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i_am_joy

i_am_joy
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      13.05.2012 14:48
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      Not as cloyingly sweet as cartons of Ribena but still slightly too heavy for me.

      During a recent spell in hospital my daughter brought me a bottle of Ribena cordial in after I had complained about the weak tasteless tea and room temperature drinking water. I have not drunk Ribena in a very long time as I find the cartons to be incredibly sweet, far too sweet for me so I was glad to have the cordial version which enabled me to add as much water as I wanted to to remove the very sugary sensation.

      On the back of the bottle there's a recommended ratio of water to cordial, but I like my drinks rather weaker than suggested so I made it up to my personal tastes.

      Once made up this Ribena is very tasty, the berry flavour is strong and sweet with quite a natural flavouring. It tastes fruity but this is done in a way to make it a child friendly juice drink as Ribena have steered away from any harsh flavours such as you'd find in fruit juices and even some other brands of cordial. The sugary flavour comes through more the stronger you make the drink, fortunately the flavour is robust enough to translate well even if like me you choose to water your drink down more than suggested. If made stronger the Ribena can be quite cloying and syrupy, and while I appreciate that children will enjoy this more than an insipid glass of Robinsons cordial.

      The cordial is sold in tall plastic one litre bottles and is rather expensive in comparison to other cordials. My daughter refuses to buy it for her own children as they make it so awfully strong that a bottle may last as little as two days, at over £2 a bottle when not on promotion this makes it an exceedingly expensive way of hydrating your children. I also worry about the amount of sugar they are consuming when they drink such a strong glass of this cordial.

      I think I would recommend this as a treat rather than for everyday consumption, it's a rather heavy drink that has the effect of making you feel full up as though you have eaten rather than simply had a drink. I don't find it terribly refreshing, mainly due to the heavy and extreme sugary sensation while you drink, it's not something I would choose to quench my thirst during a hot day because of the stickiness of it although I did discover last night that it's very tasty when warmed up and drunk as a hot toddy.

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      • Pampers Bed Mats / Baby Bedding / 89 Readings / 83 Ratings
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        02.01.2012 14:22
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        An excellent alternative to a fitted waterproof sheet.

        When my youngest granddaughter stopped wearing nappies we were all so pleased for her; she's a rather forward child in many ways but struggled with potty training, the proud expression on her face the first time she took herself to the toilet almost made me cry in pride. Her mother had decided not to push her into becoming dry at night, fearing that a wet bed may frustrate my granddaughter and cause her to fall back with daytime toilet use. Eventually, however, the time came and as I regularly look after my grandchildren overnight I realised I would have to find something to protect the mattress in my home from the occasional accident. Matters were complicated somewhat by the fact that my granddaughter has night sweats, rendering the plastic protection sheet I already had unsuitable as this would likely make this problem worse. 

        I was advised about these Pampers Bed Mats by a friend who also gave me a few as she had some left over from when her grandson was in the same position. They looked so thin and insubstantial that I did not imagine they would work terribly well, but as I had the 'samples' I thought I would try them.  

        A Bed Mat is an 80cm x 90cm slim sheet, they are very easy to use as you simply position it on the mattress and tuck the long wings under before laying your sheet on top. The important part is placing the Mat in the exact place you expect the child's bottom to be during the night; my granddaughter is rather a fidget so I observed her sleeping pattern one night before positioning the Mat the following day, I assure you the Mats are large enough to cope with fidgeting children but you do need to have a rough idea of how far they will move around the bed. 

        The Mat is very slim, in fact I was concerned about it being almost too thin to be of any use and was rather surprised the first time my granddaughter had an accident that it absorbed all of the urine without it soaking through to the mattress. The may is, to all intents and purposes, a flat nappy - the upper portion is the same absorbent material that you would find in a Pampers nappy and the Mat is backed with a shiny waterproof sheet. Together these work exceedingly well, we have had just one wet mattress since my granddaughter stopped wearing nappies at bedtime and that was because she had wriggled to the bottom of the bed. 

        My granddaughter is four now and rarely wets the bed any longer, I still put a Mat down however as if she is overtired or ill she may not wake for the toilet. The beauty of these is that they keep their shape so if the child has a dry night you do not need to replace the Mat, the absorbent covering does bobble after around two days but I would assume it would not lose it's absorbency - although I do change the Mat's I use for my granddaughter on each third night anyway as this is when I change the overall bedclothes. 

        I find it utterly amazing how these very thin sheets can absorb the bladder contents of a three year old, they lock in the wetness so don't drip as you remove the wet Mat from the bed and the waterproof backing ensures that no urine soaks through to the mattress. I think it's incredible and the aftermath of an accident is a simple job of changing the bedding and my granddaughters clothing - this is such an easy task compared to the days when one would have to turn the entire mattress if one of your children wet the bed. 

        My only dislike is that the Mat does not always stay in the exact position through the night; the wings are an adequate length but overnight very often the Mat will pull loose at one side and pucker slightly. I presume this is due to small children not being weighty enough to hold the wings firm beneath the mattress and wonder if a fully fastening loop to go beneath the mattress might not have been a better idea. 

