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I follow the Weightwatchers plan, but I adore my food, and have lost almost 4st in the past year and a half or so by doing the point-counting properly and never denying myself the nice stuff. No salads or plain, boring low fat ready meals for me, thanks! I could never do without chips now and again, and being on a very strict budget, I do tend to buy cheap, filling oven chips. These rustic chips from McCain are 3% fat and so seemed ideal for me.
INGREDIENTS AND FAT CONTENT
These contain nothing but potatoes and sunflower oil. They have 3% fat, and contain 0.2g of saturated fat per 100g of frozen chips.
To cook these (from frozen), you just put them on a baking tray and bake between 16 and 19 minutes. I find that around 16 minutes is better as they seem to have a fine line between 'golden brown' and 'golden brown to slightly burnt'. The longer they cook, the harder and crispier they go, which isn't to my personal liking. The pack recommends these are baked at 220C but I never put the oven higher than 200C; you would need to judge things by your own oven.
I buy these fairly regularly, and I have found that these can be a bit hit and miss. Some bags will have chips that can be quite flavourless, while in others the chips taste 'fattier' and thus more like normal chips. The 'nice' bags taste very nice indeed although I do need to eat these with a tiny bit of BBQ or tomato sauce, otherwise they can taste bland and very starchy. The chips themselves are quite thick cut and chunky. Some of the chips have the skin on them. I personally prefer the chips without this.
I do like these as they feel relatively guilt-free and help curb any cravings for chips I may have. On occasion I would sprinkle these with paprika before putting them into the oven, just to give them a boost of flavour.
These are £1.75 for a 1kg bag. A bag of these would last me between 3 or 4 weeks if I am eating them once a week. Sainsbury's sometimes sell these for £1. Either price is fine in my book.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THESE?
I would only recommend these if like myself you want to buy a lower fat option. If not, I think these are just too much on the bland side, and if you are not worried about your weight or the fat content, you'd be better off sticking to regular oven chips - or better still, making proper chips yourself (mmm... chance would be a fine thing!)
Thanks to my long hair and washing my dog in the bath, a lot of hair and soap suds were beginning to block my bathroom plughole. It was taking longer and longer for the bathwater to rinse away, sometimes even overnight wasn't long enough. Rather than a) calling my dad or b) a plumber, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to unblock it with a chemical product as opposed to a plunger. Normally I am very, very cynical about products like this but I figured it was worth a try.
This Buster Bathroom Plug Unblocker claims to dissolve hair/soap/sludge from bathroom plugholes and pipes, thus stopping water from draining slowly.
This comes in a very serious looking black plastic bottle with a blue lid. On the front is a picture of a plughole and what it claims to do, as stated above. I don't recall having any particular difficulties in taking the lid off, and once you do, the top of the bottle is quite thin and tapered - a bit like a larger version of the top of superglue - which enables you to have room to squirt it down the plughole.
HOW TO USE
It is recommended that for blockages, you use the whole bottle. Simply empty the bottle slowly down the plughole and then leave it for at least 15 minutes - ideally overnight. It comes out reasonably slowly so you can't just squirt it all out in one go. My plughole was so badly blocked that after about half a bottle, the product wouldn't go any further down, so I had to wait around 10 minutes for it to travel its way down the plughole before I poured the remainder.
Once you have left it to work for the desired amount of time, you then flush your plughole with plenty of hot water.
You can also use this regularly ie. weekly to prevent blockages, by pouring a third of the bottle down as and when required.
SMELL AND CONSISTENCY
This had the smell and consistency of thick, clear bleach. I expected a stronger smell from such a heavy duty product, but I could not smell this once I had used it, or in the bathroom afterwards. I could only smell the bleachy scent as I was pouring it.
I was optimistic that this was going to work as soon as I started pouring it. There were some stray hairs in the bottom of my bathtub and when I spilt a bit of this product on them, after a few minutes you could sort of see them shrivel - almost the way hair looks when it is burning.
I used this at around 8pm one evening and left it for just under 24 hours. I would recommend that you do use this at a time you don't need your shower/bath, so that it has the maximum time to work. My shower is inside my bath, so I was able to spray lots of hot water down the plughole using the shower head. Immediately upon doing so, the water washed away cleanly and I could hear the trickle of the water flowing freely down the plughole. I then had a shower and again the water went down the plughole as I was doing so, and I was no longer left standing in several inches of water. Brilliant stuff! A week later, the water is still running away and my bath looks nice and clean and scum-free again.
This product is corrosive and can cause burns (the manufacturers say). It contains sodium hypochlorite and sodium hydroxide. Obviously as with any chemical product, you should not mix this with anything else. It is also recommended that you wear gloves and eye/face protection. If this does make contact with your skin or eyes, you should rinse it for 20 minutes.
I paid £3.40 for this 300ml bottle in Sainsbury's, but prices vary both online and in stores. For the results this gave, I think this is a great price. Even if I had to buy a bottle of this once a month - which I don't - I would be more than happy to pay this again.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS?
