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Autarkis

Autarkis
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Member since: 01.10.2008

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      17.03.2014 11:00
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      A fun and novel stress ball that eases stress and tension

      Whilst browsing on Amazon looking for a gift for my friend, I was left rubbing my head wondering what to get him. I love buying gifts for people, but I do get in a tizzy and have to get something that I perceive to be the perfect gift for the recipient. I can spend hours agonizing over what to go with. On Amazon, there's a multitude of products on offer with something for everyone. However, unless you have an idea of what you are looking for it can seem like a minefield. Eventually, I was just throwing random search phrases in, hoping something would appeal.

      After shuffling through Amazon's pages I was intrigued by a curled up purple man by the name of Paul. I decided to take a closer look, and decided that this would be a nice little gift to go alongside a few other bits. Paul is a purple, rubber man that is curled up holding his head in a sorry state, looking rather stressed. What a great idea for a stress ball. It certainly appealed to me. I just loved the concept. I also thought this would make a good gift for anyone, as we all need a bit of stress relief from time to time, as everyone is subject to stress with the many demands of life.


      When Stress ball Paul arrived, he was packaged in that toughened plastic that takes a lot of effort to get open, and often leaves a stressed feeling. I suppose this is a good way to test the product. I wasn't going to open it, as I wanted to give it as a present. However, I was curious of the texture and I just couldn't resist him. The glossy purple man looked as though he would be soft and sticky feeling.

      My curiosity had me battling with the annoyingly, frustrating packaging for what seemed like forever. I finally managed to release my new friend and I was ready to relieve some of that stress and tension. I found that he fits perfectly in the hand, and the fact that he is a curled up man makes him a good shape to manipulate in the hand. As a stress reliever it works brilliantly. He is soft and squishy and can take a good squeeze, and each and every time he reverts back to his original shape. This alone is impressive, as he certainly gets a good going over.

      The smooth texture feels nice in the hand, and the soft and pliable material gives enough resistance for it to benefit. I find Paul to be far, far better than an ordinary stress ball, not just because he is a purple, vivid, nude man with a smooth bottom, but because the shape fits comfortably in the hand and the extra nobly bits - his feet, are fun to manipulate, too. He is smooth all over apart from on the sole of his foot where he is imprinted with his designer's name - Suck UK.

      Paul is a great man that always gives me a smile every time I pick him up, and the purple colour is rather relaxing, as is the soft but resistant material he is constructed from. He is of a good quality, and worth the retail price of £7.50, as he's not just gimmicky and fun to look at, but he is actually fun and relaxing to handle.

      My son requires fidget toys, and Stress ball Paul certainly appeals to him. He often opts for Paul when he dives into the fidget drawer. My little boy is in fact stronger than I, and he has a stronger grip. He has certainly pulled and squeezed Paul about and tested him to the limits. Surprisingly, after months of torture Paul is still in great shape with no damage, cracks or signs of wear. If he is left rolling about on the carpet, or in a bitty drawer, he does attract fluff and the likes. When this happens, I simply give him a wash under the warm tap and this restores him back to his super smooth, clean self.

      I'm glad I decided to open Paul and keep him for myself, as he has proved to be a good little buy. Unlike other stress balls that get forgotten about or damaged after a short time, Paul is never to be forgotten and he is always happy to be squeezed to an inch of his life. Another advantage of Paul is that he doesn't roll away when placed on a surface, or if he is dropped, and the size and shape make him easy to fit into a pocket or bag to be available for those stressful times.

      I have only praise for Paul, as he's bold, cheeky and fun! I find him nice to manipulate when I'm concentrating or bored, as well as when feeling stressed. Stress ball Paul is a great companion to have to hand to help you through difficult times throughout the day. He is good to use in the home, or would be just as good in an office, or work environment. He makes a great gift, but why not get one for yourself? You won't be able to resist him. Relieve the stress and take it out on Paul.

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        05.03.2014 11:30
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        A makeup bag must-have that is great also for taking out and about

        I strive for smooth hairless skin, and I have been plucking my eyebrows since I was a teen. I already had a good set of tweezers from that I was more than happy with, however, I was attracted to these, as they are smaller making them ideal for travelling, and come with a tube for storage. I have heard many positive things about their Tweezerman tweezers, and I have a pair of their hairdressing scissors which have been a brilliant buy.

        The incredibly sharp tip is the sharpest I have ever come across, which has its advantages and disadvantages. With the tip being so sharp it is precise and easily grabs at the smallest and finest hairs that are only just visible to the eye, however, the downside is, if you're not careful it can nip the skin, with care and control though this isn't likely. I love the fact that they are so precise, and make it so much easier to grab those fine hairs.

        The mini tweezers are more affordable at £12 as opposed to the full size tweezers from their range which are priced around the £20 mark. This also encouraged me to purchase these over the more expensive larger ones. I must say that I favour these over the larger ones, as I find them easier to manage and handle. The small size is actually favourable for the ease of use, and these are the ones I reach for over my other full size set from their range. They are just the right size to hold comfortably.

        The tube that is supplied with the tweezers is a great idea, as it stores them away neatly and prevents them from becoming damaged or blunted. It is a far better way to keep the tip from becoming damaged, as often the small protective plastic tip cover that is standard with most tweezers is easily lost. I love the tube, as I always return the tweezers to the tube after use. This keeps them in good condition and protects the tip. Also, it makes it easier to find them in your makeup bag.

        Like all Tweezerman tweezers these are incredibly precise. They grab each hair individually, and allow for a fast a clean job of eradicated those unwanted hairs. There is nothing more frustrating than trying several times to grab a hair to fail or not actually pull it out. These take away that frustration, and I never miss a hair, even those fine fair ones. Getting close to the brow you can sometimes have one or two hairs that need to be removed, this doesn't cause worry, as I know that I can easily remove the one hair I want without messing up the brow line.

        These cute small sized tweezers come in several colours and patterns, allowing you to choose a design you like. I actually have the paw print design and the same ones again in just a mint green colour. I liked them that much that I actually have two pairs. That is testament to just how good they are. They are actually my favourites over all the different tweezers I've owned over the years. These have lasted me a good amount of time, too. Due to the fact that they are neatly stored away in their protective tube, they are less likely to be lost.

        While these may appear expensive when you can get tweezers for a pound, you certainly can tell the difference. Also with these, you will get years of service without the need to replace them. The stainless steel tip keeps its precision and this doesn't change over time and a heavy amount of use. The enamel coated handle also remains just as perfect, as the enamel coating protects the finish allowing it to keep its colour and pattern. So, not only do they continue to look like new, they continue to perform like new each and every time without fail.

        These tweezers come in a range of colours and patterns and may be found cheaper on Amazon depending on the design you go for. They are the best pair of tweezers you'll ever own, and you won't need to replace them. Inferior brands often need replacing, making them no cheaper as you need to buy new when they become blunt. These will continue performing to a high standard time and time again.

        To make the task of tweezing easy wash the eyebrow area with warm water, or pluck after showering. It is best the area is clean and free from products and the warm water opens the pores making plucking slightly less painful. Clean the tip of the tweezers from hair between plucking, this can be done with a clean tissue. I either wipe mine on a tissue after each hair removal to remove the hair, or I blow the hair from off of the tip, and sometimes I use hot water in the basin and just swish the tweezers through the water. After use it is best to clean them and ensure they are dry before placing them back into their tube.

        These are my all-time favourite tweezers that I wouldn't be without. They not only look cute, they are incredibly accurate and take the frustration and stress out the tedious task of plucking eyebrows.

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          26.02.2014 10:25
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          There's Nairn Better

          As I am a vegetarian and an active full time Mum I like to try to follow a healthy diet that provides me with energy. Although I have a sweet tooth, I aim to keep my diet balanced in order to remain healthy. I try to shop once a week to save time and money. I generally buy some form of savoury crackers to keep for the end of the week when the bread has run out. I also like to keep crackers in for snacks and packed lunches that have a long shelf life and are easy to store.

          I'm always looking for healthy options, as not only do I try to maintain good health, I also like to provide my son with a nutrient-rich diet that is healthy. There's a vast range of crackers to choose from, some which are healthier than others. I like to vary my options and try different foods to keep it interesting. I decided to try the Nairn's Oatcakes, which are available in a few different varieties. I opted for the Fine Milled Oat cakes, as I thought these would be delicate and easy to eat.