        These Mats do not control odour so I would recommend keeping a supply of carrier bags handy for when you need to dispose of one; although the absorbent section does not swell when wet the Mats are far too bulky to be folded into a nappy bag, I wouldn't like to put one directly into the bin as the smell of stale urine does tend to linger rather strongly. 

        I believe you can buy the Pampers Bed Mats from large Boots stores, although as there are only seven in each packet I found it more cost- and time-effective to purchase three or six packets at a time from Amazon. At present three packs of Bed Mats cost £12.79, this equates to twenty one sheets at an individual cost of roughly 60p. Of course, a reusable and washable waterproof sheet would make far more sense from an economical point of view but it was a necessity that I use a disposable option and I have been incredibly happy with this Pampers product. 

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          31.12.2011 21:31
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          I have now purchased a higher quality hot chocolate for our New Year celebrations.

          The year I will be seeing in 2012 with my three granddaughters who are spending the weekend with me, I do not drink alcohol so at midnight I shall make us all a nice cup of hot chocolate and we will share some of the tasty Christmas leftovers before going to bed. 

          I bought a box of Aero Hot Chocolate sachets recently and have been drinking them to stave off this awfully cold weather we've been having recently. This hot chocolate is also available in a jar but I find the fact that the sachets are pre measured to be very useful as my arthritic hands unfortunately struggle to dip teaspoons into the type of tall jar most hot chocolates are housed in. This really is very simple to make, as an instant hot drink you simply need to boil the kettle and pour your hot water over the chocolate powder, stirring all the while to ensure all the powder is mixed in. 

          Aero promote this hot chocolate as being as bubbly as their chocolate bar of the same name. Having made a cup this afternoon I do agree that there are bubbles on the top of the chocolate, however, the foam produced really is nothing to write home about and is no better than I have found on other instant hot chocolates. It disappears after my second sip of chocolate and has a very thin, uncreamy consistency - a sentence that also accurately describes the overall drinking experience with this hot chocolate.

          The flavour is nothing like an Aero chocolate bar, this drink being rather insipid and flavourless. It lacks any level of creaminess and, although not an unpleasant drink, it is certainly not the special treat I envisaged for New Years Eve. The chocolate powder blends easily into boiling water, this unfortunately being the one saving grace to this drink. It's not as sweet a drink as I expected, especially as this is based on a chocolate of the edible variety - I admit I do not like overly sweetened drinks but this one has an aftertaste that is erring on the side of bitterness, not a very pleasant end to a rather unpleasant drink.

          Needless to say, once I realised what an inferior product this was I went immediately to the supermarket this morning to purchase a higher quality hot chocolate to celebrate with. It could be argued that paying just £1 for eight sachets of Aero hot chocolate was always going to end badly, but for a respected brand such as this I really did expect a better quality product regardless of price. 

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            01.12.2011 12:57
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            A delightful, if very expensive, shower gel.

            Having discovered that the Biotherm brand suits my highly sensitive skin, I bought several items recently and received this shower gel as a free gift. I was not convinced that it could help my skin, especially as I could feel an outbreak of eczema beginning to emerge, but as I had it I thought I might as well try it.

            The gel lathers very nicely, the lather feels more luxurious than I had initially been expecting and seems to cling to my skin as I'm washing. I use a large sponge whilst showering and need only a small amount of the shower gel, thereby ensuring that the bottle lasts for as long as possible - I always make sure my sponge is very wet prior to using the gel and this helps it to lather up.

            I feel the shower gel is slightly greasy in texture, one assumes this is because there are several different essential oils in the ingredients list. It does not feel oily on my skin, but I should say there is a greasy sensation as I begin washing with it - this lasts until the lather thickens and it is only then that the body wash becomes creamy enough to remove the feeling of oil. The scent I find to be a little overpowering; it is a rather natural 'woody' scent and although pleasant I think it could be toned down somewhat for those of us who prefer more subtle smelling shower products. 

            After showering my skin feels marginally softer but much, much cleaner. The gel, although not an exfoliator, seems to cleanse my skin deeply despite the fact that the sponge I use is a rather soft one. I have suffered absolutely no irritation since I began using this body wash and surprisingly do not feel itchy in the slightest - I say surprisingly as perfumed body washes tend to make me itch a little after drying but this one leaves my skin feeling healthier than it has done in years.

            My one and only complaint relates to the packaging of the shower gel; it is supplied in a fairly rigid plastic bottle (not a more sensible tube, as shown by Dooyoo) and dispensed via a pump action top.  This is not ideal as I do not have a flat surface in my shower, other than the floor, so find myself needing three hands as I juggle the bottle and sponge whilst trying to push down on the pump.  This sometimes means I drop some of the gel, and hating waste as I do this is rather more serious than it sounds! I think a standard squeeze bottle would be beneficial to this product as surely with the experience Biotherm have they would realise this type of dispensing method is wholly unsuitable for a shower product. 

            Would I buy it again? This was the question my daughter asked me this morning when I mentioned I was reviewing this product. I am undecided in all honesty as while it is a fantastic product, I feel the price of £31 for a 450ml bottle is extremely excessive. I admit a bottle this size will last for quite a long time and it is undoubtedly good for my skin, but as I live alone a £2.79 bottle of Dove shower cream will also last for a long time and is almost as kind as this Biotherm Shower Gel. I do not think I can justify this expense so unless some kind soul sends some to Father Christmas, or I receive it as another free gift, I doubt I shall come across it again. 

