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Member since: 02.10.2012

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      31.12.2012 01:35
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      A sturdy stylish and inexpensive brush that works wonders on your hair

      Over the years, with three daughters who have all had long hair, my household has seen many brushes, but the Avon advance techniques cushion brush still remains my favourite. The one in the picture above is an older version, but one that I have owned. Since then Avon have slightly modified the shape and changed the colour to a Christmassy red. The current colour is a darkish girly pink with a sort of satin sheen.

      The brushes are an average size, just over twenty four centimetres in length (I've just measured mine with an internet ruler) and seven centimetres at the widest. The brush part is made of black plastic bristles with pink bobbly ends, set about eight millimetres apart in a black rubber cushion. The brush handle is chunky and made of a smooth pink plastic. There is a hole in the bottom of the handle, but I'm not sure why, maybe you could hang it on a hook?

      This brush is a pleasure to use. My daughters and I have always had shoulder length to waist length hair and it never fails to get rid of all tangles with a minimum of pain. The little bobbles on the ends of the bristles mean that there is no scratching on the scalp, just a smooth, almost therapeutic, brushing sensation.

      The cushion brush has a recommended retail price of £5, but it is invariably on some sort of offer, currently it is selling for half price, £2.50, along with the other brushes in the range (there are five brushes and a comb in the advance techniques range). I have never paid full price for any brush or comb from Avon and generally wait until they are half price or less - I like to have a spare in case mine goes missing. If you don't have an Avon representative locally you can view the current brochure and order from it on line. You can also buy the brush from Ebay or Amazon, but with added postage it is likely to be more expensive.

      As I mentioned before, I have owned several advance technique cushion brushes over the last few years. This isn't because they break, but because they seem to disappear into thin air - one of the downsides of having daughters who borrow your stuff and claim not to have seen it (I'm sure I would find a collection of them if I went through their drawers and cupboards). The bristles also remain in the cushion bed - I've noticed that with some makes these fall out.

      This brush feels nice to hold, is sturdy and glides through your hair leaving it feeling smooth and silky. I will definitely continue to buy them for my family.

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        30.12.2012 15:04
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        Great little addition to any hair accessory bag!

        If, like my daughters and I, you have light to medium brown coloured hair then these are the hair grips for you. Commonly known as Kirby grips, these own brand version are a great addition to any accessory case and are very reasonably priced.

        As their description suggests, they are made by Boots the Chemist and can be bought from all of their stores or on line for £1.49 for a pack of 30. This means that you are paying five pence per grip. They are made from a two millimetre wide and one millimetre thick strip of glossy darkish bronze coloured metal that has been folded double. The lower edge is straight whilst the upper edge is rippled in order to grip the hair and ensure that it stays in place. At each end is a 'bobble' of plastic that protects the wearer from the sharp metal ends of the grip. The length of the grip is about 4.5 centimetres.

        Over the years my family has used them for a variety of hairstyles and to hold different thicknesses of hair together. In the past I had waist length hair and these little grips would hold all of my hair up in a bun that would stay put for as long as I needed it. Nowadays my hair is shoulder length and I rarely put it up, but my daughters use them in many ways from securing their hair into buns to just gripping small strands away from their faces. The grips stay put for all styles.

        The grips also come in two other colours, blonde, which as its name suggests is for people with blonde to light brown hair and black, which is for dark brown to black hair colour. The brown grips will also tone nicely with auburn hair.

        Boots isn't the only retailer to sell this type of hair grip and a similar product selling at £1.39 can be bought on a three for two offer from Superdrug. The supermarkets sell them too - Sainsburys currently sell their own brand for £1.65 for forty five grips, which works out at under four pence per grip. Other brands can also be bought on line from Amazon or Ebay for around a pound plus postage.

        These little grips have proved very useful over the years and their only downfall is that they are easily lost or misplaced because of their size.

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        17.11.2012 21:20
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        A classy, versatile, quirky shoe with a feel good factor

        These shoes are made by Irregular Choice, a footwear company that was founded in 1999 in Brighton by designer Dan Sullivan. They specialise in wacky and unusual styles, using uncommon materials that might appear more often in a craft box than on a pair of shoes.

