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grayh

grayh
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Member since: 16.03.2012

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    • Bosch MSM6300GB / Blender / 36 Readings / 34 Ratings
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      28.01.2013 20:16
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      A fabulous blender and chopper which takes up far less space than a food processor.

      I bought this hand blender 5 months ago when my Braun hand blender broke. I wanted a reliable product with a chopper attachment and chose Bosch because I have several other Bosch appliances which are well made and reliable. Happily, this one seems no different in that respect :-)

      The blender comes with the usual blending stick attachment, jug and wall mount but with the addition of a chopper attachment which can be used to chop ingredients without the need to add liquid.

      The chopper attachment is great for chopping nuts (you can blitz them right down into nut butter to spread on bread), onions, chickpeas, dried fruit and so on. It's great for pureeing vegetables into baby food too. It can also be used to grind coffee beans but I tend not to do this as I believe it blunts the blade. The blending stick performs well too.

      The blender has 2 speed buttons - one fast "turbo" speed button (which is the fastest speed the unit can run at) and a second button for a lower speed which can be adjusted with the little dial at the top of the unit. I find this really handy as it means you can run the unit at whatever speed you want. My previous blender had 2 fixed speeds - slow or fast and I found that I often wanted something between the two - well I can have that with this Bosch blender!

      The only thing I don't like about this blender is the removal mechanism for removing the blender stick/chopper. You have to press 2 buttons simultaneously, one either side of the unit and I find this rather fiddly.

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    • De Cecco Gnocchi / Pasta / Noodles / 22 Readings / 22 Ratings
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      27.01.2013 20:31
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      a quick, tasty italian dish.

      I have bought De Cecco gnocchi di patate (italian potato dumplings) many times as I love italian food, and gnocchi can be cooked in minutes so is a great snack to have in a hurry.

      Gnocchi di patate are like a very chunky version of pasta but are made from potatoes as well as flour. These De Cecco gnocchi di patate are solid, chunky oval pieces around 20mm x 15mm x 8mm in size. Like pasta, they haven't got masses of flavour on their own but go very well with a sauce or just some butter and garlic (yum). They have got quite a firm texture and are very filling.

      The usual way of cooking is to boil them and they take around 3 minutes so are perfect if you're in a rush. We often dry-fry them in a frying pan instead which is really yummy - they are rather like mini roast potatoes when cooked in this way and again take 5 minutes or less to cook (if you add oil, they don't seem to brown so avoid adding oil).

      De Cecco is a quality brand so you know you're buying good food. A 500g pack is quite big so will serve 3-4 as an accompaniment. If you don't eat the whole pack in one sitting, just pop the uncooked ones in the fridge and they will keep for a couple of days.

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      19.01.2013 15:12
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      a fab steam mop which cleans very well and has good steam capacity

      I hate mopping floors but the entire downstairs of our house is hard flooring so needs must ... I had previously bought numerous different (non-steam) mops to try to make the task easier/quicker/less hateful but to no avail.

      A few months ago I decided to try a steam mop. I did my homework by looking at lots of reviews online as it soon became obvious that not all steam mops are the same! In the end I decided upon the vax s2 and bought one about 3 months ago from an online cash and carry for £40.

      Well? I _love_it :-) I no longer hate mopping floors! The Vax S2 is a sturdy, well-made steam mop with a decent sized water compartment (500ml). The handle is reasonably long - fine for me at 5ft 10" but I think if I were any taller, I might get a bit of a bad back using it. The instructions say that a tank of water lasts for 15 minutes, but that is if you keep the steam trigger continually depressed, which generally you don't need to so I find it lasts for a much longer period.

      It can be used on carpets as well as hard flooring but be warned, the S2 is only designed for "freshening" carpets i.e. won't remove heavy duty stains.

      Accessories: comes with 2 microfibre mop pads, measuring jug and carpet glider which allows you to use it on carpets as well as hard flooring.

      All in all, I find this a great product which is fabulous on hard flooring and good at giving carpets a light clean. I have invested in some "coral pads" to replace the microfibre cleaning pads as these provide even better cleaning power and to be honest, the microfibre pads are a bit flimsy and easily damaged. The coral pads have lots of little "fingers" (like coral) and these clean the gaps between tiles better than the microfibre pads. I bought them cheaply from a well-known auction site.

