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dougal868

dougal868
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Member since: 13.10.2008

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      19.10.2009 21:03
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      A low calorie treat that's super sweet and fills up your tum!

      I seem to have been permanently on one diet or another for most of my adult life. It hasn't really got me very far but that doesn't stop me looking out for healthy treats and low calorie snacks - especially something sugary to satisfy my sweet tooth. So, today, I found myself in WH Smith after a rather long and dull wait for a hospital appointment - no magazines in the waiting room to pass the time (due to Swine Flu I suppose?!) and a looooooooooong wait which left me feeling a little peckish! Now, I'd been very good so far with my calories up to this point and didn't really want to spoil things by reaching for a bag of Doritos or something else loaded with bad stuff. But, it has to be said, that in times like this in the past I have just decided to take the 'it's ok I'll start again tomorrow' route and reach for one of those mega sized bars of Galaxy!! But not today. Today, I (thankfully) noticed that hidden in amongst all the chocolate bars, chocolate covered cereal bars, sugary sweet flapjacks and all the other 'good stuff' there were some little bags of 'Special K Mini Breaks'. And after a quick look at the packet I was very happy to see that they were an angelic 98 calories per bag! That clinched the deal for me and off I went to pay...

      So, out of the shop and get them open as quick as I can (I am starving after all!). The bag is sort of small - around the size of a bag of Mini Cheddars or a 5p pack of crisps (do you still get those???) and the outside is emblazoned with the usual Kellogs Special K logo that reminds you, in a rather comforting way, that you're eating something seemingly healthy that will (hopefully) help you to stop piling on the pounds. It's a brand I'm sure we're all familiar with!

      Inside, I found the Mini Breaks themselves - quite thin, square little biscuits basically. Not sure why really but I expected them to be soft and have a bit of a chew about them but actually, they're really crunchy. But it's a nice crunch - really biscuity. The breaks are made of oats, wheat and rice and you can actually see some of the oats in the biscuits which is quite nice and gives the impression that they're not overly processed. The taste is really sweet - sort of honey-ish (although I can't seem to see honey on the ingredients!) and kind of reminds me of a crunchier version of something else oaty like a Hobnob or similar. I had really expected that for 98 calories the bag would have a few little things in it and that would be it but I was totally wrong! There is a really good handful in there and they really filled me up and kept me going til tea time which was exactly what I needed to stop me falling off the diet wagon!

      These really are tasty little snacks - even if you weren't on a diet they'd be a nice little pick me up with a cup of tea or just as a snack or a treat after lunch. They are super sweet so one bag is enough and you're unlikely to overindulge on them at all.

      All in all, a tasty snack - doesn't taste diet-y or low fat or anything so you don't feel cheated and for less than 100 calories you get something that will actually keep the hunger pangs at bay. Yum!

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    • Asda Green Olive Bread / Snacks / 17 Readings / 17 Ratings
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      18.10.2009 21:16
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      Yummy, yummy!

      There's nothing quite like the smell of fresh bread. Especially lovely white bread with a crispy crust and fluffy inside - yum! Well, yes now there is something better than that actually! Think of that lovely soft white bread - picture it now, ready to spread on some gorgeous creamy butter...mmmmm... And now imagine that again with some juicy green olives thrown in to boot! And now you have Asda's Green Olive Bread...

      I didn't really used to like olives much. They were just one of those things you get on pizzas that I tended to pick off. But then I think one too many trips to the continental market got to me and I suddenly changed from olive hater to olive lover. So when I noticed that Asda were selling an olive bread I just had to buy a loaf and give it a try.

      The loaf is small-ish at 400g (around half the size of a standard sliced Hovis) and costs £1.20. This does seem quite a lot really and, given that we're generally on quite a tight budget when it comes to the weekly shop, I must have been feeling a little extravagant when I splashed out on this purchase. But I'm so glad I did! When you open the clear packaging you immediately get a whiff of that GORGEOUS fresh bread smell. The Olive Bread is part of the range that Asda bake in-store so you know your loaf has been freshly baked and that's completely confirmed when that bakery smell jumps out at you from the packet! The loaf itself is rustic looking - not misshapen but not in the typical loaf tin shape like your other standard breads. You can see some bits of olives sticking out of the crust and it just looks incredibly appetising. Once you slice through the crust you find what is really just a standard white bread with bits of olives baked into the mix. The bread is SO soft and SO fluffy though and there seems to just the right amount of olives to satisfy my olive cravings but not so many that they get in the way of the bread.

      The temptation now would just be to sit and eat the whole lot on it's own with a bit of butter but no, no, no. IF you can hold back the greed long enough, you will find that this is the PERFECT savoury accompaniment to any soup (great for some dunking action) and makes a lovely base for such delights as cheese on toast.

