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Beurer KS54 Stainless Steel Bowl Kitchen Scales
Beurer KS54 Stainless Steel Bowl Kitchen Scales
Price: £27.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential for your baking emporium!, 29 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Really impressed with these Beurer kitchen scales, which consist of a good quality lightweight stainless steel bowl and base. The underside of the base is a bit plasticky but you only see that when changing the batteries, so not really that much of an issue for me. There's a disconcertingly loud beep when you switch the scales on, but the display is lovely and clear and very easy to read. The units can be switched between oz and grams - apparently you can weigh up to 5kg which seems a huge amount, with increments of 1g, which is fine for most domestic situations (though maybe not a home meth lab!). The measurement settles quickly and is stable. I compared these with an existing pair of Salter scales and found them to be spot on (my iphone is 130g in case you are interested :-P).

There is an inbuilt timer which is quite a clever idea, and a thermometer/temperature gauge, which is perhaps not quite so useful. I particularly liked the fact that whilst the bowl has a decent capacity (1.5 litres) it has been achieved with a wide and shallow shape rather than height, as this makes it easier to weigh out messy things like flour and icing sugar without missing the bowl. It also makes the scales slightly easier to store if you don't have very deep shelves or cupboards.

In summary, nicely made, simple to use and good value. Recommended


Hallmark Large Square Dad Contemporary 3D Lettering Birthday Card
Hallmark Large Square Dad Contemporary 3D Lettering Birthday Card
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Well designed birthday card., 17 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This popped up on Vine just in time for Dad's birthday. Serendipitous indeed. It's a large card, textured on the front with DAD attached in separate brightly coloured foil 3D lettering. Some multi coloured stars complete the jolly effect and the pleasing turquoise paper insert contains a simple and very non cheesy message. A large plain white envelope completes the package and matches the general quality feel of the card. All in all a very nicely designed product and one I'll feel happy sending.


Tefal FV4040 Ultraglide Steam Iron, 2400 W
Tefal FV4040 Ultraglide Steam Iron, 2400 W
Price: £39.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Everyday task made simple, 17 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Clearly this is a functional item and one shouldn't go too overboard on such things since they serve a purpose when carrying out what is a pretty mundane task. Isn't it nice however when the tool for the job does exactly what you want, how you want and in an effective way with the minimal of fuss?! As such, the Tefal Ultraglide FV4040 2400W is pretty much all you could wish for in an iron.

My old iron was about 10 years old. It had and did everything it was supposed to and it did so very effectively. Everything about the Tefal though is just that little bit better. In terms of practicalities, the soleplate is perfectly sized, glides smoothly and (allegedly) has excellent scratch resistance. The cord is extra long (3m) which avoids any unnecessary messing around with the position of the ironing board. The auto stop feature is something that should never be needed, however it is somewhat reassuring to know that modern technology is taking any unwanted excitement out of this particular process! The steam diffusion seems about perfect and the spray function works well. In terms of putting the iron out of the way for a few seconds, the cleverly rotating cord attachment and the stable heel rest are also small details that improve usability. Throw in the easy fill and vertical steam features and you have a very impressive and functional device to ease your way through what can at best be described as an evil but necessary chore.

I dithered between 4 and 5 stars for this item as I have also tested an excellent Philips iron through the Vine scheme which got a 5 star rating, and that model is my personal favourite, but my brother assures me this Tefal is absolutely brilliant at shirts so told me to give it 5 stars too. Done and done!


Esse Marcasite Sterling Silver Black Spinel and Marcasite Victorian Style Drop Earrings
Esse Marcasite Sterling Silver Black Spinel and Marcasite Victorian Style Drop Earrings
Price: £37.60

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dangly Delectables!, 12 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
These are very pretty earrings in the Victorian style, made from sterling silver with marcasites and black spinels. The scale is nice, a small drop of around 4cm, which would work well for either day or evening. Good quality workmanship - the earrings look well-finished and hang nicely with articulation all the way down the drop. The tear-shaped bottom section is hallmarked on the back. The earrings have post and butterfly fittings; however, the butterflies don't click or lock into place, which means they are not as secure as they could be. A leather effect box with gold edging and a black velvet interior is supplied - basically the type you get with shopping channel jewellery.

