Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

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Say cheeeese!

13 December , 2017

So you know those questionnaires where they ask, what’s the one thing you wouldn’t want to be stranded on an island without?

My thing is my camera. 

I know there are a legion on more sensible things that should realistically be on that list before camera, like a lighter or a knife for instance…but my thing is and has always been, camera.

I take A LOT of photos. In fact if you want a good gage of my happiness levels all you have to do is take note of my monthly count of photos when I do my backups. The more I take, the happier I am.

What I don’t seem to have an addiction to is printing my photos. It’s actually a finance thing I guess. If I have to choose between printing photos and paying school fees, school fees are going to win every time.

And so, it came to a point where I haven’t printed photos since about 2007, and Nicola has been asking about me printing her a photo album for ages! And then as luck would have it, enter extra money stage left.

So for her birthday this year I thought a photo book might be a nice idea, only to realise that I have so many favourite photos of her that I can’t fit them all in one book! So a photo book per year then? And a firm intention to keep this up annually from now on?

Seemed like a great plan!

For my next trick I had to actually design these books and get them printed, but not for love or money could I get Qphoto’s software installed or working on my laptop…so I found an alternative out of desperation. And boy, am I glad I did!

24HourPhotobooks was such a pleasure to deal with! You can literally create an awesome photobook in about 10 minutes, provided you’ve gone through the process of picking your favourite photos already. And you get your book 24 hours after ordering and paying. Okay, I got mine 2 days later because it was a bulk order, but I still think that’s amazingly fast.
The books came out beautifully! I can’t wait for Nicola to see them. They’re all wrapped up already so I can’t show you, but I have a sneak peek of the covers that I can.

Just LOOK at this little face! I love this kid so much I could burst! 

It has really been quite an emotional experience going through 8 years of memories and THOUSANDS of photos putting these together. (2017 is just waiting for December photos and then it’ll be ordered too).

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Comparing apples with lemons

11 March , 2013

So, due to my extreme bad cell phone luck of late I am in a unique position to do a comparison on the services I received from the two different companies I used to repair my screen after I accidentally annihilated it.

Let’s do it chronologically, shall we?

moldy lemon

Cellphone Surgeon

When you look at the website don’t be dazzled by this royal “we” business…it’s actually just one guy working from home.

How I ended up taking my phone there the first time: I phoned around for quotes. I got five different ones and this one was the second cheapest at R1700. When I asked the companies to email written copies of the quotes to me the cheapest one (R1600) didn’t bother, which I took as a good indication of what kind of service I would get there.

I was told to rock up on Friday the 22nd at 9:00 and that it would take an hour to fix. In fact the CONFIRMATION email I received on the Thursday clearly stated that I needed to be there from 09:00 to 10:00 the next day, and confirmed the colour of my phone and everything.

The original plan was to drop Nicola off at school and head straight through to Pretoria after that, but Murphy smiled on us that day and she was too sick to go to school so I took her along with me.

When we got there Wilco (he of the royal “we”) decided to share the news with me that he didn’t actually have stock of my screen and would only be getting it at 12:00. I threw a hissy fit because it really wasn’t in my grand scheme of the day to wait in Pretoria for three hours, and if he knew he was only getting it at 12:00 why the hell ask me to come through at 09:00?! For this I dragged my poor sick child out of bed?!

He said I could take it or leave it, that’s just the way it was going to be. I would have dearly loved to leave it, but we were leaving for Ballito the next morning and I needed my phone fixed pronto…so Nicola and I spent a couple of hours cooling our heels at the local Spur waiting for my phone. Seriously though?! Who uses “take it or leave it” as a valid response to a customer complaint these days?!

When we got there at 12:00…surprise-surpise…he wasn’t there, and wasn’t ready. Eventually he rocked up and proceeded to glue all the parts of the phone together again. I paid the man and we left shortly before 12:30 (he only arrived at 12:15).

Oh…he threw in the little silver strip that goes round the screen replacement as a sort of thank you for f-ing me around for three hours. I left utterly unconvinced of his regret but at least my phone was fixed and it happened in one day which is better than the two week lead time some of the R2200 places had quoted me over the phone.

I would not recommend this company at all…I would in fact highly recommend that you avoid them if at all possible.

apple

Platinum Repairs

These guys were the third best price when I phoned round the first time at R1800. I know it seems silly to have picked the “winner” above based on R100 or R200 difference, and if I knew then what I know now I would definitely have gone straight to them to begin with!