      This really is a gorgeous bread - a little pricey maybe but really worth it. Yes, it's just white bread with olives thrown in BUT it tastes really yummy and my taste-buds love it!

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        01.09.2009 18:17
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        A bit of nostalgia and a tasty treat!

        Mmmmmmmmm Mr Kipling's French Fancies - delicious!! I would say that you need to have a fairly sweet tooth to enjoy these lovely little cakes and luckily I do! French Fancies have been around for years and I can't see them disappearing any time soon. They remind me of being little - visiting gradparents on Sunday afternoons, running round playing games then in for Super Gran on TV and a tea which would inevitably include Mr Kipling's French Fancies - yum!

        So what are they? French Fancies are small square shaped sponge cakes covered in fondant icing with a small amount of vanilla cream on top (under the icing). They come in boxes of 8 cakes and are coloured yellow, pink or brown.

        Tasty? Yes! These little cakes really are delicious and I'm quite sure that most people would reach for a second (I know I do!). They are all very sweet though so could become a bit sickly if you overindulged with cake no.3! The yellow cakes have a slight lemony flavour while the brown ones are chocolate. The pink ones you may then assume to be strawberry, raspberry or maybe even cherry but they are, slightly confusingly, just plain in flavour (with a hint of vanilla from the cream).

        These cakes are also really pretty and do seem to appeal to children. They are also a bit girly I suppose and my daughters certainly love them (especially the pink ones!). They're also quite cute I think in their individual wrappings and are a great extra for kids parties as well as just having as an indulgence with a cup of tea.

        These cakes aren't all that expensive but I always feel that they're a nice indulgence and they do look and seem a bit nicer than some other small boxed cakes. They have nice touches like some piped icing on top of each cake which just make them seem that little bit nicer.

        French Fancies retail for around £1.75 per box of 8 however they (along with most of the other Mr Kipling cakes) seem to be on offer quite often so you may be able to pick some up for as little as £1. I'd also add that having tried a lot of the supermarket own brand versions, the cheaper French Fancies (or Fondant Fancies as they're usually known when not made by Mr K) are just as good and often a lot cheaper!! You can now also really indulge yourself with the giant sized pink French Fancy - ideal for a birthday as it apparently serves 12!! The giant pink Fancy is available from Asda at the moment for around £6.36.

        All I can say is - yum!

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        • Show Me, Show Me / TV Programme / 40 Readings / 40 Ratings
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          01.09.2009 12:47
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          A simple idea that harks back to a simpler time on children's TV.

          Show me show me a mum, dad or child that wasn't ecstatically happy to see Chris and Pui return to our screens a few weeks ago!! I think you'd struggle to find any! Don't get me wrong, we do like Alex and Cerrie (the new CBeebies presenters) but we certainly did go through a period of mourning when our beloved Chris and Pui moved on to pastures new lol So when we discovered that one of their new projects was a brand new programme for CBeebies we were all very happy indeedy!

          'Show me show me' is essentially a very simple children's programme aimed mainly at younger pre-school children. It seems to have a calmness to it and is almost a little old fashioned in a way. But in a good way. The programme is filmed in a studio and is supposed to be at the top floor of a building with the opening credits taking you up in a lift while counting each floor that passes all the way up to 10. And again when the programme comes to an end, the lift arrives to take you back down again.

          Throughout the programme Chris and Pui interact with their various cuddly toys and encourage children watching to do the same with their teddies. A different topic is covered in each programme so there is a theme that runs through the episode. For example, one is all about birthday parties. The ideas are simple but effective and really seem to engage children as well as entertaining them. There is also an educational aspect as you would expect from a CBeebies show - we learn about objects that float and sink in one episode where a teddy is getting ready to take a bath.

          There is also an animation called Penelope featured in each episode of Show me Show me, which my eldest daughter particularly looks forward to. As well as the 'groovy moves' tune that we all like to get up and dance to!!

          We really do like Show me show me in this house! It is a very simple format that seems almost reminiscent of shows I remember from when I was a child - think Playschool and older episodes of Blue Peter. It's fun learning that makes you smile and isn't as manic as many other kids shows - good stuff! And great to see Chris and Pui back on our screens :o)

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          • BBC iPlayer / Multimedia / 29 Readings / 29 Ratings
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            01.09.2009 11:40
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            Brilliant service - very handy!

            Well, I think I'm a bit behind the times as I've only very recently discovered the BBC iPlayer! I'm no technophobe though - I spend far too much time on the net and I do like to know about anything new but iPlayer seemed to pass me by!! Until a couple of weeks ago that is, when our Sky+ failed to record one of my favourite programmes so I thought I'd give iPlayer a try!

