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I recently acquired three quarters of a bottle of Biotherm's Eau Vitaminee Refreshing Fragrance Mist (I say acquired as my friend works in a beauty salon and gets to bring home old products or tester products that are no longer needed... bargain)! This is a product that her salon have been stocking for quite a while now, they're big fans of the Biotherm brand, but this one hasn't been selling that well recently so they've decided to remove it from their order with the brand. Biotherm is actually owned by the umbrella company L'Oreal which is a massive name in the beauty and hair care world. However the Biotherm sub brand is a little more exclusive in terms of both cost and philosophy; it's been around since 1952 and advertises itself as being inspired by the power of the earth's living waters. Apparently, by focusing on these living waters they can produce products that work in affinity with your skin. The waters contain lots of microorganisms, plankton and algae which are said to be very influential in the world of beauty and skin care (although I must admit I don't like the idea of rubbing pond water extracts over my face and body really)!
The product comes in a clear box which is looks quite modern and some silver writing naming both the brand and product itself. Inside the box is a clear glass bottle, which is tinted a yellow colour by the liquid contents within it. The bottle has the same white flowery pattern on it, associated with the brand, and is topped by a silver lid. Personally I think that the packaging looks a little old fashioned, granted it is an expensive brand yet the packaging does not overly reflect this in my opinion. The Eau Vitaminee Refreshing Fragrance Mist is exactly what the name states (in an overly complex sounding way, as is common with these "exclusive" brands), it's basically a body spray that aims to refresh your skin and contains vitamins (simple really)! The liquid is dispensed using a typical silver dispenser which requires you to push down to release a spritz of the spray. The scent is very citrusy, with strong hints of both grapefruit and orange in my opinion. It's a very pleasant smell, but one that I would associate more with a linen or room spray rather than a body spray. It's a very fresh and lively scent that is quite subtle in that it's not overpowering.
The spray settles easily on my skin and I tend to rub it in very gently, it's absorbed into my skin almost immediately to leave it feeling very soft and smooth with a very slight oily glaze to it. It is advertised as containing vitamin E which helps explain the hydrated and softened feeling of my skin after application. The scent lingers on my skin for a couple of hours and the soft feeling remains for longer than this which is nice. Despite the fairly pleasant smell and the condition it leaves my skin in, I probably won't be replacing my bottle of Biotherm's Eau Vitaminee Refreshing Fragrance Mist when it runs out. Personally I prefer to use a body moisturiser and either body spray or perfume during the day, rather than this fragrance mist. Plus there's the rather hefty price tag that's attached to it (forgetting the fact it leaves me smelling slightly like a bowl of pot pourri)! It currently retails at £24.51 for a 100ml bottle at Boots and can be found for slightly less on various websites. There are far cheaper and nicer smelling products out there that I'll be replacing this with, however if it was ever offered to me again, who am I turn down a freebie?!
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I was lucky enough to spend three weeks in Tenerife this summer (just another perk of being a teacher) and am really struggling with adjusting to being back in school this week (the countdown to half term has already begun)! While on holiday I always like to buy my family presents, mainly to rub in the fact that I've been away but also to give them a little gift. This year my mum got several bracelets (as usual), my boyfriend got some alcohol from duty free (as usual) while my dad proved a little harder to buy for. Usually he ends up getting left out of the general present spree, mainly because he's just so hard to buy for, but this year I found something rather different to get him from a market...
My dad wears either a suit or smart trousers to work and he is always moaning about how there are dog hairs and fluff on them. Over the years my mum has bought numerous sticky rollers from shops that can be rolled over the clothing to remove such items but they never seem to last very long before they loose their stickiness. While browsing a market in Tenerife I saw a lady demonstrating a brush which offered to remove dust, pet hair, lint and other similar materials from clothes. The main thing that caught my eye was the fact that the brush was re-usable in that, as long as you took care of it there was no reason it would not last for an extensive time. I decided to part with my eight Euros and buy two!
The brush looks like a typical hairbrush and is of a similar size. However instead of bristles the brush has a rather coarse velour section at the top which measures roughly 4.5 inches by 2.5 inches. This is the same on both sides of the brush so you could effectively use either side of the brush to remove the dust or hairs. There is an arrow on each side of the brush, underneath the velour type material, which instructs you on which way to move the brush so as to collect maximum dust or hairs. Once you've stroked the brush down the material you should then use the black lever to "empty" the contents of the brush into the central barrel where it will be stored until you're ready to empty it.
The trap door is located under the velour pads and contains all the collected debris which means you can open the brush when you feel like it and empty the contents. My dad has had his now for a few weeks and absolutely loves it, so much do that my mum also steals it. He said it's far more effective than your typical sticky roller and that all he has to do is one single stroke down his clothing to remove all the dust and hairs. Sadly I've not been able to find them in any shops in the UK but they do seem to be stocked on Amazon and Ebay so it's worth a look. I can honestly say, that when using mine with my work clothes, it has been the easiest thing to use and produced excellent results in a very short time.
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I've been blessed / cursed (delete as you feel appropriate depending on your hair style and therefore your level of envy / sympathy) with thick and rather curly hair. Most of the time I quite like it really but I don't enjoy the detangling process that takes place after every shower! While on a recent flight I was browsing the in flight magazine and saw the brightly coloured tangle teezer and decided to splash out the ten pound cost in the hope of solving my knotty hair issues forever!
The tangle teezer I chose came in a bright tangerine orange (no chance of loosing this at the bottom of my case) and is very light as it's made of plastic. It's a rather odd shape as it's designed to fit into the palm of your hand and doesn't have a handle like most brushes. The bristles seem quite flimsy and thin in a sense which did worry me initially as I thought they'd all be broken in no time! The tangle teezer promises to glide through wet hair with no pulling, tugging or yanking...
Sounds too good to be true! I tested it out the night I got home after washing my hair as normal... I placed the brush on the roots of my hair and prepared for the imminent pain... However the tangle teezer simply swept through my hair without a single pull or knot. It took me about fifteen seconds to thoroughly brush my hair several times, compared to about a minute complete with grunting and yelping! This was an absolute joy to use and it is better than any other brush or comb.