          The Oat Cakes are packaged within a box, which prevents them from becoming broken or crumbled, as well as keeping them fresh. The box holds 250g containing six clear packets of individually packaged Oatcakes. Each pack contains eight Oat Cakes that are easy to open, even for little ones. Having them individually wrapped is a great idea, as it allows them to be stored for longer, as well as making it easy to pop a packet into a bag to take out.

          I am unsure as to why they provide them in packs of eight, as I think this is too much for a single serving for some. Luckily my little boy is happy to share, and we have half each. The Oat Cakes are thin as they are finely milled, and they offer a crispy treat. They have a pleasant creamy oat taste and texture that is easy to eat. The baked Oat Cakes are a naturally healthy option, as they consist of wholegrain oats and are wheat free. They are also free from GM ingredients, artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They consist of few ingredients which is always good as far as I'm concerned.

          Nairn's Oatcakes are a good source of fibre, and the carbohydrates provide natural energy. The wholegrain oats slowly release energy to keep you feeling energized throughout the day. This is one of the reasons why I regularly buy Nairn's products, as they are filling and provide energy. The Fine Milled Oat Cakes make for a great snack, or as part of a healthy lunch. I actually enjoy eating these plain, as they are scrumptious. I also find that they go well with sweet or savoury toppings. This makes them incredibly versatile. Personally, I enjoy these with cheese and salad, peanut butter or chocolate spread.

          I often take a packet out with me when we go out for the day, as they can be eaten plain straight from the packet. As they are filling and release energy, I always opt for these over any other savoury cracker. My 4 year old son is rather partial to these Oat Cakes, and he will more than happily eat an entire pack of eight. He actually goes crazy for these. Although, I find four is sufficient enough. I find these the perfect snack, with only one or two needed to fill the gap, and for a part of a lunch where four Oat Cakes is enough for one serving.

          Nairn's produce a range of Oat Cakes, biscuits and Oat Bakes which are all irresistible. They are widely available in supermarkets and Holland and Barratt also stock them, and they can be found in the savoury aisle among the biscuits and crackers. The boxes are easy to identify with the product name being prominent. For some unknown reason the Fine Milled Oat Cakes are the lowest priced in their range at my local supermarket, you can expect to pay anywhere between 0.65p to £1.29 for a 250g box depending on where they are purchased from.

          To view the full range, visit their website:

          www.nairns-oatcakes.com

          Ingredients for those interested:

          Wholegrain oats (84%), sea salt, raising agent (sodium bicarbonate), sustainable palm oil.
          For a sweet or savoury treat try Nairn's Oatcakes for a healthy and filling option.

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            30.01.2014 10:14
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            An indulgent skin product that gently exfoliate naturally

            Like many of us showering for me is a daily ritual. I like to wash away the daily grind. It is also the one time during the day that I can indulge and pamper my skin. I like to feel clean and refreshed and I like to know that what I am using on my skin is kind to my skin as well as the planet.

            The skin is the largest organ in the body and whatever we use on it is absorbed into the skin. I avoid using chemicals and synthetic products where possible. Burt's Bees has become one of my favourite brands for skin care products as they use natural ingredients and no synthetic fragrances are used in their products, so they smell great too.

            After sampling this exfoliating body wash in a gift set I was so impressed with it that I decided to order a full sized bottle. Although it is quite expensive at £11.74 for 350ml, I knew that it was worth the high price tag, as it is far kinder to my skin and it leaves it feeling silky smooth. I'm also not as extravagant with products that are more costly so I find they last well. I also believe that you get what you pay for, and with Burt's Bees products you certainly do get a treat. I really admire their ethos as their products are sourced and produced from natural ingredients and they are cruelty free, which is something that is important to me.

            The exfoliating body wash is housed in a cylindrical bottle that is sourced from 80% post consumer waste. Burt's Bees use the minimal amount of packaging on their products; the material of the bottle is rather thin making the bottle pliable. The contents are sourced and produced from 92.02% earth friendly natural ingredients. The body wash is packed with natural goodness, and no nasty chemicals are present here. The bottle is very tactile and it fits comfortable in the palm of my hand, it has a press down lid which is favourable with me.

            I'm not generally a fan of exfoliating products as I find that they are too abrasive and damaging to the skin. I am however a huge Burt's Bees fan, so I had high expectations and I was looking forward to using this body wash. Exfoliating beads in commercial big-brand body washes and facial scrubs are generally made from plastic, which are damaging to the environment as these end up in the sea and they are non biodegradable, meaning they are harmful to nature, the environment and creatures.

            Jojoba beads are a natural exfoliant and therefore they will be a lot gentler on the skin, they are completely biodegradable and are a renewable resource. The prominent ingredients in this body wash are jojoba beads and royal jelly, the jojoba beads gently exfoliate while the royal jelly moisturises. Exfoliating washes are designed to leave the skin smooth and help even skin tone.

            The wash can be applied using your hands or you can use a sponge or wash cloth, I personally prefer to use my hands when washing with an exfoliating product as I find it is easier to wash over the skin and the beads don't get lost in the sponge. The wash has a subtle fruity scent to it, only a little squeeze is needed and only a small amount of the product is needed. The soap is toffee brown in colour and it has a thin consistency to it, I always worry that it will slip through my fingers, however gently rubbing it together in my hands creates a frothy creamy white lather. The exfoliating beads feel incredibly gentle against the skin, but they still produce good results. The soap feels creamy and moisturising as I massage it into the skin and the jojoba beads effectively but gently exfoliate the skin leaving it feeling soft and clean. Emerging from the shower my skin feels soft to the touch and it feels nourished and conditioned. The gentle scent is still present on the skin but it is very subtle.

            I like to use this at the end of the day to remove dead skin and rejuvenate my skin, it is mild enough to use daily and the beads are gentle enough to use on any skin type as my skin is prone to drying and can feel a little delicate at times. I have also used this on my face at times as it is gentle enough even for the most delicate areas of skin. It doesn't scratch or tug at the skin and it doesn't' damage the skin either. I really like this exfoliating body wash as it is a pleasure to use and it leaves my skin feeling cleansed, nourished and radiant. I am on my second bottle of this now and it lasts well as a little goes a long way so it can be used sparingly. I would rather spend more on a product that is sourced and produced from natural ingredients that is kind to the planet and my skin.

            The body wash can be used on a daily basis as it is mild enough; it is gentle on the skin as it is made from natural ingredients so I don't worry about it drying my skin. I find that I use it most days before retiring for the evening, as it removes all the grime and any products that are present on my skin; it leaves my skin feeling incredibly soft so it has become a favourite.

            The high price tag may be off putting, but once you try this body wash you will be amazed at how soft it leaves your skin.

            92.09% natural
            12 fl oz / 350 ml Bottle
            £11.74

            You can find out more about Burt's Bees and see their full range of products on their website:

            www.burtsbees.co.uk

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              14.01.2014 10:28
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              Love the smoothness, but beware, it may promote in-grown hairs which are unsightly and painful

              We girls strive for smooth skin, and body hair is just an inconvenience for us. I hate having hair on my body in places it is not needed. I must have spent hours of my life painstakingly removing unwanted hair, for it to come back not long after. This tiring chore is a real bore. However, I want that smooth skin, and in my quest I will give anything a go. When I was a teenager I was eager to start shaving, however, my Dad wasn't for the idea. This didn't stop me however; as soon as I was able, I was shaving to remove that unsightly hair.

              When I was young I didn't mind shaving myself to improve my appearance and make myself feel more feminine. However, as time has gone on it seems like a relentless task that needs to be done often. With a busy lifestyle I value my time and try to fit as much into a day as possible. Time and energy are not on my side when it comes to taking care of me. My son always comes first and takes prime place in my life. However, I still want to look and feel my best.


              Razors, creams and electric shavers . . . Oh my!

              I'm not a fan of using razors, as they get limited use before ending up in landfill. This I find is unnecessary waste, and not a good item to send to landfill. I do like the closeness of the shave however, and the ease of shaving with a razor. I have gone on to using a lady shaver but I found this to not come close to the same results, plus the foils would easily break on me, and this became a costly affair. Next I dabbled with hair removing creams, which are smelly, messy and can aggravate the skin. By this point I was feeling a little fed up, and bewildered by the amount of products that are out there for the task of removing body hair.

              Continuing on my quest, I have tried various other methods, which proved costly, painful and never left my skin smoother any longer than shaving with a razor. The smooth feeling after shaving with a razor is wonderful, however, the hairs grow back darker within 48 hours and are course and prickly, which is not desirable.


              >> Was I prepared to torture myself?

