Review: Getting Creative With Hunkydory Crafts

This amazing carry roll contains 48 pencils, each with their own different 3mm coloured lead at the centre. There is just about every colour you can think of and they can be blended to create any number of colours in any tone or shade you could possibly want.

I have no previous experience of using watercolour pencils but, as Caitlin told me, you can create different effects by activating your pencils with water. It’s fascinating to see the colour almost come alive when you ‘wash’ over it with a brush.  Obviously, the more water you add, the less intense the colour will be, but there’s a lovely rainbow of colours here to play with.

When you’re using watercolour pencils you’ll find the new Premier Craft Tools Waterbrushes from Hunkydory pretty handy as they are designed for use with watercolour pencils.

There are three craft water brushes with a small, medium and large brush which you can use for the different watercolour techniques such as washing the colour more broadly or concentrating on intricate detail.

Rather cleverly, the brushes contain a reservoir for water which is released when you squeeze the brush.  No more cups of dirty water that usually get knocked over!  You can even ‘wash’ the colour out of your brush by just squeezing it.

Caitlin had no problem using these so they are definitely suitable for a slightly older child to use.

To go with the pencils and brushes, we received a pad of watercolour card.

The pad contains 30 sheets of A5 professional watercolour card (280gsm) which is heavy enough not to buckle or warp when water is applied to it.

You could easily use the pad to make cards and each sheet can be torn out separately.  The card is also suitable for die-cutting.

Caitlin’s first attempt isn’t bad at all and we’re looking forward to going a little wilder with the colour palette and creating some larger scale watercolour drawings to impress grandfather John with.

We were surprised how reasonably priced these items were with the pencils being £24,99, the brushes £7.99 and the pad of card £9.99.

Find out more at Hunkydory Crafts online. You can also join Club Hunkydory for free project ideas, competitions and there’s even Club Hunkydory TV.

Review: Night Sleep Supplement from Link Nutrition

It’s true, I think that people are either owls or larks when it comes to waking up in the morning.  I have never been a lark but the Husband is up and with it as soon as he opens his eyes.  I need caffeine, carbohydrates and solitude – the latter being in very short supply.

Food based sleep supplement from Link Nutrition - Night Complex - promises a better night's sleep without drowsiness

I have always needed a lot of sleep but now I am in my menopausal years I find I need even more rest. I know full well that a poor diet, too much caffeine and lack of exercise aren’t helping my sleep patterns – let alone the stress that parenting tweens tends to heap upon you.

Many parents, of course, are equally as knackered and sleep deprived, particularly in the early years of parenthood when your children are themselves learning to sleep through the night and expressing loud displeasure at anything that annoys them no matter what the hour.

But most of us bumble along, telling ourselves that we will have a nap or go to bed earlier.  It rarely happens I find.  Having a lie-in is reserved for Mother’s Day or my birthday – and even then I’m lucky if it lasts past 9 am.

Sleep hygiene is a big trend at the moment. We know that lack of sleep affects cognitive function as well as our overall health and happiness.  In fact, by not getting the right amount of sleep we may actually be decreasing our lifespan.

There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning in bed every night watching the clock tick ever closer to morning.  But, personally, sleeping tablets have never appealed, whereas I have tried herbal alternatives such as Valerian in the past with limited success.

I was recently sent a new kind of sleep supplement to try.  Night by Link Nutrition is a food-based supplement which contains magnesium, glycine, lemon balm, Montmorency cherry and Reishi mushroom.  Suitable for vegetarians, you simply take two capsules 30 minutes before retiring.

Link Nutrition Night supplement, food based complex to help deeper sleep

The Night supplement offers a natural, non-drowsy support designed to make falling asleep easier and to help you enjoy deeper, less interrupted sleep.  The formulation also means you won’t wake up groggy which is something I personally hate about medicinal sleeping tablets.

Each of the ingredients in this sleep formula has a specific function:-

  • Glycine improves sleep quality and reduces fatigue
  • Lemon balm induces calmness & improves cognition
  • Magnesium reduces tiredness and fatigue and improves energy levels
  • Montmorency cherries are a source of melatonin
This October, Link Nutrition, who produce all-natural food based vitamin and mineral supplements to help people feel their best, is running a “Sleep Well Naturally” campaign. I was asked to try the Night supplement for a period of two weeks to see if it made any difference.

My current sleep pattern involves going to bed around 11 pm and getting up at 7 am but I take a long time to fall asleep and the slightest creak of a floorboard or car driving past my window can wake me.  I can often have a couple of middle-of-the-night bathroom visits too.

