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I bought myself one of these lovely machines about 10 months ago and have thought I'd share my views on the good and not so good points...
The bad first
- the pods are not cheap! You do get a voucher for the website making it less of a kick in the teeth to stock up initially which helps.
- availability of some pods is limited depending on where you live. Round here even our largest Tesco is too small to have anything other than a plain coffee...
- storage for the pods - it would be awesome if someone made a cool storage for these... :) like the ones in car dealerships that you see with neat compartments...
The good points!
- There is near enough a coffee for everyone! My family are used to filter coffee and love the selections.
- I only drink hot chocolate and earl grey tea - if there was anything missing it would be a Lady Gray :D - the chocolates available are great quality and scrummy in winter.
- cleaning is a doddle! A shaved monkey could clean this thing!
- it looks stylish and professional :)
- speed... it's quick! I had a quick boil thingy where you just "press the button" and it was rubbish! This on the other hand it smoking!
I did buy mine on special offer from Argos when it was half price - not sure i could justify it if it had been full price!
So long as you are not a 6 cups a day kinda person I think the premium is worth it...
I'm not going to go into a long detailed technical review of the specs of this phone - I think if you have looked up reviews for it then you already know what it does and looks like. What I WILL share with you is my views and experiences as a user of the HTC Magic.
I got the HTC Magic instead of an iPhone as I found the reviews and prices for the iPhone weren't putting me at ease looking at the cost and tariffs available. The Magic was recommended by nearly all the people I spoke to in the shops and several had them themselves (and were happy to demonstrate their own personal phones to me).
So I went home with my sparkling new Magic and feeling a little excited about entering a new world of Android OS. Once you get used to the new OS it's actually very easy to use - it does take a while to boot up if you reboot for whatever reason which can be a pain!
One of the major selling points of the phone is the Market Place - where you can get free applications or buy bigger better versions etc. This is an area I feel DOES need a lot of attention - I love applications but anything interactive like finding resturants etc seems primarily aimed at the US and not UK - so totally useless! Ditto a lot of the barcode scanning softwares - not designed for use in the UK. And there is no way of telling most of the time until you have downloaded an app and installed it before you know this which is HUGELY annoying. Also no online way to search for Android Apps so you are restricted to searching on the phone - I like using my phone and laptop in combination and not being able to look up a tool first is of great irritation - an area Android really ought to address IMO!
Second problem I have with this is the signal - I don't know if it's my handset or a general fault or just my network but often I am in an area where I KNOW there should be a good reception and I get no signal at all. If I turn on airplane mode and then turn it off again it will often then get 3 to 4 bars... highly annoying! And something I will be discussing with Vodafone this coming week...
Despite these faults I still like my Magic - yes it has a few flaws but I can forgive them :)
Having done a lot of research on baby monitors after the arrival of my daughter we finally plumped for the 150 - it got good all round reviews and had several awards to it's name - always a good start!
We live in a new build, small but very difficult for wireless signals (mobiles, wifi etc) to penetrate somehow. Working on the principle that the bigger the distance that it should be able to cover the more likely it was to succeed in our house this seemed to fit the bill.
It is very easy to set up, but I would recommend at least flicking through the manual if you have a moment... Maybe whilst the parent unit is charging? :)
It has a host of functions from a walkie talkie back to the baby unit (this button is actually badly positioned - if you have 5 thumbs on your hand you could easily press the talk button and startle the baby awake...) to recording your voice which you can then replay remotely to the baby, various tunes that again can be activated removely to help an unsettled baby calm down, thermometer with alarm if low or high temps are breached. Vibrate function if baby stirs as well as VERY good sound quality on the actual speakers. We haven't had any interferince on the signal, but I did get a little confused one day when the people across the road were using a pressure washer to clean their car... I was picking up the sound on the monitor through the open window upstairs although the monitor was a long way from the window!
