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Essexmumof2

Essexmumof2
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Member since: 19.02.2009

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    • Ann Summers / Highstreet Shopping / 27 Readings / 22 Ratings
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      20.06.2009 09:24
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      Go on give it a go!

      I'm not a prude (or at least I didn't think I was) but I still find it a bit strange that there is an Ann Summers in my local shopping centre! Placed next to The Body Shop I always have a little chuckle when I see the difference in posters. Organic makeup helping you save animals versus Fancy a threesome pop in 3 for 2 on selected items!!

      When you do go in the first thing that struck me was that the shop was very pink which I would imagine could be quite off putting for any men going in, although it is obvious that it is aimed more towards women than men.

      There are racks and racks of ladies underwear ranging from items that were really pretty and what I would expect to find in your average underwear department to crotchless knickers and UPVC outfits. One thing I would say is that although they look nice I did find that they were pricey so for anything mainstream you might be better looking elsewhere.

      In the middle of the store in a sort of closed off area are the adult toys!! So you can imagine my shock when I went round the corner with my friend to find two toddlers playing with a "rocking rabbit" while their mums discussed the advantages of the new silver bullet!! Not being a big frequenter of Ann Summers I must say I was a bit shocked I would have thought toys are us and their rabbit range might have been a bit more appropriate but there you go!

      We had been in there about 10 minutes when we started to get the giggles. I don't know what happens to grown women but I felt like I was back at school doing things I shouldn't be. This was made worse by a woman who I would say was in her early sixties announcing to the who area that she owned that whole display of rabbits and that she was in for a "Monkey Spanker to get her husband going" well that was it, I was a goner my friend and I had to literally hide whilst we wept with laughter.

      Shortly after when it was safe to do so we left still in fits of giggles. I don't know what is is about sex and whether its just a me thing but being in a shop hearing people openly discussing it is still makes me feel slightly embarrassed. I have two children so it really shouldn't but it just has that effect on me.

      When pondering on it later that night I thought thank god for Ann Summers as it caters for everyone and brings what in the past has been hidden out into the open. I hope that when I'm in my sixties I am still having a great time because at the end of the day life is for living, so good on Ann Summers.

      I would suggest that if you haven't before go and have a look it might open your eyes like it did mine and its certainly good for a giggle.

      Although if my parents are reading this don't even then think about it!! Ekk!!

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      • Ryvita Fruit Crunch / Snacks / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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        20.06.2009 08:54
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        Give them a go, you'll soon be addicted

        I cant say that I have ever been a great Ryvita fan as I always considered then to be a bit dry and unappetising, that is however until I saw good old Fern advertising a sweet version!! Unfortunately I was blessed with a very sweet tooth, resulting in lots of fillings and a not so flattering figure! So imagine my joy when I head Fern say that the sweet Ryvita were delicious and contained only 1 gram of fat.

        The first mission was to try and find some, it took ages to find a supermarket that stocked them Tesco and Sainsbury's didnt but good old Adsa saved the day.

        Now I must warn you that these biscuits aren't the most appetising things to look at, as really they just look like a normal Ryvita covered in bird seed!! They're called Fruit Crunch and when looking at them I couldn't really see why, but as soon as I bit into one I found a little currant and a surprisingly fruity taste. The seeds placed on the top are delicious and as you chew the taste of honey really comes through. They are advertised as being good to dunk in tea and to be honest I did try that but thought they took away from the taste but I would certainly recommend that you had a drink close by as they can be a bit dry (this is after about half a packet, I did say I had a sweet tooth!!) and you might want to wash the seeds out your teeth!

        Priced at approx £1.20 I think that these crispbread offer a real alternative to those with a sweet tooth who want something low in fat and tasty that wont blow the bank. I have to confess to eating several packets and finding them incredibly moreish!! What's even better is that my husband thinks they look disgusting so wont even contemplating stealing them ensuring they are always in the cupboard!!

        Overall I would suggest that you give them ago, don't let the look of them put you off, like me you may soon become addicted.

        Allergen Information

        Contains: Gluten, Wheat, Oats and may Contain: Sesame, Soya

        Ingredients

        Wholegrain Rye (46%)(Rye Flour, Kibbled Rye), Currants (14%), Wholegrain Wheat Flour (13%), Brown Sugar, Pumpkin Seeds (5%), Sunflower Seeds (5%), Wholegrain Oat Flakes (5%), Honey

        Dietary Information

        Suitable for Vegetarians
        Contains Oats
        Contains Wheat
        May Contain Sesame Seeds
        May Contain Soya\Soybeans

        Nutritional Information

        Typical values per 100g Per Slice
        Energy 1548kj 240kj
        Energy 366kcal 57kcal
        Protein 10.9g 1.7g
        Carbohydrate 65.8g 10.2g
        of which sugars 22.3g 3.5g
        Fat 6.6g 1g
        of which saturates 0.9g 0.1g
        Fibre 11.1g 1.7g
        Sodium Trace Trace
        Magnesium 110mg 17mg
        Phosphorus 344mg 53mg
        Iron 3.4mg 0.5mg

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        • Bumbo Baby Seat / Nursing / 17 Readings / 17 Ratings
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          17.06.2009 23:26
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          A very worth while buy if you can pick one up cheaply

          When I had my first child (who is now 3) I didn't buy her a bumbo, because it was advertised to me as being "great because the baby can't get out of it so you always know where they are" and I really didnt like the sound that as it felt a bit like a straight jacket for babies. The majority of my mum friends had them and said that they found them incredibly handy especially to take out if you were going for a meal as it meant you could put them the baby on the table with two hands, which any mum will know is a luxury!

