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I purchased this toaster a few months ago for £25 and see that it is still selling for around this price on various online stores. I chose it primarily because I felt Breville is a trustworthy brand and it did not have lots of additional features which add to the complexity and breakability of the toaster. Also, I liked the polished steel finish as it matches some other appliances in my kitchen and gave found it to be very easy to clean and it polishes up well.
The toaster is extremely easy to use. As I said, it does not have lots of additional settings and features and this helps with working out how to use it. There is a dial to select the level of toasting you require which I gave found to be suitably sensitive to changes that may be made. There is also a defrost button, a pop up button and a straightforward 'toast' button. Whichever option you select will b lit up blue so you can see which setting the appliance is on.
My favourite thing about this toaster us that it's great for little items. As it slants down it means that you do not completely lose smaller pieces of bread or items like crumpets, and it is easier to retrieve them than from traditional toasters. I also am pleased with the way that the toaster toasts evenly on both sides of the bread and can accommodate wider items such as muffins and bagels without patchy cooking.
I only wish I'd bought the four slice version as I'm pleased with this toaster.
My heart sank as we were given this Bounce and Spin zebra; another huge toy to try and fit in our lounge, except this one does not fold up at all!
There is a plastic zebra on a wide plastic base, which bounces up and down, with some degree of spin, whilst being accompanied by fun, lively musical accompaniment and lights. It really does not look subtle or fit in with any colour scheme you might have in your lounge!
For all its gariness however, any child from 9 months to (literally) 9 years who has come into our lounge since we got the zebra, has made a beeline straight for it and enjoyed bouncing around on it for at least a little while. Our little girl has not been her usual fickle self and 6 months after the zebra entering our lives, she still loves it.
The sounds and lights can be controlled with a switch on the front of the zebra, on the handle. There are two volume settings which provide a quieter and noisier option, and of course, there is always a 'take the batteries out' option!
When I reluctantly agreed to get a cat four years ago after much persuasion, my main concern was about the about of fur that would be shed. An agreement was reached between Mr Frank and myself that I would get a new vacuum cleaner of my choice and he could have a feline friend!
So, after lots of searching, I decided on this vacuum cleaner. I have had Dysons before and been pleased with their ease of use and practical features, not to mention their effective cleaning. I had also been dying to try out the ball feature which is billed to help the manoeuvrability of the cleaner.
The cleaner features the famous Dyson cyclone technology which has 'no loss of suction' as may be experienced with conventional bag cleaners. The suction power is 220 constant Air Watts, which I have experienced to be as powerful as any vacuum cleaner I have had in the past, and the only time I have thought the cleaner lacked power was when the cylinder needed emptying.
The BallTM technology has not disappointed me either. I have found the cleaner very easy to push around and have enjoyed how it turns smoothly round corners without having to keep moving it back and forth.
The pet element of the cleaner seems to be twofold. Firstly, there is a washable filter for cleaner expelled air which can help if you are allergic to animal hair. Secondly there is a mini turbine head that cleans pet hair and dirt from areas that can be difficult to access but attract a lot of pet hair, such as upholstery, stairs and the car.
The vacuum cleaner has a cleaner head that is suitable for different floor surfaces and I have used it successfully on tiles, laminate and carpet. I have only found it really effective however, when the motorised brush bar is activated. Without this turned on, the cleaner is very difficult to push around and not very good at getting threads off the carpet. I have found that the cleaner is also effective in getting dirt from grooves between tiles which I have found that some cleaners aren't very good at, but again when the motorised brushbar is turned on.
The vacuum cleaner is quite good on the stairs as well. The 'Quick-draw Telescope ReachTM wand' easily is detached from the main body of the cleaner and then can reach up to nearly the top of the stairs. I just wish it was slightly longer so it would reach the entire length of the stairs. However, I'm pleased with the length in general, as it can easily reach up to our ceilings and get rid of cobwebs. There are two different attachments to fit onto the hose which are attached on the cleaner so they are always to hand.
The bin has a capacity of 1.3 litres and is clear so you can see when it gets full. I love this feature as there is a max fill line so you have no doubt when to empty it.
This vacuum cleaner has been brilliant; easy to use and effective at cleaning. It comes highly recommended from me!
