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In a bid to declutter my house, I decided I needed to reduce my CD collection. I have a number of data CDs were I store information.
I actually had another idea in mind, but during a search found this item.
This is a sturdy black plastic storage case, dimensions are approx 38.1cm x 14cm x 15.9 cm. Sits on a foot and that curves over so it has a mostly rounded feel. Has a lovely stylish feel and certainly looks better than the usual plastic CD cases.
There is a top lip that opens up, this is where the disc index card sits (sheet of thin card where you list all your CDs in number order).
Then there is a list of numbers 1 - 100, below that is the selector tab that can be pressed and then moved to the relevant number. In the very centre is a picture of a padlock, when the selector tab is placed here, the case is locked.
Below that is a long bar that stretches the length of the case and is the "open" bar.
Inside are tiny plastic slots were the CDs are stacked vertically. This keeps them neat and reduces space.
I went through all my data CDs, removed them from the case slotted them into place against each number. Now I always thought I had loads, but I haven't even filled up to 100 yet :)
Takes a little bit of time slotting the CDs in then filling in the disc index card, but it was enjoyable watching a large stack of plastic boxes be reduced to a single nice looking storage case.
Selecting the relevant CD is easy enough, you find your required one on the index, then move the selector tab to that number and press the open button. The lid pops open and your required disc has been pulled out of the bottom section and is now in the lid. Simples!
As I mentioned this is a sturdy case and I've used it almost every day and there does not feel any loosenes with the lid. Many items these days feel flimsy and badly made, but this certainly doesn't.
There is apparently free downloadable software so you could complete your indexer, however I just couldn't be bothered with that so I personally chose to hand-write it.
* Reduces your CD/DVD collection to a neat storage case.
* Easy to use
* Keeps discs from getting scratches (I've had CD cases break and the disc rattle inside)
* Stylish looking case, looks so much better than the usual CD cases
* Quick to select the right disc
* Well made, sturdy
* Smooth opening motion
* Not stackable - if you have more CDs and got additional discgear, they can't stack neatly so you would need to find additional space for them.
* No where for the inserts and covers to go (hence why I use this just for my data discs)
* Every once in a while, a disc won't get grabbed when I select it (very very rarely)
[Purchased from & Price]
I am sure I got this from Argos for about £17 - £18, but I have just checked on their website and they are no longer selling it.
Amazon has it at around £18 - £27.
I love this and think it was perfect for all my data discs, I personally wouldn't use it for DVDs because I like to keep the inserts (but I found another alternative for this, and have already reviewed).
It looks great, works brilliantly and reduces all the stacks of CDs I had around. The difference in saved space is excellent. If you are wanting to give yourself some space and downgrade the clutter, I highly recommend this.
Having a joiner for a father meant I was never without tools. For many birthdays and Xmas's he kindly got me sets as well as handing down tools he no longer needed. When I got with my partner my dad was keen to get him knowing all about tools and so we received even more. By the end we had 4 large boxes full of tools, several drawers full of screw drivers, allen keys and spanners (I have NEVER yet needed to use a spanner!)
We finally decided we needed somewhere central to store all these. Organising was the key as tool boxes were often shoved under the stairs or piled on top of each other (and you just KNOW the one tool you need would be right at the bottom).
Most of the alternatives we found were made from plastic and they didn't appear that sturdy and seemed prone to warping. Finally we found this beauty.
I have the version shown in the image, matt black metal, looks very professional and much better than a mass of battered toolboxes. It has a strong sturdy feel to it.
This is larger than it first looked, it is two separate pieces (that are not fixed!). The larger bottom section has a lift up (and slide in) door and this fitted one of our tool boxes full of power tools in neatly with space to spare!
There are two full length drawers above this that are still part of the bottom section and they are deeper than they appear. These were perfect for the larger tools like the mallet, hammer, and a large array of screwdrivers and spanners. Even managed to get some tubs full of nails, screws etc in them.
The top section can be lifted off and has hand holds for easy carrying. It has two full length drawers, slightly shallower but I find these longer ones better for larger collections of items.
The top two sets of drawers are in sets of three. These are perfect for things like Allen keys, tape measure, multi-tools etc.
The very top also opens with a deeper section. (we have barely filled this part). I can't believe so much of our tools have fitted into the drawers and the bottom section!
It does come with a shelf for the bottom section. Also, there is a side panel that can be unscrewed. We leave this open and slide the tool box in and out as it fits just a little bigger than the door on the front.
This holds so much more than you expect. When we got ours we went through all our tools and organised them in this so that they would be easier to manage (I am still tempted to whip out the ol' label maker my partner stupidly bought me (and has been regretting every since) and label all the drawers!)
Because the metal is matt, whenever you open the drawers I find things don't slide around as much. The drawers move smoothly and the handles are just "lips" that you pull. The drawers open to a point then stop (they open almost fully) but you can't pull them so far they fall out.
We have this in a central place in the house and it's made all those niggly jobs were you need tools easier by having everything to hand.
It comes with casters and even with everything in, moving it is easy. On the image there is a handle on the side - we don't seem to have this, but there are holes for it. Not sure if this is an extra of just something we didn't get.
This can be secured and comes with two bars that can be slotted in front of the drawers and locked into position to keep everything locked up tight. I think there is even a key for locking part of it.
[Price & Purchased from]
We got ours from B&Q on sale for around £70.
They are not showing up on B&Qs website now, but then they don't always show everything. You can get these from Amazon for over £100 so they aren't cheap.
If you carry your tools around for work all the time, then a normal tool box would be better. But if you have tools for doing things around the house or have a set you want to keep in one location then I think this works well. While you can huft the top part around, I don't think it would be as practical as a normal toolbox.
Keep your tools neat, organised and secure with this tool chest. While it is pricey, it looks good, holds loads and is very secure (if you use the security features). If we had it in a garage (which we don't have) we would definitely use the security features.
With our excessively large DVD collection (we do love our movies....and documentaries....and TV series....and stand up comedies....) we have lost a large amount of wall space housing them all. It also made the room look messy. So this little gem was perfect.
