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I can't remember exactly when I bought this kettle, but I bought it without a great deal of research, because I needed a new kettle in a hurry when my previous kettle became a fire hazard.
I've been very happy with this kettle. I've been using it every day for the last couple of years, and I really have no complaint about it.
It is made of white plastic, with two see-through windows, one on each side of the handle, so that you can still see how much is in the kettle whether you are using it left-handed or right-handed. The measures on the side are accurate. I filled the kettle from a measuring jug with 1.6 litres in it, and the water level lined up with the 1.6 litre mark on the kettle. The cups measure up too, since 1.6 litres is equal to 6.7 US Cups, and the mark for 6 cups comes slightly below the 1.6 litre mark. Since I use some recipes that are measured in cups, this is quite useful for me.
I usually only fill the kettle to the 0.5 litre mark, since I mostly just make one cup of coffee or tea at a time unless I have visitors, in which case I would fill it to at least the 1 litre mark and make a pot of tea, or a cafetiere of coffee.
I actually find the white plastic quite easy to keep clean, since it only requires a quick wipe, unlike my previous stainless steel kettle which needed a wipe and a polish to keep it looking good. There are silvery plastic touches to the kettle, in particular the ridged area on the handle which is very useful for getting a firm grip and not slipping when pouring out boiling water.
The lid opens comfortably wide. I have never had any problem filling it from the tap, nor from a filter jug. The lid has a stainless steel disc inlaid, which is the hardest part to keep looking nice since it needs to be polished to a shine. Luckily, opening the lid is easily done with a push button, but closing it requires a push down, resulting in fingerprints on the surface.
I love Simple products. They are so kind to your skin, and since I have dry sensitive skin they suit me to the ground.
I use a moisturiser every single day, and have done since I was a teenager. I’ve always had pretty dry skin, which meant that although I very rarely suffered from zits, my skin would feel tight or dry if I didn’t moisturise. I’ve used a variety of moisturisers over the years, and sometimes if one was the wrong type for my skin it would result in an outbreak of spots.
Simple Vital Vitamin Day Cream is a lovely thick and rich cream which disappears into the skin of my face and neck without leaving a shiny film. I tend to dab spots of the cream onto my forehead, cheeks, nose and chin, and then onto my neck. Then I gently spread the cream and massage it in until it disappears. In the usage instructions there is no warning about keeping the cream away from the area of the eyes, which I find reassuring.
I wear eye makeup, but never wear any sort of foundation or powder on my face, so for me a vital ingredient in this day cream is the SPF15 protection. I’m very lucky because I tan quite quickly and mostly without burning, as long as I’m very careful, and SPF15 is just about right for me in terms of strength.
Finally, the price is reasonable. You won’t break the bank buying this product. In fact, for the same price as some rival products, you could also splash out on the matching night cream.
A friend gave me a bottle of this perfume, and I’ve loved it from the moment I first tried it out. It has a beautiful fresh flowery feel to it when you first spray it on, and then gradually warms up on your skin, until it settles down into a warm spicy scent.
This perfume came onto the market in 2009, and is part of the Lovely Collection which consists of Dawn, Endless, and Twilight. The sarahjessicaparkerbeauty.com website describes Twilight as ‘a sexy, mysterious and complex fragrance’.
The topnotes are pink pepper, bergamot and galbanum.
Followed by jasmine and peony.
And the base is amber, sandalwood and incense.
I’d never heard of galbanum, so I looked it up. Galbanum is an aromatic gum resin, which comes from a plant called Ferula Gummosa. This has been used since Ancient Egyptian times in conjunction with incense for spiritual purposes. Galbanum is also an essential oil, renowned for supporting the immune system as well as the digestive, respiratory and other systems. It is also reputed to help troubled or mature skin. So, galbanum isn’t just a scent, but also a beneficial and soothing addition to the Twilight formula. Notice, also, that incense is used in the base notes of this perfume, a pairing with galbanum that goes back more than two thousand years.
I’m familiar with all the other ingredients, but was a bit puzzled about the inclusion of amber. Was the gemstone ground up for colour or scent? It appears that it has absolutely nothing to do with fossilised amber resin. It is a mixture of benzoin (an aromatic resinous oil made from the benzoin tree), labdanum (a sticky brown resin collected from Mediterranean Rockrose shrubs), and vanilla.