How I found out about them: one of my colleagues is friends with one of their technicians and he told me about them. I asked him to please call in a favour for me and see if they would come and repair my phone and allow me to pay them at the end of the month. I probably would not have been able to ask for that if I didn’t have some sort of indirect personal connection to them through my colleague, but they pleasantly surprised me by saying yes! (Two enormous excess payments in one month just doesn’t fit into my please-let-there-be-no-surprises budget).

What a completely different experience from the first repair!

I received an email copy of the invoice well in advance with confirmation that they would allow me to pay at the end of the month. They also confirmed the time slot and date of the repair.

Get this: the technician comes out to you and does the repair right there next to you and it doesn’t cost a cent extra! Just the amount of time I spent driving to Pretoria and shooting the breeze at Spur already makes this well worth it! *does cartwheels of joy*And the guy they sent happened to be my colleague’s friend, Emwee.

He arrived early, which was already a great first impression for me, and then he unpacked all his tools (little rubber mat, screw drivers, blow-torch, spare parts, rubber gloves, blades and what not). He quietly sat right next to me and got to work.

It turns out that all the glue from the first repair bumped against the LCD when it took it’s light tumble last week, and the LCD is such a flimsy fragile little thing that it just completely shattered! Emwee took out a blade and meticulously scraped old glue out of my poor phone’s innards.

He put everything together again with the new screen, but because my phone actually has had its fair share of tumbles even before this, the frame isn’t exactly factory standard straight anymore. Emweee took it all apart and back together numerous times, until he was absolutely satisfied that it wouldn’t fall out and that everything lined up perfectly. He then tested every little thing he tinkered with to make sure that everything was working perfectly. All of this took just under an hour to do.

I am tickled pink at how well the second repair went and especially that they came right to my office to do it. I can only kick my own ass for not going with them the first time! This company bent over backwards to accommodate me in every aspect and they did an excellent job of fixing my phone. Without a doubt, I would highly recommend them to anyone who needs their gadgets fixed.

I asked them if they would mind me doing a write up to share my experience with you, just so you know I’m not getting anything for this post, I volunteered. Delightful people, real professionals – I hope you never need a repair, but if you do I hope you consider them for the job. They mostly repair Apple products, and the Samsung Galaxy S2 is the actually the only exception to that – lucky me. 🙂

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Review : Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

29 July , 2011

Pinched photo from The Cupcake Lady site

As you know I recently volunteered to beta test some cupcakes for Angel and the batch I selected was the chocolate chip cookie ones. On The Cupcake lady’s website the description Angel wrote for them was: It’s a dense sponge base topped with a chocolate chip pecan nut topping that looks like a cookie once it’s baked!

When you test a batch you get 12…I decided to ask my team at work to help out with the testing. It seemed like a nice group activity to start off with, and secondly I probably shouldn’t eat 12 cupcakes all by myself, now should I? 😉

The rules were as follow: if you want to play you have to pick a nickname for yourself, tell me what you thought about the cupcake, and allow me to post the review on my blog.

And without further ado, here they are – completely unedited, exactly as I received them:

Steamcleaner

Chewy and delicious!

QueenFluff

Hallo,

I LOVED the idea of trying a Beta Recipe.

This one did not say cup cake to me.  😦

Rather would have liked it warm in a ramekin with a dollop of double thick woolies cream 

(I heated mine in the microwave for a couple of seconds – yum)

Ben

–  Smells heavenly , like a yummy winters day
 – explosion of chocolate, sweet and salt – nice balance

– the nuts make it heavy and not very yummy

– there is something about this chocolate, i just cant put my taste buds to it

Chin

The cup cake really looks amazing. When you go thru the website, the looks of the cup cakes will make you feel hungry I think.

My believe is if a food item looks good, and smells good, it will obviously be yummy. Hope the cup cake lady makes without eggs as well so that I can take  a few for my wife.

Thanks for bringing them.

King Fluffy

Moet se was baie lekker gewees – sponse koek was heerlik en die choc chip pecan nut topping was net reg – Groter size sou ook goed gewees het en daar moet n opsie wees om n koffie liquer te kan bysit –

SniperWoolF

“Good composition and texture.I would buy or eat another, would not say that it is better than sex however it is better than firing of a round. Headshot! When do i get more??? ”

Princess Victoria

I had R-rrrrrough morning..and then Louisa, dearest Louisa came 2me
wit cupcake. Damn I forgot..I committed 2write a review. Admin.  Sweet
Louisa recommended that I put in micro for 10 seconds.

