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rachelwestall

rachelwestall
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Member since: 05.10.2008

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    • Wahl ZX410 / Mixer / 78 Readings / 76 Ratings
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      01.11.2010 23:13
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      A smart, sleek looking hand mixer.

      After 20 years of wedded bliss everything begins to either break or stop working, and that's not just my other half!! All those tasteful gifts we were given has young newly weds are beginning to wear out. I still have the same broom, cheese grater, cutlery set, electric knife, china...... the list goes on. It all looks very dated, but it would be criminal to get new ones when the old ones still function (again not a reference to my hubby!). I was very sad when the hand mixer I have used for all these years finally died. However I soon cheered when I realised I would be able to write a review of an electrical product for Dooyoo!!

      I purchased this Whal, by James Martin hand mixer, in Sainsburys for the bargain price of £8.11 probably not any more expensive than the Kenwood handmixer we were given in 1990.

      This hand mixer is made by a company called Whal who by all accounts make grooming products. They also sell a range of kitchen equipment and accesories by James Martin, the rather handsome (IMO) TV chef. According to the brochure his kitchen items are 'Precision Products for the Discerning cook'.
      See http://www.wahlstore.co.uk/james-martin.irc

      The ZX410 mixer has 5 speeds including 'turbo'. It is silver in colour and has a rubberised easy grip handle. There is an ejector button for the attachments wwith a safety device. It comes with chrome beaters a balloon whisk and dough hooks. The mixer also comes with a little recipe book - James Martin Recipe Ideas. This has recipes to be used with different items from James Martins kitchen range. The first 9 recipes are to be made using the Hand Mixer and its various attachments.

      How does it work?
      ****************
      The mixer is a good weight and feel 'right' when you hold it - I can't really explain! The easy grip handle is comfortable. The attachments are inserted into the body of the mixer, turning them slightly until they 'click'. You then select the desired speed and away you go.

      I have been using the mixer for a few weeks and am impressed with it so far. It whips cream quickly and whisks eggs for meringues to perfection. I did find it strange that there is only 1 whisk but as it is a ballookn whisk it is quite large so 2 are not needed. I thought that this would impare performance. However I was wrong! With the turbo boost button in use, whisking 3 or 4 egg whites is an easy task. The beaters work equally as well making smooth and creaming butter icing for cup cakes - not a lump of icing sugar in sight. I will confess that I have not use the dough hooks. (I have a Kenwood chef that I get out from the back of the cupboard if I want to make dough).

      Ease of cleaning.
      ***************
      Once you have unplugged the cord from the socket (helath and safety!) you can wipe the body of the mixer clean using a dry cloth.
      The ejector button means the attacments are easily removed from the body of the hand mixer and these can be washed in warm soapy water or put in the dishwasher.

      Simples!!

      Was it worth £8.11?
      *****************
      Most definitely! It looks smart and works efficiently. It comes with a 2 year manufacturers guarantee, but I'm hoping it will last me for another 20 years!!

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      • More +
        21.10.2010 21:58
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        A great 'essentials' product.

        Any one who has read any of my previous reviews will know that I am no beauty expert. My daily 'routine' is minimal and I am a big fan of facial cleansing wipes as they save me time. The advent of this type of product has made a huge difference to my life! They are the beauty product that enables you to multi task and thus save time and energy. Instead of removing your make up, (3 or 4 cotton pads + make up remover) then cleansing, (2 cotton pads + cleanser) and finally moisturising - you simple use one wipe and all three jobs are done - fantastic!!

        However despite the fact that you don't use loads of cotton pads, using wipes probably doesn't save me money as generally a pack can set you back about £4.00. I usually buy branded beauty products though and have never bought supermarket'own brands'.

        Welcome to 2010 and in these times of 'tightening our belts' I have started to look for ways to save money. The experts seem to suggest down shifting or buying cheaper versions of our favourites. So when I spotted Waitrose Essentials 3 in 1 facial cleansing wipes for £1.45 I thought I would give them a go.

        Waitrose is in my opinion a 'safe' household name, like M&S. Probably more upmarket than most stores (either that or their marketing department has done their job very well!). This product is their 'essential' or basic everyday range. The packaging reflects this and is plain and simple. The packet is a baby pink in colour. Each pack contains 25 wipes.


        What do facial wipes do?
        Waitrose claim that you can 'Wipe away the day with these moist, cleansing wipes. Removes all make-up including waterproof mascara, and moisturises the skin'.

        Ease of use *****

        Just peel back the adhesive panel, take out a wipe and cleanse your face. There is no fuss with rinsing. So it's simple really - remove 1 wipe from the packet. Use like a face cloth to remove make up, cleanse and moistures your skin, all in one quick move.

        Fragrance *****
        The scent of these wipes is not an overpowering at all. It is a pleasant sweet, flowery smell maybe reminiscent of roses, but I can't quite place it. However I like the subtle fragrance.

        Right for me? *****
        These wipes do work. They remove make up easily and leave my skin clean and soft. I can't say that my skin looks any different, but these moist wipes 'do the job' as well as smelling pretty too. I usually purchase a product specifically for sensitive skin as my skin can become irritated. These particular wipes are not specifically for sensitive skin and yet I have had no adverse reaction to them.

        The biggest downside is the fact that the cloth (wipe) is not as soft as more expensive brands that I have used and while they do the job required I can't quite help thinking I have gently sanded my face at the same time!! They are in no way abrasive, but they are not soft and gentle either.

        Price? ****

        At £1.45 for 25p or 6p a wipe, I think that's pretty good value for a product that works.


        So in conclusion, if you are strapped for time and need to multi task, essential Waitrose 3 in 1 facial cleansing wipes are for you.
        (They loose 1 star from me because of their sandpaper qualities!)


        Thank you for reading :o)

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        • More +
          30.09.2010 13:39
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          A fantastic hand wash with 'green' credentials.