              After having my son I was eager to find an alternative way to get smooth skin, and on my quest I was browsing around Boots and happened on the epilators. I pondered, and thought they would be painful and pondered some more. Standing there for some time looking puzzled at the several epilators on display a young sales assistant approached me to offer help. She assured me that the first time might be uncomfortable, but after that I would become accustomed to it. In the end I plumped to purchase one, and went with this model on her advice for what I wanted it for. I paid less than the retail price at the time as it happened to be on offer. However, this particular model will set you back by about £89.


              >> Let's not get hasty

              It is said that this epilator can remove hairs as small as a grain of sand, impressive. It also features 40 tweezers to remove the hair, ouch! I know how painful it can be to remove one single hair with tweezers, I wasn't sure about 40! However, this is said to remove more hair in a single stroke and reach the finer hairs to give a smoother finish. It features a pivoting head to glide against the contours of the body, and a brilliant smart light to help guide you. There are two settings being either soft or fast depending on which you would prefer. It can be washed under the tap for excellent hygiene and has a removable head and other attachments.


              >> Get a grip!

              You need a 2-pin plug adapter to use this, and once plugged in it's ready to go. I reluctantly switched it onto the gentle setting, and oh my! The 40 teeth look terrifying and they pivot frantically. I wondered if they were supposed to be exposed and if I was to place it directly onto my skin. I didn't rush that's for sure. It did take a bit of courage to get going. I did a quick small swipe up my leg and was horrified by the feeling. It certainly wasn't good. I sat for a while feeling mortified. However, I plucked up the courage to continue. Gripping the unit tightly my hands was feeling moist from the intensity of it.


              >> You'd think with 40 tweezers you'd be done in no time!

              Not one to give in, I had to get the task done. The areas that had been epilated certainly looked great. The smart light is certainly a smart idea, and you cannot imagine how useful this feature is. It makes it so much easier to see the hairs and shows just how impressive the results are. I was a little put off by the time it took to do just the one leg. I was epilating for a good 30 minutes, and still had the other leg to do. It does leave the skin a little sore afterwards, so it isn't wise to do this before heading out as it could leave the skin looking red and swollen.


              >> Silky smooth

              It did leave my legs tingling and feeling uncomfortable for some time after; however, they felt silky smooth when brushed under the bed sheets. The following day my legs were silky smooth and I couldn't help but admire them. I was impressed with the results. They remained hair free for some time, and what's better is the hair grows back finer, meaning that it is less visible and you don't get that nasty prickly hair. I bit my lip and epilated again and soon became used to it over time. The feeling is still there, but you get used to it. I still grip the unit tight and I'm still a little apprehensive to get going with it each time. However, once started it is good to see the hair being removed.


              >> So good, I want to do it again!

              With continued practice, the time it takes to get smooth legs takes an unreasonable amount of time. I suppose when you factor in shaving every other day or so, it is probably less work. However, unless you have a good amount of time to epilate, it isn't for you. I found that after a few months of use epilating every 4-6 weeks I was noticing smooth patches where the hair wasn't growing back - yippee.


              >> Painstakingly slow and more horror to come . . .

              I did find it time consuming, and as well as epilating you are to regularly exfoliate and moisturise the skin. I'm not overly keen with the exfoliating, as this is harsh to the skin. However, I maintained these to continue getting the desired result. Until one day I felt an uncomfortable area of skin of my leg that was feeling itchy. Whilst in the shower one night, I could feel the uncomfortable skin, but couldn't properly see what it was. A couple of days later I noticed it was ingrown hairs - yikes! I've never had this before, and I must say, it looks unsightly, red bumps along the skin and feels really itchy and horrible. I wasn't pleased to say the least.


              >> Unsightly painful bumps leave me in fear

              I had no idea on how to get rid of ingrown hair, and tried exfoliating paying more attention to this patch of skin. I went on to use a witch hazel ointment, and eventually used some pointed tweezers to tease the hair out. You are not supposed to pull the hair, only tease it out. The redness and pain took a little while to go down. Since this occurred, I have not used my epilator again. It has really put me off altogether. Due to the fact that the hairs grow back finer, there is more chance of this occurring. I am unsure on how long it would take for the hair to completely stop growing back, or even if that would happen.


              >> Never again
              I have asked several sales assistants in Boots since for advice, yet they seem to be limited on knowledge and advice. I'm not left feeling confident with returning back to using the epilator, in the worry of having in-grown hairs again. They can get really bad and they are really hard to get rid. The hair grows flat and the skin grows over the hair, yuck, leaving unsightly, painful, red bumps. It is a shame that this happened, as this seemed to prove a good way to have smoother skin for longer.


              >> Shave or epiliate

              The epilator is still in excellent condition and needs little maintenance. Simply use the little brush to remove the loose hairs from the unit with a bit of blowing, and rinse under the tap. Other than that, the unit seems to be robust and hard wearing. There is also a shaver-head attachment that comes with this unit which I found to be a good surprise. I have used this a few times, and it is easy to change between the two heads. It works perfectly well, and is of a good quality. The unit comes with a drawstring bag to keep it stored together neatly when not in use.


              >> What else do you get?

              You get a small pack of Olay pre-epilation wipes; however, I don't think these do much. They look like a baby wipe and are to be rubbed over the skin prior to epilation. There is also an efficiency cap supplied, although I've never known what this was for. This is a high quality product that does the job well. However, it can cause in-grown hairs which are not nice. This may not always be the case however, and they can be treated.

              For those that have the time to put into this, and don't mind the feeling of the hairs being pulled out then this is a good option. Had the in-grown hairs not appeared then I would have continued using this method of hair removal. It is effective, cost effective, saves on resources and is better for the environment. The painful tingling while epilating is bearable, and thankfully not needed to be done too frequently. The advantage of incredibly smooth legs for a good amount of time makes it worth the pain - or better put, uncomfortable feeling.

              You need to have a spare power outlet close by to be able to plug it in, as the epilator runs off of the mains. I was happy with the results, but now fear continuing using this method after experiencing in-grown hairs for the first time. This is a shame, as epilating proved to be the better option for me, as it gave smoother results than other methods which lasted far longer. I didn't mind investing the time and enduring the unpleasant feeling for the excellent results.

              Is it for you? You decide.
              RRP £89.99


              Feels like being buzzed by the bees but leaves you feeling really pleased with the smoothness that it leaves.

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                11.12.2013 11:44
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                A good set of drawers that look neat and tidy

                When it comes to furniture I'm not too fussy. Having children means the budget is going to be lessened and the life expectancy with any piece of furniture is going to be shorter. With this in mind, I tend to opt for good furniture at a low price. Ikea fits this bill nicely, as they offer a good range of budget priced furniture that is simple and practical. For general style and practicality, you can be assured that Ikea has you covered.

                >> Play time in Ikea

                When I knew I needed a set of drawers for storing a multitude of items, along with clothes, I headed straight to Ikea. The main advantage point Ikea has is that their products are set up displayed for you to have a good look at what you're getting for your money. You can get a good feel for the items that are on offer, and see how you like the products. This allows me to inspect the item I am after and compare it with others alongside it in store.

                >>Space saving solutions

                Ikea tend to focus on the making the most of the space you have with many space saving solutions. This Ikea Malm chest of six drawers appealed to me, as it offers plenty of storage while not needing any more space than a set with fewer drawers. I also liked the clean finish, as there are no handles, which gives a minimalist and tidy look. This is just what I wanted something with a tidy and minimalistic feel that offered plenty of storage space.

                >> Choose your colour and finish

                This particular set of drawers is available in a range of finishes including black-brown, oak veneer, white, white stained oak veneer and birch veneer. I went with the oak veneer as I felt this would look best with my other furniture. Of course you can get matching furniture; however, I am not prepared to replace everything. The set of drawers is raised off of the floor, with 4 elongated drawers and at the top one is divided to make two smaller drawers.

                >> Open me

                The drawers are flush with no handles, and are opened by the lip of the drawer. I wondered if I'd like this or not, and I must say that I do indeed like this design feature. The drawers are certainly easy to open. You can open from any point along the top of the drawer. The drawers always slide open and close smoothly each and every time. They feature and pull-out stop which stops the drawers from being pulled out.

                >> Making the most of height

                The tall drawers work well with my high ceilings and minimal floor space, offering plenty of storage without taking more space than needed. They will of course look good and fit any size room. The drawer dimensions are 80cm by 40 cm by 123 cm. They come flat packed with easy to follow instructions. My partner constructed the drawers in no time without complaint. I wanted these drawers for my living room, I'm not sure this would be the first choice for others; however, this is where I needed storage. I would say these are more geared toward being bedroom furniture.

