Monday, 30 April 2012

Hexbug Habitat Set from Find Me A Gift

Hexbugs are fun robotic toys that scurry around everywhere powered by cell batteries and now you can create your own habitat for your bugs.

The Habitat Kit is available from Find Me A Gift and the set contains 2 Hexbugs, 3 'rooms' and 7 pieces of track with easy to connect corridors so your robotics toys can rush and scurry round.  The shape of the pieces included in the set means you can create their own little track and even better can connect to other sets in the range (sold separately) to create a larger environment.

The joy of the Hexbug is that should they fall onto their backs they can automatically get themselves the right way back up and carry on.  The cell batteries are included in each bug and the movement is controlled by a simple on/off switch underneath. The Habitat set is compatible with any Hexbug Nano micro robots.

We are already big fans of the scuttling creatures and had a habitat set already so we joined the two together to make a larger set.

The set itself is currently on sale at Find Me a Gift along with several other Hexbug products.  Good fun for older children and they make a great gift idea.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Where have you gone? I miss you!

I remember you well but you seem to have stopped visiting me.

You were there throughout my childhood, every time I had something new to try or a trip out. You would be with me every time I had a role in a school play.  You made appearances at every event in my life from as young as I can remember and as I grew into a teen you came with me on my journey. Every time you appeared was like a wake up call as a teenager when I met a boy I liked and you often accompanied me on first dates.

As a young adult you came with me on job interviews and first days in new jobs.  I know you were there when I went to my first concert and that you would appear like an old friend when I heard a song or read a great book.

You have been there through each pregnancy and were the first thing I felt as I met my newborn for the first time.

You seemed to have made fewer appearances as I have aged, which is a shame as I enjoyed your company.  I need to find you as you made everything feel different, more exciting, an event highlighted in my memory and somehow I seemed to have lost you and the effect you had on me.  Is this part of growing older? Does maturing into an adult mean your presence is needed less? Has life become so routine you feel I no longer need you so stay in the shadows?

I would like to feel your presence, feel the butterflies in my tummy again for that is what you are.  Where have you gone? I miss you and am looking to start our relationship again.  You were good for me.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Is daytime television a reflection of modern society?

Is daytime television a true reflection of todays society?

I don't as a rule watch daytime television and much of the viewing in the house in the day would be for Little Man if at all.

However over the last 2 days I have turned on daytime television for the first time in ages and first off I sadly tuned into the 'entertainment' that is a well know reality talk show (I'm sure you have heard of it)  I was left wondering if there is anyone out in the world that actually knows who the Father of their child is?  Is being faithful to just one partner outdated or is infidelity the new medal to be worn with pride to then be shared and revealed to your partner in front of the viewing nation?

The two programmes I watched (yes I managed to endure two) were filled with lie detector tests performed on couples to ascertain whether or not they had slept with someone else during their relationship and these tests seemed to form the main basis of the show along with paternity tests some of which were a direct repercussion of their infidelities.  I am either out of touch with the 'real world' or a prude in my own life - not sure which but either way I can honestly say I would NEVER want or feel the need to appear on anything like it.

Are 'real' people so desperate for their 15 minutes of fame that this is the only way to achieve it?

In between the shows and it seemed in every advert break was a saddening amount of adverts for loans and 'information' on how to claim if you have had an accident.  I am sure that a lot of viewers (and I am not saying all before you all jump up in arms - yes there are a lot of shift workers out there) are people that are currently not working and for many money may be very tight in todays economic climate.  The loan adverts may appear to be providing a service but when you read the small print on the screen the APR was at times as high as 248% !! I find that shocking in itself but they are able to charge what they like if there is someone willing to pay it I suppose.

I feel sorry for those genuinely searching for work but are these types of adverts helping the situation? Is daytime television the perfect viewing vehicle to be able to aim at those in possible need of money or am I reading the whole situation in a cynical light?  If not is this a true reflection of todays society or have I somehow managed to live under a stone for the last few years?

