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I don't know about everyone else, but I find the recent cold spells we've been having to be really drying on my lips leaving them sore and cracked and I'm constantly reaching for the lip balm. I'm also a bit of scatter-brain and end up losing things like lip balms, so every time I find myself out without them, I just go into the nearest shop and buy whatever is cheap. This is how I came across Boots Essential Lip Salve and how I now have quite a large collection of various brands scattered throughout my house (as well as in my car, handbag, coat pockets and in my drawer at work).
I used to swear by Nivea's Repair and Protect, which seems to have been replaced with Sooth and Protect. Don't why this is, but it's not the same. I have also tried several other varieties from Nivea's range, but have started to go off them. I don't know if I'm imaging it, but they have started to feel a bit too heavy and they cake my lips and make them look greasy. Because they are very soft, the tend to break easily and I end up throwing them away before they are used up. Boots Essentials Lip Salve is not like this. It goes on thinly and stick is very solid, so it doesn't break. However, it does tend to rub off a little quickly meaning you do have to reapply it frequently. As far as I'm concerned, I'd prefer have a light covering that you can't really feel and have to keep reapplying, to having that caked-on greasy feeling. Despite the light barely-there feeling, it does give that instant soothing feeling and keeps my lips moisturised. I also find the Vaseline lip balms to leave a horrible greasy look.
The packaging is simple and functional and pretty standard for lip balm. It is a lipstick style lip balm, which I prefer to the little tins that you have to stick your finger in, it just seems more hygienic. The cap is about 3/4 the length of the tube, which I'm less likely to drop and lose than the small ones. You rotate the bottom and the lip balm pops out. You can roll the whole stick out and back in very easily so you know exactly how much is left and lip balm doesn't scrape off down the side of the tube when you twist it back in the way it does with other brands.
This lip balm has a very neutral and inoffensive smell and taste, which adds to the effect of barely noticing it's there. I always go for the original unscented, unflavoured varieties of this kind of thing, as I find artificial flavours and smells a bit over-powering sometimes. This lip balm fits the bill just right.
This lip balm is SPF 15. I don't use lip balm much in the summer, and if I was worried about sun damage, I'd probably want something higher than SPF 15. I suppose it's a nice to know it's there.
Price is currently £1 or 2 for £1.50. It's definitely a bargain at 2 for £1.50, but £1 is a little steep for a shop's own brand product.
I bought the Philips HD4671 when I was moving out of my rented flat 18 months ago. We had absolutely nothing, as the flat had included all furniture and kitchen and household appliances. ¬The attraction behind all our purchases at the time was cheap and functional. All we knew we wanted from the kettle was that it was brushed aluminium rather than shiny, as the one in our flat had been shiny and it was a nightmare for picking up fingerprints. As it happened, we also needed a 4-slice toaster and the matching Philips HD2647 toaster was on special offer when purchased with the kettle from Argos. I think we paid around £50 for both at the time, a bargain considering the kettle is £39.99 and the toaster is £49.99 at RRP. I've just had a quick look at the Argos website and it is currently £56.98 for both or £31.99 for just the kettle. This is cheaper than Amazon at the moment. The 2 year manufacturer's guarantee is also reassuring.
The kettle has a stylish, modern look and goes well with the matching toaster. The main body is brushed aluminium and the spout and the handle are black plastic. The brushed aluminium is great for not showing up fingerprints, but the black plastic shows up limescale marks very easily. There is a transparent window so you can see how much water is left without opening the lid. The inside of the kettle is black plastic and the bottom is metal.
There is a button at the top of the kettle for flipping the lid open. This sticks a bit sometimes and you have to push it quite hard. The opening is nice and wide, so it's easy to fill. The kettle is cylindrical and the whole of the top lifts up, so it's easy to get under the tap if the sink is full. Not really a problem for us as we will it from a filter jug. The kettle being cordless also means there's no unplugging necessary. The base is round and the kettle rotates freely 360 degrees, so you don't have to line anything up to place it back on, making this step very quick too. The base is also non-slip and this has worked perfectly for us so far. The indicator on the side shows the volume in cups rather than ml, but it's on the low side. I find filling it up to the top of the picture of the cup rather than the marker line gives enough for a cup (roughly 250 ml). The markings go all the way up to 6 cups. The full capacity is 1.7 litres. The window does steam up when the water is hot, but not so much that you can't see the water level.
One of the marketing points for this kettle is that it is a one-cup kettle. This means it is fine for boiling just small volumes of water, making it more economical. I live in a very hard water area, and have to pre-filter the tap water before boiling it, otherwise the limescale builds up in a matter of days. I often get impatient in the mornings waiting for the filter and will often boil half cup of water and get the tea bag stewing while the other half is still filtering. I have had absolutely problems with doing this. I don't think as much steam escapes from this kettle as it does with others. This makes it quicker and quieter. 1 cup of water (250 ml) will boil from cold in less than a minute.
The spout is a bit too wide for my liking, so you have to tilt the kettle quite a lot before the water starts to come out and it often ends up down the sides of the cup and on the work top - maybe this is why I need to fill it just over the marking for 1 cup. Because the kettle is mostly made out of plastic, it is much lighter than standard metal kettles, which is always a bonus when trying to pour. I would say it's a similar weight to a standard plastic kettle.
The filter is pretty standard for most kettles. It just slots in front of the spout of the kettle. You can't use these things as an alternative to a filter jug if you have very hard water. Whilst, limescale does build up on it, a lot still gets through and, as I mentioned above, we still need to filter the water through a Brita jug. The filter is easy to remove and wash though.
Like most kettle theses days, the element is concealed, so it very easy to clean the inside. I use one of those powders that you empty inside and boil and it comes up looking like new. Sometimes, I squeeze the juice from a lemon then cut up the lemon into pieces and boil them in the kettle, which also clears the limescale quite well and without making it smell bad. I doubt the inside will ever need cleaning if used in a soft water area. Cleaning the outside of the kettle is easy with a damp cloth.
