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I really enjoy reading about other people's favourite websites and I have picked up a few interesting suggestions from Dooyoo members before. Here are my 10 top websites; I hope you find something you like too! www.boden.co.uk I absolutely love Boden clothes but I rarely indulge. However I really love fantasizing about what I might buy if I won the lottery or lost 2 stone! It's a really essay website to navigate and I particularly like how you can zoom on items and have a good look at the details. I also find it very handy to be able to tell straight away if an item is available in your size and colour. www.ebay.co.uk Whoever invented EBay is my hero! I try to sell anything we don't need any more, any clothes the children have outgrown and over the years I have probably made a small fortune. I also always check EBay before I pay full price for something on another website. Yesterday I bought a new Bare Minerals make-up brush for 99p. They normally retail at £19.99! www.bbcgoodfood.com This is a great website for anybody who enjoys cooking or who has ran out of ideas on how to feed their family! I particularly like the fact you can focus on one ingredient ( say chicken or mince) and it will suggests dozens if not hundred of recipes using this ingredient. All recipes have been tested and are very reliable. The preparation time is also very realistic and the reader's comments and suggestions are very useful. www.bbc.co.uk/languages/spanish I am currently trying to improve my Spanish and I spend some time everyday working on my language skills. The language activities here are very good quality and very relevant to my needs. I am hooked on "Mi vida loca", a short interactive course based in Madrid and full of drama and mystery! www.tripadvisor.co.uk I sometimes wonder how I managed when Tripadvisor did not exist??? On Tripadvisor you can read reviews on any hotel/ restaurant/ tourist attraction in the world. Of course you have to take some of the reviews with a pinch of salt but usually you get a pretty good feel about of a place and what it's like if you read a few reviews. I never book a hotel without checking reviews on Tripadvisor and when I go somewhere new I always compile a list of possible restaurants or places to visit. Some suggestions I have picked up from this website have been truly inspired and I am glad I followed the recommendations of Tripadvisor members! (I also have fun looking at the very worst reviews!! Pick a city and then go to the lowest rated hotels....so funny...and terrifying!) www.nytimes.com My son is always reading the New York Times on line and I'm afraid I've picked up this habit too. Unfortunately there is a limit of how many feature articles you are allowed to read without subscribing. Having said that, my favourite section is the "movies" ( under "arts") as I think they are particularly insightful reviews and they are usually about films that have not come out here yet. I also enjoy their book reviews and their best-seller lists. www.amazon.co.uk Again, how did I survive before Amazon? I love books and I love the fact that Amazon always recommends new reads, based on your viewing history. I enjoy coming across books I would love to read and saving them in my wish list. I can send books and music I love to friends and family around the world and one-click ordering just makes my life easy! www.people.com My guilty pleasure! Who does not like a bit of celebrity gossip? www.freetetris.org A little old-fashioned I know but I still love Tetris and it clears my mind! And last but not least, I always try to spread the word about: freerice.com Freerice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme. It is particularly good for school children as you choose a subject you would like to revise and every time you get the answer right, 10 gr of rice are donated to hungry children. I love the language learning section ( French, Italian, German, Spanish) and my children used it to practice their multiplication tables to death. You can keep track of your progress and see the rice you are donating accumulate. Please pass this on if you have any school age children or if you know any teachers!!
Nowadays most British households consume a lot of pasta and De Cecco pasta are probably the very best dry pasta you can get in this country. The Linguine are available in most supermarkets along with one or 2 other shapes. We never buy spaghetti these days, we always buy these linguine. I know the difference is minimal in terms of shape, (the linguine are flatter and the spaghetti are rounder), but it does seem to transform a good old spag bol into something more refined and sophisticated! A packet of 500gr costs about £1.50, a little more expensive than comparable pasta but it is often on special offer for £1. (Definitely worth stocking up at that point!) The superior quality of this pasta does justify its price. Not only do they taste good but they also retain a firm "al dente" texture when cooked for 11 minutes. Of course you can serve it with your favourite past sauce. Traditionally the linguine come from Liguria and are served with clams as in "linguine alle vongole". If you want to appreciate the quality of the pasta without being distracted by too much sauce, I would suggest a simple feast of al dente linguine, a drizzle of olive oil, a little salt and black pepper and a sprinkling of parmesan. Dinner in 11 minutes tops, who needs a take-away. ( I know, I've watched Jamie too much!) De Cecco past are made in Italy and are highly rated over there too. If you ever get to shop in an Italian super market, you will be blown away by the range of pasta De Cecco actually produce and you will want to throw away your beach towel and fill your suitcase with every type of pasta imaginable! ( I actually do that, except I usually get rid of my husband's stuff...)
