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Review: Vital Baby Weaning Set and KidiSipper Tubby

Vital Baby

Toby has only recently started weaning and we’re always keen to try anything that might make life easier. He already has four different sippy cups as I keep buying new ones in the hope he’ll work out how to use them! We were recently given the chance to try out a weaning set and sippy cup from family-run business Vital Baby. Vital Baby sell a whole host of baby feeding products along with various other things such as bath toys, teethers and skincare products.

The Details

The Vital Baby Weaning Set is a shaped bowl with a lip to make it easy to hold. It also has a lid with built in spoon storage and the spoon to go with it. The Weaning Set retails at £3.99 and is available in pink, blue or orange. We were also sent the KidiSipper Tubby to try out. This is a non-spill sippy cup with a soft, flexible spout. It also has a removable cover to keep the spout clean.The KidiSipper Tubby retails at £3.49 and comes in blue, orange or purple. Vital Baby products can be purchased direct from the company and are also stocked at Boots, John Lewis, Mothercare, Toys R Us, Ocado, Mamas & Papas and Amazon.

Weaning Set in use

The Pros 

  • The Weaning Set is a really useful product, whether for use at home or out and about. As Toby doesn’t stay up with us for dinner I usually save a bit for him to have for his lunch the next day. This lidded bowl has been great for keeping things fresh in the fridge.
  • The spoon that comes with the Weaning Set is a perfect size for Toby, either for me to feed him or if he is (attempting) to feed himself. It has a soft tip which I really like – Toby has a tendency to dive at the spoon if I’m holding it and with this one I don’t need to worry about hurting him with it.
  • We haven’t actually taken the Weaning Set out anywhere yet but when we do I’m sure having the built-in spoon cover will be really handy both to keep the spoon clean before and to keep the dirty spoon away from anything else afterwards.
  • I have used the Weaning Set in the microwave and dishwasher without any problems.
  • The KidiSipper Tubby is a good size for Toby at 7 months. He seems to find it easier to hold the handles than on some of the other sippy cups we have.
  • I like the soft spout of the KidiSipper – again Toby likes to take a dive at his cup to get it in his mouth so I don’t need to worry about him hurting himself. This is very similar to the Nuby sippy cup we already have.
  • The non-spill valve works well – even after being thrown on the floor we didn’t have any leaks. Although the valve is non-spill there doesn’t seem to be too much effort required to get the water out. Toby is managing to get plenty – in fact the only spills we’ve had are when he decides to fill his mouth with water and then just dribble it down his chin rather than swallow it!
  • The lid on the KidiSipper is interchangeable with most of the other cups and bottles in the Vital Baby range which is a good feature.
  • We haven’t used the top for the cup while at home but again, this will be a useful feature when we take it out with us.

KidiSipper Tubby

The Cons

  • There are honestly no downsides to these products that I can come up with!

The Verdict

I really like both products that we tried from Vital Baby, and looking on their website there are plenty of other products that I would like to try. Some of the other cups and bottles look great for when Toby is a bit older and I also think the Unbelievabowl looks fantastic. I’ve tried to give Toby the bowl to feed himself occasionally but he just wants to throw it on the floor so one that suctions on to the highchair would be ideal! All the Vital Baby products are very reasonably priced too – I would be happy to recommend them to anyone looking for baby or toddler feeding products.

**Disclaimer: I was sent the Vital Baby Weaning Set and KidiSipper Tubby  in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Review: Sugar and Crumbs

I love to bake, although I don’t do it that often otherwise me and the hubby would just spend all our time eating cake! I always used to stick to a few favourites but since I started going to my local baking club I like to try out new recipes. And with a meeting of baking club coming up I was on the look out for something new to bake. So when I saw a tweet from Sugar and Crumbs looking for people to try out their new flavours of icing sugar I jumped at the chance!

