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stillclueless
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Member since: 18.02.2009

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    • Oven Pride / Household Cleaning / 34 Readings / 34 Ratings
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      15.09.2013 12:02
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      Not enough elbow grease? Use oven pride!

      (Quick recommendation before you read the below. If you're planning on using oven pride make sure you have plenty of time to spare where you don't require the use of your oven, ideally I would do this in the evening and leave the product to work overnight.)

      Why did I buy the product?
      ***********************
      OK so I'm just over a year into my first ever house and just over a year of using my shiny new Hotpoint Canon cooker which isn't so shiny and new anymore. Although not neglectful when it comes to cleaning the hob and grill on my cooker, the oven unfortunately hasn't received the same level of TLC as the rest of the appliance so I decided to give the interior a scrub a couple of weeks ago and found that some of the baked on gunk just wouldn't shift with regular elbow grease and my fingers were getting a little sore from trying, so on a recent shopping trip to my local Asda I had a look in the cleaning aisle to see what solutions they had on offer for cleaning your oven racks and came across 'oven Pride'. I scanned the back quickly reading through the instructions and thought it looked relatively easy so proceeded to add it to my shopping trolley. A week later, here I am testing it out for the first time.

      How easy is this to use
      *******************
      Oven pride is a multi-purpose cleaning solution for your oven racks and indeed the interior of your oven which I'm sure most will agree can get pretty grotty after months and months of cooking. Everything you need to get started is included in the box including gloves to protect your hands, an extra-large bag for your racks and of course the cleaning solution itself. Now before you get started it's very important to read the instructions which advise the product should not be used on any part of the hob, oven trim, glass oven doors, heating elements, pilot light or any fan elements, and of course do not use the product if the gloves or the bag are damaged in any way. Step one out of the way I put the blue gloves provided to the side and pull out my pink rubber cleaning gloves which are longer than the blue ones and travel half way up my arm instead of just to my wrist to ensure better protection against the harsh chemical contained in the bottle containing the cleaning solution. Now it's important to note that the instructions clearly state that gloves should be worn at all times so before doing anything I put on my gloves. Unfolding the bag provided for putting the racks in I see immediately that this is much larger than what is actually required for the size of racks I have which means it's nice and easy to pop them in once I've removed them from the oven. Now I have two racks in my oven, both of which pop easily into the large plastic bag. Before putting in the solution I place the bag on the floor with the racks leaning against one of my cupboards and proceed to carefully unscrew the cap of the solution. The instructions instruct you to pour between half and three quarters of the solution into the bag.....as I had attempted to clean the racks a few weeks prior I opted to pour only half of the solution into the bag saving the other half for the inside of my oven. I carefully sealed the bag with the solution and the racks inside (still wearing my rubber gloves) trying to remove as much air as possible and carefully tilt the bag back and forth to coat the racks inside the bag. All I have to do now is wait.

      Tick tock tock tick
      ***************
      I'm not the most patient of people when it comes to cleaning, I very much like to get it out of the way as fast as possible but with oven pride you have to leave the solution to work is magic, initially for a couple of hours, then you are instructed to return to the bag to re-coat the racks as best you can. After my first 2 hours were up I really was amazed to see how the product had been working away with the solution in the bag already having turned a murky dark brown colour and the shine of the racks starting to come through. At this stage I was confident that this wasn't just another fad. You hear all the time about these cleaning products that have all these marvellous capabilities that sometimes don't quite live up to expectations, but oven pride really did seem to be working. So following the instructions I re-coated the racks in the bag and walked away, this time having been instructed to leave for another 4 hours.

      Tick Tock Tick Tock
      *****************
      Had I thought about it properly I really would have done this in the evening but as it stands I decided that 12 o clock on a Saturday afternoon seemed like a convenient time to tackle the oven. I think this is the biggest drawback of this product...I understand that some things take time to work effectively but the recommendation for this is a minimum of 6 hours which is a little longer than I have the patience for. I only used half of the bottle for the racks as I thought this was a sufficient amount of solution to use, and decided that the other half would be used to clean the inside of the oven at a later date.

      6 hours later
      ***********
      So my 6 hours was up and the racks were ready to come out of the bag, so on came the rubber gloves again. Carefully removing the racks from the bag I opted to finish the cleaning process in the bathtub as the sink just isn't quite big enough for what I needed to do, making sure to remove my rubber bath mat before proceeding to do anything. I set the hot water running and rinsed the racks being sure to get all of the solution off and I have to say the sparkle off of the racks was very impressive. There were a couple of sections where the baked on food / grease or whatever it was hadn't completely dissolved so I did have to give it a little scrub but this was no-where near as challenging as it would have been had I not previously used the oven pride solution. After drying the racks I carefully popped them back into the oven and it was as if it was brand new again.

      Disposing of the solution
      ********************
      The instructions for disposing of the solution are very simple. All you have to do is dilute the solutions still in the bag by adding water, carefully sealing the bag again and just slosh it around a bit to get as much of the solution off of the sides of the bag as you can. Once you've diluted the solution simply trim a corer off the bottom of the bag and drain down the sink....easy as that. Once I was done I simply put the used plastic bag in to the bin with the rest of my rubbish.

      Cost
      ******
      I paid around £3.98 for my oven pride in my local asda but you can get this on special offer currently at the bargain price of £2.88 which in my opinion is well worth it. You would expect to pay on average around £4 depending on which supermarket you shop at but it is widely available and easy to find in amongst the aisle that contains the generic cleaning products such as polish and anti-bacterial sprays.

      My overall opinion
      ***************
      Despite the fact that this takes what seems like a very very very long time to work I was very impressed with the results, the oven racks were redeemed back to their shiny silver sparkly look that they had when we first purchased our oven. The process was very easy and required minimal effort on my part but as indicated before I think Ideally the process would be best started in the evening and left to work overnight to ensure maximum results, I don't recommend you do this through the day. As long as you have some rubber gloves and a good sized sink to rinse the racks - you're pretty much good to go. A little on the pricey side and time consuming to use but at the end of the day if elbow grease isn't enough then this product will get the job done.

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      • Trixie Laser Pointer / Cat Accessory / 33 Readings / 32 Ratings
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        25.10.2012 22:26
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        Unleash your cats wild side

        As you may have guessed from my previous review, my partner and I have added a cat to our household and for the last 3 and half months have enjoyed learning about what he enjoys and what he doesn't enjoy and have watched him develop his character. It's fair to say that young Chester has been a very welcome addition to our household (puppy on it's way).

        Our cheeky chappy has 2 sides, he has his playful naughty side (no agression thankfully) and he has his loveable snuggly cuddly side.....definately a people cat. Chester loves to chase things, be it his favourite mouse which is a little worse for wear these days, or a crinkly ball, he even has a stuffed otter that he loves to have the occasional fight with. As he loves to stalk and chase things in true hunter style and is a very curious cat we thought it would be a good idea to get him a laser pen to chase around - enter trixie the laser pointer.

        This particular laser pen is specifically designed with pet entertainment in mind and is even in the shape of a mouse, complete with whiskers and all. This neat little toy runs on 3 LR44 button cell batteries (included) which can be easily replaced - no tools required, the rear battery cover simply slides off and gives you instant access. The toy has a simple button on the top that allows you to operate the red laser and you're off. I was amazed at how interested Chester was in this little red dot that danced about the room (it's great having so much control) and of course, the poor little guy just doesn't understand why he can't catch it - we have him literally jumping up the walls in his vain attempts at stopping the blasted thing, and you can control the laser pen comfortably from your seat in front of the telly. Chester especially likes to hide behind the side of the armchair and wait for the optimum moment to strike and we often have him running around in circles to the extent where he has to stop to catch his breath......it's not very often you see a cat panting.

        The one thing you have to be very careful of is not to shine the laser into your pussycats eyes as the laser itself is very powerful and shining it directly into the eye can cause permanent damage.

        Of course with a toy such as this you also have to be careful not to frustrate your cat too much...Chester gets visibily annoyed and goes off to cool down in the kitchen before coming back for a little more, but we're very careful not to rely on just this toy and are very interactive with him with some of his other toys so he gets varied entertainment. Frustration can often lead to aggression.

