a few recent purchases

Sparko A006 Std Coal Shovel 6in

 

does the job, I needed a small shovel for the coal for fire. I have arthritis and can’t lift heavy items, so this size is perfect. It seems pretty robust, and doesn’t feel likely to break. There are cheaper ones, but I don’t see the point in saving a couple of quid if the item doesn’t last.

Yankee Candle – 8 x Festive Fragrance Sampler / Votive Candles

Yankee Candle - 8 x Festive Fragrance Sampler / Votive Candles

Well, I thought I’d try these so I could pick a favourite and have a big one for xmas. So far its one of the green ones ( and stupidly I forgot to note the name…) but they’re a nice set. They burn really quickly just placed on a plate, so I have mine in a small terracotta plant pot, but a
small jar or heat/fire proof container will do. It contains the wax instead of letting it spread and so it burns slower but still releases that lovely aroma.

Clark Drain 600 x 450mm Galvanised S/S Pedestrian 2.5T Manhole Cover PC6AG

got a couple of drains that lead to soak-away sewer ( old house, 16/700s so no moans, no septic tank but this works,. Noticed recently the old covers rusted through so bought these to replace, fit well, quick delivery and well priced. Perfect.

PowerLead Wifi 2.4GHZ UFO RC Aircraft Remote Control Drone RC Quadcopter Aerial Vehicle-Upgrade version

PowerLead Wifi 2.4GHZ UFO RC Aircraft Remote Control Drone RC Quadcopter Aerial Vehicle-Upgrade version

What I really liked about this drone is that it has a camera, and the kit has a card and USB card reader included.
So often items come without, and if you don’t have one handy you’ve to wait til you can buy one….can be frustrating, and with expensive items it just adds more onto the cost. Its a real bonus and very welcome when its included as it is here.
You will need four AAA batteries for the controller though, check you have them when you buy so you can order if needed. Then when it comes its ready to use.

Usually with tech items its the (very grown up) kids or the grandkids that do the testing, but they weren’t about for this so I tried.
Me and Tech don’t really mix and the first issue I had was how to get the battery in the drone. I turned it round, and over and just couldn’t see where it went. In despair I asked the sellers, who very promptly emailed back with a nice red arrow on an image showing me. Of course once pointed out it was obvious….oops. Great contact from sellers though, always good to hear.

So havening fixed that, tucked the SD card in the camera and batteries in the controller I read instructions, down-loaded the app to my phone, and went outside.
I’m a wheelchair user so couldn’t test too far as I wouldn’t be able to get it back. I’ve a huge garden but we’ve had so much rain the scooter won’t go over much of it.
It was pretty easy to work out how to use, and the app opened up easily, so if I was flying it high I could use the phone to work out best steering, not have to follow it almost out of sight.
I couldn’t work out how to work video or take images – my fault, lack of tech skills, not the device and now son number two has it he’s promised to send me some when he’s out with it.

I took it onto the patio, switched on, let it rise…and rise…and rise, before I worked out how to bring it down. It was about 20ft up, and over conservatory roof, and I was worried it would fall there and I’d be unable to get to it. Managed to bring it down, then crashed it from about 10 feet up onto the patio. The camera fell off but wasn’t damaged, and was easy to slot on again, and best of all the device wasn’t damaged.
With previous ones family have found that the blades and supports are quite fragile and easily damaged. This design is much more robust and less likely to break, though there’s a list of spare parts that can be ordered in the event something does.
I also crashed it onto a flower pot, where somehow a cane managed to catch in one of the parts where the propellers are, flicking it off. I thought it would break – it didn’t, and was easily clicked back on and running. There are spare propellers included with the device.

I think this is great value., more robust than others we’ve had and a good price. Son number two who has this now says they sell similar ones in the shop where he works for £500. He can’t see many differences to reflect the huge price variance.

