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The Christmas Eve of 2013 was memorable for all of the wrong reasons - with our (fairly new) cooker deciding to give up the ghost - proving problematic for the Christmas roast! It did speed up installing a brand new kitchen, however, including this built in electric oven from Neff. We purchased this from ao.com and paid £3.80 in 2014, alongside the necessary fitting charges to have this connected safely and securely by a qualified electrician.
Thus far, this oven has proven to be an excellent purchase, although it does come with the reassurance of a two year warranty courtesy of Neff, should there be any issues.
The main disappointment with this model is that it only includes a single shelf rack - despite having four height settings -although it is possible to utilise the grill pack and rack (which slides in on the same principle) as additional cooking space. I do think that a second shelf rack should have been included, given the sale price.
Using the oven is very straightforward. We use the fan oven setting mostly, which does perform excellently - shaving time off cooking times even without pre-heating the oven. There are a number of other settings (including the option to remove the fan function if desired) which are selected by twisting a simple dial.Temperature is adjusted by a separate dial, with the increments clearly marked in centigrade.
There are no fancy additional extras with this model but I do regularly make use of the timer function, which is straightforward to use and reliable, helping me to keep track of my cooking. I find cleaning the cooker straightforward although the grill pan does tend to get dirty quickly if utilised as an additional shelf.
The grill setting does benefit from a small amount of pre-heating to maximise performance and cooking time but, overall, this grills consistently and evenly and is much quicker than its predecessor.
As well as being efficient and reliable, the stainless steel exterior, dark glass door and sleek Neff branding certainly complement the rest of our kitchen and looks modern and stylish.
This is an appliance that I'm happy to recommend.
Having run out of my preferred brand of roll on deodorant (Mitchum), I grabbed a couple of Sanex branded deodorants from Boots - purely on the basis of them being on a half price offer. I paid 89p for a 50ml bottle, with the usual selling price being around £1.79.
As well as being reasonably priced, this Sanex 'Dermo Invisible' roll on deodorant is very practically packaged, with its clever upside down design meaning that the deodorant is also stored ready for use and minimising waste and the likelihood of the ball and its contents drying up.
The ball itself is a decent size, allowing for smooth, consistent and easy application of the deodorant. I find that the deodorant dries very quickly without leaving my armpits feeling sticky at all. I also appreciate the alcohol free formulation which means that this never stings after application, even if I'm experiencing any sensitivity or rashes under my arms. This bottle boasts that this brand is 'anti white marks' and I must admit that this particular variety is much better than my usual Mitchum deodorant and genuinely doesn't leave behind any unsightly white marks on clothing which is a major achievement.
My favourite feature of this deodorant, however, is its fragrance which is really feminine and floral. It is also very strong but in a pleasant way, rather than being overpowering. This is designed to last for a 24 hour period and works effectively as an antiperspirant. Ironically, I have found that the effects of this brand actually last much longer than others which claim to last for up to 48 hours. I've even woken up in the morning without having the opportunity to shower the previous evening and find that my armpits smell as fresh as they did the day before.
I feel that this deodorant gives me incredible long lasting freshness, a pleasant and feminine fragrance and offers excellent value for money.
Having three children, I've grown accustomed to being prepared for any eventuality whilst out and about. Although all three of my boys are long past the nappy stage, I still have what is known as 'the changing bag' to hand when we go out as a family - loaded with emergency snacks, wipes and a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel.
I first purchased this Carex Protect & Plus hand gel when my youngest son was still in nappies. I found this handy 50ml sized bottle to be the perfect size to slip in the bag, ready to hand following nappy changes in public places - particularly where this is not always easy access to soap and running water. The small bottle is see through so it is easy to keep track of supplies. I find that the flip top lid dispenses the runny gel easily and it is easy to squeeze out exactly the right amount. After application, the gel feels cooling against my palm but soon dries completely with no tackiness or residue.
The hand gel still has a valuable role to play in our family, having a child who has a tendency to travel sickness. This is now well managed with prescription medication but I always prefer the reassurance of having this gel to hand - just in case of emergencies. Unfortunately, I have had cause to use this on a number of occasions following travel sickness and can confirm that the gel does combat the unpleasant smell of vomit from hands. I'm also optimistic that this gel fulfils its promise of killing '99.9% of bacteria in seconds' although there is no real way to test this as an average consumer!