          Method - 'People against dirty'

          After being very impressed with other Method products, I was delighted to see an offer with Ocado, buy three products get one free. I buy Method daily shower cleaner (see separate review - There's Method in my madness!) and have been using it for almost two years - My shower still looks new. Obviously I am impressed with Method products so I decided to try another of their range.

          This review is for Method foaming hand wash 300ml (sweet water flavour!)

          ~Method Ideology~

          Method question our obsession with Antibacterial cleaners - I would agree with this. Such soaps and cleaning products may be popular but Method point out that they often contain harsh chemicals that are dangerous around children and unkind to your skin. And, if used excessively they may actually promote the development of super-bacteria that ordinary cleaners can't kill.

          Method point out that ...
          'you don't have to be anti-bacterial to be pro-clean. Soap's job is to clean. Not kill. So why do so many brag about their 99.99% death rate? If microbes can't take it, what makes you think your hands can? At method, we make hand washes that are Triclosan-free and as safe as they are stunning. And no one has to get hurt.'

          I really agree with this ideology (never thought I'd say something like that!)

          Method point out that hand wash should 'clean, moisturise and make your hands smell like heaven not irritate your skin'.
          *******************
          So does it work?

          ~The bottle~

          This is an almost conical shaped clear plastic bottle. It is very simple and understated and this is why I like it. The top of the bottle is a largish pump action dispenser that has quite a wide nozzle.

          There is limited information on the bottle and the bit that there is, is in very small white print, which doesn't make for easy reading. On the front it says 'Method foaming hand wash, with plant derived moiturisers'.

          On the reverse of the bottle there are instructions for use and a list of ingredients.

          The bottle is made from 100% recycled plastic, and is recyclable - very green.

          ~The hand wash~

          This particular flavour - sweet water- is a clear liquid. You could be forgiven for thinking that it only contains water. However it actually contains natural cleaners that come from coconut combined with natural moisturisers like aloe, vitamin E and glycerine which help to keep your hands smooth. It dispenses easily, as you push down the dispenser and the soap immediately comes out in a light foam (only one push down needed). The foamy soap covers your hands easily and has a lovely refreshing smell that lingers pleasantly on your hands.

          Ingredients - (these are exactly the same as the Method Sweet water gel hand wash. It must be the proportion of the ingredients plus the pump dispenser action that creates the foam).
          water
          sodium lauryl sulphate**
          cocamide dea
          cocamidopropyl betaine, glycerin
          aloe barbadensis gel
          tocopheryl acetate, citric acid
          sodium chloride
          sodium citrate
          benzophenone 4
          methylchloroisothiazolinone
          methylisothiazolinone
          fragrance
          colour

          **What is sodium lauryl sulphate? : A coconut-oil derived, biodegradable, non-toxic surfactant (cleaner) that has had a lot of bad press. SLS isn't a known or even a probable carcinogen. It can be a moderate skin irritant when used in high concentrations. method uses SLS only in low concentrations that are not irritating.

          (I have taken this information from the Method website www.method products.co.uk)

          ~Is it any good?~

          This is not a cheap hand wash, but as I love their other products, I had high expectations.

          The soap squirts out very quicky in the form of a light foam. You only need a small amount to clean your hands. After washing my hands I am very impressed. Not only is the smell truly lovely (it's not flowery, so blokes don't need to worry), but my hand feel clean and really soft. The natural moisturisers really do do thier thing!

          I usually spend about £1.50 on antibacterial hand wash, so this soap is expensive as the RRP is £2.99. I bought mine whilst on offer which made the price much more reasonable. Having said that if it is like its sister product it will last a long time - (much longer than cheaper soap brands) so it will be worth the extra money.

          You can buy Method products from most supermarkets.

          Thank you for reading :o)

          (Some of the information in this review is repeated in my earlier review of Method Sweet Water Hand Wash Gel)

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            29.09.2010 18:01
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            Bung everything in and sit back and wait .... for eight hours!

            My mum is the queen of 'slow cooking' and has been telling me for years that I should invest in a slow cooker. I have always resisted saying that I couldn't bear the thought of getting up at 6.30am (I leave for work at 7.30am) to prepare our evening meal. I would love to be that organised, but I love my sleep! I could never be like my mum!!

            However, needs must! Our family dynamics are such that I have decided to succumb. With teenagers in and out at different times (and demanding 'proper food'!) plus a husband who always seems to arrive home late, a slow cooker seemed to be the simplest and healthiest option.

            As a family of 5, (big eaters too!) I needed to purchase the largest cooker I could. Most seem to hold 3.5 litres and say they are suitable for a family of 4. I needed bigger than this so I bought the Morphy Richards 48715 oval 6.Litre capacity, stainless steel slow cooker.

            Why Slow Cook?
            **************
            Slow cooking allows you to be organised and arrive home from a hard days work to the smells of a wholesome meal, ready and waiting - it's almost like having your meal on the table when you get in. As the cooking time is much longer than using a conventional oven food becomes more flavoursome. Cooking at such low temperatures mean that meat , in particular, cheaper cuts, becomes tenderised. You can put pretty much what you like in the cooker , cover with liquid, leave it for several hours and hey presto dinner is ready! I can make a casserole which will be ready when we all come in at different times. The kids now know if they are going out again that they can cook a potato, some rice or pasta to have with their meat. I no longer have to come in from work to shouts of "what's for tea?" or " I'll jut have toast , I haven't got time to wait" or in the case of my wonderful husband (me to him) " your dinner's in the dog!!" No more arriving home at 5 o'clock and starting to cook tea with out having time to take my coat off.

            Technical stuff.....
            **************
            The slow cooker has a black ceramic pot which sits inside a stainless finished outer casing. I bought it for £38.95 from Argos and it comes with a 2 year guarantee.