I am always watching my weight (not doing great at the moment!) and using a sweetener seems to give me a clear conscience. I would feel very guilty if I put REAL sugar in my coffee (and I feel REAL guilty about the biscuit(s) I have alongside my coffee!!). I therefore always have sweetener in my drinks and I tend to go for Canderel, simply because I'm used to it. However, there are times when you need sugar and a little sweetener tablet just won't work. This is where half spoon comes in. It looks and feels just like sugar but only has half the calories. It is made of real sugar which has been combined with a small amount of sweetener. Uses I use it to sprinkle a little bit on cereals (especially Weetabix). I also use it in plain yoghurt and this time of year I also sprinkle a little bit on strawberries when they are not quite sweet enough. You can use it in baking but I have only done that occasionally. In my opinion, if you're going to make a cake and eat it, you might as well put real sugar in it. Still, for somebody who is seriously counting calories, it would be worth experimenting. Taste The taste and texture are very convincing and you honestly can't tell you are not eating sugar, you just have to be careful not to use too much as it is obviously a lot sweeter than sugar. There is no after taste like you get with some sweeteners. Calories Half Spoon and regular sugar both have 16 calories per teaspoon but you would only need half the amount of Half Spoon sugar. Therefore you would save on half the calories! Price A 500 gr packet will cost about £1.49. I think it's good value but obviously it is a lot more expensive than granulated sugar. Conclusion This is a good product as you do not feel deprived and you feel like you can have sugar. However it is not "calorie-free" and you still have to be careful and be aware of how much you are using. I am only awarding it 4 stars simply because I am currently very upset with myself for not being able to squeeze my bottom into my summer clothes!!
To be honest, I have given up using fabric softener in an effort to save the pennies. I already seem to spend a fortune on laundry products and nobody seemed to notice the difference.....except on the towels. It was therefore my intention to start using it again on the aforementioned towels. On a recent trip to Asda I spotted that all fabric conditioners were £1 and I was particularly attracted to the Almond Milk & Honey Blossom variety. The clear plastic bottle contains 735 ml of product and promises it'll do for 21 washes. It is also dermatologically tested and kind on sensitive skin ( no sensitive skin in our house but it's always a plus I think). The liquid smells lovely (although I'm not sure I can make out almonds and honey). It appears a little runny and I would say it is not as thick as more expensive brands. I only use a little bit with each wash as I am determined it will last 21 washes or more. I always find that when it comes to laundry products, the amount they recommend you use is always far too much and I'm sure this is a ploy to make you use more than you really need! I am very pleased indeed with how soft my towels have turned out to be. Considering I hadn't used softener for a while, they really felt quite rough and they have been returned to their softer, fluffier former selves. They still smell nice after drying and when being used. I would definitely buy this product again and next time I go to Asda I will stock up on a few of those. I am happy paying £1 to have soft towels and this will also encourage me to try other Asda products.
