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Member since: 30.04.2011

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    • More +
      11.05.2011 06:08
      Very helpful


      • Reliability


      Small, compact and saves you having to pull out your full size blender.

      I purchased my Russell Hobbs Mini Food Processor about year ago now, as I usually use my Food Processor a lot and was getting fed up lugging out my full size one especially when I only wanted it to grind or blend a small quantity.

      A friend of mine was given one for her birthday, and when I saw how small and compact it was I just had to have one. I know, women are just as bad as men for gadgets lol... Well I am anyway!

      Being only two of us in my household, (apart from Christmas when the all the family get together) the Mini Food Processor is ideal. It's small enough for me to leave out on the worktop, without it getting in the way.

      The first thing you will notice about the Food Processor is that it's very trendy and sleek looking. The bowl is made of clear glass, (I know... glass, I must admit that does worry me a little, as I have a horrid habit of dropping things lol, what can I say I'm a klutz!) and is shaped somewhat like a mini casserole dish. All the women out there will know what I mean by this. Apart from my worry of dropping it, on a plus side it does mean you will be able to put hot sauces into the blender, where you wouldn't be able to do this with plastic for fear of it cracking. The top of the Processor is chrome and matt black, and there is a nice feature in that the button is located on the top with two pitted grip areas on the side. I love this design it fits into the hand so nicely, and you depress the button with the palm of your hand. I must say it's not often I'm impressed with a products design, but with this one I am. It's a one movement job! By that I mean you don't have to push a button with one hand and hold the appliance still with the other, like you do with many larger blenders/processors. Just simply apply pressure with your palm to start, remove hand to stop. What could be simpler than that?

      The blades simply drop onto the spindle, and you're ready to go. Another nice feature is that it also comes with its own storage lid. Ideal if you are making up sauces or a marinade.

      The manufactures recommendations are that you don't process anything larger than 12mm that's half an inch, or fill liquids above half filled. Maximum fill is 700mls.

      (Handy tip for keeping your chrome looking like new without any hard work or harsh chemicals: Toothpaste.. yep that's right I did say toothpaste. Put one small dollop (about the amount you would use on your toothbrush) onto a damp cloth and rub in circular motions, when the entire area is covered, take another damp cloth and rinse off. Buff up with a dry cloth! It really does work.. I have a chrome cooker and got fed up with having to clean it. Plus all the chrome cleaners aren't cheap. Then one day I just started experimenting with things I had at home, lemons, teabags etc lol... (I know I have way to much time on my hands haha... ) but toothpaste works brilliantly. Plus if you buy the Tesco blue and white stripe value range it's dirt cheap. :)

      Now here's a couple of my own recipes: (I love experimenting with food :)

      Herby Cheese Crust For Pork Chops:
      1 slice of white bread per chop
      1 inch square piece of cheese per chop
      ¼ teaspoon of chives per chop
      ¼ teaspoon of rosemary per chop
      Starting with the cheese blend until crumbly, then add the bread. You will need to stop and start a few times to blend the bread with the cheese. When it resembles a moist crumble mixture add the herbs a blitz for a few seconds.
      Prepare your chops by seasoning both sides with salt and pepper, and place into a backing tray. To the tray add some cider (it doesn't have to be a good brand it's just to add flavour to the meat and to keep it moist. On to the chops smear some English mustard. Then take the crumble mix and with a spoon, place this on top of the chops, pressing down as you cover them. Ideally you want it to be about half an inch thick. When all the chops are covered place in an oven at gas mark 4 for about 20 - 30 mins until cooked and the herby crust is golden brown. Cooking your chops this way will give you lovely moist meat; the cider can be strained and added to a meat stock to make gravy.