        I have spent several years looking at and touching the small selection of Irregular Choice shoes in Schuh and have been promising myself a pair as soon as I could justify the cost. Many of their models have very high heels, some come in unusual shapes and colour combinations, whilst others are adorned with plastic animals, woollen bows or other whimsical toppers. I decided that in order to get value for money I would have to buy one of their more conventional styles.

        The Tapetastic shoe is one of the least outlandish models that they sell. It is essentially a court shoe with a rounded rather than pointed toe front. The stiletto heel is three and a half inches high and covered in a black leather (or maybe plastic, I cant tell, but there is a leather smell to the shoe). The main body of the shoe is covered in a black pinstripe fabric with a white tape measure rosette placed at a jaunty angle to the outer front edge of each shoe. There is another piece of tape measure covering the heel seam on the outside of the shoe.

        The lining of the shoe appears to change, depending upon where and when they were purchased. The shoe pictured above has a pink lining, the one on their website has a teal blue velvet lining and mine is made from an iridescent royal blue/navy/purple/gold brocade. I have spotted several other lining designs on Ebay. The heel lining is in a navy suede. As in all Irregular choice footwear, the tapetastic shoe has the trademark patterned soles. Mine have a cuckoo clock theme with blue, green and red birds on a white background. Again, as with the lining, the sole design seems to vary from shoe to shoe.

        I originally spotted these shoes in a small gift shop in Northampton, but they had sold them by the time I decided I could justify buying them. I eventually bought them from the Irregular Choice shop in Carnaby Street, whilst on a trip to London. This place is a shoe heaven and if you are a fan of their shoes it is well worth a visit if you are in the Capital. They also have shops in Leicester, Manchester and Brighton. You can buy the Tapetastc shoe from the Irregular Choice website (they currently have free postage) for £59.99 or Schuh for £65. Ebay have them too - both new and used starting from £1.70, but that can change. TReds stock the low heel version on line and in store - they have a chunky perspex heel instead of the stiletto, for £69.99.

        Whilst this price is quite high, the shoes are very well made and comfortable. However, if you are between sizes I would suggest buying the larger size as I am an average size 7 and these have a very snug fit - I wouldn't be able to wear thick tights with them without them being a little tight. A further nice touch, in my opinion, is that their sturdy box has the same design as the sole of the shoe. I haven't been able to throw mine out and store my shoes in there.

        The Tapetastic shoes are very versatile. They can be worn to work with a suit or office clothes. They look equally good with a pair of jeans for a smart casual look or paired with a smart black dress. There is also a small clutch bag to match that costs £30. This can be bought on line or in the Irregular Choice shop. I saw this in my local gift shop too but they had sold it by the time I decided I wanted it. Ebay also has a few for sale at various prices.

        These shoes have proven to be one of my favourite pieces and whilst not practical in wet weather are too lovely not to give five stars for.

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        • Kenco Millicano / Coffee / 94 Readings / 91 Ratings
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          06.11.2012 02:04
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          Weak flavourless coffee

          Kenco tell us that their Millicano Wholebean 'is the closest thing to proper coffee in an instant'. I'm always keen to try out new food and drink so when I was handed a sample of this I was eager to give it a try.

          The idea behind this drink is that it tastes like ground coffee but can be made up easily just by adding boiled water. In appearance Millicano looks a lot like ground coffee. It has quite fine brown grains, whereas many brands of instant coffee have large almost clumpy granules. As I generally like my coffee on the weak side I thought I would use half the sachet, which was about half a heaped spoon full - I would normally use less than that if I was making up a cup of Nescafe or Douwe Egberts. I poured on the hot water and it had an earthy smell, more like ground coffee than instant, but not as deep or intense . I like my coffee black with no sugar so there were no other tastes or smells to detect.

          I usually find that proper coffee, made in a cafetiere or percolator, is very strong with a rich, roasted flavour. However I could hardly taste the coffee in this cup, even though I used more granules than I normally would. I carried on drinking in the hope that the flavour would kick in, but it didn't. As I got to the end of the drink there was the normal black grainy sludge that you sometimes get in a cup of ground coffee. The final insult, in my opinion, was a rather nasty ash-like after taste in my mouth long after I'd drunk my last drop.

          I decided to give Kenco Millicano the benefit of the doubt and to try the last half of the sachet. This time I made it up with half a mug of hot water so that it was the intended strength. I hoped that this would make a difference, but it didn't. I don't think I would have minded if it had tasted just like instant coffee or solely like ground coffee but there was still hardly any coffee flavour, of either variety. Maybe it would have tasted better with cream and sugar.