Sugar and Crumbs

The Details

Sugar and Crumbs is a UK company selling flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder. I had never heard of flavoured icing sugar before I heard of Sugar and Crumbs so I was eager to give it a go. There are 22 different flavours of icing sugar – everything from strawberry milkshake to chilli lime! I was sent two new flavours, coffee and salted caramel, to try along with some black cherry icing sugar. Sugar and Crumbs also sell five different flavoured cocoa powders too and I was sent the chocolate cherry flavour. I haven’t had chance to try the cherry flavours yet to I will write another post about those when I have given them a go. In addition to the icing sugars and cocoa powders, Sugar and Crumbs also sell a range of coloured sugar paste and cake decorations.

So what did I make?

Coffee sponge

First of all I made a coffee sponge with coffee flavour buttercream. I was going into work for two days last week so I thought I would take in a cake for my hard-working colleagues. I used a very simple method to make the sponge – just weigh two eggs and then use the same weight of butter, castor sugar and self-raising flour. To add a coffee flavour I mixed two tablespoons of instant coffee with the same amount of boiling water, allowed it to cool then added it to the cake batter after it was all mixed. For the buttercream I used 125g butter with the 125g sample pack of coffee icing sugar I was sent and 125g of plain icing sugar. I added a little milk to get the right consistency and I also added a little dribble of coffee left from the cake, more to give the buttercream a bit of a coffee colour than for flavour.

Salted Caramel

The second cake I made was the one for baking club. This was a Devil’s Food Cake with Salted Caramel flavour buttercream. The recipe for the cake came from the first Great British Bake Off cookery book. It is basically a very chocolatey cake which also has soured cream added. It was a much more complicated recipe than I would usually use but I was pleased with how it came out. And luckily, Toby was happy to sit and play in his highchair and eat some lunch while I made a mess in the kitchen! The cake is baked as two cakes then each is sliced in half to make four layers. In between each layer there is a chocolate ganache made with melted chocolate and more soured cream. The recipe in the book also has this ganache on top the cake too but I decided to use the salted caramel buttercream instead. For this cake I used 100g butter with the 125g of salted caramel icing sugar, 75g of plain icing sugar and a little bit of milk.

The Pros 

  • The flavoured icing sugars were very easy to use. Just like using plain icing sugar in fact!
  • Both the coffee and salted caramel flavours were nice and strong. This means you can mix part flavoured icing sugar with part plain to get the flavour you need. This also reduces the cost as the flavoured icing sugar is more expensive than plain.
  • Everyone who tried my cakes really liked the flavoured buttercream, especially the salted caramel flavour (which someone commented tasted a bit like Butterscotch Angel Delight!)
  • Some of the flavours available are really unusual (Banana Split, Galia Melon, Pear Drops and Peach Melba to name a few) – I’m not sure how you would easily add these flavours to icing yourself so being able to buy them ready made is great!
  • The products are well packaged in easy open, resealable packets.

The Cons

  • I would say the only real downside to the Sugar and Crumbs products is the price. The icing sugar is £4.99 for 500g, compared to £1 for the same amount of plain icing sugar.
  • I would perhaps like the icing sugar to be coloured to reflect the flavour. When I made the coffee buttercream I ended up adding a little bit of coffee just to get the coffee colour – but then this rather defeated the purpose of the flavour already being in the icing sugar!

The Verdict

Due to the price of Sugar and Crumbs icing sugar I probably wouldn’t use it for my everyday baking. Also, I probably wouldn’t buy any of the flavours which are fairly easy to create yourself using plain icing sugar (for example; lemon drizzle, coffee or vanilla). However, for a special bake I would be very tempted by some of the more unusual flavours on offer especially as the cost can be lessened by using a mix of flavoured and plain icing sugars.

**Disclaimer: I was sent samples of flavoured icing sugar and cocoa powder from Sugar and Crumbs in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Review: Freeva cloth nappy

Freeva nappy

As you’ll know if you’ve read this blog before, we love our cloth nappies in the Toby Goes Bananas house so when new cloth nappy company Freeva gave us the opportunity to review one of their nappies we jumped at the chance.

The Details

Freeva cloth nappy

Freeva nappies are ‘one size fits most’ and come in a variety of plain colours and funky prints. We chose the Jungle Animals print for our review. The nappies have three rows of poppers on the front to adjust the rise of the nappy, and have hook and loop (velcro to you and me!) fastenings at the waist. They are pocket nappies, meaning they have a removable insert which fits in a pocket between the waterproof outer layer and the suede cloth inner layer of the nappy. All Freeva nappies come with one microfibre insert included. If you need more absorbency from your nappy then extra inserts are available to buy from Freeva, either in microfibre, a microfibre and bamboo comination, or just bamboo. The nappies retail at £10.95. Freeva also sell a selection of accessories such as nappy buckets and wetbags.