        You can buy this cat toy from a number of different pet stores and websites at varying prices. We got ours off Ebay for about £4 delivered and I have seen it for sale at a couple of online retailers for between £4&£5. I would be very suprised if this toy doesn't keep your cat entertained for a considerable length of time. Not only will this toy offer entertainment for your cat but I gaurantee you'll get a few giggles out of it yourself

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        30.09.2012 14:18
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        A great catnip toy to entertain your cat

        For as long as I can remember my family have always had a cat so when my partner and I bought our first house back in May I felt as though something was missing, so we embarked on a hunt for a cheeky ginger Tom which after a few weeks we found. We got Chester when he was 10 weeks old and he's now just coming on for 5 months. We are a little OTT when it comes to buying him toys to keep him entertained and he has a box full of them, but we're very careful to keep a rotation going so he doesn't get bored and gets plenty of stimulation. Amongst these toys he has a few Kong products which he appears to love particularly his refillable catnip hedgehog which sends him wild.

        ===About catnip===
        I guess you could say catnip is a drug for cats which acts as a mild hallucinogen which stems from the aromatic oils contained within the catnip itself. Catnip is actually a herb belonging to the mint family native to Europe and it is the smell of the product that is intoxicating to cats and more often than not you will find that your cats' behaviour changes dramatically after catching a whiff of this non-addictive drug choosing to roll around the floor in what would appear to be complete ecstasy with the toy close at hand just having a generally good time. Catnip however does not have the same effect on all cats with about 10-30% having no reaction to the plant whatsoever so toys and other products containing catnip may not be the best option to keep your cat happy and stimulated. The effects of catnip may also be negative and could possibly bring out aggression in your cat, in which case it's best to avoid this kind of product.

        ==About the Kong Refillable Hedgehog==
        On a trip round pets at home my partner came across these clever little cat toys that are hollow on the inside with a secluded compartment located on the bottom of the toy in which you can stuff some catnip. The toy comes with a plastic container filled with dried catnip to allow you to fill the toy and refill the toy again and again allowing for the toy to last for a very long time. The options were a Beaver, a yellow duck, a squirrel and a hedgehog. My partner of course chose the hedgehog with its soft brown fuzzy upper resembling the protective spines on the back of a hedgehog and a tan coloured lower body with a little black pointy snout and little beady black eyes this hedgehog is a fun caricature of the real thing and we were hopeful that our little furry friend Chester would love it.

        We got the Kong toy home and snipped it out of its packaging. The compartment at the bottom of the toy is sealed with Velcro and is easily opened up to allow you to insert some of the dry catnip and you're ready to go.

        ===My cats reaction===
        It was Love at first sight with this toy, and Chester got stuck in instantly rolling around the floor, tossing it around, biting it and kicking it with his back legs and he really does look like he's in his element every time he plays with it, giving him between 5 and 10 minutes of constant stimulation before he abandons it. Thankfully we've not experienced any aggression from our little pussy cat as a result of giving him catnip orientated toys and he always gets a lot of enjoyment from the catnip. Quite often we find young Chester carrying the hedgehog around in his mouth looking for a hidey hole for it no doubt so that no-one else can get at it and only he knows where the plush pleasure toy can be located.

        ===Longevity===
        We've had the toy for about a month and a half and we only put a small amount of catnip in at any one time so we do find that we're filling it up every couple of weeks or so, but with the plastic container of catnip that came with the toy we have a long way to go before it's done. By storing the container of catnip in the freezer it ensures that the herb stays fresher for longer but you can buy extra from most pet shops and on-line so no need to worry about running out at all. The toy itself has gone a little hard on the top from the constant sucking it gets from my cat and I think we may need to see about popping it in the washing machine as it is fully machine washable with the catnip removed - that is if we can get it away from Chester for long enough. The toy shows no signs of wear and tear yet so is still perfectly safe for Chester to play with and will hopefully continue to keep him entertained in the months to come.

        ===Cost===
        Now I'm not 100% sure but I think we paid around £3.49 for our catnip toy in pets at home but you can buy it online from Amazon for about £2.30 but you have to pay for postage. It is a little on the pricey side for such a small toy but for the amount of enjoyment our Chester gets out of it I think it's well worth it.
        You will be able to pick this toy up at most pet supermarkets so if you're looking for something to keep your pussy cat entertained then this toy comes highly recommended.

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          28.09.2012 12:13
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          Keep yourself cosy this winter

          On a shopping trip to our local Dunelm store some time ago I came across the softest, snuggliest and what appeared to be warmest blanket / throw I think I have ever seen, and I decided there and then that I must have it. At a bargain price of £9.99 I promptly picked up a nice cream coloured throw.

          About the Dunelm Teddy bear throw
          ========================
          Upon first laying your hands upon this particular throw it's easy to see why it's called the teddy bear, as it's incredibly soft and strokeable, the sort of material you could imagine would keep you very warm on a cold winters day or night and it looks fit for a teddy bear. Upon getting the throw home I immediately removed it from it's packaging - held together by some lovely black ribbon and draped it over the bottom of my bed to add an extra cosy element to the bed. On the first cold evening in our new house I decided that the throw needed to be utilised and promptly settled down on the sofa in the living room in front of the telly. Within about 20 minutes I was practically cooking so I can confirm that this is a very cosy throw and gauranteed to warm you up in a short space of time and appears to really hold the heat. I have found myself on numerous occasions having to remove myself from underneath the blanket just to cool myself down.

          I have washed the throw on a number of occassions now and it never seems to lose its soft strokableness and continues to be a hit in our household - it even has the cats approval earning the prestigious title of his favourite blanket.

          My The throw itself is made of 100% polyester and is machine washable at 40 degrees but is not to be tumble dried, ironed or dry cleaned. The throw is available in a variety of colours including; wine, black, chocolate, taupe, aubergine, cream, duck egg blue, teal and green so can offer a complimentary addition to most decors. My throw lives on my bed the majority of the time and as it's cream it doesn't look out of place at all and goes with all of my duvet covers. At the time of purchase there was only one size available measuriong 127cms by 178cms but upon further investigation on a recent shopping trip to dunelm I found that they also had large version available measuring 220 x 220 cms retailing at £19.99.

          At this bargain price I think this blanket is great value for money and is very effective at keeping you warm on colder evenings and with winter fast approaching will be a great addition to your bedroom collection - ideal for keeping you cosy in bed or for snuggling up in front of the telly. Instead of turning up the heating buy a cosy blanket.

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            18.02.2012 09:19
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            A great device that lets me keep track of my daily exercise

            I think the same thing happens to me every year. I get past christmas and new year and the diet starts, now this year is probably the most motivated I have been as I am going on a holiday of a lifetime to the Maldives so I really do want to look my best and engage in all sorts of exercise to allow me to improve me health and fitness and get rid of some of those wobbly bits that seem to appear out of no-where.

            ***Why Walking?***
            Walking is an activity that I try to engage in every day if weather permits because I find that sitting at a desk all day at work leads to lethargy, so it's nice to get outdoors, get some fresh air and get some exercise at the same time, and I find this kind of activity very relaxing and enjoyable so it makes sense to try and incorporate it into my daily regime. Some people could argue that walking isn't really exercise - surely it's too easy an activity for you to really see any benefits with regards to weight loss and calories burned etc, but there are in fact multiple benefits to be had if you walk regularly including; reduced risk of coronary and heart disease and stroke, reduce high cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of colon cancer, reduced body fat, control of body weight, increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis, help with osteoarthiritis, reduce the risk of non-insulin dependant diabetes, help with overall flexibility and improvement in overall mental health which to me all sounds amazing. In todays society people seem to be more focused on vigourous exercise with a give 110% attitude to weight loss and fitness but it doesn't need to be as difficult as this. The simplicity of walking as an exercise is what makes it appealing to me and the benefits of this simple exercise/activity go beyond the basic weight loss goals to provide benefits relating to your overall health and well being which are just as important as seeing the pounds drop off, but I can gaurantee that if you do exercise in this manner then the pounds will drop off too.

