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If the eyes are the windows to your soul then mascara must be the curtains!
I don't wear a lot of eye make up having recently given up on eye liner and have never ever been able to apply eyeshadow without looking like I have been punched, but mascara and I go back a long way and it's one of my must have make up items
I feel like I have tried at least one mascara from every brand going, from cheap (NYC - surprisingly not too bad for £1.99!) to over £20 from YSL or Lancome (disappointing for the price tbh)
The look I love is the false eyelash effect but without the hassle and not to mention embarrassment of false eyelashes! For going out I have found my ultimate wonder product in Divaderme Lash Extender (see my reviews) but it's a bit expensive and full on for every day use - don't want to look too much like a drag queen at 8am!
A friend of mine gets loads of freebies where she works and gave me this mascara to try out. Usually they retail for about £11 in Boots.
When I first tried it, it came in limited edition colours, so I had a bright orange and following that, a purple which were pretty funky. Back to black now though which is a bit boring but inoffensive. The tube is fat with a slanted lid.
The wand is hard plastic rather than natural bristles which when I first tried this type, took a bit of getting used to but now I think they are far superior for a clump free look as the rigidity acts as a comb for your lashes.
The wand is very user friendly and in my opinion a perfect size and shape for easy application.
The amount of product dispensed is just right giving a good amount but not so much that it's going to go gloopy.
Lets be realistic, the false lash effect is only really ever going to be achieved with false lashes - the name is purely a gimmick. That said, coverage wise this is excellent giving a really good coating in just one application. With some mascaras, applying one coat can take about 100 strokes (I have counted!) but I found this one to be very quick and was really pleased with the strength of the results. You don't need to apply two coats especially for the daytime, but I do because that's my preference.
Now to the issue of clumping and I am happy to say that this is one of the better mascaras I have used in that respect. I don't get any lumps in my eyelashes and they don't stick together which is my pet hate. I used to always keep an eyelash comb at the ready but haven't had to use it since I have started with the MF mascara.
This also doesn't flake throughout the day which is a rarity in my experience.
I find it removes very easily with babywipes or non greasy eye make up remover but I am not reviewing the waterproof version so can't comment on that.
Unfortunately I have to take off one star for longevity as this doesn't tend to last very long. I get maybe a months use out of it before the effects are noticeably not as bold. It's still useable but you don't get the effect you got when it was new.
It doesn't seem as if its drying up, but more like running out and even the cheapo ones I use last a bit longer than a month. At around £11 a tube that's a hefty £132 a year on mascara!
Well I'm on my third tube so despite my gripes with it's longevity, I DO like the results it produces, and in my opinion it's far better than any similar Rimmel or Maybelline mascara.
So whilst I have to deduct a point for lasting a month before it loses its impact, I would still say it's an impressive mid price mascara and am going to continue to buy it till something better comes along!
Thanks for reading - also on Ciao as ciaomiaow x
I have seen the Soap & Glory range on the shelves of Boots for quite a while but the Hand Food was the first thing I bought in their range. This came about because my hands were suffering with the winter as per usual but despite slathering on different handcreams, the dryness didn't get any better, so before work one day, I popped into Boots and bought this 50ml tube for £2.35 (this was the mini size but full size of 125mls is available at £4.85 from Boots).
The packaging for S&G products is fab - 50s, kitch and girly with quirky little slogans (this one's is 'mend a hand'). The tube is a bubblegum pink colour which I love, and has the rather confident question across the top: 'The Most Astonishing Hand Cream Ever? You Decide!'. Alrighty then I shall!
The lid flips up very easily which might sound obvious but believe me I have struggled with a fair few similarly designed items nearly breaking a nail with the effort! The product itself is white and smells sweet but not sickly. It is quite feminine though so I can't imagine a bloke using it.
I squeezed out a small amount at first to see how far it went and it turned out that a small amount is all I needed as a little goes a long way. I was seriously impressed with how well this was absorbed - very quickly and with zero trace of grease. It left my hands feeling super soft like velvet and the most impressive thing was that I applied it in the morning and didn't feel the need to continuously re-apply this all day which I usually do.
Amongst the ingredients are Macadamia oil, shea butter and marshmallow (hungry yet?) and I'm pleased to report no irritation at all to my very sensitive skin.
I really do believe it's the best handcream I have ever tried and for such a fantastic price too - I will definitely be checking out the rest of the range. Soaperb!!
Not tested on animals
Products widely available at larger Boots stores
Official website: soapandglorycosmetics.com
I was introduced to Burt's Bees by my sister who lives in California, and who is really into using natural products with no chemicals. She gave me a mini trial size pack of various BB products and whilst I thought they were nice, I wasn't overwhelmed enough to rush out and buy them when they ran out.
However recently in this bitterly cold winter, my lips have really suffered and became so dry and chapped that even my constant use of lip balm was having no positive effect.
