Thursday, 16 October 2014

Steps ahead - Ozeri Digital Pocket 3D Pedometer

We've all heard that we need to walk more to stay healthy.  The current recommendation is that we do 10,000 steps each day (yikes).  Unless you had a pedometer you would have no idea how many steps you did in day.

As a guide, 2000 steps is about 1 mile so 10,000 steps would mean walking 5 miles! (double yikes).

10,000  seems like a lot, especially if we go by the 30mins brisk walk a day rule (which would mean you would do approx. 3 miles).  I think the aim is to work your way up to 10,000.  Don't feel so bad if you haven't made the 10k step, as close to it is better than none at all!

I was struggling to figure out how many I had done.  I had used basic pedometers in the past, but they were pretty poor.  Not accurate, fiddly, so pretty pointless.

I was sent the Ozeri 4x3 motion Digitial Pocket 3D pedometer to review and I was quite excited.  It looked really sleek, very grown up, and lightweight.





The Ozeri pedometer is exactly as it uses a Tri-Axis technology, which basically means it proves superior data accuracy in any position the pedometer is in, whether up, down, flat, on its side or at any angle.  It is more intuitive.

The 3D Acceleration Sensor is more accurate than the mechanical sensors used in traditional and other pedometers.

That's the techy bit done!  The device is very sleek and very slimline.  When I first used it I just put the pedometer in my pocket and checked on it every now and again to see my progress.  It is very lightweight so I didn't even feel it my pocket.  I was initially using it to gauge how many steps I was doing on the school run. So, I would have a phone and pair of keys in my pocket too. 

The pedometer records your steps, distance, average speed, calories burned, and time spent exercising, and displays the data on a bright LCD.  If you use it at night there is night view backlight which is handy.

The pedometer filters out vibrations and only begins counting after it detects a sequence of continuous steps for greater accuracy.  It also counts up to 1 million steps with 7-Day Memory, and includes a built-in Clock, Calendar & Sports Timer and Auto Sleep Mode technology.

I did notice, when I was using it, that when I was taking it out of my pocket, mid-walk, I would invariably press a button which would change screens.  Now, this isn't a fault of the device, more to do with my nails and fingers! But, I attached the strap, which comes with the pedometer, and this stopped this problem. It's like they have thought of everything!



 
The first picture shows the pedometer just as I am setting off for the school run. The second picture shows how many step I did to school (bearing in mind I need to make that same journey to pick the children up, I'm not far off the target! Yay me!) 

I did start counting in my head when I step off and took out the pedometer to check what it read and it was exactly the same, so I knew it was accurate.  It's good to know the calories burned and distance.  It really is a great little device.
 
I am going to get my mother to have a go too.  She really needs to start walking more and this will really give her a challenge and a sense of achievement when she has reached her set goals. 
 
 
Disclaimer:  I was sent this product to review.  All opinions and views expressed are my own.

Friday, 10 October 2014

How to Train your Dragon puzzle - review

Puzzled by dragons?  You don't need to be anymore!

How to train your Dragon is a wonderful animated movie loosely based on the British book series of the same name by Cressida Cowell.

The story takes place in a mythical Viking world where a young Viking teenager, named Hiccup, aspires to follow his tribe's tradition of becoming a dragon slayer. After finally capturing his first dragon (a rare Night Fury) and with his chance at finally gaining the tribe's acceptance, he finds that he no longer has the desire to kill it and instead befriends it.

I remember watching the first How to Train Your Dragon with my eldest son back in 2010. It was an awesome film.  Meaningful, witty, and captivating.  My son loved it too, especially 'Toothless', the main dragon (which he calls Miaow Dragon).

This year, How to Train Your Dragon 2 came out and we had to see this one too.  It seriously doesn't disappoint.  The same gang are back with adventures and amusement a plenty.

 
We actually saw the movie during the summer holidays so it was wonderful to be asked to review a How to Train Your Dragon puzzle by Ravensburger

I always worry about puzzles, that children lose interest as they get difficult in places.  I was really surprised with this one.  It kept Joshua's interest right through until the final piece.

The box actually contains three different puzzles (as the above picture shows).  The box also comes with three pictures which you can use as little posters too.

 

The puzzle pieces are well made, so they can be used over and over again without the edges coming apart (that really irks me!).  They are a good size for little hands, but not too big that they seem like a baby puzzle. 

Although the pictures look detailed, the way the puzzle has been broken up means that little minds stay focused on the puzzle and they don't get disheartened quickly. 

