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I am not a big fan of fancy or fussy jewellery; I much prefer to wear simple, stylish and classical items such as my Gucci watch which I received as a birthday present several years ago. It was a great choice as I had been eyeing it up for close to five years!
Gucci watches are certainly not cheap in style or in price, meaning that I always seem to encounter a luxurious, feel-good factor whenever I wear this bangle-style watch. My watch is the silver (stainless steel) version, with a mother of pearl face. There are other options available, including a gold version, and then the face could also be pink or black. ie there are three options for the watch face.
I love that this watch strap as such is non-existent. Instead the band is a bangle. Along with the pretty face (the timepiece’s, not mine haha), this watch feels dressy and glamorous. Nowadays I am a stay at home parent. As much as I would like to, I do not feel quite brave enough to wear this watch around the house and instead save it for a couple of times a week outside the house.
That said, the easy clasp mechanism has never failed on me and the glass-covering of the face remains scratch-free despite several years of ownership. I do take it to a local shop to have the battery changed.
Finally, this watch is a good timekeeper that is easy to read and it hasn’t lost or gained any minutes over the years that I have owned it.
Recommended. NB Ensure you buy from a reputable seller.
I have been using this Philips Sonicare toothbrush for almost a year. I purchased it on the recommendation of my dentist.
It is the second electric toothbrush I have owned, the first of which has been lost in the mist of time and several house moves.
The real reason I purchased this is to make my life more simple and easier. As a sleep-deprived parent of an infant, I have discovered that I do not always have the time to undertake my usual oral care regime.
This electric toothbrush makes my life easier and probably cleans my teeth and gums better than when I use a manual toothbrush.
As expected, the toothbrush unit consists of several components: a resting, charging base with a power lead and the toothbrush itself which has a handle that stores the battery, and a removable, changeable head. The unit is fairly robust. The battery lasts close to an hour of active cleaning use. I like that this toothbrush has a two minute timer. The aim is to clean each of the four teeth quadrants for 30 seconds.
I find that the replaceable brush heads are the right softness for me. They are fairly gentle and haven’t seemed to have damaged or worn out my tooth enamel. The brushes are also gentle but effective on my gums.
When I first started using this toothbrush I experienced some gum bleeding. This is because my gums were not in very good condition. However in my subjective opinion they quickly improved over several weeks. Indeed, after three months use my dental hygienist informed me that there was a marked difference.
Finally, this toothbrush is quiet enough for me to use when other household members are sleeping.
My professional, PhD-owning husband is a very handy handyman. He has installed at least 12 bathrooms completely from scratch, moved walls and doors, and laid more patios than you could shake a stick at. It is true to say that DIY truly is his hobby.
My husband strongly believes that it is very important to have the right tools on hand at all times. Which is how we came to own 14 retractable tape measures. One for each car, one for several different locations within the garage, one in the kitchen odds and ends draws. The list of locations goes on.
Our favorite measuring tape for DIY use is also the one which is easiest to see - it is bright orange - and was the least expensive at around a single pound.
The B&Q 3m retractable tape is robust enough to hold its shape and length when it is fully extended, the locking mechanism works well and the font on the measure itself is very easy to read.
We currently have three of these in our rotation, the first of which we bought over a decade ago and it is still going well. We have used these indoors on many occasions and outside in the garden for fencing, roofing and guttering of several of our properties. This measure is fairly lightweight which means that it is portable as and when necessary.
Obviously we are happy to recommend this inexpensive, functional B&Q retractable measuring tape, which is available at all good B&Q stores.
I have two children who are five years apart in age. My younger child is eight months old as I write this. Despite there being so few children in my family, we have used an inordinate number of strollers and baby carriers due to having lives strewn across three continents and my inability to refuse a freebie from friends.
We used this MacLaren reversible seat liner with a MacLaren stroller which we borrowed for a holiday when our daughter was around two years old. We have used other, similar liners, including those designed for newborn babies, so we knew what to expect with this.