          I was also given a sachet of the caffeine free Millicano and a voucher for 75p off my next purchase - neither have been used yet. If you want to take a risk it can be purchased from most supermarkets - Asda are currently selling a 100g tin for £3.00 but it is retailing for £3.99 at Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose. You can also buy a 85g refill pack for £3.29 a(£2.50 at Asda and £3.00 at Tesco). It is also possible to buy Kenco Millicano on line at a variety of outlets, including Amazon.

          I personally didn't like this coffee and wont be buying any in the future, but maybe if you prefer ground coffee and make it stronger than directed it might not seem so bad.

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          • Philips HR2304 / Ice Cream Maker / 91 Readings / 86 Ratings
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            04.11.2012 01:27
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            Home made ice cream made easy.

            It is probably not the best time of year to write a review on an ice cream maker, but this is one of my favourite little kitchen gadgets and if you are anything like me ice cream is a year round treat!

            The Philips ice cream maker is easy to assemble. Its main body is an easy to clean bowl, with an integral handle on the side to help you steady it during assembly and whilst removing the finished ice cream. A cooling disc is placed into the base of the bowl. You need to freeze the disc before hand - mine generally take about 18 hours to freeze, but I usually keep one or two in the freezer because they don't take up much room and I'll invariably forget to put one in the day before I need it.

            The lid has the motor and a plastic blade attached to it. They slot nicely together, with the motor part fitting snugly into a space on the lid surface. This is then put onto the top of the bowl, turned until it clicks and the ice cream maker is ready to go.

            To start the process the machine is plugged into the mains and turned on via the motor now attached to the lid. The blade must be moving when the liquid ice cream mixture is poured in via a hole in the lid. It takes between half an hour to an hour before the ice cream is ready to eat, although I confess to sneaking a couple of small spoonfuls through the hole in the lid during the process - just to check how it is doing. Once the ice cream has reached a thick consistency the machine can be turned off, the lid removed and the contents scooped from the bowl into a freezer safe container. It needs to be put into the freezer straight away, unless you are intending to eat it immediately.

            A recipe book is included in the box and I used this when I first had the machine - I can recommend the coffee flavour and the vanilla ice cream is always a handy base to add interesting ingredients to, such as caramelised nuts, Baileys Irish Cream or chocolate chunks. I have also Googled recipes on the internet and have experimented with a variety of fruit based ices and sorbets. Recently, since I have been on the Slimming World diet I have used it to make iced Muller Light yoghurts. These are not as nice as ordinary ice cream and are a lot harder despite all the churning, but they are still a pleasant dessert alternative.

            As the machine is fairly compact, it only makes 1 litre of ice cream at a time, so if you are catering for more than about six people you will need to make an extra load. If you increase the volume of the mixture to more than the amount suggested it doesn't churn properly once the ice cream begins to thicken - I tried this once to see what would happen. I don't see this as a problem though as the resulting ice cream is so delicious that it outweighs the minor disadvantages

            I bought my ice cream maker from Lakeland for about £40, along with a spare cooling disc, but I've just checked online and they only appear to be selling the cooling disc for £24.79. I bought mine from the Peterborough store so they may still have them there. I cannot find them in any other on line electrical store, but I'd still recommend snapping up a second hand one off a site such as Ebay (there is one on there currently for £18) or Amazon, who are also selling the cooling discs for £16.85.

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              01.11.2012 20:22
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              A convenient and easy way to clean minor wounds and prevent infection

              I bought these a while back from an independent chemist to wipe my daughter's grazed knee. I would normally buy stores own brand products as they are usually cheaper, but it was an emergency and this was the first chemist we came across after she tripped and fell - being a drama queen she insisted we find a chemist to buy plasters and something to clean up with. I think that they cost me around £2.50.

              The antiseptic wipes come in a pack of ten individually wrapped foil sachets which helps preserve their freshness and is more hygienic because they dont come into contact with any germs. They claim to work in two ways - to cleanse and to protect against germs and infections. You just tear the foil sachet and remove the wipe, unfold it and gently wipe or dab round the wound. I can vouch that they clean up a grazed area quite nicely. They are damp, but not too wet and have a pleasant slightly antiseptic smell. They also contain aloe which is meant to sooth but they still sting a little when cleaning a grazed area. They are not as large as the normal wipes that you would use for removing make up or wiping babies bottoms, and they are not as thick or soft, so a single wipe would not be useful for cleaning up a lot of blood or even a large grazed area.