 

 

 


Just as a helping hand, don't do what I did when I first opened the box.  I was trying to separate the three puzzles by looking at the pictures and placing the corresponding pieces on each picture.  I was a bit perturbed at this I thought children would get super bored trying to separate the pieces before even attempting the put the puzzle together.  Along comes Joshua (who is 5) and looks at the puzzle pieces for about 2 seconds and says to me "why don't you sort it by the patterns on the back of the puzzle".  Basically, one puzzle has stripes on the back, one has spots on the back and the other has another pattern on the back!  He is obviously wiser than his mummy!!

This is lovely little puzzle.  Great for those colder and wetter days which seem to be on us now.  I had a lovely time with this puzzle and it really helps with communicating with your child too! Boys tend to not say much but whilst constructing our puzzle Joshua couldn't stop talking about everything and anything!

I might go out and get another one.



Disclaimer:  I was send this product to review.  All opinions and views are my own.







Friday, 3 October 2014

Battling the morning struggles? I beat them!

Every morning I wake up wondering how to manage to get through the next hour or so without getting angry at the kids. I wonder what goes through their heads?!  They should know the routine by now, get up, get ready, have breakfast and get to school.

How difficult can that be? (!!!!!)

Every evening, after we have put them to bed, we go through the house, clearing up after the aftermath of playtime.  I even go to the extra lengths to put away anything and everything in the room they get ready in, as any little distraction could mean another 5 minutes of negotiation with them in the morning. Forward planning should help, right?

This rigorous planning rarely goes to plan.  As every morning I have to find ingenious and inventive ways to persuade the boys to get ready in the morning.  My current trick is "Good behaviour Friday breakfast".  Which, in a nut shell, if they have been good all week they get to have Friday toast instead of porridge. 

I must admit, this really gets them motivated!  I'm sure it won't last long though!

In all this preparation and cajoling, I then have about 4 minutes to get ready myself.  Great news! Luckily I don't wear make up as I certainly wouldn't have the time to put it on.

When we eventually, leave the house, we walk, cycle or scooter to school, which takes about 20 mins.  I refuse to take the car as I believe it is good for the children to walk, even in the rain! Also, our car is so big that finding a car parking space is near impossible!

Once I've dropped my eldest to school, I then walk back home with my youngest.  He is just turning 3 this month.  So he is very articulate and knows what he wants. He often asks to go to the park on the way home in the morning, which, annoyingly is on our way home.  Then he likes to randomly stop and read the letters and signs on the way home.  After all of this, I invariably get home before 10am!  Which means I am absolutely starving, as I hadn't' had time to have breakfast before leaving.

My little wins during the morning, don't really amount to much when I am ravenous when I get home!



I received packs of the new belVita Breakfast Crunchy biscuits in Apricot, Hazelnut and Choc Chip varieties. Would these 'on the go' breakfast option really help me?

BelVita Breakfast biscuits offer a delicious, versatile breakfast option for those of us who struggle to fit in breakfast in the morning (which is apparently a staggering third of the British population!) BelVita biscuits are clinically proven to regularly and continuously release carbohydrates over four hours to keep you going all morning. They come individually wrapped in three biscuit portions.


You can see the whole grains in these biscuits.


I was a bit dubious about this claim.  But I have been grabbing them as I leave the house in the morning.  I munch on them during the  morning school run and I have to say they really do keep you satisfied. I don't eat anything else until lunch.

Running after the kids on the school run. I have the energy to keep up with them now! This is the Apricot biscuit (my last one!!)


That's a big tick there. You can mix it up and eat them with milk, and wash it down with a glass of fresh juice.

Also they taste lovely.  Even the chocolate one (which, to be honest, I am not a fan of chocolate in the morning), it isn't too sweet. 

The hazelnut nut one is very crunchy and fulfilling, although I think it does need an extra something, but everyone else who tried it, loved it, and said it was delicious.

The Apricot ones were my favourite.  They are sweet, crunchy and delicious. The apricot taste really comes through.

Personal favourite


Now all I need to have when I get home after the school run is a glass of juice!  Breakfast sorted on the run.


Here is a little poem I thought of whilst I was munching away on my biscuits:

When I wake up each morning and realise what I need to do;
Makes me think to myself how my life has turned to poo.
 
Why do the children have to cause me such headaches;
All we need to do is have fun and just give me a break.
 
The children play up and start messing around;
To get to school on time will take leaps and bounds.
 
When we eventually leave, it's always a run
I drop one off to school and I think I have won!
 
