Friday, 5 February 2016

Review: Just4Kids Natural Deodorant

Children seem to be maturing younger and younger nowadays and it is only recently that I have started to buy my 12 year old anti-perspirant and ask him to use it each day. So I was very shocked when I realised that my 8 year old twins were starting to develop some body odour too.

Of course I am keen for them to smell fresh and wouldn't want them to be the brunt of any cruel jibes and thus about a month ago I started to investigate if they needed anything at their age and what might be available to suit their young bodies.

I've never really considered the difference between a deodorant and an anti-perspirant if I'm honest and it had never even occurred to me that anti-perspirants might contain harmful ingredients. Sometimes I really am too trusting that if something has been approved for use that it is OK. I've discovered that anti-perspirants close, clog or block the pores so that sweat is not released and thus there is no odour or wetness, whereas a deodorant just neutralises the smell of the sweat and has an antiseptic action on the natural bacterias that can form under our arms.

I found a spray deodorant aimed at girls aged 8 years plus at one of my regular chemists and bought some of that for my girls to try but it quickly became apparent that one of them used far too much which made me choke and that the other found it really tricky to apply. I was therefore really pleased to be contacted by Just4Kids to ask if the children might like to try out their products.

We received the 4 different fragrances of deodorant for the girls to try out - Sea breeze, Strawberry, Green Apple and Vanilla Cream. At first the girls discounted the two sticks that had boy pictures on the front but as soon as they smelt the green apple one they declared it a favourite. Miss M is now using that one and Miss E choose the Vanilla Cream and we found all the scents to be agreeable and not too strong.

I like the idea of these products as they were developed by a Mum, Karen Lucas, along with her two sons Noah then aged 7 and Oscar aged 10. With lots of research, help and advice from the experts in laboratories they developed the best natural formula, using the minimal amount of the best natural ingredients. NOOSC are the company behind the brand Just4Kids which derives from NOah & OSCar their very own little experts.

Just4Kids are proud to say that none of their products contain nasty chemicals aluminum, parabens or alcohol.

We've been very happy with them so far, they are easy for the children to apply themselves, I've not seen any stains on their clothes and they smell good - what is not to love?

The price is also reasonable at £3.49 for a 40ml container and I see that postage when bought online is a fixed price of £2.99 for second class post and this seems to be regardless of the amount bought, so maybe best to team up with a friend and buy a few at a time. You can find out more and buy Just4Kids Natural Deodorants from their website.

Disclosure: We were sent 4 natural deodorants for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Review: Ravensburger The Snowman & Snowdog 100 pc Puzzle

If you have ever owned a Ravensburger puzzle before you will know how great the quality of their puzzles is. These are not flimsy puzzles that only last one season, these are the kind that you can keep for a few years whilst your child is still enjoying them and then pass them on to a friend or charity shop and they are still in great condition.

It's not just the puzzle though, the box is sturdy too and this is important to me as there is nothing more frustrating than losing pieces as the corners of the box have collapsed!

The Snowman & Snowdog puzzle is fabulous and I think it would appeal to any puzzler. The 100 piece puzzle has XXL pieces to make it more fun for a younger child and they recommend it for children aged 6 years plus.  My twin girls are 8 and one of them in particular loves puzzles and also all things snow, chilly and arctic, so this puzzle will go down a treat when she opens it on Christmas morning.

The Snowman and The Snowdog is a charming film sequel to the Christmas classic The Snowman. Premiered on Channel 4 on the 30th anniversary of the original film n 2012, the sequel brought together The Snowman and his new Snowdog, who has mismatched socks for ears and a satsuma for a nose. I'll have to show my girls the film, as I do not believe they've seen it.

I asked my 12 year old son JJ to make the puzzle up for me and give me his opinion. He said it is a great puzzle, loads of bright colours and not too complex, despite there being a fair amount of white there was enough lines and other colours in there to make it really manageable for a 6 year old child. He also commented on the linen-finished print which gives a nice matt finish and ensures there is no glare even when the winter sun is shining bright. He said the pieces are easy to slot together too.