            So what is it? iPlayer is a part of the BBC's website (www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer) that lists various BBC TV programmes for you to view via the internet instead of TV. Not everything is listed on here but all of the major programmes are and sometimes a full series of one programme is available.

            Any good? Yes! I'm glad I finally discovered iPlayer - it really is fantastic for catching up on things you've missed or watching something you might not have thought you'd like so may have bypassed on the TV listings. As well as TV there is also a whole load of radio listed too and each TV/radio channel has it's own mini site so you can easily find what you're looking for (as well as A-Z listings for all channels). We especially love this aspect as my daughters like to see any CBeebies programmes they've missed or watch their favourites that are no longer on TV so we can go straight to the CBeebies section on iPlayer and they can easily see all their favourites!

            Portability is also a great aspect of iPlayer - if you have a wireless laptop then you can basically watch TV wherever you want! In the livingroom, bedroom, garden, kitchen or even in the loo if that takes your fancy!! I've also discovered just this morning with the news the the Nintendo internet browser is now free that you can also watch iPlayer on the Wii!

            Bad stuff? The quality is good but sometimes he stream can be a bit jerky as it continues to buffer. I think this has been a problem in the past and has been improved on but it does still continue to do it although this can be worse at some times of the day than others. The stream on the Wii is also of a slightly lesser quality than via your PC/laptop as apparently the Wii has an old version of Flash - although having it on your TV at a very slightly worse quality still outweighs having to huddle round your laptop I'd say!

            Overall I'd say iPlayer is a fantastic service. The quality isn't 100% but it is pretty good and the convenience alone is brilliant. And it is also FREE which is always good news!

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              31.08.2009 22:10
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              Works well - give it a try!

              I'm generally an in the shower with a razor type of girl when it comes to hair removal. Too much of a wimp for waxing and tried hair removal cream once years ago in the days of Immac and found it to just be far too messy and quite smelly (think perm lotion) so never tried it again! However, when I took a trip to Boots to invest in some new razor blades for my faithful Wilkinson Sword I noticed a display of Veet 'In Shower Hair Removal Cream'. This seemed to trigger some recognition about an advert I'd seen on TV and before I knew it I was at the till!

              Mostly what appealed to me was the idea that it could be used in the shower rather than having to apply the cream then sit/stand around waiting for the alloted time to pass without accidently smudging it on something! No, no, with the new Veet you can simply apply the cream and it will apparently stay attached to your legs even in water so you can get on with whatever else you need to do in the shower until it's time to remove the cream.

              Too good to be true? Kind of. Firstly, the cream smells quite nice - there's still a hint of that chemical perm lotion type smell that had put me off all those years ago but it's definitely toned down a lot and not at all off putting like it was before. The cream is easily applied with the sponge provided and it's quite thick so applies really easily in a thick-ish layer which makes it really easy to see where you've already applied it.

              Then comes time to get in the shower. Now, you need to leave the cream on your skin for a minimum of 3 minutes but no more than 6 minutes. I have to say that 3 minutes in the shower of hair washing or whatever is enough to start the cream sliding off your legs. It would be ok if you could avoid the water directly hitting the cream (splashes are fine!) but that's fairly impossible! You therefore do get the odd bits where the cream comes off too early.

              Once your 3-6 minutes have passed you need to remove the cream. All you need to do is flip over the sponge you used to apply it - this side is rougher and easily removes the cream and dislodges the hairs. The abrasiveness also nicely exfoliates your skin so you do end up with a nice silky feeling. My only niggle with the sponge is that it's quite small (designed to fit snuggly in the cap of the bottle) which is fine when you apply the cream but just seems a bit too small when it comes time to remove it. So instead, I've taken to using an old body puff - still abrasive enough but much bigger! Once you've done all of that you are left with very nice hairless, smooth, exfoliated skin so it does work!

              Price? The Veet In Shower Hair Removal Cream retails for around £10 for a 300ml bottle or around £6 for the 150ml sized tube (as shown in the picture). I wouldn't say this is fantastic value when you consider how much you can buy a razor for but it is a name branded, new-ish product so it's not surprising that you pay a high price I suppose. It does make sense to splash out on the bigger bottle when you compare the prices.

              My couple of niggles and the slight expense haven't been enough to put me off using it. I'm just much more careful about how much water hits my legs - although having to be careful perhaps defeats the purpose of the in shower aspect of the cream! But in general it is quite easy to use and you don't get the pain of waxing or the potential nicks you get when using a razor. Overall I'm really happy with the cream and I'm glad I gave it a try!