The original tangle teezer comes in a variety of bright colours (black, blue, pink, purple and tangerine). They seem to be priced between the £10 and £12 mark from what I've seen which seems a very decent price for such an excellent accessory. The inventor, Shaun P, actually found his fame on the television programme Dragons'' Den which shows a real success story in my opinion. He's got a few other products in the range including some mini tangle teezers, ideal for a stocking filler this year!
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Whenever I go away for a weekend with my boyfriend or friends I always seem to end up packing the majority of my bathroom cupboard. Add this to the fact that I take an outfit for absolutely every eventuality and the whole concept of "travelling light" is lost on me! My mum recently visited a Molton Brown outlet store and saw some travel kits on offer at a fraction of their original price so decided to invest in a few (well actually about eight... I'm definitely my mother's daughter)! Molton Brown is quite an exclusive brand that offers a range of body, face and hair products as well as a limited range of home products too. The prices do tend to be more at the upper end of the market with a 200ml bottle of cleanser costing £25, a 300ml bottle of hand wash costing £15 and a 300ml bottle of shampoo costing £18. I've had several products from Molton Brown in the past, the majority were given to me as gifts, and have always been impressed with the quality of them... just not really with the price of them!
The Women's Stowaway 2012 comes in a fuchsia pink toiletries bag which fastens with a single zip. The bag itself is quite plain and, since I've used all the products up in the bag, I still keep it for when I go away on short breaks to take my make up in. The bag itself contains six small products which are advertised as being in flight friendly, due to the size of them they comply with hand luggage restrictions which is brilliant for my city breaks abroad (I sound like such a jet setter)! All the products are packaged in the standard Molton Brown clear plastic bottles, with the Molton Brown brand details appearing on the front, and a silver lid. Laid out next to each other they look very smart indeed! The bag contains three bath and shower washes in 100ml, a 75ml shampoo, a 75ml conditioner and a 10ml moisture mist. The bag contains all the things you'd need for a bath or shower when on holiday.
The three bath and shower washes have different fragrances; Paradisiac Pink Pepperpod (which smells very fresh and quite gingery while claiming to be full of antioxidants), Relaxing Yuan Zhi (which smells more floral and of vanilla while claiming to soothe and relax) and Vitalising Vitamin AB+C (which smells of citrus fruits, in particular orange, and claims to be energising). The three different fragrances were all equally delicious, I liked the Relaxing Yuan Zhi for night use while the other two were much more invigorating for use in the morning. The scents of the bath and shower washes really filled the whole bathroom while lathering up perfectly. When used in the shower I needed about three grape sized amounts which lathered up really well using my sponge, while in the bath I was probably a bit more generous and also used it as a bubble bath too. The bath and shower washes left my skin feeling smooth and soft with a very light scent. I was really impressed by how far such a little amount went too.
The Healthy Ziao Jeo Hair Wash (or shampoo for us commoners!) and the Instant Indian Cress Hair Condition both came in 75ml bottles. As my hair is so thick I did wonder if there would be enough here but I managed to get about four or five uses out of each one as I didn't need a lot at all. The shampoo smelt quite oriental and lathered up really well in my hair. The conditioner smelt of jasmine and had quite a perfumed fragrance which left my hair smelling delicious after washing. It had a typical consistency and was cream in colour, it offered to encourage healthy hair growth while also smoothing and detangling hair. Overall my hair was left feeling really soft and with a good amount of shine too.
The final product in the bag was the Skin Boost Moisture Mist which came in a plastic style atomiser bottle. This product had a really fresh and floral scent to it and I simply sprayed it onto my skin and rubbed it in gently. It left my skin with a nice shine to it and smelling delicious while feeling really soft too. The only downside to this product was that it came in a 10ml atomiser which didn't last very long at all; I feel maybe a little bottle of moisturiser would have been better value and lasted longer too.
The Women's Stowaway 2012 is currently priced at £46 on the Molton Brown website which I think is incredibly expensive for three small bath and shower gels, a small shampoo conditioner and finally a tiny moisture mist spray. If you went to Boots you could easily get these six products for under £10 so it does make this quite an exclusive product. My mum actually managed to get hers at the bargain price of £10 which was really good value, purely because the quality of the products is so high. If it were priced at £10 I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it, in fact I'd urge you to go out and stock up because it is such good value. However when priced at £46 I'd say it's just too much of a splurge to reinvest in. Overall I really enjoyed using my Women's Stowaway 2012 kit and thoroughly loved all the products (apart from the Skin Boost Moisture Mist as I just felt it was far too small to be of any long lasting use). I also still use my fuchsia pink bag so it's almost like you do get something to keep from this set as well! I'm sadly only giving this two stars, purely because of the very high price which it seems to have reverted to!
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I pride myself on being quite up to date with new developments in the world of beauty and hair care, as soon as it appears in a magazine or someone says it's ground breaking I'm online searching for the best price! Once or twice it has proved to be more of a money wasting exercise, such as the time I invested in a brush that apparently would make my hair grow faster (I was only about 16 in my defence)! However, sometimes these new developments manage to pass me by and I jump on the band wagon a little later than most of my friends. One such product that managed to miss appearing on my bank statement was Moroccan Oil for hair which is now all the rage and offers to repair and transform hair to leave it healthy, shiny, silky and soft. The Moroccan Oil craze is relatively new to the market but it's taken the hair care world by storm. Quite a lot of my friends are raving about it so when I saw Clynol's own version of this at my hairdressers last week I simply had to have it... despite having a gas and electricity bill to pay!
Clynol is a professional hair care brand which can only be purchased at salons and some sites online. They advertise themselves as being a "neat, agile, boutique brand" which is certainly popular with hair care experts. The company was founded in 1924 and since then has grown dramatically to offer a full range of hair care and styling products. The Precious Oil comes in a clear plastic bottle which takes on a golden colour due to the liquid inside it. The bottle has a blue plastic lid which screws on and off although the lid also features a dispenser pump so there's no need to open the bottle really. The brand and product name appear on the front of the bottle with the range name (which is "Glow") while the back of the bottle offers some information on ingredients and usage of the product. Currently the bottle only comes in one size which is 75ml. The "Glow" range currently only offers this one product on the website (it's their latest range to be developed) although there are many other styling products to accompany it.
