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izzy-gratton

izzy-gratton
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Member since: 03.03.2010

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      12.09.2010 16:30
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      Quite a pricey body wash with a strange smell!

      I was given a bottle of Fcuk Pure Body Wash as part of a set for Christmas. It's taken me until September to use up the 175ml bottle, so I thought it was about time to write a review!

      Fcuk describe this body wash as a "triple moisturising gel". It contains pomegranate extract which is said to help firm skin and extract of pink grapefruit, jojoba oil and vitamin E to "refresh, moisturise and condition". The body wash comes in quite an attractive pump top plastic bottle. You can lock the pump shut, so it is safe to take away with you without it leaking all over your sponge bag.

      The gel is clear, but it is quite an unusual pale yellow / green colour. It dispenses easily from the bottle and it lathers well on contact with water. You don't need to use too much of the gel to build up a good foam, and so it is quite long lasting. I have found it to be pretty effective in cleaning my skin, but I haven't found it particularly moisturising. It hasn't dried my skin out, but I don't think it lives up to Fcuk's firming and moisturising claims.

      Fcuk describe the body wash as having "a soft floral oriental scent built around a delicious fusion of violet pepper and vanilla notes". I think this body wash has a pretty unusal fragrance which you are either going to like or loathe. I find it pretty musky and a little masculine. Whilst I don't actively dislike it, I'm not that keen on it either. This is the main reason that a 175 ml bottle has lasted nearly 9 months!

      You can buy a 500 ml bottle of this body wash in Boots for £5.00. However, I won't be rushing out to replace the bottle that I've just finished. In my view, you can buy much more effective moisturising body washes much cheaper. I can't help thinking that you are paying a premium for the Fcuk name with this product.

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        24.08.2010 15:36
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        Good conditioner for dry hair, but I don't think it adds anything to using the shampoo.

        A few months ago I reviewed L'Oreal Elvive Nourish and Shimmer Highlights Shampoo, which is the best product that I have found to date for maintaining my highlighted hair. When I bought my first bottle of shampoo, I decided not to buy the conditioner as well. I have very dry, naturally curly hair which needs an industrial strength conditioner to tame the frizz. I was not convinced that Elvive Nourish and Shimmer Highlights Conditioner would be up to the job. However, when I was replacing the shampoo and found that it came with a free bottle of conditioner, I had no excuse not to try it.

        Elvive Nourish and Shimmer Highlights conditioner contains Royal Jelly and "Brighteners" which L'Oreal claim helps prevent highlighted hair from fading. The conditioner is also said to "deliver targeted care to damaged or dried out areas". Both shampoo and conditioner come in gold coloured plastic bottles. Boots are currently selling the conditioner at £2.55 for 250ml or £3.59 for 400ml. However, look out for regular promotions that all the large stores seem to run on L'Oreal hair care products.

        The conditioner is white, but if you look closely at it you can see extremely fine golden sparkles. I assume that these are the "brighteners". The conditioner is quite creamy, but it is easy to spread through wet hair, and to rinse out afterwards. There is an undeniable honey fragrance to this product, which I find much more obvious than in the shampoo. However, I would not describe the fragrance as particularly strong, and I haven't noticed it once my hair has been rinsed and dried.

        "For extra care and brightness" L'Oreal suggest that you use both the Elvive Nourish and Shimmer shampoo and conditioner together. The cynic in me would suggest that this is a great marketing ploy. I have now used the shampoo on its own, and the shampoo and conditioner combined. I really cannot say that using the complete Elvive Nourish and Shimmer range has resulted in any noticeable extra care or brightness for my hair. Personally I do not feel that there is a need to used both the shampoo and conditioner together, unless you particularly like both products.

        My initial concern about this product was that it would not provide sufficient moisture to my extra dry hair. I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised, that this conditioner does leave my hair feeling soft and in pretty good condition. That's a pretty good result for a conditioner of this price.

        I have already been won over by the Elvive Nourish and Shimmer Highlights Shampoo, which I think is a fantastic product for helping maintain the colour of highlighted hair. However, I won't be buying the conditioner again. I am not convinced that using both the shampoo and conditioner together has provided any additional benefits to the colour and condition of my hair. Whilst the conditioner is quite good for dry hair, it does not come close to the results that I get from my usual Aussie conditioner.

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        • Vtech Tiny Touch Phone / Baby Toy / 93 Readings / 90 Ratings
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          17.08.2010 14:14
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          Good value toy which provides hours of fun for babies and toddlers.

          My little boy was given a VTech Tiny Touch Phone on his first birthday. Children seem to have an almost magnetic attraction to phones, so he was delighted with his present. We are now just approaching his second birthday, and the phone is still played with on a daily basis, so it has proved to be a very successful gift.

          == What is the Tiny Touch Phone? ==

          VTech market the Tiny Touch Phone as "an interactive phone that's full of role-play fun!" It is designed for children of twelve months and upwards. The plastic phone is a bit bigger and chunkier than a standard cordless telephone. If you can remember this far back, it's about the size of an early 90's mobile (and probably about as sophisticated!). The phone has push button numbers which light up when you turn it on. It can be used in three different play modes, which are designed to encourage your child to learn numbers, shapes and colours.