NB: One things to be aware of is control, its easy to let it go further than you think ( my first play where it rose up 20ft or so very rapidly), and so keep it well away from roads, overhead wires and other peoples houses and gardens.
Don’t risk getting caught for invasions of people’s privacy, the camera is fun, but not for snooping in neighbours gardens or houses!!

Its a toy best suited to older, more responsible children and adults.

Stars: Five, Fun for older kids and adults

Product supplied for honest review. All items undergo assessment and testing where needed before I give my opinion, and stars given accordingly

Building Blocks, Coolife Building Bricks Building Toy Blocks 500 Pc Bulk Blocks Construction Set Bricks – Tight Fit with Major Brands

Building Blocks, Coolife Building Bricks Building Toy Blocks 500 Pc Bulk Blocks Construction Set Bricks – Tight Fit with Major Brands

Lego, bane of parents life as they are so awful to stand on, and the bits get everywhere – but kids love the stuff, and its very creative. It costs though, so when offered this set for review I knew 6 year old Brennan would love to play with it. We’ve cartons of Lego but never seem to have enough of the stuff.

So how did it do? Well, on first inspection we were really pleased, they fitted well together, and did fit the Lego too. A great choice of colours and shapes too mean kids can really get creative.

Of course Bren’s at that age when Guns Rule, and Light Sabres of course!
We made a couple but ….they fell apart very, very quickly. Lego is a pain to take apart but when used for “active” toys like this it works, stays together and the game isn’t spoiled by someone’s gun or sabre falling apart within seconds of starting the game.

I don’t know why they fall apart, it looks practically identical to Lego, must be an infinitesimal size difference or may the Lego words help grip? Who knows, but though they look the same they don’t perform the same.
I guess you get what you pay for, 500 Lego bricks would be far more expensive.

For static models, houses etc these are great value, and fit together well but for active games – and that’s what my grandkids mostly do – they’re simply no good.
I’ve star rated a three, 1 for active models, guns etc, and 5 for houses, castles, shops etc.
It really depends what your kids want the bricks for.

They really aren’t much good to Bren, we’ll stick to the pricier Lego, and less of it but if yours are more into model making, towers, houses etc then its a great value set.

Stars: Three.

Product supplied for honest review. All items undergo assessment and testing where needed before I give my opinion, and stars given accordingly.

5 in 1 Compact Mandoline Food Slicer

5 in 1 Compact Mandoline Food Slicer from Twinzee® – slices and shreds fruits and vegetables thinly, uniformly and quickly – comes with 5 interchangeable sharp stainless steel blades, protective hand guard and easy food storage container

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I had one of these ages ago then must have given it away.
This one has some updates, the box is great as its anti slip, and there’s no need to try to hold the grater/slicer at an angle for working. Just select the blade wanted, click carefully in place and then connect top to the box. Its easy to slice over the top and the food gets collected underneath.

This does great thin slices of cabbage, onion, carrot for coleslaw, apples, cucumber, red cabbage, radishes, even tomatoes which are a pain to slice thinly, for salads and sandwich fillings.
Food appearance is very important when you don’t always feel like eating and this makes it easy to do that. Drizzle a mix of shredded and sliced veg with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and instantly you’ve a quick and healthy salad.
As well as slicing there are blades for shredding, and zesting, great if you’re a marmalade maker. There are several different blades so pick which you need.
Easy to clean, just wash quickly in hot soapy water and take care with the sharp parts. don’t just drop those in the water leaving someone to put hand in bowl and find them the hard way.

The downside. You MUST use the guard.
Yesterday I was slicing cheese for cheese and onion pastries (tan and beth, also spinach and ricotta ones, both with filo pastry, Daz wanted bacon and sausage rolls, bren wanted ” that breadcrumb stuff” ??? turned out to be shortbread he wanted, we made some a few weeks back James is happy with anything.)
All went well with the cheddar, then i wanted some parmesan (veggie type) As it was a biggish wedge I didn’t bother with the spiked holder and – yep, sliced right across my thumb!!
Ouch. I put on plaster but it wouldn’t stop bleeding and I still had lots of cooking to finish, so a bigger plaster plus two disposable rubber gloves til tan got here and was able to dress it better.
Its my right thumb, i hadn’t realised how much we use thumbs,I do now.