This reversible seat liner is available in huge variety of colors and patterns. The one we used was a conservative style: black on one side and charcoal on the other.
The cover is easy to fit to the push chair and also to remove it. I feels very soft, and the quilting gives it a feeling of substance. Given the nature of how this liner is used by a messy toddler, i.e. food particles, juice spills, dirt and general detritus, it is fortunate that it is machine washable. We washed it twice in the month or so that we were using it, and it held up well.
Infant and toddler transportation systems can be very expensive, and at around £10 this seat liner provides a sensible way to prolong the life of the push chair, an easy way to clean away the toddler mess and a great way to add some "pop" to the stroller if you are that way inclined.
I am happy to recommend this liner.
I used this buggy daily for a little under a month during December/January when my daughter was nearly two years old. She was well within the upper weight limit of 15 kilograms.
It was lent to me by a friend, who had used it for her two rambunctious sons. She used it from when they were a little under six months old up until about three years of age. I was already familiar with the McLaren name, as that is what I recall being used in my own childhood.
This buggy has many features that I like: it is robust despite being fairly lightweight, it collapses very easily using one hand (and one foot) and it has a decent, retractable, weather protection/sunshade hood. Our friend also lent us a detachable rain cover however we needed up keeping it in the under basket rather than actually using it.
Our daughter was able to both see out of it and lay down comfortably for an on-the-go nap as needed, due to the reclining features. My husband, who believes in “safety first”, was particularly impressed with the five point harness.
This stroller has double wheels that can be locked for in-line use or alternatively used in swivel mode. It was easy to use in both modes. The under basket is spacious for our needs which included toddler-related items as well as trips to the grocery store and general small packages.
This buggy is a little over one metre long when folded. We had no problems getting it in and out of our small hire car.
I should also advise that this 6kg stroller is very easy to wipe clean. Of course being a dark color means that a lot of stains and dirt could be left unseen, but that’s not our style.
In summary, we recommend this stroller if this is the style that interest you.
NB This is an amended version of the review I published on Ciao.
4 inch Oball
We have owned this ball for eight months, and used it almost daily for the last four. Our son is currently seven months old and this is clearly one of his favourite items to play with and to manipulate.
There are several different sizes of Bright Starts' Oball, most of which are available in a different colour. Ciao's stock photograph shows the Big Oball, however ours is the standard, four inch size in green.
This fun, educational toy is both a ball and a rattle. Its light-weight structure is designed to be flexible and easy to grasp. This was the first item that our son transferred from one hand to the other. I cannot remember if he was four months or five months old when he started transferring, but he was definitely doing this when he was five and a half months old as this is when I noticed that he has a preference for using his left hand.
This ball is very easy to grasp. The little rattle balls don't look like they could make much noise, but they certainly make enough for a child to experiment with the phenomenon of cause and effect.
Our son plays with this ball in two locations: on our loungeroom floor and while travelling in the car. When he is in the car he uses the ball as a rattle and a close play toy. When we are at home he gently throws the ball and likes to watch it roll. He shows no interest in using it as a teether.
Like any small toys, I recommend regular examination for any cracks or broken sections.
All in all, this is a fun toy that I am happy to recommend. It is available from Amazon for £5 as well as a number of toy stores such as Toys R Us, again for £5
Many years ago - indeed more than thirty - my intelligent yet uneducated uncle advised me that the recent introduction of plastic bags would not last. These items were bad for the environment, he advised me, and that one day we would return to the paper bags we knew so well.
Indeed my uncle's predictions turned out to be pretty much correct. With one exception. Bin liners for kitchen waste. Who wants to return to paper when plastic works so well at containing our cooking and kitchen detritus?
Now all this said, I do prefer to recycle and compost my cooking-related waste whenever I can. Furthermore I tend to place all kitchen waste into the wheelie bin at least once a day. This means that my kitchen bin is not particularly large. That said, I only half-fill my kitchen waste bin liners rather than overfill them....perhaps one day I may return to paper bags for this waste.
