Thursday, 31 May 2012
I bought this TV purely on the strength of reviews left here by other customers. All I had in mind was that I wanted a 32 inch HD TV with Freeview HD (so it's ready to receive these channels as and when they become available) and when coupled with little knowledge of televisions, I found the reviews invaluable. Well, I can say they were right. I've bought other products from Toshiba and always found them to be of excellent quality, so the fact that this TV is from that brand made it even more appealing, and again, it lives up to the expectations I had from its name. The process of setting the TV up, from removing it from its box to building the stand, to turning it on and tuning it, was easy and painless even for a relative novice. I was soon watching television to an excellent standard of picture quality, and as someone who is passionate about sound, I can say, I was really pleased with the sound and was able to avoid having to use an external soundcard and/or speakers. I've had the TV for a few days now and have had no problems whatsoever. I also thought the price was great for what you get, especially when compared with inferior, yet pricier televisions currently available.
Wednesday, 30 May 2012
I had no experience using graphics software, nor of using photo editing software, and an embarrassingly sparse general knowledge of computers, yet I was up and running very quickly with CorelDraw x5. The physical package is heavier than expected, but that's because it contains a comprehensive, and in my case, invaluable, hardback book of information to get you started, with step by step explanations and screenshots. There are also video tutorials provided. There are so many things you can do with this software. The book even includes some ideas on jewellery design. Personally, my main purpose will be photo editing, as the options available are fantastic and exhaustive and from what I've seen produces even more impressive results for the basics than Adobe Photoshop. I found installation and running to be totally easy and no interference from/with any other programmes on my computer. I should say that at the moment, I am using this for personal purposes, but I am so impressed I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending it for professional useage.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
I went for this book, not as someone wanting to lose weight but as someone wanting a healthier diet and with an interest in alternative remedies in general, having used such practises as acupuncture and homeopathy. I also know how delicious and healthy the Indian diet can be (it's a million miles from the grease laden takeaways we're used to passing for Indian food over here!) I did see some truth and sense in the initial assessment of your individual type, which is surmised after you answer a series of questions, and as stated in the book, I was very much more one type than the other 2 of the 3 available. Some of the recipes were lovely, such as the fennel consomme with tarragon, and the fish curry, but others were really rather unimaginative. It IS a good guide to healthy eating, and certainly has some easy to follow recipes which won't cost loads of money in ingredients, but other than the introductory chapters which establish your type, and then near the back of the book, the information on precisely what they suggest you eat/avoid eating, there isn't much "new".
Monday, 28 May 2012
Although you may (as I did) baulk slightly at the price of this lipstick, you do get what you pay for. A little goes a long way with this lipstick and it certainly has staying power; I didn't need to touch it up at all throughout the evening although as I carried it with me in my handbag, I was impressed by the design of the casing for this particular line of Chanel lipsticks because rather than the usual ones where you run the risk of accidentally twisting the lipstick and mushing it up against the inside of the lid (I speak from unfortunate experience here), you simply push the bottom (the gold bit) of the lipstick casing and then pull it out when it clicks. You then twist the inner tube up and down as required for applying the makeup. The colour itself isn't as pink as the picture here would have you believe. I have uploaded a photograph to the gallery on this page so you can see for yourself. It's a nude brown with a hint of pink. It did still suit my pale complexion and blonde hair. It's a nice shade and a natural look but with a thicker coverage than some sheerer lipsticks on the market. If you want to make it more sheer, I recommend a coat of a natural gloss on top. My personal preference is and also because there is no moisturising element, I use a layer of lipbalm underneath. I use Soin Tendre Levres by Chanel but it's not currently available for sale on this site. Another word of warning with this particular shade of lipstick is that it really shows the colour of your teeth (I intend to whiten them poste haste as a result).