I soon found out why when I read that in order to cure chapped lips, you need to avoid products with petroleum because even though they appear to moisturise your lips, they are actually blocking the moisture leaving your lips even drier! So with the usual vaseline, blistex etc out the window, I set about researching what other people had recommended, and that's where Burt's Bees came up again.
Burt's Bees' philosophy is to use Natural ingredients wherever possible and I selected the Beeswax honey lipbalm because it was certified 100% natural. The have used ingredients such as beeswax (which has been used since ancient times as a natural moisturiser) coconut oil and lanolin to soften rather than petroleum and in this particular lip balm, honey to scent.
Costing £3.99 for a 4.25g tube, it might be ever so slightly more expensive than other brands but I thought that was a small price to pay if it worked.
The tube is a yellowy / orange colour that is quite typical of BB products and the actual balm is colourless.
I have been using this for about a week now and I can report that I have noticed an improvement. Usually I wake up with a tight feeling to my lips but the past couple of mornings I have felt my lips returning to "normal".
The look of the product is quite matte and doesn't give a glossy shine like some others can, but the plus side of this is that it seems to stay put. One application is quite long lasting and I don't have to reapply every half an hour the way I did with previous products.
My lipstick sits better now, and my lips are becoming less flaky so I think they are on the road to recovery!
The only thing that I regret is choosing the honey scented version rather than the unfragranced balm - I don't personally hate it, however my husband thinks it is minging so I think next time I will leave the honey one on the shelf!
They even do tinted balms and shimmer glosses too so your pout can look pretty whilst being conditioned at the same time!
Recently I have decided to try and reduce the amount of chemicals I eat, and use in general and explore more natural alternatives. What I put on my skin seems to be a good place to start and this lipbalm has impressed me enough to want to try again with the rest of the Burt's Bees skincare range.
I hope this has been of some help to all you chapped lips sufferers out there :)
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT INNOCENT:
Innocent are a company whose USP is that they strive to be ethically aware, using sustainable and natural ingredients, recyclable packaging and sharing 10% of their profits to charities each year.
If you are ever on their website, check out the story of how they started out - selling smoothies from a stall at a music festival out of £500 worth of fruit that they had bought. They put up a big sign saying 'Do you think we should give up our jobs to make these smoothies?' and put out a bin saying 'YES' and a bin saying 'NO' and asked people to put the empty bottle in the right bin. At the end of the weekend the 'YES' bin was full so they resigned the following day!!
12 years on and their range has expanded from just smoothies to also include: Thickies (with yoghurt), Juices, Fruit Tubes all of which are made out of 100% natural ingredients.
I have been eating their veg pots for about a year now, mainly sticking to the Mushroom Risotto one, but I was lucky enough to be chosen by Innocent to receive a free 30 pot drop to my office one lunchtime - result!!
INNOCENT VEG POTS:
There are 8 varieties in this range, all vegetarian (some vegan) and each 400g pot contains 3 out of your 5 a day.
They change the flavours in accordance with the seasons, but currently the flavours are as follows:
* Italian Mushroom Risotto
* Thai Coconut Curry
* Moroccan Giant Cous Cous
* Mexican Sweet Potato Chilli
* Indian Vegetable Masala
* Indian Daal Curry
* Portuguese Red Pepper Piri Piri
And the one I'm reviewing today - Roasted Aubergine Moussaka
MOUSSAKA...BUT NOT AS WE KNOW IT:
This is not a moussaka in the traditional Greek sense as in it is not layered, plus it doesn't contain béchamel sauce. So its moussaka-ish with thinly sliced potatoes, carrots and borlotti beans, with some roasted aubergine, fresh spinach, onion and a herby tomato sauce. All topped off with a little bit of cheese.
The plus points of this recipe variation is that it is far less calorific than its traditional cousin with each pot containing 274 kcals, 5.7g fat and 35g carbs. Each pot contains 92% of your GDA of fibre making this one of the healthier meal options out there.
To cook, you take off the cardboard sleeve (the inside sleeve is worth a glance full of quirky little facts), pop the lid off the plastic tub, loosely replace it and cook for 3 mins on high in the microwave. Stir the moussaka then cook for a further minute.
SO, IS IT ANY GOOD?
It's personal taste but I add salt to these, but then again not everyone will feel the need to, I just have a terrible salt habit I'm afraid!
I have to say I really enjoyed this Veg Pot - the aubergines were soft and had no trace of bitterness you can often get with them. The carrots and potatoes still had a good amount of bite to them and the sauce was rich and had a nice minty edge to it. My one criticism is that the garlic is a little overpowering, I can understand why it needs a touch perhaps but it is beyond me why manufacturers seem to use garlic as a substitute for any other taste, especially with vegetarian food. Anyway that aside, an tasty and very filling lunch option. Comfort food without the guilt of calories or additives which is a rare thing indeed.