                >> A good fit anywhere

                With the awkward layout of my home, I like to have many items stored in the lounge for easy access. The drawers sit nicely against the wall and look tidy and not out of place. I use the drawers mainly for my sons most used clothes. As his room is small and for his safety, (with him being autistic) I prefer to not have anything with sharp corners or items that could be climbed on. Additionally, it is more practical for me to have his things close to hand.

                >> Plenty of space

                The main drawers are used for my son's clothes. With 4 large drawers I am able to separate his clothes to make it easy to find what I need. His t-shirts, trousers, jumpers and pyjamas all have their own drawer which offers ample space. For the bulkier and bigger items I store those in my own wardrobe. The other drawers are used for care and personal hygiene products. Being two smaller drawers this makes it easy to store what is needed. Also being at the top, they are at a good height and reach for myself and not for my son.

                >> Budget drawers

                The drawers are of a good quality and the unit feels sturdy and robust. They are reasonably priced at £85 and are a good budget set of drawers. We have had these drawers for a good time now, at least a couple of years. The finish has stayed in good condition, still looking neat, clean and tidy. Unfortunately, the drawer bottoms in a couple have come loose at the back causing items to fall through. This is a fault of my own for ramming too much in to the drawers. Also from loading heavy things into the drawers which is not advisable. I have fixed the drawers by using a sticky drawer liner to hold the drawer together.

                >> Long lasting

                While the bottoms of the drawers have taken a little bit of abuse, the rest of the unit still looks great. As the exterior looks good, and I have been able to fix up the insides, I am still happy to say these drawers are providing a good service. I have learned not to overfill them and place overly heavy items into them. I would happily replace them with another identical set, as these are good solid drawers that offer plenty of roomy storage.

                The drawers come from the Malm range which has matching furniture should you want to match up your furniture.

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                • More +
                  02.12.2013 11:39
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                  A tasty biscuit that offers a good healthy snack

                  I try my best to maintain a healthy diet, although, I do have a sweet tooth. I have been improving my diet over the last few months, and I have been paying particular attention to my food choices. Whilst my kitchen cupboards are packed with good foods, I do like to have the odd snack. I used to enjoy regular biscuits, however, I find that I don't seem to like them as much anymore, as they leave me feeling sluggish. I prefer nutrient-rich food that is going to provide me with energy.

                  I discovered the Nairn crackers quite some time ago, and these are a staple in my house. I was pleased when I spotted different varieties in my local supermarket. The Nairn's packaging is easy to recognize on the shelf, as their products are packaged with white boxes with the product names being bold and distinct. This is how I happened on their range of biscuits. Knowing that their crackers are healthy and delicious, I expected the same from the biscuits. There are a few different varieties, and I opted for the ginger.

                  I quite like ginger, but find that some ginger biscuits can be a little bit too firm for my liking, and the flavour can be a little underwhelming. I prefer stem ginger to enjoy the intense flavour. I was eager to try the Nairn's stem ginger biscuits. A 200g box retails around £1.50 depending on where purchased. The biscuits are separately sealed in packs of five, which means that the biscuits stay fresh and are great for taking out as a snack or as an addition to lunch.
                  Personally, I find five biscuits to be too many for one sitting. However, they can be shared or some can be saved for later. The biscuits are a touch smaller than their crackers, and are slightly thicker too. They have a wonderful aroma that is tempting to the taste buds.

                  They have a pleasant creamy oat taste and texture that is easy to eat. The baked Oatcakes are a naturally healthy option, as they consist of wholegrain oats and are wheat free. They are also free from GM ingredients, artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives and are suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They consist of few ingredients which is always good as far as I'm concerned.

                  Nairn's Oatcakes are a good source of fibre, and the carbohydrates provide natural energy. The wholegrain oats slowly release energy to keep you feeling energized throughout the day. This is one of the reasons why I regularly buy Nairn's products, as they are filling and provide energy. The Fine Milled Oatcakes make for a great snack, or as part of a healthy lunch. I actually enjoy eating these plain, as they are scrumptious. I also find that they go well with sweet or savoury toppings. This makes them incredibly versatile. Personally, I enjoy these with cheese and salad, peanut butter or chocolate spread.

                  I often take a packet out with me when we go out for the day, as they can be eaten plain straight from the packet. As they are filling and release energy, I always opt for these over any other savoury cracker. My 4 year old son is rather partial to these Oatcakes, and he will more than happily eat an entire pack of eight. He actually goes crazy for these. Although, I find four is sufficient enough. I find these the perfect snack, with only one or two needed to fill the gap, and for a part of a lunch where four Oatcakes is enough for one serving.

                  Nairn's produce a range of Oatcakes, biscuits and Oat Bakes which are all irresistible. They are widely available in supermarkets and Holland and Barratt also stock them, and they can be found in the savoury aisle among the biscuits and crackers. The boxes are easy to identify with the product name being prominent. For some unknown reason the Fine Milled Oatcakes are the lowest priced in their range at my local supermarket, you can expect to pay anywhere between 0.65p to £1.29 for a 250g box depending on where they are purchased from.

                  To view the full range, visit their website:

                  www.nairns-oatcakes.com

                  Ingredients for those interested:

                  Wholegrain oats (63%), Demerara sugar, stem ginger (6.3%), dietary fibre, potato starch, ground ginger, partially inverted syrup, raising agents (ammonium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate), barley malt syrup, salt, sustainable palm oil.

                  For a sweet or savoury treat try Nairn's Oatcakes for a healthy and filling option.

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                  • More +
                    06.11.2013 12:25
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                    A cotbed that is built to last

                    Time For Bed


                    When my son was born almost 4 years ago I decided that I wanted a crib, as although they are not necessary, they are adorable. However, he soon became mobile, so it was time to look for a cot. He was about 5 months when it became about the right time to make the transition for him into a cot. I started looking around prior to him becoming mobile to get an idea of what I wanted, as there is a vast array of different cots and cot beds with varying costs. It is advisable to put a lot of thought into what is best suited, as this is an expensive piece of equipment that will see a lot of use over a good couple of years.

                    After having a good look around and comparing what was on offer, and weighing up my options, I decided that I wanted a cot bed. I thought a cot bed would be better long term, as this would last longer. Plus, my son was shooting upwards rapidly. Cot beds are relatively expensive in comparison to a regular cot, so I took my time looking at what was on offer to ensure that I would be happy with my choice. I think it is wise to invest time and money into a cot, as it is an essential nursery item that gets a heavy amount of use.


                    > The Cost of a Good Night's Sleep

                    Having set a budget, I refined my options, and I found a few I liked the look of. After much thought and consideration, I decided on the Mamas & Papas Cot Bed. I liked the contemporary design, and the fact that it was a simple cot bed with no unnecessary extras. I just wanted a stylish well made cot bed that would last a considerable amount of time. I expected it to be of good quality, as it is manufactured from a reputable well-known company, and I had previous used a lot of their products when my daughter was little.


                    > Building up to Sleep Time

                    The cot bed comes flat packed and includes a pocket sprung mattress, which is another reason why I chose this particular cot from the Mamas & Papas range. With the cot coming supplied with a mattress it ensures that it is the correct fit, which is essential for the safety of baby, plus I wouldn't have the unnecessary worry of making sure that I had bought the correct sized mattress for the cot. It is also vital that the mattress is new and conforms to safety standards. The mattress comes fully wrapped in plastic wrap to keep it clean and protected with the wooden components packaged either side.

                    The cot bed can easily be assembled by one person, and it doesn't take long to put together. No tools are required, as a set of Allan keys are supplied to secure the cot together with the long screws and bolts. I was surprised at how quickly my partner managed to put it together. Once it is assembled it looks impressive. It is a lovely dark antique colour which will fit in with any décor. The slats have a smooth finish to them. It is a grand size measuring in at 102cm by 141cm by 71cm.

                    The mattress base can be adjusted to two different levels to accommodate a growing baby. Once you are ready to transition baby into a bed, the sides can be removed and the headboard and footrest can be reduced in size, and there is a set of wooden feet to mount onto the bottom of the bed. This transforms it into their first bed. The cot bed looks stunning, and is of a very high quality. The mattress is a snug fit, and it features a removable cover that easily unzips around the sides that can be machine washed to keep it in good clean hygienic condition. There are always accidents where little ones are concerned, so this is an essential feature.