The only negative aspect of this gel is the very over-powering scent of alcohol which is difficult to avoid. The alcohol content does mean that the gel can sting if there are any areas of broken skin. I try to avoid using this gel when my hands are particularly dry as this does sting like crazy!
I find this gel is a really useful standby product - offering reassurance when members of the family have colds and bugs, with the aim of reducing the spread of infection to other family members. It also comes in handy when using public toilets and after eating meals. I would recommend this item for any parent to young children when out and about. This is reasonably priced at £1.99 per small bottle but occasionally available for half price from supermarkets and chemists.
I have long, coarse hair that wants to be curly almost as much as I want it to be straight! This fight between me and my hair almost always results in frizziness, much to my distress. I am always on the look out for miracle hair products that will moisturise my dry hair.
This Yves Rocher Botanical nourishing conditioner was purchased as part of an online order and was, in all honesty, chosen to meet the minimum spend needed to qualify for the free gift I was after! The blurb for this conditioner, however, did sound promising and made it sound worth the £3.25 offer price I paid. A search of the Yves Rocher site reveals that this 150ml tube is currently on offer for just £1.99 which is an even better price, although there is a small delivery charge on top.
The conditioner comes simply packaged in a practical tube with a flip top lid that dispenses the creamy white conditioner easily and without mess. The consistency of the conditioner is perfect for the job in hand and I find it easy to spread the cream through my past shoulder length hair. I find a generous single squeeze is enough to provide ample coverage, even with my thick hair.
I find the conditioner is easy to rinse out and doesn't leave any greasiness or residue after use. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that the results are anywhere close to the grand promises made on the tube. This claims to leave hair '...easier to detangle, stronger, supple and feels really soft.' I haven't noticed any significant difference in my hair's strength and am disappointed that it is not noticeably softer or easier to brush through after use.
My favourite aspect of this conditioner is the pleasant aroma. It is difficult to describe the scent accurately as it is quite a generic hair product kind of smell but it leaves my hair smelling freshly washed and clean without being too overpowering.
This conditioner does have some benefits compared to similar products - namely the lack of any nasties such as paragons, silicone and colorants. I do find that my hair is not as heavy feeling as it can be when conditioned using alternative brands so that is a clear benefit.
I'm not entirely convinced with the majority of the products claims, however, and am unlikely to re-order. It may be worth trying if purchasing other items from Yves Rocher though, particularly at the current low sale price.
I seem to be one of the few females that is not obsessed with the Soap and Glory brand. Indeed, I hadn't tried any of their products until I received a small gift set as a Secret Santa present last year, including a 50ml tube of this Hand Food.
Hand Food seems to be one of the best known Soap & Glory products and comes packaged in keeping with the rest of the brand, in very feminine pink colours with a fun retro design. As well as looking good, I find the design of the tube very practical with the flip top lid administering the cream easily and with minimal mess.
The cream itself is of a very nice consistency. I find that it spreads easily and it is absorbed quickly into my skin without leaving any greasy residue or tackiness. I do find the results to be fairly superficial however. I have a tendency to suffer from extremely dry skin around my fingers at certain times of the year and this cream is really not strong enough to deal with cracked and sore dry skin. I would say that this is best suited as an everyday moisturising cream for people with normal to greasy skin, rather than anybody suffering from dry skin conditions, where something a little more intensive is required. When my skin is at its calmest, I find this leaves my hands feeling soft and smooth.
I am happy to use this as an occasional treatment, mainly because I find the feminine scent of the cream to be so pleasant. I find myself sniffing my own hands at odd points throughout the day after application. It is a distinctive floral scent that I find quite uplifting.
With this small conveniently handbag sized tube costing £2.50, it is not an overly expensive product, making this a cream I'm happy to recommend to others with 'normal' skin.
As a mum to three young children, my beauty regime is, by necessity, pretty minimal. I rarely wear any make up other than black mascara every day which I feel opens up my eyes slightly, making me look slightly less sleep deprived.