I have recently rediscovered my Braun multiquick blender at the back of the cupboard, and am finding it so useful that I had to share the joy! In fact, I can't believe I ever forgot about it as it's perfect for blending up small quantities of soup (for 2 or 3 people) and making breadcrumbs in seconds.
This product is a handheld mixer. It comes in a narrow rectangular box which we still keep ours in although there is a wall bracket provided with it. The mixer is 300W which is fairly powerful and I certainly have not found myself needing more power. The mixer (as with all handheld mixers I've come across) has two parts- the top bit which plugs in and has the operating button on it, and the bottom part which twists easily into the top part which has the blades. The two parts fit really easily together and are also easily detached from each other which is essential for washing as the bottom part is dishwasher safe and can be fully submerged in water, whereas the top part should only be wiped.
The appliance came with a calibrated beaker which is basically a transparent measuring beaker with an air tight lid. I don't use this because I usually just put the blender over whatever I'm making in the dish I'm making it in, but maybe it would be useful if you're a more precise cook than me.
I have been really pleased with this product and think it's perfect for light use and smallish quantities of soups and breadcrumbs.
As part of my job, I need to visit different schools and carry various resources in and out of the car to use with children in the schools. I soon realised that all this lugging of equipment was no good for my back and promptly bought one of these wheeled boot carts.
When my boot cart arrived, I was surprised how small it was when folded. This was brilliant! I could collapse it and store it neatly when I was off work. It was easy to put up- simply unclip and then unfold the sides and push the base into position. The handle slides up with a bit of encouragement once you release the clip. I have also found that the boot cart is easy to fold down by lifting up the base within the box and then folding the sides inwards. The sides then clip into place so you can move the folded cart easily.
My one criticism of the boot cart is that because the wheels are so tiny (which is necessary for such neat storage) it can be difficult to wheel the trolley over anything that resembles a larger than average kerb or bump. I usually end up forcing the trolley up these kerbs and it seems to have survived this rough treatment. However, if you are looking for a trolley that needs to travel up and down pavements a lot, I would recommend going for a trolley with larger wheels.
Since buying this cart almost two years ago, I have it nearly every working day and it is still going strong. I'm really pleased with it for using it for little trips in and out of the car and into schools. I can imagine it might be good for transporting shopping from the shop to the car and into the house, but would add a word of caution that if you put too much in it, lifting it in and out of the car may actually be worse for your back than carrying your items in smaller loads.
Like many first time mums, I was rather wary of making the transition from a 'baby' rear facing car seat, to a forward facing Group 1 seat such as this. This seat however, has been fabulous, and really made the transition very easy.
This car seat is available from a variety of retailers you'd expect (we got ours from Mothercare), and it is priced around £140 depending on where you go. I recommend starting that if you've got a little one, you should start looking around as soon as you can to keep an eye on prices and offers as these seats are pretty pricey.
One of the things that we really liked about this seat is that it is able to be fitted in nearly any car. As we can't afford to buy two seats, we wanted a universal seat which would easily transfer into friends and relatives cars. We have probably had the seat in around 10 different cars now, and it has fitted well into all of them.
Another thing we liked about this seat is that not only does it fit in virtually type of car, but that it's also easy to fit. You simply thread the seatbelt behind the main body of the chair and the back piece and clip it in. You then clamp it in place and off you go! The belt itself fastens easily, and there is no way that even determined Mini Frank will be able to undo it.
The seat is available in colours other than the pink pictured, but we liked this bright,cheerful look, and thought that the pattern may disguise any marks that should appear. So far, our theory seems to be working and the seat looks in great condition after 10 months of regular use. The cover comes off fairly easily should you need to wash it however.
A final word on the seat is that it reclines very easily which is brilliant if you are on a long journey and your little one falls asleep whilst en route. Although the seat has five reclining positions, we generally only use two- upright or fully laid back. I'm not quite sure why you would want a semi-reclined position, but if you do the option is there.
We are really pleased with this seat, and despite the initial outlay, think it's good value.
I have never been much of a fan of technology, and so had happily been using a rather uninspiring phone for my mobile for as long as I could remember. However, I increasingly found myself asking Mr. Frank if he'd mind checking something on his iPhone; maybe a word meaning, or weather forecast, and so when it came to upgrading my phone, I decided to move with the times and get a Smart Phone, and an iPhone at that!