So all those different scents blend together to produce this ‘lovely’ perfume. It isn’t too heavy to wear throughout the day, and the base scents work well for the night-time too.
This is one of my favourite teas, and it's the first thing I turn to when I'm feeling under the weather. The steam that wafts up from the cup is aromatic, promising wonderful flavours to come. The various ingredients in the tea blend together beautifully to produce those promised flavours. The colour of the tea is a pleasing red, probably due to a combination of berries and hibiscus.
Although the tea is called Echinacea and Raspberry, there are many more tasty ingredients.
Hibiscus, Echinacea Root* (20%), Orange Leaves*, Orange Peel, Blackberry Leaves*, Natural Flavouring (6%), Natural Raspberry and Strawberry Flavourings With Other Natural Flavourings (6%), Liquorice Root*, Lemon Peel.
To make the tea, simply put one teabag into a mug or cup, pour over boiling water, and wait for 2 or 3 minutes. I like to add a teaspoon of honey, especially if I am starting to get a sore throat, which is sometimes the first symptom of a cold.
I find this tea very comforting, and I'm a great believer in the healing and preventive qualities of Echinacea.
It is believed that Echinacea has been used as a medicinal plant by Native Americans for more than 400 years. It was commonly used in the US during the 19th and 20th Centuries as a cure for a variety of illnesses, but its popularity faded after the discovery of antibiotics. It became popular in Europe during the 1930's as a herbal medicine. A great deal of research into its benefits has been carried out, and it has regained its acceptance as an effective herbal medicine.
I bought my Kindle a few years ago, and I really love it. It's so useful being able to travel without having to carry a load of heavy books in my suitcase. Nowadays, whenever I travel, I always carry my kindle with me.
Great for travelling:
When I first started using my Kindle on a plane, the cabin staff would tell me to switch it off during takeoff and landing. Nowadays, though, I'm just told to switch it to Airplane Mode and can use it any time I like during the flight. Even on the longest flights, I still don’t run out of things to read. The same applies for any other sort of journey. For instance, cars or trains, and especially on cruises.
Good company when you’re eating or drinking or waiting:
If I go out shopping, I pop it into my handbag so that if I stop to have a coffee or a snack, I can just pull it out of my bag and carry on reading. Waiting for buses and trains, waiting to meet friends, waiting in the doctor’s or dentist’s or at the hairdresser’s, my Kindle is always there. You can read more than one book at a time because wherever you've reached in any particular book is where it takes you back to.
Other nice things about the Kindle:
What's also nice about the Kindle is that you can read it in full sunshine without any reflection on the screen. I’ve read my Kindle on beaches, poolside and in my own garden, all in full sunlight, without any problem. I have never dropped it in water, but it has been covered in sand, which I’ve just brushed off, and it’s been none the worse for it.
It's also rechargeable, and one charge will last about a month. You can get Kindles that have keyboards but mine is a very simple one.
Kindle books are usually cheaper than the printed versions are. Quite often they are quite a bit cheaper, and occasionally even free. It’s a great way to discover new authors, whose books are sometimes offered for free for a limited period. I’ve read some really good books that way, and have gone on to find and buy more of those authors’ works.
Once you've read a book you can archive it so that your kindle index doesn't get too cluttered. If you need to retrieve a book you can just go to your archive and reload it onto your Kindle.
I've been using these eye make-up remover pads for quite some time, particularly when I'm travelling away from home.
They remove all eye make-up, even tough to remove mascara, and leave your eyes fresh and clean. I find I generally don't need to use more than one or two of these pads to remove my eye make-up.
To make the best use of them, I fold the pad in half and press it gently to my closed eye for a couple of seconds, and then wipe. The mascara comes straight off, and then the rest is easy. Just wipe around the whole eye, turning the pad around so that there is a clean section to wipe with. You can then follow up with facial wipes or cleansing products, and since you know that your eyes are already clean, you can avoid that area and any chance of inadvertently flooding your eye with facial cleanser.
For me, though, the biggest advantage of these pads is when I'm travelling, particularly when I'm flying. They are brilliant if you’re travelling light, especially if you're flying with only hand baggage, because they don’t qualify as liquid, cream, or gel, and so will not cause any problems through security. Just one less item that you need to put in the clear bag. The pack is also so small and compact it can easily fit into most make-up bags. Another bonus is that a full pack weighs very little and so won’t put a strain on your weight allowance.