      Disadvantages? There are only 2:
      1) the power cord does not retract inside the steam mop - you manually wrap the cord around 2 hooks on the unit.
      2) there is a filter in the mop which periodically needs replacing. I haven't had to do this yet but am worried they might be expensive when they need replacing. To try to make the filter last longer, I am using de-ionised water in the unit but don't know how much difference it will make!

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      18.01.2013 21:04
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      A delicious sweet drink that is perfect for bed time.

      I have tried a number of yogi teas but this is my absolute favourite - it is sweet and warming - a good drink for bed time.

      When you open the pretty packaging (also patterned on the inside - so can be used for card making if you're a crafter!), you will find the tea bags individually wrapped in paper sachets. But don't be fooled - the sachets aren't airtight so it's best to keep these in an airtight tub if you're going to keep them for a while. Each bag has a string and label attached which has a lovely motto on the back - a bit like a fortune cookie. There are quite a few different mottoes so you don't tend to get many duplicates in a packet.

      The herbal tea itself is made with boiling water and you can leave the bag in to intensify the flavour if you want to. I find that I do not need to add milk or sugar as it is fine on its' own.

      A few words of warning, though:

      1) It is _very_ sweet.
      2) I don't think it tastes like licorice - I hate black licorice but I LOVE the flavour of this drink!!

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      • Crabbies - Mulled Ginger / Wine / 10 Readings / 9 Ratings
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        18.01.2013 20:45

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        A delicious, zingy version of mulled wine which is perfect hot or cold

        I bought this in the supermarket just before Christmas, thinking that given its' novelty factor, it would be either absolutely rank or absolutely gorgeous - I was right - absolutely gorgeous!

        This has all the taste you would expect of regular mulled wine with the added "zing" of ginger - its' extra spice makes it even more warming and delicious, a really rich, complex flavour. I have tried it both hot and cold and am not sure which I like best as they are both delectable :-)

        It can be heated in the microwave as well as in a saucepan so is perfect if you want just a glass or two, not the whole bottle. A word of warning though, like normal red wine, the flavour deteriorates the longer you keep it open although I don't imagine that will be a problem for most because once you taste it, you're unlikely to stop at one!

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      • Lyons Coffee Bags / Coffee / 26 Readings / 26 Ratings
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        18.01.2013 13:07
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        A great tasting, fresh cup of coffee without the mess and washing up!

        I first tried Lyons coffee bags about 6 years ago - a colleague at work was using them and they smelled great and I was amazed that you could get coffee in a bag like tea bags! Once I'd tried them for myself, I was converted ;-)

        The fresh ground coffee comes in a large circular bag and you use it in a similar way to a tea bag - pour hot water on, bash it about a bit, let it brew, remove it and add sugar/milk to taste - hey presto, a fresh ground coffee without the faff and mess!

        Each bag comes individually wrapped to keep it extra fresh and this means they are perfect for people who love fresh coffee but don't drink enough to warrant opening a big bag of coffee grounds which can quickly taste "stale" if they're not used quickly. They're also easy to take out and about with you - perfect for work, picnics or at home.

        One disadvantage is that because they are individually wrapped, they use rather alot of packaging which is not very eco-friendly. However, for me, the alternative is a lot of stale, wasted coffee which gets thrown away - not good for the planet or my bank balance!

        They come in 2 strengths - regular and rich. My personal favourite is the rich one (red/white box) which has a nice strong, flavour.

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          19.03.2012 21:55
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          A high quality, high performance, long lasting cleaner - well worth the money.

          I bought this Dyson vacuum cleaner about 5 years. I was a little sceptical about all the hype, but our old vac had just broken down and we saw this machine in the sales and thought "let's give it a go". We had previously bought really cheap vac cleaners which seemed to break down as soon as they were out of warranty (usually 1 year) and was attracted by the 5 year warranty on this product. I must say that I am now a convert and am extremely happy with this cleaner.

          This vac cleaner is a bit "space-age" looking with it's unique shape and silver, graphite and bronze colours, but it folds up reasonably small for storage and when extended, the main handle and pole (or "wand") is plenty long enough, even for taller people (I am 5' 10").