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              27.11.2011 13:56
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              A good pair of speakers although not perfect for all styles of music.

              My granddaughter has a laptop that she brings with her each weekend when she visits, unfortunately the speakers on her laptop are not very good so she tends to wear earphones whilst listening to music or films. Now, I cannot abide being in the same room as someone wearing earphones as even if I can't hear 'their' music I dislike the feeling of being completely alienated from them - and more to the point hate having to shout to make myself heard in my own living room. I purchased these very sweet Hello Kitty speakers after discussing this with a friend, she had recently bought some for her own granddaughter and advised me that they were extremely good value.  When I found a set priced at just £12 I decided to treat her, knowing that as a Hello Kitty fan these would be well received. 

              Up close I find the speakers to be rather plastic looking. They are, of course, made of plastic but the finish is slightly garish with shine in all the wrong places, this becomes less obvious when the speakers are stored on a shelf or computer desk but I must admit my initial impression was that they did not look as nice in the flesh as they had on photographs on the internet.

              These speakers work via the USB slot in either a laptop or desktop computer; installing them is incredibly easy as there is no software to run, you simply plug in the speakers and give your computer a few moments to recognise them. This took literally seconds on my granddaughters laptop, although when I recently plugged them into mine it struggled somewhat to discover the speakers and it took a few attempts before I was able to connect them in order to listen to any music.  I would suggest these are designed for static computers rather than laptops as the size of them, and the fact they are connected via a fairly short wire, reduce the portability of the laptop somewhat.  My granddaughter is a rather restless child and moves from room to room a lot, watching her transfer herself from the kitchen to the bedroom looked to be a much more arduous process than when she is not using the speakers - although I suspect this would be the case with any wired speaker.

              The Hello Kitty figure stands roughly six inches high, she has been designed to closely resemble the character we all know and love - I feel the body is slightly too rounded for it to be a completely true depiction but overall they are very attractive speakers. My granddaughter uses them each weekend and in between visits I store them next to my rarely used desktop PC, they do not look out of place despite the fact that my decor errs on the traditional side - its strange that such very pink objects should blend into the rest of the room so quickly!

              The actual speaker is located on the back of Hello Kitty's head, sound is fairly clear if a little tinny at times. I have noticed the quality of sound vastly varies depending on what my granddaughter is listening to at the time, with the ghastly hip hop she listens to being the worst quality and so tinny that she can (thankfully) not bring herself to listen to it through these speakers. Other, less rushed and angry, songs have a far superior sound although it remains of poorer quality than more expensive computer speakers. Last week I listened to part of an audio book through these speakers, read by Sir Ian McKellen the pronunciation was pitch perfect and I found the speakers were far better suited to the spoken word than music - the occasional booming sound effect was more muffled than it should have been but overall I was happy with the quality for this purpose. 

              In short I would certainly recommend these speakers for a child, or even an adult, for occasional use. The sound quality would not be good enough for me personally to use them as my permanent speakers, but my granddaughter is pleased with them and considering I bought these for her that's all that matters. 

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                25.11.2011 12:40
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                A well designed garment carrier.

                I originally purchased this garment carrier after being invited to a church event and belatedly realising this would involve a night away from home. I had to transport my smart suit and had also offered to transport one of the clerical robes, something I quite regretted doing as the very inconsiderate man had not thought to cover his rather grand robe at all - being a predominantly white garment I was rather concerned about putting it straight into the car, and I was equally loathe to pack it in a suitcase as I suspect I would be in trouble if it were to arrive all creased up.

                This Hangerworld Suit Carrier was perfect for my needs, the roomy 44" length allowed me to put my suit and the robe in together and the clever folding design allowed me to place it flat on the back seat of my car. I thought it a little strange that there was a handle on the bottom of the carrier but the reason for this soon became apparent when I realised I could fold the carrier in half, thereby creating a double handle to enable me to carry this easily like a normal shopping bag. 

                The carrier is made of a material known as 'peva' and this not only makes it completely waterproof but also allows your clothing to breathe whilst being transported, something of importance if you are travelling long distances. The inner lining is cotton, which again works to keep your clothing fresh during transportation and storage. The very long zip may cause a problem should you walk in the rain with this carrier as I fear this aspect would not be as waterproof as the actual material; I have never tested the waterproof claims of the carrier however so could be making an incorrect assumption here, but the zip certainly does not look waterproof to me. 

                The zip itself works smoothly and has a large pull for ease of use, I welcome the oversized zip pull as although it does not appear terribly attractive it certainly makes it easier for my arthritic hands to grip it. The carrier opens fully so you can ensure you place your clothing in flat to avoid creasing, when you are happy with the arrangement you simply do up the zip. To fold the carrier there is a second zip, again this works smoothly and this does up around the folded bag to keep everything comfortably in place and makes it far easier to carry than using it unfolded. The handles are very securely stitched to the fabric of the bag which makes it easy and comfortable to carry even when filled with clothing, however Hangerworld specify on the packaging that this carrier is not suitable for heavy duty use so I wonder at its ability to safely store heavy wedding dresses. 

