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I bought this cookbook after reading a rave review of it here on dooyoo. After reading the review I kept seeing it everywhere but resisted the temptation, until one day I came across it in a garden centre that was having a closing down sale and managed to get it for the princely sum of just £5.99 (it's rrp is £20, but I've seen it in many places on offer at £7.99 so don't be tempted into paying full price for it). I love cooking and baking and am pretty much addicted to cookbooks but I realised a while ago that most of them are exactly that...cookbooks rather than baking books, so I was excited to get this and try some new ideas in the baking department rather than sticking with my tried and tested 6 or 7 reliable recipes. The books has been updated since the photo shown above, but if you search for the title on dooyoo it will show you the newer version too. It's a bright, attractive blue colour with the title of the book in bold cream and bright pink contrasting colours. The front cover is divided into 6 sections each showing beautifully arranged examples of the cupcakes and cookies recipes you'll find inside. The back cover is all about information and gives a tempting description of the kinds of recipes inside and what they can be used for (mid-morning coffee, afternoon tea, children's part etc). It tells us that it includes recipes for cupcakes, cakes and buns, cookies and biscuits, brownies, blondies and bars, muffins and pastries, tarts and other treats and ranges from "jam doughnuts and chocolate chip cookies to chorizo muffins and chocolate courgette cupcakes". As it is a hardbacked book, and quite a large A4 sized one at that, it is quite a heavy book and it also has one of those annoying dust jackets which looks exactly the same as the actual front cover of the book but just insists on slipping off all the time and actually ends up getting much more dog-eared and tattered than the actual cover of books without them end up getting. I always take these off and throw them away because I just don't see the point in them. Inside the book is broken up into the following sections; -Introduction -Cute cupcakes and buns -Crowd-pleasing cookies and biscuits -Blissful brownies and bars -Moreish muffins -Tempting Treats -Index I quite like the way the book is laid out as it is easy to find which section you want. Normally when I bake I already know what kind of item I'm going to make, whether it be a cake, some cookies or a tray of brownies, and am usually looking for inspiration within that category, so having it lset out like this is useful for me. On the odd occasion that I'm just looking for, say, a chocolate recipe, the index at the back makes it easy to find any recipes which include chocolate, so whichever way you're looking for a recipe they're generally easy to find. The introduction section is a bit superfluous to my needs as I've been baking for many years, but if you're a beginner or not very confident then it would be quite useful I imagine. It is full of information about ingredients, equipment you might need, different techniques you can use, tips on making sure your attemp is a success, how to store your baking, presentation and lots of recipes for different kinds of icing and frosting. Once you get into the main section of the book where all the recipes are it is slightly different to normal cookbooks and takes a while to get used to it if I'm honest. Rather than having one recipe per page with a photograph, it tends to have two main recipes per page with two or three alternatives to that recipe and the picture refers to any one of those recipes. So you have the main recipes with its ingredients list, method and how many you'll get out of it and then the alternatives tell you to add something instead of something else eg add shredded coconut instead of cinnamon. One example is on one page the top half is Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese icing and then has two variations; White Chocolate Cupcakes and Cupcakes with Chocolate Mascarpone icing and the photo provided is of the chocolate cupcakes. The bottom half of the page is Lemon Butterfly Cakes with two alternatives of Orange Butterfly Cakes and Vanilla Butterfly Cakes. There is also a picture of some butterfly cakes provided but you can't tell which of the variations it is in this case. I did at first think this was a bit of a cheat in calling the book 1001 recipes as this one page contains recipes numbers 46-51 and they're not all different recipes, they're just slight variations on the same recipe. But as I've used the book more I've actually found it quite helpful having these slightly altered recipes and it makes it much easier to make your baking more varied and interesting rather than just making the same old recipe all the time. There are a few recipes I probably would never attempt, simply because they involce what I would call "fussyness" like dipping things in melted chocolate and fancy decorations whereas I'm more of a plonk-it-on-a-plate kind of girl, but I have post-it'd probably about 50 pages in the book now and since buying the book in the summer I've used probably a dozen different recipes. I find it handy as the vast majority of the recipes inside are for smaller bits and pieces and I always like to have a cake tin full of cookies or brownies or something in case anyone happens to pop by and this book is full of ideas for things like this. All the recipes that I've tried so far have turned out nicely and they've all been tasty. Most of them I would definitely make again and, indeed, some of them I have already made more than once. The only slight negative about the recipes is that they never make the quantity stated. I admit that i do have a tendency to be a bit haphazard when it comes to following recipes and will happily tweak them if I feel the need or desire to, which annoys my husband no end. But when I'm trying a new baking recipe for the first time I always stick to it because quantities tend to be more important in baking than in cooking. So all of these recipes I've stuck to word for word and followed religiously but the quantities are never right. For example, when I made the buttery fork cookies (the mother-in-law was due round for coffee!) the recipe states that it will make 25 but I only got 18 out of it. Now, I'm no expert but these were small cookies anyway, so to get 25 our of the dough would have meant they were about the size of a ten pence piece! The same thing happened with some chocolate cupcakes when I got 13 out of a recipe meant to make 18. It's not really a big deal but in that case was slightly annoying as it meant using a whole other bun tin for just one cupcake. It would also be annoying if you were baking a specific number for a certain event (a children's party or something) because it's happened so frequently now with this book that I would never trust the number it gives. Luckily for me it's not important and I'm happy to accept that I get as many as come out of the bowl, but in an ideal world I would be able to trust the recipes! One thing I love about the book is that it also includes savoury baking recipes, particularly muffins, and whilst I'm yet to try any of them they all look tempting. There are things such as Brie and Redcurrant (which I'm definitely going to be trying over the festive period at some point), Caramelized Onion, Chicken and Sweetcorn, Italian Pesto, Spicy Chorizo and Asparagus and Soured Cream. I love the idea of these as light lunches that you can just throw in a lunch box, or also as an alternative to bread with some soup. So now it's winter I'm definitely going to be experimenting more with the savoury bakes too. Overall, though, I've been very happy with this recipe book (thanks GeoDougal for your great review which made me want it in the first place!). Whilst it doesn't exactly have 1001 recipes in it it does have that many ideas and variations and there really is something for everyone in here. If you bake a lot for cake sales or children I think this would be ideas as the vast majority of recipes are smaller, individual items and there are also different ideas for decoration them and making them look more attractive/sellable. It is set out for easy navigation and the recipes have reaildy available ingredients and easy to follow methods. Whether you like sweet or savoury, sensational looking delights or just something to go with your afternoon cuppa, there are definitely enough ideas in here to keep you going for years!
