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since 02/07/2009


Sistema Salad To Go Container 14/06/2017


Sistema Salad To Go Container At work, we are very much a team that marches on its stomach and enjoys our lunch collectively and as individuals. The drawback to that is that the cost can soon add up as well as the danger for my expanding waist line. One of my colleagues came into work with a homemade salad stored inside this clever Sistema plastic container and, within the space of a week I had purchased my own 'Salad to Go' container and was following her example with my own healthy lunches. The Product This 'Salad to Go' box is a Sistema branded plastic container designed specifically to store and transport salads. The cleverly designed box includes a sturdy plastic base and an upper section which is split into two shallow compartments and a circular central section which houses a small lidded container. This little pot is perfectly proportioned to contain an individual portion of dressing. Underneath the top section there are two clips that hold a small plastic fork and spoon in place - both of which are supplied. The whole container is then covered with a sturdy plastic lid that is secured into place by four strong plastic clips that are easy to open and close but remain in place otherwise. I've owned a number of products under the Sistema brand including different styles of lunch boxes and plastic containers as well as the plastic drinks bottles. All of the Sistema products I've used previously have proven to be excellent quality and great value for money and this Sistema 'Salad to Go' container ...

Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend - Francesca Simon 10/06/2017

Reluctant Readers Beware!

Horrid Henry and the Football Fiend - Francesca Simon I've always tried to share my love of reading with my children, to encourage them to read for pleasure as I think it opens up a whole new world for them and helps to develop their imagination. As my oldest son got older, he seemed to be more interested in factual, non-fiction books so I went on the look out for some age-appropriate fiction stories that he would also enjoy when he was around eight years old. My local library stocks quite a selection of Francesca Simon's 'Horrid Henry' series, so we worked our way through them and finally found a series that encouraged him to read fiction. I have since shared the series with both of my two younger sons and found all of them to enjoy reading about the adventures of Horrid Henry and his friends and enemies. Horrid Henry 'Horrid Henry' is quite a well-established character nowadays, partly thanks to the CITV television adaptation of these stories, so I knew that this would be a character that my then eight year old son would be able to relate to. Throughout the series of novels, Horrid Henry manages to live up to his nickname and gets up to all sorts of mischief, often at the expense of his little brother, Perfect Peter. Fortunately, none of my boys are either horrid or perfect (not all of the time anyway!) but there is certainly an element of sibling rivalry between them that makes this seem realistic and brings a smile to my lips as I share this with my sons. The Stories This particular collection, 'Horrid Henry and the ...

Nizoral Shampoo 04/06/2017

Flake Away

Nizoral Shampoo My youngest son suffered from cradle cap quite badly as a baby but unfortunately it persisted well beyond his baby days. He experienced the symptoms of cradle cap throughout his toddler years and as a much older child. He is now nine years old and still has regular boats of dry flaky scalp that he will scratch and pick at - mainly while in a deep sleep. I've been seeking medical help about this issue for years. The treatments recommended during his early years provided some comfort but nothing has ever really seemed to tackle the actual causes of this condition. Nizoral shampoo was one of the treatments prescribed a couple of years ago and we have had a number of repeat prescriptions for this product since then. The Product Nizoral is described as a shampoo and is provided for the purpose of washing and cleaning hair but also to tackle dry flaky scalp conditions including dandruff. We have this provided free on prescription for a child's use but it can also be purchased without prescription. The shampoo is simply and plainly packaged in an opaque white bottle so there is no way of viewing the contents from the outside. The shampoo is dispensed via a flip top lid and it is easy to control the amount released even though the consistency of the shampoo is quite thin. Only a small amount of the resulting red liquid is required per application. The shampoo has a fairly inoffensive mildly medicinal chemistry scent. Application The shampoo includes clear directions for use ...