                I have had no problems with this garment carrier whatsoever; my suit and my friends robe arrived safely and in an uncreased condition, while subsequent uses have given equally good results. When folded the carrier measures a little under 22" in length, a manageable size to carry and far less bulky than carrying a suitcase. After use I give the carrier a wipe over with a damp cloth and thus far that has all that has been required to keep it looking new and well maintained. The lining has not, as yet, needed cleaning and considering it is used only to transport clean clothing I doubt it will need it for a long while to come. 

                Priced at £7.99 this is not the cheapest garment carrier available, but the high quality and comfortable design make it worth the cost. 

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                  23.11.2011 13:59
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                  A superb bargain priced juice.

                  Juice is my favourite cold drink, I like most flavours but recently have been drinking Asda Apple Juice from their Smart Price range - not to save money, but because it really is a delicious drink with a flavour that suits my palate better even than the very premium Copella. I have discovered that the price for this juice varies between 52p and 65p for a 1litre carton, even at the uppermost limit I think it is excellent value for money as is a refreshing and very flavoursome juice. 

                  It is made from concentrate but has a  highly fresh flavour, the juice has a distinct apple taste and by this I mean you can taste the raw fruit rather than flavourings and sugar. It isn't a terribly sweet juice and for me this makes it all the more refreshing, modern apple juices are dreadfully oversweetened and that can spoil both the overall flavour and the crispness of the drink. This Smart Price juice is best enjoyed when chilled for a while; it is a long life juice so does not, strictly speaking, have to be stored in the fridge before opening but I find the taste and consistency are much improved by drinking it cold as opposed to directly from the shelf. 

                  This juice is incredibly uncomplicated and there is little more I can tell you about it. I am impressed by how natural and fresh it tastes as I do find the majority of 'lowest tier' fruit juices to taste more like cordial than authentic fruit drinks, this may not stand out as an exciting premium juice but it certainly doesn't stand out as a 'no frills' product either. If you are a Copella or Tropicana drinker you might think this a little bland and uninteresting, but I would recommend you try it as even if you replace just one glass a day you would be saving a reasonable amount of money over the year. 

                  Each 200ml glass contains just under 100 calories and 11.4g of sugars, as far as I can ascertain from the carton these are all natural sugars although Asda labelling is a little unclear on their Smart Price range. 

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                  20.11.2011 21:37
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                  A lovely toy from the Toy Story 3 range

                  My youngest granddaughter is fond of the Toy Story franchise and commented while we were in Sainsburys that she had the films but no character toys, as luck would have it the very next aisle we walked down had a selection of Toy Story 3 toys. When I saw this 6" Rex toy I decided to give her a little treat, not least because her latest fascination is with dinosaurs so I thought it would be a nice idea to tie in these two obsessions. 

                  Rex is depicted to be almost identical in features and proportions to the film character, despite only being 6" high he has a powerful build and moveable legs. He is coloured a vivid green and is a sweet looking Tyrannosaurus Rex; in the film Rex longs to be a vicious dinosaur just like any other T-Rex, but really he is a very sweet, bumbling character. 

                  I find the fact that the legs are moveable to be a little strange as the centre of gravity is so skewed on this toy that Rex simply will not stand up unless his legs are in the position shown in the photograph above. This infuriates my granddaughter as she has now realised there is little point to moving the legs at all, especially as you cannot make Rex sit either as his tail is so bulky. Once you have him in standing position, Rex is surprisingly stable and will not wobble so much that he falls over - this makes him a good choice for role play games and perhaps as a guest at one of the many tea parties my granddaughter hosts. 

                  Rex has been made to be durable and strong; designed for children of three years and above, I don't think any amount of dropping or tugging will cause any damage or parts to become loose. Our most recent accident was when my almost year old grandson was holding it in his pushchair on Friday, he threw it out and onto the floor with such force that poor Rex bounced three times and landed on his face in the gutter. I thought he would be destroyed but after picking him up I saw there was not a mark on him - I would therefore recommend Rex for even the most boisterous child. 

                  There are no sharp edges or loose components to this toy; his tail could be a little dangerous perhaps as it ends in quite a point, but young children should be supervised at all times while playing so this shouldn't become an issue. I watched my grandson chewing on the tail just this morning, it's a perfect shape for his sore gums although did make him gag a little when he was too forceful putting it into his mouth!

                  For the £5 I paid for this toy I am more than happy, this was in the toy sale at Sainsburys so I am unsure of the regular price. The fact that it doesn't really do anything is not a disappointment as for that price I was not expecting it to sing and dance, the legs are rather annoying however as the shape of Rex means the moveable aspect is a little moot which will frustrate many young children. 

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                    14.11.2011 21:40
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                    A cleanser that doesn't irritate my sensitive skin.

                    My skin is terribly sensitive, I suffer with periodic eczema and have to be exceedingly careful what products I use on my face to avoid exacerbating the situation. While I generally dislike spending large sums on skin care products, I was convinced by my niece to try Skin Ceuticals Gentle Cleanser after it helped her to rid her facial skin of some blemishes that had been caused by an overly harsh cleanser recently.

