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Vaula

Vaula
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Member since: 20.05.2009

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      08.08.2009 13:55
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      Great for lazy, quick meals.

      Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup is a great little product for when I'm feeling too lazy to cook a proper meal from scratch, which is most of the time after a long day at work.

      It comes packaged in a 400g cylinder shaped tin can, with a pull-open lid. The papery cover of the tin is red, with pictures of tomatoes on it, as well as the typical black Heinz logo. The can is very quick and easy to open with the pull-open mechanism, without having to get your tin opener out, and your hands dirty with a normal lid.

      The soup is very smooth and creamy, and quite thick in consistency. There are no larger bits of tomatoes showing in it, it has been 'chopped' very free of them. The colour of the soup is not the clean red of fresh tomatoes, but a more muted mid-tone orange.

      The taste is lovely, with just the right amount of saltiness. I never actually eat the soup on its own, as a soup, but use it as a base for a sauce. I love tuna, and often mix it with the soup to make a nice, simple, thick pasta sauce. I know this can sounds like a bit of a weird combo, but as I said, I love tuna, and tend to try it out in.. pretty much anything. I've also mixed the soup with some minced meat, which also works well as a pasta sauce. To make the sauces more tasty, I add some ground paprika, some pepper and aroma salt. And it's ready. Very quick, easy and painless.

      I get about 4 servings from a 400g can of the soup and a 400g can of Tesco tuna in brine.

      What's a bit strange to me is that the original Cream of Tomato Soup is more expensive than the organic version in my local Tesco. The original one sells at 82p a can, whereas the organic one is only 65p (both are 400g cans). Huh. Makes me feel like I'm being more healthy by going for the organic one every time.

      One organic can of the soup has 1g of sodium, and 10.2g of fat. The original, non-organic version has the same amount of sodium, and 11.8g of fat.

      The organic soup can reads that it is suitable for a gluten free diet,suitable for vegetarians, and has no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Lovely.

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      • Bassett's Flumps / Sweets / 167 Readings / 161 Ratings
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        06.08.2009 20:56
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        Fluffy loveliness.

        This is something I discovered very recently, when I was looking for something sweet to munch on when taking the train home from work. It was on the bottom of the kids' sweets shelf in Tesco, and felt lovely and soft.

        Flumps comes packaged in a blue and pink plastic wrapper, which is easy to tear open from the seam. Inside is a marshmallow sweet, which is shaped into an approximately 20 cm long twist of two intertwining strands, one white, one light pink.

        When you take the sweet out of the wrapper, it feels very fresh and soft, and gives a lovely faint marshmallow fragrance. The surface is silky and is covered in very very fine white flower, which comes off in your hands a little, and adds to the feeling of freshness. It also means that your hands won't get sticky when holding the sweet.

        The marshmallow is incredibly soft and fluffy when you bite into it, and makes a very faint little hissing sound. It feels heavenly silky, smooth and fluffy in your mouth, much more so than the marshmallows I've had before. The taste is lovely as well, Flumps hasn't been sugared up too much, but has just the right amount of light sweetness to it, less than in many similar sweets. This all makes for a very light and absolutely heavenly marshmallow experience, the taste equivalent of a plane window view of a field of cottonwoolly clouds.

        The name doesn't reflect the loveliness of the product, it should be called something like 'Mellow' or 'Lovely', although I suppose fonetically the name does sound quite soft and bulbous.

        The beauty of Flumps is that it's priced at only 10p each in Tesco! Which means that I'm well on my way of getting seriously addicted to them, at the moment I tend to grab 10-15 at a time (and get worried looks from the Tesco staff).

        I would advise to feel the softness of the Flumps(s) you're going for before buying, as slightly older ones are not as fluffy as the nice fresh ones. Or perhaps this is just for the addicts.

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          05.08.2009 21:27
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          If you're into vanilla, you'll love this.

          I have a thing for anything that smells like vanilla, and sweet foody smells in general, and so am currently using four different products with vanilla as the main or one of the main fragrances. This means that I'm constantly covered in what is essentially a really cheap, simple and sweet, 14-year old girly girl smell, instead of the elaborate sophisticated ones that come in expensive bottles and carry ethereal names.