I don't think I will be becoming a regular daytime television viewer, I am way too cynical !

I am also far too long in the tooth to believe that accident claims and high payback loans are the answer to any money trouble no matter how nice the advert sounds.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Silent Sunday

starfish, beach, black and white photo, sand

Silent Sunday

Blogcamp - community IS the way forward.

Blogcamp - what I learnt;

Yesterday I attended the fabulous free and informative Blogcamp organised by the Tots100 and I am so glad I did.

With all the talk of the follow/no follow links and the debates that have gone about them recently in regards to Bloggers I wanted to better understand what I should or should not be doing in regards to SEO.  This is my take on what I learned from the sessions yesterday.

Firstly there was no definitive answer on what you MUST do in regards to follow/no follow links but basically Googles terms state that ALL links outwards that have been paid for must be no follow and NO PR has the right to insist on anything or tell you otherwise.  The outcome of this could be Google stripping you of your Page Rank which if that is no worry or concern to you then totally up to you whether or not you decide to change all links to the no follow rule.

Personally I spent the last 2 days prior to Blogcamp changing (hopefully I didn't miss any!) my links to no follows. Google looks for relevant content and the amazing Lee Smallwood, who I could have happily talked to for hours advised changing how you write your posts (if you don't already) in the following ways to increase your own relevancy and hopefully readership in turn.

If you use a follow link it is, in easy theory terms, sharing your authority you have built up (Page Rank) with the company you are linking to hence why Google are not happy about it as it could be seen as manipulating searches.

To increase SEO all blog posts should be no less than 500 words in total and your keywords should be repeated 10 - 15 times within that post.  This allows Google to have more content to search and make a third party search for information more relevant to the searcher.  Link back to previous posts you have written about the same or similar subject to increase the relevancy.  It was also advised to underline at least once with italics and in bold your posts titles and important information.

Moving onwards;

What was important I found out through chatting to Lee after his talk was relevancy and following and linking to that i.e we should be linking to other similar bloggers, blogs and blog content and sharing our authority that way.

In short the community we all belong to - blogging and bloggers.  If so and so blogger has written a post that backs up, supports or is similar to yours link to it!  It means you are, in my eyes, creating a map of links to relevant information that, from  my understanding, Google likes.  I think this is hopefully a great way of supporting fellow bloggers, building SEO and reinforcing the community on the whole.

In my opinion, and it seems several others I chatted to, we need to stand together as a community and all follow (or rather no follow!) the same guidelines, link to each other (with a follow link) and basically share the love towards each other - this also stands in good stead for the bloggers that reported feeling pressured by PRs into using follow links which I have to say there were quite a few reports of this happening over the last week.

This is my take on what to me was the most important discussions yesterday but there were plenty more and I shall certainly put yesterday down as one of the most informative conferences I have attended.

I do believe that their are plans to put further information on what were the key points yesterday on the Tots100 site so I am sure the best plan if it affects or interests you is to make sure you are following the Tots100 on Twitter in order to receive updates on this.

My sincere thanks to Sally Whittle for organising this free event.  As I say there is going to be further information available on yesterday and this is just my take on the day and my hastily scribbled notes so I allow myself any errors or ommisions within that.

Here's Inside The Wendy Houses take on the day (with a big follow for relevancy, community and all that's great about blogging!)

Friday, 20 April 2012

Warner Brothers welcomes bloggers event

What would make the perfect event for a movie lover to attend?  Yep the Warner Brothers welcomes bloggers event in London this week.

I know I rant on about our love of all things movie related but the world of films has captured my imagination since I was a small child and sat absorbed in the musicals my Mum loved to watch.  The Warner Brothers bloggers event was a movie and gaming fanatics dream come true.

Travelling with fellow bloggers Wendy and Helen, the train journey down was long but was spent catching up and putting the world to rights and before we knew it we were at our destination.  Although the Warner Brothers offices in London are understated from the outside the inside was filled with the infamous Warner Brothers logo. We were met with a lifesize statue of Batman and a six foot Happy Feet Mumbles style penguin which Little Man took an instant shine to!