I enjoyed it so much that I had another one for my dinner, this time with a side salad which was again, filling enough for me.
As mentioned previously I was lucky enough to get a batch free, but usually these pots cost £3.75 at Sainsburys although they tend to have a few price promotions.
Suitable for Vegetarians
Allergy info: contains milk, mustard
Also posted on Ciao as ciaomiaow - thanks for reading
Those of you who have read my more recent reviews will know that my hubbie has recently been diagnosed with quite a few food intolerances one of which is wheat. This has meant a bit of a rethink in our mealtimes, because although we were never very frequent eaters of pasta or bread, we did indulge once in a while particularly in my all time favourite comfort food: Spag Bol! Seriously this would be my last supper, so the thought of doing without it again was not to be entertained!
The first time I made Spag Bol was with Tesco Free From pasta spirals but unlike ordinary pasta, you do not want to eat this stuff without it being smothered in sauce. The spirals were just a bit too heavy and I found I could really taste the rice flour which although not unpleasant exactly, is not particularly enjoyable.
So on the basis that spaghetti is thinner, I thought the taste would be more easily masked by a rich bolognese sauce and bought a packet to give it a try.
The spaghetti can be found in Tesco's designated Free From section in its distinctive yellow and purple packaging. It costs £1.28 for a 500g packet, which is more expensive than your usual but as I mentioned, it's only a meal we eat once in a while so I didn't mind the price.
It is free from Wheat and Gluten and contains just three ingredients: Maize Flour, Rice Flour and Emulsifier.
I cooked it as I would ordinary spaghetti - in a large pan of boiling slightly salted water and watched it as it bubbled to keep an eye on it's progress!
I swirled it around a bit in the pan and noticed that the strands tend to stick together in clumps and you can't really de-clump them. The other thing I noticed was that the water went cloudy - all in all it wasn't looking too appetising at that point.
As it continued to boil, the strands seemed to de-clump a lot easier and although there were still some stuck together, it was a lot less than at the start.
After about 10 mins I tested a strand to see if it was done and it was (it needs to be cooked through though, the al dente thing doesn't really work with wheat free)
I drained the pasta of all that cloudy water and at that point, decided to pour a kettle full of recently boiled water over it to rinse away any excess starch. That folks, is my top tip for the wheat free stuff, in my opinion it really needs it otherwise it's just a bit like glue!
I returned the spaghetti to the pan and added the bolognese sauce stirring through thoroughly so each strand was coated, figuring I wouldn't have to taste the naked pasta that way.
It worked too! Okay so it wasn't exactly like 'normal' spag bol, but it was a pretty damn good alternative if you can't / don't want to eat wheat and was a massive improvement on the pasta shapes. The rice flour was very well disguised amongst the sauce, and the consistency was fairly similar to regular spaghetti making it not just edible but downright enjoyable!
So all in all, my top tips for wheat free pasta are:
* use the spaghetti instead of the pasta shapes if you aren't keen on the taste
* rinse the cooked product in boiling water to remove excess starch
* smother each strand in sauce
Hope this was helpful!
(also on ciao as ciaomiaow)
Recently my husband has been diagnosed with several food intolerances amongst which are eggs, wheat and dairy, so for a while baking has been a bit of a no-go area!
We don't usually eat a lot of baked goods anyway but over Christmas we were missing bread and cakes a bit so I thought I would do a bit of digging on the internet to see what allergy alternatives were out there
After a few misses (chocolate brownies tasted like dust yuk!!) there were a couple of successes and I thought I would post them to help anyone else out there suffering with food intolerances:
Irish oaten rolls (adapted for allergy sufferers):
(free from eggs, wheat, yeast and dairy)
This was an adapted Nigella recipe and tasted a bit like scones. Great with jam and best eaten on the day (or warmed up in the oven the next day) - these tend to crumble a bit if frozen. Super quick to make!
* 400g self raising gluten free flour (Doves Farm is the brand I used)
* 100g rolled oats (not instant)
* 300ml flat beer or stout (lager gives a milder taste, Guinness is slightly bitter)
* 150ml plain soya yoghurt or cream (I used Alpro cream)
* 4 15ml tbsp rice bran or vegetable oil
* 4 15ml tbsp runny honey (use this after the oil as it slips off easily)
* ½ tsp salt
* 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat the oven to 220c
Mix the oats and flour, salt and bicarb in a large bowl.
Mix all the liquids into a bowl or jug and add to the flour and oats stirring until absorbed
Using slightly damp hands, form the mixture into balls and dollop onto a greased, preheated baking tray. The mixture should make about 12 rolls.
Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of oats and bake for 15 mins on 220 - transfer onto a wire rack to cool
Citrus fairy cakes
(free from eggs, dairy and wheat)
* 120g dairy free margarine (eg: vitalite, tomer)
* 100g castor sugar
* ½ tsp vanilla essence
* 1 tsp grated orange rind
* 1 tsp grated lemon rind
* 4 tbsp dairy free milk (I used rice milk)
* 150g self-raising gluten free flour (I used Doves Farm)
* 2 tbsp orange juice
* 1 tbsp lemon juice
* 1 tbsp toasted almond nibs
Lightly grease a cake baking tray and Preheat oven to 180°C.
Beat butter, sugar and essence until light and fluffy. Add orange and lemon rind and stir in the milk gradually, one tablespoon at a time.
Sift in flour. Add orange and lemon juice slowly. Spoon batter into the individual cake holes. Sprinkle almond nibs over the surface and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cakes are cooked through when tested with a skewer.
Allow the cakes to sit in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool.
These kept well for 2 days.
If any of you happen to make these, do drop me a line and let me know what you thought!....thanks for reading x
(ALSO POSTED ON CIAO AS CIAOMIAOW)
Recently my husband was diagnosed with a list of food intolerances as long as your arm and because I don't want to cook separately, we have really had to have a rethink in terms of our weekly food shop and what we eat.
The main intolerances seem to be to eggs, wheat, yeast and cows milk.
At first it seemed impossible - you don't realise until you have to check the ingredients, just how much food contains at least one of these! However as time has gone on it has become a lot easier and there have been benefits for both of us even though I don't suffer from intolerances myself.
The plus side of it is that we are now eating a lot less processed food and we make pretty much everything from scratch so we are eating much healthier.
The downsides are at times like Christmas when everyone else is eating biscuits and chocolates, and although we don't generally buy a lot of this type of thing, it is Christmas and practically the law to over indulge!! Plus I didn't want my hubbie to feel like he was missing out.
Tesco do quite a few biscuits in their free from range, including this shortbread variety. They cost just under £2 for a 200g packet which is more expensive than a regular packet of biccies but I did expect that. The packet states that they are free from gluten and dairy but checking the ingredients they also don't contain egg.
So to the all important taste - well they don't taste exactly like shortbread, mainly because I find shortbread to be quite dense and these are extremely light and airy. There is a similar butteriness about them but these ones are best described as melt in your mouth. I can quite easily eat two or three in one go because they are really delicate and you don't feel like you have eaten anything too stodgy.
I have to say that my expectations for gluten free products are to not compare them with their gluten counterparts, but to treat them as an individual item. So these may not be a dead ringer for shortbread, but for a tasty buttery biscuit - they get the thumbs up in this house!
Divaderme are an Italian company whose small product range includes lash and brow extenders, lip volumisers and lash stimulants amongst others.
I first came to hear about Divaderme Lash Extender when I read an online article, where the journalist testing it proclaimed it to be "one of the most honest products I have come across in a while". That kind of statement is always going to get me reading more to find out what's so good about it, particularly as it was a potential replacement for my false eyelashes (given up on them after an embarrassing incident in the pub where one flew off!!)
The product claims to deliver longer fuller eyelashes in seconds, instantly and dramatically lengthening, adding volume and strengthening your lashes
So impressed was the journalist, she convinced me to give it a go, so I went an ordered myself a tube from eBay priced at around £25.
I have never seen this in a store, I think it is currently only available online (www.idealbeautyproducts.com) is a good source if you aren't keen on buying from eBay.
~~ My experience: ~~
I decided to try it out for my birthday night out on the town as I fancied a slightly more exaggerated look than normal.
The instructions tell you that you need to apply the product immediately after your first coat of mascara, so it is handy to have them both open and ready to use before starting.
Very carefully so as not to blow all the fibres away, I opened my the tube of divaderme (which looks just like a small mascara wand) and handed it to my husband in preparation.
Next I applied a coat of my usual mascara to my lashes. Note: it is very important to use a fresh, almost runny mascara and not an old dried up one, because the fibres are supposed to stick to the wetness of the mascara.
Immediately after this, I applied the divaderme fibres as advised in rolling motion from root to tip, all the while looking downwards into a mirror. I only used this on my top lashes to avoid it looking too spidery.
At this point your eyelashes look a bit furry and you can remove any excess from your lids or underneath your eyes with the small brush provided, should you need to.
The last stage is to coat your newly furry lashes with your usual mascara which seals in the fibres. I applied a couple of coats which was enough for me, but you can go on and on until you get the effect you are after.
I feel I ought to assure readers that if all this sounds complicated, it really isn't!
It IS slightly fiddly on first use but that's just getting used to it more than anything, by the second eye I was quite confident. Plus it is FAR less tricky than applying false lashes and takes a fraction of the time.
~~ The results: ~~
My expectations were wavering between "It's a waste of money I'm not going to notice any difference" to "Wow what a result!" obviously hoping for the latter.
In actual fact, the results sat happily between not being as full on as false eyelashes, but a definite step up from mascara on its own. This is exactly what I was hoping for.