          It comes with a variety of cleaning heads: Turbine head, mini turbine head (the turbine head has a revolving brush which spins around very fast to pick up hair and is powered by the suction of the hoover), crevice tool, brush tool, stair tool and hard floor tool. We have hard floors downstairs so I mainly use the hard floor tool, even on our upstairs carpets because I can't be bothered to keep changing the head.

          I am very impressed by the Dyson's performance - it certainly does pick up more dirt than any other cleaner I have had. I have recently bought the "Soft Dusting Brush" too, for doing the dusting and find this very effective as well.

          ADVANTAGES: apart from the obvious performance advantages, it comes with washable filters so you don't need to keep buying disposable ones. One of these is a HEPA filter with Bactisafe screen which apparently is very good for allergy sufferers because it makes the expelled air cleaner than traditional filters.

          DISADVANTAGES: I only have a few grumbles about this product. It is very noisy, rather heavy and doesn't sit that well on my stairs - I usually have to keep a leg/foot near it to steady it. I'd also prefer a slightly longer power cord.

          Overall, I'd certainly recommend this product - I'm glad I bought it and will most likely stay loyal to Dyson providing their products remain high quality and long lasting.

          For those of you wanting more spec, here are few extra details:

          Suction power: 280 Air Watts
          Dimensions: 348 x 283 x 430mm (HxWxD)
          Maximum reach: 10m (cord length 6.5m)
          Weight: 8.82kg

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            19.03.2012 15:04
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            An extremely good value, hard wearing flask which does its' job very well.

            I bought the 0.5 L version about 3 years ago when my son was first born. I used it frequently to take hot water around with me for heating my son's milk bottle when I was out and about. Before this I bought the larger 1L version which I've had for years and years. I`m very pleased with both.

            The Thermos Thermocafe is a fairly classic stainless steel flask. It has a polished steel exterior and a stainless steel interior so is pretty much unbreakable - which is perfect for me as I am very clumsy and often forget I have it in my bag. It has a plastic stopper with a rubber seal. You can either take the stopper off completely to pour, or open it a little to restrict the flow of liquid. It also has a plastic lined lid which doubles as a small mug.

            HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR THERMOCAFE:

            HOT LIQUIDS: you can preheat the flask by filling it with hot water for a few minutes. Empty it out and then you can put your preferred hot drink in it. I find this really helps keep your drinks _really_ hot. For example, for work I usually preheat and then fill my flask with hot water at around 7.15am. I can still make a pretty decent cup of tea from it 6 hours later and the water remains fairly hot for around 8 hours in total.

            COLD LIQUIDS: you can also keep drinks cool in the flask. I've never tried it myself but I understand that you can also pre-chill the flask by putting iced water into it for a few minutes before pouring it out and refilling with your preferred chilled drink.

            I really rate the Thermocafe and use it most days. It's now a little dented (I told you I'm clumsy!) but this does not affect its' operation. As the flask itself won't break, I expect this will last a very long time. Replacement stoppers are also available as this the only bit of the flask which is likely to fail

            TIP: I find that you can also descale it with 10g of citric acid granules and some hot water. Don't forget to give a good rinse afterwards.

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            18.03.2012 20:59
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            A useful mop which removes the need to store a bulky wringer-bucket!

            I have lost count of the number of different mops I have bought to mop my tiled and laminate floors ... that is until I bought the vileda magic mop flat which I have been using for 2 years now and am very satisfied with it.

            Features: it has a blue rectangular head (approx. 20cm x 14cm) with a thick, good quality sponge on it. The handle is red and is fairly long - measuring approx. 1m26cm which is useful if you're fairly tall and tend to get backache from mopping floors (I'm 5' 10" and find the mop is a suitable length for me - just!). The sponge has a "non-scratch scrubber" on one edge to attack those really stubborn marks with - and it's fairly effective. It also has a push-pull wringer system where you just push/pull a collar on the handle to wring the sponge out. You can buy refills for the mop head (which is just as well because eventually the sponge comes away from the mop head base plate -it is only glued on so the sponge eventually breaks away from the glue).

            Generally, I am very pleased with this mop - it is the best one I have tried to date and it's really useful that you don't have to have one of those special mop wringer buckets - I just use it straight out of my kitchen sink. However, it is a shame that the push-pull wringer system doesn't wring out more of the water - I usually end up using my hands just to help it along a bit.

