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Wednesday 26 October 2011

Review: Photobox Personalised Calendars

I have to say that I am fully in 'Operation Christmas' mode already and I am enjoying myself.  I know that some people say it all starts too early nowadays and that it can take the joy out of it but for me as a frugal type it helps to start shopping early and spreading the cost.

I have been musing recently about what to buy people and indeed whether to keep buying for some people as I hate the way that celebrations like Christmas can just become a bit 'tit for tat'. I also begrudge buying things for people that they may want but that I do not particularly agree with such as cigarettes or alcohol so when Photobox approached me to try out some of their personalised gifts I was thrilled.

I am known for my love of photos and have bought photo gifts before - mousemats, coasters, mugs etc and this year, thanks to Photobox I have made calendars for all the grandparents and great grandparents. Calendars are something that have always been a popular Christmas gift for the ladies in our family and even better that they can now be customised with family pictures and appropriate captions.  I just know that these will go down a storm.  I kid you not when I say that I was over the moon when these arrived on my door.  If I am honest I did not expect them to be half as good as they are but having received a superb canvas print form Photobox before I should have known that the quality of their work is excellent.

Firstly I made the calendar by uploading photos to my personal account online, this was simple and fairly quick.  Then came the hard task of deciding which photos to use.  I loved the software which allowed me to zoom in and out and move the photo around so that I could get the best fit.  I was able to add captions to the photos and edit those to suit my taste.  The personalised message I added to the front will make it clear to the recipient that this is a present from the kids and when I received the calendars today I was pleased to see they come with a wipe-clean plastic cover, both front and back.  The paper is good quality and you can tell by the feel of the calendar that it is a premium product.

There are loads of different styles to choose from.  I chose the slimline as I know my family use their calendars to record what is going on, like the dentist and such. These retail at £17.99 each or they become cheaper with the more you buy.  At the moment there is a 2 for 1 deal on all the calendars and diaries and I used this to create mine.  My bill ended up being just short of £55 for 5 slimline calendars including postage.  I was very pleased with this and now having received the calendars I feel they are great value.

Since I used Photobox the first time I now receive emails with special offers and there are loads of great baragins to be had.  When you first join you will receive 50 prints for free as an opening offer.

I am very happy to recommend Photobox and the service I have received on the 3 times I have used them has been excellent. The online system is easy to use, the products are excellent and the postage and packing is reasonable in price and quick in time.

Disclosure:  My account my credited so I could purchase the calendars for review.  I was not instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Review and Giveaway: Nip and Fab Scrub Fix (Facial Polish)

Congratulations to @RedRoseMummy, you are the lucky winner. Sorry for the delay in announcing!  Please Dm or email me your address details to pass on to the PR.  Thanks, Mich x

I have shared before that I am not very reliable when it comes to a good facial beauty regime.  For some reason I just forget most nights, I am good with taking my make-up off and having a wash but the moisturiser just never seems to make it my way.  Thankfully I am good with things like face masks and exfoliating too, they always feel like a treat, like I am taking some well-earned time just for myself.

Over the last few weeks I have been using the Scrub Fix facial polish from the Nip and Fab range twice a week and I have to say I really like it. A while back one of my friends tried out the Tummy fix product from the same range and she gave that a thumbs up, so I felt positive to try another product from the coveted Nip and Fab range.

At £10.95 for 50ml I think this product represents good value, you need just a small amount to do the job and it really does feel as if it gives your skin a good exfoliation.  Straight after using it my face felt tingly and fresh and then over the days following I did come out in some spots as if it has detoxed my skin and helped to deeply cleanse it.  The facial polish was very easy to use, I applied a small amount with my fingers, gently rubbed it in avoiding my eyes and then splashed it off with lukewarm water.  The smell was very mild but pleasant and I feel sure I will keep on using this product.

What the Press Release says -

Exfoliate, stimulate and give your skin a natural glow with this triple action facial micro-exfoliant. A refreshing, renewing pick-me-up, this delicious scrub contains clever ingredients such as bamboo micro-particles to refine, polish and maintain moisture levels, salicylic acid (Beta Hydroxy Acid - BHA) renowned for its ability to resurface and brighten the complexion and renewing, decongesting plant-based polysaccharides. Used once or twice a week, this beauty boosting treat will work hard to lift away dirt, grime and remove dead skin cells to leave you with skin that’s noticeably clear and radiant.