      Homemade Mayonnaise (will make around about 300mls)
      1 Whole egg
      1 teaspoon of mustard powder
      1 teaspoon of salt
      ½ teaspoon of pepper
      1 teaspoon of sugar
      30 mls of white wine vinegar
      300mls of vegetable oil
      Into the processor place the egg, mustard, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar, blend for a few seconds and then start to add the oil a small bit at a time, until it starts to thicken and turn white, then add and stir for a second with a fork before putting lid back on and blending.
      If you like garlic mayonnaise, add two cloves of garlic to the above recipe. For a lighter mayonnaise you can substitute the vinegar for lemon juice. I've found loads of recipes on the net for mayo, most of them having more oil than acidic content, and found they were either over bearing on the oil and very very heavy or were made up of two eggs and tasted very eggy. It took me ages to come up with just the right ingredients to get a non fail recipe, hope you enjoy.


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      • All About Our Children / Discussion / 29 Readings / 24 Ratings
        More +
        03.05.2011 19:08
        Very helpful
        1 Comment



        Live, love and and be understanding.

        I remember when I was told that I was pregnant the shock & fear I felt. Mainly because I had been told at the age of 20 that I wouldn't be able to have any children (you see I had cancer when I was 16 and had accepted I would never be a mum, and had found a million and one reasons why it would be good not to have another person depending on me). Though that wasn't the only reason for my shock and fear, I also thought "Oh my god, I'm almost 30 and on my own!" My ex didn't want anything to do with this child, and made it quite clear that if I was to go through with it, I was on my own and not to contact him!

        I didn't have a lot of time really to think of what I should do, less than a week to make a decision that would effect the rest of my life. I will be honest here and say it was and remains the hardest period I have ever gone through in my life. All I seemed to do was talk. Talk... talk... talk, and with anyone that would listen, some of them even strangers. I guess I was hoping someone would make the decision for me, so I didn't have to! I know those of you out there that have planned your pregnancy with you partners will be reading this and probably be thinking, but why? You were told you wouldn't be able to have one, and now you were given this gift from God, a second chance if you will! Well at the time I didn't see it that way, it's hard to know unless you've been through it. It had taken me over ten years to except that I would never be a mum, and with all the reasons I gave myself I had done a good job of believing them.

        But now here I was, having to re-think my whole life! It was my brother who in the end who sat me down and just said, "Sis, I really want to be an uncle! And I really think, deep down you really want to be a mum!" followed with a few tears from him, as he said "If you don't go through with it, I truly think you will regret it later in life!"

        Thank fully I did, and now have a gorgeous 13 year old who is my life. It hasn't been easy though, far from it. I had many, many problems whilst carrying her and even more after I had her.

        I firstly had sciatica. I was out walking one day (I was about 4 months pregnant) when all of a sudden I got a sharp pain running down my right leg. Which disappeared and was replaced with numbness when I didn't move. So a visit to the doctors and I was referred to a physiotherapist. Nothing could be done as it was due to a nerve trapped in my pelvis. I was informed that usually they would just pop it out by manipulation of the pelvis, but due to being pregnant this wasn't possible. So the only thing they could do was give me physio five days a week and walk with crutches until delivery.

        Then at six months pregnant I started to get an unbelievable sharp pain in my stomach, midwife called I was rushed to hospital, where they discovered I had a kidney stone, and that it was blocking my urethra. Which in turn had brought on premature labour. This resulted in a two day stay in hospital where they both prepared me for early labour by giving me drugs to help the babies lungs, and giving me Pethidine to help stop the labour, and diagnosing how best to treat the kidney stone.

        The day after returning home my midwife informed me that my temperature was rising, and she was worried I may have picked up some bug from the hospital. Sure enough the next day I had swollen glands, and felt totally ill. Diagnosis glandular fever, apparently there had been an outbreak of this in the hospital.

        When I finally went into labour on Monday 30th June, I was four days over my due date (this is apparently normal if you've had a labour halted). The labour lasted seven days (I kid you not!), as I was dilating very slowly, I can't tell you just how horrible this was! They wouldn't take me in as I wasn't far enough dilated, so I just had to stick it out. It was so exhausting, not being able to sleep properly. On Sunday 6th July whilst having a cup of tea the pain had become so server that it was making me breathless, my mother called for the midwife who informed me that my contractions were off the chart, at that I was now 7cm and my waters were bulging, so an ambulance was called for a little after 9am. I wont tell you how hard the actual labour was as I wouldn't want to put any of you future mothers off lol.. But needless to say not everything went to plan, why should it, nothing else had so far!