          The bright colours, flashing lights and cheerful jingles make this toy very appealing to babies and toddlers. The phone is easy for small children to hold, and the buttons are large enough to be pressed without too much difficulty. This toy is made from tough plastic and it is still in full working order, despite being thrown around for nearly a year by my rough toddler.

          == Battery Requirements ==

          The phone is powered by two AA size batteries, which were supplied with it. For some reason VTech do not recommend that you use rechargeable batteries with this toy. However, our original batteries are still going strong a year later. This is probably due to the phone being fitted with an automatic shut off system. This powers the toy down if it has not been used for about 20 seconds. This feature is a blessing for any parent used to the costly task of constantly replacing batteries in numerous toys.

          == Turning the Phone On ==

          When you turn the phone on you are greeted by a "cute, sung song" and the push button numbers light up. I don't find the song particularly cute, but due to a great product feature, it's not as irritating as it might be. As the phone is designed to be held against a young child's ear, VTech have reduced the volume level so that it complies with safety regulations to protect hearing. My little man can merrily play with the phone, without damaging his hearing, and I don't have to listen to the overly cheery voice singing cute songs. For me this is a great result, and I only wish that all toys were set at such a low sound setting.

          == Modes of Play ==

          The phone has three separate modes of play. If you press a large blue button you can switch between numbers, colours and shapes, and role-play mode. Pressing the button also changes the picture display in the panel at the top of the phone.

          ** Number Mode **

          When you press any of the number buttons in this mode, the button lights up and a voice tells you the number of the button pressed. The phone also plays various tunes and dialling tones. Periodically the voice will also ask if you can find a particular number, whilst the light flashes beneath it.

          ** Colour and Shape Mode **

          The number keys are different shapes and colours. The top row is made up of three circles (numbers 1, 2 and 3), the second row contains three triangles (numbers 4, 5 and 6) and the bottom row comprises of three squares (numbers 7, 8 and 9). On each row the buttons are either red, yellow or green. The 0 button is a red heart, and on the same row you find a blue star and a blue moon. When you press any of the keys, in colour and shape mode, the voice will tell you both the shape and the colour. If you press the same shape again the voice will either repeat the name of the shape, or tell you a fact about it. For instance, if you press a square it may tell you that "a square has four sides".

          ** Role Play Mode **

          In role play mode the operator speaks to the child, and will say things like, "Hello, this is the operator, who is it please?" and "Let's call Mummy / Daddy / Baby". The phone also plays a number of tunes whilst in role play mode. You will find that it randomly strikes up Jack and Jill, Row Your Boat or Pop Goes the Weasel, amongst others. All the lights flash whilst the tune is playing.

          Whilst number and colour and shape modes are designed to encourage learning, I have seen no evidence of this yet. My little boy is quite happy to press all of the buttons at once, rather than pressing a specific number or shape. However, I think this is more a reflection of his stage of development, than a failing in the toy. It will be interesting to see if he interacts more with the toy, as his concentration span increases with age. His preference so far has been to play with the phone in role play mode. In this mode he will phone Daddy and his friends, and he frequently passes the phone to me and tells me who is calling. It is lovely to see the toy supporting and encouraging imaginative play.

          == Price ==

          The VTech Tiny Touch phone retails at around £10 and is widely available through stores such as Toys R Us, Argos and Tesco. It comes with a one year product warranty, which is valid with a copy of your proof of purchase.

          == Summary ==

          I think the VTech Tiny Touch phone is a great toy for the price. Whilst I don't particularly like noisy plastic toys with flashing lights, this one is low key enough not to irritate me and my son loves it. Time will tell whether my little boy gains any educational value from this toy. This would be an added bonus. However, I think the main advantage of this toy is the fun that it brings through imaginative play.

          Highly recommended for babies and toddlers.

          ** An amended version of this review also appears on Ciao **

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            23.07.2010 15:48
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            Easy to install child car seat with a high number of safety features and a Which Best Buy award.

            Our son began to out grow his baby car seat at about a year old. Child car seats are quite an expensive purchase, so I started researching which one to buy. At this point I came across some shocking accident statistics. What really concerned me was research indicating that only a third of child car seats, installed using an adult seat belt, were correctly fitted. By comparison 96% of ISOFIX car seats were correctly installed. I quickly decided to look for an ISOFIX car seat, and we eventually purchased the Britax Duo Plus.

            == What is ISOFIX? ==

            ISOFIX is basically an anchorage system by which a child car seat can be fitted into a car which has ISOFIX points. The ISOFIX system provides a rigid connection between the child seat and the car chassis. This reduces the forward and sideways movement of the car seat in the event of an accident. Since February 2006 all new cars in the UK come with ISOFIX points on the rear seats.

            As our car has ISOFIX points it seemed sensible to look for an ISOFIX car seat. However, safety comes at a price, as ISOFIX car seats are around twice as expensive as those which are installed using seat belts.

            == Britax Fit Finder ==

            Having decided on an ISOFIX car seat we then had to choose which one. You might think this is a straight forward decision, however, not all child car seats fit into all cars! I found one of the real plus points for Britax is that they have a "Fit Finder" on their website (www.britax.co.uk/car-seats/fit-finder). This allows you to quickly enter details of your child's age / weight and your car model, and a match will be found with suitable Britax car seats. The Duo Plus came up as a suitable match for us.