              The antiseptic wipes are impregnated with a variety of ingredients, as follows;

              Alcohol Denat
              Citric acid
              Aqua
              Sorbic Acid
              Hamamelis Virginiana Water
              Propylene Glycol
              Lodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
              Sodium citrate
              Glycerin
              Sodium Benzoate (E211)
              Chamomilla Recutita
              Methyl Paraben
              PPG-2 Methly Ether
              Benzalkonium Chloride
              Aloe Barbadensis Extract
              Potassium Sorbate

              Not everyone would be happy with the alcohol content, which I am sure is minimal, but for those that are, Savlon produce alcohol free antiseptic wipes.

              Germolene also make other products that can be used alongside the wipes on cuts and minor injuries such as antiseptic cream, wound care cream and new skin.

              I haven't been able to find out why they are described as kids antiseptic wipes, as opposed to general antiseptic wipes. They are similar to all other brands that I have used that don't specify 'kids' and I have used them myself when I have cut myself, in order to clean the wound and (hopefully) kill any germs that might be lurking there. Maybe its because children incur little injuries more often - I used to carry a mini first aid kit with me when my children were little and I always had a couple of antiseptic wipe sachets in it.

              They can be bought from Sainsburys, many independent chemists and several online outlets including Amazon and Pharmacy 2 U. Prices seem to range from £1.79 (The Health Counter) to £3.95 (Ebay). They do work out quite expensive per wipe - from 18p to 40p, but you are paying for the convenience of having antiseptic at hand and in an easy to use format when you are out and about. It would be cheaper to use a piece of cotton wool and warm water to cleanse with at home, followed by a smear or two of antiseptic cream. That said, if you are lazy like me you will still use the wipes.

              I have given them 4 stars purely because they cost a little more than the stores own brand versions. All brands, including Germoline appear to do what they say, ie they keep the wound clean and I personally prefer them to using antiseptic cream because the wound dries up quicker.

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            • Douwe Egberts Pure Gold / Coffee / 91 Readings / 89 Ratings
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              28.10.2012 17:41
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              A smooth tasting reasonably priced instant coffee

              I have been brought up drinking Nescafe, and that still remains my instant coffee of choice, but I bought a small jar of this to use at work because it was going cheap in our local 99p store. It also came in a pretty jar that I thought could be used for storing other items - the coffee has been used but the jar remains empty.

              Douwe Egberts is one of many brands owned by the Sara Lee corporation (they who make those luscious chocolate mousse cakes). However, the original company started life in the Netherlands in 1753 as a grocers run by Egbert Douwe and his wife Akke. By the early 20th century the company was established as an international coffee processor. Nowadays it is recognised as a quality brand that produces not only several varieties of instant coffee, but roast and ground coffee, one cup filter coffees and the Senseo coffee machine pods. The company prides itself on resourcing its beans from sustainable sources and making environmentally friendly choices in both production and delivery of its products.

              The pure gold variety is a freeze dried medium roast and has reasonably large light- mid brown granules. Its down to personal taste how many spoonfuls you need to make your coffee. I like my coffee quite weak so for a medium sized mug I use a flat teaspoon. I find the granules all dissolve nicely and you get a nice smooth, tasty coffee with none of the bitter after taste that you experience with some instant coffees. I dont personally have sugar or milk (unless my coffee comes in the form of a cappuccino), but this can be added too to.

              Because I bought this for use at work I only used it to make standard cups of coffee, but you could add a liqueur of your choice to it for a more luxurious drink - I'd go for Baileys or maybe Tia Maria with cream. It could also be diluted with a little hot water and added to a standard cake mixture to make a coffee cake or to to whipped cream, sugar and and egg yolks to make ice cream.

              As I mentioned before, I bought my jar from my local 99p store and I noticed that the stock had all been sold the next time I went in. It can be bought from all the normal big name supermarkets and the 95g botttles usually retail at around £3.00 (Asda and Tesco) to £3.59 (Sainsburys and Waitrose). They also sell refill pouches that retail for around £4.49 for 150g.