After trying the red D&G perfume (see previous review) many years ago I decided that as I loved it so much there was a good chance I might like other perfumes of theirs too so set about finding one that I could wear on a more day to day basis as the red one is really an evening/special occasion kind of fragrance. I found this Feminine perfume in duty free on the to Spain and fell in love with it straight away. It used to be widely available but recently I've been having more trouble finding it, although you can still pick it up online for around the £30 mark and comes in both 50ml and 100ml bottles. I've had both over the years as the 100ml one is really quite big and if I'm only carrying a small bag it takes up half the space inside so I decided to invest in a smaller sized one too. The bottles for both sizes are identical only one is taller than the other. I really like the packaging for this perfume as it is simple yet quite funky at the same time. First of all it comes packages in a nice, shiny, silver carboard box (see picture above) but to be honest, this gets thrown into the recycling bin as soon as I open it. The bottle is cylindrical in shape and of clear glass, making it easy to see how much perfume you have left and is topped by a simple silver lid which continues the shape of the bottle. The lid on the larger one I've never had any problems with (although this may be becuse it just sits on my bedroom shelf not doing anything) but the one on the smaller bottle frequently falls off when it's in my bag leaving the bag and everything in it smelling slightly of the fragrance. I'm not overly bothered by this as I would be by a more powerful fragrance but it is slightly irksome nonetheless. Using it is like any other perfume, you simply press down on the nozzle to dispense a fine mist. I find that one press onto my throat and one onto my wrists (then rubbing them together) is more than enough as it is quite a strong fragrance. Apparently this fragrance was inspired by young women who, according to D&G are sincere, candid and realistic! So this, being based around that notion, is "a clean, crisp and uncomplicated fruity floral with hints of musk". It's top notes are mandarin, mimose and fresh water lily, heart notes are floral lily, heliotrope, wisteria, jasmine and ylang ylang and the base notes are sandalwood, vanilla, musk and cashmere. Despite all the florals listed there I would struggle to call it a typically floral perfume and for me the scent is predominantly a musky one. I would definitely agree that it is a younger type of perfume probably more suited to women in their late teens, twenties and thirties although obviously any aged woman should wear whatever perfume she likes and I will continue using this as long as I can get hold of it. The initial fragrance when you spray this perfume is quite strong and slightly overwhelming but it soon settles down to leave you with a lovely, fresh but quite musky scent. I personally am not very good at detecting invididual elements in perfumes so my nose can't pick out any fruitiness or specific floral tones either. When I think "floral" for perfumes I always think of granny type perfumes and this is no way a granny type perfume and I would agree with the D&G description of it being clean and crisp rather than overly floral. For me this is a perfect every day perfume that I would spray on if I was just having a day at home or a casual day. It's not really powerful or sophisticated enough for me to wear on an evening out or for special occasions but I don't mind that as I have others for those times. I always use lots more casual, fresh, easy to wear type perfumes anyway as these are obviously the ones that get used on a daily basis. As for staying power this is strong enough to last me all day if I'm just at home. If I was out for lunch or shopping or what have you then I will probably reapply it mid-afternoon time (and usually get complimented on it when I do!). Because I have received so many compliments on this perfume and it is such a light, clean fragrance I have also been known to send a few quick spritzes of this into the rooms of my home when visitors are due and I've run out of air freshener too! For me this is another winner from D&G, whose perfumes I would probably never have tried had it not been for smelling the red one on somebody else. As a complete contrast to the red version, this is much ligher, musky and clean smelling and is ideal for every day and casual wearing. The bottle is simple yet stylish and I think on a whole it is good value for money as the perfume has good staying power and you don't need to use too much of it. A hearty 5 stars from me for this one and I just hope that it hasn't been discontinued and that's why I can't find it very easily :(
I love a good bubble bath in the colder months. When you get home and feel chilled to the bone there's nothing like a long soak in a nice hot bath. Alternatively, when your husband's dragged you up a mountain and you feel like your legs are about to fall off and your feet are made of stone a bath is also a good way of recuperating and easing tired, achy muscles. And on a recent weekend away this is exactly what happened! After climbing Haystacks I was absolutely shattered and every muscle in my body was aching and I couldn't wait to get back to our BnB for a hot bath until I remembered that I hadn't planned on feeling like that and so hadn't brought any bubble bath with me. A bath without bubble bath seems completely pointless to me as it's the aroma and the silky feeling the bubble bath gives to the water that make it a much more relaxing experience so en route to the accommodation I made my husband stop at Boots. As I was feeling in need of some indulgence I headed straight for the Sanctuary shelf as I love their products and have yet to find one that disappointed. I always have a stash of different bubble baths at home anyway so decided to treat myself to a mini travel version of their Foaming Bath Soak. With it being a Sanctuary product it is only available from Boots stores or online shop or from The Sanctuary Spa itself. Whilst it can sometimes be frustrating that it isn't the easiest range to get hold of I also quite like the fact that you don't see it in every single shop you go in like some other ranges so it makes it feel like more of a treat and a luxury item. And, let's face it, if it is Sanctuary in particular that you're after it generally isn't difficult to find a Boots store - even in the Lake District! My little mini version cost £2.50 for 75ml but is also available in the standard larger size of 250ml for £5.50. It is very rare that the Sanctuary range isn't on some kind of offer in Boots, usually a 3 for 2, so I would normally only ever buy their products on offer. As this was a one off treat in an emergency I resisted the temptation of other bounty to make my three products up and just stuck to this one! The travel sized version is an exact replica of the larger one, only smaller - obviously! It comes in a bottle through which you can see the bubble bath inside so you know how much is left (not much if you like a luxurious bath and have only bought this little bottle, but more of that later!) and has a screw top orange lid that is standard fayre with the Sanctuary. The front of the bottle tells you to "Immerse yourself in decadently creamy, cleansing bubbles with moisturising wheat proteins and fragrant essential oils". To use it is simple and like most other bubble baths - you just pour it under hot running water. Personally I always give my bubble bath a really good swishing too to create lots more bubbles. This was where I first started to get slightly disappointed as this one didn't really produce big floaty bubbles, more like a creamy foam which didn't froth up all that much. I can't really fault the product for this as it does call itself a Foaming Bath Soak, I suppose I just expected it to be more foamy really. Despite the lack of big bubbles filling the bath the aroma didn't disappoint and was everything I expect from a Sanctuary product; rich, intense, slightly spicy and lots of musk. It's one of my favourite scents in the toiletries world and I absolutely love it. An added bonus is that is also lingers on the skin for ages afterwards so prolongs the soothing, papmered feeling. A further disappointment was that the foam that was produced didn't last very long. When I have a bath I generally settle in for the long haul with a drink, a good book and at least an hour spreading out in front of me. With the price of this bath soak I would expect it to be a high quality product that would far outweigh the cheaper likes of Radox and Palmolive etc but sadly, it didn't. After about 20 minutes I noticed the bubbles were rapidly disappearing and after about half an hour I decided I may as well just get out of the bath. None of the usual emptying out some of the water and topping it up with hot, it wasn't worth it. Whilst I was actually in the bath, though, I did have a lovely relaxing indulgent experience. I think the fragrance more than anything helped with this, but it did have a nice silky feeling to it too. So it does actually feel like a nice product when you're actually using it, but it's just not quite as nice as I'd been expecting. When I got out of the bath and dried myself my skin did feel nice and soft but it didn't feel overly moisturised and, to be honest, it didn't really feel much different to when I've used other bubble baths. I think the fact that the fragrance lasts to well on your skin makes it feel like a much better and much more moisturising product than it actually is, if that makes any sense? Because this foam didn't produce as many bubbles as I like to have in a bath I ended up using the whole bottle on just this one bath. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing in this one particular case but only because I'd bought it specifically for this one bath after our mammoth hike and it was meant as an indulgent, relaxing treat. However, for me to get the standard of bath that I like, if I had a larger 250ml bottle it would only last me 3 or 4 baths which, at £5.50 a bottle is a little too indulgent for me. So the price alone would put me off buying this bath foam again, although if it had given me an amazing bath experience I probably would treat myself every now and again to use when I was in the mood for some extra special pampering. But, as you can buy a bottle of Radox twice the size of the standard sized one of this for less than £2, this Sanctuary bath foam would never become my standard bubble bath of choice, especially considering that, fragrance aside, it didn't do anything that a cheaper bubble bath does just as well. Unfortunately, in this case, the Sanctuary range has disappointed me and I'm struggling to rate it. I think it only really deserves 2 stars as it does smell really nice and it feels nice when you're soaking in it, but the poor quality and longevity of the bubbles/foam and the fact you have to use so much of it when it works out at around 5 times the price of equally good bubble baths drag it down. Loyalty towards Sanctuary really wants me to award 3 stars but I really don't think I can.
Although during most of the year I'm pretty loyal to just 3 or 4 Yankee Candle fragrances and only tend to try out odd new ones every now and again, when it comes to this time of the year I do like to branch out a bit to make our home smell more festive, giving it a warm, cosy and seasonal atmosphere. Previously, my favourite one for this was called Frankincense and Myrhh but unfortunately Yankee, in their wisdom, discontinued that one several years ago so I had to find a new festive favourite. I tried a few in tart form before settling on this Mandarin Cranberry fragrance. Although it is not part of YC's official "festive" range it is still a great one to burn at this time of year and despite not really liking the fruity fragrances so much, I find that this one is absolutely perfect in giving our home a more autumnal atmosphere without being too sweet or sickly. I normally use tarts to fragrance my home and only invest in the jar style candles of fragrances that I know I really love as they are expensive and a big investment to make if you end up not really liking the smell. At Christmas though I always invest in a medium jar sized candle. I decided on the medium sized after buying a large one one Christmas and only using half of it. A small one would be too small as these only last between 25 and 40 hours so a medium one, lasting between 60 and 90 hours is just about right for us. I don't light it every day, but from now until Christmas it will be the main one I burn so will probably lit for 2-3 hours at a time 4 or 5 times a week and, judging by last years candle, that should take us right up to when we leave for our Christmas holiday. I won't go into the details of Yankee Candle or the different forms of candles they do (there are many reviews of them on here if you have been living on another planet for the last few years and want to find out more, including some of my own previous reviews) as these reviews can get very repetitive! I was lucky enough to visit a local garden centre recently who were getting rid of a lot of their YC stock to make way for their Christmas displays and I managed to pick up my medium jar this year for just £12.99, which is quite a bargain as they normally retail for upwards of £15.99 now. If I get the full 90 hours of burning from it that works out at less than 15p an hour of fragrance so I'm more than happy with that. I started our Christmas candle at the weekend and, as always, when starting a new jar candle I trimmed the wick to 0.5 cm (you should do this before every time you light the candle for optimum burning time and minimal smoking from the wick) and set the candle on the mantlepiece. When using a large or medium jar candle for the first time you should always leave it burning for a minimum of 3-4 hours to get the wax pool on top as large as possible. This will help the candle burn evenly all the way down rather than tunnelling down the middle and will actually give you a longer overall burning time. Within a few minutes of lighting the candle the fragrance started to waft gently around our living room until gradually after maybe 15 minutes it was really quite strong and noticeable. One of the things I like best about Yankee Candles is the strength of their fragrances and as the ground floor of our house is quite open plan, this medium candle gave off enough scent to be noticeable across the whole of the floor. One of the main reasons I like this fragrance in particular is because it is strong enough to spread the fragrance across quite a big area but it's not too strong as to be overpowering or cloying in your throat. The fragrance itself is said to be "bursting with the vibrant fruity sensation of sweet, sunny oranges and crisp, tangy cranberries" which I would say is a pretty accurate summation of this scent. It is a really lovely combination of the two fruits so it is zingy without being too citrussy and tart without being too heady. It's sweet and powerful and just gives a really nice, warming smell, making my home feel lovely and festive and creating just the right atmosphere for these cold, dark winter nights. Some people insist on burning cinnamon type candles or the pine fragranced ones at this time of year but for me this fruitier version of a Christmas scent is just perfect. I find the cinnamon candles much too strong and the pine ones don't really make me feel festive whereas this one has put me in the Christmas mood so much over the last few days that I've now made a start on my Christmas baking and am looking for a decent cranberry and orange cake recipe to see if I can replicate the feeling of this candle in a cake! I would highly recommend the Mandarin Cranberry fragranced candle if you're looking for something to give your home a nice warming feeling but don't want something that's too strong or spicy. This comes in a nice deep red colour so doesn't even look out of place with Christmas decorations (no, don't worry, even I don't put my deccies up until December! But we had the same fragrance last year and it really complemented our traditional red, gold and green theme) and the picture on the front of orange halves and cranberries looks good too. Every time we had visitors last Christmas this candle was always lit and everyone, without fail, said how nice it smelt in our house and asked what it was so it is also going to be going into a few stockings this year as a filler (just the small jar size, I'm not that generous!). Not only is it a nice gift for yourself to get you in the festive feel, it will also make a great present. All in all this gets a good 5 stars from me. For a Christmas candle I couldn't ask for anything more and I don't know why they don't actually have it as part of their "festive" fragrance family.