These binders are black matt with a soft padded-ness to them and smooth metal corners for protection. There are four easy to open rings inside where the sleeve covers sit. On the spine are indents, two rectangles and two small squares.
These are for the labels they supply. The larger ones are for titles like "movies" "horror" "TV Series" "comedy" and the smaller ones are for letters and numbers so you can do "A" to "Z".
These labels are black with white writing and each binder comes with a full sheet of numbers, alphabets and a variety of genre labels. They are easy to peel and stick but note they are NOT easy to remove if you put them on wrong (or wonky like I did!)
Each binder comes with 20 sleeves however I found if most of your DVDs were single discs you can get 23 in each binder.
You can get the binders in a variety of colours however I prefer the black ones as they look super stylish.
You can buy these as a single binder or as a pack of five. You can also get packs of the sleeves separately, which is good if you do as I did and put 23 per binder.
The sleeves are thin with a section for fitting two discs. They have a soft PP inner which is designed to clean the back of your DVDs. The DVD cover and any booklets you get with them can then be put into the front of the sleeve. There is then a clear fold down flap that seals it and keeps your disc clean and dust free.
You need to punch out the ring holes and then add it to your binder. The DVD cover is face up making it quick and easy to search for your required movie.
These are from Samba Tech Limited through Amazon. I have not seen these anyone else and a Google search and a check on eBay did not reveal them.
1 Binder with 20 sleeves = £13.95 + £3.96 (P&P)
5 Binders with 20 sleeves each = £65.25 + £7.20 (P&P)
20pk FlatPak Sleeves = £5.25 + £3.45 (P&P)
100pk FlatPak Sleeves = £27.50 + £4.50 (P&P)
These are not cheap but to be honest just freeing up the amount of space I had lost while keeping my DVDs which I love (big movie buff!) clean, neat and professional looking was enough to sway me to buying these.
NB: You can buy just normal small A5 binders that would do the job and would probably fit these sleeves but I didn't think they looked that good or that sturdy.
[Couple of benefits]
First - If you add another DVD and you need to fit it into an earlier binder, it's so much easier just opening and removing one and bouncing it to the next rather than doing that with a tight bookcase full. Or if you leave a bit of a gap by only using the 20 sleeves, you have space to add more without having to bounce them.
Second - No more taking a DVD out of the machine and putting it into another box and putting that DVD in the machine (repeat 10 times) and then you have to follow the path to replacing all the DVDs in their rightful boxes. (I am a big culprit for that and NEVER put them back in their boxes) Mike partner is pleased with this new system because it totally stops me doing that.
Third - No more family members wandering through your room spying your DVDs and begging for loans of your favourite movies. Out of sight, out of mind!
Four - Easier to find the movie by flicking through and looking at front covers than squinting at the small spines on a shelf.
If you are like us you will need to have a little chart with which movies are in which Binder so you can find what you want easily. We had so many B's that they filled 3 binders.
I love these. I reduced one bookcase full of DVDs to 8 binders that fit on one shelf! They are easier to manage, take up so little space and look fab. I can't wait until my whole collection is in these and for those who are being overrun by movies, series, CDS and/or games I would recommend them for saving space and looking good.
Our newest addition to the family is a small female dwarf hamster named Eva. Despite being the smallest member she is pretty dominant I can tell you. Once she got settled in her cage she made it clear that most of the toys and accessories were boring and she spent a little too much time gnawing the cage itself.
So in a bid to appease the new ruler of the house, we relocated her to a larger home and picked up this little gem as something for her to play in. (it wouldn't fit in the original cage!)
The Mystery maze is a wooden accessory with four openings and wooden curved panels inside to make up some pathways. The pathways are a little narrow so would be good for a dwarf hamster, mice and maybe gerbils but I'm not so sure about Syrian hamsters and definitely too small for rats.
The product is sturdy enough and doesn't have any sharp edges that would do the pet damage. Though it's not the best quality and there is a sense of just slapping it all together however even with this, it does the job I used it for and has so far, survived a few months with Mistress Eva.
[Issue and solution]
Instantly you realise that even a dwarf hamster can climb over the walls and not actually "move through the maze" as it was intended.
However by turning the maze upside down and putting it in the larger accommodation on a bed of shavings the maze became a ready-made burrow.
Hamsters are burrowing animals and like to dig in and hide away. Immediately our little Eva was in and out of the maze and slowly I noticed pieces of her bedding from the little hidey-house she normal slept it have vanished.
Upon cleaning out her home did I discover a perfect round nest in the centre of the maze.
Since this has been added to her accommodation Eva has spent many hours running through it, hiding inside it and sleeping within. I added some tunnels of toilet roll tubes around the entrances to add a little extra.
While it is made of natural wood, the maze can be gnawed on and help to keep their teeth at a healthy length. So far she has not made any attempt to gnaw it so she gets to enjoy it in its entirety rather than in pieces.
[Price & supplier]
I got this from Pets at Home for £10 which seems a little steep for what you get, but at least our little hamster is getting the money's worth.
This is packages in cardboard so it's very environmental regarding recycling packaging.
Overall, this has turned out to be a lovely addition to our hamster's home and gives a little height to her accommodation so I've been able to put her wheel and a tunnel on top of the maze. If you want to treat your little pet, this is something you should definitely think about.
~FILM REVIEW ONLY~
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron
Director: Rupert Saunder
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Run time: 127 mins
Release Date: 2012
With the death of the queen and a young daughter to raise, the King is easily swayed by a blond haired beauty who needs his help. She soon becomes his wife and the new queen of the realm. With his death, the wicked queen allows the castle to be invaded by her people and the true heir to the throne, Snow White is locked away in a tower.
As the queen's dark plans for her start to unveil, Snow White manages to escape. In a twist to the story, the Huntsman who is sent into the dark forest to chase her down finds himself protecting her instead and soon a plot forms to bring down the wicked queen.
Firstly, I am NOT a fan of Kristen Stewart, I find her acting sluggish and completely one dimensional. I also find that she has this gormless, open-mouthed expression which I think she believes looks sophisticated but just makes you want to scream "CLOSE YOUR MOUTH!"