Sunday, 27 May 2012
Obviously, I'd heard of Mike & The Mechanics, and also Paul Carrack, but this album is my first real introduction to his music. I own and love the Eagles' album Long Road Out Of Eden, and when I found out that a song from it; I Don't Want To Hear Any More was originally written by Carrack, I decided to give him some further investigation. This album reminds me a lot of one of my other favourite artists, Elvis Costello. There are also some elements of Burt Bacharach and Allen Toussaint in certain parts. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the album, especially the track which got my attention in the first place; I Don't Want To Hear Anymore. There was not a bad or weak track, or any I'd skip over, but similarly, there were none which really stood out to me either. I guess Carrack is at a stage where he is past caring about chart rankings and massive sales volumes, although both would be nice, and just concentrating on making the music he loves, which shines through on this album. I look forward to exploring his back catalogue as he's really impressed me with this offering.
Saturday, 26 May 2012
I love the city of Liverpool, and made the choice to move here last year. When I saw this film, it just reaffirmed how right this decision was. Liverpool has been long underrated, ridiculed and misunderstood, despite having one of the richest cultural heritages of anywhere in the world (where else do you think MERSEYbeat music came from?!) and some of the most incredible people as its inhabitants, as well as being the world's first real modern trading port with its series of docks and warehouses and sadly being heavily involved in the slave trade. Liverpool and its people have so many diversities; there are so many people of so many backgrounds here; rich and poor, young and old, and from all over the world. The film investigates these people, and gives voices to those who are usually silenced; nobody speaks bar Terrence Davies but he eloquently and movingly tells their stories with a mixture of modern and old footage. I found it humbling to watch and made me proud to be a part of such a beautiful and rich (in the sense of love and culture) city. It is not all seriousness, there are some humourouse and rather rude moments!! Recommended to anyone with even a passing interest in the city of Liverpool and to educate those with a bad impression of what was the European Capital Of Culture last year. Also, big congratulations to both Terrence Davies and Roy Boulter for their hard work in piecing this together; a huge amount of work and research went into the conception and production of this film.
Friday, 25 May 2012
I appreciate that a lot of musicians use Macs, and indeed, the Motu 828 and its predecessors are more often that not used with a Mac, but I am going to base my review on my experiences of using it with a PC. I installed the drivers without any problems at all (you register your purchase online with MOTU which gives you access to the relevant downloads). I've done this with Windows XP, Windows Vista and am soon to try it with Windows 7. I did need to buy a different firewire cable. You may or may not need to buy one too; it depends on how many pins are on your laptop connector; mine only has 4 whereas you require 6 to operate this device. I have used this interface with Cubase, Nuendo, Pro Tools, Ad Lib and Wavelab as well as just enhancing the audio quality of using Windows Media Player, watching DVDs on my computer, and using websites such as Youtube and iPlayer. I have no problems to report, other than that it makes everything sound so good, I had trouble turning it off to go to work/bed!! Not only would I say this is a great piece of kit for home recording but I now regard it as essential to the general music-listening experience as nothing sounds as good to me any more. It's truly spoilt me.
Thursday, 24 May 2012
These tea bags were surprisingly sweet; I normally add sugar to "normal" tea, and had noted the recommendation to add sugar to this variety, but there was no need. The flavour was the only reasonable thing about these teabags. I had a pretty significant stomach upset from using these teabags; I assume its laxitive effect is what is meant to help you lose weight. I'd say that the amount of fluid I ended up losing was detrimental and I needed to drink extra water to be safe. I don't see it as having any positive effects on weight loss long term, and long term use is only ok for people who don't mind living with a permanently upset stomach. I wouldn't say that these teabags do any good at all, and would recommend the age old combination of eating less and moving more if you want to lose weight.
Wednesday, 23 May 2012
I have been using this with both a notebook computer which has its own inbuilt disc drive, and also with a netbook which of course comes without a disc drive. I used it to install some software onto the netbook and to watch and rip both CDs and DVDs onto both computers (neither of which are Samsung models). I haven't tried it with blu-ray discs so cannot comment on how well it works, if at all. I have just started to burn material onto blank CDs and DVDs, and I would thoroughly recommend using Nero Multimedia Suite 10 Platinum HD (PC)to facilitate this. The drive itself is thinner, lighter, sleeker and generally nicer than other models I have seen. It's quiet, quick and doesn't overheat. It looks great and I have had no problems with any aspect of its operation thus far.