The finished puzzle measures - 49 x 36 cm and is available for £6.99 on Amazon and I think this is a really good price for a gift that will give hours of enjoyment. I am very happy to recommend this Ravenburger puzzle.

Disclosure: We received this puzzle for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Back to School with Maped Helix

Well here we are just a week into the school holidays and all bar a pencil case the kids are completely ready for back to school. Uniform purchased and size checked, everything labelled and shoes worn in.

JJ was super excited last week when a delivery arrived for him from Maped Helix with the stationary he needs to start Secondary school in September. Starting in year 7 is a special time and the equipment he needs for school is quite different to the years gone by, we've purchased a french dictionary and a gum shield to name just a couple of things.

Maped Helix have also sorted JJ out with an Oxford maths set and he is very excited to start doing the kind of maths that requires compasses, set squares and a protractor. He left Primary school with amazing results in maths and apparently his SAT results translate to a D grade in GCSE if he had taken it aged 11 years, that was all I got aged 15! He doesn't get his maths smarts from me, that is for sure!

I've known the name Helix for as long as I've been alive and even had my own Oxford maths set when I was young so I'm glad JJ is starting school with equipment I know will last him a long time and is reliable. Little features like the safety screw sharpener and compass will give me peace of mind too. JJ also received some very nice Helix Oxford colouring pencils in a tin and the prices are super reasonable as well, I found these for as little as £3.99 when I searched online.

The Maped part of the Maped Helix name I am not so familiar with, so I was interested to read that Maped is the world leading supplier of school supplies and they offer a comprehensive range of writing instruments and education equipment with exceptional design, quality and innovation. JJ also received a few of their items as part of his gift package from Maped Helix.

He received the 0.7mm fluid roller free writer pen with erasable ink, perfect for if he makes a mistake, 3 x 0.4mm graph pens in beautiful bright colours for precision art work and an easy loading mechanical pencil with easily replaceable leads. I think he is all set now.

Maped Helix products are available from all good stationers and many of the big supermarkets. When you go to buy your back to school stationary, why don't you take a look at their excellent range - there is so much to choose from.

Many thanks Maped Helix, JJ is a happy lad now.

Disclosure: We received this stationary in order to undertake this honest review. I have not been instructed what to write.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Did you realise that Morrisons sells Children's Clothes?

Last year I was asked to review some school uniform from Morrisons and I have to be honest now and confess that I didn't hold up much hope.  I thought the clothes wouldn't last very long as they are really quite cheap price wise. Here I am a year later though and the girls are still wearing their Morrisons Nutmeg range uniform that they were sent in August 2014 and I have bought more to go with it.  The white polo shirts are probably my favourite ones as when you wash and tumble them they do not require any ironing and have kept their shape very well and the trousers that Miss M wore then got too small and passed over to Miss E and she loves them. Whereas more expensive school trousers seem to have fiddly flower shaped buttons that Miss E can not handle, these she loves with their chunky hook and eye type fastening and cute bows on the pockets.

The cardigans have stayed in shape and not shrunk at all, despite tumble drying. The only thing is the colour has slightly faded on the button band but after a years wear I'd expect that. The plimsolls were brilliant and didn't wear much on the bottoms and we were able to pass them on when they became too small.

We've received some more uniform recently that we are happily trying out too and Miss M particularly loves her lycra cycling shorts concealed in a little PE skirt. The girls are even wearing a school cardie but in red (blue is their school colour) for casual as they like them so much and the prices are so fabulous, I can't say no.

As Summer has arrived Morrisons have sent me an impromptu hamper, which was super kind of them and quite unexpected. We received a beautiful hot pink beach towel that Miss E has claimed as her own, some sun lotion (which sprays on coloured so the girls can do it themselves) a mini fan, a sticky ball game and a pretty elephant print t-shirt which is possibly the softest material I have ever felt.

They also gifted me £20 in vouchers, which I was happy to spend on some clothes for the girls from theNutmeg range. They needed new leggings so I bought two packs of those at £6 for a 2 pack and also a stunning white cotton cardie, which was just £8. Just take a look at the girls and see how great they look in the Nutmeg clothes. Thanks so much Morrisons.

