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I struggle with waking up in winter. The dark nights come in and I stop waking up easily. An alarm clock helps, but still leaves me sleepy and bleary-headed.
Enter the Lumie alarm clock.
Rather than just relying on noise to wake me up, the Lumie clicks on a light about twenty minutes before I'm due to get up. The light then gradually increases until it's wake up time. Just in case I'm still not awake by then (it has been known for me to bury my head into my pillow) you can then set a back-up of more traditional beeping or radio to get you up.
Advantages: Because the light gradually turns up over time it catches you in a period of light sleep. This means that rather than being jolted out of sleep potentially from a deep sleep you almost feel like you've woken yourself up.
Disadvantages: The radio is a bit rubbish. Which I wouldn't mind if this were a cheap clock, but this costs £50-80 online. For that, I expect them to do better.
Despite that, I couldn't do without this in winter. Very, very highly recommended.
Smart TVs now have the ability to go through the internet to pick up programs on demand through services such as iplayer or 4-on-demand. That's great unless you've got a fairly decent TV you don't want to upgrade. We got this for an upstairs TV for £10 in Tesco. This is cheap to start with, more so when you discover that currently, when you buy it, you get Sky Movies free for three months.
I was pleasantly surprised by the size of this. I'm getting used to our downstairs TV being surrounded by gadgets to the point where our TV cabinet is full to bursting, but this is tiny. It's about as long as a CD case, as tall as three CD cases, and as wide as 2/3 of a CD case. There's a little light on the front where you can see if its turned on.
Installation took less than ten minutes - I know we're fairly technical, but I'd still call it a really easy set-up. Once you've set it up there's an equally easy menu to navigate to the to your programs.
If you want a SMART TV but can't replace your current TV I would highly recommend this. It's hard to beat the price, easy to set up, and so small you'll hardly know it's there.
This just screams "gift". No-one buys a bath radio duck for themselves, and sure enough mine was a birthday gift. If you wish to buy one for yourself, I think they're about £10, but I'm not sure why you would.
As a duck it's not particularly good. The lights plus the radio plus 3 AAA batteries make it quite heavy. Maybe I have particularly splashy baths but it falls over a lot in the water.
The lights circle through the colours, which is a nice novelty although not particularly bright. My baby likes to stare at it though. The radio isn't very clear - there's a lot of interference - and really you need to try and set it before you start running your bath. Finding your station with wet hands is nearly impossible and sometimes it loses reception as it bobs around.
As a novelty item, say for someone who collects ducks, this is fine but it has no functional use. Personally, I find £10 a lot for something that might be used twice then never again. You would be better just buying a cheap battery operated radio and putting it on the windowsill.
My husband picked this up for me when I asked for a DAB radio for downstairs. I believe it usually costs around £18, but he found it reduced to £10. For a DAB radio that's almost implausibly cheap, and I doubt you're ever going to find one cheaper.
Theoretically I believe you could use it as a clockradio, but I don't recommend doing so. The screen is tiny, and not very well backlit. This would make it difficult to read the time in the dark. It also makes it difficult to read the screen for station / song information - there just isn't enough room to do that.
The small size of the radio makes it easy to squash into a corner, but it also makes it light and easy to knock. It's also worth noting that the length of the charger isn't particularly long - if you're wanting it more than a couple of feet from a plughole you may have problems.
It feels cheap and plasticky but.. well, it *is* cheap and plasticky. I wouldn't give it as a gift, but to sit in a corner and play music it's okay. The sound quality is okay - nothing to write home about, but fine for background noise. If you want a radio with lots of features.. you probably need to pay more than this.
When my old clock-radio packed in I needed a new one in a hurry, and picked this one up for around £6. There's nothing fancy about it but sometimes you don't need fancy.
The numbers are nice and bright and clear, easy to read from a distance. The radio has a choice between AM and FM and you set the channel the old-fashioned way by twiddling a dial - obviously for this price you're not getting a DAB radio. That means it can take a while to twitch it the fraction of a millimetre required for good reception, but if, like me, you tend to find one station and stick with it, once you're there you're golden
The other thing to watch if reception is off is the position of the aerial. It's a wire one, which makes it easy to accidentally move. That is a disadvantage, so I suggest putting this on a windowsill or cupboard, somewhere you can't accidentally kick it.
The only other issue I had with it was that the buttons to set the time and alarm are not the most responsive, and it can take a while to set them. This can be annoying, but again, for £6, I can cope.
I can see this is a well-marked case. Unfortunately, my experiences with it differ. This is a well-padded case (though it could use more pockets). My husband used it for his laptop, and for about a year he took it to work and back with him without issues. Then it started to fray. It frayed around the corner, where the zip ended (maybe this is a stress point? I don't know) and the fray eventually grew into a huge hole, rendering the case unusable. It wasn't particularly badly used to explain this; he carried it to and fro just about every day but it was never particularly over-stuffed.