Over a year ago, during a regular check-up, my dentist suggested I get an electric tooth-brush. I chose to ignore his advice. What did I need an electric toothbrush for? I have been using a manual toothbrush for 46 years and that was working just fine thank you very much. (I do have a tendency to react that way about everything new: Why would I want an IPod? What on earth would I do with a Kindle?etc...) This year my dentist suggested (again) that I should acquire an electric toothbrush. It came with a long lecture about the sad state of my inflamed gums the essence of which was (and I am shortening this for your sake): You will lose all your teeth by the time you're 60 if you do not buy an electric toothbrush NOW! He also said, bless him, that it was absolutely pointless buying an expensive one and that a £15 toothbrush would do the job perfectly. With my arm firmly twisted, I proceeded to Boots and embarked on my new mission in life i.e. sorting out my bleeding gums (quite literally) and avoiding premature toothlessness. Boots must have known I was coming as most electric toothbrushes were half-price to celebrate ....the Olympics! Yes, this last bit of information left me somewhat baffled as I could not quite see the link but I decided to join in the Olympic spirit and after carefully perusing the range of toothbrushes on offer for about 30 seconds I settled on the Oral-B Vitality Dual Clean Electric Toothbrush attractively priced at £17.99 instead of 34.99. Once home I plugged in my toothbrush to charge (European plug here so you will need a shaver plug in the bathroom or an adaptor) and proceeded to wait 16 hours for it to charge fully as per the instruction booklet. After about 4 hours of breathless anticipation, I could not take it any longer and I just had to try it. So now this is the bit where I have to admit that my dentist was right and I was wrong. I was an instant convert! After brushing my teeth for just 2 minutes ( and there is a little timer keeping track for you) my teeth felt amazingly clean and smooth and I could not stop looking at them in the mirror as I felt they were a lot shinier than normal. I have now been using the toothbrush for 2 weeks and the difference it has made is quite amazing. My gums used to bleed quite badly when I was brushing my teeth. Biting into an apple was not something I would ever consider anymore and I even bled biting into a banana (although I never confessed to this one to my dentist). The bleeding has now completely stopped and I have successfully submitted my teeth to the apple test. I find it very easy to use and clean. I charge it once a week although I feel that battery life would probably exceed a week . The head is meant to last about 4 months and although the replacements seem quite expensive at about £ 16.50 for 4, I will look out for special offers. I would give my electric toothbrush 5 stars as I find it has made a huge difference in a short time although I suspect most other models would have been equally good . Now, who thinks I should get a Kindle ??
I don't know if it's just because we live in Dorset but we absolutely love Dorset cereals in our house. This review is for the Simply Nutty Muesli but there are many other equally good products in this range, all well worth trying. They also seem to come out with new products on a fairly regular basis (muesli, granola, porridge, bars etc...) We do get through an awful lot of cereals in our house. My 18 year old son seems to nibble on them all day long and thanks to him my kitchen floor seems to be permanently strewn with bits of cereals where he has been eating them straight out of the packet. Always helpful he usually tries to kick them under the fridge before I notice! We also try to go for somewhat "healthy" cereals and try to avoid the over sweet variety. The Simply Nutty Muesli is a favourite of ours because (and I apologize for stating the obvious!) it is really quite rich in nuts. It contains both Brazil nuts and whole almonds and even when my son has eaten all the nuts, I can still find 1 or 2 popping up in my breakfast bowl. I wish Dorset Cereals added even more nuts though and I would welcome the addition of a few hazelnuts or even a cashew nut or two. Another huge selling point for me is that it contains no raisins. I absolutely hate raisins and it is a relief not to have to pick them out of my breakfast, especially when I'm not very awake yet. Of course you might well disagree with me on this one but other more raisin-friendly members of my family assure me they do not miss the raisins thanks to the generous amount of dates ( 22%!). Other ingredients are barley flakes, malted oats, wheat flakes, oat flakes and sunflower seeds. Of course there is no added sugar or preservatives so I would say this is a healthy breakfast cereal. It tastes great on its own but I often have mine sprinkled on top of Weetabix and that's one of my favourite breakfasts. My husband has it with yoghurt and even sprinkles it over ice-cream (not for breakfast though!) I do think it is a much nicer alternative than Alpen. It is far less "dusty" than Alpen and the different varieties are far more exciting. A 750 gr is about £2.87 if you're lucky but sometimes they are over £3.00. This is a really good quality product so I do believe it's worth it, shame we eat it so quickly!
