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The Handmade Soap Book (The Handmade Series)
The Handmade Soap Book (The Handmade Series)
by Melinda Coss
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Outdated - Buy her newer book instead, 30 July 2013
This book was published some time ago now, and all credit to the author for bringing the joys of handmade soap to a wider audience, but this book is now rather outdated. Most of the recipes contain a lot of lard or beef dripping, which is no good for vegetarians, and includes tips such as using wax crayons to colour soap. I appreciate at the time the book was written, supplies would not have been so easy to come by which is probably why she uses these kind of ingredients - there just wasn't much better available to the home soapmaker. These days however, there are many soapmaking/cosmetic suppliers online where you can buy a wealth of lovely cosmetic-grade ingredients.

Melinda Coss has since published another soapmaking book - Natural Soap Please buy that one instead! I'm not sure why people are still buying this book when her new one is tons better, she says herself she has improved her techniques in the new book and the recipes are generally much nicer, plus all info is more accurate and up to date.


Make your own soap (2nd Edition): A full-colour, step-by-step, photographic guide to making soap.
Make your own soap (2nd Edition): A full-colour, step-by-step, photographic guide to making soap.
by Joy James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to soapmaking, 22 Mar. 2013
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A small book but a nice intro to making your own soap from scratch. Contains 11 different recipes with lovely photos of each soap, plus step-by-step photos of the home soapmaking process. It states in the start that it's intended for beginners, so it doesn't go into depth on things like fragrancing and colouring the soap, but I think that's a good thing as otherwise it would get too confusing for someone who's new to soapmaking.

I think this book has been expanded quite a bit since its first edition, which the earlier reviews are referring to. I'm not new to soapmaking so I just bought this out of curiosity, but I'd probably give this book to someone looking to start soaping. My only minor criticism is that some of the recipes contain ingredients that are on the expensive side or not so widely available, eg cupuacu butter, or Argan oil which is pretty costly. It also doesn't make clear what size of mould to use for the recipes, although the author does suggest using a 1.5 litre Really Useful Box in the Equipment section.

Overall though, a nice clearly written beginner's book on soapmaking, and I think fairly good value for money now it's been updated and expanded.


Make Your Own Perfume
Make Your Own Perfume
by Sally Hornsey
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I was hoping for, 31 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Make Your Own Perfume (Paperback)
This book covers blending your own fragrances using cosmetic fragrance oils (and a few essential oils). I have to say I found it very basic. While of course I was not expecting one book to teach me how to be a perfumer, I was hoping for a bit more insight into how real perfumes are actually created, and learn a bit more about blending fragrances than I've gleaned so far from aromatherapy books. However I didn't find that in this book. I wasn't keen on just following ready-made recipes, I wanted to create my own scent blends which is what I bought the book for. Halfway through it does get to advice on creating your own blends, but I didn't find the method that successful myself, ending up with some not-very-nice smelling blends. And I did use oils from the suppliers listed at the end of the book (having previously got some oils from ebay, that smelled horrid.) When the book suggests that you will be able to create your own 'gorgeous signature scents', this was a bit of a disappointment!

It would have been nice if there was a bit more emphasis on the use of essential oils alongside synthetic fragrance oils, the book does touch on the use of some essential oils, but tends to recommend the use of synthetic fragrances instead, giving the impression that they smell exactly the same as the real thing, but they don't.

I would also emphasise from what I've experienced, that oils from different suppliers won't necessarily be the same, so even if you follow the given formulas, you may end up with a slightly different smelling result than intended. A 'green tea' fragrance oil from one supplier probably won't smell the same as a 'green tea' oil from another. This doesn't matter as long as the finished blend comes out smelling good, but while some fragrance oils smell lovely, poorer quality ones can smell highly synthetic and reminiscent of cheap bubblegum or washing powder! As I've found to my cost!

If you want some 'recipes' for combinations of ready-made fragrance oils, and to perhaps just have a bit of fun coming up with your own perfume name, description & label etc for your blend then you'll probably enjoy this book. It would be ideal to use for a fun project with children or teenagers. Not for anyone looking for an introduction or insight into more professional perfumery.


Andrew James Precision Oven Thermometer Hang Or Stand On Oven Shelves
Andrew James Precision Oven Thermometer Hang Or Stand On Oven Shelves
Offered by Andrew James UK LTD
Price: £4.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confused!, 23 Aug. 2012
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This thermometer seems to work ok in that it produced a fairly consistent temperature reading the few times I used it. It gauges my oven temp as much lower (about 20 degrees cooler) than the numbers on the oven dial, even though it's a fan oven, yet when I turned the oven up to get it to the required temperature it seemed too hot - the food browned too much on top. So either the thermometer is not correct, or I have got used to cooking at lower temperatures! So I still don't really know if my oven temperatures are wrong or right - I've just gone back to my usual method of judging how the food's cooking by eye! I suspect it is as much the fault of the oven as the thermometer, as it does seem to be much hotter in some parts than in others, which may make it difficult to get an accurate reading.

