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Firemizer is a Clever Little Thing!

We hadn’t heard of Firemizer until we were asked to take a look at it, but our log burner at Chataigne House in France is quite old, so anything which could help with its efficiency is very welcome!

Firemizer is an award winning, fuel saving device which optimizes the performance of fuel in solid fuel stoves and fires. It can also be used in barbecues too. It is a high performance technology, proven to work in aerospace and automotive industries, so we thought it would definitely be ok for a log burner in France! In practice, it looks like a thin sheet of a wire-mesh type material. It is very lightweight and easy to use.

Firemizer for your open fire or wood burning stove
Firemizer for your open fire or wood burning stove

You simply put the wire mesh across the grate of your fire or stove (they recommend using gloves when handling as the wire edges are sharp), then build up the fire in the usual way. That’s it! I know – simple!

Putting the Firemizer into the grate of the fire
Putting the Firemizer into the grate of the fire

Here’s the science part (and even this is quite simple) – Firemizer is not catalytic and doesn’t contain any chemicals. It works by slowing the air flow to the fuel, thus reducing the burn rate. It then conducts heat evenly across the base of the fuel to ensure it is all fully combusted. Finally, it also prevents small fuel fragments falling through the grate or being left unburned in the ash bed.

What a nifty little device! It claims to reduce fuel costs by up to 38%. I can’t say whether it did this for us, as we don’t usually use the house in France over the winter, but this year our son has been working over there and has certainly seen the benefit. He has reported that he seems to be using fewer logs, and that they last longer and burn more thoroughly. He also thinks they produce less ash.

Firemizer also claims to minimise creosote in chimneys by up to 57%, which has to be a good thing too. This has been independently tested by the University of Cambridge, and the University of Nottingham. (We haven’t put our son up the chimney to check this – yet!)

So, for all of you who have a log burner or open fire, you might want to consider this clever little Firemiser. Also, if you enjoy a lot of barbecues in the summer, this may save you some money too. And if you don’t have an open fire, perhaps you’d like to share a picture of ours? It’s warm and cozy and oh so lovely on a winter’s evening. Just curl up with a good book and a glass of something delicious…

Cozy up by the fire with a glass of something...
Cozy up by the fire with a glass of something…

We will have a log burner and an open fire in our new house when we move at Easter, and I’m sure there will still be days cold enough to have the fire on (it is Scotland!), so we’ll definitely invest in a Firemizer for our new place.

You can buy Firemizer at fireplace centres, or DIY stores such as B&Q, or from Amazon. (affiliate link).

Disclosure: We were sent a Firemizer for the purpose of this review, but all opinions are honest and our own. 


First News Review – Our First Impressions

First News is a weekly newspaper aimed at children in the age range of 7-14 years. We’ve been sent two copies now, and they have gone down very well with my boys, ages 8 & 10.

What they like about it:

The boys felt very excited about something coming through the door which was for them. They also felt very grown up about having a proper newspaper, not just a comic which was full of cartoons.

Hugo looks very grown up reading his 'First News' newspaper
Hugo looks very grown up reading his ‘First News’ newspaper

They really enjoyed the subject matter – everything from World News and Home News to the science, technology, nature and sports. Every topic seemed to interest them. It was all explained in a clear and engaging way.

Toby, my youngest, especially enjoyed the puzzles and other interactive quizzes where he could get a pen out and take part, and Hugo, in particular, was pleased to see Harry Potter featured, as well as ‘coming soon’ type features that he could go to school and tell his friends about. Everyone wants to be the first to hear about things!

Toby enjoyed First News' quizzes and puzzles
Toby enjoyed First News’ quizzes and puzzles

What I liked about it:

They were reading! Yes, without my nagging or cajoling, my ‘typical’ boys who would rather be playing Xbox games or football, or doing anything but homework, were reading! Not only this, but they were happily reading things which were educational, informative and very useful indeed.

World news and features about animals were very popular
World news and features about animals were very popular

It was so good that I allowed them to record it in their school reading record, in place of their usual reading books. This is what they wrote (yes, they were writing as well!)

H: “This is a newspaper to tell me about my near future in 2017, and so far it has told me everything from Sweden to Turkey. It is brilliant as I know what is going on all around me and in other places.”

T: “A new newspaper for kids came a few days ago, with a lot of information in it. So I got straight to reading it!”…and then….

