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martes, 29 de octubre de 2013

Toucan Can - Juliette MacIver

While this book is fun (and we mustn't over look this, because it is Super fun, capital S) it is also a brilliant one for engaging your child as you read to them. You can talk about what Toucan can do, and later what you can do that Toucan can't. You can talk about families and whether your aunts are like Ewan's aunts, and whether they too have pet pandas. And you can talk about animals generally because there are so many new ones in this book they might not have come across before - like goose and gander and panther and salamander. It's a lovely imaginative book in which kangaroos do kung fu (the panda doesn't - that would be too much of a cliché) and an eclectic mix of animals live (and dance) in harmony.

Even as a child, I appreciated that hardbacks were that little bit more magical than paperbacks, and this edition is no exception. The colours are so vibrant and the animals jump (and swing and dance) right off the page at you. The paper is silky, glossy, feels like a treat to read and the pages are huge and full of detail, though text is limited to a line or two per page to keep it from being too overwhelming. The minutiae are awesome too - the look on Aunty Shanti's face when she sees Aunty Anne and Aunty Candy dancing without her is delicious and will make little ones cackle.

lunes, 28 de octubre de 2013

Black Butterfly floral 50's Swing Dress

This dress looks absolutely fantastic on me, and I have a far from perfect figure - a definite beer belly, and rather oddly shaped hips. This dress skims over these imperfections, and with the help of the sash gives the impression not only of me having a fairly flat stomach, but also a rather slim looking waist. It does sadly expose my rather chunky upper arms, but these can easily be concealed with a bolero jacket.

The fit is generous - I normally wear a size 22-24 in dresses, and ordered this in a size 24. It fit well, but still had plenty of room left in it, and I was glad for the sash to bring it in around the back. I actually think I could perhaps have gone with ordering a size 22, but I must say it is refreshing to be able to order a dress that does have generous sizing.

I also really like the length of the dress, which comes to just below the knee on me. This allows me to show off my legs, without any risk of showing off anything else should the wind get up. I also love the fact that when I spin, the skirt flares out around me. And I am very impressed with the fact that this dress is machine washable.

H&M Conscious Dress

I purchased both dresses online when I was doing the bulk of my daughters spring/summer wardrobe update. I didn't actually realise it was part of H&M's Conscious range until I received it and duly took all the labels off so Elysia could wear it. Looking at the label it tells me that it is manufactured from 100% organic cotton, oddly there is no mention of the elastane in the waistband. It also informs me that the Conscious Collection is part of H&M's conscious actions for a more sustainable future. It's good to see that a manufacturer is playing their part in a more eco-friendly society. It's just a shame that the ethos doesn't extend to the whole of the stores products and not just a small range. They must be trying hard to rectify this though, as looking online, I found that they are the number one user of organic cotton worldwide.

Looking at the label with the wash care instructions I see there's nothing out of the ordinary there - wash at 40 degrees (or less if you can), do not bleach, do not dry clean (that's fine with me), cool tumble (or better still line dry) and iron on hot. However I also see that this product is manufactured in Bangladesh and this did initially worry me. How can something that's sustainably and organically grown, be sewn together by people who are offered poor pay and even worse employment conditions, surely that's morally and ethically wrong? I had to check to see if this was indeed the case, and I'm pleased to see that well over half a million Bangladeshi garment workers have been educated on their employment rights by H&M. It's a small step, but hopefully it's one in the right direction.

I didn't intend this review to focus on the ethics of the garment but when you purchase something from such a range, you just can't help it. It's a lovely dress, and from a range of clothes of which I shall make a 'Conscious' effort to purchase from again. I recommend it.

domingo, 27 de octubre de 2013

Millada Lattice Platform Heels

These are shoes I'm far more likely to wear if I know I'm going to be indoors rather than out as the faux suede covers the heel too. I would always avoid wearing them on wooden floors as the stiletto heel is likely to cause far more damage to the floor than to me. I have climbed and descended an old tower in these shoes without falling but I probably was holding people up while taking my time.

