Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ravensburger The Christmas Shop 1000 piece puzzle review

This time I think we have met our match with the Ravensburger 'The Christmas Shop' 1000 piece puzzle!  Although each month we always complete our puzzles this months offering has taken some doing...

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The puzzle is a depiction of, as you can guess from the name of the puzzle, a shop full of Christmas gifts, toys and everything that is Christmas.  The attention to detail is very impressive - there is even a Ravensburger puzzle on the shelf in the shop.

Father Christmas is there of course as is an endearing reindeer peering through the shop window at whats happening inside.

It is this attention to detail that makes the puzzle less than easy, with so much going on and so many colours and different objects to piece together there was no easy place to start once the corners were in place.  We tried sorting the pieces into piles that had colours on the same in the hope this would make things simpler, which it did to a certain degree, but all in all the puzzle had us hooked - we didn't want to be beaten!

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I have to admit we are yet to finish the puzzle completely and am sure we will within the next few days.

The Ravensburger 'The Christmas Shop' puzzle is certainly for those that like to be challenged and take their time over their jigsaws.

We loved the attention to detail and as always the pieces were great quality with no rough edges.

Review disclosure

Friday, 19 October 2012

Saturday is #satcap day! Caption this photo...

Yes its Saturday already and another round of #satcap photos.  Can you caption this one?

Little Man always seems to pull the strangest of faces and my camera is full of weird and wonderful expressions.

Got a photo you'd like a caption for? Join in with Annie here...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Donate unwanted and outgrown toys and help charity.

Who doesn't have toys that are still in good condition but just outgrown? That pile of toys that you sorted out for the charity shop that has never made it there....

Well now there is a fantastic reason to get sorting, tidying, clearing and donating your pre-loved toys as Argos team up with Barnardo's to launch the Argos Toy Exchange. Toys can be donated at around 740 Argos stores and also at 500 Barnardo's retail stores across the UK.

In exchange for your donations, as if helping a good cause and gaining some extra space in your house isn't enough, you will also receive a £5 voucher to spend in store on toys when spending over £35.  Full details on the scheme and to find your local participating store click here.

The Argos Toy Exchange will run from today until Tuesday 27th November 2012 and all donations will be passed onto Barnardos stores to sell to raise funds.

Here's how your donations could help others:

* ONE bag could pay for a mobile phone top up to enable a young carer to keep in touch with their parent whilst at school which could help lessen their anxiety.

* TWO bags could pay for a taxi for a young carer in a rural area to be able to access a youth group or young carers group.

* FOUR bags could pay to keep Barnardo's free helpline running for 2 weeks.

* FIVE bags could pay for five sessions for an activity of a young carer's choice, allowing them to pursue a personal interest, develop skills and have a break from their caring responsibilities.

* TEN bags could cover the cost of running two drop-in centres for a month.

So with Christmas coming what better time to have a toy sort out and get donating (and helping)

Baby Toothbrushing problems? Brush-baby review

Little Man has developed many 'strange' dislikes. He doesn't like the feel of many things on his hands and tooth brushing is far from easy as he doesn't like to open his mouth to brush.

I had tried the usual approaches from showing him me brushing my teeth and trying to get him to imitate and join in, sitting him on my knee with his back to me and looking in a mirror whilst trying to convince him to open his mouth, smearing the toothpaste on my finger to brush instead and many other ways.  He was having none of it and obviously I worry about the effect that will have on his long term tooth health.

A lovely lady from Brush-baby sent me some samples of their products to try which included the Brush Baby Dental Wipes, toothpaste and Brush Baby tooth brush.

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The Brush Baby toothbrush is very different to traditional brushes in that it is made from silicone (but BPA Free) and is very flexible but durable. The idea is that the brush can be chewed so great for babies and those, like Little Man, not keen on letting anyone close enough to brush for them.  When used with a fluoride toothpaste such as the Brush Baby sample sent to me I knew at least fluoride was getting into his mouth and onto his teeth.

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He happily chewed away and now even lets me move the brush along his teeth and gums for a short time so we are progressing! Because the Brush Baby tooth brush has bristles that face the teeth in two directions it means that in the limited time Little Man allows me to brush his teeth for I am managing to reach as much of the teeths surface as I can in less strokes. He is also getting used to having a brush in his mouth which was most of the battle.

We were also sent some Brush Baby Dental Wipes to use after meals or snack to continue with the tooth cleaning routine but Little Man has so far not let me use or try these successfully.  I do hope that continuing with the silicone brush and getting him used to the whole idea of teeth cleaning may mean he allows me to try the wipes.