Tuesday, 22 May 2012
Snap this up. A cause of both interest and then sadness was the fact that this is based on a true story. However, it is excellently written and brings light to the plight of child trafficking and shows the resilience of one particular child who escapes from Afghanistan to Italy via a few other countries. It is horrifying subject matter but it's not as dark and depressing to read as I might have imagined, and I am guessing that this is because there is a positive outcome for the child. It also conveys the other side of the immigration and asylum issue and as such gives plenty of food for thought. A truly compelling read. The meadow is first in its field. I found this book to be a gripping read because it conveyed the human side of conflict. We are all rather too aware of what happens during wars and what the impact is on people, but this book was a detailed journalistic account of their side of the story. I found it incredibly powerful reading and informative too. They do say that hindight is always 20/20... Cheers for The Chaperone. I already loved the synopsis of the book, but having the character based on the real Louise Brooks was the icing on the cake. It's so well written that I found myself genuinely engaged and interested, devouring this entire volume in a few hours' sitting. I love New York so it was great imagining being in the scenes set there. It was easy to imagine the people, the places and the era, without being out of the grasp of the modern reader. A perfect balance and a perfect read.
Monday, 21 May 2012
I've taken delivery of a Slendertone Face for women this weekend which I will be trialling and reviewing for Amazon's Vine programme. It apparently takes 12 weeks to see any difference, so I won't be reviewing it just yet, but I hope that using the radiance setting will improve my skintone. I'll also be trying the massage function for relaxation.
Sunday, 20 May 2012
I adore candles but having moved into a new, smaller room than before, I daren't risk them. So I was thrilled to come across these, and having read Amazon reviews for them, decided to give them a go. They are easy to use, and they're safe, long lasting and effective, as well as them not getting hot so you can handle them and move them around while they're on. My slight bugbears are that the glass scratches easily; I have had them less than a day and there is already a scratch on one of them. I also find the shade of orange they flicker, slightly unrealistic. But not enough not to recommend them to others. I plan to buy more.
Saturday, 19 May 2012
This rather minimalistic, space-age looking device is an alarm clock, FM radio and bedside lamp all rolled into one. It has been very well thought out. There are scroll buttons on the side for setting the timings and the intensities of both sound and light, and of course for choosing an FM radio station to listen to. The alarm sounds are varied and there is something for everyone, from your favourite radio station, through to a stimulating start courtesy of an African drum, wind chimes, beeps, and birdsong. At your pre-set time in the morning...or evening if you're that way inclined, your chosen sound begins to emit softly, growing louder gradually until you press snooze or deactivate the alarm. The light also comes on, having gradually also been building up a manner similar to sunlight. As a sufferer of seasonal affective disorder, winter is a time where due to lack of sunlight early in the morning, I'm often sluggish and lethargic and struggle to get out of bed; I really think that this will make a big difference to me when that dreaded time of year creeps in. You can use this device as a radio, playing constantly, and also as a bedside lamp; it goes up to a light intensity of 20, although I was happy with the level of light given at the 12 level. You can even choose three different brightness settings for the small LED time display on the front of the unit. Overall, a very useful and now essential piece of kit, although it is rather too plain looking for my liking. In fact, if I was to suggest any recommendation, other than wishing AM radio was available also, I'd love to be able to choose the colour, although then again, this would probably defeat the object of the light emissions, given that they're meant to resemble natural daylight.
