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leesah_m
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    • Philips HR1861 / Juicer / 50 Readings / 49 Ratings
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      30.01.2013 00:48
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      An excellent way to get more fruit and veg into your diet - truly recommend.

      I've owned this Philips juicer for around 7 months now and it's fantastic! I always aim to use it daily, but in reality I'm a bit too lazy for that so if I use it a couple times a week I feel I've done well. I do have weeks where I don't use it at all, but I always return to it, because it's just such a fabulous way to get lots of fruit/veg without having to actually EAT it.

      I tend to stick to a similar recipe each time, but there are so many variations you can do. I bought the juicer from Argos (for £100), which was about £30 more expensive than amazon at the time (which was around £70) but I wanted the security of being able to easily take it back if there was a problem. With it being electrical you never know - but actually I've had no problems so all is good there. The good thing though, is that when I bought it from Argos it came free with a Juice Master book, full of recipes (although I must admit, I read a lot of the recipes when I got it and then never actually made any... but it's there if I want it and I'm sure I'll use it at some point when my normal recipe gets boring). So, what I usually make is a combination of something like this:

      2 handfuls spinach
      2/3 carrots
      Broccoli
      1 apple
      1 lemon (or a half if I don't want it too strong).

      For me the above foods (as well as whatever else I may have in my fridge) would never make it into my diet in the quantity that they do when they go into my juice. Even if it did go into my diet, the veg, other than the spinach, wouldn't be raw and we all know raw veg is fantastically healthy and full of enzymes.. and all of that. For this reason I really can't recommend this juicer enough for people who don't eat as much fruit and veg as they perhaps should. I imagine it's a good way for some parents to trick their children into 'eating' healthier, too. When I make my recipe above, it just tastes like lemon.

      Using the juicer is really easy. You just put the fruit/veg into the er... shoot (?) , turn on the juicer with the switch, and then push the contents down with the er... pushy thing (?) that's supplied, and then the juice comes out of the spout and into your jug (also supplied). That's about it really.

      One important thing to mention is that when you turn the switch on the juicer, the juicer sort of 'jumps'. I had read a review that mentioned this before I bought it, but I didn't realise how significant it would be, so when I turned mine on for the first time, I wasn't prepared and the juicer jumped and the jug that was sat by it (waiting to be filled with lovely healthy juice) was thrown from the counter top and some of the juice that had already been poured into it was spilled on the floor (which annoyed me). Anyway, the simple remedy to that is to just hold the juicer when you turn it on, and then you can let go again straight after.

      It juices really well and takes probably less than 30 seconds and although it's loud, it's not too loud - it's actually quieter than my blender. I don't have much to compare it to, since it's my first juicer, but I've heard that the amount of juice you get per fruit/veg is good for a juicer, too. You do get a lot of pulp (which is normal with juicers), it seems like a waste to it throw away, but if you look online there's plenty of suggestions of how to use it, so it doesn't *have* to be a waste. I just throw it away though because I can't be bothered ;)

      The juicer has a few detachable pieces so you can take it apart afterwards and clean it, but it's really easy to take apart and reassemble. Once you've taken it apart (after juicing) you get to do the fun bit - cleaning it. In fairness it's really easy to clean, but because there are a few parts it's vaguely time consuming, so I don't like it. You would find this with any juicer though so it's not really much of a criticism. Actually, I think it's dishwasher safe so that solves that... but I always hand wash mine for some reason. The juicer is quite large and so takes up a bit of space, but that's only a problem if you're limited on space. If you have the space I'd say it's worth having this take up some of it.

      The Philips HR1861 juicer IS expensive, as I said I bought mine for around £100 from Argos and it's currently £79 on amazon... but you definitely get what you pay for, it's a top quality juicer, and if you use it often you get your money's worth.

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        29.01.2013 18:20
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        If you're looking for an electric toothbrush, this is an excellent one to consider

        The Philips Sonicare HX5350/02 CleanCare Rechargeable Toothbrush is my second electric toothbrush, but my first Philips toothbrush (my first was Oral B). I've owned it for a few months now but admittedly I only use it 2-3 times a week, and use a 'normal' toothbrush the rest of the time.

        Unlike the Oral B brand toothbrushes, the Philips toothbrush has a head like a normal toothbrush (as opposed to being round). Also unlike Oral B, it doesn't rotate, it simply vibrates, and I have to say I much prefer this. It feels like it's doing a better job, perhaps because it feels really 'powerful'. There are probably statistics about vibrations per minute on their website etc, but I'll just say that it FEELS very fast and the first few times I used it it was a very odd sensation, I actually didn't like how it sort of made my lips vibrate. I don't notice that anymore though, so maybe it's something you just get used to.

        The toothbrush itself is fairly heavy (for a toothbrush that is). For me that's not an issue but it's something to mention, I suppose, in case somebody is looking for something lightweight for whatever reason. The Oral B toothbrushes from what I see are definitely lighter.

        What I like about this toothbrush particularly is that it has a countdown timer inside it, so after 2 minutes it automatically shuts itself off. Before I had this toothbrush I had the annoying habit of counting seconds when I brushed my teeth and 2 minutes seemed like an eternity so I often didn't brush my teeth that long. Now my toothbrush does the 'hard work' for me so I always manage to brush my teeth for 2 minutes (I do usually multitask though, I can't bear standing still for 2 minutes JUST to brush my teeth!).

