Friday, 15 September 2017

Chocolate Sprinkle Stix Kit by John Adams


The kids had so much fun with John Adams' latest food-craft kit - Chocolate Sprinkle Stix! It's been voted as one of the Best New Toys (Creative category) at the London Toy Fair this year, where I first saw the demonstration, and I'm glad that we got an opportunity to try it ourselves. I had to tell the kids to stop making and eating their creation to save space for dinner!

For the review, John Adams' PR team has kindly sent us everything we need with the Chocolate Sprinkle Stix kit: bread sticks, edible sprinkles and chocolate for melting. You'll need these too if you are to make your own yummy Chocolate Sprinkle Stix.


Kitchen appliance for kids, CHocolate Sprinkle Stix Maker, Party Food Ideas

Kitchen appliance for kids, CHocolate Sprinkle Stix Maker, Party Food Ideas

The Chocolate Sprinkle Stix kit (£21.99, suitable for children age 6 years+) comes with:

  • Base Unit (with detachable Sprinkle Dome Base and Spinner)
  • Chocolate Melter (with detachable Plug to seal the water in and Chocolate Melting Lid)
  • Sprinkle Dome Lid
  • Funnel
  • Sprinkle Tray (with 3 compartments)
  • Display Stand (4 slots)
  • Breadstick Holders x 4
  • Stirrer (for chocolate melting) and Spoon (to scoop sprinkles)
  • Instruction Sheet

Apart from the ingredients, you'll also need 2 x AA batteries and hot water (with an adult's help)

Like all John Adams' food craft, the quality of the kit is durable in a fun colour theme.


Kitchen appliance for kids, CHocolate Sprinkle Stix Maker, Party Food Ideas

Kitchen appliance for kids, CHocolate Sprinkle Stix Maker, Party Food Ideas


The process, in simple terms, of making yummy Chocolate Sprinkle Stix is easy: Melt some chocolate, dip a bread stick into the chocolate, then place it into the sprinkle dome. Add some sprinkles, then press the button to get it coated nice and evenly with sprinkles, and enjoy!


In detail, with some of our thoughts and tips:

First, set up the Chocolate Sprinkle Stix kit (you can slot the sprinkles tray and the display stand on the side of the base unit if you like) and place the ingredients nearby.

Chocolate Melting:
Fill the chocolate melter with hot (not boiling) water by pouring it slowly into the hole between the walls, while keeping the middle compartment completely dry (to ensure your chocolate won't crumble as they hate water!). Put the plug in to contain the water and you are ready to melt some yummy chocolate!

I have always been impressed with John Adams' food-craft kits that comes with a chocolate melter (in different sizes and shapes). They are very clever and allow children to melt chocolate safely and beautifully!

Do try to fill the chocolate melter with melted chocolate so you'll get more chocolate coated on the bread sticks.

The chocolate melting lid will ensure that just enough chocolate will be coated on the bread stick as it'll scrape some of the chocolate off the stick when you pull it out. You can remove the lid and give the bread sticks a thicker coating, but they might make the sprinkle process a bit more messy, especially if you let the bread stick rest on the spinner (chocolate will then spin off the stick!).

Sprinkling:
We didn't realise we should be turning the funnel around to seal the hole (that's for not reading the instructions fully), so sprinkles has been flying out of the funnel when the base unit was on. Do make sure that the bread stick holder seals the top of the dome completely as well.

I think our bread sticks were a little bit too thin (although very yummy) so they slid out from the holder, so make sure you buy the shorter and fatter bread sticks for this. There is also a guideline on the instruction sheet that shows you what the suitable length of the bread stick should be, should you need to break them into size.

Get Creative:
You can use all sorts of edible sprinkles that are out there, even edible glitter and coloured sugar, and I think you can even use little icing decorations too. You can also use assorted chocolate here, or Candy Melts for colours. The kids can really get creative with it to make some really good looking Chocolate Sprinkle Stix, although I'm not sure whether they'll last long enough for the display!


Kitchen appliance for kids, CHocolate Sprinkle Stix Maker, Party Food Ideas

Kitchen appliance for kids, CHocolate Sprinkle Stix Maker, Party Food Ideas

Some of the kids comments are:

"Wow this is so cool!"
"I love the sound it makes!" (the sprinkles will rattle around. Watch the above video with sound)
"Ooo this is so fun!"
"It's really yummy!"
"Mummy try it it's really good!" (while sticking a stix right between my eyes)
"Can I make another one please??"

They enjoyed it so much they wanted all of us to try it, so they saved one (just the one, mind you) for daddy, who was working late. It must have taken them a lot of effort not to eat the lone stix sitting on the display stand, because none of the others lasted for more than a second outside the sprinkler.


