Monday, 14 August 2017

Twelve Top Tips for Buying a Used Car

Image: Thanks to Sandown Motors

I think we've got to the point where we will definitely need to get a new family car. We have a seven seater Toyota and it has served us well but frankly our family has out-grown it and now we need something with more leg and boot room I'm not quite sure if we will go for another seven seater or just a much more spacious five seater. Whatever it is, I will ensure it has enough space that I don't have to constantly listen to my three children squabbling as they feel too camped together. Honestly, who'd have kids, I ask you?

As I've been looking for a new used car, I thought I could share some of my wisdom with you and here's twelve top tips for buying a second-hand car -

1.   Why buy new when you can nearly always pick a year old car up for around 25% less than list price (in fact the AA state it can be up to 40%)? And lets face it, it probably won't have done much more than about 10,000 miles in that first year. Of course luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz hold their value better as the cars are such high quality and specification but you only have to take a look on the Sandown Group Used Car site to see there are some bargains to be had.

2.   Buy from a reputable dealership, you might be able to find a car cheaper from Bobs garage down the road or via Auto Trader but how will you know that the car really is what it says it is? By buying from a good dealership you have the peace of mind to know you can head back there if anything is looking amiss.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Review: Oral-B Pro 2500 Electric Toothbrush

In June JJ (my near 14 year old toothbrush hating son) was sent the Oral-B PRO 2500 electric toothbrush to try out and review. He's been wanting one for quite some time but in honesty due to the cost I hadn't done anything about it as I'm quite happy with a traditional old style toothbrush.

However having done a bit of research I now see that I was in the wrong and ideally my whole family should be using an electric toothbrush. A number of studies were pulled together and reviewed by the British research publication, The Cochrane Library and they found there was an 11% reduction in plaque at one to three months of use, and a 21% reduction in plaque when assessed after three months of use. So these are strong findings for making the switch to an electric toothbrush.

In short JJ has been loving using his new electric toothbrush and I've been loving the fact that he is remembering to brush his teeth more and that each session is lasting longer and is therefore more through and will ensure better dental health for him long term.

Have a watch our our video review to see the Oral-B PRO 2500 in action and hear what JJ thinks of it.

Many thanks to Pure Smiles dental practise based in Fulham for sending this toothbrush through to JJ. Pure Smiles offer a variety of services such as teeth whitening, dermal fillers, smoking cessation programs and sleep therapy. Why not check them out if you are local to them and I'd certainly be reassured by all the excellent customer reviews they display on their website drawn from Facebook, and Google.

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

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Review: Gel-a-Peel Accessory Kits - Pearly Pastels and Glow In The Dark

This weekend my 9 year old twin girls have been having some crafting fun with a couple of Gel-a-Peel accessory kits. Gel-a-Peel isn't something we have used before and nor heard of to be honest but as soon as I showed the girls the packages they knew it would be something they would enjoy.

One of my twins is far more crafty than the other and she was really looking forward to the act of making the silicon jewellery. The other one is a real fashionista and the part she was really looking forward to was wearing the jewellery and making sure of the cute shapes and charms.

Each accessory kit of Gel-a-Peel has an RRP of £14.99 and for this price you get 3 different coloured tubes of gel, 5 different shaped tips for applying your gel, 16 different design templates, a clear application board, cleaning and spreading tools and one set of hardware to make some hanging pierced earrings. We received the Pearly Pastel and Glow In The Dark its but there is also Neon and Sparkle accessory kits.

There are many more different kits too, large deluxe ones with beads included or a full design station which retails for around £29.99. You can also buy small starter sets for £4.99 with just one tube of gel and all the bits you need to get started. This is probably a good idea for a new user to see if they enjoy this craft. I was really pleased to see that you can buy replacement tubes of gel for just £2.99 each.

Using our Gel-a-Peel for the fist time
The instructions that come with the kit are very good and easy to use. First up you have to remove the protective cap on the tube and add the tip that you wish to use. You can choose the template design you want and place the clear application board over it. It is best to use masking tape to keep both in one place on the table so the design comes out perfect.