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The Dental Wipes come in a box of 12 and have a textured surface on the material to help clean the teeth.  You use by putting the wipe onto your index finger and wiping along the childs teeth.

I have been impressed with the progress Little Man has made using the Brush Baby toothbrush and hope his continued use will allow us to progress further onto a standard childs toothbrush.

Review disclosure

Monday, 15 October 2012

'What to expect when you're expecting' DVD review

From the title you may think that 'What To Expect When You're Expecting' is a fact based DVD for expecting parents but that's far from the case!

'What To Expect When You're Expecting' is a story of 5 couples that have, one way or another, started on the road to parenthood.  The 5 couples come from all walks of life from TV show host (played by Cameron Diaz) to fast food outlet owner and the film follows their lives as they become turned upside down by the impending journey towards becoming parents.

With the film starring some big Hollywood names, the a fore mentioned Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Chris Rock I settled down to watch.

Although the 5 couples are all different the film cleverly entwines them all in some way although this at times made the film a little 'busy' and with so many peoples stories unraveling it could be a little confusing.  I did enjoy the film this said and Jennifer Lopez was really the star of the movie for me. Her tale of adopting a child from Ethiopia was played thoughtfully and brought tears to my eyes.  Don't get me wrong this is not a weepy film that will have to watching from behind your pile of tissues and in parts is actually quite funny but I have to say I don't think I would be rushing to watch it again.

An entertaining film to watch, probably more so if you are actually on the same journey but not one that will be winning an awards in my opinion.

'What To Expect When You're Expecting' is out to buy on DVD on 22nd October 2012 from all good retailers.

Review disclosure

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Silent Sunday

Everybody needs a perk sometimes - Tesco Mobile knows it!

Everybody loves a treat lets face it and when you get a box of them turn up to make life a little easier and to raise a smile then that has to be the best sort of perk.

Tesco Mobile recently sent me a whole package of perks to help them celebrate their new 'Family Perks Package' which allows families to share the mobile phone love and have up to 5 handsets on just one mobile phone bill, now wouldn't that make many peoples life easier?

The Family Perks package means that each member of the family can choose their own extra perk, whether it be extra minutes to other Tesco Mobile users, other Network users or simply extra data - the choice is theirs and full details of the plan (and the perks!) can be found at the Tesco Mobile website.

My thanks go to Tesco Mobile for their thoughtful package of perks......


Saturday, 13 October 2012

Ideas for older boys Christmas gifts - Deadly 60 game review

Deadly 60 is a popular CBBC show starring Steve Backshall and is a wildlife programme aimed at a childrens audience.

The show follows presenter Steve as he journeys the globe in search of the 'Deadly 60' - the most deadly animals in the world and I was interested to see a wildlife programme would portray onto a board game.

The game consists of 3 sets of cards, an Item Card, an Animal Card and a  Risk Card set along with a fold out board, dice, players pieces and a sand timer.

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The first thing I really liked about the game was that the playing instructions were incorporated into the box itself - how many times have a paper set of instructions gone missing in your house? With the instructions as part of the box this would instantly solve the problem.

The game itself seemed fairly complicated to play when reading the instructions but once the board was set up with the players pieces in place then the game was actually quite easy to understand although it is aimed at children aged 10 years and above.

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The aim of the game is to track 3 deadly animals by players taking turns to roll the dice and proceed through the 'stepping stones' on the board whilst collecting essential items marked on your animal card which is selected at random at the beginning of the game.

Risk Cards come into play when you land on a red stepping stone. These risk cards give the tracker a task to complete which will see you succeed and gain an item card towards the cards you need to collect to track your animal or fail and have to return to your base camp or into the medical centre where you stay until you roll an even number on the dice. The 'risk' element adds to the play and adds to what could be seen as a simple card collecting game.

I have to say I really enjoyed playing the game with my children and although I thought the game would be over quite quickly the risk cards added to the game play.  The game is full of animal facts and although not quite in the realms of Jumanji (for those of us old enough to remember the film) it kept us all entertained for ages as we battled to track our animals.

Aimed at children aged 10 years and above this would make a perfect Christmas present idea for older boys and fans of the Deadly 60 programme.

Review Disclosure

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Who fights the monster under your bed? #nomoremonsters

Meet Harry.... well at least that's his name now but when he was my Daughters bedtime guardian to keep the monsters away he was called Henry.

With his cheery red scarf with an 'H' embroidered on it and a rather sad but sweet look on his face he has been part of the family for over a decade.