My main concern is, that pretty as these are, they are not massively on trend at the moment as the vogue for antique jewellery, whether real or reproduction, is more about art deco geometric designs and retro era bling by way of ear climbers and rose gold. If you are buying for yourself I don't think you will be disappointed with the look or quality of these. If you are a guy buying these unsolicited as a present I'd suggest maybe looking for something either more Cartier-esque or cutting edge.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2015 10:17 AM BST


Cakeology: Over 20 Sensational Step-By-Step Cake Decorating Projects
Cakeology: Over 20 Sensational Step-By-Step Cake Decorating Projects
by Juliet Sear
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Inspiring., 12 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Fabulous book full of amazing-looking cakes. The difficulty varies from relatively easy (individual mini chocolate squares piped with a single letter so you can spell out a message, and salt caramel fairy cakes with fondant shells on top) to more advanced (a trainer cake complete with tangled fondant laces, and an intricate cupcake bouquet). There were some really original ideas that I'd not seen anywhere before - a gorgeous piñata cake filled with sweeties and covered with ribbons of rainbow coloured buttercream, a Mexican day of the dead skull cake, easier than its sounds, baked from a commercial mould and decorated with coloured fondant cut-outs, a hand-painted chinese vase, an elegant Wedgewood-style white wedding cake with scroll-work icing, a rodeo inspired cake with pinto pattern and cow horns on top, and even a burger cake complete with sesame seed bun!

Lots of practical tips from the author on kit (spray guns and hacksaws needed for some of the more complicated cakes), a really comprehensive guide to the amounts of batter needed for the different sizes and shapes of cake you will be making, use of dowels to build tiered cakes, step by step photo guides to making sugar flowers, info on splitting and filling cakes, a list of suppliers, recipes for different icing types, and of course recipes for the cakes themselves, from vanilla sponge and chocolate brownies to classic fruit cake. As you would expect really - the author does after all run her own bakery.

I would say that even if you don't feel confident enough to tackle some of the cakes in this book it's a brilliant source of ideas to get you started at your own comfort level. For example, the use of iced cookies to decorate cakes - who could not do that with shop-bought cookies? Or, if you start practising now you might even be proficient enough to make the genius Christmas jumper cookies in time to use them on your own Christmas cake this winter :-)


Free from Desserts: Pies, Puddings & Ice Creams All Without Dairy, Wheat and Gluten
Free from Desserts: Pies, Puddings & Ice Creams All Without Dairy, Wheat and Gluten
by Julia Thomas
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuous Yumminess!, 11 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I ordered 'Free from Desserts' so I could cook for a friend who is dairy intolerant - however a quick flick through reveals this to be an absolutely gorgeous book full of enticing recipes that would appeal to anyone - not just those on a restricted diet.

Coconut milk, cream and butter largely replace traditional cows milk and dairy products to great effect so that you can still enjoy espresso and hazelnut baked cheesecake, Scottish chocolate cranachan, gingerbread soufflés, nutmeg and vanilla custard tarts with strawberry and balsamic compote, blackcurrant sorbet mint shortbread sandwiches, lemon custard gelato, blueberry and vanilla trifles, banana toffee meringues, gooseberry ginger and elderflower cheesecake and a whole host of other goodies. There's also a chapter on creams and sauces so you can have a diary free crème patisserie, or butterscotch sauce, plus a guide to making gluten free pastry, so you can enjoy treacle tart and tarte tatin to your hearts content.

The pictures are really lovely - there isn't one of every recipe and normally that would mean I'd take a star off, but I think its such a feat to produce an attractive cookery book with so many restricted ingredients that I'm not going to penalise the author this time.


Eylure Strip Lashes No.100 (Volume)
Eylure Strip Lashes No.100 (Volume)
Price: £5.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty lashes, difficult to apply for a beginner, 11 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'd already tried a pair of the Eylure 'Natural' lashes before ordering these ' Volume No 100', and was thus quite excited to see what the fuller falsies looked like. There were a number of differences between these and the Natural lashes - firstly I had to trim the Volume pair down (which I hadn't had to so with the Naturals) as they were too long, and the outer edge in particular looked very thick and spidery when on the eye. Secondly, this Volume set didn't have the little grey clamp-come-tweezers that came supplied with the Natural lashes, and that did make application harder. The packaging is the same, with tiny pictures on the back by way of application instructions - too small to read so you will need to go to the Eylure website for tips, or better still watch a tutorial on Youtube from one of the beauty bloggers which will take you through step by step.

I will be honest and say that I had a really hard time getting a good fit with these - if I managed to get the outer edge positioned correctly the inner edge came off, and vice versa. I did wonder if the shape of my eyes was just not suited to the shape of these lashes - the band is quite curved and it was hard to tease it into the straighter line needed for my eyes. Also the glue didn't seem terribly sticky, even following the intstructions to leave it till it got tacky and not attempt to apply the lash straight away. These Volume lashes actually felt quite heavy and caused me to blink a lot - wheras when I had the Naturals on I couldn't tell they were there.