I have no idea what my real hair colour is these days but judging on my roots at the moment I would say it's a very light shade of grey! I am 46 and even my mom at 68 has hardly got any grey hair. Surely this is not fair?!?! This leaves me no choice but to reach for the pack of Clairol Nice'n easy again! Having my hair coloured in salon, as blissful as it sounds, is simply not an option as I just could not afford to have it done professionally every 5 weeks and pay about £40 each time .At £5.61 a go Nice'n easy is far more gentle on my finances. With a bit of luck I might even pick up a 2 for £10 deal in Boots ! I have been using the same colour for years " warm auburn" and god forbid Clairol ever discontinue this particular shade! It seems to work well for me and various hair stylists have commented on how nice it looks. They were indeed surprised this was the result of a home colouring kit! This has got to be a great endorsement for this product. The instructions clearly state that you should always do a strand test, even when you colour your hair regularly. It is possible to have a very serious allergic reaction to hair dye and I have read about fatal cases. I am ashamed to say I do not do a strand test. I can't say I ever look forward to actually colouring my hair but I have done it so many times, I guess I'm pretty good at it by now. For a first-timer, it might be a good idea to get a little bit of help from a friend, especially if you have long-ish hair. First you have to mix the products and put on the gloves. Then, you start applying the dye to the roots, parting your hair in small sections. The nozzle makes the job easy and reasonably mess free. With that done, you wait roughly 20 minutes and then apply the rest of the dye to the rest of your hair, wait another 5-10 mins, rinse, condition...and done! The procedure is slightly different if it's your first time and timings may vary slightly from person to person, especially if like me you have A LOT of grey to cover! At this point, I would like to point out how much I love the conditioner that comes with Nice'n easy. It is by far my favourite conditioner and the tube provided will easily do for at least 4 or 5 times after you have coloured your hair. You can also buy it individually in a small tube for about 99p. Great to take on holiday. I am always very happy with the results. The colour is natural yet vibrant and my hair appears like it has natural highlights'. The grey is always perfectly covered. The colour does fade eventually but considering I wash my hair every day, I can honestly say it lasts a good 4 to 5 weeks. I used to swim a lot and that was not so good for my hair and colour faded a lot quicker So overall, I would be happy to recommend this product to anyone, especially if you can find a shade you really like.
When my thirteen year-old daughter started her period for the first time, it prompted me to visit the feminine hygiene aisle of Boots and actually have a good look at what products are on offer these days. I usually grab the same old box of Tampax for myself and don't bother looking at anything else. I bought a selection of panty-liners and pads so she could try different shapes and sizes and find out for herself what she liked (bearing in mind she was not thrilled with the whole experience!) Six months down the line (and a few tears, cramps and bouts of PMT later...) Always Ultra and Freshelle is the protection she has now adopted and I must say I agree with her because what you have here is a great product with a very innovative idea: an individually wrapped pad with an also individually wrapped refreshing wipe attached to it. The packaging is very clever as the wipe is attached to the pad so the two do not get separated in a handbag or pocket. The pad and wipe "team" are still very thin and discreet. My only slight criticism is that the pad is wrapped in plain white plastic and the wipe in green and as I am buying this product for a young teenage girl, I would have preferred something a little more colourful and funky! Still, I appreciate these clean and fresh colours will appeal to the wider public. The pad itself is wingless and normal length. It is very thin and discreet but very absorbent. My daughter does not always feel comfortable asking to go to the toilet during lessons so she needed something that would offer good absorption and protection for a few hours at a time. Always has been very good and she hasn't had any problems on that front. She has found the pad soft and comfortable to wear. She likes the fact it is stays in place as she does dance and trampoline and that was a worry at the start. The wipe however in sheer genius because it enables her to feel fresh and clean every time she changes her pad. It is hugely reassuring for her that even if there wasn't any paper in the school toilets, she would always have the little wipe with her. This would also be extremely useful when you're out and about or travelling. The wipe flushes easily down the toilet. Whoever came up with the idea of putting a wipe and a pad together is a genius! Unfortunately, these are not available in the smaller Boots where I live so I have to remember to stock up when I go to a larger store. They cost £2.09 for 12 and although this is slightly more expensive than other pads, I am more than happy to pay a few extra pence for the wipe.
