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    • Yamaha RX-V565 / Receiver / 0 Readings / 0 Ratings
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      04.03.2015 00:46

      Advantages

      • "accurate auto set-up"
      • "good bass"
      • "Solid build"

      Disadvantages

      • "not as dynamic or exciting to listen to as the class-leaders"
      • "Input assignment issues"

      Perfectly decent, just not the daddy at this price point

      This past year we reached a place where almost anyone can enjoy surround sound. There are two paths to home theater nirvana - or at least the start if it: a home theater-in-a-box system, or building a 5.1 or 7.1 system from quality entry level components. Yamaha's RX-V565, with its typical selling price of just $429.95 gives consumers a very inexpensive way to get into an HDMI-equipped AV receiver. The receiver has four HDMI inputs, each of which are capable of reading and decoding the new high resolution audio formats. This provides a great way to feed four components into a newer HDMI-equipped HD television. Because these HDMI inputs decode the latest HD audio formats, you can all but say goodbye to optical or multi-channel 5.1 analogue audio sources. You can also say goodbye to switching inputs on your television, should you decide to use the 1080p up-conversion that comes with this receiver.

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      03.03.2015 23:35
      Very helpful
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      Bitesize of his best recipes x

      Battered.
      The whole book is simply battered by food, equipment and now totally unrecognisable from when it was purchased.

      The reason I rated this three DOOYOO hearts and not more, is simply because as fabulous as this book is, it basically is a combination of his best recipes condensed into a easier and more manageable format to have in your kitchen.
      You are able to find exactly what you are looking for and not struggling to get book after book out trying to find 'THAT' recipe.

      On one hand this is good for the beginner, the meals are straightforward, his best ones and easy to accomplish. A great introduction for new cooks that want to go up a gear.
      For those who love Nigel Slater and loyal, you basically just need this out of sheer loyalty.
      There are one or two recipes in here I haven't seen before but otherwise this is a combination of his works in recent years. I do use this and like I mentioned at the top of the review its battered for a reason. That reason is it is actually much more accessible. Most of his recipes that I've fallen for and my hips are in one place.

      I'm on the fence whether to recommend it because a little I feel cheated but on the other hand it looks great on the shelf!

      This retails at £12 but obviously the prices now differ and a kindle format is available [not such a fan of that due to formatting].

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      03.03.2015 23:34
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "pretty bottle"
      • "smells lovely"

      Disadvantages

      • "not very long-lasting"
      • "heavy and headache-inducing"

      Lovely but headache-inducing

      Vera Wang Glam Princess is an Eau de Toilette which is available in a 30ml bottle priced at £28, or a 50ml bottle priced at £45. It's not part of their current line of fragrances so it is more difficult to get hold of.


      My thoughts

      The bottle is very pretty and I love looking at this standing on my dressing table. The gold and pink colours work really well together and the heart shape of the bottle is really cute.

      I couldn't find a description of this fragrance from the manufacturer which is a shame as I do like to see if their description match my thoughts on the scent!
      The top notes are watermelon and berries, the mid notes are jasmine, rose and frangipani, and the base notes are wood and musk. The overall fragrance is quite a heavy, sweet floral with a lot of depth provided my the woody and musky base.

      I do like this scent, it's nice and fresh to begin with and then gets heavier as you wear it, with the mid and base notes taking over from the fruity top notes. I find it's one that develops and changes throughout the day and it becomes very deep and musky.

      The scent is quite versatile as it's light enough to be worn during the day without being ott, but it's also heavy enough to hold it's own on a night out. It would suit anyone I think as it has elements within it that seem younger and elements that seem more mature, so I think it wouldn't seem out of place on any age of woman.

      Although this is a lovely scent which I do enjoy, it does give me a headache very quickly so I struggle to wear it, and it's also one that I've never received any compliments on, which leads me to believe that most people don't like it as much as I do! It also doesn't last that well, even for an eau de toilette, and I find I have to top it up every 3 hours or so if I want the scent to stay with me.

      Recommended?

      Yes, I would recommend this as a nice versatile scent if you're not sensitive to chemical perfumes like me. If you are then you'll probably find it will leave you with a major headache!

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      03.03.2015 23:33
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      More than seeing in the dark.