Overall, I think this kettle was good value for money when bought with the toaster. It looks smart and stylish and does the job quickly and quietly. The water leaks when pouring and the lid sticks a bit, so it's not perfect and loses 1 dooyoo star for these reasons.
* 3 kW.
* 1.7 litre capacity.
* Concealed element for easy cleaning.
* Rapid boil.
* Boil dry protection - automatically switches off when the kettle is empty.
* Removable and washable limescale filter.
* Push button operated lid.
* Keep warm function.
* 360 degree base.
* Non-slip feet.
* Manufacturer's 2 year guarantee.
I bought the Braun Oral B Pulsonic toothbrush to replace my Philips Sonicare when it died after 3 years of everyday use. The problem started when I went to visit some friends and a rather embarrassing noise was coming from my suitcase, as it wouldn't switch off. Needless to say I didn't want this to happen again, especially as I travel quite frequently for work.
When it came to buying a replacement, I thought it would be a good idea to see what new models were out there instead of buying the same model. I searched Amazon and read lots of reviews and decided on the Braun Oral B Pulsonic. It initially appealed to me as it is small and light and very well priced at £44.00 from Amazon. (Reduced from an RRP of 49.99). The replacement heads are also priced at a more reasonable level than the Philips Sonicare. Amazon currently sells multipacks, which work out at £3.50 per head.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
The toothbrush comes in a nice sturdy, but not too bulky packaging, as it is a very slim toothbrush. Unlike other electrical items of this type, the packaging was very easy to get into. The toothbrush itself is very slim and light, it has a slick futuristic look to it. I really like that this is a fully functional sonic toothbrush that this is not much bigger than an ordinary manual toothbrush. As far as I can tell, it's the smallest and lightest one out there at the moment. It is supplied with a two-pin charger and stand with space to store 2 brush heads. However, just one brush head is supplied. So remember to get an adapter if you don't have a shaver socket in your bathroom, and some spare heads if you are going to be sharing it.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO MANUAL TOOTHBRUSHES?
In the time between my Sonicare breaking and waiting for this one to arrive (about 2 weeks, as it was over Christmas), I had to resort to using a manual toothbrush. There's just no comparison really. I had a lot of stains building up from red wine and coffee. My mouth and teeth just didn't feel clean. It was such a nice feeling to use the Pulsonic for the first time. My teeth felt much smoother and looked cleaner from the first use. There was also no plaque residue on my teeth after cleaning, which always seems to be there when I use a manual toothbrush.
HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO THE PHILIPS SONICARE?
Since it is lighter and more agile you can hold it like a manual toothbrush with your fingertips rather than in your fist. It is therefore easier to use. The head is a little smaller than the Philips Sonicare, which makes it easier to get a precise clean of all those hard-to-reach places. Because it is so slim, it's not really ideal for leaving standing up by the side of the basin. I usually leave it lying down, but it could be stored in a cup as you would with a manual toothbrush. The small size also makes it great for traveling. It is a little noisier than the Sonicare as it seems to vibrate more, but still quieter than rotating style electric toothbrushes.
As with other sonic toothbrushes, the Pulsonic uses sonic pulses to break up the dirt at 27,000 vibrations per minute. This is less abrasive and more efficient at cleaning than manual and the rotating style electric toothbrushes. The toothbrush has a built in timer that vibrates every 30 seconds so you can clean a quarter of your mouth at a time. This is handy to make sure every area is getting a decent clean. I have found that first thing in the morning, when I am operating on autopilot, I had got into the lazy habit of holding my toothbrush in the most comfortable position - which is in my right hand cleaning the left side of my mouth for longer than necessary and then quickly doing the right side of my mouth when I snap out of my daze. This toothbrush gives me a remind to move around a bit! As with all electric toothbrushes, the vibrations take a little getting used to, it might tickle or make your gums bleed, but you will get used to this. The brush has two modes, sensitive and clean. I would recommend the sensitive mode for beginners, which is a gentler on the gums. A Precision Tip brush head is also available as a separate purchase, for cleaning around dental work.
Each charge lasts about 2 weeks when using for 2 minutes twice per day. It's a bit irritating that there is no indication of the battery running low, so it will just cut out one day. There's also no way of knowing when it has finished charging, although the instruction manual says it takes 12 hours. I may start getting into the habit of charging it every Monday night for example to get round this. There is a light on it, which has a useless of function of lighting up when it is switched on and in use. It also flashes while it is charging.
Overall, great value neat-looking next generation sonic toothbrush. Ideal for everyday use and for travel. Comes with a 2 year guarantee.
I went through a phase of buying expensive so-called age-defying anti-wrinkle creams in the hope that it would help me to prolong my youthful skin for a few years. But, being a scientist, I found it really hard to get my head around the idea that they actually work. I always balk at the adverts when I see them on TV - they use long words that I understand, but the context makes the overall message completely meaningless. They've clearly just been included to make the product sound good. In my opinion, a lot of the "anti-wrinkle" effects observed with creams is down to it causing mild inflammatory reactions, which give a plumping effect to the skin and make it look smoother. After all, the blurb is that they improve the APPEARANCE of wrinkles, not the wrinkles themselves. Since long-term mild inflammation is likely to increase skin damage and make wrinkles worse, I decided that rather than waste money on something that I didn't really believe in, I would stick to good old moisturisation as as a way of minimising premature aging.
I have been using the Superdrug Vitamin E Night Cream on and off for about 2 years now. The reason I don't use it continuously is mainly because I'm badly organised and will often just buy whatever is most convenient in the supermarket when I run out. I will usually look for something Vitamin E-based though, as I've only ever had good experiences with them. Also, antioxidants are always good to have around when you're worried about aging.