          The fragrance comes in a little see-through, orangy brown glass spray bottle, with a tiny metallic silver-coloured cork. It is simply called "Vanilla" in two languages, which at first whiff seems to pretty much sum it up.

          But according to The Body Shop, the fragrance has a lot more to it: "Notes of bergamot, coconut, apricot and strawberry - Combined create the fruity top notes. Notes of jasmine, lily of the valley and rose - combined create the floral heart notes. Notes of vanilla, sandalwood, amber and musk - Combined create the spicy and woody base notes."

          If I'm honest I can't smell many of the above in the fragrance, which probably means my nose isn't made for these things. To me the fragrance doesn't seem to have many of those crisp, fresh high notes that fragrances usually have, although I think I can smell a hint of apricot. Or maybe it just means that the high notes aren't very 'high' in this one. Even in the beginning the smell is sort of even, and it seems like the low notes dominate. The Body Shop describes it as: "a sweet, warm and velvety vanilla fragrance", which says it a lot better. It is a very warm, laid-back, lovely, sumptuous smell, with lots of sweetness to it.

          The smell is quite strong when sprayed, and I wouldn't recommend for anyone to go crazy with this, at least just before you'll be in the same room with other people. I like to spray it in the air above me, and let it fall down on me as mist. It seems to settle ok in 10-15 minutes, and isn't too strong after that.

          A 30 ml bottle of the fragrance currently sells at £8.30 in The Body Shop, which is a lot for a tiny bottle. But it seems to last pretty long, due to being so strong, or tightly packed, if you like. And the fragrance is so lovely, it's worth it.

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          • Venus (DVD) / DVD / 167 Readings / 164 Ratings
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            30.07.2009 19:14
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            Beautiful film about an unlikely relationship, would recommend.

            Venus is a film about an aging actor, Maurice, played by Peter O'Toole, who lives a fairly quiet existence with the occasional minor role in a film or TV series, and meets with an actor friend, Ian, to talk about the old times. The film follows Maurice's relationship with Jessie, Ian's teenage niece, who arrives to stay at his uncle's place to help him around the house. To Ian's horror, Jessie turns out to be very different than he expected, but Maurice finds a way to get on with the girl.

            The encounter transforms them both to an extent, at least for a moment. Maurice appears a stereotypical pensioner when with Ian, bumbling around the house with trivial tasks. In contrast, when in Jessie's company, he seems revived into a younger man with the urges of a younger man. Jessie in turn transforms from a chavvy, ignorant teen into someone more aware of what she wants from life, and also becomes more aware of her womanhood, if you like. Or maybe her sense of herself as a woman changes into something a little more positive, and respectful towards herself under the adoration. She starts to take more of an interest in her surroundings, and appreciate that there is a lot to learn.

            I like the way the film questions or at least tests the limits of our acceptance in scenes that make us think 'that's just wrong' in relation to the age difference and the nature of the relationship between the two central characters, but when we ask ourselves why, there doesn't seem to be a fully valid reason for feeling this. An age gap between two people unacceptable? How narrow-minded and puritanical.

            The relationship forming between Maurice and Jessie feels wistful and transient, as the directions the two are moving to are opposite. The contrast of a man nearing the end of his life, and a girl just beginning hers is captured beautifully. We get the feeling that Maurice wants to teach Jessie something about the finer things in life, pass something on.

            There is also something inherently sad about the central relationship being that of user and used, the using being done equally by both. It is also the relationship of a buyer and seller in many ways, the commodities being time, goods and opportunities. You could argue that these are part of all relationships in some form.

            Peter O'Toole's portrayal of Maurice is nothing but fabulous, he is at the same time dirty and lecherous, and very endearing and sweet. It would be interesting to find out how much of himself Peter O'Toole brought into the role. Jodie Whittaker is also brilliant in portraying the vulnerability, the smart-talking attitude, the uncertainty and the subtle changes within Jessie.

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              27.07.2009 18:10
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              Shampoo that's more natural than most, but not of good quality.