                    > In For the Night

                    Once the cot is made up it looks adorable, even if it looked enormous compared to my little baby. However, this allows for plenty of growing room and rolling around. Babies should be placed on their back to sleep, in the feet-to-foot position of the cot. Once they are able to move, it is safe for them to change position. As my little boy was 5 months old, I was still swaddling him for bed. A cot sheet easily secures over the top and can be tucked in under the arms. A cot bumper can be used, however, it must be removed once they become mobile to prevent entrapment or suffocation.

                    The cot should be placed away from draughts, and cords for safety. We used the cot in our room to begin with, as I wasn't ready to move my baby into his own room. The cot squeezed in between the wall and my bed, so I was able to monitor my baby and attend to him easily. When he reached 6 months of age we put him into his own room. I positioned the cot at the back of the room on a free wall away from everything else. This ensured that he was out of the draft, away from the window, and anything else that could pose a hazard. He looked rather petite in his gigantic cot bed, and I could never imagine him filling it.

                    As the cot bed is large, it allowed him to roll about once he became mobile, and as he had plenty of space he wouldn't bump against the bars. He became incredibly active so I decided to use a baby sleeping bag. My son would sleep soundly in his cot and I would find him in every position imaginable. Luckily the cot is spacious enough for him to wriggle about. He did gnaw on the top of the cot bars and had left his mark behind, as well as grinding it down quite a bit. As he got older he would have a few toys in his cot to occupy him during the day at times, and these would often get thrown about and bashed about the sides.


                    > Time for My Big Boy Bed, Mummy

                    When my son was able to walk I kept him in the cot, and I was in no rush to transition him into a bed. My excitable toddler would no doubt be out of bed more than in bed. In fact, I never thought to change the cot to a bed, as he was quite happy at bedtime and he would never make a fuss. He would also sleep soundly and would wake up giggling and chatting away. He would often keep a couple of books in his cot to look at in the morning, which kept him happy enough. Once he turned three, I still didn't think to change his cot to a bed, simply because he had never tried to climb out, and he was more than happy. Eventually a couple of months later I decided it was time to try out the bed. We completely removed the front bars and left the rest, as we had misplaced the necessary parts to fully transform it into a bed. This didn't matter however.

                    My son was actually very good and he did stay in bed for the first few nights, and once he realised he could get out he did, so he could get a toy to play with in bed. I was pleased that the transition was easy and fuss free. The bed itself is low enough to the floor for him to feel confident to get in and out of bed independently. His bedroom is laminated so I do put a blanket on the floor when he goes to bed to cushion his fall if he gets too active in the night. He has rolled out of bed a few times in the night, but he has never been startled or woken from the fall, and he usually just climbs back into bed when he does realise he is on the floor.


                    > It's Not Just For Sleeping In

                    My son absolutely loves his bed, and he is always jumping in it and often plays on his bed during the day with his toys. If he's not playing on the bed, he is underneath playing in a crammed space which he can only just squeeze under. He finds it hilarious to bang his hands on the headboard or footrest, which I don't particularly like when I'm asleep. His bed is not only a comfortable place for him to sleep; it is also a play area that makes him feel happy and secure. He often lifts the mattress off the bed and throws it into the centre of the room to roll around on with his toys. Currently, his favorite game is to climb in between the fitted sheet and mattress. Most amusing.

                    He will be 4 in October, and the bed still has a sufficient amount of space, and is still in good enough condition to last him a while longer. I would be looking into buying him a new bed, however, we are currently looking to move house. Luckily his bed will last him a bit longer, so he won't have to part with it yet. Being a cheeky little toddler that likes to get into everything, take everything apart, and investigate anything he comes into contact with, he has unfortunately pulled at the mattress where it has worn from where he has been sleeping on it. He has continued to pull bits off the mattress; however, it is still good for sleeping on. He is just a curious toddler, and these things are to be expected.


                    > Nearly Time to Put the Cot to Rest

                    After almost four years of service, this cot bed has proven to be a brilliant buy, and has lasted an astounding amount of time with a growing child that is now a boisterous toddler. He has put the bed through its paces, and despite the fact that he is shooting upwards very rapidly, he still has sufficient space for his collection of bedtime books and torch to place at the top of the mattress, whilst still having plenty of space to wriggle about, as he does before he goes to sleep.

                    I cannot find fault with this cot, it has proven to be of excellent quality, and made to a high standard. With the amount of use it has had it is still in fairly good condition, with only a few teeth marks and scratches on the woodwork. The mattress has remained in good shape, other than the missing parts which my toddler decided would be better on the floor. I think it will be hard to part with his comfortable bed come play area once it is time to change. Many adorable moments and happy memories will be kept from this cot bed, and the time it has been with my son from jumping around giggling, reading books together and of course hiding under the bed. Happy Times!


                    Mama's & Papa's have proven once again that they produce good products that are built to last.

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                    • JML Bobble Off / Gadget / 72 Readings / 70 Ratings
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                      17.10.2013 11:47
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                      A great product that can revive tired woolly garments

                      Due to the terrible British weather, drying clothes doesn't always come easy. With a messy 5 year old, I have my work cut out trying to keep up with washing. I turn to my trusty tumble dryer to help me dry clothes rapidly. The only problem with this is that it wears on the clothes which can cause bobbling. This makes clothes look old and tired and not how I want them to appear. I also find a lot of lint on my clothes from using the tumble dryer. This led me to look for a lint brush. I popped into Wilkinson's where I come across the JML bobble off. The other lint brushes and rollers didn't look anywhere near as impressive.

                      I wasn't sure about this product, as I perceive JML products to be a bit gimmicky, I don't know why. However, having a look at it, it seemed to be a good idea. It is a small handheld machine that is battery powered. The idea is to run it over garments that are bobbly to remove lint and bobbles. This revives clothes by removing untidy bobbling. As the product was on offer for a lot less than the £5.99 RRP I decided it was worth a punt. I thought it might revive some of my tired looking clothes, and be better than just removing lint with one of those sticky rollers.

                      The product is boxed and is easily identified, often found on the end isles in shops where JML products are usually prominently displayed. I have seen these for sale in major supermarkets and they do seem to sell well. It requires 4 AA batteries which are to be inserted into the back of the unit. It is easy to open by sliding the back off. Once the batteries are inserted you are ready to go. You have two options to choose from being either short or long depending on the pile of the garment. This is change by twisting the head of the unit.

                      I must state that the JML bobble off is designed for woollen garments, and is not advertised to be used on other materials. It does advise that you can use it on other items around the home giving examples of carpets, pillows and curtains. It may be best to use caution and test an area before proceeding. If you are unsure and are not willing to take the risk, then it may be best to not use this product. Myself, I have had a lot of fun and have unleashed this on almost everything!

                      On first use I thought it was useless, as I couldn't see what it was doing. Not one to give up, I tried it on another garment. Some of my fleece jackets and woolly garments were looking rather bobbly so I thought I would tackle them, and I wasn't sure what to expect. The garment is to be laid flat on a hard surface for best results. I smooth the jacket over and started to move the unit over it. At first I thought it was a bit lame. I continued, and tried using a bit more brute force as I moved it over the garment.

                      I found a circular motion with some pressure worked best for me. I must say it did take a bit of practice to find the best method to use it. After I got the hang of it, and found a way that seemed to be more effective I was happy to actually see lint being built up in the back of the unit in the enclosed clear lint trap. This is quite satisfying. I could also notice a major difference on the garment. In addition, when I ran my hand over the area that had been de-bobbled I was most impressed to feel how much smoother it felt.

                      I used the JML bobble off all over one of my Jack Wolfskin fleece jacket, which was costly, so I was hopeful. Happily I was able to revive it, and I couldn't believe the results. The garment was much fresher looking and I had removed a lot of lint. As the unit becomes full, the back slides off with a little pressure to be emptied. This is easily done and allows you to carry on. I proceeded to use it on other garments of different fabrics, as I was more eager to remove the bobbles. I wasn't worried about ruining the garments, as I had nothing to lose with them looking a little tired.

                      I found it to be effective on other garments; however, do be warmed that it can ruin clothes that it isn't designed for. Use it at your own discretion, and be mindful of what you use it on. I even had fun using it on socks which become bobbly from wear. The unit can be worked over the area to remove lint and bobbles, but avoid going over it too much otherwise you could get threadbare spots which isn't going to be good. Do take care as it can snag, which can pull on the garment causing damage.