Warner Brothers, Blinkbox, Ultraviolet, Batman, Mumbles, Happy Feet, bloggers, pr event

The event itself was a great way to learn about the latest technological advances that will allow us all to watch great movies in so many ways.

Blinkbox is a non-subscription service that allows you to to only pay for the films you want to watch and is available to view on your PC, games consoles, tablets and Smart TV's giving you the ability to watch movies at your convenience wherever you please.  With an impressive movie catalogue of over 10,000 movie titles to choose from I jumped straight in and and started searching one of my favourite movie genres - horror.  There were the classic horrors and new releases that had me mentally noting down titles I wanted to watch.

Not only were the guys from Blinkbox film lovers themselves but they certainly knew their stuff and I could have happily chatted for hours.  I have since set up my own Blinkbox account and with the choice of either renting a movie (which is able to be watched for up to 48 hours) or buying a movie that will then stay in your account to watch whenever you please, the prices are excellent.  Not only that but there are a great supply of free films as well.

Ultraviolet is new to the UK and Warner Brothers are the first studio to launch Ultraviolet films that you can download and stream to either watch on your PC and Macs or downloads can also be made directly to compatible android, iPhone and Ipod devices via the Flixster App (available from the iTunes App store).

Blu-ray Triple DVD packs contain a UV Digital copy of your film that allows you again to view movies whenever and wherever you choose from the many choices of compatible hardware (see above).  With Warner Brothers having launched the service last year I am sure this will soon be the next step in movie viewing.

Although the services above take away the movie library that you can see on your DVD stands or bookshelves and the satisfaction of the collection you have compiled over the years that you can hold in your hand it does provide a solution to all those scratched discs that unfortunately happen and if , like me, you have masses of DVDs it also frees up storage space as your collection is held online.

Another major highlight of the day was a sneak preview of the new Lego Batman 2 game that is due for launch later this year.  We got to view the game in action on the huge cinema screen in the viewing room.  My children and I are huge fans of the Lego based games and they already own the Lego Starwars and Harry Potter games that have been played and replayed endlessly.  I love the whole concept of using Lego figure to represent superheroes or film characters yet still provide gaming entertainment that is also interactive in a co-op mode.

The Batman 2: DC Super Heroes game sees the Dynamic Duo joining forces with other famous DC characters including Superman to fight the evil villains Lex Luthor and The Joker from destroying Gotham City.

The game keeps the humour of the previous Lego based games such as Starwars and the animation was quite simply amazing.  Although I am not a fan of games that include fighting the very fact that they are Lego pieces that can be re-built takes away the violence aspect in some ways for me.  I love the sound the pieces make as you connect them together in the game and find the whole thing ingenious.  I know my children will certainly want to add the Batman 2 game to their others when it is released and I just know I will be there playing on it as well!

Supplied with an endless selection of food and drink and leaving feeling full of movie magic (and a fantastic Warner Brothers goodie bag full with Blu-ray 3D DVDs to enjoy along with popcorn, PS3 and X-Box games and a cute Dobbie toy that Little Man claimed as his) it was a fantastic day despite the very long journey.

Upon leaving the event I spotted a glass cabinet containing actual props from the Harry Potter films.  Sadly the Security man would not allow me to take photos of the items but again it gave me that little movie magic shiver.

My thanks go to Warner Brothers for my invite and gifts and for the chance to see the future of movies and gaming and it certainly looks very exciting!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Interactive Patch hands free phone / MP3 / Ipod speaker - our thoughts.

Interactive Patch is a rather cute and cuddly pup that also happens to be a hands free speaker.

Suitable for use with mobile phones, iPod and MP3's by simply plugging into the standard jack on the side of the device as you would with a pair of headphones.