Definitely. The blockage in my plughole was rather bad so I honestly can't see how anyone could fail to be impressed by this product. I will be buying this again, without a doubt.
I can't pretend that this cushion wasn't anything other than a total impulse buy the last time I plucked up the courage to go to a place I hate, IKEA, - so I won't.
THE GULORT RANGE
Gulort is a range from IKEA comprising of this cushion, cushion covers, a lampshade and a rug. The range is brightly coloured, and best of all, features little cartoon owls. There are a lot of owl-inspired home furnishings about at the moment and I have no idea why the sudden trend but I must confess to finding owl motifs really, really cute.
The main body of the cushion is black, but it has brightly coloured leaves/leaf patterns on it in lime green, orange, white, pink, blue and red. Also on the cushion is a drawing of 1) 2 little owls and 2) a hedgehog! As an animal lover and someone who finds any kind of little creature adorable, I couldn't NOT buy this.
Because this cushion has a very unique and unusual pattern, I personally wouldn't use it as an 'everyday' cushion in my living room as I prefer more natural colours for my sofa cushions. However I have this on my sofa-chair in a spare room upstairs which is brightly coloured anyway. It makes me smile every time I walk past it and it really stands out from the rest of the room. It has brightened up the room so much and really makes more of an impact on the decor than I thought it would.
I think this would also be a lovely cushion to use in a child's room also.
MATERIAL AND SIZE
This cushion is 30x60cm and is 100% cotton with a 100% polyester filling.
WASHING AND CARE
IKEA recommend that this is to be machine washed at 40C. It can be tumble-dried, but not ironed or dry-cleaned. As I only use this cushion for 'decoration', I have not washed it as it isn't dirty. Therefore I can't give an opinion on how well this washes. Having said that, if everything went horribly wrong during the washing and drying process, it's more than cheap enough to buy another one.
The IKEA website says that this cushion is sadly not available to buy online, however you can of course use the stock checker on the site to check your local store's availability. My local store (Belfast) had a huge pile of these available.
This cushion costs £3.50. When I saw this in Ikea, I had to double check I wasn't looking at the wrong price sign because I really think this is incredibly cheap for a cushion.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS?
I would recommend this, yes. It's so cute and colourful and I am tempted to get the matching rug!
Another dog toy review... what can I say? Sawyer is a very spoilt and over-indulged little schnauzer.
As I have mentioned in previous reviews, he can be rather destructive when it comes to toys, and he loves chewing things. I like buying him 'cute' toys such as stuffed animals but really it's pointless because he can pull them to shreds within minutes. Therefore I have to buy him more functional, if a little boring, toys instead.
This rope toy is pretty basic - a thick piece of rope that is bound together thickly and tied at each end. The dimensions are 14 x15 x6.cm (so says the Pets At Home website).
Some rope toys can come with flavours such as mint or chocolate, but this is plain old rope and is designed for tough chewers. The rope pictured is red and yellow but the one I have is black and yellow.
While boring compared to other dog toys, really this is quite versatile, I have found. You can use it to play fetch either indoors or outdoors, play tug, or simply use it as a chew toy. Sawyer's is not interested in playing fetch outdoors but will happily chase this up and down the house if I throw it. He also loves playing tug with it, and the strands of individual rope do not rip or tear away from the main body of the toy even when we get a little rough.
Sawyer will also happily lie on the sofa chewing this toy. I put it into his pen with him as well when I am not in, so he has something to gnaw on.
I have found this toy to be sturdy and it really does take a lot of abuse without showing major signs of wear and tear. I am wary about leaving Sawyer alone with certain toys, such as ones that can break apart or have small bits that can be swallowed, however I have always found this rope toy to be fine to be left with him unsupervised.
I buy rope toys quite a lot and because Sawyer chews them, the rope does start to get a bit whiffy. By that point however generally they have become frayed and done the job, so can be chucked in the bin.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
You can get rope toys in any pet shop but I got this particular one from Pets At Home. It costs £4 which is a bargain given that Sawyer really loves it and it will last several months.
WOULD I BUY THIS AGAIN?
Yep, I buy these all the time.
This pig toy for dogs is made of latex and makes an 'oinking' noise when squeezed. I was in Pets At Home with my 6 year old niece and told her to choose a toy for my dog Saywer. Lo and behold she choose one that made a noise! The toy is very soft and rubbery to the touch, and the noise is made by air being expelled from its snout.
PLAYING WITH THE TOY
Sawyer immediately went mad for this toy, especially when he heard the oinking noise. He batted it about with his paws and enjoyed playing fetch with it - up to a point. However just like a child, his attention wasn't held by 'piggy' and after a few days (if that), he wasn't as enthused by it. In contrast, my 2 year old nephew adored this and probably would have happily kept it for himself.