Oh no, I have another who takes the scenic route home
I try to distract my stomach by using my phone.
 
Hooray, I have found a solution to my hunger pangs;
BelVita Breakfast Biscuits are a must, so listen up gangs
 
They are crunchy and tasty and keeps hunger at bay;
You can eat them plain or mix it up everyday.
 
Try them you won't be disappointed;
It will certainly make your day less dis-jointed!



Although there are plenty of us parents who suffer in silence, I know I can't be doing that much wrong as my eldest has never been late for school!  I just wish it could be a little easier!!


This post is an entry for #MorningWin Linky Challenge sponsored by belVita Breakfast. Learn more at http://bit.ly/belVitaUK

Monday, 29 September 2014

A natural cereal with no grizzly bits - Alphabites

A natural start to the day

I have two energetic boys.  Since they were old enough to eat solids I have always given them porridge for breakfast.  I feel porridge gives them the energy needed to get them through to lunch, its lovely during the winter months with a splodge of honey too.

Luckily the children still love it.  As they have got older I have looked at the selection of cereals available  in the supermarket and I am still horrified about how bad they are, full of sugar, no energy giving properties and don't get me started on chocolate flavoured cereals!

I struggled to find alternatives to porridge, tried the 100% wheat squares, but the kids didn't like them.  They do like plain shreddies though, which I now alternate with shreddies to give them a little bit of variety.

There just isn't a lot of choice out their for parents who want to give their children a healthy breakfast and  healthy start to the day. We are left scratching our heads sometimes!



Alphabites Multigrain and Alphabites Cocoa

So, when I was offered a chance to review the 'Bear' breakfast (as my kids now affectionately call it!), I said yes.  I knew the Bear range was an all natural company, which have a range of natural snacks and now the Alphabites multigrain and Alphabites Cocoa cereal.

BEAR’s story starts from a simple need to make being healthy a little bit easier and a whole lot tastier. Their products do not have any nasties added to them in any of their ranges.

When we received our Bear Alphabites, the kids were so excited they wanted them right away! It was lovely to see them so excited at something so healthy and natural (and they didn't even know it was!).

The next morning we all got ready and they were both bounding down the stairs ready to try their cereal.  We opened the Alphabites multigrain first, mainly because I am a little hesitant about giving chocolate things to children first thing in the morning.

They sat at the table with their spoons ready, eager to dive into the breakfast.


I'm never sure how much of this kind of cereal is enough for children to satisfy them until lunchtime. So I poured the above quantity. The children loved it and asked for more, so they actually had one and half times this amount.

 


The boys really loved the breakfast.  Not only, because it was different to the normal variety.  It actually put the fun back into breakfast for them.  They were making up their names with the Alphabites.  Joshua can spell so he was making up all sorts.  Zain, being the younger one, knows his letters, so was getting super excited when he spotted the letter Z in his bowl.

When I first opened the Multigrain, I was surprised at the strong sweet smell.  It was quite a sweet smell, but I knew that it was all natural sweetness and a fresh sweet smell, not the artificial smell from other brands.  The Alphabites were very crunchy and kept their shape and bite, even with lashings of milk over them.

They were good.  I even had some and thought they were tasty.  I'm not a huge milk fan, so I was mainly eating them with a sprinkling of milk, but they weren't sweet at all, just the right level of sugariness!.

The next day, the kids were overjoyed when I said they could try the cocoa Alphabites breakfast.

 

They did like them, but to be honest, they preferred the multigrain variety. Maybe it's because they have never had any chocolate cereal before.  Don't get me wrong, the bowl was still emptied very quickly by them, they just both said they preferred the multigrain.

I thought, the next day I would try a mixture of the two cereals for them, just to dilute the taste a bit.  They both found this fun and preferred the chocolate version this way. 




Overall, both the children loved the cereal.  It's fun and flavoursome. It's guilt free, which is great for all parents. One less thing to worry about!.

I personally prefer the multigrain.  Although, the cocoa isn't a chocolate flavour, it is proper cocoa, so more natural, I personally don't like giving chocolate anything in the morning.  Kind of sends the wrong message.  But, my husband thinks I need to relax a little!

The cereals are delicious, crunchy and tasty.  The alphabites encourage conversation in the morning and brings a bit of fun to the table each day.

The cereals are reasonably priced, for a wholesome breakfast, and a packet, 375g, will easily last two children a couple of weeks. Make sure their sneaky little hands don't get into the box on their own otherwise the box may only last a day!

Start enjoying your breakfast again...try it!