            Simply walking for 30 minutes every day can increase your chances of living a longer healthier life and if you cover a distance of 2 miles per day you can burn up to 200 calories and within a couple of weeks will start to notice weight dropping off. I think the issue with a lot of people with regard to weight loss these days is the expectation level with regard to how quickly you lose weight is too high. It's not realistic to say if I start walking tomorrow I'll start to see results by the end of the week because the reality is this isn't how it works. It's also important to remember that the key to losing weight isn't just about the exercise you do but also about the food that you eat so it's essential that you focus on your diet too if you really want to shift the pounds.

            ***Why a pedometer***
            To help me to manage my weight loss in relation to walking I decided it would be a good idea to invest in a pedometer which allows me to monitor how many steps in a day i'm doing, how many calories I'm burning and how much distance I've covered. Obviously as individuals we are all different shapes and sizes so it's ridiculous to assume that we all burn the same amount of calories and even more ridiculous to assume our steps are the same distance apart so the key to a pedometer is you can tailor it to yourself to ensure that you can see the most accurate results from the activity you're engaging in. The recommended step count per day for an average person is 10000, and I have to say, i was shocked when I found out that if I don't incorporate an afternoon stroll into my daily routine I barely meet 10% of this target, so immediately upon starting to use a pedometer I could see that I simply was not moving enough throughout the day. As indicated before the main problem is I work in an office and the requirment to walk about when indoors is very minimal, so using the pedometer and making the extra effort to get outdoors for a walk I can ensure that I meet this 10000 step per day recommendation. I have found that a 35 minute brisk walk takes me just over 6000 steps so it just goes to show that you do have to walk a lot to meet the recommendation for a basic healthy lifestyle, so imagine my horror when I read that for successful weight loss, your step count should be somewhere between 12000 and 15000 steps per day. Without the presence of a pedometer it's impossible for me to tell if I have met my target so it certainly does keep me on track and allows me to see how I'm progressing throughout the day.

            ***About the Omron walking 1 Pedometer***
            When perusing the pedometer market I was quite drawn to the Omron pedometers, they seemed to get better reviews than some of the other branded ones out there and there were a few to choose from, but of course, price was a key factor so I settled for the omron walking style one pedometer which is a circular pedometer which came in black with a clip affixed to the back which allows you to clip it onto your belt or the top of your trousers. When my pedometer arrived I have to admit I did think it was a little on the big side and immediately thought that it would be a very obvious addition to my daily outfit so I deducted a point first off because the product itself is a little intrusive, but not to worry, exercise isn't about fashion it's about feeling goood and getting results so rather than discarding the pedometer purely because I didnt think it was discreet enough wasn't really an option.

            This particular pedometer from Omron has a dual display function which allows you to see the time and the number of steps simultaneously and has a memory function that captures data over 7 days allowing you to view your weekly progress. The pedometer measures your workouts by counting your steps, distance, time, calories and fat volume you've burned during your walk. The pedometer is very simple to use, simply set it according to the instructions, clip it on and start walking and it will count all of your daily steps, but not only does it count your regular steady steps, this clever little pedometer also counts your aerobic steps seperately. The aerobic step counter kicks in when you walk more than 60 steps per minute continuously for 10 minutes or more so you'll be able to see the difference between your standard everyday walking and those areas that were more aerobic in nature where you burn more calories over a shorter period of time.

            Looking at the unit from the front, the digital display is in the centre of the pedometer and there is a memo button located on the top with a mode button located just to the left of it. On the back of the unit is the system set button, the system reset button, the clip/battery cover and the battery cover screw. Before you can begin using the pedometer you need to set the time, personal weight and personal stride length for the pedometer to count your steps accurately, so essentially your tailoring the product to yourself to ensure the accuracy of the results. To get your stride length you should walk 10 steps and measure the total distance dividing it by 10 to get your average....nice and straight forward.

            With this particular unit the battery is alrady installed when you get the product so all you have to do is pull out the little plastic tab, grap the instruction manual that comes with it and your ready to start. You'll need something thin, like a thin stick (a toothpick perhaps) to set the pedometer, preferably one that isn't going to break easily. Before setting the product you have to reset it first and you will see the time display flash on the digital display. To set the time you need to use the memo and mode buttons which will allow you to increase or decrease the number until you get to the correct hour and then proceed to press the set button and it will move onto the minute portion where you just follow the same steps, pressing the set button when you've reached the correct time. The next measurement you need to set is your weight in kgs, where the pedometer accepts a range between 30 and 136 kgs and as before simply press the set button when you've reached the correct value, then follow the same steps to input your stride length and after this step you are ready to go.

            The instructions tell me that for the pedometer to work effectively it should be clipped directly onto my belt or the top of my waistband as if I place it in my pocket it may not measure my steps accurately and to try and position the unit so that the display is upright.

            The unit is very clever and doesn't measure any steps that aren't seen to be part of a walk so for the first 4 seconds of movement does not count your steps, but if you continue walking after this initial 4 second time period the pedometer will proceed to show the steps for the first 4 seconds and will continue counting from there. The pedometer also has a battery saving mode where if no button is pressed for 5 minutes the display automatically switches off to prolong the life of the battery. Pressing the mode or memo buttons does however bring the display back on. To view any data from you daily stepping all you have to do is press the mode button and with each press of this button you will be shown a different measurement beginning with the total number of steps counted, then the number of aerobic steps with activity time, then the amount of calories and fat burned in grams and finally the total distance travelled. If you want to check on your previous days data in any area then simply press the memo button and you will be taken through the 7 days previous where you can view the same data applicable on those days.

            ***My overall thoughts and opinion***
            I've been using the Omron Walking one pedometer now for a couple of months and I have to admit that it has opened my eyes to the amount of daily walking I actually engaged in prior to upping my exercise and I was truly shocked to find that I was barely meeting 10% of the recommended daily step count, but now with the pedometer I can see my progress and make sure I meet the daily requirement and hopefully exceed it to aid my weight loss. So far I have had no problems with the unit, it does what it says it does and measures my daily progress and is very easy to use, I've never had any problems with the secureness of the unit when clipped to the band of my trousers, it remains in place and does not move so the clip itself is very effective and I have yet to have it fall off. I wear the unit when I play badminton and engage in other aerobic exercise and find it to be just as effective in its calculations.

            You basically have 2 buttons to choose from and it's really straight forward and simple to find the information you're looking for. My one product dislike is the size of it....when clipped onto the top of my trousers, even with a jumper over the top it's still quite noticable underneath my clothing which makes it a little unappealing but as far as functionality goes I think I made the right choice. This is a great aid to my everyday walking and it comes highly recommended if you don't mind having a bit of a bulge protruding underneath your clothing and I'm not talking about your wobbly bits :)

            ***Cost and availability***
            The omron walking style one pedometer comes in 3 different colours; black, red and white and costs as little as £10. I purchased my pedometer from amazon for £9.13 which I thought was a bargain price, especially as the unit is more than just a step counter. The pedometer is available from a number of different retailers but to my knowledge currently amazon is the cheapest

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              12.02.2012 18:32
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              A good product that does what it says it should so it gets full marks from me

              Winter is always a killer on the health of my lips....my pout often dries out at this time of year and I always seem to struggle to keep them moisturised and soft often falling foul to cracking and dryness so I'm always on the lookout for lip care products that are going to refresh and hydrate my lips again to make them more comfortable and kissable.

              Some of the adverts on the TV recently have been promoting lip care products and the one that kept on popping up while I was watching was one for Blistex intensive moisturiser, so recently whilst shopping in my local Asda this was the latest and greatest product that I chose to give a try.

              **About Blistex**

              Most of you may or may not recognise Blistex as one of those products that's been around for years specialising in lip care products from the intensive moisturiser I picked up to other variations that deal with chapped lips and cold sores. Having been around for over 60 years it's fair to say that Blistex are one of the leaders in innovation when it comes to lip care.