Moral: ALWAYS, ALWAYS USE THE GUARD!!

Stars: Five, easy to use, very effective but do take care with safety. Don’t shortcut, always use the guard.

Product supplied for honest review. All items undergo assessment and testing where needed before I give my opinion, and stars given accordingly.

Some pretty jewellery today

SJS Collection Forever In My Heart Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Necklace w/ 9 AAA Cubic Zirconia Diamonds. 18″ (45cm) adjustable Ripple Chain with Lobster Claw Clasp, in an exquisite Jewelry Gift Box

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This pretty pendant comes in a gorgeous box. Its a dark matt brown with a matching outer card sleeve. the box has a padded top with silver branding.
I know its the jewellery that’s important but if giving as a gift good presentation makes it that bit more special. If this came in a simple drawstring net or velour bag it just wouldn’t feel the same.
I’ve had some beautiful jewellery for review that just comes in those bags, and they just don’t look as good. For the little extra a box costs wholesale it makes a huge difference to the feel of the item.

Anyway, the pendant….the main item 😉
This is a lovely heart shape. Its not a flat heart but one that twists and curves subtly, with a large central cubic zirconia and several smaller ones along one side of the heart. The rest stays plain and is highly polished, giving a great contrast.
Its a good size heart but being open stops it from looking ungainly as some larger pendants do.
I like the simplicity of the silver and the clear CZs and the simplicity of the rest of the heart.
It hangs from a simple open link chain with a lobster claw clasp. There’s a short extension if you want it to hang a bit longer.
The chain is a decent weight one, and though I usually give review items to friends and family I might just have to keep this one! Its not often one comes with a decent chain, and having broken far too many when I’ve forgotten to remove them at night its a real treat to see a robust chain for a change. It makes it worth the extra money.

The metal is  Hypoallergenic 92.5% S925 Sterling Silver. Plated with Rhodium. That means it keeps shiny for longer and is great for those with metal allergies or sensitivities like myself. Itching red rashes such as I get from nickel and lead containing items don’t look good, and for some people allergies can be far more dangerous so knowing what metals are used is very important. The S925 is stamped on the top hanger section of the pendant and can be seen in the final image.

This is good to see too – FULL 12 MONTH WARRANTY: If you experience any issues within the first 12 months, we will gladly replace it for a new one. NO RISK 30 DAY 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE – If you are unhappy with your purchase within the first 30 days, simply return it for a full refund.
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Stars: Five, beautiful pendant, worth that bit extra it costs for the heavier chain. We’ve all got pendants unwearable as the chain has given up haven’t we?

 

 

EleQueen 925 Sterling Silver “Heart of Ocean” Bridal Necklace Earrings Set Adorned with Swarovski® Crystals

This is a beautiful set, comes in a white and blue presentation box and will make a great gift – or treat yourself 😉

The earrings and pendant match, and each have a beautiful Swarovski® crystal heart in a lovely vivid blue.
The crystals are highly faceted and polished so they catch the light and the reflections in them make the blues seem to go from the very lightest range right through to a very dark, and are always changing according to how you look at them.

The set is made from Environment and skin friendly high polished finish Genuine 925 Sterling Silver.
Both earrings and the necklace carry the S925 mark, an international symbol for Sterling Silver, which you can see from my photograph. That’s important to those with metal allergies or sensitivities.
The hearts form the centre piece of this set, there are no other adornments, just these very simple, beautiful heart crystals. As the saying goes sometimes Less is More. Too much decoration takes away from pieces rather than complementing and these are pretty enough to stand on their own.
The chain is a very delicate twisted rope effect, with a simple ring clasp and a short extending section.
Its not the sort that will stand up to wearing all the time, as I tend to do, keeping them on constantly. I’ve found from experience the more delicate chains like this break, if like me you’re a restless sleeper…:-( so keep it for special occasions or at least take off at night.

