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Aliasfan

Aliasfan
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Member since: 22.04.2013

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    • Bostik Blu Tack / Household Product / 61 Readings / 60 Ratings
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      06.12.2013 12:42
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      MacGyver would have loved it!

      INTRODUCTION

      I always think of Blu Tack as Old Faithful. We always had a squished up, fluff-covered blob of the stuff somewhere in the house when I was a child and now, as an adult, I always make sure I have some to hand. Along with WD40 and duck tape, it forms the Holy Trinity of stuff that fixes anything.

      PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

      Blu-Tack is normally available for around £1 a pack, and indeed I bought my last pack in good old Poundland. Blu Tack comes in a cardboard sleeve, inside which is a sheet of the product sandwiched between two waxed sheets of paper, which keep it from sticking to the rest of the packaging.

      The Blue Tack itself is a pale blue, putty-like substance, and, according to the Bostik website, it is made from synthetic rubber and mineral fillers. Bostik also state that no latex touches the product during manufacture, so for those with a latex allergy it should be OK to use.

      When needed, a piece of the putty is pulled off the main sheet, warmed between the hands and stuck to whatever needs sticking! It can be re-used by simply peeling off, squishing it down and applying it to another surface.


      USER EXPERIENCE

      I've used Blu Tack for countless reasons over the years - here's a brief selection of the main ones.

      *Sticking posters to walls*
      Blu Tack has always worked very well for this, right through from my Kylie and Jason posters as a kid (yeah, yeah, I know!), to year-planners on my home office wall now. Paper sticks well to the wall in most circumstances, the exception being if the wall becomes very cold (ie an external wall) when it has a tendency to lose its grip.

      *Sticking ornaments to shelves*
      It's a very handy product for stabilising particularly wobbly ornaments or other objects on shelves that can be easily knocked over. I've found it sticks well to wood, metal, plastic and painted surfaces.

      *Makeshift mechanical repairs*
      Blu tack isn't my first choice for this (duck tape is) but, at a pinch, it will stick together broken plastic objects for short-term, light use, such as part of a picture frame.

      PROBLEMS

      *Fluff*
      One of the few downsides of Blu tack is the very reason I use it: inherent stickiness. When used on clean, dry surfaces there is no problem, but if it comes into contact with dust, pet hair or fluff it's well-nigh impossible to remove. I end up having to throw out any dirty Blu Tack and buying some more.

      *Stuck on fabric/carpets*
      Another real problem. If the Blu Tack is only lightly adhering to a fabric surface I can peel it off easily, but if it gets trodden into carpet and really ground in it's a nightmare. The Bostik website suggests rubbing more Blu Tack over the ground in stuff to pull it out gently, and then using sticky tape and finally a solvent like lighter fluid to remove it; a finickity, complex procedure that could easily wreck fabric fibres.

      *Greasy marks*
      Probably my main bugbear with the product. Once it's been left on an absorbent surface a greasy mark is almost always left behind. Painted walls seem to suffer most, as do posters (yes, including those Kylie and Jason ones!). I've found no solution to this, save cutting off the corners of posters and simply Blu Tacking another sheet of paper over the greasy mark that was left from the first one!

      CONCLUSION

      In conclusion, Blu Tack is a wonderful product with a variety of uses. It's not perfect, but it is a household essential for me, as it can fill gaps, stick two things together and be moulded into any shape I need.

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        05.12.2013 10:58
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        Very basic but very poor value

        INTRODUCTION

        Hubby and I get through a *lot* of kitchen roll: not just for everyday spills around the kitchen, but also for wiping down most of our windows every morning in winter as the condensation builds up overnight!

        I tried out this Sainsbury's Basics Jumbo Kitchen Rolls out because Sainsbury's is my regular grocery store. They were convenient to pick up so I decided to give them a try.

        PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

        These kitchen rolls come wrapped in thin cellophane. Each pack contains 2 x 120 sheets for £1.18 at the time of writing. The good news is that they have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stamp, meaning they are produced from wood taken from sustainable forests.

        The roll sheets are of what I think of as a standard size, about 20cm x 20cm, are clearly perforated and have a lightly textured surface.


        USER EXPERIENCE

        Aye, and here's the rub...I've tried lots of kitchen roll brands, and whilst I wasn't expecting something super-amazing (this product is in the budget range after all), I was hoping for some decent absorbency from these sheets.

        However, for the two main jobs I need kitchen roll for around the home, these towels performed very poorly as they're so gosh darn thin! There's very little room for absorbency, so I found that to get any liquids up off kitchen counters or off windows I had to use two, three or even four sheets at a time. I also found that, unlike some other brands, it's impossible to squeeze out a soggy wodge of these towels and reuse them to get up a little more liquid, instead, these sheets just stuck together and refused to give up any of the measly amount of fluid they'd collected.