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              31.08.2009 21:40
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              Great taste, great value

              I'm not really much of a sweets fan really. I do have a sweet tooth but this tends to manifest itself with chocolate cravings and sticky puddings! I do eat sweets but they're not the first thing I go for. So it wasn't for nibbles that I initially bought the Asda Smart Price Dolly Mixtures, it was actually for cupcake decorations for my daughter's birthday party! Didn't really want to spend too much on what was just an extra on the cakes so decided to go for the Smart Price variety over the more expensive ones - and I'm glad I did!

              Dolly Mixtures are a variety of different fondant shapes in different colours and flavours along with some sugar coated jelly sweets. I suppose they're really like a children's version of liquorice allsorts in a way. They've been around for donkeys years, made by various different brands and I'm sure 99% of people have tried them!!

              So are these Dolly Mixtures any good? Yes! I really hadn't thought they'd be all that good given the price: 30p for 175g versus 38p for 100g of Asda's standard Dolly Mixtures. Despite the cheapness, they're actually really tasty! I'd thought they may be a little chewy or bland but I was wrong on both counts. The sweets are firm but soft when you chew and the jellys are just chewy enough. They are sweet but not sickly with it (unless you eat a lot!) and the flavours aren't too strong at all. The packaging is a bit dull but I'm not one to be too influenced by the packet (although I do like nice packaging too!) so this hasn't really been too negative for me.

              These are really good sweets and are great value. They didn't last long in our house anyway (I'll blame my husband for that!!) and they also looked pretty good on my cupcakes too!! Definitely worth a try :o)

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                31.08.2009 14:20
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                Get creative with this bargain!!

                I'm quite sure that everyone has heard of Play-Doh and most people (especially if you have children!) will have had a play with it! So, as you will all no doubt know, Play-Doh is a modeling compound aimed mainly at young children. It comes in a variety of different colours and be used to model just about anything! My daughters (2 and almost 4) have always loved Play-Doh (and so do I lol). Our current batch of colours were starting to dry out a little so I was very happy when our youngest daughter opened her birthday pressie from her Nana last week to find the Play-Doh Super Value Rainbow Pack.

                So what is it? The Play-Doh Super Rainbow Value Pack is a pack of 20 1oz pots of Play-Doh along with a big batch of accessories to use with the dough. The pots are slightly smaller than the standard size that you can buy individually or in smaller sets but with so many colours you really are getting a lot of dough with this. The accessories include a variety of cutters, extruders, a rolling pin and a tool to make a 3D teddy!

                Good points? The first good point I'd have to say is the value for money. Even the other cheaper brands of Play-Doh would struggle to beat this bargain! The whole set retails for £9.99 in Argos at the moment but is also included in their two toys for £15 offer so you could by the Rainbow pack for as little as £7.50!

                Secondly, there is a huge variety of colours in the set so you really have the opportunity to get creative here. That along with all the cutters, etc is fantastic and will easily entertain kids (and adults!) on a rainy afternoon.

                The best thing though about this kind of toy is that children really have to get their imaginations going to make the toy work. It's a bit like the old cardboard box syndrome where children would often leave the new toy in favour of playing with the box! Young children really do have fantastic imaginations and this is a great activity to really let them run wild with ideas and see what they can come up with! For example, we spent ages yesterday with our (almost) 4 year old daughter trying to make the best hat to fit the Play-Doh snowman we'd just crafted! And even much younger children who may not be able to make any recognisable models still love to roll the dough around, turn it into sausages and just feel it squidge through their fingers.

                Bad things? Well, I read a review on Argos' own website where someone had rated the pack quite negatively but this seemed mostly down to it being trampled into the carpet and her daughter neglecting to put the lids back on the pots... Yes, it can be a pain to get off of carpets and yes, it will dry out if left in the air for too long BUT I'd say these are a very small negative point on what is actually a fantastic toy! I can't really come up with any negatives myself - it's all good as far as I'm concerned!!

                Overall I'd say Play-Doh in general is a fantastic toy to allow children to really get creative. And the Super Rainbow Value Pack in particular is a brilliant set that will provide hours of fun for a fantastic price.

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                • Argos Wooden Dolls House / Doll / 28 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                  31.08.2009 13:00
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                  A lovely traditional toy at a brilliant price!