        When the battery is nearing the end of its life the light inside the 'on/off' button starts to flash, which is really handy. The stand you put the toothbrush in to charge it is extremely easy to use and you can use it daily as a general stand for your toothbrush as well; just don't plug it in until you want to charge it. The annoying thing (in my opinion at least) is that when you do charge it, it takes about 24 hours (so says the instructions at least). I've only actually needed to charge my toothbrush a couple times so far, somehow, so that's not *really* a problem for me (but still!). I imagine if you were using it daily then you'd probably charge it every week or two.

        As I mentioned, the vibrations are pretty powerful (though not overwhelming in any sense) and I imagine that it gives a really good clean. I can't say for sure because I'm not a dentist and I don't exactly see/feel a difference if I'm honest, but dentists do recommend this toothbrush (apparently) and it does feel like you're able to reach between your teeth and to the back of your mouth far easier than with a normal toothbrush, so I'd recommend it.

        As far as electric toothbrushes go, this would definitely be my top pick. There are other, more expensive toothbrushes with more features, but they seem a bit pointless to me. If you shop on amazon you can pick this one up for around half price (RRP £40). The same offer has been going on for months (and is what enticed me into buying it) so I'm not sure if/when it ends, but at £23 it seems a bargain to me.

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          28.08.2011 17:03
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          Wales is lovely but it's quite cold when you're me, so wrap up warm!

          I've just got back from a holiday in Wales (so, not that exciting), and as I've not been on dooyoo for.. forever... I thought I'd ease back into my reviews with a general review about what my holiday essentials were. Ok then...

          1. Camera, of course - Do I need to explain this one? I'm thinking no.
          2. Slippers - I learnt this the hard way, some holiday places don't clean their floors and your socks end up looking disgusting... protect them with some slippers!
          3. A sleep mask! - I slept in a room with blinds, apparently blinds don't block out much sun, so if you don't sleep well when it's light, try taking a sleep mask like I did ;)
          4. Warm clothes AND cold clothes, just incase - I made the mistake of thinking "Ooh, I'm going on holiday, let me pack my holiday clothes" whilst forgetting I was only going to Wales, so basically I was cold all week.
          5. My pillow <3 - I'm not sleeping without my pillow. I probably wouldn't take my own pillow abroad, because of it taking up so much space in my limited luggage, but I would WANT to take it.
          6. A book - I'm not much of a lie-on-the-beach-and-read kind of gal, but I do like a nice book in bed before I go to sleep, so this is a must.
          7. Phone charger - just because otherwise you'd spend all week wondering who's text you, rather than knowing that nobody has!
          8. My university books - So I can feel good about taking them with me (I'm so hard-working and dedicated) ... and then not touch them for the entire holiday.
          9. Somebody who I want to be on holiday with - I learnt this the hard way one time when I accidentally did the opposite = worst holiday ever.
          10. I'm struggling now. There's not much you NEED to take to Wales with you. I did take my swimming costume but that was a bit optimistic. OK, I've thought of something - my dressing gown. I'm such an old woman but it really is essential so I can watch Big Brother in my PJs.

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            11.06.2010 00:56
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            A great perfume with a great price

            So...? do a really great range of body sprays and perfumes, my favourite being So...? Kiss Me, which comes in both perfume and body spray.

            It smells so gorgeous, it's sort of a 'young' scent, I would say, not at all 'chemically' like a lot of perfumes. I'm not sure how to describe the smell, but Boot's website describe it as "fresh blackcurrant, pineapple & citron before revealing layers of kissably sweet vanilla and a floral heart rounded by musks and woods" (erm, ok then). Basically though my best advice is get into Boots or Superdrug and test it to see if you like it. It's definitely worth checking out because, to me it smells gorgeous, and it's a really good value for a perfume.

            The price of this perfume is one of its high points. It's not a posh brand, but personally it doesn't smell like a cheap brand AT ALL, in Boots you can get a 50ml bottle for £9.95 but you can often get good offers on box sets containing the perfume and a body spray in somewhere like Superdrug. I would recommend buying it from somewhere like Body Care though because it's cheaper than Boots.

            Basically this perfume smells so nice, to buy an expensive perfume purely for the brand name seems a bit of a waste when So..? do such a good range for such a good price. I'd recommend this to anyone, and they're especially good for a gift... I always add this to my christmas list for someone to buy for me! It'd be a great gift for a girlfriend, friend or daughter.

            So...? have a big range so if you don't like this scent there is still likely to be one that you DO like.

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              06.06.2010 20:39
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              A great natural shower gel

              A few months back I decided to go organic with all of my health & beauty products, and not long after that I disovered Faith In Nature.

              I do find it a bit frustrating that you can't buy Faith In Nature products from somewhere like Tesco, or even Holland and Barratts (my favourite place for organic loveliness!) but if you don't mind buying stuff online and having to wait for it to arrive, then I say go for it. As with most online stores, you have to pay post and packaging (which irks me), but it's not too steep and for the products you get it is actually worth it. The organic products I have bought in Holland and Barratt were always a bit lacking... not quite good enough for the price you pay (which with organic is quite a bit, unfortunately).

              I'm reviewing the Lavender and Geranium Shower Gel in this review .... I find all of Faith In Nature's shower gels to be of such a great quality. Unlike most organic brands I've tried, Faith in Nature's products always have lovely, strong scents! Lavender is supposed to be calming, and I think it does work with this shower gel, but probably more so if you use it as a bath foam than a shower gel (might just be me but I've never really had a 'relaxing' shower!).

              It creates a great lather and a little goes a long way. What I do is squeeze a bit onto a 'bath glove' (great for exfoliating) and I find 2 squeezes is more than enough for the entire body. This way a bottle seems to last ages. The bottle is 400ml, which is pretty big so although it's kiiind of expensive, you do get a lot for your money. I'd say it lasts me at least 2 months.