              Whilst I still prefer the slightly richer taste of Nescafe, I would happily buy Douwe Egberts Pure Gold if it was on a cheaper deal.

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                27.10.2012 19:25
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                Handy little set of tools that wont let you down in emergencies

                Many years ago I had a boyfriend who was obsessed with all things Swiss and one year for Christmas he bought me this little Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. I have carried it around, attached to my key ring ever since, not because it reminded me of him, but because its useful tools come in handy.

                This pen knife is one of many made by Victorinox, a Swiss company whose origins began in the nineteenth century. In 1884 the owner, Karl Elsener, was tasked with producing a strong, compact, multi functional knife that could be used by the Swiss army. The Swiss Army Knife was born.

                Since then the company has expanded its range and built on its reputation for quality and reliability. It not only offers pocket knives but has diversified into clothing, watches, luggage, fragrances and cutlery. All products have the Victorinox logo, a white cross on a red shield, (colourless on the cutlery) reminiscent of the Swiss flag.

                Even though this knife is tiny, measuring just under 6cm and less than 2cm wide, it is robustly made. Its main body is constructed predominantly from steel, with red cellidor scales (handles) - cellidor is a hard plastic. This means that unlike other small gimmicky implements, that snap as soon as any pressure is placed on them, these will actually do what is required and live to see another day.

                These knives have seven features - a pair of scissors, a small knife, a nail file that doubles up as screwdriver, a keyring attachment, a pen and either a pair of tweezers or toothpick. Mine have the tweezers which I think are more useful. The tools all do what you would expect them to. The scissors cut paper and thread - I have been known to use them for small craft projects in the past. I keep the nail file for emergencies - although its not the best I have used, its not bad enough to deduct a star and the screwdriver does its job well. My knife regularly gets used to sharpen eye liner pencils - I just wipe the blade clean with a paper towel and it is like new again. The pen doesn't work now, but it did for quite a long while - again that's reasonable so I wont deduct a star.

                The tools all fold into the main body of the knife so that only 2mm of the edges are protruding. These edges have ridges on them that you grip with your nails in order to open the tools out. This means that you only need to have one tool in use at a time.

                You can purchase the Signature Swiss Army knife online from Amazon for around £12. They also retail on Ebay for a similar amount. They can be purchased from many independent hardware and outdoor pursuits stores. John Lewis sells them too, but not online. My knife is red but they come in opaque (jelly) blue and red varieties.

                As I said before, I have had mine for years and apart from the pen running out it is showing no sign of wear and tear. If I ever lost it I would definitely have to replace it!

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                26.10.2012 00:22
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                A pleasant smelling 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner that cleans hair in a jiffy.

                I have been using Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner for several years but sometimes find it a rush in the mornings, especially on the days that I have to get the bins out, so a few months ago I took the plunge and bought the two in one dazzling shine bottle.

                I regularly buy the shampoo and conditioner in the dazzling shine range and there is also a hair mask, but I have not tried this as yet. All items in this range, including the two in one shampoo + conditioner are green. Apart from the hair mask they come in wavy shaped bottles and have lids that can be flipped open and shut easily with one finger. All are for normal hair types - I buy this as its easier than buying several different varieties to suit each member of my household.

                The two in one shampoo + conditioner is of a thickish consistency with a pale green colour with a fruity (maybe a hint of melon) flowery scent. It is supposed to have extracts of pearl and rose in it. I am sniffing it now and it doesn't smell particularly of roses and there is no pearlescent gleam. That said it is very pleasant.

                The shampoo/conditioner is easy to dispense - the lid is pressed down and it flips a little to allow the contents to ooze out. I live in a hard water area but I find I only need a little shampoo to work up a decent lather on my shoulder length hair. I generally leave it in for a couple of minutes, like I would a conditioner, before rinsing off.

                Once dry, my hair feels lovely and clean, but not as silky smooth as it does when I use the separate shampoo and conditioner. However, I feel this is a small price to pay for the extra few minutes I gain from only having to do one wash and rinse. The two in one is also much more convenient to take to the swimming pool or gym - it takes up less room in your bag and weighs less than having two separate bottles.