The gel tubes are very easy to use and the gel flows well, not too much and you don't need excess effort, which is very good for kids. You do need to make sure that you use a good amount of gel to give a thick and even coverage or it can break and be too fragile once dry. Once you finish with one colour you can move onto the next and get your design completed.

As well as making bracelets, cuffs, bookmarks, necklets and rings using the templates you can also use the gel tray, which has gems, flowers, letters, number, emojis etc on them. With these you just apply the gel into the cavity, use the little grey tool to make sure there are no air bubbles and the mould is full of the gel and then use the pink squeegee to go over the top and flatten the back. These small charms can then either be attached to a piece of Gel-a-Peel jewellery by using a bit of the gel as the glue or stuck onto anything else you fancy using a hot glue gun. In our house they have gone onto jewellery boxes, roller boots, pencil cases and buttons!

Once you have finished your design session, you do need to take the application caps off the tubes and clear out any excess gel left in them. I used the grey tool provided to do that and it wasn't difficult. I was also pleased that not much gel was lost doing this. Pop the protective cap back in and the lid and the gels will stay fresh for the next session.

The design templates tell you how long you need to leave the item to dry before you can use it. Simple designs with just one line of Gel-a-Peel are around an hour and the more complex bracelets and cuffs with multiple lines and layers of Gel-a-Peel can be around 5 hours. We left ours overnight.

You then carefully need to peel them off the clear application sheet once dry and you can then enjoy and wear them.  One of Miss E's bracelets broke as she took it off the sheet as she had left the gel a little thin in one place. This is easily fixed by putting some new gel over where it has snapped and waiting for it to dry.

What did we think?
Thanks a lot Gel-a-Peel, my girls had a lot of fun and they were both talking about getting more for their birthday. At nearly 10 years old they found this easy to do without me having to be involved. I think the older the child the easier they will find it and the more time and care they will take. Younger ones could do it, with supervision but it is recommend for 8+  years.

Why not have a watch of this video where you can see the Gel-a-Peel being used and see for yourself just how simple it is.

Disclosure: We received two Gel-a-Peel sets free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Anyone Can Make a Beautiful Birthday Card

I love making personalised greetings cards for people but for a long time I held back as I believed it was only a pursuit done by super talented crafters. Sadly, that's not me - I have writing like a 10 year old and quite a limited imagination so I thought I had to hold back for fear of my cards looking like a toddler had made them.

However, I've found a formula that works for me and every person I give one of my home-made cards to always comments about how nice they are. I think people feel a little special is you take the time to make something you know they would like.

I wanted to share with you my card-making formula that can easily be copied by anyone and you always end up with a great looking card. Even my 9 year old's can make good looking cards for their friends.

1. First up, gather together the items you need.
I recommend a trip to The Works (or shop online) as they have a wonderful ever-changing supply of card making materials for really great prices.

You'll need -
Blank cards and envelopes
Patterned paper
Plain coloured card or paper
Double sided tape
Washi tape
Card toppers
Stick on Gems

2.  Choose your patterned paper that will act as a base on your blank card and stick it on with double-sided tape. I find this far less messy than glue and you don't have to wait for it to dry.

3.  Add some Washi Tape. In this design I have put two stripes down the side of the patterned paper and this is good as it covers any uneven edges, on other cards, I might just use one vertical or horizontal stripe or do it across a couple of corners. See some of the designs below.

4.  I used a stick on Happy Birthday Greeting that I had bought in a pack at £1.20 for 30 of them, so they work out at hardly any money each.

5.  Choose your card topper. You can see from the picture below that I tried out the different bird toppers in different places before I choose which one to stick down and how the finished card should look. To keep costs low I normally just try to use one topper per card but I think the one with two does look lovely.

I often use stick-on gems to glitz up the card too, as you can see in a couple of the examples below. These normally cost about 99p for over 100, so they are super cheap. All the card blanks and toppers in these cards I bought from The Works and I hope you'll agree they look effective.