              **About Blistex Intensive moisturiser**

              When I first took this moisturiser out of its presentation box I was suprised to find a very small tube containing the product itself, but then again I'm not sure what I expected as the presentation box itself is quite small and it clearly states on the box that this is a 5g tube contained within. So I opened up the cap and was faced immediately with an applicator tip to assist with the application of the product itself and I was also hit with a very strong smell of menthol / anasthetic which wasn't wholly unpleasant and reminded me of the fragrance you get with products such as vick and tiger balm which immediately makes me think of medication. When applying the consistency of the product is quite creamy and is white in colour but don't worry, after it's been rubbed in it absorbs clear with no gloss effect. Immediately after putting on my lips they feel a little cold and tingly which I believe comes from the camphor contained in the product and I truly believe that the product is working when I feel this kind of sensation.
              The recommendation is to apply the product frequently especially during dry, cold or very sunny spells, but as I spend most of my time in doors I find myself re-applying this product only a few times a day.

              **What's in it**

              The product itself has three main ingredients;

              1. Shea Butter to condition the skin
              2. Camphor to sooth lips
              3. Allantoin to protect the skin

              So does the product do all these things. Well since I started using the product I can definately notice a dramatic improvement in the overall condition of my lips. Upon application the product absorbs quickly and in my opinion you can really feel it working, although some may not like the tingly sensation that goes along with it. My lips are certainly a lot smoother and softer since I started using the moisturiser, which I believe comes from the constant hydration they get from the product and one notable improvement was at the corners of my mouth. On one side my mouth had become very cracked and sore after having had several lengthy dental appointments and all of the lip products I had tried seemed to get rid of it for a day or too and then it would come back worse than ever but after using blistex I can honestly say that this seems to have cleared up completely with no sign of it coming back.


              **My overall thoughts and opinion**

              I can honestly say that I think this is one of the best lip care products I have tried to date, and I have tried a few. The tingling sensation tells me that the product is doing something to my lips that I have not experienced with some of the other products I have used, and after only a few days of use I began to notice significant improvement in the condition of my lips overall. Highly recommended. Although this tube only holds 5g of the product, a little does go a long way, but with regular use, I find that a tube lasts maximum of a month before it needs replacing which I don't think is too bad.

              **Cost and availability**

              When I bought the blistex intensive moisturiser as I indicated before it was during one of my shopping trips to Asda and I got it for less than £2. I can't remember the exact price but I believe it was around £1.87 which I didn't think was too expensive.

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            • More +
              30.01.2012 22:19
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              A very average cleansing cloth

              One of the gifts I received for christmas was a big soap and glory gift set. I have never used soap and glory products before so this was an adventure into the unknown. In amongst my bag of soap and glory tricks were these off your face cleansing cloths.

              Cleansing cloths are part of my daily cleansing routine and something that I use all of the time. I generally use Olay cleansing wipes but seeing as I got these wipes as part of the gift set I have been using them since christmas - however they are now finished and here's what I thought.

              ***What do you get***

              The cleansing cloths are presented in the standard resealable face wipe pack complete with a total of 25 cleansing cloths designed to cleanse, tone and with a little bit of applied pleasure - exfoliate your face. The wipes also claim to be infused with poreshrink which I have personally never heard of but apparently continued use of the product could shrink your pores.

              ***Using the wipes***

              The wipes are very easy to use - just peel back the sticky resealable tab on the front which has a handy rounded unsticky grip for ease of opening and gently pull the cleansing cloth out. The first thing I noticed about these cleansing cloths is how soft and gentle they felt. The product has a very light fragrance which to be honest to me resembles disenfectant so I was a little dubious when I pulled the first cleansing cloth out of the pack but onward I went. The soft and gentle texture of the cloth was emulated on my face and I actually found it very comfortable to use as I gently cleansed my face with it. Although the product claims that with the application of a little pressure you can exfoliate your face - I definately did not find any exfoliating effects from this product, it was still quite gentle when I applied a little extra pressure.

              I found that these wipes were very soothing on the skin and didn't have any stinging effect at all, so it never really felt like they were doing anything serious in the cleansing department. Also on the rare occassion that I did wear make up while using these I found that these cloths just didn't have the shifting power that some of the other brands I use do and it was a bit of a struggle to completely remove my make with these wipes.


              ***My overall thoughts and opinion***

              I found these wipes very comfortable to use and they were very soothing on my skin but to be honest I just didn't feel as though they were very good at properly cleansing my skin and the fragrance wasn't very appealling so won't be trying them again.

              ***Cost and availability***

              Because I got these face wipes as part of a gift set I can't really say how much a single pack should cost, but with a quick check online I've found that you can pick these cleansing cloths up for around £3.45. I did check the boots website to see if they stocked this particular product on it's own and could not find it, but that's not to say that you won't be able to go into your local boots and pick a pack up, but I find that soap and glory products are generally on the pricey side and to be honest I'd give these wipes a miss

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              • Everlast Thigh Toner / Fitness / 40 Readings / 39 Ratings
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                21.01.2012 15:41
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                not the greatest from everlast

                So it's that time of year again. Christmas is over and the diets have started and I'm sure some of you like myself will have rushed out and bought yourselves some new exercise equipment. Now I like to think of myself as quite a fit and healthy person but sometimes the weight creeps on without me noticing it so I have to up my game to remove the extra pounds that seem to appear out of nowhere. I generally do a spot of powerwalking every day and I have the everlast twist board which currently gets an outing for 30 minutes every day, but I wanted to find something that wasn't just going to focus on getting the heart rate up, so I started looking at things relative to weights and resistance that would aid my efforts towards a more toned figure and came across the Everlast Thigh toner. In my own personal opinion my bum and thighs are larger than they should be for my petite size so are always a concern to me and they seem to be the most difficult area for me to shift weight from, so after reading a brief description of the product I decided to go for it.


                ***The Everlast Thigh toner***

                Ok so the product itself is pretty self explanatory - it's main purpose is to tone your thighs both inner and outer, but you can also use it to shape and tone your triceps. The product looks a little like a triangle without a bottom with foam covered cushioned handles which claim to provide extra comfort and is complete with a reinforced steel spring which is what gives the product its heavy tension, and the good thing about the product is it's aim is not to increase muscle but instead aims to add firmness to the muscles that already exist leading to a nicer shape with more tone.

                ***Comfort***

                Ok so one of the main things I've read about this product from other reviews is the overall comfort level during use and to be honest I have to agree. This isn't the most comfortable product in the world to use as even with the foam covered handles I do feel as though the product digs into my legs a bit especially if I'm only wearing shorts so I do recommend wearing trousers that will provide extra padding to reduce the level of discomfort.

                ***Using the product***

                The main exercise I undertake using the everlast thigh toner is the one that works the inner thigh. To do this exercise I have to lay flat on my back with my knees bent and my arms extended out to the sides. The thigh toner goes in between my thighs with the black plastic centre facing upwards and not downwards. Gently squeezing the thigh toner it is apparent that you have to be very controlled in your use of this product, if it slightly out of place it can be very uncomfortable. What I've found is if you ensure the flat edge on the end of the thigh toner arm is resting comfortably on your inner thigh you shouldn't really have too many problems...it digs in a little but doesn't cause me enough discomfort to consider not using the product. Your movement needs to be slow and controlled and I can gaurantee you as soon as you start using the product you will feel your muscles working and may even see a little leg shake start to appear after the first 4-5 repetitions. The recommendation is 8-10 repetitions followed by a minute of rest.

                I started my new exercise regime doing a total of 5 sets of reps per day which you should be able to complete in 15 minutes including your rest stops and I have to be honest I did feel a little jelly like when I first started using the product. I kept the 5 reps per day up for a week and a half and now I am up to 10 sets per day so half an hour just working on my thighs and I can honestly say that I do now find it a lot easier to control and feel that my thighs have more strength to them so the product definately does work. It's not only the ease of using the product that makes me notice a difference but also the 1/2 inch I have lost off my thighs after only 2 and a half weeks use.

