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A few months ago I decided to buy my dog a new bed as his old one had become very worn. I had intended to buy the bed from pets at home but was not impressed with either the range on offer or the high prices! A friend suggested I take a look in Aldi and on her advice I found a good value dog bed for just under £15.
I have a setter so needed a large bed and this one fitted the bill. It is basically a large piece of memory foam with a zipped on cover. The outer cover is a suede type materiel with a waterproof backing. The cover can be removed for washing at 30 degrees. I have washed the cover a few times now in my washing machine and it washes well with no shrinkage. The zip is a little on the flimsy side and I suspect is a weak point of the bed.
The cover is a beige colour and so doesn't show the dirt! The bed is a decent size measuring 38 inches x 24 inches and fits into my dogs crate. It is well padded and keeps its shape. My dog is very fussy when it comes to his bed and he took to this bed very quickly, dragging it around when he fancies sleeping elsewhere! He really was not impressed when I last washed the bed trying to pull it down from the washing line!
Overall this is an excellent dog bed at a reasonable price.
I am always keen to bag a bargain and so was delighted when I spotted a bottle of Schwarzkopf Gliss ultimate volume shampoo in my local pound land. The bottle looked classy enough and the claims on the bottle were impressive too. So was it worth the small price tag?
The information on the bottle claims that this shampoo is for fine,damaged hair. As I like to colour my hair and it is certainly fine it sounded perfect!The shampoo contains liquid keratin and sea collagen. It contains no silicone and is designed to target and repair damaged areas of the hair. It is also claimed that this shampoo won't weigh hair down. The attractive purple bottle also persuaded me that this was the real deal!
The shampoo is clear and quite thick in consistency. It has a rather unpleasant chemically smell that reminds me of cheap perfume.- not pleasant at all! It did lather well however and was easy enough to rinse out. I always use a conditioner after I shampoo my hair. I usually dry my hair naturally to help prevent heat damage. To say I was disappointed with the results after using this shampoo would be an understatement! my hair was left looking and feeling flat and lifeless. Contrary to the manufacturers claims that this shampoo would not weigh my hair down it did the opposite! My hair looked awful and I needed to wash it again using my usual brand to improve things!
Overall I really can't think of anything positive to say about this shampoo. I guess you really do get what you pay for!
I really love growing my own vegetables. One of the easiest to grow are runner beans . Not only are they easy to grow, but they taste delicious and are loved by my children.
Lets get started.
Beans can be grown either from seed or from young plants. I grow from seed as it works out a lot cheaper! In about February prepare the soil. Dig over well and add compost or rotted manure. I use Chicken manure pellets that are widely available. Runner beans are tall and will need a plot that will protect them from the wind. They also like to grow in full sunlight.
Around the end of April I buy my seeds and plant one per pot. I place all the pots on my sunny kitchen windowsill and wait for them to germinate. It is important to keep the seedlings well watered. I am always surprised at how quickly these little seeds start to grow!
It is important that all risk of frost has passed before you plant your beans outside. I usually plant out around May . I use a plant fleece to cover at night if the temperature is due to drop to below 5 degrees.
Runner beans will need support and I use bamboo canes tied together in a wigwam . The support will need to be about 8 feet in height.
Caring for your beans
Runner beans require little care. However they do like to be watered regularly. Young bean plants are very popular with slugs and snails. I find that surrounding the base of each plant with broken egg shells helps to keep them away.
The more you pick the more you will get! I like to harvest the beans when they are still quite small . To prepare top and tail them and then steam. I like to add beans to curries, pasta sauces and have also added a handful to cooked macaroni before adding a cheese sauce. Runner beans will freeze well too.
This is a recipe I really like-
200 grams of runner beans- topped and tailed.
4 tbsp of olive oil.
1 small red onion cut into wedges.
4 cloves of garlic.
5 tomatoes cut into quarters.
A dash of Tabasco sauce.
Salt and pepper.