                  It was my daughter's 2nd birthday last week (already - arrgghh!) and we really struggled to think of what to buy her! I wouldn't say our children are spoilt but they do have quite a lot of toys PLUS our eldest is only 2 years older so they do both share the same sort of toys. So I had some bits and pieces for the birthday girl but just couldn't think what her main pressie could be! So, I turned to the toy bible a.k.a the Argos catalogue - a good starting place for any toy making decisions lol Trawling through the pages I spotted this wooden dolls house - listed as £39.99 but on checking the website was delighted to find it reduced to £24.99 - yay! And so, last friday morning, youngest monkey came downstairs to find the Argos Wooden Dolls House waiting for her :o)

                  So, what is it? The dolls house is a very traditional wooden dolls house. Very girly with a pink roof and pink around the windows with two panels/doors on the front that open up to reveal the rooms inside. The dolls house comes flatpacked so you need to put it together yourself and also has many pieces of furniture along with two dolls to live in the house.

                  Good points? I'd say this dolls house is definitely good value. Although it now seems to be out of the sale, Argos still have it listed as £24.99 which I think is a pretty good price for what you get really. You do have to build it yourself but the instructions are quite easy to follow and it all screws together rather than gluing so what you end up with is quite a sturdy structure (good news with young children!). The wood panels are also quite thick so I can imagine it will stand the test of time/children. The fact it some complete with furniture and dolls is great as it's all there ready to play with!

                  Bad points? Nothing major really but there are a few slight building issues! Although it was easy to build, we seem to have been left with a small gap above one of the door panels - this could just be my diy skills though and doesn't really affect the house at all. There is also a chimney that sits on top of the roof but doesn't actually fit on with anything! Our chimney was also cut at the wrong angle for the roof so just wobbled around - it's now in the bin... And the steps that sit at the front door also don't join on to the house with anything so they just get moved around when you open the front panels and, I suspect, will either get lost or go the same way as the chimney! I'd say these are small issues though that don't really effect the house at all.

                  Verdict? I'd say this is a great value dolls house that would last a child/children from the toddler years right up into primary school. The furniture, etc could easily be added to as well which gives a great opportunity for other birthday pressies, etc! Very good value and just a lovely toy to have.

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                    25.08.2009 17:07
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                    A must have for stews this winter!

                    Well firstly, I'm not sure about the title of this: 'Morphy Richards Slow Cooker' - it's a little vague and each of the previous reviews seem to be about various different models. Anyway, mine looks like the one in the picture (although it's silver instead of green). The model number is 48715.

                    So what is it? Slow cookers (or 'crock pots' as they're sometimes known as) are large insulated pots that slowly cook food over a long period at a lower temperature. The slow cooking should allow fuller flavours to develop while keeping the food (especially meats) succulent and tender. Typically, the slow cooker would be switched on early in the day (morning or midday) to have the evening meal ready. They are also said to use less power than a conventional oven although this is debated a little!

                    I've always liked cooking and don't usually mind spending time in the kitchen. I stepped this up quite a lot when my eldest child started eating solids and I embarked on a mission to stop using jars, packets, etc and start making most of our food from scratch so as to avoid all the salt, etc that's added into convenience foods. I therefore these days try to make all of our meals as healthy and wholesome as possible while also trying to stick to quite a tight budget! I'd heard quite a lot about slow cookers but never really considered buying one but just before christmas last year I decided to buy one. Why? I love stews and casseroles and that thick stodgy winter food and I'd heard someone say that their slow cooker made the most tender, tasty casseroles and also produced that most wonderful stew smell! I also liked the idea of the convenience it boasted - stick it on in the morning and have a gorgeous meal in time for tea!

                    After a bit of looking around, I decided to go for Morphy Richards as it's a name I know and trust and went for the largest capacity (6.5 litres) as there are 4 of us and I usually like to cook double of things like casseroles so I can freeze some for another day. I bought the slow cooker in Comet for around £35 and, after having a quick look around just now, it seems to still sell for around that price. The slow cooker is oval in shape with a ceramic inner pot and stainless steel on the outside. There is a black dial to select the heat setting and a red light to show you that it's on. The lid is glass so you can check your food without having to lift the lid.

                    Good things? This is the BEST way to cook food. Whether you're making a casserole or stew, chilli or bolognese or even cooking a whole cut of meat you will definitely get the best results by using your slow cooker. Even very cheap cuts of meat are cooked really nicely in the slow cooker - really benefiting from the tenderising the meat gets from being cooked so slowly.

                    It is also incredibly convenient to use - just chuck everything in it in the morning, stick it on low and look forward to your succulent, tasty meal at tea time. Very handy if you're out at work but still want to have a proper home cooked meal. And the best bit is the gorgeous smell that greets you when you get home - just imagine that sausage casserole aroma that will hit you as you open the front door mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!

