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sandemp

sandemp

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Burn the land and boil the sea...you can't take the sky from me. Ok so I'm struggling to write a meaningful comment with every rate so apologies in advance for the generic coments

Reviews written

since 21/10/2002

630

Lamaze Makai the Monkey 20/12/2014

Monkeying Around

Early Learning Centre Rhythm Band 19/12/2014

I Am The Music Man

Early Learning Centre Rhythm Band The ELC Rhythm Band is a toy that my eldest child owned over twenty years ago, a toy that lasted four children before being passed on to another family member. So a toy that I was only to happy to re-purchase as a birthday gift for fourteen month old Baby JJ, secure in the knowledge that he would enjoy playing with it and it would survive the rather rough treatment it would receive in a house that a behaviourally challenged four year old also calls home. The fact that it was half price only made it easier for me to add it to my online shopping basket and so Baby JJ received it as a first birthday present from his big brother. What Mummy Thinks The first thing I have to say is that I really don't think that this has changed at all in the last twenty plus years, it really does look exactly the same as the Rhythm Band my eldest son owned. Right with that bit of nostalgia over lets take a look at the Rhythm Band. Formed of durable plastic the Rhythm Band comes in two parts, the main unit and a beater/drumstick. The main unit is an eye-catching bright red and features four different stations, each of which is a different “musical instrument”. On the right hand side there is a four bar glockenspiel (glockenspiels have metal keys, xylophones have wooden), each of the bars is nice and chunky making it easy for a younger toddler to accurately hit them and they all give of distinct notes with a nice clear ring. OK your child is not going to play a symphony on them, but with some ...

Lamaze Shiver The Sharpei 18/12/2014

Comforting Shiver

Lamaze Octivity Time 17/12/2014

Octivity Time

Lamaze Octivity Time While the majority of soft toys within the Lamaze Play and Grow range are advertised as suitable from birth, Octivity Time is a rare exception and sold as being suitable for babies over the age of six months. With that out of the way, this rather cute octopus was given to Baby JJ by his big brother last Christmas, when Baby JJ was just a couple of months old and apart from the fact that the activities are more suited to older babies, there is nothing about him that would make him inherently unsafe for the under 6 month old. A Mummy's View With a recommended retail price of £17.99, it's well worth shopping round as he is currently available on Amazon at a far more reasonable £9.99 and I paid a little less (£7.29) last year. One of the larger Lamaze toys, Octivity Time is supplied in a cardboard box, from which he will need to be extracted before play. I can't remember how difficult it was to release him, it couldn't have been that hard if it didn't stick in my memory, but I do remember feeling a little surprised at the box, almost every other Lamaze toy we've owned has simply had a tag attached. Apart from the size, the first thing that hit me about Octivity is how beautifully soft he is, he has a large, cuddly head made of soft plush, with four silky tags on the top of his head, large expressive eyes and smiling mouth, that all combine to make him totally huggable. In fact for the first few months, that's exactly what he spent the majority of the time being used for, a ...

Sculpey Etch N Pearl 16/12/2014

My Go To Tools

Sculpey Etch N Pearl Although you really don't “need” anything to work with polymer clay other than your hands, a sharp blade and maybe a toothpick, there are a multitude of different tools on the market, some more useful than others. Among the most used tools in my arsenal would have to be this set of Sculpey Etch “N” Pearl tools, that I paid around £6 for several months ago. Housed within a blister pack you will find three different diameter metal skewers, all around 20cm in length and tapering to a point with a “unique” concave at the other end. Sculpey sell these tools as being perfect for adding fine detail and piercing beads, for holding beads during baking and creating a raised “pearl” pattern. But I'm not Sculpey, I'm an enthusiastic amateur and now I'm going to share what I use these for. I guess that among my most common use for these tools is to create various sized raised dots for adding texture or creating faux screws and rivets (on Steam-punk pieces). I love that there are the three sizes to choose from, with the smallest creating “pearls” of around 2.5mm in diameter, the middle 5mm and the largest 7mm (approx). This means that I can make pearls that are appropriate to the piece I am working on, although I have to admit more often than not it'll be the middle tool I use. To use these to create pearls, you need to condition and roll out a sheet of clay, which you then lay on a smooth surface (I use a glass place mat). How thick you roll out the clay depends on the size tool you ...

Wee Notions Fairy Hammocks 15/12/2014

Mummy Fluff

Wee Notions Fairy Hammocks *Due to the nature of the product this review is going to talk about blood, periods, sanitary protection and lady bits. If you don't want to read about these then I suggest you click away, otherwise read on. Why Go Cloth? Having made the decision to use cloth nappies and wipes on Baby JJ's bottom, I suppose it was a natural progression to make the choice to use cloth sanitary pads (CSP) for myself. After all most if not all of the same reasoning behind using them would apply. As with nappies, disposable sanitary pads will takes decades/centuries to decompose (if they ever do), filling land-fill with potentially hazardous bodily waste and thus having a detrimental effect on the environment and that's not even considering the effect production has. Then there's the cost factor, over a woman's lifetime, she may have as many as 400 menstrual cycles (how scary is that?) using at least one pack of sanitary towels or tampons per cycle at an average cost of £2 a pack, totalling at least £800 just to soak up blood and if you're anything like me it's more like two packs a cycle. I dread to think how much I've spent over the years and personally believe that at the very least VAT should be removed from the price (Sanitary protection is not a luxury, as women we do not make the choice to bleed once a month), but until then there's cloth. Finally there's the health factor, as women we are all (or should be) aware of the dangers of toxic shock syndrome when using tampons and those who ...