Her portrayal of Snow White left me unmoved, she turned an innocent yet driven character into a crackly whiny girl who seemed to shift awkwardly between being strong like her father to suddenly being weak and needing help. This can work if done well...this movie did not do it well.
I also thought her look wasn't right, as while she has this long black hair her skin was not really pale enough to play Snow White!
So why did I watch this, you may ask. Well, despite the AWFUL choice of heroine, I did like the other character choices.
If I put my bias for Chris Hemsworth to one side (he is very dreamy though), I found his portrayal of the Huntsman to be a nice mix. A dark past helped to give him some semblance of reason for his drinking and surliness and there is a rough edge to him. Added to that the move between hunter and protector flowed well and his overall development as the story progressed was good to watch.
But the best was Charlize Theron as the Evil Queen. Not only is she stunning, which works for the character but also her shifting personality between calm and calculating to raging fury. You also see some interesting back story about her which gives you glimpses of what she has had to go through and why she became how she is.
The dwarves strangely did not really dominate this film like you would expect them too. They were introduced a little roughly and there was only a few real scenes that touched on them. I don't think you got a feel much for each of their personalities and since they are not named "happy, grumpy, sleepy" etc I think a bit more depth would have helped.
A quick nod to the scenery, I thought it was well done to create the atmosphere. From the dark, almost dead forest to the poverty-stricken villages to the castle where the queen lives. It helped to keep you in the movie (sometimes I've watched fantasy films where either scenery, dialogue or speech has just ripped me right out of the movie because it didn't fit.) This was not one of them.
The queen's scenes were always the best, whether to her staff, her brother or her enemies. The dialogue and tone brought the scene to life.
Overall the dialogue was pretty good, it kept to the fantasy genre without leaning too modern or too cliché although there were some moments between Snow White and the Huntsman that felt a little forced. There is also a speech to a group of people that occurs and it is truly just cringe-worthy. It just does not work at all and reminds me of the speech at by the President in Independence Day that was a little blah! But other than that and a few minor pieces, the dialogue flows smoothly and works well.
The movie gets into some action pretty quickly such as a small battle and then the castle invasion, here is where Snow White is captured and locked away while friends and allies of her father flee - assuming she has been killed. (Never really explains why she is locked away and allowed to grow up rather than just killed. You can make some speculations but it does seem a little forced).
While there are some slower scenes these do not detract from the movie and continue to help the plot and character development.
I don't know if it is just for Kristen Stewart films but there always seems to be some sense of love triangle (for those of you who haven't seen Twlight - (GOOD, don't bother) there is another one in that film.)
In this one there is the (faintly) bubbling chemistry between the Huntsman and Snow White and then between Snow White and her childhood friend William, who is now all grown up and attempting to rescue her.
The concept of her childhood friend suddenly rebelling against better judgment and rushing off to try and save her feels a little forced. It does not really work well, especially when there is this sense of additional attraction. Personally, it didn't work for me and added a clunkiness to the movie.
With better and better CGI these days, I was happy to find most of the CGI in this film was pretty good. It is easy to either go under or over with CGI that can spoil a film. However with this one, it melded well with the live action and strengthened the movie rather than weakened it.
A good film that I can watch again, however I am only giving it three stars due to Kristen Stewart who just doesn't work (not good for the main character). However there is enough of the other characters and an interest plot (a little different from the original Snow White fairy tale) that makes it worth a watch.
So if you like fantasy stories, good visuals and interesting plots - you will probably enjoy (most) of this. Just grit your teeth through the KS scenes. ;p
Following a dropping incident with my iRobot Roomba vacuum *cries* and it's subsequent not working-ness. My partner found a deal on a Dyson. Now I've always liked Dyson vacuums though going from a vacuum robot that does it for you to actually DOING the vacuuming yourself is not pleasant. But lets by-pass that and go for the review.
This is a nice compact vacuum, rather than one of the upright ones. It has the unique Ball Technology design that allows it to move fluidly behind you rather than jerking and clunking into every piece of furniture at the slightest pull.
The main head is very slim, allowing you to get under much of the furniture without moving it (great for built-in units or larger pieces that just can't be moved).
The cyclone-bagless chamber sits on the front and though it is VERY small, this belies just how much it can hold. We did three large rooms (that REALLY needed a clean) and it did not reduce the suction at all.
The hose is a stronger, sturdier make than my old Dyson (from years ago, where the hose split because it was this thin stretchy material). This hose feels much more "built to last".
The extender is one piece that, well, extends! Rather than being either a fixed length or one were you have to add additional pieces to get a length. Just the push of a button gives you the different lengths.
To empty the chamber, again a simple button releases it from the vacuum and another opens the chamber to dump the contents into the bin. I did manage to fill mine to capacity so that I had to reach in (yuk) and pull at some of the debris until enough fell out that the rest came with it.
As soon as you open the box there is a massive message to clean the filter once a month! (which upon reading this I realise I haven't done that yet! oops) The manual is very "picture heavy" to make it more global so it's pretty clear how you are to clean and dry certain parts of the vacuum. This all helps to prolong its life and its suction ability.
[Wheels & brushes]
It does not have any brushes on the head like many vacuums do - this is actually good because I always hated having to spend good part of an hour cutting and unwinding hair from said brushes. (Both myself and my partner have long LONG hair and we shed worse than the cats at times).
It does have two VERY tiny wheels and these unfortunately do catch hair - though they are so tiny, as is the socket they sit in, that all I can do it tug at the hairs and try and remove as much as I can like that.
This is a very light weight vacuum so lifting the main body and carrying it around are so much easier than with other versions. However the hose and extender (while they can be removed but who can be bothered doing that) are pretty cumbersome and so sometimes negate the good part of the vacuum being light. I usually have to drape the hose around my neck like a technological boa just to get it up the stairs without knocking pictures off the wall.
With the Ball Technology there is a definite reduction of drag in the movement, so you are not constantly having to pull it around behind like some petculant child. However as the vacuum body is so light, if you pull too hard (easy to do if you've ever dealt with heavier vacuums - comes almost second nature) the whole unit tips over, so you will need to get into the habit of just walking and letting the vacuum follow.