I found that it's helped me build up confidence to leave my baby to sleep in her cot without checking on her every 5 minutes as if you position it right and max the sensitivity on it you can actually hear her breathing!
It's well worth the extra money in my view, yes you can buy cheaper ones but I DO think with baby monitors you get what you pay for...
After loosing my N95 8gb in a tragic accident (RIP beloved N95!!!) I was given the option of hiking to a store 20 miles away and 2 mile walk (not an option at 8 1/2 months pregnant!) or I could cough up £75 and get the new N96... I DO love my gadgets so I figured what the heck!
The N95 was never superb for battery life but it managed to meet my needs without going flying through any windows in the happy 14 months we had together.
The N96... well... after a week I had to take it to a store (now a week before due to give birth!) for them to agree the battery was rubbish and would order me a new one (incidently Vodafone - 7 weeks and no new battery... Wave goodbye to a customer when my contract ends in August!) - it lasts about 24-36 hours - this is without being used! I haven't used it for music or more than about 10 minutes worth of calls a week. I haven't even surfed much or texted (oddly enough with a wee 5 week old you don't have time to any more :) ).
The applications are great and plentiful, alas you daren't use them in case it runs your battery down! The menu seems to have got more complex and the front page menu is annoying and you often end up opening something you didn't intent to.
Camera - picture quality is great, but like the N95 the camera takes a while to load up so don't count on catching those magic moments that pass too quickly when you have small babies and children - if you want that then go for the Sony's!
The speakers on the phone are pretty good for what they are - my husband certainly liked using them when I was in labour and he was getting bored LOL
Overall - the phone is good - solid - but the processor speed and battery life let it down hugely!
Come on Nokia - get it together!
When expecting your first child you find yourself inundated with information about what you should and shouldn't do, what you must and mustn't have... Car seats though stand alone - you HAVE to have one to leave the hospital unless you live round the corner and plan on walking!
So you grab your increasingly empty purse or wallet and trot to the baby shops yet again to be barraged with information to scare the living daylights out of you. Do your research before you go though - it will save you lots of time and many fustrating moments where you feel like smacking the sales assistant with the nearest blunt object!
The Maxi-Cosi got the Which award for safety - which was a major winning point in my book, it comes in a wide variety of colours including black if you don't want a pink or blue (like if you don't know what flavour you're having!).
The easy fix bases are a total must in my view - they cost a fair bit extra but you will find this is the best £100 or whatever you have ever spent! Do make sure you test if the base fits in your car first though! The iso-fix base fits fine in our new Passat CC but not in our 2004 Santa Fe. Buying the Iso-Fix base though does mean even if it doesn't fit on the iso-fix bars you can still attach it to the seatbelt like the cheaper base. This takes no more than about 3 minutes so hardly a chore :)
The green indicator system is genius too - you're never in doubt about if you have fitted the seat in properly!
Being Maxi-Cosi it is compatible with loads of travel system setups - including the iCandy systems.
And last but not least it appears to be very comfy - I know my daughter seems to be more than content in hers. 2 minutes from the door and she's out cold snoring like a good'un!
We bought the iCandy Apple stroller system a few months before our first baby was due - following lots of "test drives" and research - after all you don't spend that much money on a whim! :) We were quite demanding as we wanted both form AND function from the travel system we ended up with.
I'm a tallish 5' 8" and my husband is nearly 6' so it had to be adjustable for both of us - it needed to fit in the car and obviously it had to be easy to use.
Over all the iCandy meets all those points.
There are good and bad points and it's a matter of deciding which matter to you I guess :)
Bad points first:
Initially the whole system is a little stiff and that can make assembling and using tricky in the early days - things like:
collapsing the frame
inserting the car seat (Maxi cosi) and more importantly removing it again
removing the cot attachement - were all tricky the first week or so till the catches wore a little and were easier to operate.
Lifting in and out of cars - this is not a super lightweight frame - I'm fairly sturdy so haven't had too many problems, but I couldn't lift it myself the first 3 weeks due to back problems following my epidural.