1. Steam beans for about 7 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft.
3. Add the tomatoes and beans, salt ,pepper5 and Tabasco.
4. Cook over medium heat adding a little water.
5. Stir until sauce thickens and beans are tender.
Overall runner beans are easy to grow and taste so much nicer than the ones you buy from a supermarket!
I love being out in my garden although I am no expert when it comes to plants! This summer I decided to brighten up my patio area with a few pots and opted for plants that would be forgiving and easy to grow. One of my choices was a tub of Begonia destiny as they were very colourful and my local garden centre assured me they would be difficult to kill!
I bought my plants already established in a pot. All I needed to do was to transplant them into a larger clay pot and water them well until they were established. However it is possible to grow begonias from both seeds and bulbs. Growing from seeds can be difficult and the plants will tend to be smaller and less sturdy than those grown from bulbs. If you decide to grown the plants from bulbs then you can either plant in a pot or directly into the ground. To plant into the ground you will need to dig a hole deep enough to ensure the root ball is covered. Fill using compost and then water. Begonias don’t need much space as they will only spread by about 20 Cm. They will reach a height of about 40 Cm.
Begonias like to have shade and do not thrive in full sun. They should be planted in spring to give a full summer to flower. They will last until the first frosts. Begonias are an annual bedding plant so they will not return the following year. However you can save the bulbs to replant. Begonias come in a range of vibrant colours including red, orange. Pink, purple and white. Once the flowers have started to turn brown you should dead head them to encourage new flowers to form.
Begonias really are very forgiving! However they don’t like to be over watered. I water my pot a few times a week if it hasn't rained. Once the colder weather arrives you can bring pots inside and they continue to flower.
Begonias are popular with slugs and snails. I place crushed egg shells around the base of the plant and this seems to prevent slugs and snails from getting onto the plants.
Overall I would highly recommend Begonias if you want to add colour to your garden next year. They are inexpensive to buy and easy to look after.
This years seems to be a bumper one for apples. I have several good recipes that includes apples but my favourite has to this one for a delicious apple cake. It is really easy to make and always turns out well. It will keep for a week in an air tight tin- although it never lasts for more than a few days in my house!The cake is lovely and moist and can be eaten warm as a dessert with cream or ice cream. It is also lovely served cold with a cup of coffee!
225 grams of self raising flour.
1 teaspoon of baking powder.
225 grams of castor sugar.
3 medium eggs.
1 teaspoon of almond extract.
150 grams of butter.
300 grams of cooking apples.
30 grams of flaked almonds.
1. mix flour,baking powder,sugar eggs and almond extract in a bowl.
2. melt butter a little and add to mixture.mix well.
3. spread half the mixture into a well greased cake tin. Peel and core the apples and cut into slices. Place the apples slices over the mixture.
4. Add the rest of the mixture,spreading over the layer of apples,ensuring they are well covered with mixture.Sprinkle with the flaked almonds.
5. bake in a pre- heated oven at 160 degrees for a fan oven or 140 degrees if no fan. Gas mark 3.
6. bake for about an hour or until a knife comes out clean.
If you enjoy baking then give this recipe a try- it really is very easy and the cake looks and tastes very professional!
I don’t usually wear a lot of make up but do like to wear lipstick. I am a fan of both the Boots no 7 and L’Oreal ranges as I like the colours they offer and find their products to be excellent value for money. I recently treated myself to an expensive Yves Saint Lauret lipstick that I use when I go out. However I still use my trusted L’Oreal colour riche lipstick on a daily basis and have done so for several years.
L’Oreal colour riche lipsticks come in a classy looking gold case with the word natural inscribed along one side. The tube has the usual push up mechanism and is easy to use. I buy my lipsticks from Boots and unfortunately my local Boots only stocks a small range of the 30 shades available. The shades range from natural to pinks to more vibrant brighter shades. I like a natural looking lipstick and most recently bought shade no 233, taffeta. In the past I had opted for a slightly pinker looking shade but L’Oreal has now discontinued this shade to my annoyance!