After years of using pretty mediocre brands of mascara, I discovered a completely new kind of mascara from Blinc. The strapline to this mascara, as printed on the tube is ‘Stop painting your lashes...tube them!’ Basically, the mascara dries around the hairs on your eye lashes and forms a sort of cover or ‘tube’ that can only be removed using lots of warm water and pressure from your fingertips. The clear advantage of this design is that the mascara is waterproof and, crucially for me, smudgeproof too. I wear contact lenses and I am also prone to rubbing my eyes throughout the day which usually results in smudged panda eyes. I can rub my eyes as much as I like and there is no visible sign left behind whatsoever, making this ideal for me.
The coverage of this mascara is fantastic. I use the black shade and find that it applies easily and the tubes form really quickly, giving me extra confidence in my appearance. Removing the tubes at the end of the day is straightforward. No specialist products are required - I just use hot soapy water and find that the tubes slide off with a little bit of pressure. The only issue is that I do tend to lose a few eyelash hairs with some of the tubes, perhaps if I'm applying a little too much pressure.
The only other drawback with this product is that it is not readily available. I used to be able to buy this from Boots online but they no longer seem to sell it. I now have to buy from Feelunique.com where a single tube costs a rather pricey £21.50. Even at that price, I'm still happy to recommend this mascara for its staying power and results.
My life varies between trying to meet the needs of three young children and trying to keep the house in some kind of reasonable condition and holding down a professional, often stressful, career. In both parts of my life, I want to feel clean, dry and be confident that stress, anxiety and sheer hard work is not leading me to be sweaty and smelly!
I have been using Mitchum branded deodorants for a number of years now, having initially been persuaded to try this brand by a review on this site. I had not previously tried the brand - feeling uninspired by the rather drab packaging which looks quite dated and old ladyish at a glance.
The deodorant itself, particularly the Powder Fresh variety, which is my preferred scent is very effective. I find the generously sized rolling ball dispenses the deodorant evenly and consistently. A couple of rolls leaves me feeling fresh and does not take hours to dry. I don't experience any stickiness with Mitchum deodorants either and am able to dress immediately after application, although I have found that white marks can accrue under my armpits in darker coloured clothing.
I love the Powder Fresh scent and really do find it to be evocative of baby powder and other similar baby products, taking me back to a time when my little ones were even littler! I find the scent to be feminine and fresh and gives me added confidence no matter what my day may bring.
I find the results to be long-lasting and effective, although I'm not sure why the manufacturers insist on giving this a 48hour protection label as this isn't really a product that would be worn for that length of time between washes! I do find that this lasts for a typical working day without finding the need to re-apply, even during the hottest summer months. I would not personally try going out the following day without reapplying!
Mitchum Powder Fresh is widely available from most supermarkets and chemists and comes in a handy 50ml or better value 100ml roll on container. I tend to stock up when this is on offer and usually find the smaller size for around the £1 mark. I'm happy to recommend this brand to others.
I suffer from very dry sensitive skin, which can be particularly problematic around my face at certain times of the year. I have tried various products on prescription as well as major brands, varying from cheap and cheerful options to more expensive brands, on the hunt for the elusive miracle product.
This SOS rescue cream is manufactured by the Barefoot Botanicals brand, based in Brighton. The cream is more expensive than I would usually consider but decided that it had to be worth investing slightly more in this cream, as online reviews and forums had raved about its moisturising abilities.
The cream is very simply packaged, although the simple white and green tube does come inside a cardboard tube which is probably not needed as the key information is printed on the tube itself. This is a versatile cream which can be used on both face and body. I tend to use this primarily on my face but also occasionally on my hands.
One of the first things that I noticed when using this cream was the gorgeous scent of Neroli. I find Neroli is rarely used as a fragrance - it appears to be quite an expensive essential oil- but the slightly orangey aroma is very distinctive and I find it to be quite uplifting. The scent does linger slightly on my skin but is certainly not overpowering.
The other advantage is that the cream is easy to squeeze out evenly, applies smoothly and is absorbed very quickly so I don't experience that unpleasant tacky feeling on my skin after application.
