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***Why did I purchase this product and how much?***
I hate to admit it but I purchased this item on impulse because the little 6 year old girl from within liked the iridescent sparkles in the pink shampoo bottle. I purchased this shampoo when it was initially released which was over a year ago and it was on offer at £2 and currently (Dec 2013) retails at £3.99 for 400mL.
***What does it claim to do?***
L'Oreal claims that this product is designed for fine to normal dull hair and then waffles on about "the secret to crystal shine" whilst not making any substantial claims with regards to this shampoo doing...well anything. There is a ambiguous statement on the rear of the bottle in bright pink "Proven results +50% more shine from the first use (instrumental test after use of shampoo and conditioner) as light as a feather" So what exactly are they comparing this product (& it's conditioner) to? there is no mention on the bottle, nor on their website and I imagine if I was to contact the L'Oreal consumer advisory board they would struggle to answer that very simple question.
So according to the bottle this product doesn't do...well...anything which is a disappointment for such a pretty shampoo. There isn't even any mention of it cleansing or removing product build up but when you look at the ingredients you can see the usual surfectants the first one of which is used for product build-up removal ammonium lauryl sulfate and the less aggressive cocamidopropyl betaine so it should cleanse the hair at least even if it is a tad excessive.
***How do you use it?***
Well like a regular shampoo really you wet your hair thouroughly, massage it in and then rinse - simple.
***What were the results?***
I am really going against the grain on this one as many, many reviewers seem to love this shampoo but I personally believe this product is the result of some nefarious demonic ritual (as opposed to the demonic bake-sales/tea parties which can be quite a friendly affair)
Before washing my hair regardless of the shampoo I detangle it but this shampoo has the ability to either reverse time or create tangles from nowhere as I do not scrub my scalp and twist my hair in a way to create tangles. The other thing that really really irked me about this shampoo was that it left my hair sticky "yes sticky" which was the most perculiar and hideous sensation I've ever experienced in the shower. So my only option was to reach for my aveda shampoo which thankfully removed whatever evil was possessing my hair and returned it to normal. Suffice to say I have never used this shampoo since.
***Any other uses?***
So after that experience I thought well it might just be my hair type so offered it to my mother when she visited - she tried it once suffered from sticky hair and returned the bottle promptly. I even tried it on one of my make up brushes and yes I can confirm it makes brushes sticky. You might think that this is a faulty batch however after discussing this experience with a friend lately it turns out she suffered from the same devastating experience.
***Would i buy again or recommend?***
Only if you like the sensation of chewing gum dragged through your tresses. I have had the bottle pretty much full and cannot think of a single use for it so have decided that once i have written this review it's going in the bin. I would not nor will I ever recommend this product to anyone.
***Why did I buy this product and how much?***
I am a relatively new arrival in the field of volumising products and tended to avoid them due to their alcohol content but since my hair hit waist length I was getting the dreaded flat top root hair which never looks attractive, on anyone, ever. So after looking online for recommended products and finding so much conflicting advice I went for the got2b volumizing mousse product as I have used other products of theirs which I swear by (e.g. oil-licious styling oil for ends/length of hair after drying). I picked this product up on offer as a 2 for £5 offer but alone it would have cost me £2.99 in Tesco or £3.99 in Boots or Superdrug (no idea why they set it £1 more expensive).
***Packaging and Claims***
The mousse product comes in bright fuschia pink metallic cannister which contains 250mL of the product and has a nozzle not dissimilar to a fog horn which was a little unnerving. The got2b packaging boasts that the spray mousse allows "precise application to plump up the hair straight at the root for that show-stopping big volume boost - Be naughty and big up your style" which sounded like utter twaddle to me initially but then again I had never tried a spray mousse only the hand dispenser ones - I hate the cringe-worthy lingo more than anything which the packaging is full of.
***How the chuff do I use this thing?***
I would only ever use this type of product on freshly washed damp hair and and recommend that you shake the can like a bottle of Ketchup with the last desperate dreg in the bottle (or HP/Mayo if you prefer). By shaking the liquid thoroughly you get a more even spray but be warned this product goes everywhere if you're not observant but thankfully it hasn't stained anything of mine as it's clear once dried but might show up on white silk materials. Once you've sprayed the product into your root which is a doddle and takes 10 seconds you then flip your head and set to blow drying your hair until it's ~80% dry and then style with your preferred brush into your chosen style.
***So does it work and are there any other pro's con's to this product?***
Well I can assure folks out there that yes this product does give volume and for the first time I can now opt for a Brigitte Bardot if I wish too. I personally do not use this product anywhere else but at the root as I do not wish to apply alcohol on my lengths. I have found coincidentally that with using this product I do not have to wash my hair/use Batiste as frequently as my roots have always been a problem as I get greasy at the roots but have normal/dry lengths.
One thing that is definitely worth mentioning is that if you're sensitive to scents this might not be a good idea as it has one of the strongest aromas which I thankfully do not find offensive. The mousse smells like Raspberry flavoured jelly the one that you get in blocks and have to make up with boiled water and refridgerate for an age, ah childhood memories!
*** Why did I purchase this and how much? ***
I originally used Urban decay primer potion which was an ok product but ridiculously expensive and irritated my eyelids as they decided to add bismuth oxychloride so after watching a review on YouTube where a lovely American Lady voiced her love for the E.L.F. Eyelid Primer I decided that for £1.50 I could afford to give it a go.
At the time of purchase E.L.F was having a 50% OFF sale so in actual fact the product only cost me 75p and these sales happen quite frequently over the year so if you're patient you can grab a bargain.