              The shower gel leaves my skin clean, soft and smooth, it doesn't dry it out at all but leaves it hydrated. The smell lasts a couple of hours, and you can perhaps smell it slightly after that (just sniffed my arm to test). But during the shower you can smell it really nicely! If you like lavender you will really like this one. I prefer other 'flavours' more than this one, but that's just me. They have a huge range so it's worth checking it out to see which one appeals to you. They even have chocolate! I've tried it and it actually does smell of chocolate. It doesn't really taste much like chocolate though ;) .. yes I have tried it.

              You can buy the lavender and geranium shower gel for £4.35 on Faith In Nature's website, and they also have a point rewards system so you get 44 points.. which, I can't remember what that is worth, but it's a nice extra I suppose and you will eventually get some pounds off! They also regularly have offers on their website, such as 10% off or get £5 off your first order.

              The best reason to buy this product is because it is organic so you really feel like you are being kind to your skin and not soaking it in chemicals. It is, as their website states --

              For all skin types
              Parabens & SLES free
              No artificial preservatives or colours
              pH balanced
              Fully biodegradable

              Cheers!
              Marked this one 4 points because it's not my favourite of their shower gels, based on scent.

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              24.02.2010 20:25
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              It's easier to judge than to try to understand

              When I was young, I remember being on holiday somewhere and seeing a very solemn looking homeless man sat on the floor. I wanted to give him some money, he had a dog and I think that improved his appeal to me, but I was discouraged by my step dad. The reason for this? "He'll go and buy alcohol with it".

              Whenever the topic arises, this is still his opinion. And I know it's an opinion he shares with a lot of people. I've heard time and time again people speak negatively of homeless people, calling them "tramps", "bums", or other derogatory terms. One of the main reasons for this belief seems to be that, in their opinion (rightly or wrongly, I don't know) homeless people CHOOSE their homelessness, that it's their own choices and their own fault that they're homeless, and to give them money is a bad idea, because they're all alcoholics and don't deserve your money for booze.

              This opinion never really sat well with me. Yes I know a lot of homeless people are alcoholics (can you blame them?) and that people's choices CAN lead to homelessness, but rather than look down on this fact, I find it sad and I'm glad that I will never be in this position - I feel safe in the knowledge that, whatever goes wrong in my life, I will always have people around me to fall back on. I can only assume that, these homeless people, at least the majority of them, don't have that.

              Being born and raised in a kind-of-small town I never had much experience of homelessness. In my town I only ever remember there being 2 homeless people there during my childhood (and seeing the one I mentioned whilst on holiday), and now the only person I'm aware of in this town is the 'big issue man'.

              The first homeless man I saw, he was lying inside a shop doorway tucked in his sleeping bag - I was about 8 at the time, I had playfully jumped into the doorway, only to discover this man lying on the floor. It was the first time I really understood that being homeless literally meant you didn't have a home. I remember being bemused by this, a bit scared, and also saddened. I think for 'city kids' they're brought up around it and perhaps desensitised to it to an extent?- I'm not sure whether that's the case or not, but even now each time I walk past a homeless person I feel a horrible sort of guilt for not helping (I realise you can't always help). If somebody falls we help them up - and a homeless person has perhaps had the biggest fall, and yet people rarely help, instead insisting "well he'll only buy alcohol with it!".

              My first REAL experience of proper homelessness came when I spent a year in Barcelona. The homelessness there, as far as I can tell without really having much first-hand experience of it in Britain, is in a different league, and yet the locals still claims the homeless buy alcohol with your money, and still in general look down on these people.

              Most of the homeless people I encountered in Spain were foreign, possibly there illegally. Also most of the people had horrific injuries and disfigurements, a lot were women and most were older than their 30s. I never saw an obviously drunk homeless person or one who was smoking - but I did see a 'fake' homeless person looking for easy money - one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen. Anyway, a lot were possibly incapable of working, and I imagine those who weren't incapable just wouldn't be offered a job anyway (with the current recession even people with homes are struggling!)

              The most shocking thing about the homeless people in Barcelona is that when you look at them you immediately understand they didn't choose this. Lots of people say that homeless people are on the street by their own choosing, their own fault - that they became alcoholics and lost everything, that they behaved badly and were disowned by their family, that they just don't want to work ... or whatever reason. But take one look at the homeless people scattered around Catalunya Square, the very centre point of downtown Barcelona (and several other locations within Barcelona), and you don't see choices.

              You see the man sat beside his crutches, he's about 60, I've no idea what is 'wrong' with him, but he has no shoes on, one foot is covered with a dirty, holey sock, the other is wrapped in a dirty bandage and is swollen to about the size of football. I wonder why hasn't been to hospital, and I wonder if perhaps he has and can't be treated?

              You see the old woman on the floor, bent over a photo of her family - she has 2 daughters - she doesn't speak but you can tell she's foreign (as in, not Spanish) - she looks in pain, both emotionally and physically and she doesn't say a word, she just nods ferociously if you offer her something to eat.

              You see the woman who props herself on a small pillow outside the bank every afternoon. She sits with her head down. Behind her is a wheelchair - she has no legs.

              Walk a bit further and you pass a man, I've no idea of his age, he has severe scarring covering most of his body and face and he moves only slowly. I wonder what happened to him, where he got his burns, and I wonder would anyone employ him?