VTech Little Singing Bear 14/12/2014

A Noisy Little Bear

VTech Little Singing Bear Any parent will tell you that choosing a present for a very young baby is a headache to say the least, do you buy something suitable from birth, that is unlikely to be played with for long or do you buy something suitable for slightly older (3 months+) knowing it won't be that long before Baby is able to play with it? Baby JJ was just two months old last Christmas, so not only was I faced with that exact quandary for ourselves, but I also had to suggest presents for all the relatives. Along with countless Lamaze toys, one of the gifts Santa ended up bringing was this, Little Singing Alfie Bear, a toy advertised as being suitable from 3-18 months. What Mummy Thinks First things first, let's start with a parent's eye view of this electronic toy and the very first thing I have to say is that he is not blue as in the picture, he is very much a bog standard teddy bear beige with a red belly. He may be available in blue and pink variants, but our bear is most definitely beige. Other than colour though he does look like the product photo, he has a soft, plush head and arms and legs and a hard plastic body. This means that although he does have an inviting, smiling face, he is not in the least bit cuddly, in fact in almost a year I've never seen Baby JJ snuggle to sleep with him even the once (unlike his Lamaze toys). Considering the hard plastic body, Alfie is actually quite lightweight which combined with the fairly small size (approximately 20cm tall), makes him pretty easy for ...

Lamaze Play and Grow Stretch The Giraffe 13/12/2014

A Perfect Present for Baby

Lamaze Play and Grow Stretch The Giraffe Marketed as being suitable from birth to 36 months (3 years), Stretch the Giraffe was one of many Lamaze Play and Learn soft toys that Santa brought for Baby JJ last year when he was around 2 months old (Baby JJ not Santa, Santa is far more than a year old). Santa picked Stretch out as a gift because he knew how much Baby JJ's big brother had loved his Lamaze toys and Stretch was offered at quite a large discount on Amazon (with all the millions of children to buy for Santa does have to watch the pennies). Standing approximately 30cm from hoof to horn tip (give or take a centimetre or two) Stretch impressed Santa with his sheer size. He is certainly one of the taller toys in the Play and Learn range, but still light enough for even a fairly young baby to lift. While still very obviously a giraffe, Stretch is almost cartoon-like with big expressive eyes (embroidered not button) and a friendly smiling mouth and while not as packed as, say, Freddie the Firefly, he does have a fair number of textures, colours and sounds for baby to explore. Stretch has a beautifully soft plush body, featuring raised bumps, that makes him perfect for cuddling, Baby JJ has always particularly liked rubbing his face against Stretch's fur while cuddling his perfectly stuffed body. He also has lots of tags and sticky-out bits such as knotted horns and tails and silky ears, to explore and chew on. Just as with most fourteen month old toddlers, Baby JJ still loves to explore things with his mouth and ...

Early Learning Centre Glockenspiel 12/12/2014

Ear Muffs Not Included

Early Learning Centre Glockenspiel Do you have a child who enjoys making music or even just banging on things or making lots of noise? Do you have a high tolerance of repetitive, tuneless din, or are you a grandparent who doesn't actually have to live with said din? Are you good with your hands and prepared to regularly be called in to repair toys or know someone who is? Do you enjoy the pain of being hit with a hard plastic stick, or do you enjoy constantly repeating the phrases “don't hit your brother” and “don't hit the ornaments”? If the answer to all these questions is yes, then why not buy the child the ELC glockenspiel as a stocking filler for Christmas and make their day. Seriously, I've made it sound like this is an evil toy, but still it's one that F was thrilled to receive on his fourth birthday and one that he gets all excited about when I “find” it again after it's been “lost” for a few days. The plastic frame is a little flimsy and has barely survived F's play but the metal bars are coated with brightly coloured paint that hasn't yet chipped and each of the keys plays with a nice, clear, metallic ring, which blends in to a very satisfying “zing” when the supplied beaters are swept along the keys/bars. It's also easy to fix after the keys are pulled away from the frame, which is something that happens far, far too often, like several times a day/hour/play session. The beaters are also rather flimsy and yet perversely still hard enough to mark when used to hit a little brother. They also seem to ...