Another thing to mention is how they felt - I have quite sensitive eyes and experienced no irritation with this product. The only thing was in one of the eyes a couple of the fibres did sneak their way in leaving me feeling slightly gritty but that went away when I removed them with a cotton bud.
They also don't feel any weightier than wearing mascara, whereas false lashes can feel quite heavy at times - you are not really aware that you are wearing anything different. The fibres stayed firmly in place all night long and were removed super easily with my usual eye make up remover at the end of the night.
£24 might seem initially expensive but when you consider it as an alternative it false ones then it is very economical due to the amount of use you get out of one tube. Added to that, you can use bog standard cheapo mascara with this and still get the same results (I have tried and tested this theory!).
Overall, I'm really pleased with this product and happy to recommend.
(also on ciao as ciaomiaow)
I first came across this site when the screen of my macbook was accidentally bashed in and went all multicoloured and cracked (that was not a good day!)
Whereas PC repairers are ten a penny you have to do a bit of searching for a Mac. In the past I have been to a local Mac supplier which also has a workshop so I gave them a ring and they quoted me £450 for a replacement screen - yowzers!
The reason for this, they say, is because they have to get the parts from an authorised Mac Dealer in order for it to be under warranty - fair enough but I just couldn't stretch to that price, so I looked on the internet for alternatives.
Rather basically typing in "screen for macbook" the first one that came up was Notebooks2go.
Browsing their website, I read that they are Apple specialists who offer repairs, upgrades, installations and sales and have a purpose built computer workshop. Although specialising in Apple, a quick look around their site reveals they do also deal with PCs.
Usually, I am one to research extensively before making a choice, and I did browse dooyoo and ciao to see if anyone else had used them before but found nothing. Rather uncharacteristic for me, but I gave them a ring straight away without looking at any other websites.
I spoke to a helpful guy who explained that although Wiltshire based, they can arrange collection of your item via courier and then re-deliver the item for £25 + VAT.
The price he quoted me for the replacement screen including fitting, was £125 bringing it in at a total of £150 - he assured me there would be no hidden costs and the price quoted was what I would pay.
Still, this was so much cheaper than I had been previously quoted that I became suspicious and asked why it was so cheap? After all I had never heard of them before and didn't want to get ripped off!
He explained that Apple don't actually manufacture screens, they are only made by either Samsung or LG and that is what I would be getting to replace mine. The low price was due to getting the screens directly from the suppliers rather than via an approved Apple supplier hence they were able to reduce their costs.
I wanted to check this out, so I asked for time to think about it, checked it up on the internet and it was true. Reassured by this, I called him back and booked in my macbook for repair.
They took my card details there and then and I admit, I did worry at that point if I was ever going to see a courier or indeed my laptop ever again!
Happily my concerns were misplaced - the courier arrived the following day with a foam padded crate and a receipt for my payment. As promised, the company called me 2 days later to let me know that the screen had been replaced and I would receive it the following day - that's a super speedy 4 day turnaround!
There was a minor hiccup with the courier firm who couldn't seem to find my address, however this wasn't really the company's fault and they apologised for the inconvenience. It was eventually returned to me a day later than stated but that was still a fast turnaround.
The screen was replaced and the laptop looks and works just fine again. In addition, there is a no quibble 90 day warranty.
I'm writing this review not only because I was extremely impressed and satisfied with the service provided, but also to reassure others that may be in a similar predicament but were unsure if these were trustworthy or not. In my experience they most definitely were and based on that, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them or use them again.
Thanks for reading (also on Ciao)
My usual approach to laundry is bung some detergent in the machine, and for really tough stains, use a vanish bar. I have never bought anything like this before, however I had in my possession a money off voucher for any product in the new Ariel Stain remover range, so thought I would give it a try and the reason is this:
I have a strange fixation with white bedding and refuse to sleep on any other colour, which would be fine if I didn't also have fixation with fake tan which as any user will know, can leave white fabric looking like it's gone ten rounds with an oompaloompa and lost :)
Most of the time it comes out with a hot wash and ordinary detergent, but I had hopes that Ariel Stain remover gel (with whitener) would bring back the bright whiteness which has faded somewhat.
The gel comes in a 1 litre plastic bottle complete with dispensing ball. It usually retails at £4.00 (although I got it for £2 with my voucher).
The idea is that you add a ball full of the gel to your wash along with your usual detergent, and it claims to "remove tough stains (such as wine, coffee and grass) in 1 wash or your money back"
The way it works is by forming a layer over the stain particles, it lifts stains out of the fabric. It also helps to keep stain particles suspended in the water so they don't find their way back into your clothes. Finally, Ariel Stain Remover cleans any remaining stain residue.
You can buy it with or without the whitening gel (my review is for with) and this ingredient is supposed to restore your whites to "brilliant" status.