Little Man fell in love with Harry when he saw him sat on his Big Sisters bed and he's slept in his cot every day since.  I adore the fact that Harry has passed from brother to sister and now sits guard to protect Little Man against any 'monsters under the bed' as he did for his older sister. I'm sure Harry makes him feel as safe as he did my Daughter.

I love the bobbles in the bears material from all the years of being lovingly washed and returned to his owner only to be hugged and hugged until he was back in the wash again. I still have the bear that my Mother bought for me before I was born, worn but loved, and I'm sure Harry will be the same.

This is my entry into the 'Who fights the monster under your bed?' #nomoremonsters competition being run by Warren Evans

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Quick pass me the botox!

The saying goes you're as young as you feel and I have to say I agree as I didn't 'feel' any age - until today.

Ok so when I have walked long distances I wake up the next day with a sore back. It's not getting older simply because I carried a heavyweight baby and my pelvis and back were put out of alignment - right! Right?

I look in the mirror and see lines, hell they are just lines but nothing I would want to get rid of.  I have no grey hairs not that I would particularly worry if I did I don't think - age to me was something that never really played on my mind.  Having started having children at 18 I was always the youngest Mum at the school gates and was used to people saying to me 'you don't look old enough to have a child of that age!'.  Sometimes I was flattered other times I felt a bit like a novice that wasn't 'old enough' to be a parent.

As a Mum to 4 children aged from 20 downwards it wasn't a shock to hear people say they couldn't believe I had a child that had left school let alone who was 20 but those days are officially gone.

I told someone today that it was my youngest Sons birthday and he was 2 which raised no eyebrows and as the conversation went onward I explained that the eldest was 20 years old - again no raised eyebrows. So you may say? Well that's just it - no raised eyebrows!

The raised eyebrows or "really!" comment made me feel I must be aging well.  So when today someone just accepted the fact that I was the Mother of a 20 year old as well as a toddler I thought to myself suddenly that age had caught up on me, I must look 'old enough' to have a child that age.

So now of course after studying for ages glancing in the mirror at myself I notice the familiar lines but now I am thinking I should actually start to moisturise and drink water and all that stuff, perhaps those laughter lines are deeper than I had thought?

Well before I do start shouting for the botox and worrying too much more than that studying   quick glance I want to remind myself that no matter what I look like or what age I look I have got this way because I have lived, loved and laughed and who the hell can complain about that?

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Why write anything when a picture can speak for you?

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Got a photo that needs nothing said? Wordless Wednesday is the place for it. Join in here... and let the photo do the talking.


How many weeks till Christmas? Wild Science Weird Slime Laboratory - review

Yes I know Christmas is looming but when it comes to presents for Middle Son I usually struggle.

At 10 years old he is moving away from a lot of things he loved when younger and wanting something aimed at older boys. The Wild Science Weird Slime Laboratory is suggested for children aged 10 years and above (perfect!) and as most parents to boys (and girls as well) will know if its ghastly, gloopy and fun it ticks a lot of boxes in the fun category.

We were recently sent the Weird Slime Laboratory to give our thoughts on, Middle Son was in his element (see ticked his fun category box straight away)  The box alone had him excited... 'Blood Clots, Tadpole Soup, Authentic looking guts...' what more could a Pre-teen science liking boy want, oh hold on 'Make funny fart putty' yep that was there on the box to.

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The set contains all you need to create ghastly and disgusting looking but fun science experiments right in your own home.  It does contain chemicals to be able to create such delights hence the age 10 years plus suggestion.  There were goggles, mask, test tubes, stirrers and all things laboratory looking as well as full instructions in a booklet.

Middle Son flicked through the instructions and had a "Cool !" moment when he came across the Green Jelly Worms page and set about following the instructions to create his masterpiece, then we came across the first obstacle.... you have to start at the beginning (ok not rocket science you would say) and then do each experiment in turn as it is listed in the booklet. "But what if I don't want to do them all?" he asked, fair question but each experiment leads on to a another and, in my opinion, with quite limited amounts of the key ingredients of Calcium Chloride and Alginate, this meant doing it all by the book - literally.

I must have been tired when we were creating our slimy creations because I make up a key ingredient - a 'Calcium Chloride Bath' wrong and had to start again which meant we were down on our key ingredients straight away.  Allowing for my mistakes I did feel a little more of the Chloride and Alginate would have helped no end.