          So second time around and finding that I really didn't have enough hands for a 2 year old and a baby I succumbed and bought one. The rrp for a new bumbo is approx £27-32 depending on where you buy it. I decided to give good old EBay a go and managed to find a pink bumbo with the tray front (which is normally an additional £12) for sale locally and got it for £19, what a bargain!

          Most people who aren't familiar with the concept of the bumbo think it's a large potty and I have to admit that it really does look like one. It's made out of a soft, lightweight, rubber like material and is incredibly sturdy. A real bonus is that as there is no fabric on the bumbo it is incredily easy to keep clean.

          It was a bit of a shock for my daughter when I first put her in it as it can be quite restricting for the baby, but soon the fact that they are able to sit upright allowing them to play with toys that are otherwise to old for them is a real thrill. My daughter has always had a very strong back, so I'm not sure how babies that aren't as strong would find it but she thought it was great. The table on the front allowed me to rest her toys on their and just bring her round the house with me. Whether it was sitting on the worktop whilst I was preparing dinner or actually sitting on the table whilst we were eating I was able to have her at my level and it definitely made my life easier. Both of my children have suffered from reflux and sitting my daughter in the bumbo after eating definitely made her less sick and helped her digestion.

          The only draw back I have found it that she was in it for what seemed like a very short time. I'm not sure if it's because she is so strong but she started to arch her back and get very frustrated when she couldn't get out. I am even more pleased that I bought one on eBay and didn't pay the full price. I probably got about 9 weeks use out of it but again that could be longer depending on your baby.

          Overall I'm glad I bought one this time around and would recommend one to friends but not sure if they are worth the full price.

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        • Nestlé Yorkie Bar / Chocolate / 30 Readings / 29 Ratings
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          08.04.2009 22:42
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          Good chocolate bar but gives your jaw an ache!

          Nestle's Yorkie Original Chocolate Bar is well known for it's shiny blue foil wrapper overlaid with the yellow text stating "Yorkie". Underneath the wrapper, a Yorkie is one chocolate bar split into five large chunks which can - and need to - be easily broken up in order to eat them. A perfectly filling chocolate bar to fill up those of us requiring a naughty but satisfying burst of chocolate.

          Whilst personally I don't think that you can beat Cadbury when it comes to chocolate, the original Yorkie chocolate bar does taste delicious. The chocolate is not too rich but is extremely flavoursome. The tricky part though is whether you can be prepared to put the effort into eating a Yorkie. It requires an enormous amount of chewing! Each of the five large chunks have to be eaten separately and there is no point in concentrating on anything else other than eating your Yorkie for a few minutes, as it does require all of your attention particularly in attempting to avoid breaking a tooth.

          I'm trying to search my brain to remind me of Yorkie's alternatives to the Original flavour and I'm still not quite sure. I have a vague memory at the back of my mind that suggests Nestle tried out a mint or orange or raisin-inclusive flavour of Yorkie some years back, but it may be Aero's that I'm getting mixed up with (on the mint and orange front that is).

          The debatable point around whether or not to buy a Yorkie ultimately comes down to sexism bizarrely enough. A few years back Nestle decided in their wisdom to include the slogan "It's Not For Girls" on the front of the Yorkie wrapper. They somehow came to the decision that if a chocolate bar is chunky, challenging to chew and requires dental treatment-inducing actions, it should only be considered appropriate for men. What bobbins! I actually avoided buying a Yorkie for a few years out of my own disagreement with their marketing ploy, although bought this bar recently out of convenience in dashing for a train and needing a sugar boost. Why Nestle chose to eliminate 50% of the UK market by making such a sexist remark on the
          Yorkie wrapper is beyond me, and I'm not quite sure how they managed to get this slogan through Advertising Standards. Maybe it's just me!

          Your typical purchase of a Yorkie will cost around 50 - 60p in a newsagent's. The milk chocolate contains a minimum 25% cocoa solids and a minimum 14% milk solids. It also contains vegetable fat in addition to cocoa butter, and I would say that Yorkie's can appear a little bit greasy. An average bar that you purchase in most newsagent's or supermarkets is the 68g version although Nestle do also produce - believe it or not - a "Chunky" version which is ultimately the same depth of chocolate bar but is a few slabs of chocolate longer and costs nearer 80p. This tends to be the size that you buy at train stations.

