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foreveramber

foreveramber
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Member since: 25.07.2000

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      20.01.2010 19:00
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      Smart, discreet and excellent value

      Early last year I'd had enough of living with our mouldy, shabby bathroom. After 10 years it was time for a complete refit. I loathe most types of DIY and hubby's aversion to DIY is even stronger. So I found a good bathroom refit contractor and set to work researching bathroom products.

      I had no idea how long this would take or what was involved. I thought I'd just have to search for a toilet, bath and sink. But I hadn't taken into account things like tiles, radiator, shower, mirrors, shelves and even bottletraps and wastes. Just the range of taps alone is astounding. And for every item you're looking for, there are hundreds of different brands, styles and prices on even more websites.

      I did most of my research online with a few visits to bathroom showrooms. However, one of my biggest problems was the shower screen. We have a tiny bathroom so a separate shower and bath wasn't an option. I'd already chosen a contemporary chrome overhead shower which is situated over the bath.

      ~~~ Choosing the Right Shower Screen ~~~

      I knew I didn't want a shower curtain as all our previous curtains have ended up looking revolting and even the trip through the washing machine couldn't restore them. I decided it would have to be a shower screen of some sort. As to be expected, there are many types. Usually they're made from reinforced glass, ranging from rigid panes of glass that don't move to glass doors that swing inwards or outwards through to frames that have four or five folds and fold back against the wall.

      Although I wanted a shower screen, I wasn't happy with the traditional glass screen that sits on the bath. For a start it would appear to cut the bathroom in two and because our toilet is right next to the bath this would have the effect of making the room appear smaller. Secondly, with three children, two of whom are particularly boisterous, I was sure it would only be a matter of time before one of them fell into the glass door. Also, glass is completely transparent, and with only one toilet, I can guarantee the minute I get in the shower, someone will want to use it at the same time, and I do like my privacy in the shower!

      A door opening inwards or outwards presented the same problem. So a folding back against the wall option seemed like my best bet as some of them did come with frosted effect glass. However, when measuring up various bits and pieces, it turned out that even with the shower screen folded right back to the wall, it still took up quite a lot of depth from the wall and widthways would almost reach the taps.

      I'd almost given up my search and was going to go for the folding glass screen when I came across the Outasight shower curtain. I'd never heard of this or seen anything about it. I was very excited when I found it but was rather sceptical at first. However, it had been an exhibit at the Ideal Home Show and there were plenty of very positive testimonials from satisfied customers.

      ~~~ The Designer ~~~

      Apparently the man who designed the Outasight, Lee Brown, had come up against all the same problems as me when refitting his own bathroom, and therefore set to work designing a solution and came up with the Outasight which he has patented. There is a small amount of information about him on the bathroom marquee website (http://www.outasightbyleebrown.co.uk/index.html).

      ~~~ Outasight Vital Statistics ~~~

      The Outasight Shower curtain is designed to foldaway so you barely notice it. Its overall measurements are 1425mm high and 1472mm lengthways when open, 63mm in width and 50mm in depth. It comes in a choice of two colours, white or polished silver. I personally chose the white.

      The shower curtain itself is white and opaque. So far this is the only choice in curtain colour. It's an unusual material, a bit like PVC but more rigid, obviously waterproof and folds together like a fan.

      ~~~ How to Use It ~~~

      It's simple to operate. You just pull up the outside casing until it's at right angles to the side against the wall. It opens smoothly with a gas assisted strut which then locks the arm at right angles to the casing against the wall. This forms an arm along which the curtain hangs. Then you unclip the curtain and slide it along the arm. While you're showering you need to make sure the bottom of the curtain hangs inside the bath rim, the same as you would with a regular curtain. This prevents water from splashing onto the floor.

      When you've finished showering, just push it back against the wall, clip it shut then fold the arm back down. You don't even need to wait until the curtain is dry to do this.

      This is a big advantage over regular foldaway screens and curtain as the Outasight has a fantastic ability to remain mould free. All you have to do is spray over the curtain with mould and mildew spray once or twice a month. And that's it!

      ~~~ Where is it Suitable? ~~~

      The Outasight is designed to fit most straight baths. The only instances where it may not be possible to install the Outasight would be with a curved bath, or one with taps close to the edges of the bath. Also if there are any raised bits on the bath such as a soap dish, it wouldn't fit. You need to have a flat wall to which you must fix the casing.

      ~~~Installing the Outasight ~~~

      As I didn't personally install the Outasight, I can't provide too much information here. However, there is plenty of advice on the website and a clear instruction guide is provided with the curtain. Additionally, my bathroom contractor who did fit the Outasight and who, by the way, had never come across one in his life, had no problems whatsoever. He told me it was totally straightforward to install.

      ~~~ Cost and Where to Buy ~~~

      The Outasight is available at a few places. I originally found it at http://www.bathroommarquee.co.uk/outasight.htm but actually ended up buying it from an eBay shop. It was new not second hand.
      It generally costs around £170 plus postage.

      ~~ My Experiences ~~~

      My family have been using this screen daily for the past five months and we are 100% delighted with it. Not only does it look smart and discrete when folded against the wall, it has lived up to all its claims.

      The overall length is very good and runs almost to the end of our bath (1500mm) and longer than most shower screens. As long as we remember to make sure the bottom of the curtain hangs inside the bath, we've had no leakages outside the bath onto the floor. My daughter did once leave it hanging outside the bath and the result was one very wet floor. But that wasn't the fault of the Outasight and it was a lesson learned by my daughter.

      I found it hard to believe I would be able to fold it away while still soaking wet without attracting the dreaded mould. But as stated on the website, we have had no traces of mould or mildew on the curtain. I have been spraying it twice a month with the recommended spray.

      The arm part of the shower is very easy to operate. My older children are able to lift it and close it quite easily but it's a little too high up for my youngest to reach on her own. I feel that we need to be quite careful with opening and closing it though because it seems like it would be easy to break by forcing it to the left or right instead of straight up and down. It does say on the website that they aren't recommended for commercial use as excessive leverage on the arm can lead to damage.

      It's simple to slide the curtain back and fold into its casing. If you follow the instruction video on the website, it works like a charm. I do have a problem with opening it though. Half way down the curtain is a small handle which you should hold to pull the curtain out. However, when I hold the curtain there, it doesn't move. I need to grab the curtain from the top to make it slide along the rail. But that's the only negative comment I have to make.

      In case any part of the Outasight does become damaged, it's very reassuring to know that replacements can be bought for every individual part.

      I'm so glad I found this Outasight shower curtain. I certainly wouldn't have come across it if it hadn't been for some very extensive researching on my part on the Internet. At the time of writing, I see they are currently out of stock due to popular demand. They are expecting a shipment in soon and I can only assume that many more people are discovering this fantastic invention.

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        06.01.2010 13:02
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        A very worthwhile investment

        Getting rid of unwanted body hair is often a lifelong chore we come to accept. It's unfortunate for us (particularly women) that we sprout hair in places where it's not wanted, or needed. So we spend our entire lives plucking, shaving, dilapidating, waxing and trimming just to rid ourselves of the wretched stuff.

        Many years ago I even bought myself a home electrolysis hair removing kit where you had to insert a very find needle into each individual hair follicle one by one. Yes I was that desperate. I persevered for a few months but finally gave up. It took too long and the damn hair grew back anyway.

        Whatever method of hair removal I've tried in the past, it always returns. I had heard of laser hair removal but it always seemed terribly expensive and involved several trips to specialist salons or clinics. It also meant exposing bits of your body to a stranger which I wasn't prepared to do!

        I first caught sight of the Boots Smooth Skin Intense Pulsed Light Hair Reduction System while on one of my weekly trawls around Boots. There it was, proudly on display, promising a hair free body in the privacy of my own home. I'd not heard of before, nor even seen any advertising elsewhere, so I wasn't convinced. The price of £250 didn't do much to persuade me to part with any cash either.

        But the idea stayed with me and when I arrived home I began some online research. I came across several reviews on various Rio laser hair removers, none of which looked particularly promising. Then I found the Boots system with a fair few reviews already online. And they were extremely good with only a couple of negative experiences. In fact, the reviews were so good I wanted one right then and there. I felt it would be a worthwhile investment if it meant I could spend the rest of my life never having to shave again.

        The following week I returned to Boots and bought it in store. This earned me lots of Boots points - 996 to be precise. If I'd been prepared to wait I could have purchased it online through various cashback sites but I didn't have the patience. I wished I had though because the next day in the post I received a load of 'double points' vouchers from Boots. I could have screamed!

        ~~~ What is it? ~~~

        So what exactly is the Boots Smooth Skin IPL Hair Reduction System? It's a small laser machine which uses iPulse Hair Reduction Technology designed to be used in the privacy of your own home. It's a slightly scaled down version of what's used in salons.