This would be so easy to store, if the hose wasn't so rigid (I know I just mentioned that as a positive above, but now it's a hassle again). Because the hose arcs outwards means it won't fit neatly in a narrow cupboard (unless you detach the hose, which I am too lazy too do each time).
The accessories come in a little compartment (which keeps them all neatly together) and this clips to the hose/extender. This is just annoying so I leave it off and have them stored under the sink.
There is also a small slot on the back of the vacuum, this is where a hook on the head can be slotted in to keep the unit together. This slot is dumb - firstly you need to tilt the vacuum cleaner upwards to get the two to line up, second the slightly knock and it breaks (we found that out the hard way).
One aspect I do like is the cable reel, I've never before had a vacuum were you pressed a button and the cable winds up inside for easy, non-tangled storage. It is pretty slow to do and stops the instant there is any friction so you are best to make sure the cable is straight enough and in line with the body before pushing.
Personally I feel this will be the first part to fail.
The suction is very powerful and is great for both hard and soft surfaces. As mentioned the bin holds loads and it has no problem with all the cat hair our house suffers. Strangely enough though, there is a small issue with it being TOO strong.
It is so strong that on some carpets it holds so tightly that anything slightly larger (for example a tiny stone from the garden) is pushed across the floor rather than sucked up because the head is holding the carpet so tightly. Without brushes you dont have that space between head and floor.
I usually find going back over something rather than forwards over it will solve the problem.
Apparently it expels cleaner air, but I can't prove them :)
This model is around £299.99 in most shops.
I believe we got ours from Argos and some of the newer models are actually on offer.
There is a manufacturers 5 year warranty with this.
Great suction, lightweight and easier movement, large bin, good accessories. A great vacuum, exactly what you expect from Dyson.
Loses a point for one or two niggles but otherwise, a cracking vacuum
There are many people who have indoor cats, some have pedigree breeds and the risk of theft is high, some have illnesses such as FIV that mean they can't go out, others have conditions such as epilepsy (like mine) where it isn't always safe for them to be out or maybe you just live on a very busy road.
Whatever the reason if you have indoor cats then you are probably very careful when it comes to opening windows. Cats are curious creatures - put something down for a minute and I guarantee your cat will be in it, on it or even chewing at it.
However we all need to open our windows, get some fresh air in, create a cross breeze etc - this has been an issue for as long as I've owned cats. Having no way of opening the windows without one or all of the cats trying to climb out (this includes upstairs windows with a severe drop onto the steep drive below).
So after lots of searching I actually found a solution! Enter, flat cats
Flat cats were designed by Dominic Parker and are sturdy yet flexible screens that fit to your window frames. They are plastic coated making them firm and strong (unlike the wispy insect screens). They are fixed to the frame using several thick strips of Velcro.
Large pieces of Velcro with strong adhesive are attached to your frames, then the screen with corresponding Velcro is pressed into place making sure the opening is covered.
This material also keeps out almost all insects so is excellent in summer when you want to open your windows but would prefer not to battle the army of insects that seem to be obsessed with leaving all the nice flowers that are outside, just to come and dance in maddening circles in your home.
The flat cats come in a standard size or can be custom sized for your windows. We ordered four and three were small windows so had to be custom made.
The push that got me looking for something workable came about after our epileptic cat escaped via a bedroom window (a room she is not permitted in but managed to sneak, ninja style, into in a matter of seconds when I peaked inside to check I hadn't left the light on) and remained lost for several days, whereby she obviously didn't receive her daily medication and I went without sleep.
Thankfully like almost all indoor cats who escape, she was terrified, barely travelled more than 5 houses and hid. A neighbour spotted her and managed to coax her inside then called me.
When she was back I set about finding a solution. Flat cats seemed perfect and after arming myself with window measurements, were ordered. They arrived within a few days and were fitted to the windows of the main rooms where we either like to open windows or sometime need to open windows.
They were so easy to install and once the adhesive is given time to stick, you can zip zip that Velcro to your hearts content.
We received additional Velcro tabs should we need them which was mega helpful as shortly afterwards we ordered some blinds that needed to be fixed to the window frame itself. So I have to relocate the flat cat in that room. It took some tugging but the Velcro on the window frame did come off without any damage and was enough of a struggle that made me confident at how well they stick.
We have three cats, two smaller females and a large male. All three seem to enjoy giving us heart attacks and on two occasions have managed to get out onto the roof (one roof was very steep and if the cat hadn't had enough balance would have suffered a nasty fall).
Our cats were straight over, sniffing, pawing and clawing. While they did manage to hook in a few claws, they made no headway at removing it or damaging it due to the size, quantity and strength of the Velcro. After a while they grew bored and instead led in front sniffing at the air and enjoying the cool breeze, new smells and bird sounds. Since then they make no attempts at attacking the flat-cat screens.
Even if we didn't have cats, the very fact these are so good at keeping out bugs might be enough reason to get them anyway. We always seem to end up with wasps and bees in our bedroom, as it overlooks a very wild flowery garden. Knowing we no longer have to deal with the stress of trying to catch these stinging buggers was a nice bonus.
See a video and get the details from the website: http://www.flat-cats.co.uk/ - if you scroll down on the main page you will also see a shed-load of reviews by people, including photos which gives you a nice feeling of security when buying :)
£25.99 for 1 or £39.99 for 2 (these are for standard sizes) anything custom may be more. There is a very detailed measuring guide to make sure you have the right size for your windows. It can take a bit of time getting all the specifics measured but it's worth it to get the right size.
If you have cats, whether indoor or outdoor, I highly recommend you purchase some of these - even if it is just to stop your little critters from testing their "lands on their feet" ability from the highest window in your home.
Add some safety for your pet, allow the air in and keep the bugs out. PURRRFECT! I can't recommend these enough.
I will definitely be buying more for the other windows in other rooms.
I was surprised at such negative reviews on this steamer. My original steamer was bulky as hell and came with so many parts (most I would never use) that it was more of a hassle.