      I always said that, for me, nothing would ever replace the book - the feel of the page, the look of the type ... but if like me you can't get back to sleep in the middle of the night but don't want to disturb your partner by clicking on the light for a read, your average book isn't much good.
      Enter the Kindle Fire HD. I'm not much of a technology expert so I couldn't believe it when the page showed up in the dark! Brilliant, all I have to do is locate the switch to turn it on, which is easily found on the top of the device and hey presto - a book I can read to my heart's content without having to switch on the light.
      But this really does just touch the tip of the iceberg for me as this Kindle does everything. You can listen to music, watch your favourite movies and play games - there's an app to suit every occasion. Setting up the Kindle enables you to create an Amazon account so you can get the app that you need quickly and easily. Some of the apps are free but others charge a fee.
      The apps I use enable me to also browse the internet, check my status on Facebook and also my e-mails. To say that I never thought there would be a place in my heart for a Kindle that's not bad going!
      The only issue I have and this is no reflection on the device, is that I get so carried away using it, I forget to charge it up, as this is few and far between and I get loads of usage before having to bother.

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    • More +
      03.03.2015 23:33

      Advantages

      • " lots to do"
      • "Good long game"

      Disadvantages

      • "Some tedious challenges"
      • Glitches

      Assassins Creed Unity - Worth a play if you're a fan of the series.

      As a big fan of the Assassins creed franchise since the first one I can say that after the big glitches at launch were ironed out this game is now very good. A good compelling story line coupled with the parkour style game play leads to some fun gaming. After completing the game I enjoyed going back and completing the "challenges" that each level requires to get that infamous 100% completion. The game is not easy and takes a long time to complete. Gladly they've unlocked the content that previously you had to play the " companion app" to unlock which was awful. Some bad points though, the game is frustrating when your character doesn't do what I intend him to do. Sometimes he just hangs there while I frustratingly try to get him to climb or drop. This is the result of Ubisoft releasing an unfinished game to begin with, they've gotten the worst glitches out which were laughable but the game will never be perfect.

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      03.03.2015 23:21
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      Mr Slater is simply stunning again xx

      Stunning. This is more like a novel than a cookbook and I suppose that is what he is almost trying to achieve. Intertwining this with everyday living.

      As I read this, it felt personal as though you were really reading his diaries exactly what they aimed to achieve came across but so much more. It felt like you were getting to know the author, his ideas and where they came from.
      At times, it felt like sitting down with an old friend and listening to them.

      This guy has a wealth of knowledge and understanding that successfully spills out onto the pages, coming alive in your taste buds as you read through the ingredients, you sense the season he is in and taking inspiration from and the hope it gives him to cook and the confidence that you too can achieve this.

      I thought it would be impossible. I am really starting to love reading through cookbooks and this book feels more than that.
      I can come away with a recipe that a man such as himself has made and create it in my own home.
      The attention to small details makes a big difference to your thinking as you read this through and it changes the way you think about food and what results you can get.

      The format is clear, clean and inspiring. The pictures are rustic and draws you away from a busy world and its almost like you can hear Nigel Slater speaking these words, having watched the SIMPLE SUPPERS series on TV.

      Day by day throughout the year there are menus that reflect the time of year, everything that should be in season so it makes it more achievable for you to get hold of.
      Your walking through a kitchen diary, literally.
      I love the way he brings the left over together to make something really fabulous and tasty and the way he also gets you to pull out all the food you might have thrown away and use them.

      A final mention is of the way in which he cares about the food producers comes across, where it comes from, sourced and handled comes across strongly. He helps you believe in the bigger picture and your contribution to that.

      If you are passionate about cooking this is for you.

      This books is well used beyond the moment I brought it in and used time and time again. Not bad for £16.9 at the time of purchase.

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      03.03.2015 23:20
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      Such a social way of cooking!

      I decided to buy a Teppanyaki grill during a particularly rainy summer a couple of years ago. I'd been really hoping to have a barbecue, but the weather just hadn't allowed for this, so I decided, following a practice my parents had had for years, to have an 'indoor barbecue'.

      Teppanyaki is a Japanese phrase that means to fry or grill on a steel plate. At least, that is the literal meaning, but culturally it is more likely to mean a system of cooking at the table, with the grill forming a central focal point where everyone can become involved in their own meals. It's a way of eating that is fun, sociable, and very interactive. As well as being a barbecue fan, I'm also something of a Japanophile, so I was definitely going to use this to cook Japanese meals with friends, as well as just for burgers with mates.

      This 2000w grill really is incredibly cheap for what it is. It costs just 22.99 for a cooking area of 46 cm long and 24.5cm wide. Pretty much all of that cast iron surface can, with the twist of a simple dial at the side, be turned into a fab cooking surface, and is excellent for grilling and frying (though the very edges to tend to be a little cooler).