As I work from home now I have been looking after my little nephew quite a lot over the last 8 months or so and he is just a little bundle of joy (if he wasn't, I probably wouldn't offer to look after him so much!). Although I've done a lot of babysitting in the past and was actually a primary teacher for a while too I didn't have much experience of looking after a baby in my own home whilst trying to carry out my daily chores at the same time and hadn't really appreciated what a task it would be! Enter the Lindam door bouncer - or Jump About, as they call it. There's only so long you can hold a baby for and keep him occupied yourself, especially if you're trying to wash up or do some ironing or get dinner started at the same time and I remembered my brother being in one of these when he was little (or remember seeing photos of it anyway) and decided to hunt one down. Lindam is a fairly well known brand in the baby market so they seem to be quite widely available (and you can pick yourself up a bargain on eBay, although I didn't think of that at the time) and I actually got mine through my Next directory for £20. Ordering this way can also incur delivery charges but I always get mine delivered to store for free then get my husband to pick it up on his way home from work as he has to pass it anyway. The bouncer comes in a box about nine inches wide, seventeen high and four deep and has a picture alomost identical to the one shown above except it's a different baby. The box tells us that Lindam have been making baby products for over 20 years, that the bouncer can be used up to 12kg, has been tested to one million bounces and can be washed at thirty degrees (the fabric part, not the plastic bits, obviously!). It also tells us that it comes complete with a strong and secure door frame clamp and has adjustable shoulder straps and dual safety fastening. Our bouncer is just like the one in the picture except that the straps on ours seem to be quiet a bit darker blue than the one shown. I think it's quite a gender neutral bouncer but if you have a baby girl and like her to be really girly then it probably wouldn't suit you. The bouncer clamps easily to internal door frames (it's not supposed to be used on external doors) and the guidelines given on the box say that the walls must be at least 10cm thick but no more than 17cm and that the clamp should only be attached to permanent, secure architrave at last 1.5cm wide on each side. Having said all that I don't think anybody looking after a baby would be foolish enough to attach this to something that wasn't a permanent fitting or secure structure. The clamp is easy to fit to the door frame and does feel nice and sturdy so reassuringly strong. My 6 foot 5 husband can do it much more easily than I can but I find that I have to stand on a stool to attach it properly. From this then hangs a large spring which in turn it attached to the piece of fabric strip (I'm sure there's a technical word for it but I can't seem to bring it to mind at the moment) that attaches to the coathanger like frame for the bouncer. The strip between the spring and the frame is adjustable so you can change the height of the bouncer. The straps that hang from the frame to the seat are also adjustable. These are both coloured blue, whilst the seat part is a nice yellow colour. There's also another blue strap which fastens behind baby, securing them in the seat better. I have been putting James in this since he was about 5 months old (I suspect he could probably have gone in it even younger, but that was the age he was when I first bought the bouncer) and - as he was quite late to crawling although he did master quite a funky commando style manouvre instead! - he has used it every time he's come to visit until very recently when he suddenly got much more mobile and went from crawling to walking in about 10 days! But it did last him a good 6 months before he started being unhappy to be confined to it and wanted to be more involved in what was going on. Whenever he was in it though he absolutely loved it and either giggled happily or screamed with joy every time he was in it from start to finish. It turned out not to be such a great invesment in terms of me being able to get other stuff done while he was in it because invariably I'd end up just sitting watching him enjoying himself! He didn't like being in it for huge lengths of time as he, like most babies, has a short attention span and gets bored easily, but he would happily sit bouncing for ten or fifteen minutes at a time. In use I was never worried that the bouncer itself wouldn't stand up to his bouncing and kicking around and the clasp always remained strong on the door frame. Some other minor issues I found with it though were that, firstly, I had to make sure that the immediate area around him was clear as he could sometimes build up a bit of a swing and a spin and secondly, as both of the door frames I hung it from were above wooden floors I always threw his blanket down underneath as well for some padding for his little feet. That could just have been me being overly paranoid and totally unnecessary but for peace of mind, especially with somebody elses baby, I think it was worth doing. Whilst this was in use it stayed out as we have a double open doorway between the living room and dining room so it could just be put to one side of that out of the way. Now he's outgrown it, however, it has gone neatly back in its box and put away in the cupboard for any future nieces or nephews to use when they visit. I washed the seat, as it recommends, in a cool wash before I put it away and it came out fine, although it took some drying as I didn't want to tumble dry it. I also frequently used a damp cloth to wipe down the whole unit when it was in frequent use, so it's very easy to keep clean. The only slight niggle I had when using this was that it is definitely much easier to get James into it when there's someone else there to hold the bouncer steady. When it was just me it could be quite a fiddle and I often found myself contortioning into some precarious yoga position and trying to hold it steady with my foot whilst balancing on another foot and trying to get James into it that way. Until I realised that if I just sat on a dining chair in front of it it was a much easier task! All in all I have been very happy with our Lindam Jump About and I think for the price I paid it was an excellent investment. It has had a good 6 months of use and has been safely stored away for further use in future by new babies. It's secure and sturdy and never once caused any concern in regards to its safety and little baby James absolutely LOVED being in it. His sqeals of joy were testiment to that and it was extremely satisfying to watch him bouncing around in it gurgling happily away. I'm struggling to know how to rate this as it did have a few little niggly things, but they were mostly due to lack of experience on my part with things like this so I can't really blame the bouncer itself so I think, on reflection, I'm going to be awarding it the full five stars.