It's slightly annoying that it seems to take a really long time for the gauge to get up to temperature, which means leaving the oven on much longer than usual before cooking.

Very cheap price though and delivered very quickly by the seller.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2012 8:26 AM BST


Iron Fist Women's Filthy Landlubber Platforms Heels
Iron Fist Women's Filthy Landlubber Platforms Heels
Price: £38.95 - £64.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous shoes but order next size up, 23 Aug. 2012
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Lovely shoes, well made although they're not leather so I probably wouldn't pay the full RRP personally. The design with skull print is fun and a bit different! They are quite high, although very comfortable, but I don't normally wear heels so haven't got used to them yet, they are maybe a little too high for me...but if you do normally wear heels there shouldn't be a problem! The picture doesn't really do them justice, they look gorgeous on, very sexy!

Before ordering these, I read a few reviews mentioning that the sizing of Iron Fist shoes & clothing is on the small side. I normally wear size 6 shoes, but decided to order these in size 7. I'm glad I did as a 6 would have been much too small, the size 7 fits just right. I would definatly order a size bigger than you normally wear. They are a little narrow fitting especially around the toes, so might be a bit of a squeeze for wider feet.


Bambino Mio Cotton Nappy, Print (Newborn >5kg)
Bambino Mio Cotton Nappy, Print (Newborn >5kg)
Price: £6.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Much better cloth nappies out there..., 6 July 2012
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Bambino Mio seem to be very popular due to good marketing, but having tried a few different types of reusable nappy alongside this one, I don't rate them highly. They are also quite expensive compared to other brands of prefold nappy. They're not the most leak-proof or absorbant, or even the easiest to use. I much preferred the type of nappy that fastens around baby's waist inside the wrap (cover), this is just a piece of slightly padded material that you fold into thirds (rectangle shape) and it sits loose inside the wrap - so more chance of leaks, and I imagine on a crawling baby there's a risk of it slipping/moving about. I preferred folding it in such a way that I could fasten the sides around baby's waist using a nappy nippa, but now she's 2 months old the nappies are a bit small for this and not absorbant enough.

The wrap is very cute (I got a multi-coloured stars design), but I found the velcro strip & tabs on the front quite large and stiff and I thought it looked quite uncomfortable next to my newborn baby's tummy - I have other brands of wrap which are much softer.

I wouldn't recommend these to be honest - cloth nappies have moved on a lot in the last few years, and there's much better options available. I only use my Bambino mio's as spares if all the other nappies are in the wash, but they are handy as changing mat covers! Personally I would only consider using prefold nappies such as these for the first few weeks, until baby's grown into the bigger (and more absorbant) 2-part or one-size nappy types. But I wouldn't buy Bambino Mio again, they're far too expensive!! Go for a cheaper brand if you must use prefolds! Perhaps check out The Nappy Lady's website for advice.


Iron Fist Maggie Haggis Angle Zip Women's Jumper
Iron Fist Maggie Haggis Angle Zip Women's Jumper

4.0 out of 5 stars Slim fitting, 6 July 2012
A nice hoodie, it is a slimmish fit though - I'm normally a small (size 10), but I went for the medium after reading some reviews about other Iron Fist clothing saying their sizing's slightly on the small side. It's a comfortable fit, I think the Small would have been tight on me, especially as I have big boobs!

It has zips on the cuffs which I don't think you can see in the photo, and I love the tartan lining inside the hood. Also like that it's a slightly longer length. It's soft and comfortable. I didn't actually buy mine from amazon; I got it on sale elsewhere, I don't think I would have paid full price for it, it's only a hoodie after all!


Managing PCOS for Dummies
Managing PCOS for Dummies
by Gaynor Bussell RD
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.18

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth buying if you have PCOS, 27 Sept. 2011
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I'd never read any of the Dummies books before so was a little unsure about getting this one, however I found it to be excellent - I really like the style, it's very matter of fact and straightforward, gets all the key information across in an easy-to-grasp way, and is easy to dip in and out of. Despite being diagnosed with PCOS 3 years ago, I knew very little about the condition as my GP offered very little information and no advice other than to take the pill. I highly recommend this book if you or someone you know has recently been diagnosed, or want to know more about PCOS and how to manage it. It was good to read some information and advice on living with PCOS, and the book has quite a positive tone, the emphasis is all on how you can manage the condition and take control, rather than feeling unable to do anything about it!