L’Oreal claims that this range of lipsticks contains Omega-3 and Vitamin E to help keep lips moisturised. I can honestly say that this lipstick does help to keep my dry lips looking and feeling moisturised. It is really easy to apply and has a lovely creamy feel. The lipstick does have a slight gloss once applied but I usually cover with a lip gloss to add shine.
I usually find that this lipstick will last for a few hours before I need to reapply. This is not as long as the Yves saint Lauret lipstick, but at a fraction of the price I am not complaining! I paid £8.19 from my local Boots, but this brand is available from other retailers.
I really enjoy cooking and try to buy the best equipment I can afford. I have several Le Creuset pans as I think they are well made and worth the high price tag. I bought my 20cm omelette pan a few years ago from a supermarket in Southern France and have used it on a regular basis. I really can’t remember how much it cost but the RRP in the UK is £68. However Amazon has it for £57.60.
What you get for your money.
The omelette pan comes in several colours including orange, red and pale blue. I opted for blue as it matched my kitchen tiles.
The pan is made from hand crafted premium cast iron and has an integral handle. The inside of the pan is coated with tough satin black enamel that is designed to be chip proof. The *patina*as it is known is designed to form a brownish/black film that builds up over time from the oils used in cooking and released from the food cooked. The film should not be washed off as it will help to keep the food cooked moist and also stops food from sticking.
The pan is can be used on all heat sources and it can be placed into the over to brown toppings such as cheese. The pan is dishwasher safe although I always hand wash in warm soapy water to ensure the patina is not destroyed.
This is definitely a well made, and will hopefully last me for many years. When I first used it to make an omelette I was disappointed as the eggs stuck in the bottom of the pan. However after several uses the patina built up and this prevented food from sticking. I use the pan for all sorts of dishes and find it is brilliant for cooking a perfect steak. I have also used it for a single portion stir fry, pancakes and scrambled eggs.
I really like the integral handle as the pan can be placed into the over.
The pan is easy to clean as I have described. Just be aware that the pan will improve the more you use it as far as cleaning and sticking goes! The surface of the pan is designed to seal in the juices of food and I can confirm that it really does work. To make the perfect omelette I use a low to medium heat. The pan retains heat well and cooks evenly. The other thing to mention is that you don’t need to use much fat in this pan as the patina builds up., so food not only taste better but has less calories!
The only negative point for some may be the weight of the pan. It really is very heavy! However I really would have no hesitation in giving this pan my recommendation!
I can see that most reviews of this wok are positive. However having owned one now for some time I am going to buck the trend! I really love the occasional trip to Ikea,although I always end up buying things I had no idea I needed! This wok was one of those buys! I can't remember how much I paid for it but do remember it was ridiculously cheap.
The wok is a decent size and has the usual deep sides to allow you to stir fry. The wok has a pale wooden handle that is a decent length. There is a second grab type wooden handle on the oposite side to the handle so you can safgely lift the wok from the hob. The first time I used this wok I was quite happy with it,although did think the metal was quite thin. However after a few more uses I found that the food was sticking to the bottom of the wok. I always found it really difficult to clean and noticed that small amounts of the coating were coming away!
The final straw was when the wooden handle started to work loose,making it dangerous to use. I now how invested in a much better quality wok and although it cost me a lot more money I think it will last and is a pleasure to use.
Overall although this is very cheap wok it only lasted for a few months before being rendered useless.
I really love to browse in the Aladdin’s cave that is my local kitchen shop. I have now acquired a large number of tools and gadgets for use in my kitchen; some of them more useful that others! One of the most useful items I have is a silicone spoon made by kitchen craft. I have now been using this spoon for over a year and so feel able to review it!
Kitchen craft has been in business since 1850, originally as ironmongers. Today the company makes a range of high quality kitchen gadgets and tools. The brand is widely available from stockists such as Tesco, John Lewis, Amazon and Debenhams to name a few. The kitchen craft web site lists the full range and can also tell you the location of your nearest stockist.
I have always used wooden spoons to stir but find that they tend to become stained and can split. I decided to switch to using a silicone spoon after seeing a friend’s colourful range of spoons. Kitchen craft silicone spoons come in a range of bright colours including pink, orange, red, blue, yellow and purple. I opted for the yellow as it reminded me of sunshine.