Living in deepest, darkest Cumbria we are somewhat lacking in a lot of mainstream shops in close proximity to us. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining, it's not as if we moved here for the shopping! But having a slight penchant for the odd Starbucks coffee and muffin I do miss these occasional treats as the nearest outlet to us is nearly an hours drive away. Whenever we venture anywhere that has a Starbucks I make a beeline there to get my fix but it does seem to be only a twice or thrice yearly treat. Enter the Nescafe Latte Macchiato sachets. Normally I'm pretty straight laced when it comes to coffee. I like mine instant, averagely strong and with a dash of milk. I'm not one for all these fancy fresh coffees - except one particular Starbucks one - and so we usually just have various forms of instant coffee in our cupboard. When I saw these in Tesco I was ever so slightly tempted as I saw the magic 'macchiato' word on the front of the box (my absolute all time favourite Starbucks is caramel macchiato) but couldn't really bring myself to spend £2.99 on what is effectively 8 cups of coffee. Slightly hypocritical really when you take into account that I think nothing of spending more than that on just one cup of coffee in SB! A few weeks later, however I was browsing around Asda whilst waiting for my husband and saw that a box of these were just £1.50 in there. BARGAIN! Now, if I hadn't already seen the price of them in Tesco's then they probably wouldn't even have caught my eye, but as I knew they were half price, well obviously I just couldn't resist! Less than 20p per cup makes them slightly more appealing. The sachets come in a surprisingly large box more or less identical to the one shown in the picture above except that the nutritional information seems to have changed slightly since that picture was added (they now contain only 96 calories per cup) and for some reason they've turned the teaspoon around so it's now coming in from the left of the box rather than the right! The packaging is quite attractive, I suppose, and is mainly dark blue in colour, which surprised me as I tend to associate brown packaging with coffee products. They've tried to "glam up" the coffee slightly by having a little anecdote on the back about how it's the perfect coffee to share with your friends whilst you're having a girly gossip but personally I don't see the point in all that kind of stuff...is anyone actually swayed into buying something because of things like that? Although, as I said, this is quite a large box so they could just have been trying to fill in space! Other information included on the carton is the company details (Nestle), nutritional information and ingredients and how to make your coffee (simply tear open the sachet, tip it into a mug and add very hot but not boiling water to it). A sachet of this latte will set you back 96 calories and about 3.6g of fat which isn't so bad as an occasional treat. If, like me, you tend to have a few biscuits with your afternoon coffee however, this does make it that bit naughtier! I tend to make my latte slightly differently to how it tells you on the packet. I empty the powder into a mug then add a very small splash of milk to it. I then stir really well until the powder is blended and then add half a teaspoon of brown sugar before adding my very hot water and stirring again. This is also how I make hot chocolate and have done for years as I find it gives you a really frothy top. The smell of this latte once you've made it is just how you'd expect it to be. It doesn't really hit you in the face like you've just opened the front door at SB but it does give off a really enticing coffee aroma to get your juices flowing! Now for the taste. Unfortunately it can't compare to my caramel macchiato (not least because I don't have any caramel syrup to pour on top of it!) in either taste or strength, but for an instant latte it is actually really rather tasty. The foamy frothy top is exactly that, and maintains it's structure long enough for you to drink your coffee through it rather than disappearing straight away to leave just a normal cup of coffee underneath. It's creamy without tasting milky and the strength of the coffee is just enough to make me need that half teaspoon of sugar to balance it out a bit but not too strong that I can't drink it. The first sip I usually find quite bitter, but after that when my palette has adjusted from it's regular instant coffee, I really enjoy these lattes. Overall I have been quite impressed with these latte sachets, from not having had too high expectations when I first bought them and I've tucked them away at the back of the cupboard so the hubby can't find them and doesn't find out about my guilty little afternoon treat! Whilst they can't compare with freshly ground and roasted coffee from a proper coffee shop they do go some way to making up for the fact that I usually have to go months between proper caramel macchiatos. They're quick and easy to make, you don't need any of these fancy coffee machines you can get nowadays and they taste really good. Even now that I've tried and liked them I still probably wouldn't pay the full rrp for them but if I see them on offer again I will probably be tempted with a box or two!
I don't wear much colour on my lips, only when going out or for special occasions etc. On a day to day basis I tend to stick with just using lip balm and, at this time of year in particular, I can never resisit buying them almost every time I go in a shop that sells them. For some reason I had never actually tried any of the Vaseline lip products and, after reading several good reviews of them, I decided to give one a try. PRICE AND AVAILABILITY These little tins of Vaseline Lip Therapy seem to be widely available from supermarkets and chemists although the price does vary wildly. I got mine from my local Bodycare shop where it was priced at just £1.19, but a quick look on both Tesco and Boots websites have them priced at £1.99. That's quite a big diference so I'm glad I was in Bodycare when temptation struck! They are available in quite a few different varieties; regular, cocoa butter, aloe vera, rosy lips and at the moment a limited edition pink bubble which, although priced extortionately at £3.49, I might have to treat myself to! Alternatively, Tesco also have a very good offer on at the moment where you can geta Vaseline "retro tin" which contains one each of the regular, aloe vera and rosy lips (and the tin too obviously!) for only £3, down from £6, so that would make a great stocking filler idea. THE PRODUCT For the price you pay you get a little round tin about an inch and a half in diameter which contains 20g of product. That doesn't sound a lot but I've been using mine religiously for about a month now and I've still hardly made a dent in the surface of it. The tin itself is metal and has a lid which just twists off really easily but not so easily that it ever comes off of it's own accord, which is good as I don't want my lip balm getting covered in bits of fluff in the bottom of my handbag! The rosy lips edition, which I have, is in a pretty rose pink coloured tin, as you would expect, with white highlights, just like in the picture. On the front it tells us it contains rose and almond oil and that it is petroleum jelly and along the edge of the lid it says that it gently tints and cares for lips. The base of the tin tells us the manufacturing company (Unilever - and their contact details are written around the edge of the base too) and the ingredients. Somewhat reassuringly there are only 7 ingredients listed instead of the usual dozens that you normally get on things nowadays, so it makes me feel that this lip balm might be slightly more "natural" than others! When you twist the lid off you are faced with a solid mass in the base of the tin which is an even deeper pink colour. For some reason I was expecting this to have a really strong fragrance to it, like the lip balms you used to get when you were a little girl and pretend they were proper lipsticks! This is not the case however. Whilst there is an ever so slight fragrance it is really barely there. You get a faint whiff of light florals but it is really very subtle and I quite like it. IN USE On reflection, the way you apply this lip balm is probably the reason I've never tried a Vaseline lip balm before, despite having used other products of theirs and it being a brand name that I trust. In general I go for lip balms in stick format which you apply to your lips like a lipstick so that you don't end up getting a sticky mess all over your finger tip. This one, however, is applied by rubbing your finger tip onto the balm and then rubbing your finger tip over your lips to evenly distribute the product. I have to say this doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would and I just give my finger a quick wipe on a tissue or wash my hands afterwards and it's fine. In an ideal world I would probably still prefer it to be in stick format but as I really like this product it's not enough of an issue to put me off buying it again. The balm itself feels quite solid when you rub your finger into it but at the same time your bodyheat makes it melt ever so ever so slightly so the top layer of it becomes more sort of oily. Not that it feels oily, that's just the consistency, if you see what I mean. Once on your finger you can see a definite pink tinge to it, although this is much more subtle once it's applied to your lips. It's really easy to apply because, as you're using your finger tip, you can get very good control. It goes on really evenly and smoothly and literally as soon as it's on my lips they feel much better. Bizarrely, the fragrance actually gets stronger once I apply this lip balm and I can smell it for a while after I've applied it, but again, that's nor particularly something that bothers me as the fragrance is in no way offensive. MY THOUGHTS I've been really impressed with this lip balm. At this time of year as the weather gets colder and windier and wetter (if that's possible!) my lips do tend to get quite dried out and can often feel slightly sore. I also sometimes get little flaky patches of skin sometimes if we've been out cycling and it's very cold and I've had a chill wind whipping in my face. This lip balm, however, has been a real soother for my lips. As soon as I apply it my lips feel infinitely more moisturised and softer. Whilst it does leave them feeling like they've been coated with a layer of something it's not an unpleasant feeling and I really like it as it makes me feel like they're being properly cared for. This feeling lasts for quite a long time after application - a couple of hours normally - which is good as I tend to get paranoid when it comes to lip balms and end up applying them almost on an hourly basis in the winter. This one feels like it has a much longer lasting effect on my lips so I only usually apply it two or three times in day. Whilst I do still get dry, chapped lips (because I'm not giving up my cycling, sore lips or no sore lips!) and using this lip balm doesn't prevent that, what it does do is heal them really quickly once applied. It immediately gets to work softening the whole of my lips and making them feel much smoother and the flaky parts of them feel much much better. And, whilst it doesn't completely get rid of it, the slightly sore feeling that I can sometimes get is much improved too. One of the things I like most about this particular version of the Vaseline Lip Therapy range though, is the slight hint of colour it gives my lips. It makes them look really healthy and natural and gives them a juicy glow without giving them a solid covering of colour and especially in the winter time this is a look that I really love. OVERALL I am a big fan of this lip balm and have definitely been converted thanks to my fellow reviewers. Whilst I probably wouldn't use it in the summer as I would be afraid of it melting in warm weather, I think it's absolutely perfect for winter use. It makes my lips feel softer, smoother and more moisturised and leaves them feeling like they're got a protective layer over them. In the harsh weather conditions we usually experience in Cumbria I feel confident that this little tin of magic will protect my lips from damage and will soothe and ease the soreness of any chapping and dryness that does occur. And in addition to making them feel better it also makes them look healthy and glowing. I couldn't even hazard a guess at how long this little tin will last me but I definitely don't envisage having to buy another one this winter and so for £1.19 I think this was an excellent buy.