*** What do you get? ***
E.L.F provides you with 5mL of their primer which currently comes in 4 shades: Sheer (my shade - neutral fair skin tone), Champagne (metallic shade - medium pink tone), Pearl (metallic shade - neutral white tone) and Golden (metallic shade - gold tone). Although you are only getting 5mL of product with E.L.F in comparison to Urban Decay which currently provides 11mL (was 10mL when I used it) you are paying a massive £1.06 less per mL when choosing the E.L.F primer as E.L.F = £0.30/mL wheras Urban Decay = £1.36/mL.
*** How to use ***
Basically once you've cleansed, moisturised and done whatever you do in-between, you apply the primer to the eyelids (2 dots is sufficient for my lids although this will vary from person to person) using the sponge tip applicator. I then tend to blend the primer using my ring fingers by gently stroking it across my eye to ensure even distribution of the product and then leave to sink-in for a couple of minutes. This primer like ALL primers has silicon as a major ingredient as this assists with the slip of the product allowing it to glide on the lids with minimal drag. Thankfully silicon doesn't irritate my skin as some people can be sensitive to silicons on their face so it's always worth testing out behind your ear before applying to your eyelids for the first time.
Once dried my eyeshadows regardless of their make glide on and produce a highly pigmented look which means I need less shadow and they blend much better. My shadow lasts the whole day with this product and doesn't loose much of the intensity that it had on the initial application wheras without the Primer I have to reapply my shadow (filling in and fixing creases) at lunch time which is a p.i.t.a.
The Primer does have a slightly greasy feel to it but I have never found this to be a problem and it isn't all that different to it's Urban decay counterpart in it's application or performance - the only difference being the dent or lack of dent to your wallet.
***Would I recommend?***
Yes. I really love this primer and for the money you are paying you are getting a really good primer which does it's job superbly.
E.L.F eyelid primer
Ingredients: Cyclopentasiloxane, Octyl Palmitate, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dimethicone, Kaolin, Triacontanyl PVP, Propylene Carbonate, Titanium Dioxide, Barium Sulfate , Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Mica (CI 77019). (ingredients copied from E.L.F website)
Urban Decay Primer Potion
Ingredients: Isododecane, Cyclopentasiloxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Polyethylene, Trihydroxystearin, Triethylhexanoin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Sorbitan Sesquioleate, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Dimethicone, PEG-40 Stearate, Propylene Carbonate, Phenoxyethanol, Synthetic Beeswax, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben.
Mica, CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), CI 77491/ CI 77499 (Iron Oxides), CI 77163 (Bismuth Oxychloride). (ingredients copied from US urban decay website)
*** Why did I purchase and how much? ***
I am a compulsive collector of all things makeup related and an avid fan of mascara. I have tried brands varying from the premium houses of Lancome, Estee Lauder and Dior to the cheaper selections such as Rimmel, Maybelline and Max Factor. To be honest after trying nearly every brand of mascara out there I have always come back to Maybelline and especially the Maybelline colossal volum express which is just as good if not better than anything Lancome, Dior or Estee Launder has produced. So when I decided to restock my mascara (I change mine every 3 months) I came across the cat eyes version of the Maybelline colossal volum express which appealed to me as I typically wear the cat eye look on a daily basis. I purchased this mascara for £7.99 about 2 months ago but if you keep your eyes open you can typically find it on offer for 342's or 2 for £10 at either Boots or Superdrug.
***What do you get?***
This mascara comes with 9.5mL of product which is about average for a mascara and the wand is a synthetic 'claw brush' design which is basically a small curved narrow spoon brush. The cat eyes version of this mascara comes in one shade WILD BLACK - although what distinguishes this shade from Black i haven't a clue. One thing that you'll find with Maybelline mascaras is that the individual who designs the packaging is either a 4 year old child (which is possible) or colour-blind (which again is possible) or both as the design is rather 'pre-school-esque' which might put some people off as they don't want to have a psychedelic mascara wand in their handbag.
As with ALL mascaras when you withdraw the wand from the vial you will have excess product on the wand so unless you want that 1980s Clinique counter drunken spider eye look ( which looks especially good with the obligatory orange face and white neck) then wipe the wand on a clean tissue.
The pigmentation as mentioned previously is WILD BLACK which is well...erm...black nothing special and it does the job of tinting your lashes black.
However, this is where my review takes a turn for the worst, I have long lashes and plenty of them and no matter how I use this mascara it manages to bind them in a way which looks like the previously mentioned drunken spider style. I thought maybe it was my technique on the first application but I have tried on multiple occasions with the provided wand and I cannot get it to produce a fine coat which makes my lashes complement my cat eye look. In the end I tried using this mascara with another wand and the product went on ok-ish if applied in one light coat (>1 coat = CLUMP-VILLE) the mascara is quite wet so allow for extra drying time (which is a pain when you have long lashes as they hit and transfer the mascara just below the brow bone if you're not careful).
So in addition to the above, to increase the desirability of this product Maybelline has decided to produce a formula which although on application looks ok-ish, crumbles away off the lashes after about 2 hours leaving you with the most delightful panda-eye look which you don't know about until AFTER you've been in the office for hours with colleagues, attended meetings and then visit the ladies.
Another thing to note about Maybelline mascaras is that they contain fragrance which might not be to everyones liking but this has never been an issue for me.
***Would I recommend?***
Only if your name is Tian Tian or Yang Guang or you wish to follow their style.