” Issue number 2  turned up at our door today and talked about protecting jaguars and celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. “

I also liked how much discussion and intellectual debate reading First News sparked in our family. We are always happy when topical discussion occurs, and are pleased to answer questions which show that our children are genuinely interested in understanding the world around them.

I’m really pleased that my children are also keen to share First News with their friends. I can definitely see this publication being very useful in schools too, either in the classroom or school libraries.

Lots of interesting facts to share from First News
Lots of interesting facts to share

Special Offer

If you are interested in having First News for your family, we have a promotion code so that you can access an exclusive offer for a subscription.  The price is 5 issues for £1 (on direct debit).  This is a trial offer.  After the 5 issues it continues as a price of £15.99 every 3 months.

Please follow this link to access the deal

Most people choose to continue with the subscription.  However, there is no obligation and the customer can call or email to cancel the subscription at any point and no further money will be taken.  (This is for the print edition of the newspaper only.)

We hope you enjoy your subscription as much as we are enjoying ours. I can see it being a very useful thing to have for a considerable time in our family.

With thanks to First News for giving us a subscription in return for this review. All opinions are entirely honest and our own.

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Hannah Spannah

Look After Your Gut in the New Year

Hello friends! Did you have a lovely Christmas? Are you still finishing off the leftover turkey and mince pies? Lounging on the sofa all bloated and full? I know, me too!!

Christmas over-indulgence
Christmas over-indulgence

It isn’t over yet! We have New Year to come. More alcohol, more naughty nibbles. Staying up late and over-indulging. It’s what this season is about, isn’t it? Then helping the kids with all those selection boxes, and dipping into another tin of Quality Street, followed by the guilt and the resolutions to eat better and get fit in the New Year!

More indulgence in the New Year?
More indulgence in the New Year?

In among the resolutions, please remember your gut! Think about what you’ve put your poor belly through recently, and make a resolution to make amends with your body!

Make amends for all that indulgence!
Make amends for all that indulgence!

In advance of the festive season, I made sure I was stocked up with Probiotics. I’ve often turned to yoghurts or yoghurt drinks to top up the good bacteria in my gut, but then I got a bug which made me not tolerate dairy products very well, and I had to rethink my strategy. So I was pleased to receive a sample of Nutri Advanced ProbotiX Daily 5 Live.

ProbotiX Daily 5 Live probiotics for gut health
ProbotiX Daily 5 Live probiotics for gut health

Have you heard of Probiotics? How much do you know about these tiny guys doing all the good work in your intestines?

Here’s the science bit:

Probiotics are ‘friendly’ bacteria that offer positive health benefits. Bacteria are essential for the health and function of your intestinal tract, which has a tremendous impact on your overall health. They play a crucial role in the gut’s ability to fight infection and support general digestion as well.

Probiotics support the friendly bacteria in your intestines
Probiotics support the friendly bacteria in your intestines

Many factors in our normal life can disrupt the balance of our good bacteria, leading to poor health. Do you recognise any of these?

  • Antibiotic Use
  • Stomach medicines such as antacids
  • A high fat, high sugar diet (mince pies and Quality Street?)
  • A low fibre diet
  • Foreign Travel
  • Food & Water contaminants (Chlorine, pesticides etc)
  • Alcohol (oh dear!)
  • Stress (Oh deary dear!)

Well, no wonder I needed to crack open the ProbotiX at this time of year!

Needing more friendly bacteria for gut health at this time of year
Needing more friendly bacteria for gut health at this time of year

I took the ProbotiX capsules for the month of December. During this month we had a very busy time, and were also all fighting off a bug which threatened our family (and finally brought the little one down in the final week of school). Of course everyone’s lead up to Christmas is busy, and I also decided to take part in Vlogmas (which you can see week 1 & week 2 plus here), plus I was in hospital 3 times for procedures on my back! We also had the usual Nativities, School Discos, Football parties – all the pre-Christmas craziness.

Christmas craziness put the probiotics through their paces!
Christmas craziness put the probiotics through their paces!

The poor little probiotics were certainly put through their paces! I was lucky I even remembered to take them half the time!