Nearly a year later, I am still very pleased with the phone. There are so many different deals available (mine was a refurbished phone for free at £30 per month with 300 texts and 300 minutes with a huge data allowance) so I won't be analysing this element, but the phone itself, which I absolutely love for the following reasons:
Firstly, the phone was very easy to set up, and I feel that it works intuitively and so there was not much need for referring to the instructions. However, I am used to Apple (being an ipod and macbook owner) and so I am not sure whether PC owners would find it so easy.
Secondly, I have really enjoyed the range of apps (applications) that are available on the iPhone. I understand that many of the apps have versions suited to non-iPhones (Android) but I have also noted that apps are usually available first on the iPhone before being more widely distributed. Also, some apps are only available for iPhone. I use the apps for information rather than leisure and have been pleased to note that some really good (and free) apps are available, such as Tesco, Amazon and Dictionary.com.
Thirdly, the phone has some really useful inbuilt features such as maps which will show you where you are on a map and give you directions to where you want to go to. It also has the usual features I had come to expect from even a basic phone, such as alarm, timer, stopwatch and calendar. It also has a 3 MP camera which I was a bit worried about when I got the phone, but has been fine for taking the odd snaps and uploading them onto Facebook. The camera does not have a flash which has been annoying on a few occasions.
One of the things to be aware of is that the iPhone can sometimes be quite slow in operating. I have learnt that this may be due to having too many apps running at once (so am careful to close them once I have finished with them). Sometimes the phone may run slowly if there is a limited internet connection. We live in the country and often find that this is the case. At home this is not a problem as the phone is connected to our wireless internet, but if you were relying on the maps feature to navigate across a remote area, you may not actually be able to update the map at all!
As for phoning and texting, I am really pleased with the way that the phone operates. I am particularly pleased with the text message system, which stores entire conversations. I have found this feature indispensible when I can't remember what I have already said to someone or I am checking back for previous messages- such as when I am trying to find someone's address that they have texted me the previous Christmas!
One thing that did take me by surprise when adapting to the iPhone is that it needs to be charged every night, rather than the twice a week my last phone required. It takes around an hour to charge fully, and has a clear symbol of a battery and a percentage of charge to show you how full the battery is. The phone will buzz at 20% charge to warn you.
A final word of warning is that I have found it a bit of a pain to reset the phone on the rare occasions I have had to do so. This is because you need a very small, thin implement e.g. a paperclip, to push the reset button which is on top of the phone. I have found that removing one of my earrings will also o the job, and I am more likely to have access to one of these when I am out and about.
I am delighted with my iPhone and would no be without it.
This 'Catch Ball Velcro Set' or 'Scatch' as we used to call it, was a favourite outdoor game in our house when I was growing up, and we still get it out on occasions even though we're all grown up now.
This set pictured is available from Amazon for £3.99, and I have seen similar ones for sale in 'outdoors' sections in supermarkets for around the same price- and if you bought one from a supermarket, you obviously wouldn't have to pay for postage.
The pink and green colour scheme pictured is exactly the same as the set at my parents' house, although theirs is a little more faded (with around 15 years of use).
Scatch is a game for two people, but if you are innovative, you can include more. Each player straps their hand to one of the velcro pads. They are around the size of a small dinner plate, and covered in velcro on one side. The other side is plastic and has a strap which attaches your hand onto the pad by means of a pull and fix velcro fastening. As children with small hands, this accomodated even the smallest hand, and now as an adult, they still fit!
Once the pads are attached to the players' hands, you take turns to throw the ball (with your hand without the pad on) and catch it on your velcro pad. Because the pad is larger than the surface area of your hand, and the ball sticks to it because of the velcro, you have more chance of catching the ball than you might usually. This is very rewarding for children. I do remember however, that when the set was new, it was so sticky that sometimes we had to enlist the help of an adult to actually remove the ball from the pad so it could be re-thrown. Now it's had a lot more use (and we are adults ourselves!) we don't have that problem. In fact, the opposite is happening, where we sometimes struggle to get the ball to stick. It definitiely adds to the challenge, which to be honest as we're all in out twenties, we've probably ready for!