I think that the Chocolate Sprinkle Stix is very easy to set up, easy to wash, the kids love it, and it'll be perfect for a play date or parties. It also contains the mess within the small area (unless someone decided to unlock the sprinkle dome), so it's good for parents like me who can't handle mess.

The Chocolate Sprinkle Stix is entering into the BlogOn Toy Awards, which sees the best toys voted by parenting bloggers at the BlogOn Christmas event next Sunday, and I'll be attending too. Good luck John Adams!

If you like the Chocolate Sprinkle Stix kit, you don't have to wait for that long as it's already available in all good toy stores and online now.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2 - White


Have you heard of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) mouse arm/ hand? When we lay our arm on the table, our hands will naturally tilt to one side with our thumbs at the top. While holding a traditional computer mouse however, our mouse hand is forced to sit on top of the mouse horizontally, which can cause discomfort around the wrist, or even in the whole arm. And when your hand stays in this position for too long, it can lead to RSI.

Understanding this, the Swedish company Penclic has designed a range of ergonomic mouse (and other computer accessories) that'll prevent RSI mouse arm problem, which are shaped like pens! They have kindly sent me the new Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2 in white for review purpose, and not only did it feel natural to hold, its sleek design is very chic too!


Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2, pen shaped mouse, mouse for RSI mouse-arm people

Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2, pen shaped mouse, mouse for RSI mouse-arm people

Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2, pen shaped mouse, mouse for RSI mouse-arm people

The white Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2 (RRP €99.99/ £79.99) comes in a cylinder container with an acrylic-like display unit. A rechargeable AAA battery, USB charging cable, white velvet pouch, technical specification leaflet and quick guide booklet can be found in the cylinder's base.

I normally don't talk about the packaging, but I really love how the Penclic mouse is being presented.

The Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2

  • is connected to PC or MAC wirelessly via Bluetooth (for PC that doesn't have Bluetooth, you can buy a Bluetooth USB Adapter)
  • has 5 buttons (left click, right click, middle click, backward and forward) and a scroll wheel
  • is set to 1200dpi
  • can be used on almost any surface without a mouse pad or tablet (might be slightly less responsive on very smooth surface)
  • can be used as soon as the rechargeable battery is fully charged (non rechargeable batteries can be used as well, but make sure you don't charge them), and with every day use, it's suppose to last for approximately a month before it needs recharging
  • will switch to energy saving mode after being inactive for 10 minutes


Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2, pen shaped mouse, mouse for RSI mouse-arm people

Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2, pen shaped mouse, mouse for RSI mouse-arm people

Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2, pen shaped mouse, mouse for RSI mouse-arm people

Penclic Mouse B2 has 2 parts, the pen at the top where you hold, just like you would a pen, and the base that looks like a traditional mouse but much smaller.

You'll find all the buttons on the pen part, with the buttons for left click, right click and middle click along where your index finger can reach, and your thumb controlling the buttons for forward and backward (previous and next page on your browser, for example).

The base is where the battery, on/ off button, Bluetooth connection button, light and wheel are located.

Unlike the demo Abby helped me with in the above picture, which is done before we understood B2, you would control the wheel with your middle finger. My ring finger and pinky will then fall naturally on the right side of the base. But when I don't need the wheel, I can just hold the mouse with my index and middle finger, exactly like when I'm holding a pen.

Of course, everyone will hold it differently, but it definitely has a comfortable grip. I won't say that there isn't some getting used to, after all I've been using a traditional PC mouse for over 20 years! It is however not difficult like you are holding something completely new (it's like a pen after all), and it being very light in weight (compared to my previous PC mouse anyway), it felt easy to control it.


The light indicator on Penclic's Mouse B2 turns blue when it's connected through Bluetooth, flashes green when it's being charged, solid green when it's fully charged, and red when it requires charging.


Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2, pen shaped mouse, mouse for RSI mouse-arm people

Penclic Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2, pen shaped mouse, mouse for RSI mouse-arm people

We tried connecting Penclic's Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2 to my Android smartphone and our smart TV, and it worked well with both. Since I used my PC most, however, I wanted to test drive B2 with it, but it didn't have Bluetooth technology, so we bought a Bluetooth USB adapter. You'd search for B2 on your PC just like you would on your smartphone.

Although I lost a USB port (my PC mouse and keyboard were connected to the same USB port, so I can't do a direct replacement without losing my keyboard as well), I don't really mind, and although I'm still trying to get used to B2's speed (it's so light in weight, when I click a button it sometimes moves, causing a drag than a click), I do prefer to use it over my old mouse as it's comfortable and better looking!

I also like the precision B2 offers me when I edit pictures. I can click and drag the cursor to exactly where I want it, where as with the traditional mouse, I had to learn to overlook the imperfection.

I'm using B2 on a smooth surface without a problem, it's only when I need to wake it up from sleeping mode, I have to move it to a rougher surface (my crafting mat) and click before it will wake up. Not a problem as my crafting mat is always here anyway, but if you encounter the same problem where your mouse won't wake up, try put it on a rougher surface.