As for the noise, I personally don't find it especially annoying but I do tend to take it off Sawyer before it gets to that point! If you let your dog have it indefinitely then it probably will eventually send you mad.
Pets at Home recommend that if this toy becomes ripped or damaged, it should be removed from your dog immediately. Sawyer is a big chewer of toys and I give him rope toys for this, however after couple of minutes of playing fetch with this, he did tend to lie down and start having a bit of a chew. He was able to chew the poor piggy's snout off, revealing a small 'squeaker' and a sort of thin fleecy material inside. Therefore if your dog is prone to chewing, I would highly suggest that you supervise your dog at all times when they have this.
WHERE TO BUY
I got this from Pets At Home but it is also widely available to buy online from websites like Amazon.
SIZES AVAILABLE AND PRICE
This toy comes in 2 sizes - small, which is £4 and large, which is £7.
Personally I wouldn't pay £7 for this toy as Sawyer is MUCH too destructive and it would be a waste of money. But £4 is fine provided I supervise him while he plays with it and doesn't chew it to bits in the space of a few days.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS?
I would recommend this for dogs who enjoy playing fetch, as they will get a lot of entertainment from this. However, for dogs such as mine who would rather lie there chewing something, this isn't as good - although I do still think this was worth buying, if anything to see Sawyer's bemused face when he first heard the oinking noise!
While this looks like a regular lipstick, it is actually more like a lip balm. Revlon say that this contains mango, shea and coconut butter which helps the lip butter to glide on, and help hydrate lips.
THE TUBE AND LIP BUTTER
This comes in a tube, and again just looks like lipstick. The stick is a little thinner than a lipstick would be - and I think you would need to be careful when applying this as the thinner size means that it could break off more easily if you were a little over-zealous or if the stick was on the warm size. I would consider putting this into the fridge beforehand if I was going to be going out for the night and using this. The lid of the lip butter is made of plastic and I do think this looks a bit on the cheap side. A metallic lid would look far nicer and do the actual product more justice.
There are 20 different colours of Lip Butter available. The amount of shades you can buy in this range is one of the best things about it; I really do think you'd be hard pressed to find one that you didn't like. With names such as Raspberry Pie, Creme Brulee, Red Velvet, Brown Sugar, and Pink Lemonade, these are available in varying shades of pink, red and purple, along with more peachy, natural/brown shades. I did have to stand in Boots for quite a long time while I tried to make my mind up about which one to buy. The one I plumped for was Watermelon, which is a dark pinkish red.
APPLICATION AND LONGEVITY
Revlon recommend applying these to clean, dry lips. I would exfoliate my lips before using these, and they glide on. They just feel like you are applying lip balm, and you would not be able to tell the difference.
Because this is like a lip balm, it needs to be reapplied every so often. The colour is less pigmented than a lipstick, and so I find that I don't necessarily need a mirror in order to apply it so I don't look like a clown. Similarly, it doesn't 'bleed' or end up on your teeth. Repeated application will gradually build the colour up, and after an entire night of use, the colour looked fantastic by the end.
Unlike when I wear lipstick or lip stain, my lips don't feel dry. I was also able to go out for a meal and drinks wearing this, and it did not come off my lips at all. It doesn't feel sticky like gloss either.
I find lipstick and some lip glosses too bright/conspicuous to wear in the office, so these lip butters are perfect for work as some shades are more subtles, and not too obvious.
These cost around £7.99 each. This isn't a price I can afford very often but I would say that they are worth it.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THESE?
I would recommend Revlon Lip Butter for people like me who aren't big fans of lipstick but still want some colour and/or to make a statement with their lip colour. For me, it has been lovely to find a product that doesn't dry my lips out, and I am going to enjoy experimenting with different shades and perhaps treating myself to a different colour each payday. While my very strict budget does mean that the price makes me wince a little, for a lot of people these won't seem especially expensive. Nice colours, a large range of shades, no stickiness - I can't fault this product at all.
This is another shower gel I bought while it was on offer. I love Original Source but can't really afford it at its regular price. So when I see it on sale for half price, I will generally choose one of its products over any other brand.
Usually I plump for the fruitier scents when I buy shower gel, but writing reviews for dooyoo gets me buying items I wouldn't normally try - cue me choosing this Shea Butter and Honey Shower Cream.
As with all Original Source shower gels/creams, it comes in a sort of triangular shaped bottle that feels chunky and sturdy. The lettering on the front is bold and eye-catching, and I really like the way it is presented. About this particular scent, Original Source say it was made by 49 bee miles (no idea). I like this company because their products are not tested on animals, the packaging is produced domestically, and they encourage you to recycle the bottles.
SMELL AND APPEARANCE
This shower cream is a pale caramel colour, resembling cloudy honey. It's a little on the thin side for my tastes, as I prefer thicker shower gels - I find there's less wastage that way.