      The cooking surface has feet at each corner, and a drainage hole on one of the long sides to take off any fat.There are handles at either side of the cook plate, to enable easy movement from above the fat drainage pan to a table for serving. The mains cable itself is , of course, detachable for washing, and includes an adjustable thermostat that enables the temperature to be controlled to make cooking not only easy, but tasty!

      This is incredibly easy to use - the manual does recommend pre-heating for five minutes before cooking, and also points out that once food is cooked, you can keep everything warm by turning to the minimum setting. Other than that, it is incredibly easy to set the cooking temp through the online controls. I have had this out on multiple occasions with friends, all of us cooking on this on my coffee table, and it has been so much fun!

      This is very easy to cook on. Food doesn't stick easily, and it does come with utensils for cooking. It is easy to wipe clean, and not terribly heavy to lift to wipe down, although naturally you do have to make sure not to wet the sockets. With that said, you should treat this grill as you would a non stick pan, and avoid unnecessary scratching and scrubbing.

      Overall, I think this is fantastic considering the low cost, and can be an incredibly social way of eating. My only criticism would be perhaps that when washing there is one side you naturally need to be cautious of as it houses the plug connector, but otherwise I am very happy.

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      03.03.2015 23:13
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Small and sleek design."
      • "Online streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iplayer"
      • "Next Gen Gaming graphics"

      Disadvantages

      • "Front USB sockets sometimes difficult to insert into due to the slanted design."
      • "Poor battery life of console controller."

      PS4 - Fantastic console a must buy!

      After a few months of use I can write a thorough review of this product. The PS4 is a quality piece of equipment and the definition of next gen gaming. At launch there were only basic services available but now a lot of the bugs have been wriggled out and there are little to no errors or crashes during general use. Netflix is a favourite of mine on this console as it has a easy to use layout and the streaming always seems to be much smoother in HD that my PC or smart tv could produce.
      The gaming itself is also fantastic, highlights being the remastered GTA 5 and Assassins creed Unity. Both games look beautiful when played on this console. More and more games are being produced for the PS4 as developers get more confident with the hardware and software capabilities so its only up from here.
      The only negative point I have is that the battery life of the consoles controller doesn't seem to be very long, but maybe that's a standard across all consoles.

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      03.03.2015 23:12
      Very helpful
      (Rating)

      Advantages

      • "Can use both sides"
      • "Great educational toy"

      Disadvantages

      • None

      Double the fun

      This Chad Valley double sided easel is approximately three foot tall and is brightly coloured in lime green and bright blue and one of the sides is a traditional chalk board and the other is a wipe off magnetic board so two children can do different things at the same time. I think that one of the best features is that it has a large tray underneath which is big enough for keeping chalks, dry wipe pens or magnets or anything else children want to keep there.

      There is a large red paper clip at the top of the easel where you can clip a piece of paper which you could draw or paint on and as the paper is upright it is easy for a child to use. As the one side is magnetic we have a set of magnetic letters which my nephews use to make words on which is great as they really enjoy this even the younger ones and it is helping to teach them how to spell. We also use the blackboard side quite a lot as they like the black background which they can make some quite dramatic pictures on and you can buy coloured chalks very cheaply. We have some of the chunky ones so that the younger ones can hold them easily and can make bigger marks with them.

      As this wasn't new when it was bought round to my house I am not sure exactly what was included when first bought but I have had a look online and it comes with twelve coloured chalks, eraser, paper clips and a set of magnetic letters. The prices for this range from 19.99 to £34.99 and it is widely available online, in toy stores and department stores. It is said to be suitable for ages three and over however my youngest nephew is two and he loves playing with it, especially using the magnetic letters. The older nephews like to use the wipe off board the most but it is all used on a regular basis by all of us, for painting, drawing, chalks and the magnetic letters.

      It is fairly light to move around and you can remove the tray to fold down after use which my older nephews can do without any trouble. I know that they have had this now for several years and it is still in very good condition and so far we haven't had any accidents such as using a permanent pen on the whiteboard. I will always try to make sure it is clean when it is put away so it is ready for the next time. I can't see that this would every break or wear out but if it did I would definitely replace it as it is great fun and a great educational toy.

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      03.03.2015 23:08
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      A big difference from the GBBO format

      USELESS INFO ALERT- Just want to say first we met this guy at the GOOD FOOD show in London and he was a gentleman and signed our books and talked to everyone happily and even went through some of these recipes here at the show.

