How To Spend It Well At Christmas 2018 – Episode 1 Toys

Phillip Schofield is back with his look at the best things on offer in the shops for Christmas – How To Spend It Well At Christmas. As per last year, episode one took an in depth look at toys for children. Along with some help from famous faces and members of the public, the latest toys were put through their paces and judged for our benefit.

The programme started with Phillip on one of the stars from later on, a ride on unicorn! It was an entertaining start in true Schofield style.

Board Games

The first category to be looked at was board games. Actor Simon Gregson, who has been playing the character Steve MacDonald in Coronation Street since 1989, was joined by wife Emma and his two eldest sons Alfie and Harry, and a group of families in Manchester to test 5 of the latest games. Continue reading

Decoupage: A Fun Way To Be Creative

Decoupage | Best Gift GuideKeeping the kids entertained on weekends and holidays can be difficult, particularly during the winter months when playing outside isn’t really an option. But there are so many wonderful craft ideas available to kids that this no longer has to be a problem.

Crafts helps kids use their imagination and art skills to make something they can treasure. Most often these treasures can be made using everyday household items and so are a cheap option too!

Continue reading

Advent Calendars For Men 2018

As we hit the middle of November we start to really think about Christmas, and the never ending present buying. Ok, we still have well over a month, but of course the 1st of December will be here before you know it. And on 1st we all like to start opening our advent calendars – the Christmas countdown is finally on it’s way.

Whilst advent calendars are great for the children in our lives, lets not forget the men in our lives too, and give them a daily treat to look forward to. Here is our choice of advent calendars for men.

Beer Hawk 2018 Craft Beer Advent Calendar Set

I have to start with the Beer Hawk Craft Beer Advent Calendar, because this is what I would want. (Yes, that is a massive hint…). Discover a new beer every day for 24 days, each from a different brewery.

If your man is a beer drinker then he will be thrilled to try some new beers. Chosen by Beer Hawk’s experts, these 330 ml cans will introduce some that you may have never heard of, but will open his eyes to something other than his usual.

Alternative – Blue Tree’s 24 Bottle Craft Beer Advent Calendar

Man’Stuff Mega Toiletry Advent Calendar

Each day reveals a new toiletry item for your man. As well as making them smarter in the run up to the big day, you will be pleased that this comes from a UK brand that adopts a cruelty free policy.

Alternative – Accentra Beauty Advent Calendar

Christmas Beard Oil Advent Calendar

Now this won’t be a fit for every man, but if you have a bearded man in your life, then this will be a hit. Open 24 different scented beard oils and smell lovely through December. Each bottle contains 2ml of scented oil – enough for several days use with many men.

I couldn’t find an alternative, but I did find this Christmas baubles beard set – please do not buy this, it looks awful!

Fragrance Advent Calendar

With 24 different fragrances is 15ml bottles, this advent calendar will give your man a chance to try new fragrances that may just become his signature scent.

 

Alternative – Technic Man’Stuff Toiletry 12 day Advent Calendar

Duerrs Jam & Marmalade Advent Calendar

Now I love jam and marmalade on toast in the mornings, although during the week I don’t often get time. So an advent calendar with 24 20g pots really appeals to me. Not only that, you get a mini jar of whisky and marmalade – yum! But the only downside is that you get 12 of the same strawberry jam, and 12 of the marmalade. Compared to the other calendars this seems a little disappointing in choice, but if you want jam and marmalade, then why not?

Alternative – C&T Organic Spices Advent Calendar

How To Choose A Hair Dryer

When it comes to personal appearances, your hair is one of the first things that people see, especially from a distance. So if you want to make an impression, you really want to try to look after your hair as much as possible.

Hair dryers come in a variety of models and have certain different benefits, so choose wisely. What’s good for someone with big curly hair may not be the same as for those with short spiky hair. Continue reading

Handbags And Gifts From Reclaimed Materials

More and more people are conscious of the effects our lives on the planet, are interested in using materials more than once and cutting back on waste. For example, single use plastics are so hot in the news nowadays, and this can only be good for the environment.

If you or your loved ones fit into this category, then you may like to spread the word, in a subtle way. I know many people make their own wrapping paper out of brown paper and decorate it. But if you aren’t quite so artistic (me included!), but still want to do your bit, you may be interested in sourcing goods that are made from recycled materials. Continue reading

Gifts For Coffee Lovers

1 cup coffee plungerFor Father’s Day back in June, my gorgeous girls bought me a 1 cup coffee plunger. Quite a simple present, and certainly not the most expensive, but it has been one of the best presents I have received in years.

Now, I am no coffee snob, but I do like coffee. However I would never bother to go to the effort of all those different machines – I am quite happy with a bit of (quality) instant. I know, I know… But having my new present has pushed me to us it, and I now look forward to a better quality coffee every morning. Continue reading

How High Should A Basketball Hoop Be?

basketball hoopWith school children coming towards the end of the school holidays, thoughts return to school, and if your child is sporty, can they get into the school teams this year. As a parent you will want to help them in their sporting endeavours, and if basketball is the sport for your child, then maybe you will be looking to buy them a basketball hoop to practice.