The spoon is 27 cm in length and made from soft, flexible silicone. It can withstand temperatures up to 260 degrees c and is dishwasher safe and hygienic.
Overall I love using this spoon, finding its soft handle comfortable to hold. The spoon bowl is the perfect shape to stir sauces and scrambled eggs as the edges can be used to ensure the food doesn’t stick. The soft silicone makes the spoon safe to use on non stick surfaces. I tend to use this spoon in preference to others as it is so easy to clean. The spoon comes with a 5 year warranty.
Last year my setter was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease and my vet recommended a 3 week food trail. The food he suggested we try was a dry food containing duck and tapioca made by royal canin. Costing over £60 for a 14 KG sack I was shocked at the price, but felt I had little choice if I wanted to improve my dog’s health issues.
Royal Canin have been producing quality animal feed for decades. Their range now includes a range of specialised foods for all pet requirements including special foods for size, breeds and health issues.
Duck and tapioca is part of the sensitivity control range and is available in several size packs. I always buy the 14 Kg, as it works out slightly cheaper than the smaller packs. This food is only available from Vets and specialist pet suppliers. However I have recently discovered that it is sold by Amazon for slightly less than from my vet.
The food comes in a plastic sack with lots of mind blowing ingredients! Royal Canin state that the food contains proteins to reduce allergies and fatty acids to help digestion and skin. The kibble is quite small and it has a pleasant smell (unlike some pet foods!). There is a chart on the pack to help measure the correct amount for your dog’s size and weight. It would have been helpful to have a measuring cup included in the pack!
My dog is a really fussy eater and has often refused to eat! However I was amazed at how quickly he has taken to his new food. I have found that adding a little hot water helps! After just a few days my dog’s tummy problems showed a marked improvement. He had been in the habit of asking to go out almost every night in the wee small hours! The vet thought this was caused by his IBD. I was delighted that this new food meant he was now sleeping all night.
After the 3 week period my vet recommended that my dog remain on this diet for life. He can also have fresh duck! Royal canin also make a wet version of this food and so I do feed him a little mixed in with his kibble occasionally as a treat. Although this is a very expensive food it has really helped to improve my dog’s health and that is priceless in my book!
I have bought many pairs of tweezers in my time, but by far the best are those made by tweezeman. I have a pair with slanted tips as well as a pair with pointed tips. Both are well made and very effective.
I bought the pointed end version to deal with fine eye brow hairs that are difficult to get with the slated ended tweezers. I bought both pairs from Boots and can’t remember how much I paid but see they now retail for £19.50. Although there are many cheaper brands on the market you really do get what you pay for!
All Tweezeman tweezers are made from stainless steel and are hand filed. They are well aligned and ultra sharp. The tweezers come with a protective plastic tip cover. I find this fiddly to use and as it is small it is easy to lose. That said it is important to protect the tip especially as the point is so sharp. You also need to be careful that you don’t drop the tweezers as this could ruin the alignment.
I find that the ultra sharp pointed end of these tweezers makes it easy to pull out fine hairs that the slated ended pair struggle with. They are also excellent for removing in growing hairs. I use the point to gently pierce the skin and then the hair can be removed with the tweezers. In the same way they are excellent for removing splinters or thorns. After use simply give the tweezers a wipe clean. If I have used them to pierce my skin then I use Dettol to clean.
Overall I would not be without these tweezers and think they are well worth the high price tag. The information supplied with the tweezers says that you are entitled to free sharpening, although I have not had this done so can’t comment.
I have always suffered from dark circles under my eyes and have tried various creams and potions to try to improve things. About a month ago I was in Boots and spotted an eye cream from Olay total effects that promised transform my eye area and so decided to give it a try.
Olay total effects treatment eye transforming cream, to give it its full name, claims to fight the 7 signs of aging around the eye area by firming skin, reducing lines and wrinkles,moisturising,toning and brightening. I paid £14.99 for the 15ml pot on a 3 for 2 offer.