                      I have found that I use the JML bobble off on almost everything, apart from cotton and fine materials. I have even gone onto use it on my staircase carpet which it worked wonders on. It did take some time and effort to do though. The unit did pack up after my overzealous use on the stair case. I did go out and buy another one to replace it with though. I do find that it can become a time consuming habit, as I want to constantly revive the clothes after each wear and wash. After time, I find that I only use it when actually needed, and it produces pleasing results.

                      If you have woolly garments that you want to dig out from last year that need to be revived then a JML bobble off could save your favourite winter woollies.

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                      • More +
                        07.10.2013 10:30
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                        Soft and high quality fleece blanket

                        Every parent that has pre-school children will know of In the Night Garden, but for those who don't it is a hugely popular show that is aired on the Cbeebies channel every day. Since the launch of the show in 2007 it has become a big success and has spawned all manner of merchandise from books, toys, clothes and pretty much everything you can think of to kit out a little ones bedroom.

                        Although my son and I prefer to play and read books we do sometimes put the Cbeebies channel on. On the first occasion that the theme tune to In the Night Garden came on my son stopped what he was doing and he was mesmerized by the soft music. He was fixated on the programme from the start and I don't think he blinked for the entire duration. My then 20 month old son became a huge fan of the show and has great delight in watching it from time to time.

                        'In the Night Garden is a magical place that exists between waking and sleeping in a child's imagination.'

                        The 25 minute show is packed with stories and rhymes and at the end of the show it tells us that each of the characters is going to bed, which makes it a perfect way to settle your own little one off to sleep.

                        Igglepiggle is a large blue character and is the star of the show that carries a red blanket everywhere with him.

                        I try not to get sucked into buying all the merchandise that comes with these shows, as not only can it be expensive and not always as well made as their counterparts, but the chances are my toddler will probably outgrow the show before he outgrows the toy, or vice versa. Also I think it is nice to have a variety of different themed toys to capture a child's imagination.

                        Whilst browsing around on Amazon I noticed that a large range of Night Garden products were heavily discounted. The fleece blanket manufactured by Zap had an RRP of £15 which I would never pay; however, it was marked down to under £5.00. Seeing as it seemed like a bargain and that most of our blankets were quite old I thought my son would like it.

                        The blanket arrived in a large clear bag with a carry handle and a zip top lid which is great to reuse for other purposes. Taking it from out of the bag I noticed how soft the blanket was, much softer than the plain fleece blankets that I have bought in the past. The soft fleece will be gentle against a child's delicate skin so that's a good start.

                        I opened the fleece blanket out on the floor and was quite surprised at the generous size (130 x 180cm) which will comfortably fit on a child's bed. I stood my son onto the middle of the blanket and his face lit up as he stared down at the huge picture of Igglepiggle that he was standing on. He bent down and pointed at the picture with excitement, so I think I can say he was more than happy with his new blanket.

                        I'm not quite sure if toddler really needs a fleece blanket, as my son is only 20 months old I feel he is a bit young to have something like this on his bed for sleeping purposes, as it is safer to have something that is lightweight and breathable for babies. So I'm not sure what my reason for purchasing such an item was when I did some time ago. Although I don't use it as a cover for his bed it has still had plenty of use and is hardly ever put away.

                        I often used it to lay my son on during the day for naps and he was quite content to roll about on it, and once asleep I would wrap it around him, as I can keep my eye on him during the day. It also got 'played' with as he liked to jump and roll around on it and scrunch it up and drag it about with him and chew on it, even though it is huge it didn't stop him! It also used to lay him on to get him washed, and when he wasn't using it then someone else in the family was probably snuggled under it, as it is so soft and cosy!

                        I imagine this blanket is going to get another good couple of years use out of it and as my son gets older and possibly calms down a bit he may lay on it to look at his books on the floor, and it will be nice to have on his bed once the cot bars are taken off (Not brave enough to do this yet - we probably wouldn't get any sleep!) It would be ideal to use instead of a quilt when it is a bit warmer and would be good to put over a duvet in the colder months.

                        The fleece blanket looks nice over a child's bed even if it's not used for sleeping with - this will also save you from having to store it too. It can also be used outside for sitting on. For younger baby's that are not mobile this blanket would be good to use as a play mat for them to lie on, as it is incredibly soft. If your toddler is a big Night Garden fan then this will probably go everywhere with them for car journeys and for visiting the family.

                        The blanket is of a high quality and is 100% polyester fleece. The bright red blanket has a large picture of Igglepiggle in the centre holding his red blanket and his name in blue underneath, it has a stitched effect around the edge which is part of the blanket. It washes well and dries quickly being polyester and even though it has been through the machine on a 60C wash with things it shouldn't (I'm not responsible for this) I can happily report it is still in perfect condition and looks and feels as soft and new as the day we got it. None of the colour has ran when it has been on a high wash and it hasn't faded in the slightest, there is no bobbling like other fleece blankets that soon after become bobbled and tired looking.

                        I am delighted with this blanket as it has been great value and it has had lots of use and it is still in perfect condition so it will get plenty more use yet. I think the RRP of £15 seems a lot but considering the quality it is worth it. I haven't seen this in any shops but it can be found on Amazon and the price will vary, if bought directly from Amazon you will find this cheaper than most other places and you get free delivery too.

                        Any Night Garden fans will love this blanket and it may even help get your little one into bed at night.

                        Here you can find all the Night Garden merchandise making it possible to kit out your entire nursery/child's bedroom with all things Night Garden.

                        www.in-the-night-garden.co.uk

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                        • More +
                          13.09.2013 10:17
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                          Kids can add some sparkle to their artwork

                          Last year as the festivities were upon us, I wanted some metallic pens that were toddler friendly for arts and crafts to make everything sparkly for Christmas. After looking around at what was available I settled for the Crayola Metallic Markers. I was confident in purchasing these, as even though they weren't the cheapest, I trusted that they would be of a good quality. Crayola are a brand that I am most faithful to, as they produce a wide range of art and craft materials that are non-toxic, safe and durable. Their products are always bright and vivid and that is what I like about them, the fabulous bold colours.


                          * Crayola Metallic Markers *

                          The markers are housed in a cardboard outer sleeve, with a plastic inner tray with inserts that hold the pens in place. This is ideal as it keeps the pens together, and makes it easy to store them. However, these card boxes never last long with a toddler. The box provides five different coloured metallic pens which include mauve, purple, silver, gold, green and copper. The pens are suitable for children aged three and up.

                          The metallic markers feature ventilated caps, and they secure firmly onto the base when in use. The area for gripping the pens is hexagonally shaped to provide a good grip. The nibs look soft, and I did wonder how they would fare when I looked at the chunky but soft looking nibs, as they need to be durable to withstand rough treatment. The pens are of a good quality, they feel very nice in the hand, as they have a smooth finish to them, however, they are reasonably chunky so they are easy for small hands to grasp and manipulate.


                          * Educational Aspects *

                          Colouring promotes self expression, colour recognition and cognitive development, as well as developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Drawing and colouring is also a great activity that builds on a child's confidence as well as improving their concentration. The use of bright colours boosts a child's visual senses, and getting creative with crayons allows a child to use their imagination. Colouring and drawing is an important skill, as learning how to grasp and manipulate a crayon is the basis for learning how to write.


                          * Getting Creative with Sparkle *

                          My son loves to draw and colour, and he enjoys experiencing different writing instruments, as they feel different when they are dragged over paper, and they leave a different affect. When I offered him a marker from the pack he was eager to try them out, and wasted no time making a wonderful sparkly pattern. The pens glide over paper with ease, leaving a bright and sparkly colourful effect on any surface they meet.

                          My son likes bold colours, so these were an instant hit, as they create a wonderful sparkly trail on the paper. The markers provide bold colours that have a shimmering metallic affect to them, so they add sparkle to pictures. They don't leave any glittery residue behind, so they are no messier than regular pens in that respect. The ink takes a minute to dry and it will transfer onto skin, however, it easily wipes off just by rubbing it with a piece of tissue, or rinses off with just plain water. The markers can withstand high pressure, and they can be depressed quite firmly without losing the nibs in the barrel, which can often happen with other pens. My son applies quite a lot of pressure when drawing and colouring, and all the nibs have remained intact, which surprised me.

                          We used the markers to decorate cards and pictures, and also to make Christmas decorations. They certainly added sparkle to everything, and we made a lovely collection of Christmas decorations and pictures throughout the festive period. I was hoping to be able to use them to write Christmas cards with, as I generally use a silver pen, however, I was hoping that these would be suitable. However, as the nibs are quite chunky, unfortunately I was unable to write any Christmas cards with them, as I had hoped to do. I wasn't too disappointed, as they still got plenty of use.