I heard about the H2O X5 Mop from my neighbour who actually brought hers round to show me. I have never been one for being swayed by adverts and infomercials, hell I can't even get through those things because the people narrating have those voices that just pluck the last nerve.
Instead I got to see how well it worked when she showed me, on my own chrome sink.
So, let's get to the review!
This is a light weight, slim-line steamer in a bright green. Don't ask why, but I kinda like that. It comes apart in three places. First at the nose end, this allows for the additional heads to be put on. Then the two pieces of the handle can be removed shortening the steamer to an easy to use hand-held version for work-surfaces, windows and high up areas.
The handle length is perfect for me (though note I am 5'6") where I don't have to stoop - if you are taller, there will be some stooping when you steam the floor.
It comes with the following attachments
* Fine nozzle that can just direct a sharp steam spray.
* Coarse wire brush head for ovens
* Softly brush head for stubborn areas but things that can scratch
* An attachment for doing windows, this is a plastic head and a shammy cover to go over it
* A hard floor cloth that attaches via the Velcro pads on the larger triangular head
* Carpet/rug protector - this is used when you want to steam your carpets, you put the above floor cloth on then slip the head into the protector - it stops the edges of the cloth jamming or catching when you do the carpets
* Clothes steamer
* There is also a hose extender
Each head is attached easily by pressing a small button near the nose to release the current head, before the new attachment is added. Quick click and it's in place.
[How to use]
This is so easy to use. You undo the bung in the windowed front, fill with water (little jug included for ease) up to the "max" line. Replace the bung and put into "lock" position. Inside this windowed area is a brass-looking clunker. As long as this stays submerged, the steamer works - so do keep an eye on your water level.
Next there's a dial with four options - these are the intensity of the steam, so use the manual to check what you use for what. When we did the oven, we used 4 (highest), for mirrors we used 2. For clothes I think it was 2 (DEFINITELY read the manual and only use the setting it recommends)
When we bought this, we decided to try it on everything. Let's set the scene, we have three indoor cats who shed, eat things they shouldn't and vomit on the carpet, brush noses against the windows.... you get the picture.
Windows - Now I hate cleaning windows, in fact any glass surface brings out my OCD and I can't STOP cleaning as it never feels clean enough. Because of this my partner took control of cleaning the windows. With the right head on and settings set, we just pressed the on button and waited SECONDS for it to heat up. A quick pass over the windows brought them up beautiful! The areas were the cats brush against needed a second pass but I don't think they've ever been that clean!
Carpets - As mentioned my cats do have vomit moments, especially when one of them got very ill and that's all she did, for about a week until her medication kicked in. As we live in a rented house we didn't get to choose the carpet so it's pale. This is not great for stains. Now this product is not a miracle, it did not remove all the stains and leave the carpet perfect. After all some of the strains were old and no matter what product we used, nothing gets them up. However it did severely reduce them. Rather than working in and seeing stains you have to kind of look for them now. Strangely it worked best on the older stains, almost removing them completely. Now it took some time, like a good 15 mins steaming the same areas but the difference was impressive.
Rugs - This was a shock, I had an old blue rug tucked away in storage that had been stained (by my clumsy partner) I tested on this before I did the carpet. Not only did this VERY only stain all but vanish, but it really brought out the colour of the rug. It now has pride of place in my living room.
Tile floor - Our kitchen floor is white tile (I know, seriously who uses white!) and gets grubby so quickly. Now my original mop always did wonders for it, but that included using vinegar and Ecover and took a about 30mins (large kitchen) and a lot of elbow grease to bring up the shine. This mop takes like 10mins max and while it might not get it gleaming, it does get it looking damn clean in less time and less effort.
Oven - I think this impressed us most of all. While our oven is cleaned, one area we just never cleaned was the glass window. The top oven window was so caked you couldn't SEE it. 10 mins using the coarse metal brush and it was so clear we couldn't stop staring at it.
Bathroom - Our bathroom has no ventilation (other than a tiny window) so this does mean condensation lingers and we get mould. It's also a small shower stall so again, nightmare to keep it clean. This is where the mop didn't live up to expectations. However mould is a nightmare and people don't realise that is "stains" and on things like sealant you'd be lucky to get it off with a high powered chemical cleaner. However it did remove the pink stain (I believe that's copper) on the shower floor and cleaned the grout - not great but I think it would need a really good long steam and alot of work to clean it of the initial nastiness. Then afterwards, steaming once a week would probably help to keep it clear - it's just we didn't have the inclination to spend an hour steaming the shower.
Chrome - The sink in the kitchen is chrome and gets grubby due to my partner's inability to pour coffee remnants down the sink rather than splashing it around the drainer! This came up well, not mirror gleaming perfect, but nicely clean - A little sprits and wipe down with a soft cloth after brought up a nice shine. However even doing that the cleaning time on this was halved compared to when I have to scrub it.
Litter Box - With three cats we have more than one litter box and keeping it clean is seriously important. So, I tried the steamer. Well this was perfect. It cleaned it so quickly and as the steam is so hot it sterilises as well, means that it's a healthy litter box.
I didn't use the other heads so not sure about the extender hose or the clothes steamer. But the rest worked great.
Around the £100 mark, I looked everywhere to see if I could get it cheaper but no. In the end I thought what the hell! Bought from The Range. My last steamer was cheaper, it was also heavier and took about 20mins to heat up, then it lasted around 10mins before it needed to be topped up, then another 20mins to reheat. This was definitely money well spent.
It's light weight for easy carrying, slim for easy storage, quick to use, easy to change the heads and if you read the manual and use it right it works well on what you require. Obviously it's hot steam so you have to be careful around children, pets, plants and yourself. But the fact it's cleaning without chemicals is great.
Don't let the adverts fool you into thinking it will make every single thing bring, clean and perfect. There will be areas that might take several goes to get clean to a high standard (like carpet stains or tile grout). But if you weigh that against the speed at which this works, the good it does on other areas and all the rest I think it's excellent. The time I'll save and the money (not having to buy as many cleaning products) is well worth it.
The deodorant stone is a translucent stone with different textures often with areas of smooth texture of an ice cube.