            == Britax Duo Plus ==

            Duo Plus is a Group 1 forward facing child car seat. It is suitable for children weighing 9 to 18 kilos, or approximately 9 months to 4 years. The Duo Plus comes in 5 different colours including a number of combinations of grey and black, as well as red and pink. We bought the car seat in "Black Fusion" which looks very smart against the dark grey interior of our car.

            == Safety Features ==

            The Duo Plus car seat has a number of safety features. For instance, there are indicators at the rear of the seat, which clearly show that the ISOFIX system has been correctly installed. The seat has quite high sides, which are designed to provide side impact protection. The child is secured into the seat by a five point harness. This fits over both shoulders and across the waist, before fastening into a strap that comes between the legs. The harness can be easily adjusted to fit your child by pulling or releasing a strap at the base of the seat. This is very quick and easy to do, even with one hand. As a result, getting your child in and out of the car is quite a straight forward procedure.

            == Comfort ==

            I wanted to make sure that the seat would be comfortable as well as safe. The Duo Plus seat is padded, and the chest straps also have soft backed padding across the shoulders and down the chest. The seat has additional padding behind the shoulders, neck and head. This can be height adjusted as your child grows. The whole seat cover can be easily removed and is machine washable. I haven't actually removed the cover yet, because small boy has managed to keep it remarkably clean so far. However, I have found the seat easy to vacuum and sponge clean.

            Britax will tell you that the seat has 3 recline positions, however, I would be hard pushed to identify them. I would say that the seat reclines at most through 30 degrees, having worked through all 3 recline settings. However, a limited recline seems to be common with all front facing child car seats. We tend to keep the seat reclined all the time. This keeps my little boy fairly upright, but laid back enough to nod off easily. He does seem to find the seat comfortable and he frequently sleeps for fairly long periods of time in it.

            The Duo Plus apparently has ventilation channels in the back of the seat to help air circulation. However, my son has still become quite hot and sweaty in the seat in the recent warm weather, so I'm not sure whether the Duo Plus is any cooler than other child car seats. I suspect this is a common problem with all child car seats, given the amount of moulded plastic and padding used.

            However, a feature of the Duo Plus which is beneficial in the summer, are little slots in the side of the seat. You use these to keep the metal harness buckles out of the way when the seat is not in use. This prevents you from sitting your child on top of the harness when you are trying to put them in the car. In the summer it also stops the metal buckles from becoming very hot in direct sunlight.

            == Installation ==

            The car seat comes with complete installation instructions. We bought our car seat from Kiddicare.com, where there is a very useful product video, including a fitting demonstration. It takes only a couple of minutes to fit the car seat using ISOFIX. It really is very simple to align the rods on the back of the seat with the points in the car. You can hear the seat clicking into place, and the indicators also very clearly show when it is correctly positioned.

            The Duo Plus car seat can also be fitted using the car seat belt. We have never had to use this method, but it is reassuring to know that we could still use the seat in a car which does not have ISOFIX.

            == Dimensions ==

            Weight - 9 kg
            Height - 60cm
            Length - 46cm
            Depth - 49 cm

            == Cost ==

            Britax Duo Plus has a recommended retail price of £199.99. We paid nearer £150 including delivery on Kiddicare.com. It is certainly worth checking on line, as long as you know that the car seat will fit your car. For instance, I have just found Halfords stocking the full colour range for £144.99 (on line price).

            == Summary ==

            We have been really pleased with the Britax Duo Plus, and I would certainly buy another one. However, we are not alone in our praise of this car seat, as it was also awarded a Which Best Buy in June 2009. It may not be the cheapest car seat on the market, but I was pleased to pay extra for peace of mind about our little boy's safety.


            *** A slightly amended version of this review also appears on Ciao ***

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              15.07.2010 23:23
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              Great value moisturising body spray.

              I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Avon products. I really love some of them and hate others. My problem is that I'm a sucker for a bargain, and Avon frequently have promotions on their products. Thus I find myself buying my favourite items, along with a few "bargains". Many of these turn out to be big disappointments, but this time I hit it lucky, and Skin So Soft Dry Oil Body Spray is most definitely on my Avon love list.

              The Dry Oil Spray usually costs £5 for a 150ml bottle. However, under Avon's current promotion, two Skin So Soft products cost £4. I was attracted to the Dry Oil Spray because my skin has been feeling quite dry following recent sun exposure, and I hoped an oil would provide the extra moisture needed.

              The oil comes in a white plastic bottle with a pump dispenser. It is really easy to apply because the pump dispenser produces a very fine mist of oil, which you can quickly rub across large areas. The pump also sprays upside down, so you can coat the backs of your legs without too much difficulty. The words "dry" and "oil" seem like a contradiction. However, the oil spray is so fine that it very easily absorbs and leaves your skin feeling soft and lightly perfumed, rather than greasy. The added advantage that this product has over a moisturiser is that it leaves a lovely soft sheen on your skin, which beautifully sets off a tan. I think this would be a great product to take on a beach holiday to moisturise skin after a day's lazy sunbathing. Shame I'm not going anywhere...