So those are the claims by Ariel, but does it work?
Armed with my bundle of tangoed whites, I washed them on 60 degrees heat along with my usual detergent as instructed.
I did have a look on the bottle to see if it recommended a temperature for this product but as it didn't, I decided 60 was as good a starting point as any.
I tumble dried the washing and inspected for results.
I could see that the stains hadn't been lifted from the dressing gown I wear after I have applied fake tan, and it although it doesn't tend to stay on my bed linen, the 'brilliant' whiteness I had hoped for didn't appear either.
In fact looking at the results, I would go so far as to say that it had made no difference to a normal wash whatsoever and I was all set to rubbish it in a review.
However I didn't get around to writing it, and a few days ago, my husband spilt red wine onto his brand new white t shirt. As we were away overnight, I couldn't deal with it until the following day. I used my usual vanish bar on the stains, and although they faded, there was still a strong dark mark and it looked as if it was beyond saving.
As a last ditch attempt, I pulled out the bottle of Ariel gel and read that it could be used as an on the spot stain remover too. Nothing to lose I thought, so I poured a generous blob on to the stain and rubbed the fabric together for a minute or two. Lo and behold the stain has completely disappeared - honestly there is no trace at all!
T-shirt rescued, husband pleased and rubbish review shelved!
If there was a half a star option on dooyoo, I would award it 2.5 stars out of 5.
As it is, I will stretch to 3 stars, because it works fabulously as an on the spot stain remover, but ultimately it doesn't perform in the washing machine which is partially at least, what its meant to do.
When it's good, its very very good..and well, you know the rest!
Thanks for reading x
Also published on ciao (as ciaomiaow)
I love my dog to pieces and wouldn't be without her for the world, but sometimes - just occasionally - she's firmly in the doghouse so to speak. Take last week for instance - she went out digging a massive hole in the rainy garden, then was kind enough to decorate our cream bedroom carpet with muddy black paw prints!!
In the past I have hired a rug doctor to spruce up the carpets and planned to do so again after the latest incident, but spotted a possible alternative solution on Tesco's shelves.
The product is called "Vanish High Traffic Area Powerfoam" and is designed to cover large 'high traffic' areas such as hallways / stairs etc - keeping them clean and fresh.
The packaging is the hot pink colour by which Vanish has become distinguishable, and cost me £4.10 for a 600ml aerosol. I think this is quite a hefty initial layout but the can is huge and I can see it would last a while. Also it's a lot less hassle than hiring a rug doctor, and although the two don't quite do the same thing, I hoped the foam would still clean the carpet nicely and at least delay the need for the rug doc.
The way it works is this: its foam penetrates deep into the carpet fibres to loosen and lift dirt effectively without over-wetting your carpet. It is also suitable for use on wool carpets. You are supposed to spray on and hoover it off - sounds simple enough!
~~ Directions for use ~~
Despite the claims that it's suitable to use on all colours, it still says it's essential to test it for colourfastness, but admittedly I couldn't be bothered with this step. If my carpets were darker though I would definitely recommend doing a test patch, I just figured that as it was cream I would be fine (don't take my word for this if you are worried though as I would hate to be responsible for any ruined carpets out there!)
I shook the can and sprayed all over my bedroom carpet holding the can about 80cm away as directed. As it's quite a large carpet, I did this in sections, working the foam into the carpet with a damp sponge as I went along, as per the instructions.
There was a very slight, not unpleasant smell to the foam but that cleared very quickly - this was probably helped along by both windows being wide open. You are supposed to keep the room ventilated and I would definitely recommend this.
Then I left it for the recommended 2 hours drying time before going over it with the Hoover. Although it doesn't specifically say so, the picture on the side shows the nozzle attachment of the Hoover being used rather than using it upright, so that's what I did.
~~ The results ~~
I have read quite a few reviews of this foam and all of them have been good, so I had high expectations that this would deliver - and it did! The carpet came up beautifully with all traces of paw prints gone.
The carpet was ever so slightly damp after hoovering but dried out in a short space of time - the fact that it doesn't overly wet the carpet means that there is no shrinkage too.
All in all, I would say this is one product that does live up to the hype. I trust the Vanish brand as a whole having got great results from other products in their range, and this one doesn't disappoint either.
Highly recommended for hassle free use and top results - another winner from vanish and a full 5 stars from me!
~~ Thanks for reading - also published on ciao as ciaomiaow ~~
Several years ago, swept along by the Thai Curry hype, I ate my first and until now, only green curry in a restaurant , but found it really bland and left me wondering what all the fuss was about. Wondering if I had just had a badly executed version, I tried again with a red curry more recently and although that fared marginally better, it still left me underwhelmed if I'm being honest.
My other half however really likes them so, being a keen cook, I gave it a try one weeknight, figuring it was at least something different to do with chicken breasts to my usual Indian curry or a stir fry.