How did they make me feel? I’ll be honest, at times it was difficult to say. Not surprising really, with the amount of pain relief I was taking and the number of sleepless nights I had. But I did feel a difference, the greatest amount when I took them right before bed. I guess when you lay off the mince pies for a while you give probiotics a better chance to do their thing! I awoke feeling much less bloated and looking much ‘flatter’, which also felt more comfortable. There was also less of the early morning nausea and generally grogginess I sometimes feel. That has to be a good thing, right?

At other times, even when I didn’t feel a massive difference, I still had the reassurance that my friendly little bacteria were keeping me topped up and doing their hard work for me, quietly and without complaint. Thanks guys!

Finally, we should ask ourselves what makes a good probiotic? They need to be scientifically studied, effective bacteria strains, have proven delivery and survival in the gut, guaranteed stability and quality, high potency, and clinically effective probiotic formulas. Did my Nutri Advanced ProbotiX have these? Why yes! The strains of good bacteria within ProbotiX Daily 5 Live have been chosen to work synergistically together, and provide over 5 billion good bacteria in each capsule. They help each other grow as well as creating an optimal pH range for good bacteria in your gut.

For more information visit www.nutriadvanced.co.uk/more-about-probiotics.


Disclosure – we were sent some ProbotiX Daily 5 Live supplements for the purpose of this review, but all opinions and experiences are our own. This is not a clinical trial, nor does it intend to replace the advice of a health care professional.

How to look after your gut with probiotics - are they for you?
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Hot Pink WellingtonsA Mum Track Mind

Amazing ‘Augmented Reality’ Greetings Cards & Giveaway from Choosey.com

Welcome to an excited Family Makes!

I’m always impressed by technology (perhaps because I’m in the ‘Over 40’s’ age group?!), but friends, let me tell you, this is so cool!

Greetings cards from www.choosey.com have just gone to a whole new level! For the same price as many ‘personalised’ greetings cards (ie £2.99) you can send an Augmented Reality card to your loved ones! Amazing, no?

Choosey.com Augmented Reality Greetings for Christmas
Choosey.com Augmented Reality Greetings for Christmaas

I was so completely blown away by this concept, that I’ve enthusiastically made a list of people far and wide we can blast with a very animated ‘Merry Christmas’ message this year, as well as an extra special message for my Mum’s 70th birthday on Christmas Eve (she’ll cry, for sure!). We’re sending messages to France and America, as well as just around the corner to Grandparents who we know will be absolutely delighted to see their Grandchildren in Christmas jumpers, merrily dancing and singing, presenting their Christmas message in such a unique way.

Viewing the Augmented Reality card
Viewing the Augmented Reality card

The choice of Christmas cards is so extensive, ranging from funny to cheeky, rude and cute. There really is something for everyone! There are, of course, cards for other occasions too, and for many different relations.

If you have any questions about how this clever kit works, you might want to look at the explanations here. Or if, like many of us, you’re scratching your head as to what Augmented Reality actually is, basically, you open up your card, scan the code with your smartphone, and instantly watch a personal video message from the person who has sent you the card. Clever or what??

If that’s not amazing enough, the lovely people at Choosey.com have let us get involved in a wonderful giveaway just for you!

The brilliant prize is £40 of Choosey credit, to create whichever personal cards you want. The giveaway is open to UK only. But HURRY HURRY HURRY it closes on 15th December!!

Enter via the Gleam widget below:
Win 10 free Choosey greeting cards inc postage #32

But don’t worry if you don’t with the star prize, all of our lovely readers can get an amazing 25% off your orders by simply quoting BGCHRISTMAS16 when you place your order. What are you waiting for? GO GO GO!!


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Oral-B Electric Toothbrushes as Christmas Gifts

You might have already seen that we’re writing a series to help you with Teens, Tweens and Other Hard To Buy For people at Christmas time (or any other time really!). We were therefore very excited when the team at Oral-B got in touch to see if we’d like to add their range of electric toothbrushes to our list. Yes please!

We started this gift guide for ‘Teens Tweens and Hard To Buy For’s‘ as our own boys are at that difficult, not really into toys anymore, kind of stage. But would young boys really appreciate an electric toothbrush as a present?

Star Wars Themed Oral-B Electric Toothbrush review gift idea
Star Wars Themed Oral-B Electric Toothbrush


That’s the simple answer, in my experience. My boys were SO excited to receive new electric toothbrushes. This is a win on several levels. Firstly, the fun character designs made them feel that this really was a cool gift – Hugo chose Star Wars and Toby chose Marvel Avengers. There are also more designs available, including Frozen. It was also cool because it was a gadget. It was electric, it had power! What’s not to like?