              When you first spray the oil it smells rather like hairspray, which is a bit off putting. Luckily this smell very quickly disappears, leaving a very subtle fragrance which reminds me of sandalwood. I do not like strong smelling products, but I am really pleased with the light summery fragrance of this oil.

              I've been using the Dry Oil Body Spray daily for a week now, and I am so pleased with the moisturising effect it has had on my skin. I would definitely buy this product again, however, I suspect that my current bottle will last for many months yet. Under the current promotion this product is great value, but I would also pay full price for it.

              You can buy Skin So Soft Dry Oil Spray from an Avon representative or on line at www.avonshop.co.uk.

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                10.07.2010 13:53
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                An easy to apply high sun protection cream for sensitive skin.

                We've had such lovely sunny weather so far this summer, that I recently had to buy another tube of sun cream for my little boy. I recently wrote a review about Soltan Baby sun cream. This is a good product, but I found it very hard to rub into a wriggly toddler. As a result, I decided to try something different this time.

                I am allergic to fragranced sun tan lotion and occasionally suffer from sun induced allergies. As my son has slightly sensitive skin, I have decided that I will only use non perfumed sun cream on him. You are confronted with shelves of sun creams in chemists and supermarkets. However, the range available to you is seriously restricted if you want something that is fragrance free. In my local Boots this left me a choice of Soltan (which I'd already ruled out) or Simple. As a result, I bought a 75ml tube of Simple Baby Suncare Lotion for £9.99. I find that pretty expensive, however, Boots are currently running a "Buy One Get One Free" on many sun cream brands, including Simple. Two tubes for £9.99 is much better value!

                I already use Simple Baby bath products on my little man, so I was fairly confident that the sun cream would not upset his skin. Simple market themselves as experts in sensitive skin. None of their products contain any perfumes, colours or any "unnecessary or harsh chemicals". The baby sun cream has been dermatologically tested and it is photostable. It also contains sunflower extract, which Simple advise "enhances the skin's natural defence", and pro vitamin B5 to "actively restore, soften and smooth".

                I am neurotic about my son getting sun burn, so I always look for a high sun protection factor. Simple Baby sun cream has a high SPF of 50 and a 3 star UVA rating. I was a little disappointed that the UVA rating was not higher, as the UVA barrier reduces the risk of sun induced allergies (to which I am prone).

                Simple advise that you apply the sun cream 20 minutes before sun exposure and then reapply every hour. Simple Baby sun cream is also water resistant for 40 minutes after application. I find the cream relatively easy to apply, as it is just runny enough to allow you to quickly smooth it on to the skin. Like all high protection sun creams that I have come across, this cream needs some rubbing in to stop the skin appearing white. However, it does absorb fairly quickly and does not feel too sticky afterwards. I do try to avoid getting the cream on to clothing, because it is not that easy to remove. However, it does not seem to stain.

                I've been using Simple sun cream on my son virtually every day for 10 days now, and I have been pleased with the results. Thankfully he has not had sunburn and nor has he had any reaction to the cream. The sun cream does appear to be water resistant, as we have had several afternoons with him leaping in and out of the paddling pool, without the cream obviously coming off. However, I do make sure that I reapply it after he has been in the water.

                I will be buying Simple sun cream again, as it is fairly easy to apply, it provides good sun protection and has not caused any allergic reactions. It's just a shame that it's £9.99 for a small tube.

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                01.07.2010 14:37
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                A reliable, secure and comfortable nappy. Look for special offers to reduce the cost.

                There are a few brands to which I am completely loyal, and Pampers is one of them. When my son was first born I tried a complete range of different nappy brands, but the only ones that really worked well for us were Pampers. We have been using Baby Dry nappies for many months, because they usually work out a little cheaper than the Active Fit. However, there have been a lot of promotions on "new" Active Fit nappies recently, and I bought them at a 1/3 off in Sainsbury's. This worked out at two packs of 48 nappies (size 4+) for £12, rather than the usual £8.98 per pack.

                It had been about 9 months since we last used Active Fit, and I did not recognise the nappies I took out of the pack. The new Active Fit nappies use "DRY MAX technology". This apparently means that they are still as absorbent, but they are now 20% thinner. This size difference is very obvious, and at first I thought that there were fewer nappies in the pack. As I looked at these thin nappies, I remembered that there has been quite a bit of negative publicity about these newly designed nappies, (e.g. they leak and cause nappy rash). As I had just bought 100 of them, I was a little concerned that I had made a bit of a mistake! However, we have been using "new" Active Fit for 3 weeks now, without any problems at all.

                Active Fit nappies fasten with velcro tabs across the tummy, and they are elasticated around the legs. This is meant to give them a more comfortable and secure fit for active babies and toddlers. My son seems very comfortable in them, but to be honest I don't really find the fit any different from Pampers Baby Dry nappies. The new thinner version of Active Fit nappies fit as well as the older version, and they are equally absorbent. We have had no leaks or nappy rash in 3 weeks since my son has been wearing them, and I have every confidence in them. I am happier to have less bulky nappies, as they take up less storage space.