Disclaimer: I was sent this product to review.  All opinions and views expressed are my own.


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Celebrate in style with Shloer

We all love to celebrate when good things happen, or even when there is just any excuse to start a celebration.  Cracking open a bottle to celebrate is always a good thing.  But, what if you don't drink, or can't drink? 

What then? Do you miss out on celebrating? The simple answer is yes.

I remember when I was pregnant, people would go out and celebrate with us.  They would have a lovely time on their champagne, wine / beer.  Any alcoholic beverage really.  I would be having my pineapple juice.

I remember when I had my children.  Friends and family would be celebrating again and I would be having my pineapple juice! I did feel a little left out, although it was all my hard work being celebrated!

I wish I had discovered Shloer back then, as I wouldn't have felt so left out.



Shloer is a well known brand who produce delicious sparkling, non-alcoholic, no added artificial colours, sweeteners or flavourings and contains no preservatives.

That is a rarity for many drinks! 

There are so many varieties available that there is bound to be one, or two or three to suit you.  The Shloer range includes:

Red Grape
White Grape
Rosé
Apple and White Grape
White Grape and Elderflower
White Grape, Raspberry and Cranberry
Celebration White Bubbly
Celebration Pink Fizz
Berry Punch

All these flavours come in two sizes, either 75cl or 275ml bottles.  There are also four pack options available on selected flavours.



You'll be amazed not just at the taste but also the ingredients (and how simple they are!)  Each bottle has ingredients which any person can understand, so there is no science terminology to hide behind.  A typical bottle has the following ingredients (obviously the flavour of each bottle will relate to that bottle):

Carbonated Water, Grape Juices from concentrate (25%), Sugar, Malic Acid, Flavouring, Colour (concentrate from fruit and vegetables), Citric Acid, Antioxidant: Ascorbic Acid.

As mentioned earlier, there are no artificial colours, sweeteners or flavourings and contains no preservatives. So a real no guilt family drink (although, with the fizz you might want to give this to slightly older children).

I was very excited when I received the uber fancy Pink Fizz 275ml bottle.  It looked so special. 




I didn't want to open it straight away as I was waiting for a special occasion.  This came when we had some long distance cousins over from the States.  One of whom didn't really drink. So I cracked open this bottle on their last day here.

I have to say even though there was wine, beer and prosecco already available to the rest of the family, they were all intrigued by the bottle and wanted to try some too (honestly, some people are so greedy lol!)

It should be served chilled, but I had forgotten to put it in the fridge so I put a little ice in the glass. I poured myself a glass and this is what happened in less than 10 seconds...


Before
After
 
It was delicious.  Not too sweet (I'm always worried fizzy drinks will be too sweet, or leave that coating on the tongue).  It didn't.  It did have a little tang of a wine taste, but I put that down to the grapes and the flavour replicating the alcoholic version.  It was pretty spot on to be honest.  The alcohol drinkers were very impressed, although they did go back to their usual drinks after their tasters were finished.
 
I really am impressed with the refreshing flavour and the celebration bottle, it really felt special.
 
This would suit anyone, non-drinkers, pregnant ladies, younger family members.  It would be great on a summers day or any special occasion. Even on occasions when you have work in the morning and don't want a sore head the next day, but still want something a little more special than orange juice or pineapple juice.
 
Well done Shloer, I really don't know why I didn't try it earlier. 
 
Shloer is available in all supermarkets.
 
 
Disclaimer:  I was sent this product to review, but all opinions and views are my own.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Meet the Happy's - and smile!

My son has been asking for a dog for ages.  My husband isn't a huge animal lover, although I am, I don't want the hassle of walking and cleaning up after a dog (I have enough of that with my two children!).

So, you can just imagine how pleased I was to receive one of The Happy's.  The Happy's are a wonderful range of puppies and kittens which are interactive and play with their owner using infrared technology. If you have more than one, they also play with each other, using their infrared technology.

There are a range of Happy's available:

Bentley
Chance
Mittens


Sport

 
 
Each Happy is about the size of a Guinea Pig in real life.  Meaning, it won't take up the space of a real dog!
We received Sport, and the kids were eager to see what he could do and what he was like. 
 
 


He was very soft, softer than I thought he would be, which was great. As the kids immediately picked Sport up and hugged him.  He was loved straight away!
To turn him on there was a little sticker on his back, near his tail, which indicates what his name was, as well as 'hides' the on switch.  Press it and he wakes up.  There is a sticker which warns you to keep the toy away from hair, which can get tangled up in the wheels underneath. 
 

