Friday, September 12, 2014

Ten must have Gift Ideas from the Great Gift Co

You know that game you play where you've won the lottery and think about what you'd spend it on? Don't lie to me! We've all played it, or something similar.

Well I've been playing 'money no object' over at the Great Gift Co. You can search the site by age, gender (yes I know but see final paragraph of this post) , type of product, whatever. I found the best things in the gadget or blokes sections but that's just me haha!

So here are my top 10 things to have:

  1. Tetris Light - £35 - seriously geeky but what's not to love, it's a retro classic, a toy for days when you are bored and a light for the evening. Made up of individual Tetrominoes, all you do is stack them in whichever way you please and watch them colour phase. Simply plug one of the bricks into the mains and then, as each new brick is placed into position it will light up! Perfect.
  2.  The iSpy Tank - £100 - as soon as DD saw this she squealed with glee! How much does she want this? a lot that#s how much! Roam the house and spy on your family, roam the garden and take wildlife pictures! Combine a remote control toy (fun) with photography (fun) = Double fun! The iSpy Tank moves forward, backwards, left/right and also has night vision. You can also take snapshots or record videos.
  3.  Two Man DogHouse tent - £40 - what's not to love? It's a hilarious tent. Perfect for your actual dog or anyone else. Knowing my love of tents you'll see why this was on the list. Perfect for festivals as an ironic statement maybe? The Dog House Tent comes packaged in a neat bag and includes the Dog House Tent, 6 steel pole sections, 10 tent pegs, dog house water bowl and full assembly instructions.
  4.  Pinball Machine - £450 - OK well into the wrealms of fantasy now but I'd love one of these! Imagine the party fun, in fact I bet you'd suddenly find you had loads of mates. Gt them to bring the beer and have tournaments. Sadly I have neither the space not the cash for this most excellent gift idea.
  5.  DIY Tattooes - £4.50 - back in the land of the affordable I might actually get some of these - hilarious ideas spring to mind already, great for kids parties too. Send everyone home with a personalised tattoo!Simply select the words you want from the pack and construct your own phrases, messages or mottos and transfer them to your skin using just a damp cloth. You get two sets of 66 words in a pack, so 132 in total.
  6.  ATM Bank - £35 - finally a way to be modern and teach kids that you can only take out what you put in! Help your kids grasp the concept of saving, and of only withdrawing money they have with this fabulous personal ATM. Oh who am I kidding, I just want one.Pay in and withdraw coins and notes with this fantastic ATM Bank machine. The ATM Bank comes complete with a personal cash card and PIN - a great way to teach little ones about saving and PIN numbers etc, and equally popular with teens and older who either like or need encouragement to save - here they can do it in a fun and contemporary wayThe ATM Bank recognises each coin and it is also possible to set a target savings amount and balances can be checked at any time. Notes are also accepted by the ATM Bank - they are automatically drawn in through the slot.When in use, the ATM Bank lights up and makes realistic sounds. Other nifty features includes the ability to enter a user name and also date of birth (if the ATM Bank is used on his birthday then the machine will sing Happy Birthday) and if the ATM Bank is used on Christmas Day then it will play a Christmas song. Please note that the ATM Bank only recognises UK currency. Seriously love this!
  7. Cruiser Turntable - £100 - another gorgeous retro item. I actually have an original Fidelity suitcase record player, but I'm tempted by this lovely modern version. Gorgeous. Treat your 45s and LPs to a whirl on this beauty. And it's self contained so you can take your tunes to a mates house and play them there too. Dance around your handbags in your best mate's bedroom!
  8. Fresher Gift Box for Students - £45 - I don't need this (obviously) but it did make me laugh and it is very topical! Set the student in your life on the right track with this fun and useful (?) selection of goodies. Inside the box are : A Laundry Bag - but with a difference. It reads, 1 week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, NAKED on the front - eg time to come home for mum to do the washing! : Pizza Saw - so your student can show the pizzas they mean business - easy to clean: Hungover Cookbook (or Hungoevr Coobkook as it's correctly titled) - a book full of recipes that are grouped according to the severity of the bender that went beforehand :  Hangover Cure Rescue Pips - they won't cure the hangover but they'll cause a laugh - plus, sugar's helpful when you have a hangover, right? and   Biscuit Skyscraper - for keeping a stash of biscuits safe from harm and pilfering
  9. Calories Do Not Count on this Spoon - £16 - great gift as a joke for someone you know doesn't give a damn about calories! I know I don't! But I still think this spoon would make cake taste nicer :-)The Great Gift Co has several spoons in their collecton with cute sayings on them. Worth a look, an unusual but cute gift.The Calories Don't Count On This Dessert Spoon is a unique, vintage piece. Each silver plated spoon is unique and even sweeter for the fact that it bears signs of its previous life
  10. Last but by no means least the Great Gift Co have some lovely scented goodies, I was sent this box of Cedar and Lime scented soap and cologne (I got it free but it retails at £20) which I have personally tested on my husband. It smells gorgeous. It may even mean his luck's in (wink wink) a great gift for a chap as it smells manly but fresh. Really nice, a smartly packaged. A nice gift for teacher, husband or colleague
     All in all I loved the Great Gift Co website. I can even forgive the gender separation as so many products are in both sections!. Lots of great unusual gifts from cheap to expensive. I will certainly be paying them a visit this Christmas.