Whilst taking the supplement I found that I fell asleep quicker and was less prone to waking around 1 or 2 am.  The quality of my sleep feels a little better too.

The Night complex is not, however, a sleeping pill.  It is a way of supporting your body to get a better night sleep – and there are plenty of other things you can do to help yourself to a good nights rest.

Here are some simple things you can try:-

Go to bed at a sensible hour

Most research seems to show that 8 hours of sleep is the magic number for most people, although too much sleep can be as bad as too little.

Get up at the same time every day

Yes, even on weekends and days off.  No, I’ve never managed that one either.

Limit caffeine consumption

Depending on who you read, it is recommended that you limit or even stop caffeine consumption after 4 pm or even 2 pm.

Limit alcohol consumption

Aside from the dehydration, alcohol interferes with the quality of our sleep so although you may drop off as soon as your head hits the pillow, you are likely to wake up in the early hours feeling regretful and in need of aspirin.

Limit blue light

The blue light from our phones and iPads can interfere with our sleep patterns.  Difficult as it can be to do, turning off all your gadgets is advisable unless you use your phone as an alarm.

Don’t go to bed on a full stomach

Your body will be too busy digesting your meal to give you a good night’s sleep.  Again, the advice I have read says to limit food a couple of hours before retiring but personally, I cannot sleep if I am hungry so I’ll have a glad of milk or some cheese to settle my stomach.

Make your bedroom cool and as dark as possible

The ideal temperature for your bedroom is somewhere between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit according to The National Sleep Foundation in the US.  When we sleep our body temperature actually drops so if we are too hot we may prevent ourselves from falling asleep.

A cool bed is very important too, for any woman going through the menopause and cotton or bamboo bedding is best for wicking away any excess moisture.

Of course, there are the old standby remedies of a warm bath and a hot milky drink which work for many of us but I have found that the Link Nutrition Night Complex has made a difference to the quality of my sleep.

Link Nutrition Night complex costs £22.95 for 60 capsules (one month’s supply) and you can save 10% if you subscribe on the website.

I also have a discount code for 20% off Night complex until 31st October 2018 which is MDNIGHT20

*collaborative post




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An Ideal Starter Or Family Mobile Phone: The Nokia 3310 3G

I recently read that there is a resurgence of interest in mobile phones which are just, well, phones.  Now that many of us have realised what a major time suck having the fully fledged smartphone can be (not to mention, in the case of the iPhone XS, the gargantuan financial outlay), ‘retro’ phones with basic functions are becoming popular again. Remember the Nokia 3310?

family mobile - Nokia 3310 3G

We were recently sent the all-new Nokia 3310 3G to try and it has become Caitlin’s first phone. Readers of this blog will know that when to give a child a mobile has been a knotty issue for us.

family mobile - Nokia 3310 3G on its side

Over recent months I have had my ears pummelled mercilessly by Caitlin because she says all of her friends have mobiles (they don’t) and at the very least iPhones (they don’t). She feared becoming a social pariah and missing out on the heady social life 10-year-old girls seem to have these days.

family phone - Nokia 3310 3G unlock screen

Since she is off to secondary school next September and she and her brother will be in separate schools, and since I am often parenting single handed due to the Husband’s business travel, being able to get hold of the kids has become an issue much earlier than I would have liked.

family mobile - Nokia 3310 3G screen showing icons

The Nokia 3310 3G Candy Bar is an ideal starter phone, both from the point of view of the price point and the functionality to let Caitlin prove she is responsible enough to look after one and to use it sensibly.

It is an attractive handset which takes a micro sim and has an adequate display screen, both in terms of size and brightness.

We used a Pay As You Go SIM from O2 on the Classic Pay Tariff with calls at 3p a minute, texts at 2p and data at 1p per MB.

The phone is perfectly adequate for phoning and texting and it comes pre-loaded with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube icons should you want to spend your credit on that but, in all honesty, I would only consider using the Nokia 3310 3G for this as a last resort.

family mobile - Nokia 3310 3G Snake Game screen

There is also the retro game “Snake” which may help to while away a few bored moments at the bus stop but, Candy Crush, it isn’t.  You can download other games of course but it is not a gaming phone.

There is a 2 mp camera which is perfectly adequate and photos can be downloaded to your PC via USB cable. There is no selfie camera but there is a handy torch.

family mobile - Caitlin's selfie on the Nokia 3310 3G

Nothing stops Caitlin from taking a selfie!