Patch may look like a cuddly plush animal but his mouth syncing and dancing abilities soon became evident...

handsfree, speaker, interactive, patch, dog, fun, gift
handsfree, speaker, dog, patch, review, interactive
Interactive Patch had us all in stitches when attached to Pre-teens iPod.  As soon as the music played the cute plush dog started dancing along and as soon as the words started he sang along and it was really impressive how the timing was so close it looked like he was actually singing the song as he danced.

Connect Patch to a mobile phone and when you answer a call the callers voice is played through Patch and again his mouth opens and closes as they speak - which we found hysterical.

Patch makes a great gift for all ages and especially those who love their music or difficult to buy for - who these days doesn't own a mobile phone or MP3?.  Patch is available to buy from Find Me a Gift along with an impressive range of great gifts for any occasion.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

New range of 'Free From' food from Free & Easy

According to the latest statistics it estimated that 45% of UK adults suffer from food intolerances, while 2% have been diagnosed with a food allergy.

When you are affected by a food intolerance or dietary restriction, shopping for food can be a major challenge.  What can I eat? What's included in that packet? Dairy free? Gluten Free?  The considerations are large.
Free & Easy, free from, dietary restrictions, gluten free, vegan, vegetarians
Free & Easy foods have been created by a group of specialist chefs to try and make shopping and cooking for a 'Free From' diet that bit easier.  Free & Easy food and drinks are also made without artificial additives and preservatives and are also suitable for Vegans and Vegetarians.

The range includes ready-to-eat sauces and gravies, curry pastes, organic soups, sauce mixes, ready meals and soft drinks.  We have been trying several products from the range, namely the Green Peppercorn & Mushroom Sauce, Tikka Curry Paste, Organic Green Pea Soup, Ginger & Ginseng drink and the Spanish Chickpea Casserole.

dietary restrictions, free from, diet, vegetarian, vegan, gluten free

A had never tried a pea soup before and so was unsure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised at how flavoursome and refreshing it was as a lunchtime meal.  The chickpea casserole was a quick and easy meal to serve with rice and the Peppercorn & Mushroom sauce was really delicious served over Quorn fillets.

I am not a fan of ginger but Mr Bloggomy really enjoyed the Ginger & Ginseng drink.  

The Free & Easy range is available to buy from Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and health food shops with prices starting at just £1.11.  It is also available to buy and more information on the range online

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

You know you're a parent to a teenager when...

* No matter what time of day the first thing teens do when they get home is go into the kitchen and check out what's in the cupboards.

* You no longer get eye contact when speaking to your teen as that would mean having to put down their mobile/iPod/kindle etc.

* Grunting replaces words.

* Shoes become something to fall over as you follow the trail of clothes discarded by your teen.

* Your diary becomes filled with reminders for lifts and dates of their social events and yours disappear!

* "Mum can I ?" or "Mum can you ?" starts most sentences, usually followed with an eye roll when the answer is anything other than yes.

* As your teen ages your purse lightens.

* Everything needs to be washed immediately because they will want to wear it over and over as its the latest fashion item.

* Your bank account has more than one direct debit to a mobile phone company.

* You can't get your teen into bed at night or out of it in the morning.

These are to name but a few and I am sure there are many more signs of teen-dom on the horizon.

Book review - The Great Escape by Megan Rix

I am lucky in that my children love to read and The Great Escape was a great choice for Middle Son in both recommended reading age and in content.

Published by Puffin Books, The Great Escape tells the story of war through the eyes of three pets whose owners are sent to the Country to avoid the threat of the impending war. Buster is a lively Jack Russell dog, Tiger a feisty white and ginger tom cat and Rose a ever faithful collie.

'Before the bombs fell on London at the start of the Second World War, in September 1939 more than 400,000 cats and dogs died at their owner's behest in just four days. This was more than six times the number of civilian deaths throughout the entire country during the whole of the war. In total between 1939 and 1940, a staggering 750,000 pets were put down'  These little known facts set the scene for The Great Escape.