    Disclaimer - I was sent a Gift Set value £20 for this blog post but all the views are my own.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How to buy online (a guide for those of us who would sneer at a guide to buying online)

My good friend Ruth had one of those experiences that can make you cry or make you stronger. I suspect this one did both. It also made her realise that others could learn from her experience, so I agreed to host her guide on my blog (as she doesn't have a blog)

Ladies and gentlemen, I present:

How to buy online (a guide for those of us who would sneer at a guide to buying online)
By Ruth (off of famous singing duo Moss&Jones) 

I’ve been buying stuff online since the 90s, when I had to go into a little internet cafĂ© on North John Street in Liverpool to get online. If someone had offered me advice on how to buy online a few weeks ago, I’ll be honest; I’d have laughed! However, I think those of us who were early adopters of online shopping have become complacent; we barely think before we click. This isn’t about card fraud or identity theft (although those things do happen) but about what to do when what you’re buying is really important, or you need it for a deadline, or it is hand-made.
Or all three of those things, like, say, a wedding dress.

I was let down at the last minute by a dressmaker of very reasonably priced bespoke mediaeval style dresses on eBay. I bought from eBay in the first place because, well, did I mention it was reasonably priced (under £200, which admittedly is still really dear, but not compared to most bespoke wedding dresses) and mediaeval style? I would have looked like the Waterhouse painting of the Lady of Shallot, in the boat. (Except not going to my doom, obviously.) The dressmaker had excellent feedback; nearly all five stars, so I felt utterly comfortable buying from her. I’d left it a bit late to buy so I contacted her to check she could do it; she promised in a message that I’d have it on time.

Five weeks later, just days before the wedding,  after trying frantically to contact her for about a week (as my dress hadn’t arrived), I ended up having to make a claim for my money back through PayPal, and looking for an alternative dress, last minute, through tears.
Now, much as the temptation to name and shame (or train pigeons to go to her house and poo down her chimney) is overwhelming, I want to do something more constructive that might help other people. I don’t want anyone else to go through this, so I’ve written a little ten point guide to buying (or selling) a wedding dress (or other important/hand-made/deadline-required item) online.

