Having fun with Hama Beads

We have recently fallen in love with Hama Beads.  We have had them in the house before, but A had the princess mobile kit for Christmas and amazed me by wanting to spend a whole day making it.  It is her pride and joy and is hanging above her bed.

Hama Princess Mobile

I love the idea of the mobiles as it gives you somewhere safe to put your creations when you have finished which for younger children is ideal.  L was quite fascinated by the mobile and how it had been made so when I was offered the chance to review some Hama Beads, I chose a mobile set that I thought he would like.  There were two reasons why I wanted to try Hama Beads with L; firstly because I knew that he would enjoy it as he is quite creative but the main reason is that Hama Beads are a good way to improve fine motor skills and concentration in children; both of which we need to work on with L.

The Space Mobile set is fantastic.  It contains 2500 beads and two peg boards with the instructions to create rockets, spaceships, planets stars and even a rather sweet looking alien along with the instructions and the kit to make the mobile when you have finished.  L is 8 and I was really pleased to see him get stuck into the mobile straight away.  He is also a bit of a perfectionist however and so many planets have been created and then tipped back into the box.

Hama Beads

As the last couple of weeks of term have been really busy, L hasn’t got very far with the mobile as yet but is keen to carry on with it during the holidays and he wants to finish it before he moves into a bedroom of his own in a few weeks so that he can hang it up above his bed.  We do have an alien and planet Earth so far.  I think that the Space Mobile kit will look brilliant when it is finished and it defeinitely makes Hama Beads more appealing to boys.

Hama Beads Space Mobile

A wasn’t left out and she had the Hama Beads Window Decorations.  As soon as she saw the box, she couldn’t wait to get started.  This set has 4000 Beads and comes with three different peg boards, instructions and white tack to enable you to stick your finished creations to the window.  What I also liked about this particular set is that it comes with a large plastic tray that is great for putting the beads in while you work.

Hama Beads Window Decorations

Hama Beads

Sticking your creations on the window once you have finished is such a lovely idea and a really great way to display your hard work.  A has completed half of the models and they are proudly displayed on the living room window.

Hama Beads Window Decorations

Both of the sets have been really well received and both L and A will enjoy continuing with them over the next couple of weeks.  I secretly quite like ‘helping’ too as Hama Beads are really therapeutic for adults too.

Hama Beads are available from Craft Merrily, hamabeads.com and Crafty Crocodiles.

We were sent both sets for the purpose of this review.  All images and opinions are my own.

Morphy Richards 9-in-1 Upright and Handheld Steam Cleaner Review and Giveaway

When you have someone in the house with an allergy to house dust mites, a steam cleaner is a really useful tool.  Whilst it doesn’t get rid of them altogether, it does help if you use it in the areas where the sufferer spends the most time.  L has an allergy to house dust mites and particularly in his bedroom, it is a constant job to thoroughly clean all of his bedding, bed, curtains and carpets to try and ease his symptoms.

Morphy Richards 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner

So when I was offered a Morphy Richards 9-in-1 Upright and Handheld Steam Cleaner to review, it looked like its many functions would be a great help both in my battle with the dust mites and also generally for cleaning around the house too.  It can be used as an upright steam cleaner and also as a handheld too and it comes with a variety of attachments allowing you to;

  • mop hard floors
  • steam carpets, upholstery, bedding, curtains, mattresses
  • clean tiles, grout, mirrors, windows, bathroom surfaces, wheel trims, worktops, glass surfaces, oven and hob
  • help to de-ice the freezer
  • steam clothing

Morphy Richards 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner

Setting up and general use

The instructions are really straightforward and it doesn’t take long to read through them.  Setting the steam cleaner up is really easy and it is simple to change from upright to handheld and to add and remove the different attachments.  Within ten minutes of getting the 9-in-1 out of the box, I was cleaning with it.  The water is contained in a 400ml detachable tank which is easy to detach and refill and you can see how much water is in the tank and you don’t have to wait for the cleaner to cool down before adding more water.  This amount of water lasts for around 20 minutes of steam cleaning.  It also has variable steam which is useful as it allows you to control the amount of steam depending on where you are using it.  A new feature of this model is that it has an anti-scale cartridge which prevents limescale build up and should help prolong the life of the steam cleaner.  This cartridge needs replacing every three months.