The product advertises itself as "Glow precious oil for a groundbreaking way to repair and gloss - weightlessly!" It is formulated with Marula oil which is the main ingredient in many of the other Moroccan Oil products, including the original one. It is a light elixir based product which promises to instantly target any damaged hairs or split ends to result in beautifully soft and smooth hair which also has a brilliant shine to it. It's also advertised as being suitable for all hair types, including fine hair due to its weightless effect. My hair comes to just below my shoulders and it's quite thick so my hairdresser suggested that I use two to three pumps of this product each time, two pumps dispense enough to fill a medicine spoon to give you an idea. It feels a little oily when it first comes out and has a similar texture to a shampoo but what was really noticeable was the delicious smell. It was light, perfumed and reminded me of sunshine in a sense - luckily this scent lasted even after I'd dried my hair too which was absolutely great I thought!
The Precious Oil can be applied to wet or dry hair depending on when you want to; when applying it to wet hair it's best to smooth it through all your hair evenly before drying and styling as normal whereas when applying to dry hair there are two options. You can either apply it once you've washed and dried it, just to the top surface to smooth it down and add shine, or you can apply it prior to washing it and leave it to soak into your hair for up to 30 minutes. If you choose this option you'll need to apply a little more although I've never used it in this way. After applying it to my wet hair I then proceeded to dry it as normal. When I'd finished drying my hair it appeared much smoother and shinier as well as feeling much softer, it gave me far better results than any other serum I've ever used in the past. Normally I wash my hair every 3 days as I find it goes greasy on about day number 4, despite using this product which did feel slightly oily it didn't make my hair any greasier and it didn't go greasier quicker than normal either.
I'm giving Clynol's Precious Oil (which I keep typing Previous Oil!) the full five stars as I think it's an excellent product which offers really noticeable results. After using it for the first time even my boyfriend commented on how shiny my hair seemed and asked if I'd washed it - I'm not sure how often he thinks I wash it, the last time he asked me was when I had it dyed about three months ago! The traditional Moroccan Oil products retail at around the £30 for a 100ml bottle whereas Clynol's Previous Oil is much more reasonable. Active Beauty are offering it online at £14.75 whereas it's priced at just £10 a bottle in my local salon so it'd be worthwhile finding your nearest stockist if you want to grab a bargain. I've had my bottle for about a month now and use it every time I blow dry my hair, if you were to use it twice a week I reckon a bottle would last you around six months, depending how much you use of course. I'd thoroughly recommend this product as it offers everything I could want from it... apart from some real sunshine of course!
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If there's one thing that I don't like about nights out (apart from the obligatory hangover the following day and the numerous bank card receipts that I have no recollection of acquiring) it's the fact that I always end up with my make up all smudged and half way down my face by the time I get home! One of my friends suggested I invest in a "setting spray" which is basically designed to set your make up and prevent it from budging or disappearing from your face. After researching these products, and discovering that some of them cost a small fortune, I settled on a bottle of Urban Decay's All Nighter spray which is advertised as a "long lasting make up setting spray" which was absolutely perfect!
The Urban Decay brand is often found in department stores such as Debenhams and has a large online presence to. It has been going for nearly twenty years now and it offers a full range of make up products along with some skincare products too. The prices are quite high compared to products that you find at places such as Boots with the majority of things retailing between £10 and £30. The All Nighter spray is a hypoallergenic liquid mist which will help to keep your make up set on your skin for sixteen hours. It contains colour dispersing technology which helps the make up to look freshly applied as well. It resists moisture (and therefore won't make your skin greasy) as well as a cooling ingredient to keep your skin feeling fresh. Basically this means your make up won't melt when it's warm and humid or become dehydrated when it's cold and windy which all helps to keep your face looking great.
The spray comes in a standard white bottle which has a large purple and black label stuck around it. The label shows the brand and product name as well as a rather gloomy picture of a moon (presumably the link to it lasting through the night) as well as your usual product information on the back of it too. The spray is dispensed through a push down dispenser which has a clear plastic cap over the top of it. Overall it doesn't look a particularly exclusive or expensive product but I didn't let this put me off.
It's incredibly easy to use and the directions instruct you to:
1. Apply make up.
2. Shake bottle well.
3. Hold it 8-10 inches.
4. Spray over face 2-4 times.
5. Let dry for several seconds.
I found that the spray was really simple to use and that it left my skin feeling really light as well as soaking into my skin within about twenty seconds. After it had dried I couldn't actually feel the spray on my face, it didn't leave any sort of gloss over my skin at all which was ideal. Despite the actual spray not feeling or looking noticeable on my face it was clear that it was still there. During numerous evenings my make up has "stayed put" much better than it tended to do prior to buying this spray. Powders such as bronzer and blusher, which used to fade during an evening or require reapplication, now lasts for several more hours than it used to while my eye liner also stays put (but sadly can still smudge when I'm doing disco fever on the dance floor)! Personally I think that the sixteen hour suggestion is a little exaggerated, I find that if I apply the spray in the morning it gets my through the day but I would have to reapply or freshen it up for the evening. I'd say it's great for a night out, especially in the summer when you can often sweat (a sure fire sign of my excellent dancing) and stops it from vanishing!
A typical 118ml bottle of Urban Decay's All Nighter retails for £19 in Debenhams although I managed to buy a 177ml bottle on offer for just £23 a few months ago. Arguably this isn't really an essential make up product, nor is it what you'd describe as a bargain. However I think it is a worthwhile investment as I've had my bottle for about three months now and, despite using it everyday before work as well as at weekends too, I've still got over half left. As the spray really does spread out if you hold the bottle far away as directed, you do only need a couple of sprays each day to ensure that the mist covers your whole face. If you were only using this a couple of times a week I'd imagine you'd get up to a year out of it. I'd estimate, based on my daily usage, that I'd get over half a year out of a bottle which is good.
I'm giving this product four stars, it looses one due to the price... my other friend tells me not to waste my money whenever she sees me using this... she prefers to use hair spray but I'm not sure about putting hair spray on my face... although it does seem to do the job for her. The choice is yours however...