I put it in2 mouth, bit a huge piece cos I was hungry and then time
stopped. Oh my word..I didn’t expect the inside 2b soft warm and oh my
word crunchy! Time stood still. Delish! This is totally better than
s*x..and please note my bar for s*x is very high!  Chocolate, melting,
crunchy moment. This is not a cupcake..this is love!! Why complicate
my life wit relationship for this “feeling” if can order 50 of these
and have it delivered to my home!

Superhero

Refuses to comment on the grounds that it might incriminate him. He promises that he has an opinion, he just refuses to tell me what it is. But he looks friendly about it – so I’m guessing it’s good? (At least he picked a nickname and now make flying and whooshing movements and sounds when called by it).

And myself

These little chocolate chip cookie cupcakes were just lovely. Definitely not a run of the mill cupcake though – they actually said pudding to me more than cupcake. The bottom bit was crispy and the inside and top chewy and rich. Even when having a regular cupcake I always like to nuke it for 10 seconds before eating it – and I had this one the same way. Yumm, yumm, yumm! (Word of caution though, 10 seconds is really enough – Ben heated half of his up on my recommendation but went for 30 seconds instead and almost torched the office kitchen in the process!).

This was so much fun that we’ll have to do it again soon. 😀 Thanks for letting us play Angel!

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Product Review : Huggies Pull-Ups

5 April , 2011

No one asked me to do this, but since we’re trying it out I thought I might as well let you in on the experience.

You might be wondering why the heck I would be looking in to these to begin with since Nicola is nowhere near ready to start potty training, and they cost roughly twice what the normal nappies cost? Well, the nappy changing experience has become rather traumatic quite frankly, for both Nicola and I. If I didn’t care about that she’d be in the tree hugger pants instead – cause they’re a helluva lot cheaper but she hated them too!

At school they don’t seem to have a problem with it at all, so I’ll keep sending the regular ones to them until she starts with actual potty training. At night when she’s half asleep she also doesn’t put up as much of a fight, so the normal ones will work just fine for that too. But those other times…oh my aching ovaries! She really makes me work for it. Kicking, screaming, squirming, more screaming. You’d swear I was actually trying to skin her the way she carries on some days. If it was just me, I’d take it personally – but she does the exact same with my mom too. You’d think that after the amount of diaper changes we’ve done together that she would have made peace with them by now, but she really hasn’t. She puts up a fight every time with the passion of someone who actually thinks they can win the battle (and I assure you, she can’t – I’m not letting her run around without one).

The pull-up nappies are amazing. Pulls up like a pair of pants, works like a nappy – what’s not to love? Also pretty cool when little fingers start trying to undo their own nappy tags at the sides (and sometimes manage to get at least one off!). It actually seems like a better and way more comfortable nappy for Nicola in general, so that’s good. No leaks whatsoever, excellent! …And then we had our first dirty nappy, which kind of left me scratching my head wondering how I was going to get the thing off her without making an almighty mess. Eventually I cut it off with a pair of scissors and much waling ensued because unfortunately she obviously had to lie down (and sort of still) for me to do it. The normal way we fit the pull-up is sort of on the run (I mean that quite literally).

Later, I discovered that the stretchy sides are actually made to tear loose. Psst! Huggies people: you might want to add that little gem somewhere on the packaging, see? (never mind, I found it in small print on the side I opened the bag on) Also, if you need glasses to read you might want to whip them on before you attempt your first go. There is a tiny little dot somewhere on the nappy that says “Back” in semi-small print, otherwise you might end up studying the nappy and turning it over and over like we did in wonder for a few minutes. The front and back look practically identical and both have the exact same pictures on. I wouldn’t stress too much about it though, if you can’t find the difference between front and back, I’m sure your baby’s bottom should be fine either way too. (Aaah yes, in the light of a new day and less pressure to get the pants on we have noticed that the pictures are the same but from different angles, which actually explains a lot).

Don’t worry, we got it eventually.

Regardless of the one or two little things, I think we really really love these nappies. They are awesome. Go get some!