        It consists of the base unit together with the hand held laser handset which is plugged into the base unit. And there is another cable to connect to mains electricity. Also included is a tube of Boots Smooth Skin activator gel and the instruction leaflet. Extra tubes of activator gel are available to purchase separately at around £2.99. There is also a white faux leather storage vanity case to store it all in when you're not using it.

        ~~~ How does it work? ~~~

        Quote from the Boots website: "The Boots Smooth Skin system works by directing an extremely short, intense pulse of filtered light into the skin. The light is absorbed by the coloured pigments in and surrounding the hair and disables the hair follicle, helping to prevent hair re-growth."

        ~~~ Where can you use it? ~~~

        The iPulse system can be used almost anywhere you have hair growth. You are strongly recommended not to use it on eyebrows or head hair because hair will not grow back. It can be used for underarms, legs, facial hair and bikini line.

        It's recommended not to use the system on head hair or eyebrows as you cannot reverse the results if you make a mistake!

        ~~~ Who can use it? ~~~

        There are very strong warnings and guidelines in the instruction booklet as to who is most suitable for using this system, or more to the point, who is NOT suitable. For instance, anyone with dark skin or a suntan cannot use it. Those with very fair hair, red, grey or white hair are unlikely to have any success either. This is because the pulses work best on dark hair follicles growing from a fair skinned person.

        ~~~ How do you use it? ~~~

        The Boots Smooth Skin system is easy to use. You simply follow the same steps for each area of skin you plan on treating.

        1. On the base unit there are three settings - dark, medium or fair. You choose the most appropriate setting for the area of skin you're about to treat. For instance, if treating your armpits, then you choose 'fair' if you're a white skinned person and unlikely to have a suntan there. However, there is a skin colour chart provided which is handy for comparing your own skin colour against. It also provides examples of skin colours that aren't suitable.

        2. You need to make sure hair is trimmed as it works best on hair no longer than 1mm.

        3. Next you need to cover up any areas of skin that are unsuitable for the laser but which might fall into the area needing to be treated. One such area is moles. If you have moles or large freckles, you need to cover them up with something like a white eye pencil.

        4. You apply the activator gel to the area to be treated. I store mine in the fridge as it's recommended it's cold when you apply it.

        5. Press the button on the main unit and when the red light stops flashing, it's ready to use. If you press the button again, it goes into standby mode and the green light appears next to standby.

        6. Take the handset and apply the laser head to your skin. You must make sure all four corners are touching the skin. If they're not, the red light on the handset won't appear and the laser won't work. Once the red light is showing on the handset, you can press the button on the handset which then emits a flash of light. This light is very bright so it's recommended you turn away or close your eyes. Also make sure others aren't in the room with you, especially small children as it may hurt their eyes. You repeat this over every section of skin where you no longer want hair to grow.

        7. When you've finished you apply a fragrance free moisturiser.
        There are many precautions listed in the small booklet and you really need to take the time to read through them all before starting the laser treatment.

        ~~~ How long Does it Take? ~~~

        The actual process of using the laser on your skin varies depending on which area you're treating. For instance, underarms will take about 10 minutes a session. The lower half of your legs takes around an hour for both legs.

        The actual time it takes to become hair free also varies. The guide states that it can take between 6 and 12 sessions for hair to stop growing. This is because hair grows in cycles. So a few weeks later you may notice hair growth appearing which wasn't present during your previous laser treatment. You mustn't use the laser more than once a week on the same area so it can take up to 12 weeks to ensure all hair follicles have been treated with hair in a growing phase.

        Example Precautions post-treatment:

        * Don't expose the treated area to the sun for 24 hours;
        * No hot showers for 24 hours;
        * Use a high factor skin cream (min SPF 30)on areas likely to see the sun or a fragrance-free cream for other treated areas
        * No deodorant underarms for 24 hours
        * No sunbeds or suntanning for 4 weeks

        There are many more precautions within the booklet which must be read before treatment.

        ~~~ Information Booklet ~~~

        The booklet comes with a useful treatment record card where you can write down the date, area treated and skin tone setting used to help you keep track of how many sessions you've had. There is a troubleshooting section should anything go wrong. You'll find a list of medical problems and medicines. If you have any of these medical problems or are taking any of the medicines, you shouldn't use the laser system. There is also a useful skin tone questionnaire to help you find out your skin tone if you're unsure.

        ~~~ Cost and Where to Buy ~~~

        I purchased the system from Boots in store for £249 which was apparently £50 off. However I've never actually seen it advertised at a higher price, although I won't be happy if they drastically reduce it! You can also buy it online of course.

        ~~~ My Experiences ~~~

        I've been using the iPulse system for the past three months, concentrating on my lower legs and underarms. Using the chart to work out my skin type was straight forward. I'm quite fair skinned but still had a bit on a suntan on my legs. So my legs fell into the medium category and underarms into the fair category.

        I'd shaved my legs and underarms a couple of days previously before my first session. Finding the best position to hold the laser takes practice but the handset is comfortable to use. It can be tricky doing under your arms and I find it best looking in a mirror while putting one arm behind my back while making sure the door is firmly locked.

        The gel is easy to apply and should be as cold as possible to counter the heat from the laser. When pressing the button on the handset you feel a short burst of heat which is quite bearable. You then move the laser to the next area taking care not to go over anywhere more than once but also not to miss out a bit.

        Doing my legs takes some time - around an hour to do both lower legs. It's quite tricky because it's easy to lose track of where you've already used the laser so I tend to draw white marker lines using an eyeliner on my legs and work up and down within the lines. This way hair removal should be fairly even.

        I also use this white eyeliner to cover over any moles or freckles. This is to protect them from any laser damage. I didn't do this the first time I used it because I hadn't read through the instruction thoroughly. After a week I noticed one of my moles looked black and panicked thinking I had skin cancer. Fortunately it returned to its normal colour a few weeks later.

        Anyway, after about 6 weeks, my underarms appeared free of hair and stayed that way for 3-4 weeks. Then it started regrowing (the next cycle) and I used the laser again. I now have hair free underarms.

        The results are slightly different on my legs. The backs of my legs are practically hair free after only 6 sessions but the front is still growing. I'm not sure if this is because the front of my legs are darker than the back due to seeing more of the sun in summer. However, hair regrowth is incredibly slow and it can take more than a week for any hair to reappear. Now I am using the laser just once every 2 weeks on my legs until it stops growing permanently and I will venture onto other areas.

        What you do find if you're using it for a long session is that it can get quite hot. However, it has a built in system that halts the process, stopping it working for a period until it's cooled down sufficiently. It usually only takes around 5 minutes and your ready to go again.

        It can get quite messy with the gel so remember to take plenty of tissues to wipe it away after.

        I'm absolutely delighted with this laser machine and can't recommend it highly enough. Something they don't advertise and which you need to be aware of when considering the relatively high cost of the machine is the fact that it doesn't live forever. After the handset has fired 10,000 shots, it needs to be replaced. Replacements cost around £100 so if you have a lot of hairy areas to treat, you may have to fork out some more. It really depends on how serous you are about not having to bother with hair removal again and whether it's worth the cost for you. I reckon I use around 150 shots per session for legs and underarms so I should have plenty left.

        For more information here is the link to the Boots website:
        http://www.boots.com/en/Boots-Smooth-Skin-Intense-Pulsed-Light- hair-reduction-system_117122/?cm_sp=Boots-_-Smooth_Skin-_-BT_9094

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          24.07.2009 11:28
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          A quick way of removing hairs and moisturising at the same time

          Why is it that I must be condemned to a life of shaving, while my husband can abandon this chore completely? But, being a woman, it seems I have an obligation to remain as bodily hair free as possible.

          So, onto the purpose of this review. Veet, In-Shower Hair Removal Cream. It is available for different skin types and I purchased one for dry skin with a Shea Butter and Lilly Fragrance. It also comes in a normal skin formula with the fragrance of Lotus Milk & Jasmine.

          I last used a hair removal cream several years ago. I never liked the smell and have always found them very messy to use. Plus, I disliked the extra time required - slathering on the cream then waiting however many minutes for it to do its work before finally washing it all off.

          The Veet In-Shower hair removal cream promises to do away with all that. You still have to slather cream all over your legs, but the difference now is you can hop into the shower after only one minute. The cream is meant to adhere to your skin while you're showering, though the instructions do mention you should try keeping the areas of skin covered with cream out of the direct spray for the first two minutes. After three minutes or a maximum of six minutes, it can be removed.

          The cream comes in a plastic, 150ml tube with a screw-top lid and is designed to stand on its lid. Supplied with it is a small, oval, double sided sponge. The green coloured side is smooth and with this side you wipe the cream onto your legs and/or other 'hairy' bits. The white side is slightly abrasive, a bit like a washing up sponge. This is the side you use to take the cream off afterwards.