              I'm always on the lookout for products that contain as little toxins and pollutants as possible, and so picked up this shampoo form Boots some time ago.

              The shampoo comes packaged in a 250 ml see-through, cylender shaped, off-white plastic bottle with a press-open cork. The back of the bottle advises: "Naked ingredient lists are free from Sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, and petrochemicals." This is great, Sodium lauryl sulfate being an industrial stripping chemical, which is known to be very drying on the skin. The back of the bottle also states that Naked products aren't tested on animals.

              The bottle also reads that the product is "97% natural", and uses "Sweet Almond Seed extract along with natural proteins to repair weakened hair and improve the appearance of dry, damaged locks" and that "Sunflower Seed extract provides armour to protect hair from the harmful effects of the sun". It would be interesting to know what the word "natural" actually implies here, as it's quite liberally thrown around in the beauty industry to describe anything with even a very faint connection to something occurring in nature - it certainly doesn't mean 'organic' in this case.

              The product itself is very very light yellow in colour, and see-through. It smells divine, probably due to the sweet almond in it.

              As you apply it to hair, it doesn't get distributed all over the hair very easily, so you need quite a bit of it to be able to cover your whole head with it. It basically doesn't lather very much. It feels quite simple, and, well, a bit cheap on the hair, in the sense that it doesn't have that soft, sliding, moisturising feel many shampoos do, but feels a little harsh on the hair. The result feels like you've washed your hair with a cheap shampoo, as the hair feels dry and a bit difficult to brush through.

              Because my hair has been coloured several times, and is quite dry at the ends, I normally use an intensely moisturising TIGI shampoo and conditioner on it, but occasionally try other shampoos like this one (while using the same intense conditioner). Maybe this is why the contrast between my usual shampoo and this one is so obvious. It could be that the Naked shampoos would work better on very healthy, non-processed hair.

              I'm all for what the company are trying to do here by producing something free of some harmful ingredients, but as it's compromising on the quality this much, it's not something I can keep on using. I'm also more concerned about the harmful ingredients in products that actually stay on your body, and can get absorbed into it (moisturisers and sunblock, mainly). Then again, wherever you can reduce the toxic load on your body, can't hurt.

              The shampoo is currently priced at £3.99 in Boots, but you can regularly pick it up on a 2 for 1 deal for the same price.

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              • Vaseline Lip Therapy / Make Up / 128 Readings / 126 Ratings
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                26.07.2009 22:41
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                Great basic lip balm.

                Vaseline lip balm is something I used to have with me at all times, and was constantly swiping it on my lips. I would have 2 or 3 pots in my bag simultaneously, just so I had a backup in case one of them got lost.

                The lip balm comes packaged in a little pocket size (20g) cylinder shaped metal pot, with a twist on lid. Some people (I say people, I mean amateurs) struggle with the opening mechanism of the container, trying to pull it open with no force spared, on occasion even damaging the structure of the pot. This is a mistake. The Vaseline will open to anyone with a deft lightness of touch, and the foresight to understand that a gentle twist is what is required.

                Once past the lid, you are greeted with yellow, thick, slightly transparent(ish) jelly-like substance, which fills the container to the brim. The surface of the jelly is smooth and shiny, before you tuck into it. The consistency of Vaseline is smooth and slick, it is easy to apply to your lips, and a little goes a long way. Well, it can go, unless you get addicted to it like me.

                I find that if your lips are very dry, or cracked even, it is best to lick them before applying Vaseline. This is because the main ingredient in the product is petrolatum, which doesn't seem to let any air or water through it. It basically locks in moisture, so there should be some moisture on the lips to lock in. Once you do use it on moist lips, it works a treat on softening them, and keeping them soft.

                What I noticed though, is that once you get used to constantly having Vaseline on your lips, it's very difficult to be without it. If it had dried up or got rubbed away, and for some reason I couldn't top up right away, my lips would suddenly start to feel a bit tight, and I would start licking them, making it worse. A sign of an addiction, so act accordingly and switch to another product for a while.