Friday, 18 May 2012
I'd heard a lot about breadmakers recently and despite being tempted by a Panasonic breadmaker with fruit/nut dispensers I plumped for this model when given the chance to try it, and I have bought Karen Saunders' book; Breadmaker Bible as although this machine comes with a recipe book, I like to experiment. As an aside, I do thoroughly recommend the extra book, which is available on this very site. I have made a banana, chocolate and walnut loaf, a cinammon and raisin loaf, and a normal wholemeal loaf, all of which came out perfectly. I didn't know how well the ingredients (I mean the nuts, etc) would be distributed but it worked well and they were smattered throughout the loaves. It was easy to get the hang of how to use the machine, and also easy to take apart and clean relevant bits. I have not yet tried to make jam, but I look forward to giving it a go and seeing how this breadmaker makes jam. Much as a previous reviewer has said, it is heavy and large and does take up space, so be aware of this if you have limited storage/a small kitchen, and if you're only making ordinary loaves, then you would be fine with a cheaper option. It looks very classy and modern though and should match most kitchens.
Thursday, 17 May 2012
I bought this capo on the strength of the pre-existing review on the product page. I'm very happy to report it's a brilliant investment and although it's 3 times more expensive than many other capos you can find, it's worth it, especially if you use an expensive guitar, because it won't pull, catch on or snag any strings, scratch the neck of the guitar or be difficult to apply or remove and provides a professional appearance and sound augmentation. An essential piece of kit for any acoustic or electro-acoustic guitarist, and the best capo I've tried.
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
I've been using and wondering how I ever lived without for over a year. To be honest, as the difference in price between this version and that one is so negligable, I would probably still favour the older one. The thing with it is that it does everything and more, and may be a bit offputting to people whose needs are more basic, which is where this package excels. I know there are various free disc burning softwares available, but I would definitely say it's worth the money to buy Nero because it's reliable and does more than just facilitate the burning of discs. I have also learnt from experience that free downloads can often corrupt a computer and cause a lot of system damage so it really isn't worth it in the long run.
Tuesday, 15 May 2012
I discovered the Nars cosmetic range many years ago at Space NK and Harvey Nichols in London, and back then it was just as wonderful as it is now, but since I first started using the brand, they have expanded massively, adding a whole host of new colours. My current favourite items, which I wear on a regular basis are as follows: Powder blush in Orgasm, a peachy pink shade which flatters my pale skin and blonde hair.
Monday, 14 May 2012
At first, it was the kitsch, retro design of the bottle which attracted me, especially as purple is my favourite colour. I've been wearing Angel by Thierry Mugler for years, and it has undertones of chocolate. Well, Lola is my new number one perfume, with its gorgeous violet-like notes, and also some pink peppercorn, vanilla and rose scents to my untrained nose. It's powerful, sexy and feminine without being overpowering or nauseating. I bought the eau de parfum so it would last longer and I find that I can still smell it lightly at the end of the day when I get ready for bed. A little goes a long way.
Sunday, 13 May 2012
Chanel has long been my favourite brand for both perfume and cosmetics, so when I received an email offering me a free sample of one of their new lipgloss shades, I was straight in there! The lipgloss in question is the Levres Scintillantes Glossimer, which I have been wearing for years (shades 104 and 106 mainly). They have 4 new shades, with matching nail polishes, at the moment, and I sampled shade 166 - Amour. The sample itself is the cutest miniature I have ever received; a tiny 3g scaled down version of the full size product I have known and loved for so long. The shade itself is a peachy corally pink (not very technical here) and it's lovely. On my pale skin and set against my blonde hair, it's really flattering, adding a glow to my cheeks as well, maybe as a result of the glitter it contains sparkling and reflecting on my skin....but regardless of how or why, it just looks lovely. It's perfect for summer and I think it would look even more fantastic with a tan. Be warned though, it does highlight any need for tooth whitening, so I've attacked my gnashers with Pearl Drops in preparation for the next time I wear this gorgeous gloss.