The focus of the book is on managing PCOS by following a low-GI diet, plus getting regular exercise. The author is encouraging rather than 'preachy' about diet and exercise. Lots of recipes are included, and don't worry if your cooking skills aren't up to much, they're all very easy and use ordinary ingredients. As I'm vegetarian I also appreciated that lots of the recipes were veggie, or had tips on how to adapt them to make them suitable for veggies. Some of the recipes were a little simple for me though, lots of things like stirfries and other one-pot dishes which I wouldn't normally bother using a recipe for, but most of those I've tried I liked. However lots of the recipes given were not that different to the food I already cook, hence why they seem a bit basic to me. I did follow the GI diet tips given, and made sure I had lots of healthy snacks and fruit, something I didn't eat a lot of before. I also made an effort to get more exercise, and although I'm lucky and am not overweight, I felt the benefits of following the advice given in the book and my mood swings disappeared which was a real blessing.

Some unbiased information on alternative/herbal remedies is also included. Overall I found this book extremely helpful (I also bought another book on PCOS - The Low GI Guide to managing PCOS - but didn't like it nearly as much. I much prefer the Dummies book and it's the one I always refer to as I find it more comprehensive and better laid out.)


Self-sufficiency Soapmaking
Self-sufficiency Soapmaking
by Sarah Ade
Edition: Paperback

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make your own lovely soap!, 12 Dec. 2009
I already own a couple of soap-making books, and have had a few goes at making my own soap. I wish I'd had this little book from the start though, as it explains the chemistry and processes of soapmaking very simply but comprehensively.

There's lots of lovely recipes to try, with detailed but clear instructions, and the emphasis firmly on natural ingredients. As well as the traditional cold-process method, it also covers how to make translucent and liquid soaps. A few of the recipes use some very expensive essential oils, such as jasmine and neroli - personally I think these are far too costly to use in soap and would substitute them with something cheaper myself! However there are plenty of less extravagant recipes, and also recipes for shampoo bars, shaving soap and even a soap for washing dogs! I learnt some new things from this book and the recipes look a bit more interesting than some in my other books, for example it explains how to make herbal infusions to use in your soap, instead of always using plain water, and how to make milk soaps.

It's a slight pity that all of the soap recipes contain palm oil, which is a rather controversial ingredient (due to rainforests being cleared to grow palm plantations). The author does stress to only use ethically produced palm oil, still it would have been nice to have a few palm-free recipes included.

Overall though I thought this book really good value for money, and surprisingly informative - I must say I only bought it as I came across it at a very cheap price, and I wasn't expecting such a small book with no photos to be that useful or interesting, but I was pleasantly surprised!

If you're wanting to try making your own soaps, I think this book would be an excellent place to start.


Neal's Yard Remedies Natural Health and Body Care
Neal's Yard Remedies Natural Health and Body Care
by Romy Fraser
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point for anyone interested in holistic skincare and aromatherapy, 8 Jan. 2009
An attractive hardcover book, very well presented and laid out with colour photographs throughout. Despite the title it concentrates much more on body, skin and hair care than overall natural health. There is a short section at the beginning on holistic healthcare, with advice on food, a detox diet, vitamin and mineral chart, and a few t'ai chi type exercises to follow. However most of the book is dedicated to natural skin/hair care and essential oils.

There are quite a few easy-to-follow recipes to create your own cosmetics (plus herbal infusions/tinctures), eg mandarin lip balm, rose and almond hand cream, lavender and lemon moisturiser; I definatly intend trying quite a few of these! There is a brief section, with recipe, for making soap, but I think anyone wanting to make their own soap would be much better off with a proper soap-making book.

The book also contains a glossary on 42 essential oils, with their therapeutic properties and suggestions for use. (For some reason this isn't placed in alphabetical order, which is a bit annoying when you're trying to quickly look up a particular oil!) There is also a glossary of cosmetic ingredients, if you're interested to know what's in your shampoo or face cream! Plus a glossary giving a brief description of the different alternative therapies.

From what I can gather, it seems this book is something of a compiliation of Neal's Yard's previous publications.

A great book (would make a lovely gift) for anyone who's interested in essential oils and how to use them, interested in having a go at making their own skin and haircare products, or is a fan of Neal's Yard! I would say it's not comprehensive enough for people who already make their own products and are looking for more recipes, or have in-depth knowledge of aromatherapy - more of a 'beginner's book' for people who are just starting out in this area, or have limited knowledge and want a good, basic reference book. I'm very pleased with it as I wanted to learn more about essential oils, and was also looking for a starting point for making my own skincare products, and for these two things it's perfect.
I took off a star as it's not quite as comprehensive as it could be, and some might find the title a little misleading, as it is really about natural beauty and aromatherapy rather than natural health.


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