                Vaseline Lip Balm comes in several different varieties nowadays, in addition to the original you can now get it enhanced with Aloe Vera, Rose Water, or with a sun block. I've mainly used the original one, as well as the sunproofed one with SPF 15 (with oxybenzone). The sunproofed one is a great idea, as you're supposed to be protecting your lips as well as the rest of your skin from the harmful rays. The only downside of the SPF one is that it tends to gather near the corners of your mouth in white strands, so you need to be checking regularly whether you look like you've been foaming at the mouth. But this is often the case with SPF products.

                What I like about Vaseline Lip Balm is that it leaves your lips soft and shiny, but not unnaturally shiny, like some lip glosses. It also doesn't make your lips sticky, and almost glue them together like many lip glosses tend to do.

                All in all, a great product. The little 20g pocket size pot retails at 99p at Boots, and lasts for ages, so is great value for money.

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                • Rachel Getting Married (DVD) / DVD / 176 Readings / 170 Ratings
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                  22.07.2009 21:20
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                  Well-acted, moving drama about family relationships.

                  Rachel Getting Married is an American family drama starring Anne Hathaway as Kym, who arrives home from rehab to attend her sister's wedding. The film documents the complex and often pain-filled dynamics between the two sisters, other family members and friends, as events from the central characters' past are revealed to the audience. It deals with sisterhood, family dysfunction, forgiveness, and overcoming or learning to live with the past.

                  The film is shot in an almost documentary aesthetic, which adds to the authenticity of the intended atmosphere. Lighting has been kept to a very naturalistic level, so the film doesn't have the clean, safe and colourful family drama look you would get with most American bigger budget projects of this genre. The interior spaces are dark and gloomy and some of the shots look almost amateurish. In the beginning of the film the camera is often on a steadycam and sometimes follows the actors like an additional character, it moves slightly from left to right as if trying to find the right view, the right approach, trying to commit to a framing, but finding it difficult. These choices work well in highlighting the mental landscape of the protagonist, and in emphasizing the difficulty of the return home.

                  The acting and directing choices follow the same formula. We hear conversations on top of conversations, little bits of dialogue that could be easily missed, and it all feels very real and authentic, instead of scripted. It looks like some of the dialogue might have been improvised. We get the feeling that we are almost eavesdropping in the intimate moments and conversations. I have always loved this type of directing, that manages to create an atmosphere among the actors, that looks like a result of them reacting to each other in a free, natural way, instead of based on a tight script and exact timings.

                  Anne Hathaway is surprisingly good in the main role. She portrays the pain, the guilt and the need for acknowledgement in a way that is highly watchable, and it is easy to identify with her. The other actors do an equally good job, Rosemarie DeWitt who plays Kym's sister, and Bill Irwin as her father give beautiful nuanced performances. I've always loved Debra Winger as she's always seemed like a ballsy one with tons of personality and has the prettiest, cutest face in the world. In this she makes an appearance as Kym's mother, and is a joy to watch.

                  The film comes up with very moving moments in places where I would have expected to just smile condescendingly, or get bored. The story flows quite well, it can seem a little dragging at times and the dramatic arc is expected, but not in a boring way. I like the quiet lingering moments the creators have sometimes left in the film, just after the scene has 'ended', without hurrying to cut to the next.

                  If you're feeling like a not-so-peppy film about family dysfunction, this one is definitely worth a watch.

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                  • Kinder Happy Hippo / Snacks / 154 Readings / 152 Ratings
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                    22.07.2009 00:10
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                    Pure deliciousness.

                    Kinder Happy Hippos are the best sweets in the world. Nothing more perfect exists. The first time I bought one, like a child I was swayed by the fact that it was shaped like an animal, and so drew me to it as I was queueing in a petrol station.

                    Happy Hippos are two-bite sized biscuits, shaped like the head and body of a hippo. They have eyes, eyebrows and nostrils, and the bottom half of the biscuit is covered in little white bits of maringue, acting as water that the hippo is swimming in. How cute is that!

                    They each come packaged in a plastic wrapper and can be bought individually or in a pack of 5. They have no artificial colours, preservatives or hydrogenated fats in them. You can get the biscuits in two flavours: 'Cocoa Cream' and 'Milk and Hazelnut'. I will concentrate on the latter.