The first experiment of 'Laying Eggs' went well and Middle Son was hooked and was soon over run with red slimy eggs (much to his 10 year old boys delight I must add!) created using the red dye and Alginate solution.  It was a quick experiment and results were fast.  Next came the 'Green Jelly Worms'. Again easy to follow and quick to get results although they didn't look exactly as they did in the instructions at first but the results were the same just not as ghastly a green colour.  Middle Son was loving every creation and I am not exaggerating when I say this had him totally absorbed.

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We carried on with the listed experiments for ages and I have to say I did have fun myself.  My criticisms are that you cannot pick and choose the order of your Slime Laboratory experiments and a little more of the key ingredients would have been helpful for any mistakes made or spillages along the way but all in all Middle Son was loving every ghastly, slimy minute of it all !

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Save The Children - Syrian atrocities update #savesyriaschildren

Earlier in the year I wrote a blog post about the Syrian massacres, not because I  wanted to but because I felt I had to, I had to do something even if it was just to write a blogpost in hope of raising awareness of what was happening in Syria.

It is that same need that has again compelled me to write about the Save The Children Syrian Campaign update.  'Save The Children are working with these children to help them come to terms with the devastating psychological impact of their experiences, providing specialist support to children showing signs of distress including self-harm, nightmares and bedwetting' Yes you read it right they are working with children, children that have seen and witnessed things I do not want to even imagine happening, atrocities that make me feel sick to my stomach to read, children younger than some of my own that have seen those around them tortured and massacred. Shocking is a completely understated word to use when you read things like this: 

“Dead bodies along with injured people were scattered all over the ground. I found body parts all over each other. Dogs were eating the dead bodies for two days after the massacre.” Hassan, 14 

“This six year old boy was tortured more than anyone else in that room. He only survived for three days and then he simply died.” Wael, 16

“They hung me from the ceiling by my wrists, with my feet off the ground. Then I was beaten.” Khalid, 15

 “There was nothing that they did not use to hurt us.” Nur, 9                                                                                               
Now tell me this is not important.  Tell me that is right in any form of the word.  Tell me I shouldn't want to speak about such things - I would rather I didn't have to think about or speak about these atrocities but these things and many things like them ARE HAPPENING.  You can stop reading now but I would rather you didn't. I would love you to get involved.

Here's how:

Find out more about the campaign here:

Sign the petition here:

Link to donate:

Watch the Save The Children video 'Stop The Crimes Against Syrias Children' here:

Tell the world, get involved, write about it, ACT ON IT. We all have a voice so lets use it.

Nawara, five, peers out from her tent in Za'atari Refugee Camp, Jordan

Monday, 24 September 2012

Dear Diary..... The Vampire Diaries first series on DVD

I missed out on watching The Vampire Diaries when it first aired on television and loving all things supernatural and horror like I was a little sad I missed out.

Warner Brothers have come to the rescue and sent the first Vampire Diaries series for me to catch up on and I have to say I am loving it!  Having watched the Twilight films I promised myself I wouldn't compare the two but as the story lines are quite similar - small town American girl (Elena) and a story in her past meets an easy on the eye new guy in town (Stefan) who, with brooding good looks, intrigues her and gives her new focus following the death of her parents in car crash the previous year.

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Apart from some shared special effects that is where the Twilight versus Vampire Diaries similarities ends.  The Vampire Diaries has in my opinion more longevity, each episode sees a little more of the story line unravel and it has definitely got that 'can't wait for the next episode' factor to it.  In my opinion it is a more grown up and darker version than anything Twilight offers.

Just from watching the pilot episode I was hooked.  It sets the scene for the series and introduces the characters brilliantly.  From the title you can guess there is a diary element to the show but the way that this is incorporated into the show to allow you to get to 'know' the characters and to add parts that are crucial to the ongoing story line is very clever.

If you love the vampire and supernatural genre but want something more intense than the Twilight films then The Vampire Diaries is for you.  Full of bloody violence ( well vampires and blood just go together after all!) and scenes that definitely require the suggested viewers age rating age of 15 but intermingles with a girl meets boy (and then a brother shows up... enough about that though, you will have to check out the series for yourself) Highschool set series.

With a new series due out in October I am thoroughly enjoying discovering the first series on the 5 disc, 22 episode DVD that is out to buy now.  I need to find and watch the further 3 series as the show is now into series 4 but I am sure judging on the first episodes I will be doing just that.
Review disclosure

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 22 September 2012

James Rizzy 1000 piece puzzle - Ravensburger Puzzle Club review

After last months fantastic Disney Pixar Montage puzzle we were really happy to receive yet another of 'our kind' of puzzle in the James Rizzy 1000 piece jigsaw.