                    This cleanser is a cream and using it is simple; there are two ways of using the cleanser but I always apply it directly to my skin and massage it in thoroughly before rinsing the cleanser away. Alternatively you can place a small amount of cleanser onto a cotton wool ball and use that to sweep it across you skin, again just rinsing afterwards.  I feel the results are better when using the first method as the massaging effect seems to leave my skin feeling cleaner.

                    There is very little fragrance to the cleanser, it has a simple creamy smell that I find very pleasant to use. I would assume the lack of perfume is partly what makes this such a gentle cleanser, I recall a terrible reaction I had to a so called 'gentle' cleanser from Lush last year - oh, I am in no doubt that the cleanser was gentle but it was so strongly scented that my skin reacted to that instead.

                    This is a cream cleanser so will not foam at all, I think the rich creamy feel of it is lovely and feels very soothing to my poor old skin - it is much more moisturising than I thought it would be and this means I can use a lighter facial moisturiser than usual, some people may be able to forego moisturiser completely when using this cleanser but unfortunately my skin is too damaged for that.

                    The only complaint I have regarding this cleanser is the fact that it takes an awfully long time to rinse from my skin. Having such sensitive skin in the first place it is imperative that I am not left residue of any products as this can cause intense itching and on occasion a full flare up of my eczema, therefore I spend much longer rinsing when I have used this cream cleanser than I do actually cleaning my skin.  I really have to check and double check that every scrap of cleanser has been rinsed away before I dry my face, something that I find slightly bizarre considering how little of the product I need to use in the first place.

                    I must admit my skin feels and looks incredibly clean after using the Skin Ceuticals cleanser, I was a little surprised about this as I find gentle cleansers rarely give my skin that 'squeaky clean' feeling but this one certainly does its job well. I wouldn't say it has any other effects other than being cleansing, for example it doesn't make my skin look any younger or more radiant, but as this is sold as a basic gentle cleanser I couldn't expect anything else - and certainly not the miracle of youthful looking skin at my age!

                    I shall continue to purchase this Skin Ceuticals Gentle Cleanser, I admit to being rather nonplussed at the high price as for 240ml it costs over £20 - and rising, according to my niece. However, the simple pump action dispenser means I can use the precise amount I need and therefore there is absolutely no waste whatsoever. I have had this bottle for three months and only now am considering ordering another one, this actually makes it more economical in the long run than a L'Oreal cleanser I was using previously.

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                      12.11.2011 22:52
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                      I can see why this was so popular at one time, unfortunately it is now a rather dated phone

                      My phone is a Samsung Tocco which I am very pleased with, however, it recently developed a fault and I have sent it away for repair. Due to my ill health I do not like to be without a mobile phone (as much as I hate to admit this!) so my sister loaned me her old Motorola Razr phone, and I have been using it now for six weeks.

                      It is an extremely garish pink colour, a colour that is far better suited to much younger women in my opinion. I believe there were other colour options to choose from when the Razr was first popular, but as I never actively researched this mobile phone I cannot tell you what these were like - I would have preferred anything other than pink, unfortunately beggars cannot be choosers.

                      I use my phone predominantly for calls and texts; there are other functions on the phone but they are of little use or interest to me, although I have tried them for the purposes of a balanced review.  The internet browser and email account function are appalling by today's standards, I personally don't use the internet on my own phone but have had a go on my daughter's iPhone and that only serves to show up just how slow, unresponsive and basic the browser on a Razr is. In any case the small 2 inch display is not sufficient for comfortable web browsing, I would assume it was included in the design of the phone simply so that Motorola could say it was web enabled at a time when many mobile phones weren't.

                      Call clarity is rather hit and miss on this phone, I have noticed that you're more likely to have poor reception on incoming calls and at times have offered to call people back in an attempt to obtain a better line. Voices are often slightly muffled and occasionally calls will terminate all by themselves, this is an irregular occurrence however and does not happen often enough to become too off-putting. The volume can be set to suit your own needs, this is useful as it can be altered whilst you are talking on the phone so should you find yourself with a quiet connection it is easy to unobtrusively turn the other person up.

                      There is the option to store your telephone numbers, or contacts, to the phone itself or just your SIM card. As this is a temporary measure for me I have kept them on the card only, although it is a simple and straightforward process to add a new telephone number to your phone book. Incidentally the phone book is very easy to locate and use; I have a rather limited number of people I call regularly so find it slightly quicker to use the list of 'recently dialled' telephone numbers, but even if you have more numbers stored than I do I'm sure you'll find the scrolling motion within the phone book surprisingly responsive.

                      Dialling a phone number that isn't in your phone book is a little more tricky, simply because the keypad is poorly laid out in my opinion. In keeping with the metallic design of the Razr the numbers are not well defined and an awkward embossed spiral pattern practically leaves the digits unreadable. Admittedly my eyes are not the best, but my daughter also commented that when she had one of the original Razr phones she didn't like the design of the keypad. For me the problem is intensified if there is even the slightest glare on the keys, and combined with poor eyesight this renders the phone rather useless when outside the house in sunshine.  It also does not help that the digits are engraved into the metal and are not coloured to aid visually; of course it isn't a huge problem when dialling a telephone number as I'd image most people are familiar enough with a telephone keypad to recognise where the correct digit is, but it's a real issue when texting as I have to really squint to make out individual letters. I am not an accomplished texter and do not automatically know which letter has been assigned to which digit key, in my opinion Motorola could have made the engraving stand out better without spoiling the design.