Stars: Five, great gift for yourself, a friend or a lover .

 

EleQueen 925 Sterling Silver CZ AAA Button Cream Freshwater Cultured Pearl Ear Vine Crawlers Wrap Post Earrings 1 Pair

 

Review from Jeannie’s Reviews on wordpress.com

These earrings come in a white and blue presentation box and will make a great gift – or treat yourself 😉

These earrings are very unusual in that instead of hanging from the ear they sit across the ear, letting the cubic zirconias hang gently and catch the light.
Freshwater Pearls are natural items so won’t be identical, but they all are very well matched. I love the soft, subtle sheen of pearls, for so long thought of as an old ladies gem and yet now used very well on contemporary jewellery.
To contrast with the soft sheen of the pearl the Cubic Zirconias glitter and catch the light. They are small enough to reflect and sparkle but not so large they detract from the simplicity of the pearls. the set comes in three different colour ways.

The set is made from Environment and skin friendly high polished finish Genuine 925 Sterling Silver.The earrings carry the S925 mark, an international symbol for Sterling Silver, which you can see from my photograph. That’s important to those with metal allergies or sensitivities.

If you or a friend or relative  like jewellery with a touch of the unusual these earrings are a perfect gift.

Stars: Five, unusual earrings that make a great gift for yourself, a friend or a lover .

 

Products supplied for honest review. All items undergo assessment and testing where needed before I give my opinion, and stars given accordingly.

LADY COLOUR – Gift of Love – Necklace for Women with Crystals from Swarovski – CRYSTAL HEART collections

LADY COLOUR – Gift of Love – Necklace for Women with Crystals from Swarovski – CRYSTAL HEART collections

This is a beautiful set comes in a white and gold presentation box, and will make a great gift for Christmas or birthdays. There’s also a pretty pink velour drawstring bag to add to the ease of giving as a gift.

The chain is an open link one, twisted to give a kind of rope effect. It has a lobster claw clasp, and a section to extend the length if needed. Its a rose gold coloured metal, though not sterling silver, and there’s no information over possible gold, silver or rhodium plating. I can’t find any markings on the necklace to confirm.  The sellers state Metal type: Zinc Alloy, Lead (Pb), Cadmium (Cd), Nickel (Ni) free, so it should be OK but if you’ve metal allergies you need to take care.
At current selling price of £26.99 I’d expect it to be either sterling silver or plated with gold or similar. I’ve deducted a star for that, as for people with allergies it’s really important to know exactly what metal is used.

The actual pendant is really very attractive, composed of Crystals from Swarovski. The red colouring is unusual, clear or blues seem to dominate in jewellery, but this rich red is very festive and perfect to set off Christmas red or black outfits.
The main crystal, the rich red heart is large and has a filigree style metal backing. Its quite thick which lets the faceted cuts of the crystal show through and reflect different shades of red inside it.
On the top of the heart is a delicate bow in the same colour as the chain, with tiny clear crystals inset on it.
The back of the pendant is a rose gold coloured open lattice pattern effect, letting the silver back of the heart show through.

Its a very unique looking pendant and perfect for a Christmas gift.

Stars: Four, better info on the metal used and this would be a five. It really is eye-catching.

3D Printing Pen

 
3D Printing Pen, DIKI Upgrade Intelligent 3D Stereoscopic Printer Pen with Safety Holder, LED Screen and Free PLA Filament for Arts, Crafts, Scribbler Printing,Drawing,Dooling, Modeling and Writing (Black)

So this looked fun, I’ve had a couple of these for review last two months, having never used one before then, never even seen one though I have seen 3D printers online. Its still hard to get my head around that, keep thinking of paper printers!
There are two types of filament, PLA which this one uses and one that I think is called ABS. PLA seems to be the choice for hobbyists, having less smell, melted plastic can get a bit pongy but this was fine. I’ve not tried the other type of filament yet but there’s lots of info online.