We love puzzles that depict a montage or mixture of images in the one jigsaw and were not disappointed in this months selection.  The James Rizzy puzzle is a characterful picture showing drawn people collated together to celebrate Times Square.

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Using our Ravensburger Puzzle Store we started by finding all the edge pieces and making the outline of the puzzle first.  This was actually quite easy considering the amount happening in the picture.

Next came the job of adding to the edges to increase the puzzle picture piece by piece.  Here is a montage of our our puzzle went....

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I love the hand drawn effect of the picture and how each person has a totally different character to the next and there are so many events and imagery in the puzzle as a whole which really draws in the eye in.  The hardest part of the puzzle for us was the multi-coloured buildings that run down the centre of the puzzle as the bright colours and similar coloured individual buildings meant you had to really concentrate.

When the puzzle was nearly finished and we were down to the last few pieces I have to say we were a little sad as the jigsaw was quite a challenge and had kept us busy for quite a few nights.  I love the way a puzzle brings the family together in order to make a singular creation.

For the first time in all the Ravensburger puzzles we have created one of the puzzle pieces came apart, not totally, but the image lifted from the cardboard backing.  This was easily remedied with a small dab of glue but I wanted to draw attention to this in order to provide my honest opinion in using the puzzle.  This had not happened before so I do not think it is necessarily a fault and could easily have been caused by over eager puzzle makers!

A fun but challenging 1000 piece puzzle that will have you coming back for more each time you put it away for the evening.  We are already looking forward to what Ravensburger have in store for us in the Puzzle Club next month....

Review disclosure

Saturday is #Satcap day don't you know?!

My daughter was recently invited along to the Heroes Tour which was attended by many of the swimming, water polo, diving Olympic athletes and Para-athletes.

As you can imagine I took loads of photos of people like Michael Jamieson (blog post to follow) but this photo of the silver medal winning swimmer is just crying out for a caption don't you think? Strangely I don't remember swimming 'trunks' that small in the Olympics!!!

Michael Jamieson, Swimmer, Olympic swimmer, silver medal, Heroes Tour,

Add your caption and make me smile and better still pop over and join that Red Haired Raven of Blogging - Annie and join in with your own ...

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Feel like joining in with a photo for Wordless Wednesday? Great join here...

Yes they make noises, cry and move to!

Its not often I rant on the blog  - ok now and then but I tend to save that for the hour long phonecalls to my long suffering friends but this has kind of got me upset.

The other day I took Pre-teen for a orthodontic appointment.  With having a nearly 2 year old and a husband that works and no family to leave him with, Little Man obviously came with us.  Upon arriving at the appointment I was greeted  with a set of steps up to the building - bit difficult with a pram but not impossible.  I steered the pram up after taking Little Man out as they were quite steep.  This meant that he was out of his pram and anyone that has or remembers toddlers will know that means he IS NOT going back in without a lot of noise and fussing.

I signed in to reception and asked if there were stairs to the dentists rooms and this was confirmed and that I could leave my pram in the waiting room.  Little Man by this time was in his element and discovering the sofas in the waiting room and having a great time sitting in the 'big boy' chairs.  He was babbling away and perhaps a little noisy but nothing I would call out of the ordinary for a child his age.

When it was time for our appointment Pre-teen, Little Man and myself climbed the stairs to the dentists and was immediately met with a comment of something like so you are whos making all the noise?  I apologised as I tried to keep a toddler on my hips in a room full of things he would like to discover and without the benefit of my pram that was having to stay in the waiting room.  Being a toddler he was struggling to get down and wanted anything other than to be held - understandable I think really.  Having spent over an hour in the car to the appointment venue, then a trip in the pram as there was no near by parking to then have to wait in the waiting room and then be quiet and still in the room was, I thought, asking a little much of such a small child.  This was the dentist I was referred to so presumably the closest and I had been told the whole session would be done in 30 minutes.

Little Man continued the noise and struggling to get down for a few more minutes before the dentist turned to me and said something like this consultation is almost impossible like this. Can you take him out and come back in 10 minutes? I was stunned!  He was abrupt and to my mind quite rude rather than feeling sympathy for a smaller sibling accompanying an older sibling to an appointment.

My daughter is old enough to tell the dentist anything he needed to know and I had filled in a questionnaire on my arrival so I took Little Man across to a grassed area opposite for a chance to get down and walk - he was instantly happy and quieter.