        Finaly at six minutes to six (yes I checked her for the mark of the devil lol, especially as it was the 6th of July as well) my daughter was born, a healthy 7lb baby. With amazing coral blue eyes, a full head of blonde curls and with my piano long fingers, the first thing she did was grab my hand. It was instant love, something I have never felt in my life!

        It's been a learning curb with my daughter, every time I thought I was getting something right she would change the rules. She never slept for any more than four hours a day from the day she was born until she was five. And not always would those four hours be together, the one thing I am most proud of is the fact I remained calm throughout the whole of it. One day when I was feeling a little down, my mid-wife told me, "You are doing an amazing job. Most people would have cracked by now with the amount of sleep you are getting, and doing the whole thing on your own!" (My mother and brother live a distance away from me you see, so I didn't have any support, other than phone calls.) It's funny, those few kind words from her, were enough to give me the lift I needed to carry on. At 18months old, my doctor registered my daughter for a sleep clinic programme, she was the youngest there. Most people being over the age of sixteen. Every suggestion tried, every suggestion failing, by two I was starting to realise perhaps it was something I had to just live with until she grew out of it. Then at her check up around two, two and a half. my doctor asked me if he could send her to have an IQ test done at a large hospital some 200 miles away. At first I thought Oh no, that's to far to go. But he explained to me that he thought the reason I was having so many problems with Rebecca was because he thought she may be a very bright child. In the end I agreed.

        Two months later I was sat in a waiting area of a children's day ward waiting to see a specialist. On entering he gave my daughter a jigsaw (she loved jigsaws) and set about to ask me a few questions, with in five minutes a little voice said. "Finished, look mummy". The doctor smiled and said to me, "Ms Thomas, I think today is going to answer a lot of questions for you!" abandoning the form until later, he ask me if I minded sitting the other side of the room so that he could start testing Rebecca? He did many test, picture tests, asking her questions about the pictures, card tests, number tests, aural test, so many that it's hard to remember now so far down the line. At the end of it, he asked me to step out side for a while so he could look at the results. Half an hour later I was called back in, to be informed that Rebecca had an IQ of a child three years ahead of her. I was speechless.... I mean what do you say when someone tells you something like that? He then went on to tell me some of the problems that I may face in the future. Your child may not need to sleep as much as you or I, she may become frustrated when there is nothing to challenge her, she may have erratic moments where it feels to you as if she is really hyper..... It felt to me as if this total stranger had been living with me for the last few years and been witnessing home life. I also started crying, the relief was huge. I can't explain to you how huge it was! For so long now I had had to listen to other people telling me things like, "my child sleeps through the night" or "my child is very quiet and well behaved" not that she wasn't well behaved, she was, it was just that she seemed act as if she had a ever ready battery shoved up her butt lol... As if the "my child's" weren't enough, the looks of pity were even worse, it got so bad that I stopped telling people the truth when they asked about how she was sleeping? Instead I would lie, "Oh yes she sleeps really well now!" Though the dark circles under my eyes must have shown I was lying. I didn't care though, I just didn't want to hear it any more!

        The doctor informed me that life would become easier when she started school, as it would tire her brain out more. Every one was great, my doctor, my health visitor, everyone. In fact my health visitor even arranged for her to start nursery school early. She was two and half when she started, she looked so small in her uniform, the uniform that my mum had to alter as there weren't any in her age group. She was the youngest there, the others at the nursery school were four, this made her look like a baby in comparison. Life started to become a little easier for me from this moment on. It meant that the four hours that she was there in the mornings, I could catch up on a couple of hours sleep. Oh god I can't tell you just how marvellous this was! It may not seem like a lot to you, but to me it was amazing. I started feeling more human again for the first time in ages.

        Everything was brilliant for the next 12months, but then the next shock came along. At three and a half she had been at the nursery for a year, and all those that started with her were now five and ready to move over to the infants school. It was so hard to tell Rebecca that all her friends were now going over to the bigger school "Why can't I go to the bigger school mummy?" Why couldn't she indeed! It wasn't as if she wouldn't be able to do the work, making an appointment to see the head, I was informed that Rebecca would have to remain in the nursery until she was five. How wrong is that? The only way that Rebecca would be able to move up to the next tier in the education system would be if I paid for her to go to a private school. I'm a single mum for gods sake, there was no way I could afford to pay private school fees.