Overall I think Penclic's Wireless Bluetooth Mouse B2 is a great mouse to use. It does take some time to get used to especially when you are already used to the traditional mouse, but we've all held a pen before and it really is like holding a pen, just with extra buttons. It is designed ergonomically to prevent RSI, while looking good on your desk at the same time. And only takes up a small amount of space too. It also makes whatever you do look more professional, in my opinion.

If you are doing anything on the PC that requires precision work, Penclic's mice will definitely be more suitable for the job. I wouldn't necessarily say that it can replace a stylus or a digital drawing pen, but for other precision work, it will do the job, and I don't need another gadget for it.

You can buy Penclic's mice from Penclic's website, as well as Amazon UK.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Storytime Magazine - Perfect for Discovering New Stories


Summer holiday is finally over (although the 6 weeks went by pretty quickly!) and the kids have settled back into their school routine. One of our goal this year is to read more for leisure and fun at times when the kids aren't reading a school book, because reading shouldn't be just for school and learning.

While we were sorting the kids' library cards out and looking for places that sell cheap books (sometimes I just feel like buying them...), I was introduced to a monthly magazine - Storytime Magazine, which is filled with illustrated stories without adverts slotted in between.

I love the idea of having a selection of stories sent through our door monthly, introducing us to some that we might not pick up ourselves, so I've gratefully accepted the opportunity to review a couple of their issues.


Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

The Storytime Magazine is a free delivery monthly subscription children magazine full of fun and beautifully illustrated stories. The cover price for each issue is £3.99, and you can buy any back issue individually without subscribing for £4.99 each. You can save however through the following subscription plans:

Trial - 50% off for the first 4 issues, ie just under £2 each month
Direct Debit Subscription
- every 3 issues at £3.33 each month
- every 6 issues at approx. £3.17 each month
- every 12 issues at approx. £2.84 each month
- every 24 issues at approx. £2.71 each month

There are also deals for when you pay by credit/ debit cards or PayPal.

The first thing I noticed when we received the magazines was how thick they were! The fact that none of it is adverts really make me feel that my money will be well spent on them. The high quality paper also means that they will be more durable, so you can keep them for as long as you can keep story books. Everything is printed beautifully too.


Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

Each Storytime Magazine comes with a selection of different stories - fairy tales, modern tales, myths and legends, around the world tales, poems and rhymes, etc, and are illustrated by different illustrators.

I love the variety of stories and writing styles, so that they can have fun reading, but also improve their own writing skill and expand their vocabulary without them even knowing (so it feels much less like homework). I also love the different ways illustrator illustrates the stories, which can certainly inspire children.


Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

Another thing I really like about Storytime Magazine, is how they kept majority of the games and activities right at the end of the magazine, instead of slotting them in between stories. On the other hand, they will also put a small note on some pages with smaller activities, like colouring butterflies or counting monkeys on the page. We had a giggle when we tried singing "Tom, Tom the Piper's Son" with the tune of "Over the Hills and Far Away"!

Some of the stories also comes with facts and knowledge too.


Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

Storytime Magazine doesn't end with the activities however. To my surprise, the have a Books of the Month page. recommending other story books for children to read, which I think is brilliant as sometimes we do struggle to pick a book from the shelf, so the monthly short reviews and recommendations really help.

There is a monthly competition to win the recommended books, and sometimes plus more too.

And for children who likes their free gifts that comes with magazines, they can find them (printable masks and finger puppets, activities sheets, fact sheets, invitations and cake toppers, recipes, etc) on Storytime Magazine's website under the "Free" section, which is updated each month and related to each month's issue. There is plenty of fun for the children to have!


Storytime Magazine, stories for children, children monthly subscription magazine

When I first flipped through the magazines, I thought that, although the target age is "any children", children in KS2 and above might find them a bit too easy or "kiddy" to read. But then, Storytime Magazine is about fun reading, why set an age limit to have some fun? Even I enjoy reading young children story books with beautiful illustrations, so why should young children be the only ones entitled to read Storytime Magazine?

On the day I received them, I read a story out loud during snack time, and it has certainly caught both kids' attention (more from Abby because Clay was trying hard to focus on the TV haha)! The stories were well written and some are quite funny too, which is right up Abby's street. The illustration are attractive, which definitely help making us want to read them.

The magazines will also make great bedtime stories for parents to read to their children. I haven't read to the kids before bed for a long time now, since Clay can read himself, but I know they'd still enjoy listening to a bedtime story, and I actually enjoyed reading to them too. I think I'll start again!


If you like what you see so far of Storytime Magazine, but still not sure whether it suits you and your child(ren), why not buy an issue to try, or take up their first 4 months for half price offer?