The cream comes in a 100 ml pot and looks as it does in the picture above. It claims to give 12 hour moisturisation. I put it on just as I'm going to bed and it definitely gives 8 hours of moisturisation without leaving my skin greasy as a lot of night creams have in the past. I will have usually washed my face before getting to 12 hours, so I can't speak for that! The cream is white, thick and rich, absorbs fairly quickly. It leaves my skin feeling very soft and looking fresh and a little goes a long way. So basically gives me everything I would want in a night cream. It has quite a strong smell, which is very pleasant (a bit like sun cream), but I find it a bit over-powering for a night cream. I don't really like strong scents when I go to bed - but I'm weird like that. It is recommended for normal to dry skin and I would definitely agree with that. I have days when my skin is a little oily, at which times, this cream does nothing for me. The rest of them time I have normal or dry skin, depending on the weather and it's just right. It is also recommended that this is used in conjunction with the day cream that is part of this range. This is another thing that I don't buy into, unless I particularly like the design of the pots and want them to match.
The price is very good value. It is currently £2.99, or 2 for £3.99 for the 100 ml pots. So much cheaper than the designer creams and as far as I'm concerned does a very good job of keeping my skin well moisturised.
In summary, the combination of price and good results keep me going back to this product.
It is suitable for vegans and has not been tested on animals. Container is recyclable with plastics,
I have been a member of dooyoo for just over a month now. I have written 12 reviews, commented on 48 reviews and rated 487 reviews. I have received 325 ratings and 2 crowns. I feel like I have very quickly become addicted. Anyway, I have a few thoughts that I wanted to put out there as a newcomer and see if anyone is interested, and if so if they agree.
When I first joined dooyoo, my main reason was to make a little bit of money. However, I was surprised by the quality, detail and personality in the reviews and very quickly got drawn into reading and rating. I don't even think about the money anymore. In fact, I much prefer reading to writing now. I was getting sick of social networks, where everyone writes in hastily thrown together, badly spelt and under-punctuated (or over-punctuated when it comes to exclamation marks!) English. It's so nice to see that some parts of the internet still value correct use of the language. I am really enjoying reading all the opinions on products, some that I have used and some that I have never heard of, but should use. I particularly enjoy the reviews that give me some incite into other people's lives - for some reason it fascinates me. I'm hoping I'm not alone with this.
As mentioned above, I prefer reading to writing reviews, and yet here I am writing a review. Furthermore, the stats show that I comment on about 10% of what I read. I hadn't realised how much I like telling other people about my opinions. I had also forgotten how much I enjoy writing for pleasure. This has been magnified 100x when I notice a crown on my page. There has been one added bonus for writing for dooyoo: I have found that when I am writing anything at work, the words come to me much more easily. It's like something has clicked in my brain and I now don't have to try as hard anymore. It's hard to believe that this could happen after after writing just 12 reviews, I could be imagining it, or maybe I just feel less intimidated by writing after getting positive feedback from dooyoo members.
Generally the layout and navigation of the website is very easy to use, with no annoying pop-ups. My only problem is that I only use dooyoo on a computer when I am writing. I usually read reviews when I am on the go on my phone. The dooyoo website does not lend itself to mobile devices, you need to do a lot of zooming in and out and going back after accidentally selecting the wrong thing. I've lost count of the number of times I've selected "somewhat useful" instead of "nominate for a crown". Fortunately, these can be easily rectified. Anyway, a mobile version of the website would make my life much easier. Or better still, an app. Then I wouldn't have to keep logging in every 5 minutes.
There are 4 ways to rate a review. Plus the added crown nomination. It seems to me, and I could be wrong, that a lot of members will rate all half-decent reviews as "very useful" and the atrocious ones as "not useful", "somewhat useful" or "useful", depending on how nice they are. At first, I was trying to be nice to everyone, but I have found myself leaning towards using the rating system in a very literal sense. If I have personally found it only "somewhat useful", then I will rate it as such. Some reviews are just a very detailed description of the packaging and it's contents with a couple of lines of personal opinion. Some people may find this very useful, but I don't. I think rating in this way helps to give credit where it's due. However, I must admit, if a review contains limited useful information, but is interesting and witty, I will often rate it higher.
Overall, I think dooyoo has a great community feel to it and some very talented and interesting reviewers.
I've recently been trying to cut back on all my expenses and decided that switching to a cheaper no-frills supermarket could be the way forward. We decided Aldi would be the supermarket of choice because it is the closest to us.
We switched from Sainsbury's to Aldi a few months ago. Whilst most items seemed to be cheaper, it was hard to tell whether or not we were saving a significant amount of money. My other half and I have always played the guess the total game as our groceries are going through the checkout. We used to be quite good at this when we shopped at Sainsbury's, but since switching to Aldi, our guesses have been coming out too high every time - a good indication that Aldi is cheaper. However, this isn't a very accurate way of comparing, so I decided to do a straight comparison of the 2 supermarkets... and then got a little carried away by including Tesco and Asda as well. Just don't judge me for this, I obviously have too much time on my hands...
After one of our standard weekly shops at Aldi, which included a range of fresh meats, vegetables, bread and confectionery, the total bill for 33 items came to £44.45. When I got home, I took the receipt, logged onto Sainsbury's online and placed all the items in the shopping basket. Obviously, there were some substitutions due to availability and different sized packs. Also, Aldi sell mostly their own brands. To make up for this, I chose the cheapest version of everything for the Sainsbury's shop. Anyway, the same items from Sainsbury's came to £67.00. That means we saved £23.54 by shopping at Aldi this week. This equates to around £100 per month and there's only 2 of us! I knew we were saving money, but I was very surprised by how much. I'm ashamed to admit this, but I repeated the same thing for Tesco and Asda. Tesco came to £66.41 (£21.96 more than Aldi) and Asda came to £54.59 (£10.04 more than Aldi). For the record, Tesco has the most user-friendly online shopping site.
Below are some prices of some items from the different supermarkets.
MEDIUM WHOLE CHCKEN
2l SEMI-SKIMMED MILK (calculated from the price per pint at Sainsbury's, Asda and Tesco)
Sainsbury's 2 for £1.50
HOVIS THICK SLICED BREAD
30 METRE KITCHEN FOIL
Sainsbury's £5.46 (174% more expensive than Aldi!)
