicated to these cute little Japanese monsters. It was in Smyths where David discovered these Pokeballs with a Pokemon inside - reasonably priced at £12.99, there's a selection of around nine available in the branch we use but apparently plenty more are available online (or presumably in other stores). Disclaimer The Pokemon Battle Figures and Pokeball we have are actually made by Tomy but my suggestion was refused and I was sent the link to write it here. Go. Figure. ~x~x~x~ The beginnings of a small collection ~x~x~x~ David has two Pokemon with Pokeballs - Popplio and Hoopa; the first he chose himself with some money he'd saved and the second I bought him as a reward for ...

Frankie & Benny's, Birmingham 30/07/2017

Italian American Dining In The Heart of Birmingham

Frankie & Benny's, Birmingham ~x~x~x~ Hollie's last meal (for a while...) ~x~x~x~ When Hollie had her tonsils out earlier this year I booked us a nice hotel near the hospital and gave her the option of where we'd have our dinner the night before - a rather complicated list of 'do and don't' regarding when it was safe for her to eat until the night before her anaesthetic left me feeling slightly confused (it's not as simple as the midnight cut-off they used to use) so I decided the best thing to do would be to eat a biggish meal in the early evening then snack up until midnight, when I thought it best for her nil-by-mouth to begin. We checked on Google Maps all the options and eventually she decided on Frankie & Benny's, which was located a shortish walk away along Broad Street and into Ladywood - I booked a table online as this section of Birmingham City Centre does get very busy regardless of what day you're there, we visited on a Wednesday evening and the restaurant gradually built up to the point of people being turned away so I can imagine how full it would be at the weekend. ~x~x~x~ From one hospital to another! ~x~x~x~ Hollie was really interested when I told her that this branch of Frankie & Benny's is actually situated inside what used to be the Children's Hospital in Birmingham - this was before it made the crazy move into the city centre proper and this beautiful old building was remodeled into a small entertainment complex. Hollie's big sister, Charlotte, had a few health issues as a child ...

Toshiba - mouse 24/07/2017

Hello Tosh, Got A Toshiba?

Toshiba - mouse ~x~x~x~ There's a mouse in the house ~x~x~x~ Several of them to be honest as while we all have laptops with a finger pad, none of us get on particularly well with that particular piece of technology. The mouse I use with the laptop I 'share' with my six year old son is made by Toshiba, it's donkey's years old and is a remnant from my old Toshiba laptop - I have absolutely no idea what model number it is as the mouse is so old the information sticker has rubbed off from inside the battery cover, I'd imagine that's a moot point now anyway as I doubt very much this particular mouse is still available in the form I have here (simply because of the age (at least seven years, maybe longer) and also due to the fact manufacturers seem to change mouse designs as often as their pants. This is an optical mouse which connects to my laptop wirelessly via a tiny USB dongle type thingy; I've used the Toshiba mouse in at least six different laptops and connectivity is almost instantaneous every time, the only time I had a problem was when I tried to lend it to my mum after her own mouse stopped working - her compact netbook just would not accept the mouse no matter which USB port we used and however many clever ways my daughter tried to 'find' the mouse in the inner workings of the netbook. Every other time it's worked perfectly and quickly though, on laptops ranging from several years old to brand new out of the box. ~x~x~x~ A simple mouse ~x~x~x~ This basic Toshiba mouse does nothing ...

Hyatt Regency, Birmingham 19/07/2017

A Whirlwind 18 Hours At The Hyatt

Hyatt Regency, Birmingham ~x~x~x~ Tourists in our own backyard ~x~x~x~ ~x~ (Or: why I'm staying in an expensive hotel less than seven miles from my house) ~x~ Nine year old Hollie has suffered massively with recurring tonsillitis since she was around eighteen months old but the, frankly, ridiculous process of 'proving' to Birmingham Children's Hospital that they needed to come out meant she's been in a kind of will they/won't they limbo for practically all her life. This all changed last year when school started mithering me about Hollie's attendance, I knew it was affecting her education (when tonsillitis strikes Hollie it strikes bad and she can literally lose a week of school just with one bout) - anyway, armed with a strongly worded letter from school and a printout of her GP records confirming the crazy amount of times she had to attend for antibiotics I made an appointment with her consultant and I didn't intend to leave until Hollie was confirmed to have a tonsillectomy. As luck would have it her consultant wasn't there when the appointment rolled around and Hollie saw a very sympathetic clinical fellow who scheduled her in straightaway, a little too straightaway for Hollie's liking as the pre-op appointment was a few days later and very quickly she was contemplating the fact that she was going into hospital. Like her mum, Hollie likes her luxuries and after hearing her say how nervous she was about the operation I decided to treat her (and me!) to a night in a hotel - parking is a ...

Tattoos: friends or foes? 18/07/2017

Tattoo Or Not To Tattoo, That Is The Question...?

Tattoos: friends or foes? ~x~x~x~ I've always had a thing for tattoos... ~x~x~x~ Ever since I was a little girl I've liked tattoos; the tats people get these days are different to the ones my uncles all sported back in the 80s, different as in far better artistic-wise but in my opinion totally lacking in the personality of the old school tattoos (which I prefer). Gone are the days of beautifully drawn but basic eagles, in an ink that turned bluer and bluer over the years, replaced with intricate drawings, tribal bands and words that could, frankly, mean ANYTHING in Chinese (if your tattooist changed the Chinese for My Beloved Cynthia to Chicken Chow Mein I doubt many of us would be any the wiser). I only have one tattoo myself, a little bow going around the front of my wrist - my partner paid for it as a birthday present a couple of years ago, the plan being to add to it over time (which has never actually happened as I really didn't like the whole 'being tattoo'd' experience and don't particularly want to repeat it). Mark himself had about a dozen crap little home-made tattoos on his arms when I first met him, he kept them for years then a couple of years back decided to get them covered up - the result being a fortnightly visit to a fab tattooist who has so far pretty much covered both his arms, his shoulders and even his neck. The neck one took a bit of getting used to, but the tattoos suit him and now I can't really imagine him without them - at £35 a time (half hour) it's a fairly expensive ...

Hasbro Despicable Me Minions Frustration Game 14/07/2017

You'd Be 'Bananas' To Pay £20 For This!

Hasbro Despicable Me Minions Frustration Game ~x~x~x~ Minions. They're bloody everywhere... ~x~x~x~ My youngest two love Minions and they're also huge lovers of board games, so I wasn't particularly surprised when they received a selection of games for Christmas a couple of years ago from their uncle. With no kids of his own he can be pretty rubbish at buying presents for children, while we've had a laugh in the past about his poor choices I've noticed that over the past couple of years he's been making more of an effort to buy more appropriate gifts (this is the man who would bought Sharpies for a six month old baby). Amongst other things they received this Frustration game which has been given a Minions twist, something that's completely obvious from the box and also from just about every game component inside. ~x~x~x What's Frustration and how do you play? ~x~x~x~ Frustration is basically Ludo, in fact I'm not sure if they are actually one and the same game as I don't know of any differences between the two. In this version of the game you get the game board, seventeen plastic moulded Minion characters and a dice popper - to play the game you basically choose a colour, travel around the game board once then branch off towards the centre of the board to go 'home'. It's very simple, a few added rules make the game slightly trickier than it sounds but it's easy enough even for very young kids to play - the youngest child I've played it with was David who was five when we first got the game, Hasbro themselves have ...

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 ...
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