Normally I am not keen on sweet smells as I prefer zingier scents, but I really loved this. It smells sweet (but not sickeningly so), and reminded me of caramel or toffee. Despite there being shea butter in this, I didn't find it had the chocolately, vanilla smell of it, which personally I was glad about as I loathe the smell of vanilla.
No complaints about using this whatsoever. It lathers up incredibly well and feels soft and creamy against the skin. I found the scent of this as I was using it really comforting, and it was lovely to use when having a shower before putting on nice clean PJs and going to bed!
I don't think this left my skin any softer than other shower gels do, and disappointingly the lovely smell didn't linger on my skin after use.
This is normally around £2.20 for a 250ml bottle - great if you can afford this. I can't, but I find that Original Source products are frequently on offer in Sainsbury's so I usually pay half price when I am buying these.
WOULD I BUY THIS AGAIN?
As I have said in many of my reviews of skin products, I have very sensitive skin which is prone to dryness and rosacea. I have been trying to use minimal water on my face recently as it seems to make my skin more problematic. I usually rinse cleanser off my face when I am removing my make-up at the end of each day, so I needed something else. Facecloths are a bit too rough on my face and I dislike using cotton wool and toilet roll, so this Sponge Cloth from Dermalogica seemed ideal.
This cloth measures 10x10 inches and comes in a plain plastic pouch. The cloth itself is white with the simple grey Dermalogica logo on it. It is made from a very, very thin sponge-type material which is extremely soft to the touch when removed from the packaging. It is hard to describe the material; the closest comparison I can make is probably to that of a chamois although it is a lot more delicate than that. It is completely fragrance free and has no artificial colours. The sponge cloth is made from a biodegradable, bacteria-resistant fabric.
This is for removing all cleansers and masques - anything you put on your face, really. Dermalogica also say this is good for using on babies, and I can understand why as it's so gentle.
This is suitable for all skin types, but I would say that this is best for people like myself with sensitive, reactive skin. I have seen reviews online where people moan that this does not exfoliate. The cloth is not MEANT to exfoliate. This is a soft, gentle cloth that has no exfoliating properties whatsoever and does NOT claim otherwise.
USING THE CLOTH
After applying cleanser, you simply wipe it off with the sponge cloth. The material feels like it 'clings' against the skin as you use it, really getting the last traces of product and/or dirt from your face. It feels very smooth against the skin; in no way rough or abrasive. This is also gentle enough to use around your eyes, and indeed using this removes my eyeliner better than anything else I have ever used on it. This definitely removes more make-up/dirt than a facecloth or cotton wool does.
After using this you will obviously see the make-up/dirt you have just removed on the cloth. You simply rinse it under the tap and squeeze the water out to clean it. When water is applied, it does seem to take all of the make-up/dirt from off the cloth; however you can wash this in the washing machine. I tend to wash this once a fortnight and then let it dry naturally.
Due to the weird nature of this material, the cloth becomes hard and stiffened when it dries. Once you wet it again, it becomes supple and spongy once more.
Prices vary online for the Sponge Cloth, but you can expect to pay about £9 to £15 for this. As this will last for a long time, it probably works out cheaper than if you were using cotton wool or toilet roll to take your make-up off with.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS?
I would definitely recommend this for people with sensitive skin. My skin feels very clean after using this, and it is gentle enough for me not to worry about my skin becoming red or sore.
I was very bored with my usual foundation and felt like a change. I have been buying Maybelline mascaras for many years and am fairly brand loyal to them, so I thought I would give their Dream Satin Liquid foundation a go.
This comes in a small plastic bottle with a beige plastic pump at the top. The front has a label giving the brand name and name of the product. The packaging is very plain and to be honest in comparison with some other Maybelline products, I find the bottle to be quite cheap looking. But if it means I don't have to fork out extra for fancy packaging then fair enough.
Maybelline claim that this is 'air-whipped' foundation that is suitable for sensitive skin. They also say it won't clog pores and will give a 'luminous' finish.
This is available in 7 different shades - Light Porcelain, Ivory, Cameo, Nude, Sand, Fawn, Sun Beige and Caramel. I am fairly pale so I got this in Ivory.
SMELL, APPEARANCE AND TEXTURE
This is oil-free and fragrance-free, and has been tested under dermatological control. I have very sensitive skin that is prone to rosacea so I need to be extremely careful about what I put on my face. I have not had any issues with this foundation - no dryness, sensitivity or rashes, hurrah!
Maybelline describe this foundation as 'air-whipped' and indeed the texture is very light and creamy. It comes out of the pump in a thick blob and I thought it might be slightly difficult to apply smoothly and evenly to the face. The foundation I used previously was L'Oreal's True Match which in complete contrast is quite a runny foundation, so it was very different for me to use this one.
Maybelline advise that you apply this with your fingertips, but I have never been able to apply foundation decently with my fingers, so I use a make-up sponge to apply this. I don't need to dampen the sponge beforehand as this is fine to apply with a dry sponge.