        I found that for small spills in my kitchen I could make one roll last around a week, but when window condensation is especially bad in winter it took an entire roll to dry my windows. Every morning! This means that I would have to purchase a pack of these kitchen rolls every other day to keep my house condensation free over winter!

        Since trying out these kitchen towels I've discovered I can buy thicker rolls of kitchen towel in pound shops, and that I can buy three or even four rolls per pack for a single quid, which works out far cheaper than these Sainsbury's towels.

        I won't be buying these again!

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          02.12.2013 13:13
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          A great standard sanitary towel

          INTRODUCTION

          I've used all sorts of sanitary towels and tampons over the years. One of the brands I've used many times (and am currently using once more) is Boots own brand Ultra towels.

          PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

          Boots Ultra Towels come in several variants, but I just have the 'normal with wings' sort in stock at the moment, which I use on lighter days at the start and the end of my period.

          A pack of 14 of these individually wrapped towels costs around £1.

          The towels are wrapped in a thick plastic heat-sealed sheath, with each towel wrapped in a thinner plastic wrap inside. This means that it's easy to carry these out and about.

          The towels themselves have a soft, cotton-like feel to them, and are not excessively thick (around 5mm I would estimate) or long. They have an adhesive strip on the back, which is accessed by pulling away a piece of waxed paper. The back of the towels is made of a plastic material which feels waterproof, and gives me confidence that the towels won't leak.



          USER EXPERIENCE

          I've been pleased with these towels. They are not significantly different from many other brands I've tried, but they're a reasonable price, they keep me dry and they're comfortable to wear, which is what I want from a sanitary towel.

          The towels stick well to my underwear, and unlike some other brands, I haven't had any issues with the wings unsticking and getting rolled up as I walk along! The towels have plenty of 'give' in them, are thin and don't rustle, meaning I can walk comfortably, and know that the towels are discrete enough not to be seen.

          I haven't noticed a perfumed smell with these towels (which is good as that can trigger thrush in me!), but the product blurb states that this product contains odour control, which is good to know as period fluids can be very stinky!!!!

          My one gripe is that the individual wrapping on the towels is quite flimsy and weakly stuck together, and I find that after a day or so, if I haven't needed to change my towel, the packaging has opened up of its own accord, and the towel is no longer hygienic to use and has to be chucked.

          CONCLUSIONS

          These are a good bog (ahem!) standard sanitary towel: nothing fancy, but they do the job.

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          01.12.2013 14:32
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          A great alternative to sanitary towels for my leaky bladder days!

          N.B. Bladder weakness and vaginal thrush are discussed in this review.

          INTRODUCTION

          I've been unlucky enough to develop some bladder weakness over the last year or so. My doctor has put me on meds that really help, but I can still have occasional leakage issues. I started by wearing sanitary towels to stop leaks, but recently, as my symptoms have got better, I decided to give pantyliners a go. I discovered these Sainsbury's own-brand pantyliners on one of my recent grocery shops and decided to give them a go.

          PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

          Sainsbury's own-brand pantyliners come in a box of 30 for £1.00, which I think is really good value; it's certainly WAY cheaper than the price I was paying for sanitary towels all through the month!

          The liners are packaged in a simple cardboard box. The design has changed from the image above, and is now a plum purple colour with an abstract floral design. From what I can tell though, the product specifications are the same as they were before.

          The liners themselves consist of a thin pad, approximately 15cm x 3cm x 0.5cm, with a plain white cottony-feeling pad with a basic dimpled design. The pad is backed with a single strip of adhesive, and a simple pull-back paper cover which is removed to stick the pad into the knickers.


          USER EXPERIENCE

          I've never used pantyliners before as I've always been wary of the 'sausage effect', where any towel I wear that doesn't have wings to secure it ends up as a sausage and isn't good for catching and absorbing any unwanted fluids! However, I've been very pleased with these pantyliners, and although the adhesive strip isn't particularly wide (around half the width of the towel) it's been sufficient to stop the pad rolling up.

          I've found these liners to be very comfortable to wear, and in fact I don't feel them at all as I move around. They can be removed from my pants easily and disposed of in the same way as any sanitary product. They're invisible under my clothes too, and even when I'm wearing tight trousers they can't be seen.

          As they're so thin they also seem to have reduced my tendency to develop vaginal thrush, a problem that was happening more and more with the constant wearing of sanitary towels, which keep the genital area far warmer than it should be.

          My one minor gripe with this product is that the liners are not individually wrapped, so it's a nuisance when I want to take them out and about with me. I either have to take the whole box (impractical) or pack some liners in a plastic food bag (a nuisance). However, the towels themselves are doing the job I need them for, and on the occasions when I suffer a bit of bladder weakness, I'm confident these liners are absorbing any fluids.

          CONCLUSIONS

          I'm really pleased I've discovered this product. Although I'm not confident enough to use them for their main intended use (as a backup for tampons during periods), the euphemistic 'everyday freshness' use is applicable to my needs. These liners are more than adequate to save me having to worry about my bladder weakness, and they're a cheap, comfortable alternative to sanitary towels. Recommended!