***Why and How much?***
When it comes to fragrance I have always had a strange preference for male aftershave rather than the typical girly scents; If there's a hint of sweet vanilla (not true vanilla) then I tend to walk the other way due to the horrific memory of the girls changing room being gassed with the choking aroma of Vanilla Impulse Body spray. Any hoo, I have always seemed lost when it came to the purchase of perfume buying perfumes that were on-trend even though they were not me. That was until I hit my thirties and came across Chanel No19 in Boots the chemist and for the first time in my life found a ladies fragrance which didn't make my inner-self step back and want to run away, I could relax and enjoy the scent and knew I had found my Holy Grail Fragrance. The only downside with this product is that it is made by Chanel and therefore carries the Chanel price tag.
~ EDT: 50mL - £55, 100mL - £79
~ EDP: 35mL - £48, 50mL - £67 and 100mL - £95
~ Parfum 7.5ml - £88
~ Body Lotion 200mL - £37
~ Bath Gel 200mL - £33
***So which bottle did I go for?***
After I was won over by the scent of the EDT I was approached by a member of staff who then suggested the EDP as it was supposed to last longer but I know better than to believe EVERYthing a salesperson tells me so sprayed the EDT on one wrist and the EDP on the other and then left the store and wandered around town for about an hour. I was happily suprised upon my return to Boots to find that the EDT was actually stronger on my skin and the EDP has become too floral for my liking and had faded considerably - even the sales lady agreed that the EDT had a woodier scent. So i ended up purchasing the 50mL bottle of EDT and have been eye-ing up the lotion as well.
***Packaging and Product***
The 50mL long rectangular bottle comes in a lovely simple white box with subtle black print which denotes the Chanel logo with all the usual blurb (ingredients, address of chanel headquarters and this is a bottle of 50mL EDT). The bottle is a beautiful heavyweight glass rectangle with a silver spray lid which disperses the product evenly without it coming out like a jet-stream. The glass is colourless but the fragrance itself is a clear cool/neutral light green which doesn't stain my clothes or turn my skin a funny colour thankfully.
***Scent of the EDT***
The scent of the EDT is quite intense upon it's initial application providing you with a cold harsh blast of galbanum which then leads to a woody earthy leather aroma which reminds me of old bookshops and forests and is quite a comforting memory for me. Once you have accustomed yourself to the blend of Galbanum, Sandlewood and Leather it then subdues to a level which permits the detection of a small hint of Iris and Neroli which produces an aroma which to me is 'otherworldly - elven' and unlike anything I have ever encountered before. So pretty much think of what a bunch of Lord of the ring Elves sat in an antique bookstore within a forest would smell like and you've nailed it.
Using the less is more method of application I spray the EDT on the rear of my neck x1 and on the inner crease of my arm x1 and then blot both arms together and find that the scent lasts me all day and can only be detected if someone is close to my skin as it doesn't have the same sillage as say Opium or Dior Addict. I believe that sillage is quite important when choosing a perfume as you don't want to be the lady/gent in the office that everyone either a) knows is coming as their aroma enters the door before they do or b) that people know they've been in the room and c) what's worse they know they used the phone as it stinks of their perfume/aftershave.
***Would I recommend?***
Well this is something that I cannot do with certainty unless you like the same scents as me. If you like earthy, woody, leathery and a hint of white floral then yes. If you're more into sweet florals with fruits and sweet vanillas then probably not. Admittedly the initial cost of Chanel No 19 is a tad steep but considering how long-lasting the fragrance is and the less is more method of application means you don't use as much, therefore a bottle lasts ages & I still have 75% left in a bottle that was purchased at Christmas.
***Why do I use it? and How much?***
I have been using Comfort fabric softener on and off for many years and after giving up on the Ecover softener I came across the Exhilarations line which boasts 100% more fragrance in every drop and has quite a wide range of scents including Strawberry and Lily (Not to my taste), Poppy and Peach (Not a fan of peach), Blueberry & Jasmine (A lovely aroma), Vanilla & Gold (Not exactly certain what gold is supposed to smell of but I'm not one to smell like an ice-cream) and finally my favourite Bluebell and Bergamot. As much as I love this softener I will not pay the RRP of £3.30 for 1.2 Litres as you can always find it for £2 somewhere provided you shop around.
The plastic bottle is recyclable and the lid is too but double check with your local recycling service provider as some have got a bizarre idea about lids not being recyclable. The plastic bottle tapers on one side near the lid making handing much easier when it comes to pouring the solution and the cap is pretty much bog-standard for a fabric softener. The measurement of solution is explained on the rear of the bottle with the following recommendations: 6-7Kg load - 55mL (full cap), 4-5Kg load - 35mL (2/3's of a cap) and finally Handwashing - 18mL (1/3 of a cap). I personally do find these measurements a little generous and tend to use a little less and have found the product to be just as effective.
***Scent & Softness***
As for the scent labelled as Bluebell and Bergamot well I can certainly make out Bergamot but as for Bluebell which is actually a rather scentless flower (from what I can recall from spending time in Bluebell covered forests as a child) I cannot detect it's presence. However apart from the obvious Bergamot scent I can also make out notes of lemon, orange blossom and other white florals which I cannot specify with certainty. The combination of the above notes produces a happy spring/summer time aroma which permeates the room and pretty much the whole home but without being too heady. As for softness this conditioner works really well with both my son's clothing and mine and hasn't triggered any allergies in either of us - unlike Ecover which left too much of a coating on the clothes and inturn left us itching like crazy.
I have definitely noticed that my ironing has gotten easier since I used this product and my iron glides through the toughest of shirts and skirts without any creasing issues. I had real issues with Ecover when it came to this as I found that there was far too much friction due to the coating on the clothes and ironing took much longer and I hate ironing as it is.
***Would I recommend this product?***
Well if you like the scent yes but if you're not so keen then give it a miss. Not everyone has the same taste in scent which is why there are so many fragrances in the world so check out the other aromas and if you like them well you can't go wrong really.