Although the sad facts above may seem a strange basis for a children book The Great Escape is fundamentally a story of animal survival and adventure during the war torn years of the Second World War.

The Great Escape is aimed at those aged 8 - 12 years and the story certainly engaged Middle Son at 10 years old.  The words size was "just right" according to my mini reviewer and he described the book as exciting and that each chapter made him want to read more about the adventures of the three pet friends as they made their escape across the country.

Although the book has no illustrations the writing style allowed my Son to visualise his own interpretation of the story which, in my eyes, shows a book that captures the imagination of the reader.  He could provide me with a good summary of the story which also showed to me his understanding of the story contents.

At 210 pages the book is suitable for the recommended age and Middle Son read the complete book without having to ask for much help with any words he didn't recognise which gave him a sense of reading achievement.  He enjoyed the book immensely and wanted to know if their were any more from the same Author, Megan Rix, that he could read next.

The Great Escape is published on May 3rd 2012 in paperback and E form and further details can be found on the Puffin website.

Review disclosure

The Warner Brothers Easter bunny has made a delivery...

I know I say it a lot on this blog but we love films in our house and Warner Brothers never fail to produce great films.  From 'classics' to modern Warner Brothers have something for everyone.

The postman brought us a special Easter treat this morning...

The rather cute basket contained 3 DVDs.  Bugs Bunnys Easter Funnies which is a 48 minute newly animated collection that is perfect for all the family.  Along side Bugs was one of my favorite films from my younger years and one that never gets old no matter how many times you watch it, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.  This film follows Charlie Buckets adventures in Willy Wonkas chocolate making heaven after he finds a lucky golden ticket in his Wonka bar.  I love the 'I've Got A Golden Ticket' dance number in the film and who can forget the selfish Veruca Salt?!

For those that prefer the newer version of the Willy Wonka film, also included in our Easter treat was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, featuring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.

Top this off with the cute Easter chicks and the bag of Mini Eggs and we were ready for a family Easter film fest - thanks to Warner Brothers.

Slimavite 2012 challenge - Week 13

Last week was a good week...but this week has not been as good sadly.

School holidays play havoc with your normal eating and cooking patterns and as we tend to be out and about more takeaways and food on the go are usually eaten in abundance.  Not to mention Easter eggs!!

This week I have gained the 2lbs I lost last week so not overly impressed but chocolate has been eaten and Slimavite plan ignored more so it is to be expected.  I have made the first steps this morning after a chocolate frenzy and returned to the shakes.  Next week I hope it will show.

Week 12 gain - 2 lb 
Weight left to lose til my target weight of 11 st - 2 stone 2 lbs
Review disclosure

Monday, 9 April 2012

Raa Raa The Noisy Lion - Hufftys Interactive Train - our thoughts

I love how Little Man is learning through his play and discovering how things fit together.  Hufftys Interactive Train has been one of his favourites recently.

From the Raa Raa The Noisy Lion CBeebies series, Hufftys Interactive Train is a push along toy that not only plays the Huffty train tune but also features Huffty saying "Rooty Toot Toot".

Huffty, Raa Raa The Noisy Lion, Interactive Train, review
"Rooty Toot Toot"
Little Man LOVED IT! Place Huffty into his place in the first carriage (also supplied with 2 additional carriages) and he says "All Aboard" "Rooty Toot Toot" and when the train is pushed along a train sound is heard.  Huffty fits into any of the three carriages but only the first one is fitted with the character Smart Spot Play System to enable different phrases.

Hufftys Interactive Train was the first toy that was played with each morning and I liked the fact that although the carriages can be taken apart from each other they were easy to reconnect and also stayed connected quite well when being pushed along by a child.

What I didn't like was the packaging!!  All photos on the box show the 3 carriages with 3 characters in them but only one character is included in the box....