Many years ago I used to babysit for an adorable little baby whose mother had an absolutely amazing sense of style and who I longed to emulate "when I grew up"! One of the most striking things about her was how fabulous she always smelt so on day I plicked up the courage to ask what perfume she wore and it turned out to be this Dolce and Gabbana EDT (which I call red but which I think goes simply by the name of Dolce and Gabbana). Obviously as soon as I could I rushed out to by myself a bottle so I could smell just like her...sad I know! But that was over 15 years ago now and I still wear this perfume on a regular basis so it was obviously a good choice! It used to be widely available but rumour has it that it has now been discontinued and so I can currently only find it online. You can get it from the trusty Amazon for £33 for 50ml or £64.99 for the 100ml. As I am currently halfway down a 50ml bottle that I was bought four years ago I don't think I'd ever invest in the larger bottle, but if you go through a lot of perfume then it would probably be worth doing. This perfume comes beautifully packaged in a vivid red box with has an almost suedette feel to it. It looks and feels very stylish and luxurious without being too ott about it. The bottle inside is a tall, thin, elegant looking thing which is mainly clear and topped by a gold band and again, a red lid. I don't normally like the brighter colours but I do really like this bottle. It looks timeless, stylish and classic whilst still being quite simple. The only wording on the bottle is "Dolce & Gabbana" in gold on the front. Although on the bottom there is a little sticker telling us how much is inside the bottle and that the glass shouldn't be disposed of "in the environment" after finishing. In use the lid clips on very nicely and attaches itself firmly enough that it doesn't drop off in my handbag, leaving everything in there smelling of the perfume, but also not too tightly that it's difficult to get off. This lid covers the pump action squirty nozzle thing through which the perfume is dispensed. Again, this works well and dispenses a nice find mist of the perfume rather than in droplets or, even worse, a shower! As soon as you take the lid off you can instantly smell the perfume. It is one of the strongest I've ever used and seems to permeate everything around it and linger for ages. For example, I sprayed some of this on last night before going out for dinner and I can still smell it when I walk into the bedroom this morning. It really does have tremendous staying power and longevity of strength. As far as the fragrance itself goes, this is a combination of basil, tangerine, orange flowers, carnation, marigold and vanilla which is quite a surprise to me. From the list of notes blended into it I would have expected it to be sweeter than it is but to me this is a really quite spicy, oriental kind of smell and although you can definitely detect a hint of the vanilla coming through it's not too overpowering as I don't really like the smell of vanilla on it's own. I'm surprised though, that there aren't more spices included in this. Whatever the ingredients are they blend perfectly to make, for me anyway, a perfect perfume for evenings, going out or special occasions. It's the ideal combination of muskiness, exoticism, sweet and spicy and I absolutely love it. I find it to be a really classic, sophisticated perfume (and one that I probably shouldn't have been wearing at one 18!) that makes me feel like a lady every time I wear it. The only slight downside for me is how strong it is. While it is good to have a powerful, longlasting perfume, this one is so strong that I soon learnt not to actually spray it onto my wrists and throat but to spray a spritz of it in the air in front of me and then walk through it. If I do spray it directly onto my skin I can, literally, smell it until the next time I shower and whilst this isn't necessarily a bad thing, as I said it really is a fragrance better suited to evening wear and so isn't the best thing to be smelling of whilst doing the weekly shop! In conclusion, I absolutely adore this perfume and have done so for many years. It's my regular perfume for evenings out or special occasions and even my husband now says he knows we must be going out if he can smell this perfume when he gets home! For me it's the perfect blend of fragrances that create something sophisticated yet wearable and it makes me feel special each and every time I wear it. You can always tell a good perfume by how many compliments you get on it and practically every time I wear it somebody comments on how nice I smell. I'll be devastated if the rumours are true and it is being discontinued but as it still seems to widely available on the internet I might add a bottle to my xmas list just to make sure I don't run out for a very long time!
We go through a lot of coffee in our house. It's the only hot drink that we drink (apart from the odd hot chocolate or warm ribena in the winter months) and so we always tend to have quite a few varieties lurking in the cupboard at any one time. As coffee can be so expensive I usually buy whatever's on offer when we need some or stock up on one that I know we like if I see it on offer so that we never run out (I wouldn't be able to write my reviews each day without that first cup of coffee!) and Nescafe Gold Blend is one that is a constant in our coffee cupboard. I normally buy jars of coffee and then recycle the jars for pickling or lemon curd afterwards but recently I've started buying more of the refill style packets. not only are they usually slightly better value but I do like to do my bit regarding the environment wherever possible and this seems to be an easy way of cutting back on the amount of packaging we consume as a household. On a recent trip to Tesco I noticed that they had the Gold blend refill pouches on a special offer reduced from £4.48 to £2.24 for 150g and as this works out at around the same price as supermarket own brand coffee I quickly popped some into my basket. Consequently our coffee cupboard now has 4 packets of this refill in so that's us set until at least Christmas! The packaging of the refill pouch is quite simple and it comes in a dark brown plastic bag type thing with a lime green top. On the front it just has the name and brand of the product, the fact that it contains 150g, a picture of a coffee bean with a nice shimmery steam wave coming off it and also the fact that it is golden roast. There is a scale on the bottom ranging from smooth to rich and this is about a third of the way along that scale, being closer to the smooth than the rich end. On the back of the packet is the company contact details (Nestle being the home company for all things Nescafe), a use by date (October 2014 so it should last a while if we don't get round to drinking it) and the fact that the packaging is recycled. There is also the following statement "The Nescafe plan brings together all our commitments which support responsible farming, production and consumption. Find out how we're reducing our environmental impact at (website name)". It's nice to know that companies are now making more of an effort to be environmentally and socially responsible but the little cynic I carry around on my shoulder is always sceptical of such claims as I'm well aware that many companies just want to be seen to ethical rather than actually wanting to BE ethical. The coffee itself is a regular granular instant coffee which you simply add a teaspoon of to a mug before topping up with hot water just off the boil. I always add a splash of milk to my coffee and a few extra grains as I like it on the stronger side, but not by much. I find that adding the milk before the hot water can also prevent your coffee from having that slightly scorched taste that you can often get if you pour boiling water straight onto the coffee granules. This is one of my favourite coffees because it really is just as it says on the packet and is a really smooth blend. It makes a lovely cup of coffee that's the perfect strength for me without needing to add double the amount of granules that you sometimes have to do when using a weaker coffee. I don't like my coffee to be too rich as I find these blends can err on the side of bitterness sometimes and so for me, the strength and flavour of this one are just right. Perfect for settling on the sofa with a few biccies and a good book on a rainy afternoon. Whilst I don't like to drink too much coffee and try to limit myself to 3 cups a day I'm always tempted to break my self-imposed limit whenever this is in the cupboard and I can almost hear it calling to me as I enjoy it so much more than most of the other coffees we use. Lucky for me that I found it on such a good offer and so have been able to stock up on it enough that it should see us through to when it comes back on offer again! I would definitely recommend Nescafe Gold Blend if, like me, you prefer your coffee instant, flavourful, smooth and on the stronger rather than weaker side of medium. This one is strong without being overpoweringly strong like "proper" coffee can be and doesn't have any bitterness to it at all. It goes down very well at any time of the day for me and is also available in decaf if that's what you prefer. And if you've already been converted to this and drink it anyway, then get yourself down to Tesco and stock up on the refill pouches while they're on such a good offer!