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For those of you that read one of my recent reviews on a Yamaha recorder you will know that I am a massive music fan and take my role as head of the recorder club at school very seriously. After two years perseverance my amazing abilities at teaching children to play the "Three Blind Mice" has finally been recognised and I've received a promotion. It's not quite conducting the Halle orchestra yet (I feel that will be around Christmas) but I have been promoted to head of the percussion club. Now you may well mock me but this is quite a responsibility, not only do I get the pleasure of hearing 20 tuneless recorders on a Tuesday lunch time, I also get to throw into the mix a few tambourines, a few triangles and some random wooden blocks that children seem to like to tap to no particular rhythm!
In reality I feel that this "promotion" must be a punishment for something really bad that I did in a previous life, there is no other explanation for it other than that no one else was stupid enough to say yes when offered it. Parents never seem to tire of hearing the percussion club, baring in mind they only hear it once a year at the Christmas concert for a capped time of two minutes (the head said it could never go over two minutes as she couldn't last any longer). When I looked at the rather tired looking tambourines we had I decided we needed to upgrade, my theory was that the more expensive they were then surely the better they'd sound? Apparently not! However we did purchase six Meinl Nino 15 tambourines at the price of £21.99 each from Amazon in the hope they'd be automatically tuneful!
The tambourines look like your typical tambourine in that they're made of a light wood and are circular in shape. The diameter is approximately 10 inches and all around the circumference are the steel plates which, when shaken, result in a noise. The plates are made from nickel silver plated steel which does result in a nicer tinkling sound. They are available in a one row construction with 8 plated steel jingle pairs, or as a two row construction with 16 plated steel jingle pairs which are the ones we bought... I figured we might as well double the sound! They've got a small circular hole which allows you to place several fingers through in order to hold it when playing it. To make a sound you simply need to hold it and beat it against your other hand or leg and the steel jingle pairs will produce a sparkling sound.
The wooden frame is really sturdy, they've withstood being banged and dropped numerous times in the month that we've had them and I'm pretty certain they'd also withstand me hurling them across the room (I'll probably find out next year)! The steel jingle pairs are also held firmly in place, obviously there does need to be some flexibility to allow them to vibrate when you bang the tambourine but they wouldn't be easy to damage or pull out in anyway. Prior to investing in these we had some rather cheap looking plastic tambourines which made quite a harsh sound, these ones actually make quite a nice tinkling sound that's light and nice to listen to. You can alter the intensity and volume or the sound depending on how hard you force the plates to vibrate... we're still working on the quieter option!
If you are in the habit of making music and fancy setting up your own percussion band then I'd fully recommend the Meinl Nino 15 tambourine. They make a nice sound, are easy to use and are sturdy too. I always do wonder who actually buys things like this, apart from schools, so please do enlighten me if you have any ideas or even if you own your own tambourine! As I mentioned they're currently priced at £21.99 on Amazon and this does seem to be the cheapest online price, they also offer a percussion set too if you're serious. So now I have a merry band of about thirty children playing their hearts out on various percussion instruments every week in preparation for our annual two minute concert... all I can say is tune in for the next series of Britain's Got Talent... I'll be there in a strait jacket!
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As a teacher there is always one time of year I look forward to most of all... the end of the summer term! This not only signifies the start of a six week holiday but also the chance to say good riddance to my class for that year (or shed a few tears depending on the particular class)! It also means that I not only go home laden with the usual rubbish I seem to collect on a daily basis but also with presents from the children that are leaving my class to move up a year. I'm lucky to teach in quite an affluent area which means the presents are quite decent, I still get the odd box of out of date chocolates or a dead spider that one particular child thought I'd like to keep to remember him by... but I'm usually quite lucky!
One of the nicest presents I got last year was a Cath Kidston wallet in one of her famous flower prints which I was absolutely delighted with. Cath Kidston offers an extensive range of accessories and home products which often feature her exquisite and somewhat vintage styled bird or flower prints. All her products are advertised as being practical and quirky, showcasing these very distinctive prints that have come to epitomize the Cath Kidston brand. In the past I've received a couple of items from her range but this wallet is probably the one that I use the most. The purse design has been available for quite a while now and there are a number of identical models in different prints available on her website now.
The purse has quite a standard design in that it's long and flat shaped, it's approximately 19cm by 11cm in terms of size with a depth of about 1.5cm. It's made of oilcloth, which feels a bit like a sort of plastic coated leather to me, and is extremely durable and hardwearing. I've had mine for about a year now and it hasn't got a single mark on it, any spillages simply wipe off to leave it looking as good as new. It is a dark olive green in colour and is decorated rather lavishly with a red flower print. The inside is cotton and is the same colour as the outer fabric, but without the pattern, to make it all blend in nicely. I get complemented on this purse from time to time and it's certainly quite eye catching in terms of colour.
Inside the purse is fully functional and is accessed by a single zip which has proved hardwearing as well. There are five main compartments inside the purse, two of which are purely for holding notes against the sides of the purse itself. In front of one of these is a place to hold cards which has six compartments, I've actually got about ten cards in my purse and find each holder can effectively hold at least two cards. In the centre there is a closed pocket which is accessed using a smaller zip, this tends to be for just coins in my purse. Finally there is also another compartment attached to this pocket which can be used for notes, receipts, etc. All in all it holds all my millions of pounds quite adequately (I wish)!
This purse is priced at £26 in my local Cath Kidston stockist although it no longer appears to be available on the website. This is because the prints are constantly being updated, so although the Cath Kidston Bath Flowers print is no longer available online, the wallet is available in other colours and prints. I tend to pay around £20 for my purses (sometimes more if I'm feeling extravagant) so this seems quite fairly priced although some would say it's quite expensive. It would make an ideal present due to the general appeal of the intricate prints. I've got my eye on a couple of other products from this range... I think I'm developing a slight addiction so I'll have to start dropping hints ready for Christmas presents!
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My mum and I like to do a car boot sale every year or two to have a bit of a clean out of all our unwanted items that aren't suitable for Ebay! We finally got around to doing one about three weeks ago now after waiting for ages for a suitable weather forecast (there was absolutely no way I was getting up on a Sunday morning at the crack of dawn to stand in a field in the rain, it was all I could manage to actually get up in pleasant weather before about ten in the morning on a Sunday)! In the end my boyfriend decided to come along, promising us he was an expert at bartering (this basically meant he'd end up giving everything away for nothing) and a great bargain hunter (which basically meant he'd spend most of our profit)!