            * Oval shape - which it ideal for joints of meat as well as casseroles, curries and chillies
            * 330 Watt makes
            * Capacity 6.5 litres
            * 3 cooking settings: low, medium and high
            * Toughened glass lid
            * Dishwasher proof
            * Removable ceramic pot
            * Cool touch handles
            * Non slip feet

            How it works
            ***********
            The slow cooker works by building up heat and maintaining it at an even temperature. I usually cook on a LOW setting which means the cooker is working for 10-12 hours. The 6.5 litre oval ceramic pot has a working capacity of 4.5 litres or 8 pints. It is big enough to cook a large joint or chicken. You don't have to just do stews and casseroles.

            I usually prepare the food the night before and store it in the fridge. Most recipes suggest you brown everything before hand, but I don't usually bother (apart from frying off the onions) I know its going to be cooking for long enough. Even Jamie Oliver doesn't brown his meat before he casseroles it - he says it makes no difference to the flavour. So with all the meat and vegetables chopped and prepared. All you have to do is bung everything into the ceramic pot, cover with liquid (stock, wine, beer, tinned tomatoes - depending on what you are doing) and switch on. It couldn't be simpler.

            The ceramic pot is large and therefore heavy, but it is very easy to clean. Because the food cooks so slowly and at an even temperature, there are no 'burned on' bits of food to scrub off. It is dishwasher safe, but I think it takes up too much room. I think hand washing is no problem.

            Negatives.
            *********
            This particular slow cooker is quite large and takes up a lot of room on the work surface. I am lucky enough to have a large kitchen so it is not an issue for me, but it does need to be taken into consideration before buying.

            The outside of the cooker gets very hot and you have to make sure you don't touch it. There is a warning on the instruction leaflet - ' never touch the outer enclosure..' but I was still surprised with the heat it generates. You could easily burn your self. Therefore make sure it is kept out of reach of children.

            Was it worth buying?
            *****************
            I have been using the slow cooker for several weeks with my mum laughing at me and saying " I told you so!" and I have to admit that she's right. The preparation the night before is minimal and the meals that have been cooked have been delicious. The cooker heats so gently that liquid is retained ensuring lovely sauces and gravies. When the food is ready you can switch it off and the cooker will retain enough heat to keep the meal warm for up to 30 minutes. This is great for late arrivals!
            The slow cooker is very economical and safe to use.

            A great buy and I would reccommend it to those of you with a hectic home life.
            However does this now mean that the old saying is true?....
            "Mirror, mirror on the wall, I am my mother after all!"

            HELP!!!

            Thank you for reading. :o)

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            • Twix Fino / Chocolate / 73 Readings / 72 Ratings
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              25.09.2010 18:03
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              The Twix for the health concious.

              A great advantage of being a member of Dooyoo is that you have an excuse to purchase things you like in order to write a review. So when I saw the Twix fino, whilst standing in a queue, my immediate thought was "I've not seen that before, I could write a review". I reallly don't need to eat any more chocolate, but this is in a good cause!

              What is the Twix Fino?
              ******************
              The Twix Fino is a new offering from the chocolate giant Mars and is the first permanent extension of the Twix brand in its 40-year history.

              Mars launched this new bar earlier this month (only avaiable in smaller retailers) and I think they are looking to sell this to the more health conscious. The Twix Fino has a wafer base rather than a biscuit base and each finger contains 94 calories, compared to the normal Twix biscuit fingers which contain 130 calories per finger.

              Like the traditional Twix, there are two fingers in the packet. Each 19g finger has a light, wafer like biscuit topped with caramel and then covered in milk chocolate.

              The Packaging
              ************
              The chocolate fingers are wrapped in a silver packet that is the same in design to the original Twix. Across the front in large red lettering is the brand name - Twix (in red outlined in white) fino (in white outlined in red). Diagonally across the top right had corner is the word NEW!

              There is a small sign that says 94KCal and above it in fine writing it says 'per Piece'. I feel that this could be misleading as the purchaser may think that the whole packet contains 94 cals not just one finger. In fact if you eat both fingers you are consuming 188cal (I can do my maths!!).

              The reverse of the packaging contains all the usual ingredients and nutritional information.

              The taste test
              ************
              I think the bar felt lighter as I removed it from the packet, but that could just be my imagination. I haven't eaten an original Twix for some time, and I was surprised that my brain told me there was something wrong when I bit into this bar. It looked and smelled like a Twix but the biscuit layer is so light and crispy the bite wasn't right!

              The outer coating of chocolate seemed quite thick, however the biscuit is quite crumbly and didn't really taste of much. I felt the caramel was the redeeming feature. It had a soft chewy texture and was sweet and delicious.

              Ultimately I think I quite enjoyed this. It wasn't what I expected, but on balance it tasted good and as a 'lite' version of the original, I think it will sell well. I definitely prefer it to the Mars Delight.

              Selling at a RRP of 52p this is a similar price to every other chocolate bar on the market and in my opinion far too expensive!! When the bar is available in supermarkets maybe there will be some bargains around.

              Thank you for reading! :o)

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              • Ginsters Cornish Pasty / Other Food / 50 Readings / 49 Ratings
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                25.09.2010 15:54
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                Good, wholesome, filling lunch.

                For no real reason, I just fancied a cornish pasty for lunch. Maybe it had something to do with passing a pasty shop whilst out and about. However my destination was Tescos and the nearest I could get to an orignial Cornish Pasty was a prepacked Ginsters pasty.

                The packaging makes it quite clear that this is a Cornish company, so they must be OK! After returning from my food shop I put the oven on, and popped the pasty in for its alloted 20 mins. You can eat the pasty hot or cold but I think warm is best. Meanwhile my tummy was rumbling and the smells that were being emitted from the oven were making me salivate!!! Iwas really looking forward to my lunch.