It is sturdy enough but if dropped can break (especially when wet). However this does not necessarily cause issue as depending on how it breaks you can end up with several smaller pieces that work just as well.
Comes with a small cotton drawstring pouch for storage
To use, simply remove the stone from the pouch, wet it and rub to your arm pits. Obviously you want the smooth areas to be used against the skin, so quickly identifying these will make for a pleasant experience.
If you drop the stone and it breaks leaving any jagged areas, these can be smoothed off with a metal nail file.
There is obviously a wetness when applied, but I always found this dried quicker than any normal roll on deodorant.
Let the deodorant stone dry naturally (be careful were you leave it as it can damage delicate surfaces.
Now, while an antiperspirant will stop your body from sweating, deodorants work by adding a scent. However the deodorant stone is different. It is natural potassium alum crystal. It is a natural antimicrobial
As Alum has antiseptic and antibiotic properties as well as being an astringent if works well as a deodorant, neutralising odours and killing the bacteria that can cause them.
It is also an anti-inflammatory so can be used on shaved skin and even to seal shaving cuts. Additionally it can give relief to insect bites.
Unlike antiperspirants it does not block pores so is a healthier option as well as being a better environmental option.
Other than the cotton bag, there is no waste with this product.
Since I started using this, people have mentioned the danger. However this is a common misconception. The deodorant stone is potassium alum bisulphate. This is sometimes confused with ammonium alum which can contain irritants.
I have been using the deodorant stone for years, I have extremely sensitive skin and I have reactions to so many chemicals that I needed to try something natural.
It causes no marks on my clothes, lasts all day and does not cause any irritation against shaved skin.
The deodorant stone also lasts for ages! (As long as you don't drop it too many times!)
If you are looking for a natural product, good for sensitive skin and a much healthier option I would highly recommend you try this.
I have purchased mine from different suppliers, including The Green Shop and Amazon. The price is usually around £3-£4 each. Amazon sells two for £7.00
~FILM REVIEW ONLY~
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Sung Kang, Sarah Shahi, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater
Director: Walter Hill
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Run time: 92min
Release Date: 2012
Hitman James Bonomo (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner take on a job but soon find out that this particular client wants no loose ends. This takes on a strange element when Bonomo ends up teamed with a Washington Cop in order to find out who is at the head of the hit request.
Sounds bad? Well it is.
The one liners are horrendously bad as many are very cliché and just pretty cheesy. There will be the poignant moment where a character (usually Stallone) will pause before delivering the line which 9 times out of 10 you can guess what is about to be said. There is nothing new or witty in the dialogue.
The rest of the dialogue is just so wooden and unlikely. You are well aware you are watching a movie (and a bad one at that!)
I think with the likes of the Bourne trilogy (which were just awesome) we now ask a lot from our action films these days. Whether it's car chases, gun battles or brutal hand to hand combat, we expect a high level of detail and cinematography. This film, quick frankly, did not deliver. The fight scenes were clunky and punches seem to have that badly dubbed sound that seems better to include a "POW" sign in neon appearing on the screen.
Even the gun shots, they just looked fake with it looking obvious that they each had squibs beneath their clothes. I think the worst for me was when an attack is made on a building with loads of people just firing through the wall. There are "darts" of light which are apparently the bullets (why would bullets leave a long trail of light). The "bullets" are all coming it at all areas and angles and the characters dive to the floor and move for safety. Just from the scene, they would have technically been riddled with holes but no! They managed to pass through the line of bullets without being touched.
The very concept of hitman usually brings up an image of an elite, professional person. Stallone did not seem to show any of this. His character was messy in his kills and lacked any kind of quick, neat sense you often see with hitmen in movies. I think at the beginning they tried for some sort of professionalism, and by that, they put him in a suit. o.O
Without his guns he seemed to just become like a cage fighter, brawling and roaring. There was nothing subtle to his character at all.
Sung Kang who played the cop was meant to be his opposite I assume. The honest cop, forced to work with a killer in order to solve a crime - while always reminding said killer, that he would be arrested when it was all over. This seemed pointless due to the fact just by working with Bonomo, Taylor Kwon (Kang) was breaking the law.
He dressed like someone from Miami Vice at times and as detectives go, was just BAD. His character seemed choppy and inconsistent. He was also put into the role of "gets injured and needs to be rescued by main character" a little too often.
The main bad guy who is tracking these two, is Keegan probably better known for his role as Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones. Looking at his role in that (granted, not a large speaking role) compared to this, you can't help but cringe at some of his lines in this.
He spends too much of the movie dressed like Johnny Castle from Dirty Dancing, and while he does have a very nice physique, it just seems wrong for the movie. His methods for killing are also pretty OTT and again missing in all secretive subtle-ness you would usually get from a professional kill. He might as well charge after them with an anti-tank gun.... fitted to a tank!
The other characters, frankly, are not worth mentioning.
Overall, it felt like a film written by a teenager.
This turned out to be one of those movies that was just entertaining enough due to how bad it was. Because of this I was able to watch it through to the end. I remember seeing the trailer for this at the cinema and they managed to make the film seem like something else entirely. I never actually SAW it come out at the cinema so maybe it's a Straight to DVD one.
Thankfully this was borrowed from a friend, and I never actually bought the DVD (that would have been a poor investment, even for its bad entertainment value).
Unless you are hard up for good movies, give this one a miss.
Following the disappearance of my camera cable (probably been stolen by my cats, they seem to find that kind of thing funny), I needed a new one to transfer photos from my camera to my laptop.
Unfortunately my laptop does not have a card slot so first I went in search of a new cable. With so many cables and silly prices it was my partner who recommended a card reader and thus promptly ordered me one.
I was expecting some large floppy-disc-esque type reader yet what I got was the dinky space-saving stick reader.
The little larger than a normal flash drive and with the typical USB nose. It is small, made of white plastic and with a slot in the side for single card use only. Which is perfect for my needs. While I do have numerous cards, I have no need for accessing them all together. Though you can get readers that can access multiple cards if you choose.