      We had already purchased the book because we really loved the series and hoped to achieve some of those recipes in our kitchen. It's a work in progress! But a good one.

      The show made it look so much more fun and easier and I would say that we actually struggle with a few of these dishes and especially the combination of foods that he 'married' together. [Beetroot- that's all I'm saying!]

      There were some old classics with a new twists, new recipes being stripped back to being simple and the receips actually brought but a lot of childhood memories for me and my mum. Why we ever stopped making these, we'll never know?

      This has given us a burst of inspiration and confidence where we have been lacking.

      The book is less glossy and more rustic than the GBBO's that we're used to but that's great because this reflects nothing of the show and completely separates him as a cook from the show.
      I love the GBBO, but this show and book helps you view Paul Hollywood and why he says some of the things he does and brings the talent he has to the table in the show.
      I would highly recommend this book to starters or the experienced.
      This retails at £4.99 and cheaper on Kindle, although formatting is slightly dodgy.

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      03.03.2015 23:04
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      Advantages

      • "Widely available"
      • Delicious
      • "Smooth "
      • "Free of added sugars"

      Disadvantages

      • "A little more expensive"

      In summary, delicious, versatile and nutritious.

      I LOVE Whole Earth Smooth Peanut Butter. I initially tried it because it is one of the very few peanut butters on the market that is free of added sugar (I follow a low refined sugar diet for medical reasons). It is suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

      I have to confess that in terms of flavour, I have no experience to compare it against. For the best part of three decades I've been determinedly against peanut butter, believing, erroneously as it turns out, that I didn't like it. Ha!

      I have used it in peanut butter and chocolate brownies (remember to sweeten the peanut butter with a little maple syrup, otherwise it can be a bit cloying); nutty African-style soups; spread on bread with a spot of diabetic marmalade... But my favourite way to eat it is a dollop alongside a sliced up sweet apple - dunk the apple slices in the peanut butter and nom! Delicious, nutritious and healthy as a snack or breakfast.

      The peanut butter comes in both a small and large size - in glass jars (easily recyclable or reusable - yay!), with a plastic lid. Whole Earth are an 'organic' brand and the label design emphasises this - making use of muted greens and browns, with the name of the product against a background of stylised farm land. It certainly looks the part. Labels on the packaging also confirm that not only is Whole Earth a carbon neutral company, they use sustainable sources of palm oil (hurrah for happy orang-utans!). But even though it has a 'health food' vibe, it is easily available in supermarkets as well as more specialist shops. The first time I bought it I picked it up in a Tesco Metro - this is a huge plus point. It is often really difficult to find 'no added sugar' products of all descriptions in most high street supermarkets.

      In terms of price, I can't remember what I paid, but I suspect it is a little more expensive than other peanut butters on the market. But personally, I'm prepared to pay a little more bit more for a healthier and more ecologically-aware product.

      Last, but not least, it has a long shelf life - my current jar has a use by date of nine months hence...it won't last that long though! But don't keep it in the fridge - it'll go rock solid!

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      03.03.2015 22:59
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      A personal touch but not in the same way as her other books.

      My kitchen table range is not just a book written by Mary Berry, it is a brand of a number of authors and is linked to a website.

      I chose Mary Berry as I find her recipes down to earth, inspiring and achievable.

      This is not a repeat recipe book from her previous lists of favourites but 100 recipes that are easy, quick and fun to make for friends and family.

      This does not have such a large focus as her previous books on chapters and is quicker to read through and digest.
      In this book, I found that there was more of a focus on SWISS ROLLS [Not that I'm complaining] and TRAYBAKES so if that interests you more this is good for those aspects.

      Although I did like this book and refer to it occasionally I have found that it does not 'feel' like a Mary Berry book but someone has stolen her and re-branded her.
      The format has changed and it feels less personal, the pictures, the format is good but different.
      The recipes are filled with helpful tips and tricks and a good guide. In the beginning of the book, the opening chapter will help you convert weights.
      I can happily say that the recipes were a treat, everyone is still alive and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to add this to your other cookbooks as there are hidden treats and delights.

      This retails at £5.59 and is also available on Kindle as mentioned before, I struggle with recipes on Kindle as they look awkward and don't format well.