So in summary these are a very pretty lash that will give you a full look (if that's what you are after) but not particularly easy to position in my experience, and if you are not used to using false lashes you would probably be better off going for the Naturals to start with.


Marmalade: A Bittersweet Cookbook
Marmalade: A Bittersweet Cookbook
by Sarah Randell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

5.0 out of 5 stars You've been Tangoed!, 7 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Preserving has become all trendy and must-do again (much like baking, dressmaking, knitting and recycling old tat) leading to a plethora of books telling you how to make jams, jellies, pickles and smoked things. However this is the first book I've seen that gives you a really decent list of recipes that you can actually use your newly made preserves in. Why did no-one think of this before?

'Marmalade' starts with lots of jammy variants for you to try, like Sicilian lemon, blood orange and vanilla, and the standard Seville, then progresses to sweet and savoury dishes that can be cooked with your preserves. Some that tickled my fancy were marmalade and amagnac bread and butter pudding, marmalade Chelsea buns, jerked pork with marmalade, and sticky carrots with marmalade, cider vinegar and bay.

There's all the usual info on how to sterilize your jars and store your preserves, nice little touches like labels to download, and even hints and tips that break the mould - first time I've seen anyone say you don't need wax discs if you have the locking kilner type jars - I've been saying this for years!! All in all a great book.


The Rough Guide to Digital Photography
The Rough Guide to Digital Photography
by Sophie Goldsworthy
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive., 7 July 2015
This is a really great little book that covers just about every aspect of digital photography you could think of - camera types, lenses, tripods, filters, memory cards, technical terminology, tables summarising settings like shutter speed and aperture pairings, composition tips, genres and influential photographers, processing software, printing, photo hosting sites and apps. True, from the perspective of 2015 some of the software and app recommendations will be out of date, but there's so much useful info in this little volume that I'm not surprised it's still in print unedited. Lots of gorgeous photos to inspire you and illustrate the topic in question, plus quicktips dotted throughout the book in coloured panels.

I was pleased to see that the technical aspects and practical tips (depth of field, freezing motion, using layers, colour balance etc) got at least as much airtime as composition - I think the latter is what makes your photos unique and can only be taught to a certain extent anyway, so why so many books spend pages banging on about the rule of thirds and trying to turn art into science I really don't know. Use this book to educate and inspire yourself - then go out and do your own thing!


Philips S9041/12 9000 Series Wet and Dry Shaver with SmartClick Precision Trimmer
Philips S9041/12 9000 Series Wet and Dry Shaver with SmartClick Precision Trimmer
Offered by Discount-Select
Price: £239.00

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hairs breadth from perfection., 6 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've been through a few shavers as part of the Vine programme with some mixed results. The Philips 9000 series is top of their range and commands a hefty price tag, but does the result justify the investment?

This model comes with a nice travel pouch and beard trimming attachment, but not the smart clean system (although this can be purchased separately). It charges from flat to full in around an hour, but for those days where you've forgotten to plug it in you can get a full shave from a three minute charge. This is a brilliant feature, and one I can see being invaluable to people on the move. In the time it takes you to shower you can get enough charge to do the job.

The unit uses a smart click system so changing the attachments is terribly simple. A pull on the shaving head detaches it cleanly, then the trimmer clicks into place with an easy push and is ready to go. Although light enough to make moving it around your face effortless, it has a quality feel. I had no concerns that it would break in normal use. The charging indicator is clear and a three second push on the start button enables the lock feature so it won't accidentally spring into action in your luggage.

So how does it do in use? Not bad at all. I've never had an electric shaver I was happy with. I understand that for best results you should persevere for a month to allow your skin and facial hair to adjust, but to me that's always seemed like a waste of time when my manual shaver does such a good job so quickly. To be honest I wasn't happy with the dry shave results; the Philps had trouble with quite a few spots and my skin felt a little sore. Wet shaving was much better though. The heads really seemed to hug the skin and clear away a lot of stubble with each pass. Around the mouth and nose it coped well with all the difficult bits. and even on my neck, always my trickiest spot, it did well, leaving a clean result with little irritation. All in all a really decent job. A quick change of heads and the trimming attachment squared up my side burns leaving a nice neat finish. Hopefully with continued use it will do an even better job as my skin adjusts - I'll revisit this review in a month with further thoughts.

I have some minor quibbles. The travel pouch is nice but ideally I would expect it to be big enough to hold the charger and the trimmer attachment too - alas I couldn't get it to shut with even just the trimmer. When travelling it's these small things can make all the difference. Overall though I was very impressed, it's expensive - expensive enough to stop me giving it the full five stars - but it does a good enough job that even a dedicated manual shaver like me was happy with the results.


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