Sculpey Translucent Liquid 26/11/2014

Multi-tasking Liquid Clay

Sculpey Translucent Liquid Polymer clay is a wonderful medium to work with, there are so many different techniques and skills to play with and that's just in it's solid form. Add liquid clay in to the mix and the possibilities really are endless. There are several different brands of polymer clay on the market, some easier to get hold of than others, each with slightly different properties that make them best suited to different tasks. Along with Fimo Art Deco Gel and Kato Liquid Polyclay, Translucent Liquid Sculpey (TLS), is one of the more common brands/types of liquid clay, is available in two sizes (2/8oz) and is reasonably easy to get hold of. Until you actually get your hands on a bottle of TLS, it's hard to imagine just how many different ways you could use it, I'm pretty sure that even now I've only scratched the surface and I've been playing for a couple of weeks. I guess it's most basic use is as a “glue” to hold pieces of clay together or even to “glue” other media to the polymer clay (or clay to other media). I have to say that although it does work for this, it's not quite as good as Sculpey Bake and Bond, the TLS is not quite as thick and the baked hold not quite as secure. But if I didn't have any Bake and Bond to hand then this does a perfectly acceptable job. A task where TLS does a far better, or even fantastic job is image transfer, a fantastic technique that adds an extra dimension to lots of pieces. You can buy special sheets of images for transfer or print your own on a laser ...

Lamaze Puppytunes 23/11/2014

Boring Puppytunes

Sculpey Texture Maker - Lace 21/11/2014

Can Be Pretty

Sculpey Texture Maker - Lace Out of all of my stamps and texture makers the Sculpey Texture Maker in Lace would probably have to be the least used, which is a shame as it was one of the hardest to find. I was completely unable to source this from a UK retailer, instead resorting to a US based third party seller on Amazon, who was selling it for a reasonable if not slightly inflated price. Although originally designed to be used with polymer, this deep cut, semi-transparent, 12x6.5cm stamp can also be used to stamp on paper or to texture air drying clay, but I have only used it with various brands of polymer clay. As a simple texture stamp it does a pretty good job, the combination of small size, flexibility and deep cut means it's easy to get good definition. In theory the transparency should make it easy to line the design up for texturing larger areas, but to be honest I find the design just a little too fussy. Don't get me wrong, the design is very pretty, Lace is a good name for the sheet as it is indeed very lace-like, but that Lace look is created by using lots of tiny raised areas, there are circles, curls, leaves and flowers, all covered in raised detail, very pretty, but very fussy. Still it does look very pretty when used on a sheet of black clay and then highlighting the texture with shimmering mica powders. But I do think it's best used to actually stamp with ink on light coloured (or alcohol ink coated) clay with black ink. Doing this gives lots of areas of interest to cut with cutters to ...

Lamaze Torin the T-Rex 20/11/2014

Rawr

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Remote 17/11/2014

I've Got The Remote And I'm Ready To Roll

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Remote Grey and vaguely remote control shaped the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Remote Control is a rather noisy addition to the Laugh and Learn range of toys, designed to provide a fun, noisy and interactive way for babies and toddlers learn about the world around them. Other toys within the range include a camera, smart phone, cookie jar and even a chair, all of which feature button to press, skills to master and annoying, loud, electronic sounds and ditties. Advertised as suitable for babies and toddlers from 6-36 months, the Remote Control is formed from durable plastic (durable enough to survive being thrown across the room to hit the wall), with lots of buttons to press, a friendly smiling face and even a light that flashes. There's a sliding on/off switch on the side, which is great for when the ridiculously cheerful tunes start to annoy, but is fairly easy for Baby to master. If the sounds do become too much then there is a volume control, but as it's one of the buttons on the front of the control, just as the sanity begins to return, Baby will accidentally find the button and it'll be at top volume again. Among the other buttons there for Baby to press are stop/go, channel up/down, two different songs and a numerical keypad. Each button gives a different noise and your absolute favourite (please note the irony) will be the song buttons. The incredibly upbeat lyrics include the endearingly catchy, ”turn the music high or low, up or down, stop or go” and “I've got the remote ...

Sculpey Texture Maker - Alligator 15/11/2014

Getting Snappy With It

Sculpey Texture Maker - Alligator Polymer clay is absolutely amazing, it can be used in so many different ways to create a multitude of different effects, but it's even more amazing when you use tools with it. One of my favourite ways of adding interest to my polymer clay creations is by using texture sheets and one of my current favourites is this Sculpey Texture Maker in Alligator. This 12x6.5cm piece of flexible, transparent, yellow, polymer clay friendly is fairly deeply textured with an alligator skin design. The texture maker can be used for several techniques including mica shift and backfilling (don't worry I will explain these terms) along with simply making impressions or even printing with ink. I'm not going to say it's the best at all this tasks, but at the £2,75 I paid for it, it does a good enough a job at some and is brilliant at others. It's hardly surprising that the first thing I used this for was to create a textured bangle. I conditioned (softened by kneading) a long strip of black clay (Fimo Soft), dusted the texture sheet with cornflour (my go to release agent) and set to work texturing the clay. The fact that the sheet is flexible means that it's easy to apply even pressure along the whole of the sheet, either with your hand or an acrylic roller. Slightly disappointingly the sheet is nowhere long enough to texture enough clay to create a bangle in one go, so it does need to be moved along. The transparency does make lining impressions up fairly easy though. After texturing the black ...
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