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    • The Simpsons Movie (DVD) / DVD / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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      03.03.2015 22:52
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      • Fun

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      Super fun movie worth watching

      Everybody knows them. It is five of them. Housewife Marge, fat and lazy Homer, clever Lisa, cheeky Bart and funny Maggie - they are... THE SIMPSONS.

      The Simpsons movie is already few years old and in TV is now already the 26th season of its series. However I return very happy to this movie from time to time again and again. The story is very simple. Homer saves a pig from being butchered and makes this animal his new best friend. Marge is not so happy about having a pig in the house, however as a good housewife she is quiet and just cleans mess after the pig. In meanwhile Lisa convinced the Springfield people to clean the Springfield lake. New bill came out, that no one is allowed to throw rubbish in the lake anymore. However Homer does not listen and empties the whole pigs silo in the lake. After that the whole town hates Homer, because the government shut the whole town in a giant glass bubble. The Simpsons manage to escape from the angry neighbors outside the bubble and make they way towards new life to Alaska. There they see that the government want to destroy Springfield and Marge and the kids make their way back to rescue their hometown. Homer follows shortly after he realizes that his well being is not so important and that he needs to save people he loves. Will there Homer come in time to rescue all his neighbors and his family?
      Watch this amazing movie and you will see. I promise you will laugh A LOT!

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      03.03.2015 22:46
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      Sheer naughtiness

      This is a book of nakes from the queen of cakes. And doesn't it just make you feel hungry!

      This is a very varied collection of 250 recipes that will leave you mouthwatering.
      Having only just into baking and turning away from most processed cakes this has really helped me break down those barriers that make you think you cannot acheive results like this at home.
      I still have a way to go making them look like the beautiful photos that are in this book [!] but it has been so much fun making cakes my Mum made me and now I can make her. I see old recipes my grandma made and Aunts and Uncles and it really brings back a lot of memories.

      As should be in most books this deals with the ingredients and techniques and conversions you need. But they have made this more simpler than you could hope for.
      I would love to see this rolled out in schools!

      There are nineteen chapters of sheer deliciousness and they can range from cakes but what really made it interesting was:
      SPICED CAKES
      CHEESECAKES
      FANCY BISCUITS

      For me, the cheesecakes stood out because I hate them. I cannot bear them and refuse them flat out.
      But now I have a 'cooking from scratch' passion I have found that foods I once turned my nose up at or didn't like, now I make them and see what goes in and how it comes together it has really helped my eating habits, how to try new things and helped me appreciate food in a different way.
      Plus I LOVE cooking for others, so if I don't have the calories someone else can!

      This is £12 as a hardcover or you can download on Kindle. Personally, having tried that, the ingredient list is a bit messed up and it doesn't fit well on the page. A good old fashioned hardback will do nicely. x

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      03.03.2015 22:35
      Very helpful
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      Advantages

      • "Mary Berry of course!"

      Disadvantages

      From the TV to the Table.

      With the GBBO and seeing this wonderful lady at the GOOD FOOD SHOW in London quite a few times now, it was about time I took the bull by the horns and put into practise what she makes so easy to do, but you know it can#t be that easy. Can it?

      That is the aim of this COOKERY COURSE. This is a great little companion of help for those who may not be so confident in the kitchen.

      This really helped break down any 'mountains' in my mind that I found diffuclt to overcome. Soups, pastries and preparing three-course meals.

      The book is hardcover and arrayed with wonderful and inspiring pictures throughout. Laid out in a clear and concise way this book will drive you on to be better and if your not, have fun along the way, don't get too stressed because you can and will learn.

      The book covers the following:
      Introduction to equipment and techniques. It sounds scary but it's all pretty basic and easy to digest. It is in the front of the book and I would recommend reading this to help you as you take on the rest of the book to help you understand what is being spoken about and techniques will not look so scary.

      SOUPS
      FIRST COURSES- inspiring and acheiveable
      EGGS
      FISH
      POULTRY AND GAME [game is not so scary this was one of my fears!]
      MEATS
      PASTA AND RICE
      VEGETABLES AND SIDE DISHES- much more interesting than I gave it credit!
      SALADS
      PUDDINGS
      CAKES AND BISCUITS
      BREAD

      I thought I would be overwhelmed and I have never found cooking books interesting but in the recent years with the resurgence of cooking and the bake-off, it has really been a great way to get into cooking. Obviously it helps that they are on TV as it feels more personal and you can see what they say in their books is true and they actually stick it.

      I would highly recommend this book for anyone at any level of cooking or baking.

      This retails on Amazon for £9.99, but can retail differently if second hand etc. x


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