Raa Raa, Huffty, Interactive Train, toy, review, CBeebies series

... which you can see from the open packaging but what is not made very clear is that you will only achieve the 15 sounds and phrases advertised on the box by using all 3 characters together in the train at once and they are sold separately!

Next to the words in the orange circle (see above picture) about the 15 phrases is a tiny * which I have to say is very tiny and relates to a small one line of writing on the back of the packaging stating about the other characters. I was really sad that this information is not clearer for adults to see and the fact that children of the recommended age of 2 years+ can't read could mean a possibly disappointed child.  All pictures on the box show all the characters together and that is what children will see and expect from the toy.

The RRP for Hufftys Interactive Train is £16.99 but I do not know how much the additional characters cost.  I could only review the product for the 4 phrases available to us with the one Huffty figure.  Hufftys voice was clear and his words distinguishable.  The sound level of the voice was quite good and did not grate on the nerves after hours of play which was even better.

Little Man totally loved the toy and I did to apart from the unclear packaging.

Review disclosure

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Silent Sunday

flowers, nature, telling the time, babies, wonder, excitement

Silent Sunday was inspired by Mocha Beanie Mummy

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Do you believe in life after death?

With it being Easter we have had leaflets through the door about church services and it made me think about my believes.

I do not profess to be a Christian or a believer in God as such and I do admire those that have a belief system within their lives and envious of the comfort they must have from this.

I do believe in something - not a God but somewhere we go after this life is over.  I do believe there is an afterlife or somewhere we go and remember vividly stories from my Mum when she was alive about her beliefs that when it was 'your time' the person that meant the most to you would come to collect you so you were not in fear of what was next - I like this theory and it has helped me deal with my own fears and thoughts on what happens after this life.

I found a tape today whilst tidying the bedroom, from a reading I had done from a Spiritualist after my Mothers death but so far have not played it... Why? Am I scared that when I play something from 15 or more years ago I will realise that he was right in his predictions? Or because if they are have not as yet happened that it will make me look at my thoughts on the afterlife in a different way?  I want to believe those that I love that have died are taken care of and in a way live on somewhere else that I will experience with them when it is time - they live on in my heart and thoughts till then.

The tape has sat looking at me most of the day and I have ignored it.  I will play it I am sure at some point when the time is right.

My question is what do you believe in?

Did you win a Dirt Devil Tempest DDC070 with Bloggomy?

I recently reviewed the Dirt Devil Tempest DDC070 on the blog and I was impressed with the power of the machine especially on pet hairs.

Dirt Devil, UK, Tempest, hoover, competition, win, prize, DDC070
Win a Dirt Devil Tempest

You can win a Tempest (RRP £79.99) of your own on Bloggomy by filling in the rafflecopter form below - good luck!

This competition is now closed - thanks you for all your entries.  The winner is Lilinha Angel Espindula.  (please email me your details - contact email on the contact me tab) Congratulations!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Natural and Clean eco-friendlier cleaning products - our thoughts

I do try, where ever budget allows, to buy products for the home that contain no nasty chemicals.  With a toddler I do worry about what he is inhaling but want to obviously have a clean house.

Natural and Clean have a range of products that clean and provide an answer to my worries. We have been reviewing several items from them - Dry Carpet Cleaner, Carpet & Fabric Deodoriser, Whoops A-Daisy liquid absorbing crystals and the Spot Remover.

The Whoops A-Daisy was not what I expected from the discription on the packaging.  Rather than crystals the product is a white powder that's rather handy for sprinkling on spills to absorb the liquid which then turns the spill into a gel like substance that makes it easy to wipe away. The reference to crystals is more about what happens to the powder when it is used.

Whoops A-Daisy, Natural & Clean, eco cleaning, non-toxic, review

I wasn't keen on the smell but it did do a great job off soaking up a cup of tea I spilt over the arm of the sofa by accident and it only took a couple of minutes..  Most 'standard' products have a fragrancing element to them but as Whoops A-Daisy is non-toxic and biodegradable I was happy to ignore this and was happy with the effectiveness of the product.