                      Once you have gotten past the awkward keypad layout you will find texting simple, there is a predictive text option but I haven't used this as I have no desire for my 'cupcake' to be altered to 'cannonball' without my consent.  When you receive a reply you will be notified via an alert of your choosing from a menu of around sixteen, I understand other alerts and ringtones can be downloaded from various places.  The Razr does not have the widest selection of ringtones, something that does not bother me as I rather boringly stick to a shrill 'ring ring' to ensure I hear and recognise when my phone is ringing.

                      The camera on the Razr phone is not terribly good, it only has a resolution of 0.3 megapixels which is simply not sufficient for even such a tiny screen resulting in the majority of photographs being blurred and slightly out of focus. This is a shame as the colour display is vibrant and true to skin tones so it would be nice if more thought had been put into the development of the camera aspect of this phone.

                      The flip style of the Razr combined with an incredibly thin profile makes it aesthetically an attractive mobile phone. On a personal level I don't like such a slim phone and I consider the overall design to be a little 'faux futuristic' for my tastes, however I can understand why this model was so popular amongst younger women. The Razr seems hardy enough, my sister has owned it for six years and with intermittent use there is barely a mark on it - the internal screen (the larger one) is completely unmarked but the smaller external one has several deep scratches which are beginning to affect the display now. This is irrelevant to me as this second screen is so small that it is of little use, and every other section of the phone is immaculate. One thing that does irritate me is the fact that large quantities of dust and debris that collects along the hinge edge of the phone, it's strange as it seems that if you were to place the Razr in a sterile room it would still create this fluff and it requires a cocktail stick to carefully remove it.

                      I have mixed feelings about the Motorola Razr; I am grateful to have had the opportunity to borrow it while my Tocco was being repaired, but I also cannot wait to give it back. It is not as pleasing to use as my own phone and I miss having a camera that will capture impromptu photographs of my grandchildren, the keypad is a bane that I could do without and I prefer the more substantial design of the Tocco.

                      You can purchase this mobile phone for as little as £25 now, which is phenomenal depreciation as my sister tells me she paid almost £90 for this one. Considering the technology inside modern phones I would suggest this is a reasonable price for what is actually a rather basic phone, however smart it may look.

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                        09.11.2011 15:53
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                        A nice candle but there are better available in my opinion.

                        I have recently overhauled the bedrooms my granddaughters sleep in when staying with me, they did not need lots of work so I refurbished them somewhat rather than buying brand new of everything. While I was away visiting friends my son-in-law glossed the woodwork to spruce the room up, my asthma means I cannot tolerate the fumes and stench of paint so he timed it that that majority of toxins would have disappeared by the time of my return.

                        The gloss he used this time, however, lingered terribly and although the fumes were no longer present just the smell was beginning to settle oh my chest and making me wheeze. I opened the windows and burned what I now know to be a Tindra candle from Ikea, it was a gift last Christmas which had remained unlit - with three boisterous adult cats candles are not a good idea! I made an exception, however, lighting the candle in the largest bedroom and banishing all felines to the living room where they settled safely under the fire.

                        The candle doesn't have as intense a fragrance as I thought it would judging by the colour of the wax, the fiery red is slightly deceiving as it gives the impression of a strong scent. It worked to freshen up the bedroom, there is a fresh aroma through the room which rid me of the smell of gloss paint but I would personally have expected a stronger aroma overall.

                        The scent is not an easy one to describe; it is a mixture of a dusty floral fragrance and a slightly spicy one. The spice, unlike the colour, does not work to make this a specifically festive candle although it is pleasant enough in its own right. The bedroom I initially used the candle in is an average size and I felt the fragrance struggled somewhat to reach all corners of the room, admittedly it was working hard to neutralise the paint smell but I would have thought such a large candle would have no trouble with scenting the entire room - and beyond, truth be known!

                        This candle burned fairly evenly initially, after around eight hours into its burning time I noticed the wax appeared to be melting much quicker at one edge however and this has unfortunately become far more pronounced as time has worn on. For this reason I doubt very much that I will obtain the full thirty hours burn time as suggested in the packaging, in part due to the fact that I suspect the wick will become rather too unstable for safe use soon. I tend to burn my candle in short bursts as I really do not have a lot of trust in naked flames around my home, the thick glass vase this candle is provided in seems safe but one can never be too cautious with items such as this.

                        Overall I am glad to have owned this pretty candle, not least because it removed the smell of gloss paint from the bedrooms. I rotated the candle through all bedrooms in my home and noticed it was slightly more effective in the very smallest room, which is probably to have been expected. I shall not use it any longer as the very uneven melting of the wax not only makes it look rather unsightly, but also I believe this is when a candle starts to become dangerous.

                        If you visit Ikea there appear to be several fragrances and formats of the Tindra candle available, including tea lights and pillar candles. I prefer the look of this one as I believe the glass container enhances the flame and makes for an extremely warming reflection, prices seem reasonable for all candles in the range and I would definitely recommend you have a look next time you are in store - unfortunately the candles are unavailable for online purchase so one assumes that is because stock options will vary dependant on the store and season.