          Overall, a Yorkie will satisfy your need if you fancy a filling chocolate bar that is just milk chocolate and no additional flavourings. However, if you are concerned about having to splash out on dental treatment, or prefer not to become vexed by their sexist packaging, then stick to something more sedate like a Nestle Milky Way or a Cadbury Flake.

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          • Kettle Chips Lightly Salted / Snacks / 32 Readings / 31 Ratings
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            26.03.2009 08:40
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            A damn good crisp even though a purchase will hit your wallet a little

            My purchase of this Lightly Salted bag of Kettle Chips continues my review of all things crispy, as I attempt to research and discover the best crisps currently on the market.

            PACKAGING:
            There is clearly a bit of quality about this bag. The foil is noticeably thicker than your common purchase of crisps. On the front of the bag there is no added photo of what exactly the crisp looks like, as you get on most crisp bags. Either Kettle Foods Ltd (who manufacture Kettle Chips) decided not to patronise the purchaser, or they are leading you along to await the beauty within the bag. The Lightly Salted flavour comes in a white bag including the quote "absolutely nothing artificial" on the front. This is reassuring as you cannot help but think of crisps being a heart attack in a bag just waiting to happen. On the reverse, some useful information is included about Kettle Chips and their positive attributes:
            * We don't add MSG
            * We never use artificial flavours or colours
            * We don't use hydrogenated fat - a significant source of trans fat
            * We know the origin of all our ingredients
            * We only use sunflower oil
            * The colour of our chips is determined by the natural sugars in the potatoes we use, which alter throughout the year.
            All of these points make you realise that you're about to tuck into something a little bit special. The labelling also advises that these crisps are suitable for vegans and coeliacs, which is an added bonus. As with most crisp bags, the packaging is not recyclable which at least Kettle Foods Ltd choose to kindly remind us of this.

            INGREDIENTS:
            Select potatoes, sunflower oil, sea salt.

            NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
            These are a little heavy on fat content, containing some 15% of your guideline daily amount (GDA). However, a little better on the salt content, containing a mere 6% albeit a single bag of these 40g Kettle Chips will occupy 10% of your GDA calorie intake. A little disappointing to use up so much of your allowance in one go. Saturates use 6% of your GDA; sugar a mere 1% of your GDA.

            TASTE:
            When you bite into these crisps, you know instantly that you are eating a top notch crisp. They are very tasty and crunchy, and the differing colours of each crisp (as referred to in their attributes above) means that some appear slightly overcooked and others cooked just right, adding lots to the flavour. Sea salt is naturally quite addictive though, and these crisps do taste as though they are absolutely loaded up with salt. This is not to say that you don't enjoy them, but you do finish the bag feeling like you've just consumed something very unhealthy. You also have a massive desire to eat more of them which is damn shame because they are costly (I'll come onto that); and the bags are generally so full with air that they contain less crisps that your typical bag.

            COST:
            A confession - I only usually buy Kettle Chips when I have a few extra coins in my wallet. They are expensive. I am not talking about defaulting on a mortgage payment in order to buy a bag. But I paid 80p for this bag, when a typical bag of crisps costs approximately 50-65p. But, the taste makes the price somewhat irrelevant.

            SUMMARY:
            A good crisp. Full of flavour, even for a bag which is considered to be lightly salted. The price is a bit off-putting. They're not astronomical in price, but you wouldn't eat them every day, because: a) other bags of crisps are cheaper; b) they are a little stingy on the volume of crisps in the bag; and c) the heavy salt taste makes you feel like you need to eat a salad to counter balance the unhealthy taste on your pallet.

            Overall, based on my study of crisps on the market so far, my personal order of products tried and tested to date as is follows:
            1. Kettle Chips - Lightly Salted (3/5)
            2. Skips - Prawn Cocktail (3/5)
            3. Walkers - Cajun Squirrel (2/5)
            4. Walkers - Fish & Chips (1/5)

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            • More +
              26.03.2009 08:33
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              Gets your taste buds going, but far too costly to buy regularly

              To quote Ginsters' package description: "Westcountry Farmhouse Mature Cheddar and Red Leicester Cheese with Spring Onion, Red Onion and Seasoned Mayonnaise on Malted Brown Bread".

              PACKAGING:
              The Ginsters logo in the top left hand corner of this plastic sandwich packet reminds the purchaser that this sandwich is made by the company who are renowned for their quality pasties (although having spent much of my childhood growing up in Cornwall I tend to disagree with this sacrilege to the Cornish pasty!). The infamous slogan "real honest food" appears next to the Ginsters logo, which fair play to them for using it, as the sandwich does taste up to expectation. Labels at the top and bottom of the page in green, black and white indicate the flavour of this sandwich. Presumably green is adopted to acknowledge that this sandwich is vegetarian. The "Suitable for Vegetarians" and "British Cheese" logo's are also included on the front bottom right. The reverse contains a label indicating the nutritional values.

