Me and my girl and boy, raising awareness and acceptance of autism

Archive for the ‘Product Review’ Category

Creating a personalised tablet case and a discount code for readers – Product Review

There is one thing guaranteed to calm/entice/capture my children’s attention and that is me saying “would you like a few moments on the iPad/my phone”.

They are little whiz-kids on these, any app seems to be mastered incredibly quickly and they are learning so much through play – not least the importance of sharing/taking turns.

D has her little ipad mini, in its tough case and T will be getting his own for his birthday.

But the question arose about a case for T, I wanted something that would be individual to him and also provide protection to his (not inexpensive) gift.

The answer came in the form of a case from idealcases.com and I’ve created a case which I hope he’ll like.

(Please read to the end for a discount code to create your own case)

The case was created very quickly and easily using the ideal case app – free from the App Store.

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So, how did I create a case?

Choose your device:

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Choose the model:

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Now we were ready!

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In true “Blue Peter” style, I had prepared a case earlier, using the a background, image and text from the idealcases.com website so I imported that in:

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The checkout process was easy and secure and I received a confirmation email.

The case was ordered on a Sunday and I received the case, well packaged inside a Jiffy bag on the Wednesday – a very good turnaround time.

And here’s how it looks:

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I like the matt finish border and the charging point/volume control/headphone jack and one-off button all remain accessible.

I think he’ll be very pleased with his personalised case.

Idealcases.com are offering a 10% discount on cases created either on their website or the free app until the end of June.

Please add in the code getfab10 at checkout.

Thanks for reading and please send me a picture of the case if you do get one!

Disclaimer: we were sent a code to receive a case, my words and views are my own.

Saving money and helping the environment with an Ecoegg – Product Review

How much do you spend on laundry products a week? A month?

It’s not cheap is it. The tablets we use work out at £2 a week, they’ve recently jumped in price to £3.35 a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks and that’s £174.20 a year (excuse me whilst I fall off my chair!)

Factor in the sensitive skin issues that my family all have – a telltale itchy rash will appear very quickly if the incorrect laundry product is bought – the fact that the children’s sensory issues may mean that clothing can smell “wrong” and the chemicals released into the water during a cycle all mean that I was on the lookout for something new and cost-effective to try.

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I was delighted when ecoeggo.com agreed for us to give an ecoegg a trial.

Here’s some information from the website:

“I’m Kim Woodburn, celebrity Queen of Clean, best known for my time on channel four’s “How Clean is Your House” and ITV’s “I’m a celebrity”. Ecoegg specialise in manufacturing a range of eco-friendly cleaning products and I am proud to endorse them. Ecoegg are revolutionising the way people wash their clothes all over the world.

Ecoegg products are all:
• Kinder to your skin
• Kinder to the environment
• Kinder to your pocket

Change the way you wash your clothes, for less.
The ecoegg laundry egg is saving people so much money up and down the country!

The ecoegg laundry egg is the revolutionary new way to wash your clothes. It completely replaces washing powder or liquid and is just as effective but will save you so much money.

The ecoegg laundry egg lasts for up to 720 washes. For the average family that does 4 to 5 washes a week, it’ll last for 3 year’s worth of washing. Imagine never having to buy washing detergent for the next three years – think of all the money you’ll save!

– Saves you so much money – never buy washing detergent ever again
– Hypoallergenic – great for sensitive skin, supported by Allergy UK
– Eco-friendly – great for the environment, no harsh chemicals, far less pollution

Easy to use
Simply place the Ecoegg laundry egg on top of your laundry in the drum of your washing machine and wash as normal – no washing powder or liquid needed.

It’s not magic – it’s science
The Ecoegg laundry egg is packed with our unique scientifically forumlated, hypoallergenic cleaning pellets. These pellets naturally activate in the water to gently lift away dirt and grime, without using any harsh chemicals.

It works – it’s proven to remove dirt and grime
The ecoegg is scientifically proven in one of the UK’s leading product test laboratories to remove dirt, grime and stains.

Hypoallergenic – great for sensitive skin
The ecoegg is supported by both Allergy UK and the National Eczema Society.

Fragrances now available
The ecoegg is now available in either Soft Cotton or Spring Blossom fragrances, in addition to the original Fragrance Free option.”

The one (ever-so-slight!) problem I had is that I currently don’t have a working washing machine so we not only tested the ecoegg but also someone else’s washing machine!