Anyway, I’m not great at tech but opened the box, followed instructions and…nothing happened, light didn’t move from flashing red. Tried several times, then emailed sellers as clearly this one was damaged.
It happens and I feel its how sellers respond that makes it important, not so much that a product doesn’t work.
I had to send two emails, and it did take over a week for sellers to get back to me, but from then on everything was fine, a replacement sent and that worked as it should.
A quicker response would have been appreciated, I was about to add a one star review…..

So simply plug in, press switch as per instructions and go. I soon had a little 3D cobweb type pattern made ( see pics).
This pen has one button that controls all, heating, feeding in filament and retracting filament. Another one I tried had separate buttons for heating and feeding/retracting, and offered different speeds, and I think that’s better for control. However that was over £70 so you get what you pay for and unless you’re seriously in to 3D printing you may not want to spend that much.
Once again there’s a cable that has a round end, and if you loose it then you’ve problems. I do wish more devices were simple USB connections, they are so easy to replace 😦

With practice you can make all sorts of things, and like most things the more you practice the better you get.
It really is easy to use, instructions are simple to follow so I had no issues working it.
My 6 year old youngest grandson is keen to try it when he’s here next. With younger children you will need to supervise as of course the “nib” does get very hot.

You will need to buy more filaments too, there’s a couple of reels provided to get you started but they don’t last long. They’re easy to find online, but again check you get the right type.
Its a fun gadget for kids and adults.

Stars: Four, I did feel having one button for all made it less easy to control, though I guess practice would sort that out. I would have liked a quicker respond to my emails about the first faulty pen.

Product supplied for honest review. All items undergo assessment and testing where needed before I give my opinion, and stars given accordingly.

officematters 48 Pack Thank You Note Card Set- 6 Designs – Pearlescent Paper Made – Yellow Envelopes Included

officematters 48 Pack Thank You Note Card Set- 6 Designs – Pearlescent Paper Made – Yellow Envelopes Included

A huge set of 48 cards, with plain brown envelopes, beautifully presented in a pretty pink car box.

The cards are on a decent weight cardstock, not thin and flimsy, and the paper itself has a pearlescent effect. They take ink well without bleeding.
The set is in six different designs, and each contain a plain white pearlescent inner to write a short note on. That also shows up well against the stencil cut outs of the card front.

The only issue I can see with these is that who writes thank you cards now?
When I was a kid we always used to write them after xmas, but that seems to have largely died out, with texts, emails and calls taking the place.
Its lovely to get a thank you card but in practice it just doesn’t happen that often, and certainly few people need 48 of them.

I’ll probably cut off the thank you part and use these as blank cards, keeping the ones with the thank you stencil for the original purpose.
I’m sure if they were blank they’d have a much wider appeal. Its a shame to limit them in this way as they really are attractive and well worth the money.
Blank cards cover any occasion, birthdays, anniversaries, mothers/fathers day ect and well as doubling for thank you cards and just notelets to keep in touch.

Stars: Four, they are what they say, and good for that, but plain would be even better, and rate a five from me.

Product supplied for honest review. All items undergo assessment and testing where needed before I give my opinion, and stars given accordingly.