I ended up making about £40 after I'd bought a few drinks and sausage sandwiches... although my actual profit was closer to £20 after my boyfriend decided to go and "browse the field" as he put it. One of the most ridiculous things he came back with was a brand new Davina Rowing Action Exerciser that he'd managed to get for just £2 although I still wasn't convinced it was a bargain. It came in a plastic case that was still sealed as I'm a bit funny about second hand items! The Rowing Action Exerciser is basically a portable rowing device which works in a similar way to the classic rowing machine you find in the gym. It advertises itself as "an ideal way to strengthen your core and other key muscles, including back and thighs." I admit I wasn't overly convinced and did imagine it wouldn't last long in our house...
The exerciser is pink in colour (heavens knows what the people selling it thought when my boyfriend bought it!) It consists of two back rollers that are joined together and sit under your feet, connected to them is a pink extending piece of thick elastic which in turn connects to a set of black handles that you use to hold. The rollers sit under your feet whilst you hold the handles and effectively row, this mean you pull backwards as if you were rowing which extends the thick plastic holding the two ends together. Apparently this causes abdominal muscles to tighten as well as strengthening back muscles and trimming thighs as well, bargain! When I first tried it I honestly didn't think it would do anything but as I started to pull back on the handles the plastic connecting piece almost pulled me forwards, I found I actually had to put some effort in so as to lean quite far back. I then released and moved forwards before repeating the backwards action to create a rather amusing looking rowing effect!
I've since used this about six or seven times (in varying degrees of soberness) and have rather mixed feelings towards it. The first time I was really enthusiastic and managed to row using it for about ten minutes, by which point I was sweating so it was doing something! The second time I was slightly less enthusiastic and put in a rather half hearted effort really. Since then I've used it a couple of times but find that it's not the best quality and that it doesn't offer any support for my back... I ended up rolling to the side once as there's nothing to keep your upright! Also the straps on the rollers aren't very big which meant I couldn't wear my trainers when I used this equipment. As such it left me feeling rather unsteady as I don't like not wearing trainers for exercise, it felt like I was cheating somehow! Finally (yes... I promise!) I'm nearly six foot and found this ideal for my height, however my friend used it (when we were rather tipsy) and as she's only about five foot four she found there was hardly any resistance unless she leaned right back which wasn't very practical (even when sober).
If you do wish to invest in a Davina Rowing Action Exerciser (that's another thing, does Davina McCall really expect me to believe she uses one of these in her lounge?!) then you can purchase one from Argos. They're currently priced at £9.99... or you could go wondering around a car boot sale looking for one as that's where my one will be going next year I reckon!
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If there's one thing that I look forward to on a Thursday it's the fact that I know my boyfriend will be out all night long and I'll have sole control of the television. I actually call it my pamper night as I can come home from work, have a bath, cook my tea (which nearly always takes the form of a takeaway), pour myself a glass of wine (or two) and settle down in front of the television for the night to catch up on all my "American trash" as he likes to call it. The latest programme that I've developed an addiction to is an American series called Revenge which has been running in the UK for just over two months now and is absolutely brilliant in my own humble opinion!
The show centres on a young woman who rents a house in The Hamptons for the summer... and has a very dark secret which was revealed in the first episode. She's only moved there in order to exact revenge on those who destroyed her father when she was younger. The people of The Hamptons framed her father for a crime he didn't commit and sent him to prison for life... so she's taken it upon herself to bring justice to the real culprits of the crime. She quickly becomes embroiled in the gossip and way of life of The Hamptons while she slowly starts to carry out her plans. However certain people soon become suspicious as things start to slowly unravel!
Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters) plays the lead role of Emily Thorne and she's a good mixture of sexy sweet and ice cold to portray her character perfectly. She can turn on the girly charm when she needs to yet also act as a cold blooded killer. Madeleine Stowe (Raines & We Were Soldiers) plays Victoria Grayson who is Emily's arch nemesis, she was one of the people responsible for her father's imprisonment and is queen bee of The Hamptons too. There are other key characters such as Victoria's son who becomes Emily's love interest, her childhood sweetheart who doesn't realise her true identity and various people who are on Emily's "hit list."
Prior to seeing the show I'd seen some adverts for it and had already decided I probably wouldn't like it. The shot of Emily standing in a pile of thorns just looked so staged and almost comical that I thought it wouldn't be any good. I also thought it would be some sort of Gossip Girl remake in the sense that it tries to portray rich Americans behaving badly. How wrong could I be... after just a single episode I was absolutely hooked. It's almost a recipe where each week Emily attempts to cross one person off her Revenge list (my only worry is that this list doesn't seem to quite reach double figures and I'm worried what they'll do when she runs out of targets)!
The first episode started off covered in a sense of mystery... there's a dead body on the beach, there's an engagement party going on, there's lots of hidden stares and a lot of tension. The opening scene made me think I was tuning into some sort of murder mystery (which it may well become yet) with a red and white theme (an odd choice for an engagement party). The whole opening episode reminded me of Pretty Little Liars, but a much more adult version. By the end of the first episode the whole plot line had been revealed and I'd developed a sense of sympathy towards the main character, but I still wasn't exactly rooting for her and I'm still not really.
Since then the show has been screening every Monday night on E4 at 8.00pm and I've either been glued to it or anxiously recording it on Sky ready for my Thursday night! I can honestly say the show has gone from strength to strength as characters have developed, mysteries have been solved and then more created and revenge has finally started to be carried out by Emily. New characters have been introduced, some are friends and some are foes of Emily's, and they're all rather expertly played as well. A second series has already started filming and will be screening soon in America so it's clearly been met by positive criticisms in both America and England to be continuing.
The plot line didn't really appeal to me at first as I thought the show would focus very much on The Hamptons and their lavish way of life. It's got that whole rich people behaving badly slant to it with amazing parties, fantastic outfits and brilliant catfights... but it's also all just plausible enough that you can believe them. I think it's just all more appealing when they're better dressed and drinking champagne! The fact that all the people on Emily's hit list are filthy rich makes it even more enjoyable, she's an avenging angel going for all the slimy rich people! The show is all surprisingly believable at the same time and the idea behind it all is thankfully refreshing.