Frozen Themed Oral-B Electric Toothbrush Review Gift Ideas
Frozen Themed Oral-B Electric Toothbrush

It was also a win for me as a parent, as my kids have never been so keen to brush their teeth, and to brush them well. Can you imagine the parenting win that is your children begging to be able to brush their teeth?! So in my humble opinion, an electric toothbrush is definitely a good gift.

Of course, that’s not all. Mummy got a fabulous gift too. I was lucky enough to get to try out the gorgeousness that is the Oral-B Genius 9000. This is absolute electric toothbrush Royalty – have no doubt.

Oral-B Genius 9000 Electric Toothbrush Review Gift Guide
Oral-B Genius 9000 Electric Toothbrush – the latest thing!

This baby has all the looks, and the technology to go with it! So excited was I, that I actually just let it sit in the box for a while and looked at it. It’s a really cool piece of kit, and even the packaging screams quality. So I decided to make a little unboxing video – partly because the packaging and the product itself look so good, and partly because you really don’t need to watch me brushing my teeth! No, not my finest moment! So here is the packaging and the unboxing:

The technology behind the Oral-B Genius 9000 is indeed genius! You can link it to your phone via an app (from App Store or Google Play), and you can make sure that you are covering all the right areas in your brushing as well as doing it for the right length of time. There is even a phone holder which you can stick to the mirror, and a travel case which charges your toothbrush and phone. Talk about thinking of everything!

Travel case and phone charger of Oral-B Genius 9000
Travel case and phone charger

There is a ‘smart ring’ light on the toothbrush which has various functions, from an operating and timer light, to a Bluetooth indicator, and a pressure sensor indicator. There are also various brushing modes you can select – daily clean, pro clean, sensitive, 3D white, gum care, and tongue clean. Plus, it has four different brush heads included, and a brush holder. I told you – they think of everything!

So that’s the technical bit, the science part. The other thing is that in use, it is fantastic. I have mine set to the ‘professional’ setting, which gives a short buzz every 30 seconds to advise you to move onto the next section of your mouth, then a number of buzzes to tell you that your two minutes of brushing is up. It is so easy and intuitive. Even though you are applying hardly any pressure, the subsequent mouth feel is fabulous. My teeth feel wonderfully clean, smoother and fresher than they have in years. I feel confident that my teeth have been cleaned properly too, which is very reassuring.

But the other important part is that this toothbrush looks like a great gift. It is sleek. It is indulgent. It’s something high quality which feels like a treat, and that you probably wouldn’t buy every day.

Oral-B Genius 9000 Electric Toothbrush review
Oral-B Genius 9000 Electric Toothbrush

Perhaps you’re wondering if an electric toothbrush would make an appropriate gift? I’d say absolutely. I’d be delighted to receive this. I WAS delighted to receive this! It feels like the latest thing, and it’s something I don’t have already. Most women have a hairdryer and straighteners, most men have an electric shaver. This is different.

You may have seen some advertising about the Oral-B Genius – 9000. There are lots of special deals around at the moment (because this is such a great gift, peeps!).

Oral B Genius 9000: Amazon’s Black Friday Deal of the Day**

“This ground-breaking electric toothbrush is on sale at a huge discount – from £280 to £99.99– and makes for a truly perfect gift this Christmas.

Key features of the Oral B GENIUS 9000:

·        Works in conjunction with the Oral-B app via bluetooth, and is the first to offer Position Detection Technology which tracks brush position, ensuring all zones in the mouth are evenly brushed

·        Comes with Oral-B’s iconic round-brush heads. For the best clean, best gum health, and for superior whitening from day one, with oscillating-rotating-pulsating technology.

·        Triple Pressure Sensor Technology measures the pressure applied through the brush head, and alerts you when the pressure is too high

·        The Oral-B app also shows you your Dental Care journey; providing recommendations and tips based on your individual goals

·        Includes an innovative Smart Travel Case, which charges both your toothbrush and smartphone

You will find this amazing deal on Boots [here] for Rose Gold and [here] for Black, for the discounted price of £99.99*. 

 Available in Black, White and Rose Gold (Rose Gold is exclusive  Boots). ” 

*Prices correct at time of publishing and subject to change

**Affiliate link to Amazon

Disclaimer: We were sent the toothbrushes for the purpose of this review, but all opinions and associated excitement are entirely our own.