                    This slow cooker in particular is also really easy to clean. The inner ceramic dish lifts easily out of the cooker part so you can hand wash it properly or put it in the dishwasher. The fact it lifts out from the cooker is also really handy as you can put it straight on to the table to serve from too.

                    Bad things? I possibly would have bought a slightly smaller one as, in fairness, even when I cook double quantities, at 6.5 litres the cooker is still only around half full! A 4 litre probably would have done us and taken up a bit less space on my kitchen worktop. I'm also not sure that you need 3 heat settings - I tend to just stick to 'low' or occasionally 'medium' - having a 'high' setting seems to me to defeat the purpose of having a slow cooker!

                    Some people also say that you should brown your meat before putting in the cooker which I would say is a downside as it kind of takes away from that quick convenience but I've only ever done this a few times and really can't see the difference or benefit!

                    All in all this is a brilliant way to cook food and the Morphy Richards cooker is a brilliant slow cooker that I absolutely love. You just can't beat the convenience or quality of the dishes you can make!

                    I'm just heading off now to cook some rice to go with the chilli I'm slow cooking for tea tonight - yum!

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                      25.08.2009 15:26
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                      Great conditioner for the whole family.

                      I recently began using Asda Jojoba family conditioner and can't praise it highly enough! I've usually tended to stick to the big brands when it comes to cosmetics, skincare products and hair products so had never considered using Asda's own conditioner at all. However, my youngest daughter (2 on Friday!) has the curliest hair you could ever imagine! It also grows so quickly you wouldn't believe it - it was half way down her back by the time she was 15 months! I, on the other hand, have poker straight hair so find it somewhat difficult to deal with little miss 'Curly Sue'! lol

                      We started off using the normal baby shampoos and then went for the toddler ones - you know, the ones the promise detangling and the like. Yeah, right!! Well, they haven't encountered my daughter's curls and really didn't help at all!! So, I hunted round to find something specific to tackle the tugs but the specialist curly haired shampoos for babies/toddlers seem to be a little pretentious and have the price tag to match! So then I was on the lookout for something strong enough to soften her hair and untangle the curls but that wouldn't irritate her scalp or sting her eyes and didn't come with a hug price tag...

                      By complete chance I happened to spot the Asda Jojoba conditioner when I was doing my regular online grocery shop. I was attracted to it mostly because it was suitable for the whole family (which I assumed to mean it wouldn't be too harsh if suitable for children) and the fact it was dry/damaged hair as I hoped this would help to soften my daughter's curls! So I ordered a bottle to try!

                      Good stuff? YES! The bottle is large (750ml) with an easy opening cap - quite plain labeling but attractive too. The conditioner is a silky kind of cream consistency in a very pale pinky sort of colour and smells floral but not in an overpowering granny perfume way at all - just delicately fragranced. It has definitely helped to soften my daughter's hair and hasn't irritated her young skin at all. I do try to keep it out of her eyes but it has been accidently washed onto her face (she fidgets!) and it hasn't even stung her eyes at all. I have since started using this conditioner on my own hair too and it's fantastic! I wouldn't really call my own hair dry or damaged but it does soften my hair nicely and leaves shiny and manageable. The best bit about this conditioner though has to be the excellent value for money - only 82p for 750ml!!!

                      Bad news? NONE! I love this product and wouldn't turn away from it now. Conditions nicely on different hair types, smells nice, looks nice, and is the best value for money I've seen in a long time!

                      Verdict - try it! I've also since tried the Asda jojoba shampoo and apple shampoo and love them both too. Excellent value for money! :o)

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                      • More +
                        14.06.2009 20:56
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                        Great value - give it a try :o)

                        I always like to get a bargain and I'm always looking for ways of saving money (especially at the moment!), I'm also no brand snob and I'm quite willing to try own brand versions of the big names - why not at least give them a go? So, for all of these reasons, I decided to try Asda Essential Care Facial Wash in place of my usual brand. And I'm SO glad I did!

                        So what is it? Asda Essential Care Vitamin E Facial Wash is a fragrance free facial wash with added moisturisers. The tube is a white colour with large, beige 'e' on the front and contains 100 ml of the wash inside. The facial wash itself is a white colour with quite a creamy consistency. It doesn't have much of a smell as it's fragarance free but has that slight subtle smell that all unfragranced things have!

                        Good things? Well, the first thing to note about the facial wash is value for money! At only 70p per tube this is truly a BARGAIN! You also don't need to use much really as it lathers up really well so a 100 ml tube will easily last me a couple of weeks. It's also currently on offer at 2 tubes for £1!!! But of course cheap is only good if the product does what you need it to and I have to say that this wash does. It is easy to lather and apply to my skin, washes off easily, leaves my skin feeling clean and refreshed and doesn't leave me with dryness or any greasyness. I have slightly oily skin and often have trouble finding skin-care products that don't either leave me still feeling a bit greasy or completely over drying my skin but this facial wash is just right for me.