It is all basic, simple and refreshingly stress-free.  The biggest problem for Caitlin is that it does not have Whatsapp. I can also see that the phone would lack appeal for older kids who are regular users of Instagram.

Here are the technical details you need to know.

Nokia describes the 3310 as “a modern twist on a retro classic” and the phone has a purpose-built Nokia operating system which combines modern apps like Facebook and Twitter with a retro feel.

family mobile - Nokia 3310 3G Caitlin Hobbis selfie

The screen (2.4 in) is slightly larger than the original model with a good battery life of 6.5 hours of talk time and 648 hours of standby.

Key features

  • Dimensions(H)11.7 x (W)5.2 x (D)1.3
  • Simple operating system inspired by the original 3310
  • Single SIM (Micro-SIM) or Dual SIM (Micro-SIM, dual stand-by) not supplied
  • 2.4 inch screen – clearly displays texts & call details
  • Battery: 6.5 hours of talk time & 648 hours of standby
  • Charcoal, Warm Red, Dark Blue or Yellow colour-ways
  • Handy built-in flashlight
  • FM Radio (headphones supplied)
  • Pre-loaded with classic Snake game
  • Takes an expandable memory card up to 64GB (not supplied)
  • 2-year manufacturers warranty

Points to note

  • No wireless charging
  • No camera zoom
  • Not water resistant
  • No GPS
  • No selfie camera

This is an ideal starter phone for a youngster or an elderly person – or someone who just wants a phone without all the bells and whistles.

It would be an ideal family mobile- kept charged and topped up and available to chuck in a sports or ballet bag ‘just in case’ lessons over-run and you need to check where your child has got to.

It is also a very handy spare phone if something goes wrong with your work mobile and you can’t reach anyone – as has happened to me on several occasions.  That does rely on you having your contacts stored somewhere safely other than just your phone though!

The other plus point, for me, is that the handset cost is so low you don’t need to worry too much about insurance. The simplicity of the phone is also unlikely to make your child a target for mobile phone thieves which is always a concern for me when I hear about kids taking the latest handsets to school – even if they have inherited them when their parents have upgraded their own phones.

family mobile Nokia 3310 3G handset on top of its box

I suspect Caitlin will keep campaigning for a smartphone but for the time being the Nokia 3310 3G is perfectly adequate for her needs.  We’ll see how long it takes her to use up her credit and whether there’s a workaround for Whatsapp using an iPad. We’ll certainly be keeping this handset as a family mobile.

All in all, I was pretty impressed with the Nokia 3310 3G and you can find it at Amazon.

 

Review: Boom25.com – Shop Online & Win Your Order Back!

Long before I started this blog, I was a ‘comper’ and would brighten up my days as a stay at home mum by entering as many as I could – and I had some nice little wins too.  These days I prefer to offer my readers the regular opportunity to win something nice that they would not necessarily buy for themselves, or a treat for the family by running my own giveaways.

My other passion is finding the best deal when shopping online to save money – isn’t that an interest most of us share these days when the economy is so uncertain?

Whilst I’m a big fan of cashback websites and always check them before making a large purchase, very often these days I find great offers by going to the retailer’s own site and searching for deals or ‘online exclusives’ there.

I make sure I do this before buying something that I know is likely to be stocked by multiple retailers – who will be keen to offer a discount to beat the competition.

Recently, however, I found a way to combine my two passions – comping and shopping – or rather buying with the chance to win back the entire value of your order at www.boom25.com.

Shop online and win at Boom25

Boom25.com  is a fun online shopping portal which gives you the chance to win the cost of your order back.

It doesn’t matter what you buy, every 25th approved purchase via Boom25 is refunded, not with points or vouchers, but with cash paid to your PayPal account.

The chance to win applies to any kind of purchase, a laptop, furniture, design clothes or a pair of shoes and you don’t have to make 25 purchases to be eligible to win.  Every 25th approved purchase wins on Boom25.

Even better, every day the odds improve in your favour if you visit the site and check the retailers to visit to increase the odds in your favour.  There are lots of different daily “Booms”.

At Book People today, every 10th approved purchase via Boom25 wins, or how about visiting Tesco today where every 8th approved purchase wins.

Winnings are funded by the commission Boom25 earns as an affiliate of the various retailer.  They keep a little to fund the website and the rest goes into a pot to be shared with Boom 25 winners.

It’s free to join

It’s free to use Boom25’s website.  You see up your account by entering your name, email address and chosen password.

You’ll then be taken to your personal dashboard which shows your shopping activity, details of your winnings and any bonuses.

Note that you will need a Paypal account to receive any winnings.