              I walked past these same people nearly every time I left my house, because they lived literally 1 minute from my flat. That's why I know what these people look like, I know that they never look up and I know I've never seen them smile (except for the woman in the wheelchair - the cafe on the end of my street give her a cup of coffee each morning, I don't know if she pays, but I know they bring it out to her so she doesn't have to wheel her way around the small space inside - as she talks to them she smiles and laughs - she seems like a nice person). It's a shame that the Spanish Prime Minister, or someone else with power to change things, doesn't walk past them, and the thousands of other homeless people in Spain, every day - perhaps they wouldn't have to be there if he did. And the same goes for the UK.

              I don't know how these people got their injuries, I don't know what things they've been through in their lives, I don't know the mistakes they've made or the choices they've made and I don't know why they became homeless or for how many months or years they've lived on these streets, but I know that day after day the only way they have to survive is to sit on the hard, dirty floor and beg people walking by for their money.... and so yes, I believe in giving money to the homeless. I've seen the misery and hopelessness in their faces and, if I were in that situation, sat on the dirty floor, in the boiling heat, on my own, every single day of every single week, that 1). I would only be there if I truly had to be, and 2). I would want people to help me.

              I don't think giving money is enough. I walked past these people (and others) every day and if I were to give to them every day I would soon have no money myself (to be honest I was on a poor wage and borrowing money from my flatmate as it was). I don't think that these people deserve to spend their lives looking at the floor - I think the answer is with the government, but that's something that I'm not involved in and don't understand. I think there need to be agencies that come out onto the street and help these people - offer them food, shelter, and opportunities. I think this does happen in the UK and maybe that's why in my few visits to London I've only seen 1 homeless person. But in the year that I lived in Barcelona I never saw anyone (as in, a homeless organisation) approach these people and try to help. Unfortunately I don't have any ideas on how to make this possible. I tried looking into volunteering in Barcelona but with me not speaking Catalan I wasn't very successful - I think there are some places in Barcelona they can go and get help - but if those people are still sat there every day begging for money for food, is it enough?

              I don't know where these particular people sleep; I only see them during the day. I hope they have somewhere to go and someone to go there with. But near to my flat, walking the other way to Catalunya Square, is a wide doorway, about 3 metres in width, and 4 homeless people lay there on cardboard, covered with blankets, each and every night. If you walk around the city you'll see several people lining the streets, asleep in cardboard boxes.

              My flatmate told me a story of another woman who, long before I got to Barcelona, would sleep inside one of the bank doorways next to a cash machine. He told me that one night a group of drunken guys walked past this woman, saw her sleeping inside her cardboard box, and set it alight, killing her. Would they have done the same had they not known she was homeless? Would it have made her more of a person to them?

              I'm not saying that we should throw our money at homeless people (I do think a lot more has to be done and I know it mostly falls on the government).... but I think it's far too easy to look down on these people and claim they're less of human beings than 'we' are. The issue of homelessness shouldn't be ignored, there should be places for them to go and people to help them.... but as long as there ISN'T that in place for them, why not give them a bit of your spare cash in order for them to eat that day? And if they spend it on alcohol, well, if they feel that bad that the only way to block it all out is to get drunk, well I'm not too fussed if my money went towards that either.

              So basically- I know that the homelessness I saw in Barcelona is perhaps more extreme than anything here, there are a lot of injured people, a lot of illegal people and the government is, as far as I'm aware, much worse than our own with these issues and there seems to be a lack of voluntary organisations too. But I know homelessness is still a huge issue in the UK and a majority of people have negative opinions towards homelessness. My point is - whichever country homeless people are in, I don't think we should judge them without knowing their story.

              It's easy to say that homeless people choose to live on the street, but is it really the truth? Would you choose it?




              Feel free to comment, but remember this is just my OPINION, and I'm as much entitled to it as you are to yours. Thanks!

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              • Twinings Peppermint Tea / Tea / 81 Readings / 79 Ratings
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                19.02.2010 18:09
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                A nice refreshing tea, perfect for after dinner

                I recently decided to buy some peppermint tea because I'd been getting stomach aches after meals and I read that peppermint tea soothes stomachs and aids digestion.

                So anyway, I ended up buying a pack of Twinings Organic Pure Peppermint Tea, and this is what I'm about to review.....


                Twinings peppermint tea is one of the infusions in their 'revive and revitalise' range and promises a "refreshing infusion with a clean taste" - this is definitely what you get! The gentle scent of peppermint is apparent before making the tea (if you sniff the bag, anyway, but who doesn't do that?) and once boiling water is added the scent becomes even more apparent. It smells very fresh.

                From the first sip of peppermint tea you can clearly taste the peppermint flavour - it feels as fresh and clean as you would expect from peppermint tea. What I like best about the tea is the after-taste; once you've swallowed your sip of tea your mouth feels really minty and fresh .. sort of like when you chew mint gum.

                Twinings Peppermint tea (and all other peppermint tea) is caffeine free so it's both a healthy choice, and an option for any time of the day. This is especially good for those who, like me, can't sleep if they've had caffeine in the hours before bed-time. It also has no added sugar and contains only 2 calories per brewed infusion, so there's no need to worry there.

                To make a cup you simply add boiling water and let the bag infuse for 2 or 3 minutes. Personally I keep the bag in the whole time, but you can pretty much do what you want - even drink it cold or add honey.

                Peppermint tea is an excellent choice for after dinner, perhaps instead of a coffee, because of its fresh and minty taste and digestive qualities.
                Twinings, to me at least, is a bit of a "posh" tea, so I know I'm getting quality when I buy their products. On their boxes they state that their infusions are "made from the finest ingredients, grown under standards that minimise the use of artificial pesticides and fertilisers". The origin is stated as Egypt and all ingredients are natural.