The foundation goes on very smoothly and glides across the skin as you apply it to wherever on your face you need it. I found that I only needed a small blob for my chin, forehead and each cheek as even a small blob will spread across the skin.
I was really happy with the coverage this foundation gave, especially on my forehead and chin. As I said previously, I have rosacea so my cheeks generally tend to be on the reddish side. This covered up the majority of that - some redness still showed through but to be honest I am like this with all foundations; it is the fault of my face, not the product! With L'Oreal True Match, it tended to give me those dreadful orange tide marks in places if I didn't blend it into my skin properly, but I didn't experience that with this foundation.
MATCH TO SKIN TONE
The Ivory shade of this foundation is probably the closest I have come to getting a foundation that 100% matches my skin tone. I find it has a pinkish rather than orange tone to it which suits my skin a lot better.
APPEARANCE AND FEELING ON SKIN
In my opinion this looks fine on my skin - not too thick or cakey. Some foundations can make my skin feel tight but this one doesn't. I can 'feel' it on my skin but I like this feeling because knowing I have make-up on always makes me feel more confident.
This has average durability, no better or worse than any other foundation I have ever tried. Enough stays on over the course of a working day for me not to scare colleagues with my make-up less face at the end of the day, and that's good enough for me. I don't have to reapply it throughout the day.
I do have dryish skin so I am not sure how this would perform on oilier skins - it is very smooth in texture and I don't know if it would fade from oily skin easier.
I got this for £7.99 in my local Sainsbury's. This is quite cheap for a foundation nowadays. I'd be willing to pay up to £15 for a foundation as it's so crucial for me to have good coverage, so I am happy to pay this.
WOULD I BUY THIS AGAIN?
Yes, I would buy this foundation again. I really like how well it matches my skin tone, and it provides good enough coverage for the relatively low price. This is a good foundation for drier skins and I was more impressed by it than I thought I would be.
A Day at the Office is a 2013 novel by Matt Dunn. I bought it for my Kindle as it was cheap on Amazon. I believe I got it for 99p, but it is currently £1.99.
This novel is set over the course of a working day in an office in London. The day is Valentine's Day. The story is told from the point of view of 5 characters - Sophie, Julie, Nathan, Mark and Calum. They all work together and are planning to go to the Anti-Valentine's work outing that Nathan has organised. The novel follows their day, and as it goes on we learn about their love lives (or lack of).
The novel centres around 3 main storylines. One of these is so infuriating and dragged out that you just want to shake the 2 characters involved and tell them to get their acts together. Another plotline I assume was meant to have a very surprising climax; however I predicted it a few chapters in.
I found the characters to be very real and likeable, but they all make terrible puns, ALL the time. Each time I read another one, I tutted and rolled my eyes; it was just constant and too much. The author also has an annoying habit of constantly using their full names - he does this throughout the entire book. To me, there is really no need for this. There are only 5 main characters, so as a reader I was quite aware who they were by their first names!
The series of 'hilarious' mishaps and misunderstandings that befall all the characters for the duration of the novel were a bit cheesy at times, cliched almost. For example, someone dropping a bowling ball on their foot; someone else's electric razor breaking when they've only shaved half of their face. It all seemed a bit too silly for me - I appreciate though that I am a grump and others might find all these jolly japes amusing.
I do get what the author was trying to do by setting this novel over the course of a day and setting it in 'real time', but for me it just bored me. Very little actually happens and too much time is spent describing each character's thoughts and feelings, some of which just didn't captivate me whatsoever. Their daily business such as going to get coffee is described in minute detail - you know, I do stuff like that myself everyday so I have no desire to read about other people's office drudgery.
This is a down to earth book, and parts of it are witty, but it wasn't enough to satisfy me. Perhaps I prefer a little escapism in my novels.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS?
Sadly I would not recommend this. I have read good reviews elsewhere for this book so I do seem to be in the minority. I found it frustrating and cheesy. Unfortunately, like a day at the office, this was just too mundane at times and I couldn't wait for it to end.
I go out walking a lot with my dog, but I could not even entertain the idea of walking without my iPod. I love listening to podcasts and music when I am out for a walk, and I know that without this, I'd probably not go out walking half as much. Therefore headphones for my iPod are an absolute essential. When my iPod headphones broke (and let's face it, the headphones you get with iPods are total rubbish), I was relieved to find that my local Argos had several pairs in stock.
These iLuv in-ear headphones have a cord that measures 1.2m, a 3.5mm gold-plated jack, and in-line volume control which is situated just below where the cord for each earbud meets. The headphones also come with replacement buds.
Sometimes with in-ear headphones, I can find them very uncomfortable or constantly have to keep putting them back into my ear if they fall out. With these, they sit securely in my ears and I can walk along happily without finding they have fallen out. The earbuds are made from a very soft rubbery material, which is comfortable inside the ears and do not irritate or rub against the skin. The earbuds cover the headphones securely and so far they have not fallen off. Even if they do, I always have the replacement buds that the headphones come with.