                You can buy the dazzling shine two in one shampoo conditioner from all major supermarkets and chemists. They are nearly always on an offer somewhere - I cant remember the last time I paid full price for one. Boots and Morrsions are currently selling then for £1.89, Asda have a 2 for £4 offer, Superdrug are selling them at two for £5.99. Tesco, Sainsbury's and Waitrose have no offers and are selling them at £3.79. It might be worth checking out Poundland as the sometimes stock them. They also do a range of smaller 200 ml bottles but these are rarely on offer so it is much cheaper to buy the larger 400ml bottles.

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                  23.10.2012 01:25
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                  Lovely low calorie chocolate drink in a large variety of flavours

                  Options (part of the Twinings family) make a range of low calorie hot chocolate drinks that can be made up with hot water. I first started drinking them when I began my Slimming World journey last year. Desperate for a chocolate fix I discovered these little delights which at only 2 syns (40 calories) per serving meant that I could satisfy my cravings. I keep a stash in my drawer at work for chocolate emergencies and another selection at home. I also take a couple of packets if I go away for the weekend - they are so eay to just pop into an overnight bag.

                  They are easy to make, just empty the sachet into a mug and add boiled water that has cooled for a minute. Like any other powdered drinks it is probably best to mix with a little water or milk first in order to prevent undissolved lumps remaining in your drink. I find a smallish mug is best or they taste a bit watery.

                  The drinks come in a variety of chocolatey flavours - orange, hazelnut, vanilla, toffee, coconut, banana, double choc, mint, white chocolate and basic Belgian chocolate. I have tried them all and they are all really delicious. They also do an indulgence range which at 60 calories is still suitable for dieters and includes brownie, fudge, cherry and a limited edition variety - the current flavour is winter spice. For me, the main downside to these drinks is the after taste from the artificial sweetener and that's why I have given it 4 stars instead of 5. They are not as creamy as full fat water based hot chocolates either, although you could add milk or cream to them if you wanted to.

                  These sachets don't have to be used purely for making into drinks. They can be used to flavour home made cheesecakes by mixing it with quark (for a low fat version) or mascarpone and piling the mixture onto a biscuit base. They can also be used to flavour cakes instead of cocoa or mixed with whipped cream and fromage frais to make a mousse or cake filling.

                  You can buy these sachets from most supermarkets and they are always on some sort of bulk buy offer. Asda currently have them on a 5 for £1 deal, Sainsburys is selling them 6 for £1.50 and Tesco has them at 4 for £1. They sell them individually at 32p. Some of the more popular flavours come in jars too which work out cheaper - though like the sachets the price varies from store to store depending on the deals at the time. I've seen them range from around £1 to £3.19

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                  • Freixenet wines / Wine / 84 Readings / 84 Ratings
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                    20.10.2012 00:48
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                    A wonderfully crisp, refreshing, fruity cava

                    Freixenet, pronounced 'fresh-eh-net' is one of the leading producer's of cava, Spanish sparkling wine primarily from the Catalan region. In the past it was known as Spanish Champagne, but this is no longer allowed under EU law. I was first introduced to this delectable wine many years ago by my ex. The relationship may not have lasted but my love affair with Freixenet still lingers on.

                    There are three ranges under the Freixenet label each with an individual bottle shape - Elyssia, made from international grapes, Mia, a still wine and Cordon which is a wonderfully crisp cava made from Catalonian grapes and probably the most well known variety. They come in white, rose and the Mia range has a red wine too. The bottles have an air of sophistication about them, many are frosted and the iconic Cordon Negro is presented in a distinctive black bottle with a contrasting gold label.

                    My favourite by a narrow margin is the Cordon Rosado, possibly because it is pink (and therefore a bit girly) and has a fruitier taste than the Cordon Negro - the most popular Freixenet wine. They are both very dry and bubbly but with a crisp, fruity, fresh taste, which to my unrefined palate tastes just like Champagne. I like to drink mine chilled and for special occasions add a little creme de cassis to make a poor man's kir. I've also added orange juice to make a bucks fizz. I'm yet to try the Mia or Elyssia ranges.

                    I regularly buy a bottle of one of the Cordons as a thank you or part of a birthday/Christmas present. You can also purchase gift packs leading up to Christmas that usually include a mini bottle and truffles. I wasn't over impressed by the truffles, but then I'm not keen on champagne truffles in general. I have seen them in Boots, Sainsburys and Tesco in the past - I haven't checked what's on offer this year.