So, how did we get on?

I tested the ecoegg on a 30degree fast wash. The egg is placed on top of the washing, inside the drum and the pellets inside the egg “naturally activate in the water to gently lift away dirt and grime”.

And they did! D has a habit of wiping her hands down her clothes when she’s eating (as does T), despite having wipes nearby and being requested to use them, I think it’s involuntary. Consequently, clothes get marked and of course, Mr Bluecrisps is a manual worker – painter – so his clothes get sweaty and dirty as a matter of course.

I wasn’t sure whether the combination of ecoegg, rapid wash and low temperature would produce results, but they did! Obviously for more soiled/heavier items, I’d use a higher temperature and longer wash cycle but I’m confident of success.

A big bonus for us is that we’ve had no sensitive skin reactions and the egg is fragrance-free so no sensory issues either.

The egg is refillable and the pellets are available from the original point of purchase (click here for stockists).

As a price guide, the ecoegg (54 washs) we were sent (which should last the average family for three months) is available from Argos at £9.99, with refills at £6.99, a vast improvement on price and environmental impact.

The eggs are also available in 210 wash and 720 wash sizes, with dryer eggs available too.

It’s the sort of product you wonder if it will work, then – due to environment and sensory issues – are so grateful it does.

The egg needs to be kept out of the reach of children, as with any laundry product, the twist-off refill mechanism being easy to operate.

Disclaimer:
We were sent a fragrance-free 54 wash pack ecoegg for the purpose of this review, my views are my own.

Preserving memories with “from you to me”

I sat with two sisters earlier this week, they looked over photos that one of them hadn’t seen before and they tried to work out between themselves who the subjects were and the circumstances.

It was bitter-sweet as both sisters had never known their maternal grandmother, she had died during childbirth, a week after the end of World War 1. Such an event had subsequently effected the surviving family and generations following that. They had never seen a photo of their maternal grandmother but presumed they had finally found a picture, an old greying picture showing her face.

There were so many unanswered questions, partly because their parents were long dead and partly because of circumstances and having lived through World War 2, their parents did not want to revisit painful memories.

Genealogy is something I am very interested in, simply because so little is known about my great-grandparents and their forefathers.

We are so lucky in this age of disclosure, social media and blogging. My children will have a permanent memento of their childhood, our wishes and hopes for them.

I was offered the chance to look through some journals produced by fromyoutome.com and found them to be a very useful tool in preparing memories for our children, and, hopefully in time, their children.

I was sent three journals to review, three wonderful hard-backed journals, full of questions and opportunities to find out about memories and experiences:

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The first one we’ve looked at is Kicking off Memories:

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Here’s what the website says:

Do you have a friend or member of your family who is mad about football?

Are they always telling you great stories about the games they have watched or the goals they have seen scored? Do they always have an opinion on the team that was picked or referees decision? Do you know why they support the teams they do or why they dislike others? What about the best goal that they scored themselves… have they told you the details and how did they celebrate scoring?

This is the gift you give … and then get it returned with an amazing collection of footballing experiences. Glorious goal celebrations, tears of joy and pain, and the drowning of sorrows will be enjoyably retold and shared.

Priced at £12.99, this is the perfect for the football fan in your life (ideal for Mr Bluecrisps!). Packed with questions like:
Who introduced you to football?
Which goals that you have seen scored would be in your top 10?
And
When having a “kick-around”, what have been some of the items you’ve used as goal posts?

T is really looking forward to reading his dad’s responses to these questions and I think it will prompt a few giggles and some great conversation. It’s something that T will be able to share with his children in time too.

Another one was Our Story for my daughter:

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Here’s the website details:

Our Story will inspire you to capture the unique story of you and your daughter. Allow an enjoyable hour or two once a year to complete your journal – a great opportunity to reflect on your remarkable relationship.

Our Story helps you to record your amazing family experiences and unrepeatable moments – the growth development and personality of your daughter, your time together and your emotional journey – your hopes and dreams, the ups and downs and, above all, the incredible mother-daughter bond.

On your daughter’s 18th birthday she will receive this beautiful hand-written story, a priceless record of years together to be shared and treasured forever.

Priced at £19.99, it has a lovely illustrated cover, with the drawings carried on throughout the book, a perfect memento to complete and present to a daughter when she reaches 18.