***Why did I buy this product and how much?***
My hair is coloured with Lush henna and although henna/indigo is permanent it does fade over time due to factors such as the sun, shampoo and age just like with any other pigment. This is where the Aveda color depositing conditioners come into the equation as I use these products to extend my henna applications and keep my hair shiny and soft. This conditioner only comes in 250mL tubes and has a RRP of £20 although if you shop around you can get it for ~£16 if you look around online - Lookfantastic.com frequently have discount codes for Aveda.
***What do you get?***
Well you get the typical minimalistic beige Aveda tube which has a durable flip cap which it stands on. The conditioner is a opaque gel/cream consistency which is highly pigmented with a dark greyish purple tint which is great for medium-dark brown shades and minimises brassy tones. This conditioner has a wonderful earthy herbal scent so if you're one for apple/rose scented products then this may take some getting used to but I find it a really relaxing aroma which unfortunately for me doesn't linger after my hair has dried.
----Aveda currently sells five shades----
*Blue Malva: A purple/blue pigment (COOL TONE) - For light blondes who want to minimise brassy tones
*Camomile: A light golden yellow pigment (WARM TONE) - For light brown hair/warm blondes - Adds golden hues
*Madder Root: A pink/red pigment (COOL TONE) - For red heads or those who wish to add cool red tones
*Clove: A chocolate brown pigment (WARM TONE) - This shade is for all brown shades of hair and adds a warm chocolate shade to the hair with a hint of copper.
*Black Malva: A dark grey/purple pigment (COOL TONE) - This shade is for Dark brown/Black haired folk and adds depth to the hair tone as well as minimising any overtly coppery tones to more of a golden/neutral tone.
This product really is a doddle to use provided you apply some common sense as alot of people complain about staining. Before I even head for the shower I use my tangle teezer to remove any tangles and then shampoo my hair with the Aveda Pure Plant Clove Shampoo (which does not deposit colour). Once the shampoo is rinsed I then apply 10p worth of product to my hair including the root area and leave for 3-4 minutes. Now this is where you've got to be quick - get a dollop of shower gel or shampoo and rub it thoroughly into your hands and use a nail brush as the pigment will have gotten all over them and then rinse and voila - no stains. After the time is up it's time to rinse and you'll be glad to hear that this conditioner rinses out really well and leaves your hair soft, detangled and thankfully with no waxy residue. I then use my shower head to rinse off any splatters on the bath and then offski.
This product knocks all other color-depositing shampoos/conditioners out of the water and is a great treatment as well. My hair has never felt as soft or looked so healthy than with the Aveda colour depositing conditioners ( I have used all of them at some point). As I colour my hair with Lush caca brun I find that my hair fades from a lovely medium/dark chocolate brown shade to a coppery brown which is a pain in the bum but when I use this product it extends the life of the henna colourant and makes my hair lovely to boot. I normally would have issues with spending so much on a conditioner but as I only need very little and only use it once a week I find a bottle lasts me months as it's so concentrated.
***Would I recommend this product?***
If you have dark hair and want a lovely espresso chocolate shade without any damage then yes. The only slight issue that I have with this product is the long long long list of ingredients but then again they seem to do the job well and that's what matters.
Ingredients (Taken from http://www.cosdna.com/eng/cosmetic_41dc22688.html): Aqueous, Camellia Oleifera, Sweet Almond, Wild Cherry bark, Organically Grown Aloe Barbadensis Extract, Dipalmitoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate, Stearyl Alcohol, Dimethicone Copolyol, Glycerin, Behenamidopropyl ethyldimonium ethosulfate, Distearyldimonium chloride, Orbignya oleifera, Hydrolyzed wheat protein, Hydrolyzed wheat starch, Tocopheryl Acetate, Oryzanol, Stearyldimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolzed Wheat Protein, Glyceryl Stearate Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Dicaprylyl ether, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetrimonium chloride, Cyclomethicone, Cetyl hydroxyethylcellulose, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Fragrance, Diazolidinyl Urea, Annatto, Caramel, Basic brown 17, Basic yellow 57, Basic blue 99, Basic red 76
***Why did I buy it? and How much?***
When I catch a glimpse of the hideous pink tube which encapsulates the white viscous gloop I'm reviewing I ask myself this question - Why Oh why in the name of all that is right with the world did I buy you? Well the answer to that question...which I'm ashamed to admit is because it was cheap as in 99p cheap - Maybe that should have rang alarm bells (the size of flamin Cathedral bells) but alas no I thought let's give it a go. This product has a RRP of £3.89 but to be perfectly honest I wouldn't pay 0.0000000000001p for it.
***So what is the packaging like and what do you get?***
Well as for the packaging it's Pink like really really pink which clashes with pretty much everything in my home and does look like something that would appeal to a girly 5 year old - Maybe that's the market they aiming for, who knows? Well the packaging is made of a recycleable plastic which stands on it's white hinged lid and contains 100mL of the 'frizz free creme'. The cream itself is easy enough to dispense from the tube and comes out resembling something between Stork margerine (but in white) and the byproduct of a sneeze.