        It angers me to say this, but the British education system makes no allowances for gifted children. Were they should be encouraged, they are left out in the cold.

        Well my daughter is thirteen now, fourteen in July. She sleeps normally (thank god), is less like an ever ready bunny and is doing brilliantly at school. We still have days were she becomes frustrated with the school system, but we have learnt better tools to learn how to cope with it now. It's been tough getting here, but I can't think of anything else in life I am more proud of, than her.

        This was my story on motherhood, and if I was asked to give one piece of advice to any new mothers it would be this:

        Don't listen to others when they say you should do this, or you shouldn't do that, your child is unique there isn't another one out there like him or her. Yes you will make mistakes, trust me a lot of them! But you will also find what works best for you and your child. There isn't any form of failure when it comes to children, just finding better ways to deal with a situation. You learn together, ask questions from your children, and allow them to ask questions of you. Understanding each other is the best form of parenting, unique to only you and them. Don't teach them, let them learn from you as you in turn learn from them!

        And most importantly RELAX!! I know it's stressful being a mum or a dad, but at the end of the day it is LIFE, and what you think is driving you nuts now you wont even remember when they are 25 and telling you they are engaged or expecting. So why shout and stress about it now? Take deep breadths (lots of them) and stay calm, and most importantly, love every minute of it. Even the days where you fell like you could strangle them, they grow faster than you realise.


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        • Acupuncture for Pets / Discussion / 21 Readings / 21 Ratings
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          01.05.2011 22:34
          Very helpful



          Since my cat was treated this way he hasn't had one repeat of UTI's

          Homoeopathic pet cures - Does your cat suffer with recurring bladder infections? Well read on this could be of benefit to you!

          Firstly apologises for posting under Acupuncture, but it was the nearest I could find to Homoeopathic , I did try and "Make a new section", but it kept defaulting back to the main Discussion category. So here I am.

          Bladder infections in cats or UTI's (Feline Urinary Tract Infections) as they are also know, are more common in males than they are in females, this is because of the way their urethra is constructed. Females have a lot larger hole, than males hence why they are at a greater risk of infection.

          It's important to understand what can cause a UTI, some of the most common causes are:

          1) Stress - This can be because of a new animal in the house, a baby, new cats in the neighbourhood, change of diet, building works in the home, decorating, other cats coming in through your can flap or simply down to moving your furniture around. You wouldn't believe what could stress your moggy out! So the first thing to do when dealing with any recurring UTI's is to take a look at your cats environment, try and figure out what has changed in and around his home.
          2) Ph Balance - Has your cat been on any antibiotics of late? If so this could have caused an imbalance in his urinary track Ph levels.
          3) Crystals - Do you feed your cat dry food only? Because male cats have a small urethra it means that if crystals form they are less likely to be able to pass them unlike females with a larger urethra. Crystals can form if you cat isn't drinking enough water with the intake of biscuits.
          4) Clean Water - Believe it or not but some chemicals that are added to drinking water can make your animal avoid drinking it. So if he/she isn't drinking enough it can cause a thickening of urine. Thickened urine impedes your cat from regularly emptying their bladder. Which in turn makes them more susceptible to developing a UTI. If you notice your cat isn't drinking much of the water you put down, try buying a bottle of filtered water or a still spring water, this can believe it or not encourage them to take in more fluids. If it helps you can also buy the large own brand 4Lt bottles in most super markets, that don't cost an arm and a leg. A bottle should last you a whole week!

          When you've have had a think of what could be triggering it, then you can make changes to help him feel less stressed. If you have work being done in the home, think about putting him/her in a catery or have a family member have them to stay. Vet bills aren't cheap, and if you are constantly returning to the vets to pick up another does of antibiotics, you do have to wonder how long you can keep this up before the infection and their bodies become immune to the drugs?