Disclosure: I received a hamper and a £20 voucher.  There was no expectation for me to blog about this but I was very happy with the goods received.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Review: Cheese and Wine Hamper from Blossoming Gifts

Hampers always go down a treat, it can be so hard to find a good gift for some people. Take my dad for instance, there is never anything he wants and I think in the future a sweet treat hamper delivery may be perfect for him.

When Blossoming Gifts asked if we would like to send my husband a hamper for Fathers Day we were eager to say yes. The kids had a look and knew the Cheese and Wine hamper would be perfect as that is my husbands way to relax in the evening after a busy day at work. A glass of red wine or port with some cheese and crackers.

This hamper retails for £53.99 and the website says it includes -

  • Arden's Mature Cheese & Spring Onion Bites 100g 
  • Barber's Maryland Farm Farmhouse Mature Cheddar Truckle 200g 
  • Ford Farm Double Gloucester with Spring Onion Truckle 200g 
  • Highfield Preserves Red Onion Marmalade 227g 
  • Peter's Yard Original Artisan Crispbread in Box 105g 
  • La Umbra Pinot Grigio 75cl Lidded wicker basket with Handle 
But actually our hamper was slightly different and we had Buiteman sun dried tomato and cheese baguettes and Miller's Damsels wheat wafers instead of the bites and artisan crispbread advertised. We didn't mind this substitution at all as the products we received were excellent quality but I could not see that it said on the web page that items might be substituted, so this is probably something to highlight in the future.

As this hamper includes cheese it can only be delivered Tuesday - Friday and the delivery will arrive between 8am - 6pm. Luckily I have a reception to take all my deliveries otherwise ti might have been tricky to stay in a whole day to make sure I could receive this and put the cheese in the fridge as the actual delivery is not refrigerated.

I felt the hamper looked very nice when it arrived but it did come branded as Virginia Hayward. The lidded wicker basket is great quality and I'll use it again either as storage or to make a hamper for someone at Christmas.

As the cheese was in the fridge my husband spotted it straight away so we both tucked in that night and were so impressed with the quality of the products, the cheese was firm but creamy and the spring onions and chive in the Double Gloucester was a really nice surprise. I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. We are even going to seek out the Miller's Damsels wheat wafers to buy again. My husband also commented that the red onion marmalade was really well balanced as too many we buy have a high level of acidity.

Would I buy one of these again? Yes probably as they really do take the effort out of finding a gift and I now know that I can trust the quality of the products to be very high but in truth they are probably a little more expensive than I can justify.

It is worth taking a look round the Blossoming Gifts website as they have a great selection of floral bouquets, plants and wine, as well as the hampers.

Disclosure: We were sent this hamper free of charge for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Review: Make-A-Bar Chocolate Factory Creative Kits

The kids were sent through some newly launched Make-a-bar chocolate factory creative kits so they could make Daddy a nice surprise for Fathers Day and they had loads of fun.

The kits retail for £3.99 each and that makes you one bar of chocolate and I have to report that I was super surprised - the chocolate tastes great (100% Belgium chocolate that is preservative and additive free). Normally with kits like this it is low quality products but not so with this, I'd be happy to be given one of these bars and would be really happy to eat it.

You can also buy twin packs at £7.99 or packs of four at the value price of £11.99.

Miss E and I were the first to make some bars and this is how we did -

The bars are very easy to make, Miss E is 7 and after the first bar I was able to allow her to do the second one alone whilst I cooked dinner. Here is how we made our bars -

  • Firstly you fill a bowl with tap hot water (not too hot for your fingers)
  • Put the three bags of chocolate in the water to melt (milk, dark and white - all labelled)
  • Decide which design you want to make. Either use one of the eight supplied with your set, draw your own or create your own online and download it for free. Place the design under the plastic tray (we used blu-tac to keep it in place).
  • After about 3-5 minutes the chocolate will have melted, feel the bags to test before cutting open. Massage any lumps in the bag in the warm water. Try to make sure the chocolate is really well melted as you can then get a thinner line/ more precise picture.
  • Cut a tiny bit off the corner of the dark chocolate and use this to create the pattern outline in your plastic tray.
  • Do the same with the white chocolate and fill in your design.
  • Then do the same with the bigger milk chocolate pouch and you need to ensure it goes right across the plastic tray. It can be a bit tricky to get the milk chocolate right across, just a little more in the bag would have been perfect.
  • Tap the tray to eliminate bubbles and ensure equal coverage and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set.
  • Then either enjoy the chocolate or wrap in some cellophane like we did and give it as a gift.