Fancy winning yourself a tube of Nip and Fab Scrub Fix?

  • Mandatory - Follow my blog on google friends connect (in the sidebar on the right) and leave a comment to say you have done so, let me know how I can contact you - twitter ID or email.
  • Additional entry - tweet 'I want to #win @NipandFab Scrub Fix in @michelletwinmum's #giveaway #competition http://bit.ly/nUXOuP'
  • Additional entry - follow @NipandFab on twitter and let me know you have done so.
Terms and Conditions of Entry:
  • The winner will be chosen at random
  • Open to UK and Ireland residents only
  • Giveaway closes at 12 noon on Monday 31st October 2011
  • The winner will be contacted within 3 working days of the competition closing
  • The winner needs to contact me within a week of my announcing the winner or I will draw again
  • The prize is not transferable and there is no cash alternative
  • The product will be sent direct from the PR agency
Disclosure: I received this product free of charge for the purposes of this review. I was not instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Review Vlog of the Morphy Richards Supersteam Steam Mop & Cleaner

Grab a cuppa, sit down and watch me go about cleaning my lino floor in my dining room and then the grout, tiles and shower doors in my bathroom.  I try my best to do a good QVC impression! My husband seems to find it incredibly funny when I do vlogs, apparently I have a good narrative voice....  I'll let you decide.

I have been lucky enough to road test the Morphy Richard Supersteam Steam Mop & Cleaner, which retails for £129.99 and is available to buy from the Morphy Richard site. It comes with a 2 year guarantee and can happily tackle a wide assortment of tasks around the home, check out my vlog to learn more...

In the main I really liked the cleaner, it works well and does a huge variety of jobs but for me it is a bit of a luxury, not really a staple item every house must own but if you are the kind of person who loves to know that your house is truly clean and sanitised then this is just perfect for you and worth every penny.  For me I expect it will be something I use a few times a year for a deeper clean. 

Enjoy that?

Now go and check out Home of the HouseProud if you have not already, this is a super site full of reviews, cleaning tips, yummy recipes and great competitions and discounts for Morphy Richards products. At the moment there is a great competition running to find the Home Made Cook of the Year 2011. If you think you can rustle up a hearty main course for 4 for the budget price of £7.50 then do enter as you could win a £1000 Morphy Richards kitchen make over, Stove mini range cooker, a DAB digital radio and  a one day Women's Institute cooking course for you and a friend.  Sounds fab, now if only I could cook better!

Disclosure: This is a review post, I received the steam cleaner as part of the Morphy Richards Houseproud Innovators scheme for the purposes of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Friday 14 October 2011

Review: Discover the Extreme World Encyclopedia

I count myself as lucky that I have an 8 year old boy who likes to read, extra lucky that he loves to read all types of material.  When I saw the new encyclopedia from the Discovery Channel and Miles Kelly was up for review, I just knew that JJ would adore it but actually my expectations were smashed, this is a really fantastic book for people of all ages, not just kids. In fact the other night dh sat there and looked through it for a good hour and deemed that it would be useful to him in his capacity as a Cub Leader.

The book is just slightly larger than A4 in size, is hard-backed and has good quality glossy pages.  It has been built to last. 

It is absolutely packed with snippets of information.  There are six distinct sections to the book - Active Earth, Awesome Animals, Incredible Science, Ultimate Machines, Super Humans and History Revealed. Each of these six reference areas are then broken into smaller chunks with an easy to find index.  For example within the Active Earth section you could choose to learn about space, deep-sea, freaky weather, volcano's and much more - there is a great diversity to the book.

Each double page spread focuses on a different area and the photos and graphics are phenomenal, the information is presented in a fun way with different text types, slants and all in a snippet format, so there is no great long lengths of reading necessary.  I am pretty sure JJ will view this book as fun reading rather than educational when I give it to him as part of his Christmas presents.  Win:win for me a s parent, something he wants to read but that actually teaches him something as well.