                Whats in the pasty?
                ****************
                This original Cornish Pasty contains 100% British Beef (jolly good!), fresh potatoes, onion and swede. The yummy ingredients are all wrapped in puff pastry.

                Packaging.
                **********
                The pasty is packed individually in a black plastic package with the Ginsters logo in red. There is a photo of the Cornish pasty with the strap line - 'real honest food' across the bottom. The main ingredients are listed on the front along with the sell by date.

                The back of the packet contatains all the usual nutritional information along with heating instructions. There is also a reference to a charity CHICKS (Country Holidays for Inner City Kids). I can only assume without further research that this is a charity that Ginsters support - very commendable.

                There is a logo on the back that states this is a GENUINE CORNISH PASTY. That is something I would like to know - What makes a GENUINE Cornish Pasty? I visited the site listed on the Ginster pacaking - www.cornishpastyassociation.co.uk , and found the answer to my question .....
                "A genuine Cornish pasty has a distinctive 'D' shape and is crimped on one side, never on top. The texture of the filling for the pasty is chunky, made up of uncooked minced or roughly cut chunks of beef (not less than 12.5%), swede or turnip, potato and onion and a light peppery seasoning.".... "And, perhaps most importantly, it must also be made in Cornwall."

                The pasty is suitable for home freezing.

                The Verdict
                **********
                The 20 minutes warming time seemed to last for ever, but at last the pasty came out of the oven looking, to be perfectly honest, exactly the same as it went in! A lovely semi circle of golden puff pastry sat before me. The smell was most definitely pastyish! I love puff pasty and this case did not disappoint. I cut throught he edge at had a bite of the light, crisp pasrty. It was lovely and buttery. The pasty had plenty of filling , lots of thinly sliced potato, swede and onion. The beef looked like mince rather than chunks of beef which I would have like to see. However the flavour was good. It was well seasoned and I enjoyed every last mouthful of the pasty.

                The pasty cost £1 from Tescos which I don't think is bad value for a filling lunch.

                I now feel inspired to have a go at making my own pasties. The only trouble is I don't live in Cornwall, so mine could never be genuine!

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                  06.09.2010 21:32
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                  A superb way of listening to radio/ CD/ Mp3....

                  My wonderful husband loves the radio! He has one in the en-suit, the bedroom and the kitchen. He also has several portable radios that he can take outside or plug in earphones to use when mowing the lawn or trying to get back to sleep at 4 in the morning. He is a radio five live listener and is most definitely addicted. After twenty years of marriage I have got used to the constant noise and must even admit to enjoying listening to one or two of the programmes (not the sport though!!). However, he now has a new love in the guise of an iPhone, and this wonder gadget needs an idock. What an excuse to go out and purchase a new radio that is combined with a radio / clock/ CD player.

                  As this new sound system was going to dwell in 'my space' - the kitchen, I trawled with him in order to make judgements on appearance and sound quality. We had fun in John Lewis, putting his iphone into the docks of several systems and cranking up the volume. It was a good job the kids weren't with us as they would have been very embarrassed by the 'old fogey' music!! In the end we chose the Teac SR3DAB-L CD / Radio / iPod Dock.

                  Product Information and description.
                  ******************************
                  The sound system is black with a textured leather-effect finish. It is described as a 'table hi-fi' and would be perfect for your bedroom, living room, kitchen, study or conservatory. We have ours in the kitchen. It is very easy to use (even I can manage it!) either by the touch controls or the remote control. The display is clear and and lights with a blue light.

                  This is classed as a 'compact' system, however it is not small. Personally, I think it would look rather large on a bedside table. It measures H12 x W35.4 x D22.8cm . We have a large kitchen and the size is not a problem, it sits impressively on the work surface. However if space is a premium, this may not be the hi-fi for you.

                  One of the reasons I like this system is because the Teac SR3DAB-L is crammed full of features: it's an iPod dock, a CD player, a DAB/FM radio, a clock with dual alarm, you can even plug in another portable audio device thanks to the auxiliary 3.5mm stereo input (cable sold separately). My son uses this feature with his lap top - linking the two together and blasting his music out.

                  All the features
                  *************
                  * iPod dock compatible with iPod and iPhone
                  * DAB/FM radio
                  * Wake up to radio or iPod (only any use for us if we are sleeping in the kitchen!)
                  * Digital clock, calendar, dual alarm, snooze, sleep timer
                  * Independent speaker chambers with bass-reflex port (giving superb sound quality)
                  * Large LCD display with 3-step dimmer
                  * Slim remote control
                  * Pre-set equalizer (rock, pop, classic, jazz, bass, normal)
                  * 2W per channel power output
                  * Pre-set station memory
                  * Audio input x1, audio output x1, video x1

                  In laymans terms - You can play music by plugging in USB flash storage devices or SD cards, the latter can even be used to pause and rewind DAB broadcasts. There is also a 3.5mm stereo socket so you can listen with your headphones without disturbing anybody else.

                  The Sound Quality.
                  ****************
                  The staff in John Lewis , where we purchased the device from were extremely helpful and suggested we listen to the quality of the sound of several hi-fi's, by turning up the volume. We couldn't aford a BOSE iPhone dock that included all the features we wanted, so we were looking for the system that was nearest in sound quality. The Teac SR3D hit the spot. The quality of the sound was far superior to many leading brands and we were very pleasantly surprised. This, so I am told, is to do with the quality of the built in speakers. (2 x4W). The sound is deep and mellow and not 'tinny' at all. There is no distortion.

                  The Cost
                  *********
                  Having looked around, you can purchase this model from about £169. We however paid £179 from John Lewis as they provide a two year guarantee. We felt that paying the extra £10 was worth it for an extra year on the guarantee plus the peace of mind knowing that if we had any problems, John Lewis are always great with their customer care.