          ~~~My Experiences~~~

          I think I really wanted to give this cream a try to see whether it would delay re-growth at all. With shaving, although it's very quick and easy to do, that instant smoothness lasts such a short time and by the next day my skin has the inevitable prickly feel to it. Many a time I've instructed my husband to feel my smooth legs when I've emerged from the shower, because the next day they'll be taking on a brillo pad feel.

          So, onto the cream itself. It's pale green in colour and very thick. The smell, sadly, is still quite strong, not particularly pleasant, (where are those lillies?) and reminds me of just how it always used to smell. I'm using the cream only on my legs for now. After giving the tube a good squeeze I apply it generously over my legs until I can no longer see the skin. The minute passes by quickly and then I can hop into the shower.

          I find it quite tricky keeping every part of my 'Veeted' legs out of the direct spray and some cream inevitably washes off. Fortunately, the majority of cream does indeed remain in place. Now, the instructions state very clearly that this cream MUST NOT stay on any longer than six minutes. This is written in capital letters to stress the importance of this point. I find it rather worrying though that they don't give any clues as to what might befall the innocent user if they accidentally leave the cream on longer!

          I always leave the cream on for the full time, after which I take the little sponge and, using a circular motion and the white side of the sponge, I can remove the remaining cream.

          Generally, I find this cream works extremely well. The majority of hairs are completely removed/dissolved or whatever happens to them. However, I do have some very stubborn hairs around the ankle area, which for some reason, always grow back faster and thicker than anywhere else on my legs. I find that I need to leave the cream on this section a tiny bit longer, just another minute or two. And no, I haven't met with any nasty skin afflictions. But, I do seem to have quite tough skin that doesn't suffer from much in the way of irritations that can often occur.

          The results are pretty good. My legs are left extremely smooth and feel soft and moisturised. I was particularly interested in finding out just how quickly it would be before hair re-growth made an appearance and so far, it seems to be around two days. This is a slight advantage over shaving whereby re-growth is the next morning (for me anyway). Maybe I just have fast growing hairs.

          Will I use it again? Well, I can't see myself making a special journey to purchase any more, except perhaps, if it's on a very special offer. Modern lady shavers have become more skin friendly and will always be a quicker and less messy option over cream.

          One 150ml tube only lasts me for three hair removing sessions when covering both legs, so it can prove quite costly in comparison with shaving.
          This cream can be purchased in most pharmacies and costs around £4.70 - £6.99 for the 150 ml and £10.50 for the 300ml bottles.

          ~~~Precautions~~~

          There are quite strong warnings on the tube and it is recommended that you test your skin reaction before each use, waiting 24 hours! I certainly couldn't be bothered with doing this, but those with sensitive skin, who are determined to use hair removing cream, should certainly take note here.
          Obviously it should be kept away from children.

          It is designed for use on legs, underarms, arms and bikini line and says it's not suitable for any other body parts. It mustn't be used on scars, moles, spotty, broken, irritated or sunburnt skin.

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            06.07.2009 14:33
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            A concise self help book with useful techniques to help lessen your worries

            While returning a pile of my daughter's library books recently, a book on a display shelf caught my eye. It was simply entitled 'How to Stop Worrying'. As I was in a rush I didn't look any further. However, the title stayed in my mind.

            I'm an avid worrier. By this, I mean I worry all the time, constantly. As soon as one worry is gone, another replaces it in an instant. In fact, I usually have several of them queuing up for first place. I suppose it's something I've long accepted as being the way I am and quite possibly 'learned' from my mother who always had some cause to give her sleepless night.

            My worries can be anything from the trivial such as 'will I be out when my parcel is delivered', or the more serious, 'how would I fare in an exam or upcoming operation'. Then of course there are all the family members who I worry constantly about - will my son make it to school safely, will my children catch swine flu. Then I worry about the amount of worrying I do, I worry about lack of sleep which causes more sleepless nights. I seriously needed help.

            I'm not someone who has a huge collection of self help books. I probably have about one. But the title of this book seemed to offer a solution so I made a special trip back to the library and enrolled myself just to borrow this book.

            As stated, it's called 'How to stop Worrying' and the author is Frank Tallis.

            ~~~About the author~~~

            Dr. Frank Tallis is a writer and clinical psychologist who has held lecturing posts in clinical psychology and neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry and King's College, London. As well writing 'How to Stop Worrying, he's also written another self help book called 'Understanding Obsessions and Compulsions' which I may well read too. He's also written fiction and non-fiction books, academic text books and over thirty academic papers in international journals. In 1999 he received a Writers' Award from the Arts Council of Great Britain and in 2000 he was awarded the New London Writers' Award by the London Arts Board.

            ~~~About the book~~~

            The first thing to say about this book is its length. It's very short, with just 77 pages. This is another reason why I felt inclined into picking this up as I have very little time to read books, much as I love them.

            It's divided into six chapters: What is Worry?; Preparing to Solve your Problems; How to solve your problems; Problem-solving in action; Coping with setbacks; When the worry won't stop.

            The book begins by explaining what worry is, why it happens and our varied responses. I found it very reassuring to learn that my worry isn't for nothing and that everyone has different degrees of worry. It tells us that worry is a response to a problem and acts as an alarm system. This alarm alerts our minds to something that we may or will need to deal with at some stage.
            The author illustrates various common scenarios throughout the book and explains what the worry is in each case, the individual's response to that worry and the possible ways of dealing with the problem.

            Various problem solving techniques are explained. For example, defining the problem then thinking up possible solutions (brainstorming) and finally, how to make a decision. The author points out that even the act of making the right decision can cause worry in itself, as worriers tend to worry about the implications of making the wrong decision. This rang true with me. The book helps us learn how to prioritise problems and then how to weigh up the pros and cons associated with different decisions. Of course, this all takes time and the longer a worry is left hanging in the balance, the more time we have to spend worrying. So faster decision making is also discussed.

            Being a glass half empty sort of person, I was glad to find a useful section on dealing with setbacks and negative thoughts. The book explains that worriers tend to take a negative view of things, definitely me, and says that if you always worry about bad outcomes, then the future always looks bleak.

            The final chapter discusses what to do if you are still worrying. It says this could be down to you not having mastered the techniques outlined in the book, or perhaps the worry simply can't be solved - for instance, worrying about death. In this case it teaches us the differences in our responses to worry and how they are either problem focused or emotion-focused. So worrying about death is emotion-focussed and we are taught techniques for channelling these emotions in another direction.

            ~~~My Verdict~~~

            I've kept this book out on loan far longer than the initial three weeks. Despite its short length, I took around a month to finish it, possibly because I would read it last thing at night in bed while extremely tired. Trying to digest the reasoning and ideas behind solving worry problems, sent me off to sleep quite quickly.

            I was initially quite sceptical as to whether this book would be any use to me, a hardened worrier. However, after finishing the book, I've refered to it quite frequently in order to remind myself of the techniques described. I've had plenty of practice over the last few weeks and can honestly say that it is starting to help. Although I am still worrying for much of the time, I am learning to prioritise my worries and can honestly say that they are not causing me as much distress as usual.

            I know this isn't a quick fix and it is going to take time and practice on my part to learn the techniques given in the book. After all, I've spent most of my life as a worrier which has caused me a great deal of distress and anxiety over the years. I realise now that it doesn't have to be like this and that in itself, is one less worry for me.

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              03.07.2009 13:02
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              A body moisturiser that would be better without the tanning ingredients

              I both love and hate summer. The warmer summer months mean I can herd the kids outside in half the time, without the need for donning coats, scarves and gloves. But it also means exposing more flesh and when I've got pale skin, personally, I just don't feel as confident as when I have a suntan.

              My arms seem to tan quite fast, but my legs take forever. For some reason they take twice as long to become brown so I usually keep them covered up.

              However, this year I thought I'd practice using some fake tan product on my legs in preparation for a holiday later on in the year. I've not had much luck in the past with using fake tans, so this time I decided to opt for the Johnson's Holiday Skin Body Lotion. This isn't a 'fake tanning lotion' as such, rather it's a body moisturising lotion which is diluted with a tanning ingredient.

              I already like Johnson's body lotion so, persuaded by the bottle's promises of building a gradual, flawless, even tan and 24 hour moisturisation, I bought it.

              Johnson's Holiday Skin Body Lotion is available for normal to fair or normal to darker skin. I purchased the normal to darker skin, mainly because I can obtain quite a dark suntan once I've been in the sun for a while.