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            28.11.2013 13:19
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            A lovely sweet treat

            INTRODUCTION

            My Hubby is a shortbread addict so we usually have some in the house, either homemade (when I have the time) or shop bought. This Tesco Value shortbread is one of my usual standbys and I often pick up a pack for both of us to nibble on when I'm passing.

            PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

            Like many of the Tesco Value products the price of these biscuits varies. Last time I looked they cost around 25p, and with each pack containing around 10 fingers of shortbread, they're just tuppence each!

            The nutritional information states that each finger contains 65 calories, 2g of sugar, 3g of fat, 2g of saturates and a trace amount of salt. Considering an average chocolate bar contains around 250 calories, 20g of sugar and 25g of fat, I think a couple of shortbread fingers is a much healthier (or at least, less unhealthy!) option when I want a snack!

            There are allergy warnings for milk, wheat and gluten, and ingredients are listed as being Wheat Flour, Butter, Sugar, Vegetable Oil and Salt. No additives or chemically preservatives are listed, which is a significant plus for me with cheaper, value range products.

            Each finger is approximately 6cm x 2cm x 1cm.


            USER EXPERIENCE

            Each finger has a slightly crumbly texture, although when bitten they don't make as much mess as other biscuits. Each finger is quite hard, but doesn't put strain on my teeth, and I don't feel as if I'm going to lose any fillings! The shortbread feels very nice in my mouth, with the crumbly texture meaning it takes a few seconds for the sweetness to come through. I don't get any unpleasant aftertaste from this shortbread, and neither my mouth nor my fingers feel greasy after eating this shortbread, despite the 23% butter content of the product.

            The sugar used in the manufacturing process is well blended, and the shortbread doesn't have any trace of the grittiness I've detected in other bought shortbread.

            These shortbread fingers taste pleasantly sweet, but not sickly, and one or two is perfectly adequate to satisfy my munchies!

            CONCLUSION

            In conclusion, I think these are a nice, cheap alternative to a chocolate bar, and aren't too unhealthy when I want a snack. I like the fact that the ingredients list is very simple, with no chemicals, and that they are so blimmin' cheap!

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            • Sainsbury's Pancakes / Snacks / 38 Readings / 37 Ratings
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              25.11.2013 14:39
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              A great alternative to bread-based snacks

              INTRODUCTION

              Pancakes have always been a favourite snack in my house: whenever I get chance I make them from scratch, but if I'm feeling low on energy (or I'm out of eggs!) I pick up these Sainsbury's pancakes from the bakery section. A pack of six costs around £1.

              PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

              These pancakes come in a cellophane sleeve backed with cardboard which keeps them rigid during transport. On the front of the pack is the Sainsbury's traffic light nutrition wheel which states that these pancakes have moderate calories, fat and salt ratings, but a low rating for sugar. Each pancake is circular and is approximately 15cm in diameter.

              The pancakes are made with the traditional flour, eggs and milk, as well as a variety of preservatives, so would be unsuitable for those with wheat or dairy allergies.

              The texture of these pancakes is fairly rubbery when they're first taken out of the packet, which can be quite offputting, but once heated through in either the oven, microwave or frying pan (I've tried all three methods) they return to a more flexible and appetising texture. Their appearance, as shown in the image above, is that of a mottled surface, which would come from the cooking process and looks comparable to the pattern I get on my own homemade pancakes.

              USER EXPERIENCE

              The major advantage for me with these pancakes is that they are much less greasy than the ones I make myself. They are nice with a surprisingly wide variety of toppings; I've tried them with the traditional sweet toppings of lemon and sugar, syrup and chocolate spread, as well as savoury toppings like chicken and sweetcorn! They form a nice base for all sorts of things, and can make a nice change from sandwiches.

              I also like the fact that these pancakes freeze well: I generally sandwich them between pieces of greaseproof paper and place them within a plastic bag before freezing them flat: without the paper they do stick together and can be a pain to separate for use. To defrost I simply pop them in the microwave for 45 seconds.

              On their own, these pancakes taste very bland, which of course makes them the ideal base for a sweet or savoury snack. They are convenient, not massively unhealthy and make a nice change from bread-based snacks.

              Of course, making my own pancakes is a much cheaper option - I can make a large batch for a few pennies - but sometimes it's nice to have someone else do the work!

              CONCLUSION

              Pancakes are not just for Shrove Tuesday!

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              18.11.2013 12:45
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              Great storage boxes from Wilkinson's

              INTRODUCTION

              A few years ago Hubby and I moved from a three bedroom house to a two bedroom house. This necessitated a LOT of decluttering, but we still ended up moving with a fair bit of stuff. Thankfully both our bed and the single bed in the spare room are on high frames, meaning that we have a lot of space underneath them for storage. Cue these Wilkinsons underbed storage boxes, which we discovered in our new local Wilkinson's branch just after we moved.

              PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

              These boxes have a capacity of 32 litres, and measure 18cm x 40cm x 60cm. They are made of semi-transparent white plastic, and have rounded corners, which minimise their ability to bash ankles! The lid has a ribbed texture, meaning it's easy to grip, and it simply slots into small depressions on each side of the box. These boxes currently retail for £5 but I think I purchased ours on a multibuy offer, so they worked out a bit cheaper.

              USER EXPERIENCE

              Because they were cheap, I bought a LOT of these boxes over the first few weeks of living in our new house. Because they are of a uniform size and are rigid (but not brittle) they're great for storing all sorts of things. Under our main bed I have boxes containing spare linen, paperwork and Christmas decorations; under the spare bed are some of our DVDs, CDs and books, and then I have additional boxes downstairs in the living room in which I store stationery and more books (we have a lot of books!). We also have several in our loft as being watertight they're very useful for storing paperwork that might otherwise get damaged by damp.

              They are very light, so easy to carry, at least when empty! Because of their shape, these boxes are easily stackable, and they hold a good weight of material, so filling them with books is not a problem. In fact, because the plastic they're constructed from is so smooth, I've found I can pick the crate up at one end and drag it across the carpet a short distance, rather than having to pick it up. As they're waterproof they're great for storing precious electronics too. Being translucent it's easy to see what's inside each box without having to drag them out and open them up.

              A couple of downsides: firstly, these boxes get very dusty over the long term, with particles collecting readily in the ridged lids. However, this is still better than dusty books, linen etc!

              Secondly, the lids can break quite easily: whilst not brittle, I've noticed cracks in a couple of the lids around the snap clip area on the ends. I do put these boxes through their paces, and I have been known to stuff them with items, but the lids don't have as much 'give' in them as I would like, and tend to crack rather than bend slightly.


              CONCLUSIONS

              These are small quibbles though. We've been using these boxes for several years and they are still serving us well. I'm very happy to recommend them.

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                17.11.2013 12:05
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                Great tasting crackers that are cheap and not as unhealthy as many others

                INTRODUCTION

                I love me some crackers at snacktime: with butter, with jam, with chocolate spread or Marmite, these are a cupboard staple in my house.

                Because I try to be as good as possible (and compensate for all the sugar and fat found elsewhere in my diet!) I started buying these Sainsbury's Be Good To Yourself crackers several years ago. Whilst the packaging design has changed drastically from that seen above, the crackers still taste the same, and are an essential component in my weekly shop.

                PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

                These crackers come wrapped in heat-sealed cellophane. Unlike the image above, the design is now predominantly green and white, in keeping with the modern design of the rest of the Be Good To Yourself range. On the front of the package is a flash stating these crackers are made with sustainable palm oil, so hopefully no Madagascan jungle was harmed in the making of this snack! The traffic light nutrition wheel states that these crackers are low in calories and total sugars, and have medium rates of fats and salt.

                The ingredients list shows these crackers contain wheat flour, palm oil and salt, plus a range of -ate additives. They are unsuitable for those who have problems eating wheat or barley gluten.

                Each cracker contains 32 calories, 0.5g of fat and 0.11g of salt, and each cracker has a value of 1 Weight Watchers ProPoint, for those following that eating plan.

                One packet of crackers weighs 200g and contains around 30 crackers, costing 35p, so each cracker costs just over one penny.

                The crackers themselves are around 6cm square and 3mm thick. They are stamped with the traditional "cream cracker" lable, plus a group of stylised 'S's. The surface is perforated with lots of small holes, which I imagine is integral to the manufacturing process. The surface is also lightly blistered, again I would imagine this occurs when the crackers are toasted.

                USER EXPERIENCE

                I love these crackers! They have a very satisfying crunch, and a very pleasant, light taste. Whilst I don't enjoy eating them on their own, they taste wonderful with toppings such as those I've listed above. They don't leave a greasy residue on the fingers or in the mouth like some other crackers I've tried.

                These crackers don't go soft as quickly as other brands I've tried, and if I take simple precautions, like putting an open pack in a tupperware box, or even just closing it up with a plastic clip, the crackers stay nice and crisp for four or five days.

                When bitten into there is a slight crumbling effect, although it is very minimal and it's fairly easy to eat these crackers tidily!

                CONCLUSION

                I think these crackers are a lovely, cheap snack which offers plenty of variety. Depending on the topping added they make a lovely sweet or salty snack and, as they're lower in fat than most other crackers, I don't feel so guilty eating them! Interestingly, the blandness of the cracker means there are no flavours to clash with whatever topping I put on, and interestingly, there is always a complimentary flavour sensed by my taste buds, which again I haven't found with any of the branded crackers.

                I will continue to put these in my grocery basket!