                    The top layer of the biscuit is made of crispy wafer, with the maringue bits covering the bottom half. As you bite into it, the top layer gives a crisp crunchy sound as it crumbles. You then get to the two gorgeous fillings, one of them is white and milky, and the other creamy and hazelnutty in caramel colour. The fillings are very sweet and melt in your mouth.

                    The combination of the crispy wafer and the very sweet, smooth, creamy fillings is gorgeous, and the fact that the inside of the biscuit is not packed tight with the fillings, but leaves a little air between the wafer and the contents, makes biting into the biscuit somehow seem more satisfying. I have my Hippos in three slow, savouring bites.

                    As delicious and heavenly as they are, the Hippos are sweet enough for you to only comfortably feel like eating 3-4 in one go, not more. At that point the sweetness gets a little bit overpowering and you feel like having a drink and a break.

                    In my area Hippos are usually priced between 20-30p each, and £1 for the 5-pack.

                    The percentage of fat in a Hippo is 34.7, and each one has approx. 113 kcal in them. Who cares?

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                      19.07.2009 21:36
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                      Quality permanent colour range that will make your hair shine.

                      L'Oreal Recital Preference is a permanent hair colour range I've been using every now and then when trying to look for the right shade for highlights across different ranges.

                      It comes in a shiny looking cardboard packaging, with a brown and gold colour scheme. The box includes: a bottle of developer cream, a bottle of colour liquid, a tube of conditioner, gloves and an instruction sheet.

                      The bottle of colour liquid needs to be poured into the developer cream bottle and shaken to get mixed. The consistency and texture of the mixture is a fairly runny gel rather than a cream, and is with some shades almost see-through with a faint tint of colour. The mixture gets darker throughout the developing time. The smell of the product is pretty strong compared to some others (Excellence, Garnier Nutrisse) and isn't very pleasant, but you get used to it quickly.

                      The instructions state that you should apply the colour on towel dry (wet)hair. To get the maximum effect of the colour, especially as I'm using the lighter shades, I have always applied this on dry hair, so there is no water between the product and hair making the colour milder. As I have long hair, I would also be a little worried about whether the application to wet hair would give an even result, as some parts of the hair are likely to be more dry than others. Maybe I'm just being paranoid.

                      As I've used this permanent colour to put highlights in my hair with foil, the runnyish gel consistency of the Recital mixture isn't great for making sure the colour only stays on specific sections of hair. So I'll need to be extra careful with that. Then again, when used to colour the whole hair, I would imagine that the runnyness of the colourant is actually a benefit, and might make it easier to cover all sections of hair.

                      It looks like the lightening strength of the lighter shades isn't as powerful as with the L'Oreal Excellence shades, so the result is subtle highlights, even if I keep the product in my hair past the recommended developing time. So when using an Light Ash blonde shade , for instance, I get a result that is closer to a slightly darker Golden Blonde. You can always go for a pre-lightener if you're after the exact light shade on the box, but that can be heavy on the hair.

                      The great thing about this range is the fact that it leaves your hair with a distinct shine, much better than you would get with L'Oreal Excellence, Garnier Nutrisse or Clairol, so your hair often looks much healthier than before you coloured it.

                      What is also nice is the fact that the conditioner tube that currently comes in the box is massive (54ml) compared to other colour ranges, and would last for at least 3 applications on long hair (if you can take the smell reminiscent of the colourant).

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                      • L'Oreal Excellence / Hair Care / 130 Readings / 126 Ratings
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                        16.07.2009 18:32
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                        Good quality permanent hair colour.

                        L'Oreal Excellence is a permanent hair colour I've been using more than any other colour over the years. It offers a good range of colours you can mix together if you like, and provides consistent results without having an obvious marketing 'gimmick' to sell the products with; just a good quality, basic permanent colour range.

                        The product is packaged in a feminine looking peach-coloured cardboard box, with a picture of a model wearing the particular colour on the front. When selecting a shade, please remember that the picture of the model on the box has been taken in heavy red/yellow studio lighting, and looks lighter than the shade will be on you in daylight, for instance.