                ***My overall thoughts and opinion***

                Putting the comfort issues aside, i do think if you place the product properly this shouldn't be as much of an issue as it could be if you place the product awkwardly or incorrectly, I can definately feel the thigh toner working it's magic as soon as I start using it. the loss in overall measurements is proof enough to me that the product does work. The thigh toner hides underneath my bed along with my spinboard and various other exercise products so it is easily stored and easily accessable at any time, so 15 minutes a day should get you going. You can use this product pretty much any time.....it you fancy just doing one set of 8-10 reps and space it out over the course of the day every time you have a spare couple of minutes you'll soon start seeing the benefits.

                Exercising isn't just one of those things that you can start doing for a couple of weeks and expect results straight away and if you don't see them just forget about it, you have to be commited and you have to endure what may feel like discomfort when using a product such as this but with a little determination you can get there.

                ***Cost and availability***

                I've seen the everlast thigh toner for sale for around £9.99 in most places and you will often find it in a range of colours including pink, purple and grey. I have the grey one because to be honest the colour doesn't matter to much to me. I purchased mine from amazon and with a quick online search can see that it's available from quite a few other online retailers

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                15.01.2012 15:36
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                A good body spray

                I think it's only natural that we all want to smell nice, not only for the opposite sex but for ourselves and the people we socialise and work with on a daily basis. One of the staples for me in every day life is a good body spray - nothing too over the top but something that's going to give my skin a nice feminine scent. Over the years I have moved on from the girly sprays I used to buy in boots to the more mature range of body sprays manufactured by impulse. One of the most recent body sprays I have tried was one that I found on special offer in Asda. I'm forever seeing them add pound aisles in store and always like to have nosey to see if there's anything worthwhile there for me to buy and £1 for a body spray doesn't seem too expensive versus the £1.89 you normally see the impulse body sprays for sale at.

                ***Why Impulse***

                Impulse is one of those brand names that I recognise as having been around forever...well at least for all of my young adult and indeed older adult years, and having checked it out I wouldn't be far off the mark - impulse has been around for my entire life, introduced in 1979 here in the UK and is today the UK's number one provider of female body sprays so they must've been doing something right all these years. In 2009 Impulse underwent a revamp of their packaging which I think has made a bit more appealing to the younger generation.

                ***The Packaging***


                Like most other body sprays, impulse has designed their body spray packaging so that it is a handy hand bag size that can be taken almost anywhere. Presented in a 75ml spray can with a twist cap that with a little turn exposes the aerosol spray that you simply turn to close again, you don't need to worry about losing the lid to your body spray.

                ***Impulse Romantic Spark***

                It's the names that capture my attention with the impulse range, and romantic spark just makes me think romance, first date attraction kind of soppy stuff. I'm also attracted to the lovely lilac colours that decorate the main body of the spray. On the front of the can I am told that this particular impulse fragrance is a blend of wild violet notes and white wood scents.

                ***how to use***


                The directions on the aerosol indicate that you should hold the can 15cm's away from your body and spray in short sharp bursts in a well ventilated place. How much you spray ultimately depends on you, the user....some people prefer just to spray on their torso but if you're anything like me I'm an all over body user right down to my ankles.

                ***The Smell***

                This particular offering from impulse with it's wild violet fragrance is quite a flirty fragrance that kind of comes and goes but is definitely the bolder fragrance. When I read that this had white wood scents in it, I imagined it having a sort of earthy tone....almost musky but I have to report that I didn't really find this musky at all, as the floral fragrance of the violet was definitely the dominant fragrance here, so overall a little too florally for my tastes.
                I can smell my impulse for a good 4-5 hours after application so don't find that it lasts that long on my skin, but for a pound I'm not too disappointed. A whole can of impulse will last me a couple of weeks so I do have to buy a few at a time as they don't seem to last that long

                ***my overall thoughts and opinion***

                I do like many of the impulse fragrances but this one unfortunately is not one of my favourites and not one I can see myself buying again. The can itself is a very well thought out design and it's easy to spray on. It is worth watching out for the £1 promotions as I think £1.89 is a little on the pricey side especially as the product doesn't last that long.

                You can find impulse in pretty much any supermarket and in your local boots and super drug so it's widely available and pretty easy to find in amongst the deodorants, roll ons and body sprays.

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              • More +
                10.01.2012 21:44
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                A good tinted moisturiser

                I'm not really one for wearing a lot of makeup but sometimes it's nice to have something a little extra to cover up some bouts of bad skin or to smooth out your complexion. Instead of using a full on foundation I often turn to tinted moisturisers to give me the coverage I'm looking for and add that little extra glow to my skin - enter, virgin Vie. I went to Virgin Vie party about 3 or 4 years ago and have been using their sheer perfection tinted moisturiser ever since (the company is however now only called VIE at home).

                For those of you who don't know - a virgin vie party is basically where a virgin vie representative comes to your home and lets you sample products with a view to buying - a little like an ann-summers party for those ladies (or perhaps even gentlemen) who are familiar with how it all works often with the host benefiting from some sort of discount or freebie for hosting a party.....so this tinted moisturiser was one such product that was handed round to test and with a quick blend in to the hand I thought I'd give it a go. On my hand the colour looked natural having selected the medium shade from light medium and dark.
                Who are Virgin Vie? (now VIE at Home)

                Virgin Vie as you can imagine used to be run under the big brand name Virgin another of Bransons hats providing a range of cosmetics and jewellery to everyday consumers like me and you. In 2009 the company was relaunched and is now know only as VIE at home - the whole affair is very confusing reading up on it and to be honest I'm not entirely sure who owns the company or even if it's still affiliated with Virgin at all but what I do know is that I do purchase certain products from their cosmetics range and they have a website where these purchases can be made easily.
                www.vieathome.com

                one such product is this tinted moisturiser which has also had a facelift since the last time I purchased it and is now known as hydra tint instead of sheer perfection...personally I preferred sheer perfection but it seems the company has tried to do some rebranding recently.

                ***The claim***

                According to VIE this tinted moisturiser offers "a weightless, complexion enhancing skin tint for sheer skin perfection, evens out skin tone and hydrates to leave you with happy, healthy looking skin. Protected, radiant and glowing - your skin is ready to face the day"

                ***Packaging***

                This moisturiser is presented in a 30ml squeeze tube with a twist off lid. The tube is dark blue in colour with VIE branding marked on it in silver with sheer perfection and SPF 15 tinted moisturiser written on the bottom - there is a description in silver writing on the back of the tube along with instructions for use and also contact information for the company. The last tube I purchased was in 2010 and it's not something I use every day and the rebranding had clearly started back then as there is a sticker with the new Vie at home information. When you unscrew the cap you will see that there is a tiny hole at the top of the neck where the liquid comes out.

                ***The smell***

                This foundation has a light fragrance which isn't immediately recognisable until you stick your nose up to the neck opening. It has a sort of oatmeal like fragrance coupled with that familiar cosmetic scent that I've come across so many times of peaches....the smell of peaches must come from something specific used throughout the cosmetic industry because it is a smell very familiar to me from the use of other products but what the ingredient could be I don't really know....overall I find the scent quite pleasant but a little redundant on a product such as this that I'm going to apply to my face...but to be honest it's not really noticeably fragrant when applied to your face as the scent is so delicate so this aspect of the liquid doesn't really matter.
                The Application

                Of course one of the most important aspects of products such as these is the overall application of the product. As previously indicated this is in fact a liquid and is quite runny so be careful when you squeeze the tube not to apply to much pressure as it comes out quickly. Squirt a little bit onto your fingers and gently rub into your face - I personally start with my nose and work my way onto my cheeks, rubbing into my chin and forehead last - I'm not sure why I do this but it just kind of makes sense and works for me. A little of the product goes a long way so you really don't need to extract a huge amount of liquid from the tube to get the right amount of coverage. The liquid absorbs quickly and evenly into the skin giving you a nice healthy looking glow with a spot of colour to go with it. Overall the product gives nice even coverage and it's so lightweight that you don't even notice it on your skin, and I think people would struggle to even notice you had anything applied at all.