I mentioned earlier that even my little girls an make nice cards for their friends using my easy card making formula and here are a couple of cards Miss E has made recently ready for upcoming birthdays.

If you have any tips of easy card-making then do leave me a comment. Many thanks, Mich x

Monday, 13 February 2017

Review: Puressentiel Anti-Lice Treatment and Repellent

I hate head-lice. I'm sure no parent likes them but they have been the bane of my life for about the last four months. Thank the Lord that the kids seem free of them right now, but before Christmas I was spending so much on treatment and all different brands and I'm not sure if the products were not effective or if I had missed just one nit sack or such but basically I just couldn't get them out of one of my daughters hair and seeing as it is waist length, it was one major pain in the bum!

When I saw that the respected French brand Puressentiel had launched an anti-lice treatment and preventative spray, I immediately asked to sample and review the products and I'm pleased to tel you that I like what I see.

Anti-lice treatment -
I actually tried this on myself as whilst I could not find any evidence of a live head louse I have been itching for months and keep getting bumps around my hairline, so I was convinced I must have them and as this product is all natural I decided there really is no harm in my trying.

Unlike some products it had quite a pleasant smell and you can really detect the lavender, which is quite pleasant as it does not straight-away scream head lice like the smell of tea tree oil does. The four essential oils in the product also are soothing to the head and help to alleviate the itching, which was what I needed too.

The 100ml bottle only did one application as my hair is about 4 or 5 inches longer than my shoulders. So the cost of one treatment is £8.66 if you buy it from Amazon which was the best price I found (RRP £12.99). It therefore isn't the cheapest solution on the market but since research is showing that head-lice are mutating and surviving many different chemical insecticide treatments now, it is good to find one that the lice are unable to develop a resistance to and that doesn't have all the nasty side effects of silicone based products.

The solution comes in a bottle like you might get for hair dye and this means it is easy to apply and you don't get too messy. It is an oil based product so is oily on your hands but washes out well with any shampoo. It contains plant oils of coconut, calophyllum, jojoba, sunflower, sweet almond, castor, which act mechanically by obstructing the respiratory openings of the lice, larvae and nits. The lice are unable to develop resistance due to the asphyxiation mechanism.

I really like the fact that the product works in just 10 minutes and left my hair very soft after washing it out. The comb that is included in the pack is probably the best included one I've ever seen. It has fine grooves in each steel tooth, much like a nitty gritty comb and was very effective at combing my hair out.

Puressentiel products contain no dyes, preservatives or synthetic perfumes and are kind to the environment too.

For the record, I didn't actually have head lice and I actually now think maybe I had a sensitivity to a silicon based product that I used about a month ago when I was treating my girls. the redness and flaky, itchy scalp match the description for silicon sensitivity/allergy.

Preventative Spray -
This 75ml aerosol spray has a strong lavender smell and contains Citriodiol® from 100% natural origin (derived from lemon eucalyptus essential oil) whose repellent action has proved itself to be as effective as most synthetic chemicals.

It has been proven to work for 24 hours to repel lice and stop infestations and that makes it perfect for spraying before school. My daughter with shorter hair needs about 6 sprays and the one with waist-length hair about 12 sprays and the smell is quite strong, so it is good to do with a window open or even in the garden!

This handy spray cleanses the scalp and soothes itching using lavender floral water and lavandin, without leaving the hair or scalp feeling greasy or damaged. The spray retails for RRP £9.99 and I didn't manage to find it any cheaper than that.

It has 0% Neurotoxic repellents, is 100% natural in origin (No chemical agent - No silicone - No dimethicone - Preservative-free), is propellant gas-free and synthetic perfume-free.

Both products are suitable for children aged 3 years plus and they are available from Boots, Day Lewis, Lloyds pharmacy, Amazon and selected pharmacies nationwide.

Conclusion -
I am really happy with the Puressentiel products that I have tried out and I'd happily use the anti-lice treatment again and we will keep on using the preventive spray and see how it goes. Lets pray that is the lice infections over for at least 2017 for my family!

Disclosure: I received these products free of charge for the purpose of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.