Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Review: Finish Dishwasher Tablets

My favourite kitchen appliance has to be my dishwasher.  I know it's not exactly a necessity but whenever I'm without it (it does break down now and then) I realise how much I rely on it.  The only problem is that dishwasher tablets have become increasingly expensive and as I'm on a budget I stopped buying the premium brands and started buying cheaper tablets instead.  They're probably all the same right?

I was recently asked if I would consider reviewing Finish Dishwasher Tablets and thought this might be a good opportunity to test whether Finish, as a premium brand, are actually worth the extra money that they cost.

I was sent a packet of Finish Quantum, which I've always considered as 'top of the range' when it comes to the dishwasher.  The wrapper free tablet is made up of a gel powerball with ultra-shine technology, detergent, and a gel with rinse aid function.  I actually hadn't realised that it combined rinse aid as this is something I have always purchased separately to the detergent.  This is something that needs to be considered when I compare prices.

I like that there's no wrapper so they are better for the environment.  And this may sound daft but I like the design.  They sort of look the part with that red powerball in the middle.  I know it's all going to dissolve in the wash but it makes me think that it's going to do a good job.

So what about the wash?  Well, all I can say is that my dishes came out sparkling clean after every wash.  I don't believe in rinsing dishes before they go in the dishwasher (after all, a dishwasher is supposed to be about saving water, not washing the dishes twice) so the tablets did have to clean some very dirty dishes, but they did live up to the job.

I have to admit that with my old tablets, I sometimes had to rewash some of the dishes but I thought that it was the fault of my dishwasher being old and cranky.  Now I think it must have been the tablets as Finish Quantum managed to clean them properly.

I do have to take cost into account though.  Finish Quantum are more expensive than some other brands with the price ranging between 20p - 40p per tablet, depending on what size pack you buy and where you shop.  I've been having a quick look online and have been surprised that most of the other dishwasher tablets  available are around the same price.  Considering that Finish Quantum also contain rinse aid and wash the dishes first time round then they actually seem quite good value for money.  

Having done this review I have realised that you do get what you pay for and paying that little bit more for a premium product means that you may end up paying less in the long run.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Project 365: Days 139 - 145

Day 139: Playing catch - we spent the day in the Country Park and had a fantastic day.  The boys paddled in the stream with their trainers on so we decided to let them dry out a bit while the boys played a game of catch.

Day 140: Sleepy boy - I worked today so only got a chance to take a photo of my sleeping boy.  What the photo doesn't show is all the trains that he's lined up on his pillow so that he has to sleep halfway down the bed.

Day 141: Cake - I finished work early today so decided to make a lemon drizzle cake.  I probably shouldn't have as I'm trying to cut down on all the junk food and this really isn't the way to go about it.

Day 142: Baby's day out - back to the Country Park for me and O.  It was a beautiful day and he loved playing in the sand pit with his friends.  We all had great fun.

Day 143: Toys - we got the Happlyland toys out today as the weather wasn't so good.  My favourite is the funfair.

Day 144: Bunny - my parents went on holiday so I got a little visitor for the weekend.  This is Sonic the Rabbit.  He is so cute!

Day 145: Climbing trees - there was a festival at our local park so we went down for the day.  It was fantastic.  There was live music and a funfair.  I went on one of the rides with the oldest two and it was great.  They sat on the grass and ate candy floss before going to look for squirrels and climb trees.  We even got to watch Ragsy )from The Voice) sing live.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Project 365: Days 132 - 138

Day 132: Biscuits at bedtime - my boys love to have a treat at bedtime and he's sat like Lord Muck in my bed eating biscuits and drinking milk.  I'll regret that when I get into bed later.

Day 133: Jigsaws - it's E's favourite thing to do.  He did about five after school today and they covered my sitting room floor. He won't let us break them up straight away so they had to stay there for a while.

Day 134: Drying dishes - my dishwasher has broken and we have to wait a week for a part to be delivered but it's given Z the chance to help with some chores and he's discovered that he loves drying the dishes.  I wonder how long that will last!

Day 135: Firemen - Dress up time and O has decided to be a fireman.  He'll only wear the hat though.

Day 136: Jumping in puddles - O is doing what he loves best and that's finding as many puddles as he can and jumping in them.

Day 137: Trampoline fun - O is enjoying himself on the trampoline.  It's so nice to have some decent weather so the boys can play in the garden.
Day 138: Gardening (again) - it's the boys weekly gardening time and this week we planted some strawberries.  They ha great fun filling the hanging baskets with compost.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Trials and Tribulations of Toilet Training

And I do mean toilet training.  None of my boys have been very interested in using the potty so we've gone straight to the toilet.  It involves a few weeks of them desperately holding onto me for dear life, but they do learn to balance themselves.  Eventually.

I'm in the process of getting my third son ready to make the transition from wearing nappies to wearing pants.  You'd think I'd know exactly what I'm doing as it's my third time, but as all children are different, so is each experience.