              The lotion also contains aloe vera which is often included in skin creams. It has a multitude of uses, mainly for its healing properties but also has good moisturising benefits. The lotion advises that it's new and improved , 'as natural as your own tan'. It also says it has an improved fragrance. The smell, of course, is often one of the most negative aspects of tanning lotions.

              So, onto using it. Firstly, I thoroughly exfoliated my legs. After watching umpteen demonstrations on the skill required for applying fake tans, I know how important this step is. If you don't get rid of all those dead skin cells, the lotion adheres more strongly to those areas, producing a patchy and uneven tan.

              The lotion is creamy white and fairly thick. The smell certainly isn't offensive, it's even quite pleasant, but I can detect a faint whiff of tanning lotion. It's extremely easy applying it over my legs and feels very light and moisturising.

              As the cream isn't tinted, once you've rubbed it onto your skin, you can't see where the cream is. So you have to rub it in really well and hope for the best.

              I put the cream on my legs in the evening after a shower so I could sleep with it on and wake up with 'beautifully tanned legs'.

              During the night I was aware of the tanning cream smell. I think it's something that can't be avoided no matter how much the manufacturers try and disguise it. I inspected my sheets next, wishing I'd put a dark colour on and fearing the dreaded brown tell tale signs of a fake tan. But I have been pleasantly surprised to find no marks at all.

              Onto my legs. A quick glance and I couldn't see much difference. Once in the bathroom though, with a bright light on, all I could see were streaks galore. How on earth could I have applied it so badly? I thought I'd been so careful and thorough.

              Now, if I'd written my review then and there, I would have slated this product. However, I didn't give up. That evening I showered, exfoliated my legs again and reapplied the cream. The next day my legs were slightly darker and the streaks less noticeable. However, my knees were unnaturally dark despite the exfoliation I'd done. Repeating the process on the third day and my legs overall are now much darker and the streaks barely noticeable. In fact, I would dare to bare these legs.

              The colour produced is quite dark. In fact, it's so dark I would have thought I'd applied a fake tan on its own. I almost think the colour after three days is slightly too dark for my skin tone and I probably should have used the lighter version.

              Overall, although this cream is lovely to apply and feels very soft and moisturises well and doesn't have a nasty smell, it's very difficult avoiding tell tale streaks. With perseverance it seems possible somehow to blend the streaks together making them less noticeable. However, I don't know whether this is really worth the effort. I will continue until I've finished the bottle but probably wouldn't go for this brand again.

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                25.06.2009 15:23
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                A reasonably priced, professional hair styling brush

                Since purchasing my new ionic hairdryer a few months ago, I've been blow drying my hair more frequently. For styling purposes, I've been using quite a narrow, round brush which is good for curling the ends or shorter hairstyles. It produces quite a defined curl, but this isn't always what I'm after. Often I just want to dry my hair quickly, while keeping it smooth with some height at the roots and a softer wave at the ends. This called for a brush with a larger diameter.

                I didn't go shopping for the sole purpose of purchasing a styling brush, but while on a visit to my local Boots Chemist, I decided to have a look at what they had to offer. There were about four different large, round styling brushes available. But even before I'd checked the prices, the Vidal Sassoon brush stood out.

                It was exactly the size I was after. In measurement terms it's 80mm across the diameter, end of bristle to end of bristle. But this isn't just any old ordinary styling brush. Being a Vidal Sassoon, it's offering something a little bit more.

                The features of this brush are:

                * Ionic coated bristles
                * Antibacterial properties to protect against germ build up
                * Vent holes allowing warm air to circulate at the roots
                * Twisting collar for easier curling action
                * Ceramic coated barrel along which heat is evenly distributed for optimum styling.

                ~~~What's Ionic?~~~

                Ionic is the latest buzz word in hair styling, with many new hairdryers automatically offering this feature.

                When drying your hair using an ionic hairdryer, a steady stream of microscopic, negatively charged ions of water are released into the airflow and directed into the hair shaft. This helps lock moisture into the hair while minimising damage and promoting shine. It should also help prevent problems such as splitting and frizzing while eliminating static.

                With this styling brush, the bristles are ionic coated. This is should help reduce build up of static so you don't end up with the dreaded fly away hair. These bristles should also help leave your hair feeling and looking smooth, soft and shiny.

                ~~~What the brush looks like~~~

                Although quite large, the brush is deceptively light. The handle is nice and chunky and shaped perfectly to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. The bristles are of mixed length with clusters of short bristles grouped around one longer bristle. The longer bristles are capped with a round plastic top so you don't end up scratching your scalp. The groups of bristles are evenly distributed around the barrel with plenty of empty holes for lots of air flow.

                What's even more unique about this brush is the twisting barrel. When holding onto the handle, the rest of the brush can spin around.

                ~~~Using the brush~~~

                This styling brush is so comfortable to use as it's so light and easy to hold. What does take some getting used to, is the spinning action of the brush itself. After having spent years perfecting my styling technique, I now need to learn a new method with this brush and it takes a bit of practice. It's designed to enable easier styling. So, rather than spinning the brush around using various wrist actions, you just hold the brush in position with your hair wound around the bristles. Instead of twisting the brush round while drying, all you do is pull the brush downwards. Then, rather than roll the brush around to grip your hair, you have to hold the barrel with your fingers when rolling hair back up.

                Because of the design of the brush, my hair dries in double quick time and the width of the barrel produces just the right amount of curl as well as a nice lift at the roots. My hair doesn't become tangled in the bristles and is left nice and soft as described. I can't say it makes my hair look shiny, as such, but then it never really has a nice shine, probably because it's coloured. Despite all the conditioners I use, I can't achieve that swingy, glossiness as shown on television adverts.

                Overall, it was a very worthwhile investment. It's not as cheap as other round styling brushes, but not bad at £8.50 in Boots.

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                  22.06.2009 13:57
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                  An easy to use and efficient mobile phone service

                  My son has just become a teenager. I can't say I was looking forward to this, mainly because hubby and I can't believe we're old enough to have a teenage son. But there you go, it's happened and it's not so bad so far.
                  He doesn't ask for much in comparison with his friends demands. However, the one request we've had from him for the past year has been for a mobile phone.

                  "All my friends have one" was the inevitable plea. But, having used the same lines ourselves in our youth, we didn't believe him. But for the past year I've noticed the majority of his friends do have mobile phones, so his birthday seemed a good time to buy one.

                  My husband was against this, saying it would be stolen, he'd be mugged etc, but now he's going out more with his friends without adults, I was more than happy for him to have one. After browsing mobile phones together, he picked one he liked. It was up to me to do the purchasing and search for a good deal.

                  ~~~Why I Chose PAYG (Pay As You Go)~~~

                  I decided to go with a PAYG (pay as you go) for a couple of reasons:

                  1. The cost of the calls would be met by my son. This would hopefully help him learn to control his call and text use and not become carried away texting 300 times an hour and;

                  2. With a contract he may find it all too easy to run over the contract amount and start racking up enormous bills. Also, I thought that most contracts were going to cost more per month than he was likely to pay.

                  PAYG is a whole new area for me as I've only ever had a contract mobile. Fortunately for me, Which? magazine recently reviewed PAYG mobiles and the most popular service was provided by Tesco Mobile.

                  Previous to this I had no idea Tesco even provided a Mobile service and probably would have been rather sceptical, imagining Tesco jumping on the bandwagon by adding another bow to its ever increasing range of services. But, it seems Tesco Mobile customers are a very happy bunch and their rates looked pretty good in comparison with the other networks.

                  ~~~Purchasing from Tesco Mobile~~~

                  After visiting their website: www.tescomobile.com, I was extremely pleased to see included in their selection of mobile phones the make my son wanted. This made it easier for me as it meant I could buy the phone from Tesco Mobile and would receive their SIM card as well.

                  After choosing the phone, adding it to the shopping basket and entering my Tesco Clubcard details, I paid by credit card and was informed the mobile would be delivered within two days. Exactly two days later it arrived by delivery van and I was required to sign for it.

                  At the time of my purchase, Tesco Mobile were running a promotion offering a £10 top up with every phone. After setting up the phone I used the website to register it with my Tesco Clubcard. This way, every time my son purchases more top ups, I receive the points!

                  ~~~TARIFFs~~~

                  The best value when using the Tesco Mobile PAYG is to set up your 5 favourite numbers. Calls to these numbers cost 10p per minute and texts 5p each. Calls to other numbers are 20p and texts 10p anytime to any number.
                  While the rates to favourite numbers is a very good deal in comparison with many other networks, the benefits of topping up your phone are outstandingly good value. For instance, topping up with £10 will earn you a free £10 top up. With a £15 top up you receive a free £30 equalling £45 in total credit. And if you're a heavy user, topping up with £20 will earn you £40 free credit taking the total to £60. Not forgetting each time you spend you're receiving clubcard points. If you top up more than once in the same month, your free top up will be credited to your mobile during the next month. These top up incentives make it very cost effective for heavy users.