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              • Nestle Kit Kat Chunky / Chocolate / 43 Readings / 40 Ratings
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                11.11.2013 11:43
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                A super-satisfyingly sweet chocolate bar

                INTRODUCTION

                I have a horribly sweet tooth, and I'm a major chocoholic to boot, so I have to limit my confectionary intake for the sake of my waistline! However, there is one chocolate bar that is like crack for me, and that's Chunky Kit Kats!

                PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

                Chunky Kit Kats are sold both singly and in multipacks (of 3, 4 and 8). Each bar weighs 48g and, whilst prices vary, single bars cost around 65p. Multipacks vary wildly in price as many supermarkets regularly have promotions. 4 packs generally cost £1.60 but I usually pick them up on offer for £1 in Poundland, Co-Operative, Sainsbury's or Iceland. Similarly, 8 packs are around £2.60 at regular price but are often on sale for £2.

                Each bar comes wrapped in a heat-sealed foil wrapper, on the outside of which is the familiar Kit Kat red and white logo along with the word 'Chunky' on a blue background. The inside of the wrapper is plain silver foil.

                The bars themselves consist of an elongated ingot-shaped chocolate bar around 10cm x 3cm x 3cm, with the Kit Kat logo inprinted in the chocolate layer on the top of the bar. The bar is covered in a thick layer of milk chocolate, and, when bitten into, various layers of thin wafer alternated with milk chocolate layers can be seen. It's hard to count the layers but I estimate there to be around 5 layers in total.

                The bars are quite hard to bite into, so if you have lots of fillings or bridges I would suggest snapping chunks off the bar to eat.

                Ingredients include 67% milk chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter and wheat, so those with intolerances or allergies to soya, wheat or lactose should take note. Each bar provides 267 calories, around average for a chocolate bar of this size, along with 12 g of fat (many bars are 20g upwards so this is good) and 30g of carbohydrates.

                USER EXPERIENCE

                I've eaten *way* too many chocolate bars over the years. I was never keen on regular Kit Kats as a child, although I loved the milk chocolate the wafer was wrapped in. Once in a while I bit into one of these and discovered there was hardly any wafer inside; rather the whole Kit Kat finger was pure chocolate! My friends and I always coveted these super-special Kit Kats as there's something about the milk chocolate that makes it taste a lot sweeter and milkier than any other chocolate I've come across.

                When Nestle released Chunky Kit Kats I was instantly hooked as these have much more of the special Kit Kat chocolate included, reminiscent of the 'lucky' regular Kit Kats I occasionally found as a child. The chocolate coating is exceptionally thick, and there is even more chocolate included inside. The wafer doesn't diminish from the chocolate-eating experience for me; rather it forms a pleasing contrast of texture, and forces me to slow down my eating, prolonging the enjoyment of the bar further.

                CONCLUSIONS

                Since these chocolate bars are so rich I find that eating one of them for my Elevensies keeps me going right through to lunchtime, and satisfies my choccy craving until at least mid-afternoon, which for me is very good! Also I find one of these to be more than adequate at one sitting, and it's super-rare for me to eat 2 in a day. Conversely, if I don't get a Chunky Kit Kat each morning I feel withdrawal symptoms as they are so super addictive for me!

                In conclusion, I think these are wonderful chocolate bars. They're rich, satisfying and contain slightly less fat than your average chocolate bar.

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                • Sainsbury's Basics Pancakes / Snacks / 37 Readings / 36 Ratings
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                  07.11.2013 11:48
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                  A nice, cheap snack from the bakery aisle

                  INTRODUCTION

                  I decided many years ago that pancakes are not just for pancake day! I love traditional British pancakes with lemon and sugar, but when staying with a friend in the US I was introduced to American pancakes, a much thicker and more substantial version of the foodstuff I grew up with.

                  On coming back to the UK I discovered that these American pancakes were very similar to Scotch pancakes, and before I learned to make them for myself these Sainsbury's Basic Pancakes were a staple of my snack stash.

                  PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

                  Sainsbury's Basics pancakes come packaged in transparent cellophane and a cardboard backing sleeve which protects the product. A pack of 6 Basics pancakes costs around 20p, but both the size of the package and the price vary from month to month - I've seen packs of 8 as well as of 6, and I've seen the price rise into the mid 30ps, as well as down to 20p.

                  The traffic-light nutrition wheel on the front of the packaging states that these pancakes are high in sugars, have a medium calorie rating(59 per pancake), medium fat and salt rating and a low saturated fat rating.

                  The circular pancakes themselves are very small: around 8cm in diameter, and around 0.5cm thick. They are mid-brown in colour on the outside, often with a mottling of darker brown patches, undoubtedly part of the baking process; I get a similar effect when cooking these for myself. When broken open these pancakes have trapped bubbles, and are a paler brown in colour.

                  The reason the pancakes are bubbly, as opposed to British crepe-style pancakes, is due to the addition of flour and raising agents, both essential ingredients in making these Scotch/American style snacks.