Kubo and the Two Strings (DVD) 31/05/2017

A Beautifully Animated Story

Kubo and the Two Strings (DVD) As a parent to three children, I have watched numerous animated films over the past few years but none quite like this enchanting and unusual film; Kubo and the Two Strings from the Laika animation studios - makers of similarly quirky films including Coraline and the Box Trolls. The Film This Japanese fairy tale like story follows a young boy, Kubo, living in the mountains with his seriously ill mother and unable to stay out after sunset for fear that he would be captured by his grandfather and evil aunts. Kubo has already lost an eye as a baby, due to his grandfather, and wears a distinctive eye patch. Kubo spends his days in the local marketplace, entertaining the locals with his magical stories about heroes and foes accompanied by origami like paper characters that are brought to life by the power of Kubo's stories and music. The film becomes even more surreal as it progresses with Kubo going on a journey accompanied by a talking monkey and a humanoid talking beetle (with more than a passing resemblance to Buzz Lightyear) as well as directions being provided by characters made out of paper. Reportedly based on an old Japanese legend, the story has all of the features of typical fantasy films with the hunt for powerful armour, magical aspects as inanimate objects come to life, battles between good and evil and supernatural elements featuring loved ones who have passed away. Despite the unusual setting and the fantasy elements I still found myself rooting for Kubo and ...

Nivea Vanilla Macadamia Lip Butter 27/05/2017

Lip Smacking

Nivea Vanilla Macadamia Lip Butter I don't tend to wear a lot of make up on a daily basis but usually wear mascara daily to make me appear a little less tired and regularly use lip butter or gloss to keep my lips feeling soft and to prevent dryness or peeling. The Product This is a Nivea branded lip butter with Vanilla and Macadamia fragrance. This is part of a range of fragranced lip butters including Original Raspberry Rose Blueberry Blush and Red Currant. The lip butter comes packaged in a small tin with a simple lift off lift and a plastic seal for protection before first use. The tin itself is a perfect size to keep in a bag or pocket, ready to hand for application throughout the day. I find this a practical means of applying lip butter/balm but do appreciate that not everybody would find this a hygienic option as it needs to be applied by finger so this isn't a product that could be shared with others and attention to hand hygiene is recommended to avoid spreading germs. I'm not always conscious of use by dates on make up items and toiletries but I do try to use this type of lip treatment up within six months of opening. I would also never use this if I have a cold sore for fear of cross contamination to the other side of my lips. Application and Results The lip butter is essentially solidified lip balm which has an attractive creamy white colour, firm consistency and an absolutely gorgeous fragrance. I don't particularly like nuts of any kind but don't find this to have a noticeable nutty scent. The ...

Nivea Smooth Nourishing Hand Cream 23/05/2017

'Handy' Product

Nivea Smooth Nourishing Hand Cream I suffer from dry sensitive skin and also experience the occasional bout of eczema. For that reason, I always like to try and keep my hands regularly moisturised as I find they can be a particularly problematic area, thanks to repeated hand washing and exposure to varying temperatures. The Product One of my favourite brands that I trust to soothe and reduce any patches of dry skin and soreness has to be Nivea. I currently have a tube of this 'Nivea Smooth Nourishing' hand cream in my work bag ready for instant moisture whilst at work. Nivea is quite a traditional cream and is a brand that has been used for generations but this particular Nivea Smooth hand cream is much easier to apply than the original, quite thick and heavy cream that I can remember my own mother using. The packaging is simple but informative with a useful 100ml sized tube, ideal for keeping in a handbag or storing in a drawer. The tube has a sturdy flip top lid which dispenses the thick cream slowly and steadily, helping to avoid waste. The Claims Nivea claim that this particular cream softens and smooths dry hands as well as caring for nails and cuticles. 'The rich hand cream with Macadamia nut oil strengthens the skin's protection barrier whilst keeping your hands and cuticles smooth and soft.' As with all Nivea creams, this one is dermatologically approved - so reassuring for anybody with sensitive skin and the formulation is free from colourants. The 'Hydra IQ' boasted about on the front of the ...