          This of course coupled with the cost was why I did a couple weeks worth of research before Christmas to treat my 11yr old male cat named Peter. Over a period of six months in 2010 he had a total of 7 bouts of UTI 's, every 3 or 4 weeks. The expense alone was causing me a lot of problems, plus I began to feel awful for Peter, it couldn't be comfortable for him.

          Well here's the best bit, if your cat has been suffering like mine was, then this could be your answer! Distilled vinegar. Yep that's right, it's not just to put on your fish and chip supper!

          I first came across a couple of chats on message boards about Distilled Vinegar, though it didn't give any guidelines, or details on how to use it to treat UTI's in cats. A little more digging later, and I came across an Holistic veterinary practice in the USA, that had done some research and studies into it's use and benefits. So with what seemed like an endless amount of questions, I sent them off an email.

          Two days later I got my reply. Over the course of 18months they had (through the collaboration of seven other Vet surgery's in the area), studied 100 cats both male and female, half were treated with antibiotics, the other half tried the Distilled Vinegar.

          The half that were treated with antibiotics results were as follows:
          38 - found the infection cleared completely within 10 days maximum
          12 - required a follow up course of the antibiotics

          The half that were treated with Distilled vinegar:
          47 - found the infection cleared completely within 4 to 6 days of being on the Vinegar
          1 - noticed some improvement, but decided to have their animal treated with antibiotics in the end.
          2 - found a noticeable improvement in 10 -14 days.

          Of the hundred in the study it was noted that over a third of those treated with antibiotics where treated again within the 18 month period for another UTI.

          Of those treated with Distilled vinegar, less than a quarter were re-treated for another UTI, of that quarter all but one chose to continue treating with Vinegar.

          I was astounded when I read this. So the first thing I did was contact my own vets to question him. He informed me that he had heard of the use of Distilled vinegar in treating UTI's but had not actually known anyone who had used this method. I asked him if in his opinion he thought it would be safe to try on my 11yr old Peter. He replied with a Yes, saying he couldn't see it causing any problems. Apparently cats have a higher acidic urine. And this would explain why introducing it into their food/water would help to correct the balance. He also asked me if I would keep him informed, and call every couple of days to explain to him what I had noticed and how it help Peter.

          Armed with this information I decided to give it a go. If you are at all interested these are the doses:

          To add to water bowl:
          Add one tbsp to a large water bowl and stir. (change daily)

          To add to wet food:
          In a cup 1/4 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar with 1/4 teaspoon of water, stir and then pour over wet food and mix well. ( repeat twice a day)

          To add to dry food: (Though I would suggest if your cat is getting repeating UTI's switch to wet)
          1/4 teaspoon of vinegar with 1/4 teaspoon water. Drizzle this over dry cat food and repeat daily. The vinegar smell will evaporate, but some fussy cats may require you to do this in small amounts with each meal. ( repeat twice a day)

          What are you going to notice:
          Well the first thing you are going to notice is that you cat starts peeing more, don't worry this is normal. You may also notice (especially if you have a litter tray) his/her urine will be really strong smelling. Also don't worry about this, it means the vinegar is working. You know what it's like that first wee you have in the morning, how sometimes it can be a darker colour and smell stronger? Well this is what is happening to your moggy. He may have held onto his urine because it hurt him/her to go for a pee, and this is more than likely why it smells so strong. Now that he's not in so much pain they are emptying their bladder properly. The one thing I can say is that you will notice a remarkable change in him within a couple of days. And it's safe to use when every you need.

          Well that's about it. Hope if is useful to those of you out there with cats that suffer with reoccurring UTI's


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          • More +
            01.05.2011 05:58
            Very helpful


            • Reliability


            I love my bread maker, it's probably the one thing that is used the most apart from the cooker.

            Nothing compares to the smell of baking bread, just like nothing compares to the taste of baked bread when it's still warm and the butter melts into it, Yum! My daughter who's unbelievably fussy even eats it lol.

