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steedandpeel

steedandpeel
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Member since: 13.12.2008

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    • E.L.F Minty Lip Gloss / Make Up / 69 Readings / 68 Ratings
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      15.07.2010 21:45
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      Worth it for £3.50, but not great!

      I've recently made a couple of orders from Elf (www.eyeslipsface.co.uk). Elf are a cosmetics brand who are only available from their website. I've seen lots of reviews on their products on Dooyoo and on YouTube, and they seem to be notoriously hit or miss. However, as they are sold at such reasonable prices, I thought I would try them out and see if I could sniff out a few gems.

      Elf Minty Lip Gloss is from the more expensive Studio Line product range. These products are generally priced at £3.50, so are still very reasonable, even when compared to the cheapest ranges in Boots or Superdrug. I chose the colour in 'Boston', which is a reddish/rusty colour with glittery gold flakes. I thought it would work very well over the top of my new Mac 'Thrills' lipstick, a lipstick that I'm thrilled with!

      The lip gloss comes in a clear plastic tube with a matt black lid. The packaging is nothing special, and looks relatively cheap, which is unsurprising for £3.50. From the outside, the lip gloss is a very pretty colour, which is quite dark and shimmery. There is a white sponge wand fixed to the inside of the lid for applying.

      I first tried applying this on top of my lipstick. I was instantly very pleased with the product. It made my lips look even more shimmery than the lipstick finish and at once gave a lovely minty feeling to my lips which was very enjoyable. I wasn't sure about what the point of a 'minty' lip gloss was, but I liked it! However, after wearing it for a while the minty taste does tend to fade, and a sweetish aftertaste begins to appear. Although this isn't unpleasant, it's not minty and the sweetness does tend to last quite a while, and can interfere with the taste of any food you are eating, so be warned.

      In terms of staying power, the Minty Lip Gloss lasts a relatively long time. Obviously, like every other lip gloss I've ever tried, it doesn't really survive a meal, although it has lasted after coffees and other drinks. However, if you don't eat or drink anything, I do find it tends to last a pretty long time.

      Another advantage to this product is that it passes the 'sticky' test. It doesn't feel at all sticky, and rogue gusts of wind aren't going to mean that all your hair is stuck to your lips. I've used more expensive brands where this is common, so this is a great benefit.

      However, one criticism of the product is, although it looks very dark in the tube, it is actually very lightly pigmented. The colour does give a slightly pinky wash when used on bare lips and retains its shimmer. However, it is nothing like the luscious sparkly red in the tube. I've decided that it's a great product for a top coat to lipstick, but not on its own. By the way, it doesn't seem to matter which colour lipstick you use - the pigment is so light, it doesn't cover up the lipstick colour. I only bought one colour, but it would be interesting to try a number of different colours to see if they are all the same!

      To conclude, I like this product and it has some advantages, most importantly, it's not sticky. At £3.50, I would buy it again. However, it's not the greatest product in the world, and the sweetish aftertaste and lack of colour are definite disadvantages.

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        11.07.2010 19:07
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        Great for crease-free eyes!

        I've always had a problem with my eye shadow creasing - no matter how much I conceal and powder my eye lids, within a couple of hours, the eye shadow forms a really unattractive clump along my crease line. I've got pretty oily skin, so it's no wonder really. A few (generally more expensive) eye shadows have better staying power than others, but by the end of the day, it's the same out story - a horrible clumpy, creasy mess. This isn't a great look, especially when you're trying to be professional at work.

        I'd heard good things about the Urban Decay Primer Potion, that it would be a miracle solution to the problem. I decided to buy it about a year ago, but have found it surprisingly difficult to get hold of. It's been sold out at the Urban Decay counter at Boots and at Debenhams when I've remembered to look for it. I'm not sure if that's because it's such a popular product, or whether the shops have just been bad at restocking it. However, I finally managed to track some down, buying it for around £10 on Ebay. Doing a bit of research today, I've seen it for sale from around £9-£13 on various websites, so a pricier product, but not a complete budget buster.

        The Primer Potion comes in curvaceous, light purple tube with a silvery grey coloured lid. Inside is 10ml of a very light coloured, odourless liquid, with a 'wand' attached to the lid to put it on your eyes. The wand is bent at an angle - I'm not sure if it is supposed to be like this, or whether mine is just broken.

        The wand doesn't pick up much of the product when you take it out of the tube - this is actually a good thing, as not much is needed. One wand-full gives me enough product to cover both of my eyelids and under eye area, so it's definitely a case of less is more. You should use this sparingly rather than plastering it on. The product appears to be heavy in consistency, but it's actually very light; the small amount on a wand does totally cover both eyes. In terms of colour, it dries to almost transparent, making it apparently suitable for all skin types. I've got very pale skin myself so I don't know whether it would really work on black or Asian skin tones, but I would think it would, given the transparent finish.

        Once you've dabbed it on, and rubbed it in (I just use my fingers - it's not necessary to use any fancy sponges or applicators), you can start using your eye shadows. I've found that it makes almost no difference to their application, pigment strength or blend-ability. I have heard that the colouring of eye shadows is supposed to be enhanced by the primer, but I've not found this myself.

        The real test of this product is whether it works and prevents creases. I have to say that it definitely does. I work in an office without air-conditioning, and before the Primer Potion, my eye shadow would have been creased before morning coffee. However, despite the wonderfully hot summer we've been having, my makeup (eye makeup that is) lasts all day. When I come to remove it in the evening, it hasn't even budged - not a crease to be seen. I've tried it out with very cheap brands and more expensive makeup and it has worked equally well with both, so I'm more than impressed!

        Before I did this review, I wanted to really test it out on a particularly difficult day. I've actually had two very busy, very hot days in the past few weeks - one where I had to travel to London to attend a meeting and several different sites, which involved 5 tube journeys and quite a lot of walking in the hot sun, wearing a suit and lugging a briefcase. Although I was very ruffled and sweaty, my eye makeup was still perfect at the end of the day, so it's a big tick to the Primer Potion in this test. The other was a very busy day - a graduation to attend in the morning in one part of the country (not where we live) and a wedding in the afternoon in another part of the country (also not where we live). This involved a very early start and lots of train journeys, finishing with lots of drinking and dancing - it was also another hot day! I was wearing a cream shadow on this day which is notoriously creasy - but again, my eyes were still un-creased when I wearily took my makeup off sometime in the early hours of the next day. I've also gone running and to the gym after work and even if the rest of my face has melted after these exertions, my eyes have not.