I have only been a member of Dooyoo for a couple of weeks and this is the first item I have actually bought having read about it on this vey site. Admittedly it did not break the bank as it was a £1 frozen pizza from Iceland! There is an Iceland in our small town....but I never go there. I have been put off by too many "Mum's gone to Iceland" adverts, especially around Christmas time. On Saturday, I read a review for this pizza and as my daughter and I were on our own for the evening, I decided I did not fancy doing a great deal of cooking and we both agreed pizza would be good. I easily located the pizzas in the unfamiliar Iceland chest freezers and was surprised to see they had quite a range of "Thin and Crispy" pizzas. I picked up "4 cheeses" for my daughter and "cheese and onion "for myself and proceeded to the checkout with a £2 pound coin in my hand. Dinner, sorted, for £2, when was the last time that happened???? The pizzas I usually buy from the deli section are more like £4 each...and they're not that great. These pizzas take 14 minutes in a preheated oven. Whilst the oven was preheating I decided to customize both pizzas (again as suggested by the previous reviewer). Some ham for my daughter and some peppers for mine and in they went. I always end up grating extra cheese on our pizzas but on this occasion I was pleasantly surprised by the generous amount of cheese on each pizza and did not feel it need any extra. Still feeling a little lazy, I realized that the pizzas without being huge were more than generously sized for one person and therefore decided against wedges, salad etc... A quick look at the box did warn me that my little Saturday night feast would amount to over 800 calories but I decided to ignore this! 14 minutes later and my daughter and I are happily tucking into our pizzas. My very fussy daughter pronounced it "yummy" after a couple of mouthfuls and I have to agree with her. The pizza was not over thin and if you like it really thin like they do in Italy then I suppose you could go for the " extra thin and crispy" one they do. The tomato base tasted fresh and not over spicy and as mentioned earlier the cheese covering was generous. I was very happy with the extra ham and peppers I added and felt there were many other toppings I could have popped on there to make it more exciting but to be honest, it would have tasted all right as it was. I will definitely go back and keep a couple of those pizzas in my freezer for late nights and emergencies of if my kids have friends over. I don't think you could get anything better for £1! Thanks Dooyoo for a great tip!
I eat a lot of yoghurt and I have tried just about every type of yoghurt around. My favourite are undoubtedly Rachel's organic yoghurt and I always have some of those in my fridge. Paradoxically I am not a great fan of Müller light yoghurts as I tend to find they are too sweet , the flavour is lacks depth and authenticity ( in other words it doesn't taste of real fruits!), and occasionally they can be a bit "runny". I do however love the Raspberry and Cranberry flavour and regularly buy 12 of them every time I go shopping. My daughter also loves them and still refers to them as "Mamma yoghurt", dating back from when she was small and she had her type of yoghurt and I had mine. In the Raspberry and Cranberry variety, I like the well balanced mix of sweetness and tartness, a lovely tangy fruity taste. There are no "fruit bits "in these yoghurts and that's fine with me. I like both with and without. They are indeed very smooth and although I find the consistency can vary a little bit from batch to batch, I am usually happy with the texture. What I like best about these is the size of them. At 175 gr (and still only 99 calories per pot) they make a decent helping. I find smaller yoghurt pots too small and often need to have 2. I love the large 450 gr pots from Rachel's....but as I have no self-control, I can easily eat the whole pot in one sitting! These are a very good compromise and are perfect for me to take to work. Of course, the list of ingredients is not quite as saintly as that of a Rachel yoghurt, but I can live with that. The reason why I was not happy about giving them to my children when they were little is because they contain aspartame and I did not like them to have artificial sweeteners. I do find them quite expensive at about 62 p each but they are almost always on offer ( 4 for £ 2).
My grand-mother used to make jam. She used all the fruits from my granddad much loved garden and bought a load more from the market. To this day I can still remember the sweet smell of her kitchen in the summer.... My favourite were always apricot and Mirabelle, a sweet plum you can only get in the north-east of France. Here's a recipe for the perfect summer breakfast. Take a slice of freshly baked baguette, add a layer of salted butter (it has to be salted, I insist), spread a generous amount of grandma's jam and eat outside, in the garden. When Mamy (that's what I used to call my grand-mother) left us, I missed so many of the wonderful things she used to cook just for me. The simple things, her pancakes, her roast potatoes, her stuffed tomatoes, her jam. Making the switch to shop-bought jam was not easy but Bonne Maman make fantastic jam and their Apricot Conserve has a little taste of my childhood. Mamy always stuck to a simple rule, half fruit, half sugar. More sugar and it's too sweet, you cannot taste the beautiful tartness of the fruit. Less sugar and it won't keep. Bonne Maman stick to that rule too and apart from a drop of lemon juice and a little fruit pectin, there are no other ingredients in their jam, no preservatives. The jam has the perfect consistency; it is not "solid" like so many others. You come across huge chunks of apricot. And it tastes good, sweet and tart, like perfect apricots should . I am very fond of the packaging and I never throw it away. I keep each every glass jar with its pretty red and white gingham lid and use them to store all sorts of things in the kitchen and around the house. The cost is about £2.24 in most supermarkets, money well spent for a lovely jam. Just wish I could be sitting with Mamy in her garden now...