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            18.03.2012 20:35
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            an extremely hard-wearing, versatile piece of kitchen kit - every home should have one!

            I bought this stir fry pan about 3 years ago to replace a similar Tefal one I had owned for 5+ years. I have never regretted either purchase

            The Tefal Specific 28cm stir fry pan is a medium sized stir fry pan with a hard- wearing non-stick coating. It has got a stay cool handle and is oven safe up to 180 degrees Celsius. You can also put it in the dishwasher - which I almost always do and it is because of this I can vouch for the durability of the non-stick coating - it really is very hard-wearing.

            But it is not just for stir fries. I use it for pretty much any frying job that I have - it is very versatile. You can then go on to cook the rest of your dish in it, for example: Bolognese, curry, stews. I use it in conjunction with a "spatter screen" which stops it messing up my cooker and also acts as a lid to keep the heat in and therefore use less fuel. However, I have just noticed that Amazon also sell a 28cm "Master class glass saucepan lid" which might be a better option (but please note that I have not tried it myself).

            The only complaint I have about this stir fry pan is that if I want to cook a really big Bolognese/curry/stew so that I can freeze some too, it is just not big enough.

            Other than that, I recommend it highly because of its` hard-wearingness and its` versatility. It is thoroughly worth the £23 I paid for it.

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            18.03.2012 16:21
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            All round good value, all weather stroller.

            I bought this stroller about 2 years ago for £50 in a sale at Mothercare. I was looking for a reasonably priced, quality stroller which folds fairly small to keep in my car boot for my toddler. I am very pleased with this product.

            Features:
            - Tall, foam padded handles which are suitable for taller ladies and their husbands! (I am 5` 10" and my husband is 6ft and we both find this quite comfortable to use)
            - a multi-position seat which can be reclined right down for sleeping
            - suitable from birth to 15kg (according to the instructions).
            - A leg rest to allow a comfortable sleeping position - this folds out of the way when not in use.
            - A 5 point harness which you can adjust to fit your toddler.
            - Lockable front swivel wheels
            - foot operated brake.
            - It also has a carry handle for lifting when it is folded up
            - made from wipe-clean fabric.

            Accessories: it comes with a detachable hood which is height adjustable, a rain cover and an under-seat storage net.

            Dimensions:
            OPEN: 104 x 46x83cm
            FOLDED: 107 x 31 x 26cm

            It weighs 7.7kg.

            Overall we are delighted with this good value, sturdy stroller. There may be better quality/functionality strollers out there but this is certainly the best value for money.

            It's comfortable to push, easy to steer, keeps your toddler dry and you can store a reasonable amount of stuff in the underseat net. What more could you ask from a budget buy? We have used it as an every day buggy as well as a fold away/take on holiday buggy and are very satisfied.

            Would recommend to anyone wanting a reasonably priced, portable stroller.

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            18.03.2012 15:20
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            a reasonable option for diabetics but beware of the laxative effects!

            We bought these prettily packaged chocs as a gift for my diabetic aunt. However, we didn't get to see her and instead of letting the chocs go to waste, thought we would sample them ourselves.

            BEWARE! We didn't read the packet first which was a real mistake - my husband is not someone who can leave the chocs alone once they are open and was merrily chomping away when he found himself feeling rather poorly in the tummy department! After about 25 minutes he had to rush off to the loo and continued to do so 7 or so times in the next 12 hours. My husband has a cast-iron stomach so for a food to have this effect is highly unusual.

            WHY did it happen? Looking at the small print, there is a warning: "Excessive consumption may produce laxative effects." When looking further down the box at the small print, there was the following warning:

            "This product contains polyols and we recommend eating no more than 20g polyols per day due to potential laxative effects. However sensitive individuals may react to levels less than this."

            The nutritional information states that each chocolate has 6.5g of polyols so this means that you shouldn't eat more than 3 chocs per day. 4 chocs is not "excessive consumption" to my mind. However, my husband had eaten 7 chocs before he realised !!!