We’re on four different types of nappies now:

  • Pamper’s Active Baby  – send to school
  • Real Baby – Night time nappy
  • Huggies Pull-Ups – Weekend daytime nappy
  • Swimnappies – We’ll only be trying these out on our vacation for the first time (we’ll let you know how that goes when we get there).
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Sea and Sand – Book Review

18 March , 2011

Sea & Sand_1300477603054

On of my very close friends asked me if I could do a blog review for him on this book.

You know me… 😉 I love doing reviews, but if I don’t like something I’ll be honest about no matter who asked me to do it. This time is not one of those occasions though. 😆 I absolutely adored this book!

What a beautiful little book for kids. The book, Sea & Sand,  was written and illustrated by Jonathan Lang to help his own children deal with his divorce in a way that would help them to still feel secure, and know that both their parents still loved them even though they couldn’t be together anymore.

The way in which the story of Timmy (the land turtle) and Erin (the sea turtle) is told is really quite special, and the message is simple: sometimes no matter how hard you try or how much you love someone, it just doesn’t work. Not because anyone did something wrong or was a bad person, but rather because sometimes people are just too different.

This book would be wonderful way to explain to young children that both their parents still love them more than anything even though they can’t stay together, especially when they are committed to making it the least traumatic experience possible for their kids.

Where a divorce is not so squeaky clean and amicable, I think reading this book could benefit a lot of grown-ups too.

If you want to know more about the book you can visit the site: Sea And Sand

Just have a look at this little video clip of Connor telling his story and how the book helped him.

This book was quite clearly written with a lot of love…

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Real Baby : Other

20 December , 2010

As you know, we were asked to review the new range of baby products from Pick ‘n Pay recently, and if you want to see the other posts in this range you can find them here:

This is our last post on these goodies. We have thoroughly enjoyed trying them out – so thanks again for the opportunity. 😀

The last lot of products consist of the cotton wool pleats and puffs, the baby ear buds, and the hygiene liquid.

20101203365

 

20101203368

On the hygiene liquid I can only say this: we us that kind of thing for first aid only. It smells exactly like Savlon, which is what we would usually use, or Dettol, and I have no doubt that it will be just as effective at cleaning any scrapes or cuts as Savlon is.

On the cotton pleats and puffs I had to round up some help in testing them. Nicola and I don’t really use cotton wool, not since I started washing her face with a regular facecloth instead of swabbing it with cotton wool like they showed us in the hospital anyway. My mom however does her nails on a fairly regular basis and uses loads of cotton wool.

She says that the mark of a decent cotton wool is that it doesn’t leave fluff behind which will later wreck the nail polish…and the Real Baby cotton wool is good quality stuff in that regard.

Now…as for the baby ear buds… I am intrigued. What do people use it for in general? I don’t stick anything in Nicola’s ears at all. Ever. And these ear buds don’t fit anyone else’s ears in this house.

So I decided that there MUST be a use for them – even if it was not the traditional one. Which launched me on a massive arts and crafts project. I ended up making our own Christmas cards for the family – which I think will be a real winner, and using the baby buds as paint applicators. I’m pretty sure if your kid has proper-ish hand-eye-co-ordination at a later stage you could let them loos with these instead of paint brushes if you happened to lose yours, but we only used them as applicators for this round.

That is really the only thing I could come up with to do with them, but they worked great! 😆

20101210430Messy messy messy! Hahahah, Nicola was not impressed with my idea – just so you know. She doesn’t like her hands to be dirty.

20101210432Our makeshift paint brushes/applicators. 🙂

20101212467The end product, which I think came out lovely. We personalised the front covers too and covered them in stick-on plastic after they were dry. I think they will be keepers.

Thank Pick ‘n Pay, I had a lot of fun trying our your new range. 😀

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Real Baby : Bath and Body goodies

10 December , 2010

As I mentioned in my previous post we’ve been asked to try out the new range of baby products for Pick ‘n Pay and to share our experiences with you.

See also our post on Nappies and Related if you want to know more.

This week we’re looking at the bath and body goodies we received to try out:

Tear free shampoo

20101203359You know what people ALWAYS say to me when the first see Nicola? They say, “Wow! Just look at all that hair!”. Yup, she has a lot of hair…you actually have no idea how long it is really because of the curls, but when I wash it it hangs halfway down her back already.