The star of the show is Madeleine Stowe who is brilliantly icy while remaining classy and strong at the same time. The scenes between her and Emily are fantastic where they are obviously sizing each other up but both pretending to be sickly sweet at the same time. The only actress I'm not overly taken on is Emily VanCamp herself, there's something that I just don't like about her! She is superb in the role and the supporting characters really work well with her as well. Each show lasts for about forty five minutes by the time you take out the three intervals and series one is currently screening on a Monday night in the UK with series two planned for the USA.
What seemed like a rather pretentious drama is now the show that I look forward to catching up with the most on a Thursday night (if I can resist watching it on a Monday night)! There are so many mysteries still waiting to be unravelled and so many things that could go wrong it's like one massive cliff hanger. Each week I think Emily will be caught or she'll find her last victim but the show just keeps on going and getting better every week. I would definitely recommend this series; if you've not seen it then I would suggest catching up with it online so you understand the full background to her situation. I'd sum this programme up as both clever and intriguing!
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This term I've somehow been lumbered with what I consider to be probably the worst lunch time club in the world of primary schools... the recorder club! This is an instrument that I just don't think could ever be called "beautiful" when it's played and I've certainly never heard of any famous recorder playing people! However this doesn't seem to deter the lower junior children at my school, nor their parents who seem to encourage their participation in this club (I can only presume that's because their child doesn't practise the recorder at home) and I've managed to maintain attendance at about thirty children each week.
Now the majority of children have invested in their own recorders (such devout players that they are) but there are a few that borrow one of the school's recorders. These are Yamaha YRS-302B Descant Recorders which have been around for a while now as I can remember owning one while at primary school (before my dad mysteriously broke it one day)! Yamaha is quite a well known brand within the music world and has been producing musical instruments for over one hundred years now. Their recorder range is certainly one of the cheaper items that they currently manufacture - they offer a descant and a soprano model.
The recorders that we use at school are a dark brown and a creamy white in colour, apparently you can also buy them in much brighter colours but these are the traditional colours. There are three main parts - the top area which has the mouth piece attached to it, the middle area with the holes which you cover to play the different notes and the bottom area. They're made from durable ABS resin and believe me when I say they're durable... my recorders have withstood being banged, dropped, played and thrown with hardly a single scratch to them (and that's only what I do to them, never mind the actual children themselves)!
The Yamaha YRS-302B is really easy to assemble, the three pieces just slot together and they take about ten seconds to fully assemble. To play the recorder you simply place your mouth over the mouth piece and blow (no dirty jokes please!) which results in a sound. There are a number of holes down the front of the recorder and also one on the back, by covering these in different combinations you can vary the notes you play. The recorder comes with a simple fingering chart but if you're serious about it it's worth investing in a book which will go into it in much more detail... or simply join a delightful little recorder club!
Now my big issue with recorder club is... germs! With children sharing the recorders you can imagine how germs spread (I bought my own one after the first week as I don't wish to share anymore germs that is necessary)! These recorders come with a cleaning rod which can be used to clean each separate part of the recorder and this does do an okay job. However, to ensure thorough cleaning, I tend to just wash them all in boiling hot water with a bit of fairy liquid to reduce the spread of any nasty germs. It also came with a carrying case which will keep it safe when it's not in use (which will be, hopefully, the majority of time)!
I've seen the Yamaha YRS-302B Descant Recorders at a range of different prices, I think we managed to buy them through school for around £6 each but they seem to be slightly higher online and closer to the £10 price really. They're priced at £8.99 on Amazon which seems a fairly decent price for such a durable and long lasting musical instrument. So if you fancy taking up a new hobby or learning a new musical instrument then you might want to consider the recorder... I'd urge you not to if I'm honest as you might find your family and friends complaining but this model would be an ideal place to start!
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In the summer months (not that you could call June a summer month so far of course) I frequently suffer from dry and hard skin on the bottom of my heels. I've used numerous different creams and even considered taking a cheese grater to my heels on several occasions, but never found something that fixes the problem once and for all. On a recent shopping trip to Boots my mum noticed that the Emjoi Micro-Pedi was half price, still at the rather grand price of £19.99 mind you, and decided to invest in one for us both to try. I'd never even heard of the brand or product before but was willing to try anything!
Emjoi is an American brand based in New York who have dedicated themselves to making the little details of personal care as "trouble free and enjoyable as possible." They advertise themselves as being at the forefront of innovative solutions in this field and use the latest technologies to achieve their aims. From what I can gather they operate in four markets; the beauty care line which offers products such as hair styler and lice-removal combs, the hair removal line which offers products such as tweezer action discs and non-invasive alternatives to electrolysis, the wellness line which offers products such as electro acupuncture and waterproof massagers and the oral hygiene line which offers products such as electronic toothbrushes and hygienic storage kits. In my own opinion half the products do sound like gadgets that I'd either quickly tire of or have absolutely no use for after the first time but I was willing to try this new product in Boots to see if it could help... plus my mum was paying so I'd never say no!
The Emjoi Micro-Pedi is advertised as a rapid hard skin remover which offers revolutionary (that word alone would have sold it to me!) salon results instantly using a safe and easy method. To look at it resembles an epilator in many ways although it appears to have a roller with what can only be described as coarse sand paper at the top, this is the bit that comes into contact with your skin. From what I can understand from using it, the idea is very much similar to the principle behind sand paper, the roller part with the "sand paper" on effectively buffs over your feet in a rotating motion to remove the callused and dry skin. It's operated by two AA batteries to give it more power than a manual action would.
Using the Micro-Pedi is really straightforward and the instructions booklet tells you everything you'd need to know. Simply switch it on using the switch located on the front, grip the handle and move it over your heel. The micro-mineral rollers spin three hundred and sixty degrees at thirty times each second to gently remove the hard and rough skin in a painless way. The first time I used it I was initially a little worried about it scraping off my entire heel and by the faint buzzing noise which almost made it sound like an industrial instrument! However the whole process was painless, I could see tiny flecks of skin being removed and landing on my bathroom mat (don't do this on your carpet as you'll then be trampling dead skin into it) and it didn't hurt one bit. The first time I probably spent about a minute on each heel, it does say to be careful not to overdo it and start removing the fresh layers of skin though.