        Therefore, in terms of performance, I'm giving this a 5 star rating - it really works, even in very hot weather and after exercise. It is also quite long-lasting, so you don't need to constantly buy a new tube. However, I am going to knock a star off the overall rating. Firstly for the price, as it is more expensive than I would like to pay. Secondly, I do have a gripe with this product, and that is the packaging. It is really low quality, and the outer coating of the tube started flaking away about a week after I started using it. This has lead to small silver/grey/purple flecks getting onto my fingers and then onto my eyes. They are not so bad that they totally coat my eyes, but I do spend a few seconds picking them off my fingers and eyelids once I've used the Primer Potion, and then having to wash my hands before I start applying anything else. This is annoying and slows down my makeup routine, which is not good as I'm usually in a rush in the mornings. It wouldn't stop me buying this product again, as the product itself is so impressive. However, it is annoying, especially when you pay a premium price for a premium product.

        All in all, it's a great product that really works. I'll definitely be buying this again (although I'll shop around online to get the best price).

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          28.02.2010 17:54
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          A great, inexpensive make-up product that is amazingly good value for money

          Bourjois is a brand of make-up which can be bought in most branches of Boots. Although I'm not a die-hard fan of their range, they do have a few products which I particularly like. Also, apparently, their products are made by Chanel, but their prices are much lower (in the low to mid-range bracket), so if you're a fan of expensive make-up, but on a budget, it might be worth giving them a try.

          I have very fair skin, so I like to use a blusher everyday to give me a bit of colour. I've tried bronzers, but they usually look awful if you are very pale, so I much prefer a rosy tint. Since I bought the Bourjois Little Round Pot Blush, it's quickly become my favourite powder blusher of all time, beating more expensive brands I've used in the past.

          The blusher comes in a little round pot (as the name suggests) that looks really cute. The pot is made from hard plastic and is very hardwearing and durable. The pot flips up and also closes securely. I've had mine for over a year and both the hinge and closing mechanism are still working well. I've often found that the packaging on cheaper beauty products falls apart long before the make-up is finished, so this is very much in Bourjois's favour. Inside the pot is a little mirror which is a very nice touch for a product at this price. The blusher also comes with a small applicator brush. However, I always use a large, professional brush to put on my blusher, as I prefer to use blusher to give me a bit of colour, rather than to define my face, so I've never used it (and can't find it to test it out for this review). I would say the brush is handy if you don't already have a blusher brush, but I expect many people would already have one. The blusher itself is in the bottom of the pot in an attractive concave shape.

          Application of the blusher is simple, just dust your brush with the powder and apply to the cheeks (and other areas) as desired. I've found that the Little Round Pot Blush is very easy to apply and to blend in so you don't get the "Aunt Sally" cheek look. If you did accidentally put on too much, just some blending will help to remove the excess. The powder itself is fine and loads up well onto the brush before easy application. I've experimented applying the colour with my fingers in the name of research for this review - the blush feels very soft and silky and can be applied onto the cheeks with an excellent finish this way too. The blush also has a very subtle floral scent to it. This is completely unnecessary, but a nice little luxury. To be honest, I can only smell it when I'm applying the powder, never on my skin - I don't need scented cheeks anyway!

          I've found that the blusher is very long lasting on my face. I usually apply it on top of my foundation, but underneath my face powder to ensure it stays put. I can usually still see the blusher when I come to remove my make-up, which indicates how long it lasts for. I would also add that as well as lasting well on your face, it also lasts a long time in the pot. I've had mine over a year and it doesn't even look as if I've used any of it - the blusher has retained its concave shape! I know that you are supposed to throw out make-up after a certain length of time... but I clean my brushes regularly, and it's a blusher, not an eye pencil or mascara, so I really don't see the harm in keeping it! I've certainly had no ill-effects for using it for this long. I think it just makes this product even better!

          The blusher comes in a range of colours. I have the "Brune" shade, which, despite its name, is actually very pinky and suitable for my pale skin. It is worth going to a shop to look at the shades available to choose the one which suits you. The shade that I have is quite matt, but there are more glittery shades to pick from if you'd prefer.

          I usually buy my make-up in Boots, and this is where I bought this from at around £6.50. Looking at the Boots website, these are currently on offer at £5.99, which is a pretty reasonable price for an extremely high quality product that lasts such a long time. If you think about it, a really cheap blusher is around £3-£4 and they last nowhere near as long as this one has, or are as good quality. So I think it's a great bargain!

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        • 17 Pressed Powder / Make Up / 73 Readings / 71 Ratings
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          09.02.2010 13:47
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          I think I need to find an alternative to this...

          I've been using this powder for years without thinking too much about it, so I thought it was time I considered it critically and wrote a review.

          When it comes to my make-up I'm quite set in my ways. I almost always use the same products, particularly for foundation, concealer and powder and this is one which I always buy. I have classic combination skin, with an oily T-zone and drier cheeks, chin and forehead, so I always need a bit of powder to stop the shine. I think I've been using this product as my powder of choice since I was about 15 (half my life ago)!

          The powder comes in a blue compact which usefully contains a mirror in the lid and also has a sponge applicator. I find that almost without fail, the compact has eventually fallen apart at the hinge before I've got to the end of the powder - and I usually just leave it in my bathroom, I rarely carry it around with me. On a couple of occasions, I've taken it in my make up kit for a few days away, and it has broken in my bag, which has caused other items of my make up to break up the powder leading to everything in my bag being covered in powder and needing a wash! Even without taking it travelling, as you get towards the end of the powder it usually breaks up and you just have to throw it away, so although it's cheap, the packaging and design of the powder is not great quality.

          I would also recommend that you never use the cheap applicator sponge that comes with it - it is rubbish! I personally prefer to use and would recommend a good quality powder brush to apply powder, even though it is pressed powder, so I just throw away the sponge. It certainly doesn't add anything to the product's appeal.

          As for the colour, I use the 'neutral' shade on my fair skin. I've accidentally bought the other shades in the past and they are way too dark and orangey for me!

          In terms of application, I find that it goes on OK using a brush. However, I've tried it with good quality sponges and it has a tendency to look too cakey and dark. Even with a brush, it is easy to overdo the powder and you may have to blend it in. It does works to set your foundation - for a bit. However, it is limited in its staying power - usually, after a couple of hours it just stops working and the shine breaks through. As I never carry it around with me, I just end up with shiny skin, which defeats the point of the product! It also has limited impact on blemishes (which I suffer from). It certainly doesn't give you a flawless finish. I also find it can be a bit drying on my skin which isn't a good look.

          So, after giving this a less than perfect review, I find myself asking why am I still using it? Well I suppose I've been stuck in a rut with my powder for years and didn't really see the point of forking out extra for powder - the 17 powder costs around £3.50. However, after reading a couple of bad reviews from other Dooyooers and thinking critically about how this product works for me, I think I might start to look elsewhere for a better quality product. This is one of the great benefits of Dooyoo - before I often just used a product out of habit and got used to grumbles without analysing it. I still don't want to spend more than £5 for powder, but if anyone has any suggestions I'd be delighted if you let me know!