If you get a free standing backboard and net on a stand then you will be ok. But if you buy them a backboard and net that you need to fix to an outside wall so they can practice after school, you will want to know how high should a basketball net be so that you fix it at the correct height. Continue reading

Couch Coaster – as seen on TV

I do love to see small business programmes on TV – Dragons Den is probably the most famous. But tonight I have just seen another episode of Give It A Year, hosted by Karen Brady.

In this ITV programme Karen Brady meets new entrepreneurs who have an idea for a business, and have started on their journey to hopefully becoming a success. They discuss where they are, and what they want to achieve over the next 12 months, before she returns a year later to see how they progressed.

It’s fast action, as with 2 companies in a 30 minute show, it lacks the advice and in depth details that I feel it could give. But it does show what small companies need to go through, so you may find it interesting.

In tonight’s episode Karen met with Barry Freeder, a young man who had invented the Couch Coaster. He came up with the idea whilst watching Match of the Day with a beer in his hand. With his coffee table over the other side of the room, he felt there must have been a way to hold his beer bottle and so invented Couch Coaster (with a prototype starting from a pizza box!).

As you can see, the Couch Coaster is a long silicon product that drapes over the arm of your sofa. In the middle of the product is a holder for your cup, can or bottle, either hot or cold.

By choosing this holder you don’t need to position a coffee table nearby, or leave your drink on the floor where it is likely to be knocked over by pets, children, swinging doors or a forgetful yourself!

 

Available in 5 colours – brown, cream, grey (pictured), red and black – all designed to complement your sofa of choice. It has a slot for cup handles when drinking tea or coffee, but also comes with an adapter which you can insert to keep cans and bottle snug and spill free.

The buyers on Amazon that left reviews are very complimentary about the product – so many people giving it 5 stars. One person was even close to buying their 7th CouchCoaster – but only because their dog kept chewing them up! But seriously, I have rarely seen a product with almost all positive comments.

If your husband has a horrible knack of keep spilling their drinks, why not copy one of the buyers who bought one for their husband as a joke. He loved it! And has been spill free ever since.

If you have been looking for something to stop drinks spilling, this could be just what you need.

 

 

 

 

Anki Cozmo : Is This The Best Robot You Can Buy?

I first came across the Anki Cozmo robot last November when watching Phillip Schofield’s How To Spend It Well. It looked great, and so clever, learning as it played.

So 8 months down the line I thought I would take a more in depth look. First of all, an introduction from Mark Wesley, one of the engineers that works on the Cozmo.

 

First of all I have to start with the fact that it is not large at around 20 cm square. When I think of robots I always imagine them at least knee high, but what it lacks in height it makes up for in functions.

Cozmo is an intelligent robot that plays with you, and learns about it’s environment. It shows feelings, and it’s rather cute face (display) will keep you amused.¬†Thanks to artificial intelligence, Cozmo can express hundreds of emotions.¬†It also learns to recognise faces – up to about 8.

Using the app that is required, you can code Cozmo with Code Lab – a simple coding tool. Simply drag some blocks on your app and Cozmo will follow the instructions. He is also great at lifting his Power Cubes and stacking them on top of each other.

Using Explorer Mode you can see on his display what he sees. I think this and the Code Lab are perfectly demonstrated in this video:

Who wouldn’t want to play tricks on their teenage brother?

I’ve mentioned that Cozmo is quite small, but he is extremely tough. As well as being built to last, there are no worries when it comes to data security.

What age range would appreciate Cozmo? It’s recommended for ages 8 and upwards. But with owner reviewers up into their 40’s you can see that it has a wide attraction. If you have more than one child then they can all have apps on their phone or tablet to control Cozmo – but not all at the same time. Maybe a great idea for when they are at home at different times.

It comes boxed with 1 Cozmo robot, 1 charger, and 3 Power Cubes. I was very impressed by one reviewer who said that by playing with Cozmo her 9 year old son, whos suffers from autism, was learning about playing for the fun of playing rather than having to win. He doesn’t have many friends so finds the social interaction of Cozmo a great addition to his life.

Overall Cozmo is a great toy robot. It is a toy built by a robotics company, which puts it way ahead of any toy company made robots. Yes it is small, and it is expensive, but the coding skills learnt, the way it interacts with you as it learns, and it’s all round entertainment value make this a great buy for someone interested in a little friend.

If you do buy Cozmo and you want to take him to friends, you may be interested in the hard carrying case specifically designed for purpose.

10 Classic Garden Games For The School Holidays

With schools across the country about to break up for 6 weeks, how are you going to keep your young ones entertained? I am sure there will be holidays and day trips planned, but these can prove expensive. With the best will in the world, there will be days at home.

Whilst your children may be happy to be indoors either watching TV or playing on their computer games, you may be itching for them to get outside in the sunshine (presuming that this great weather we have had so far this summer continues. Never a given when it comes to school holidays!). Continue reading