***Use of the Product***
I have long hair nearly at waist level and I cannot stand it being wet so I use a blow dryer after I've washed my hair. Now this is where this product comes in because if I don't use a styling/heat protection product I can end up looking like cousin-it holding onto an electostatic generator. Basically I need a product to smooth my hair as well as offer some heat-protection against the blowdryer and according to VO5 the heat defense smoothing cream does both of these. Well I cannot complain about heat protection as I really didn't notice any additional damage after 5 uses ( i was determined to make this product work darn it!) but what I do have an issue with is the slimy unworkable mess this product makes of your hair. This is one hell of a feat as I have quite dry hair and I only used about 10p worth of product, the following occasions where I tried this product I used 5p worth and even tried a different shampoo/conditioner to no avail. The worst thing was that even though my hair looked pretty weighed down in the morning by the afternoon I started to resemble Severus Snape with horrible hanging, stringy unworkable hair that looked awful which isn't good when you're at work. The only way to get your hair back to normality is to wash it with something pretty strong either a clarifying shampoo or something with the words anti-dandruff should do the job.
***Would I buy this hiddeous evil cream from hell again?***
NO! Never! Not on your nelly! There are far better products out there that leave you with shiny healthy hair without giving you the just dipped in a tub of margerine look. I am now going to walk over to the bin and put the tube in the bin now that I've gotten that off my chest.
Thanks for reading my rant!
***Why do I buy it? How much? ***
I am very much a tea drinker and unfortunately drink a ridiculous amount over a day ~10 cups (NOT mugs) on average especially when I'm at work. One thing that I do prefer is loose leaf tea over bagged tea & not because I'm a snob but because it's cheaper, it tastes better and it's more environmentally sound. I have a love for Ceylon, Rose pouchong and the lovely Earl grey which is black tea from china with the addition of a few drops of bergamot oil. The loose leaf tea comes in at about £2.00 for a 125g packet (which lasts me about 2 months) although I've seen it on offer for 2 for £3 which isn't bad at all.
***How do I brew it? What's it taste like?***
I am not an expert when it comes to tea and not the type to chuckle at others because they don't eat/drink a food in the fashion it's supposed to be eaten/drank - Only a person so far up their own bottom would do that in my opinion! So when it comes to Earl grey I take approximately a level teaspoon of the leaves and place them within my tea egg and then place the egg in my cup where I pour the freshly boiled water and leave for 4 minutes. Once the time is up I remove the egg and splash some milk into the tea and stir and voila - a simple Earl Grey tea with no pretentiousness. As for the flavour of this particular Earl Grey I can state that the balance of the black tea to the bergamot is perfect as I have tried others e.g. Clipper where the bergamot is so overdone that you could use it to clean windows. The Twinings blend is subtle and possesses a slightly smokey aroma which is lovely and is also great when used in cake recipes.
***Is it worth buying?***
Oh goodness yes. I have tried store own-brand versions of the loose leaf Earl grey which unfortunately just don't do it for me. I have even tried high end Suki tea etc and cannot understand how they warrant their excessive price tags when compared to the Twinings blend. So go on give it a go with milk, without milk, with lemon and honey, with just lemon, with a hint of rich tea biscuit who cares as long as you flamin enjoy it :)
***Why did I buy it? How much?***
Well as a house of non-meat eaters we tend to supplement our diet with a variety of alternative protein sources such as Pulses (chickpeas/lentils etc), tofu, mycoprotein, eggs, dairy and last but not least nuts. When it comes to peanut butter I see it as a treat as well as a staple and my view when it comes to food is that provided everything is in balance you won't have issues (unless you're allergic that is). I have tried many brands of peanut butter including Skippys (expensive >£2 and meh), Sun-Pat (far too sweet), Make-your-own pb where you grind the nuts with the skins on within the store (far too bland with a slight bitterness) and finally Sainsbury's Basics which comes in at a glorious 62pence.
***What do you get?***
Admittedly the packaging is a touch on the bland side but then again I'm not displaying it in my window and I personally couldn't care less if my cupboards are a sea of white/orange 'basics' labels. The containers is plastic (not glass like in the image) with a white screw cap - both of which are recycleable but always check with your local recycle centre as some can be 'odd' about plastic screw on lids. As with all the other brands I mentioned (excl the make your own which was 200g) you get 340grams of peanut butter and in my minds that flamin brilliant for 62p.
The ingredients are: Roasted peanuts (87%), Rapeseed oil, Sugar, Palm oil and Salt
Two of the things I am always cautious about with nut butters is the sugar and salt content but suprisingly enough this product has less sugar and salt that all the others I mentioned (except the bland make-your-own) but still has a decent balance of sweetness, nuttiness and saltiness. Some people are concerned about the fat content in nut butters and their possible effect on the heart so I would discuss this with your GP if you have existing heart disease but as someone with a congenital heart defect I have never had issues and have been eating nut butters since I was young. The butter is just the right thickness with a lovely gloss and the nut chips are just the perfect size for enough crunch without being too big for my two year old son and most importantly spreads evenly without tearing the bread.
***Would I recommend?***
Oh YES! (provided you're not allergic to peanuts) We use this product not only on toast and oatcakes but on celery and in some of my thai tofu recipes as well as in my cookies too. Basically provided you balance your nutritional input and output and ensure that you eat a varied diet you won't put on weight so why not try some nuts butters as they're a great source of calcium and Iron.
***Why did I purchase it? and How much?***
I purchased the Cookworks hand blender a little over 2 years ago as my jug blender had died and I wanted something more compact that wouldn't take up too much space. I was admittedly a little sceptical about using a handheld blender and went to look at the blenders at Argos as they always have a good selection when it comes to kitchen electricals. Any way I didn't want to spend a crazy amount on a hand blender so settled on the Cookworks one which was reduced to £8 from £12.99 so couldn't complain too much if it died a death and I would be able to return it under Argos's 1 year electrical warranty for an exchange.
***What specs does it have and are they any good?***
Well the hand blender comes in at 400watt which is more than enough power for me as I'm only using it to blend cooked veggies into soup, pulses to make bean dips/spreads and soft fruits to make smoothies. I have not had any problems with lumpiness and have found it to be pretty effective provided there is enough liquid in which to blend but this is the case for all blenders. I wouldn't recommend this hand blender for things such as nuts/biscuits as they are not suitable and I tend to grind them using my mortar and pestle instead.