                The quality of this tea is excellent, I rate the taste 5/5 but the thing letting this tea down is that for £1.29 (in Asda and Tesco) you only get 20 teabags. After doing a price comparison on mysupermarket.com I've noticed you can also buy a 40 teabags option at £1.79 which is better value but there are still cheaper out there. For me personally I think Twinings is a bit expensive and will be searching for a cheaper option. They win on quality and taste, though.

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                05.02.2010 23:39
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                Excellent for making smoothies

                The Kenwood Smoothie Junior is the ideal smoothie maker for making smoothies, it works great, looks great and is extremely easy to use. I received mine as a Christmas present a few years ago, it's made me lots of yummy smoothies over that time and it's still going strong.

                The smoothie maker can effectively blend fruit, vegetables and even ice. I've never had to replace the blades, but it is possible. When blending harder fruit you have to cut it up first, but that's the same with every smoothie maker and not a problem. I've even blended apples with the skin on before and it's been fine and not caused any wear on the blades.

                The goblet/jug has a capacity of 1 litre. I assume this is the part that makes it a 'junior', as other smoothie makers tend to be 1.5 litres. The most amount of smoothies I've made at a time is just two (one for me and a friend), and there was lots of space still in the jug, so I imagine you could probably get up to 4 smoothies out of it at a time, maybe more but like I said I've not tried it.

                The smoothie maker has a 'unique dispensing tap' (just press it down to use) which is a really handy feature as you don't have to pick up the jug and pour it into your glass, risking spilling your smoothie all over the worktop. I quite enjoy watching my smoothie come out of the tap, for some reason, so as well as being extremely handy, it's also a fun feature for kids or those who are easily amused!

                The smoothie maker comes with a stir stick, and up until now I didn't understand the point of this and have not bothered/needed to use it, but I just logged onto Kenwood's website and it tells me that the stir stick is to "push the ingredients against the flow of the blending, assisting to achieve the best results". As I have never used this, I would say it's not necessary. When I blend my smoothies (without the stick) all of the ingredients go towards the blades anyway (the jug is shaped in a way that ensures this).

                On the side of the smoothie maker are two buttons - these are what you press to get the smoothie maker to work, to get the blades spinning. One of the buttons requires you to press the button in, and then the blades will start to work. Once you're satisfied, you can turn the switch off. Alternatively the other button, the 'pulse button', requires you to press and hold it in, and once you're done you simply stop applying pressure to the button and the blades will stop. This button is ideal for short bursts of blending, for example when using ice, but I hold it on for however long I want. I alternate between the two buttons, though I'm not sure why and I think each button works well enough that it only need have one, but I suppose the more options the better..? I think they each have different speeds (the pulse button, I imagine, is faster) but I don't tend to really notice this.

                I've read that the smoothie maker has 350W speed, which is apparently "powerful" but I'm a bit clueless with these things. For those who are like me and don't understand this kind of jargon, I'll just say that the speed and the efficiency of the smoothie maker is excellent, I couldn't point out anything negative about the product, I've had it for a few years and am still extremely pleased with it. If it were to break now, I would probably replace it again with the exact same model.

                The parts are safe to use in a dishwasher. I find them a nuisance to wash in the sink, but again that's the same with every smoothie maker, and I hate washing up anyway so I was never going to be thrilled about that aspect of it.

                The base has non-slip feet, so it is safe to use, and all parts are made of plastic. I think it looks really nice and doesn't take too much space up on my worktop. Mine is white but I think it also comes in silver.

                The product comes with a set of instructions, but if they're missing or you lose them they can also be downloaded from the Kenwood website. It's very simple to use though, and you can most probably figure it out without even looking at the instructions (perhaps you should in case there's safety advice, though?). It also comes with a recipe booklet, which I have no memory of ever having, but the product description on amazon says it comes with one, so there you go.

                You can buy it on amazon for £25.

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                  03.02.2010 20:45
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                  It tastes looovely and good for those watching their weight

                  I had plans to have lunch at my grandad's house today and while I was shopping in Wilkos beforehand, I realised I hadn't got any food to take with me for lunch (his fridge is full of Marks & Spencer's cottage pies and nothing else, and I didn't fancy one of those), so I decided to buy some soup. In their Weight Watchers (from Heinz) section I noticed they had carrot and lentil soup. I've never had this, but I love Baxter's carrot and coriander soup and I looked on the back of the can and spotted that there was only 86 calories per can, plus it was only 57p, so I thought I'd give it a try.

                  On opening:

                  When I opened the can there was a nice faint smell of... vegetables, really. On pouring the bright orange soup into the microwaveable jug my first thought was unfortunately "it looks like sick". A bit off-putting really, but I figure lots of soups look like sick so it's unfair to mark it down for that. I usually like to have creamy, smooth soup, with no or few bits, and if there are bits I usually blend them out. This soup has lots of visible bits, mostly orange in colour so I'm guessing that's the carrot. I couldn't really see any bits that I would point out as being lentils, but I thought maybe they were hiding. The liquid bit of the soup is thick, which was a pleasant surprise as for only 86 calories I was expecting it to be kind of like water with chunks of carrots in it. Although I'm generally put off by bits, my grandad doesn't have a blender (no need when you only eat cottage pie), so I just got on with it.

                  How to heat:

                  The guidelines are to heat the soup for 1 and a half minutes in the microwave, take it out, stir it and then heat it for a further 1 minute. I did exactly this, and the soup came out nice and hot.
                  You can also heat the soup on the hob - "do not boil or overcook as this will impair the flavour".
                  I got my soup, paired it with a slice of my grandad's big fat white bread (otherwise known as Kingsmill Love To Toast) and set to eating it.