                        The box contains: a bottle of developer cream, a tube of colour cream, a little use-once tube of after colour conditioner, gloves and an instruction sheet.

                        The developer cream needs to be mixed with the tube of colour as usual, and the mixture is nice and thick, so it doesn't drip and make a mess when you start to apply it, even if you're creating highlights using foil like I am with these colours. The mix will be white at first, and turns quite a bit darker throughout the developing time. The smell of the product is not great, but it's not too repulsive or strong either, and it doesn't last in your hair too long afterwards (takes one/ two washes).

                        The development time is 30 minutes, after which you need to emulsify the colour (add a little water on the hair in the shower, rub it a little as if you have shampoo in your hair) and rinse off. As I'm mostly using the lighter shades of the colour range, I leave the colour on for 45-50 minutes, as my hair takes a little longer to get to the colour it's supposed to, due to the fact that the light shades need to open and penetrate the hair shaft, to remove the current colour in the hair. (The darker colours take less to be ready to wash off, as the colour sits on top of all existing colours in the hair, just coating it from the outside of the hair shaft.)

                        When applying the colour, be mindful of where you get it on your skin, and remove any stains with a little body lotion/ baby oil or similar, as the darker colours especially do stain your skin if left on for too long.

                        What I like about the range is that there are enough colours to choose from for you to be able to find the correct shade, or even mix them together if you feel like it. I also like that fact that I can divide one box into two colourings, as highlights don't require as much product as an all-over colour.

                        It's also quite a good thing that the lightening strength of the shades isn't too strong to give you too high a contrast in your hair when you're using the shades for highlights. The result is always more or less subtle, so not the trailer-trash-chic-bright-light-yellow-against-brown that you might get with pre-lighteners.

                        I need to mention something about the shades as well, having tried quite a few. Be a little bit wary of the 'pure' or 'bare' shades, that have numbers with no decimals (5, 6, 7, 8 etc. instead of 7.3, 9.11, 8.3) as these are trying to not be golden or ashy, but just plain, which often means that they contain a lot of green-based pigment, and can make your hair look pretty lifeless, dull, dirty and even a bit grayish. It seems that 6.3, despite supposedly being the golden one of the 6 shades, can leave your hair a little dirty and dull looking as well, instead of golden. Before plopping any of the bare shades on your hair, I would definitely do a strand test to make sure you can live with the colour. In general, anything else than the 'pure' shades and 6.3 seem like quite a safe bet (although I only prefer to use this product for highlights, as I think that works much better than an all-around flat colour).

                        The end result of the colour is quite nice and shiny considering the fact that you've just damaged your hair with a cheap permanent colour. Good product all around.

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                        • Garnier Nutrisse / Hair Care / 140 Readings / 136 Ratings
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                          15.07.2009 15:06
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                          Good permanent hair colour, that doesn't feel too harsh on your hair.

                          Garnier Nutrisse is a hair colour I was using a couple of times when I was putting lowlights in my hair with the shade "7.3 Golden Blonde" after I managed to create some way too light and yellow highlights in my hair, and highlights another time with the shade"9 Light Natural Blonde".

                          The colour is packaged in a yellow and light green rectangular cardboard box, with a photo of a model sporting the chosen shade on her hair. The box has a young, fresh feel to it, and looks to be channeling the Garnier Fructis shampoos.

                          The box includes a tube of colour cream, a bottle of developer cream, a sachet of after colour conditioner, gloves and an instruction sheet.

                          The colour cream needs to be mixed with the developer cream. The mix will be light at first, and gradually darken. The consistency of the mix is nice, creamy and easy to apply - not too runny to be all over the place. The product has a lovely fruity smell to it, that's not too strong, and much nicer than the L'Oreal shades.

                          If you're using any of the blonde/ light brown tones, I wouldn't recommend you to plop one of these colours into your whole head, unless your hair is very very short and you want a flat colour. This is because natural hair has different tones in it (highlights sometimes very close to the same shade), even if it may look fairly even-coloured. Bar the very dark tones, none of the models on the boxes have one-dimensional, one-colour, flat hair either. Their hair is full of subtle highlights. It is also very unlikely that a light colour poured into your whole hair will give an even result. I have therefore been using these shades to create highlights/ lowlights.