Some snippets from inside the book -
  • At its top speed, the F22 Raptor could fly from New York City to Miami in less than 40 minutes.
  • In 2010, a quake in Chile was so powerful that it literally moved the entire city of Concepcion 10 ft to the west.
  • The Suzuki Hayabusa can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds.
  • One medieval remedy for the plague was to drink a glass of your own urine twice a day.
  • Ants can lift up to 50 times more than their own body weight.
  • In parts of the Antarctic, the Sun remains below the horizon for 105 days during winter, leaving the land in near total darkness.
  • The language of Silbo, from the Canary Islands, uses penetrating whistles that can be heard over long distances.
  • Arica in the Chilean Atacama Desert experienced less than 0.03 in of rain during one 59-year period.
  • Kingda Ka rollercoaster’s 418 ft drop is the biggest in the world.
  • Greedy Romans sometimes made themselves sick in order to be able to eat more.
Discover the Extreme World retails for £17.99 and is available in all good book shops such as WH Smiths and Waterstones but actually I found a super bargain on Amazon with it selling new copies for £9.17, including free postage.  How can you possibly go wrong at that price? I would highly recommend this as a Christmas gift for your Key stage 2 child.

Disclosure:  This is a review post, I received the book free of charge for the purposes of this review. I have not been instructed what to write and I remain honest.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Review of Online Plus Size Retailer: One Stop Plus

I'm a big girl, you'll know that if you read my other blog but I still love to shop, especially for clothes. 

Normally I am an in-store shopper, I have always been a bit nervous about online shopping as I assume that the retailers will not have my size or that the cuts of the clothes will be all wrong.  So I was really interested to try out One Stop Plus the online store for women sized 14 - 36 and men sized L - 9XL (who even knew there was such a size?).

I was allowed to browse their online store and choose something I fancied.  Well that is a big task, there are 100's and 100's of items on this site.  I expect most people would think this a good thing but I actually found the sheer amount of things to look through just a tiny bit daunting.

In general I really like the site; it is clean, well laid out and easy to navigate. Everything is in neat categories and you can filter your search by type of clothing, size, brand and price.  This is a big help when there are so many items to look through.  The dress I choose is from the Taillissime range which I have now learnt is the plus brand of the French catalogue brand La Redoute.  At £55 it is not the cheapest item but I do really love it.  JJ said I looked like a rock star when I went out with my leather jacket over it, bless him! The main part of the dress is a black jersey fabric, a mix of viscose, polyamide and wool, it feels super soft on and does not cling too much.  The sleeves are actually long with a sort of netting ruffle trim, I felt happiest with them pushed up a bit and they stayed up well and kept their shape.  The bottom of the dress is also trimmed with the same in a ra-ra effect.  I choose the subdued black but if you are a bit more adventurous than me you can have a black/ white trim on the dress.

I ordered a size 20/22 and expected the dress to be a bit clingy, I was assuming I'd wear it in a bit, once the diet had kicked in but actually it was fine now so I would suggest that things may come up slightly large with this particular brand.  There is good clear sizing on each of the products on the website and I like that transparency. I choose to wear the dress for dinner with the girls the other night and just teamed it with some thick black tights and knee high boots but next time I go out with dh I may be brave and wear it with patterned tights and some heels. I just need to remember that the mesh layer at the bottom is sheer and my legs are effectively on show.

One Stop Plus plays host to loads of brand names such as Ellos, Anne Weyburn and Carmakoma and also many household names such as Birkenstock, Nike and Triumph.  I suspect it is called one stop plus as you really could kit yourself out in a full wardrobe - clothes, underwear, shoes and nightwear all from one place.

I noticed that some items are at absolutely crazy prices, £11 for a great evening top or £9.00 for a skirt.  If you are ever travelling to Oz or such and need a summer wardrobe in winter then check out this store for super bargains. Talking of bargains, they are offering 15% off your first order and free delivery if your order is over £60. Otherwise the cost of postage and packaging is £3.99 regardless of how large your order is. I have to say my order arrived really quickly, within 2 days of placing the order so I would have no hesitations in recommending OneStopPlus.

It can't all be great, I hear you crying at me.  What could be improved on this site? Well for me, I'd like to see a few more bigger models, some with real curves in real places, ie: wobbly tummies!  You see the picture at the top with the model and then you see me, there is a difference, but then again maybe they would never sell the dress if I was the model.  lol

So now I have my staple evening out outfit sorted for winter.  A big thank you to OneStopPlus.co uk and also to Best British Bloggers (@BritBloggers) who set up this review opportunity for me.  They are looking to sign up more bloggers ready for their new campaigns which are coming on-line, so pop over to their website and take a look or tweet and say hi.

Disclosure:  I received this dress free of charge to review, I was not instructed what to write and I remain honest.