I gave him a couple of minutes and then returned to the waiting room for my daughter.  Pre-teen returned we discussed a few things with the dentist who had come to reception and left.  The being asked to leave bit was hard enough but apparently my daughter said that once we had left the room some words like thats better and can you come with your other parent next time? were used - again shocked!!

Toddlers make noise - Fact.
Toddlers want to be independent and not be held for long periods (unless they choose of course!) - Fact. They get bored - Fact.
They at times cry to get what they want - Fact.
Not all parents have someone to leave their children with - Fact
Most child care services do not offer ad hoc care for a child under 2 - Fact

Surely parents cannot be expected to put a toddler in childcare for just a morning for an appointment? I don't know of any where local to me that offers a one off service for a child under 2 for a start and why should I feel the need to use it for such a thing. I understand the dentist had to hear and speak to my daughter but it was the way he said it like Little Man was an nuisance and in the way - he is a toddler!!

I left having decided to ring my normal dentist and ask to be referred to an alternative orthodontist for the next appointment as I felt so upset. I didn't say anything to him as I was seriously ready to explode.  Toddlers are people, they have needs, make noise, get excited, bored and frustrated - Fact.

I don't think I over reacted to the words spoken to me and perhaps in an ideal world I could have and would have left Little Man to play happily at home with a suitable carer whilst we went but this is not and was possible for that appointment.  As a parent with a young child I have to generally take them everywhere I go unless it is a weekend when my husband is home. I am sure is the case for most parents of young pre-school age children not just me. I will not go into the offence that could have been taken about bringing the other parent next time should I have been a single parent!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Whats in your carpets? Rugdoctor review

I am sure I am not the only one that has cream carpets and children.  They look lovely when new but believe me with 4 children and pets that isn't the case for long!

I recently was loaned a Rugdoctor carpet cleaning machine to give my thoughts on after trying it out in my home and I have to say I was amazed at the results and got first hand proof of whats in my carpets and although I am someone that has a 'no shoes upstairs' policy (when the children remember as they dash upstairs) I was more than a little surprised at the dirt that came out of my carpets.

The Rugdoctor machine can be hired from many outlets including Homebase for either 24 or 48 hours and work by covering the carpet with a solution of carpet cleaning detergent (sold separately) and hot water whilst the machines vibrating brush works the solution into the carpet.  This is then sucked back up via the vacuum suction in the Rugdoctor machine - along with the dirt hidden in your carpets.

Although my carpets looked relatively clean to the naked eye I soon found out that they would look quite a few shades lighter when I had finished!  As with most vacuum cleaners they can only get to so much dirt as much of it becomes embedded deeper down in the carpet fibres.

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The machine was really very simple to use.  Using the Rugdoctor range of cleaning detergents (available from where you hire the machine from) simply remove the plastic dirt collection tub, add the detergent to the machine according to the bottles instructions, top up with hot water  - there is a clear maximum fill level on the machine itself and again instructions on the detergent bottles. Replace the detachable plastic collection tub on the top, secure in place and then turn on the machine. This is explained far better here on the Rugdoctor website.

The cleaning process is just as easy. First vacuum the carpets using your normal hoover then ideally the most effective and easiest way to get the whole floor clean is to remove the furniture from the room. With limited space I had to move the furniture to one side of the room, clean using the Rugdoctor and then return the furniture once dry to then move all the furniture to the now clean side of the room to start the process again on the uncleaned side.  I was a little disappointed in how long the floors took to dry compared to the suggested possible 2 hours on the website on shorter fibred carpets.  Long pile carpets naturally took longer to dry.  I had to leave the windows open to allow them to dry properly and this took overnight in some cases.

The machine is used by pulling backwards slowly whilst holding the spray bar on the handle to spray the mixed detergent solution across the carpet under the machine and as you move backwards this spray is then vacuumed up along with the dirt.

Once I had filled the dirt collection tub once and seen what came out from my carpets I got a little addicted and became like a woman possessed cleaning every inch of my carpets. I have to say I got a great deal of strange satisfaction with each tub load of dirty water I removed from my floors.  It was literally a cleansing experience!

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                                                  Rugdoctor, review, Rugdoctor carpet cleaner, carpet cleaning, dirt, dirt removal, clean home, spring clean, carpets,

One thing I would warn you about is that the machine is very heavy once filled with the detergent solution so don't make the mistake I did at first by filling it anywhere other than in the room you want to clean, otherwise it is just too heavy to move.  You can wheel it full but it is just so much easier to add the solution in the uncleaned room even if that means carrying a bucket of solution to the machine.