                          I apply the colour mix with a little brush on the chosen sections I'm holding on top of the foil (any small brush that's not too soft seems to work fine, I use a tiny paintbrush), and wrap the coloured parts in the foil to protect the rest of the hair. It takes a little practice to get quick at this, but even a small number of highlights/ lowlights in the top sections make a big difference. I use two big mirrors to be able to see what I'm doing when working on the back sections.

                          The development time is 25 minutes, after which you'll need to emulsify the colour with water and rinse off. I leave it on a little longer to make sure that the colour sticks.

                          What's nice about these types of colours that come in a tube and a bottle to be mixed together, is the fact that when you're only high-lighting/ low-lighting your hair, you don't need as much of the colour and can use one pack for two colourings. You just need to squeeze out half of the colour cream, and mix it with half of the developer cream together in whatever little plastic dish/ plate etc. you have handy, and use the rest next time.

                          The end result is even, and feels like your hair hasn't been terribly damaged, but feels quite healthy and shiny. If you're making your hair lighter with these shades, the lightening strength of the product (without any pre-lighteners) seems to be a little bit weaker than with the L'Oreal shades.

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                            10.07.2009 13:42
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                            Cheap and cheerful hairspray, that doesn't give hold to my hair. May be better for thin/short hair.

                            I have long, wavy, kind of unruly hair, and was using this spray for a long time whenever I needed to 'glue' a section of hair on the top of my head in place, before I realised that there are a lot better ones out there. I guess the fact that the product is Boots brand (cheap and cheerful) should have tipped me off.

                            The unperfumed version of the product is packaged in a light lilac metallic spray bottle, which is very minimalistic and quite stylish in design. The perfumed version comes in a darker lilac bottle. The unperfumed spray comes in a big full size bottle 450 ml and a small travel size one, 75 ml, which is very light and fits nicely into a handbag.

                            The smell of the product is neutral and light, so your co-workers will still be able to sit next to you, which is not what can be said of some of the more high-end hairsprays.

                            The problem of the product is that it doesn't actually do what it's meant to. This spray is the strongest one in the range and only gives any hold to the hair for about 30 seconds, before the hair is exactly where it was before. I've tried gunking it out as well: spraying a good wallop of the product into the offending section, but this just leaves the hair looking very greasy, and again, doesn't give the hold that I would need.

                            Maybe this spray would be suitable for very thin or short hair, of if used while the section of hair is being teased a lot as well, but it certainly doesn't work on mine.

                            The good thing about the product is the price, as the 450 ml size bottle retails at £1.57 in Boots, and the travel size at around 60p.

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                            • Angels and Demons (DVD) / DVD / 143 Readings / 138 Ratings
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                              09.07.2009 14:23
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                              Doesn't hold a candle to The Da Vinci Code.

                              I was looking forward to seeing this film, despite all the damning reviews, as I really loved The Da Vinci Code (the film, haven't read the book) despite its flaws.

                              Angels and Demons sees Professor Robert Langdon, played by Tom Hanks, called to the Vatican after the death of the Pope, to decipher clues relating to the kidnapping of the 'Preferiti', the four candidates for the election of the new Pope.

                              The film doesn't manage to drum up the same intrigue as Da Vinci Code. Both films rely on hidden symbols and meanings, but in Angels and Demons the scenes where these are revealed fall flat for some reason. The Da Vinci Code had the great end sequence which, coupled with the beautiful theme song, was strong and worked well on me, at least. It also included an interesting sequence set in Teabing's castle, where a lot of the symbolism in Da Vinci's "Last Supper" was discussed. Angels and Demons doesn't have that revelation sequence that sucks you in.

                              The film is riddled by a weak plot that sees Professor Langdon and his current female sidekick often be the only ones creeping their way into dark corners, simply because the police force hasn't bothered to show up, or has run in the opposite direction for no logical reason regardless of a lot of shouting asking them not to. The storyline doesn't seem to flow as well as it should in a film of this budget. The film seems like a puzzle, that gets repetitive too soon, as the pieces don't really seem to fit together to form a cohesive whole.