All Afloat on Noah's Boat - Tony Mitton 19/05/2017

Clever old Noah

All Afloat on Noah's Boat - Tony Mitton We own a collection of picture books illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees originally purchased as a set from the Book People website. Amongst them is this colourful story about Noah's ark - All Afloat on Noah's Boat which is written by Tony Mitton. The Author Tony Mitton is a popular author of picture books for young children with his best known examples including Spookyrumpus, Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus and Down By The Cool of the Pool, all of which we also own, amongst many others. All of the books share an easy to read format with the clever use of rhythm and rhyme. The Story Based on the Bible story of Noah and his Ark this story understandably features a whole range of animals from the familiar to the exotic. In this version of the story all of the animals find it tough going being contained in the Ark for such a long period and arguments start to ensue. Noah has to think of an event to capture everybody's attention and recognise each others' talents and skills. The story is simply told with a fast pace due to the rhyming language used. The vocabulary included is relevant for the target age group, with the most challenging words including hyenas and caterpillars. The story is supported by really bright and colourful illustrations, with the residents of the ark being particularly attractive and eye catching, thanks to the talents of Guy Parker-Rees. Age Recommendation This particular story has a recommended age recommendation of ages two plus according to the back ...

Phenergan Elixir 16/05/2017

Travelling can Begin Again with Phenergan!

Phenergan Elixir My nine year old son has suffered with travel sickness for a number of years, something that we had become more or less accustomed to, having tried a number of remedies with limited success. By the time he was around four years old and still throwing up during most car journeys, my husband decided that enough was enough, as he no longer wanted to arrive at our destination clutching a bag full of vomit! A visit to our helpful GP resulted in a prescription for Phenergan Elixir. What Is It? Phenergan is an anti-histamine medicine commonly prescribed for allergic reactions (such as hayfever or hives), travel sickness and also used as short term sedative. The active ingredient, according to the information leaflet inside the box, is promethazine hydrochloride. Phenergan is also available in tablet format, which might be better for any adults needing to take this, as well as this liquid (elixir) form which is easier to administer to younger children. This format is recommended for children under ten years of age. Taste The scent and taste of this stuff reminds me of cheap orange squash -loaded with artificial sweeteners and flavourings! The taste is initially quite sweet and syrupy, despite being a sugar free formulation, but this is pretty quickly replaced by a bitter taste which the artificial orange flavouring doesn't quite manage to disguise. (If anything, this reminds me vaguely of the smell and taste of Infacol drops.) Whilst this syrup doesn't have the same appeal as ...

Playmobil Vet Operating Room 07/05/2017

Playtime at the Vets

Playmobil Vet Operating Room Like many parents of young children I try to have a stockpile of reasonably priced presents ready for the inevitable children's birthday parties. I spotted this particular Playmobil set selling for a ridiculously low price on Amazon a while ago and purchased one for the present drawer, hoping to look like a generous parent rather than a thrifty gifter. Unfortunately when the set was delivered the box was quite badly damaged so I ended up giving it to my own kids to get through one long rainy day! The Set This Playmobil set is based on a vet's operating room and includes two Playmobil figures. There are other more substantial sets based on the theme of vets within the Playmobil range but, with a total of 69 pieces included here, this set can be played with as a standalone set or combined with other sets. There is both a male and female figure included within the set which helps to broaden its appeal to both boys and girls. Sadly I suspect the male figure is designed to be the vet and the female the vetinary assistant, based on their clothing, but there is nothing to prevent to prevent the children involved from assigning less traditional gender roles. The clothing itself is not removable but both characters have a removable face mask for more intricate procedures. The set also includes a small selection of poorly pets to be treated, an examination table and a fun 'working' x-ray machine as well as a range of bandages and medication. Assembly As with most Playmobil sets ...