I've always been quite relaxed with toilet training and prefer to take the childs' lead.  My eldest son took to it quite quickly and loved to copy his daddy by standing on his little stool to wee in the toilet.  It was great at home but not so great when we went out.  I remember one thirty minute car journey where we went through four pairs of trousers and I realised that he wasn't quite ready and put him back into nappies.  I know this is against what all the textbooks say, but it worked for us.  About a month later he decided that he wanted to try again and this time it worked.  Apart from the occasional accident (usually at night) we never looked back.

When it was time to do the same with my next boy, I stupidly assumed it would be just as easy as before.  How wrong I was.  He would wee on the toilet but absolutely refused to poo.  He would hold it in to the point where he couldn't eat and he felt ill.  He used to leak (sorry if you're eating) and I had no idea what to do with him.  We tried everything that we could think of; we would let him watch us on the toilet, we discussed, begged, comforted and shouted at him; we bought books about what happens when you poo, and discussed it with the health visitor.  We even let him poo in the garden.  We were at our wits end.  He started to smell and I was worried about him being teased because of this.  Everywhere we went became stressful as we usually ended up in a big mess as bits would leak through.

The only thing that worked in the end was watching him every second, which was difficult as he would try to hide it, and as soon as he showed signs of holding it in, I would rush him to the toilet and make him sit there.  He would sob and I would feel guilty, but he wasn't able to hold it in when sat on the toilet and it would all come out.  It was terrible and I hoped I would never have to go through this again.  He did overcome it eventually, though he is still a very private person when using the toilet.

I was prepared for anything with my youngest son, but was still a bit gutted when he started to withhold his poo.  The difference this time was that my previous experience helped and I run him to the toilet as soon as he starts to hold it in.  At two and a half he is getting much better thankfully.

But now I have a different problem.  He stubbornly refuses to wear pants.  He asks to use the toilet when at home and is well controlled and well aware of when he needs to go.  He just won't wear pants.  It's easy at home, I can just leave him with nothing on, but I can't exactly do that to go out.  He also refuses to wear trousers with nothing on underneath so that's not an option.

We've had conversations around whether big boys wear nappies or pants, but he is adamant that he is still a baby who wears nappies (at any other time he insists that he's a big boy).  My mother suggested that it could be that he sees his brothers wearing boxer shorts so he wants the same, so I tried that but it didn't work either.  I bought him Thomas the Tank Engine pants as this is his favourite character, but it still didn't tempt him.

I've tried pull ups in the hope that it'll make the transition easier, but he just calls them nappy pants.  I've tried putting pants on over his nappy but he screamed until I took them off.

Experience tells me that I should just wait until he understands a little bit better , and to be honest, I'm not at all concerned.  I just wonder why.  What has caused him to not want to wear pants?  What causes any issue that a child has with toileting?  Is it something that we've said, or done?  Something they've seen on TV?  I'll probably never know.

All I do know is that children who are brought up in seemingly the same way, all have different issues.  I may as well throw that textbook away.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Freedom of speech or just a voice no-one wants to hear?

This might come as a bit of a shock to anyone who knows me, but I'm starting to wonder if the internet is a good thing.  Not all of it obviously; there's some bits that I couldn't imagine living without now.  It's more that the internet provides just about anyone with a voice.

I love blogs and blogging for this very reason, but I wonder about the risks associated with it.  In the last week I've read a post stating that the measles outbreak in South Wales is a lie, and another post stating that a woman who is having an affair with a  married man is actually helping that mans family.  I've got no concerns about people voicing their opinions, but those opinions must be balanced surely?  After all, it was the thoughts of just one man that caused the scare around the MMR vaccination in the first place.  Look what happened there.

Scaremongering has always been around, I know.  Certain daily newspapers take great delight in frightening people with snippets of information based on who knows what evidence.  What's scary is that these bits of information very quickly become 'fact' and are spread around the internet at supersonic speed.  It's getting harder and harder to know what to believe.  I have started to check everything I read to find out if it is, in fact, true.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets scam emails.  If you believed everything you read you'd never get out of your car, drink coke or have an onion in your fridge ever again.  Snopes has become my new best friend.

It's not just email either.  My Facebook news feed is full of the dangers of eating just about anything and companies who apparently want to give 30,000 iPads away for free.  What is more concerning is the number of people who believe it.  But how do you regulate this?

Another thing that's been winding me up on Facebook is seeing a constant stream of judgmental status updates.  Apparently, anyone who watches reality TV is a chav, and anyone who watches soaps is a brainless idiot.  Can I just say that one of my relatives has an MSc but he watches the soaps.  Brainless?  I don't think so.  Just wanting to relax?  Quite possibly.  He also reads a lot. Go figure.

Why do people feel the need to judge other people on social networking sites?  Is it okay to decide that anyone who doesn't like the same things as you must be stupid?

I am aware that all of this is just my opinion and maybe I'm being a bit of a hypocrite as I am now complaining about what others write online.  So what do you think?  Do you love that people now have a forum to write anything they want, or do you worry about some of the things that you read too?

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Project 365: Days 125 - 131

Day 125: Gardening - it was a beautiful day so we decided to do some gardening.  The boys planted tomato, broccoli, chilli and salad leaf seeds.  They love doing the gardening and get so excited at the thought of growing their own fruit and veg.