              INGREDIENTS:
              Malted Brown Bread (48%), Westcountry Farmhouse Mature Cheddar Cheese (14%), Seasoned Mayonnaise (14%), British Red Leicester Cheese (9%), Red Onion (5%), Onion (5%), Spring Onion (2%).

              NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
              Not good for allergen sufferers. This sandwich contains milk, wheat, barley, gluten, egg and mustard, and may also contain traces of peanuts, nuts and sesame. Each pack contains 498kcal of energy - guideline daily amount is 2000kcal (women) and 2500kcal (men) - so not bad for a lunch filler. This sandwich is also pretty good on other nutritional aspects too, containing just 0.7g of salt (the GDA is 2.4g), and a not too bad 28.4g of fat (GDA is 70g for women; 95g for men).

              TASTE:
              These sandwiches are damn tasty. The hidden beauty is that the first sandwich contains the Mature Cheddar with Spring Onion, Red Onion and Mayonnaise; and the second contains the Red Leicester with Spring Onion, Red Onion and Mayonnaise....albeit, the packaging description is therefore somewhat misleading. There is no "double cheese" sandwich! Despite purchasing this sandwich in a WHSmiths at a Train Station, this sandwich did not taste of the somewhat flimsy cardboard that one has come to expect around the UK transport network. They are absolutely crammed with onion and mayonnaise which makes them appear very filling. The different flavours of cheese also make them all the more delicious on the palate.

              COST:
              This is the turn off! £3.39 is far too expensive for what is ultimately one round of bread. I appreciate that I bought it at a Train Station and in the UK this seems to ramp up the price by an extra 100% from what the cost would be in a supermarket. However, this is far too much to pay for a sandwich that contains British ingredients and ingredients that are not considered particularly exclusive. Heaven knows what Ginsters charge for their sandwiches containing meat!

              SUMMARY:
              A shame that the price is unreasonable as the sandwich is surprisingly impressive. I do generally like Ginsters products, and particularly the way in which they seem to cram as much content as possible into their sandwiches and pasties. However, I would not buy this product again unless I was indeed at a Train Station at 3.30pm in the afternoon having gone without a bite to eat since 6am! If desperate needs call for desperate measures though and you are faced with a shelf of Ginsters sandwiches to pick from, this one would be a very satisfying choice.

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            • Revista De La Liga / TV Programme / 20 Readings / 18 Ratings
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              18.03.2009 22:13
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              If you're a fan of all things football, you will thoroughly enjoy this

              I am a regular viewer of the weekly Revista de la Liga football programme on Sky Sports 1. This is basically a Spanish equivalent of Match of the Day, which most of you will be familiar with. Gary Lineker is replaced by Mark Bolton; Guillem Balague (in the studio) and Graham Hunter (usually joining via the phone or video link, but sometimes in the studio) act as Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen and/or Alan Shearer. And, obviously, rather than focusing on the English Premier League, the attention is centred on the Spanish top flight football division - La Liga.

              The format of the programme is essentially Mark Bolton introducing the piece, regularly provoking conversation and the views of both Guillem Balague and Graham Hunter. Even when joining via call or video link, Hunter will spend some time engaging in the interesting debates and discussions. Where Revista de la Liga (Revista) is somewhat better, in my opinion, than Match of the Day (MOTD) is the intellectual discussions. MOTD will allow the pundits to focus on aspects of the match just viewed - the goals, the incidents, the defending, the good/bad form a team are in. Where Revista differs is that it will focus on these aspects but then also allow discussion around some more detailed aspect, and with very little "sitting on the fence" that we have become familiar with in British punditry! For example, following the resignation of Ramon Calderon, the now former Real Madrid president, back in January, Revista discussed the facts as to what had happened and what the future would hold, but Bolton also provoked Balague and Hunter into giving their in depth views on the presidential process. Balague was open in referring to it as not necessarily always being a fair democratic process. Hold on a minute, somebody providing a real opinion?! Not something we expect on MOTD, although Shearer is trying to break the mould.

              Revista is on Sky Sports 1 on Tuesday evenings at 6.30pm, focusing on the previous weekend's La Liga action. It typically starts by showing the goals from the main games of the weekend, before a discussion of around 20mins on the key issues surrounding these. Following an advert break, the programme then switches to the goals from the games involving those sides chasing Champions' League and Europa League places (essentially those teams positioned 2nd - 7th in La Liga). Again, this will be followed by further discussion, and then a competition where viewers get the opportunity to usually win a signed football shirt or signed photo of a player.

              The third part of the programme focuses on the bottom half of the table, again, showing the goals from the games but also going into a discussion around ongoing form, issues around the financial plight of a club, or managerial change. Again, the difference here from MOTD is that detailed analysis of aspects other than the actual goals just shown. This is the intellectual's football programme. The programme usually ends with a wrap up of the latest goalscoring charts and Guapa which is ultimately a 1-2min long montage sequence of skilful play from the weekend's games. This will either be goals, assists or general flambouance. All of this is overplayed by music and somebody shouting "Guapa" each time the said piece of skill occurs. This is the only irritating part of the programme and leaves viewers thinking "I just don't quite get this part"!! The entire programme lasts approximately 60mins including advert breaks.