This makes it nice and compact as well as sturdy (yes I have already dropped it twice) and so no need for annoying cables. (Which are always under threat by the cats who have an unfulfilled need to chew all cables that enter this house).
The reader is just plugged into your USB socket and after a few seconds appears without any drivers required. Slip in the card and within seconds your data is accessible. (Time differs depending on just how much stuff you have stored on your card)
i love the convenience of it and as I take a shed load of photos, having immediate access to them without need for cables or laptops with built in card slots makes things much easier.
Mine was £2.31 with FREE delivery and I've already used it a dozen times.
Simple, Compact, easy to use, great purchase
A definition of insanity is repeating the same process and expecting different results. From this I feel I must be a little insane for I continue to put my faith in vacuum bags only to be disappointed time and time again.
I think it is because the "idea" of vacuum packs sounds wonderful, but despite the great leap forwards in technology, the people that make these refuse to make them well enough to actually last longer than a week... or a month at best!
For those who don't know, vacuum packs come in several sizes and are a clear (supposedly strong) plastic with a special one way valve and a "zip-lock" seal.
Items are put into these bags, great for clothes, bedding, pillows etc and then the "zip" which is just a plastic clip, is run back and forth a few times over the "zip lock" part to seal the bag.
The valve cap is then removed, the vacuum nozzle attached and the vac switched on. This draws all the excess air from the bag thus reducing it considerably!
Not only do you reduce the size down for easy storage, this helps to keep your goods protected from water and from dust and mould (as long as they weren't put into the bag wet or damp.)
The above sounds perfect, especially for Winter clothes, guest bedding, spare duvets etc except for 1 glaring issue. That the damn things never seem to work for very long (if at all)
I have over time (stupidly) bought a number of these, from really cheap ones to more expensive ones and each time they stop working within a short space of time.
If they work immediately, and the air is removed and they remain a hard well packed bag of tidiness I get all excited at the prospect of getting my house neat. Then a day, a week or even a month later I return to find the whole thing back to its usual massive size.
These Argos ones were the last in a sorry line of vacuum bags. I think because they were bigger I thought they could handle it so I put in a duvet and vac'd away.
I even had a plastic box to put it in (to make sure curious cats didn't find the bag and accidentally puncture it!). Without 2 hours the box's lid was almost breaking as the vac pack had released its vacuum-ness and the whole thing was back to being massive.
As with all vac packs I've bought, I repeated the process twice and even checked for leaks or holes or tears. In the end I lost my temper cursed at everything and had a good stomp in the garden.
This will be the last time I purchase these and in fact I will be taking this back to the store. Don't bother, they rarely stay vac'd and I really can't believe that every one I've ever bought has been faulty. I didn't believe I could be that unlucky!
With three cats tearing around our house we needed pet carriers ready for vet visits and the like.
Made of strong plastic, these carriers are sturdy but light weight (until you add a heavy cat that is!). There is a foldable plastic handle on the top. The sides have air gaps in both the top and base, along with two air gaps beside the carry handle.
The "door" to the carrier is a little plastic "gate" style door that again allows air to circulate and gives you a view of your pet so you can check they are okay.
The door is held on in four places, by twisting two of these (top and bottom) you release the door and it opens with a hinge style. Twist all four of the locking catches and the whole door comes off - very useful if you have a pet that needs a little encouragement to come out.
Finally there are 6 clips around the middle of the carrier, that hold the base and top together. if these are all opened the top comes away. For pets that point blank refuse to leave the carrier this method allows for easy extraction. (Perfect for our cats that refuse to leave the carrier when we arrive at the vets).
As it is smooth plastic, these carriers are easy to wipe down. So if there are any accidents cleaning them is simple. Again the ability to pull the carrier into pieces - top, base, door allows for easy cleaning of all areas.
This is designed for cats and small dogs. Our three cats are all different sizes, we have a very small cat to a larger male cat. They each fit in without difficulty and seem to be able to turn around if needed. I don't own dogs so can't tell how well it works for dogs.
I can never feel 100% confident with the handle. It seems sturdy enough but when my largest cat is in the carrier, I just worry and find myself carrying the carrier by supporting the base. I have never had a handle break but it is just a point with me that I don't feel it is as secure as it could be.
Overall a great sturdy carrier that is easy to use and clean.
~Film Review Only~
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Colin Farrell, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé Knowles
Genre: Animation, adventure, family
Run time: 102 mins
Release date: May 2013
A young girl moves back to the country to live with her dad, a quirky recluse who has spent his life in the pursuit of finding the elusive "Leaf men". Finding that her father has not changed and his attention still caught on the craziness of tiny people living in the forest, Mary Katherine (MK) decides this isn't working and plans to leave.
All the while in the forest around their home a battle is continually waging between the Leaf men who work for the Queen of the Forest and the Boggins, a race of grey-skinned creatures who prefer the dark decay of rot than the bright green of life.
For every area they infect and wither of the forest, the Queen, the spirit of the forest revives thus protecting all that live there.
Now the queen must venture from her sanctuary at the heart of the forest to choose an heir.
These two worlds collide and suddenly the cynical MK finds herself not only coming into contact with these tiny people but through their magic being shrunk down until she is part of their world. Now starts an adventure to protect the forest and get her back home.
Visually this movie is stunning, then again we have seen with each year the animation experts stepping up their game with every new feature and while films like Toy Story are still incredible to watch, you can see the lack of detail they possess when held up against the newer films coming out.
The animators really did an excellent job, the landscapes they covered were a stunning forest both as we would see it and then on a close-up, more detailed level for the tiny people. So suddenly things like insects, leaves and stones had to be given close attention.
There was also MK's father's house, which was full of papers, computers and collected items so again the detail given over to make it more (for want of a better word) 'full' really was impressive.
Everything down to the feathers on a scruffy bird were given great detail.
The movie was very action filled with leaf men (little warriors) riding hummingbirds and battling the terrible boggins who rode crows and bats. This gave a quick pace and lots of movement to the film, especially through trees and grasses that gave the viewers another look at the world these animators had created.
The plot moved pretty well, keeping a good pace with only a few small lulls.
