A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Review: Disney Princess Colour Magic Brush Rapunzel From ToysRus

We were lucky enough to receive a Disney Princess Colour Magic Brush Rapunzel Doll from ToysRus for Caitlin to cast her expert eye over (when she isn't being a dalmation).

The doll is well made with beautiful silky hair (cue much muttering from mummy along the lines of "well, see now, Rapunzel obviously BRUSHES HER HAIR" since it is a constant battle to keep Caitlin's locks under control). 

And Rapunzel comes with a clever hair brush gizmo which, when full of crushed ice (or, more simply, filled with water and stuck in the freeze compartment of the fridge for half an hour), creates pink and purple colour streaks in the lighter blonde segments of the doll's hair or leaves star shapes when the end of the brush is used.

I have to stress that, tempting as it is to ignore the multi-lingual instructions, unless the water in the brush is ice cold, you won't get much (or indeed any) colour change in the doll's hair which could lead you to think that it doesn't work.  

So be prepared to endure thirty minutes or so of "well is the brush ready yet?"

It's also worth noting that the colour changes may not last that long. 

Once the hair reaches room temperature again, it is likely to return to its original hue, however, we found that the pink and purple stripes lasted long enough to garner interest.  

The stars on the other hand, although clear in shape, faded very quickly.

Using the brush to create pink and purple streaks in the lighter blonde sections of Rapunzel's hair.

Blink and you'll miss 'em - pink stars

Like all toys with a 'gimick', there's a risk that it'll be a two minute wonder but the Rapunzel doll is attractive and well-made enough to outlive the thrill of turning hair pink and purple.

The Disney Princess Colour Magic Brush Rapunzel Doll is available from ToysRus at £19.99. Delivery is from £4.95 or click and collect is free.

Caitlin is already very attached to Rapunzel and hopefully I've found a source of inspiration to make the daily battle of the hairbrush weighted ever so slightly more towards my side.

And I'm making the most of this 'girlie' phase because Ieuan currently wants to be one of Despicable Me's evil purple minions.

*We were sent a Disney Princess Colour Magic Brush Rapunzel from ToysRus for the purposes of this review.
**This is our application to be a Rainbow Toy Awards Toy Tester

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Silent Sunday - 18/05/2014


Thursday, 15 May 2014

Come on Beauty Bloggers - Show Us Your Empties!

I am fascinated by beauty blogs. To me, beauty bloggers are the unsung heroes of the cosmetics industry, tirelessly reviewing (often out of their own pocket), the newest, sparkliest and maddest products that are thrown onto the shelves. If you consider how many new mascaras alone hit the shelves in a year, you can see that the costs mount up.  


These gals love make-up and, although they may have some help from PR companies and some free products to review, in general I would take their opinion any day over the endless advertorials that populate the tabloids and the glossies.

I used to love those articles in magazines where the contents of handbags were unearthed and listed. If you are nosy, like I am, this offers endless fascination. The contents of my own bag have been scrutinized on several wine-fuelled evenings at our local, being a source of endless amusement. Why three tonnes of old tissues, a pile of Fruit Shoot plastic caps, broken crayons and multiple lipsticks all in approximately the same shade (a red which makes me look like Vampyra) should be funny, I'm not sure.  


But when it comes to beauty blogs, I have two frustrations. Firstly, there don't seem to be many beauty blogs which write for my age group (50 in two weeks, if you must know) and secondly, of the vast array of products reviewed, it's often difficult to know whether those products raved about are actually used much thereafter and are truly the wonder products they often appeared to be considered.

I honestly don't know how beauty bloggers cope with the amount of products they review. What do they do with them all? I have a drawer of lipsticks and eyeshadows I've had for years. With kids, it's difficult to find the time to apply a full face of make-up in the morning. I am always last in the queue for the bathroom and usually get in there just as the kids are putting their coats on. I am more likely to throw a product away because I have become totally bored with it than I am to throw it because it's been used.

This is hardly cost-effective. I wonder how many thousands of pounds are wasted on beauty products each year - I bet it's staggering. I have seen a couple of bloggers do posts about their 'empties' - i.e. products used to the very last drop and to me, that is a far greater accolade than posts which just swatch new colours.

So I am on the hunt for bloggers who write for my age group and those who will share what they actually use and love to death.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Halal - No News Is Not Good News

The kids love to go to Pizza Express as a treat so it was with not inconsiderable disappointment to learn that all their chicken is Halal. Readers of the great tome of outrage (The Daily Mail) have been regaled all week by various infographics showing who sells Halal meat (not forgetting of course similarities with Kosher food requirements), together with helpful information about whether the animals are stunned first.