                One of the big hit features of Active Fit nappies with my 22 month old boy is the Sesame Street decorations. Each nappy has a picture of Elmo, Ernie or the Cookie Monster on the front, and a range of characters on the back. These are a great distraction whilst I am trying to change him. You wouldn't usually think that nappies can help with language development, but my son will now proudly tell you which character is on his nappy!

                Pampers Active Fit are not the cheapest nappies on the market. At there normal retail price a size 4+ nappy costs nearly 19 pence. However, if you shop around you can usually find Pampers nappies on promotion. The nappies I recently bought in Sainsbury's worked out at 12.5 pence each. That is a price that I am prepared to pay for a reliable nappy, that performs the dirty job for which it is designed.

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                  23.06.2010 14:26
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                  Low level fluoride protection for milk teeth.

                  Aquafresh Milk Teeth is a toothpaste especially designed for babies and toddlers (0-3 years). Dentists recommend that you start cleaning your child's teeth with a fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first teeth appear. However, fluoride is harmful if swallowed in large quantities. As young children have not yet learned to spit out toothpaste, it makes sense to use a low fluoride toothpaste like Aquafresh Milk Teeth.

                  Aquafresh Milk Teeth is sugar free and contains a reduced fluoride level of 1000 ppm. A standard toothpaste has a fluoride level of 1450 ppm. Aquafresh Milk Teeth has a mild minty flavour, which my 21 month old son really likes. A 50 ml tube currently costs £1 in Sainsbury's and you only need to use a smear of the toothpaste, to minimise the amount that the child swallows. As a result, a tube of this toothpaste lasts us for around 6 months. However, the tube will last for 12 months once opened. The tube has a separate lid (i.e. it's not a flip cap) which clicks quite securely shut. This does prevent my son from squeezing all the toothpaste out too quickly, if he manages to get hold of the tube whilst I'm not looking!

                  Unlike standard Aquafresh toothpaste, Milk Teeth does not come in red, white and blue stripes. I'm not sure why this is, but I think it's a shame. My son does not like having his teeth cleaned, and I think striped toothpaste might provide a good distraction whilst I try to get him to open his mouth! Aquafresh market this white paste as providing gentle tooth care plus calcium.

                  Tooth cleaning is a bit of a struggle in our house. However, my son likes the taste of Aquafresh Milk Teeth and this toothpaste lathers quickly. At £1 a tube I think it is good value for money for a branded toothpaste. Most importantly, I am hoping that it provides adequate protection for my son's new set of teeth. As we are off to the dentist this afternoon, we should soon find out!

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                    16.06.2010 14:24
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                    Easy to use, durable, comfortable and great value. What's not to like?

                    I started to wean my son when he was nearly 6 months old, so we quickly needed a highchair. I would usually conduct quite a bit of research before making a major baby purchase, but on this occasion I was offered a second hand Chicco Happy Snack. Having now used a number of different highchairs, I recognise how lucky I was to have blindly purchased it. Let me explain why I would thoroughly recommend the Happy Snack to other parents.


                    **Dimensions and Price**

                    The Chicco Happy Snack highchair won a Practical Parenting Best Buy award in 2007. It is suitable for babies from approximately 6 months (7.5kg) to 3 years (15kg), so it has quite a long lifespan for a baby product. This highchair is available in a number of different styles and colour combinations. I did a quick search of the internet and found that it is available for around £50 to £60 depending on style and retailer.

                    The Happy Snack is quite a large highchair. When open it has a height of 101 cm, a width of 54.5cm and depth of 79cm. You can collapse it quite quickly by simply pressing in 2 buttons on the side, and it folds almost flat. You can also remove the bottom half of the legs, if you want to make it even smaller when folded. It weighs 6.3 kg, which I think is quite heavy. However, this is not an issue for me as we seldom collapse or move the highchair.

                    The Happy Snack has a broad base, which makes it very stable. This is major bonus, now that my toddler has taken to climbing up the highchair when I'm not looking! However, if space is of a premium, you may find that the Happy Snack takes up too much room.


                    **Secure Seating and Harness**

                    One of the key things that I look for in a highchair is a secure harness. The Happy Snack has a 5 point harness, so it fits over the shoulders, around the waist and between the legs. You can easily alter the straps both at the shoulder and waist, to ensure that you have the right fit for your child. The straps are attached to the high chair at the shoulders, on both sides of the waist and also by the strap that fits between the legs. This means that baby is well secured into the chair. I think one of the best design features of the Happy Snack is the way in which the seat is moulded to fit between the child's legs. This prevents your child from sliding down in the seat, which I have found to be a real problem with other highchairs. This feature means that the Happy Snack is also suitable for smaller babies, who can easily sit upright even if they are not yet supporting themselves.

                    The Happy Snack also has 3 reclining positions. These may be useful in the very early stages of weaning, although I did not use them myself. You could also use the recline to lie your child down flat if they fall asleep whilst eating.


                    **Removable Tray**

                    The Happy Snack has a large plastic tray, which you can remove completely from the highchair. This makes it easier to put your child in and take them out. It is also easier to clean the tray, once it is removed from the highchair. You need two hands to fit or remove the tray, but it is simple to lock into place. Despite my son's best efforts, he has never come close to removing the tray in 15 months of use. You can fit the tray into 4 different positions, so again the highchair can be adapted as your child grows.