Asda £3.98 (this one was actually 40 metre, so better vaule than it seems)
There a few other things about Aldi that I thought deserved a special mention:
In my opinion, the quality and range of pre-packed ham and other cold meats is far better at Aldi than it is at the other supermarkets. The quality of the packaging is also much better quality. Another thing I have noticed is that when you keep unopened packets in the fridge for a couple of weeks, you don't get anywhere near as much water collecting at the bottom of the packet. I suspect the Aldi cooked meats don't have as much water injected into them as the other supermarkets.
The last few times we did our shop at Sainsbury's before changing to Aldi, we noticed that the vegetables often already looked a bit old before we even put them in the trolley and they'd only last a few days in the cupboard when we got home. This isn't the case when you go to Aldi; everything looks much fresher.
Aldi have the brilliant LACURA range of beauty products. These are often getting star recommendations in beauty magazines. Things like foundation, mascara, anti-aging creams and eye-creams are around £2-£3 and I think they are just as good as the expesive brands.
Aldi have weekly "Special Buys", in what I call "The Random Stuff Aisle". These change every week and when they're gone they're gone. These items can be anything from a tool set to a ski coat. They usually represent excellent vaule for money. A lot of my sportier friends swear by their cycle and sportswear. My best bargain has been a cycle helmet for £9.99 a few months ago.
THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
This is probably the main disadvantage of Aldi. The ambience isn't as nice as the other supermarketsand it has a bargain supermarket feel to it and you have to pay for carrier bags, but I can live with that. There's a bit of an ettiquette at the checkout. There's nowhere for things to go after they've been scanned, so you have to be ready to bag your items as they come through, especially as the checkout staff can, to put it politely, be very enthusiastic about keeping the process as brisk as possible. The best thing to do is put your trolley at the end of the counter with your bags open and lined up inside, then you can dump the stuff straight into them. The other option is to put everything back into the trolley unbagged then retreat to the window sill/shelf at the back of the store to bag them up at your own pace with all the other newbies.
In summary, there is a lot of money to be saved if you shop at Aldi and you don't have to compromise on quality. In fact, the kitchen foil gave the biggest saving and is very thick good catering quality stuff.
Whilst visiting my parents over Christmas, I was horrified to realise that I had forgotten to bring my toiletries bag. Luckily, they live close to a large branch of Boots and I had arrived before the bank holidays, so Christmas was saved. As I tend to buy shampoos, shower gels and face washes in Aldi or B&M these in an effort to save money, it was a bit of an eye-opener walking into Boots and seeing what the RRP for these types of items are (£5.25 for this particular item). I could not bring myself to pay full price, especially as I had to buy several items. I noticed that Simple products were part of a 3 for 2 promotion and this was the main reason I went with this brand.
A MAGICAL FOAMING MYSTERY
The cleanser comes in liquid form and you push down the pump to dispense it. As it comes through the nozzle the liquid somehow gets converted to a rich heavy foam which doesn't spill or slide off wet hands. The self-foaming is a big benefit to me as I live in a very hard water area where nothing ever lathers up. I often end up using more soap/ shampoo etc in an effort build up a decent lather, but it's not necessary with this product, so the foam is cost-effective. I have used the Clinique foaming cleanser a few years ago when I had much more disposable income. It comes in a very similar looking bottle to this one, but I seem to remember this was more around the £12 mark. In my opinion the Simpler version is just as good.
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
The packaging recommends two pumps of the product massaged into wet skin for best results. However, I have found that one pump is more than enough for me. I don't wear a lot of makeup - just foundation and mascara, so more might be necessary if you tend to cake it on.
KIND TO SKIN
The marketing spiel from Simple is all about minimal/natural ingredients and "vitamin goodness". It contains 2 "vital vitamins" - pro-vitamin B5 to restore, soften and smooth and vitamin E to improve skin condition (vitamin E is an antioxidant, but Simple don't mention this). It also contains 3 skin-loving nutrients - glycerin, chamomile and geranium, which Simple claim to soften and hydrate. I have very sensitive dry skin and Simple claim to be perfect for this. I can confirm that, unlike other face washes, it left my skin feeling soft and moisturised and with no dryness or tight feeling.
This cleanser has a very mild inoffensive smell. I would describe it as a clean smell.
GENTLE AND NON-ABRASIVE
I use fake tan on my face during the winter months to try and look a little more alive. I have found that since using this cleanser, I don't need to top up the "tan" as often as it is gentle and non-abrasive. It cleanses without stripping. If you prefer a cleanser that exfoliates, then this is not the product for you.
I highly recommend this for sensitive skin types and fake tan-users alike.
The ingredients are not derived from animals and are listed below:
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
PEG-7 Glyceryl Cocoate
Anthemis Nobilis Oil
Pelargonium Graveolens Oil
I initially bought this when I was looking for allspice for a recipe. I couldn't find allspice, and in my haste "spicy season-all" sounded the closest thing to allspice. Those of you in the know will be aware that allspice is more of a cinnamon and nutmeg seasoning. This, however, is a chilli based seasoning. Anyway, that was about 3 years ago, and now it is one of my staples and one of my suggested products on dooyoo (I know, I'm a bit of a loser!). The packaging recommends this as seasoning for potato wedges and chicken, but I use it for pretty much anything as a lazy one-step way to add flavour.
It is great for potato wedges. I cut the potatoes into wedges, boil them for up to 10 minutes until they are just about to soften, then drain and add this seasoning to coat. I then add a little oil and finish them off in the oven on a high heat for about 25 minutes until browned. The seasoning adds a lovely reddish colour to the wedges and delicious crispy coating. Likewise, it adds a nice colour and cripsy coating when sprinkled liberally on chicken or vegetables before roasting.
I also add this seasoning to things like shepherd's pie, corned beef hash and bolognaise. It contains salt, pepper, garlic and chilli powder, which I would normally add to these dishes, so it's a quick way to add everything in one go.
Another little tip, is to use as table seasoning. I often use it in place of salt and pepper to add flavor to things cooked by other half - he likes things a lot blander than I do! So this has added benefit if other people in your household like different levels of spiciness.
