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I am by no means an elite cook. I hate washing up. My job/social life means that I am usually short on time when it comes to cooking meals and thanks to the credit crunch I am more likely to purchase Asda Smartprice than Sainsbury's Taste The Difference produce.
That said, as I've got older I've found that I'm not satisfied by the studenty concoctions I used to live off - pasta and a can of chopped tomatoes, beans, beans and more beans (apart from Heinz baked beans snap-pots, there are a work of genius. I must review them). I find myself wanting to cook more exciting meals with exotic/authentic produce, not only for myself but also to wow my friends/boyfriend (the way to a man's heart etc....). An invisible force now sucks me into international delis, posh cheese shops and even, dare I say it, the food halls at Selfridges and Harvey Nichols in search of a particular type of chocolate or stinky cheese I have heard about.
So what am I to do? I'm short on money and time but I have aspirations (or possibly delusions?!) of culinary grandeur. Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food is a godsend.
Be warned: this book will make you hungry. Make sure you have plenty of food in before your read it. The recipes are written in a descriptive and saliva-inducing way (good tactic Nigel) that makes you want to get cooking right away. I love the way the book is written - in fact, I've read it cover to cover and I can't say that about any of my other cook books.
The slightly odd thing about the book is that it's a paper back with no pictures. I think this boils down to the Slater's emphasis on simple food/flavours rather than presentation.
There are recipes for everything from cheese on toast to oysters and Bloody Mary's. It's organised into headings for each type of food e.g. potatoes, cheese, cabbage etc. making it easy to follow. There's commentary about how to track down the best and most ethical produce. I think this knowledge has actually saved me money - rather than going crazy in the expensive deli, I know the Italian salami I'm after and just buy that.
It's simple but inspirational, for example; there are sections headed "good things to team with eggs in a sandwich" and "good things to top a baked potato" which give you great ideas for normal but also sophisticated meals. I would never have come up with a jacket potato sprinkled with pesto and Parmesan - try it! It's so tasty.
You can get yourself a copy on Amazon for around £5.00 - it's well worth it.
I have a friend with lovely skin. Her mum is 58 and looks about 40 - no word of a lie. What is their secret? Not the Clinique 3-step routine or the latest home dermobrasion kit but a flannel and cold cream cleanser.
The final straw for me was watching the latest James Bond offering (bear with me here...), Quantum of Solace. What was M taking her make-up off with? Cold cream. I had to have some. I am an unashamed geek - if M uses it then so do I.
The cream comes in a glass pot and is reasonably priced (about £3.00), I assume because it is a favourite of Nanas around the globe who don't part with their pension easily. This means, ladies, that it's worth giving it a try even if ultimately you decide it's not for you.
The idea is to apply it to your face quite liberally and rub it in lightly with your fingers. Then get two cotton-wool pads and wipe it off. Hey presto, no more make up (even waterproof mascara) and a silky soft face. It's particularly good if you've gone a little crazy at the weekend and got the glitter out - the thick consistency takes it right off.
I have quite sensitive and dry areas on my face - close to my eyebrows - and the odd post-spot -injury and this really sorts them out. I wouldn't recommend it if you have oily skin as it's thick but it's great for combination and dry skins.
I've noticed that Boots have started their own range of retro-inspired products in cute glass jars but I say go with the original from Ponds and get an added bonus - my Grandma was so excited when I told her I used it. I got all her best stories about beauty products during the war. Excellent.
I treated myself to this fragrance in a product-purchasing frenzy one day but I have to say that I'm not over convinced by the concept.
The delectable Mr Jacobs (maker of fine handbags etc.) has brought out a collection of simple eau de toilette fragrances, the idea being to mix and layer them to create a signature summer scent.
The one I have is "rain" which smells amazing - I believe those in the business refer to it as a "green" scent in that it's not flowery or spicy or fruity but altogether something else. Very refreshing and androgynous in a Jo Malone kind of way. In fact, Mark - I bet that was the market you were going for wasn't it?
The problem I find with it is that it wares off before you've even left the house so re-application is a must. Now, Mark has given this some thought and designed the bottle with a screw top and separate pump. This means you can fill a little atomizer with it and take it on your travels. However, the bottle it comes in is huge so is certainly not fit for your handbag. Perhaps Mark has big plans to bring out a matching range of crystal-encrusted atomizers...who knows?
The other problem is the price. It costs around £40 per bottle and whilst you get a lot for your money (300 ml) if the point is to have he whole set and mix them then that's one expensive perfume!
Sorry Mark - my personal preference is for a perfume with some staying power!
.....let me count the ways:-
1. The original body cream is uber-rich and good for dry areas such as your knees, shins and elbows. It's a wintertime must for the skin conscious lady. I have dry and sensitive skin and it's always worked wonders. Perfect after a shower or bath for a bit of home-spa. Watch out - it takes a while to sink in so not a product to be used if you're in a rush.
2. Speaking of home-spa, you might like to try the body scrub. Use it in the shower. Same delicious smell, good lather and just the right amount of scrub, which means you won't emerge from the shower looking like a burns victim (watch out for Body Shop's lavender salt scrub - the beauty product sanctioned by Beelzebub himself).
3. In the summer I switch to the new lightweight body lotion, which gives equally good results but is light and absorbed in a fraction of the time. It's good if you're in a hurry and it's a bit cheaper than the original cream. If you want something from the range that you can use all year round, go for this one.
Conclusion? Ladies, we all deserve a bit of luxury. I would recommend going for the lightweight lotion for year round usage and if you're feeling flush (or have a birthday coming up?) get all three!
So, you know when you've had your bikini-line, or any other bit of you for that matter, waxed and then, despite diligent exfoliating, you notice unsightly ingrown hairs/ red bumps appearing after a couple of weeks? The bane of the regularly waxed lady is the re-growth period and this phenomenon certainly does nothing for the sultry-sex-kitten image we all seek to uphold.
This product might just be the answer to our problems - it makes the re-growth period much more bearable.
For any boys reading this review, I imagine it will also work wonders tidying up slightly spotty designer stubble, which is usually due to the odd ingrown hair. If you can cope with the bikini-line references, read on.
The product is a clear fluid and feels tingly when applied to the troublesome area. It works on ingrown hairs after the first application and reduces red bumps pretty soon after that if you keep using it. I think the point is to keep using it to prevent the problem re-occurring.
A word of warning - it's got (a very mild) acid in it. If you plan to use it your erm...delicate areas remember to slap on a lightweight body lotion afterwards as it can be quite drying. Boys, if you're still reading, you better invest in some manly moisturiser to make sure you don't end up with a red face.
Actually, I might just go and try it out on my boyfriend's chin....
I must confess that I am an out and out Kiehl's addict and so it pains me to say that I was quite disappointed with this shampoo.
It's a mild cleanser with Amino Acids being the active ingredient. It also contains coconut oil and, having heard rave reviews from friends (with lovely silky hair) about coconut oil, I decided to give it a whirl.
The label claims that the shampoo is for "all hair types", this Mr Kiehl, is where I respectfully suggest you have made a booboo.
The "delightful creamy lather" promised on the label never materialised I'm afraid, and my hair didn't feel very clean afterwards. I have quite fine hair so it usually doesn't take much to give it a good clean. It felt fine after I gave it a repeat wash but that, consumers, just wouldn't make any financial sense if you used it long term.
I think (but I'm no scientist, believe me) that it would be better suited to those of you out there with thick dry hair.