The hand blender only comes with 2 speeds which for some might not be enough but I only use one setting (high) and know that in my case any additional settings would be pointless and just increase the price. The blender basically comes with the electrical unit within the handle on top where the speeds/setting buttons are and then the blender arm twists on/off making it easy to clean and store. As for the power cable - It's too flamin short! It only measures a measly 1 metre which is a complete pita when you're trying to blend and stop the plug from being flung from the wall straight into your face. Also another irritant is that the screw off blending part is not dishwasher safe therefore you will have to wash it the ol' fashioned way.
(((***WORD OF WARNING - As with all hand blenders they have a max length of time in which they are able to run without the motor burning out and in the case of the Cookworks hand blender it is: 50 seconds in any 4 minute period***)))
***Would I recommend this product***
It's not without it's issues but to me they're pretty minor and I've found it long-lasting and most importantly it does the job. If you want a hand blender without all the frills of the other well known brands with screw on whisks, melon ballers, hairdryers, oyster mallets, MRI scanners and such then go for this one.
***Why did I purchase this? & How much?***
Ever since I gave birth to my son my taste in perfume have changed dramatically from the light floral/citrus scents to deeper muskier/oriental/leather aromas. All the perfumes that I had previously worn were handed out to colleagues/friends as either my skin chemistry or my sense of scent had changed and what I previously adored I now was repelled by to the point of feeling nauseas.
I purchased an Opium set (30mL EDT and 50mL Body moisturiser) just after Christmas as it was the only fragrance in Boots that I sprayed which I instantly adored and it developed on my skin into a warm, deep, spiced mandarin scent which wasn't cloying. I remember my grandmother wearing Opium back in the 80's and I actually loved it although she did have a habit of overdoing it which is easily done with any perfume but especially with Opium. The 200mL body moisturiser can vary in price and you can purchase it for as little as £30 and all the way up to £45 so it's worth looking online as it's all the same stock regardless of whether you purchase it from Debenhams or echemist.
***What do you get?***
Well in my initial christmas gift set 50mL of the moisturiser was contained within a deep terracotta red tube with screw lid and gold writing. However, the actual 200mL container is much more luxurious looking as it has a white long sleek bottle with delicate images of bamboo and golden writing and has a terracotta red flip lid rather than a screw lid which is more practical. The moisturiser itself is a glossy white and not overly viscous which means that the product slides pleasantly over the skin and a little goes a long way.
***So what's it like?***
For me the purpose of this product is adding fragrance to my body although as a moisturiser I can not complain of it's efficacy. The lotion has a very intense aroma of the Opium perfume and envelops your body in its spicy warmth. As for the aroma itself i can detect quite a strong clove, mandarin, patchouli, amber and vanilla (not sweet but a deep vanilla - hard to describe really) - It actually makes me think of ancient libraries with the scent of smoke and coffee - pleasant memories from my childhood. The scent does linger on your body like the perfume but thankfully does not project as much so you shouldn't be the cause of people passing out on the street due to perfume toxicity. There is nothing worse that when you're stuck on a bus/train with someone who smells like they've bathed in the fragrance vats of Chanel, YSL or Dior but people overdo it all the time unfortunately.
***Would I recommend this product?***
Well there's a part of me that doesn't want everyone smelling like me so I would probably say, if I was being a meanie "Oh no, don't buy that" but I've got to be honest and state that provided you like warm orientals you'll fall in love with this product like I have. Yes it's expensive for a body lotion but it's so long lasting and performs well as a perfume too.
***What is it? Why do I need it (If you've got freshwater fish that is)? & How much?***
The API Freshwater test kit is a set of chemical indicators which measure the presence and quantity in ppm (parts per million) of ammonia, nitrIte & nitrAte as well as providing the pH and high-end pH levels in freshwater aquariums/ponds. Aquatic life in both tanks and ponds relies on not only the presence of food and oxygen but the presence of bacteria which process both ammonia (fish waste) and nitrIte which are toxic to aquatic life and can cause serious damage if not death.
I do not have any firsthand experience regarding ponds so will only discuss the applications that this kit has to aquariums as this is a subject which I have a much firmer standing in.
Aquariums require to be cycled in order to have a safely balanced environment for fish and freshwater invertebrates. This means the slow introduction of ammonia to the tank which is then consumed and processed by nitrosomonas bacteria into nitrIte. Both of these chemicals are toxic to fish so a second bacteria is also required which can only convert nitrIte to nitrAte which is a much safer chemical and can be tolerated in much higher levels than the ammonia/nitrIte which would kill off your tank. NitrAte should still be observed weekly as you really do not want your nitrAte levels at or exceeding 40ppm which is why partial water changes are essential for the health of your aquarium.
Now the API master kit can vary quite a bit in price for example: Pets at home - £35, My local aquatics store £27 and Amazon £20 so do shop around and don't pay the rip-off prices that Pets at home demand.
***What do you get?***
The API test kit provides you with a decent manual that's actually very clear and to the point as well as a colour indicator chart which you use to compare you test result to obtain the level. The chart is very accurate and thus far I've never had any issues with it apart from the time when my son decided to hide it on one of the bookcases. Anyway that's all the boring paperwork out of the way the interesting mad scientist stuff is now to come: You are provided with 4 test tubes with level indicators (why they couldn't provide one more lord only knows as there are 5 tests) and caps so when you mix the contents you don't end up with a colourful ceiling. The kit also includes the all important reagents which are contained in 7 clearly labelled eyedrop bottles (37mL of reagent in each) which have childproof safety caps which are very important when you have little ones.