My only disappointment has been due to my high expectations. As a moisturising cream, this works reasonably well and I can feel the difference on my skin after application. It is certainly far from being a miracle cream for very dry skin, however, and I do find that I need to reapply regularly throughout the day to achieve ongoing effects. I find that the moisturising effects are quite superficial and this does not penetrate particularly far beneath the surface layers of skin so doesn't really tackle the underlying dehydration that well.
I paid £6.50 for a 100ml tube of cream and, given the results, am not likely to repurchase at that price so am only able to give this a mediocre three star rating.
I'm not a particularly 'girly girl' and my beauty and skincare regime tends to be more practical rather than pampering and luxurious.
When it comes to washing, particularly in areas such as my face or underarms, I much prefer to use a soap style product, rather than a liquid or gel. Somehow, I feel more cleansed using a bar and find that the clean feeling lasts for much longer. Some traditional style soaps can feel a little too drying against my skin which tends to be fairly sensitive and on the dry side anyway, For that reason, my cleaning product of preference tends to be Dove cream bars.
There are a few varieties of these cream bars available nowadays and I have tried most of them but I do find myself coming back to this original cream variety, simply packaged in a small cardboard box with distinctive blue and white colouring. I get through quite a lot as the rest of the family will also use the same products so I tend to buy this in a multi-pack of four, which works out better value than purchasing the single bars. This brand is widely available from all supermarkets, chemists or stores such as Wilkinsons. I have even purchased multi-packs online from Amazon as a cheap way to bring an order up to the £10 mark!
The soap itself has an absolutely divine scent that I find lingers on my hands and face after use. It is not a traditionally soapy aroma but it is very distinctive and instantly recognisable as a Dove product. My other favourite feature is the amount of soft white fluffy bubbles that the bar lathers into, when used with warm water. I find that this spreads easily and leaves my skin feeling soft, moisturised and clean at the same time which I feel is excellent results from a single, inexpensive product. It never feels overpowering or drying against my skin and I'm happy to use the same product even on my young children's delicate skin, without any signs of irritation.
I do try other brands and other products but always find myself coming back to the original Dove cream bars which says it all really.
I have long, thick coarse hair that is prone to frizziness and is the bane of my life! I am always looking out for the miracle product that will combat all of my problems and give me silky, shiny looking locks, which is why I parted with £6.99 to purchase a bottle of this Organix Morroccan Argan Oil shampoo.
This particular shampoo is fairly tough to track down and wasn't readily available in my usual haunts of Morrisons or Sainsburys but I did eventually find it in Waitrose. The packaging, I must say, does make this stand out as a premium product with an unusual flattened shape to the bottle and a pleasant eye-catching colour. It's not all about the looks - I found the flip top lid easy to open and close and the shaped bottle was comfortable to hold when pouring.
The shampoo itself is surprisingly thick and gloopy and takes quite a bit of pressure to squeeze out of the bottle. The appearance is pleasant enough, with a gleamy iridescence and a lovely, if generic, aroma. I find the shampoo does spread quite easily once applied and creates a reasonable amount of fluffy white lather. The scent spreads through my hair and does tend to linger but is not over powering.
As this is a product that contains the much-lauded argan oil, I do endeavour to rinse it well after use but I do feel that there is evidence of a build-up of this product on my hair after a few consecutive uses. I don't get that sense of cleanliness that I achieve with some other brands.
I've also been disappointed with the moisturising and restorative effects of the shampoo. This certainly doesn't result in any reduction of my natural tendency towards frizziness. If anything, this product seems to exaggerate my frizz, leaving my hair feeling increasingly fly away and unkempt. I originally tried this shampoo alone without any conditioner but would certainly not repeat that experiment. This certainly needs the added benefit of a conditioner.
In all, I was disappointed with the performance of this shampoo, particularly in light of the higher sale price. The only real attraction of this shampoo is the attractive packaging but, sadly, this is not a product that I will be purchasing again.
Having three children, I was reluctant to agree to the demands for pets in the house too! Eventually, I succumbed to the boys' request for two gerbils a few years ago and am happy to confirm that the gerbils made good first pets, with relatively straightforward care needs and inexpensive maintenance costs (which is a lot more than I could say about my kids!)