                          * Expect Your Child to Remain Colourful *

                          My son enjoys being creative, and he is always in practical play clothes during the day when we are at home, so I expect him to look multicoloured by the end of the day, and this doesn't present a problem to me, this just shows that he has had a good day playing. I have noticed that the markers have stained a few tops, which haven't come out on a regular wash cycle, which doesn't bother me so much, but I can see that would present a problem for some people. This is quite strange, seeing as the ink rubs and washes off the skin with ease, so I was a little surprised to see that his clothes remained marked.

                          Another gripe with these markers is that they dry out quite quickly if the cap is left off for any length of time. I gave my son the blue pen to draw with, as I knew that we wouldn't need that colour as much for decorating and making Christmas decorations, I thought he had exhausted the ink, as when he had finished I noticed the nib had worn slightly on the end, and when I tried it the ink was very faint. The next time I let him use the same pen, after he had finished I realized that the reason it had run out of ink was because it had dried out, as my son hadn't used that much ink. That is disappointing, as I can't imagine preschoolers are going to remember to replace the cap after use, and I actually keep the caps in my draw, to prevent them from going into his mouth, as he still mouths his toys at times.


                          I'm glad that I only bought these for the festive period to add sparkle to pictures and to make decorations and the likes. However, I'm not sure if I would opt to buy these pens in the future, although they leave lovely bright markings on paper and any other material, the fact that they dry out means that they won't last long. Plus they are fairly expensive, especially as they won't last long with an eager enthusiastic toddler.

                          I must say that I haven't actually looked at buying these since last Christmas, as they are special pens. Now that Christmas is upon us again, I have bought the Crayola glitter gel pens instead of these metallic markers, just for a change, and for the fact that they were cheaper. These metallic markers are great for this time of year for creative children that want to make Christmas cards and the likes.

                          These pens provide youngsters with vivid colours that have a magic metallic sparkle to them, making them ideal for art and crafts, and especially for creating cards.

                          www.crayola.com

                          RRP: £3.42

                          Manufacturers recommended age 3+

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                          • More +
                            09.08.2013 16:42
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                            Neat game and puzzle

                            I am frequently on the lookout for toys for my son, as I like to ensure that they are going to benefit him and be good value for money. I like toys that are well made and well thought out. The Melissa & Doug range have a good selection of toys that look fun and are educational, too. Both of these aspects please me, and I have been happy with the few items which I have purchased from their range of toys previously.


                            >> Picking a puzzle

                            Whilst browsing on Amazon, I noticed a few of their toys that I liked the look of. One such toy was the Tow Truck magnetic Puzzle Game. I like the idea of this as it more than just one element to the puzzle, plus it featured cars, which my son loves. The price is reasonable at £7.99, which is about what you expect to pay for a puzzle. I happily ordered the item and just knew my son would like it. I was eager to take delivery of the puzzle, to see the enjoyment my son would get.

                            The puzzle arrives as pictured, as is high quality and well made as to be expected. It is packaged in a cellophane wrapper to keep it together in transit. I would rather have a box of some sorts to be able to keep it together and store it neatly. With that being the only niggle, I only have praise for this fun and educational puzzle.


                            >>Time to tow

                            The board is reassuringly thick, and has a nice smooth finish to it. There are 10 various brightly coloured cars which are numbers to add another educational feature to the toy. Each car is of a different colour which is good for developing colour recognition. The cars are positioned around a dirt track road with each being a little different in design. In keeping with the tow truck element though they are all depicted as having suffered some sort of crash complete with smoke coming from their engines. The puzzle is good quality and the colours are vibrant.

                            There is a metal button on the centre of each car, which is designed for 'towing' the cars. To do this, there is a cut out tow truck which features a line and a red stick with a magnet on one end of it to lift the cars out with. I love the igneous idea and it is not something I had seen before in a puzzle format. This adds another element of fun to the puzzle whilst boasting more educational benefits. Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills are enhanced, as well as concentration and determination.

                            The idea is to 'tow' the cars out, and then they can be positioned back into the puzzle. This makes it great fun, and is great for developing important skills. The colours and numbers can also be incorporated into the tasks, by asking a child to find a car of a certain number or colour. This is such a fun idea that boasts many educational benefits. Each of the pieces is of a high quality, and the magnetic tow truck is durable and easy to hold.

                            My son was delighted by this puzzle, mainly due to the fact that it featured cars, but also because he loved the magnetic tow truck element. Towing the cars out proved to be great fun and kept his interest for a good amount of time. After towing the 10 cars out, he is more than happy to position them back onto the board, which requires some concentration.


                            >> Towing again and again

                            This puzzle has a longer lasting appeal due to the fact that the cars can be towed out. Older children are likely to enjoy this element, and the skills required can take some practice and precision. I must admit that my crafty little boy has worked out that he can use two hands to steady the line in order to attach a car. This is a bit sneaky, but he looks incredible happy with himself when he figures out how to do something like this. He can confidently tow them out independently with one hand, even if it requires a little bit more patience and skill.

                            We have had this puzzle for a few months now and it hasn't lost its appeal. It still looks just as new, and all the bits have managed to remain with the puzzle. However, I do find that I have to store the tow truck away in a drawer to ensure it doesn't get mislaid.


                            This gets frequent use and is enjoyed time and time again. It is great for improving concentration, focus and patience, something which my excited little boy certainly needs to master. I think this is a brilliant toy that is durable, educational and good value for money.

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                            • Angry Birds Plush Piggy / Soft Toy / 85 Readings / 85 Ratings
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                              10.07.2013 10:45
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                              This bad piggy is oh so cute

                              Angry birds have become a popular game that has many formats. The preferred version and the one we play is on the tablet, as the touch screen allows for easy playing, and I think it is better suited. However, this game can also be played on a desktop computer.


                              My partner is a bit of a gaming fiend, and enjoys all manner of games from blood thirsty games to ones that are more fun and juvenile. Our 5 year old autistic son is a whiz on his tablet, and enjoys following in his father's footsteps in becoming another crazy gamer. I find that my son has benefitted a lot from playing computer games and using the computer, as it gives him that predictability that enables him to become good at being in control. The angry bird's game is all good fun, and can be enjoyed at any age. It surely is an addictive game once you give it a go.


                              Since the popularity of the game all manner of merchandise has been released onto the market. When we happened on the Bad Pig my son was elated. The bright vivid green plush piggy is 8 inches high and is soft and squishy. It features the same characteristics from the game with its slightly unbalanced eyes, a great big nose and its expressive eyebrows to give it a crazed and cheeky look. It looks good, is appealing and is going to be popular with fans on the game.


                              Having seen the £10 price tag I was a little bit shocked, as this seems a high price to pay. However, this is true of all children's toys and is now expected. Seeing my son's elation and excitement over the toy persuaded me to get it for him. The soft plush comes with no packaging, and only a swing tag is to be removed. My son didn't want his piggy putting into a bag, and he happily clung onto it all the way home while shaking and squeezing it with excitement.


                              My son absolutely loves this toy, and it sends him crazy. He generally throws it about while hysterically laughing. It does get played with quite a bit actually, and is sat on, squeezed to an inch of its life and even goes to bed with him sometimes. As such, the bright green piggy does become a little grubby after time, plus soft toys do absorb dust. With this in mind, I do launder his soft toys from time to time.
                              This Bad Pig should only be surfaced washed. However, being a clean freak I'm afraid I go against this, and actually wash him in the machine. I was worried about the outcome. Not for the fact that the piggy costs £10, but the fact that if I'd have ruined him my son wouldn't have been overly pleased. Luckily, on a delicate wash, the piggy survived and all is well. He would probably last longer by being surface washed; however, knowing my son is susceptible to mouthing his toys, I want to ensure they are clean and hygienic. I did give him a short, gentle spin in the dryer to help with the drying process.


                              After several months of being thrown around, squeezed and bounced, this bad piggy is still looking good. Even with me giving him a wash in the machine a few times. It doesn't look as new as it did, but that is to be expected. I would imagine the Bad Pig would look in better condition if he were handled with more care and was surface washed as advised. My son is still ecstatic with his piggy, and he still gets plenty of attention.

                              This is a great toy for Angry Birds fans old or young.

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                              • More +
                                12.06.2013 11:34
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                                A great natural product that moisturizes and adds a hint of colour for a natural look

                                Burt's Bees has to be one of my all time favourite brands when it comes to skin care. It is a brand I always return to, and I have trialled many of their excellent natural products. The fact that their products are produced using natural ingredients that are cruelty free appeals to me. Their products have always delivered good results, and have proved to be excellent value for money. Plus they always smell great, too.