1.    Buy as early as you can. In the dressmaker’s weirdly passive-aggressive missive to me after it all went sour she tried to blame me for leaving it too late. One might suggest that she was at fault for promising she could still do it to such a tight deadline in the first place (weeks, not days, by the way) of course, but I suspect she saw pound signs and promised more than she could deliver.
2.    Speak to them on the telephone before buying. I know, making ‘phone calls these days is a bit passĂ©, but down the line you’ll want to be able to get in touch with the seller immediately, rather than having to wait for replies to messages that may not come. Telephone their listed number before buying. If it doesn’t work, or they don’t respond to messages when you’re thinking of buying, think how much less motivated they might be to answer a call once they actually have your money! Find out how much other work they have on. How long do they usually take? Set some parameters too; when do they think they’ll be able to send? Is it okay to “nag” them to ask for information? How often? Once a week? Will they tell you if there are problems (e.g. with their own supplier)? Be polite, obviously, but do remember this is a business transaction, and a good seller will respect this and not be offended by you asking them questions.
3.    In addition to telephone calls, however, do get everything in writing. The dressmaker in question wanted me to use Etsy to contact her (despite the fact I’d bought through eBay). I did as she asked, but sent copies of Etsy messages to her eBay account, too, and this was useful when I came to get my money back.
4.    Contrary to what I said about ‘phone calls with the seller, please bear in mind that if you buy through eBay and need to speak to a representative there, their “live chat” service is much quicker than waiting for an hour to get through on the telephone. I’m not sure with other online stores, mind you.
5.    Use PayPal! I hadn’t realised this, but PayPal’s buyer protection is really good at covering you in the event something goes wrong. I got my money back immediately with little hassle. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have had the dress, but still, at least I got my money back.
6.    Have a backup plan. In the worst case scenario, what are you going to do? Is there another shop that sells similar items? What’s the latest you can leave it before ordering from them if you original item doesn’t come? Make sure that this is the deadline for your preferred supplier (and make sure they’re aware of this), so that if they cannot fulfil your order in time, you can still get your backup.
7.    Consider buying from an online shop whose physical presence is still relatively local. That way if it does get to near the deadline, a same-day courier might not be too horrifically expensive, or if you have a nice friend with a car, they could even offer to collect.

8.    Honesty. If you can’t fulfil the order, as soon as you know, tell the buyer. Never take on a project you think there’s even a small chance you can’t finish.  Yes, that does mean you might make a little less in the short term, but in the long term, the damage to your reputation from taking on orders you can’t complete could ruin your business. If you can’t fulfil an order, why not have a list of similar sellers who might be able to? You never know, if you build up a good rapport you might end up sending each other business.
9.    Communication, communication, communication. Keep in touch with your buyer at regular intervals to let them know where you’re up to. If there are any problems, let them know immediately and give them a range of options. When you’ve sent the item, tell them. Understand that if it’s something really important to them, they might be a bit stressed, and some of their communication might appear a little short (buyers, see 3., do try to be polite). Try not to take it personally, unless they are actually downright rude.
10.    If it all really does go utterly pear shaped, and they leave negative feedback, don’t then respond with a nasty reply. It makes you look REALLY bad and they’ll only report you to eBay anyway to get the comment removed. It’ll say, “comment removed by eBay” underneath. How do you think THAT will make you look?

I am very lucky, in that I now have an alternative dress; it’s not quite as amazing as my original, but it’s pretty, fun, and I’m the bloody bride, so anyone who says any different will get in trouble! The wedding’s this Sunday, and it’ll be magic. Besides, I might not have my dream dress… but I have my dream spouse.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vosene giveaway

bottles of Vosene nit repellant shampoo and spray
Fairly sure it's not coincidence that since descovering Vosene's Nit repellant spray the hair in our household (2/3 members of the house have hair) has been nit free.

But it's back to school, back to poring over text books, hugging in the payground, wrestling on the floor of the boys loos...and touching heads together!

And we all know what that means, yes it means wandering insects wandering.

Luckily my long time friends at Vosene are on the case with an interactive map, so you can check out nitty hotspots, and products to repel the invaders!

There are various products, which I think all smell nice, and are easy to use.

Vosene Kids 3in1 Conditioning Shampoo and Conditioning Defence Spray work together to clean, condition and detangle your child’s hair, as well as containing natural ingredients to help prevent head lice. Say hello to happy hair!

Vosene Kids 3in1 Conditioning Shampoo (RRP £2.54, 250ml) - gently cleanses and conditions your kids’ hair and scalp leaving naturally healthy shiny hair. Our specially formulated shampoo also contains natural Tea Tree Oil and Lemon Eucalyptus to help keep head lice at bay when used alongside our Conditioning Defence Spray.