                  The taste test:

                  This soup is lovely!! I could see lots of bits in the soup which usually puts me off, but the texture of the bits was so soft that it really didn't matter to me (call me lazy but I don't like to have to chew my soup). I thought there would be whole lentils inside the soup but they were mushed up. The flavour was a bit like vegetable soup, but a bit more carroty and in general much better than vegetable soup! I'm not sure how to explain the flavour fully, but it's delicious and you should try it!
                  I dipped my bread into it, but sadly it just reminded me how terrible white bread is (wholemeal bread dipped in soup is lush), so I didn't really enjoy that - but white bread lovers would probably think otherwise.

                  Overall opinion:

                  The soup felt quite filling at the time, but 2 hours later my stomach was REALLY grumbling, so it perhaps doesn't fill me up as much as other soups usually do. With 295g per can, compared to my usual 415g in Baxter's soups (which I usually halve), you don't have the choice of having half the soup, so it's probaly less value for money, and also there are times when 295g of soup just wouldn't be enough.

                  It's good for a tasty lunch, but you need to eat it with bread, or something else, as on its own it isn't really that much (I will have 2 slices of wholemeal bread next time). The soup only has 86 calories so it's both a low calorie and healthy option, perhaps ideal for those on a diet (hence it being Weight Watchers), but you definitely don't have to be on a diet to appreciate how yummy this soup is.

                  And now the boring stuff......

                  Nutritional stuff, per can:
                  Calories - 86
                  Protein - 3.8g
                  Carbs - 16.8g
                  (of which sugars) - 4.7g
                  Fat - 0.4g
                  (of which saturated) - 0.1g
                  Fibre - 2.1g
                  Sodium - 0.8g
                  Salt equivalent - 2.0g

                  Ingredients:
                  water, carrots, lentils, Swedes, onions, modified cornflower, concentrated tomato puree, flavourings (contain wheat, celery, mustard), salt, herb extract, spice extracts, yeast extract.


                  **Allergies** Contains gluten, wheat, celery and mustard.


                  Thanks for reading!

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                  • Natracare Tampons / Sexual Health / 74 Readings / 72 Ratings
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                    01.02.2010 00:34
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                    Periods are bad enough without adding chemicals to the mix - switch to Natracare!

                    We all know that chemicals can be harmful to our bodies, but with most of our daily products containing chemicals we have become so accustomed to this that we often don't bother to seek out alternatives.

                    I've recently began questioning the amount of chemicals I'm putting into and onto my body via health and beauty products. I've mostly made the switch to organic products and feel much safer in the knowledge that everything I'm putting onto my body is natural and safe.
                    I've changed my shampoo, body lotion, hand wash etc. but I hadn't, however, given much thought to tampons. With them not being a liquid I hadn't considered they might contain chemicals. After reading up on this I realised that's not the case.

                    Most tampons are made using rayon or viscose (synthetic materials). These materials are apparently almost impossible to dispose of in the environment - which is bad when you consider how many we get through in our lifetimes. They're also bleached with "harsh and environment damaging chemicals called chlorines". These then produce toxic chemicals, including Dioxin, which are left in the environment and on the cotton itself.
                    If the tampon string is coloured (which most are), then according to Natracare it has been bleached.

                    Some tampons do contain cotton, which is a harmless material in itself, but the way in which it is grown can be harmful as it is genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides- which have been linked to infertility, birth defects and death.

                    All the mention of chemicals (in my vagina of all places!!!) sort of freaked me out, so I went about finding a safer alternative.

                    What I found was Natracare Organic tampons. These little beauties are made of certified organic 100% cotton, they are chlorine bleached free, perfume free, free of synthetics, dyes, plastics and additives, making them much safer (and less irritating) to use than 'normal' tampons. Apparently gynaecologists recommend using organic cotton tampons to avoid allergic reactions to synthetic materials.

                    As with all tampons the risk of toxic shock syndrome is still present and so you should make sure not to use them continuously. If wearing a tampon during the day you should switch to a pad during the night, and vice versa (if you only wear pads and not tampons then it's fine).

                    Natracare tampons are exactly the same to use as other tampons so I needn't explain anything about that (thankfully). I buy mine online at ethicalsuperstore.com at a price of £2.99 for 16. You can also buy them from health stores, Waitrose and various websites. You have a choice of applicator or non-applicator, sizes regular, super and super plus, and the range also sell organic sanitary pads, pantyliners and wipes which are safer on your skin and easier to dispose of in the environment.

                    So, if you want to care for yourself and the environment and are interested in a chemical-free tampon, my recommendation is Natracare.

                    Note* I've also seen people claiming that they bleed less with organic tampons, though I can't say I've really noticed this myself.


                    EDIT: For people who have asked - they are exactly the same as other tampons, they're just made using ORGANIC cotton instead of non-organic cotton, rayon or viscose, and so absorbancy and leakage is the same as with any other tampons, you have to buy the right size for your flow etc.

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                    • Smoothie Recipes / Recipe / 61 Readings / 58 Ratings
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                      31.01.2010 22:38
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                      A lovely breakfast smoothie

                      Being extremely bad with breakfasts, I usually find myself skipping it as I don't feel 'ready' to eat anything in the mornings. On a recent health kick I decided to think of some alternatives to get me a) eating breakfast and b) eating more fruit. I decided a smoothie was the way to go!