With four children and a dog in the house my carpet can look grubby quickly, especially on high traffic areas such as the stairs. I was not short of areas to try out the Spot Remover on.

Natural & Clean, Spot Remover, stains, carpet, cleaning, eco-friendly, non-toxic
Not sure what the mark was but it had to go...

Clean, Spot Remover, stains, carpet, cleaning, eco-friendly, non-toxic
I sprayed on Spot remover and worked from the outside inwards..

Clean, Spot Remover, stains, carpet, cleaning, eco-friendly, non-toxic
Stain removed... and you can see the evidence!
I was really impressed with the effectiveness of the Spot Remover and found myself looking for other marks to remove.  The spray was easy to use and the dirt on the white cloth shows how well it worked.

The Natural & Clean Carpet & Fabric Deodoriser was an instant way to freshen up.  I used it mostly on the stairs and as the product is safe for use around animals it was perfect for use on the dogs bed. No more 'dog smell'!  The smell was pleasant and not too 'heavy' and my only problem was with the trigger to spray it with.  When sprayed it leaked over my hands but hey made my hands smell nice!  Handy to keep around for a quick freshen up.

Lastly we tried the Dry Carpet Cleaner which I have to say proved a tough product to test.  It has a brush included to work the product in the carpet fibres but the hard part is getting it out of the bag without the granules going everywhere.

In the end I sprinkled the granules with the brush in the bag until I could free it to use.  The granules reminded me of damp play sand in consistency.  The size of the brush meant it would not be very good on large areas but I tried the product on my stairs as a test but the very design of the brush meant you could not get to the very back of the stair and so the product sat in a line there.

The packet says to leave 10 minutes or until the product is dry.  It took ages to dry and I have to say I needed every hoover utensil I had to get the line of granules from the back of the stair.  It did leave a faint fresh smell but I did not notice a real change in the carpet.  I was very disappointed by the Dry Carpet Cleaner and the consistency made it stick to your shoes and spread wherever you walked so be careful not to step in it as you distribute!

By far the star of the four products we tried was the Natural & Clean Spot Remover. Please check the Natural & Clean website for up to date product information including product ingredients.

Review disclosure

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Losing a parent in your teens

Sadly I know I am not the only person that has the experience of losing a parent in their teens. 

Although the mourning process brings a sort of unwanted acceptance of what has happened I am still affected by the loss some 20 years on but in a different form.

As an adult I have no-one to ask even simple questions to.  "What was I like as a baby?" "Did I 'do this' or 'do that'?"  I have lost my role model for being a Mother when I need it most - as a Mother myself.

It strikes me at strange times, when filling in a health form I cannot ask "Have I had Chicken Pox" or "What is our family history of heart disease?" as there is no-one to answer, no-one to check with and at times the feeling of loss is overwhelming.   I want to be able to call her and ask advice, compare her thoughts and experiences to my own and just sometimes to have the closeness that is shared between a Mother and Daughter.

I think although the common mourning process is over it lingers on in the gaping hole of wanting - wanting more, wanting to see her, to speak to her and to know I am doing ok.  It feels selfish to feel this way but it is natural in some way I suppose.  I have traveled this far in my role as a Mother alone and I am angry and sad it has been this way.  I want to show her my children, her grandchildren and for them to know her.  Photo's and memories are not enough to really portray a person for who they were and what they meant and still mean to you.

Losing a parent in your teens is tough to put it mildly but the ongoing affect on your adult life is sometimes just as tough. It is not as raw as it was, still not forgotten but even now the memory brings sad thoughts as well as happy memories of a woman that was strong, loving and still bitterly missed.


What is about the school holidays that seems to incite my mutiny against housework?

I don't know if it is the change in routine that sends my housework routine into rebel mode or the fact that with the children at home you can tidy and 5 minutes later it looks worse than before you started.