It’s simple to use

When you visit the site you’ll find the daily Booms displayed right at the top of your screen. These will show you the retailers where the odds have improved in your favour today.

Simply select the ones you are interested in and click through to the retailers’ websites. Once there, you can continue to shop as normal.

 

There are 870 online shops to choose from and you can either click directly on their displayed logos or search for them by category – e.g. clothing and accessories, travel or home & garden.

There’s also a “popular” category which will display a selection of links to the most popular retailers – e.g. Argos, Ebay and Topshop.

You’ll find just about every retailer you can think of here.  There are some great designer names too – Vans UK, Umbro, Intimissi, and Kipling.

You’ll find the Cancer Research Shop as well as entertainment sites such as Alton Towers and Legoland Holidays.

How do you know if you’ve won?

Boom25 will send you an email with an opportunity to Spin the Wheel, which will reveal who was the lucky 25th purchaser (0r 8th, or 10th depending on the Boom).

Your winnings will be paid to your Paypal account, less any transaction fees charged by Paypal (usually 3.4% + 20p).

What did I think?

I think the concept of Boom25.com is a lot of fun and it’s a great option for saving money when online shopping if you like a bit of a gamble.  Whilst, personally, I don’t think it will replace the cashback sites for me entirely, I will certainly be visiting Boom25.com regularly for deals and the opportunity to win the lot back.

And lest you think that winning sounds a little too good to be true, so far Boom25.com has paid  £590,369 to their customers with the largest individual win being £4,225.  I also like that you can see exactly how much commission the team at Boom25 has made too.  They are totally transparent about how their site works and happy to answer any questions.

Take a look at Boom25.com and see what you could win.  Rather than spend precious time searching for a voucher code that may only save you 3% of your purchase, you may prefer to try to beat the odds and keep the whole lot in your purse.

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Review: TINCTURE Cleaning Products

If you hate cleaning as much as I do, you’re always on the lookout for products which are not only effective but actually make the chore a little more enjoyable.

I was recently sent three products from the TINCTURE cleaning products range, the brainchild of sisters Angelika and Anastasia who created the range after searching everywhere for high-performance, non-toxic cleaning and lifestyle products safe enough to use around children and pets.

They also wanted products that wouldn’t exacerbate common conditions such as eczema or asthma.

Tincture cleaning products

After international careers in business and the fragrance industry, the sisters created their own, all-natural cleaning product range, aiming to create home cleaning closer to a spa experience than the more mundane task it usually is.

All the products incorporate silver technology into the formulations as well as the bottle material to ensure that the packaging stays bacteria-free.  Silver technology has been used for quite a while in the medical sector but TINCTURE is the first to use it in household cleaning products.

Their formulations include herbs and plants renowned for their antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, detoxifying and soothing properties.

You’ll find no Bisphenol, Phthalates, Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Benzyl Alcohol. The products are made in the UK and are cruelty-free.

The range is quite comprehensive and includes everything from bathroom, glass and mirror, all-purpose and washing-up products to a hand wash and hand lotion.  Products are sold separately, in combinations or in starter sets. There are also cleaning and bathroom accessories and gift packs.  Prices range from £7.50 for individual cleaning products up to  £20.00 for the hand lotion.

The products I tried were:-

  • Iona Room TINCTURE
  • Furniture TINCTURE
  • Floor Concentrate TINCTURE

Iona Room TINCTURE

A room spray to instantly refresh your home.  Active oils include Clary Sage, Rosemary and Clove.  Removes odours and restores wellbeing.

This is a pump-action room fragrance spray which adds a subtle, fresh fragrance to a room.  In fact, it reminded me of walking into a stately home!

We loved the fragrance but I have reservations about the non-aerosol pump (which you would expect to find in an environmentally friendly product) because directing the spray and controlling the volume is tricky.

That aside, there is certainly none of the unpleasant chemical smell lots of room sprays leave behind.

Tincture cleaning products - Iona room Tincture bottle

Furniture TINCTURE

This nourishing spray adds shine to all wooden surfaces.  Enriched with Beeswax, Benzoin Resin and Cedar Wood.

This was my favourite of the three products I tried.  Again, it has a subtle, lingering fragrance and it sunk quickly into our wooden mantlepiece without leaving any staining or dampness.  I would have preferred a slightly richer formulation but this wouldn’t work as well in a spray bottle.

Tincture Cleaning Products - Furniture Tincture

Floor Concentrate TINCTURE

A concentrated formula to clean and nourish all floors.  Enriched with the active oils of Patchouli, Cedar and Fir Needles to protect and enhance vitality.