Despite the fact that I tell myself I don't wear much makeup (which I don't on a daily basis, honestly!) I seem to have not only a makeup bag which is full to busting, but also an 'overspill' drawer which houses either products that I've been bought as gifts and never tried, or things I've bought myself in the past and which have bee relegated after future purchases of something similar. At the moment I'm desperately trying to declutter our house (declutter=getting rid of lots of my husbands junk!) and so, to play my part in the process I decided to go through my drawer and see if there was anything that I could get rid of - who knew people would buy used makeup on eBay???? One item I found lurking at the bottom of the drawer was a tube of this Stila Lip Glaze which I've had for years. Since I found it I've been using it again and I can't really understand why I relegated it to the drawer. I can only assume that I bought it before I discovered my Mac lipgloss which rapidly became my favourite and took the number one spot in both my makeup bag and handbag. But now that I've found this Stila one again I could well be tempted to buy another in future...well, put one on my christmas list maybe! As it's so long since I bought this I have no idea where it came from but in those days I did buy most of my beauty products from a large city centre Boots and a quick look on their website shows that they do sell Stila Lip Glaze so I will assume that I bought it there. As it is quite a well known brand of cosmetics it is quite widely available though and, obviously, with the days of the internet it is very easy to get hold of, although this is one product that I think would be difficult to buy online due to colouring issues, but more of that later. The Boots website, and several others, have this selling for £15 currently so at that price I'm pretty sure I would have waited for a triple points weekend to make the most of my purchase. It's available in a staggering 29 shades so there should definitely be something to suit every skin tone and taste. The lip glaze comes in a pen type style. It's in a clear plastic tube with Stila Lip Glaze written across it in black and also some details for the company. I hesitate to say contact details as it's really just a list of cities they have offices in. On the base of it there is a little sticker which tells you the name of the shade (star fruit in my case) and that's pretty much it as far as product design goes. I like it though, it's simple and yet stylish and has a quality feel about it. The lid pulls off easily to reveal an applicator brush which you use to apply the glaze. To get colour onto the brush you have to twist the bottom of the tube and this pushes colour up, coating the bristles of the brush. The brush makes it easy to apply the glaze accurately and it's not so small that it ends up taking you ages to apply it. One thing I don't like about this method of application is that it's very difficult to control the amount of glaze on the brush and several times it's looked like nothing was coming up through the tube only for me to find out that when I put the brush on my lips there was actually loads of glaze hiding in the bristles and consequently my lips ended up coated really thickly. Once the glaze is on the brush you have no choice but to use that amount really and numerous times I've ended up having to actually blot my lips (not what I would expect to have to do with a lip gloss) and so have wasted quite a lot and for such an expensive product this is very disappointing. As I said, the glaze is available in 29 different colours ranging from barely there nudes through the entire pink spectrum through to browns and purples. Most of them are named after fruits (eg berry, guava, mango, watermelon) or other food products (vanilla, bubblegum, praline) and the one I have is called star fruit. Online this looks like quite a pale pink colour with quite a lot of brown in it, but in actual fact it's actually quite a vivid bright pink (not one that I would ever choose nowadays), hence why I said earlier that it's probably a product you're best buying in person rather than online, unless you already know which colour you want. On application the colour of star fruit is actually nowhere near as bright as it looks like it will be judging from the colour of it in the tube, which is a relief as I tend to prefer much more neutral shades with makeup, especially on my lips. It adds quite a lot of colour to my lips but it's a natural looking colour which just makes them look healthy and rosy rather than fake and caked in product. You do have to take care with this glaze to apply it evenly as it does give coverage bordering on that of a lipstick rather than a lip gloss, so if you apply it unevenly it is really visible. I really like how this glaze makes my lips look really shiny and normally with things like this that would mean that your lips felt sticky and gooey, but not with this one. Immediately after applying it they do feel slightly tacky, but after a few minutes this wears off and they're left just feeling glossy. I find that once applied it lasts a couple of hours on my lips before I have to think about giving them another coat, which is quite decent for a product like this and is also quite useful as it's not like a lip gloss that you can just sweep across your lips without really thinking about it - I, personally, have to pay attention when applying this and use a mirror to make sure it's applied evenly and accurately. Overall I'm really happy with this lip glaze and can't understand why I relegated it to the overspill drawer. Although I would hesitate to buy another purely based on the cost of it, I would definitely have it on my christmas list should some generous person want to buy it for me as a gift. I like that there is such a good range of colours, I like the way it makes my lips feel and look - giving colour and shine without giving a sticky feeling or a really heavily made up look and I like the simplicty of the packaging. What I don't like is the lack of control with the applicator brush and the fact that you can't apply it very quickly and easily, it almost needs applying like you would a lipstick. For these reasons I don't think it quite deserves the full five stars but it's a well earned 4 from me.
As my hair is both curly and quite prone to dryness I usually suffer from lots of frizziness and so seem to spend my life not only trying to tame my curls but also attempting to smooth my hair as well in the hopes of leaving it looking sleek, defined and stylish. Pah! This usually only happens just after I step out of the salon door! Over the years I've tried many many shampoos and have no loyalty to a specific one, I just tend to buy either whatever's on offer when I'm shopping for some or one that catches my eye. Pantene is a brand I recognise and somewhat trust so I had no qualms about trying this smooth and sleek version of their shampoo when I saw it on offer in Tesco for only £2.50 for the 500ml bottle. As it usually retails around the £4.50 mark for a bottle this size I thought it was quite a good deal. This shampoo is widely available in supermarkets and chemists but can often be found on some kind offer somewhere or other so it is worth shopping around or stocking up when you see a deal. One thing I don't really like about the Pantene range is that their packaging is all very similar so it is easy to get mixed up with what you're buying...whether it be that you pick up the shampoo for curly hair when you wanted the smooth and sleek one or whether you pick up a conditioner instead of a shampoo. It is very easily done with this range...believe me! The bottle itself stands about 8 inches high and is an opaque white with black and green accent colours. The product is dispensed through a flip top black lid which stands at the top of the bottle. This may sound obvious but i usually prefer my shampoos to stand on their lid so that it is easier to get the last dregs out. It's not so much of a problem with this particular bottle, however, as the lid is flat anyway so it is easy to stand it upside down when you're getting to the bottom of it. The front of the bottle just simply gives the brand name, the product name and claims you'll have "beautifull smooth hair throughout the day". It doesn't tell us whether it's meant for use on dry or normal or greasy hair, but as it's aimed at reducing frizz it's a pretty safe bet that it's meant for dry hair. On the back we are given rather a long list of chemically sounding ingredients, contact details for the company, the fact that Pantene is supported bu the Institute of Trichologists - whoever they may be! - and instrustions for use (like most shampoos; lather, rinse, repeat if needed). They also, obviously, recommend that you use the smooth and sleek conditioner and the smooth and sleek comb-in cream for best results! This would be slightly less annoying if I'd ever actually seen the comb-in cream in a shop, as it is probably something I would try, but I've never come across it yet! The shampoo is much like any other shampoo in use and comes out of the bottle easily. In fact, the hole in the lid is quite large so often the shampoo actually comes out too easily and I end up with too much sitting in the palm of my hand. I have very long, thick hair so I use a lot of shampoo anyway - much more than the usual 10p sized blob - so for there to be even too much for me to use is saying something. The product itself is quite a thick and creamy product and is an almost pearlescent cream/white colour. As it's so thick there's never any worry of it slipping out of my hand or off of my hair before I have chance to massage it in. It also smells rather nice too, quite a floral smell but with fresh undertones. I find it quite a pleasant smell and it would in no way put me off using it. I can't say whether it lingers on your hair for very long or not as I always use at least conditioner on my hair afterwards and usually a leav-in conditioner and some other kind of product too so they all tend to blend together. The smooth and sleek shampoo lathers up really well which makes it really easy to spread it evenly through my hair and massage into it and it also reassures me that it is doing a good job of cleaning my hair too. It creates lots of nice smooth bubbles as you're rubbing it in which all rinse out easily. Obviously because I have a lot of hair it takes me a while to rinse the shampoo completely out of my hair but that's not unique to this one and happens with them all. I tend to alternate this shampoo with my TGel as I can be prone to scalp psoriasis so I probably use this shampoo twice a week on average and so far the bottle has lasted me a couple of months and feels like there's about a third of it left, so in terms of how much use you get out of it versus the price I think it performs well. Obviously people with shorter or finer hair won't use as much but will probably wash their hair more than I do so it would probably last them just as long. So does this shampoo work in its claims of leaving my hair beautifully smooth throughout the day? Well, unfortunately not. I know I don't use the conditioner and comb-in cream as suggested but still I have been disappointed in the lack of effect this shampoo has on my hair. On the few occasions I've only used the shampoo and a conditioner on my hair it has always ended up looking just as bad as before I washed it with a halo of frizz atop my head and big clumps of hair rather than sleek and defined curls. As far as the cleansing abilities of this shampoo go I have no problems with it. It does leave my hair looking and feeling clean and so in that respect I would buy it again as it is very rare that I don't use another product after the hair washing regime to tame my curls and smooth the frizz away anyway. But if I were looking for a hardcore frizz taming shampoo I would be looking for something else I'm afraid. Overall, as a shampoo for cleaning hair I'm more than satisfied with this and would buy it again if I saw it on offer, but it has pretty much no effect on smoothing or sleekening my hair. The packaging is non-offensive but can be quite confusing and the shampoo itself smells nice, is easy to use, lathers well and rinses out easily. So all in all I will give this shampoo four stars.