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            08.02.2010 23:11
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            The Edinburgh Police Force is familiar territory, but it's not the same without Rebus

            I'm a massive fan of Ian Rankin and own the complete collection of all the Rebus books. Since Rebus was 'retired' in 2007, I've bought Rankin's two new books in the hope that the characters would be as enigmatic as Rebus. I really enjoyed 2008's Doors Open, with a fast paced story and a cheeky nod to 'you know who' (Rebus). As such, I was very much looking forward to 2009's The Complaints.

            The book is set in familiar territory to Ian Rankin fans. The main protagonist, Malcolm Fox is an Edinburgh cop - sound familiar to anyone? However, unlike Rebus, Malcolm Fox works for the Complaints, the department which investigates other cops. Fox is asked to assist the Chop Shop (who investigate online paedophilia) who have evidence that a police officer has been involved in child porn. Rankin throws a couple of grenades into the plot mix including the murder or Fox's sister's partner and the possible suicide of a property developer and Fox is soon suspecting that he has been set up.

            The plotting is complex and moves along at a fast pace, set against a backdrop of contemporary Edinburgh in the grip of the recession and property slump and disrupted by work on the new tram system; it certainly is a tale of the time. Ian Rankin demonstrates his depth of knowledge of the city and its darker underbelly in the way that will be familiar to readers of his previous works. At this point, I should admit that I have been on holiday to Edinburgh just to follow the Rebus trail - I often read Ian Rankin's books with an A-Z map so I can follow the characters' progress through the city. The descriptions of the ever-evolving city are evocative that even if you have never visited, you feel that you know it well.

            Similarly, Rankin's knowledge of Police procedure is top notch. The world of the modern Edinburgh Police Force is utterly believable, populated by both optimists, reformers and dyed in the wool dinosaurs it feels like the author has a detailed knowledge of the real organisation which he undoubtedly does.

            Where this book lacks, however, is in the character of Malcolm Fox. As a long term fan of Rankin, I cannot help but compare Fox to Rebus, which is a problem. Rebus may have been a middle-aged, alcoholic who cannot have a functioning relationship with a woman, but he was charismatic and just a little bit sexy. Malcolm Fox has some similarities, in that he is divorced, lives alone and has obviously had issues with alcohol in the past (he's now teetotal). However, I just didn't take to the character in the way I did to Rebus or find him all that believable. For instance, Rankin frequently makes reference to Fox wearing braces - I just don't understand this characterisation for a protagonist who is supposed to be in his 40s. I also couldn't understand what motivated this character, particularly in the area of policing in which he works. I also felt that the minor characters, especially the women, are also one-dimensional and don't add much to the story.

            I do think that Rankin is missing Rebus as a familiar character to return to. I'm unsure whether The Complaints is the start of a new series of books following Malcolm Fox, but I hope it isn't. Fox doesn't carry the story in the way in which Rebus did - he's more of a Rebus-lite.

            For all the flaws with characterisation, I did enjoy this book. Unfortunately, just not as much as I'd hoped. Having set the mould, I'm not sure that a series of Fox books would be as successful as the Rebus series. I would probably read them, and enjoy them to a point. However, although there were some good elements to this book overall I was disappointed.

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              17.01.2010 20:11
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              A must-see season for all Sopranos fans

              I'm a recent convert to the Sopranos, having missed all of the episodes when they were on TV. However, over the past year, I've slowly been watching the show from the beginning and have just finished watching the last two seasons, so I thought I'd review season 5. I don't really want to outline any of the characters in this review, as if you haven't seen the first 4 seasons, then you should go start at season 1 - this isn't a show you can dip in and out of. However, the show is basically about Tony Soprano, the boss of the New Jersey Mafia family. He's a complex man with many sides including his family life with wife and children, his business dealings with other wise guys, and health problems including panic attacks and depression, for which he is receiving therapy. Tony is also a cold blooded killer and is not adverse to a spot of violence.

              ---Synopsis (POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT)---

              Season 5 starts where season 4 left off - Tony and his wife Carmela are separated and he is no longer living in the family home. Throughout the season Tony and Carmela struggle with their relationship and problems continue with their son AJ. At the beginning of the season a number of new characters are introduced when gangsters who were imprisoned 20 years before are all released at the same time. These include Tony's cousin Tony Blundetto (played by Steve Buscemi) and Phil Leotardo who is part of the New York crime family. After a few incidents with Dr Melfi, Tony once again continues his therapy to help with his panic attacks and depression. Most of the old characters are developed further including Pauli, Sylvio, Chrissie and Adriana. Watch out for dramatic storylines involving Tony, Christopher and Adriana particularly as the season develops.

              ---Opinion---

              In my opinion, The Sopranos is definitely one of the best TV programmes ever made, in terms of its production, writing and acting. You get the feeling that the script writers knew where they were going with the story right from the beginning of the series and as the season develops, the tension mounts as seemingly insignificant actions from earlier seasons take on a greater importance.

              The actors are all of a high quality (many of them had previously starred in Goodfellas). The long-standing characters are all well-developed into their roles by this seasons which gives the storylines a chance to develop them further. All the characters are believable (if you accept that people are capable of this level of violence)!

              Where the show succeeds is making you emphasise and care for Tony, his family and members of The Family, despite their terrible deeds. Tony is basically a stressed out businessman with a demanding job and family and feels the pressure. Despite his violent streak, he is a compassionate man and struggles with his cousin Tony B's increasingly erratic behaviour, putting his family loyalty above the problems that will arise if he fails to take care of business. However, in the end, The Family, especially those who have been loyal do come first and Tony will do what he has to, to keep himself as Boss and the business afloat.

              The Sopranos doesn't patronise its viewers. Much like The Wire, not everything is explained; characters come and go and you are sometimes not sure who they are, where their allegiances lie and what their agenda is. In this respect, it relies on the intelligence of viewers (sometimes with the help of Wikipedia) to place connections between the characters and their actions. Writing like this also puts you in the place of Tony. The viewer is not sure what agenda some of the characters have and neither is he. Quite frequently, a character who Tony trusts is outed as an informant to the Feds, at least to the viewer, if not Tony.

              One thing that is slightly lacking from this season is Carmela's lack of outrageous Versace. The season is set in the mid-noughties and her clothing style seems to have calmed down when compared with previous seasons. Her house is still decked out in over-the-top ornate furniture, but her outfits are far too tame!

              One of the best episodes of the season (if not the whole series) is Long Term Parking. To describe this episode is impossible without spoilers, so SPOILER ALERT! The episode's plot is about Adriana's dealings with the Feds, which finally comes to a head and she confesses all to Christopher, suggesting that they escape a new life somewhere else. This tests Christopher's loyalty almost to breaking point - is he loyal to The Family or to his fiancé? Ultimately, it is Adriana who pays the price for her own disloyalty, and she is swiftly executed by Sylvio. This episode really brings home the lengths that members of Caso Nostro will go to in terms of violence. It is presented in an utterly believable way and it's only when Adriana realises what is about to happen that the viewer realises it as well. It's a suspenseful episode and a chilling reminder of how cold-blooded the characters can be when they want to be. This episode also makes effective use of dream sequences, something that is a bit hit-or-miss in the series as a whole, but works well here.