                  ~~~My Experiences~~~

                  My experiences with Tesco Mobile have been nothing short of fantastic. After initially receiving the phone, I texted a free number to receive the free £10 top up. Although it said it could take up to 48 hours, the credit appeared within 10 minutes.

                  My son, while delighted with his new phone, wasn't so keen on learning he was with Tesco Mobile. His friends are with Orange or T-Mobile and had been telling him to go with these. But what do they know and besides, I told him, no-one even has to know which service provider he's with if it's that much of a problem.

                  Setting up favourite numbers can be done online but it requires having the handset with you as you must type in your mobile number to log in. Tesco Mobile immediately text you a pin number which you use to log into the website. While initially setting up the online account I was able to put a block in place so my son can't go phoning international numbers or browsing adult sites! Not that he's planning on doing any web browsing as that is far too costly.

                  Topping up is a whole new area for me. But it's so easy. I can top up online, in a Tesco store, by phone, in many retail outlets or at an ATM. Along with the phone also came an e-top up card which you can take along to any outlet showing the top up sign (over 100,000 outlets). You just hand over the card and some money and your card is credited. So far I've topped up online and at the ATM. I decided to surprise my son with a top up as he'd done particularly well at school. Also, he was getting through his credit at an astonishing rate to begin with. But, he's quickly learned to become an avid texter and this is cheaper for kids.

                  Topping up at the ATM involves putting your debit card in as usual but instead of choosing cash, balance etc, you choose 'mobile top-up'. It then displays the service providers, of which Tesco Mobile is one and you enter the amount you wish to top up with and then the mobile number. Luckily you have to type the mobile number in twice to double check otherwise some stranger could be the lucky recipient of your top up.

                  Finding your balance simply involves texting a free number and the balance is texted back to you. These services are fantastic. Balances are texted back almost straightaway, likewise with top ups.

                  Not only am I extremely happy with Tesco Mobile's PAYG service, I'm even more delighted with them after inadvertently having to use another service from them after my son lost his phone after a whole 12 days.

                  Yes, 12 days is all his first phone lasted. To cut a short story shorter, within 10 minutes of playing in a playground, it fell out of his pocket and was promptly stolen. I know this because I continuously rang the number and received a message telling me the phone was unavailable. Then a couple of times someone answered and hung up when I said hello.

                  Having never lost a mobile myself, I panicked. I rang Tesco Mobile and didn't have to wait in some long queue but was passed to a very helpful assistant. He told me he would put a stop on the SIM which would take effect within 5 minutes! He also asked when the last top up was made and approximately how much credit was left. Once I'd relayed the details, he said he would send a new SIM card with the same credit and the same mobile number.

                  True to his word, the new SIM arrived 2 days later, all credit there and new number. What a fabulous service. I really cannot praise Tesco Mobile enough. Although they stopped the SIM within 5 minutes of my phone call, it was about 2 hours after it was stolen before I called them. It made me very grateful that it wasn't a contract mobile as the thieves could have racked up huge costs for me to pay.

                  ~~~Overall~~~

                  Tesco Mobile provide fabulous incentives for PAYG customers but they do have some good contract rates also. They seem to have new offers and deals popping up all the time so it's best to check the site regularly the site to make sure you're not missing out on anything.

                  Their customer service in my experience has been first class as has the actual mobile service itself, with top ups activating quickly and any online amendments such as changing the favourites friends taking place far quicker than the 48 hours stated.

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                  • littlewomen.co.uk / Online Shop / 74 Readings / 69 Ratings
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                    19.06.2009 13:07
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                    Lovely range of bras for smaller breasted women

                    Having given up on searching the high street stores for a decent fitting bra, I decided to see what I could find online. Quite quickly I found this lingerie website called 'Little Women' who specialise in lingerie for smaller women and I'm over the moon to have found them.

                    According to recent research, up to 80% of British women are wearing the wrong sized bra and I'm one of them. In my case I think it's a combination of not being able to find a proper fitting bra in any shop, being too embarrassed to be correctly fitted by an in-store fitter, and the fact that I'm, shall I say, somewhat petite in the chest area.

                    I blame it on the kids as it was only after they came on the scene that my boobs departed. Well, it's not quite that bad but they're not what they once were. Breast shape changes throughout a woman's lifetime and never more so than when they've had children. Some women gain extra inches during and after pregnancy but others, like me, gain during pregnancy then lose it afterwards, plus more. So it was really after my pregnancies that I found it difficult finding, not just a small enough bra, but one that fits well.

                    ~~~Range~~~

                    As mentioned at the beginning, Little Women are an online company selling lingerie exclusively for "AAA", "AA" and "A" cup women. Their bras come in all sorts of designs including smooth t-shirt style, wired and underwired, padded and non-padded, gel filled, silhouette and multi-way. As well as bras, they also offer a range of co-ordinated briefs, thongs and swimwear.

                    ~~~Measuring~~~

                    If you're unsure of your correct size, the site provides a helpful 'fitting your bra' and 'measuring guide'. The measuring guide includes an online calculator with an easy 2-setep guide on how to obtain the two measurements needed for determining your bra size. I found this very straightforward to use and found out my cup size was something other than what I thought (mentioning no numbers of letters here!)

                    ~~~Ordering~~~

                    Ordering is straightforward. Simply click on the style of bra you want, choose the size and colour, then add it to the basket. Not every bra is available in all three cup sizes though. When you come to check out, a delivery charge of £2.50 is added to your account. However, if you spend £40+, the delivery charge is nothing at all. After registering your details you enter your debit or credit card online. Alternatively you can phone your order. However, they don't take payment until they've despatched your order.

                    A few days later your parcel arrives. The first time I ordered three bras but when my delivery arrived, there were only two. A nicely printed note inside informed me that the rest of my order would be available in about three weeks and my credit card wouldn't be charged until it was sent to me. This pleased me as so often companies are only too happy to take your money as soon as you place the order whether or not the goods are available.

                    ~~~The Product~~~

                    Anyway, onto the delivery. They really do offer a fantastic service. My two bras arrived packed inside a narrow cardboard box. Each of them were carefully wrapped in tissue paper sealed with a 'Little Women' sticker. It really feels like a personal service especially for you rather than just another bra picked off a rail in a large store.

                    The quality of the bras is extremely good and they're very nicely made with decorative touches such as little bows and ribbons. Of course you can choose smooth bras without this detail and the web site provides good detail for each bra. This includes whether it's seam free, how much padding there is, what materials are used, how many hooks or fasteners at the back and whether there is a matching pair of briefs or thong.

                    ~~~Returning~~~

                    On this occasion I was extremely happy with the fit of the bras I ordered. However, when the third bra arrived a couple of weeks later, it wasn't so good. This had more to do with the style I ordered which never seems to fit me wherever I buy it. I then had to make use of their return and refund system. Inside the original box they supply you with a returns form to fill out and also a sticky label addressed to Little Women. You do need to pay for this yourself but I found it cost very little as the box is so light. They also recommend obtaining a certificate of posting as proof that you have indeed returned it. These cost nothing at the post office.

                    A couple of weeks later I was reassured that my returned parcel had been received as my account had been debited with the cost of the bra.

                    ~~~Overall~~~

                    This is a site I will definitely use for further orders as I simply can't find such a wide range of bras in my size in the shops. Pricewise, they're very good, offering a wide range of prices. Bras range from around £9.00 up to £26 and briefs from £4.00 up to around £14.00.

                    If you want to visit the site they can be found at www.littlewomen.co.uk or you can phone them on 01455 208855.

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                      12.06.2009 12:37
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                      Revolutionary cling film cutter

                      You probably wouldn't think cling film was something to get excited about, unless perhaps you have unusual uses for it. Still, cling film may seem like an odd subject to review. Let's face it, cling film is cling film is cling film. But what I'm actually reviewing here is not the cling film itself but the dispenser. I only thought about reviewing it as I'm nearly finished the current box and was worried whether I'd find another in the supermarket.

                      ~~~What Can You Use it For?~~~

                      Cling film is one of those store cupboard products that come in handy for all sorts of reasons. I often use it for covering bowls of leftover food in the fridge or for protecting food that's heating in the microwave. But most of the time I use it to wrap up the sandwiches, rolls or wraps that I make daily for my family.

                      This cling film can be safely used in the freezer or microwave oven and for wrapping all foods. However, if you're using it to protect food in the freezer, it's recommended that you pop the wrapped contents inside a further protection layer such as a freezer safe bag or container. This is because the cling film doesn't stick as well. If using as a food cover in the microwave you should always punch a few small holes to allow steam to escape.