                    **Storage Basket**

                    The Happy Snack has a large net basket that fits under the seat. I find this really useful for storing bibs, bowls and other feeding equipment. However, the basket is a real food trap. I constantly need to clean out the dropped bits of toast, banana, baked beans etc that gather in it. However, it is easy to remove the basket, and as the base is plastic you can quickly wipe it clean. You could also remove the basket completely, if you got fed up of cleaning it out.


                    **Ease of Cleaning**

                    Feeding a baby or toddler can be an extremely messy business, so it helps if the highchair is easy to clean. The Happy Snack comes with a padded plastic seat cover, which is easy to remove and to wipe clean. Our Happy Snack is in the Hawaii design, which is bright and suitable for both boys and girls. However, I can never understand why Chicco chose to give it pale blue straps. One toddler with bolognaise for dinner, very quickly messes up the straps. However, they can be easily removed and will come up clean when soaked in stain remover before washing.


                    **Summary**

                    If you have sufficient space, I think the Happy Snack is a good, practical and reliable highchair. My son is now 21 months, but the Happy Snack has sufficient room for him to continue growing for another year. Our Happy Snack was in excellent condition when we got it, despite having been used for two years. It is still going strong, and would definitely cater for another child. I think that makes it excellent value for money. Chicco well deserved the Practical Parenting Award for the Happy Snack. It comes with my firm recommendation too!

                    **This review also appears on Ciao**

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                      10.06.2010 13:48
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                      A good fun book to read with a small child.

                      "That's not my monkey" is one of the Usborne series of touchy-feely books aimed at babies and toddlers. There are quite a lot of books in this series, and because my son likes them so much he has a collection of about half a dozen. "That's not my monkey" is one of the firm favourite in our house.

                      "That's not my monkey" contains a lovely collection of brightly coloured pictures, which are visually appealing to small children. We are introduced to six different monkeys with various touchy feely patches, in the search for our monkey. On the front cover you find a chimp with soft, furry ears. The front cover reads "That's not my monkey. Its ears are too soft." This theme continues throughout the book. We come across a brown monkey, but its long tail is too velvety. Another monkey is pictured leaping between the trees across double pages. However, this isn't our monkey, because its feet are too smooth. My personal favourite is the gorilla, with very hairy grey eyebrows. There is another chimp, licking its lips whilst eating a banana. This isn't our monkey, because its tongue is too fuzzy. Finally we find our monkey on the last page. It's a plump orang utan with a large fluffy tummy. This one is definitely my son's favourite. He sits and rubs his own tummy after stroking the orang utan!

                      Like the others in the series, this book with its brightly coloured pictures, simple words and touchy feely patches is certainly engaging for babies and toddlers. My son loves to feel the patches on each page. He also enjoys finding the mouse, which appears somewhere in all of the pictures. I also like the fact that there are plenty of opportunities for my son to learn whilst enjoying the pictures in this book. For example, we are able to explore colour, texture and body parts in a fun way.

                      The Usborne touchy-feely series have been well designed for toddlers. These board books are tough and durable. The corners are curved and the pages are thick and strong. It's difficult to peel the paper off the card, and the touchy feely patches are all well attached and integrated into the book. The books have a strong binding, which can withstand pages being bent right back. My son can be extremely rough with his books and toys. However, his Usborne books show few signs of wear and remain in a readable condition after months of constant reading.

                      These books have an RRP of £5.99, which I find a little expensive. However, you can frequently find them on special offer in supermarkets and they are generally cheaper on line.

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                        05.06.2010 23:45
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                        Good value, but difficult to apply instant tan.

                        I love early summer when the sun finally decides to make an appearance. It's great to get out my summer clothes, but what a shame that my legs are so pale after months of darkness. I never seem to be organised enough with fake tan, which is where Rimmel Sun Shimmer comes in.

                        Sun Shimmer is a makeup product, not a fake tan. The main benefit for me is that there is no development time (or fake tan smell). You simply apply the cream for an instant tan, which Rimmel claim lasts for up to 24 hours. Unlike a fake tan, you can remove Sun Shimmer with soap and water.

                        I bought a 125ml tube of Sun Shimmer from Boots for £5.99. It is available in 3 shades - Fair, Light and Medium - and comes in either a matte or shimmer finish. Once opened Sun Shimmer will last for 24 months. I opted for light shimmer, with the intention of only using this product on my rather white legs.

                        My first application was an absolute disaster. The cream was darker than I expected with the consistency of a hand cream. I squeezed out far too much and rubbed it straight down my shins. I optimistically hoped that it would be absorbed and leave an even, natural tanned glow. What I actually got were unattractive, dark, orange streaks. Luckily Rimmel are correct is stating that Sun Shimmer can be easily removed with soap and water. The moral of this tale is that a little Sun Shimmer goes a long way. You can achieve a natural looking "tan" by applying smaller amounts and ensuring that you rub it in well. However, I do not find Sun Shimmer particularly easy to apply.