Reusable Advent Calendar

NICEXMAS Christmas Advent Calendar Countdown to Christmas , 64cm by 89cm

Tree arrives folded so it could do with ironing to keep it flat – I’m lazy, hate ironing so don’t have one…. I’ll probably press this under one of the living room sofa cushions, after removing the sweets of course!! Granddad used to press his trousers under the bed mattress, a trick he learned in the army in WW2. Who needs irons 😉

I love this tree, much larger than expected at 35 inches from top to base.
Its made of a strong hessian and felt fabric, with 25 stitched-on pockets. Each of those has a cute, tiny decoration stitched on, some embroidered to the surface but some are 3D sewn on. There’s also a snowflake hanging from a length of twine and you can tuck in in each day to see the date.
Its something that can be used again and again, looks good, perfect for traditional decorations.

I hate the way things are so disposable today, that’s so wasteful, so decorations like this are perfect of like me you care about impacting on the environment and its future.
I’ve got tree decorations made when my kids were tiny – they’re all now well into their thirties.
This calendar is perfect for keeping, either share or get one for each child. Lasting so long its cheaper than paying a fiver for a card one thrown away each year, and being able to customise it is great.

The pockets are big enough to hold a small wrapped sweet. I’ve got ones from a Morrison Xmas tub in them, like Roses or Quality Street, in each pocket.
You could put balloons, a tiny car, small things like xmas cracker gifts instead of chocolates. Or have an adult one with miniature liqueurs, lipsticks, nail varnish, jewellery, perfume samples etc.
Can’t think of many ideas you could do for a man. Tiny screwdrivers, nail clippers, keyrings. Condoms maybe…all those xmas parties 😉
I love the way you can use this year after year and customise it to what you want, and who will be opening it.

Note: Description says “Tree has 25 small hooks on which to hang 25 included ornaments, snowflake, stockings, snowmen, toys and more.” There are no actual hooks, or loose ornaments but but there are the sewn on ones, and I guess thats what they mean. You could hook ornaments over the pockets if wanted. I think that’s not needed though, they already have the decoration on each one, and the pockets hold a sweet or small gift. Less is more sometimes.

Stars: Five, It looks good, is a great price and can be used year after year.

Product supplied for honest review. All items undergo assessment and testing where needed before I give my opinion, and stars given accordingly.

Wireless Stereo Speakers, JingXiGuoJi Bluetooth Speakers Hi-Fi Soundbar,

Wireless Stereo Speakers, JingXiGuoJi Bluetooth Speakers Hi-Fi Soundbar, 3600mAh 10W Dual-Driver, Low Harmonic Distortion, Build-in Microphone, for TV PC iPhone iPad Samsung and More

Is it easy for non tech people like me to use? – well, yes it is.

It hadn’t been charged but it worked straight out of the box. Switch on, ask device ( in my case phone and Kindle) to find it via bluetooth.
I used my kindle fire first, switched both on, asked the fire to search and it was done. The speaker gives you voice prompts telling you what’s happening too and that’s always useful.
I also played some music through via my phone, LG Spirit, stuff streamed from Amazon Prime, several different types from Rock to Classical.

Sound quality seemed good to me, instead of tinny music from the Fire and phone I had  soothing, non irritating music. Played around with different tracks and all sounded good. You can use the audio jack to connect to non bluetooth/RFC devices too such as older TVs etc.
Battery Life is up to 24-hours / 500-song which is good, and it only takes four hours to charge. I tend to charge speakers every now and then regardless of whether they need it, so that most of the while the battery is full 🙂

Its got a smart clean appearance, in matt black and silver, with an on/off volume dial at the side. Its larger than many, all depends on what you want, the grandkids like ones to take around with them that fit into a pocket of bag and this is too big for that really but if you just want one for the home its perfect.

It has NFc capability too – something I’ve seen on my phone but had no idea what it is til recently. Wiki says its Near-field communication (NFC) is a set of communication protocols that enable two electronic devices, one of which is usually a portable device such as a smartphone, to establish communication by bringing them within about 4 cm (2 in) of each other I’ve not tried that out but its there if it interests you.

Stars: Five, It looks good, has great performance for the price.

Product supplied for honest review. All items undergo assessment and testing where needed before I give my opinion, and stars given accordingly.