              Overall, I am a big fan of Revista. It provokes intelligent conversation and thoughts, and as a result of having watched this programme religiously this season I actually think that La Liga is more exciting than the Premier League. The downside would have to be the massive focus on Real Madrid and Barcelona, although essentially how else do you attract British viewers? Attracting viewers to a programme which headlines one of these massive clubs is more likely than advertising, say, mid-table sides such as Athletico Bilbao or Vallodolid. In addition, Barcelona and Real Madrid do occupy the top two in the table so focus here can be justified. Whilst MOTD seems to focus on Manchester United and Chelsea whatever their position in the Premier League, Revista did dedicate time to Valencia earlier in the season when they were romping away in top spot for the first 10 games or so.

              In summary, a great programme. I think it is structured right, with thought-provoking conversation, hosted well by Mark Bolton, and with valuable opinions from Balague and Hunter. Well worth watching!

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              • Sky Plus (Sky+) / TV Channel / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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                17.03.2009 22:54
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                You'll wonder how you lived without it

                Sometimes I sit and wonder how I lived without my Sky + box! It is one of life's luxuries that rapidly becomes a necessity.

                My husband and I finally succumbed to Sky 3 years ago when I was pregnant with our first daughter and on bed rest. The lack of decent programmes on terrestrial drove us to get it as I really couldn't cope with hours of repeats each day. Little did we know how our lives would change.

                The introduction of Sky itself is a revelation, so much TV and so little time, I spent the first few days just looking at the TV guide. After a while you realise that whilst there are lots of channels about 3/4 of them are showing rubbish and the other quarter show quality programmes worth watching.

                My husband and I are both sport fanatics and the ability to pause and rewind programmes is a fantastic feature. We have never missed the start of a football match and are able to review key moments as many times as we like. Another great feature is that we can record 2 programmes whilst watching something off the planner at the same time, fantastic!! When recording a programme that is part of a series the series repeat option is a great option, never again will I miss an episode of Home & Away, Neighbours, Hollyoaks, whoops think I should stop now I know these aren't the coolest programmes to watch!!

                I cant remember a time when our planner had more than approx 15% left, we rarely watch things live on TV but watch all the programmes we have recorded. This also allows both of us to record our own programmes without relying on the other one to set the recording up.

                Once you have children you really find out the beauty of the Sky+ box. You are able to record your child's favourite programmes without having to set them up each time. This ensures that you always have their favourite programme to pacify even the biggest tantrum!!

                My Sky+ box is one of the family and a luxury that despite the recession I will fight to keep!

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                  17.03.2009 17:19
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                  Yum Yum

                  As part of my post Christmas/post baby diet I was on the look out for something sweet and filling to eat for pudding. I saw an advert for shape feel fuller for longer yogurts and thought they looked good so I purposely looked for them next time I was in the supermarket. So far I haven't had to pay full price for them which is £1.43 in Asda as they are on 2 packs for £2.50.

                  I decided to try the 4 pack containing 2xMango and 2xPeach and Passion fruit, each pot contains 120grams of yoghurt. I must admit that first impressions weren't great as they looked incredibly thick and had a small amount of liquid on the top of the yoghurt. Once I put my spoon in and stirred the pot I saw large chunks of Mango in the yoghurt and the smell was amazing. Not as amazing as the taste though.....wow who would have thought that something fat free could taste so good. The yoghurts were sweet without being sickly and had a delicious creamy taste and texture. Usually I find that low fat yoghurts are very thin and watery these were the complete opposite.

                  Shape says that the yoghurts contain an "exclusive hunger control formula with active fibre, high protein and a satisfying creamy texture". I certainly agree with the satisfying creamy texture and I would say that I do feel full after eating one but the flaw in their plan is that they are so tasty that you want to eat all 4 straight away so it doesn't really matter!!

                  The yoghurts are available in 4 packs in Raspberry and Strawberry, Mango and Peach & Passion Fruit, Cherry and Blackberry, Strawberry, Fruit of the Forest and Blueberry, Exotic Fruits and Pineapple.

                  At only 1 weight watchers point per pot they are the first thing on my shopping list each week who says that eating healthy is boring!!

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                    17.03.2009 16:46
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                    A good food to start with

                    When my daughter was 17 weeks old I decided I would try her on some baby rice to start to introduce her into solids. After a few days of that which she seemed particularly unimpressed by I decided to buy something with a little more flavour. There are several leading brands to go for and a range of cereals but I wanted one that I could mix with water rather than her milk which can be a bit messy, so I decided to try Heinz breakfast Oats & Apple cereal which was £1.99.