Oral-B Genius 9000 Electric Toothbrush review and gift guide
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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday


Review of Fisher & Paykel Fridge Freezer

We were lucky enough to be sent a fridge freezer to review from AO.Com. The Fridge freezer we received was a Fisher & Paykel Designer Activesmart Frost-free Fridge Freezer with Ice Maker and Water Dispenser.

AO.com arranged delivery of this fridge freezer for us, and also offered, if necessary, to take away our old model and recycle it. We didn’t take this option as our fridge was still working OK, but we really wanted a freezer in the house as well. We had a chest freezer in our garage. This was so inconvenient as in all weathers and at all times of the day or night that we wanted something from the freezer we had to trek through the garden to the garage. First world problems, I know. Anyway, I digress slightly…

AO.com had also kindly arranged for the delivery drivers to attach the new fridge freezer to a water supply, as it had to be connected this way for the water dispenser and ice maker to work. (It doesn’t dispense ice but makes it automatically and puts it in a freezer compartment).

Of course, nothing is ever straightforward, is it? This fridge freezer is not quite an American-style, double width model, and in that way is ideal for anyone wanting a large model but with not enough room for an American fridge freezer. It is, however, a very big piece of kit. I had already carefully measured the space it had to go in, and we had decided we could stack our washing machine and tumble dryer to make enough room to accommodate it. What we hadn’t accounted for, unfortunately, was the width of the doors. The doors to our house, that is!

Apparently this happens all the time, according to the delivery driver. It was only the width of the fridge door handle which was the sticking point, but due to all the clever internal workings, this isn’t the kind of fridge door which can be removed to make it open from the other side for example, so we were stuck! Eventually, it was decided to deliver it through the French Doors into our dining room, and there it sat, unable to budge any further!

Fridge freezer in dining room
Fridge freezer stuck in the dining room

We now faced the dilemma of whether to leave it to live in our dining room (it’s a kitchen-diner so not too mad an idea!), or have the back door taken off to get it where it was meant to go. As we had already done a fair bit of worktop demolition etc, we plumped for the latter. As luck would have it, there were a couple of guys working down the road from a double glazing company, so they came and did the honours for us.

The other slightly unfortunate thing about the fridge freezer is that its castors only go forwards and backwards, so manoeuvring it into a space is tricky. So tricky that our vinyl flooring has suffered a terrible ripped fate. Another disaster!

Vinyl floor torn by fridge freezer
Vinyl flooring torn by fridge freezer


vinyl torn by fridge freezer
Vinyl flooring torn by fridge freezer

The third part of the struggle (for these things always come in threes), was that we now had to get a plumber to come and fit the water supply. The fridge freezer doesn’t have the option of a manual fill from a door container, which is good in a way as it gives much more door storage, but it does mean you have to fit a water supply in order for it to work. It also has a water filter attached, which needs to be changed approx. every 6 months.

So, three small inconveniences, but now it is in place, we do really love it! The fridge capacity, in particular, is fantastic – perfect for a family. The advertising says you can fit up to 11 bags of shopping in there, and I’d say that’s pretty accurate.  The freezer is not as big, it being a 70/30 split. You also give up quite some space in the freezer for the ice making container, but you don’t have to use this facility if you don’t want to.

Fridge full of food
Large capacity fridge compartment and door shelves

In all, I’d say I’m delighted with this appliance. It is quiet, efficient and good looking. The internal space is great, and the drawers are smooth and easy to open. It has such clever features like individual humidity control for fruit and veg drawers. The exterior is beautiful, and would fit equally well in a sleek modern fitted kitchen, or a battered family utility room like ours. The size is also ideal for us, and it doesn’t take up as much space as a double door, American-style fridge freezer.

Here is the ‘technical spec’ for the Fisher and Paykel Fridge freezer:

Energy Rating A+

Freezer Star Rating 4*

Dimensions (H)171.5 x (W)79.0 x (D)69.5

Overall Capacity 351 / 118 Litres

Annual Energy Cost Based On 15.40p/Unit £58.67

Annual Energy Consumption 381 Kwh

Disclosure: We were sent this product to review from AO.com. We were not paid for this review, nor were we requested to publish it on our blog.  You can find our video review on YouTube.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ryus64pyRwU

Family Fever