                  Conclusion
                  *********
                  I would most definitely recommend the Teac SR3DAB-L CD / Radio / iPod Dock. It is a versatile sound system that is practical and attractive. It makes listening to the radio or music devices a real pleasure giving a superior sound quality. If you have the space this is worth every penny.

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                  • More +
                    21.06.2010 16:31
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                    A must have summer kitchen gadget!

                    If you have read my review - Burgers - make 'em don't buy'em, you will know that I love to make my own burgers. There is nothing nicer on a warm summers day to sit out side with your family easting a BBQ. It is even nicer if the food cooking on your BBQ is home made.

                    The Lakeland Quarter Pounder Burger press, is an essential part of my BBQ summer. This little gadget ensures perfect burgers every time. It is so easy to use - even small children can use it. I run a cookery club at the school where I work and burgers are always a popular item to make.

                    The press comes assembles but can be completely taken to pieces for cleaning.( I always put mine in the dishwasher). It is made from white plastic, and the press comes with 100 waxed discs and a recipe book.

                    How to use
                    **********
                    Make up your burger mixture.
                    Place the burger maker upside down.
                    Put a waxed disc inside the body of the press.
                    Spoon the mixture to just below the rim of the burger maker.
                    press the mixture down with the back of a spoon.
                    Place a second wax disc over the mixture.
                    Release the burger by turning the maker over and depressing the plunger.

                    There.... that's it.... you have a perect burger! In seconds, you can produce perfectly shaped meat, fish and veggie burgers that keep their shape during cooking. Each burger is approx. 10cm in diameter.

                    The little recipe book that coms with the burger maker has some lovely ideas....
                    QuarterPounder beef burgers
                    Lamb, fta and sun-dried tomato burgers.
                    Thai chicken burger.
                    Oriental salmon burgers.


                    My favourite burger this year... (my own recipie)
                    *************************
                    Lamb, mint and apricot.

                    500g lamb mince
                    1 onion
                    50g chopped dried apricots.
                    fresh mint chopped
                    teaspoon of dijon mustard.
                    seasoning

                    I put all the ingredients in the food processor and whizz until everything is combined. The kids howver, like getting there hands messy!! Make sure they wash them first!! This mixture will make 4 large or 6 thin burgers.

                    The Burger maker from Lakeland Limited costs £7.99. I think it is worth every penny. Making them yourself, means that you know exactly what you are eating. I am sure it is by far the healthier option, especially if you use meat with a lower fat content.

                    You can buy this in one of Lakelands stores or on line at www.lakeland.co.uk

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                    • BBQ Recipes / Recipe / 104 Readings / 103 Ratings
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                      07.06.2010 15:36
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                      Quick and simple BBQ recipes.

                      It's that time of year when, dare I say it, the weather is usually good enough for a BBQ. There is no better way of cooking on a summers evening and then eating alfresco.

                      I thought I would share with you a couple of my favourite recipes that have been tried and tested and are sure winners with my family.

                      I never buy burgers any more. You never know exactly what is in them and the 'good' ones are not cheap either. So with the help of my Burger Press, courtesy of Lakeland, I make my burgers from scratch.

                      My Brilliant Burgers
                      *********************
                      500g lean minced beef
                      1 small onion
                      1 heaped teaspoon of whole grain mustard
                      A dash of Worcestershire sauce
                      Seasoning

                      1) Chop the onion finely ( I use my food processor)
                      2) Add the minced beef, mustard and seasoning.
                      3) Mix thoroughly. (Again I tend to whiz it in the processor - but using your hands works just as well, although this is very messy!)
                      4) Shape into patties - I use my burger press which is fantastic and ensures the burgers don't fall apart on the BBQ.

                      Makes 4 -6

                      That's it - it's so easy even the kids can do it. I usually double this recipe. Any burgers that are not needed are popped into the freezer for another day.

                      I also make lamb and mint burgers, and pork and apple. They are all yummy and are guaranteed to get the thumbs up from guests.

                      BBQ Chicken Kebabs
                      *****************************
                      4 large chicken breast (skinless) cut into chunks
                      1 red pepper
                      1 yellow pepper
                      1 onion
                      mushrooms
                      courgette

                      For the marinade...
                      100ml tomato ketchup
                      50ml soy sauce
                      50m1 olive oil
                      25ml Worcestershire sauce
                      1 crushed clove garlic
                      1 egg yolk

                      1) Mix together well the ketchup, soy sauce, oil, Worcestershire sauce and garlic.
                      2) Stir in the egg yolk (This helps to bind it all together).
                      3) Put the chicken pieces into the marinade and leave preferably over night, or at least a few hours.
                      4) Thread pepper, onion, chicken etc onto skewers, pour over the remaining marinade and refrigerate until needed.
                      5) BBQ turning regularly.

                      Delicious!!! The great thing with kebabs is that you can make the meat go a lot further by adding lots of vegetables. I made this yesterday and made 10 kebabs and each had plenty of chicken on them.

                      Happy BBQing!! :o)

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                        25.05.2010 12:07
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                        A sugary, lemony body exfoliant that works brilliantly on your feet too!

                        Sweet Lemon Body Scrub

                        I bought this body scrub on the recommendation of the Sales assistant in my local body shop.

                        I had hobbled in with very sore feet. I have to admit that I don't care for my tootsies as I should, and this year they have been worse than ever. The dry skin on my heels was cracked and sore. I knew I needed to take action as I would be too embarrassed to go and have a pedicure.

                        I told the assistant my tale of woe and she immediately took my to the stand where the peppermint foot products were. She showed me all the accoutrements that I would need for papering my feet and restoring them to full health. However the only thing that they had none left of in stock, was the foot scrub. Not to be deterred from a sale, she guided me to the body scrubs and explained that they would do exactly the same job. As the Sweet Lemon products were on offer, this was the 'flavour' I opted for.