These pads are non-greasy, so they're great if you have a make-up disaster and need to start again. You just wipe away the disaster and are left with a clean surface, so that you can reapply your make-up straight away.
I always have some of these in my make-up bag.
I bought an iPhone a few months ago, and it's opened up a whole new view of the world for me. This phone seems to be able to do just about everything.
Here are some of the roles it plays:
It's a phone, so you can call people, receive phone calls, block unwanted callers, receive and play back voice-mail, and receive and send texts.
It's a calendar. So you can keep track of where you're supposed to be, and when you're supposed to be there. Not only that, it will remind you when you have an appointment, and if you tell it where the appointment is, it can work out how much time you need to get from where you are to where you want to go, and it will even let you see a little map of your destination.
It's a camera and video camera. The pictures it takes are really good quality, which means I don't have to carry a bulky camera around with me all the time, and can just use my phone.
It has a facility called Siri, which talks to you and also can transcribe your voice into text, so that rather than having to type something in you can just speak it. Siri will also answer your spoken questions.
Then there's Facetime. Face to face conversations, so you can speak to friends and family who might be far away.
It's a computer. You can go online and search for websites or any information the way you would on your PC.
It has a word processing facility, as well as spreadsheet.
It can communicate with other phones that are nearby, and transfer information with a click.
And apps, hundreds of them, which can perform any number of tasks you can think of.
I decided that my derailed weight loss efforts should get back on track, and just to make things easier for myself I picked up a few ready meals at M&S. Among their 'count on us' range, I found the Lemon & Ginger Chicken with fluffy basmati rice.
The list of ingredients is impressively detailed, and I recognised each and every one as an item I would happily store in my kitchen cupboard or fridge.
Each meal contains 420 calories, 6.8g sugar, 7.6g fat , 2.8g sat fat, 1.50g salt and even lists it as 6 ½ points based on the Weight Watchers points scale.
The front of the pack claims that it contains less than 3% fat, which is true if you're comparing it weight for weight (7.6g fat as a percentage of 400g meal). However, if you look at it in terms of calorific values, each gram of fat contains 9 calories so 7.6g of fat accounts for 68.4 calories out of the 420 in the meal. This means that 16.29% of the calories in the meal are made up of fat, which is still good. I usually try to aim for about 30% fat or less.
This meal is designed to be cooked in the microwave, and only takes 5 minutes to prepare.
After cooking, I put it on a plate and tucked in. The sauce was creamy and really quite delicate with just a bit of a bite from all the spices, chilli and ginger. The pieces of chicken were very generous, were tender and tasted very good. The rice was fluffy and light and just right. I'm no great lover of ginger, but this was delicious and the taste of ginger wasn't at all overpowering.
This was a really tasty dish, and also very satisfying. For me it was just the right amount, and by the time I finished I was no longer hungry.
The other day I found that we had too many eggs in the fridge, so I decided to make a Spanish omelette to use them up. Since this was going to be a dinner dish, I went shopping for some side dishes. I bought some Chorizo to fry and serve on the side, and then spotted the Tesco Garlic & Parsley Flatbread on the shelf, and decided to give it a try. Some salad and rocket leaves picked fresh from the garden and tossed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil completed the menu.
The garlic & parsley flatbread was light and delicious. It only took about 5 minutes to heat up in the oven, and it complemented the other ingredients in our meal perfectly.
The bag in which it was sealed said that it would be ideal with an Italian meal or that it could be covered with a topping for a tasty snack. There was a quarter omelette and a quarter of the flatbread left at the end of the meal, so I put the omelette on top of the flatbread and decorated it with the remaining few slices of chorizo, wrapped them all in foil and stored in the fridge. Reheated a couple of days later, it was still just as good as the first day.
One quarter of the flatbread contains 145 calories, and most of the ingredients are easily recognisable as natural.
I wasn't sure about the preservative listed as Calcium Propionate, so I looked it up. This ingredient has the E number 282 and is used in breads because of its ability to inhibit the growth of molds and other microorganisms. One website claims that it is one of the safest food additives, while another claims that it is neither safe nor necessary.
I liked this flatbread, and since it's suitable for home freezing, I think that it would be very useful to have a few stashed away in the freezer. I bought this for £1 although the usual price is £1.25.