These shoes were available in a mint green, pink and black as well as the beige but I'm glad I went for the beige as they do seem a little more timeless. I still have a lot of life left in these shoes so very happy with the price paid for them. Very comfortable, they go with everything and I don't fall over - can't ask for much more!

sábado, 26 de octubre de 2013

Vanguard Kinray Lite 48Bk

The harness system offers a huge amount of stability to the bag and to me. I often find myself clambering over fallen trees or walking along ridges by the river so having the backpack harnessed means I'm not worrying about it slipping causing me to lose my balance which basic backpacks can do. I love that you're not restricted to the waist and chest harness but can have one strap across body and fastened with the chest harness. This lets me whip the bag across my front to access the side panel to get my camera out quickly rather than having to take the whole bag off to take it out the top.

If I'm not using the bag for the camera I can easily take the padded camera insert out. This in itself isn't heavy but does take up a lot of space. The bag then loses its shape from the front with just the stiffer back to keep its tall shape. If I'm going on a trip I have found myself using this bag more than my regular backpack just for its comfort and streamline design. You do lose the ability to find things easily as you're piling everything on top of each other rather than having the wideness of a suitcase but I find it far more practical.

If there was something I had to change about the bag it would be the inside pocket. Although it's not that deep (which isn't a huge problem) I would have preferred a zip closure rather than just the elasticised band. This is where I'm most likely to keep valuables such as my purse, keys, spare change, phone etc if out walking rather than having these in my clothing pockets but tipping the bag would easily cause anything to fall out and it would have given that little extra safety precaution if out travelling. Someone could far too easily open the external front zip pocket without me noticing, the side opening doesn't open into a pocket and then you're only left with the mesh pocket on the other side. The top loading zip could of course also easily be opened without me noticing but it would then take a thief far more effort to then unzip the inside pocket than just reach in. Thankfully this isn't something I've had to worry about or have experience of but it is something I have to consider when out and about. At least the bag is inconspicuous so it's not obvious the camera is in it.

Generic Android 4.0 Tablet PC

The tablet was easy to set up, I have a Google Play account already so I linked it up to mine. This was bought to keep my daughter from my phone and tablet which she always a wanted to go on. She mainly likes to watch video clips and films on it as well as listen to music. It is a good thing that the tablet has a memory card slot as I filled the memory up in no time.

I found the WIFI on this device a little weak, I had to sit next to my modem to get it to do anything. The quality of the screen when I set it up was also poor compared to other cheap tablets out there. I found the touch screen really hard to use it was really insensitive and needed a good prod to actually work.

Once all loaded up I gave it to my daughter. She became frustrated with this quite quickly as it is very unresponsive we have drawing apps on it which were impossible touse. Another Another thing we found was the sound when watching videos was poor. It sounded echoey, distant and tinny.

The camera on the device was OK my daughter likes to film herself and it suited that purpose.

The battery life on this device is shocking, when the WIFI is on which is infrequent as I turn it off when I am not using it you can see the battery life draining before your eyes. Also despite charging this device for hours a on end the battery never gets full it always stays on 80% ish.

We had this device about 3 months and I have to say I personally would have paid the extra £50 for a decent tablet.

I kept this tablet in a case and it had a screen protector on this, despite this my daughter lent on the screen just her elbow and it cracked completely.

I really wouldn t recommend this. It is cheap and I can see why this would appeal to parents looking to save money but I have since had to fork out for a better tablet that is better quality.

viernes, 25 de octubre de 2013

I nearly bought an alienware and if it wasn't for the american on the phone who refused to give me 10% off as a treasured returning customer I would have spent £1300 on a lower spec model to that what I am writing this review on now.

Because it was the following day a came across PC specialist's reviewed section. I had visited the website before, and had compared many of the different configurations that can be applied on the very easy to use system. Although if you buy a reviewed PC you don't get the options of upgrades I came across the Optimus Series: 17.3" Matte Full HD LED Widescreen (1920x1080)

The full spec of this machine out weighed the Alienware and MSI and cost £300 less, I got a 120gb SSD and a 1tb hard drive. I ordered it that night.