Spicy season-all can be found on the spices and herbs shelves at the supermarket and is also available as a reduced salt version for those watching their salt intake. I did try this one once, but I felt the dishes were lacking salt when I used it, so ended up adding a little salt separately! The RRP is £1.63 for 47 g, but it is currently £1.43 from Sainsbury's and it's on 3 for 2, so a good time to stock up. It comes the standard size Schwartz bottles, so looks nice when lined up with the other spices and herbs in the cupboard.
Ingredients (I know some people like to see this)
Chilli Powder (Chilli Pepper, Cumin, Salt, Oregano, Garlic)
Dried Chillies (5%)
Anti-caking Agent (Silicon Dioxide).
This product is suitable for vegetarians.
My other half had been eying up the Zeppelin for several years and I finally took the plunge and bought him one for Christmas. I bought it from John Lewis for £449, but check their website because they also sell Grade B stock (this is returned and refurbished stock) for £399. Both version come with a 2 year guarantee. We have the latest model (as of December 2012) Zeppelin Air which includes the AirPlay function. AirPlay allows you to stream music from your computer/iPhone/iPod/iPad wirelessly via a WiFi connection. Apparently, you can steam sound from games too if you're that way inclined, but we haven't tried this. You can also get additional speakers, put them in different rooms and stream to same music to all of them simultaneously in party mode. This was a big selling point for me and what finally made me cave in. I hate all the cables involved with wired connections, and I also like to be able to use my device to surf the internet at the same time as listening to music.
As a plug and play iPod/iPhone dock, the Zeppelin does indeed work straight out of the box. Plug in the power lead, switch it on, place your device in the cradle and you're ready to go. It will even charge your device during play back. However, when it comes to setting up AirPlay, the Zeppelin is not for the technophobe (or the colourblind). I'm going to include all the details here, as this is information I would have loved to know from the start:
First of all, the firmware and therefore instructions were out of date. According to the instructions, the first step was to connect the Zeppelin to a Mac/PC using the supplied ethernet cable. There was no ethernet cable supplied, but we had one, so not a big crisis. There was then a sequence of pressing buttons and waiting for purple flashing lights, which did not happen as it should have (the flashing light was red). After about 20 minutes of resetting and repeating, I checked the B&W website, and found out that this method of setup was no longer supported and we were required to download a a firmware update. This was fairly straight forward and involved downloading an app called Zeppelin Air Programmer onto my macbook and running it with the Zeppelin connected via a USB cable (same as what you use for a printer - and again not supplied. To be fair, they didn't claim to supply this cable). You think this is the end of the process, but no, you still need to connect it to Wifi. You need to download a second app - the Bowers & Wilkins AirPlay Setup App. The B&W online support implied that, like the first one, this was an app to run on the computer, but following the link lead to me downloading an iPhone app, so I ended up using that instead. The absent ethernet cable was not required, but there was more button pushing and light flashing, this time we were looking for a yellow light, and got a green light. For the sake of our marriage, we decided it was time to call B&W tech support. I am very pleased to report that they have a freephone number (0800 232 1513) and they answered quickly and were professional and solved the problem. It needed a reset, this involved using a toothpick to hold down a little button on the back until we saw a red flashing light and lo and behold, a red flashing light did appear. We then followed the instructions on the iPhone app:
Plug in power cable.
Red pulsing light appears and changes to yellow flashing light.
Press the home button on your iPhone and go to your iPhone settings, select Wi-Fi and choose "yourdevice_setup".
Return to the Bowers & Wilkins AirPlay Setup App.
Allocate a name to the speaker and enter you Wi-Fi password.
Wait for non-flashing purple light.
Done - you can now play music from any device that is connected to the Wi-Fi network.
The app crashed at the end, but the connection was set up and it's fine.
I'm no audiophile, but I do appreciate a good quality music system some songs just have to be played loud. Having played around with this for few days now, we have tried rock, alternative, classical, orchestral and folk music and we've tried cranking it up. Considering it's size (H17.3 x W64 x D20.8cm), it really packs a punch. It can really fill a large room and the sound has a rich depth and warm quality to it that I have never experienced from a home system. We tried it outside and this thing is LOUD with no noticeable distortion at the higher volumes. Having spent many hours trailing around shops trying out the various docks on offer, in my opinion, the B&W Zeppelin is only matched by the Bose systems, but it wins hands down on looks.
I've tried streaming from my MacBook, iPad and iPhone. After the initial problems with setup, it has worked flawlessly ever since on our BT Home Hub network. Although, I have heard that this can depend on how flakey your Wi-Fi is.
To play music from your iTunes library you open iTunes, click on the icon of a square with a triangle at the bottom then hit play. Same for streaming from iPhone/iPod/iPad. Of course, it can only stream from one at a time, so you have to stop one to use a different one.
Music can also be streamed from other music apps, so far I have tried this with Spotify and Amazon Cloud Player and they work fine. LastFM, mixcloud and Pandora are also supported
The picture above does not do the B&W Zeppelin Air justice. All the messing about with setup did not irritate me as much as this kind of thing usually would and that's because the B&W is beautiful. It's a bit like misbehaving child that you can't stay mad at for long. You look at it and it makes you smile. It's sturdy and has an almost minimalist modern look to it. As can be seen in the picture, the speaker is zeppelin-shaped and it is black with a shiny chrome strip down the middle and a chrome iPod dock. The back is also black.
It has a very cute little remote control that is shaped like a shiny black pebble. It has the standard functions of on/off, volume control, play, pause skip forwards and backwards and source select (docked iPod or AirPlay - you can leave your device charging on the dock whilst streaming music from a different device). I haven't used the remote control very much and prefer to stream the music from my iTunes library on the computer and use the Remote app on my iPhone to control it. This allows me to scroll through our entire music collection and play music, control the volume etc all from a different room.
Speaker output (RMS) - 150W (low frequency: 1x50, mid frequency: 2x25W, high frequency: 2x25W)
USB port - 1 (for updates)
Video input / output -S-Video and composite outputs
Audio input - 3.5mm analogue mini jack, optical digital input (TOSlink) and iPod/iPhone dock
H17.3 x W64 x D20.8cm
Weight - 6.2kg
At first glance this is a lot of money for an iPod dock, but on closer inspection, it is so much more than that. This is a high end sound system and the wireless capabilities really do set your music free. It's well worth the money and I can't wait to have some friends round to show it off. The AirPlay setup is confusing, but it's worth the effort.