Saturday, 12 May 2012
Having been put right into the mood for summer and of course reminded (as if I needed to be) of the possibilities of new gastronimical delights from M&S by this advert I was eager to pop instore to have a look (and a taste) for myself. As for the advert, I am usually loathe to listen to any covers of Beatles songs as, well, they're just not The Beatles! However, I couldn't not love both the recording of Gary Barlow's cover of Here Comes The Sun (even if there is a minor lyrical error in there!) and the advert itself...cheesy as it sounds, it actually brought a tear to my eye! A perennial favourite of mine are Muscat (sometimes also known as Muscat Rosada) grapes, which are an import from one of the most prominent wine-producing regions of the world, Chile. They're in season at the moment and I'm making the most of this fact, buying and eating them as much as I can!
Friday, 11 May 2012
With a keen interest in music journalism, and having read the NME on a regular basis during my teenage years, I found this book not only a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the magazine itself, ie how its staff behaved (or misbehaved) and how it was more a lifestyle than a job. It's a great introduction to the world of music journalism and what really went on, as well as of course a must-have for fans of NME as a publication. It also makes a change to have a book written by people who were actually there, and were a part of it, rather than a secondary or tertiary account from someone who merely wishes that they were.
Thursday, 10 May 2012
This book has come out at a great time, when the recent success of the film and the presence of Barack Obama as the first African-American president, which has been well written about in show the steady progress made against oppression since slavery. With this in mind, my first thought when reading the synopsis of this book was "Who in their right mind would voluntarily go back into slavery?" However, having devoured this book in a couple of hours due to the sheer power of its writing which totally captured my attention and my imagination, I really understood the characters. They were put across so well that they envoked the emotions they were intended to, ie I liked them when I was supposed to, and disliked them when I was meant to. I was impressed by, and appreciative of, the care and attention to detail, as it was clear that the author has done her research and this hard work has paid off as all the historical context helps shape the story and of course educates the reader. I learnt something from this novel and even though it IS a novel, I found it added a valuable layer to my knowledge of this period of American history.
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Much as Converse All Stars are the most popular and well known canvas shoes, I much prefer the Diesel Exposure trainers. They're incredibly comfortable and hard-wearing - definitely my favourite casual shoes for summer. They're your classic baseball shoe and they look great with jeans, capris, shorts or even with dresses for a preppy look, or for a slightly less brash take on the Lily Allen school of prom dress teamed with trainers. They don't sell these beauties in the stores any longer, so I tend to source them online and I'm about to order some fresh ones in time for this summer.
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
I was rather devoid of inspiration yesterday as I hunted for something to eat for lunch. I browsed the sandwich aisle in my local Sainsbury's and came face to face with the rather delicious sounding Jubilee Breakfast sandwich. Even better, it was available as part of the meal deal, so I decided to give it a try. The Jubilee Breakfast sandwich is touted as being: Eggs, smoked salmon, bucks fizz & lemon mayonnaise on oatmeal bread. It looks lovely and fresh with an appealing range of colours in its retro union jack adorned packaging. Of course, unless you've been living under a rock, you'll know that this year is the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, which is what this new sandwich creation is in honour of. It's a celebration of all things British.
Monday, 7 May 2012
With an interest in eventually writing and getting published, I decided to give this book a try. Having been on a day's course with the NUJ, I had that experience to compare the knowledge gleaned from this book with, although I found the price of longer courses a bit prohibitive at the moment. The author is successful in her own right, with more than 100 published titles. The aim of this book isn't to guarantee you commissions from editors or a multi-million pound publishing deal with one of the top houses, but it is definitely likely to get you further than you would without reading it. The reader is asked to consider the audience, consider the product they intend to sell, and consider its USP. The points could perhaps be conveyed more succinctly in places, but still I would say that there are several worthwhile points made and things I will be doing myself from now on as a direct result of reading this book.
Sunday, 6 May 2012
I absolutely love perfume, which is why I thought I'd enjoy this book. I'd love to learn more about the processes involved in creating a new fragrance. To be fair, there is a reasonable amount of information on all things olfactory, but then the book is overtaken by the "Personal story" promised in the title. For me, this was a bit too much, and didn't strike enough of a balance between what seemed to me to be a bit too much of an ego-trip for the author, and general information about how perfume is made, which was all I was really interested in.