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                        • Asda Smart Price Toaster / Toaster / 49 Readings / 45 Ratings
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                          07.11.2011 23:38
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                          A bargain toaster

                          This toaster is a fairly new addition to my kitchen, in fact it does not live in my kitchen at all and was bought two months ago to replace the toaster I used in my outhouse which had unfortunately been affected by damp. Knowing any other toaster in this area was likely to suffer the same problem I was loathe to buy an expensive toaster, instead opting for one that cost just £4.50 on Asda. 

                          It is a very basic two slice toaster, the only functions to tell you about being that there is a dial so that you can brown your toast to your specific requirements and a button for ejecting your toast early. The dial is accurate with a visible difference between the settings; number one leaving the bread a creamy shade and number six, to all intents and purposes, will cremate your toast. 

                          I have noticed that the slots are not terribly wide, a problem if you regularly use bread brands which are larger than average such as Warburtons. This has not caused me a problem as I use the smaller loaves of bread with small square slices, but a recent purchase of Hovis bread left me having to cut off the crusts just to fit them in the toaster. Incidentally the slots will also not hold extra thick bread, it is fine for the thickness of ready sliced bread but you will be stumped should you try and toast a doorstep sized piece of uncut loaf!

                          The internal mechanism of the toaster is a little jerky, sometimes the toasting rack does not slot into place first time and I will have to use more force to press down the operating lever - this is a minor problem, however, and you simply need to remember that this is not an expensive toaster and will therefore not be as smooth and efficient as a branded product. 

                          My toast has always popped up when it should, I have found this Asda toaster to be rather slow when using the higher settings but as it pops up with a loud clatter there is little chance of missing it!  Should you feel your toast is ready before the toaster has finished you can manually raise it up using the small button located next to the browning dial, this button has thus far been responsive and immediately upon pressing it my toast has popped up. 

                          For the very reasonable price, I think this toaster is fantastic. It has an attractive and modern appearance that I think belies the 'budget buy' price, and as far as basic toasters go this one has been reliable.  The narrow slots mean you will be unable to toast thicker items such as crumpets or bagels; in fact just yesterday I charred an English muffin as, while it was slim enough to fit the slot, the cut edge was too close to the heating element inside the toaster. 

                          Overall, however, I am more than happy with my Smart Price toaster - much more so than a Value kettle I purchased recently which was not only exceedingly poor quality, but also potentially dangerous. True, I prefer my rather more expensive toaster in the kitchen for my day to day toasting needs as I know it will comfortably hold anything I care to throw at it - including my beloved Toaster Bags which are unfortunately too bulky for this Asda toaster to cope with. For my purposes, a quick piece of toast whilst busy in the outhouse, it has proved to be an outstanding bargain and I'm sure the same would be true for many people. 

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                            06.11.2011 00:50
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                            I think this is the kind of drink you will either love or hate

                            I have never really understood why Baileys is so popular; most people I speak to find it incredibly sickly and also rather expensive, even those people who do enjoy Baileys seem to be of the same opinion so I can only assume the taste or texture is somewhat addictive to certain people!  I did, however, enjoy two glasses of a new variety last night with my sister and daughter, this new variety being Baileys Mint.

                            The basic drink is much the same as the original Baileys, the difference being that the mint flavouring lends it a less harsh and more flavoursome countenance. The taste is reminiscent of After Eight chocolates, although I would not personally say that the similarities are very pronounced due to the fact that the strong Baileys flavour rather detracts from this delightful addition.

                            The drink is extremely thick, it doesn't seem as hard to 'get down' as the original Baileys liqueur but with its almost milkshake like consistency I did find it a little too cloying for my tastes. I don't appreciate the creamy consistency as much as other women, and men, seem to and find it is sicklier with every mouthful rather than becoming accustomed to it.

                            This mint version of Baileys is slightly sweeter than the original and the mint adds a delightful depth to the flavour, it's unfortunate they haven't toned down the Baileys flavour to accommodate for what could have otherwise been an exceedingly fresh addition to the drink. The Baileys has less of a coffee sensation as I drink this one and I do think that with a slightly tweaked recipe this could have been a wonderful drink. 

                            I appreciate the warming feel as I swallow, the sensation reminiscent of drinking a glass of whiskey and very welcome on a chilly November evening.   I drank both small glasses I was poured and that was quite enough for me, Baileys makes me feel tired very quickly and this is no exception so after my second drink I decided to have a cup of tea. My daughter believes it is impossible to get drunk while drinking Baileys as it will make a person feel sick before they manage to drink enough, I believe her too as the cream lies extremely heavily on my stomach and I find this a rather unpleasant side effect to drinking Baileys. 

                            I believe this Mint variety of Baileys is available in Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda - this bottle was purchased in Sainsburys by my sister for £10 while on promotion. Overall I would recommend it to anyone who is a Baileys drinker in the first place, the minty flavour rings the changes nicely although if you don't like the original Baileys the change may not be pronounced enough to persuade you to enjoy this one. 

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                            • Sigg Swissness / Fitness / 43 Readings / 42 Ratings
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                              01.11.2011 14:01
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                              The best drinks bottle I have ever used.