I ended up cleaning all the carpets upstairs in a weekend which was quite tiring, what with moving the furniture as well, but I was pleased with the results.  Although a few marks remained these were mostly, so I worked out, where the children had dropped sticky tack that they use to put up posters which had then stuck to the carpets and become embedded into the fibres.  Dirt then stuck to the tack leaving a dark splodge. The Rugdoctor did a great job at removing the dirt on the top and softening the tack which then once dried I simply flaked away with my nail or used a course brush on (with care as not to damage the carpet)

With the spilled paint drops, the Rugdoctor lightened these well - a lot of paint these days is water based -but did not remove completely. They are so faded now that I don't think you would notice them unless you knew they were there.

So next time you are thinking of hiring a carpet cleaner or getting in a professional have a look at a Rugdoctor loan machine - you may just be surprised (and embarrassed!) at the results - I was.

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This is my experience of using the machine loaned to me by Rugdoctor.  (Results may vary - only use according to the manufacturers recommendations which include testing any areas to be cleaned for colour fastness.  Always read any instructions fully before use and check all manufacturers guidelines.)

Review Disclosure

Friday, 7 September 2012

Bringing the fun of the beach home - TP sandpit review

How lucky are we with the weather right now? Sadly with the school summer holidays over day trips to the beach are far less likely but we have our own beach at home...

TP Toys Wooden Lidded Sandpit is a rather clever design as the wooden lids, when removed, become the backs to the seats on the side of the sandpit.  Not only that but a covered sandpit stops any cats from getting  in (and well you know what cats might think!)  The sandpit itself comes flat packed with full easy to follow instructions and a liner for the base.

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At first I thought a wooden base would have been nice but for drainage purposes as well as to stop the wood inside from eroding if it became filled with water I can understand the choice of a liner instead.

Once we had constructed the sandpit the liner was simply placed in the bottom before adding the play sand (play sand and toys not included).  I would say to make sure you place the liner right up to the edges of the sandpit before putting sand in to avoid any from escaping underneath the sandpit or liner.

The wood was very good quality although my only thought was that one or two of the sawn pieces of wood that make up the construction were cut, it appeared to me, after the wood had been treated.  Although the edges were not particularly rough I thought about how they would weather compared to the treated pieces.

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After construction the sandpit (according to the TP Toys website) measures 100cm x 90 cm and is approx 27 cm in height not including the seat backs.  Sand is not included but I have to say I found play grade sand in my local DIY store for around £3.50 for a 25 Kg bag and I used 2 bags to fill the sandpit to just below the bottom of the seats.

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I love the design and in my opinion 2 children could play in the sand together quite comfortably in this size of sandpit. The seats are a great idea and although they do take some of the actual sand area up Little Man made a place for his cars under the seats and it is also a handy place to store spades and small buckets or sand toys. The recommended user age is 2 - 8 years and a maximum of 40 Kg in weight per seat.

With the prior changeable weather I have been impressed at how the wooden sandpit has weathered this far and with the liner rather than a wooden base the sand has been quite quick to dry out after any rain just by removing the wooden lids and allowing the sun to dry it.  The only thing I have noticed is that the lids can be a little hard to slot in place as seat backs on the one side after changeable weather but as wood expands and contracts according to temperature this is I think to be expected.
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Little Man has been in his element, digging and creating, and happily plays for ages in it.

So even if Autumn is on its way I think this sandpit will be used for most of the year - wrapped in warmer clothes when the weather gets colder, children can have their own beach available whenever they want it!

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Review disclosure

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The Gallery - Sky (week 111)

I caught sight of the wonderful 'Sky' photos that bloggers have entered on The Gallery this week and thought I would add my own.

It was taken driving home one evening and the sky was so beautiful I just had to pull over into a layby and take a photo of it.

Have you got any stunning photos of the sky that you are just bursting to share? Click the icon below and share away...

Wordless Wednesday

Got a photo that needs no words? Join in here with Wordless Wednesday

Monday, 20 August 2012

Mathmos Chuppi Night Light review

Little Man has always been easy to get to sleep... until recently.  He has started to be unsettled at bedtime and we now have to leave on the main hall light all night to help with this.

Having on a main light, even if its not in the bedroom, has caused some sleep problems for me as I need darkness to get a good nights sleep so the Mathmos Chuppi Night Light has been somewhat of a help when it comes to bedtime.

The Chuppi night light is wireless so can be used anywhere in the room and means no risk of it being pulled by its lead by little ones. The light is charged by setting it onto the charging base (included) and plugging in and charges in a very short space of time. The lead on the charging unit was ample.