Supplied in a flip-top bottle, I found this a pleasantly scented and effective floor cleaner.  I think clearer instructions need to be included on the bottle as there were no directions as to how much to use.  I just squirted a decent amount into my floor bucket but it cut through grime quickly and easily.

Whilst I love the ethos behind TINCTURE cleaning products and the spa-like look of the product bottles, I’m not sure these work so well for cleaning products you use every day.

TINCTURE cleaning products would undoubtedly make a beautiful and thoughtful gift but their price point demands more robust packaging and clearer instructions.

Find out more about the full TINCTURE range and order online at tincturelondon.com.

Review: Eye & Lip Power From Fitzjohn Skin Care

As your skin matures, and particularly around the time of the menopause, you find yourself constantly searching for that one eye cream that will halt the progress of those annoying fine lines (does nobody say crows’ feet anymore?).  And, as a long-term glasses wearer, I’ve often suspected that we are more prone to sun-related skin damage due to the concentration of the sun’s rays through our lenses.

More than any other product, I think a decent eye cream is the Holy Grail of lots of mature women’s skincare routines.  And I’ve tried quite a few.

Fitzjohn Skin Care - Eye & Lip Power

Eye & Lip Power from Fitzjohn Skin Care

Let’s be honest here.  The only thing that truly removes lines and wrinkles is botox or even more invasive surgery and that really isn’t for me.

But if you can find a great cream that moisturises and hydrates over a decent number of hours, that isn’t too fragranced or heavy and doesn’t come with a hefty price tag then you’re on to a winner.

It goes without saying, too, that you don’t want a product chock full of chemical nasties nor one that is tested on animals.  It’s 2018 for heaven’s sake, surely there’s no excuse for animal testing.

I was recently sent Eye & Lip Power from Fitzjohn Skin Care.  They’re a British brand whose products contain award-winning formulations using high quality, nutrient-rich botanicals, the latest plant ingredients and essential oils.

Fitzjohn Skin Care - Eye & Lip Power container with lid off

Their ingredients are ethically sourced, many of them organic and, they say, “free from slaughterhouse derivatives, petroleum, synthetic fragrances, silicones, plastic microbeads, parabens and animal testing” – practically every skincare nasty you can think of.

The range encompasses treatment products, like Eye & Lip Power, daily essentials like their Luxury Hydrating Facial Moisturiser and hand and body care, with products like Golden Body Oil and Decadent Body Butter Cream.

The packaging is divine.  Gold containers inscribed with white and purple make the products stand out on your dressing table. I find lots of the premium-priced skincare products have a clinical feel when it comes to packaging and it’s nice to be able to add a little glamour to your dressing table or bathroom shelf.

Fitzjohn Skin Care - the entire range

The product I was sent to try, Eye & Lip Power is designed to keep the eye and lip contours soft, hydrated and smooth.  It contains Lupine Peptides (for anti-ageing), organic Sea Buckthorn, vitamins and omegas.

Eye & Lip Power is a light textured gel creme dispensed via a pump-action vial and I found it to be quickly absorbed with no irritation to the delicate eye area. I think the idea of a product that treats eyes and lips is a great one.

Fitzjohn Skin Care - Eye & Lip Power gel cream on finger

It isn’t a lip balm though, so you just apply it to the area around your lips and it’s great for those annoying little lip to nose lines where lipstick tends to ‘bleed’.

I actually found that the skin around my eyes, in particular, felt a little tighter after application.

What impresses me most of all is that Eye & Lip Power is still there in the morning when you cleanse.  It is almost as if it has created a protective veil.

At £46.00 for 15ml, I think it is a premium product at a reasonable price point.  It suits all skin types too, as do many of the other products in the range.

It’s great to discover a new British brand which offers an effective natural skincare alternative to all those other products chock full of manufactured ingredients.

For great advice on skincare, check out my review of Caroline Hirons’ Skincare Bible.

 

Review: Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister Doll With Cocoa Bronzer

When I was young, I used to love Sindy, Pippa, Action Girl and, as a toddler, Tiny Tears.  But in those days, a doll was just a doll.  You could dress them up and, in my case, cut their hair off (yes I did) but that was it.

As you know, we are big fans of the Project Mc2 range of toys which combine fun toys with an educational element and we were recently sent a Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister doll with a cocoa bronzer experiment to try.

Caitlin with the Project Mcs McKeyla McAlister doll

Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister doll

If you caught our review of the Project Mc2 Pixel Purse, you’ll know that we are new to the Netflix series Project Mc2 and are really enjoying the growth in interest in STEM-based projects for kids and the recognition that science is for everyone, not just boys.