                Now of course this is in fact a moisturiser and not a foundation so the fact that it's tinted and gives nice colour is only half the battle, the true question is does it moisturise....and the answer would be yes, however, it certainly doesn't take over from my regular every day moisturiser - this product is something I use as an extra. As stated previously it absorbs quickly and easily into the skin showing me that it has good penetration making sure my skin gets the best out of the hydrating properties and my skin feels instantly smoother but the negative side to this product is that I find it makes my already oily T-zone, that little more oily....by the end of the day my face actually looks quite shiny around the forehead and nose area especially if I've exerted any sort of energy throughout the day such as going for a walk at lunchtime and produced an element of sweat.

                ***Longevity***

                This moisturiser is one that only needs to be applied once in the morning as the product really does last all day including the colour. If you're using this product for the SPF15 factor as protection from the sun - another benefit the product offers - then I really don't think you would need to re-apply unless of course you have a really bad habit of rubbing your face. I will point out that this colouring in this product will show up on clothing so you wouldn't want to be wiping the sleeve of a long sleeved white T across your brow or anything silly like that. I haven't had any instances where the product has ended up on my clothing and hasn't come out in the washing machine so it's not likely to stain.

                ***Ease of removal***

                Because the moisturise stays on your skin for pretty much a full day - it's important like with any makeup (and I do class this as makeup) that you use either a face wipe or your usual cleanser to make sure the product is fully removed from the surface of your skin. You don't want to go to your bed in the evening and get makeup on your pillows. A simple face wipe will remove the product fully from your face with one wipe so it is very easy to take off.
                Where to buy and the cost

                As this is a Vie at home product - you can of course buy it on the VIE at home website for a grand total of £13.50 which is very pricey for a product that is only hits the good mark and the not the excellent or very good, however it is now called hydra tint - you can no longer get the sheer perfection from the vie website itself -there are however some offerings on ebay for around £10.50 if you fancy giving this original product a try. I can't really vouch for the new hydra tint that's replaced this one - but the description has remained the same, it would seem that only the packaging and name have changed but until I try the new version I can't really say if it's as good as this original one.

                A good product that protects my skin and gives me nice light coverage with a lovely natural tint giving the skin on my face a healthy happy look

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                • More +
                  06.01.2012 23:11
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                  One mans epic journey that began with one red paperclip

                  Imagine this, you're 25 years old, unemployed sitting at home trying to muster up the right words that make up the perfect resume so you no longer have to sponge off your girlfriend when all of a sudden a lightbulb goes on and you suddenly remember that childhood game you used to play - bigger and better it was called...as you look down at the red paperclip you suddenly realise that you want nothing more than to go on an adventure.....

                  This is the amazing true story of one mans journey (Kyle MacDonald) to start his own personal adventure - beginning with one red paperclip.

                  **One Red Paperclip**

                  At the very beginning of this story we are introduced to Kyle the Canadian - who you may have devised from the start of this review is a 25 year old man with no job, no money and little motivation in life. He has a girlfriend who is good to him but who he has been sponging off of for too long and it's time he found a job......until, one red paperclip sitting on his desk sparks an idea greater than any he's ever had before. What if with this one red paperclip he could trade it for something bigger and better? After days of mulling it over he eventually with the help of his family posted an ad on something called craiglist uploading a picutre of the one red paperclip and some words which went something like this;

                  "This might not surprise you, but this is a picture of a paperclip. It is red. This red paperclip is currently sitting on my desk next to my computer. I want to trade this paperclip with you for something bigger or better, maybe a pen, a spoon, or perhaps a boot. If you promise to make the trade I will come and visit you, wherever you are, to trade. So, if you have something bigger or better than a red paperclip, email me at biggerorbetter@gmail.com
                  Hope to trade with you soon!
                  Kyle"

                  If that advert isn't enough to spark your curiousity as to what happened next then I don't know what is. During this biography we follow Kyle on his amazing journey as he trades his one red paperclip for a fish pen on 14th July 2005, then a fish pen for a doorknob each time the trade getting bigger and better. Kyle travels to some weird and wonderful places including travelling to Quebec for a snowmobile. During his journey Kyle kept an online diary or a blog http://oneredpaperclip.blogspot.com/ of his trades which attracted media attention ending up on the radio and even the television. I don't think Kyle had even imagined that his one red paperclip would generate such a public following but that's what makes the story so fascinating.....can you imagine having the courage to start something that sounds as ridiculous as trading one red paperclip and continuing the journey for bigger and better items until you end up with what your little heart truly desires. It is a story not just of the journey but of the courage one man had to do something so unbelievable and ridiculous but that actually paid off....it's inspiring and almost makes me want to start trading a completely ridiculous object in the hopes of obtaining something bigger and better (I haven't heard of anyone else apart from Kyle MacDonald choosing to go down this road), but I lack the courage to devote my time to such a project.

                  Now I'm not going to tell you what Kyle ended up with but it was big is all I have to say - to think he started with one red paperclip and ended up with ?????? (you possibly already know due to the media attention the project got) in only 14 transactions is truly amazing to me. His journey ended on 5th july 2006 almost a year later and thankfully his next project was to transfer his blog and his story into this excellent book which was published in June 2007.


                  **So how did I come across this book and what are my thoughts**

                  It was actually a colleague at work that brought this book to my attention offering to lend it to me to read. I generally don't go for non-fiction but my colleague had told me a little bit about this book and I just knew that I had to read it. From the very beginning I was hooked, the book was funny and captivating and gave me that feel good warm and fuzzy feeling as I read on as this inspiring man made his incredible journey finally achieving what he set out to after so much hard work getting there. Don't get me wrong - this isn't a literary masterpiece, the writing style is like that of a teenager stumbling through the pages but it still reads very well. I find it truly amazing that this one man managed to generate so much media attention over what started as a small trading experiment. Each chapter takes you on another mini adventure as Kyle trades up to bigger and better things so it never seems to lose its edge, as you are constantly exploring new people and places throughout the book.

                  This book was very easy to read and almost unputdownable and even if you're not a fan of autobiographies I do recommend that you give this book a go, you may find some inspiration in the stories Kyle has to tell and even if you're not inspired, I gaurantee you will be entertained.

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                    05.01.2012 17:57
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                    Great for kids.....and even bigger kids too :o)

                    It's that time of year again, all the christmas presents have been ripped opened unboxed and used time and time again during the first week of their lifespan. As part of my christmas gifts I received a delightful little Jelly belly branded Jelly bean dispensing machine which as a lover of the jelly belly range of jelly beans seemed like the perfect novelty gift for my partner to get me.

                    **Who are Jelly Belly**

                    It was in 1960 that the jelly bean revolution began but in the 1960's it was still very much an experimental product and the candy company wasn't called Jelly Belly but instead was called Herman Goelitz candy co. It wasn't until 1976 that the jelly bean got true recognition by the governer of California at the time Ronald Reagan who claimed that the jelly bean was an integral part of each meeting stating "we can hardly start a meeting or make a decision without passing round a jar of Jelly beans". It was in this same year that another candy distributer based in Los Angeles had a unique idea for manufacturing jelly beans made with all natural flavours and submitted his proposal to herm of Herman Goelitz candy co for making these true to life flavours and so a new gourmet jelly bean was born in Los Angeles....the true home of the gourmet Jelly bean.

                    The first of these gourmet jelly bean flavours to be distributed to the public were; Very Cherry, Lemon, Cream Soda, Tangerine, Green Apple, Root Beer, Grape and Liquorice which got the public excited....and these new jelly beans caused even more of a stir when further flavours such as chocolate pudding and buttered popcorn made an appearance...these days there are more than 50 Jelly bean flavours with a worldwide following but only 50 official flavours to choose from at any one time and what better way to sample those flavours than a random selection from a jelly belly jelly bean dispensing machine.