                    The cereal comes in a foil sealed bag (containing 125grams of cereal) inside a box. I cant say that I'm a fan of these foil bags as they are notoriously difficult to open by hand so I tend to cut them along the top with scissors and then roll the bag over and seal it with a peg so it stays fresh. As with most packaged children's foods it needs to be used within 6 weeks of opening.

                    First impressions when I opened the bag were that it didn't really smell of anything I'm not sure if I expected to be able to smell apples but I was left slightly disappointed. The guidelines on the back of the box suggest approx 3 level dessertspoons mixed with approx 3 dessert spoons of warm previously boiled water for age 4 months +. I found that that left me with a very thick mixture so I added another spoonful of water which made it a better consistency. Still couldn't particularly smell apples but it certainly smelt more appetising even if it looked like wallpaper paste. Now the moment of truth, what would the taste test reveal.....she loved it! I have found that with jars of breakfast cereal she finds that a little runny and isn't really interested, whereas with this she loved the taste and the consistency seemed to be much better for her to swallow. I have tried this cereal a few more times to make sure it wasn't a fluke and she absolutely devours it. The only down side is that it doesn't only look like wallpaper paste but sticks like it too and can be very difficult to get off clothes or skin!!

                    The front of the box advertises "no added salt, colours or preservatives" and that it contains "vitamins and minerals" and that it is suitable from 4-6 months onwards. According to the ingredients it contains 18% apple which is slightly lower than I had expected but was higher than some of the others I looked at.

                    I have continued to use this cereal and I have to say its one of my daughter's favourites. It's incredibly easy to mix up and even when I have had to give her breakfast outside of the house as you only need boiled water which can be taken in a flask. Ultimately I will move onto home made foods but as a breakfast cereal I'm really pleased with it.

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                  • More +
                    17.03.2009 15:40
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                    It makes a good cuppa!

                    When thinking about small kitchen appliances I would never have previously put a decent kettle at the top of my list. That was until my kettle gave up the ghost over the weekend. When I say gave up the ghost it didn't completely die, it just sounded like Concorde when it was boiling so much so I was fearing for my safely of that and my children!! Not wanting to inflict first degree burns should it explode, I decided to go back to traditional methods and boil water in a pan. This is when I realised that a kettle is essential, to say I was dehydrated by the time I got a hot cup of tea would have to be an understatement, I even had the "DT's" due to a lack of caffeine and I only drink de-caf so that was impressive!! So on Sunday I went on the hunt for a new kettle.

                    When did decent kettles become so expensive that you are required to extend your mortgage to buy one, I was shocked and there are so many its is totally mind boggling. I started by looking on Argos's website, which really didn't help as they all look the same and the comparison feature doesn't really do much. So I went to Comet to have a look for myself.

                    Who in there right mind would pay £70 for a kettle, that's ridiculous, what does it do pour its self and add the milk, needless to say I skipped that one and moved to the cheaper section. I had 3 must haves when choosing my kettle, quick boil, a removable/washable lime scale filter and a stainless steel exterior. There were about 20 that fitted those criteria, so I thought of other features that I liked and decided an easy to remove lid was also an essential. Out of the corner of my eye I was drawn to a sign saying "was £59.99 now £29.35. It was the Russell Hobbs 13865 Illuminating Kettle, it fitted the criteria and at half price was a bargain so I went for it.

                    First impressions when I opened the box were good, it was light weight but certainly wasn't flimsy and the water window was really large making it easy to see how much you had in there. The kettle sits on a multi-directional base making it suitable for left or right handed users. There is a lever on the top of the kettle and when pressed it opens the hinged locking lid making it really easy to fill. It is a standard size kettle as most on the market appeared to be 1.7 litres but it is a really good size and seems a lot smaller than my previous kettle. Once plugged in I was able to wrap the excess cord in the storage slot in the base which is a brilliant feature, my 2 ½ year old daughter has managed to reach the cord on the old kettle on several occasions, but this one is neatly tucked away and certainly out of reach. When you turn the power on the water window becomes illuminated with a blue light which turns to red once you begin to boil the kettle, I may be easily pleased but it really looks great against the stainless steel and keeps my daughter amused for ages which is a real added bonus! The only question my husband had was whether it uses more power than a standard non illuminating kettle as the light is on when it's not in use? This kettle didn't have a rapid boil feature on the sign in comet but you really wouldn't know that wasn't a feature as it boils in approx 3 minutes when full and even better it doesn't sound like you've got a jumbo jet in your kitchen!! The pouring spout in the kettle is excellent and it is incredibly easy to pour small amounts out at a time with no dripping at all and the lime scale filter appears to do its job although only time will tell.

                    All in all I am really happy with the kettle, I wouldn't have paid the full price of £59.99 for it but for £29.35 I think it's a good buy and it certainly beats boiling the saucepan all day!