Caitlin with unboxed Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister doll

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) is all about building a love for learning and a solid base for understanding key concepts later on as your children work through the Key Stages in school.

The Project Mc2 series is set in the fictional city of Maywood Glen in California and is about STEAM activities (STEM plus Art!).

Heroine McKeyla McAlister and her friends work for a secret government organisation called NOV8 (“innovate”) and they protect the world using their science and technology skills.

The Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister doll

The Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister doll comes with a burgundy moto-style jacket with faux fur shoulders, a sequin dress and signature plaid shirt tied around her waist.  This is a rock band outfit which both Caitlin and I agreed we would wear.

Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister doll - wardrobe detail

She’s one of a range of well made and attractive dolls which come with their own scientific experiment.  For example, there’s the Adrienne doll which comes with a perfume experiment, Camryn with her skateboard, Bryden with her glow stick and Devon with puffy paint.  Check out some of the other Project Mc2 dolls here.

The Project Mc2 McKeyla McAlister doll is fully articulated (knees, hips, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck) with glossy brown hair, glass eyes and eyelashes. She’s a decent size too, measuring in at around 30 cm.

She comes with a ‘make your own bronzer’ kit – you get a compact with a lid and a sponge applicator.  You need to supply your own coconut oil, cocoa powder and nutmeg, plus some surgical spirit for a quick clean of the compact.  We skipped this bit as I’ve read that surgical spirit can be irritating to some skins.

All you need to do is mix 2 teaspoons of coconut oil with 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder and melt is for 15 seconds in a microwave.  Add a dash of nutmeg then mix and fill the compact 3/4 full.  Pop into the fridge for 15 minutes and hey presto, your own bronzer with no chemical nasties.

I was a little sceptical but actually, it gives quite a good colour and is certainly safer for Caitlin’s skin than some of the other kiddy make-up compacts you get attached to magazines these days.

The only downside is that in this hot weather you might need to keep it in the fridge because the coconut oil soon becomes liquid again.

The manufacturers suggest that the age range for this doll is 6+ which I think is about right.  I would say 8-9 is probably the top end of the age range these dolls would appeal too as, at nearly 11, Caitlin has almost outgrown dolls.  Kids these days are so sophisticated, aren’t they and the inclusion of an experiment with each one is a neat idea to keep their interest.

Other Project Mc2 dolls are available from Amazon, Argos and Tescos.

You can find out more at the website at www.projectmc2.com for new experiments, videos and updates.

Read our other Project Mc2 Reviews

Project Mc2 A.D.I.S.N. Electronic (Spy) Journal

Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit

Project Mc2 Pixel Purse

Review: Personalised Keepsake Photo Box From Lily O’Brien’s

It’s always nice to say thank you with some chocolates, isn’t it?  We were recently invited to take part in the Nominate A Friend campaign hosted by chocolatiers Lily O’Brien’s.  The idea behind the campaign was to express your love and gratitude to one of your favourite people with a gorgeous box of personalised chocolates, made, of course, by Lily O Brien’s.

I chose my dad, not least to say thank you for everything he has done for me, but particularly to thank him for the 24/7 care he takes looking after my mum who has a number of health issues.  At 78 and with one or two health problems himself, that’s no mean feat.

He is also a fantastic grandpa (or Taid as we say in Wales) to Caitlin and Ieuan and, whether it’s teaching them to play the piano, paint, draw, make bread and muffins or just play hide ‘n’ seek, he always makes time to spend with them.

So many of us rely on our parents to help with childcare and you could argue that many grandparents are unsung heroes when it comes to offering time and support long after they probably hoped that they could put their feet up!

Dad’s box of chocolates arrived with one of his favourite photos on the top – with Caitlin and Ieuan of course – and the Keepsake Photo Box contains a generous selection of 60 chocolates from Lily O’Brien’s new Elite Collection.

Inside there’s find Zesty Orange Chocolate, Key Lime Pie, Himalayan Salted Caramel, Sticky Toffee, Death by Chocolate, Le Crunch Chocolat, Honeycomb, Almond Crunch, Espresso and Marbellini.

Obviously, we had to help dad out with some of them – particularly the Himalayan Salted Caramel and Key Lime Pie!

If you would like to order your own box,  all you have to do is visit the website, upload your favourite image and Lily O’Brien’s will frame it on the lid for you and deliver it to your loved one. You’ll find a number of other personalised boxes with various layouts to choose from.