                  Ingredients include wheat, milk and eggs, so these pancakes aren't suitable for those with allegies, intolerances or aversions to these ingredients.

                  USER EXPERIENCE

                  I used to love these pancakes! I've eaten them in many different ways over the years - here's a summary:

                  * On their own straight out of the packet - quite dry, moderately sweet (due to the inclusion of syrup in the recipe), quite chewy, tasted OK but nothing special. A useful snack in a pinch

                  * On their own, microwaved for 20 seconds - quite dry, but sweetness of the syrup comes through more. A more pleasing texture than when eaten cold, and not as chewy.

                  * With honey, microwaved for 20 seconds - my favourite way of eating them! Very sweet - the texture of the honey contrasts nicely with the pancake and stops them being dry. This used to be a favourite mid-afternoon office snack. I put a couple of pancakes in a tupperware box with a spoonful of honey and kept it in the office fridge until I was ready to eat them.

                  *With jam, microwaved for 20 seconds - I had this for breakfast a couple of times. The taste was very pleasant, and had the right amount of sweetness, but I found the pancakes too 'heavy' for my tummy first thing in the morning.

                  * With maple syrup, microwaved for 20 seconds - American style! The taste was lovely - not as sweet as with the addition of honey, but very pleasant and again the syrup made a nice texture contrast to the pancakes.

                  After eating them for a while, I finally bothered to read the full ingredients list on the back of one of the packets, and was horrified! Ingredients include all sorts of additives, including Rapeseed Oil, Disodium Diphosphate, Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate and the preservative Calcium Propionate. (Info taken from the Sainsbury's website). I did some research online and found really simple recipes for this style of pancakes, so started making my own a couple of years ago. I know exactly what goes in them, they freeze well and they taste just as good (if not better!) than these Sainsbury's ones.

                  CONCLUSION

                  These are a very cheap, flexible snack which taste really nice, especially when eaten hot with some kind of sweet sauce. Unfortunately, they're full of additives, and now I know how to make my own version, I don't need to buy them any more.

                  * The title is a reference to the old CBBC TV show Maid Marian and Her Merry Men. They had a hilarious episode which opened with a song with this title. It's worth a Google!

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                  • More +
                    04.11.2013 12:26
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                    Great value biccies!

                    INTRODUCTION

                    As our grocery budget has been squeezed and squeezed I've made the effort to substitute our branded or own-brand goods for the super-cheapy Value variants. One of my regular purchases now is Sainsbury's Basics Bourbon Creams.

                    Bourbons have always been one of my absolute favourite biscuits (chocolate filling sandwiched between two pieces of chocolate biscuit - what's not to like?) so I consider myself a bit of an expert on this kind of snack :-)

                    PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

                    Sainsbury's Basics Bourbon Creams come wrapped in a thin, white, heat-sealed cellophane packet. A 400g pack containing around 40 biscuits, packed two abreast, costs around 45p, so just over a penny a biccie.


                    On the front is the Sainsbury's colour-coded nutrition wheel, and on the back is a detailed list of ingredients and nutritional information. These biscuits are high in fats and sugars, have a medium number of calories and a low level of salt. There are also allergy notices for those who have problems with wheat, gluten and soya.

                    The biscuits themselves have three components: two chocolate biscuit pieces, and a chocolate fondant filling. The biscuit pieces have the traditional 'BOURBON' stamp on them, as well as a number of tiny holes, which I presume are there to aid the manufacturing process and stop the chocolate fondant squirting out when it's still liquid. Size-wise, I'd say these are of standard bourbon dimensions: around 5cm x 3cm x 1cm.


                    USER EXPERIENCE

                    I love these bourbons. To me they taste almost the same as branded variants, with good, crisp biscuits which have a sweet and chocolatey taste, and a smooth chocolate fondant in between. They hold their integrity well when I bite into them, with very little biscuit crumbling away. They are perfectly adequate for when I have a snack-attack, and I find three or four biscuits is more than enough for me, even when I'm at my greediest!

                    There are some slight differences between these and other bourbons I've eaten:

                    (1) The biscuit layers are a little sweeter, and they do seem to go soft faster than other brands, even when kept in a tupperware container.

                    (2) The fondant filling is less sweet than others I've tried, although this is countered by the sweeter-than-usual biscuit layers.

                    Also, the cellophane packaging is exceptionally thin, and I've often nicked it when transporting my groceries home, resulting in crumbs in the bottom of my shopping bags! I always open and transfer the bourbons to a tupperware box if this happens, or as soon as I open them if it doesn't.

                    However, these are minor quibbles, and since the biscuits are so cheap I don't let these minor points put me off.

                    CONCLUSION

                    In conclusion, I think these bourbons are another good addition to the Sainsbury's Basics range, and they form part of my regular shop these days.

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                    01.11.2013 13:00
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                    A lovely cheap sweet treat!

                    INTRODUCTION

                    I have a very sweet tooth but a very limited budget, so I always investigate Sainsbury's Basic biscuit range when I'm doing my weekly shop.