Vosene Kids Conditioning Defence Spray (RRP £2.54, 150ml) – this fantastic leave-in spray detangles and smooths your child’s hair, instantly taming the worst bed head and the most unruly knots. The clinically proven formula also helps protect against head lice - using natural ingredients such as Eucalyptus Oil, Citronella Oil and Rosemary Oil. Suitable for children aged 3 and over.

Vosene Kids 3in1 Conditioning Shampoo & Conditioning Defence Spray are found in the children's shampoo aisles in high street supermarkets and chemists. For more great advice on helping prevent head lice and keeping hair happy and shiny visit

And now the fun bit - you can WIN a full set of Coditioning Shampoo and Conditioning Defence Spray.

So easy - loads of ways to enter - pick one, some or all of the options using the Rafflecopter thingy-ma-bob below.

Best of Luck
a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can also 'Like' Vosene on Facebook for extra info.

child washing their hair

Monday, September 08, 2014

Book Review - The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings

Disclaimer - I was sent an uncorrected proof copy to read and review.

And I was sent the copy ages ago! Due to all sorts of pathetic excuses I didn't really start reading this book for a while. When I did the story was pretty harrowing, the subject matter, men who had known each other at school and then drifted apart, now re meeting, is a subjest that has been covered by other authors but this book had both a dark edge and a mystery. Jumping back and forth from the characters lives and histories the reader is drawn slowly into their story.

And as I said it becomes quite sad and even horrific at times. I took a break in the middle of at least a month. Maybe I'm a wimp, but when I asked Amanda on twitter 'do any dogs die?' because I was weeping at every page! and she said something like ', have you read the cat scene yet?' So I took a break to compose myself.

Then a few days ago I picked it back up. Tissues at the ready I carried on. The writing is quite breathtaking in places (and it's always good) There were several phrases I simply loved.

"It's not about what I have to gain, it's that I don't have anything to lose"

 So I urge you to get a copy and see what you think.

Themes of bullying, and trigger warnings for miscarriage and violence

Link to it on Goodreads here

and at Waterstones here

Added to the Read With Me Linky at MamaMummyMum


The Marketing of Fear

I received an email today asking me to review a cleaning product and I turned it down. I turned it down because it seemed to be relying on the marketing of fear.

It's something I've been aware of for a long time, and it's been around for a long time, this idea that advertising, successful marketing, is often based on fear. I'm sure I've fallen prey to it myself.

But just as how I will not be forced to be afraid of food based on a perceived 'best before' date, so I try to remain above the advertising of products based solely on fear.

I prefer marketing to look at helping me, to make my life simpler without damaging anything else on the way. Tell be about useful things, don't try and scare me into using them.

And marketing at a parent it's easy to rely on fear, fear that your baby will have nappy rash if you don't use our nappies; fear that your baby won't sleep through the night unless you buy our sleep training program; fear that without this food or drink your baby won't get enough iron, or vitamins ;fear that you will look haggard and old and have no sex ever again unless you buy our hair dye and our makeup...the list is endless.

I really enjoyed hearing that new theories about allergies seem to point to the fact that we don't let kids have enough 'bug exposure' when they are little. For a long time it was said that a dog in the home helped kids grow up stronger, that breast milk (straight from that unsterile boob) was better, that 'we all eat a peck of dirt afore we die' and that 'a little bit of dirt won't kill you'. How many times as a parent do we invoke the 5 second rule on dropped food to avoid waste or extra expense

"hear, let me blow the germs away, the lolly is fine, just eat it"

The use of 'kills 99% of all known germs' products when the very 1% it misses may be the only actual dangerous ones annoys me. Yet as I work in a medical environment I'm very aware of appropriate hygiene. And that's the thing, appropriate. If I tend a sick person I ensure I'm as clean and as germ free as can be, but a 5 year old with a fine immune system? probably not so much to worry about.

So thanks for the offer but I'll stick with cleaning appropriately, keeping 'clean' rather than sterile and I won't let the odd smudge or bit of dirt on a kid worry me.

Now, must wash my hands.