With the end of term approaching, this would be a lovely teacher’s gift which could be shared out in the staffroom.  I’m told shareable gifts are the most popular!

We thought the quality of the box, both in terms of contents and presentation was great and it made a really lovely surprise for dad.

Review: Two Great New Games From The Makers of Rubik’s Cube

The Rubik’s Cube has been with us forever (well since the 1980s) and I still haven’t mastered it but now, happily, this May sees the launch of two new games from John Adams Leisure, the makers of the original Rubik’s Cube. There’s “Flip”, a tile-based strategy game and “Battle”, a quick-thinking card game based on the Rubik’s cube colours.

Since we are on holiday in Devon and there have been one or two drizzly days, these have both come in very handy when even boredom with the iPad sets in.  It’s a rare event, granted, but it does happen occasionally.

Two great new games from Rubik’s

Rubik’s Flip

Rubik’s Flip is the fast-moving strategy game for 2 with only 8 moves per player! Place a tile into the grid then flip one of your opponent’s. It sounds simple but is a challenge to master. The winner is the first player to place 3 tiles of the same colour in a row that cannot be flipped.

Caitlin loved playing this one with her dad and was a very worthy opponent.  You do need to use quite a bit of strategic thinking for this game which is not dissimilar to noughts and crosses but with far more potential to outwit your opponent without them even noticing.

Rubik’s Battle Card Game

Rubik’s Battle Card Game is a quick-thinking, fast-action card game for 2-6 players. Deal out the cards and each player flips over their top card. Be first to spot a unique colour match and win the cards. Collect all the Battle cards to win!

This one is similar to Snap but you have to spot which colour is missing from your opponents’ cards or pick out a unique colour and that can make you go a little cross-eyed if you’re not at full mental sharpness.  (Comes with the territory when you’re a parent!)

Both games are suitable for the 7+ age group but work best, we found when played as a family as younger children may need a bit of help.

We thought both games were excellent value for money and ideal for adding to your suitcase for holidays and weekends away.  Great fun for adults too.

Rubik’s Flip and Battle Card Games are available in all good toy shops and from amazon.co.uk.

*We were sent PR samples for the purpose of this post which contains affiliate links.

Review: Personalised Letterbox Cake From bakerdays Cakes

A while ago I reviewed bakerdays Cakes on the occasion of Ieuan’s 4th birthday and, since that time, the company has gone from strength to strength.  When they asked me if I would like to review one of their personalised letterbox cakes once more, I was only too pleased to do so.

Bakerdays cakes - Father's Day Cake in its tin

If you’re not familiar with bakerdays, they are artisan bakers and creators of a clever range of personalised, quality celebration cakes for almost any occasion you can think of – teachers’ gifts, Father’s Day, birthdays or just to say hello.

bakerdays produce round cakes which come in 4 sizes, from the 3-4 portion letterbox cake up to the large 55 portion party cake. Simple to order, prices start from £14.99 and if you order before 2 pm your cake can be delivered the next day virtually anywhere in the UK. (Cakes ordered over the weekend will be delivered on Tuesday).

Choose your size, flavour and add your special message from the wide range of designs. Best of all, cakes can be personalised using photographs supplied by you.

Bakerdays Cakes - delivery tin and gift card

Your cake will be delivered in a cute airtight tin with a gift card

The letterbox cake which we tried, came neatly packaged in an airtight tin, together with a gift tag. It is a 5-inch cake, big enough for 3-4 modest portions (although I could happily have eaten the lot myself), and the cake we were sent was a traditional sponge cake covered in delicious fondant icing.

You can also choose to have a lemon drizzle, half chocolate half sponge, chocolate chip, gluten and wheat free or dairy free cake.

Bakerdays Cakes - Mat, Caitlin and Ieuan with the Father's Day cake

The design we chose was from the Father’s Day selection – the ‘Love You To The Moon And Back’ cake and we all thought it was pretty cute. You can upload your own photos though to personalise your cake.  Just upload a JPEG and use the editing tool to get your photo exactly as you want it.

bakerdays pride themselves on hand-making their cakes with natural ingredients and no preservatives and you can also order personalised cupcakes and balloons. Have a look at their website to see how easy it is to create a unique cake for your preferred design.

The letterbox size cakes are ideal to let someone special know you are thinking of them and, of course, there are much bigger cakes available if you are throwing a party.

Ours was demolished in no time at all and the traditional sponge was quite dense, just sweet enough and had a lovely buttercream on the bottom. Delicious.