                    One of my favourite types of biccy is chocolate chip cookies, and one of my fairly regular purchases is Sainsbury's Basic cookies with chocolate chips.


                    PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

                    These biscuits come simply wrapped in white branded cellophane with nutritional and ingredient information printed clearly on the packet. The traffic light nutrition wheel states that these biscuits are high in fat, calories and sugar, and contain a medium amount of salt. Ho-hum, what the hey, they're a treat right?!

                    A 250g pack of these biscuits costs around 45p, and considering there are around 20 biscuits in the pack, each one costs just over tuppence, which I consider to be fantastic value.

                    The biscuits themselves contain 6% dark chocolate chips, which I consider to be very low, although, in fairness, the chocolate contains a minimum of 35% cocoa solids, which is fairly high for this kind of product. The biscuits also contain wheat flour, palm oil, sugar and various additives. There are allergy warnings for those who have problems with milk, wheat, gluten and soya.

                    Each biscuit is around 4cm in diameter and perhaps 0.5cm thick.

                    USER EXPERIENCE

                    I really like these biscuits. They're very sweet and the chocolate, despite the low percentage by weight, is very rich and has a very obvious presence in every mouthful of product.

                    The biscuit mix is very crumbly, but since the biscuits are so small I usually pop a whole one in my mouth each time I eat one! The biscuits also have a very sugary consistency, not dissimilar to shortbread I've made myself, and they're quite buttery in taste too, so they're very rich and eating them feels like quite a decadent experience!

                    I find I don't want to eat more than 3 or 4 at any one sitting, and, although they're really nice, I don't find they have that addictive 'more-ish' effect that other sweet treats can have.

                    CONCLUSIONS

                    I think these biscuits are very good value for money. Despite being smaller and lower in chocolate chip content than many more expensive versions, these have a very rich taste, and feel lovely in the mouth: the chocolate melts quickly and makes a nice contrast to the crumbly biscuit mix.

                    These will continue to form part of my rota of special treats I purchase during my weekly grocery shop!

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                    31.10.2013 10:10
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                    Good value jaffa cakes that satisfy my need for a sweet treat!

                    INTRODUCTION

                    Hubby and I are having to increasingly tighten our belt with the household finances, but we still enjoy treats and wherever possible I like to buy us cheap, nice munchies on my weekly grocery shop.

                    After buying essentials I always head to the Sainsbury's biscuit aisle, and these Basics Jaffa Cakes often make their way into my trolley!

                    PRODUCT DESCRIPTION


                    A pack of 24 cakes costs around 85p.

                    The Basics Jaffa Cakes come packaged in a cardboard box. The front design is similar to that seen above, although the newer boxes also include a 'nutrition wheel' with the traffic light red/amber/green colour coding which gives a breakdown of the calories, fats, salt and sugar in each cake. The back of the box contains a full nutritional breakdown and ingredients list.

                    According to the box, these cakes contain sponge, 37% orange flavour filling and 21% plain chocolate, which I consider pretty decent for cakes that cost less tha 4p each! The package also states that the plain chocolate used contains a minimum of 30% Cocoa Solids, which again I consider pretty good.

                    These jaffa cakes have allergy warnings as they contain egg, wheat gluten and soya, and they state that they aren't suitable for milk allergy sufferers.

                    The jaffa cakes themselves come packaged in two plastic-sealed cellophane wraps, each containing 12 cakes. They are easy to open by simply tearing the top of the plastic. I find that these cakes transport well and I haven't had any squished during transit.

                    The circular cakes are around 5cm in diameter, with a dark chocolate coating on the top, sponge on the bottom and the orange layer sandwiched in between.

                    USER EXPERIENCE

                    I think these jaffa cakes taste lovely. They are a little smaller than the branded variety, but not enough to justify the extra expense of buying the 'proper' brand. The chocolate tastes nice but not overly sweet and the orange layer is smooth.

                    My one slight complaint with this product is that the sponge layer is a bit harder than I would like - even fresh out of the packet it is a little dry and crunchy - more like a biscuit layer than a cake. I'm knocking off one star for this flaw.

                    I have found these jaffa cakes store well in a sealed plastic box, maintaining flavour and consistency for up to a week after being opened, that is as long as Hubby doesn't find them and scoff them!

                    CONCLUSIONS

                    I think these jaffa cakes are great value for money and a good addition to the Sainsbury's Basic range. They satisfy my need for a sweet treat but I can't pig out on them as they're too filling - two or three at one sitting is more than enough!

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                      29.10.2013 13:16
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                      A great little gizmo that helps my SD card talk to computers!

                      INTRODUCTION

                      I'm an avid photographer, so my digital camera gets a good workout! Unfortunately, I lost the cable that connects my camera to a laptop many years ago, so to transfer images onto my computer I have to take the SD card out and physically plug it into my machine.