              The overall story arc of the seasons is that there are cracks beginning to show in The Family and with their usually cooperative dealings with the New York Family. Loyalties are tested and loose cannons are dispatched. Season 5 is definitely a return to form for a show which I thought was slightly losing its way in season 4 and it is a must for all Sopranos fans! All in all, this is one of the best seasons of one of the top 5 dramas ever made.

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                17.01.2010 01:32
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                Pizza deliver through a great website

                Dominos Pizza

                Whenever my boyfriend and I order a takeaway pizza, we always order from Domino,s. After ordering one tonight, I thought that they were worthy of a review!

                ---Shops---

                Domino's Pizza have takeaway pizza shops all around the country where you can order pizzas either for collection or have them delivered to your home. I always get my pizzas delivered and haven't been into one of their shops for years, so this review will be reflecting my experiences of their delivery rather than collection service. Typically, 3 out of 4 of their orders is for delivery, so this is the most popular method of getting your pizza!

                ---Ordering Your Pizza---

                You can ring up Domino's and place your order over the phone. However, I always make mine over the internet as you can check you have ordered the right pizza toppings and size without having to talk to anyone. You can also pay by debit and credit card which means you don't need to find the cash to pay the delivery driver.

                Their website, www.dominos.co.uk is very well laid out and easy to use. You simply enter your postcode on arriving on the site, and Domino's will let you know where your nearest store is and if they deliver to you. You register your details when you first sign up and then just login every time you order a pizza; your address details etc are stored. It's good that Domino's don't send loads of marketing emails to fill up your inbox (I probably ticked the box asking them not to).

                You can then pick your order in terms of starters, pizzas, desserts and drinks. Picking your pizza topping, crust and size is very easy. The pizza menu has clear photos of all the different types of pizza available, with drop down menus to choose the size and price. There are also options to have more than one type of topping on the same pizza, or you can totally customise the pizza as you want.

                Paying is quick, just entering your card details as you would for any other internet purchase. As a nice touch, the final confirmation button is labelled 'Feed Me'. Domino's then send you an instant email to confirm that your order is on its way, so you don't need to worry whether your order has gone through or not.

                One little tip I have discovered today is that Domino's are on Quidco. I went onto their website through Quidco and now have 50p tracked from my £20 order - it all helps!

                ---Delivery---

                I live about a mile away from the nearest Domino's shop and every order I've placed has arrived in under half an hour, even when we once ordered seven pizzas for a party. During the heavy snow last February, I didn't want to take my car out to the supermarket, so we ordered a pizza as we had no food in - it arrived about a quarter of an hour later!

                I've never had a problem with delivery in all the years I've been using Domino's. It's always been quick, the pizza has always been piping hot and all the drivers have been polite and courteous. If you've ordered online, you also don't need to pay them!

                ---The Pizza---

                The pizzas themselves are pretty tasty. I usually have the Extravaganza pizza and it has always been of the same quality. Obviously, if you're ordering pizza from a large, multi-national chain you would expect a very standardised product and quality every time you order, and Domino's have not failed in providing this in my opinion. You can definitely buy nicer tasting pizzas, cheaper pizzas and more healthy takeaway food, but Domino's do provide a nice product that is consistently of high quality.

                A dip is included with every pizza for dipping those crusts. Usually it is a garlic and herb dip. However, we've also had one with pineapple and a bbq dip on occasions - I suppose it depends on the pizza you've ordered.

                ---Price---

                I find that takeaways in general are very expensive and Domino's are certainly no exception! Clocking in at £14.99 for a large pizza, ordering 2 pizzas will set you back nearly £30!!! However, they do frequently have special offers and promotions which can significantly reduce the cost. For instance, they are currently running an offer where any pizza is £9.99, knocking a third off the price of a large pizza. I almost never order from Domino's unless there is a good offer on, as they are incredibly expensive otherwise. Even when there is an offer running, it is still a very expensive option - you can easily get a meal in a restaurant for cheaper than £9.99.

                ---Health---

                Pizza is not a healthy option. Domino's do offer the option of reduced fat cheese; however, that won't really make any difference to the healthiness of the product, what with all that dough and meat and everything. As such, this definitely isn't a product to be eaten regularly. We maybe order a takeaway from Domino's every 2-3 months, so it is a treat when we are feeling particularly lazy or unhealthy. I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a regular meal.

                ---Summary---

                Overall, I've been impressed with Domino's service. Their website is very quick and easy to use and avoids the need to talk to anyone! Their delivery is very speedy and their pizzas have always been of high quality. However, they are very expensive and not at all healthy, so if you do decide to try it out, save it as an expensive and fatty treat!

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                  16.01.2010 22:23
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                  Some people may want to get Far Away from this perfume!

                  I was recently sorting through my box of beauty products and found an old half-bottle of Avon's Far Away perfume which I've had kicking around for years. I remembered loving the smell of this when I was in my early 20s, but I'd totally forgotten I'd ever had it! I intrepidly decided I would revisit the scent and write up the results in a review.

                  From looking on the Avon website, the bottle that I have appears to be of a very similar design to the current bottle. It is a glass bottle with a bright pink and black lid, with a black tassel decorating the neck of the bottle - I've no idea what the purpose of the tassel is! Looking at the bottle now, I think it has a very dated 1980s design, and not in a retro-cool way. It simply looks out of date. So I wouldn't give it full marks for stylishness. The bottle which I have is pretty old, and so comes with a stopper lid rather than a spray - I'm not sure if the version you can buy now has a spray, but it would be handy.

                  After opening the lid, I took a sniff of the perfume liquid. It didn't smell particularly strongly, but there was a chemically whiff to it. My first thoughts were that perhaps the perfume had gone off, having been sat in my cupboard for so long. However, once I'd applied it to my skin, the smell was totally different to the smell in the bottle, and exactly like I remembered it! The Avon website states that the smell is "tantalising blend of exotic blooms and Oriental Sandalwood", but I would find it hard to describe the smell as this. Although I can detect a trace of Sandalwood as top notes to the perfume, I don't think the smell is floral at all. The main aroma is at very sweet, although this sweetness slightly lessens during the day and I can smell the wood notes more.

                  My experience of using this perfume, all those years ago and today, is that at first it is very strong and overpowering with the sweet fragrance and this strength lasts a long time, before the fragrance begins to calm down, with the sandalwood notes coming through. When I first used this perfume, I loved the strength of it, and would regularly wear it for everyday use. However, now I'm older (and feel less need to be extrovert), I found it was far too sweet, overpowering and cloying for me. I certainly would never wear it during the day, and even for a night out when I wore it, I was very conscious of powerfulness of the smell. I certainly wouldn't wear it out for a meal as it would mask the taste of the food - you certainly couldn't describe this as a subtle scent! I wore it out on a cold night, wrapped up in a scarf and coat, and I can still smell it on the scarf a week later!