Bulky - We have a Passat CC - the boot is huge and with the frame and cot attachment it leaves little room in our massive boot - definitely check before buying to make sure it'll fit! It even takes up most of the room in the Hyundai Santa Fe boot!
Easy to use - very smooth to walk with.
Attachments are easy to fit (once you get past the first stiff stage)
Good size storage under the child for changing bag or other essentials
Nice to look at :D
Feels nice to use and can easily be adjusted for different heights
Comfy for baby - sticking our daughter in the iCandy is a surefire way of getting her off to sleep when she's cranky!
I'd definitely recommend the iCandy - but please always test any travel system first - both driving it round the shop but also up and down curbs, round narrow shops and see if everything will actually fit in your car!
I bought one of the Fisher Price Rainforest Swings after hearing great things about them - the only thing no-one mentioned was the space it takes up!! If you live in a small house or flat please look at getting something smaller!
As a swing though it's fantastic - slightly cumbersome to get out but it IS possibly to do it one handed :) My daughter often falls asleep in it when I am trying to do washing or a little bit of housework. The tunes are ok and the rainforest sounds won't send you off to the looney bin after a few days, unlike a lot of other musical gadgets for babies, there is a great range of things you can adjust and the music will turn it self off after about 5 minutes, but the seat keeps swinging which I think is great.
The seat covers come off for easy washing which with a 5 week old has proven very handy! :)
I would definitely recomment this swing, but only if you have plenty of space for it :)
I adapted this recipe from an Aga slow cooked lamb recipe with a moroccan twist into my own version of Mild Moroccan Lamb and it's delishious! Also very suitable for those long wet and misrable days when you want something a little more exciting than stew :)
Moroccan Cumin Lamb Tagine
2 tbsp oil
750g cubed lamb sliced in 2cm ish cubes
2-3 medium onions, chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
750g can toms
2 tsp ground cumin
1tsp coriander seeds - crushed (you could use powdered)
1 veg or lamb stock cube
salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in the pan and brown the meat on all sides. When nicely browned place the lamb in the tagine. Add the onion and garlic to the fat remaining in the pan and stir well. Reduce the heat of the pan and cook until the onions start to glaze.
Stir in the tomatoes, cumin, crushed stock cube, coriander seed and seasoning. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
Add this to the Tagine with the lamb.
Place in a low oven (I put it on at about 100c) for a couple of hours - you don't need to stir it or do anything with it until you want to serve.
Perfect served with some plain cous cous that has been separated with a little butter.
What on earth were Lush thinking??
Stars AND glitter? Shame on you!
The Christmas Bath Ballistic promises great things: "Bathe in our sparkling buck's fizz scented (Orange Oil, Cognac Oil and Lime Oil) bath and dissolve all your inhibitions"
Don't know about inhibitions but it certainly dissolved a lot of my love for Lush and their ballistics!
The scent is very pleasant - not quite Bucks Fizz but reminiscent of fresh oranges with a little splash of alcohol but in a nice way!
I found it very refreshing and uplifting.
Colour: The ballistic itself is a pretty and bright orange - unfortunately this isn't what you get when it dissolves! I am trying very hard to find a nice way of describing it but I think the best image for comparison is the gutter outside a nightclub on the 1st of january! Floating multicolour stars like those from a tablebomb, confetti plastic and then tiny metalish gold stars that sink... And on the top of your bath the confetti and stars float in what I can only describe as "scum"...
However being a brave soul and frankly eternally optimistic I figured that I was over reacting and it DID smell nice right? so... might as well hop in...
I think this has been my lifes shortest bath since the discovery of Lush! If I lasted 10 minutes I'd be amazed! The big floaty stars attack you from all around on the surface - not too big a problem you can fish them out fairly easily... but the plastic confetti and the litte gold stars get everywhere! The stars stab you and the confetti stick! ARGH!