The PC Specialist customer service is second to none. You are kept informed constantly during the build process and even when my Blueray drive was not available when I phone to enquire the advisor was quick to offer a replacement. I now have a Blueray burner and only paid an extra £10, winner.

I wold fully recommend PC specialist for their superior products at fantastic prices and quality service.

martes, 22 de octubre de 2013

Nokia Lumia 920

I am never going to love this phone, but I will tolerate it. I am stuck with it until January 2015 (unless perhaps my boyfriend upgrades his). Even the case I bought for it is tormenting me by falling apart (I thought it was the phone at first).

To be honest I've found it quite therapeutic writing this review, and it'll get me a couple of quid back anyway. Perhaps I have come across as a bit harsh - in reality I probably could overcome some of the issues I have with it, with a bit of time and patience. But I don't have any patience with it.

Although I loved my N8 and my previous phone (Nokia Xpress Music) I very much think that this is the end of the road for me and Nokia. To say I have been disappointed with this phone is an understatement. I simply cannot understand the good reviews it has received. However, a close friend of mine absolutely hated the N8 which for me was perfect. So I guess it's just down to personal preference.


miércoles, 2 de octubre de 2013

HP Color Laserjet CM2320fxi

The company I work for is on an economy drive at the moment and where we all used to have our own printers on our desks, we have now had these removed to be replaced with a general office printer that we all have to use.

The management tried to sway us by suggesting that our not very good printers were going to be replaced with a top of the range, super-duper printer than does everything. Whereas what actually turned up was a HP CM2320 All In One Printer.

In comparison to my little old Epson printer, this huge beast looked pretty impressive. It is a really large, light grey machine with darker grey sides and what surprised me most is how tall it was. It is more tall than wide so doesn't take up a huge amount of desk space and we managed to fit it on to a small, unused desk and still have room for another machine next to it. Due to its size, it is quite a heavy bit of kit and not one that you would really want to move from place to place.

As it is a company machine, I obviously didn't purchase it personally and so for the purpose of this review, I have looked up the price on the internet and I was surprised to find that it retails at present around the £470 mark. The pull out paper tray is located at the bottom of the printer and there are two pull down sections to insert the cartridges and remove any jammed paper if needed. To copy and scan, you simply lift the lid up and place the paper down on the glass plate.

The reason that surprised me is although it looks a magnificent machine, it really isn't. It is more cost effective than my old printer as the cartridges, although more expensive, do last forever. There are 6 of us who use this printer on a daily basis and so between us, the printer is almost in constant use and the cartridges still last for weeks, even the black one which is impressive.

I personally have found this quite a difficult machine to use though for a few reasons. The one thing that did surprise me is how unbelievably slow it is. This is the case no matter what you are trying to do on this printer. Whether it be printing, photocopying or scanning, I stand patiently waiting for the printer to finally throw out my paperwork and if you are trying to print stuff through Adobe and not just from word or excel, it can be a couple of minutes before you get your work out which for such an expensive printer, I find amazing.

I also find the machine a little temperamental and my work colleagues agree. It certainly isn't the most user friendly machine you will come across and personally I wouldn't pay half the retail cost for it.

This is most definitely a company printer and certainly wouldn't want it to be your home printer as it is far too big and bulky and is quite an eyesore to be honest. I also wouldn't recommend it for a really busy office where there would be far more people using it than we have as I just don't think it would be capable of handling that amount of work.

It is handy that you can photocopy, fax, scan and print on the machine and I do have to admit that the print quality is very sharp and clear which is good. The machine itself is quite easy to use in that we didn't get an instruction manual with it, but we didn't need one and fathomed it all out rather quickly but I would expect a better quality machine than this for the money it costs.

Overall, the print quality is good, the cartridges last well and it does pretty much everything you would need it to, but this printer and I have definitely had 'issues' since working together and to be honest, even though it has its positive points, I wouldn't really recommend this at all. All in all this is a disappointing printer that could be so much better.