            This is my second Breadmaker, my first was starting to feel a little dated with all the latest models around. So one Sunday evening, laptop in had, I sat down to do a little online research. There were so many makes and models to choose from. After half an hour or so I had narrowed it down to just three, which had practically identical features and customer ratings. I then set out to find the best possible prices I could find on my chosen three, telling myself the best price would be the deciding factor on the one that I purchased. That's what I love about the internet, it opens up a world of window shopping for you dressed only in your pj's and slippers. :)

            On eBay I came across the Morphy Richards 48281 Fast bake, being sold by Morphy Richards themselves for £20, the usual retail price was over £60. The reason stated for being sold so cheaply was "because it was a second". Well I've learnt over the years that seconds can cover a whole list of different reasons, from dents, scratches to damaged boxes. So after sending them a message to define what they meant by second, I was informed that the packaging was damaged. Big deal, who cares about the box? It will only end up in the bin. So I paid the buy it now price and awaited deliver.

            48hrs later (amazing service on the part of Morphy Richards) I was unpacking my new Breadmaker. First impressions were "It looks very smart and trendy!" (My old one looked so old fashioned in comparison.) And it fitted in with all the other white kitchen appliances I have. I must admit it is a little larger than my previous one, but my work tops are reasonably deep to not make it look overbearing.

            The exterior of the machine is in a sleek white, the digital controls area in black and are situated on the slopping front of the machine & the access lid (which is easy clean) on top.

            The Control Area consists of the following:

            The display window will show you:
            1) Browning level selected
            2) Weight selected
            3) Programme Number chosen
            4) Time left before the bread is finished baking

            Control Buttons (situated below the display window) consist of:
            1) Timer delay, plus and minus (two separate buttons) - these are used to set the delay of making the bread (except for the Fast bake for obvious reasons.)
            2) The Start & Stop button (One button.)
            3) Colour button (As in whether you want your crust light, medium or dark)
            4) Menu button (For the selection of programme, explained in depth later.)
            5) Loaf size

            The machine has three loaf sizes 1lb, 1.5lb and 2lb and a choice of 12 different programmes. The bread pan itself is coated with non-stick and there is a detachable paddle (which has both good points and bad, I will explain why a little later on). You need to treat the pan with care, don't use any abrasive cleaning agents or scrub pads on it. To be honest I tend to only wash mine with just warm water and a sponge.

            The programmes available to you are:

            1) Basic white loaf. - Basic loaf would have been a better description for this setting, as it is also used for brown bread, and many other flavoured breads such as herb breads etc.
            2) French. - This is used for baking as it suggests French breads, they tend to be a lot lighter in texture and the crust is usually lighter and crisper.
            3) Wholewheat - Don't use timer delay on this programme because I have since learnt that on most bread machines Wholewheat has a longer pre-heat time to allow it to soak up more water. I tried a few times to put a timer delay on Wholeweat, the results were not good. Now I know why!
            4) Quick - Used for quick baked loafs. I personally don't like this setting, the loaf is denser in texture and doesn't taste as good. But then I do tend to like softer breads. If you like denser breads along the line of some of the German breads, then you will probably use it!
            5) Sweet - For sweet breads
            6) Fast bake - Used for 1.5lb loafs
            7) Fast bake II - Used for 2lb loafs
            8) Dough - I use this all the time to make Pizza's and French sticks for salads. It's always a favourite, especially the pizza's. Once you've made your own you will never go back to buying shop pizza's again.
            9) Jam - Self explanatory. Though I can't comment on this one, I've never used it in all my years of owning a bread maker. Would love to hear from those that have though!
            10) Cake - Haven't used this either.
            11) Sandwich - This is used to bake a really light textured bread with a softer and thicker crust to it.
            12) Extra bake - Again haven't used this setting either. According to the instructions it's for increasing the baking time, useful for jam making.

            After your bread has finished baking, there is a keep warm function that will circulate hot air for an hour afterwards. Though I like to take mine out pretty soon after it has finished baking, because I've noticed that if left in there for any period of time, it starts to dry it out slightly. Still each to ones own!

            That's pretty much it on the functions and options available to you on the machine. In this next section I thought I'd share some points of view that I have, and some handy tips!

            I mentioned earlier that I would go into a little more depth the good and bad points of the bread pan.