My oldest son was so pleased to have gerbils as pets that he wrote the following as a report for his school homework:
"Gerbils come in different colours. Mine is black all over and has a little white patch on his paw. His name is Diamond. My brother’s gerbil was brown with a white belly and white patches on his back. He died at the age of about two month’s old. We don’t really know why he died as we tried to look after him well. We buried my brother’s gerbil, Brownie, in the garden.
We keep our gerbils in a special cage called a Gerbilarium. Gerbils have to have a big cage so they can run about a lot. My gerbil burrows a lot. He has a tunnel in his cage and he buries it and hides inside. He likes to shred up newspaper and makes this into his bed. My gerbil doesn’t always come into my hand but if you open the top hatch, he climbs out on to the top and I can pick him up. They sometimes nibble when you pick them up but it doesn’t hurt. They like chewing on wood and fruity things. They eat apple cores and they like treats. When they are in their ball, they can run about and have lots of exercise. We do that when we clean them out."
As a parent, I find gerbils easy to care for. I buy a specially formulated mix from Pets At Home which meets all of the dietary requirements and just top that up with fresh fruit and seeds. A great first pet, although sadly they can have a limited life span which might be upsetting for some children.
We generally eat in two 'sittings' in our household, so I much prefer meals that are simple to prepare and can be left to their own devices whilst I'm doing other things.
This sauce is my favourite store cupboard standby, including a tiny handful of ingredients which are basically left to roast in the oven and then served with freshly cooked pasta. It really couldn't be simpler.
If cooking for two people, I simply quarter a medium sized peeled red onion and then place this in a small pyrex dish with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Roast for 15 mins at 200 degrees then flatten out the onion pieces. Add a whole tin of tomatoes and break down roughly. Stir in one and a half Kallo vegetable stock cubes - really crucial as these add a fantastic flavour without being too salty- and mix in thoroughly. I also normally add a couple of crushed garlic cloves.
This mixture then goes back into the oven for a further 20 minutes. The ingredients are really basic, cheap and readily available but the results, thanks to the oven roasting, are simply divine. The roasting makes the tinned tomatoes slightly more concentrated and richer tasting and the onions add a lovely sweetness to the sauce. No additional liquid is needed and I don't feel the need to add any extra seasoning either because the stock cubes add plenty of flavour.
This sauce coats any style of pasta perfectly but I usually go for some nice farfalle so that the tomato and onion pieces fit into the twirls. Add a dash of parmesan if desired and serve with garlic bread and/or salad. Enjoy!
Based on the ever popular app, this Angry Birds lunch box was chosen by my six year old son at the end of last Summer and has served almost a whole academic year with daily use.
This is a perfectly proportioned bag for a primary school aged child, with ample room for the obligatory sandwiches, even when packed into their own small box. There is sufficient space to add a drinks bottle, crisps and whatever other snacks are the flavour of the day. One of the advantages of this flexible style of lunch bag is that is much easier to squash and squeeze items about than with the more rigid style of lunch box. The drawback might be that this style is a little less protective of the contents but, in all honesty, my son''s lunch seems to survive intact despite his less than careful treatment at times.
The lunch bag is bright and colourful with a plastic coated interior lining that is helpfully easy to wipe clean after each use. Unfortunately, the inner does have a stitched seam where crumbs and other debris tends to congregate which can be quite tricky to clean thoroughly. The cleaning instructions recommend only wiping this down with a wipe cloth. Being something of a domestic rebel, I chose to ignore these instructions partway through the year and followed a tip that I had d read online. I popped this in the washing machine with a mixed load on a 40 degree load and found that this not entirely thoroughly cleaned the interior but also bought the fabric exterior back up to its initial brightness without damaging or fading the materials used at all.
This is still a popular brand with a wide age of children and is a product that I am happy to recommend. At full price, this costs around 8 pounds but is widely available for much less than that and I spotted this recently half price at Morrisons which seems a good buy to me.