***Now for the magic***
Ammonia (NH3/NH4+) - The ammonia is measured by basically filling the test tube with tank water, adding 8 drops from the NH3/NH4+ vial 1, add another 8 drops from NH3/NH4+ vial 2 then push the lid on tight (very important) and shake for 5 seconds and then leave for 5 minutes before comparing against the chart. The colours vary from yellow (0ppm ammonia) to dark green (8.0ppm and higher).
NitrIte (NO2) - This is a much simpler test and all you need to do is again collect some aquarium water in one of the clean test tubes and then add 5 drops of the nitrIte reagent, shake for 5 minutes and then wait for a further 5 minutes. The colours in this case vary from a light blue (0ppm) to Deep Violet (5.0ppm and higher)
NitrAte (NO3) - This again is similar to the ammonia test with two small differences instead of 8 drops you are using 10 and the second vial needs to be throughly shaked before it's added to the test sample as it has a tendency to crystallise therefore giving a false negative. Once you have allowed it to develop you will have a colour varying from Yellow (0ppm) to Deep burnt orange (160ppm)
***Please note that in a healthy cycled tank both the ammonia and nitrIte will be at zero. There are reasons why these levels can rise varying from filtration issues, overstocking, medication in the tank, tap water either not being treated with dechlorinator or the tap water itself having elevated levels of ammonia from contamination***
pH (6.0-7.6) - This is measured to ensure consistency in your tank as well as in helping you decide which fish would thrive in your water set-up as all fish have their own preferences e.g. African Cichlids tend to prefer slightly basic water conditions as opposed to Amazonian fish which tend to prefer the more acidic waters and this is all due to their natural habitat. The pH is measured by adding 3 drops of the pH indicator to the test sample, invert the tube five times and then you can read the pH immediately.
High PH (7.4-8.8) - Again as previously mentioned this test provides the basic pH range and is performed by adding 5 drops of the reagent to the test sample. Again, invert the tube 5 times and then read the pH - it's as simple as that.
***Is it any good? Would i recommend?***
I couldn't imagine not having one of these test kits as I have tried other test kits including the test strips which are a complete waste of money as they just aren't reliable enough and cost more in the long-run. Yes, the liquid test kit costs more than the strips initially but you get over 800 tests with this kit which is great value and it's never let me down. One thing I will point out is that these test kits have use by dates so please, please, please check these on the individual indicator bottles before use as the indicators degrade over time. My current kit has an earliest exp date of 2017 (the indicators exp dates do vary from reagent to reagent so check all of them)
***Why did I buy it? How much? What is it?***
I actually purchased this sauce yesterday from my local Tesco for £1.76 as I was having one of those days where I really wanted something easy to cook (I've had Patak's sauces before and never had a bad one). The Patak's range is quite extensive from a huge range of curry sauces (Korma/Phaal/Biriyani/Dopiaza/Bhuna just to name a few), accompanying palate cleansers (pickles/raitas/chutneys) and breads. I would personally choose something with a little more bite but my son has had sore tummy issues the last couple of days and I didn't want anything to irritate his GI lining. The Korma sauce is described by Patak's as a rich, creamy coconut sauce with delicately balanced aromatic spices and this is certainly an accurate description.
***So what's in it? and what do you do with it?***
I was actually suprised at the quality of the ingredients with this product when compared to all the other Korma sauces which were full of additives (why?) and skimmed millk powder (why bother!).
Ingredients: Water, Cream (8%), Creamed Coconut (7%), Sugar, Desiccated Coconut (4.5%), Vegetable Oil, Onion, Modified Maize Starch, Concentrated Tomato Puree, Spices (Contains Mustard), Lemon Juice, Salt, Ginger, Lactic Acid, Garlic, Dried Coriander Leaf.
I tend to use these sauces with vegetables and/or chickpeas and find that you can make a lovely chickpea korma although when I have my folks over I will cook them a chicken version using organic chicken thighs as i know thigh meat makes a much better curry than breast as it is more flavoursome and takes on the spices best.
Basically all i do is dice an onion, red peper and take some small cauliflower florets (which I've blanched). I add 2 tsp's of vegetable oil (I find olive oil too strong in flavour for curries) to the pan throw in a tsp of cumin seed and if my son's tummy is ok half a diced red chili. Once the seeds start to pop I throw in the onion and pepper, stir for 2 minutes and then add a tin of chickpeas (drained of course) and cauliflower. I then gently toss the pan to ensure everything is combined and then pour the sauce over. As is the case with all jar sauces I find that a decent portion of the sauce remains on the inside of the jar so I add about 30mL of milk to the jar and shake it before pouring the remainder into the pan. I cook the sauce on low for 15-20 minutes and serve with steamed basmati rice.
***Well is it any good?***
Well in my opinion yes, provided you add the chili although we missed it out last night and it was still lovely. The sauce doesn't list the spices used in this product but you can blatantly taste fennel seed (which I love) as well as cardamon, fenugreek and a faint whisper of mustard. I don't mind mild curries but as stated they're not my preference but if I was to choose one from the Patak's range I would opt for this one as my son loves it and it's such a doddle to cook.
I might get shot down for this one but here we go. I personally believe that there is nothing wrong with full-fat products for the majority of people (excluding those individuals who medically cannot process them properly) but the main issue is balance and this is where us human's have lost control; Yes, if I was to eat Korma every night and remain at my level of exercise within a year I'd probably be the size of a small continent. I personally use side plates to serve my meal and have found this helps enormously as it prevents you from loading your dinner plate where you're eating past fullness and with a smaller plate you only eat what you need.