                              This may seem a rather strange review but when I saw my wonderful flask in Dooyoo's product catalogue I knew I had to tell you all about it - that and the fact that I am unlikely to ever find anything to write about again in the ominously named 'Fitness' category!

                              The Sigg Swissness water bottle is superb; crafted from aluminium it is not only lightweight and more sturdy than a plastic bottle, but is also a real pleasure to drink from. I have the 1 litre sized bottle in the brushed aluminium design you can see above, but there are various alternative sizes and colours available - something I was not aware of until I had already purchased my bottle as I would have rather liked a red flask!

                              The flask, as you can no doubt see, is very imposing looking, it puts me in mind somewhat of an old fashioned spirits bottle with this illusion spoilt only by the modern black top. I think it looks rather nice, the simplistic design is so much more stylish in my opinion than the more rotund and decorated plastic drinking bottles.

                              The metal bottle itself is lined with a special type of plastic, this isn't visible unless you peer inside the bottle so does not spoil the otherwise very attractive flask. This plastic lining has been developed to prevent any tainting of your drink, be it through smell or residue of flavours - it works a treat too as whatever I fill my bottle with it always tastes as fresh and clean as it would when drunk from a normal glass.

                              My main use for this or any other flask is so I can take a drink to bed with me, my nightly medication causes me to become very thirsty during the night and first thing in the morning so this is ideal. The smooth screw on lid means I can sip from the bottle in the traditional way rather than having to navigate a more modern sports top, this is another reason why I feel my drinks taste fresher as it is not flowing directly through plastic before it reaches my lips.

                              The strangely shaped lid, I am told, is so that the user can attach their drink to the outside of a rucksack or bag while walking or hiking. The reason for the large hole in the lid had me stumped for a while but now I know I can see exactly why this aspect was included in the design as it would be extremely useful for someone with more active needs than myself.

                              I am more than happy with this Sigg water bottle, admittedly my needs are less intense than that of the majority of users but in actual fact that just goes to show what a very versatile product this is. I have dropped it and knocked it off my bedside cabinet numerous times yet there is not a mark on the metallic casing of the bottle - I suspect it would fare well if taken walking or climbing, although as aluminium is a lightweight metal you would need to ensure you weren't too heavy handed with it.

                              I recall paying £12 for this flask, which is a high price for a drinks bottle. However, in my opinion it has proved to be good value as after daily use for months it remains in immaculate condition and always ensures my water or fruit juice tastes as fresh and refreshing as I have come to expect.

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                                30.10.2011 17:06
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                                More pretty than modern parasol designs but also harder to keep clean

                                When my daughter asked me to look after my nine month old grandson recently I realised I couldn't find the sun shade I had used for his older sister, knowing I would be taking him out in the pram (and expecting a sunny weekend) I ordered an Argos parasol from Ebay. It arrived in perfect timing and I had no sooner attached it to the frame of the pram when my daughter knocked the door with baby in tow.

                                It is a rather basic sunshade but very pretty, the Broderie Anglaise is beautifully executed giving the sunshade a delicate lacy appearance. Having said this, the detail is kept mainly to the edge of the parasol and the bulk of the fabric is uncut so will certainly keep the sun rays from your little one's delicate skin.

                                Fitting the parasol was a little awkward; it features a clamp fitting which in itself is very straightforward, but I found the angle of the clamp to be such that you do need very dexterous fingers to obtain a snug fit around the frame of the pram.  Once in place, however, the toothed plastic clamp holds the parasol securely and means you do not have to worry about it sliding down the frame as you walk. 

                                This parasol has a rubber coated flexible neck so you can position it to shield your child's face as the sun moves, this is useful at this time of year as the sun is so low that being able to adjust the parasols position is not only helpful but essential. For example, last weekend my grandson fell asleep in his pram and as he was warmly wrapped up I decided to sit in the rather chilly but sunny garden with him. The sun moved so quickly that day that  within an hour I had had to bend the neck to protect his face at least twice, had the parasol been more rigid I would have found myself needing to move the pram itself which is a far more cumbersome job. 

                                The neck remains in the position you have set it to for a reasonable amount of time, after an hour or two of being positioned it will droop slightly but I would hazard a guess that after this length of time it would require moving anyway so this isn't a big problem. 

                                The soft linen fabric that makes up the parasol is a creamy off white shade, it shows up grime quite badly if you allow it to become dirty.  I have successfully cleaned mine using Vanish spray and some gentle coaxing off of the dirty marks with a damp cloth, for this reason the cream colour is not one I would have chosen for myself if there had been a full range available at the time of my purchase. 

                                The parasol provides a surprisingly wide area of coverage from the sun, once you have ascertained the correct position you can easily bend it down so that the majority of the pram seat is shaded without obscuring baby's view of the outside world. I would put my trust in the parasol and although my grandson is in a front facing buggy now I do not feel the urge to constantly check on its performance while I am pushing him, unlike a previous parasol that regularly ended up lying on my granddaughters chest as the flexible neck failed. 

                                Now the summer is coming to an end I shall certainly store this lovely parasol in a more secure location than I did my previous one.  Having looked at the clamp I suspect it would be suitable for the majority of modern prams and buggies, the clamp doesn't open extremely widely so do ensure the frame of your pram isn't one of those overly chunky designs that are popular at the moment. 

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