                      ~~~Cling Film Containers~~~

                      For anyone who's ever struggled with tearing off a strip of cling film, you'll probably have experienced the frustrations of rarely achieving this in one neat go.

                      Cling film is generally packaged on a roll inside a cardboard box. This box will usually have a very sharp perforated edge which you use to tear off as much as you need. Sadly, most of the time I only succeed in cutting my finger and end up using a pair of scissors for the cutting job.

                      A few years ago while on holiday in New Zealand, I was amazed when I saw the cling film dispenser in my mother-in-law's kitchen. I'd never seen one like it before and commented on how fantastic it was. She told me they'd only arrived quite recently and were becoming very popular. Back in old Blighty, I searched in vain, but found nothing like it.

                      Fast forward a few years to a holiday in Dorset and a trip to a Morrisons supermarket. What did I find but a cling film dispenser uncannily like the one in New Zealand. I have no idea whether it's the same make, but the principal is the same.

                      ~~~How it Works~~~

                      The Benedetti cling film dispenser houses the cling film inside a tough plastic box. Upon lifting up the opening edge you'll find the razor sharp jagged cutting blades. But you don't need to worry about slicing open your fingers as they're tucked up in between the protective plastic lips under the lid.

                      Inside the box is the roll of cling film. To use, you simply roll out as the required amount of cling film, hold it tight, then shut the lid back down. The cling film is perfectly sliced through pretty much every time. I've found it works perfectly so long as I place it on a firm surface and 'slam' the lid down very firmly.

                      ~~~Further Information~~~

                      The Benedetti Cling film dispenser contains 100 metres of cling film and measures 350mm widthways. Considering I use it at least five days a week, it seems to last forever. This current box has been in use for well over four months, pretty good value for £2.92.

                      Considering the container is a hard plastic type, I imagined there would be a way of refilling it rather than having to throw it away. Unfortunately, this container doesn't allow for refills - hygiene reasons apparently.

                      However, it seems the great minds behind this product have had a rethink, as I now see they're selling refillable Benedetti dispensers and refill rolls which is a great idea. The refills are available in 40m and 60m length, still 350mm width. There is also a similar version for dispensing tin foil.

                      The dispenser is fully recyclable and meets EU set levels of migration. (This means the cling film will not leak into food in concentrations that are not safe.)

                      I can fully understand why it was the FPD (Foodservice Packaging Association) 'New Product Innovation' winner in 2005. It beats any other cling film dispenser hands down.

                      For further information, check out their useful site here: http://www.wrapfilm.com/products/product.cfm?intRangeID=1&blnShowOverviewPage=1

                      I've recently seen the new dispensers in Tesco and the original in Sainsbury and Morrisons supermarkets both online and in store.

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                        05.06.2009 12:26
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                        A tasty and low calorie alternative to regular jelly

                        Goodness, after reading a few negative comments and reviews on dooyoo regarding those who write food reviews, I almost feel I should apologise for yet another food review. But, I won't. I love food and enjoy discovering new products, even though they may not be new to everyone and I'd like to share my thoughts and opinions with those who care to read them.

                        For most of my childhood and ensuing adult hood I've disliked jelly. Whereas my friends would devour the stuff at parties, I'd avoid it like the plague. To me it was like plastic and tasted artificial with little substance.

                        When I grew up and became calorie conscious, I soon discovered sugar free jelly. But unfortunately, I still hated it. No matter how much I love low calories, I won't eat them if I don't like the taste. A cup of tea may be fantastically good for you without milk, but to me it tastes vile so I'd rather go without.

                        Only quite recently I decided to give jelly another chance as I needed something to eat as an in between snack but didn't rack up the calories. Obviously it had to be a sugar free version and this led me the Hartley's sugar free jelly. Initially I bought the strawberry sugar free crystals as I was planning on adding strawberries. However, after purchasing the raspberry flavour one day, I now stick with this as the taste is far closer to the real fruit.

                        ~~~The Packet~~~

                        Hartley's sugar free crystals are supplied as a double packet with a perforated section down the middle of the two. Since the instructions are only printed on one of the packets, you have to remember to use the other side first, or else file the instructions to memory for when you come to use the other packet.

                        ~~~Making the Jelly~~~

                        There's not too much to remember. However, the first time I used them I did throw away the instruction side and didn't remember the exact quantities and order for making it.

                        There are three easy steps: 1. pour out half a pint of boiling water; 2. sprinkle on jelly crystals and stir until dissolved; 3. top up to one pint with cold water and leave in the fridge to set. You can of course pour the jelly into a mould at this stage, but I don't bother with this as I'm not presenting it to anyone other than myself.

                        There's not really much that can go wrong. However, there is a warning on the packet advising that adding pineapple, kiwi fruit or papaya will prevent it from setting. After pouring boiling water into a jug I simply sprinkle the contents of the packet onto the water and stir. Bits of the powder tend to clump and sink to the bottom but if you're using a glass jug you can easily see where these are and keep stirring until they're gone. The instructions tell you to top up to one pint, but I've managed to add more than this and the jelly still sets, although it's slightly more wobbly. A full one pint sets in about two hours in my fridge.

                        ~~~Taste~~~

                        This time around I actually quite like the taste of the jelly. I still can't say it's one of my favourite foods as I don't like the texture, but I find it useful for bulking out desserts and snacks just by adding fruit and a bit of yogurt. The raspberry flavour is quite palatable and a recognisable raspberry flavour.

                        I find eating a lot of jelly is a really useful way of filling myself up between meals. All those non-dieters out there will think this strange but if you're watching your weight, every calorie counts and snacking is one of the biggest downfalls of dieters.

                        ~~~Further Information~~~

                        Hartley's sugar free jelly comes in a range of flavours including blackberry, orange, lemon and lime and strawberry. I've tried all the flavours and prefer the raspberry although the lemon and lime is quite tangy and refreshing.

                        As well as the crystals, they also come in ready made pots. Yes, this is quite extravagant, in both price and packaging. But I tend to have a couple of these in my cupboard in case if I've forgotten to make my jelly that morning. They're also useful for popping into a bag to take out with you in case a snack attack hits.

                        Hartley's jelly does contain gelatine rendering it unsuitable for vegetarians. While I'm not overly keen on the ingredients it does at least contain natural colours and flavourings. The sweeteners used are aspartame and acesulfame K. Calories are low with only 32 per pint.

                        The sugar free versions of this jelly are available in the larger supermarkets costing around 45p for a twin pack that makes 2 pints. The individual pots cost 38p.

                        Hartley's Jelly information can be found at: http://www.hartleysjelly.com/our-jellies.cfm

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                          02.06.2009 08:46
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                          A trustworthy brand of sun screen for children

                          After what feels like the longest winter on record, it seems summer is finally making an appearance. The kids can't wait to spend time outside after a long winter cooped up indoors. But I've become paranoid about my children's skin burning after learning that it can lead to skin cancer in later life.

                          When I was a child, applying sun cream was a matter of choice. Some kids used it, usually the ones with very pale skin or who had red hair and burned easily. My mother might remind me to put cream on from time to time, so I'd put on a thin layer when I remembered and that would be it for the rest of the day. I became brown eventually but still had to be careful as I could burn.

                          With my own children, I'm a lot more fussy. If I know they're going to be outside in blazing sunshine for a long time, or if they're splashing around in swimsuits in the sun, then I always make sure they're covered with a decent sun cream. We've also been asked by their teachers to make sure they have sun cream on before they come to school if it's going to be a sunny day.

                          Last year I purchased a small 50ml pouch of sun screen from the Boots Soltan range, called Once Kids. I still have plenty left over for this year, probably because we only saw about two days of sunshine last year. The Soltan range of sun screens from Boots have an extremely good reputation and are often rated among the best buys from Which? magazine.

                          ~~~The Product~~~

                          Soltan Once Kids is packaged in a plastic pouch, a bit like those squeezy yogurts for kids. It has a screw top and extracting the cream just involves squeezing the pouch. The cream itself is very thick and when squeezing it out of the tube it emerges with a white sausage like appearance. It doesn't smell overpowering but leaves a subtle fragrance of suncream on the skin once it's been applied.

                          The SPF (sun protection factor) rating is 40 which means the burning effect of the sun the UVB rays, is reduced by up to 40 times. Additionally it has been given a 5 star UVA rating which is the maximum protection.

                          ~~~Application~~~

                          You only need one application for up to six hours of protection. This includes allowances for three hours of water exposure. Of course, if they've been swimming and then towelled dry, you need to reapply.

                          When applying sun screen, people often don't use nearly enough to achieve the desired SPF. This may have something to do with them costing so much. I know I've often spread sun creams over my skin very thinly, eeking out as much as possible to make it go further. However, if you do this you won't achieve the level of protection as stated on bottle.