Nutritional Info: Values per 100g of product (you get 450g in a jar). Energy 722kJ/174kcal, Protein 1.3g, Carbohydrate 9.3g of which is sugars 6.7g, Fat 14.0g of which saturates 8g, Fibre 2.4g, Sodium 0.30g (Salt 0.75g)
***What is it? Why did I get it? How much?***
Fluval are a well known German maker of aquariums and aquarium supplies and in my mind are better than Juwel who are their main competitor.
Aquarium filters are a total-must for both coldwater, tropical and marine aquariums for the health and well being of your fish. Aquariums are a closed environment for your fish and as such have a natural flora of bacteria which live not only on the gravel/sand substrate, ornaments, plants but also within the filter media which is contained within the filter itself. There are two sets of bacteria which are responsible for protecting your fish nitrosomonas spp (convert ammonia to nitrite) and nitrobacter spp (convert nitrite to nitrate) and these bacteria are both required to keep the nitrogen cycle in check as both ammonia and nitrite are toxic to fish and must be converted to the safer nitrate which is reduced when you perform your weekly partial water change.
Basically the Aquarium cycle is: ammonia (fish waste) -> nitrite->nitrate
The Fluval U range of underwater power filters come in a range of capacities:
U1 - filter rate of 250lph - suitable for tank size up to 55 litres
U2 - filter rate of 400lph - suitable for tank size up to 110 litres
U3 - filter rate of 800lph - suitable for tank size up to 150 litres
U4 - filter rate of 1000lph - suitable for tank size up to 240 litres
I believe that these suggested capacities are pretty accurate however people must realise that the level at which they stock their tank as well as the types of fish they choose can have an impact on their requirements so they may have to go up a level. For example I have known numerous keepers of Goldfish who complain that the water is always murky and this is because due to no fault of their own Goldfish are high waste producers and as such require not only a large tank (much larger than some people realise) but also a much larger capacity of filter in which to deal with their waste.
I purchased a 125 Litre Fluval aquarium earlier this year and was fortunate in that the Fluval U3 underwater Filter was included as they normally retail at my local aquarium supplies shop for £50 (RRP: £58) although they can be found cheaper on amazon where it is currently retailing at £28.99 (today's date: 04/May/2013).
***What do you get?***
When you receive the box you are provided with the filter unit which has a 2 metre electrical cable and UK plug which is entirely waterproof although you should always inspect your product before use. Within the filter unit are 3 chamber for which you place your media. The central chamber is for your Biomax media (ceramic beads) and then on either side are chambers which slide out for you to insert your foam filters and if you require them the carbon filters. I personally do not use carbon filters as they do need to be changed more frequently than the others and that would mean that the beneficial bacteria would be removed therefore risking a mini-cycle of your tank (this is where you temporarily get a spike in your ammonia/nitrite levels as your bacteria numbers have dropped). The packaging states that you need to change your filters a heck of alot more frequently than you actually do and I can honestly say do not change them unless it's blatantly obvious they need changing i.e. they're disintegrating. The Biomax should last a minimum of a year some folks I have spoken too have stated they've lasted them 2+years and the foam filters generally last a good 6 months provided you are gentle with them.
***How do you set up this filter***
It's a complete doddle to use this filter. When you open the package you need to thoroughly but gently rinse the media in dechlorinated water and then insert the media into the appropriate chamber of the filter. Once that is done, slip the sucky discs onto the cradle which holds the filter to the side of the tank before inserting the filter into the cradle and then sticking the cradle to the inside of the tank. I have my filter on the rear of the left wall of the aquarium and ensure that the venturi tap which sits above the top nozzle is above the water so air can be circulated into the tank.
~~~ Please note that if you are using this in a cycled tank then do not remove your existing filter media as that carries all the beneficial bacteria either run the two filters for a period until there is enough bacteria in your new filter or if possible carefully transfer the media from your old filter to your new one. For the next couple of weeks take daily water samples and test (using a liquid test kit not strips as they're unreliable) for ammonia and nitrite as this will keep your fish as well as your sanity safe ~~~
***How do you use this filter***
There are three settings on this filter
A - Air/Water circulation Top - The air is taken in through the venturi nozzle and then pumped out of the top nozzle along with the circulated tank water near the surface of the water. I tend to use this overnight as I have alot of live plants which will consume the oxygen to create carbon dioxide when there is no light which could lead to the fish being starved of oxgen if you're not careful.
B - Water Bar - This circulates the water flow equally from top to bottom. I tend to use this in the late afternoon/early evening when I return from work. The fish love this one as it creates a lovely current for them to swim against.
C - Water circulation Bottom - This function jets out the water at the bottom of the tank creating a flow which circulates along the bottom. I tend to use this in the morning and early afternoon for the plants and to generally get a good circulation going for my bottom feeders.
All of the three setting are variable so you can select a slower flow or a more rapid flow dependent on your requirements.
As for maintenance this filter is an absolute breeze. I perform water changes weekly of about 25% and will every two to three weeks take ONE and ONLY ONE media and give it a gentle swirl in the water removed from the tank which i have in a bucket. DO NOT rinse your media in tap water as it contains chlorine which will kill your beneficial bacteria and cause your tank to mini-cycle or at worst crash.
***Would I recommend this filter***
Certainly. I have been using this filter day in and day out and my fish are very happy with it. Infact the Cories/Tetras are dancing in the the flow as I type. I believe as far as internal filters go this is the best I have seen as I was looking at so so many filters before I purchased my tank. As previously mentioned always take into account your stock levels as well as the type of stock you have before choosing which U filter to go for.