Peppa Pig Peppa and George's Shiny Sticker Play Book 02/05/2017

Stick to Peppa Pig Comics

Peppa Pig Peppa and George's Shiny Sticker Play Book My youngest son is now six and I think we have reached the end of our time of enjoying the Peppa Pig television series, shown regularly on Channel Five's Milkshake children's tv slot and the Nick Junior channel. Peppa Pig and her cute little brother George have been such popular little characters and have produced an ever growing range of merchandise and accessories for parents to part with the hard earned cash. The Product This is a Peppa Pig themed activity and sticker book, with the added appeal that most of the stickers supplied are sparkly and holographic. The book claims to include 200 such sparkly stickers, contained within a pull out section in the middle of the book. It actually feels like far fewer stickers are included as many of them are very small and there are lots of duplicates of the exact same sticker, such as multiple coloured hearts and small stars. Whilst described as a play book, this is only a standard activity with the exterior cover made out of thickened paper and the interior slightly glossy paper, similar to that used within children's magazines. One of the positive aspects of this book is that it should appeal equally to both boys and girls, just as the TV programme does. Some of the merchandise does seem to be heavily steered towards girls with lots of pink features. Here, George has equal billing and the choice of the colours for the stickers seems to recognise that little boys also love sparkly things too but aren't necessarily going to like ...

Playmobil 5894 Pirates Carry Case 26/04/2017

Carry On Pirates!

Playmobil 5894 Pirates Carry Case Much to his excitement, my youngest son had a big birthday party at a local soft play centre last year and was pleased to come away with a bulging sack of gifts from his school friends to celebrate his birthday. Amongst his haul of goodies was this Playmobil branded 'carry case' containing a small pirate themed set. Whilst we've never got addicted to Playmobil in the way that some families seem to do, we have acquired a few sets over the years and have always found Playmobil products to be excellent quality and to offer ongoing play value for young children. Playmobil is certainly a brand leader within the market for these kinds of play sets for imaginative play. The Set This Playmobil set (number 5894) is a relatively small set, although contains enough pieces to enable it to be used independently, without having to spend a small fortune on other Playmobil sets and accessories. Included here are two Playmobil figures so there should be no squabbling around turn taking for siblings. (Insert hollow laugh here!) There is also a small rowing boat included, along with a working cannon, several other tools and small pieces of equipment and - my son's favourite piece- a treasure chest, loaded with gold doubloons! There are, according to the packaging, 63 pieces in total included within this set. This number seems a lot higher than a quick glance across the contents in use would suggest so I suspect this includes each of the tiny gold coins amongst that number. I would keep ...

Easter Holidays 2017 25/04/2017

Family Time at Easter

Easter Holidays 2017 Well the Easter holidays have now come to an end with the three boys safely waved off to school this morning. Despite having two whole weeks off school the time seems to have absolutely flown by and it's a good opportunity to reflect on the time we have spent together as a family. 1) Are you on vacation or at work? I have been working as normal over the holiday period although working part time does still allow plenty of opportunities to spend time with the boys, along with the added advantage of two Bank Holidays to enjoy off work. My time in work over the holiday period has been complicated by many members of the team taking annual leave so it does create additional pressures for the remaining employees as we need to cover any gaps in service and make sure everything carries on as normal. 2) Which activities (with or without kids) did you or do you plan to do? We have been ridiculously busy over these school holidays and have made time for plenty of fun activities around the local area. We have tried to balance more costly activities with cheaper ways of keeping the boys entertained, so there have been lots of days out to local parks and reservoirs, playing football and having fun on the playground rides. Earlier in the year I purchased annual passes for a local wildlife park, knowing that it would be a cost effective way of having fun throughout the year. This particular park (Peak Wildlife Park near Leek - formerly known as Blackbrook) has been under new management ...

Cif Power & Shine Multi Purpose Wipes 23/04/2017

Cleaning in a Ciffy!