                        Given that so much makeup contains sun protection, I was rather surprised to find that Sun Shimmer does not contain an SPF. However, I have now worked out that the quickest and easiest way for me to apply Sun Shimmer is by mixing it 50 / 50 with my sun tan lotion. I find that this mixture glides on to my legs much more easily than the Sun Shimmer on its own.

                        Sun Shimmer gives quite a natural tanned colour. However, you need to select your colour quite carefully, because I found it to be darker than expected. The shimmer finish leaves a subtle sheen, which I think looks particularly nice on legs (not sure I would want to apply it on my face though). Once you have applied Sun Shimmer it does stay in place, and I am quite confident that it won't wear off during the day. However, I would avoid light coloured clothing whilst you are wearing it.

                        Overall this is not a bad product, particularly for the price. However, I find the difficulty in application off putting. For that reason I am not sure that I would buy it again.

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                          24.05.2010 18:33
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                          An effective high protection baby sun cream, but difficult to apply.

                          We've just been enjoying the first of hopefully many hot weekends this summer. As I dug out the shorts and t-shirts for my toddler, I also found the sun tan lotion that I bought for him last year. Luckily Boots Soltan Baby Sun Cream lasts for 18 months from opening, so my tube is still in date. The 75ml tube cost around £8, so I am quite pleased that I do not have to buy another too quickly.

                          My skin is extremely sensitive to perfumed sun tan lotion and my son is prone to slight eczema, so I was very careful when buying his first sun tan lotion. Soltan Baby sun cream contains no perfume, colour or alcohol. It is hypoallergenic and has been dermatologically tested. Boots claim that this sun cream has been specially formulated for babies' delicate skin, and it is paediatrician approved. I use Soltan sensitive sun cream myself, and I've never had an adverse reaction to it, so I was fairly confident that the baby sun cream would be gentle enough for my son's skin.

                          I also wanted to buy a cream with a very high level of sun protection. Soltan Baby sun cream has a sun protection factor of 50+ against UVB rays. This means that it provides up to 50 times more protection against the burning rays of the sun. It also has a 5 star rating (the highest level) for UVA protection. I was particularly pleased to see a high UVA rating, as this provides protection against sun induced rashes and allergies. UVA protection is often overlooked in sun care products, with more focus given to UVB sun protection factor.

                          The cream itself is quite thick and white. Boots claim that it is easily absorbed, but I do not agree with them on this point. The cream does not spread very easily across the skin, and you have to rub quite a lot to remove the whiteness. This is not ideal when you are trying to quickly cover a wriggly toddler in sun cream. I find that the best way to apply this cream to my son is to first rub it between my hands, and then rub it down his limbs. This way I seem to be able to cover his skin more evenly, without him looking too like he has been coated in lard! However, I need to wash my hands with soap and water to fully remove the cream. You also have to be very careful not to get this sun cream on to clothes, because it does not come off easily.

                          Boots advise that you apply the sun cream 15 minutes before going into the sun, and then again immediately on sun exposure. You should then re-apply it every 1 to 2 hours. I am a bit paranoid about my little boy in the sun, so I do re-apply this sun cream frequently. We also try to keep him in the shade as much as possible. The good news is that he has never had sun burn, nor has he developed any reaction to using this sun cream.

                          Whilst I would buy another sun cream from Boots Soltan range, I would not buy this one again. I have been pleased by the level of sun protection, and the fact that this cream has been gentle on my son's skin. However, this cream takes too long to absorb and I do not like the white residue that it leaves on the skin.

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                            18.05.2010 19:38
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                            A lovely refreshing apple juice, which in my view would benefit from a hint more elderflower.

                            Last week I wrote a review about Copella apple juice after stocking up on a half price offer in Sainsbury's. I expected that Copella would have returned to £2.71 a bottle this week, but I was pleased to see that it was still £1.35 for 1.25 litres. So I seized the opportunity to add a bottle of apple and elderflower juice to my trolley.

                            Copella apple juices are made from hand picked English apples, which are pressed on Boxford Farm in Suffolk. Each litre of Copella juice is made from 3lbs of apples. Whilst the actual apple varieties were listed on the bottle of apple juice that I bought, this detail is not provided on the bottle of apple and elderflower juice. However, we are informed that the juice is made from a blend of 99% apple juice and 1% elderflower infusion. Like all Copella juices it does not contain any added colours, flavours, preservatives, sugar or water. Copella list the ingredients as apple juice, elderflower influsion and antioxidant vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

                            A 200ml serving of Copella apple and elderflower juice contains:
                            84 calories
                            19.6g of sugar
                            0.6g of fibre
                            0g of fat
                            60mg of Vitamin C

                            I bought a 1.25 litre bottle, which Copella describe as a family sized bottle. The juices are available in 1.25 litre, 750ml and 330ml plastic bottles. All of which can be recycled. The juice should be kept refrigerated, and once the bottle is open it should be consumed within 4 days. This last bit is not a problem in our house.

                            Copella apple and elderflower juice is a pale straw colour, and it is ever so slightly cloudy in appearance. However, I did not find any sediment in this juice, in contrast to the apple juice. When you pour the juice you can smell the English apples, but I cannot really pick out the smell of elderflower. However, I do find that this juice smells sweeter than the Copella apple juice. The juice has a smooth, light and sweet flavour, but again it is the apple that comes through and I cannot really distinguish the taste of elderflower. I gave my husband a glass without telling him what it was, and he thought he was drinking apple juice. Personally I would like to be able to taste the elderflower as well as the apples. However, this is still a very lovely tasting juice, and I think it would make a lighter and more refreshing alternative to apple juice on a warm summer day.