Morphy Richards 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner

Once you have set the 9-in-1 up and filled the water tank, you are ready to go and it only takes 30 seconds to heat up and you can start using it which is a huge improvement on steam cleaners that I have had in the past. This is really handy when you are moving through the house too as you have to unplug to change rooms and it then heats up again as soon as it is turned back on.

I found the 9-in-1 easy to use in both the upright and handheld positions.  The cable is a good length and can be wrapped around storage hooks on the handle to keep it safely tucked away when not in use.  One feature that I did like was that it comes with a cooling rest tray to stand it on to catch any escaping moisture but this also acts as a stand and makes it easy to store.  It also comes with a drawstring bag to hold all of the attachments.

Using the 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner

As my house is in desperate need of some love, I made it my mission to put the 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner through its paces and use as many of the functions as possible.

Cleaning grout in the shower

This was my first job and I was seriously impressed.  Using the long brush attachment, I blasted the grout in my shower which was looking very sorry for itself. It is one of those jobs that I have been meaning to do for a while but the 9-in-1 made light work of it.  It took about fifteen minutes to do the whole shower and I used the maximum amount of steam and as you can see from the photos, it made a huge difference and I could see the dirt running down the tiles.  The tiles and shower tray needed a good wipe afterwards, but once I had done that, it looked much better.  You can see the difference in the photos, the grout is still discoloured but looks a lot better than it did.

Grout Before and After

Cleaning Tiles, Glass Surfaces and Sinks

The tiles in the shower are cleaned regularly but I thought I would give the 9-in-1 a try to see how it worked.  For these jobs you need the squeegee attachment or the flat cleaning head with the cloth attached.  I opted for the squeegee and you simply press the edge from top to bottom with a small amount of steam and wipe the squeegee at the bottom.  It didn’t take too long to do and although the tiles weren’t sparkling, they did look better.  The glass door and cubicle wall are very streaky from limescale and again the 9-in-1 did a reasonable job of cleaning them.

I also tried the 9-in-1 on the tiles behind my hob as they tend to get very greasy and it is a real job to get them clean.  The 9-in-1 did a good job on these and after a quick wipe with a cloth, a lot of the grease had been removed.

Window cleaning with the squeegee is not the easiest to manoeuver but it did a good job of the insides of the windows; you have to wipe the excess moisture up and in the end I wiped the whole window but they were much cleaner afterwards.

You can use the 9-in-1 to clean sinks, showers and even toilets, so I tried it out on of our sinks.  I used the angled nozzle attachment to steam the taps and all around them and I could see a lot of the dirt coming away.  What I like about this attachment is that it makes light work of those crevices that are hard to get to.  I then wiped the sink and taps over with a cloth and the whole area looked a lot cleaner.

taps

Hob Cleaning

I haven’t had the chance to try the 9-in-1 with the oven, but as my hob was looking particularly dirty after a busy week, I thought I would see how much of a difference the steam cleaner would make.  Once again, I was really impressed with the difference.  Just two minutes of blasting the hob with steam and using the small circular brush attachment easily lifted the grease and burnt on stains that were on there.  I then wiped around with a piece of kitchen towel and you can see from the photos how much cleaner it looks.

Hob

While I was there, I decided to do the same with the outside of the cooker hood which always seems to have a greasy, dusty residue on it when it hasn’t been cleaned for a few weeks.  This was no match for the 9-in-1 which blasted through the grime and literally left the hood sparkling after I had given it a quick wipe over.  I literally spent five minutes on this as I am trying to test all of the functions quickly but even in that very short time, I was impressed with the results.

Upholstery and Bedding Cleaning

I was keen to get steaming in L’s bedroom due to his allergies and I pretty much steamed everything; curtains, carpets, bedding, headboard and mattress.  I kept the steamer on a fairly low setting and it steamed everything quickly and it dried quickly which is great as you don’t want everything to be left soaking wet when you have finished. As a handheld, I found it really was really easy to go around everything.