The Pros 

  • I prefer velcro fastenings on a cloth nappy as they make it much easier to get a good fit. Toby is very long and skinny so getting a good fit with some cloth nappies is tricky but the Freeva was a got fit, even after a few hours of wriggling!
  • It’s good to see the Freeva nappy has laundry tabs to fold the velcro back onto while they are in the wash so they don’t all get stuck together.
  • I like the selection of prints and colours available (which we all know is one of the main reasons for using cloth nappies!)
  • The nappy arrived with information about how to use and look after the nappy (including advice on pre-washing before use). All this information, along with other cloth nappy advice is also available on the Freeva website.
  • I was impressed with the performance of the nappy. On the first use it lasted three hours with just the one insert before it started to leak slightly around the legs. On the second use I used the microfibre insert along with a bamboo booster and the nappy lasted almost five hours! (I wouldn’t normally leave a nappy that long during the day without changing it anyway, but I just wanted to see how long it would last!)
  • The microfibre inner and pocket outer washed well and are very quick to dry. I usually dry my nappies in the airing cupboard in winter and both parts were dry in a few hours.

The Cons

  • The nappy only comes with one microfibre insert included. In my experience this might be OK for a younger baby but older babies might need more boosting so you will have to purchase extra inserts if you don’t already have them.
  • The microfibre insert is a bit bulky, especially on a smaller baby. There are other fabrics which could give the same absorbency but with less bulk.

The Verdict

Freeva cloth nappy

The Freeva nappy we tried performed very well. With its adjustable rise and velcro at the waist it really should fit most babies. Freeva nappies are also at the more affordable end of the cloth nappy scale. Whether you are new to cloth nappies or a seasoned user and you are after a pocket nappy I would recommend Freeva nappies as a great addition to your collection.

Freeva have kindly offered all my readers a discount code to use on their website. Simply enter TOBYGOESBANANAS at the checkout for 5% off. And even better, you can use this code as many times as you like!

**Disclaimer: I was sent the cloth nappy in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Review: Mr Nutcase phone case

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I am pretty much permanently attached to my phone. If I’m not checking Twitter or Facebook then I’m reading emails or playing the dreaded Candy Crush Saga! So my phone cases tend to get a bit of a battering. I’ve always just bought cheap rubber ones from eBay and replaced them when they wore out. My latest case had started to tear at the bottom a few weeks ago and I’d been eyeing up a personalised case so when I got the chance to get one from Mr Nutcase I jumped at the chance.

The Details

Personalised iPhone case

Mr Nutcase has a large selection of phone and tablet cases available on their website. You can either choose a case from the pre-designed collections, which can then be personalised with text or clipart, or you can upload your own images. For my iPhone 4 there were two options; the ‘Executive Flip Leather Style’ or the ‘Ultra Light Weight Slimline’, which is what I went for. I decided to design my own case using my own images as you can see in the picture. This case retails at £14.95.

The Pros 

  • The website was very easy to use. You simply choose the make and model of the device you want a case for, choose the type of case and away you go.
  • There are hundreds of designs to choose from if you want a pre-designed case and it is easy to search by style.
  • If you want to upload your own images there are lots of different layout options allowing you to choose how many photos you want to use.
  • Uploading the images from my computer was easy and once uploaded you just drag them into place on the case where you can then move and resize them.
  • The designer will let you know if your image quality isn’t good enough for the size you have chosen.
  • Once you are happy with your design you can submit it and then complete payment – free delivery is included in the price and orders are shipped the next day. I ordered my case on Monday, it was shipped in Tuesday and arrived on Wednesday. That’s pretty impressive for any online shopping but for a personalised product I thought it was incredibly speedy!
  • The case is well made and fits my phone perfectly. As you can see on the picture above the edges of the case are clear plastic with cut out sections for the buttons. It clips on easily but is barely visible from the front of the phone.
  • The images have been reproduced well – they have a matt finish which I wasn’t expecting but I actually like it.