Again, this was good and seemed to fit nicely with the movie. The only issues I had were the accents, a few of the character's didn't feel they matched their accents, the main culprit being Ronan voiced by Colin Farrell it just didn't seem to fit for me.
There were parts that felt strained like when MK, an ardent cynic against such fanciful notions of tiny people living in the forest, is suddenly shrunk to their size and meets them all, we have a few "no no no! What's happened?" lines and then she seems to recover pretty well and is happy enough to join in the adventure with barely a passing thought to how crazy it all appears or if this shrinkage is even permanent!
I found Amanda Seyfried did a good job with the character MK, though at times the character got quite annoying for me. Ronin voiced by Colin Farrell was good except as mentioned above with the accent issue. Beyonce Knowles voiced Queen Tara and this worked perfectly giving her character a nice strength.
One good surprise was hearing the Irish twang of Chris O'Dowd (Roy from IT Crowd) voicing Grub a determined slug who was part of this adventure... strange but amusing.
I didn't think the music worked very well for this movie and whenever it came on it seemed to detract from the overall experience. To me it felt they were trying too hard and it was a little too "modern" for what they were trying to pull off.
I think the biggest issue for me in this movie was the premise. If I can revert to another movie from years ago that seems to be what all these types of movies attempt to follow - Ferngully. Not the best movie, a little too "fairy-like" at times but it had a strong premise - that being that deforestation was destroying the forest. They then added to that, a dark evil that had been trapped forever in a dead tree was now released by the machines causing the deforestation. This evil then possesses the bulldozers and thus continues to rampage unchecked. As well as a good film, it has a nice moral strength that children can get behind regarding destruction of nature and the part humans play.
This movie however had the villains as creatures who liked decay and rot. So technically the good guys were fighting against decay and rot - an extremely natural and necessary part of nature. While there is the idea that the boggins were breaking the balance by rotting and decaying everything with their power it still felt like it was giving out the wrong message especially to small children.
Another point on that were the animals that worked with or where used by the boggins, bats, crows etc - these animals were seen as negative and dark. I am not one for building on these kinds of stereotypes about certain animals. Such creatures already get a bad press without adding to that in kids movies.
Overall not a bad movie, just not that great especially as I think there is a mixed message here that could be taken on by children regarding nature.
~Film Review Only~
Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman
Rating: 15 - strong language and bloody violence
Run time: 120 mins
Release date: 2013
The story builds up with an introductory scene to meet the characters and set the tone of the film. We meet Aaron Eckhart (of such films as The Dark Knight) as President Benjamin Asher and Gerard Butler as Mike Banning, a member of his Secret Service, charged with protecting the President and his family.
An accident occurs, a decision made and suddenly Mike is relieved from serving in the Secret Service.
We watch the lives of these two men in their respective roles, now separate. All this changes when terrorists penetrate the defences of the White House (Code name: Olympus) with excellent precision. Now the President and a number of his high ranking staff are trapped in the Nuclear bunker beneath the White House with the terrorists who appear to hold all the cards.
However, not too far from the White House, Banning hears the attack and ends up on the scene. With intimate knowledge of the White House he is able to get inside before it's sealed.
Working with the officials and leaders outside, he becomes their man on the inside, tasked with taking down the terrorists and rescuing the President before an even bigger calamity can occur.
I found the music really worked for this piece. Especially since I was eating slightly noisy snacks in the cinema and it was good to have some build up music in order to make a little crunch without upsetting the other patrons.
The music was (I think) all or mostly instrumental which was great, it added tension, flared up the sense of danger and crescendo'd when some of the action hit. I always prefer instrumental rather than lyrical music with action as sometimes you get songs with lyrics that just detract from the moment.
Instead the music was subtle enough that you didn't really focus on it, but worked for the scenes it was used in.
The action scenes were excellent. The explosion and destruction scenes were visually incredible. The more dramatic scenes of casualties and injuries were done very well without being overly gory. As there was a mix of ability - you had Secret Service personnel, terrorists who were highly trained, military ground-personnel as well as military aerial personnel. Each of these seemed to have been addressed differently and where done in a way that seemed realistic - without too much gung-ho feel.
While the plot revolved around the terrorist in the bunker and the single ex-Secret Service man trying to ruin their party, when the scenes did move to other non-major characters these were given enough attention that you didn't sit there wanting to go back to the main characters straight away.
The intensity of the action scenes were compounded by the size and scale of what was done. The White House was (obviously) the focal point of the attack and if you realise the size of this building and think about the level of security it has and the likelihood of elite responding personnel if it got attacked, gives you an idea of just how much "umph" the director threw into this.
There were aerial attacks, ground attacks, sweeping terrorists, giant army guns - in truth only a tank rolling through the White House grounds seemed to be missing.
One thing that kept this action movie more grounded than some others was the lack of cheesy dialogue. As a big action movie fan, I can say nothing can sour a movie quicker than cheesy, hammy dialogue (that and the main character receiving NO injuries, not even a scuffed knee, during the entire film!)
The actors stayed strong to their specific character's personalities and the "witty" banter between Butler's character and the terrorist worked well, similar the dialogue Butler's character and the heads of state / government people was as expected a little conflicting and rebellious but was strong enough to work without it coming across as cliché.
[Olympus vs Die Hard]
I've seen a few tag lines and reviews stating that it is "Die Hard in the White House". I can understand why people have used this however I don't really feel that. While it does follow the concept of "one lone man" trapped in a building pitted against a bunch of terrorists, add witty banter that antagonises the lead terrorist and yes it touches (lightly) against the Die Hard movie.
However the reason I don't really like the comparison is that Die Hard set up action genre in a different way. While Olympus has Fallen and all the other action movies recently are all great, they lack what Die Hard had.
Die Hard was about a simple cop, in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was good with a gun and had street smarts and an attitude. That was it and he managed to mess up all the plans that the highly organised and intelligent terrorists came up with. That is what made them so good to watch. All these movies now have highly trained, usually ex-military (more often than not special ops!) men running around with a huge array of weapons and explosives at their disposal - not really the same in my book!
An excellent action movie, well executed, good dialogue and very dynamic!