If you are new to epilation, this will hurt. Imagine 40 pairs of rotating tweezers ripping your hair out from the root and that is what it feels like, because that is how epilators work. It will probably hurt the second time as well. The good news is, it's true what they say that you do get used to it and once your brain realises it is not an instrument of torture, the feeling is the not unpleasant sensation you get if you scratch your skin vigorously. It may take 3 or 4 goes to get to this stage, so persevere!
How does it compare to other methods of hair removal?
Well, it hurts more, it's noiser and it takes longer. However, I can feel the hair growing back the next day if I shave and epilating lasts for about 3 weeks. I get a horrible itchy rash from shaving as the hair is growing back, but the hairs are not as blunt when they grow back after epilating, so no rash. You do have to remember to exfoliate regularly after epilating to prevent in-growing hairs. This model does come with a pretty good electric shaver head as well, so you get the best of both worlds.
I've never had a professional wax, so I couldn't comment on that, but I have used several brands of waxing strips and sugaring kits. Epilation gives a very similar finish to waxing and sugaring as the hairs are removed from the root and the skin will remain smooth for a similar amount of time. Waxing is probably a bit quicker, but messier as it always leaves a sticky residue behind. I don't think sugaring and waxing catches as many of the shorter hairs and I always used to shave my legs as well after waxing or sugaring. I think you need to develop a bit of knack with waxing to get good result, whereas epilating is much more straight forward.
How does it compare to older/cheaper models?
I've have had the Braun Silk-epil wet and dry epilator for about 2 years now. Before that, I had an older model, also from Braun. It had a slower rotation speed, was not cordless and could not be used near water.
I would definitely recommend the cordless models over a corded one, as you can use it anywhere that is convenient to you. You aren't restricted to using it near a wall socket and I like to epilate over the bath, as it's easy to rinse away the hair afterwards. Being able to use it in the bath or shower is also a bonus as it doesn't hurt as much. However, I find that the tweezers get a better grip on dry hair, so I don't have to go over the same areas as many times. You do have to remember to charge it in advance though. I hour of charging gives about 35-40 minutes use. This is usually enough to do both legs and bikini line.
This model as a built-in light, this is an excellent function as you can easily see if you've missed any hairs as you go along.
The two speed rotation is a good addition and I would suggest starting on the slower speed until you get used to it. I rarely use the slower speed these days, as my main aim is to get it done as quickly as possible.
There are several interchangable caps for use on different areas. These slip on easily and securely - I've never had them fall off during use with this model as they used to with my previous epilator.
Due to the chunkiness of the head and the size of the caps, most of the hair remains inside the epilator, this makes it easier to dispose of rather than it flying all over the place.
What comes in the box...
Olay cooling wet wipes - 16 disposable wipes to clean and cool your skin before epilating.
Shaver head - electric shaver for when you're not feeling brave enough to epilate
Trimming cap - clips onto the shaver head to trim hair rather than shave it, but quickly gets clogged
Facial cap - blocks out about 3 quarters of the tweezers for more precision
Efficiency cap - pivoting head, for more control
Sensitive cap - with rounded ends for bikini area and underarms
Massaging roller cap - massage skin to mask the pain
Power lead - with 2-pin plug for bathroom power sockets
Cleaning brush - for decloging tweezers and rollers - good size and quality
Drawstring bag for storage - handy addition
I don't bother with most of the caps and just use the massaging roller attachment. I only use the epilator on my legs and bikini line and this one works quickly and efficiently for both. I haven't been brave enough to try it on my underarms yet.
Don't go straight for the bikini line or underarms, epilating these areas will hurt a lot more than the legs and may scare you off for life. Get used to epilating your legs a few times first.
Hold the skin as taut as possible as this will ensure the hairs are pulled out quickly rather than the skin being pulled along with hair, which only adds to the pain. This is particularly important if the hairs are on the longer side (more than 1 cm).
Use Aloe vera or tea tree lotion after epliating as it will help reduce the stinging sensation.
Make sure you skin is clean before epilating, preferably with something anti-bacterial as the exposed follicles can easily become infected. The wipes that come with this model are good for this, but are not essential.
Plan ahead and epilate 24 hrs before you intend getting your legs out in public. It can take several hours for the redness to calm down.
The head is easily detachable by pressing the release button. The caps are clipped on and removed by squeezin the sides. Both the head and the caps can be rinsed under the tap for de-clogged using the provided brush.
In summary, epilation is a great long-lasting method of hair removal with no ongoing costs. The Braun Silk-epil Xpressive Wet & Dry has numerous features that make the job quicker and less painful and mark it out from its competitors. The RRP is £139.99, but Amazon are currently selling it for £65.20. You could spend this on one session of waxing at a salon, so great value for money.
I have been using home hair colour on and off for about 8 years now. It used to be mainly to get a different colour, or to brighten up my hair and make it more glossy. These days, I am mainly looking to cover grey hair :(.
It is quite often on special offer in boots or supermarket either as multi-buy deals, or just a special purchase. This means you can offer get it for around £4-5, sometimes less.
You apply the colour to dry unwashed hair. As far as I am concerned, this is the best starting point to colouring your hair, as minimal preparation is required and which helps to keep the whole process quick. Furthermore, adding the colour to dry hair makes it very easy to see which areas you have missed.
The supplied gloves are thick and black. They're really good quality and don't fall apart or split and the colour doesn't get through to stain your hands. They're proper gloves, not those hand-shaped sandwich bags you sometimes get with this type of product. I work in a lab and used to take gloves from work to colour my hair, but I don't need to with this hair colour. However, I would say they may be a little snug if you have medium to large hands.