I am not sure if I should have a rota so the children can help 'do their bit' or whether or not as a stay at home Mum it means that all the cleaning falls under my jurisdiction.  Do parents make housework rotas that their children actually stick to and not try and bribe their sibling to do their job for them?

I find myself running round doing as much as possible before I cook tea in a flurry of activity with sprays and cleaners so it at least smells like I have spent the entire day cleaning but to be honest I think I am sick to death of cleaning - mutiny!

Instead of doing chores and the usual nagging of the kids to "Move that plate" or "Put your dishes in the dishwasher not on the side in the kitchen" I chose to sit down and enjoy our lovely gift that arrived today of some rather cute Alvin and The Chipmunks biscuits and a copy of the new Chipwrecked DVD, which I have to say I quite liked and the kids loved.  It was nice to curl up and enjoy a film together as a family.

Alvin and the Chipmunks, Chipwrecked, DVD, released on DVD

Alvin and The Chipmunks, Chipwrecked, DVD, dvd release, film, movie

There is something quite cute about singing animals and perhaps the fact that they became 'Chip-wrecked' gave rise to my own mutiny.

The dismal April showers added to my lack of enthusiasm and after the injection of warm weather into the air last week I felt cold and miserable.  A day spent on the sofa watching a film with the kids was just what was needed.  Perhaps we all need a little mutiny now and then...

Monday, 2 April 2012

Sistema Klip It Microwave Range- our thoughts

How many of us are guilty of just using our microwave for cooking jacket potatoes?  Microwave cooking is quick and actually uses less energy than turning on the cooker so I gave it a try using the Sistema new Microwave Range.

All the products in the Sistema microwave range are (obviously) microwave safe, dishwasher safe, freezer safe and are stackable so great for kitchens short on space.The first Sistema product I put to the review test was the Soup Mug.  The mug holds 656ml so is big enough for a standard can of soup and more.

Sistema, soup mug, soup, microwave, warm, review
Add your soup...

Sistema, soup mug, soup, review, microwave, heat, warm
... 'Klip it', open the vent and heat in the microwave

Sistema, soup mug, heat, review, soup, microwave, warm
During cooking the vent allows steam to escape
Heating the soup was simple but I really liked how easy the Sistema Soup Mug made the process with no having to stop the microwave, stir (whilst trying not to burn your fingers on the soup bowl!) and then start cooking again.  The soup mug stayed warm rather than hot so no scolded fingers and the handle made it easy to remove from the microwave.  Any steam during cooking was released through the vent in the lid.  Just open  stir and enjoy.

Washing the soup mug was really easy as well and the plastic used in the Sistema microwave products is BPA Free.

The Sistema Small Plate was really handy as you could use it to store left overs or a prepared dinner in the freezer and then just open the vent in the lid and pop straight in the microwave without the need to defrost.  It had a steaming rack included which was great for steam cooking vegetables for Little Mans lunch or if only a small quantity was needed.

Sistema, small plate, microwave, plate, steamer, review

For people that needed larger quantities steaming there was the Sistema microwave Steamer that comes in small medium and large - I tested the small.  Again it was a quick way of cooking, just add water to the base of the container then place the vegetables, fish or poultry into the plastic 'basket', clip down the lid, open the vent and place in the microwave.

Sistema, microwave, steamers, Klip it, review
The steamer basket is included...
Sistema, microwave, steamer, review, basket, Klip it, vent
..which was a generous size even in the small steamer.
I love the fact that the steamer basket has a spike for removing the cooked food out - made life much easier.  Again the vent on the lid means steam escapes whilst cooking and also helps stop your fingers getting scolded after the cooking process.  The small steamer would, in my opinion, be large enough to cook 2 meals of steamed vegetables for a baby.  Practical, easy to use and wash and can also be used to store unused food in the fridge or freezer.

I have been really impressed with the three Sistema items and as they can be used for containers for food in the fridge, freezer, on a picnic or just about anywhere else they are pretty handy - how did I get by without them before?
Review disclosure