            The good points are: It's a decent size, and the detachable paddle means that in the event that the paddle breaks (which believe it or not this does sometimes happen with wear!) It costs very little to replace as it's not integrated into the pan, it means you don't have to replace the whole thing.

            The bad points are: Because the paddle isn't attached to the pan, every time you tip your bread out, you then have to dig the paddle out. This leaves a messy whole at the end of your loaf.

            Handy Tips:

            Over the years I've experimented with my bread machine to ensure I get the best loaf I possible can out of it. And these are the things that I have discovered.

            1) If it's really hot weather, make sure you pull your machine out further onto the work top so that there is more air circulating the air vents. And run the tap just a little so that the water isn't to warm.
            2) In winter the water that comes out your cold tap is icy cold. Which is way to cold to activate the yeast. Boil a kettle and add just a little hot water to the measure, this will ensure your bread rises to it's fullest.
            3) Measure accurately. I can't tell you how important this is.
            4) Always add some powdered milk to you ingredients. I know now a days they have added it to most bread machine recipes, but on a lot of them it is still an option. It does make a difference, it makes your bread lighter and softer.
            5) Don't worry about using bread improver. In all honesty I have probably tried just about every recipe out there over the years, and on most of them I have tried it both with and with out bread improver, and to be honest haven't noticed any difference.
            6) Don't be afraid to experiment! All recipes can be adapted, try adding different toppings and items to the bread. For example through experimenting I discovered a great recipe for mozzarella and salami bread. My daughter loves it! Also a few minutes before your bread has finished backing, open the lid brush on either some milk, a small amount of oil or egg and add a topping of your choice i.e poppy seeds etc.
            7) When adding your ingredients, always.. always start from the top down. This is done so that the yeast doesn't come into contact with the activating ingredients which are the sugar and water.
            8) Once a month take the end off your vacuum and Hoover the inside of your machine. Flour will build up down there due to the mixing process.
            9) If you have some yeast and you aren't sure if it's live, (sometimes you can get a dodgy batch) because your bread hasn't been rising so well. You can test it by adding about half a cup of warm water to a bowl, then stir in a teaspoon of sugar and finally sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of the yeast onto the surface of the water. If you have an oven with a pilot light place it in there, if not place the bowl somewhere else that is warm. And leave it there for ten or fifteen minutes. If the yeast is live, it should foam and produce a strong yeast aroma. If not, you know it's dead.
            10) Don't bother using anything other than cane sugar. It's required to activate the yeast, there are so many looks like sugar, taste likes sugar, but isn't really sugar out there, but these will not, I repeat not work.
            11) During the second cycle of kneading you will hear some beeps, this is when you can add other ingredients such as fruit, nuts, finely chopped cooked meats, cheese etc. As prior stated, experiment. You will soon learn what you can't and can't do with your bread maker.
            12) You can only use fast acting dried yeast in your machine, these are sold in small boxes and the yeast is foil packaged. They will usually be marked in super markets as "for use in bread machines". Don't use fresh yeast, this is fine for hand made bread but no good for bread machines.

            Well that's about it. I hope you have enjoyed my review and that it is useful to you in deciding if the Morphy Richards 48281 Fastbake Breadmaker is for you. I'm really please with my machine, and as yet haven't come across any cons. And I've been using it for a while now, so that's a good sign. Happy baking!


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            • Acer Aspire 5738Z-423G16MN / Laptop / 7 Readings / 6 Ratings
              More +
              30.04.2011 23:56
              Very helpful



              I do like Acer, just not this one.

              My Acer Aspire is about 18 months old now, and I have to say I'm so very disappointed in it. My first opinions of the Aspire on opening the box were "Wow, it is very smart-looking". In fact it is a lot more attractive than many of the other budget laptops out there. With it's shiny dark blue metallic looking case lid, it's shiny black screen bezel and the grey cold steel look, pin pricked affect on the keyboard surround (which is plastic by the way). All in all it looks the bizz!