As Baby Frank has been shall we say, rather on the late side to get moving, I am always on the look out for toys and activities to encourage exploration, and well, movement in general. Earlier in the year, I enrolled her in a baby gym class at which there are lots of tents similar to the one pictured with tunnels adjoining and thought that having one at home would be good. After looking around for tents and tunnels and comparing prices, this Argos tent at £10 was a winner as it could be bought with the tunnel for £15 as part of a summer promotion.
The tent comes in a surprisingly small, flat box which I have never been able to fit it back into! It is super-easy to assemble because it just literally pings into the right shape- no faffing around with poles or pegs, it is truly self-assembling. It has a hole on one side into which the tunnel can go (but this hole is off the ground by a couple of inches which is not ideal for the tunnel). At the end there is a 'door' which comprises two flaps of material so it can be open and shut which provides a lot of peekaboo fun for my little one. In the open position, the two door flaps can be tied back with ties that are sewn into either side, and there are a couple of meagre scraps if velcro to 'secure' the door in the closed position.
When you (or your little ones) have finished playing with the tent, the idea is that it easily folds back up and can be stored. There are even some tantalising strips of velcro strategically placed around the frame of the tent which suggest that his may be possible. However, I have not mastered how to do this, and although I can make it flat, I can't really compact it in diameter. This is a bit annoying, but I just stuff it behind everything in the shed and it stays put because all the other non-compactable children's toys stop it from popping out again.
I have to be honest, I am amazed that the fabric of the tent is still intact. It looks like it could rip really easily should a buckle of a shoe catch it. The walls and floor of the tent are both made of this fabric, and I wonder whether it could do with some reinforcing on the floor. I guess the good thing about the material is that it's light, and no doubt cheap to manufacture thereby keeping costs down. It helps to provide shade in the garden, but would not keep you dry in even a light rain shower.
Baby Frank has really enjoyed playing in her tent and accompanying tunnel. The window and door help to make it a bit more interactive and fun. The quality seems pretty poor but amazingly it is not damaged yet, and maybe I underestimate it. I think it was a good buy all in all.
If you are a parent of a pre-schooler, you cannot have failed to notice the ubiquitous 'whale teeter totter', at children's parties, toddler groups and nurseries etc. This in itself speaks highly of the product- anything that can last in these rough and tumble environments must be well made or not well used, and this product is certainly the former.
At around £25 from a variety of children's toy retailers (ELC and Toys R Us to name a couple), this sturdy toy for indoors or outdoors is an absolute must-have for years of play for your little ones. The manufacturer recommends that this see-saw rocker is suitable for children from 24 Months - 5 Years, but Baby Frank has been playing on hers since around 12 months (with close supervision of course) and now, at 15 months, is able to get on and off without much adult intervention at all. The maximum weight per child is 23kg.
The product is a rather bulky 105cm L x 43cm W x 36cm H which comes in a box proportioned 116cm L x 45cm W x 106cm H. The Teeter Totter is designed to accommodate 1, 2 or 3 children which is great for when friends come over to play, but also not restricted to having others around. It is made of robust plastic and can survive all that the English summer (and probably winter!) can throw at it. It is chunky, with 'easy-to-grip' handles for little ones, and has a foot rest that runs the length of the rocker for the children to put their feet on. It seems very safe as the riders can't get any body parts trapped under the rocker as the footrest prevents this. Other children clamouring around for their turn however, may get their toes underneath, but I think this is a minor risk.
This is an excellent, robust toy and well worth the money.
As Baby Frank was born in April, she received lots of outdoor toys and activities for her first birthday this year. This activity was one such present, and it would be true to say that it has been in almost constant use since her birthday, come rain or shine! It was bought for £16 from Early Learning Centre which I think is really good value for all the use we've had from it in the last 5 months.
Baby Frank's pool has a pink base, yellow pillars and a green canopy. It came in an amazingly small box for the size it is when inflated. I tried to fit it back in the box without success and so have now thrown the box away which is a bit of a shame as I would have liked to have kept it in it's original packaging in the winter (if it lasts that long...). Also in the box was a puncture repair kit, the fact that we haven't had to use yet is testimony to the robustness of the pool, as it certainly hasn't been treated gently. If you are thinking of buying this pool for use as a ball pool as well as a paddling pool, then you will be interested to know that Baby Frank was given a bag of 100 ELC play balls with this pool which is just the right quantity to fill it sufficiently.