Day 126: A day at a castle - today was a bank holiday so we spent the day exploring Cardiff Castle.  The grounds are beautiful so we took a picnic and sat on the grass.  The boys enjoyed running around playing in the sun.  We did go through the wartime tunnels (which are amazing and ever so slightly frightening) but my youngest got a bit scared of all the noises.  

Day 127: Mealtime - my youngest waiting very impatiently for his food.

Day 128: they're growing! - we were very excited today to see that the pumpkin seeds are growing.  It's such a lovely feeling to see something that you've planted, grow.  

Day 129: windy - we went down to Cardiff Bay for a walk and it was so windy that O wouldn't let go of his hood.  I don't blame him as he had worn his Thomas cap but that blew off his head (a kind workman rescued it for me) so he wasn't taking any chances.  We spent a lovely hour running around and looking at the ducks before going for coffee and cake.

Day 130: a visitor - this was my sight when I went to bed tonight.  I hadn't even heard him go into my bed.  He was so comfortable that I almost left him there.  Almost, but not quite.  I did put him back into his own bed.

Day 131: haircut - he wasn't very happy when we took him for a haircut, but after a bit of bribery from the hairdresser (armed with a bag of Haribo) he finally gave in.  He actually looks like he's enjoying himself in that photo.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Project 365: Days 118 - 124

Day 118: Spring clean - I spent most of today cleaning and I can honestly say that the novelty of having a steam cleaner hasn't worn off yet.  If it stood still for long enough, it got cleaned.

Day 119: Swing - I love these nice days when the boys get to go out to play after school.  Here my oldest boy is enjoying himself on the swing.

Day 120: Bubble wrap - Is there anything better than bubble wrap?  I had a delivery of cleaning products today and there was loads of bubble wrap in the box.  The boys spent ages popping it before my middle boy decided to wrap himself up in it.

Day 121: Bouncing - another lovely day so another day on the garden after school.  The boys love the trampoline and spend hours bouncing on it.

Day 122: Tractor ride - we had to go shopping today and I let my little one nag talk me into letting him go on  the little tractor ride.  He did enjoy it but I know that next time we go shopping he'll be expecting to go on it again.

Day 123: Gardening - my little one planted some sunflower seeds today.  He had great fun digging in the compost and loved getting dirty.  

Day 124: Daddy's shoes - he was very sweet stomping around wearing daddy's shoes today.  It reminds me of a picture that my parents had when I was small called 'Mummy's Shoes'.  Everyone thought I looked like the little girl in the picture.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Seed Pantry Review

A few years ago I decided to start growing my own fruit and vegetables as I wanted to be a bit more self sufficient and show my children that fruit and vegetables don't just come from the supermarket.  As my garden is my children's own personal playground I had to grow everything in containers but it worked out really well and we enjoyed some lovely potatoes, carrots and strawberries through the summer.  I fully intended to continue with it but the arrival of my third child disrupted my routine so I ended up abandoning my kitchen garden for a couple of years.

I'd decided that this year I was going to start again as my boys are older and able to help me, so when I was contacted to ask if I'd be interested in reviewing an item from Seed Pantry I jumped at the chance.

I chose to review the Children's The Me Seeds Starter Kit as I thought it would be a fun way for the children to start getting used to planting seeds and I knew that they would love having some of their very own.

The kit arrived quickly and I was very excited to open it and find out what we would be planting.  Inside I found pumpkin, sweetcorn, cress and sunflower seeds, along with coir pots, compost discs, wooden markers, instructions and an advice booklet.  Everything I needed to get started straight away.

We started with the pumpkin and sweetcorn seeds as according to the advice booklet, these are best started in the coir pots.  I soaked the compost discs and the boys were fascinated to see them grow.  We squeezed them into the coir pots and then I gave the boys the seeds to plant.  They did find it a bit difficult to push the seeds into the compost so I helped them out with this.  They then got to work writing the name of the plant and their own name on the wooden markers.

When they were all done we popped them into an egg carton and put them on the kitchen windowsill as they need to be started off indoors.

Next, the boys wanted to plant their sunflower seeds.  We got some big pots and the boys filled them with compost which they loved as they got very dirty!  It took them a while but they enjoyed doing it.  I gave them three sunflower seeds each to put in their pots and then they covered them over with more compost and gave them some water.

They are already arguing about who is going to grow the tallest sunflower.

We're leaving the cress for another day as the boys had been hard at work for some time.  They looked like true gardeners with their black hands.

I thought the kit was great as there were plenty of seeds for all of my boys (my youngest didn't get involved as he was ill so we'll be planting his later in the week).  The boys are excited to water their plants and wait for the first little shoots.  What is also great is that some of the seeds grow really quickly so the children haven't got to wait for too long.  I'll probably start with planting some cress with my youngest boy as he'll be amazed to see it grow really quickly.

The kit is good value for money and I think it would make a lovely gift for a child of any age.

All this planting has made me think about getting my own started so I ordered all my seeds and plants this week.  There'll be a lot more planting going on next weekend.

I'll keep you updated with how the plants are doing so look out for my next post.

Is anyone else growing their own this year?