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And lastly, we’ve looked at Dear Dad, from you to me:

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Here’s the website details:

Everyone has a story to tell… and have you ever wondered just how well you really know your Dad? Life is a fascinating journey and some aspects are often shared with others, however most stories and moments are never recorded.

This Journal is full of around 60 wonderful questions carefully designed to inspire every father to tell his personal story.

Celebrate your Dad’s amazing story and give him the opportunity to find that ‘book’ within him … and provide a priceless collection of experiences and memories to be treasured.

Priced at £12.99, this is available in the sketch design cover – as above – or a more traditional family tree cover. It is full of wonderfully original questions such as:

Who was your best friend as a teenager..and why?
Did you have an idol when you were young, tell me yours and why
What was my nickname before I was born or when I was young
.

Lovely questions that, again, are going to be fun to complete and thought-provoking.

The journals can all be personalised with photos and names, please allow ten working days. A lovely idea for a special birthday or anniversary, click here for details.

For the two sisters I sat with – my mum and my aunt – so many potential memories have been lost in time, with these journals I can ensure the same doesn’t happen for the Bluecrisps family.

Disclaimer: we were sent 3 journals for the purpose of this review, my thoughts and words are my own.

Joining the Kurio Family Blogger group

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There’s a new little badge in my side-bar today, just like the one above. One I’m very pleased to include.

Kurio have invited us to join their Family Blogger panel and over the next few months we’ll be testing out a new-sized product for them.

This one in fact:

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A Kurio 4S Touch – click on the link for more details.

If you haven’t heard of a Kurio before, here’s what has already been said about the 7″ version:

The Kurio 7 Tablet is a breakthrough multimedia entertainment device designed for both children and parents. The full-featured tablet has a high-resolution, ultra-responsive 7″ touch screen, a built-in mic, Wi-Fi and Flash 11 support, an HD video player, a music player, an e-reader, front and rear-facing cameras, HDMI and USB connections (HDMI cable not included) and 4 GB of internal memory.

The tablet comes packed with preloaded kids’ content, including popular apps, e-books, educational material and interactive activities, and offers access to the Kurio marketplace. Advanced Web filtering, block and safe lists and the easy-to-use, password-protected Parental Area ensure content is appropriate for the whole family, and the included drop-safe bumper keeps the Kurio safe even in kids’ hands.

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Obviously we’re going to be testing and giving our views on a smaller version but the positives that stand out for me (as a parent) are the parental controls and the pre-loaded content. Safety is a must for our children in a ever-intrusive wifi environment.

Needless to say, we’ll be reporting back on what we all think over the next few months.

No more battles with a rain-cover, thanks to a @bundlebean

Rain-covers on a buggy and D do not mix.

From a very early age, she would start screaming as soon as a rain-cover was put over the buggy and literally carry on for the length of the journey. Highly stressful for me, for her and for anyone within earshot. Now, of course, I realise she had considerable anxiety and sensory issues over her perception that she was being placed in a plastic bubble, a place where she couldn’t see or hear properly, a place which was noisy due to the rain.

So, it’s been a challenge. As soon as she was old enough, we moved to an umbrella, but then had the issue of her not holding it over herself, of the wind blowing it away, off her refusing to use it if she didn’t feel like it.

Now that she’s older, the rain-covers are still refused but she will hold an umbrella and curl up underneath it as obviously her lower half was still getting wet and, more importantly to her, Bunny could get wet too.

What was a Mumma to do? The weather is so changeable so quickly in this country.

The answer came in the form of a BundleBean, a 5-in-1 waterproof and warm travel cover.

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Designed by Emily and suitable from birth, it can be used with:
Bike seats
Car seats
Buggies and strollers
Slings and carriers
and for
Picnics and Playtime.

Now, I know you’re thinking: “hang on a minute, D is 9…how would this accommodate her?”

Take a look at these pictures, yes, we tested the BundleBean in the wind and rain, with both special needs buggies:

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We can confirm it is waterproof!

D is 143cm tall and it more than covered her legs, the side ties meant that I could fasten it to the buggy securely too. She loved the stars pattern on the front and the fleece back, it made it very warm and snuggly for her. She was delighted to find that there was a pouch pocket at the front, perfect for the small things and likes to carry around with her.