The batteries are not included in the packaging so you will need to buy some (it may be worth getting rechargeable ones) but you do get a pink and blue interchangeable micro-mineral roller. The blue one is labelled as being extra coarse and certainly feels like much harsher sand paper whereas the pink one is labelled as coarse so is a bit less intensive. I started off with the pink one the first time but quickly switched to the blue, now I find the pink one is fine although I do revert back to the blue one if I've got any patches of stubborn hard skin at all. You can clean the rollers under running water which I tend to do after every use, purely because skin can get stuck to the roller or trapped at the sides of it.
If you do wish to purchase one of these they're currently priced at £39.99 in Boots but are also on a three for two offer so you could save money if you want two other, similar priced products. It's also on Amazon at the moment for £33.95 so you could make a saving if you purchase it from there instead. Despite the initial cost I'll no longer be spending money on heel softening creams (which can often be quite expensive) so I do think it's worth investing in one of these, especially if you'll use it regularly like I will. Of course the only other expense is buying replacement rollers which vary in price depending where you go. I've seen two blue ones for £10.45 at Boots although they didn't have any pink ones but I presume you can buy them as I've seen two pink ones on Amazon for £12.95. I've not seen any packs that offer a blue and pink one at the same time though which could be a slight criticism of the company.
Personally I was really impressed with the Emjoi Micro-Pedi as it was both effective at what it promised to do and painless as well. In the past I've used a metal scraper almost which uses small blades to cut the skin and I definitely feel that this is safer and a slightly more pleasant method as well. It's really easy to use and I've found that using it once or twice a week ensures that my feet stay smooth and soft. I've had mine for over a month now and have used it on about six separate occasions, plus my mum has borrowed it a couple of times too. I've not had to change the batteries yet so they're lasting quite well and neither of the rollers shows any signs of needing to be replaced yet. It is recommended that you replace them every four to six months but of course this will vary on how often you want to use the Micro-Pedi. I can honestly say this is the single best thing I've used on my cracked and dry heels!
Thanks for reading.
For some reason I seem to get a lot of ICT products on my desk at school, apparently people there think I'm quite good with ICT... they obviously don't know me very well and indeed not as well as those people that read my reviews regularly which clearly highlight me as someone who is NOT good with ICT! In the past five years I can claim to have broken at least one DVD player and come within seconds of destroying various other devices at home. I'm a bit of a Bridget Jones when it comes to trying to operate technology, don't even get me started on the various kitchen implements! However in my defence I've managed to steer clear of any major disasters while at school, although I have nearly thrown several items out of the window due to frustration when trying to get them working. Yet they still keep on coming to me...
The latest products to end up on my desk were four Flip Ultra HD 3rd Generation Cameras which were bought with some sort of collectable supermarket vouchers (Sainsburys, Tesco... there's that many I'm not quite sure which ones were used)! The reason we decided to buy these were because they were advertised as being "child friendly" and the other video cameras we had were too complicated for many of the staff members, let alone the children! I'd set aside only half an hour to get to grips with these cameras before planning to use them in a lesson with the children so it didn't give me too long to become a master of the Flip Ultra HD video cameras! I was determined not to be defeated and felt that surely, for once, I could work it out...
The flip cameras come in a small box which shows a picture of the camera in use on the front and all the technical details on the back. Inside the box I found the flip camera and a wrist strap which could easily be attached to the camera for added safety (a big necessity when using them with children... or with me for that matter). The flip camera is extremely compact, it measures just 2.2cm by 5.4cm by 10.6cm making it much smaller than any other video cameras I've ever seen or used. It weights just 168g making it very lightweight and ideal for travelling with. It does require one lithium ion battery which is supplied with the camera and can be recharged using any computer; it takes about two to three hours to fully charge it.
In terms of appearance it looks very much like a toy video camera, albeit a very sleek one, for want of a better description. The fact it looked so simple actually reassured me when I first opened the box, I'm used to those bigger video cameras that have about sixty different buttons on them for various things! This model is largely black in colour with silver sides, on the front is a silver circular camera eye while on the back is a small control panel featuring just seven main buttons and a viewing screen so you can see what you're recording. The viewing screen has an anti glare colour display which is roughly a square shape with two inch sides. The flip camera powers up using a small switch and it takes about three to four seconds before it's ready to go.
Now here's where this camera really shines... in terms of simplicity of operating it. I have never used a video camera and not needed to refer to the instructions manual before using it, I can't tell you how easy this one is to get to grips with. A single red circular button is all you need to start or stop recording and I was literally operating the flip camera within about five minutes of opening the box. The only other buttons you need when recording are those surrounding the red button which allow you to zoom in and out. There's also two further buttons on the control panel which allow you to play back what you've already recorded if you wish to view it on the screen itself. That's really all there is to operating it... yes it may well sound too simple to be true but my eight and nine year olds use these cameras weekly now with no problem at all.
Obviously once you've finished recording you want to be able to transfer your recordings to the television or, in our case, computers so as to enable us to edit them or transfer them to discs. This stage really couldn't be simpler (again the children mastered it as quickly as I did), the camera has a USB stick which simply flips out of the side and allows you to plug the whole camera into any computer or device with a USB port. Once plugged in my laptop recognised the video camera immediately and I was able to view each individual file that I'd recorded, you should note that every time you stop recording it will then start a new file the next time you start recording. You can then go onto edit them if you wish or join them together too. There is also a HDMI output which means you can enjoy your videos on HDTV as well if you wish.
Now for the more technical information... The Flip Ultra HD 3rd Generation allows you to capture two hours of HD video using the 8 GB memory that is built into this particular model. It also features a smooth 50 frames per second recording speed (whatever that may mean), it has mechanical image stabilisation built in and also a wide range omni-directional stereo microphone too. The focus is advertised as being a fixed focus (1.5m to infinity) and it has a 2x digital zoom as well. The only possible downside is that this camera does not have night vision which may reduce its effectiveness at night; I've never used my ones at night so I can't comment on this. I should also mention that it comes with a rechargeable battery but you can also use standard AAA batteries with it if you wish, these last for about six hours I've found.