Saturday, 5 May 2012
It goes without saying that music and politics influence eachother...one glaring example of this is the rise of the punk movement in the 1970s against the backdrop of an austere government and the Notting Hill riots of 1976. I chose this book partly because of the recommendation given by Keith Negus, a prominent author of Popular Music books (most notably which was really helpful to me during my time studying Popular Music at university. This book skirts around certain issues, I guess for fear of reprisal or ostracisation, and instead uses Bob Geldof as an example ad nauseum. I think the idea is a good one, and certainly there is a lack of books discussing the relationship between music and politics, but I felt this book didn't go in-depth enough and as such isn't as good as it could have been. As there are limited resources on this subject matter, though, I would recommend it nonetheless.
Friday, 4 May 2012
Before buying this disc, I was a bit wary of the negative reviews already published. Yet, when I came to watching it myself, I really enjoyed the film. The cast is stellar and it is well cast. Whilst fully aware that this is a movie and a dramatisation, it is also not so far removed from the truth, ie what would probably happen if we ever did find ourselves in the grip of a terrible outbreak, as it's based on the SARS/HN51 outbreak a couple of years ago and the mass hysteria and general panic of the global populace. My only criticism of the film is the somewhat abrupt ending which doesn't really give any conclusions.
Thursday, 3 May 2012
I find it rather difficult to find clothes which (A) I like and (B) which fit me as I am on the petite side. However, I tried this dress on in a regular size and found that for once the length was perfect on me. I absolutely love this dress which I bought from Next because the shape is so flattering and feminine. They've produced a few variations of this dress over the last few seasons and it's a classic shape. The pencil skirt is a very tight fit and I admit it isn't so easy to master the stairs whilst wearing it. However, it's a high quality fabric and can be worn both day and night. The price tag of £65 is, I think, great value for money because it's so well tailored. click here to buy this dress if you like it; it comes in regular, tall and petite sizes. You can also purchase the dress in an alternative pattern which I have not yet seen in store. It is also currently available in a brown felt-type material which you can see here I've had a few really lovely smart dresses from Next over the last couple of years, and they are definitely my go-to store for workwear.
I ordered this cable assuming it would provide a connection for all mediums of AV to be connected between my iPhone and TV, but unfortunately, it is seemingly unable to display photos. Having re-read the product description, I can see that it says nothing either way about the presence (or not) of this feature, but it disappointed me enough to knock a star off its rating; it is otherwise good although it doesn't appear to be able to deliver HD video to the TV screen either. Then again, comparing the price of this cable against that of the Apple one, it's a small niggle.
Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Despite being thin and compact, this deceptively sized carry case has more than enough room for your computer, its charger and all the other day to day bits and pieces you'd want to carry with you. I chose it because I already have a Wenger case for a larger laptop and thought my netbook deserved a decent mode of transport too. I wasn't disappointed. This is a high quality item, with a nice webbing texture from the cloth and it's not too heavy, unlike a cheaper one I'd used which left big red indents on my shoulders. Needless to say, it's also well padded and therefore able to protect your laptop from all manner of knocks and bumps. Highly recommended.
Tuesday, 1 May 2012
I chose this printer largely thanks to helpful reviews already posted on Amazon. It was a good £50 more expensive than the nearest model to it in terms of its functions but I am definitely glad I spent that extra money as it's proving to be well worth it. I was instantly surprised at just how heavy this machine is, but then again, it does have a lot of functions and as such components. I found it a little tricky figuring out just how to get A4 paper into it, but other than that, the installation and set-up process was painless and took no extra cables. However, although it was picked up on the home network immediately after being connected to our Wifi source and via the Network Magic software installed on the computers, I ended up having to install the drivers from the disc onto every single computer in the network to be able to use it with that computer, something I didn't have to do with the other main household printer, the I have printed a few test items and have been totally blown away by the quality, most notably of the photos and of the images I chose to print onto blank CD discs to make them a bit more personal. This is by far the best printer I have ever used and I would definitely recommend it over the cheaper but similar ones out there.