                    **About the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean dispensing machine**

                    Standing at around 9" tall the jelly bean dispenser is a lovely red and antique silver colour with a tranditional glass globe branded with the Jelly belly brand name in the well known red and yellow jelly bean design. The jelly bean dispenser itself holds approximately 650 grams of Jelly beans which is quite a lot, but you have to make sure you are all stocked up with your jelly beans to be able to use it. What's great about this dispenser is that it doubles up as a piggy bank so you can add to your savings whilst sampling some of the delicious flavours jelly belly has to offer, however if you don't fancy paying for your jelly beans each and every time you can set the machine to be used with or without coins. It's just a neat little novelty dispenser that could sit on your desk at work, or in a nook or cranny at home. The machine itself will dispense beans with 1p, 5p, 10p and 20p coins allowing you to save most of your loose change and earn a tasty little treat at the same time

                    **Getting started**

                    When you take your Jelly bean dispenser out of it's packaging you will find it already assembled. My jelly bean machine came with 100g of jelly beans ready to start off the selection which barely even covers the bottom of the glass dome. To add the beans simply unscrew the red cap on top of the glass dome and it will pop off and simply pour in the jelly beans. Now I was quite lucky for christmas and also got a 50 flavour 600g box of jelly beans to add to my dispenser so it filled up quite quickly with only a small amount of jelly beans left over which were promptly consumed by myself and my partner. The jelly beans that fill up the glass dome look great and when it's full you can see the large selection of jelly beans available with all the different vibrant colours it's a fun thing to look at and what makes it more exciting is that with each turn of the dispenser handle you don't know what flavour you're going to get. Fun for you and all the family...you can even trick your guests into adding to your savings by offering them samples for some loose change.

                    Once you've filled up your dispenser with all of the yummy jelly bean flavours simply screw the lid back on but be careful not to tighten it too much as you risk breaking the glass globe. There is a sticker on the globe that warns you not to do this. At the foot of the dispenser is the dispensing tray and in the centre underneath the glass globe is the coin slot and the turn handle or crank. Once you're ready simply slot a coin into the coin slot out of your loose change and turn the crank and you will be presented with approximately 4 jelly beans for your change, which I think is just enough to wet the appetite but careful...if you want more you'll have to pay for them so maybe a good incentive to only eat a small handful at a time.

                    You can make the dispenser work without coins but it is a bit of a hassle to be honest and not something I plan on doing. To set the machine to be used without coins you have to remove the bottom and remove the small gear and washer that controls the crank....once you've removed these pieces simply pop the bottom back on and you're good to go....free jelly beans. Personally I like it that you can save money at the same time and when it comes time to refill the dispenser perhaps you'll have enough coins in it to refill it so it's technically paying for itself after the intitial outlay.

                    **My personal thoughts and opinion**

                    This is a great little quirky gadget which I am absolutely delighted with. The product is very well made and a great gift for Jelly Bean lovers. Although you can buy cheaper variations of the unofficial product I like the official jelly bean machine that I got for my christmas. I've barely made a dent in the 650g that it was filled with initially and seem to be endlessly filling it up with small change, sneaking a couple of tasty treats each day and it sits neatly on the computer desk just next to the computer screen so is taunting me as I write this review....begging for coins.

                    **Where to buy and the cost**

                    You can buy unofficial versions of this dispenser from certain retailers online. The best place to get it is the Jelly Belly UK online shop but it is quite expensive at £43.88 but you do get a 1kg bag of Jelly Beans with the machine if you buy it from here. You can however buy the machine with a much less generous 100g bag of jelly beans for about £24.00 from a company called heals and you John Lewis stock and unbranded version of the dispenser for around £23.00 so you can find it from a variety of different online and high street stores but it's probably a good idea to shop around for a bargain.****

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                    04.01.2012 14:43
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                    A little squirt - a bit of elbow grease and hey presto

                    The carpet I have laid in my bedroom is the original carpet from the previous owners of the property. I still stay at home with the parentalsbut am currently saving every penny I can with my partner to get a place of my own as I'm getting too old to still be living at home. The carpet itself is purple which doesn't go with my decor at all which is mocha and latte but I didn't see the point in shelling out the extra money for a new carpet when I wasn't intending on staying here for long. Because the carpet is old I noticed immediately that it had received quite a lot of punishment over the years with very noticable brown stains in places which aren't very pleasant to look at so my mum suggested that I try OzKleen Carpet Power to try to get rid of them and this is how it turned out.

                    **About Ozkleen carpet power**
                    I have to be honest - I had never heard of Ozkleen before my mum suggested it to me so didn't really know the first thing about the product or how effective it was going to be. The product itself is a carpet and upholstery stain remover which is coupled with a pleasant lavender fragrance to help eliminate bad odours whilst lifting stains and spills from carpets and upholstery. Presented in a standard spray bottle Ozkleen carpet power not only claims that it really does work but also claims that it is enviro-friendly and woolsafe approved which are both excellent accreditations in my book.

                    **Using Carpet Power**
                    Before you start using carpet power, if you have a liquid spill then it's important to remove any excess liquid from the carpet using a paper towel or a cloth, and if the stain is underneath anything solid then you should scrape off the solid excess from the surface. This will allow the product to be as effective as it can be on the stained area.

                    On the bottle are very clear instructions for use so I got to work straight away and sprayed some carpet power directly onto the stain that needed to be tackled being careful not to overwet spraying the product around 4-5 times. As soon as the product landed on the carpet I could see straight away that it was more like a foam than a liquid spray and the scent of lavender was very apparent immediately after spraying. I left the product to soak in for a couple of minutes and using a damp sponge began to work my way from the outside of the stain inwards as instructed. As soon as I started scrubbing using a circular motion and a fair bit of exertion with my damp sponge, the foam vanished and the reaction with the water on the sponge generated a lather on the carpet and I thought underneath all that lather I could see the stain disappearing and the familiar purple of the carpet peaking through. Once scrubbed I left the product to soak for around 5 minutes again as instructed and slowly began to remove the excess lather out of the carpet using a fresh damp cloth with clean water on standby to dab away at the previously stained area.

                    The water on standby I have to admit did look pretty dirty so I was confident before the area had even dried that this product had made a significant impact on the stained area. After leaving the area to dry for around half an hour or say I went back and ran the hoover over the patch and lo and behold I actually couldn't believe that it had worked. I don't know how long some of these stains had been on the carpet and I expected to perhaps need to apply the Carpet power a second time as it does state that for stubborn stains a 2nd application may be necessary but I have to admit that this worked first time and I was delighted.

                    **My overall thoughts and opinion**
                    I'm always a little dubious before trying a product for the first time and this was no different but I have to confirm the shock factor that the product did exactly as it said it would and the results were very pleasing. A 500ml spray bottle I can see lasting for a very long time so you will definately get your money's worth and you don't even need to use a lot of the product for it to be effective - simply have a damp cloth some clean warm water and some elbow grease at the ready and you'll be amazed at how quickly the stain begins to disappear. If you have some stains you need to tackle and the claim is that this is especially good on; coffee, grease, red wine, make up, pet stains and many many more, then this product comes highly recommended by me.

                    **Price and where to buy**
                    You can pick up a 500ml spray bottle of carpet power for £4.09 from your local tesco and a little really does go a long way so I think it's good value for money

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                      03.01.2012 17:02
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                      Not as chocolatey as I would have liked

                      Personally I like to make my brownies from scratch but my partner in all his wisdom thought it would be fun for us to make brownies together and bought the Betty Crocker brownie mix from Asda so here's how we got on with the mix.

                      **About Betty Crocker**
                      I always see Betty Crocker products on the shelves when I'm perusing the baking aisle in the supermarket but have never been tempted to buy one of the branded products choosing to always make my cakes and treats from scratch purely because I find it more satisfying. Now while you might think that Betty Crocker is an actual person you may be surprised to find out that the name Betty Crocker was manufactured by American company Washburn Crosby Co to make the brand more personable. It is claimed that the name Betty was selected as it is a "cheery all-american name" with the surname crocker being selected after William Crocker, a washburn Crosby director and so was born the famous American Betty Crocker brand name.

                      **About Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge Brownie mix**
                      The chocolate fudge brownie mix is quite simply a box with a cake mix contained inside with a claim that all is required to complete the brownie mix is to just add 1 egg, water and oil to make approximately 16 brownie servings. We chose to make the basic fudge brownie mix but on the box there is a "why not try" section which makes suggestions regarding adding nuts, cherries, cranberries etc so you can add your own spin on these mixes and make the recipe to suit you own tastes. On the box you will find the Nutritional information, the cooking guidelines and some hints and tips provided by the Betty crocker brand on how to make the most and get the best out of your brownie mix.