                  In keeping with the packaging, I wouldn't describe the smell as "modern". Whilst it has an appeal, it does have a dated fragrance that probably wouldn't appeal to a lot of women used to contemporary designer perfumes (and cheaper imitations).

                  One good thing I can report about this smell is that it hasn't degraded or lost its power in the decade or so since I last used it. I also don't think that the strength of the smell has intensified either, just that my personal tastes as to perfume strength have altered in the intervening years! So if you don't wear perfume very often, it would last you a long time without spoiling.

                  Saying all that, to some degree I do still like the fragrance, although it certainly wouldn't make it to the top of my favourite smells. I notice on the Avon website that there are other products in the Far Away range that may have a slightly subtler scent - perhaps I may invest in a moisturiser at some point. However, I don't think I'm going to get through the rest of the bottle, as it's just too strong for me now.

                  Far Away is costs £12 at Avon, although it is currently on a buy one get one free offer. I certainly wouldn't recommend you buy it without trying it out first, as the strength could really put you off.

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                    13.01.2010 10:00
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                    A great, luxurious body wash - a perfect treat!

                    I was given a gift box of The Sanctuary products for Christmas and this body wash is the second product that I tried. Having said that, I've used this product before and was really impressed the first time, so I was looking forward to using it again.

                    The body wash, which is part of the Spa Essentials range, has an orange-gel like consistency, studded with tiny little orange balls suspended in the gel, which look like really tiny bath oil capsules. On reading the information on the label, it is revealed that these are sesame and jojoba moisturising capsules which are supposed to "burst on the skin to help leave it feeling soft, silky, smooth and subtly scented". Other ingredients are fragment spices and essentials oils. However, other than the jojoba and sesame, I couldn't work out what other spices and oils are included - the ingredients list has all the chemical names.

                    My favourite part of The Sanctuary products is their gorgeous, distinctive smell which is apparent throughout all the Spa Essentials range, including this body wash. The smell is a delicious, warm and spicy aroma which is very distinctive. By infusing all their products with the same smell, this allows you to layer it by using more than one product. However, even just using the body wash on its own will leave your bathroom smelling fantastic and leave a subtle scent on your skin that lasts a surprisingly long time.

                    I always use a shower puff when I use any type of shower gel or body wash as you need a lot less of the product and it helps to create a foam. As ever, I used a shower puff with this product and was very pleased with the results. I'd previously been using Original Source shower gel which I had considered had a good foam. However, The Sanctuary Body Wash created about twice as many bubbles from the same amount of shower gel, which was great - either it is really foamy, or the Original Source gel wasn't as foamy as I thought! Anyway, the foam created from one small squirt of the body wash on a puff was plenty to allow you to cleanse thoroughly, with the fantastic smell filling the shower.

                    Some of The Sanctuary products have strong ingredients which can slightly irritate my skin and give it a tingly sensation. This body wash is one of them. I don't dislike the sensation, as it feels like I'm getting a really good clean. However, if you do suffer from very sensitive skin, I would avoid this product as it may make any irritations worse. I would not use it after shaving my legs and I try never to get any on my face, where my skin is the most sensitive.

                    I didn't detect the jojoba and sesame moisturising capsules bursting onto my skin whilst I was cleansing. However, I would assume they did because once I'd finished showering, my skin did feel quite soft and moisturised, whilst at the same time feeling clean and fresh (and a bit tingly). If you were in a hurry, you could probably get away with not moisturising, but I wouldn't say that the shower gel is a substitute for a good moisturiser, particularly not in the cold weather we're having at the moment.

                    The Sanctuary Body Wash can be purchased from The Sanctuary in Covent Garden or from their website; alternatively, it is available in most branches of Boots, priced at £4.99 for 250ml (although gift sets and smaller sizes are also available, which are generally not as good value). This is relatively expensive for a daily essential body wash. However, I tend to think of this as a once a week treat and use it sparingly to bring a little bit of luxury into my life when I need it!

                    So to summarise, this is a lovely, luxurious and at its current price, quite an indulgent product. However, I think that The Sanctuary have created a great, mid-priced brand which is competitive with many of the high-end beauty ranges available. It smells great and brings a smile to my face. As long as you don't suffer from sensitive skin, I would not hesitate to recommend this as an indulgent treat (or perfect for a Valentine's Day gift for a loved one).

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                    • Yogi Tea Sweet Chili / Tea / 56 Readings / 54 Ratings
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                      11.01.2010 20:15
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                      A warming winter Yogi Tea

                      I've been enjoying Yogi Tea for a number of years now and having recently read a review of a different flavour, I thought I'd review my favourite flavoured tea - the Sweet Chili Mexican Spice.

                      Put simply, in my opinion, Yogi Teas are simply the best herbal teas on the market and the Sweet Chili is no exception. Yogi Tea claims to blend Mexican favourings and spices with an oriental, Ayurvedic philosophy to create recipes which are "designed to maintain and support vitality and well being" (according to their website). If you're not into knitting your own tofu, don't let the new-age babble put you off - the best thing about these teas is their taste. However, if you are into eastern new-age thinking, then Yogi Teas will definitely appeal to you. I should add that the teas are made from organic ingredients and are certified by the Soil Association in the UK.

                      Sweet Chili Mexican Spice tea can be purchased in most organic or health food shops. Luckily I work close to an organic shop so can buy them easily. I've heard rumours that the teas are also available in Sainsbury's, but I've never seen them - perhaps they are available in superstores. The teas retail at around £2.00 and for that you get 15 teabags in a cardboard box. Each teabag in individually wrapped in paper, which is useful for carrying them around with you. The Yogi Tea packaging continues the company's ethos, detailing a bit about the company and each different flavour has a different yogic exercise printed on the box. The Sweet Chili has, appropriately the Fire Breath exercise! Each tea bag also has a little saying of eastern wisdom printed on the paper tab you use to dunk it with.

                      The best thing about opening a box of Sweet Chili is the smell. It is a gorgeous, warming smell, with a hint of spiciness which makes my mouth water! It's really easy to prepare the tea - simply pop the bag in a mug and fill with boiling water. The preparation instructions recommend leaving the teabag to stew for 7 minutes. I prefer just to leave the bag in whilst I'm drinking the tea to get the most of the flavour.

                      And the flavour - well it is great and incredibly warming on a winter's day. I must say that the Sweet Chili tea isn't to everyone's taste. However, if you like spicy food in general, I would recommend you give this a try. The tea doesn't taste 'hot', but it is certainly spicy and aromatic. The hint of chilli works well with chocolate flavours which are also infused in the mix. If you've enjoyed chilli flavoured chocolate, this tea has some similarities. The tea also has a slightly spicy aftertaste which is delicious.