                      I had read in a cook book that you can put oats into smoothies, for some reason I'd never thought of this. The recipe I read was for a raspberry smoothie, it had too many ingredients for lazy me to ever contemplate making, so I set about making my own simple smoothie (have since seen that this recipe, with a few differences, is on the BBC recipe website - but mine is better!)

                      ~~~~Ingredients~~~~

                      1 banana
                      Milk (I use soya or normal cow's milk, semi skimmed)
                      Honey (best in a squeezy tub)
                      Oats-so-simple porridge oats (but you can use whichever you like)

                      ~~~~~Equipment~~~~~

                      A blender or hand blender --- I use a hand blender.
                      A microwavable bowl
                      A pint sized, or bigger, glass
                      And if you're me then you'll absolutely need a straw! (for the fun factor)

                      ~~~~~How to make it~~~~~

                      I don't bother with measurements so:

                      - Pour the milk into your glass; leaving about an inch and a half space at the top for the extra ingredients (you can use your own discretion here).
                      - Then pour the milk from your glass into a microwavable bowl or container.
                      - Add 2-3 tablespoons of oats-so-simple oats to the milk (depending on how thick you want it add less or more). This is where you can make it interesting as you can use any of the flavours - a personal favourite is the golden syrup oats-so-simple.
                      - Stir the mixture, place the bowl into the microwave and heat for 2 minutes (*you can skip the microwave if you want it cold - but I think it's yummy when warm).
                      - Take out, stir, and then blend
                      - Break a banana into pieces and add to the milk/oats, add a squeeze of honey, blend it all together until smooth... and serve!

                      *I like this smoothie warm, but you can also have it cold - I would recommend soaking the oats in the milk for 5-10 minutes first if you're doing this.

                      *****Preparation time is around 6 minutes*****


                      This breakfast smoothie will fill you up nicely and give you the energy you need to start your day. Smoothies are a good way to get fruit into your diet and a breakfast smoothie like this might be a good way of getting your kids, and yourself, to have a healthier breakfast.

                      I personally find this smoothie to be extremely yummy, with most of the taste coming from the oats-so-simple, especially if you've used a flavoured sachet. If you want a more banana-ry taste perhaps add more banana, or less oats. Or just have a banana smoothie instead? You can also play around with the ingredients, adding whichever fruit you like, but I find for breakfast a banana is a good choice and it works well with the milk and oats.

                      Thanks for reading, and if anyone tries it then I hope you love it as much as I do!

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                        29.01.2010 20:51
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                        Buy it for the CD

                        I Can Make You Sleep is for people who have problems with sleep, be it problems falling asleep, constant wakings up or waking up too soon, this book sets out to help improve your sleep by explaining the importance of routine, and giving you tips on how to calm your mind, so you can fall asleep easily and get nights of "deep, refreshing sleep".

                        There are 9, easily understandable chapters in the book, each giving you advice on different aspects of sleep. The font is fairly large and there are many subheadings within each chapter, meaning you can choose to read the bits most relevant to you. A benefit of the many subheadings is that you can put the book down whenever you begin to feel tired or bored without having to wait to reach the end of the whole chapter. Once picking the book back up again, it's easy to find where you left off.

                        In the book Paul McKenna suggests various things you can do to improve your sleep drastically. Having read the book, I would say that the advice makes sense and has a good chance of helping with your sleep. Some of the exercises, however, are so specific that they are easy to forget and can be so overwhelming to just read, nevermind employ. Some of the suggested exercises, for me, were quite annoying and felt a bit silly (for example 'theatre of the mind' in which you have to imagine a stage and then an object and so on. When I was lying in bed trying this exercise I would get annoyed trying to remember exactly what I was supposed to do).

                        The information in the book is quite simple. A lot of the tips are common sense (i.e. don't have caffeine at night time and get up at a regular time) and a lot of the exercises are tedious. If I were to recommend this book it would perhaps only be to someone without access to the internet, as personally I think most of the information is easily found online.

                        However!!! The book comes with a free hypnosis CD, and this I have found absolutely invaluable. The CD is highly relaxing and 99 times out of 100 I fall asleep while listening to it (usually on my ipod). The only negative point of the CD is that it only lasts 20 minutes, and when you're wide awake this isn't enough. Once the CD has finished, I usually play it again and this time I usually fall asleep. I also sleep much better when I've fallen asleep to the hypnosis CD, waking up far fewer times during the night.

                        I couldn't be without my sleep hypnosis CD and as it came with the book, I would therefore recommend buying the book. I bought it for £10.99 from Waterstones but you can buy it for around £6 from amazon.co.uk.
                        If you can somehow get your hands on a copy of the CD without the book I would probably recommend you go for this option, as personally the book was of little benefit to me, and also quite boring to read. Other people may find value in it, though.

                        3 stars because the book didn't do it for me. If I could review the CD seperately it would be 5 stars.

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                          27.01.2010 01:46
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                          A nice, easy snack, perfect with cheese!

                          Jacobs's Choice Grain Crackers are multigrain crackers containing wheat, barley and rye. With just 32 calories per cracker, they can be enjoyed as a light, low calorie snack either for a small lunch or a night-time snack.

                          The packet contains around 28 crackers with the price ranging from around 84p (ASDA) to 95p (TESCO), a very decent price for what you get. The crackers are of high quality with a lovely crispy texture and a thin layer of salt on the bottom of each cracker, which adds a nice bit of flavour to the tongue upon impact. The crackers are very tasty and a normal serving would probably be between 3 and 5 crackers (I go for 3 when I'm hungry-through-boredom at night, but would perhaps have more if I was eating them as an actual meal). I prefer the Choice Grain crackers rather than the original Jacob's Cream Crackers as they give a fuller taste and the thin layer of salt on the bottom of each cracker is very appealing to my taste buds!