              The Laptop comes with 2.2GHz Intel Pentium T4400 processor, 4GB of Ram (I note that the one shown on site is only 3GB, though mine came with 4GB) and integrated Intel GMA 4500M graphics (These wouldn't be any good for gaming though fine for ordinary windows day to day use).

              The 15.6in wide-screen display has a 16:9 aspect ratio and a 720p TV resolution of 1,366x768. This in my opinion gives you a pretty good amount of desktop space for viewing your applications. Though on a down point because the screen has a glossy coating on it, it's virtual impossible to use the laptop outside or in any area where there is strong light. I enjoy sitting in the garden on a Sunday and catching up on my emails, the only way I can do this now is by putting up the garden umbrella, which annoys me somewhat. The colours are pretty good though, whites look pure and blacks look deep and the contrast in my opinion is excellent. I use it a lot for editing my images on, and feel pretty confident doing so.

              The laptop comes with Dolby drivers, that supposedly add audio enhancement and a virtual surround sound. Though I have to say I'm not that impressed with the built in speakers. Having watched a few DVD's and played a few CD's on the laptop, I've never thought "Umm that sounds great!" I really wish that they had put better integrated speakers into it.

              The flat keyboard is actually pretty comfortable to type on, the keys are spread a comfy distance but not to far that it causes you to make mistakes. Though friends have said they didn't like the key distance, having long fingers it suited me just great. It also comes with it's own numerical key pad, something that most companies tend to leave out of laptops.

              The touchpad on the other hand I hate! It is positioned just below the space bar and is so over sensitive which means that if you type you are for ever moving the cursor with your thumbs or palm. It does have a button just beside the touchpad to turn it off, which is what you have to do if you are doing any amount of typing, but that just turns into a drag when you are entering any details into a form, as you are constantly tuning it on and off. In short the touchpad drives me mad. I now never use this, instead using a usb mouse and leaving the touchpad turned off. I have contacted Acer about this on many occasions, and as yet have still to receive any feedback that would mean I could solve this over sensitivity once and for all. I have also tried various software to alter the sensitivity of touchpads. All to no avail!

              For networking and internet use there is a built in Gigabit Ethernet and a 802.11n Wi-Fi, and there is even a built in modem just in case you are ever in a position where you need to use a dial-up connection. No laughing, it does happen! Not everyone has the internet you know. :)

              Battery life is ok I guess for this budget laptop, it will give you around four hours of use on a light work load. Obviously a lot less if you want to run half a dozen programmes all at the same time. Though lets be honest, most of us run more than two at a time. I find it usually lasts me at most one and a half hours before I have to plug in. Not ideal if you want to work outside of the house for any amount of time.

              There are four USB ports, which is handy if you have to run a few external peripherals. Though there isn't a eSATA port or any ExpressCard slot but then this is a budget laptop.

              The webcam and built in mike I don't really use, but my 13yr old daughter uses it a lot when chatting to her school friends. And from what I've seen it gives a good picture, even in low level lighting.

              The built in Card reader is situated discreetly on the front of the laptop case and reads the 5 most popular cards SD, MMC, MS, MS PRO and xD. To keep it clean there is a blank inserted into the slot. I use this a lot being a photographer, and I'm grateful it's there. Saves me having to plug in a card reader all the time.

              Other ports are a HDMI, an external VGA display port (which is handy if you give presentations) a headphone, speaker and a line-out jack, Ethernet RJ-45 port and finally a Microphone-in Jack.

              Above the key board on the left side there are three function keys, one to turn the wi-fi on and off, one for something I don't have on my laptop and one linked to the Acer Backup software. Personally I think Acer should have left these to be linked to user preference. On the right (again above the keyboard) is the volume buttons +/- and above these there is a button which when pressed will help give you a longer battery life (supposedly), when not plugged in. It lowers screen resolution etc. Though I haven't noticed any difference when using it. I think it again boils down to only having one or two applications running.

              Well I think I've covered pretty much everything, I hope this review helps you decided if the Acer Aspire 5738Z is for you.

              The Acer for me, started off with the wow factor for the price I paid, but has since lost most of that. Sound quality, low battery time coupled with the REALLY annoying mouse pad have lowered it in my estimations.
              Happy Computing one and all.


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