Foundation is the ONE thing I will not compromise on and I always buy (or get given!) foundation from a top brand. I am prepared to experiment with all sorts of cheaper cosmetics but when it comes to my complexion, I want the best results possible and I go for quality. I have tried many brands over the years and I am usually really impressed with anything from Lancôme, Clarins, Yves St Laurent and indeed Dior. I have had several Dior foundations and I would recommend them without hesitation especially the Diorskin Nude Fluid Foundation which I think is a fantastic product. The Diorskin Eclat Satin Foundation was given to me as Christmas present by my mum and I was looking forward to finishing my previous foundation so I could try this one. It comes in the usual (and rather exquisite) blue Dior packaging. The foundation is stored in a slim glass bottle with a nifty little pump that dispenses just the right amount of foundation and presumably keeps germs and dirty fingers out of the foundation itself. I find that a 30 ml bottle lasts me not far off a year so that is pretty good. The product is still fresh when you get to the bottom of the bottle. The Dior Eclat Satin Foundation claims to achieve the following: "All-day moisturizing and an impeccable satin finish in one foundation. Nourishes the skin and magnifies its radiance while diminishing imperfections. Its creamy texture leaves skin feeling comfortably smooth and looking radiant from morning to night." It certainly sounds good and on the day I binned my old foundation, I was definitely looking forward to being moisturized and radiant! I was a little sceptical about this product the minute I started applying it ( I usually just use my fingers). It was jolly hard work and it seems to me I had to go over the same areas many times in order to achieve an even coverage. Even then I discovered some darker streaks on my neck. Once the foundation was applied I was surprised by how my skin felt. It was almost sticky, clammy and I certainly could not have gone out without applying a generous amount of loose powder. I do not have any spots, just a little redness on the side of my nose. I cannot say the foundation did anything to alleviate that and there again extra concealer was needed. A couple of dry areas were actually made worse and more noticeable. I certainly did not feel or look radiant! There are some foundations you put on and you do see an instant improvement, a glow...it was not the case here. My next biggest gripe with this foundation is removing it!! Come evening, it seems to take me forever to clean my skin and no matter how many times I do it, my cotton wool disks are never clean. I usually give up after 6 or 7 goes... This foundation has been a huge disappointment. As I can't really afford to bin it, I have started mixing it with a little moisturizer as it seems to make it easier to apply. It is not ideal but I will make do until I can afford something else for the summer. In conclusion, I would say it is definitely not worth the £ 31.00 it usually retails at but this is not a reflection on other Dior products, many of them I have found excellent in the past.
Those of you lucky enough to have travelled to the USA may have come across CINNABON and their famous CINNAMON ROLLS. First created in 1985, CINNABON is now a well known chain that you can find in many American malls and airports. My good friends in New-England introduced me to these delightful pastries a few years ago and this is how my quest for Cinabon started. There are 3 CINNABON stores in the UK situated in London, Cambridge and Lakeside shopping center. (There used to be one at West Quay Southampton and one outside Legoland). As the stores are franchise, hopefully there might be more opening in the near future. The only store I have ever visited is the one just off Trafalgar Square, next to the "Ripley's Believe it or Not" attraction. It is a small shop and despite a few posters outside you might not notice it's there if it wasn't for the tantalizing smell that lingers on the pavement. If you go in, you will be faced with a limited range of products, all of them variations of the "classic "cinnamon roll. My choice is easily made. I go for the "classic" every time but one could easily be tempted by the "Caramel Pecanbon" or the "Chocobon". The cinnabons come in 3 different sizes. I love the tiny bite-size ones....I just need lots of them. However I usually go for a box of 4 full-sized buns for £ 10...and some extra frosting for 50 p. There aren't enough adjectives to describe how delicious these are. Admittedly, I absolutely love cinnamon and anything with cinnamon in it but these buns are just the most mouth-watering, gooey, sweet creations. ( Did I mention they were 800 calories each?!?!) . If I know I am going up to London, I look forward to my visit to Cinnabon for days in advance and I always bring a box home to share. They keep well and are particularly good microwaved and served lukewarm. Occasionally the box does not make it home and all I'm left with is some very sticky fingers and a guilty conscience! The Cinnabon website ( www.cinnabon.co.uk) has been updated recently and offers the possibility to mail order boxes of 4 or 6 for a £5 delivery charge. If the urge gets too much, I might just do that...