Just over a month ago I urgently needed to get some bank cards and drivers licenses to my daughter, who is travelling. At the time she was in Georgia, and since she was travelling around, didn't have an address that I could send the package to.
There were two days, however, when she would be in Tbilisi, and someone she knew agreed to let her have the package sent to her work address.
I called a few courier companies, and some wouldn't handle bank cards, others couldn't guarantee delivery on time, and some were just too expensive.
UPS were very helpful over the telephone, and the person I spoke to was well informed and could guarantee the package arriving on one of the two days my daughter would be there. The critical arrival days were Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week, and we agreed that if I sent the parcel on Thursday it would almost certainly be there on Tuesday. Wednesday was the very latest that it could arrive.
I made all the arrangements over the telephone, and voiced my concern about the security of my packaging. I was promised a UPS envelope which I could seal, and given a pickup window (morning). I paid by credit card over the phone and was given the best price they had.
The courier arrived on time, with the UPS envelope for me to put my package into, and a form for me to fill. I filled in the form, sealed the envelope, and the courier left me a copy of the form with the tracking number, so that I could check on the progress of my package online.
That was the fun part. I checked once a day over the weekend, and could see where the package had reached and when it had left, until eventually it arrived in Georgia. It was safely delivered, as promised, to my daughter's friend in her office on the Tuesday, with plenty of time to spare.
This is was a super service, and solved a massive problem of delivering vital documents during a very small window of opportunity.
One day, I took a good look at my oatmeal coloured carpets and realised that they were really grubby. I knew from past experience that hiring a professional carpet cleaner would only be a short term solution before normal wear and tear (spilled drinks, muddy feet and paws, etc.) started to show up again.
For less than it would have cost to have a couple of rooms cleaned by a professional cleaner, I bought myself a Bissell Quick Wash Lightweight Deep Cleaner. This means that I can now shampoo as small or as large an area of carpet as I like, anytime I want to. It's almost as simple as hauling the vacuum cleaner out from under the stairs, but with the addition of some cleaning solution.
It's lightweight (less than 5 ½ kilos), easy to assemble and very uncomplicated to use. It comes with a good supply of cleaning solution, and a clear set of instructions, so you can get started straight away.
I've found the best time to use it is last thing at night, because it's unlikely to get walked on while it's drying. By morning, any areas I've cleaned are usually dry.
You do have to clean the brush head and dirty water tank after use, but that isn't too difficult.
It works very well. There had been some areas where spilled drinks had stained the carpet, and I had to go over those a couple of times before they disappeared, and they haven't resurfaced.
I've been very happy with this machine, and I no longer worry about anyone trailing in dirt, or pets leaving muddy paw prints on my carpet, because cleaning it all up is now so easy and the appliance for the job is stored right under the stairs.
Available for £70, it comes with an unlimited 2 year warrantee.
I haven't used the hard floor attachment, so I can't comment on that.
Pritt Stick is usually my glue of choice. I've been using it for years, and it's clean, safe, and easy to use. I have these glue sticks scattered throughout the house, so I usually have one close to hand. I keep one in the study, one in the kitchen, one in the sitting room, and one near the front door.
It has so many uses, mostly sticking paper to paper, although I've used it to stick bits of fabric to paper.
It's great for kids' projects, since it's quite safe for them to use. It glides on quite easily and if they get it on their fingers it isn't hard to wash off. The other advantage is that if they spread the glue outside of the areas they are trying to stick, it dries clear and doesn't show.
Around the house, it's useful for craft projects, organizing photos, and anything else that needs sticking. Sometimes the glue on envelopes becomes unusable, and instead of having to throw the envelope away a quick swipe with a Pritt Stick does the job of sealing it.
Sometimes, when I'm wrapping a present and I don't want sticky tape to show, I'll use the Pritt Stick to stick the paper down, and end up with a neatly wrapped gift.
The glue slides on in a smooth and even layer if you apply it gently. But if you press down too hard when you're applying it, it can leave little lumps of glue on the surface of your project.
I've never kept a Pritt Stick in my handbag, although a small 10g stick would take up very little room and always be on hand. I'd worry that I might mistake it for a lip salve or gloss!
Pritt Sticks come in three sizes: 10g, 20g and 40g. There aren't a great many good products priced at less than £1, but you can buy a single 10g Pritt stick for 99p, or as little as 62p per stick if you buy a 6-pack. It's really good value for money, and if you keep the lid tightly on when you aren't using it, it won't dry out. I've unearthed Pritt sticks that I'd forgotten about years after putting them away, and they're still good to use.