                              As for the actors, Ewan McGregor is monumentally miscast. Many of the important scenes he is in could have been quite powerful if his character would have been portrayed by someone else. Ayelet Zurer as the female sidekick is also quite unconvincing in the first scenes she appears in, but gets more watchable as the film goes on.

                              Still, as I find everything to do with symbolism and conspiracy theories childishly exciting, regardless of its faults the film was thoroughly enjoyable. The older actors with presence and charisma, such as Armin Mueller-Stahl portraying Cardinal Strauss, save the day.

                              I would imagine that Angels and Demons would appear more powerful and poignant to audiences in the Mediterranean countries where the might of the Catholic church is still strong, whereas we, Western audiences in Anglican/ Protestant countries, so used to our secular society, aren't so moved by the implied repercussions of the potential fall of the institution once so powerful.

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                              • A Place in the Sun / TV Programme / 104 Readings / 104 Ratings
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                                07.07.2009 16:08
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                                A property program with some sunny locations abroad.

                                I love property programs, and find it difficult to say bad things about them. Maybe it's because of their escapist nature, and the wish that one day you'll have the means to get that gorgeous house for yourself.

                                I will concentrate on the new version of the program: A Place in the Sun: Home or Away, which is an hour-long and airs every Friday evening on Channel 4. It features a couple, who cannot decide whether they want to move to a new house in the UK or abroad.

                                Enter Jonnie, who will host the first part of the program, showing the couple 3-4 houses in cloudy UK, trying to make them sound attractive, and the one half of the couple preferring UK will love one of them.

                                The second part of the program will be covered by beautiful, tanned Jasmine, and is set in whatever exotic location the sun-loving half of the couple wants to live in. There will be an intro into the local culture, and some compulsory walking on a gorgeous beach.

                                UK always manages to look dreary, crammed and moist when the program is shot and the couple shown around the houses, whereas the locations abroad (often South of France/ Spain/ Italy) look like heaven with sunny skies and beautiful, cheap homes with pools.

                                I love the fact that 9 times out of 10, Jasmine manages to sell a house (or three!) abroad to the couple, and the program makers don't even bother to cut back to Jonnie at the end of the program, when Jasmine asks us to join her again next week. He's just completely forgotten, not managing to sell anything, and so not important anymore.

                                The program also makes the dream of someday moving abroad look more like a realistic possibility, through Jasmine dishing out practical house-buying info and prices on the selected region.

                                Love it.

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                                • More +
                                  01.07.2009 18:34
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                                  Great product, would recommend to anyone.

                                  Blush is one of those things that can easily mess up an entire makeup if you're too heavy-handed with it, and many people seem to be. I come across a few people daily, who have painted those way too noticeable strands of peach/ copper/ pink across their cheeks from each ear almost to the corner of their mouth, which instantly transforms their makeup from ok to transvestite territory.

                                  I have been using this No.7 blush for a few months now, after I realized that my previous one was too dark, and that I was using too much of it.

                                  I am pretty pale with a cool colouring so need to be using cool pink blushers. Once I noticed I was wearing too much of my previous blusher, which was quite a dark pink, I now realize (by looking at some photos where I looked like a cartoon character), I started to search for a lighter shade, and found this No.7 one.

                                  The blusher comes in a simple and stylish-looking, black oval-shaped container. The opening mechanism is easy, and the packaging is well-designed, with no tiny, needless brush tucked into it. The container is well designed and fits well into even a small makeup bag.

                                  The product is in pressed form, fine in consistency, and easy to apply with a blusher brush. It has some tiny tiny shimmery particles in it, which to me look almost unnoticeable.

                                  What I love about the product is the shade "Soft Damson" I've been using. It is light pink - light enough to be very difficult to get too much of on your cheeks, so it effectively protects yourself from accidentally getting the overly made-up look even if you're applying it in a dim club toilet. It gives a natural, faint enough touch on the apples of your cheeks, which you can leave as a very subtle finish or build it to be a more noticeable colour by re-applying.

                                  This is great value for money as the 5g "pot" retails at 8.60 in Boots and lasts me well over a year.

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