The Cons

  • Although this is a great product and I am really pleased with my case, I thought that £14.95 was a little bit expensive for a phone case. Having had a quick Google though, it seems this is pretty much the going rate for this type of case.
  • The only other con, which isn’t really a fault of this case specifically, is that I find the hard plastic more uncomfortable to hold than my old rubber case.

The Verdict

The Mr Nutcase website was very easy to use, the case came out exactly as I designed it and the delivery time was amazing. If you are after a personalised case for your phone or tablet then I would definitely recommend Mr Nutcase.

**Disclaimer: I was given a code to order a phone case from the Mr Nutcase website in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Review: miamoo travel goodies

miamoo travel goodies
As I have mentioned before, Toby, like me, suffers from eczema. It is only quite mild – a few patches on the back of his knees and his arms, and more recently two small dry patches on his face. We have creams which have been prescribed by the doctor but I don’t like to use these medicated creams any more than is necessary. So when we were given the opportunity to try some products designed to help prevent dry skin and eczema I was eager to give them a go.

Saira Khan is the founder of miamoo. After a lifetime of dry skin Saira decided to research and produce natural products which could be used not only on adult dry and sensitive skin but also on children and babies. There are six miamoo products, each with many possible uses. All the products are at least 97% natural and don’t contain any nasty chemicals. The miamoo products are designed for their recommended 3 step skincare routine – wash, moisturise, massage.

The Details

We were sent the miamoo travel goodies set which contains miniature versions of all six miamoo products. There are three products which can be used for washing; spritz and wipe, splashy wash and fresh locks shampoo, two products for moisturising; huggy lotion and cheeky cream and finally there is baba oil for massage (among many other things!). All the products come in a handy clear wallet along with a cotton face cloth. Ideal for hand luggage on a flight, or even to go in your hospital bag if you are expecting a baby.  The travel goodies set retails at £15 or individual products are available in larger sizes for £6 for the baba oil or £4 for all the other products.

miamoo

The Pros 

  • With ingredients such as lavender, geranium, sweet almond oil, orange flower water, marshmallow extract, limewater, bitter orange extract, jojoba, chamomile, and lemon oil – the miamoo products all smell amazing! I loved that they didn’t smell like ‘baby’ products – Toby smelled so delicious after his bath I couldn’t stop sniffing his head!
  • I really liked the fact that the products are all made from natural ingredients with no hidden nasties.
  • We used splashy wash and fresh locks shampoo in the bath. The splashy wash made plenty of gentle bubbles and did a great job of cleaning Toby’s delicate skin without irritating it. We don’t always use shampoo but the fresh locks shampoo did a great job.
  • The spritz and wipe is lovely and fresh smelling. To be honest I didn’t think it was a product we really needed but it had been great to give Toby’s bum a quick spray when doing a nappy change – we use washable baby wipes and although I soak them in an essential oil solution you don’t get the same fresh smell that you get from disposable baby wipes.
  • The huggy lotion and the baba oil are very easy to apply; I used the huggy lotion on Toby’s arms and legs, followed by the baba oil. They left his skin feeling very smooth and soft – we had four or five days with no eczema flare up at all. It did come back a little bit behind his knees but I think this was more down to me not moisturising quite as often as I should have for a day or so. Both of these products are absorbed into the skin really quickly which is great when you’ve got a wriggly baby who really doesn’t want to lie still while you spend ages rubbing cream in!
  • The dry patches and the nasty dribble rash that Toby had on his chin cleared up completely after just a couple of days. I used the huggy lotion, baba oil and cheeky cream (not all at the same time, although I think you can do this) and having previously tried all sorts of lotions and potions I was amazed at how quickly Toby’s face cleared up.
  • I really love the fact that miamoo products have a multitude of uses and can be used by all the family. This is fantastic for saving space and money both at home, and even more importantly it means we don’t have to take loads of different products if we go away (which is a great bonus when we have a car full of baby stuff as it is!)
  • I’ve noticed a little of each product goes a long way. This, along with the very reasonable prices, makes miamoo great value for money.
  • I haven’t specifically been using the miamoo products myself but I’ve noticed that the eczema and dry skin on my hands has improved as a by-product of putting the creams and oil onto Toby.
  • As well as the products themselves there is lots of great information and advice on the miamoo website about how to care for dry and sensitive skin, and which are the best products to use.