The first step is to add the colourant to the developer in the supplied bottles and mix gently by tilting. This is all very straight forward and it's easy to see when it is mixed enough as the bottle is just about transparent enough. The instructions say to tilt 5x, but it usually needs a few more. You then replace the cap with the supplied foaming spout cap and tighten it up. The dye is dispensed by squeezing the bottle and the liquid turns to foam as it comes out of the spout. The foam really is non-drip, which is just brilliant. I remember the days when there used to be little splashes of stains all over the bathroom no matter how careful I was. This doesn't happen with this product and I can go of and do something in another room without worrying about. You add a tennis ball size amount of foam to your roots at the parting and repeat working your way out to cover all your hair and it is completely saturated, then massage it in. This is then left for 20 minutes, or up to 30 minutes if you have course hair or stubborn greys. The smell is quite strong, but not as over-powering as some hair dyes which give off a strong ammonia smell.
After the developing time, you just rinse it off and use the provided conditioner. The provided conditioner is very good, I would say it is salon quality. The bottle should last about a month and really leaves the hair glossy and soft - it's almost worth the money just for the conditioner.
The final finish is very good. The colour is rich and my hair always looks and feels healthier after using this product. As far as the colour matching the description goes, this depends on your natural hair colour. I have very dark brown hair and use the the 3N deep brown-black colour. Th picture is lighter than my natural hair colour, but actually makes my hair a shade darker.
The only problem I have with it is that I don't think foam hair colours give as good coverage of grey hair as the liquid ones. I have used other brands of foam colour and had the same issue, so it's not the John Freida one that is causing the problem, I think it just doesn't saturate the hair as much. Having said this, if the main reason for colouring your hair is to give you a natural glossy finish, I can highly reccomend this product.
As with all hair colours, they recommend that you do the skin allergy test 48 hours before colouring your hair even if you have used this product before. This involves applying a small amount of the mixture to you skin, allowing it to dry and leaving it there for 48 hours to see if you have any reaction to it.
I've had my iPhone 4S for about a year now and I honestly feel lost whenever I am without it. Before that I had a very basic old Samsung with actual buttons that didn't do much more than making calls and texting. Obviously, it was a very big leap to switch to the iPhone. I know there are tons of iPhone reviews on the internet, so I thought I would just include my top 5 favorite things about it.
The first thing that strikes you when you pick up an iPhone is how slick and expensive it looks. It has clearly been designed with aesthetics in mind, something that marks Apple products out from other computer and mobile phone makers. The size and weight is just right to feel sturdy without being heavy on prohibitively bulky. I have always had a case on mine, which does mask some of the beauty of the iPhone, but does a great deal to protect it from scratches and bumps. I use it so much that it does get dropped on the floor at least once a week.
There are thousands of apps available to download to your phone. Many are free or have free versions with adverts. The list is endless. There's the flashlight, which turns the flash on the iPhone camera as a torch; the heart rate monitor, where you place your finger on the camera lens and it tracks your heart rate; newspaper apps such as the Daily Mail and the Guardian; BBC iPlayer (as well as ITV player, 4 OD and channel 5 player) to catch up on missed TV programmes, the kindle app to read e-books downloaded from the kindle store (useful for when you've left you kindle at home, and this will automatically sync with the page you're on) and hundreds of games, and apps for photo-editing and social networking. You will never get bored!
This used to be powered by Google Maps and has recently been changed to the Apple version, which isn't as detailed nd doesn't have the brilliant street view, but still uses the same principle to help you get about. I'm hoping this will be improved with future updates. When you open the maps app, the iPhone uses your 3G signal to tell you where you are on a map. You can switch it to the compass mode to show you which direction you are facing on the map. If you don't know how to get to where you need to be, you can enter the postcode or tap on the section of the map you want to get to and it will work out the quickest route to get there. You can switch between walking, driving or train according to which is more appropriate. Basically your iPhone is also a SAT NAV.
Now I know people have mixed opinions about Siri, but I think it's a marvelous addition to the iPhone. Basically, you can perform functions, such as setting a timer, making a phone call, sending a text, looking something up on wikipedia or opening a specific app by simply pressing and holding the home button and speaking what you want to do. And you don't need to learn specific commands, you just say it how you would usually speak. This saves a lot of time if you want to get to certain app or function, but you don't know where abouts on the menu it is. Also, if you are doing something that requires getting your hands dirty, such as cooking or dying your hair, you can quickly set the timer without any fuss.
This, at first, did not seem like any great innovation. At a specific time, an alarm goes off with a message displayed with what you wanted reminding about. But the iPhone goes one step further. It uses the phones GPS tracking to determine where you are, so you can set a reminder to go off when you reach a certain destination. For example, if you know you need to remember to take the bins out when you get home, but you don't know what time you will get home, you can set the reminder to go off when you get home. The iPhone detects when you arrive home and the alarm goes off and your message pops up. If it is not your job to take the bins out, this is particularly satisfying to set up on the iPhone of the person whose job it is and whom often forgets! Likewise, you can use it to set up a message for when you get to work or the supermarket, or anywhere you want. I usually set up reminders using Siri, which makes it even simpler, you press the home button to start up Siri and say "remind me to take the bins out when I get home". And that's it!
OK, that's my top 5. In summary, I struggle to remember how I lived my life before the iPhone. You will never get bored, or lost or fumble around in the dark again. If you are considering buying and iPhone, stop it. Just go and buy one right now.
Thanks for reading to those who have made it this far.
I bought this vacuum cleaner just over a year ago after moving from a flat to a 2 bedroom house. I wanted something that was going to be easy to carry up and down the stairs, but not take up too much space. My house has very limited storage space and most vacuum cleaners are very bulky. This is small - dimensions are 267 x 330 x 210 mm (HxWxD), so perfect.
This is my first Dyson and I wasn't completely sure what to expect from it. Straight out of the box, it gives the impression of a thoughtfully designed piece of kit. All the attachments have a place attached to the hose and so will not get lost and they can easily be swapped around without too much trouble. The rigid part of the hose can also be removed and all attachments can be connected to the end of the flexible part. This makes it easier to control vacuum cleaner when you need to get up close to the area you are cleaning.