DI Geraldine Steel is a dedicated police officer working on a mobile murder investigation team. Feeling betrayed after the breakup of a 6 year relationship, she moves to a new flat near the small town of Woolsmarsh, where most of the action in the book takes place.
Trying to put her life back together isn't easy for Geraldine. As she struggles with the demands of her job, a small part of her yearns for what her sister has - marriage, kids and home, but without wishing to sacrifice her career at the altar of domestic bliss.
Woolsmarsh is terrorised by a serial killer who strangles and leaves the bodies of his victims in the park. Geraldine is trying to track down the Woolsmarsh Strangler, while closer to home a malicious vandal is attempting to victimise her. Are the two connected?
Right from the start the reader is taken into the head of the strangler. Bit by bit we are shown the workings of a sick and twisted mind and gradually learn who the killer is, as one by one he picks off his victims.
Several threads run through the story - sometimes crossing, sometimes touching and then drifting off in different directions, but always keeping the reader guessing. Leigh Russell skilfully weaves these threads together until Geraldine finally grasps all the relevant ones and solves the case. The author then puts the icing on the cake by collecting all the remaining threads and tying them up nicely.
I really enjoyed this book. It kept me turning the pages, and the different undercurrents captured my interest and retained it throughout its length. There were interactions between the different members of the team, the domestic and public goings-on of local celebrities, and a budding romance in Geraldine's life.
The tantalizing clues and hints that are dropped throughout the book make for an excellent crime thriller which carries the reader along to its final climax and revelation.
The book is sold with a money back guarantee, which I, for one, won't be claiming.
The Milton Keynes Theatre area is a pedestrian area with restaurants, bars and pubs as well as a club or two. The Theatre itself is at one end facing the shopping centre, with an art gallery right next to it. At the other end of this area, facing the Xcape building (famous for its indoor snow ski slope), are car parking spaces.
The Tai Pan Restaurant is quite close to the theatre, and offers a pre-theatre dinner for £8.50 per person, excluding drinks. On one trip to the theatre I was in a group of four people, and we decided to have dinner at the Tai Pan before going to see the play.
We were greeted and led to our table by an extremely polite and welcoming waiter, who gave us our menus, took our drinks orders, and left us to decide on what we wanted to eat.
We decided to try the pre-theatre dinner option. Two chose duck crispy pancake rolls, one chose prawn crackers (complete with tails), and I chose the vegetarian pancake rolls. We all enjoyed our selections. My pancake rolls were light and crispy and very tasty. The prawn crackers were an amazing sight, with the tails poking out of the toast, and were reportedly delicious.
For main courses, two of us chose beef with onions and black bean sauce, and two chose sweet and sour chicken. I didn't try the sweet and sour chicken, but judging by the reactions of the two who did, it didn't disappoint. My beef dish was excellent. The meat was tender, and the sauce was very tasty with just that fiery hint you expect from a black bean sauce. It came with delicious egg fried rice, and the one person in our party who is allergic to eggs was catered for with eggs-free fried rice.
We all shared a good Argentinean white wine, and our final bill was £51 for the four of us, including drinks. The service throughout was excellent, with smiling waiters and very short waiting times, so that we left contented and in good time for the play we were going to see.
I came across Marks & Spencer Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice Jelly by accident and decided to give it a try. When I pulled back the lid, the first thing I noticed was the fresh scent of oranges. I also noticed that the jelly wasn't a very solid one. It wasn't quite soft enough to drink, but it was definitely wobblier than expected.
This is a really nice jelly, which tastes like fresh orange juice. It's actually quite strange when you eat it because the jelly feels more solid in the mouth than the flavour leads you to expect. It reminds me of the fresh orange ice lollies that we sometimes freeze at home.
It would make a nice refreshing course at the end of a meal, and at approximately 122 calories per pot, it's a pud that's very nearly guilt-free.
There is no added colouring, so that the jelly is a natural shade of orange. This comes in 175g pots, and each 100g contains 70 calories. The listed ingredients are: Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice (45%), water, sugar, and pork gelatine. The pork gelatine makes this unsuitable for vegetarians and anyone who can't eat pork, and for this reason I'm only going to give it 4 stars.