I also gave our sofa bed a good clean too as it is has a black cover that shows everything.  It had a few stains and looked rather sorry for itself.  I whizzed the 9-in-1 over it using the flat cleaning head and it definitely looked better afterwards and most of the stains had gone.

steam cleaning upholstery

Carpet Cleaning

Back into the upright position for cleaning floors.  I hoovered first to remove any excess dirt and I tried the 9-in-1 on my hall carpet as this is the one that has the most wear and tear from the constant trampling of muddy shoes.  I then turned the 9-in-1 up to maximum and went over the carpet several times.  It has a glider attachment which is like a frame that you sit the head into and it allows the cleaner to literally glide over the carpet.  This is a great feature and I did try it with just the floor cloth and it was much harder to push around.  If I am completely honest, it didn’t make a huge difference.  It did clean the mud patches a little bit and the carpet looked fresher and smelt better but looking at the microfibre cloth, it obviously did remove some dirt.

carpet dirt

I also tried the 9-in-1 on my living room carpet and again, the carpet did look and smell fresher after a steam. I tried using the circular brush attachment on a couple of stains and again it did make them fade a little but didn’t get rid of them all together.  I will say though that my carpets are 11 years old and in desperate need of replacement,  the 9-in-1 isn’t designed to be a heavy duty carpet cleaner but it certainly freshens carpets up.

Hard Floor Cleaning

Finally, I used the 9-in-1 to clean my kitchen floor which is lino and is always very dirty thanks to muddy shoes coming in from the back door into the garden.  I swept the floor thoroughly and turned the steam setting to minimum as recommended and went over the whole floor.  I found this function the hardest as it took a lot of effort to get the dirt up but it did a good job and I was left with a clean floor that wasn’t soaking wet.

Would I recommend the 9-in-1?

Definitely.  I have used a few steam cleaners over the years and this one impressed me. I only spent a short amount of time testing the 9-in-1 as I am trying to test all of the functions quickly but even in that very short time, I was impressed with the results. I love the fact that it is easy to use and assemble, heats up quickly, has  variable steam and also easy to store.  As a general help for cleaning around the home, I found it useful and I know that I will use it a lot and the fact that I can use it to deep clean those hard to reach places such as grouting and around the bases of taps is a real bonus. When it comes to carpet cleaning and this is not a steam cleaner that will remove heavy dirt from carpets but that is not to say that it doesn’t improve them.  The Morphy Richards 9-in-1 Steam Cleaner gets a big thumbs up from me and I would definitely recommend it as anything that makes cleaning easier is a wonderful thing.

The RRP for the Morphy Richards 9-in-1 Upright and Handheld Steam Cleaner is £99.99.

The lovely people at Morphy Richards are giving me a 9-in-1 to give away to one lucky reader and this will be a huge help to your spring cleaning.  Fill in the Raffle copter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We were sent the 9-in-1 for the purpose of this review.  All opinions and images are our own.

Easter Crafts and Gift Ideas from Yellow Moon

I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love Yellow Moon and how excited I get about being one of their bloggers.  When the boxes arrive it is always the cause of great excitement and I can honestly say that we have never received anything that we haven’t enjoyed using. Our latest box had an Easter theme and A was very quick to notice that there were some Easter Charm Bracelet Kits (my daughter seems to have an inbuilt jewellery alarm) and they were straight out of the box and into production.  These kits are really cute.  They contain three individually packaged bracelet kits, each containing 6 metal Easter charms, coloured plastic beads, silver plastic beads, elastic and instructions.  A is a little young and needed some help getting started but once she was away, she spent ages happily threading the beads onto the elastic and was absolutely thrilled with the end product.  These kits are a lovely idea, the charms are really pretty and A has worn her favourite bracelet every day since.

Yellow Moon Easter Crafts

Making charm bracelets

Yellow Moon Easter Charm Bracelet

Clearly Yellow Moon know my daughter very well as they also sent us some Easter Holographic Stickers which were next on the list.  Yellow Moon have a huge range of stickers and as A isn’t the biggest fan of drawing and painting, I have bought stickers for her before and she loves using them to make cards and pictures.  The Easter Holographic stickers are perfect for A with cute shiny pictures and using the Pastel Greeting Card Blanks that we were also sent, she set to work making some Easter cards for her grannies.