applying huggy lotion

The Cons

  • The only product I wasn’t as impressed with was the cheeky cream. Toby has never had real nappy rash but often his bum gets a bit red looking. We usually use Sudocrem which clears it up in one application but I found that even after using the cheeky cream at every nappy change Toby’s bum was still red at the end of the day. That said, I did use it on his face as well and it seemed to help in clearing up his dribble rash.

The Verdict

We really liked the miamoo travel goodies set. I think the products are all very reasonably priced and I would be happy to keep using them on not only Toby but myself as well. In fact, once my travel sizes have run out I think I’ll probably be ordering some of the products in the full size versions.

miamoo are very kindly offering all my readers 10% off any full price products – just enter the code Blog13 at the checkout.

**Disclaimer: We were sent the miamoo travel goodies set in return for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Review: Splash About Après Splash All-in-One

Splash About Après Splash All-in-One

If you read my post about Toby’s swimming lessons you’ll already know we’re big fans of Splash About. I first came across them because our swim school, Turtle Tots, insist that all babies wear a Splash About Happy Nappy. As Toby was quite young when we started swimming (about 3 months) and he’s so skinny (so no fat on him to keep him warm!) we also bought a BabyWrap. Since then we have added to our Splash About collection with a hooded towel, a change mat (which the Splashers kindly sent us because they liked seeing Toby’s cheery pictures in his swimming gear on Twitter), and now our latest addition is the Après Splash All-in-One, which was a Christmas present from Grandma!

The Details

The Après Splash All-in-One is made from the same cotton bamboo charcoal towelling as the Splash About hooded towel. There a poppers all down the front and legs, so the whole thing (apart from the arms) opens out flat for easy dressing. It comes in four sizes – 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-12 months and 12-18 months, with either turquoise or pink trim.

The Pros 

    • It’s very practical – the Après Splash All-in-One makes getting dressed after swimming an absolute doddle! I just dry Toby off, put his nappy on then lie him on top of the all-in-one and do up the poppers. It’s so much easier than trying to wrestle a tired and slightly cranky post-swim baby into everyday clothes.
    • Because it’s towelling it doesn’t matter if Toby is still a bit damp when I put it on. The suit dries him off then keeps him nice and cosy for the journey home.
    • It’s nice and roomy so great for wriggling in (as ably demonstrated by Toby in the photo below).
    • It’s very easy to take off again – as we discovered when it got covered in porridge last week! I just undid the poppers while Toby was still in his highchair then lifted him out leaving the porridge covered all-in-one behind.

Apres Splash All-in-One

The Cons

  • The only minor niggle for me is the sizing. I know Toby is very long but even so he is only 6 months old and the 6-12 month size there isn’t much length in the arms and legs for him to grow into as you can see from the photos.

The Verdict

We love the Splash About Après Splash All-in-One. It has made our post-swimming experience much less hassle. I can imagine it would also be fantastic to use on holiday as it would be so easy to pop on your little one after they had been in the pool or the sea. You could even use it at home instead of a bath robe.

**Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.

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Review: Exante Diet

Exante diet

I was given the chance to try Exante Diet for a week and it seemed like a good opportunity to give my weight loss a boost, especially after the excesses of Christmas! Exante Diet is a meal replacement diet (also known as a VLCD or very low calorie diet). All conventional food is replaced by three food packs per day (if you are following the Total Solution) – giving you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals in only 600 calories. Now I know a lot of people don’t agree with meal replacement diets and to be honest although I have used them before successfully I don’t think I would do one again long term as I am trying to establish a healthy, mindful attitude to food. That said, they do work if followed correctly so I am writing this review assuming you have already chosen to do a meal replacement diet and are just looking at the options available.