So what's the quality like? Well both the picture and sound quality of this camera is absolutely outstanding, initially I thought it looked a bit plastic and toy like which did lead me to worry about the quality. However when we uploaded our first set of videos onto a computer and watched them later through a DVD player it was like watching a television programme! The clarity of the colours is excellent, the edges of the images are crisp and there was no sound distortion at all. I cannot fault this little video camera at all - the size makes it ideal for carrying out, the black material has a really good grip to it so you don't need to worry about dropping it, the ease of use is amazing and the quality of the video recordings are excellent in my opinion. The only downside is that you can only record two hours on this based on the in built memory.
Finally I should just mention that it comes with pre-loaded Flip Share software which makes it easy to organise, edit and share your videos using Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. I also like the fact you can capture a photo using the snap shot feature which means you can grab a still image photo from the video recording. The Flip Ultra HD 3rd Generation 8GB Camera currently retails on Amazon for £177.29 with the 4GB one costing £99.99. I've also found it on a site called Pentagon GPS for just £131.99 so a little cheaper. I'd thoroughly recommend this video camera to any technophobes out there as it really couldn't be simpler to use, it's getting the full five stars today!
Thanks for reading!
During the summer months I always suffer from dry skin on the bottom of my feet and no matter how much cream I seem to moisturise in it just keeps coming back! I'm sure if I committed to doing it every night I wouldn't have these issues but, despite having the best intentions every year, I always seem to neglect my feet. As my friend gets Dr Hauschka products for free to try (a perk of her job as a beautician at a rather nice salon) she always gives me any spares she gets (in return for a glass of wine on a night out)! The latest one I was given about three weeks ago was Dr Hauschka's Fitness Foot Balm. The brand if still a fairly new one and, as I've mentioned in previous returns, it produces its products by focusing on the idea that the body, soul and spirit as being connected. They use plants and herbs to balance and harmonise the body, soul and spirit so the three are at one with the others in a sense. They offer a range of face care products and body care products which are made with raw ingredients and have celebrity favoured prices attached to them as well!
Now when I first received this product I wasn't quite sure what to make of it, what exactly does a Fitness Foot Balm do? Imagine if by simply applying this to your feet it equated to do thirty minutes solid exercise... unlikely I know but it would possibly be the most popular product to ever hit the beauty markets! Sadly it doesn't have any properties similar to this and is more of a foot cream really. Apart from the name I can't actually see what sets this apart from your normal foot balm or foot cream, the exercise bit doesn't really change it in any way. It comes in a white tube which sits upright on a white circular lid, it's really quite clinical looking which doesn't really sit right with the high brand prices in my opinion. The brand and product name are clearly written on the front with a red band running around the base of the tube. The balm itself is fairly standard in terms of consistency of a foot cream, similar to a hand cream, and is off white in colour. It has quite a nice smell to it, quite plain overall but with slight hints of aloe vera and also mint as well which I rather like.
The brand recommends that you should lightly massage the foot balm into your feet after exercise or alternatively at the end of a long tiring day, making sure to get it in between your toes and all over the backs of your heels as well. The first time I used it instantly cooled my feet and soaked in quite quickly without leaving them feeling sticky at all. I let it soak in for about two to three minutes before putting socks on and at that point it had fully absorbed into my feet. I could also faintly smell the mint on my feet as well which I really liked. After using this every night (well... almost!) for a fortnight I have noticed that my feet are noticeably softer and that my dry skin was reduced quite a lot. The only downside I've noticed is that since I've run out (sadly my friend only gave me a little bit in an old tester tube) my feet have quickly returned to their previous state of being rather dry again, so it's not really going to cure any dry skin issues unless you continue to use the product.
A 75ml tube of Dr Hauschka's Fitness Foot Balm will set you back £15.95 according to the recommended retail price suggested by their website. However I have found it a little cheaper on Amazon (£14.70) and a site called Bath & Unwind (£11.96). Personally I would fully recommend this product as a cooling and moisturising foot cream... if it was about £10 cheaper! However I can't really justify the price as I didn't find it any better than other foot creams I've used which have cost less that half of what the Dr Hauschka Fitness Foot Balm retails at. I'm giving it three stars as it does do a good job, but sadly it looses two automatically for the very high price!
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Over the past six months I've really been making an effort with going to the gym and playing netball to try and get myself fit again. I'm not sure the results are quite showing yet, but I'm certainly feeling a lot better (well the majority of the time... not when I get off the treadmill usually)! When I first started I seemed to be spending about three pounds a week buying bottles of water or squash to take to the gym with me so I decided to purchase a sports bottle the other week while in Asda. Despite my boyfriend telling me I should spend a little more and get a "proper" sports bottle (by that I think he merely meant a branded sports bottle) I settled for one from the Asda Smart Price range as I didn't want to spend much!
The bottle I selected was a light blue in colour, similar to that shown in the picture above. At the time of purchasing there weren't any other colours available in my local store although I have since seen a pink version of this as well. To open the bottle the lid simply screws on and off which makes it extremely easy to fill. The actual drink is dispensed by pulling up a small circular piece of plastic which opens the flute and allows the drink to flow through. I've never had a problem with the bottle leaking or opening while being in my bag or car at all; it always seems secure and very sturdy too. The bottle holds up to 200ml of liquid which is certainly sufficient for my needs and seems to be quite a common gym sized bottle!
The only downside I've found with it is that you do need to wash it thoroughly when you first buy it as it has quite a strong, synthetic smell to it which does also affect the taste of the liquid inside. I soaked it in hot and soapy water for an evening and this problem soon disappeared. The bottle is extremely easy to wash in hot, soapy water and make sure that you ensure the lid is thoroughly cleaned too. I paid £1.50 for this bottle in my local Asda which seems a very reasonable price, I've not doubt that it'll last me for months to come as long as I don't go and loose it (this is a common problem of mine in the gym it seems)! I am giving this bottle the full five stars as I really can't find a single fault with it at all!
Thanks for reading.