We found it wasn't that easy to get precise lines with the little chocolate bags. I think our tap water was not quite hot enough as the chocolate never really got fully liquid but as you can see in the pictures it didn't matter as the rough and ready look is pretty cool anyway.

We have had toys like the chocolate coin maker before and whilst the kids have loved them they have been a complete faff - expensive, rubbish tasting chocolate, hard to clean and really difficult to use. These are the complete opposite, cheap, easy to use, no cleaning and easy for kids to use alone. -brilliant, we loved them and would definitely use them as gifts again in the future.

They would also make a great activity for a children's party, all the kids can make their own and allow them to set during the party and then they can take them home as their party gift.

Check out to find out more and place an order. They can also be followed on @magichocuk and Facebook.

Disclosure: We received 4 kits for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Review: Beefeater, White Hart near Hastings, East Sussex

Today we headed to our local Beefeater to celebrate Fathers Day a week early. I don’t know about you but I find it a bit hard to manage to celebrate with my husband, my dad and my father-in-law all on one day, so we try and space out the fun. We’d had a good day getting all the chores and homework done this morning, out to buy Miss M’s birthday bike this afternoon and then finishing off with our dinner out.

The White Hart, Guestling is situated on the A259 making it very easy to get to and just a couple of miles outside of Hastings town centre. We’ve driven past many times but had never been in it until today, as we pulled into the car park just before 5pm on a Saturday evening there were loads of spaces and it all looked clean and tidy. I commented to dh that it would be a great place for just him and I on a summers evening as there is a large outdoor area with tables and the view was wonderful. The grade II listed building also looks really pretty from the outside and our first impression was good and we were excited for our visit.

It is funny how your mood and expectations can drop in the bat of an eyelid though, as we went into the front door we found two parties waiting in front of us and we were left hanging in the porch. The man greeting guests (Paul I believe his name was) had a very stern look on his face and was not very friendly, in fact I got the distinct impression that he would rather no customers turned up to eat. We had arrived about 4.55pm and expected our table to be ready as the PR agency had informed me they had booked. The greeter told me he didn’t have a reservation in my name and that it was very busy. He asked if I had personally booked, I explained George at the PR agency had and at the mention of this he said we needed to wait a few moments for a table to be re-laid for us.

We didn’t wait long and we were then led to a table but after a few minutes at the table it became clear we had been put on the table that is always sold last, the one right by the kitchen door, the servery and the waiter’s station. We constantly had staff going backwards and forwards past us, chatting by the servery (six of them together at one point) and whenever they held the kitchen door open there was a very loud whirring noise. My husband guessed it was a fridge or freezer working overtime due to the heat. Sadly the table we were seated at was still sticky and had ring marks from the drinks the last people had.

The greeter did come back quickly to take our drinks order, which was good but not so good when I asked my daughter what she would like to drink and I informed her she could have a fruit shoot or milkshake as I looked at the kids menu. She quickly responded milkshake and then the greeter asked her if she wanted an ice-cream one or carton? Well what child is not going to say ice-cream? But when they cost £3.49 in comparison to the child’s drink of £1.60 I was not impressed. You do not upsell to a child, it felt like a cheap shot.

The drinks arrived with us quickly and were all fine, in fact throughout the meal our refillable soft drinks were filled often and when we asked for water, a jug and 5 glasses were bought over so there was no issues with the drinks. It did seem a bit of a shame when my husband looked at the kids menu later and pointed out to me a squash or milk was included in the price and no-one had pointed this out, just allowing us to order drinks at an extra cost for the children.