The activity pool is brilliant. Once inflated it has a built in canopy to provide shade from the sun, or alternatively shelter from the rain! This feature is unique as far as I have seen and extremely useful as I'm always worrying about too much sun, but love spending time in the garden with Baby Frank. The shade is supported by three inflated pillars on which three inflated C-shaped rings can be placed. These rings are great fun to play with in the water and to put on your head or arms or neck if you are one year old!
The pool can be used as either a ball pool (if you purchase the balls separately) or a paddling pool, or even a den. Once it's inflated, I would not recommend deflating it as it does take a lot of puff to blow it up fully. It is separated into different chambers which does make the task of inflating it slightly less daunting, and I suppose may mean you could carry on using it even if part of it had a puncture.
I would highly recommend this pool to anyone with a baby or toddler.
I usually start my reviews saying how expensive a product is, and then (sometimes anyway) justifying the price. At £10 for 100 balls, I do think these balls are quite expensive (surprise, surprise!) especially as many ball pools or paddling pools will need at least two bags to fill them. However, as Baby Frank is only one, she is quite happy in her little inflatable paddling pool with just one bag of these balls.
These packs of 100 balls are available from Early Learning Centre in several different colour options. Baby Frank (or should she be 'Toddler Frank' now?) has the pink and blue balls selection, which are predominantly two shades of pink with some blue thrown in for good measure. The balls themselves are simply hollow, plastic balls. However, since many play dates with many toddlers, I have discovered that some makes of these balls can be easily squashed, bitten or split by inquisitive and over zealous toddlers. Not so with these balls! I have been really pleased that they have survived numerous attacks by small children, although I can report that they do not withstand the jaws of our Jackadoodle dog!
The balls come in a zippable, plastic bag, which has a handle. Its dimensions make it easy to store, if a little bulky, which is always an important consideration as children's toys can take up so much room. I have found it a bit of a pain to put all 100 balls back in the bag, but now use a wide, shallow bowl to scoop them up and pour them into their container which saves precious minutes each evening.
Baby Frank loves playing with these balls, and I can be sure that they can withstand the pressures of her enthusiatic friends as well. Definitely a good buy, and probably worth paying a little more for.
If I'd known that this brush cost £21 when the lovely, orange lady at the Clinique counter in Debenhams told me that I needed it, I would not have ended up taking it to the till and then nearly fainting when asked to part with that sort of money. However, I pasted a smile on my face and I handed over my card, trying not to let my facial expression belie the fact that it was the first time I had bought make-up accessories from anywhere other than Superdrug and Wilko's! However, four years on, my brush is still in excellent condition and I have been really pleased with the finish it gives to my foundation.
I'd better just say that I'm by no means a frequent user of foundation. I put it on for special occasions, and when I feel that my face could do with a bit of a boost (so maybe a couple of times a month). I also haven't tried out any other makes of foundation brush so I can't say how this one compares. However, this brush has achieved everything that I would expect from this product; together we have attained a level of foundation excellence that I had never thought possible.
Basically, the brush is a flat, tapered brush attached to a clear plastic handle by a wide silver- coloured, metal band. I must say, it doesn't look particularly impressive but on the plus side, it won't stand out on your make-up shelf for the wrong reasons. Clinique have bestowed some 'anti-bacterial technology' upon it, but I'm not too sure what this means!
To use the brush, just dab a little foundation on the back of your non-dominant hand (I use liquid foundation, so a little comes out easily) and use the brush to transfer the foundation from your hand to your face. Clinique advises using 'broad strokes for large areas of face: cheeks, forehead, chin' and using the 'edge of [the] brush to reach narrow areas: nose, mouth, eyes, hairline.' I have found that the brush performs well using these guidelines. You can then use the brush to blend the foundation into your skin as necessary.
Using this product with a quality foundation and as advised by the manufacturers has helped me achieve a very pleasing effect with my foundation. I would recommend this technique and product.