Once Sport was on, he was quite playful and amusing straight away. He would run around after the kids and they would run after Sport.  He has little barks, being a puppy they aren't loud barks, so he isn't too loud and scary for the little kids.
 
He spins around and gets himself into a little mischief (i.e underneath tables, chairs etc). The children love to clamber underneath furniture to retrieve Sport.
 






 
 
Each Happy comes with a special treat, which controls him and the more you play with him, the more tricks he can do.
 
 
 
The treat which came with Sport was the red 'Wiggle' bone.  When you are near Sport and bend down and press the button on the bone, the infrared signal sent from the bone connects with Sport and he performs additional features (e.g. follows you around). This is a great little feature.  As it feels like a real dog, following you while you talk to it.
 
There are lots of other treats which can be bought to play with your Happy, such as other bones and fish (for Mittens) and a tennis ball.  Each treat bone or fish lets your Happy do one of the following tricks: Pounce, Beg, Wiggle or Chase Tail.  The tennis balls lets your Happy catch the ball and you can watch it play with it.
 
All the additional treats are displayed on the leaflet and range from £9.99 upwards. Each Happy costs around £19.99.
 
 
 

This is a very loveable and playable toy.  The kids go back to him everyday and play with him, so you know it won't be a one hit wonder. It also means I haven't been asked "can I have a dog" for while now!  Hooray!
 
This is a mess free, fuss free, way of having a pet or introducing young children to pets. It does say that it is for 4+, but to honest, my 3 year old plays with this just as much. Our younger cousins love it too.
 
The Happy's do require batteries, but we have played with our for quite some time now and there is no sign of the batteries going yet. It's not a powerful toy, so I can't see it requiring too many changes.
 
If you haven't got space for a dog, or the energy for a cat, this is ideal! It's ''purrfect' and you would be 'barking' mad not to get one or two!
 
 
Disclaimer:  I was sent this product to give an honest review.  All opinions and views expressed are my own.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Cooking made easy, oh sooo easy!


Hands up who loves cooking?
Hands up who doesn't like cooking, but still has to do it?

I'd say there were a mixture of answers there. I, personally, like cooking desserts (for obvious reasons!) but I have to cook lunches and dinners too, which I find more of a chore.

It's the endless chopping, beating and mixing that I find a bit time consuming.  I've always thought, why doesn't someone invent pre-chopped onions (like they do with carrots) just to make my life a little easier.

Luckily, for me, I was sent the amazing Russell Hobbs Aura, 6 in 1 hand blender. They say its a "revelation in ingredient preparation" and I have to agree with that.

 


 

This amazing gadget can do almost anything.  It has several attachments which you can use to do, blending, slicing, dicing, mixing, whisking, shredding, creaming.....I think the list could go on!

The hand blender is 600w (which you think isn't very much, but wait until it starts!)

The bowl which comes with the hand blender is 1.2 litre, so big enough for all every day cooking and preparing as well as smaller cake mixtures.

Once the attachments are in place the blender can do:

  • processing
  • creaming
  • slicing
  • shredding
  • blending
  • whisking
It has a stainless steel blending leg and stainless steel whisk.

I have say, how easy the whole system is to use.  Even swapping, mid way through a recipe to change blades, is simple and easy to do. Obviously the blade is extremely sharp, so you need to be super careful.

You may think cleaning would be a chore, but again it's not. Especially with all the time you have saved chopping and dicing and slicing, you don't mind if you have to spend an extra couple of seconds cleaning it!

This hand mixer is so versatile, and very sturdy. It's very easy to clean. The controls on the hand blender are very easy to use and easy to hold.  The power it has it very strong, even on the lowest setting it whizzes through whatever you are doing in seconds.  So, if you want something chunky cut, watch the blades carefully.

Even when I used it to make a batter, it didn't overheat and get uncomfortable to hold.

For someone, who really didn't want an extra appliance cluttering up my kitchen, I absolutely adore this and use it nearly every day. It makes cooking less of a chore and I actually love hearing the buzz of the blades! It's definitely a must-have for the kitchen and great as Christmas present too.

We used the hand blender to make a variety of things, testing it out during the prep work for a dinner party!

Here's what we did:

 
Mincing lamb



Ginger

 




Garlic, being chopped



 





Onions, chopped with ease
 




Cheese, then grated (pic on the right)
 

That's how easy it is!


Disclaimer: I was sent this product to give an honest review.  All views and opinions are my own.