                    Freixenet can be bought from most supermarkets (although they dont generally stock the whole range), or specialist wine merchants. They come in a mini sized 200 ml priced around £3.50 and an average sized 750ml that generally retails from £9.50 to £15.00 depending on the variety. They can regularly be found on offer - Tesco often has them on half price, which if you are lucky will coincide with one of their 25% off wine weeks. Asda currently has the Cordon Rosado on offer for £4.00 - time to stock up for Christmas I think!

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                    • Nescafe Mocha / Coffee / 71 Readings / 71 Ratings
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                      18.10.2012 02:45
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                      A lovely frothy, chocolatey coffee at a bargain price

                      Mocha is one of fourteen varieties of instant cappuccino on offer from Nescafe and it is one of my personal favourites. Their range includes vanilla, caramel and Irish cream lattes, decaf + skinny varieties and the original plain cappuccino.

                      The drink comes in individual sachets, the contents of which are enough to make up one average sized mug of frothy chocolatey coffee. The main ingredients are instant coffee, drinking chocolate, whitener and sugar and at only 91 calories per serving they wont ruin the diet. I think the strength is spot on, but anyone who prefers it weaker or stronger would just need to make it in a different sized mug with more or less water.

                      The contents of one sachet is emptied into a mug and hot water is added. I tend to boil the kettle and leave it for a few minutes before pouring it over the powder because Nescafe used to recommend that you do so - they don't any more, but I still make it in the same way. To ensure that there are no lumps of undissolved mixture (which are strong and quite unpleasant) I either whisk vigorously or blend the powder with a little milk or water to make a smooth paste prior to pouring the hot water on.

                      Once made up there is a reasonably thick layer of froth on the top, although not as high as that on the front of the box. The coffee and chocolate flavours can be easily identified. The coffee is not too strong and the different flavours harmonise with each other rather than fighting for the position of prime taste. All in all it is a pleasure to drink and I personally think it has a better, smoother flavour than the Starbucks version.

                      I like to doctor my Nescafe Mocha sometimes by adding Original Bailey's to it. Other liqueurs/spirits would also work such as Tia Maria, Cointreau or whisky, to name a few. I have also been known to top the cappuccino with marshmallows and whipped cream or dip a flake into it, but only when I am in a decadent mood or feel the need for indulgence. I have a friend who regularly makes it up using hot milk instead of water - apparently it makes it extra creamy, but I cant vouch for this as I have no personal experience

                      There are eight sachets per box. The boxes can be bought at almost any supermarket - my local co-op stocks the mocha variety and it is a tiny store. It generally retails from £1.00 (very occasionally) to £2.99. Asda currently has it on offer for £1.50, Tesco and Sainsburys are both selling it at £2 (reduced from £2.99) and Waitrose has an any 2 for £4 offer (normal price £2.99). I tend to stock up on my favourites whenever they drop to £1.50 or lower. They are regularly on some sort of offer - I cant remember the last time I paid full price for a box.

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                        14.10.2012 17:20
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                        Nowhere near as nice as the other varieties - I wont be buying it

                        I first heard about this variety of Baileys on Facebook. I clicked the 'like' button and they sent me a small sample bottle - enough for one small shot.

                        I had tried the previous varieties of Baileys, original, coffee, creme caramel, mint chocolate and hazelnut and had liked them all, so was quite excited at the prospect of what I imagined would be a slightly almondy, biscuity liqueur.

                        When my biscotti sample arrived it was in a miniature version of the normal bottle, only plastic as opposed to glass. I waited until I was on my own for the evening to try it - I didn't want the pleasurable experience to be disturbed by my children interrupting me. It was a big disappointment.

                        The basic taste of Baileys was still the same, with the same strong alcoholic bite that makes your throat burn slightly when you first swallow it and it was still creamy. But instead of the expected nutty, biscuity accompanying taste, the biscotti sample had an odd twang to it - I cant pinpoint what it was. I did finish the little bottle, partly to see if it would improve, but it didnt. Maybe my sample wasnt large enough ;-) or maybe my sample had just gone off a little. I am not intending to waste my money by researching the taste of a larger bottle because I found with the other varieties that one sip was enough to confirm that I liked them.