All the useful attachments are included:
Flat-Out Tool (the standard flat wide head) - This looks a little on the small side and is much flatter than the head on my previous vacuum cleaner. However, it works brilliantly. It's actually quite handy as it can get underneath low items of furniture with ease. It also has just the right degree of flexibility to easily get under the sofa. Replacements can be bought from the Dyson website for £30 should the need arise. I have not needed to replace it so far.
Combination Tool (the long flat nozzle and dusting tools) - This is a 2 in 1 tool, you get the standard long flat nozzle that you get with most vacuum cleaners for getting into small crevices and there is also a brush tool which slides down over the end of the nozzle for use for dusting. I use this for getting rid of spider webs from the ceiling dusting lamp shades and furniture. It works really well for this. The way this tool clips together is very simple and well designed. Replacements can be bought from Dyson for £10.
Stair Tool - This is a small sturdy head with a velour strips to pick up hairs, the edge also lifts up the carpet pile to improve efficiency of cleaning. I would imagine it would be good for particularly dirty carpets. I don't use this tool much as the Flat-Out tool does a good enough job for what I need. The stair tool can be replaced for £10 from Dyson.
As is standard with vacuum cleaners, this one has a retractable power cord and with 5 metre of cord, you won't find yourself unplugging it every 2 minutes.
The suction is very good and I think it does live up the hype. A couple of downsides to this is that the DC26 is very loud. There is a very strong breeze blowing out of the back of the unit, which can whip up any dust from the floor and put it back into the air. This means you may find yourself having to vacuum again once the dust has resettled.
It has a very sturdy build quality to it and is a very nice shade of blue! It's small and much lighter than it looks (5.3 kg to be exact), which is very handy as you can easily hold the main body in your hand whilst cleaning the stairs. Every removable part of the Dyson DC26 can be replaced, which means should you lose one or if you happen to break one, you don't need to replace the whole unit.
For those who hadn't already heard, Dyson cleaners are bag-less and very easy to empty and clean. The casing around the cylinder is transparent, so you can see the dust building up and you know when it's getting full. It clips off and can be opened so the dust is just tipped away.It can be rinsed with very little effort too. The cylinder does have quite a small capacity, so it need emptying fairly frequently (obviously, this depends on how dirty your house is), but I can live with that, since I wanted a small vacuum cleaner. The cylinder casing and the cyclone assembly can be replaced for £24.55 and £36.24, respectively. Dyson recommended that you remove the filters and rinse them with cold water once a month. Replacements can be purchased for £14.72. These functions, taken together make the Dyson DC26 a very hygienic cleaning system.
Overall, I can highly recommend the Dyson DC26. The RRP is £279.99 from Dyson with free delivery or £229.99 from Amazon, which is where I got it from. I think this is good value for money considering you get a 5 year guarantee. The fact that replacement parts are easy to obtain and reasonably priced means you should never have to buy another vacuum cleaner. The only thing I would say against it is that the end of the hose part is supposed to attach to the main body and stand up as in the picture, but this doesn't really attach to it very well and keeps falling off. It's a shame really because it looks so neat and takes up less space that way.
As anyone who has read my other reviews will be aware, I love Jillian Michaels!
Ripped in 30 is the first of Jillian's workouts that I tried and I was hooked from the start. I would say that it is a slightly easier workout than Killer Buns and Thighs and 6 week 6 pack.
The basic gist of it is that you do one of the 20 minute workouts every day for 30 days. Each week you move up a level and at the end of it you will be ripped (clue's in the name really). The workouts follow the 3-2-1 set up, this is 3 circuits consisting of 3 minutes of strength (muscle toning exercises), 2 minutes of abs and 1 minute of cadio. This type of high intensity training (HIT) is a well known method for rapidly improving muscle tone. Some of the exercises are ones that you may recognise from school PE lessons (eg jumping jacks) and others are completely new and a bit whacky (like the duck walk). But overall, it feels fresh interesting. As with Jillian's other DVDs, there are 2 other ladies in the background, one doing a beginner's version and one doing an advanced version, whilst Jillian does an intermediate version. This allows you to make a slow progression across each each despite doing the same routine. Of course everything can be made harder by increasing the resistance (heavier weights) and performing the exercises faster. Jillian gives tips about correct form all the way through and shouts motivational comments to keep you going. She also tells you exactly which muscle groups you are working and how they will improve the appearance of your body. Each work out includes a complete warm up at the start and full set of stretches at the end.
This DVD is tough. By the end of your first try at level 1, you will sweat and ache, curse Jillian and wonder how you will make it to level 4. But as Jillian says "if you want to get ripped in 30 days, you have to work for it".
I have seen brilliant results from this workout DVD, it doesn't get boring and I often rotate between different JM DVDs whenever I fancy a bit of a change.
In summary, if you are considering buying this, don't hesitate. You will see results whether you're just looking to tone up, or wanting to shed those extra pounds.
As someone who has always had problems with the bum and thigh area, this DVD was exactly what I was looking for. The workout really pushed me and made me sweat and ache like never before. I even cancelled my gym membership after the first time I tried it and, 6 months later, I've not looked back. If you are new to workout DVDs and think you prefer classes at the gym, I urge you to try this. The workouts have clearly been thoroughly thought through in a way that you just don't get in gym classes. As an added bonus, you don't have to head outside to the gym on these cold dark nights.
In order to complete these work outs you will need a set of small hand weights, a mat and a chair.
The DVD includes 3 x 30 minute workouts. The idea is that you start with the first, which is the easiest and work your way up to the 3rd for a really hardcore workout. All 3 workouts include a full warm up at the start and full body stretch at the end. Within each workout there are generally three levels of difficulty. There are 2 very toned looking ladies in the background (Anita and Natalie), one doing a beginner version of the exercises and one doing the advanced. Jillian tends to do a intermediate version. You can also make the workouts easier or harder by using different hand or ankle weights. There is therefore some room for progression even within the individual workouts. The exercises themselves are very simple and easy to follow, but give great results.
Jillian's bootcamp style of instruction may be off-putting to some, but like she says, if you want killer buns and thighs, you have to be prepared to work for it! Personally, I find that it works really well for me.