I find the volume control extremely convenient when I am using these as it means I am not having to take my iPod out of my pocket to adjust the volume. I have found the volume controls to be very good, giving the sound a bit of a boost that goes above and beyond the volume my iPod on its own could offer.
After over a year of using these regularly, they have not broke or done the annoying headphone thing of breaking in one ear only. I use these several times a week and they are as good as new.
For me personally, these headphones do not have any disadvantages. Sure, they could be louder but that is purely down to my personal preference - for me, music can never be loud enough. Some may find the lack of a separate control for the bass volume a disadvantage, but this doesn't bother me.
These are available in a range of colours. At the moment Argos, where I bought these, are only selling black and white versions; however I have a purple pair and at the time of buying, they also had these in blue and pink. Hopefully Argos will re-stock, as I like having a more colourful pair than the usual black and white.
As I said above, you can buy these in Argos, but they are widely available online and in other high street shops such as Curry's.
These cost £8.99 at the time of purchase, however Argos are currently selling the black version for £7 which is a bargain. I think this is a very reasonable price for a pair of headphones, particularly as they have volume control, replacement buds, sit comfortably in your ear and have lasted me for over a year despite regular use. I think if I ever bought a cheaper pair I would not expect them to have the same longevity as these.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THESE?
Unless you're into fancy, expensive headphones, then I would definitely recommend these. If you're after a decent, reasonably cheap pair of headphones that are better than the standard ones you get with an iPod, then you could do much worse than these. After a year or so, mine are still going strong, and when and if they do eventually expire, I wouldn't hesitate to buy the same headphones again.
Like most families we all love our food, and so milestone birthdays or special occasions are usually celebrated by going to a restaurant for something to eat. My parents wouldn't really go for Italian, Chinese, Indian restaurants etc, so we normally opt for somewhere that serves more traditional fayre.
The White Horse is less than 10 miles away from where we live, so this is one of our favourite places to go. As Sunday was Mother's Day, we (5 adults and 2 children), we headed there for a meal.
LOCATION AND ESTABLISHMENT
The White Horse Inn is located in the main street of Saintfield, a small country village in Co. Down, Northern Ireland. It is around 12 miles from Belfast city centre and easy to find, as most things are in this small country! The bar/bistro is a former coaching inn that hosts live music and quizzes also.
DECOR AND SIZE
As this is a country inn, as you can imagine the decor is very traditional and rustic. It was renovated in 2002 and is extremely inviting. The bar area and staircase is all pine, with exposed brick walls and thick carpeted floor. The walls are painted a dark, rich green, with vintage Guinness posters dotted here and there, and shelves holding old antique books. There is also a log fire and plenty of booths and tables whether you are there for a meal or just a drink at the bar. The overall decor is very cosy without looking old-fashioned.
The bistro area seats 60 people, and this area includes an indoor balcony which is slightly more private than the main bar. There is also a lower level that has an outdoor heated smoking area, and can be used for private hire.
We chose from the special menu laid on for Mother's Day which was £14.95 for 2 courses, or £18.95 for all 3. Each course had a choice from 4 dishes eg. Starter - Prawn and melon cocktail, deep fried Brie; Main - Smoked haddock with an olive crust, Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding; Dessert - Raspberry Ruffle Cheesecake, Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Aside from the special menus, the bistro offers a lunch menu and a dinner menu. It is mainly pub grub with a modern twist, and I will just give some examples of the meals available:
Starters - eg. Grilled goat's cheese bruschetta with peppered pear chutney and balsamic reduction; Smoked haddock, prawn, scallion and toulouse sausage risotto with parmesan shavings; Soup of the day with Belfast black stout wheaten bread.
Main - eg. Southern fried chicken goujons, chive sour cream dip, chips and salad; Pan fried venison sausages, black pudding mash, roast onion and parsley jus; Seabass, king prawn, pak choi, lemon and scallion creamed noodles; Dry aged sirloin steak, sauteed onions and mushrooms, tobacco onions; White Horse burger with caramelised onion, bacon and cheese.
Dessert menus are available when you go, and usually feature things such as Apple Crumble, Pavlova and cheesecakes... the usual stodgy, delicious type of pudding!
FOOD AND DRINK
The White Horse tries to source all their food locally; for example the potatoes are provided by the owner's brother. Every meal I have ever had here has been delicious, particularly their steaks, which are cooked to perfection and ridiculously big.
On Sunday I had deep fried Brie for starters, which came with a peppered pear chutney. The chutney was tangy and the slight acidity really complimented the oozy, gooey cheese, which was completely melted on the inside and coated with crispy breadcrumbs on the outside. It was so good that I didn't even feel guilty about how bad for you it is.