The cover is very adaptable to fit around a smaller child’s bike seat/car seat/buggy/sling and here’s how:

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The BundleBean is going to make our school runs and journeys out so much easier, it’s a huge recommendation from me.

Bunny enjoys having a tea party with D on it too!

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Click here for a list of UK and International stockists, or here to purchase directly from the website, prices start at £29.99.

Disclaimer: we were sent a Red Star blanket for the purpose of this review.

Expressing herself through drawing

As regular readers of my blog will know, there are a few things that are very important to D (my 9 year old daughter with autism):

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(That’s her in the picture with T, her brother who is also diagnosed on the spectrum)

I’d say her priorities are:

Bunny – her anxiety soother, her little companion who is carried everywhere, either held in her hand or tucked under her arm if she’s drawing

Drawing – a calming mechanism, D mostly draws positive images but has drawn one before of her anxieties and how it effects her, which is very useful to me, as her parent.

Food – D is governed by her belly. She likes her meals at set times and her particular foods. Her little sensory nostrils will start twitching if anyone eats outside those times and, she’ll decide that she’s hungry so it’s beneficial for her health that we stick to those times.

Me – that sounds egotistical but a bear hug/a soothing word seems to make issues better quicker. The downside is that she stores any negative elements up from her school day until she sees me so it is a case of establishing causes and effects gently but speedily on our journey home.

Going back to the drawing, it is a fantastic release for her. I wrote a post last year which contained examples of her drawings and her explanations of why she’d drawn them, it was lovely to revisit it this morning.

One constant subject in her drawings is Bunny, faithful old Bunny, getting more worn and threadbare with each day:

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We enjoy looking out for Bunny-type images in art and were delighted to find that Castle Galleries in town stocked Peter Smith artwork that we could take a look at (also available online, click on the link).

We particularly liked Thumpers In Jumpers (the bunnies look so similar to D’s Bunny!):

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And Meet The Family:

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Peter Smith will be visiting the Gallery towards the end of the year, we’re definitely going to pop along and say hello. Click here to go to the Events section of the website where you can find out when Meet The Artist events are happening.

I hope D never looses her willingness to draw her feelings, it’s so calming for her.

I’m going to share a picture of a painting we have in our hall. It’s an original and a definite one-off:

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It’s of me, painted by my paternal grandmother, who was a published artist and in her prime had exhibitions in New York, London etc. She passed away in the 90’s but made a good living from doing what she enjoyed. It’s nice to have a momento of her.

Having a girlie time with our new shoes!

It’s always a challenge finding shoes that are affordable, practical and in stock! There’s nothing worse than coming back empty-handed from a specific shopping trip, especially with special needs children.

So, D and I were very pleased to have the opportunity to review a pair of shoes each from Shoe Zone.

I must admit, I hadn’t heard of Shoe Zone before but their stats are impressive:
“currently trades from over 550 stores throughout the UK and Ireland. Selling over 25 million pairs of shoes per annum, equivalent to 50 pairs every minute!”

Of course, there is the online site too, which we eagerly went on to.

There was a lot of choice, D – despite just turning 9 – is an adult size 3 and I’m a size 8 and we found plenty to choose from in shoes, sandals, boots and trainers, all well as bags.

Here’s what we chose:

D went for this:

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A Lilley Women’s Black Suede Effect Ballerina Pump at £9.99, reduced from £12.99. She was very attracted to the gem stone effect all around them and drew a picture in anticipation:

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I went for these:

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A pair of Adesso Women’s Flexible Multi Coloured Woven Shoe at £29.99.

We ordered online and they were delivered within two days via courier.

So, what did we think?

The service from selection to checkout to delivery couldn’t have been easier. Although we weren’t in when they were delivered, the package was left in a very secure place with a card put through the door.

Here’s D in her shoes, they’ve been tested on the trampoline, in the garden and she’s worn them to school today.

She thinks they’re “great” and says they are comfortable.

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My shoes are fantastic, I love the woven effect and because it’s all elastic weave they are very comfortable, the rubber soles providing a light weight alternative to my usual summer wear when it’s been raining too.

There is the option of wearing them as clogs but I prefer the heel effect. They do come in a more orange/red effect as well as sandals and I’ll definitely be getting some. Ideal for beach wear too.

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A thumbs-up from D and I, thanks to Shoe Zone.

Disclaimer: we were sent two pairs of shoes of our choice for the purpose of this review, our views and words are our own.