Our waitress seemed very nice and she introduced herself as Meggie, she took our order about 20 minutes after us being seated and we waited about 15 minutes for the first course to arrive. In total we were in the restaurant for two hours and this is longer than we wanted to be there. Our main course did not make an appearance until about 6.10pm and considering we only had nachos and garlic bread as starters it seemed like a long wait.

In general the food we received was pretty good, the girls were very happy with their nachos or garlic bread starters and my husband’s nachos were fine, although the same size as my daughters portion. My son and I ordered nachos to start and asked for them to be changed when they came out as they were covered in chopped onion, tomato and chillies, none of which we like. I think perhaps this is the problem with the daytime value menu that we ordered from, it lacks detail, so you are ordering blind on some menu options. We did find that Meggie handled us sending the nachos back very well and was accommodating.

JJ and myself loved our main courses, JJ reported that his burger and skinny chips were excellent (£7.99 plus an extra 59p for cheese and bacon from the Daytime Value Menu) and I really enjoyed my smothered chicken with thrice fried chips, coleslaw and side salad, which was £10.99 on the main menu. My husband had the Rump steak, which was a real disappointment – very chewy and at £10.29 on the daytime value menu it's not cheap and you'd be even more disappointed if you paid the regular menu price of £13.79.

Miss M ordered spaghetti Bolognese, garlic bread and a corn cobette and Miss E had grilled chicken, mash and baked beans. We did have to laugh at the tiny, tiny portion of beans she was given though, it was one of those tiny sauce pots. Both girls were full at the end of their main course but I am very glad I let JJ order from the main menu as the meals are not designed for an 11 year old.

In general the Mr Men & little Miss kids menu is really good value and has loads of choice. It is £4.49 for 1 course and squash (or change it for milk if you prefer), £5.49 for 2 courses and squash or 3 courses and squash are just £5.99 which feels like great value. It is a nice touch too that if you have a 3 course meal they will donate 20p to the Great Ormond Street hospital. Your child can choose from 4 starters, 11 mains including steak, spaghetti bolognese, sausage and mash or create your own pizza and there is a whole host of sides to go with them. Then you can finish off with one of 4 desserts including cookies and ice cream.

My husband decided not to have a dessert and JJ and I both opted for a warm brownie with chocolate sauce and ice-cream from the daytime value menu, this meant they were just £2.69 each which was excellent value. We both really enjoyed our dessert. As quite a lot of time had gone by we decided not to have hot drinks to finish as it was time to get the kids home so I asked for the bill.

Well what a faff it all was. First off the girls had not been charged for the 3 course menu but for each course separately making it 50p more expensive for each of them and we had been charged for a jug of squash that we had not ordered. I explained about this and the waitress took it away to amend, the bill then came back correct and I was happy with it and Meggie took the £50 voucher I had to process. Then the bill came back again and had been reduced from just over £65.00 to £17.60 and I asked how £65 minus £50 could possibly be anything other than £15 but Meggie tried to persuade me it was definitely right as the reduction for the girl’s inclusive meals was shown at the bottom. Upon checking it turned out that another portion of onion rings had been added in, so I pointed that out and it was amended agin. Then when Meggie came back to the table she asked me ‘Is that OK, or is anything else wrong for you?’ I don’t know about you but this sounded pretty rude to me and I was offended. She skipped straight past the option for me to be able to leave a tip on my credit card and then a lack of cash and annoyance at her comment meant I didn’t leave a tip, a pretty rare occurrence for someone who worked in this industry for years.

Overall, the actual food we ate was fine (with the exception of dh’s main course) but our meal experience was spoilt by the very surly greeter, slow service and a terrible experience with the bill. Will we go back? Yes, I’d give them another try as I’m not normally willing to write a restaurant off after one luke-warm experience. I’ve also eaten at other Beefeaters in the last couple of years and been really happy with them.

Have you been to a Beefeater recently? What was your experience like?

If you are thinking of trying out your local Beefeater you might be interested to know that children eat free with a paying adult (ordering from the main menu) Saturday 12 – 5pm and also that if you book a table after 5pm on Fathers Day, Sunday 21st June 2015 Dads can eat a free 6oz flat-iron steak meal when someone else orders a main meal.

Disclosure: We received a £50 voucher for the purpose of undertaking a review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.