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                    • More +
                      17.03.2009 09:01
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                      I hope too many of the poor blighters didn't suffer in making these crisps

                      My purchase of this bag of Walkers' Cajun Squirrel flavour crisps was the fourth in my product testing of all things crispy, as I attempt to research and discover the best crisps currently on the market. The Cajun Squirrel flavour crisps also make up my second attempt of sampling the six trial flavours which Walkers have produced based on recommendations by members of the public (the first was Fish & Chips). Votes in by 1 May 2009, so don't forget!

                      PACKAGING:
                      The Cajun Squirrel bag is bordered with green at the top and bottom of the bag and a green "Vote For Me!" rosette. A cartoon-style drawing shows a squirrel peering innocently through a fence, and the caption states that: "This picture represents Martyn from Hednesford's inspiration for his Cajun Squirrel flavour!" As per the Fish & Chips bag, nutritional information is summarised on the front of the bag for ease. The reverse of the bag follows the same format as the other five contestants in the "Vote For Me!" scheme. The left-hand column covers the competition and how to post your vote. It also clarifies that "no squirrels were harmed in the making of this crisp". How Walker's quite got to the conclusion of what a squirrel tastes like concerns me, but I'll come onto this later. The right-hand column covers off the nutritional details, best before date, ingredients and Walker's reminder that the bag contains:
                      * No MSG
                      * No artificial colours
                      * Suitable for vegetarians
                      * Suitable for coeliacs
                      As per the Fish & Chips flavour which I recently tried, Walker's have not included whether the crisps contain milk, egg, wheat, gluten, soya or mustard. I find it surprising that Walker's do not include this information when most other crisps on the market seem to at present. I would presume Cajun Squirrel crisps should also come with a significant warning about nut allergies.

                      INGREDIENTS:
                      Potatoes, Sunflower Oil (33%), Cajun Squirrel Seasoning (which contains Milk Lactose, Salt, Sugar, Flavourings, Dried Onion, Dried Garlic, Dried Lemon Juice, Cardamon, Ginger, Coriander, Chilli, Cumin, Oregano, Thyme, Allspice, Parsley, Paprika Extract). Fairly wide-ranging set of ingredients here, I think you will agree!

                      NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION:
                      One bag of Cajun Squirrel (and not sure how many squirrels each bag contains) contains 131kcal of energy (a little more than some other crisps on the market). They contain just under 1% of your guideline daily amount (GDA) of sugar, 5% of your GDA salt intake, but a whopping 8.2g of fat - some 12% of your GDA. However, I would hazard a guess that squirrels are high in protein, although do not quote me on this.

                      TASTE:
                      After the disappointing Fish & Chips flavour, I felt quite pessimistic about trying Cajun Squirrel. However, the taste was slightly, fractionally, mildly better than I expected. I am a fan of spices and the like so tasting something covered in cajun spice was always going to tick a box with me. I am not quite sure what a squirrel should taste like, but based on the fact that most things that do not regularly enter the human palate are referred to as "tasting like chicken" I will go with the general consensus. I did draw a similarity between Walker's own Roast Chicken flavour crisps.

                      COST:
                      I bought this bag of Fish & Chips as part of a multipack so the cost equates to about 35p per bag. However, if you buy the bag by itself you will likely pay around 50p.

                      SUMMARY:
                      Better than expected, although Cajun Squirrel did not leap into my mouth and satisfy my taste buds in a way I would have hoped. I cannot help munching on the crisps and thinking of the poor little blighters - one day running around a park gathering nuts; the next being mixed in with a medley of spices and chomped on by me. At least Cajun Squirrel tasted more like you expect the flavour too, following the Cheese & Onion-esque attempted on Fish & Chips, so I will give Walker's a bit more positivity after trying this bag.

                      Overall, based on my study of crisps on the market so far, my personal order of products tried and tested to date as is follows:
                      1. Kettle Chips - Lightly Salted (3/5)
                      2. Skips - Prawn Cocktail (3/5)
                      3. Walkers - Cajun Squirrel (2/5)
                      4. Walkers - Fish & Chips (1/5)

                      OVERALL: 2/5

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                      • Cadbury Twirl / Chocolate / 25 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                        10.03.2009 18:16
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                        Tasty, cheap and perfect with an afternoon cuppa

                        Cadbury's Twirl chocolate bar is one of my favourite. I think this is partly because I'm a big fan of the Cadbury's Flake (which has essentially been wrapped up in chocolate, doubled to two fingers and sold as a Twirl), and also because it is so heavy on rich milk chocolate that it is the perfect candidate to compliment the a 4pm caffeine fix.

                        Cadbury chocolate is famous the world over and despite being a relatively recent addition to their portfolio (Twirl's came in the scene in the early 90s), the shiny purple foil overlaid with yellow writing has become a real favourite seller in newsagents. Cadbury's include the text: "The Intense Chocolate Hit" along the side of the wrapper and I make them about right. You see, one of the enjoyments of a Twirl is the rich chocolate. It fills you up; it goes well with tea or coffee; it helps you struggle through an afternoon. Equally though, once consumed, you feel as though you have eaten a 500g slab of chocolate and don't ever want to do it again...until the next day ticks around to 4pm that is.