                      The ingredients include Liquorice, cocoa shells (which provide the chocolate flavour), spearmint, fennel, anise, ginger, peppermint, nettle, chili pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and black pepper. Where this tea (and indeed all Yogi Teas) scores bonus points is that the ingredients actually combine to create a flavoured tea which tastes like it smells. So often herbal teas smell great, but don't taste of anything. Yogi Tea have succeeded where others have failed, by creating a great tasting tea as well as one which smells nice.

                      So is there anything I don't like about this tea? Well first of all, it can be difficult to get hold of and you may have to resort to online stockists, although if you live near a well-stocked Sainsbury's or whole food shop you should be able to buy it. Secondly, it is not the cheapest product around. I don't personally don't begrudge the price as I'm usually a coffee drinker and only have one cup of tea a day. However, if you were drinking several cups a day, the cost could mount up. I would also question the eco-credentials of the product, as the ingredients are obviously imported from all around the world (and from what I can gather, manufactured in Germany) and although recyclable, each teabag is individually wrapped in paper and also has the tab attached to the bag with a piece of string and a staple.

                      All in all though, I'm a big fan of this tea - the flavour is so warming and it's great on a cold day. It's definitely the best herbal tea I've come across!

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                        10.01.2010 21:12
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                        A nice product, but at a grossly inflated price.

                        Amongst my Christmas gifts this year, I was lucky to get 4 new body sprays all from Avon. Somehow I suspect that my sister-in-law's recent new job as an Avon Lady may have something to do with that - I hope so, and it's not my in-laws suggesting that I smell! The first of the sprays I've tried is the Avon Glow Chic.

                        The spray is packaged in a golden/yellow package with a giant star on it. My first thoughts were that the packaging looked quite cheap and nasty. However, it's grown on me now and I quite like it, as it has a cartoony retro style that reminds me of Wonder Woman! I wouldn't say that it looks particularly 'chic', but it definitely has a fun appeal to teenagers and young women.

                        The spray itself is easy to use with a light touch nozzle. This is a good feature and makes it easy to use if you are applying it after a shower, perhaps after moisturising where you might still have damp hands.

                        The body spray doesn't have a lid - instead the nozzle slides round to lock the spray mechanism - handy if you're carrying it in your bag. I think that the lack of lid is a great bonus feature as it saves on plastic that will ultimately end up in landfill. When I think of the number of body sprays I get through each year and the amount of women who do the same, this is a lot of lids that could be avoided, saving on plastic!

                        Whilst I'm on a bit of an eco-rant, why do body spray manufacturers make the cans so small? My deodorant is about 6 times the size and a single can lasts about a year. But I can easily get through a can of body spray in 2-3 weeks. Why aren't they the same size as deodorant cans? This would save so much on the energy used in the manufacturing process and materials which are not easily recyclable? Avon haven't addressed this issue - the Glow Chic Body Spray is the same, tiny 75ml size as sprays from other brands like Impulse. Anyway, rant over, back to the product...

                        The smell of the body spray is pleasant. At first spray it has a strong chemical smell which is quite over-powering. However, within about 10 seconds the fragrance calms down and is a more pleasant musky smell with a touch of floral and fruity notes. It's not a sweet fragrance, which I appreciate, but it's not particularly striking either. The Avon website says it smells of freesia, peony and a hint of musk. I can certainly smell the musk and freesia, but I can't detect the peony - it's a shame as peonies are one of my favourite smelling flowers! During the day, the smell lingers, mainly with the musky notes and it's fairly long lasting although it slowly fades by the end of the day. All in all, I wasn't particularly impressed with the scent. I didn't dislike it, but I wouldn't seek it out either.

                        I tend to use body spray after a shower to ensure that I feel fresh all day and to give me a day time fragrance suitable for the office. In this the Glow Chic succeeded. I felt clean and fresh with a light fragrance which lasted relatively well.

                        I was given my Glow Chic as a present so it didn't cost me a penny. So how much would I be prepared to pay for it? Well, probably £1 or £1.50 at a push. From looking at the Avon website it is currently on sale at £1.45 a can, so just within my budget. However, the non-sale price is £3.50. That's an outrageous price for a body spray - that's extortion! I would never pay that much for my favourite Charlie Red body spray, let alone this one which is 3 star rating from me. I cannot believe that anyone would pay that much! I'm not sure who Avon are trying to appeal to here - they are a low-mid priced brand and this price doesn't reflect their market appeal.

                        I've been reasonably impressed with this body spray, in that the fragrance is pleasant (if not particularly striking), the smell lasts quite long and I like the locking lid mechanism and the retro-styling. But the non-sale price is ridiculous. Even the £1.45 sale price is on the slightly expensive side of reasonable, but £3.50 is far too much. So if you're interested, I suggest you buy lots of cans in the sale!

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                          10.01.2010 16:55
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                          The best body scrub on the market

                          The post-Christmas period is a busy time for Dooyoo writers and raters. I don't know about you, but I was given lots of new beauty products for Christmas that I'm now slowly starting to use and then review! One of my pressies was a gift box of The Sanctuary which contains a number of little travel-sized spa essentials. Today I tried out the Body Scrub, which I have used before some years ago - I thought it was worthy of a review.

                          The Sanctuary products are available from The Sanctuary itself on its website or in Covent Garden, or can be bought in most branches of Boots. They are a mid-priced product, perfect for receiving as a gift or for treating yourself without breaking the bank. The body scrub costs £4.99 for 200ml which is not extortionate, but by no means the cheapest scrub on the market. However, I do think that the scrub (and the other Sanctuary products) are of a very high quality and easily compete with vastly more expensive premium products. As such, I think that they do represent good value for money. For a body scrub, which isn't a product I use daily, and which tends to last me a good few months, I don't think that £4.99 is too expensive.

                          The body scrub contains Patchouli, orange oil and small pieces of pumice which are the actual scrub part. On opening the bottle you are hit with the signature Sanctuary aroma. It's quite difficult to describe the smell as it's really distinctive, yet unusual. It is a warm, earthy smell, with a slightly fruity undertone that scents the bathroom and lingers on your skin. At the same time, it smells luxurious and expensive without being overpowering.

                          The scrub itself is an orange coloured, gel-like consistency dotted with small grains of pumice. It is easily applied to your wetted skin and a little squeeze of gel does really go a long way. Now my personal preference is for a 'scratchy' type of body scrub that does what it is supposed to - remove dry skin, whilst at the same time preventing in-growing hairs. On both these counts, this scrub performs superbly. The pumice has just the right amount of scratchiness and the gel media in which the pumice is contained in is just right for spreading in on your skin and for washing it off, giving you a clean feeling. Some scrubs try to have more than one purpose and may be contained in an oily or moisturising medium - this isn't to my preference, as I usually use a body scrub before I shave my legs or put on a fake tan and an oily scrub will ruin your razor! Anyway, for me, The Sanctuary has got it just right - the scrub scrubs and nothing more or nothing less. Shaving my legs after using it was a dream and they feel really smooth now. I also used the scrub to remove dry skin on my elbows, upper arms and décolletage, all of which feel very soft and smooth.