                      **Getting Started**
                      Before doing anything we cranked our fan assisted oven up to 160 degrees to pre-heat and then set about bringing together the additional elements required for the brownie mix. We carefully measured out 75ml of water in a jug, cracked a medium egg into a medium sized mixing bowl, added 30 ml of vegetable oil and carefully added the water....next up was the mix from the box (it was brown in colour from the added cocoa powder in the ingredients list) and added it to the mixture, mixing carefully with a wooden spoon. Whipping up the mixture literally took a couple of minutes (a little quicker than cooking from scratch) so we lightly greased a baking tin as directed by Betty and spread the mixture evenly over the base of the tin. At this stage the mix certainly looked very brownie esk....perhaps a little lumpier than my own home made version but I was reserving judgement until I'd tasted the finished product because as they say - the proof is in the pudding.

                      The tin we used for the mixture was slightly smaller than the recommended size of 27 x 17 x 4cms so we did wonder if we would need to adapt the cooking time of 20-25 minutes to account for additional thickness to the mixture so we popped it in the centre of our pre-heated oven and set the timer for the 25 minute mark and all that was left for us to do was wait. The timer went off and I quickly opened the oven door and skewered the centre of the now cake like brownies with that familiar crackled top to test their readiniess. The skewer came out clean, a sure sign that the brownie's were ready but the next step was the taste test, but as Betty recommends we should allow the brownie's to cool completely before cutting so a little more time needed to pass before we could try the mixture.

                      I have to admit that the chocolatey smell that filled the kitchen while the brownie's were cooking was quite mouthwatering and the smell was very pleasant indeed....almost as good as my made from scratch efforts.

                      **The Taste Test**
                      We decided that it would be a good idea to cut the brownie's into the 16 servings in the baking tray used to make them to ensure that the cake didn't start breaking into bits as soon as we took it out of the tray. The brownie pieces came out of the tin nice and easily and a serving is certainly enough for 2-3 bites which if you're looking for a little treat is a nice little portion. Taking my first bite I found that the texture and consistency of the brownie was exactly as it should be....a little crumbly on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside, however they weren't as chocolatey as I'd hoped they would be but still very pleasant to eat and not at all what I expected so I guess I was pleasantly surprised with this being a packaged product.

                      **My overall thoughts and opinion**
                      For a person who is a keen baker and very handy in the kitchen I really can't fault this product, although in my opinion the taste is a little inferior to my home made efforts and for someone who may not be so keen to make things from scratch this is so quick and easy to make that even the most uneducated of cooks following the instructions could successfully make a tasty afternoon treat (unless of course it gets left in the oven for too long, which in that case would produce burnt brownie). If you're looking for a quick and easy option then ths will certainly give you the results you're looking for but personally I recommend you try to make Brownie's from scratch using actual chocolate as opposed to a ready mix but that's just my personal preference.

                      **Price and where to buy**
                      My parter purchased this particular betty Crocker offering from our local Asda but as far as I'm aware you can get Betty Crocker cake mixes from pretty much any supermarket. Asda are currently selling this one at £1.93 which to be honest I think is pretty expensive for a cake mix and that was at a discounted price with the normal price advertised at £2.15.

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                        03.01.2012 00:18
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                        Intense softening for your feet

                        As I get older I find that I long to take care of those things that keep me going every day....looking after your skin is a very important thing as no-one likes to have dry washed out looking skin so moisturising all over is a part of my daily routine and as my feet are one of the most important things I use to get me from A to B I like to make sure they get a little bit of pampering every now and then so I like to use an intensive foot moisturiser every day to keep them soft and supple and in good condition. Once such moisturiser is one with a deep penetrating formula by the Boots advance foot care range which is specifically designed for dry and cracked skin, providing softening and conditioning treatment helping to prevent any further damage to your feet.

                        When I was younger I had horrible feet...suffering from a localised form of eczema which only affected my feet and I often had trouble some days with even the simple task of walking....but with numerous lotions and potions prescribed by the Dr it finally cleared up and I have vowed to look after my feet ever since so they've never really been in bad condition as an adult but I have to admit I have on occasion neglected my poor tootsies and find that if I don't moisturise daily I am prone to a thickening and hardening of the skin in certain areas which is only cured by using an intensive moisturiser such as the boots advanced foot care intensive foot softener.

                        **About Boots Advanced Footcare Intensive Foot Softener**
                        As you will have guessed, this particular foot cream is a Boots own branded product from the advanced foot care range and has been specifically designed with a deep penetrating Formula to soften and condition dry tired feet. Made with AHA, this foot cream penetrates the dead surface cells of the skin seeping into the underlying tissues to soften and condition any new skin underneath which eventually makes it's way to the surface as the dead skin slowly fades away.

                        **The claim**
                        Boots intensive foot softener claims to soften and condition dry skin and cracked heals with it's deep penetrating, easily absorbed formula encouraging the formation of smoother skin whilst helping to protect against further dry cracked skin

                        **The smell**
                        To be honest this particular foot cream is pretty odourless with only a slight creamy smell to it if that makes any sense at all, so if you're looking for something that's going to give your feet a nice scent as well as the moisturising properties then this won't be the one for you.

                        **The consistency**
                        This cream as you would expect from it's deep penetrating claims is a white cream which very thick in consistency which I find sometimes collects around the cap of the tube where the cream comes from

                        **How to use**
                        I find it's always nice to put a cream such as this on your poor feet after a bath or shower, that way you're guaranteed to have nice clean feet, and after towel drying you should be ready to apply. Now the areas of my feet where my skin is prone to hardness tends to be the heel and the balls of my feet so I pay particular attention to these areas when rubbing the cream in. It is recommended that the cream is used twice daily which is what I started off with, in the morning and in the evening before bed....I find that foot socks at bedtime allow the cream to stay on the skin for longer giving the moisturising properties of the cream time to deeply condition the skin and slowly soften it. I found that using the cream twice daily for a couple of weeks had sufficiently softened those hard skinned areas and moved onto the recommendation of using the cream once daily to keep the feet conditioned. I like to put this cream on in the morning before work and put my socks or tights on over the top and all day long my feet feel as though they're getting extra conditioning.

                        you're feet take an enormous amount of daily punishing so it's important to look after them to keep them in good condition. I don't think anyone in particular is a huge fan of rough or hard skinned feet so it's important to find yourself a good cream that will keep them in tip top shape. I know I certainly feel a lot better when my feet are soft, smooth and cared for.

                        **Does it work**
                        I have to admit the only bit I don't agree with on this foot cream is the "easily absorbed" claim as I find that my feet always feel a little slimy for quite some time after application even when I only apply a small amount but I do have to admit I am a little over exuberant with the application of this for the most part so it is perhaps my own fault but the feeling isn't unpleasant in the slightest so it's not really a complaint. After a couple of weeks of liberal usage twice daily I can honestly say that I noticed a marked improvement in the quality of the skin on my feet - not to mention my hands which are also incredibly soft due to the daily application of this cream. Once my feet had reached the desired level of softness and I reduced the application to once per day I can confirm that my feet have remained consistently soft, smooth and conditioned so overall I would say that the product does what it has been designed to do.

                        As well as keeping your feet soft and smooth it's also nice if you have someone else rub it in for you incorporating a foot massage into the daily application which adds a little extra niceness to the experience.

                        **Cost and where to buy**
                        As this is a Boots own branded product it stands to reason that the only place you can purchase the product is in Boots itself. Now the product has had a bit of a facelift since it's addition to Ciao so does't look like the picture above and is now boots pharmaceutical advanced foot care rather than just boots advanced foot care. For a 150ml tube which will last you a good 6 months or so costs you £5.10 currently which I don't think is too bad a price for daily foot care.

                        **My overall thoughts and opinion**
                        Although a little on the pricey side this foot cream comes highly recommended from me for everyday moisturising. My feet are soft, smooth and conditioned and it only takes a couple of minutes to apply each day so isn't exactly a time consuming task. A little goes a long way so you won't need to replace the 150ml tube quickly so really it works out to be quite cost effective

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