                        Bad things? I really have no complaints about this facial wash at all!

                        For such a bargain price I'd say you have nothing to lose so give it a try!

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                        03.06.2009 23:48
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                        Lovely day out - one to visit again and again :o)

                        I remember years ago visiting a butterfly farm near where we lived and it being the most amazing place I'd ever been to! Unfortunately that place closed down not long after but, now that I have my own children, I was really keen for them to visit something similar as I was sure that they would also love seeing so many butterflies up close. Our nearest such place is then 'Butterfly and Insect World' which is around an hour from us so we decided to make a visit...

                        Butterfly and Insect World is located south of Edinburgh, just off the city bypass near Dalkeith. It is therefore quite easily reachable from most areas of central Scotland and not all that far from the Borders, Perthshire, etc too. The building is a large greenhouse/shed looking building and you firstly enter into a bright and attractive gift shop area. From here you get your tickets, or at least have your hand stamped (you are then free to come and go as much as you like all day) then you proceed through plastic sheeting (presumably to stop the butterflies escaping!) and into the hot greenhouse area. As soon as you step in here the heat quite literally hits you!! It obviously has to remain at a high temperature and high level of humidity to support the various tropical species housed inside. The greenhouse part is also fairly noisy as a makeshift 'river' flows straight through and the water makes quite a racket!

                        It's not long at all before you start to notice the butterflies fluttering around you - clearly used to humans, they're not frightened at all and come up quite close to say hello! Some of the butterflies are quite enormous really and the most amazing colours and patterns - beautiful. There are also various other creatures to spot in and around the plants, trees, foliage and river including chameleons, catfish, other insects, etc. Lots to see! There is also a huge amount of fruit lying around for the butterflies to eat - amazing fact learnt from my visit: butterflies that feed on rotting fruit live longer than those that eat fresh fruit!

                        To the rear of the greenhouse area you then go through more plastic sheeting and into a series of rooms. The first has tanks with some really HUGE snakes and lizards - interesting but scary! The second is a sort of educational room that has tables set up with books about insects, spiders, etc and is where they do handling of the creatures, talks, etc and also has the most amazing ant display! In fact, I'm not sure that, despite how great the butterflies are, maybe the ants stole the show a little and may come out on top as our favourite part of Butterfly World (don't tell the butterflies that though!). Basically, there is a big pile of leaves at one side of the room to which a few ropes dangle down into the pile. The ants ('Leaf Cutter Ants' to be precise) sit in the pile of leaves, chomp off a bit they like then carry their leaf up on to the rope. The rope then meanders it's way right round the ceiling in a very indirect route and the ants carry their pieces of leaves all along the rope and into a hole at the other end of the room where, I assume, they're building a big nest or something. It's amazing to see them carrying such huge pieces of foliage on their backs - just like a cartoon picnic scene! There is also a camera focused on one part of the rope which is then hooked up to a TV screen so that children and shorter people (like me!) can see exactly what the ants are up to - amazing!

                        There is also another dark room full of nocturnal creatures including snakes and scorpions. The scorpions even have a UV light you can turn on to see them glow! I like this room but it definitely made me a little uneasy to be in there with snakes, etc in the dark!! Wimp?? There is also an outdoor section which would include honey bees but unfortunately we arrived at the wrong time of year for the bees but managed to see a mother duck complete with babies who had taken over the enclosure in the meantime - awwww!

                        So....good stuff?? A VERY interesting and also fun day out. There is a lot to see here and you could easily spend a full day having a good look at everything. The prices aren't bad (£5.95 for adults, £3.95 for children - under 3's are free) especially when compared to other similar attractions and they also take the Tesco Clubcard Deals Days Out tokens so you could get in for free that way! The shop is well stocked with nice trinkets and souvenirs and the staff seemed really friendly and helpful. Butterfly World is also right next to a large Dobbies Garden Centre so you can get lunch and snacks in there if you're out for the day or use the picnic benches outside in the playpark area.

                        Bad things? Nothing bad at all really BUT be warned...we took our daughters who are 3 and 1... our 1 year loved it as soon as we went in but our 3 year old was a bit freaked out to begin with - she seemed to have more of an idea of what she THOUGHT she was going to see i.e. she's seen butterflies in our garden and thought it would be a bit like that but actually was met with a hot, noisy room full of HUGE butterflies that flap quite close to your head sometimes!! So be wary that young children may find it a bit much to start with. Also, be aware that 1 year olds don't know that the fruit is for the butterflies!!! Other than these 'problems' it's all good :o)

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                        • Couscous / Recipe / 56 Readings / 55 Ratings
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                          07.05.2009 10:59
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                          Yummy!