                          The recommended amount of this sun cream is to apply approximately three tablespoons for the entire body. That's about the entire contents of one of these pouches! Of course you would adjust this down if you're just covering the face or arms for instance. The instructions tell you to rub the cream into the body and allow it to dry for 15 minutes before exposure to the sun.

                          ~~~My Experiences~~~

                          Well, it's not actually me who's been wearing this sun cream, rather it's my three children, mainly the two girls as my son rarely ventures away from his computer.

                          My kids are never too happy when it comes to putting on the sun cream. They're always in too much of a hurry and impatient to make their escape into the sun. However, I make sure they're properly protected with cream first.

                          I generally squeeze out a large blob of cream into my hand and bit by bit rub it into their skin as and where it's needed. The cream is very thick, as mentioned earlier, and it needs to be rubbed in very well otherwise they're left looking paler than Michael Jackson.

                          The cream has very good staying power and even when they've been splashing around under water sprinklers, I can see the cream is still on their skin. And despite spending several hours in the sun, they've not come close to burning. In fact, it's kept their skin quite pale while it's been on.
                          This cream has been dermatologically tested and is specially formulated for children's vulnerable skin. One of my daughters has eczema and this cream hasn't aggravated it in any way.

                          The packaging of this product, the squeezy pouch, is very handy to pop into your bag if you're going to be away from home for a while with kids and you think you may be outside for any length of time. There isn't much danger of it leaking out as it's so thick and the top keeps the contents securely inside. It weighs practically nothing and takes up very little space.

                          It's not that expensive, costing £5.99 and of course is available in Boots stores. At the time of writing, there is a buy one get one free offer.

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                          • More +
                            31.05.2009 11:39
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                            A high quality protective sun cream

                            I love having a suntan. Every year starts the same for me. Come April, the minute we have a sunny day, I'm out there in my postage stamp back garden, soaking up any rays making an appearance through the clouds.

                            Many years ago, growing up in Australia, I remember a teacher giving us a piece of advice I've never forgotten. She said "always start tanning early in the year, even when it's still cold and do it gradually. This way you get to build up your tan gradually so it will last longer and you're less likely to burn.)

                            While I agree this is the best method, unfortunately in this country we seem to see so little of the sun that some of us tend to go a bit mad and 'binge tan' as the latest saying goes. This is not good news in the long term, particularly if you burn. All it takes is just one incidence of sunburn during your life to put yourself at a higher risk of skin cancer.

                            Since I subjected my face to a chemical face peel over Christmas, I now need to take extra sun care precautions when venturing out into the sun. However, I don't want to remain ghostly pale and fake tans, while they can be good at providing a bit of colour, don't have that natural look that only the sun can provide.

                            ~~~Sun Protection Considerations~~~

                            Before purchasing any sun cream, it's important working out the most suitable cream for your skin type. This involves a combination of two factors: your skin type and the amount of time you plan on spending in the sun.

                            UVB

                            All suntan creams are given an SPF (sun protection factor) rating. The SPF is a number which provides a guide as to how much protection from the suns UVB rays the sun cream will provide. UVB rays are associated with sunburn and skin cancer.

                            SPFs generally range from low protection with an SPF of 4-10, medium 15-25 and high protection 30-50+. The highest SPFs are suitable for those with skin than always burns and never tans as well as fair or light skins that tan slowly or who burn before turning brown. Those with medium skins and who minimally burn can use medium protection and those with dark skin or who rarely burn can use low protection. However, if you're likely to be in the sun for longer than 2 hours you should use a cream with an SPF higher than necessary for your skin type.

                            UVA

                            It's not just the UVB rating you should look out for when purchasing a sun cream. UVB rays were once considered to be the most damaging, but scientists now understand that UVA rays may be just harmful. The main concerns with UVA rays include premature ageing and cell damage linked to skin cancer.

                            UVA ratings are given a star system with 5 stars providing the highest protection.

                            ~~~No. 7 Anti-Dark Spot Credentials~~~

                            I chose this particular cream because of the SPF rating and the brand name. My skin does tan easily and I rarely burn but I need high protection for my face. No. 7 is a brand name I trust and have found them to be extremely good. Furthermore, since my skin has begun to show the odd dark spot and suffers from hyper-pigmentation, I liked the idea of a sun screen promising to hinder this process.

                            The No. 7 Anti-Dark-Spot facial sun cream has an SPF of 30 (high) along with the maximum 5 star UVA rating.

                            The label states this cream will help reduce the signs of sun damage with a dual action sun filter that reflects damaging UV light and acts as a powerful antioxidant. The skin brightening complex is also supposed to help improve the appearance of your skin tone and colour while helping prevent dark spots and hyper pigmentation.

                            The cream can be used underneath makeup as you would a regular moisturiser. Being a No. 7 product it also promises to smooth the appearance of fine lines.

                            It is hypo-allergenic and water resistant, but you must reapply if you've been swimming.

                            ~~~The Packaging~~~

                            The sun cream comes in a small 50ml yellow tube with a flip top lid. It's designed to stand on its lid so the cream is always ready to dispense. It clearly states the SPF of 30 on the front and the UVA 5 star rating is shown on the back.

                            ~~~What's it Like~~~

                            I've been using this cream for a few months now and must say I'm very impressed. The sun cream itself is pale and creamy and a little goes a long way. In fact I often squeeze out too much by mistake and have to use it on other areas of my body such as my neck and hands. It feels nice and soft on my skin and absorbs well. The smell is subtle. Not a perfumed moisturiser type smell and you can tell it's a sun screen.

                            This cream does a very good job of protecting my skin. How do I know this? Well, I've been using a factor 15 on the rest of my body which has turned brown. However, my face has remained much paler and I haven't developed the 'millions' of freckles that usually appear when I've been in the sun for a while. It has enabled my face to develop a light tan which I'm actually quite happy with. Also, my skin stays nicely moisturised even after a few hours outside in the strong sun. I've used it underneath foundation and the moisturising qualities are as great as any regular moisturiser.

                            Using this sun cream I feel very confident I'm providing the best protection for my face and will buy it again when I've used up this tube.

                            If you feel you need greater protection from the sun, this particular sun cream is also produced with an SPF of 50.

                            It's available from Boots the chemist stores and online, priced at around £9.50.

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                            • More +
                              29.05.2009 11:34
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                              A lovely moisturising day cream for those with dry, wrinkled or sagging skin (or all 3)

                              I'm not always loyal when it comes to face creams. I'm easily swayed and tempted into buying products on special offer, even brands I probably wouldn't give a second look at.

                              However, when I've finished whichever brand I've been using and the time has come to replenish my daily face cream, I tend to gravitate back to Garnier. Garnier products are very reasonably priced and have the feel and appearance of a luxury face cream.

                              When it comes to choosing the right cream though, I'm often presented with a dilemma. You see, face creams are often branded to target people with specific problems ie ageing skin, mature skin, saggy skin, wrinkled skin, sun damaged skin... the list goes on and really, I don't seem to fit into any one of the categories. Depressingly, I fit into all of them. So what I really want is something that tackles all those problems in one multi-functioning cream. The only other option seems to be purchasing all of them, slathering them over my face on top of each other and hoping for the best.

                              Since that would be silly and ridiculously expensive not to mention wasteful, the next best option is trying to find a cream that combines as many of the required target elements in the one cream. The Garnier Ultra Lift Pro-X sounded like it could help with a few of my problem areas.

                              It claims to be an intensive day cream and its main feature is it's hydrating effect which plumps the skin, thereby giving the effect of filling out all those nasty wrinkles. As with most of the well publicised brands, they all have their unique special ingredient or process that has been undertaken to develop their wonderful cream. In the case of the Garnier UltraLift Pro-X, they have used a process called 'Supercritical CO2'. Apparently this method is used to extract pure ginger to preserve the essential benefits from plants to deliver them straight to the skin. Amazing stuff!

                              So the multi functioning promises of this cream are to improve skin hydration and plump skin which in turn reduces the appearance of deep wrinkles and produce visibly firmer skin.

                              Garnier UltraLift Pro-X is packaged in a cute cylindrical shaped, 50ml bottle. It's quite short and chunky and fits in my hand really well (not saying my hand is short and chunky of course). It has a pump action method of delivering the cream so all you have to do is gently press down on the top to dispense the amount of cream you need. It has a clear lid which clicks into place on top and helps keep the cream from clogging in the dispensing nozzle. I find this type of bottle is the easiest to use, rather than the type where you have to unscrew lids and dip your fingers into pots. The downside of the pump action bottle though, is if you dispense too much you can't put it back again. Another slight problem is you can't actually see how much is left in the bottle. You just have to go by how heavy it feels to know when you're coming to the end of the cream because one day, you press the top and a tiny bit comes and then that's it. But it's not at all wasteful.