                          Once I'd finished using the body scrub and got out of the bath I needed to moisturise - I always do after using a body scrub and this was no exception.

                          I should say at this point that although I love them, The Sanctuary products are not designed for sensitive skin and they can leave my skin feeling quite 'tingly'! I didn't have this problem with the scrub, it didn't irritate my skin at all, despite the fact that it is designed to be an abrasive product. However, it is clearly not designed for your face, only for your body. I would definitely not advise using it as a facial scrub.

                          To summarise, The Body Scrub is a top quality product, designed to scrub your skin, which it does flawlessly. It doesn't have any gimmicks or try to do more than it promises. It may be priced on the high side for a beauty product, but the quality and the divine smell are worth paying for.

                          Also published on Ciao under my username steedandpeelcats

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                          09.01.2010 22:16
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                          A great read!

                          I picked up this book in Tesco Metro over the Christmas holidays as I noticed it next to the till whilst buying some milk. I've read all of Mike Gayle's previous novels and I've enjoyed them all so I didn't even look at the blurb on the back - I just handed over the money. It was priced at a very reasonable £3.49 (or thereabouts), so if I didn't enjoy it, not much lost.

                          For some reason I didn't get many books for Christmas, despite requesting a few. As I was light on reading material for my days off I immediately started reading.

                          The book starts with the protagonist on the eve of his 36th birthday, married with a daughter and another on the way. He is feeling a bit down on himself and can't help compare his slovenly, disorganised ways to his ultra-successful, ultra-organised new neighbours. Essentially he begins to realise that he is still a big kid and despite being a father himself, he hasn't grown up. This bout of soul-searching leads to him writing a massive to-do list which takes several days to compile - the number of jobs on the list is enormous - well over a thousand. They range from the simple, such as sort out the drawer by the back door, to more complicated, such as research family history or visit Antarctica! Essentially, all the jobs (or tasks) on the list are household chores that have been constantly put-off by procrastination, or they are milestones that the protagonist feels he should complete to help enable him to become a 'proper' grown-up. After some rationalisation of the list, deleting some of the more insane and flight of fancy tasks, he sets about completing all the tasks within a year, by the time he reaches 37. He is cheered on through this task by his group of close friends, and by his long-suffering wife.

                          I've deliberately called the main character 'the protagonist' because after reading a couple of chapters I realised that this wasn't a novel! The protagonist is actually Mike Gayle himself and the book is a true account of his own mini mid-life crisis. I felt a bit stupid for not reading the blurb on the cover, but it didn't put me off the book at all. In fact, I really like books like this. I'm not sure if there is a specific genre to categorise them, but I would compare it to books by Danny Wallace, Tony Hawks or Dave Gorman, where they set themselves a (usually completely silly) challenge and go about completing it in a specific time period, meeting interesting people and learning new life skills and self-awareness during the process - along with a good dollop of humour. The premise of The To-Do List varies slightly, as it seems to come from an acknowledgement that the author feels he needs to be more mature and more adult in his approach to life and that by completing these tasks is his passport to being a fully-fledged adult.

                          What I like about Mike Gayle books I've read in the past is his easy writing style which is appealing to women as much as to men. Most of his novels, I would categorise as 'bloke-lit', i.e. chick-lit for blokes. However, I wouldn't be surprised if they are read by more women than men. I often find that this type of book is fun to read, but instantly forgettable. However, Mike Gayle's are sensitively written and deal with real issues, not always with a happy ending, not fairy tales which makes them stand out from the crowd.

                          This same easy writing style is applied to this non-fiction book. Mike and his family and friends all seem like a lovely bunch of people struggling to come to terms with what has become an increasingly infantilised adulthood which lasts well into your thirties, forties, parenthood and beyond. He is obviously prompted to undertake the To-Do List in an attempt to keep up with the Jones's next door and prove that he too is a mature individual. I think that this is a very relevant issue, as adulthood used to start at 18 or 21. Now, with adult children living at home into their 30s and the interests of adults and children merging, there are no real milestones for becoming a grownup anymore. Even buying your first flat is now likely to be heavily subsidised by doting parents. This is an interesting subject to explore in Mike Gayle's humorous manner.

                          I enjoyed the book very much. Despite having a thought-provoking issue at the heart of the book, it is a light and easy read, peppered with warm humour. Mike attempts the tasks in a haphazard manner which can lead to very amusing results. Obviously, the book does not go in depth into every task, but picks the more interesting ones to discuss. One small criticism is that sometimes he writes about a task he is starting but doesn't tell you how it is resolved. For instance, in one chapter he tries to investigate his family history in the West Indies. He hires a genealogist who has limited success. After this he sends off for a genetic genealogy sampling kit - but we never hear what the results of this are. This happens a few times in the book and is slightly annoying. However, overall I really enjoyed his recounting of his attempts and also his friends who were press-ganged into judging his success - and the strict rules they employed. At the end, the list is printed out in full for you to enjoy (or emulate)!

                          I'm a big fan of to-do lists myself, but never get anything ticked-off. This book might inspire you to write your own must do list - I know I have a few things I'd like to do! I would recommend this book if you are after a warm, amusing read with a slightly more serious underlying issue at heart. It's definitely a book that can be read on the bus or the beach and I read it in a single day, so give it a go!

                          Also published on Ciao under my username steedandpeelcats

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                            09.01.2010 17:48
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                            I love Daisy - my loyal cheese toastie companion.

                            Breville Daisy

                            If anything is going to break my diet, it's a delicious toasted cheese sandwich. This is why, only a week into my annual January detox, I've just succumbed to a cheese toastie and my New Year's resolution is already in tatters! There's something about cheese toasties which makes them the ultimate in comfort and convenience food - they are quick to make and they taste delicious. They are also a quick hot food, which is perfect in the miserable winter months. My partner and I usually both have a cheese toastie (or two) on Saturdays for our 'T-unch' (tea and lunch- eaten around half past three). And for the past ten years, we've got our Breville Daisy cow out of the cupboard to feed our toastie addiction.

                            ---The Product---

                            The Breville Daisy is a toastie maker which is designed to look like a cow. It is white with black spots and the fastener between the two hot plates is the cow's head. I really have no idea why it is a cow - possibly to appeal to cow-lovers? Anyway, it is a cute, quirky design that is completely unnecessary!

                            The Daisy consists of two Teflon-coated plates which heat up. You pop your sandwich between the two, close the fastener and in about 3-4 minutes, voila, your cheese toastie is ready to be munched! It really is very simple to use, even if you find it difficult to boil an egg!

                            There is a light on top of Daisy which shows you when she - let's give this inanimate object a gender shall we? - when she's hot enough for your sarnie. The light glows orange when she's plugged in and heating up and goes off when she's ready to rock. She takes a few minutes to heat up, so I plug her in, prepare my sandwich and by that time she's normally hot enough.