This handy, pencil sized tube of concealer has now been in my life for a good few years. In fact, I probably should throw it away, but I can't bring myself to do so as it's great in skin emergencies and I'm too skint to buy a replacement. Researching this review has again reminded me that at £15 for 1.5ml/0.05oz at Boots, the liquid contained within costs the same per ml as my Chanel eau de toilette!
So, for such a pricy product, you'd expect great things, and I'm pleased to say that I think this delivers. Firstly the packaging is great. It is small enough to go anywhere with you for touching up any problem skin areas or lightening the under-eye area. Once you pop the silver lid up, a brush applicator is revealed which is integral to the tube, so you don't have to worry about taking a make-up brush with you the blend in the concealer. The really nifty part of the tube is that at the bottom it turns around to push the contents up the length of the tube to the brush applicator. Each part-turn produces a 'click' sound so that you can tell how much concealer you are likely to be dispensing. You soon get to know how many clicks will propel the amount of concealer that you want towards the brush end of the tube. For me, it's usually about two clicks, but if this is not enough, a couple more twists will dispense all that I need. I think this is a very effective way of dispensing the product, and because it pushes it straight to the integral brush, there is no wastage. This is probably part of why I have had this tube for several years, and still have not run out of product.
Secondly, the super packaging surrounds a product which I have found to be very good. I must say, I'm not a huge fan of concealer normally. I sometimes find that it serves to exacerbate that which it is trying to conceal! However, I'm pleased to say that this product is light, and subtle- just what you want from 'concealer'. Of course, I suppose it depends on how you apply it, but the packaging (which I may have already mentioned!) makes it easy to so this.
So, I am pleased with this product and would like to get some more when mine runs out. However, products at this price I'd normally ask for for my birthday or Christmas, but somehow it seems a bit sad to ask Father Christmas for concealer so I doubt I'll be re-stocking!
It says on the Clinique website that Happy is their best selling fragrance. Whilst buying a torch or kitchen knife 'best-selling' may be what I am looking for, in choosing perfumes I am not impressed by the thought of wearing a best-seller. The reason for this is that a best-seller is never going to be distinctive or different, and I like to think that I can sometimes stand out and I want this to be reflected in the fragrance I wear (most of the time anyway).
This perfume is on the pricier side of what I would expect to pay for a perfume, though for an eau de parfum I think that the £32.50 for 50ml that I paid is not too bad at all, especially when you consider that the rest of Clinique's products are rather pricey.
The perfume comes in an orange cardboard box; not a gift box, just a box. The glass bottle inside is strikingly plain. It is clear glass with the words 'Clinique' (in white) and 'happy' (in orange) printed simply onto the glass at the top. The lid is silver and lifts on and off easily. The shape of the bottle is a compressed cylinder i.e. if you took a cross-section of it, it would be an eye shape. The perfume inside is clear. The overall impression of the bottle is that it is simple and it wouldn't be one that you are rushing to display on your dressing table, but nor would you be trying to hide it.
The simple design and feel of the packaging really sets the tone for what is inside. The fragrance really is pleasant enough; it is light and airy, floral but not too sweet. It is quite modern, but still smells familiar- probably because so many people wear it. When I first apply it to my wrists I like the smell. It's simple and clean and ideal for putting on in the mornings. It is described on the Clinique website as a 'sensual' fragrance but I'd have to disagree with this as I think it's just too plain and everyday. I actually would describe it as an ideal work fragrance.
The people at Clinique also tell us that the exotic notes of Ruby Red Grapefruit, Boysenberry Bush Flower, and Hawaiian Wedding Flower have never been used before in a fragrance. I'm sure this must be the case but I do not find the smell of the perfume so distinctive to be praising its originality. Maybe this is because so many people wear it though.
I like to wear this fragrance to work. It is inoffensive but pleasant. It is light, fresh, clean and modern. It does generally wear off by lunchtime but sometimes I catch little wafts of it in the afternoon.
I think this is a perfume that most people would like but not love. I don't think it is distinctive enough to have strong feelings about either way really, but I do think it makes a good everyday fragrance, and so I'd recommend it if you're looking for a plain scent you can wear easily everyday but for going out or evening wear.