                        A Twirl contains pretty much the usual ingredients expected of a chocolate bar - milk, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, vegetable fat, emulsifier and flavourings. The packet contains two fingers of chocolate each of which are basically full with flakes of chocolate. Interestingly, the particular wrapper I have does not include the contents of sugar under the nutritional information (most Cadbury bars seem to have quite a high content in these areas - unless a Twirl's is particularly sinister!). However, a Twirl does contain 6.6g of fat per finger - some 17% of your guideline daily amount (GDA) for in total for both fingers. It also contains some 11% of an adult's GDA calorific intake. But, it is a chocolate bar - you don't expect the same nutritional detail as a salad surely?!

                        The cost of a Twirl is roughly about 45p, although I purchased mine in desperation at a train station and it cost me a whopping 65p. But, it is a damn good chocolate bar so I'm satisfied that the extra spend is justified!
                        Overall, I would strongly recommend a Twirl, although whilst perfect if you have a large gap to fill in your stomach or a need for chocolate in abundance, you may find it a little over-indulging otherwise.

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                        • More +
                          10.03.2009 17:45
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                          It makes life so much easier

                          I initially tried to potty train my daughter just before her second birthday. I cant say it was my idea, rather some gentle prompting and encouragement from her nursery. But I thought lets give it a go, it was summer which I thought was a great time of year and to be honest I could have done with saving the money on nappies.

                          It all started so enthusiastically I replaced the disposable nappies with "Knick Knicks" and encouraged her to tell me when she needed a wee wee. In the first day we had 3 accidents the second day 4 but then by the end of the first week we were down to 1 or 2 accidents a day. I really thought we'd cracked it. Then she started hiding in the kitchen to wee or screaming and locking her legs so we couldn't sit her on the toilet. It really was so distressing to see her so upset but I was told this was normal so persevered. After another 2 weeks of the same we made the decision to stop, she was so miserable and it had just taken over our lives.

                          I planned to try again later that summer but I fell pregnant and it just wasn't possible. During the summer I watched all of her friends become trained and I felt like I was being frowned upon that my daughter was still in nappies. I waited until she was 32 months allowing enough time for her to adjust to the new baby and then we attempted it again.

                          This time the difference was amazing, she was that bit older and understood what we were trying to do. We drew up an incentive chart and each time she went she got a sticker and a jelly baby. To be honest we havent looked back within 6 days we had mastered the wee's, poo's are still a work in progress but we are getting there.

                          I would say that the two golden rules are firstly be patient and try to keep your cool even when your house smells and looks like a public toilets. Secondly don't set your expectations too high, its normal for kids to have a relapse this doesn't mean they are never going to get it.

                          I wanted to write this review to give other parents the confidence to potty train when they and their child are ready not when other people think your ready. It is a process that both of you need to be 100% committed to and I truly believe that every child is different. I have no doubt that some children take to it very early but I feel that it can have an adverse effect if you push a child too quickly. Its great when your child finally does get it and runs into the room saying "mummy I've done a wee on the toilet" with an immense look of satisfaction on their face. The next challenge is to memorise where all the public toilets are!!

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                          • ebay.co.uk / Auction / 10 Readings / 9 Ratings
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                            10.03.2009 17:17
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                            A great way to bag a bargain

                            Ebay is really like a jumble sale/car boot sale on line! But its fantastic. It allows you to have the opportunity to sell your unwanted items without standing in the middle of a freezing cold field on a Sunday morning.

                            When I first found ebay about 8 years ago I was buying way more then I was selling and it began to be a bit of a drain on my resources. Its really 24 hour shopping so who wouldn't love it. Over the years I have found some rules that I stick by so thought I would share them to help others with the Ebay bug!

                            Golden Rules

                            1. Do you really need the item or are you just bidding for the sake of it, remember you are legally bound to buy the item if you win so it isn't window shopping

                            2. Do your research and check the price of the item you wish to buy on other websites. Its amazing how many people pay more than the item costs new and that's just silly.

                            3. Decide how much you want to pay for it and then put that in as your maximum bid and don't look at it any more. The temptation to increase your bid is huge if you keep checking and before you know it you've spent double what you intended.

                            4. Read the feedback on the person your buying from and don't buy from someone with under 98%

                            5. Check all the items in the list before bidding. I have learnt this the hard way after bidding and then finding the item further down less than half the price.

                            I have found that if I follow these rules I don't really go wrong. I'm afraid to say that if things do go wrong ebay customer services aren't great so best to try and avoid problems in the first place.

                            The ebay website is incredibly easy to navigate and it isn't difficult to load up items you wish to sell, it can certainly be a money spinner if you've got the time to invest in it.

                            I love ebay and have brought and sold so many items with very few problems if you haven't had a look before give it a go there's definitely a bargain to be had.

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