I have been in love with BODEN for many years but only rarely indulge in buying Boden items for myself. These days, I am more likely to pick up a second-hand Boden skirt on Ebay .... MINI BODEN, however is a different story. The new Mini Boden landed on my door mat today and I immediately sat down and started leafing through the "Girls" section, making a mental note of those items I found most attractive (most of them let's face it), what my daughter would love, what would be perfect to go on holiday ......and then it hit me! My daughter has just turned 13, even last summer a size 14 was a bit of a squeeze....our Mini Boden days are over!!!! If I looked back at our photo albums I would be reminded of all the lovely funky dresses, the gipsy skirts, the stripy t-shirts, the comfy pedal pushers and spotty swimsuits she has worn over the years. So what makes Mini Boden so special? Above all, I love the fabrics, the prints and the colours. I love the flowers, the stripes and the spots. I love them mixed together in every colour of the rainbow. Surely children are too full of life to be dressed in drab boring colours! I love the designs and how practical and well thought-out every item is. Pockets, elasticated waists, pull it on and off. These clothes are designed with children in mind. I love the styling and all the cute little details. The quality and the finish are superb. The colours do not fade, the trousers do not shrink, and the buttons do not fall off. These are seriously and deceptively robust clothes. I have never had any problems with my orders. The website is excellent and allows you to zoom in and get a very good idea of what your items will look like. You can see clearly what is available and what isn't. Delivery is swift and returns straightforward. If you ever need to call them, Boden customer service is excellent. Undeniably, prices are a little higher than what one should pay for children's clothes but I believe they are still good value for what you get. You can often get 15 % off your order and that helps a little that helps. I might be worth mentioning at this stage that Boden sells really really well on Ebay and that once your children have grown out of their Boden fineries, you will be able to recoup some of the cost through Ebay and make enough money...to order more stuff from Boden! In an attempt, I guess, to retain customers like me (mums whose daughters are growing up fast and are not little girls anymore!), Boden have created the Johnny B range. It is aimed at teenagers and tries to fill the gap between Mini Boden and Boden. I have failed to fall in love with Johnny B. To me , it has not captured the essence of Boden and I will not be purchasing anything from that collection.
I impulse bought this book a couple of years ago when I first saw it in Waterstones. I love books about baking and having quickly flicked through the pages, I knew I just had to take it home with me. The fact that my copy is now well worn and stained with chocolate, coffee and various other ingredients is a testament of how good it is and how much I have used it. The hardest decision you might face is what to try first. My first attempt was the Banana and cinnamon muffins on p 125. The ingredients were clearly laid out, the recipe was easy to follow and (a particular favourite of mine) every recipe enjoys a full size picture. Mine were almost as beautiful as the ones in the book and tasted divine. These were followed by many other delightful treats: the red velvet cupcakes, the strawberry cheesecake cupcakes (a triumph), the pecan pie, the blondies etc... All these were straightforward to make and turned out just perfect! However, my very very favourite recipe in this book, the one I have now adopted is the CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES p 131. I have made many a chocolate chip cookie in my life and these are by far the most palatable chewy, gooey cookie you could dream off. Best eaten warm about 5 minutes after you take them out of the oven, I have yet to meet somebody who does not ask me for "my" recipe. Overall, a fantastic book which includes some classic bakes and some more original concoctions with some stunning photographs. This book is now £11.00 on Amazon, really great value. PS: On a recent visit to London, my daughter and I visited the Hummingbird Bakery in South Kensington and despite the very expensive price-tag we just had to try some (quite a few actually) of their offerings. Needless to say they were delicious and we fell in love with the little boxes they put the cupcakes in, almost like mini chinese take-away boxes! However, I was very pleasantly surprised when I realized that our homemade cakes were as good as the ones in shop, for a fraction of the cost!