All this background leads me to the Tesco swing bin liner. This is a basic product which is sold as expected: as a tightly wound roll. Each bag measures 120 cm x 76 cm. The bags are all attached to each, but separated with a line of perforations which are easy enough to tear correctly.
In my opinion this bag is suitable for occasional, light use. By light use I mean soft, wet kitchen-related waste that doesn't completely fill the entire bag. This bag certainly wouldn't hold up to containing broken ceramics or similar items.
This white plastic bag is very lightweight, and therefore probably not suitable for households with families.
Verdict: probably suitable for a minority of household situations.
I am a huge fan of the range of E45 products. I find that they keep well, and that I can effectively dip in and out of using them over the year. An affordable product, it means that I can spend more money on more luxurious brands. A win-win for everyone. Except perhaps the environment.
White in color, this lotion smells the same as the rest of the range - a fresh, light scent that to me smells a little similar to baby talc powder.
I use this E45 Nourish and Restore body lotion as an all-over moisturiser. The product itself is thin enough to spread a small amount easily, but not so thick as to feel like I am applying clay to my skin. The company describes it as lightweight and I agree with this statement.
In my opinion, this lotion moisturizes my legs and arms well. It’s true that my feet and elbows need additional support when it comes to moisturizing and nourishing, but I am very happy with this E45 lotion. I certainly notice that the lower sections of my legs are more dry when I am not using this lotion.
I recommend this product as an inexpensive, all over moisturiser.
NB baby wearing safety rules for ALL TYPES of carriers
1 Kissable head and visible face with two finger widths space below the chin
2 Back carrying is not safe before the baby can sit themselves up independently from lying - usually 6-7 months old.
As one of, if not the, original producers of the baby carrier for the Western world, the Baby Bjorn brand is synonymous with baby carrying. So much so that first time parents are often amazed to discover that there are around two hundred different types of carriers available.
Types of carriers include ring slings, pouch, wraps, Mai tai, soft structured carriers, hard structured carriers and some that are a combination of these .
This soft structured carrier was given to me by a friend who had used it with her children. I used it almost daily when my son was aged 1- 6 weeks old.
This carrier is designed to be worn on the front of the adult with the child ideally facing inwards, ie towards the adult. It can be worn forward facing however the ergonomics of both this carrier and the weight of the child means that forward facing becomes uncomfortable for the wearer very fast.
It is easy to put on and to wear. It is very suitable for infants from eight pounds aged up to approximately two months old, three months if the baby is not too heavy in my opinion. Infants should only be forward-facing carried - if they really must be - from about four months of age; when they have full head support so they don’t occlude their airway.
The manufacturer states it has been tested for children weighing up to 25 pounds. This is greater than what our daughter weighed aged one. I cannot imagine wearing such an old child in this carrier.
Being a lightweight carrier, it has minimal padding for the adult, making it not as comfortable as some other carriers. This carrier is designed to become longer as the baby gets taller. However in doing this, the supporting section between the child’s legs becomes narrower. The ideal position for an infant to “sit” in is with the knees slightly higher than the hips and this is achieved with the seat/crotch section covering the area from knee to knee. As this carrier is made larger there becomes less support in this area.
In my opinion, SAFE baby wearing is better than no baby wearing. The Bjorn is a solid first carrier for the early months, but there are much better options available.
Maclaren Triumph Umbrella Stroller
I am sure that when I was a toddler over forty years ago, most children had just the one stroller - which we called a pram.
For decades on and I am astounded at just how many different types of transportation systems exist for infants, toddlers and slightly older children. Indeed we are now onto owning our sixth or seventh stroller across two children.
We used this Maclaren Triumph Umbrella Stroller from when our daughter was about nine months old until she was approximately 3.5 years of age. We mainly used it when we were going on short trips like to the shopping mall, and too the zoo where we are members.
The Maclaren brand has been around for years. It is a name that I have always associated with strollers rather than racing cars.
This Triumph umbrella stroller is suitable for children from six months of age until they weigh 55 pounds. My five year old is 40 pounds - I couldn't imagine she’d fit into it when she is seven or older.