I was out of my comfort zone and didn't know where to start, so I looked up a few recipes online, and went to Tesco's for the ingredients. I chose their own brand Thai green curry paste, which cost £1.17 for a 220g jar. I also bought a can of coconut milk, some fresh limes and fresh coriander.
The paste is suitable for vegetarians and the label displays 2 chillies indicating it is of medium heat.
Nutritionally per 100g it contains 115 kcals, 7.9g fat and 8.7g carbs which isn't too bad (but don't forget the diet busting coconut milk - yes even the reduced fat version!)
As per my online recipes and the instructions on the side of the jar, I started by cubing the chicken breasts and browning in a little oil. When I opened the jar I was struck by a strong whiff of garlic which is never a good thing in my book, but that's just down to personal taste.
The colour was a dark green / yellow colour which looked appetising enough - being used to seeing pale green curries, this surprised me but I thought the intensity of the colour would reduce upon adding the coconut milk.
Adding a couple of tablespoons of paste to the chicken, I mixed it in and then stirred in my coconut milk and the zest of a fresh lime (this replaced the lemongrass as I couldn't find any but was assured it was a suitable replacement).
The mixture bubbling away still looked totally different to other green curries I have seen in the past, as I mentioned before they are usually quite pale in colour almost a mint green. My version was still really dark! Ho hum....
I served it with jasmine rice and some fresh chopped coriander to garnish.
Soooo salty!! I didn't add any seasoning at all whilst prepping this but it was so salty I found it hard to eat. And I am someone who adds a lot of salt to my food usually so I think that's an indication of how salty it was that even I struggled!
I checked the label and it contained 2.2g sodium which was equivalent to 5.4g salt per 100g of paste. Now I know my cals / fat quite well but have no clue about salt - is that a lot???
Aside from the salt, it was okay but tasted a bit like a korma to me and a very garlicky one at that. I'm not sure if it's just the Tesco paste that's not great and other brands do it better but either way, it hasn't changed my mind about green curries - I don't think I'm a convert.
I would be interested to hear comments from green curry connoisseurs who have tried this to see what they think in comparison to other brands - feel free to leave your comments!!
Thanks for reading
(also posted on ciao as ciaomiaow)
One lunchtime I was browsing in my local Superdrug when I spotted an offer on N.Y.C make up - buy 3 items for £5. Perfect timing and price as I needed to stock up on bits for going on holiday. I have only ever seen this brand in Superdrug.
Call me a cheapskate (although actually I would rather you didn't!), but the less I spend on nail varnish, the better. I once did subscribe to the "you get what you pay for" school of thought, but that went out the window after my £13 Chanel nail varnish chipped in hours even under the mighty resistance of Seche Vite topcoat. I have had better staying power from Rimmel than Chanel so I am more than open to trying the cheaper brands nowadays.
For my 3 for a fiver, I chose a mascara (more of that in another review) plus 2 nail varnishes, my fave of which was called Manhattan which was a rich aubergine / plum colour, and just the shade I had been looking for.
When I applied it at home (base coat first, being the good girl that I am) my impressions were as follows:
- Good thick consistency which delivered a nice shiny finish
- One coat was of decent enough thickness but dried a little patchy for my liking, so two coats is really what's required here.
- The brush was of a perfect size and delivered the right amount of product - was very easy to handle and apply - v impressed with this.
I'm afraid I can't comment on the drying time because as soon as I finish the second coat, I immediately apply Seche Vite top coat which touch dries my nails in minutes anyway.
So does it last? Yes and no but in my experience, this is the same story with most nail varnishes. When I'm at work and on the computer all day then I find chips appear as early as one day in, certainly two.
However I had a week off recently and my nails didn't chip once in the entire week. Aware that I have a bit of Seche Vite mentionitus going on in this review, so apols for referring to it yet again, but I know that it helped with the N.Y.C staying power. However as previously mentioned, it did bugger all to help the Chanel stay put so I have to assume that the quality of N.Y.C varnish is pretty decent.
The bottle lasted a couple of months before starting to go gloopy but at £1.99, I think that is pretty good value.
I have read as many unfavourable reviews for this brand of polish, as I have good ones, but I would personally recommend it. They have a great range of up to the minute colours to choose from and for the price it's a bit of a no brainer for me. 5/5 stars.
this review will probably appear on Ciao at some point - thanks for reading xx
** A little about Innocent **
Innocent are a company whose USP is that they strive to be ethically aware, using sustainable and natural ingredients, recyclable packaging and sharing 10% of their profits to charities each year.
Browsing the website, I really loved the story of how they started out - selling smoothies from a stall at a music festival out of £500 worth of fruit that they had bought. They put up a big sign saying 'Do you think we should give up our jobs to make these smoothies?' and put out a bin saying 'YES' and a bin saying 'NO' and asked people to put the empty bottle in the right bin. At the end of the weekend the 'YES' bin was full so they resigned the following day!!