I had to surrender to the persistence of them and ended up showering them off in the end as nothing would get them off!
Never ever again!
I should have learnt by now - I really should!
NEVER buy something for the bath with stars in - I mean THINK about it! They have spikes! :)
Anyway I bought one of these Jingle Spells as part of a gift set for myself (Happy New year to meeeeeee Happy New Year to meeeee :) ) and was looking forward to trying some new Lush things so despite a niggling doubt about the sanity of little glitter stars in a bath ballistic I merrily ran a bath and plonked myself in before adding the ballistic which I was promised would be a refreshing, detoxify yuletide herbal bath.
The rather appealing purple ball fizzed well and coloured the water a pleasing lilac/purple as well as releasing it's little black and silver stars (more about them later!). The scents are tangerine, fennel oil and juniperberry. Very pleasing and the smell lingered for a couple of days - probably best described as a little musky? Very pleasant and refreshing - reminded me a lot of musky incense.
The scent & colour was frankly gorgeous and I would have no hesitation in recommending it on those points.
UNFORTUNATELY - someone at Lush had a deranged moment when designing this - What is with the stars?!?!?
Not only will you find yourself suddenly being stabbed by these little needles just as you are relaxing... But what was even worse than eventually being driven from my deliscious smelling water was that they stick to you!!! And you do NOT want to know about the places these little mini torture implements get themselves into... :)
So... smells nice but only use if you own a sieve to keep the little blighters out of the water :)
The world is awash with charities for every worthy cause under the sun: poorly children, cancer research, mistreated animals, abused women and people in poverty striken areas.
Few charities concentrate on animals "past their prime" or less photogenic than cute puppies and fluffy kittens. After all we all know given the choice most people would much prefer a companion they can keep for many years to come and not one they may loose to old age in a few years.
This brings me to The Oldies Club - not in fact a club for elderly people to meet up on a wednesday to knit and play bridge :)
So if they doing specialize in serving tea what DO they do?
Well the Oldies Club helps find older dogs forever homes, an "older" dog is usually 7 years old or older.
They primarily work with a network of foster homes but also list older animals from other rescues on their website.
At the time of this review 1888 dogs have found forever homes as a result of the Oldies Club website.
I have over the years referred many people to the Oldies club as well as having been briefly involved with them and still remember my encounters with one particular oldie with extreem fondness...
But I know that "Blossom" found her ideal home... then again she was a "poundie" - an older dog, on deathrow in the pound after wandering on the streets. She was smelly, dirty and well past her prime, but she had the biggest heart!
Having met her at the side of the motorway as her last stage in going to her new home she stayed over with me and if I had been able to keep her at the time she would have NEVER made it onwards the next day!
She found a lovely new home where she was pampered, groomed, spoilt, walked lots and had a doggy friend and a "nan" who looked after her during the day - but not all dogs are as lucky as Blossom. She had been found a new home through the Oldies and thousands of other dogs have too - but these volunteers work tirelessly to save as many dogs as possible, dogs normally passed by in rescues because they are older and not as desirable as the cute puppies in the next cage. Some of these dogs have been in rescues for several years when all they'd love is a warm bed and a loving pat once in a while...
So for all the hard and tireless work they do every day - Well done Oldies Club!!!
If you have room in your home and life for an oldie then why not have a look? www.oldies.org.uk
Or even if you can help out and be a foster home - you could be a lifesaver to these dogs - helping them out of rescues and adapting to a "normal" life again before they go into their forever home!
I'm sure there are cheaper diets out there for dogs, but after being recommended Arden Grange by a famous trainer for my hound I figured that paying for expensive advice I might as well try it.
I've personally opted for the Lamb & Rice variety which can be purchased in 2.5kg, 7.5kg and 15kg bags. A 15kg bag can be purchased from www.vetuk.co.uk for £24.07 + delivery (free if your order contains over a certain value of food). It may be cheaper elsewhere.