In my opinion this is a basic umbrella stroller with a bonus small under seat storage basket and useful weather shade. The seat is sling style, the harness is the typical five point kind and there is an adjustable crotch strap. There are three reclining positions: totally flat, nearly flat, and not as upright as I would like. Our daughter usually had the position in the most upright setting - I used a jumper or cardigan to prop her up if necessary.
Weighing 13 pounds, this aluminum framed stroller isn’t particularly light but it can easily be collapsed using one had. There is a large clip that then holds it closed. A carrying strap can be used when the stroller is folded, which makes hauling it around easier.
I like that the front wheels can be locked in place or be set to swivel. There is only one wheel brake - my preference would be for two.
This stroller is easy enough to use and has nicely padded handles. However it can tip backwards when stationary if a heavy bag is placed on the handles and there is no child in the stroller. The product specifications suggest that the bag needs to weigh just under 10kg for this to happen however in my experience my nappy bag wasn’t as heavy as this.
Finally, the seat cover is washable, thankfully.
In summary, this is a fairly basic umbrella stroller with a few extras that simply doesn’t “wow” me.
Lindam Adjustable Back Seat Mirror
Until I became a mother over five years ago, I had no idea just how many useful child-related products are available to make parents’ lives easier.
We received this mirror second hand prior to the birth of our daughter. I knew straight away that this would be useful, as I wanted to keep an eye on our newborn whilst I drove around. We used it until our daughter switched to forward facing sometime after her second birthday.
I can still, although barely, recall the days that young children were not compelled to travel in a car seat. Nowadays, the general recommendation is that children remain rear-facing for as long as possible and certainly ideally until their fourth birthday. I heard one country (possibly in Scandinavia) was considering extending this until the seventh birthday.
This means that a mirror like this one is a Godsend. This large mirror fits onto the backrest of the rear passenger seat, in a harness-like fashion. The mirror is in a type of frame, the backing of which is attached to a small unit that means that the mirror can pivot upwards or sideways, ensuring that the driver gets the best view possible of the child.
The mirror surface seems to be of quality. It is not made of the usual glass, but instead of some kind of reflective material which provides a good image. However, it does scratch more easily than I would like.
I particularly like the fact that this unit has a grown up appearance, rather than being styled in baby-friendly colors and/or patterns.
Finally, the mirror is easy to wipe clean.
Lindam Harness and Reins
I never realised how controversial toddler reins could be until I became the parent of a toddler. My previous experience with such reins and harness was approximately 40 years ago, when my younger sister was around two years old. The little contraption she wore certainly did keep her safe in crowded situations.
By the time my own daughter was ready for a harness and reins, I discovered that none of my friends or acquaintances used or “believed in them”. That is, they felt that the child would be too restricted, unable to explore at will.
I suppose this is somewhat true, however one must consider the need for safety first. Our little girl, as she was at the time, was a complete tear-away. So quick and nimble-footed, it was imperative that we used whatever resources we could to keep her safe in crowded places like the zoo.
This Lindam Harness and Rein set can be used when a child is walking out and about, as well as to help secure them in a high chair. We used ours in the former situation for approximately several months from when our daughter was a little under two years old. The company states that this product is suitable for ages six months to four years old. However, this product has very small sizing. Our daughter was able to use it when wearing a tee shirt, but it was too small on her for her to wear a jumper and definitely not a coat.
The product does seem to be well made and it is obviously designed to fit snuggly on a child. The buckles are difficult to do up, which is annoying when one is toddler wrangling!
I think that a wrist rein is a better choice.
This Sunshine Kids Cool Shade is actually the third that we bought as the first two failed to stay attached to the car window. One was a "sucker style" shade and the other was a similar shade to this one that I am reviewing today.
We have two children and spend most of the year in a sunny climate, so having a form of car shade is very important for our family.
This shade is made from black, translucent plastic. As expected from such a product, it is designed to reduce the glare and direct sunlight on car passengers - usually young children.