                          Jacobs's crackers can be eaten dry, with margarine or butter and/or with cheese. I personally like to have a fairly thick layer of margarine and some thinly sliced cheddar cheese. On the days I am feeling a bit more health conscious I'll go for a light spreadable soft cheese instead of cheddar cheese. I've also enjoyed the crackers with margarine only and on occasion have had them dry.

                          Some of the other serving suggestions on the pack include: ham and pickle, and avocado and tomato. You can add whatever you like to suit your taste, but most popular by far is cheese (mmm!).

                          No cooking required and quick (or no) preparation means these crackers are a very convenient snack for any time of the day and can also be packed into lunch boxes. They can be good as an alternative to a sandwich.

                          Jacobs Choice Grain Crackers are a good source of fibre, contain no artificial colouring or flavouring and no hydrogenated vegetable oils.
                          For those with allergies, the crackers do contain barley flakes, gluten, malt extract, rye, wheat, wheat bran, wheat flour and eggs and may also contain celery, milk and sesame seeds.

                          Nutritional info:
                          Per cracker - 32 calories, 4.8g carbs, 0.5g sugar, 1.1g fat, 0.3g fibre, 0.3g salt

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                            26.01.2010 21:06
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                            Fantastic soup, a definite favourite

                            Baxters Vegetarian Carrot and Coriander soup is a thick, creamy, delicious soup that smells and tastes fantastic.

                            Bright orange in colour, this delightful soup's flavour can be smelt from the moment the tin is opened. The coriander is quite intense and creates a lovely rich smell which, upon heating, intensifies (but not so much that it overwhelms).

                            The soup can be heated on the hob until piping hot or in the microwave for approximately 2 minutes, then stir and heat for a further 1 or 2 minutes. I personally go for the microwave option for convenience - it's both quicker and requires less effort!

                            Once the soup is ready, you can grab a spoon, pour it in a bowl, and enjoy!! This soup is in a word, delicious. The texture is thick and creamy and the taste is divine. Although it is carrot and coriander soup I wouldn't say you can really taste a carrot flavour. It has a very refreshing taste with a nice amount of spiciness. It's a particularly good meal because it's filling and healthy and very easy to prepare - literally 3 minutes and you're ready.

                            The soup is particularly nice with bread. Go for wholemeal bread to ensure a very healthy and hearty meal. I like to spread margarine over a slice of wholemeal bread and dunk it into the soup - heaven!! Depending on your appetite you may be satisfied with half a tin (ideal for sharing), or may want to have the whole tin. I have either half or all of the tin depending on how hungry I am. The good thing about soup is that it's a low calorie meal, so you needn't feel bad for eating the whole tin - it only adds up to 168 calories!

                            Another nice addition to the soup is a sprinkling of cheese. Of course you can add whatever you like, though. Even on its own, Baxters Carrot and Coriander soup is a real treat, so full of flavour and of such lovely consistency, if you like soup, give it a try!! I'm not really that much of a soup eater, but I LOVE this soup.


                            Each can contains 415g.

                            Nutritional info for the more health conscious:
                            Per ½ can - 84 calories, 12.7 carbs, 6.8g sugar, 2.9g fat, 1.9g fibre, 1.5g salt

                            *For those with allergies: it contains milk, wheat, gluten and celery

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                            • Dancing on Ice / TV Programme / 61 Readings / 59 Ratings
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                              24.01.2010 01:41
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                              It's the best thing about Sundays

                              Dancing on Ice is not just another reality TV show. It not about people doing nothing and getting paid for it, it's about celebrities (sort of!), putting in hours and hours (and hours!) of practice time and doing the best they can each week to improve both their skills and their score from the week before. It's about determination, strength, persistence and a LOT of hard work. It's about the beauty of ice dancing, the elegance, the flow, the skills and the talent. Yes the celebrities aren't always exactly "famous", but they do deserve our respect, and our votes, for trying to tackle such a hard sport, and surprisingly, usually doing very well at it!

                              A bit of info about how the show works:
                              Celebrities are each week given a dance to perform on the ice with their professional ice skating partners. The routines are choreographed by non other than Jane Torvil and Chris Dean - former British, European, Olympic and World ice dancing champions. Celebrities are then judged by a panel of judges (who are mostly made up of ex-ice skating champions and dancers, and for some reason this year they've also added Emma Bunton).
                              Before each routine we see clips of how the celebrities got on in practice - this is great because rather than just seeing the final, polished routine, we get to see the blood, sweat and tears that were put into it.

                              As well as the show being highly inspiring, it's also fun. A lot of fun!! Sequins and lycra, slips and falls, celebrities who can't skate being dragged around on the ice at high speed and celebrities who can skate attempting spins, jumps and all sorts of challenging moves.... there is SO much about this show to keep you captivated. I can't watch a single episode without feeling sheer excitement for what I'm about to see. Also a thing to mention is that the professional skaters who are paired with the celebrities are of such high standard that when they do their professional routine (usually at the beginning of the show along with Torvil and Dean) it is so awe-inspiring and jaw dropping that it's worth tuning in just for this fact alone. They also usually have an artist or a band on to sing one of their songs while a few of the professionals perform to it - this is a very nice part of the show.

                              I personally adore this show and I'm willing to bet you might do too, so give it a try and you needn't be bored on Sunday evenings anymore! (until the series finishes) .

                              ***ITV1, Sundays. Main show at 6:25pm, results show at 9:45pm***

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