To their credit, when he complained to Targus, they replaced the case with a new and different one. However, this case costs around £40 and for that price I would expect it to last more than a year. That being the case, I cannot recommend this case.
We have a more expensive pram, but with "more expensive" comes "fear of being stolen if I have to leave it". Also, it's basically a tank and that means heavy. This is my nice, light, spare pushchair.
You can easily pick these up for £50-60. Thanks to a combination of a voucher and a sale at Argos however I only paid £15. The colours change yearly - mine is maroon, the one in the picture is black, there are other colours available.
It has two positions - sitting up and lying down. This is great, because my little lad is still of an age where he quite often wants a nap while we're out. There's a nice roomy shelf underneath to put shopping in. This is needed because the pushchair is light enough that I wouldn't want to put shopping bags on the handles as it might tip over.
It does what it's designed to do well. It's a good town/city pushchair. It doesn't have a car-seat or convert to take one, as some systems do. The wheels do okay on grass and mud, but I wouldn't want to try it on any terrain rougher than that. However, unlike my giant tank of a pram, it actually handles in shops without struggling to squeeze through tiny aisles. I can get it in the car without pulling a muscle and it actually fits in my tiny (Suzuki Alto) boot while leaving room for shopping. Also, I can put it up without needing to practice for three days, or use three limbs to press down various levers. All of these things score a lot of points with me.
I noticed someone else said they struggled with this when their child reached toddler stage. I can't speak to that as my boy is only 5 months old. However, for the price I paid for it, I'm happy to use it for a year and then move on if need be.
My Kindle Paperwhite case was given as a gift, but Amazon tells me that you can currently buy it for £13.67. That's a decent price for what is a nice case.
They come in a variety of patterns - mine is white with red ladybirds on it. Patterns are easier to fit to personality than just a plain colour - my mum picked mine because I'm known for liking bugs. It's nicely padded, which gives some protection when it's banging about in my bag. It fits very snugly, which is always a concern when you don't have a case made by the manufacturer.
Unlike the official case, however, there's no magnetic close which you do miss a bit. Instead there's an elastic band which goes around the case which you tuck the top in to close it. It works fine, but without the advantage of the official case that it turns on as soon as you open it. However, I'm not sure that one key-press would be worth changing case for.
It's survived eight months of banging around my bag so far, and still looks like new. Altogether this is a well-made case which provides good protection.
Winter is here, which means that getting into my car and discovering that my windscreen is covered in mist due to the cold is again a regular occurence. I used to deal with such things by deploying one of the soft toys that sit on my dashboard, but if you would prefer not to abuse your soft toys you can pick up one of these sponges, specially designed for the job, from Halfords for a couple of pounds.
What is there really to say about a sponge? It does the job, and does it pretty well without smearing the windscreen. It seems to be pretty hardwearing - this one has been going for a couple of years and shows no signs of wear - the surface is still soft, if a bit marked by my less-than-pristine windows. It's even survived a couple of rounds in the washing machine with no ill-effects.
If it has a fault it's that it is a bit small. This matters, firstly because it can end up a bit soggy, and secondly because I only have little short arms. I can't reach my full windscreen and this sponge doesn't help that, whereas a longer sponge, or one with a handle might extend my reach.
However, for the price this does the job well and is a very nice little sponge.
At £1.50 for a 600ml can, this won't break the bank and is readily available in places such as supermarkets. It comes in aerosol form - spray on windscreen and wait for ice to melt. It's fine to keep in the car for an unexpectedly chilly day where you get caught out.
If the day gets beyond "chilly" however, you may have a bit of a problem.
The can says it works down to -15C. This is pretty much just lies. Mild frost? You're fine. Very fine layer of ice? Also fine. Anything thick than that? You might as well just start your car up and hope that if you sit in it for ten minutes as it heats up it might melt because you aren't going anywhere any other way.
Honestly, I got into the habit of buying this as a skint student, and kept buying it because I thought that maybe that was just How Things Are and when ice passed a certain thickness everyone else just coped with it. Not until I told my husband this and received his best "Are you crazy" look did I learn there are better products out there.
It does have a purpose still. It's cheap, and if you're carrying it around in case your car gets a bit cold while you're at work it could help you out of a sticky situation. If you wake up and have to melt your car one super-cold morning though, it's not going to do any good.
There are a lot of really good - and expensive - MP3 players out there, but I needed one that wouldn't cost a fortune if it fell out of my pocket. I picked this up for around £15 about four years ago. For a cheap little widget it's done me well.