                          I've always loved couscous but I've never quite been able to get the hang of cooking it! Mine always seemed to end up bland and soggy and just not as nice as supermarket prepared stuff or even the flavoured packet varieties. However, I took yet another gamble the other day - chucked a few things together and it tasted fab! Here's how it goes...

                          SLIGHTLY SPICED COUSCOUS

                          In a large-ish bowl put 100g dry couscous, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp cumin and a large pinch of dried herbs (thyme is quite nice but you can use whatever you like). Pour in approx 300ml chicken stock. Stir, cover and leave to one side.

                          Put around 5ml olive oil in a large frying pan and heat then add in some chopped veg (whatever you like really but I used 1/2 courgette and 1/4 each of red and yellow peppers). Cook through in the oil and add 75g chick peas (from a can is most convenient!). Add a good squeaze of garlic puree and cook through until the veg is quite soft.

                          By the time the veg is cooked, the cous cous should also be ready - fluff up with a fork then add the veg mixture to it and stir well.

                          You can then eat it warm or allow to cool and have as a salad. It's lovely with some salad leaves, olives and you can even add in some chopped dried apricots and maybe serve with a dollop of creme fraiche. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days if you keep it in an airtight container so it's also a nice one to make at the begining of the week then you have an easy lunch for a couple of days.

                          I'm also currently calorie counting everything (I WILL be thin!!) so I can tell you that 100g of the couscous recipe is approx 150 calories (remember to add in the extra calories for any additions you make e.g. olives, etc).

                          Yum!

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                          • graze.com / Internet Site / 39 Readings / 38 Ratings
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                            06.05.2009 21:13
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                            Great service, great product - fantastic idea!

                            Up until a few days ago I'd never heard of graze.com but then a friend told me about the site so I decided to have a look and I'm SO glad I did!

                            What is graze.com? Graze is basically a food delivery service. They deliver a selection of healthy foods to you in a box for a cost of £2.99 per box. The foods are all healthy and nutritionally balanced and can be delivered as often as you like e.g. every day, every tuesday, whatever suits you! The idea being that if we graze on healthy foods we're less likely to become too hungry and end up gorging on unhealthy foods and too large portions.

                            I ordered my first box on Sunday night to be delivered today (Wednesday). When you visit the site you can go through a whole list of the items they include in the boxes and check them as being things you really like, don't like, would like to try, etc then they choose a selection of 3 items to send you based on your preferences. I pretty much like everything or at very least I'm willing to try most things so I left my preferences quite open and decided to wait for my surprise!

                            This morning, as promised, my brown 'graze' box arrived by post and I was SO impressed by it! Inside I had a portion of grapefruit, a 'goji berry salad' and a box of honey cashews - all yummy! There is even a nutritional information card included which gives you all the facts on the things you're eating - very handy if you're calorie counting like me!

                            Since devouring a large part of my graze box as soon as it arrived (woops!), I've done nothing but sing it's praises to all who would listen! I am very impressed by the quality of the food - the grapefruit was all fruit, no pips, skin or pith to chew around; the cashews were very tasty - not too sweet despite being coated in honey; and the goji berry salad (a mixture of goji berries, pumpkin seeds and walnuts) is delicious! The goji berries were probably the item I was least pleased to see but, having just cracked the packet open with my cup of tea, I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by how good they taste! The nutritional info is also really easy to read and understand and even comes printed with your name on it. And the whole ethos of graze seems to be eco friendly - all of the packaging is recycled and recyclable and even the ink is made from vegetables - now there's munching with a clear conscience for you!! There is also no obligation to keep buying graze boxes so you can cancel the service whenever you decide to.

                            Is there anything bad? Not really! The quality of the food is superb and I really can't say enough good things about the service I have received. My only one niggle would probably be the price - I'm not sure that I would be able to justify the £2.99 price tag on too regular a basis and certainly not more than once a week. However, bearing in mind the huge choice of foods available, the quality of the items, the quality of the packaging, the good service provided and the delivery; I would say that £2.99 is actually not bad value.

                            You can also use various discount codes on the site to get discounts/free boxes. If you use code: P5RK7J4G you will be able to get your first box for FREE and your next box half price. This code in particular is my referral code so please be aware that I get £1 off a box when someone uses the code - you can of course go to the site and sign up without using a discount code!

                            A great service that I plan to keep using - yummy scrummy!!

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