                            I personally love the real taste of English apples that you get with Copella juices, however, they do not come cheap. My advice would be to snap them up quick whilst they are still on special offer in Sainsbury's, or treat yourself to a lovely way to one of your five a day.

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                              10.05.2010 17:19
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                              Lovely, rich, flavour of English apples.

                              I love Copella fruit juice, but as I find it rather expensive I usually buy Sainsbury's pressed apple juice. I was really pleased to find that Copella is currently (10th May 2010) half price in Sainsbury's at £1.35 for a 1.25 litre bottle, compared to the usual price of £2.71.

                              Apparently the 1.25 litre bottle is a new size, which Copella refer to as family size. The bottle I bought is Copella's "Spring blend", which is a blend of English apple juices including Jonagold, Tydemans Late, Gala and Spartan. The apples are pressed on Boxford Farm in Suffolk and it takes 3lbs of apples to produce a litre of Copella juice. The juice does not contain any added colours, flavours, preservatives, sugar or water. Copella list the ingredients as apple juice and antioxidant vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

                              Copella is available in 1.25 litre, 750ml and 330ml plastic bottles. All of which can be recycled. The juice should be kept refrigerated, and once the bottle is open it should be consumed within 4 days.

                              Copella apple juice is cloudy in appearance. I find that a layer of sediment settles in the bottle after it has been standing in the fridge. However, this soon disperses after a quick shake of the bottle. When you pour the apple juice you can smell the English apples. I personally thought the juice smelt of Cox's apples, but these aren't listed in the Spring blend. Shows how much I know about English apples! The juice has a smooth rich apple flavour. It is sweet without being too sugary, and it has none of the sharpness that you sometimes associate with apples. Whilst I've been drinking a Spring blend, to me this juice is Autumn in a bottle.

                              A 200ml serving of Copella apple juice contains:
                              90 calories
                              20.6g of sugar
                              1.4g of fibre
                              0g of fat
                              60mg of Vitamin C

                              The sugar content of the juice is actually 22% of the recommended daily allowance. I was really surprised at the level of naturally occuring sugar in this apple juice. However, at least I am also getting 100% of the daily recommended levels of Vitamin C in my 200ml glass of juice. It also counts as 1 of my 5 a day.

                              There is absolutely no comparison between Sainsbury's own brand pressed apple juice and Copella. However, you are paying a premium for the loveliness of Copella. A friend of mine refers to it as Rockefeller juice, as she finds it so expensive! Unfortunately our food budget does not stretch to a weekly fix of Copella. I snap it up when it is on special offer, or I buy it for a special occasion. However, if you want a juice that tastes of real English apples, I don't think you can beat Copella.

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                                08.05.2010 13:49
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                                At £1.89 what have you got to lose?

                                A couple of years ago Gok Wan ran a blind test of anti ageing night creams on one of his Channel 4 programmes. The surprise result was that the 100 testers rated the cheapest cream as highly as the most expensive cream. The cheap cream was Siana Nourishing Anti Wrinkle Night Cream, which costs £1.89 in Aldi. It was nearly £40 cheaper than the most expensive night cream.

                                Siana Nourishing Anti Wrinkle Night Cream contains a retinol complex to help stimulate cell growth. It also contains Co-enzyme Q10, which is said to stimulate the biological function of the skin and protect against harmful environmental impacts. Both retinol and co-enzyme Q10 are commonly found in more expensive anti-ageing creams. Aldi claim that regular use of this cream may help reduce the appearance of existing wrinkles, and minimise new ones from forming.

                                I was given a 50ml pot of Siana Nourishing Anti Wrinkle Night Cream by my sister who is a keen bargain hunter. Unfortunately, she has sensitive skin and reacted unfavourably to this cream. I do not share her skin sensitivity and eagerly took the cream off her hands. I've now been using it for just over a month.

                                The cream is quite thick and white. It takes a little massaging to absorb into the skin, but it leaves it feeling immediately moisturised. As with many anti ageing night creams, you can still feel the cream on your skin even after it has absorbed. However, it does not feel sticky or unpleasant.

                                One down side is that I think this cream has a slightly strange smell. However, I'm afraid I can't describe it. I don't find it unpleasant and it's not overpowering, but some may find it off putting. For me it is the main indicator that this is not a more expensive cream.

                                So how have I found it? I find that my skin feels beautifully soft and well moisturised when I wake up in the morning. After washing my face, it does feel plumper and softer. However, after 4 weeks of use, I'm afraid there have been no anti ageing miracles. You could say that at £1.89 what do you expect? That is very true. However, the results that I have had from this £1.89 are no different from any of the £20 anti ageing creams I have tried. That either means that this is a really good cream for £1.89, or none of them work very well!

                                Like a lot of us, I am still in search of a small miracle in a pot that will help turn back time. Until someone invents it, I am going to save a few pounds and keep using Siana Anti Wrinkle cream.

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