Cif Power & Shine Multi Purpose Wipes When it comes to domestic chores my usual strategy is to use the most efficient products to minimise the time I have to spend cleaning. The most effective way of doing this is to do my best to keep on top of the cleaning on a daily basis to avoid grime building up and resulting in a much more time consuming task. This doesn't always go quite to plan and life takes over at times, particularly during school holidays, but the principle itself is a sound one. Amongst the best products that I use regularly for fast and efficient everyday cleaning are these Power and Shine multipurpose cleaning wipes, produced under the Cif brand name (formerly known as Jif in the UK and part of the multinational Unilever brand.) The Product These Power and Shine wipes are sold in a large pack of 90 average sized disposable cleaning wipes. The strong plastic packaging is along the lines of that used for baby wipes and includes a resealable sticky tab so that the packet can be secured between uses. I find the tab does a good job of maintaining its stickiness although it doesn't always last for the duration of the packet, given the generous number of wipes inside. These are antibacterial wipes which promise to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria including salmonella, E coli, listeria and flu viruses. Uses These Cif wipes can be safely used to wipe away dirt and debris from surfaces such as tables, worktops and porcelain items. I use these to wipe down after mealtimes and to give the bin lid a quick ...

Cif Cream White 22/04/2017

Just Add Elbow Grease!

Cif Cream White With three boys in the household I spend far more of my time cleaning than I would ever choose to. I find that I need to buy the best product for the tasks at hand in order to keep the house looking as clean and tidy as possible with relatively little effort. The Product Originally known as Jif in the UK, Cif is now a very familiar brand name, part of the multinational Unilever brand, and its traditional cream cleaner is one of its most well established and familiar products. Cif cream cleaner is available in this Original (white) version and also a Lemon variety. It comes suitability packaged in a slightly flexible elongated plastic bottle featuring a flip top lid which makes it easy to squeeze out sufficient quantities of the cleaning cream without excess waste. The cream itself has a pleasant texture which is runny enough to spread over dirty surfaces whilst being thick enough to remain in place without dripping everywhere. The cream has a pleasant smell with a slightly chemical aroma but far less potent than the smell of other cleaning products such as bleach. Uses Cif cream cleaner is safe to use on numerous surfaces around the family home. It can be used to add shine to polished surfaces such as bathroom or kitchen taps. Its best results are achieved on surfaces such as chrome, porcelain, stainless steel and hard plastics although some people swear by this stuff to clean up tough fabrics and canvas products. Ease of Use I find this cleaning cream easy to ...

Outwell Dreamcatcher Sleeping Mat 22/04/2017

Dream a Little Dream of Me

Outwell Dreamcatcher Sleeping Mat Having been persuaded to give camping a go last summer, by my other half, I agreed on the clear understanding that we would not be 'roughing it' and whatever luxuries were required to make the experience more enjoyable and comfortable for all of us would be purchased, within reason. Unfortunately, our budget did not quite stretch to the full on 'glamping' experience but we did run to some additional purchases that Bear Grylls would probably deem to be pretty non-essential. One of my biggest concerns about the prospect of camping was the sleeping arrangements and the potential for lack of sleep if these weren't spot on. Our tent was large enough to allow for two separate 'bedroom' areas and I wanted to make sure that I was as comfortable as possible during the night so that I was best placed to endure, sorry enjoy, the next day. The Product The answer to my quest for a comfortable night's sleep appeared to be one of these 'Dreamcatcher' sleeping mats, manufactured by Outwell. Outwell are a well established brand for decent quality camping gear and were also the makers of our tent and several other items amongst our camping equipment. This particular mat is much better than the standard style of thin roll out camping mat or a basic airbed and is what experienced campers refer to as a 'SIM' - a Self Inflating Mat. This offers some of the comfort of an inflatable air bed with none of the hassle of actually physically pumping them up! It sounded a bit odd to me, initially, but ...
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