My reasons for opting for Arden Grange was the high quality of the ingredients which consist mainly of ethically produced Grade A new Zealand lamb, no animal derivatives or by products and it's suitable for pet dogs or dogs in light work.
Lamb Meal* (min 30%), Whole Grain Rice (min 26%), Whole Grain Maize, Chicken Fat*, Beet Pulp, Dried Brewers Yeast, Egg Powder, Fish Meal*, Linseed, Fish Oil*, Minerals, Vitamins, Nucleotides, Prebiotic FOS, Prebiotic MOS, Cranberry Extract, Chondroitin Sulphate, Glucosamine Sulphate, MSM, Yucca Extract. * Preserved with mixed tocopherols and rosemary extract.
Protein 25%, Oil 16%, Fibre 2%, Ash 6%, Moisture 8%, Omega6 3.5%, Omega3 0.4%, Vitamin A 15000 IU/kg, Vitamin D3 1500 IU/kg, Vitamin E 80 IU/kg, Calcium 1.53%, Phosphorous P 1.1%, Copper 20 mg/kg (as Cupric Sulphate).
The feed guide is very detailed on what factors you should consider when picking the amount you feed your dog and their website is very informative.
Personal experience of feeding Arden Grange - Lamb and Rice:
I've been feeding it for about 6 months now and have noticed an improvement in both my dogs general condition, her bowel movements and her energy. Before she was very hyper active, making her at times quite a handful! She still has all that energy but it's not as "manic" as it used to be.
If you walk your dog somewhere public you'll know how important the quality of what goes in is on the quality of what comes out is - poo picking is never a nice topic, but I did notice a marked improvement in the "quality" after we started feeding Arden. Possibly a small point, but important none the less to some of us! :)
Feeding amounts I have found can vary greatly depending on the amount of work my dog is doing - if for any reason she's more housebound that usual then feeding the amount I normally would when she gets 4 high intensity 45 minute sessions a week in addition to walks versus just normal walks leaves her "porky" in little more than 2 weeks - personally I feed about 300gr a day but this is often supplemented with leftovers like boiled vegetables. I usually find that a 15 kg bag lasts about 2 months or slightly less... This works out approximately at £12ish a month or 50p a day. Obviously more if you don't feed scraps but not by much. This is for a medium size but high energy dog (GSD/BC cross)
Personally I would never go back to anything the local supermarkets can sell me. The addatives in most popular foods have effects on my dogs energy, coat and bowels that I couldn't accept now I have found an alternative.
Definitely worth a try and it comes in several kinds - ideal for those with dogs that have sensitive tummies.
I nearly passed this one by on dooyoo as the picture looks nothing like the product any more - the BRIGHT yellow soap with a fairly thin layer of concentrated sand on one side does however still have the name and main features of the original:
It still contains sand and it still smells of citrus! Alledgedly it's the citrus scent of a caipirinha cocktail. Never had one but if I ever go to Brazil I'll be sure to try one! Just hope they come without the sand... and maybe a little cheaper than £2.54 from the Lush website.
Anyway... I usually like my liquid soaps in the shower, but obviously it seems somewhat disrespectful to not sample at least a few of the colourful offerings of solid soaps at Lush when you're there anyway so unsurprisingly this lemony lovely made it into my basket one sunny spring day - I was convinced that the sandstone effect of the sand would have my slightly less than perfect buttox in ship shape in no time at all!
Using the soap can prove remarkably tricky - especially for those derrier areas which you might want to concentrate on. Think about it... you're trying to rub a wet lathered soap against your skin at a difficult angle and because of the sand layer the friction against your skin has increased, but that against your hand has not... Simple physics dictate that something has to give... and usually it's your grip on the soap!
Once you surrender to the facts of nature and resort to using either a sponge or one of those fluffy plastic things that lather really well you'll find the soap foams up a treat! The smell is very refreshing and will greet you for your next shower if you start it running a minute before you get in - just enough to get the steam going! Great for mornings when you'd rather not wake up at all, not so grand for showers where you just want to chill out and let the water soothe away your stress...