Review: JoJo Siwa Hair Brush Collection From Hair Secretz

In case you’re not up with the current YouTubers your kids adore, JoJo Siwa is an American YouTube superstar, who has amassed over 6 million subscribers on her channel. She even racked up over 500m views on one music video alone.

JoJo Brushes - Caitlin wearing her JoJo Bow

JoJo Brushes - Pink and Blue brush with Caitlin's blue JoJo Bow

And if your daughter is anything like Caitlin, they’ll have a drawer full of JoJo bows to add colour and glitz to their look.

Now JoJo fans can brush their hair till it is as sleek and shiny as JoJo’s because HairSecretz has partnered with Nickelodeon to release the JoJo Siwa hair brush collection.

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JoJo Brushes are unique with an ergonomic shape, innovative storage for hair clips inside the brush and dual-sided bristles; one side has bristles to detangle and to easily get rid of knots with the other side acting as a styling brush.

JoJo brushes - Caitlin using the pink JoJo Brush

The detangling side has three different heights of bristle which allow the brush to glide through hair in seconds. It’s a quick and painless way to get rid of hair whilst minimising damage and hair loss.

JoJo Brushes - pink

Once hair is detangled, the bristles can be switched using the tabs at either end – the entire brush easily flips around and clips back into place. The styling side of the brush leaves hair silky smooth in a flash.

JoJo Brushes - Caitlin showing the detangling side of the brush

JoJo Brushes - Caitlin showing the secret compartment in the brush

JoJo Brushes come in 5 colours, Pink – Sweet Life, Purple – Super Cute, Blue – Dream Crazy Big, White – Hearts & Bows, Gold – Eat, Dance, Sleep.

JoJo Brushes - blue

We were sent Pink – Sweet Life and Blue – Dream Crazy and I found the brushes sturdily made and a decent size so that they sit nicely in your palm.  The flip-over bristles idea is fun but Caitlin was quite happy with to stick with the detangling bristles side.

We did try the styling side and Caitlin proclaimed that her hair did look quite ‘sleek’.

You can use the detangling bristles on wet hair but I am always cautious about brushing wet hair due to the risk of hair breakage.

The colours of the JoJo Brushes are sure to appeal to tweens and teens and are ideal for slinging in a school rucksack, gym kit or ballet bag – and of course for taking on holiday.

The secret storage compartment for hair clips is a neat idea and the brush is really easy to clean since the bristles come apart from the brush.

JoJo Brushes are available from B&M Stores nationwide and at amazon.co.uk for £7.99.  It’s probably way too early to mention it but these would make a very nice Christmas stocking filler!

JoJo Brushes - Caitlin with pink and white tulips




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Review: Gazillion Crazy Wands – Bubble Fun For All The Family

It doesn’t seem to matter how old you are, bubbles are always fun and a great distraction.  We were recently sent some Gazillion Crazy Wands from Funrise to play with and you can see how Caitlin and Ieuan got on in the video below.

Gazillion Crazy Wands - Vampire Teeth Set

Gazillion Bubbles is the premium bubble brand that gives bubble fans the ultimate bubble experience! With spring just around the corner, what better way to encourage kids to play outside with friends and family than with the Gazillion collection of bubble machines, blasters and games.  Let’s be honest, anything that gets them away from the Xbox is a bonus!

For the selfie-mad, Gazillion Crazy Wands are great for parties and fun for the whole family! With 6 crazy styles (sold in packs of two), these photo-booth style wands are a must have for any occasion. For only £3.99 you receive two wands, a dipping tray and an 8oz bottle of Gazillion premium solution.

There are 3 different sets to choose from:-

  • Crazy Wands Bunny Teeth & Tongue
  • Crazy Wands Moustache & Lips
  • Crazy Wands Vampire & Monster

We found the bubble mix to be a decent strength and it is non toxic and non-staining.  That said, I’d still recommend you use these outdoors.

One bottle of bubble mix (8 oz) lasted my two about half an hour but it would have lasted longer if the kids had remembered to blow the bubbles as soon as they’d dipped the crazy wand in the bubble mix!  Still, you can always buy more Gazillion Premium Bubble Mix or make your own, of course, with washing-up liquid.

Great for a summer’s day in the garden with the added bonus that you look ridiculous whilst blowing your bubbles.  Still, you should get some interesting selfies for your Insta and Snapchat feeds!

Gazillion Crazy Wands are available at Amazon and ASDA stores. We found them to be better quality than lots of the other bubble mixes we’ve tried – and there have been a few!  You can also find these at The Range.

Which Gazillion Crazy Wands would you choose?