For those unfamiliar with the traditional Halal method of food preparation, the slaughter of the animal should be performed by a Muslim who must invoke the name of Allah. The animal should then be slaughtered by cutting the throat without severing the spinal cord and the blood from the veins must be drained [source: Wikipedia].

Leaving aside any religious issues, this method of slaughter is pretty revolting although, as Janet Street Porter remarked today on ITV's uncomfortably lightweight lunchtime current issues show "Loose Women", if you eat meat it is your responsibility to understand where it comes from and how it is slaughtered. I have heard many stories about the equally terrible treatment of cattle in abatoirs.

What is really galling, though, is the fact that our Food Industry considers it quite alright to keep its consumers in the dark or, on the part of some of our restaurant chains, to court the business of a particular segment of the UK on the basis of its religious preference. You can bet that Christians would not be shown the same consideration.

Actually, I think, for all the puffery and outraged quacking of the Daily Mail commentators, this is not a religious issue.  It's about trust. We trust our Food and Catering Industries to treat its customers with respect and honesty. Poor old Jamie Oliver is regularly pilloried for pointing out the disgusting content of chicken nuggets but he really had a point.  

As parents, some of us (and I am guilty of this) just coast along trying to avoid those products we know are bad for our kids (e.g. any trans-fat / sugar combo, fizzy drinks, high sugar juices), but we fail to ask the really important questions - where does our food come from and, in the case of meat, what conditions and slaughter methods are used. 

I really hope this does not become an issue which results in a lack of respect being shown to any religious faith but rather acts as an enormous wake-up call for parents to start asking difficult questions and, in the case of some fast food establishments, voting with their feet.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Countdown To My 50th Birthday - Where's My Bucket?

Three weeks to go.  In all honesty I don't know how I got here. One minute I was rolly-pollying down the grassy slopes in the grounds of Sudeley Castle with my little sister, the next sat in a lecture theatre listening to endless lectures on the Romantic Poets in Swansea University.  There I go arranging place cards and menus in a large marquee for cricket hospitality and there I'm lecturing legal interns on marketing.  I remember acting in a French play on the stage at the Sherman Theatre and numerous ballet exams spent worrying if the bun my mum had precariously assembled on the back of my head would hold (it always did).

Linda, Caitlin & Ieuan Hobbis
Me with my two menaces, Caitlin & Ieuan

My memories seem to be a collection of tableaux, variously happy and sad - mostly happy, it has to be said.I remember being an au pair for a French diplomat in Paris when I was 19 and the exhiliration of standing alone on the Champs Elysee thinking that no-one in the World knew where I was at that moment (apart from my employer, of course!). I remember a very grim post break-up holiday in Amalfi where even the splendour of that dramatic stretch of coastline and the scent of plump lemons hanging brazenly from the numerous lemon trees did nothing to dispel my gloom. I remember sweeping into the room at St. David's Hotel on my wedding day and seeing the happy look on hubby's face.  Of course I remember the two births (caesarian) of Caitlin and Ieuan and the wonder of achieving something so incredible ever so slightly late.

The kids are intrigued at the moment by their family tree and ask questions constantly about their great grandparents.  They are also struggling to grasp the concept of death.  I tell them "everyone goes up to Mr God".  Ieuan is adamant that he wants to come back and can't believe we only get one go - depending on whether you believe in Karma, of course - and actually I think I do.

If there's just one go on the merry-go-round, I suppose I should finally get round to some sort of bucket list. Every time I do this, though, it looks like a rather dull shopping list. Some of the things have been on it for so long, I no longer really want them, or at least I won't spend the money, preferring to save it for the kids. The truth is that, the older you get, the more you realise that it's the experiences in life that matter, rather than things.

I watched Lily Allen on Loose Women today and whilst finding her nonchalence and "I do what I like" attitude deeply irritating (newsflash, if you don't approve of Miley Cyrus' antics, don't take your kids - well, thanks for that insight Lil), part of me still admires someone so firmly lost in her own 'cult of the self'. Get pizza on your face and a brand new Balenciaga frock?  Heck, why not, says Lily. "That's what I do". There's a fine line though, between indulging your own passions because you want to and the kind of desperate and rather sad attention seeking that Cyrus seems to have been reduced to.  A one-way ticket to Lindsey Lohan-ville.

None of which is getting me anywhere to deciding what I would like as a 50th birthday present or, more importantly setting some sensible mid-life goals.  If anyone would like to share their bucket-lists, I'd be very grateful.  One year, I asked my mother what she would like for her birthday and her response was "a pack of tooth picks and some new rubber gloves".  She wasn't even 40 at the time.  I think I'm missing the "present gene".
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