                        Armed with foot file, foot soak, foot rescue cream, moisturising socks (reviews pending!) and body scrub I headed home to treat my feet to a well earned pampering.

                        The Sweet Lemon Body Scrub comes in a 220g cylindrical pot with a yellow lid. On the top there is a photograph of lemons so that you can distinguish this pot from the myriad of other 'fruity' body scrubs and butters. As you unscrew the lid you are met with the most wonderful sweet lemony aroma. This exfoliating scrub is enriched with lemon oil. The smell was quite mouth watering really. I had to remember this indeed was a beauty product and not lemon curd. Visions of Tarte au Citron wafted before my eyes!!

                        The body scrub itself looks the colour and consistency of a very granular honey. It is soft to touch with a sugary texture. This comes from the organically grown community Trade sugar. Body shop say that this should help to stimulate the skin and remove dead skin cells when massaged in, leaving your skin feeling soft, smooth and ready to absorb the next layer of moisture.

                        I rubbed a dollop of the scrub over my feet, paying particular attention to my problem zones. I could feel the grains and granules doing their job. I rinsed my feet in warm water and patted them dry. My feet have never smelled so sweet. The dead skin was softened and my feet were beginning to feel revived.

                        I am pleased to inform you that after just one pamper session my feet were on their way to recovery. The Body Sop assistant had told me that I would need to get into a routine of 'caring' for my feet at least three times a week. I,m not sure that I shall stick to that, but I guess my feet do take quite a beating and it's about time they were treated with a little respect.

                        Ingredients (sounds very technical!)
                        *****************************
                        Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Sucrose, Sodium Chloride, Helianthus Annuus Hybrid Oil, Silica, Citrus Medica Limonum Seed Oil, Glycine Soja Oil, Limonene, Bertholletia Excelsa Seed Oil, Parfum, Citrus Medica Limonum Peel, Juglans Regia Shell Powder, Citral, CI 19140.

                        I have also used the body scrub whilst in the shower - it left my skin subtly scented with lemons and looking radiant. Apparently the lemon seed oil and lemon peel have great moisturising benefits, which is fantastic for my tired old skin!

                        This product was not cheap at £12.50 for 200ml, however I have been really pleased with it both as a foot scrub and an exfoliater (is that a word?!) for my body. Not only does it smell divine, but it does the job too. Thank you Body Shop!

                        Thank you for reading my 100th Review!! :o)

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                        • Kellogg's Just Right / Breakfast / 61 Readings / 59 Ratings
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                          25.05.2010 11:34
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                          A delicious light breakfast cereal (for grown ups!) :o)

                          Keloggs are the worlds leading cereal manufacturer. The comapny founded by W K Kelogg in 1906 in the USA selling Kellogs Corn Flakes. The company marketed a 'better for you breakfast food'. Their brands have been copied by other manufacturers over the years, but for me they remain a symbol of quality on the cereal front. If I could afford to buy branded groceries all the time Kellogs would be at the top of my list.

                          My kids would eat cereal all day every day, if they were given half the chance. It costs me a small fortune, but I suppose eating cereal (as long as they are not sugar coated), is a reasonably healthy 'snack'. In a bid to cut my food bills I have swapped to store brands for most of my cereals, but I have not yet come a cross a supermarket that does their own version of Kellogs 'Just Right'.

                          Hands off Kids - This is my Cereal.....
                          At about £2.40 for a 500g box, this is definitely one of the more expensive cereals. However, like many grocery items I stock up when they are on offer. Kellogs Just Right is 50% off in Sainsbury's at the moment (26/5/10). At £1.21, I think it is an affordable price.

                          I would describe Kellogg's Just Right as light muesli. Instead of lots of heavy osts this cereal is a mixture of wholewheat, corn and rice flakes along with succulent raisins, juicy dates and sliced almonds. Served with ice cold skimmed milk, this makes a great start to the day for those who are maybe watching their weight, or who just want a change from your usual breakfast fix.

                          My only gripe is that you have to remember to shake the packet before serving, otherwise all the delicious raisins and dates head to the bottom of the packet for the lucky person who has the final helping of the box!

                          As its' name suggests I find this cereal just right to start my day! It's crunchy and crisp, and sweet enough to eat without adding any sugar. If you are on a real health drive I guess weetabix is the best cereal to eat, containing the least amount of sugar than any other cereal. However, variety is the spice of life and Kellogs Just Right adds a little colour to my cereal cupboard.

                          Thank you for Reading! :o)

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                          16.05.2010 20:07
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                          Suicide- Murder- Cults- A good read.

                          Living on a Prayer By Sheila Quigley
                          *****************************
                          I got this book out from the library last week, not because I had read any reviews or indeed because I had read other books by the same author, but because it was the libraries book of the month. I like a good crime novel and the 'blurb' on the back made me think I would enjoy this one. Apparently this is the third novel in a series, but I read it with out having read the other two.

                          Plot out line.....
                          *************
                          The story is set during the week before Christmas in the North East of England, in and around the town of Houghton-le-Spring. The novel opens with a mothers worst nightmare coming true. Her son (Richard) - her only child - has been found hanging from a tree. The police think that it is suicide but his mother won't accept it, she cannot believe that her son would have any reason to kill himself. Detective Inspector Lorraine Hunt is heading up the case. She is unsure about the boys death and decides to pursue the case. She is certain that Richard's friends know more than they are saying about the events surrounding Richards death.

                          DI Hunt soon realises that the teenagers are clearly frightened about something - something that scares them more than the police. As Christmas fast approaches, Lorraine, increasingly overworked and under pressure, can't ignore her suspicions that there's more to Richard's death than meets the eye. When she discovers a religious cult in the town, and Richard's friends start going missing, her worst fears are confirmed. She must discover who is preying on the young people in Houghton-le-Spring. The big question is will she be able to stop them, before another vulnerable teenager is found dead?