                        If you do fancy trying this variety it can be found in most supermarkets and as Christmas approaches the Baileys tend to go on offer, so my advice is to watch the prices before buying - it regularly goes down to £15 for a litre

                        I was going to give this two stars but upped it to three because I would accept a glass if it was offered to me - after all it is Baileys, but I definitely wouldnt buy it.

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                          14.10.2012 09:51
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                          A luscious lemony body butter that leaves your skin feeling soft after use

                          This flavour of body butter is one of the more recent additions to the Body Shop range, it is only a couple of years old at the most, and is one of my personal favourites. It has quite a zingy fresh scent when you open the tub, but with creamy undertones, so that it smells like a lemon dessert. I find that most of the Body Shop butters smell good enough to eat.

                          It is meant for normal to dry skin and is of quite a thick consistency, almost solid but with a soft squidgy feel to it. I use it on the areas that get a little dry, such as my feet, knees and elbows. You only need a small amount of the butter and then massage it into your skin. It absorbs quite quickly and leaves your skin feeling softer and with a slight lemony scent that lasts for a few hours. I normally use it at night time so that it doesn't conflict with my daytime perfume.

                          I know that the Body Shop have recently redesigned the packaging and upped the price by 50p to £13 for the 200ml variety, but I haven't paid full price for any of my body butters and I have bough almost all of the flavours over time. They regularly have them on at either buy one get one free or just half price in both the store or online. Whilst this is still quite expensive, it makes them comparable price wise with other brands. Occasionally they have them reduced on line to £3, but that is rare. You can also pick them up on Ebay cheaper, but you risk buying old stock. If you buy a Love Your Body card for £5 you get a further 10% off all purchases and in the month of your birthday you get £5 off anything you fancy.

                          There are other items in the Sweet Lemon range, including lip butter, body scrub, shower gel, body lotion, beautifying oil and gift sets - the gift set is currently reduced, but has the old style designs on the pots.

                          Despite the price I am giving this 5 stars because I love the product.

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                            13.10.2012 09:52
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                            If you buy these you will wear them forever and will never regret your extravagant purchase.

                            I had been wanting a pair of Uggs for quite some time, and in particular the chestnut Bailey Button variety, so last year when ASOS had a 25% off day I ordered my coveted pair.

                            These Uggs come up a few inches above the ankle and are made of thick sheepskin. They have a solid, supportive heel and thick rubber soles with the Ugg logo + attractive pattern etched into them. The sides are slit and held together with a wooden button toggle type fastening. They can be worn either upright or with the top folded down, so that the cream sheepskin interior is shown. I find that my pair tend to flap a little from the top, but they still look good.

                            Because the insides are made of soft sheepskin, these boots are wonderfully warm and so comfortable to wear. The Bailey Button variety will also fit larger ladies - so many boots these days seem to have been designed for slimmer women. I have worn mine with jeans, leggings, skirts and thick tights and even yoga pants to the gym - they are just easy to grab and sling on. The Australian surfers used to wear them as indoor footwear when they were first introduced, but they are too nice to keep indoors.

                            Like many others I had bought the cheaper £20 variety from stores such as New Look, and they had a job to last through the winter. My daughters then asked for a pair of the 'real thing' for Christmas a couple years ago so I bought them each a pair from a slightly dodgy Chinese site on the internet( I didnt know it was Chinese at the time, but I got constant junk emails in Chinese characters for a year or more after). These appeared to be the same as the genuine Uggs, they had the material logo on the heels and even the same patterned soles. They were also made of the same type of sheepskin and were wonderfully warm and soft to wear - infact it was their constant ravings about how wonderful they were that made me want my own. Now, two or three years on, their rubber heels are very worn and some of the stitching has come undone, whereas my pair show hardly any signs of wear, despite the fact that I am very heavy on my footwear and regularly get through a couple of pairs of boots a year.

                            I cant rate these boots highly enough and now that I have lost a good deal of weight I am saving up for a pair of the black regular short boots that would have previously had a job to fit my chubby legs. As Christmas approaches there are plenty of shops/internet sites offering 25% off on specific days, so you can take advantage of those offers. One last piece of advice I would give is that if you are ordering on line, try them on in the shops first so that you know which size will fit best - they recommend you buy a size smaller than your normal size. I didnt and they werent over loose.

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