                                When it comes to skin care I like to have all bases covered to ensure my skin is kept soft, supple and in good condition. I much prefer a natural look for the day time, so I like to know I have good skin moisturisers to give me a gentle glow. I always wear a lip balm each an everyday, as I like to have soft lips with a bit of sheen. Burt's Bees quite possibly produce the finest lip balms as far as I'm concerned. No other lip balm feels and looks as good on my lips, and I've tried a fair few.

                                I have used many of the Burt's Bees lip balms. When I noticed the tinted lip balms on offer in their range, I couldn't resist. I do like to keep my lips looking subtle, yet pretty for the day, and this provides the perfect combination - a hint of colour with moisturising properties. The lip balm is contained within a small box that is the same shape as the lip balm, with a protective film for hygiene. Inside the box is a regular lip balm tube that is brown in colour with limited information on the tube. The only important information that is needed and displayed is the fact that it is 100% natural.

                                I purchased this lip balm from a large Debenhams store for a reasonable £5.99. There were two options available to choose from, and I plumped for Hibiscus. Many other on-line retailers stock many other varieties for around the same price. I was eager to try it out and wasted no time. Lifting the lid you are met with a gorgeous rich Hibiscus balm that smells divine with its soft floral scent.

                                The tinted lip balm is said to moisturise and condition lips whilst giving a bit of colour. It is enriched with Shea butter and botanical waxes, so I know it is going to be excellent as far as moisturising is concerned. The balm is easy to apply to the lips and glides easily and effortlessly giving even coverage. It is denser that their other lip balms and it doesn't have that minty tingly feeling that I have come to expect from their lip products, rather it has a soft feeling. My lips feel conditioned and moisturised and the colour is pretty, yet subtle, perfect for giving a natural look for the summer and autumn months.

                                The lip balm looks and feels wonderful upon the lips. One coat on the lips lasts incredibly well, and even once it wears away it leaves my lips feeling soft and silky. It certainly cares for my lips which is just what I want from a lip balm, whilst it gives me a subtle hint of colour - perfect. Don't expect it to tint the lips, it just adds a soft, subtle colour that is ideal for a natural look that is easy to achieve. This lip balm is a winner with me, and would make a lovely gift.

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                                • More +
                                  30.05.2013 12:25
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                                  A refreshing hand sanitizer that leaves hands feeling refreshed and smelling good

                                  I must confess to being a little bit too weary of germs as a long-time sufferer of OCD. After therapy, my OCD has lessened to a great extent. However, I still care to be hygienic. I find I worry more about hand hygiene due to the fact that others are not over cautious with hand washing. When it comes to public places and public transport, you can never be too careful! You never know what germs are transferred around.


                                  >> Sticky little hands

                                  Having an autistic son that is a sensory seeker, his hands are constantly feeling his way around his world. As such they can become quite grubby. Sensory issues lead him to chew on his fingers also, so I do my best to keep his hands clean and hygienic. It just isn't always possible to wash hands on-the-go, and it isn't feasible to be washing too frequently. There are times where you just want to clean hands that are not actually soiled, but may not be clean.


                                  >> Hygiene out and about

                                  We travel a lot by train and use buses occasionally, too. Public transport leaves a lot to be desired, often grubby and smelly - not pleasant. While I can sit on my seat and keep my hands to myself, this is impossible for son who seeks movement and information from touching. As such, this leads me to worry about the less than sanitary fixtures on public transport. Once we are ready to depart there isn't the means to wash his hands, so I find hand sanitizer a viable solution during these time.

                                  While on days out I also find that when we our out for the day, usually visiting places such as zoos and museums, hand hygiene is important. This is especially true around animals and in public places where there's a lot of people. Again, hand washing isn't always possible, and of course takes valuable time out of the day. Besides, during these times where the hands need to be cleansed to remove impurities, this is where hand sanitizer is a great option. This makes it possible to keep hands feeling clean on-the-go.


                                  >> Hand sanitizer to the rescue

                                  When it comes to hand sanitizers, I'm not particularly loyal. I do, however, opt for the ones that I know are good and trusted. Cuticura falls into that category, and are one of the leading brands when it comes to hand sanitizer. They offer a few variations on the hand gels with different fragrances, some which are moisturizing, and others that are suitable for sensitive skin. In general I opt for the scented ones, as they mask the alcohol scent which can be rather strong. There are a couple I avoid, as they tend to be a little messier once rubbed in.

                                  >> Fresh with mint and cucumber

                                  I simply want a hand sanitizer that is easy to use that leaves no residue behind. I tend to grab the bottle from the shelf without paying too much attention. The colour of the bottle generally gives away what you might be getting. For some though, it isn't as obvious. This particular hand sanitizer is fragranced with cucumber and mint, but there is nothing on the bottle to denote this without reading the fine print. I thought the cucumber would be a pleasing scent and it usually works well with products of this type. Mint is also another favourite, as it is uplifting and is a pleasing scent. Both scents are rather refreshing, which is just what you want from a hygiene product.


                                  >> Keep hands clean time and time again

                                  The bottle is small, yet it contains 100 applications, which means it's going to last you for quite some time. At around a £1 you cannot go wrong, even if it is just used for peace of mind. You can never be sure how effective these products are, so the claims of being 99.9% effective against germs, you just have to expect it to clean effectively. There is, of course, no way of actually testing the claims. However, I can say that it certainly makes me feel like I have cleaned my hands, and I am happy to use it in place of soap and water when needed.


                                  >> All clean within seconds

                                  The hand gel is like any other. The flip top cap is easy to flick open with one hand, and the small opening allows the product to be used accordingly. You certainly don't need much; just a small squeeze into the palm of the hand produces an adequate amount. You only need to use the same amount that you would with soap. The difference here is that you don't need water or a towel. You simply rub the gel over the hands covering all areas and under the nails, using the same technique that you would when applying soap.

                                  The scent is actually pleasant, with the cucumber being the dominant scent, with a soft undertone of mint. The scent is pleasing and better than the original version of this product. It is advised to avoid using on broken skin. Having done this, I can say it stings, but it doesn't last long, and causes no ill effects. It is to be rubbed over the skin until it is dry which takes seconds. Once dry you are safe to eat and continue doing whatever you are doing.


                                  >> Wipe the dirt and sanitize

                                  I find that if my son has been playing in the dirt, which is often the case, or he has been rubbing his hands over every conceivable surface while out, his hands are in need of wiping. A baby wipe here fixes that solution to remove the dirt, and the hand sanitizer can be used after. This makes me feel like his hands are clean, and this is the method used prior to eating when there is nowhere to actually wash his hands. It just isn't possible to explain to him that he must wait, or keep his hands clean to eat. Using this method has served me well, and has allowed my son to enjoy his food.

                                  A small bottle of this either slips into my trouser or coat pocket or into the small outer pocket on the front of my bag. This means that it is always available and easily accessible. With it being small, it takes up no space and isn't a burden to carry around. You never know when you might need it, especially when you have little ones that like to get messy! Once in the habit of using it, it is always packed into the bag for a day out.


                                  >> Clean hands and no drying

                                  The gel is quite thick, but it is best to pour it into the palm of the hand to avoid losing any. It rubs in well and takes no times to dry at all. It leaves no residue behind. It leaves hands feeling fresh and clean, and the refreshing fragrance and cooling sensation leaves the skin feeling clean. It isn't drying to the skin, and can actually be better than washing hands when you just want to clean them where there's no visible dirt.


                                  >> Have you got a bottle of sanitizer?

                                  Hand sanitizers are a popular choice, as they allow you to get on with the day without worrying about hand hygiene. Hand sanitizers are commonplace in banks, hospitals and zoos. This is a great backup to carry with you for times where there is nowhere to clean your hands. Even after using a public bathroom, it is a good to use even after washing, especially for those less desirable bathrooms.
                                  I find that I only need to carry the one bottle for the three of us to use on a day out, and it certainly lasts a good amount of time. For the low price, it is worth it. It also reminds youngsters to be hygienic and clean their hands before eating.

                                  Hand hygiene is important, and is especially a habit that children need to learn. It seems more important to be hygienic with the amount of different illnesses that are arising, and with the amount of illnesses that seem to circulate.

                                  A bottle of Cuticura hand gel is a good product to slip into you bag or pocket to use on-the-go to keep hands clean when needed.



                                  For the full range of Cuticura products:

                                  www.cuticura.co.uk

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