Our household is a coffee drinking household. Neither my husband or I ever drink tea (I'm pretty sure my mother feeding me tea laced with whiskey when I was a baby to help me sleep is the reason I now like neither tea nor whiskey!) and so we usually have 3 or 4 different jars of coffee lurking around in our cupboard. Whilst I do love coffee I'm what I like to call a "coffee commoner" and just like the straight forward instant type - the "proper coffee" is way too strong for me and, as I do the shopping in our house, I always buy a general instant coffee - usually whichever happens to be on offer at the time. Hubby on the other hand, whilst he's happy enough with normal coffee on a day to day basis, if we're ever at someone elses and he gets offered the proper, stronger stuff, will always accept. But as there's no point brewing a caffetiere full just for him (and he would never get up in time to do the whole process properly anyway!) we tend to just have whatever's in the cupboard as our daily brew. Until, that is, we stayed with my parents one weekend and my mum had a tin of this Kenco Millicano. I get my taste in coffee from my parents so they usually just have the normal instant coffee too but my brother has lives in the States for 10 years now and has got used to their stronger brews and mum had bought a tin of this for when he came home. WHAT IS IT AND WHERE CAN I BUY IT? If you haven't heard of Millicano - or seen the advert on tv...you know, the one where the husband comes down with the baby monitor in his hand and the couple start getting jiggy with it on the kithen table until they knock the coffee all over the place and then panic ensues? - it's an instant coffee but that is meant to taste the same as a ground coffee. The front of the packaging states that it is "instant and roast and ground arabica coffee" and the back of it tells us that it is the first wholebean instant coffee from Kenco and that it contains finely-milled wholebeans. So effectively, you get the taste of a ground coffee without having to grind the beans yourself or spend the time preparing the coffee pot. It now seems to be widely available in all the supermarkets and I've even seen it in my little local Spar shop so you should be able to find it on all good coffee aisles. Having said that it pays to be choosy about where you buy it as the price can vary widely. It's usually £3.99 for a 100g tin in Tesco and £3.29 for the 85g refill, although that is actually on offer at the moment for £3. In Asda, however, the tin costs £3 and the refill £2.50 which is a big difference in price. PACKAGING The standard packaging for this Millicano is a tin rather than a jar like most coffees. It's about the size of a tin of beans but rather than having a metal lid it has a plastic cap type thing which you just have to prise off (the word prise makes it sound like a difficult process but it isn't, it comes off easily, I just couldn't think of a better word!). The first time of opening the tin it is sealed undearneath the lid so you just have to pull the seal off. I really like this style of packaging for coffee as it's a lot less bulky than the big glass jars you get. Another major bonus for me with regards to the packaging is that it is made from metal which contains "at least 50% recycled material and can be recycled again after use" and in addition to that, once your tin is empty, rather than buying another one, you can buy a refill pouch so you just empty that into your tin. Thumbs up to Kenco from me on that score. As far as the appearance goes, the tin is fairly attractive I suppose. It's a silver colour with red and brown accent colours although I think the fact that it's a tin rather than a jar is what will make it stand out on the supermarket shelf. According to the back of the packet 100g will make 55 cups and all you have to do is add a teaspoon of the coffee to your mug then fill with hot water just off the boil. It also tells us that you'll get a smooth full-bodied taste and rich aroma. The usual company contact details are also provided. OUR EXPERIENCE After hubby had tried this at my mums he decided he really liked it and so now we have a tin in our cupboard (courtesy of mum!) which he drinks from on weekends. As, compared to other coffees, it is quite expensive, it's a "treat" coffee for him rather than an every day one. This coffee really is as easy to prepare as a cup of regular instant coffee and so it takes away any of the fussiness of the preparation of brewed coffee. The actually coffee itself is sort of a cross between a powder and usual coffee granules. The pieces are much much smaller than normal instant coffee but not quite a powder form, hence why it's such a light weight coffee I suppose. As soon as you take the lid off the tin you can smell that it's much stronger than your average instant coffee and immediately brings about the atmosphere of a coffee shop rather than a bog standard cuppa in your kitchen! Once you've added hot water to the coffee the fragrance remains really strong and I can always tell when my husband's made himself a cup of this rather than the normal stuff. Whilst we both tried this coffee I have to admit I still prefer my bog standard instant! The blend of instant and ground coffee does give a really nice smooth cup of coffee and Kenco are completely right with their claims of a smooth, full-bodied taste and rich aroma, as that is exactly what you get but for me personally it is still too strong. It would probably be a good one to make if you're selling your house and have a viewing as it really does give off that coffee shop vibe. CONCLUSION For me personally this coffee is way too strong for me to drink, but my husband loves it. Having said that, it does get some thumbs up from me - I like the tin it comes in and feel that it does a good job of keeping it fresh when stored in the cupboard, I like that Kenco do a refill for it rather than having to buy a whole other tin every time you run out and the environmental credentials of the packaging are a big bonus for me. So, if you like your brewed coffee but don't always have the time to make it properly on a morning then I would highly recommend this option. It gives you the taste and smell of a ground coffee with the ease and speed of an instant and whilst I think it's slightly expensive for a coffee and more than I would normally pay, as my husband is the only one to drink it and then only on weekends, a tin does last us quite a while so it doesn't work out too bad. If I were just going on my own personal coffee tastes this would only get 2 stars from me, but as I know I'm in the minority when it comes to coffee and my husband loves it, I'm going to give it 4 stars.
Unfortunately, Yankee Candle seem to be in the habit of waiting until I find a fragrance that I absolutely adore and then discontinuing it! It has happened with most of my favourites now and the latest casualty was Island Spa. Luckily for me, however, my local garden centre was having a big sale and a couple of weekends ago I managed to stock up with several tarts for the bargain price of just 50p each, including 4 Island Spa. I rummaged and rummaged in their sale basket but alas, only four were in there. Everybody on Dooyoo by now knows all about Yankee Candle so I won't bore you with more information about the company (I've done a couple of other reviews if you want to read more about them). Suffice it to say they're an American candle company based in Deerfield Massachusetts and you'll struggle to find a better quality candle in the same price range. They were the first company to start making their now signature jar candles (exactly what they sound like) and also do their fragrances in tealights, samplers and tarts (as well as car fragrances, reed diffusers and many other products). If you're new to YC's I would highly recommend using either their tarts (if you have an oil burner) or their samplers in the first instance to decide whether you actually like the fragrance when it's burning as they jars can be quite an investment and a large one will set you back between £18 and £20 - a lot of money to spend if it turns out you don't really like the scent! A tart will usually cost around £1.40 and a sampler around £1.75 meaning they're a much more economical way of finding the fragrance for you. I prefer the tarts as I think they produce a stronger fragrance and last longer than they're stated 8 hours, meaning they're excellent value for money - especially if you can find them for as little as 50p! To use a tart, however, is not like using a normal candle as they don't have a wick in them. They are flat round discs of wax which you place in the top of a burner with a tealight underneath. The heat from the tealight them melts the wax and so releases the fragrance which them diffuses around your home. I much prefer using the wax in my burners to using oil and water as there is no danger of it burning dry resulting in a cracked burner. You simply blwo out the tealight when you want to "turn off" the fragrance and then relight another one underneath when you want more. Once the fragrance has worn off or is too weak for you, wait until the wax is solid again and slide the tip of a knife underneath the wax and it will pop out, enabling you to replace it either another tart. If you don't want to use a knife you can also pop the burner in the freezer for a while and this also makes the tart easier to remove, although this is much easier if you have a burner with a detachable dish and don't have to put the entire thing in the freezer! So, what about this particular fragrance? According to YC it is the "sunny citrus aroma of crisp juicy mandarins and vibrant lemon verbena". How they managed to make it a greeny/bluey/turquoise colour then I'll never know but hey ho! As soon as I unwrapped the first tart I could smell a strong lemony citrus scent and after lighting a tealight underneath my tart it was only a matter of minutes before the fragrance started diffusing through my room. The Island Spa fragrance is part of the "fresh" family of scents and you can't argue with this. The fragrance of this is really uplifting and invigorating with the lemon really coming through strongly. In fact, I think YC used exactly the right word when they said vibrant. Whilst the overriding impression is definitely a citrus one it's a lot more subtle citrus than others such as the Sparkling Lemon and i think the mandarin in this helps to calm it down a little. So rather than being really zingy and efforvescent, it's much more subtle and relaxed whilst not losing any of the power or strength. As the lemon is the overriding scent you get I tend to burn this one either in my kitchen, or more often in my bathroom as the colour matches my decor in there! It does really well at freshening up a room rather than providing a warming, soothing fragrance so it works really well in spaces that might otherwise not smell quite so nice. What I like about this one, and tarts in general, is that if I melt it in my bathroom and leave the doors upstairs open it permeates through the whole of my upstairs. As i'm not always in the bathroom, I tend to leave the tealight lit just long enough to melt the wax and then blow it out. This means that the tart lasts longer but doesn't detract from the fresh, clean smell I get in my bathroom. Overall I love the Island Spa fragrance and am over the moon that I managed to find some more tarts so cheaply. I am a firm fan of the fresh family of fragrances and this one fits in perfectly with that...it's fresh, light, uplifting and invigorating without being overpowerful or too intense. It is not as lemony as the pure lemon fragrances they do, but I find the blend of mandarin and lemon verbena to be really lovely and much more subtle than the pure lemon ones. If, like me, you like the fresher fragrances and come across this in the shops I would highly recommend it.