                      My new laptop has a built-in SD card slot, but my older machine that I used for many years did not, so I had to purchase an SD card reader to plug into my laptop's USB drive. I found the Easyi USB SD card reader in a local cheapy shop for around £1.


                      PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

                      The main body of the Easyi USB card reader is made of black plastic and measures approximately 1.5cm x 4cm x 0.5cm. The brand logo and the SD logo are printed on the front, along with a stylised image of an SD card. The front of the card reader narrows slightly into a standard metal USB plug, and at the top of the device is the SD card slot. At the bottom of the device is a small light strip, which is illuminated when an SD card is being read by a computer.

                      The USB plug is protected with a fitted clear plastic cap.


                      USER EXPERIENCE


                      To use the card reader I gently push my SD card into the appropriate slot, remove the protective cover from the USB end and then plug the USB end of the card reader into my computer. After a few seconds a menu pops up on screen stating that a new drive has been detected, allowing me to click on the drive folder and access my pictures.

                      Data transfer of both JPGs and AVIs between the reader and computer is quick, with around 1GB of data transferring in around 45 seconds. Whilst data is being transferred the light strip flashes to indicate the stick is 'live'.

                      Once I've finished transferring files, I click on the 'eject drive' option on my computer and remove the card reader. To remove the SD card from the reader I pull it out gently and clip the protective cover back on. It pops on and off easily and it hasn't fallen off during the time I've been using the reader.

                      The reader has been used countless times over the years and my SD cards have sustained no noticeable damage from beng inserted and removed in the SD slot, telling me that this little reader is very well made. I've used it with both Windows XP and Windows 7 and neither operating system has had any trouble accepting the drive. I've not had to install any software to use the reader; it's strictly 'plug and play', which is always a relief to me!

                      I've now had my card reader for about 5 years and it's been very reliable. I've only had one bad experience where I lost some photos because something went wrong in the transfer process. That may have been down to a number of problems, so I can't blame the reader and it's never happened since.


                      CONCLUSION

                      Even though my new laptop has a built-in SD card reader I've still hung on to this little device in case slot on my laptop stops working. It takes up no room, and has proven very reliable.

                      Whilst I haven't seen this reader in pound shops since I bought it, I've seen them for sale on Amazon for £2.99 so they're still widely available.

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                        27.10.2013 12:28
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                        Awful, terrible waste of money!

                        INTRODUCTION

                        Hubby and I always keep a good supply of food bags in the house, both for picnics and for storage in the freezer.

                        I've tried lots of varieties over the years but I'm a particular fan of resealable bags - ziplock or presslock - as they are easy to open and close repeatedly, plus they're very good at excluding air, both of which are very important qualities when I'm freezing a load of raw veggies!

                        Until recently I've been using Wilkinson's own-brand resealable small bags, but last time I went to buy some they were nowhere to be found! Instead, these Baco Press 'n' Seal bags were in their place. They appeared at first glance to be a comparable product, so I bought them.


                        PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

                        Baco Press 'n' Seal bags come in a cardboard box containing 50 bags, each of which measures 190mm x 215mm. The box cost £1.40 - a fair bit more than the 40 for £1 that the Wilko own brand cost! The box opens with a perforated seal, which, when pulled away leaves an oval dispensing hole. I've found it quite fiddly to pull out one bag at a time form this packaging as they're not concertina-d inside; rather all the bags are folded over as one big wodge, making it easy to pull out more that the desired single bag each time.

                        The bags themselves are made of a moderately thick translucent white plastic, and the resealing mechanism consists of a sticky strip on both inside edges of the bag, banded by green threads top and bottom.


                        USER EXPERIENCE

                        These. Bags. Are. AWFUL! Let me count the ways...

                        (1) Pulling one bag out of the box at a time is almost impossible - two or three always come out together and the unwanted bags have to be stuffed back in.

                        (2) Lots of these bags have split whilst being filled, both in the bottom corners and the sides.

                        (3) The resealing mechanism can't be resealed! Once I've pulled the bag open my hand, or the product I'm putting inside keeps sticking to the sticky strip at the top of the bag. Even if I do manage to get it in, I can't reseal the bag again as the sticky band gets all rucked up resulting in an uneven, broken seal. The sticky strips stick to each other in such a way it's impossible to get out all the wrinkles, so the bag doesn't exclude air, it allows leakage *and* it's a pain to reopen the bags once more.

                        (4) If any liquid or grease gets on the sticky strip it loses stickiness immediately.

                        I've found these bags to be expensive and impractical. Anything placed inside them then has to be put into a bigger ziplock bag (thankfully Wilkinson's doesn't seem to have discontinued the larger variant of their product - yet!).

                        I'm now using up the packet of bags as best I can. I won't be buying them again, and if Wilkinson's don't bring back their old small ziplock bags I shall have to resort to Tesco's or Sainsbury's bags...


                        CONCLUSIONS

                        Awful bags, avoid!

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