For a main I had the turkey and ham, which had stuffing inside. You could tell how freshly made the stuffing was as it was full of rosemary. The gravy was very rich and flavoursome. It came with roast potatoes which were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, a very smooth and buttery mashed potato, cauliflower cheese, mashed carrots, and broccoli.
For dessert I had chocolate tart with orange ice cream. I expected the chocolate tart to be a bit more chocolatey than it was which was the only disappointment, but it was still lovely. I had never had orange ice cream before and it was very refreshing and a real palate cleanser against the thick chocolate.
There was a kids menu available which offered about 6 choices such as cheeseburgers or penne pasta. My niece had chicken nuggets and chips - the chicken nuggets were freshly made in golden batter; no frozen crap. My nephew had cod fingers and chips, and again it was not frozen fish fingers, it was proper fish in batter which had been freshly made.
All the portions were huge and to be honest I think it was the most I have ever had on my plate for a main meal!
The bar is recommended by CAMRA as it offers 5 locally brewed ales - of which I did not partake I might add.
Prices range from £3.85-£5.75 for a starter (lunch and evening menu) and £5.95-£9.95 for a main (lunch menu); and £9.30-£19.95 for a main (evening menu).
The customer service can't be faulted. As soon as we walked in, a member of staff came over and showed us to the table we had booked immediately. Someone took our drinks orders and gave us menus within a couple of minutes, and everything was set down and removed very efficiently. I did not get any cranberry sauce with my main meal like I was supposed to, but to be honest I completely forgot about it anyway. The kids were given colouring in stuff to keep them occupied, and each member of staff that dealt with our table was pleasant and friendly, greeting us and then thanking us as we left.
Mon - Sat: 11.30am - 1.00am
Sun: 12 noon - 10.00pm
Mon - Thu: 11.30am - 8.00pm
Fri - Sat: 11.30am - 9.00pm
Sun: 12 noon - 8.00pm
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
In case it's not obvious, yes! This is a lovely, cosy pub and the portion sizes are huge so you really do get your money's worth. The polite, personable staff and fresh, tasty food all make up for a terrific dining experience.
My local corner shop has the annoying policy of only letting you use a debit card if you are spending over a fiver. So if I am only popping in for a pint of milk and don't want to take money out of the ATM for something so small, I have to find products I actually need in order to bump the amount to over five pounds. Thus I tend to buy cleaning items when this happens as I know they are something I am actually going to use. This has led me recently to buying this Mr Muscle 5 in 1 Kitchen Cleaner.
This spray is for use on kitchen surfaces such as hobs, sinks, tiles and work surfaces. Mr Muscle advise that you should not use this for prolonged periods on wood, enamel, aluminium and painted, lacquered or soft porous surfaces. It is formulated to remove grease and dirt and kill bacteria. It also promises a fresh lemon scent and sparking surfaces.
This comes in a 500ml bright orange plastic trigger-spray bottle. On the front is a label with the Mr Muscle logo, and a picture of a sparkling-clean kitchen.
This has a nozzle on the spray which you can easily twist on and off. I live alone so I always leave it open as I have no worries about any brats, sorry I mean children getting their grubby hands on it. To use, the packaging recommends that you spray the surface and wipe clean. It also says that to kill bacteria/viruses, you should leave this for 15 minutes before wiping. I personally would never leave sprays on for this long before rinsing/wiping it off again, but if I was concerned about germs or was cleaning something particularly dirty or that had not been cleaned for a long time, it's good to know the length of time that this should be used for.
The trigger spray isn't too stiff to use, and each spray dispenses a decent amount of product. Holding it a little far away from the surface ensures that a large surface area is covered, whereas for more troublesome spots, I usually spray right against the surface which makes it a bit foamier. When first sprayed, you can immediately smell a fresh, lemony fragrance but this does not last for long.
I usually wipe this off with a damp cloth, which leaves a bit of a foamy residue, but this quickly dries.
I use this on my work surfaces, tiles and hob and it is very quick, convenient and easy to wipe away. It removes any dirt from work surfaces and I have found that minimal effort is required to clean any grease off the hob.
After wiping away, no residue is left and surfaces quickly dry with absolutely no streaks or smears left behind. My tiles and surfaces stay perfectly clean-looking until I inevitably spill something else on them.
I like to clean the kitchen and find that the smell of cleaning products linger long after use, especially with products such as this which smell nice and citrussy. However after using this, sadly the scent does not remain in the kitchen afterward, which I find a real shame.
Prices for this spray vary depending on where you buy it. I got this in my local corner shop for £2.29 and so it was more expensive than I imagine it would be in a supermarket. However considering this is a very large bottle and will last more for quite a number of weeks, I still believe that the price I paid was more than reasonable.
WOULD I BUY THIS AGAIN?
Yes, I would buy this again. It's not the favourite spray I have ever used to clean my kitchen, but the size of the bottle means that I won't need to buy such a product for a while, and it's most definitely not the worst product I have used for cleaning by a long shot. I like how far each spray goes and how quickly it is to clean worktops and the cooker, and so I would recommend this kitchen spray.