12 yeas on and their range has expanded from just smoothies to also include: Thickies (with yoghurt), Juices, Fruit Tubes and most recently Veg Pots, all of which are made out of 100% natural ingredients. This means that the fruit juice for instance, contains purely from fruit (and sometimes vitamins) with no added concentrate, water or additives.
I'm not really a smoothie drinker but I was intrigued when their Veg Pot range started appearing on supermarket shelves.
** Innocent Veg Pots **
There are 7 varieties in this range, all vegetarian (some vegan) and each 400g pot contains 3 out of your 5 a day.
Varieties include Thai Coconut Curry, Moroccan Giant Cous Cous, Mexican Sweet Potato Chilli and the one I am reviewing today Woodland Mushroom Risotto.
It costs £3.79 at Sainsburys which is quite an expensive lunch but I soon found that I didn't need any extras (crisps, choc etc) as these are extremely filling!
Now it's called a risotto but as the website states, it's a bit of an impostor, as to be officially classed as risotto, it must be fried in butter, doused in wine, simmered in stock and served with lots of cheese! Replacing the rice with barley, Innocent have also left out all the other unhealthy stuff and instead used 5 different types of mushrooms, spinach, crème fraiche, tarragon and all sorts of other delicious morsels. As with their other products, this contains no colourings or additives.
It fares well nutritionally too, with a 400g pot coming in at a mere 260 kcals, 9.2g fat, 0.48g salt and a not amazing, but could be worse 31.2g carbs.
To cook, you take off the cardboard sleeve (have a read of the inside as it's quite quirky), pop the lid off the plastic tub, loosely replace it and cook for 3 mins on high in the microwave.
This is equally as tasty as it is nutritious, the sauce is really mushroomy and creamy and the texture of the barley / spinach compliment it perfectly.
I admit I do add a pinch or two of salt, I can't help it I have salt cravings which I know is bad for me! It's just down to personal taste though I'm sure not everyone would feel the need to add.
As I mentioned before the pots are very filling for a lunchtime and fills me up until I eat my evening meal. And because it's healthy you don't get that post lunchtime slump you can get with eating a very carb heavy meal.
Overall I would highly recommend this pot especially in winter when you want something a bit more comforting (yes I know it's summer but someone forgot to tell Manchester!). This does the trick perfectly without piling on the pounds or eating any nasty additives. For these reasons, I personally think they are worth the price and I am definitely going to try out others in the range.
If you are bored, have a browse around their website, I found the "our story" and "our ethics" sections particularly interesting. Also the descriptions of their veg pots are cute and raise a chuckle...:)
I have been straightening my naturally curly mop for about 20 years now during which time I have tried out A LOT of products, seriously the hair products aisle in Boots ain't got nothing on me!!
However, the only item that has stayed for the duration is John Frieda Frizz Ease serum. Although it lasts a while, it costs just under £6.00 and occasionally when I am particularly skint, I do try a cheaper option.
Browsing the aisles in my local Quality Save store, I spotted Twisted Sista Different Strokes serum this for a bargain price of 99p and figured I had nothing to lose (apart from 99p) by giving it a go.
Twisted Sista is a range of hair products by a company called Urban Therapy, which is a day spa based in London. They pitch their brand as the first ever to span the diverse mix of ethnic markets, taking a multicultural approach, which I guess means that their hair products are suitable for all hair types including tough to tame curls (ie: afro).
The packaging is colourful and fun rather than sleek and sophisticated with cartoon drawings of funky looking chicks on the front.
The serum comes in a 1.01 oz bottle with a pump dispenser.
I applied it as I always do, in a 20p sized amount to freshly washed hair, then set about drying.
The first thing I noticed was the dispenser is easy to control meaning you don't get a big splodge when you only need a little.
Secondly is the smell which in my opinion is the best thing about this serum. John Frieda is fragrance free, but this stuff smells like tropical fruits - yum!
Upon applying it, I could already tell my hair felt quite heavy (John Frieda is lightweight and 'barely there'). As I started to blow-dry, I could tell my hair felt thicker than usual and more weighed down which is not a plus for me I'm afraid. My hair might be curly but its not massively thick so I like it to feel weightless.
On the plus side, the following morning after a windy walk to work, my hair didn't succumb to frizz, so it did its job in that respect. However this stuff is not suitable for all hair types as it claims. I would say it would suit those with thick, hard to tame hair types, but not those with fine - medium hair. I can also imagine that it would make those with greasy hair even worse.
In summary, I would recommend that if you want a weightless feel to your locks then this isn't the stuff for you but perhaps it would be more successful to those with thicker hair more prone to frizz. Plus for 99p it's cheap enough to give it a whirl.
For me though, its back to the Frizz Ease :)
Thanks for reading