After the shower I find that my skin is very "squeaky" - I can't describe it any other way... I'm not entirely sure I find this a pleasant feeling and certainly once I have towelled myself down my skin feels dry very quickly if I don't apply moisturiser. If only they could work out a way of adding a moisturiser to the soap bar... hmmmm
Over all I'd say it's a great soap for morning showers - it's not their greatest but for those fellow citrus fans out there I'd certainly say give it a go - it may suit your skin better than mine! And no - I never did get that perfect bum - guess I'll have to scrub harder!
It's MASSIVE! You'd think they'd make it easier to swallow right? Ah well fear not! With a bath tub of water it soon removes all your worries and stresses of the day! Magic!
Sirously though, whilst you need to take it with water it is far more pleasant than most medication you can obtain legally to make you this happy! The only side effect is that you eventually have to get out of the bathtub... Well life ain't perfect!
The Bath Ballistic from Lush costs around £2.84 and is made up of 2 halves based on 2 Lush shower fragrances: the orange side is the mandarin fragrance of Olive Branch and the yellow side is the grapefruity Happy Hippy. I guess if you felt like it you could even try just taking one at a time but hey they work so well together you might as well indulge and have them both!
According to Lush the scents are grapefruit, bergamot, frankincense, lemon, orange flower & mandarin - I do think they blend into what can best be described as fizzy citrusy freshness!
Using them is simple - run a hot bath and as you jump in just flick one of these happy pills in the water and watch it fizz round like a child that's been let loose in a sweetshop... with a sale on... and lots of pocket money... and a really big bag... - you get the picture.
Ideal served on it's own or with a crisp glass of chilled white wine and maybe a handsome man servant to sit and feed you terry's chocolate orange pieces or grapes if you're dieting (or like me have run out of terry's....)
I'm a diehard Lush fan and if you are foolish enough to venture into our bathroom you will find this out to your peril! There is lush everywhere - it is probably the nearest I get to an addiction or habit! :)
I've tried just about all the massage bars but Each Peach remains my favourite!
You can buy them online or in Lush shops (obviously...) and they cost £4.40 - a little pricey but they last well!
The bars are mixed from mainly 4 different butters - shea, avocado, mango kernel and cocoa. These are the reason the bar melt in your hand when you pick them up.
Then you have the mix of oils: Persian lime, red grapefruit, sweet orange and mandarin - the strongest of which I would say is probably lime - one of my favourite smells!
Visually it may come across a little plain compared to some of the very colourful creations it's usually found nestling amongst on the goodie laden shelves and tables, but it's scent is unmistakably sunny!
The principle is simple - you grab your palm sized block of Each Peach and rub it between your hands to melt some of the delicious butters on your hands - then you either rub it all over your partners body (don't try to lick it off... no really... :) ) or you could do a bit of self gratification and rub yourself with it. I found it works brilliantly on arms, legs, feet and belly - if you rub it on your chest you may find the smell CAN get a little strong as it stays around for quite a while and your body will keep it warm and whufting under your nostrils.
Now for those of us too lazy to rub ourselves there is a cheats way of getting it all over... Treat a small piece of it like a bath melt! Get out a knife and carefully break a piece off about the size of the top piece of your thumb (please try not to confuse your thumb with the bar when you cut... it gets rather messy and you won't find the experience relaxing or envigorating - excrutiating possibly, but not envigorating!). Add this piece to your tub as you are running the hot water and it will melt leaving a slightly oily look to the water. You can stir this in to the water if you like, personally I don't mind much - it smells delicious either way :)
Instead of rubbing dry after the bath just pat dry and don't sit on any fabric or absorbant furniture or you'll leave oily marks!
My oppinion: I love it! There is always a bar around either in the bedroom or the bathroom - it might not look much but the smell is sensational!