Unlike, say, an iPod this isn't rechargable - instead you stick in an AAA battery. While this has its disadvantages, one cheap battery lasts me for a couple of weeks usually and it means that there's no issue with me forgetting to charge it. In comparison, I also own an iPod shuffle which is great until the battery dies but then stays dead for weeks as I have no memory.
A GB of memory isn't a great deal, but I tend to deal with it by ripping songs at lower quality so I can stuff more on. I can usually get, again, a couple of weeks out of a music selection that way before it starts annoying me. A button allows you to skip through songs you hate, and there's a small screen to tell you what you're listening to. Occasionally it chokes on a song - I'm assuming because the format annoyed it, but I can never work out which songs when I remember to go back to a computer.
You put music on by plugging in to a USB drive then using Windows Explorer to drop songs into the folder. This has the advantage that I don't have to install proprietary software to use it (itunes, I'm looking at you).
It won't win me any trendy points, but for the price you won't do much better than this.
When our rented home became so damp there was mould growing on the walls (ew) we borrowed this to see if we could at least remove some of the water. That being the case, I'm not sure how much it cost, but it is on Amazon for £266 which seems pricey.
That being said, it was very effective. My husband set it up and set it going, and within about 8 hours it was full to the brim. I worried a bit that it might be noisy, but in fact it was so quiet that I didn't believe it was doing much until I found it was full of water.
When empty, it's easy to move around. Full, it's a different matter. I also found that its size made it possible to knock over, and at one point my clumsiness resulted in water going everywhere after I walked into it. That being the case, I cannot recommend this for a house with kids or excitable dogs - a less portable one that you can't knock over might be wiser.
Would I pay £266 for it? Ehhhh. Despite the vast amount of water it removed the mould kept growing and we eventually had to move, so it didn't prevent the problem. I'm not sure if that's due to the dehumidifier or the house though. I would say look around - there may be cheaper ones out there.
I have no idea how much this originally cost as it came from my husbands house (it's a very boy thing to have, I find, a beer fridge). You can pick them up for £50-100.
It has two shelves, each just high enough to hold a large can of beer, and enough room at the front for a row of bottles. It's surprisingly spacious back there - you can easily fit in over 24 cans, enough for a small party. You can, if preferred, take the shelf out to use it as a wine chiller.
It doesn't seem to get VERY cold in there - at least not compared with our main fridge - but enough to keep things cool-ish. Ours has recently had a new lease of life and been relocated upstairs to use for cooling baby bottles - a handy purpose which stops me having to troop down to the kitchen at 4AM. However, it doesn't exactly match the nursery decorations and I wish they did mini-fridges of this size without scrawling the beer logo across them. (I know, I know, I'm missing the point - but chillers this size aren't just useful for beer!)
My only other complaint is the noise. We originally planned for this to come in the bedroom with us for milk, but I had not anticipated just how loud this thing is. Every now and then it emits a really loud and distracting hum. Not so bad in a noisy party, but really noticable in a quiet room.
I've not been able to stand cotton wool since childhood. Something about the way it squeaks between my fingers makes my skin cringe. That makes these pads absolutely vital for me when I need to remove make-up.
They don't feel like cotton wool at all (thank god!) They're more like an almost-solid fluff thing. They come in packets of 100 for about 70p which is a decent price. However, I think I usually use three or four to clean my face - they get dirty very fast - so a packet of around this size will only last about a month if I'm wearing make-up every day.
When you first open the packet it seems they'll all stick together, but they're actually quite easy to seperate, even with your hands covered in lotion. They're nice and soft and not "bitty" like some pads (when bits come off on your face while you're using them)
They are still more expensive than cotton wool, but if you hate cotton wool these are a decent alternative.
I bought this in the mad excitement of OMG, HAVING A BABY, MUST BUY ALL THE THINGS. I may even have bought several bottles. Imagine my surprise to be told by my midwife to stick with water for at least the first six weeks for my baby's lovely fine hair.
It says "baby" shampoo so you think it's going to be ultra-sensitive, but read the back of the bottle! This is as full of chemicals as any cheap shampoo and the only thing that defines it as "baby" is that it doesn't sting if it goes in their eyes. And think about it - where is your baby going to get this horribly dirty hair? Babies really don't need more than a rinse to clean off the sweat every few days. My kiddo was born in the middle of this year's horribly hot summer and water did fine.
We've just started using this now we're introducing solids - which really do get everywhere. It does fine, but I look at my baby's super-fine hair and I'm so glad I waited this long to introduce it. It could have added nothing earlier in his life but a nice smell - and I prefer baby smell. Don't let Johnsons' convince you need this for your tiny baby. You can do fine without.