The Details

Exante DietExante Diet is a purely online product. That means there are no weekly weigh ins and no counselling sessions to attend (unlike some other VLCDs). I suppose it depends on you whether you think that is a good thing or not! They also claim to be the cheapest meal replacement diet in the UK. Individual food packs retail at £2.58 but there are big discounts when you buy in bulk. There is quite a variety of food packs available; Shakes come in six flavours, there are four different soups, seven ready meals (including porridge) and four different bars. You can have any combination of these each day. There are also flavourings that you can add to water available.

There are then three different diet plans to choose from; Total Solution (three food packs a day), Working Solution (three food packs plus 400 calorie low carbohydrate, high protein meal a day) or Simple Solution (three food packs plus 600 calorie meal). The plan you choose depends on your BMI and any pre-existing medical conditions. There is plenty of advice on the website to help you decide which plan is right for you.

The Pros 

  • It works! If you follow any VLCD without cheating it will work and you will lose weight, probably more quickly than you would following any other diet. Also, because the diet puts you into a state of ketosis (where the body starts using its fat stores for energy) you won’t feel hungry.
  • It’s simple. There’s no need to count calories or points. If you are following the total solution then there’s no need to make any choices about food other than which food pack to have. Once you have tried the different products you can choose the ones you like and stick with those.
  • It’s cheap. If you choose the bumper 4 week pack it works out at £27.09 a week. I don’t know about you but I definitely spend more than that on my usual weekly shop.
  • It’s convenient. You can order all your food packs from the comfort of your sofa and have them delivered to your door.
  • There is quite a lot of variety in the different food packs. I liked all the shake flavours (I definitely recommend using a hand blender to mix them though), the vegetable and mushroom soups were also quite nice and didn’t really taste like a diet product, and the chocolate bar was very chocolately and almost fudgy, again not something you would expect from a diet product.
  • With Exante Diet there are no weekly weigh ins or group sessions to attend (if you consider this a plus point).
  • There is lots of information on the website – details about how the diet works, tips for weight loss and keeping the weight off, success stories, recipes (if you are following the Working or Simple Solution), and also a forum to speak to others following the diet.
  • It works! Seriously, if you follow the diet to the letter it is foolproof and that has to be the biggest positive about it.

The Cons

  • It’s boring. Although with Exante Diet there are quite a variety of products, in my experience, you will find a few that you like and stick with those. If you have a lot of weight to lose you will need to follow the diet for a while and lack of ‘proper’ food can get boring after a while.
  • It doesn’t really encourage you to change your eating habits in the long term and so there is a danger that you will put the weight back on when you return to conventional food. A programme such as Lighter Life (which I also have experience of) includes counselling sessions which aim to help you work out why you have put on weight in the first place and help you to keep it off in future. There is no such support from Exante Diet.
  • I found most of the ready meals rather unpalatable! They all smell quite nice, and the first few fork fulls are OK but then they just…aren’t very pleasant. I think it’s the texture more than the taste – all the ready meals are made with soya protein and it just feels a bit spongey in your mouth. The spaghetti bolognese was OK and the mushroom risotto looked worse than in tasted but I really didn’t like the curry and ended up not eating it. The red berry bar had to be the worst of everything I tried though. I actually ended up throwing some of it away!

The Verdict

If you just want to follow a meal replacement diet and don’t want to attend weekly weigh ins or group sessions then it seems to me that Exante Diet is as good a choice as any. Personally, I didn’t like some of the products, but I’ve read opinions of others on the Exante forum saying they like them so maybe it’s just down to individual taste. I did like the shakes, and if I was choosing this sort of diet in the longer term I would stick with shakes anyway. I find it easier to avoid food altogether on this kind of diet rather than eat something vaguely reminiscent of a ‘proper’ meal but nowhere near as nice!

Despite any reservations I had about the diet, most importantly I lost weight. So lastly, here are the all important figures, I’ll let them speak for themselves…

Before After Loss
Weight 13st 2.4lb 12st 10.4lb 6lb
Waist 34.5 inches 33 inches 1.5 inches
Hips 43 inches 42 inches 1 inch
Bust 40 inches 39.5 inches 0.5 inch

**Disclaimer: I was sent one week’s supply of Exante diet products in order to write this review. However, all opinions are my own.

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