Another review of a product from my shower gel stash. On we go...
This comes in the usual plastic bottle which is slightly curved in shape. It has a flip-top lid so is easily dispensed. This particular version has a purple lid, and the main bottle is clear plastic so you can see the glossy purple shower gel inside. There is a silver design on the front which makes the bottle look really lovely - I love the combination of purple and silver so this is a bottle I would happily have on display in the bathroom.
Imperial Leather say this shower gel stands 'for all that is mysterious and foreboding, creating a truly bewitching bathing experience.' Okay whatever, I find blurb like that to be a load of slightly pretentious crap but if it works for some fair enough!
This comes in a 500ml bottle which is the only size available.
SMELL AND APPEARANCE
This is purple in colour and a little on the runny side, but not so much that you will lose it all down the plughole.
This particular Imperial Leather shower gel is Blackberry Blossom & Wild Fig. When you flip open the lid, the smell is immediately fruity, like ripe and juicy blackberries. I smelt this in the supermarket before purchasing and thought it smelt lovely. When I squeezed it out, I could still smell the fruitiness, but...
...as I began to lather this up, the smell of what I presume was the wild fig came through, and I just found it very strange. I can't even describe it - a little on the earthy side perhaps? I personally did not like this smell and to me it was reminiscent of the smell of something you would clean the toilet with.
On the plus side, this lathered up really brilliantly, and created lots of lovely soft white bubbles which felt very luxurious against the skin. In that respects I cannot fault it at all, as it really was lovely to use.
My skin felt really soft and cleansed after using this. I could smell the shower gel on my skin after usage, but thankfully it was more the fruity aspects of the scent which I genuinely liked.
This normally costs around £1.53 but it is currently on offer in Sainsbury's for £1. I would not have bought this if it had been full price as I go through shower gels too quickly to really spend much money on them.
WOULD I BUY THIS AGAIN?
If it was on offer, and the other Imperial Leather scents were not available, I would buy this again if I was in urgent need of some shower gel. If not, I'd plump for a different smell rather than this one. Some will love the smell of this, but it just wasn't for me.
I have a bit of a problem with buying leather jackets, and the absolute glut of biker jackets in the shops at the moment is absolute torture for me, as I want ALL of them. I was on H&M's website and could not stop myself from buying this biker jacket.
The main body of this jacket is woven cotton, while the lapels and sleeves are made from imitation leather. It zips up in the middle, and there is also a zipped pocket on each side. The jacket does not have a collar, which I thought looked weird at first, but when you are wearing it, you can't even see that it doesn't have a collar.
SIZES AVAILABLE AND FIT
This is available in sizes 6 to 20 which is a brilliant range of sizes.
I normally wear size 12, and any jacket I have ever bought from H&M has been this size. However I had to exchange the size 12 I initially bought for a size 14. I found the size 12 a little too much on the small side, and I found it quite difficult to zip up. While I may have been able to get away with the size 12, I knew that if I put on even the slightest bit of weight, I would not have been able to wear it. Granted, someone with smaller boobs than I might be able to wear their normal dress size, but I would definitely recommend trying on a size one larger than your usual if you are wanting to buy this. I don't feel there is a massive difference in size between the 12 and the 14, but the extra couple of inches really does make a difference in terms of how this fits and what it looks like on.
I find the arms to be a tiny bit shorter than average, so that your wrists are on show. It sits just at the very top of your hips so it isn't too short.
Because this is mostly cotton, it is a lot lighter than normal biker jackets.
This is available in black and natural white, which is a sort of creamy-white colour. While the white tempts me, I stuck to black as I think it's more versatile and will be fashionable for longer.
H&M recommend that this should be machine washed at 30 degrees. I myself have not washed this. To be honest I am not sure how it would emerge from the washing machine in terms of keeping its shape etc. I think if it ever gets dirty I will try to hand wash the material instead.
The only thing I don't wear this jacket is is the boring clothes I wear to work. I have worn it with bootcut jeans, skinnies, denim skirts, jumper and shirt dresses. I have my eye on some blue denim shorts so I can pair this with those, black tights and my biker boots. It really does go with everything.
This costs £29.99 which I think is about the norm for biker jackets that are not real leather. I didn't pay the full price as I had a discount code which I found online - (these are fairly easy to find if you google it; I rarely pay full price for things when I order off H&M's website), so I actually got this for around £22, which is a bargain for something I am going to wear loads.
This is available in both stores and on H&M's website, www.hm.com/gb.
WOULD I RECOMMEND THIS?
Yep, I definitely would recommend this jacket. I am getting so much wear out of it as it's a bit 'softer' looking than a 100% leather biker jacket. It's a good price, feels light and comfortable to wear, and it's suitable for so many different looks and seasons. Love it!