This Flavel Windsor fireplace has been a feature of our living room for a number of years, under two different guises. This contemporary styled fireplace is available in a range of different surrounds and ?effects'', with either chrome, brass or black surrounds and the choice of coal effects, pebbles or fake wood to suit individual tastes and rooms.
Obviously, the primary purpose of a fireplace is to keep the warm room and this performs its function effectively. Clearly, as this is a gas fire it does need to be fitted by a corgi registered fitter. For us, this was a straightforward process with no alterations to connections or the flue required.
Using the fire is very simple as the controls, which are discreetly positioned behind the lower of the three panels, are kept to a minimum. There is a single ignition button which needs to be depressed for around thirty seconds and the heat can be adjusted by a single dial, clearly marked from High to Off. The dial is very responsive and I find that it reaches the required temperature very quickly and provides consistent results. The only very slight issue is that sometimes the ignition button does not work on the first attempt for no apparent reason. If that happens, it is impossible to get it to work for several minutes so the gas needs to be switched off and a further attempt made slightly later.
When we first had this fireplace installed, we purchased it with a brass surround and fake coal effect which was in keeping with the colours and styles of the room at the time. Fortunately, it is still relatively easy to purchase replacement parts and fittings for this particular fireplace as it seems to still be widely available in fireplace warehouse stockists as well as online. This meant that we were able to replace the brass surround which was looking quite dated and had also started to corrode at one edge. Replacing the surround was incredibly straightforward as it is held in place by magnets and can be pulled off easily and the new one simply clicks into place. This meant that we were able to give the fireplace a new lease of life and also bring it more into line with current fashions and other features in the room, without going to the expense of replacing the entire fireplace.
A quick search online brings up several stockists listing this for around 180 pounds which seems reasonable given the quality of the product and the ability to update or replace elements easily. I am happy to recommend this fireplace to others.
Just a few short hours after I submit a review lamenting the appearance of new reviews on Dooyoo since the, cough, site upgrade, I notice that Dooyoo have managed to reformat some older reviews and paragraphs at last have been reinstated. Finally, a small step in the right direction although I fear that this will be nowhere near enough to stem the flow from the mass exodus of Dooyoo members leaving the site behind.
Few people have the patience to sit through several months of a site that has at best been inconsistent and faulty, at worst totally inaccessible.
Sadly the site has already seen the loss of huge numbers of established writers, people who no longer want their name to be associated with a site so badly mismanaged. The communication between Dooyoo staff and its members has truly been appalling. The failure to inform the members of any upcoming changes was a sign of the contempt with which the site actually views its members. This has been made far worse by the head in the sand approach to the numerous issues and failings within the new site and the truly condescending attitude towards valid member complaints and concerns.
Hopefully steps are at long last being taken to resolve some of the issues that make the difference between the site actually fulfilling its basic purpose and enabling the few surviving posters to actually successfully submit reviews. Unfortunately, the new redesign appears to have sabotaged the community spirit between members with no facility to send or receive messages between members. With the erratic commenting issues, this is more important than ever and would be a feature that would be welcomed by the survivors.
I would also be grateful if the current site map arrangements could also be reviewed. We have gone from having a list of all the levels and categories on a single page down to having to click on about twenty different links to access information about the levels of miles payable. Was this move deliberate to disguise the demise of level one products or the ominous inclusion of No Miles topics that were listed for several weeks?
I have compiled a list here of current level one categories for easy reference
Level One (60 miles): Amplifier, Car Audio, Car Speaker, Headphones, Hifi system, Microphone, Receiver, Speaker, Portable Radio, Turntable, Blu Ray Player, Home Cinema system, LCD TV, Plasma TV, Projector, Set Top Box, Caudalie, La Mer, Darphin, Lierac, Desktop PC, Laptop, All in One Printer, Injet Printer, LCD Monitor, LED Printer, Laser Printer, PC Speaker, Laptop Case, Fireplaces, Cordless Screwdriver Drill, Planer, Power Drill, Power Saw, Pushchair, Tyres, Car Seat, Sat Nav, Digital Camera, Camcorder, Digital Photo Frame, Camera Lens, Microscope, Fax Machine, Telephone, Watch.
Needless to say the list for level three items is considerably longer and would exceed the new word count!