The product comes in an outer rectangular cardboard box with clear front panel. I think that there is far too much packaging involved! The pot inside has a convenient screw top lid. The cream is slightly tinted and is really easy to apply using a finger. Unlike some eye creams I have tried this one does not feel greasy. It has a lovely creamy texture and is absorbed quickly into the skin.
The first time I used this cream I was really impressed with how much brighter my eye area looked. The tint also helped to cover my dark circles giving a lovely even tone. I have now been using this cream for several weeks and can really notice a difference. The skin around my eye area looks smoother and the small lines I had are less noticeable. However although the tint does help to conceal dark circles, it has not made any real differences in diminishing them!
Overall I think this is a really good cream that does help to make the eye area look brighten. I would definitely buy this again and think it is superior to other much more expensive brands I have tried.
I enjoy working in my garden and am slowly getting a good set of tools together. I have quite a large patio area and find it hard work to keep in looking good and weed free. Until this summer I had a cheap patio weeder bought from Tesco for around a few pounds. The tool was quite flimsy and so I wasn't too surprised when the handle came away from the blade. I decided that I wanted to spend a bit more and buy something that would hopefully last.
I found what I was looking for during a visit to my local garden centre; a patio weeder made by Draper. Draper is a family owned business and have been making tools for nearly 100 years. They are known as a company that makes quality products. I paid £5.50 for the weeder and was keen to try it out.
The weeder is made from mirror polished stainless steel and has a well padded,soft grip handle. There is a hanging hole at the top of the handle,although this is not something I have bothered to use. The tools has a right angled Sharpe blade designed to fit between paving slabs. This tool feels and looks like a quality piece of kit that is designed to last.
I find it really easy to use this tool. Simple pull the blade along any crack where weeds lurk. The blade quickly cuts through any roots making it easy to remove weeds from even the smallest of cracks and crevices. I really don't like using chemical weedkillers and so this tool is the ideal solution for me.
The Draper patio weeder is also available with an ash handle. This is a more expensive option and does look lovely! The weeder is available from Amazon for just £4.95; an absolute bargain!
I don’t tend to wear a lot of make up but I do like to use lipstick and gloss. I often wear a lip gloss on top of my lipstick to give added shine to my lips. I shop in Boots on a regular basis and therefore accumulate lots of loyalty points on my card. I like to use the points to treat myself and recently opted to use my points in exchange for an L’Oreal glam shine lip gloss.
I am a fan of L’Oreal products and have used their lip glosses in the past although my one complaint is that they never last very long. However this one claimed to last for 6 hours! I really liked the choice of colours on offer and after a lot of deliberation opted for always pink as I thought it would go well over my Yves Saint Lauret lipstick.
The lip-gloss comes in a thin 6ml clear plastic tube with silver lid. The lid contains the shaped sponge applicator. On the positive side this lip gloss is really easy to apply and the applicator delivers the right amount of gloss. The sponge applicator is specially shaped to make it easy to follow the contours of my lips. The colour looks great and suits my complexion.
On the negative side the lip gloss feels quite sticky and leaves a heavy feeling on my lips. Although I was sceptical about that 6 hour claim, I was hopeful that this gloss would at least last longer than other lip glosses. However to my disappointment it really didn’t last for long at all. I find I still need to reapply after eating or drinking and at best it only lasts for about an hour.
Overall I would buy this again as I love the colour. I do think the £8.69 price tag is a bit steep for a lip gloss that really is no different to others on the market.
We eat a lot of pasta as its something everyone likes,is cheap and I can add sauces with lots of veg. I recently shopped in Asda and decided to try their value pasta shapes in a bid to cut my shopping bill. A 500 gram bag cost just over 30p. So how does it compare to my usual more expensive brand? The pasta took slightly longer than normal to cook and was a darker colour. When cooked and with a tomato based sauce added it tasted ok but was more chewy than it should have been. Overall this is not a value product I will be buying again as I simply don''t like the texture.