                            As I said above, dear old Daisy has been providing me and my partner with toasties for ten years now - yes TEN YEARS! I know this as it's our ten year anniversary this month and Daisy arrived in my life just before he did (she was a Christmas pressie from my Mum when I was a young and girlie 20 year old)! That is a fantastic longevity for a household appliance in my opinion. In the past 10 years I've gone through 6 mobile phones, 2 portable CD players, 3 i-Pods, 6 tvs, 3 dvd players, 3 video players, 4 kettles, 2 toasters, 3 microwaves, 3 radio alarms, 2 transistor radios, 4 cars and 3 washing machines. Most products are not built to last longer than their 1 year guarantee, but Daisy has kept on going, churning out literally thousands of cheese toasties week after week.

                            Actually, let's estimate how many toasties Daisy has produced. On average I would say we make 4 toasties in the house a week. So 4 x 52 x 10 equals? Any ideas? Well it looks like she's made 2080 cheese toasties. That is fantastic! Assuming you can pick Daisy up for around £20 (and she is a cheap kinda gal), that's less than 1p per sarnie. What a bargain!

                            ---Any Complaints?---

                            Well I love Daisy, but there are a few little improvements that could be incorporated if I were ever to search for a Daisy #2...Shhh I don't want her to hear!

                            The first is that she is a bit of a mucky heifer and can be quite difficult to clean if the cheese oozes through the bread. The hot plates do not come off so cannot be scrubbed in the sink (you can't dunk Daisy in the sink as she is electronic). This means that unless you remove any spilt cheese instantly when it's still hot (which is the quickest way of cleaning), you need to scrub the hot plates without splashing the electronics which can be fiddly.

                            The second complaint is that she doesn't have an on/off switch. You need to plug and unplug her into the wall. This would be an easy feature to incorporate and would mean you're less likely to leave Daisy turned on by accident.

                            Thirdly, the plastic surround which protects the hot plates can get very hot itself. Sometimes, if you have a particularly big sarnie you need to push down on Daisy to get her head to close. I have had to use an oven glove to do this at times to stop my hands getting burnt. This also means that Daisy isn't suitable for children to use unsupervised as they may get burnt.

                            Finally, Daisy is only a small girl. She only accommodates 1 sandwich at a time - this is quite annoying if you're really hungry and want more than one, or are feeding lots of people. However, I have a small kitchen, so a small Daisy fits in well and can be easily stored. Many newer types of sandwich toaster and electric work-top grills are enormous and would take up half the space in my kitchen! She also only accommodates thin-medium slices of bread and you can't have really deep fillings.

                            ---Summary---

                            Daisy has a few little faults. But hey, no one's perfect! She's been providing great cheese toasties for over a decade now without breaking down - I can't say that about any other electronic appliance I've owned. And she feeds me!

                            ---And Finally---

                            My top tip for a perfect cheese toastie: don't use butter, oil or cooking spray - it's not needed, Daisy has non-stick plates so as long as you cook the toastie for the right length of time she won't stick. This also saves on washing. The best filling is cheddar cheese, mushroom slices and ham - all in the same sarnie. Add some stilton if you're feeling adventurous. Yum!

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                              09.01.2010 00:19
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                              Worth joining to make a few extra notes!

                              I've been a member of Lightspeed for about 3 years now and I have to say that it is the best survey site I've found.

                              If you've not heard of survey sites before, they are basically websites where you complete surveys in exchange for points which can be exchanged for vouchers, cash or gifts. There are loads of them out there, many of which I've tried before. However, Lightspeed is the only one which I am an active member. Unlike many survey sites, Lightspeed is easy to use, straightforward, does actually invite you to surveys, pays out promptly and doesn't fill your inbox full of spam!

                              When you sign up for the website, you fill in a brief customer profile and you're up and running! Lightspeed will then send you emails inviting you to take part in surveys which award you points. The website is generally well laid out and easy to navigate.

                              ---The Surveys---

                              Survey invitations are regularly sent by email. I usually receive at least one email a day inviting me to take part in a survey, with a link to the Lightspeed website. If you can, try to take part in the survey as soon as possible as they usually have a limit to the number of participants and you may be screened out.

                              There are a few different formats to the surveys, but they are all relatively easy to do, usually just involving clicking your responses, although I have had a few surveys where you have had to write further comments. The surveys are usually on some sort of consumer product, either on brand identity, or perhaps showing a potential new advert (either video or print) and often asking questions on your thoughts on a particular brand and its competitors. They are not particularly taxing to do, but they usually come across as a genuine inquiry into consumer opinion, not just an opportunity to sell you something or put your name on a data base (which some survey sites do). They can be a bit repetitive though, so whilst not difficult, they can be boring!

                              Generally the surveys last from 10 mins to half an hour and you usually receive between 50-150 points per survey (most are around 50-80 points).

                              However, I should say that just because you get invited to lots of surveys, it doesn't mean that you will be selected as a participant. There is usually a short screening process at the start of the survey where it will tell you if you have been screened out. This is a relatively quick process and if you are not selected for a survey, you do get a number of free entries into the Lightspeed prize draw (not that I've ever won anything). I usually find that I get to complete one in three surveys I'm invited to - whether this is because I'm too slow to enter or they want a different type of person to me, I'm not sure. However, this means I normally get to complete two or three surveys a week.

                              ---Mini Polls---

                              There are daily mini polls on the Lightspeed website. Although these do not give you pints, these are very quick and easy to complete, just asking one question, something like "have you been to the USA in the last 12 months" or "do you visit the cinema more than once a week?". It's definitely worth doing these as they seem to be used to screen you for invitations to other surveys. For instance I once completed a mini poll which asked about my job which is quite unusual! A couple of days later I was invited to take part in a high paying survey on my thoughts on a new course that a university was thinking of offering - this was one of the most interesting surveys I've done!

                              You don't get invited to these surveys, but they are easily viewable on the Lightspeed homepage.

                              ---Rewards---

                              Doing all the surveys builds up points and these can be exchanged for vouchers, cash or prizes. These can be redeemed for Amazon vouchers for instance or Paypal. A £3 Paypal payment can be redeemed for 345 points, so it's fairly quick to build up enough points for a payout (just a few weeks). They used to allow you to cash out £1 Paypal for 115 points, but annoyingly, this option doesn't seem to be available any more.

                              Although the rewards aren't massive, it is a better payout than many of the other survey sites or other ways of making money on the web (such as daily clicks) - apart from Dooyoo of course (Dooyoo is much more enjoyable)! One good feature of Lightspeed is that you are awarded the points as soon as you finish the survey and can order your reward instantly if you have enough points. This means you don't need to keep checking to see if your points have been added or make claims for missing points.

                              ---Overall---

                              If you are looking for a little bit of extra cash then it's worth signing up for Lightspeed. It certainly won't make your fortune, but it's not very hard to do and every little bit helps!

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