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We put the light to charge each morning when we wake and he is ready for use again that night. Once charged Chuppi can be placed wherever needed.  The light goes through a sequence of colour changes or can stay on one colour only and can be set to fade after 30 minutes use or left to provide up to 6 hours of light.

The Mathmos Chuppi Night Light can also be customised to suit your child in that it comes with 2 sheets of stickers that can be added to the Chuppi 'face'.  There is a good range of stickers to suit, from those that a small baby would find fun right through to older children and each sticker is reuseable. The stickers are easily removed so that you can change your Chuppi character whenever you wish.  Although the Chuppi night light is suitable for ages it is recommended that the stickers are used by children aged 3 years and above so parents can have fun designing a character for their smaller children - and I did!

I was really impressed at how light the light was in terms of weight and also the variety of colours in the sequence it emits.  The light is fairly non-evasive as it is not a bright light but does project enough light into the dark room to make it very useful when searching out a lost baby dummy in the small hours.

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Now we can turn off the main hall light and let Chuppi go through his colour changing sequence without it disturbing our sleep.  Little Man watches the light whilst he falls asleep and I know I will not disturb him once he had fallen asleep by having to turn off the main light anymore.

You can buy the Mathmos Chuppi Night Light from retailers including Find Me A Gift.

Review disclosure

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Large Animal Habaland set - Review

These days finding lasting quality childrens toys is a bit of a test.  We recently bought a wooden playhouse from a well known High Street retailer for it to fall apart within a month and it was only played with by a 1 year old!

The large Animal Habaland set is made of high quality wood and consists of 21 pieces.  Included in the 21 pieces are 6 animals figures (height of figures approx 8 cm) and 15 wooden shapes that can be connected to form flowers and a tree.  The pieces are lovely and bright and can be interchanged to make a variety of different combinations and each are made of beechwood
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The pieces themselves are a perfect size for little hands and are suitable from 1 years and over. I thought Little Man may struggle to get the wooden dowels to fit into the square blocks because of his dexterity at 22 months but I was very wrong and he was soon building and creating his own shapes.
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The faces on the animals are very sweet and includes a sheep, frog, mouse, rabbit, horse and a cow - he happily played for ages with the set.

The large animal playset compliments many of the other HABA sets available so your child can create larger sets.

In my opinion the set was great for hand/eye co-ordination skills, discovery and imaginary play and I really liked that it can be added to others in the range.

Sturdy and of good quality, I can imagine this set lasting for a considerable time and through many hours of play.

Review disclosure

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Saturday is #satcap day - don't you know?!

Can you believe another week has passed?

So its after midnight and officially Saturday so that can only mean one thing - #satcap day!  Think you have a caption for this photo? Great comment away.... better still join in with your own Saturday is Caption day photo here on the 'Flamehaired Goddess of All Things Bloggy' linky.

Go on you know you want to!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Ravensburger Puzzle Club - Disney Pixar montage 1000 piece puzzle

We have been jigsaw puzzling again and with the mixed weather Britain has been having recently it has kept us all entertained.

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The Ravensburger Disney Pixar montage is made up of 1000 puzzle pieces that features all your favourites from the first Toy Story movie in 1995 to Wall-E in 2008 and covers a total of 9 movies.  Each of the nine movies in the montage shows the main characters and the date of release.  The  puzzle is bright and colourful and each of the pieces features the Ravensburger Soft Click technology that ensures a good fit together of each piece.

We started as always with the edges which were easy to locate and piece together.  As there were 2 Toy Story movies featured this soon made finding the next stage of the jigsaw slightly more difficult as you had to work out which of the 2 movies depicted the pieces fitted.  We decided to piece together the film names next and put them into place.

With film names in place the next stage was to sort the remaining puzzle piece into groups by judging which movie they came from.  The orange of Finding Nemo and green of A Bugs Life were fairly straight forward but the more subdued colours of Wall-E were not quite as easy.

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The last part to be finished were the film strips running along the top and bottom of each of the 9 montages but we worked out which belonged to which using the picture from the front of the puzzle box.

We all thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle.  The picture was entertaining to make and as we all love Disney movies in our household we loved the design.  Once the puzzle had been made the children mixed it all up and started it again - prove that they liked it!

The Ravensburger Disney Pixar montage puzzle measures approximately 70cm x 50cm and is recommended on the Ravensburger website as age 10 years +.  A great jigsaw for Disney fans.
Review disclosure