This shade is very easy to use. It attaches itself to the inside of the car window via static. For this to work best, the window needs to be cleaned thoroughly prior to applying the shade in a wiping manner. This ensures that the majority of air bubbles are removed, and thereby improving the fix to the window.
This shade material is so thin that the window can be moved/wound down. That said, I would not and do not do this as our previous, different branded shade came off while the window was down and was irretrievable.
This sunshade works fine. However, it seems to be available only in black - the colour that attracts the sun and heat the most.
Available from several places including Amazon for £3 - £6 for a two pack, this cool shade comes recommended from me if you are after a simple, inexpensive shade.
Hello Kitty Booster Seat
Our five year old daughter has several different car seats and booster seats in a total of three cars that are used regularly: mine, my husband’s and our nanny/babysitter.
Many countries have rules and regulations surrounding child restraints. The latest evidence is that child booster seats (as opposed to those for short adults) are not much safer than only wearing a seat belt.
That said, these booster seats are great for transporting an extra child to or from school or local activity. That is, for short journeys. It is aimed at children aged 4- 1 years, with the weight limits being 15 - 36 kilograms.
Our daughter is a huge fan of Sanrio’s Hello Kitty character, so this booster seat (made in China) was an easy pick for her. It is fabricated from a lightweight, plastic and is very pink - what I describe as “Hello Kitty” pink. This plastic seating is then covered with Hello Kitty fabric.To be perfectly honest, it feels a little hard to touch and definitely has a cheap, hard plastic feel to it. However I am not the person sitting on it, and neither our daughter nor any of her friends have made any negative comments about it.
Booster seats such as these are designed to be held in place by the user’s weight and by the user’s lap belt which goes through the hook-styled support arches at either side of the back corners. If these were designed a little differently they would be arm rests.
Being lightweight, this booster seat is easy to carry and to transfer between vehicles when necessary. It is easy enough to wipe clean, although that said our daughter hasn’t really ever spilt much more than a few crumbs on this so it’s not like it has been drenched in juice or milk. If this were to happen then I’d pop the removable fabric cover in the washing machine on a cold, gentle cycle.
Our daughter loves showing this booster seat off to her friends. She doesn’t use it every day, nor even each week, so when she does it feels like a special treat for her.
As booster seats go, this could be improved with the addition of cupholders and ideally a back.
Recommended for occasional, short-journey use.
I was a latecomer to Soap and Glory products and I admit that I first tried this brand when I heard others say good things and when I realised just how cute and eye-catching this brand’s packaging can be.
This “No Clogs Allowed” product from Soap and Glory is an at home deep pore detox mask for use on areas prone to blackhead buildup. Currently (May 2015) retailing for £11.50 at Boots, this weekly use face treatment aims to do just what you think it should.
The company states that this product is suitable for oily/combination skin types and “it deep cleans, melts away pore-plugging sebum and softens keratinised skin cells to prevent breakouts and blemishes.” This is a powerful statement in my opinion, and one which I will address shortly.
The information and use directions on the packaging are simple and clear to understand.
Firstly, shake the tube to ensure the ingredients are well combined. Then massage a grape-sized amount of the product onto your face (and/or a similar amount to other areas you may be treating such as your chest or upper back). Wet your hands then scrub the product until you feel it heating and notice that the scrub is turning blue. Wait five minutes and then remove the scrub with a warm wet face cloth.
I really like the feeling of warm face products on my skin. This one warms up very quickly but sadly, although typically for this type of product, it does not stay warm for a long time. I like the quirkiness of this mask’s colour change, although having my face turn blue is a little strange.
This mask does leave my skin feeling soft and clean, and it does seem to clear out the pores around my nose - the area of my face most prone to blackheads. I suppose it might reduce breakouts and blemishes in some people however as these are few and far between now that I am in my forties I am unable to comment on this.
This is a great mask that is both fun to use and that works well. Recommended!
NB I may choose to publish this review elsewhere.