Regular readers of my reviews will no doubt be aware by now that I have long, curly, unruly hair that is prone to dryness, coarseness and frizz. It takes a lot of time, energy and products to tame it in any way and I have tried dozens over the years in attempt to transform my locks from big ball of frizz to sleek, defined and smooth curls. One product that I come back to time and time again is this Boots Curling Cream (now called Curl Creme). As part of the Essentials range, it is one of their 'value' products and I was first attracted to it by the price. Nowadays, with all the celebrity hair dressers it is all too easy to get tempted by their own products and to end up paying a fortune for something that doesn't give the results you hope for so it was quite refreshing to find something like this in a lower price bracket. As it is a Boots own brand product it is obviously only available from Boots shops or their online store (although it is currently out of stock due to supply issues but Boots reassures me they're working to correct that and it should be available again soon). Priced at only £1.32 for a 250ml tub it is excellent value and definitely won't break the bank if you fancy giving it a try yourself. The Curl Creme comes in a clear plastic tub with a screw top lid which I really like. Not only is it easy to see how much of the cream you have left but it is also really easy to control how much of the product you use at a time and to get every last bit out of the bottom. I generally prefer flip top lids on cosmetics and toiletries as you invariably have hands covered in some sort of gloop when you're trying to close it up again. With this curl cream however, I tend to use three or four smaller fingerfuls of it rather than one big blob so it is handy that it can be left standing open on the dressing table until you've applied enough to your hair. I then tend to wait until my hair styling process is finished before washing my hands and rescrewing the lid on. The cream itself is a soft pink colour, reminding me somewhat of bubble gum. It has quite a thick consistency so it is definitely more of a cream than a mousse and is almost pearlescent in appearance - sort of shiny, almost like a blancmange...well, not that I've ever eaten blancmange but it's how I imagine a blancmange to look! The smell of it is quite nice too and whilst it's not a particular strong scent it's quite sweet and floral without being too overpowering which is good as it does tend to linger on my locks for quite a while afterwards. To apply this curl creme I simply run it through my freshly washed and towel dried hair, making sure I coat all of my hair evenly from roots to the ends. This involves tipping my hair upside down to make sure I don't miss the underneath as well. Because I have such long hair (it comes to about halfway down my back) and it is quite thick I tend to use quite a lot of this cream so a tub usually lasts me about 2 months with using it 2 or 3 times a week. But, being the price it is, this is still really good value as far as I'm concerned! Boots claim that this cream will "control and nourish to smooth away frizziness, enhance shine and hold your curl without weighing it down". Everything that a curly top like me wants from a curl cream really, but which very few actually deliver. But do you know what? By golly this one does deliver! It really does do exactly what it says on the tin...or tub if you're being pedantic! When I've used this cream my curls are left looking defined and much smoother without any tell tale signs of frizz. other products I've used in the past have also achieved this but most of them either leave your hair so heavy that the curls get weighted down or leave my hair feeling really hard and crisp or really sticky. This one doesn't do any of that. It leaves my hair feeling soft, my curls feeling bouncy and just overall makes my hair feel and look really healthy. I usually either leave my hair to dry naturally or, when I can be bothered, twirl each curl individually around my finger to make them more of a corkscrew curl and this cream works equally well with both styles; When left to dry naturally my curls are much softer whilst still being defined and when twirled into corkscrews they're unbelievably bouncy and frizz free. The fact that I can achieve both these looks without my hair feeling really sticky or hard is amazing to me! I tend to wash my hair every three days as it is such a chore and this cream will last the full three days without needing reapplying. On the other two days I tend to give my hair a quick spritz with a spray of water as just the act of sleeping on it can make some parts of my hair slightly frizzy again. But once I've lightly coated my hair with a mist of water it is once again easy to smoothe my hands over and tame any stray hairs. In case you hadn't noticed, I actually love this cream and would go so far as to call it a miracle product for curly hair. I have tried many over the years (and do still experiment if something catches my eye) but this is one that I keep coming back to time and again and writing this review has made me realise just how good it is and to wonder why I bother with anything else! For me it's a winner on all counts - packaging, price, performance and effects on my hair. It does exactly what I want a product such as this to do and all for less than £1.50. I don't think you can argue with that!
I don't wear much lipstick. In fact I don't wear lipstick at all really apart from at weddings and very special nights out. I usually prefer to just wear a nice simple gloss on my lips because years of watching my mum applying her lipstick carefully every day with a brush, after first outlining her lips and then covering it with a coat of that really stingy stuff that is supposed to make it last longer had made me think that the application of lipstick is a long and time consuming process and one that I just couldn't be bothered with. Give me a quick sweep of a lip gloss wand any day! A few years ago, however, one of my best friends was working for a make up company in Paris and when i went to visit insisted on me having a full makeover - why thank you very much, don't mind if I do! When the make up artist asked what colour lipstick I normally wear the look of shock on her face when I told her I didn't wear it was rather quite amusing. These chic Parisienne stick insects just don't understand us Northern lasses it seems! She insisted on settling down with me and choosing just the right shade that would compliment my skin tones and the rest of the make up she had applied whilst still looking as natural as possible. There were many many shades and makes to choose from and, to be honest, I quickly lost interest and boredom set in. But eventually between my friend and Christelle they decided on a shade in the Dior Addict range called Rose Radiant (shade number 414 if you're interested!). To give her her due, the lipstick did match all the criteria and I was so impressed with it I decided to buy one as I knew I'd never find another one like it when looking on my own. When I discovered that it costs the equivalent of a monthly water bill in our household I was slightly put off, so you can imagine how delighted I was that the two ladies decided to treat me and buy one for me (at a much reduced, heavily staff discounted price!) to try and unleash my inner sophisticated lady...nice try! The lipstick is usually widely available and I've seen it in such places as Debenhams and John Lewis, and I think the larger Boots stores might also stock it - so if I were to buy it again in future I'd probably wait for a triple points event and get it from there to make me feel like I was getting a slightly better deal! There are usually plenty of shades to choose from and a quick check on the Dior website shows there are about 20 listed on there. The lipstick casing is slight different to others that I've tried in the past and looks just like the picture shown above. So rather than having a flat bottom it has sort of a ball, which is very useful when it comes to gripping it to get the lip off but how on earth they managed to make it stand up in that picture I'll never know! The only way I can get my case to stand upright is if I stand it upside down! The base which holds the lipstick is a gold colour and has the word Dior written on it in scattered letters and the upper case is a dark midnight blue colour and also has the word Dior embossed on it. On the top of the lid is the little circle of paper which tells you which shade it is. Using the lipstick is as easy as using any other and a simple twist of the base pushes the lipstick part upwards for you to then apply it to your lips. When I was having the makeover done she used a lip brush but I can never be bothered with that palaver and so just sweep it carefully across my lips. One of the reasons I prefer using lipgloss usually is because I can normally apply it without the need for a mirror but when using a lipstick you have to be much more precise and so I always need to have a mirror in front of me to make sure I don't end up looking like Hinge and Bracket! The end of the lipstick is tapered which makes applying it accurately a much easier task than if it were flat and makes me feel slightly better about being lazy and not using a brush! On application this lipstick feels like none other that I've used before and really emphasises why this is a 'luxury' brand. It feels really soft and creamy and once on my lips doesn't dry them out like some others have done, it feels really rich and moisturising and as though I'm actually applying a lip balm rather than a lipstick, so in that respect it gets a big thumbs up from me. The colour, likewise, gets another thumbs up. It really is everything I could ask for in a lipstick and something I never ever thought I'd find (and probably wouldn't have if not for Christelle!). In the tube it looks like quite a deep, dusky, almost metallic looking pink colour and if I'd looked at in a shop I probably would have discounted it. Once on my lips however, it looks absolutely lovely and really does finish my 'face' off well. It compliments my skin tones really nicely and gives a lovely subtle, natural looking colour to my lips which blends in really well but still lets you see that there's a colour there. Another thing which always put me off lipstick in the past was the fact that it's a lot more obvious once it starts wearing off than lipgloss. This one however has really good staying power and once on my lips it lasts for a good few hours. I do typically just tend to wear this for weddings or other special occasions but have found that I only need to reapply once or twice over the course of a full wedding from ceremony to the end of the evening do which for me is a really good thing because I'm not one of those women who like to "powder their nose" every time they go to the loo! Having said that, when it does come time to take this off, it is very easily removed using my usual make up removal method (either cleanse, tone, moisturise or wipe with a face wipe depending how tired/drunk I may be at the time). By the end of a long evening there usually isn't very much left of it anyway, but once I give my lips a quick wipe over with a cleanser soaked cotton pad all traces have gone. For me the only offputting thing about this lipstick is the price. It can usually be found for around £20 to £25 which, for me personally, is a lot of money to spend on something like this. Having said that, however, because I only use it occasionally it is lasting me a very long time and I think just for the colour alone it is worth spending the money. I never thought I'd find a lipstick that I would be 100% happy with when it came to colour, they were all either too bright, not deep enough, too pink, too brown...you get the idea! But this one is absolutely spot on and I love it. So I would probably repurchase this in future when I run out as, withouth the aid of the lovely Christelle, I doubt I'd ever find something so right for me again. In case you were in any doubt I love this lipstick and would highly recommend it. It's not something I use every day, or even every week, but it always always always gets brought out for special occasion when I want a more formal makeup look. It's really creamy to apply and makes your lips feel well moisturised and the colour is absolutely perfect. Add these to the fact that you don't have to keep applying it every five minutes or after each sip of wine and for me it's a really winner. I'm going to give it 5 stars because even though the price tag is high, for me this is a treat rather than a monthly purchase which makes it much easier to justify.