                              When it comes to applying the cream, the directions are similar to most face products. Gently smooth over your face and neck after you've cleansed first.

                              Its appearance is very white and smooth. It's dispensed out of the round nozzle in a worm shape and the consistency is thick enough to sit on your finger and not drip off. The cream glides over my skin really easily and almost feels like velvet. It's absorbed immediately so I don't need to spend ages rubbing it in.

                              Straight away my skin takes on a much softer teture and smoother appearance and feels extremely well moisturised. I haven't noticed any noticeable improvement in sagging skin but that's not too much of a problem for me right now. As I find with all Garnier products, it has a wonderful, very lightly perfumed smell. Of course everyone has their own preferences with fragrances, but Garnier is my favourite when it comes to facial products.

                              Since I've finished the complete bottle, I can say it's one of my favourites. In fact, I would make this product a repeat purchase but for one problem. I can't find any evidence of it containing an SPF (sun protection factor). Since I underwent a chemical skin peel over Christmas, I have to take extra care of my skin in the sun and anything I use on my face, particularly when I'm going to be outside a lot, must contain a high factor sunscreen. I find it quite unusual that this is a day cream and there is no mention of any SPF either on the bottle or their website. Most day creams nowadays tend to contain SPFs.

                              Therefore in the future, I'm probably only going to buy this during winter months. It took me around four months to finish the bottle, but I was only using it on cloudy or rainy days (which, I suppose was 4 out of 7 days!).

                              Overall, I think this is a lovely face cream which smells gorgeous and does make my skin appear smoother and I prefer it to their Ultralift daycream with an SPF included. Sadly, I haven't noticed any firming as such, but it does provide a nicely moisturised base for putting foundation on.

                              It costs around £11.75 in Boots and it's widely available in supermarkets and chemists.

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                              • Ryvita Thins Multiseed / Snacks / 64 Readings / 62 Ratings
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                                27.05.2009 12:11
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                                Delicious, healthy, crunchy flatbreads and great to use in dips

                                As a long-time consumer of Ryvita products, I've been very excited by the new additions to their ever expanding range. For so many years there were just the two varieties of crispbread: Original and Dark Rye. Now they've branched out into crackerbreads, mini Ryvitas, cereal bars, bagged snacks, sweet crispbreads and the newest addition, Ryvita Thins.

                                Ryvita Thins (at the time of writing!) come in two flavours: Cracked Black Pepper and Multiseed. This review is for the Multiseed variety. They're actually called a multi-seed flatbread rather than a crispbread.

                                I am a regular purchaser of Ryvita Sunflower crispbreads but happened to have a money off voucher for a packet of Ryvita Thins. I admit I probably wouldn't have bought them without the voucher but figured that if I didn't like them, I'd palm them off onto hubby as he eats everything.

                                They weren't hard to find, sitting at eye level on a shelf with all the other Ryvitas. They seemed quite expensive in comparison with the others in the Ryvita range and the voucher certainly helped.

                                On opening the box there is a clear plastic type tray sealed by clear cellophane packaging. All the Ryvitas are in the same packet so once you've opened it, you need to keep them in an airtight container to keep them crisp, unless you can't resist eating them all at once. They're not all that easy to extract though. You have to slide the whole tray out otherwise if you just try to extract one or two crackers, they end up breaking.

                                To look at, they're tall and thin, longer than the Ryvita crispbreads and about half the width with a lovely light golden colour. The top is generously sprinkled with an assortment of seeds including hemp, brown linseed, golden linseed and millet seed while the underside is smooth.

                                When you come to eat them they are surprisingly light and crunchy. Thankfully they're not the sort of cracker to break into a million pieces when you take a bite and they hold together really well. The seeds are the main flavour of these flatbreads, in particular, one seed which to me tastes like sesame seeds. I think it must be the linseeds as there aren't actually any sesame seeds on them. Whatever it is, the combination of seedy flavours and crisp crunchiness is so tasty that I know I'll be buying these again.

                                I gave some to one of my daughters one day for lunch to dip into her houmous. She shared one with her friend who liked it so much she wanted to know what it was so she could ask her mother to buy some. My daughter also raved about them when she got home, so it looks like these will be a lunch-time regular.

                                They're widely available in supermarkets for around £1.76 for a 125g box of 20-25 flatbreads.

                                Nutritional Information per Ryvita Thins is as follows:

                                Calories: 37; Protein: 1.5g; Carbohydrate 5.7g (of which sugars) 0.2g; Fat 0.9; Fibre 0.9g; Salt 0.2g

                                Ingredients

                                Wheat Flour, Mixed seeds (24%) (Hemp Seed, Brown Linseed, Golden Linseed, Millet Seed), Wholegrain rye flour (8%), Palm Oil, Sea salt, Yeast.

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                                  25.05.2009 11:43
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                                  A hand creme that works fantatically well

                                  Since reaching 'a certain age' I've become very self conscious about the state of my hands. I'd never bothered with taking too much care of them, apart from my nails. My face has been the recipient of all the many hundreds, probably thousands of pounds spent on creams. But not my hands.

                                  Hands, unfortunately, are one of the biggest giveaways of age. My own hands, while not too dried out and withered looking, were starting to show signs of ageing. The skin just wasn't smooth or supple looking any longer. As an aid to reversing this downward trend, I've begun using various hand creams as well as wearing the dreaded rubber gloves whenever I've needed to submerge my hands in hot, soapy water.

                                  I've had varying degrees of success with the hand creams and I generally keep one cream in the kitchen and another next to my bed for night time use.

                                  I purchased the Burt's Bees Beeswax and Banana hand crème as part of a hand care set. I'd never heard of them until I read a review right here on dooyoo and went on to discover they have a huge range of products, not just for hand care, but for the face, body, hair, men, women and babies. Burt's Bees is the kind of name that sticks in your mind so I knew that one day I get around to trying out some of their products.

                                  The Beeswax and Banana hand crème is packaged in a small 57g (2 oz), round glass jar with a yellow screw top lid. The whole look of the product is quite retro, sort of 1950's style, very simple with a couple of bees pictured on the label along with the text.

                                  The description of this crème says it's a super-emolient hand crème which combines Beeswax and Aloe to leave dry, hardworking hands, noticeably soft, smooth and smelling great. The directions recommend applying a small amount to chapped, dry hands and massaging into the skin. It also says it's useful for elbows, knees and feet.

                                  The crème itself is very different to any other hand cream I've used so far. For a start, it's sitting in a pot waiting to be scooped out, rather than squeezed out of a tube. It has an extremely thick consistency and almost feels firm when you first touch it. It has a pale mustardy colour which looks delightful. But what strikes you most, is the strong banana smell. I love this, but would imagine that someone who doesn't like bananas probably wouldn't be too impressed.

                                  When applying this creme, it feels very rich, thick and creamy and has to be rubbed for a while until it's absorbed properly. It does leave quite a greasy film over my hands, which tends to leave grease marks over any book or magazine I may be reading before bed. So what I do is use the cotton gloves that came with the hand care pack and this locks in all the moisture and keeps the hand crème where it should be, on my hands.

                                  The results in the morning when I remove the gloves are pretty amazing. The skin on the back of my hands has reverted to its youthful days (for a few hours). It feels soft and springy and has a lovely sheen. Using the crème without the gloves still works well but not to the extent as when using with the gloves.

                                  This crème has also been very tempting for my daughters. They are fascinated by the stuff, mainly because of the smell. But I've often come to open my pot of crème to find little finger marks inside that definitely don't belong to me! Still, since they love it so much, I give them the perfect excuse to put their fingers in the pot if they'll massage the crème into my hands for me, so we're all happy.

                                  While I think the packaging is very nice, I generally prefer to use a squeezy tube. The trouble is when you have long finger nails, you have to put your finger into the pot and scoop out the crème on the back of your finger nail, otherwise you end up with a load of crème stuck under your nails. I also think it's less hygienic opening a pot, exposing the contents to the elements and constantly dipping your fingers in.

                                  Overall, as a hand crème, it does what it says. It leaves my hands incredibly soft, smooth and smelling great so I can't ask any more than that. What it doesn't promise are any anti ageing effects, so this crème is probably best for people who purely want a crème to restore softness to rough, dry hands rather than tackling age spots and the like.

                                  I wouldn't use this crème during the day as it is quite greasy, probably due to the beeswax. However, for use overnight, coupled with a pair of cotton gloves, you have the power to restore the youthful hands you thought you'd never see again.

                                  You can buy this cream in Boots stores for around £8.80 as well as various online stores.

                                  For more information about Burt's Bees and a full list of ingredients have a look at their website: http://www.burtsbees.co.uk.

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