                          The Characters...
                          **************
                          DI Lorraine Hunt is the main character and a believable police officer with a determined character. She has a sad past (to know more I guess you need to have read the previous books) but a new romance is in the air. She holds the plot together well and is a credible character.

                          Quigley puts together four friends who all face major issues ranging from obesity, self harm and victims of sexual and physical abuse. As readers you don't really get beyond the teenagers problems which I feel is a shame. However this is quite a fast paced novel and too much information and character building can slow the pace down.

                          Throughout the storyline Richard's mother is seen in various states of her grief. This starts of as believable, however in my opinion, her character mutates beyond control. Her character is not really necessary to the plot towards the end and yet she plays a major role.

                          Quigley paints a picture of Marcel as being the charismatic and attractive leader of the cult. I am unsure what it is about him that attracts the teenagers, but that I guess is the mystery that surrounds such cases. Vulnerable people can be drawn towards someone who shows interest in them and an understanding of what they are going through.

                          My Opinion....
                          ************
                          Sheila's writing style is 'gritty and earthy' and possesses a degree of realism. I struggled however with some of the dialogue mainly because of the 'Northern-ness' of the accent. I found myself re-reading conversations in an attempt to get the accent sounding right in my head and I found this a distraction!!

                          The main plot revolving around the four 'problem' teenagers being sucked into a religious cult was interesting. It made me wonder how much research the author had done into cults and how they prey on vulnerable people, those who desire to be loved and belong. (A chilling thought).

                          It was a good read from start to finish. I shall certainly look out for other titles by this author, but before I do, I need to brush up on my northern accent!

                          Thanks for reading! :o)

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                            21.04.2010 21:43
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                            Looking for a breed of dog that will fit in with a busy, growing family? Flatties are for you!

                            The Decision.
                            ************
                            Having decided that we were going to get a dog, the first major hurdle was which breed we should choose. My husband was adamant that if we had a dog - he wanted a proper one - not a toy. I didn't want something that was too big, it had to be able to suit family life, not malt too much, be good with kids.... the list goes on. I spent hours on the internet looking at different breeds. It was purely by accident that I came across the Flat coated Retriever. It was not a breed that I was familiar with. I was looking for puppies for sale locally and saw an advert for a litter of Flat coats in Cheltenham. They were a 'home breed' which was perfect for us as we don't want to show or breed. The advert specified that we could see both parents - it sounded perfect. I phoned the number and arranged to visit the litter.

                            The Breed
                            **********
                            Flat-Coats are gundogs. The Flat-Coated Retriever was originally bred as a working hunting retriever to fetch shot birds that landed in the water, although they apparently make natural gundogs in and out of the water. The dogs are black or liver-coloured.
                            They are not small dogs with the average male growing to between 59-61cm and weighing about 27-36kg (Bitches 56-59cm and 25-32kg). They have a lovely glossy coat with medium length hair which is feathered on the legs and tail. They are a lean looking dog with small ears that hang to the side of their head.

                            Any research will tell you of their gentle nature, and that they make great family pets. They are also known as the Peter Pan of the dog world as they stay so young looking and puppy like for many years. They are affectionate, intelligent and obedient.

                            Flat-coats are known to demonstrate their affectionate natures by frequently kissing their human friends. They also display an unusual habit with their canine friends: the "flat-coat kiss", where the dogs lick each other's mouths as a form of greeting.

                            This is probably not the breed for you if you want a guard dog - they tend to be friendly to everyone and therefore make rubbish watchdogs!

                            Flat-Coats have pleanty of energy and need lots of exercise and stimulation. They can have a stubborn streak and need consistent training.


                            The Pick of the litter
                            *****************

                            We were the first to view the gorgeous balls of fluff - 5 girls and a boy, all black. We saw mum and dad who both greeted us amiably. Dad was quite large, but mum was a lovely size and both looked the picture of health with beautifully thick glossy coats. I think we were all smitten, but how to choose? We asked lots of questions and picked up all the puppies. We knew we wanted a girl so that ruled the boy out. By process of elimination we eventually picked one of the pups, her tummy was marked with nail varnish and we left her with mum until she was eight weeks old.

                            As a Pedigree dog you can pay up to around £700 for a Flattie pup. The puppy we bought is not kennel club registered and this meant she was considerably cheaper.


                            Our Puppy!
                            **********
                            We read all we could about Flat-Coats before we picked up our puppy who after much discussion (arguing really - the kids didn't like our name choices and we struggled with theirs!) was named Maddy. 'My Profile' picture shows Maddy the weekend we brought her home at 8 weeks old. She has now more than doubled in size and at 20 weeks is very much part of our family.

                            She settled very quickly - we had two nights of crying and then she managed to go through the night. After having her for a month she was pretty reliable with the house training. We are able to leave her for 3 -4 hours at a time on the days that I work. She seems to learn quickly and really does love to kiss us!! If she sees another dog she spends all her time 'kissing' them too!!

                            Since having her we have spent more time together as a family, going out for walks, playing in the garden or just running around the house playing 'chase'! It is so lovely to hear the kids laughing. The TV has been switched off. It's been great.

                            I have read that Flat-coats love to please, but may be slightly more difficult to train than Golden Retrievers and Labradors. Apparently they are easily bored with repetitive training techniques and can exhibit a streak of willfulness at times. We have experienced the willfulness on walks. She is fine if you go out in a group, but if one of us takes her out for a quick stroll around the block she often decides to sit down and won't budge! Yesterday she lay down and it took me 10 minutes to get her going again!! I was determind to win. I think I need even smellier treats to entice her along.

                            We have just started puppy training classes so that we are consistent in how we handle her. She is learning quickly, but finds it hard to listen when there is lots going on. She's very exhuberant around small children. Its just like having an under five year old in the house again! Fortunately she is very quiet - she hardly ever barks. If she does, it tends to be at an object, for example the broom can usually get her going!!