Making Easter Cards

Easter Cards

One of the things that I love about Yellow Moon are their craft pens which I have bought many times over the years.  They do a wide range of craft pens; Glass painting, fabric, Candle pens, Porcelain pens and Decor pens that can be used on different surfaces.   I love them as you can use them for different projects and Yellow Moon have so many things that you can decorate.  I know from experience that these make great gift ideas and we have produced many coasters, photo frames, candles and candle holders over the years that have been a huge hit with the grandparents.

We were sent the Giotto Metallic Decor Pens that can be used on any surface and these pens are so easy to use with a lovely combination of metalic colours.  We tried them out with the Cross Ceramic Tealight Holders and the pens are so easy to use and dry really quickly too, you can do as much or as little decoration as you want.  We also tried the Giotto pens out on some pebbles that we had collected from the beach last year and they looked really effective.

Yellow Moon Craft

Crafting with Giotto pens

Yellow Moon Crafts

The Egg Candle Kit is great fun and if you look at the pictures on the Yellow Moon website, you can make some amazing designs on your candles using the special liquid wax pens.  A happily splodged colours on her candle and then rolled it around whereas  L went for a wavy effect with random dots.  The lovely thing about this kit is that anything goes and you can design your candles whichever way you want.

Thank you to Yellow Moon for our lovely box of goodies, as always we have had great fun trying out all of the products.

We were sent these products for the purpose of the review.  All opinions and images are our own.

Who’s shouting now?

I am fully aware that I shout too much. I know that shouting doesn’t work. One of the first things that you learn in teacher training is that shouting at children doesn’t work. If you shout all the time, the children either get louder or switch off and if you are a habitual shouter you have nothing left in your arsenal for those moments when you really need them to stop and listen. I am fairly sure that the same applies to parenting.

But there are times when you just can’t help it. Unfortunately, at those times I don’t have time to stop and reflect on my choice of action and to consider whether there might be a better way of dealing with the situation. If L is pummelling his sister or R is strangling his brother, if one of them is about to decapitate themselves on a piece of furniture or put a rugby ball through the television I can’t help myself; I am shouting. There are times of extreme crossness when I shout so loudly that my throat hurts (only when they have done something so ridiculously dangerous).

So you get the picture. I shout. Not all the time and actually as they have got older probably less but it happens. I don’t think the children are particularly scarred by my shouting, they just know that I get cross sometimes and that when I get really cross, I shout.

My husband doesn’t shout. He is generally quite loud anyway but he doesn’t believe in shouting and although he would never criticise me for shouting he doesn’t shout.  He has done a lot of courses and read lots of books about how to deal with different situations that arise with children and he prefers a softer approach where you reason with the child and get down to their level without shouting at them.  I applaud this I really do and often feel guilty that I shout, but I also believe that we are all different and we all have different ways of dealing with things.

Last week he had a week off which is really unusual and as I have been working, he has taken on the role of ‘main parent’ for the week and has been in charge of getting the children ready and out of the house this week.

I have no doubt that our household isn’t  the only one where this sometimes feels like an impossible task. It shouldn’t be difficult should it? We do it every day for goodness sake. Yet my children take it in turns to play the ‘don’t want to get up/ get dressed/ go to school’ game and it drives me insane. L in particular can be particularly partial to his pyjamas in a morning and it is often a very long and very stressful process making him part with them.  In fact, I am fairly certain that one day, I will take him to school in his pyjamas just to make the point.

I moan relentlessly about the ‘mornings’ and how we are often late due to L or one of the other children playing up and my husband nods and smiles and probably thinks that I am exaggerating.

So this week, I decided to opt out and let him do the morning shift; it meant that he could enjoy taking his children to school and I could start my day with a cup of tea and no stress whatsoever.

Interestingly, as I was listening to them all getting ready, my husband did start to get a little stressed and as the course of each morning and each day passed by, his voice definitely got louder and what was that I heard … shouting?  Surely not.

Was I slightly smug? Damn right I was and the words ‘welcome to my world’ may have been mentioned several times.

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