So you can imagine that shampoo is one of those things that is important to us. You can’t have beautiful curls like that and not make sure that they’re taken care of.

We wash Nicola’s hair (under duress! so not exactly tear free on our side) every second night. At the moment we use Annique baby shampoo at %^&$#-ing R60 per bottle! Not by choice I assure you, it doesn’t even smell particularly nice. The reason why we use it is because someone told us that it clears up cradle cap in a flash. Maybe on babies with less hair, but I can’t really say that it’s worked miracles for us so far. Nicola still has one particularly stubborn patch of cradle cap – no one ever sees it though because it’s quite well stashed between the locks. But I know it’s there…and I want it gone!

So, as it is we are in the market for a new baby shampoo.

The Real Baby Shampoo comes out in a thick clear gel, has a lovely smell, nice lather…and would you believe it if I told you that not only did we experience a lot less tangles than usual, but quite a bit of the cradle cap came off too.

I don’t know if it’s meant to do all that or if it just happened to work that way on Nicola, but we’re sold. We love it! 😀 Will definitely be getting more of this in future. 😀

Baby Soap

20101203351 Usually we use a Johnson’s & Johnson’s Bed Time Bath liquid soap so using a bar of baby soap was really a first for us.

I am sorry to say this one was not a winner for us. 😦

Things we didn’t like about it was that it didn’t smell particularly nice, and even though Nicola didn’t develop any skin irritation from using it we feel it might be a tad strong for her baby skin. After washing she was literally squeeky clean, like all the natural oils had been stripped from her skin.

Maybe this is not such a big thing since there are so many moisturising products to use after bath time, but I think we’ll stick with what we’re using at the moment.

Baby Oil

20101203358We don’t use a lot of baby oil at the moment, mostly we use it in winter but we made an exception to try it out anyway.

When we do us baby oil we usually like the purple or green Johnson’s & Johnson’s ones.

The Real Baby oil compares very well with what we usually use. It’s got a lovely subtle smell and it absorbs quickly into the skin without changing Nicola into a slippery little eel.

We like it – we’d be happy to use this or our regular brand. 🙂

Baby Lotion

20101203361 We do use baby lotion, but honestly we’re not too picky about which one. Luckily Nicola doesn’t have any skin issues with any of the major brands – so we can pretty much use whatever we have on hand.

We tried the Real Baby – Baby Lotion and what I will say is that it smells fantastic. I think this will be ideal going forward, because you know my little girl is almost a year old now…she’s more a toddler than a baby now, and as such I think she would much rather go round smelling of lovely chamomile than the usual baby powder smell? 😉

This baby lotion went on easily, absorbed quickly and her skin was soft and smelling like a daisy chamomile afterwards. We like it! 🙂

Aqueous Lotion

20101203362We use aqueous lotion pretty much interchangeably with the normal body lotion.

What can you really say about aqueous lotion? They all pretty much look the same (like a sloppy cottage cheese texture) and the usually are either un-fragranced or specifically scented with something that is meant to be calming.

Before we got the Real Baby ones to try we already had two tubs open at home: one J&J one that’s scented like baby powder, and one Elizabeth Anne’s one scented like lavender (which smells like there’s some khaki bos in ther too- blergh!).

I can’t really say if the Real Baby cream is a better or worse aqueous cream than the others, but once again it goes on easily, is absorbed quickly, gave us no skin irritations whatsoever, and smelled a helluva lot better than the other ones.

We like it! 🙂

Petroleum Jelly and Baby Powder

20101203363 20101203364

I have no idea what people use this for. It smells nice though? 😉

We probably won’t be getting any more though since we don’t really use it for anything.

Little bit in general

I just want to say that I am really pleasantly surprised by the Real Baby products from Pick ‘n Pay that we’ve been trying out so far. Despite the few items that we haven’t found particularly useful and the one single item we found that we didn’t like we really do love the range as a whole…and I for one didn’t start out thinking that we would.

I think that they’ve really come up with a winning recipe, and that once moms and babies give it a try they will love the products for their quality, even though they might start out getting it because of the price.

Next post we’ll cover the remaining products we received, namely the cotton wool pleats and puffs, the baby ear buds and the hygiene lotion. I hope you’ve found this helpful and/or entertaining. Once again, I would just like to stress that the opinions in these posts are our own honest experiences of the products and that we are not being paid to say nice things about them. 😉