                            We have loved every minute of having a puppy. She is a constant source of amusement and fun. I am sure we will have our frustrations, but so far she has been brilliant. Flat Coats are an excellent choice for a family pet.

                            Thank you for reading. :o)

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                            • The Blind Side (DVD) / DVD / 104 Readings / 102 Ratings
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                              28.03.2010 22:34
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                              Enjoy!!

                              The Blind Side


                              On an impulse, my other half and I decided to go to the cinema last night. We don't really enjoy the same types of movies and one of us has to compromise (usually him!!). I like 'happy' films or thrillers that contain enough tension to keep you guessing, but not too much that you are hiding behind your scarf.

                              Scanning through the 'what's on list' I came across The Blind Side. Obviously I was aware that Sandra Bullock had received an Oscar for best actress in her role as the leading lady of the film. However I had no idea what it was about. I watched a trailer for the film, saw that it had American Football in it (that would suit himself) and it didn't look violent. Something we might both enjoy. We booked the early showing - sensible thinking as we are soooo old (losing an hour due to clocks going forward) we can't cope with a lack of sleep!

                              The Cast

                              * Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy
                              * Tim McGraw as Sean Tuohy
                              * Kathy Bates as Miss Sue
                              * Quinton Aaron as Michael "Big Mike" Oher
                              * Lily Collins as Collins Tuohy
                              * Jae Head as Sean "S.J." Tuohy, Jr.
                              * Ray McKinnon as Coach Cotton
                              Directed by John Lee Hancock

                              The Plot (in brief)

                              The Blind Side is based on the true story of American Footballer and Baltimore Ravens offensive left tackle Michael Oher ( played by Quinton Aaron). We soon learn that Michael, an African American, (17 years old) grew up in a 'rough' area of Memphis, Tennessee which is aptly named "Hurt Village". He has a hulking, oversized frame, and this is his story and it begins with him being virtually homeless. His mother is a drug addict and he has no father. He is sleeping on the couches of people he knows. Life with foster families has not worked out. Luckily, thanks to a school janitor, and a school sports coach's wish for a player the size of Michael, he ends up being enrolled in a private Christian school where the Tuohy children go. 'Big Mike' is a quiet, shy person who is befriended by S.J. Tuohy (Jae Head), the youngest Tuohy whose connection to Michael starts the ball rolling. On a cold night, after a school Thanks giving event, the Tuohy's spot Michael walking down the road to the school gym, where he is sleeping rough. Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) with her husband and kids pick Michael up and take him home.

                              Michael is accepted by the Tuohy family, who want to help him fulfil his great sporting potential. They provide him with a loving home and even a tutor in an attempt to help boost his school grades so he can play football.


                              My opinion.


                              The film is 128 minutes long and I enjoyed all of it. It may be a bit sickly sweet, but you have to remember that it is based on a true story. There was lots about American Football that I didn't really understand but that didn't matter. I also didn't realise that some of the Football coaches in the film were the real thing and not actors.

                              It made me laugh - the character of S.J. Tuohy played by Jae Head was hilarious. The cinema was packed (sold out) and judging by the volume of laughter the rest of the audience agreed with me. It also made me shed a tear (not sob) during the more poigniant moments.

                              The acting was solid throughout. Oscar worthy? I'm not sure, but Sandra Bulock, plays the southern soccer Mom well. I like to watch a film where good things happen to people and this really is one, showing the 'All American Dream'. Poor boy makes it good despite great adversity.

                              "I think that what you are doing by opening up your home to him, why you're changing that boys life." Leannes friend
                              "No, he's changed mine." Leanne Tuohy


                              The plot moves along at a reasonable pace and is very watchable. It has the feel good factor. My husband enjoyed it too, although I'm sure he wouldn't choose to watch it again, whereas I would. It has a 12A rating although I'm not sure why. It seemed like a good family film to me.

                              The credits show Photos of the real Michael Oher and Tuohy family which is a really nice way to end the film as you feel as though you know a little about them and their lives.


                              An enjoyable hour and a half!

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                                23.03.2010 22:15
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                                A bar of chocolate packed with toffee bits and spicy apple - yuk!

                                I am a sucker for all things Cadbury,so when I saw this new line of chocolate flavours I just had to try them. On a visit to Sainsburys I spied the bars for £1. I chose the Toffee Apple variety. The bar is described as 'Milk chocolate with dried spiced apple chunks with toffee pieces' Chocolate and toffee , to me, are the perfect combination. The addition of apple sounded interesting.

                                The 140g bar is wrapped in the trade mark cadbury purple foil. The picture shows a delicious mouth watering chunk of chocolate surrounded by apple pieces and tofee bits. Each bar contains 495Kcal, 24.8g of Fat 24.8g and 61.5g of carbs.

                                I saved the chocolate for a whole week before I gingerly peeled back the wrapper. The scent that reached my nostrils was firstly the cadbury chocolate ( a good sign) followed by a slightly spicy aroma. I broke off a row. It looked like Cadburys. I ate the first square. The chocolate was most definitely Cadburys, with the slightly cloying texture. However the addition of the crunchy toffee bits added a new dimension. I couldn't actually tase the flavour of the toffee, but I knew it was there as it was incredibly hard. It was the spicy apple though that prevaded my taste buds. Unfortunately it was not a flavour that I particulary liked. It was in many ways overpowering as it took away from the chocolate taste.

                                I was very disappointed with this chocolate bar. I did finish it, but it took me a week which is a sure sign that I didn't really like it. I am the woman who can eat bars of chocolates in a matter of minutes! Apple is not really a fruit that you associate with chocolate, especially spicy apple. I can understand the link with the toffee, but apple is a leap too far.

                                There are two other flavours in this range, but I think I will give them a miss.

                                Stick to Cadburys Dairy Milk.

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