            TASTE? They were ok but not as tasty as Thorntons regular chocs. They all taste a bit samey and lack the "freshness" of Thorntons regular chocs. The box contains an assortment of Turkish delight, caramel flavour choc truffle, nutty almond praline, vanilla fudge, coffee truffle, dairy toffee and citrus fruit truffle. In our opinion, the Turkish delight, citrus fruit truffle and vanilla fudge were the best in box.

            Recommendation: a palatable option for diabetics but be warned of the laxative effects!!!

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            • Kenwood JKP105 / Kettle / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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              18.03.2012 15:02
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              a good all round product which is good value but a bit basic looking

              We bought this kettle about 3 or so years ago. Our previous one had broken and we were looking for an inexpensive cordless replacement. We bought this one in Tesco for around £20 and are very pleased with it.

              Looks: a bit basic (it's white plastic) but the blue illuminating light is really pretty (yes, I know that's a bit sad!). Unfortunately the light is very attractive to our 2 year old son and encourages him to switch it on which is not ideal as we don't always leave it standing with water in ...

              Ease of use: this 1.7L kettle boils small amounts (0.5-1L) very quickly with its' disc element and the said flat disc element is very easy to descale because it hasn't got awkward nooks and crannies like older fashioned curly elements. It has a limescale filter which is removable and so makes it easier to descale. The exterior is easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. The only real downside to this kettle is the minimum level marker: it's not obvious where exactly the minimum level is.

              Reliability: as I said, we have had this 3 or so years, using it several times a day and have had no issues.

              Would I recommend? Yes, I would - it's a good value kettle which boils quickly and is easy to clean/descale.

              In case you're interested, here's how I descale my kettle quickly, cheaply and using natural ingredients:

              I use 10g of citric acid granules (inexpensive and available from chemists, shops that sell beer brewing kit and also Ebay) dissolved in some cold water, half-fill the kettle and boil it up. Leave it standing for 20-30 minutes and hey presto, your kettle is as good as new!

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              • Braun MR 430 HC / Blender / 8 Readings / 6 Ratings
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                17.03.2012 22:24

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                a good value blender/mini food processing kit

                I bought this blender set a few years ago. I have found all of its` attachments very useful and it takes up much less space than a food processor.

                The Braun MR430 HC blender comes with the usual blender stick attachment but you also get a chopper attachment with its` own integral container and also a whisk. I use the chopper most often as you can chop nuts and herbs, quickly "grate" parmesan, blend up home-made houmous/baby food/pesto etc and even grind coffee beans with it. The blender attachment is useful for the usual blending of soups and making smoothie drinks. I have found the whisk attachment less useful as it cannot handle whisking anything much thicker than cream or egg whites. That said, I still find it a useful addition to the kitchen. I usually put all of the attachments in the dishwasher (although I'm not sure the chopper lid is supposed to be dishwashed) and they are holding up well to this abuse!

                All in all, I find this set very useful and feel it was money well spent. It works well for the small blending/chopping/whisking needs that I have. However, if you're someone who needs to chop larger quantities on a regular basis then this set is not for you - you would be better off investing in a food processor.

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                17.03.2012 22:02
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                A space-saving, reliable set of scales which is easy to clean.

                I bought these scales about 6 months ago when my previous digital scales broke. I was pleased to find a set of scales which didn't come with its' own measuring bowl as this takes up space and I don't tend to use the scales measuring bowl anyway as this makes extra washing up!

                The salter 1066 scales are not much bigger than a standard hardback book and can be slotted into your cupboard on their end like a book. They take up very little space indeed so you can keep them somewhere handy.

                They can display either metric or imperial weights on the LCD display and you can reset the scales to zero between ingredients so that you don't have to keep adding up the weights (which can be prone to errors!). The scales have an auto-switch off feature which detects when they're not being used. However, they remain on for quite a long time (a couple of minutes) between adding ingredients which means they won't suddenly switch off half way through adding an ingredient (my previous set of scales did and it was _extremely_ frustrating). The Salter scales can weigh up to 3kg and have a flat, smooth surface which is easy to wipe clean.

                The only downside I have experienced with these scales is that they take a button cell (or "hearing aid type") battery (Lithium CR2032 battery which comes with the scales) rather than a standard AAA battery and this will be more difficult to get hold of when the scales go flat.

                I would recommend these scales to anyone wanting a space-saving, basic set of digital scales.

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