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Hunter Sza

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Sarah Beeny's 100 DIY Jobs
Sarah Beeny's 100 DIY Jobs
by Sarah Beeny
Edition: Hardcover

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I would definitely recommend it, but only to the appropriate audience, 28 April 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First of all, yes, the jobs that this book covers are all fairly basic, such as hanging a shelf or a mirror, unblocking a toilet or stripping old wallpaper and pasting up some more. So, if you're already a competent DIYer, then this book is in no way intended for you. The target audience is the modern generation who were never shown how to do any of this stuff, and to this end I believe it actually succeeds surprisingly well...

Why? Well, my step dad (who was army-trained and therefore very good at DIY) used to say that DIY is all about having the confidence to give things a go yourself. Because this book sticks to 100 common and basic jobs, if followed over time (a job here, another one there) it will most likely start to develop that confidence in the reader, the confidence to take on bigger jobs, which, as I understand it, is exactly what Sarah Beeny intended. And although the jobs included are basic, there are still some in there that would no doubt make you feel proud of yourself, jobs that are not THAT basic, such as laying down laminate flooring or building your very own alcove cupboards, from scratch, all of which would help to build that confidence that I'm talking about. In contrast to that, the book also gives advice on how to assemble flat-pack furniture! It doesn't get more basic than that, but like I say if no-one has ever shown you this stuff how else are you expected to know? There is also a nice section at the beginning discussing the tools that the average homeowner would do well to own, and tips on how to use them so as to make your DIY jobs as hassle-free as possible.

I have several other DIY books myself already (one by B&Q and another by Reader's Digest). Both are huge, thick things that I would only ever use as reference for specific jobs, not to actually learn from and gain confidence. This is because, although far greater in scope, covering electrics and plumbing for example, their style is also rather heavy, formulaic and off-putting. To be honest, I find those books daunting more than anything. They don't get much use. If pushed to recommend a book to someone who knows almost nothing about DIY but would like to change that, Sarah's is the one that I would recommend. Consider it a stepping stone to bigger things.

All in, when you consider that you can supplement this book by seeking out Youtube videos for specific jobs, I think this offering from Sarah could take you surprisingly far. You could, of course, just look up Youtube videos without this book, but as I'm sure you know it can be a chore in itself trying to find a decent vid. I would still say it's worth owning Sarah's book if you're a homeowner, and simply use Youtube as another reference so that you can see the job being done.

While we're on the subject of visuals, regarding style, it would have been nice to see some colour pictures in this book, a slightly brighter, fresher approach. Instead we are given clear, albeit slightly uninspiring drawings, and the pages are a trendy dove-grey, not white. And the writing style, while also clear, is fairly brief. Personally, I'm quite happy with a slightly more chatty style as I find it reassuring, and I would've simply preferred that bright, fresh, colourful approach, but that's just me. For these reasons, and because it's currently a tad expensive (what has happened to book prices in recent years?!), I'm knocking off a star. A book can only every really be a five-star knockout if it's also a bargain!

Summary: if you're a homeowner, whether male of female (males may have to swallow their pride), and no-one ever showed you how to do DIY (and you can stomach the price tag), then yes, I would recommend this book to you, even if it spends much of its time on the shelf (you're bound to get use out of it here and there, over the years). A reasonably attractive book, it'd also make a pretty good gift for new homeowners in this position.

P.S. I have my suspicions that some Vine reviewers neg my reviews in order to try to enhance their own rankings. Sad but seemingly true. If this review gets off to a negative start (and it probably will do) with more negative votes than positives, please take that into consideration. It may not necessarily be a reflection of the review but attempted sabotage!

Bexsimon Cast Iron Kitchen Roll Holder, Black
Bexsimon Cast Iron Kitchen Roll Holder, Black

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh, 28 Dec. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's quite a nice item, solid and stable, and does its job of holding kitchen-roll. It's main selling-point, however, seems to be that it's oh-so-stylish. On that note, although it is indeed reasonably smart-looking, and comes in a fancy box (perhaps making it a nice gift-item), to my mind it's nothing amazing or anything, just a bit of curvy metal with nothing about it particularly pretty.

If you really like it, dear reader, and it goes well in your kitchen (or the kitchen of your intended recipient), and you have the money to spare, then it may be just what you're looking for. Without meaning to be unhelpful, I guess in summary it's just one of those items where it all comes down to a question of personal taste: do you WANT it... or not?

BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One (Black Cotton, Mix)
BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One (Black Cotton, Mix)

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs Up, Apparently, 17 Oct. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My sister currently has a two-year-old and a six-month-old. Since she's perfectly positioned to review this product, I gave it to her to see what she makes of it. So, over to her...

"I found this product very easy to use and very comfortable for both baby and me. The clips and straps are very well designed. I'm not sure it's worth £120 though so for that reason I have only given it 4 starts out of 5."

Clearly, with two little kids, she didn't have time for the most comprehensive of reviews! Nonetheless, this carrier appears to have ticked all the right boxes with exactly the right target audience in terms of functionality, if not price.

For my part, I think her comment regarding the price is a fair one. Although it's well made and well designed, there doesn't seem to be anything to it that would fully justify the price tag. With that said, I think it's more the case that you're paying for a reliable brand, which may be of value in and of itself. Indeed, when I first gave this to my sister, she informed me that "Baby Bjorn are the best ones", so their reputation precedes them.

All in, if you want a comfy, functional carrier with numerous positions to slot the kids into, one that you'll probably get several years of use out of, you may well have found it. My sis was certainly pleased with hers. Hope this helps, everybody.

Edit: Some people have apparently found this review unhelpful, but I do not understand why. I'm not entirely sure what else I can tell people other than that the product is comfy, well-designed, does the job it's designed to do, and comes from a reliable manufacturer. If you do not appreciate my efforts to help you, please can you leave a comment instead of voting negatively. That way, I might actually be able to address your concerns about the product. Thank you.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2013 12:14 PM GMT

Philips Shaver Series 7000, Wet and Dry Shaver RQ1195/17 with Click-On Beard Trimmer
Philips Shaver Series 7000, Wet and Dry Shaver RQ1195/17 with Click-On Beard Trimmer
Offered by BuSell
Price: £149.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I want to like it more than I actually do, 6 Aug. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Generally speaking, I like Philips. They seem to have a good design team at the mo', putting a little extra thought and effort into their products, seemingly with the worthwhile aim of prioritizing user-friendliness. With that said, my personal reaction is that they haven't quite hit the nail on the head with this particular shaver...

The razor itself is well designed for sure, and has some nice added touches such as the beard trimmer and the ability to be washed and used for a wet shave. Ironically, however, I feel that it is these water-related features that indirectly let the product down...

You see, when it's time for a recharge, you sit the shaver into its little docking station, and then plug the docking station into the plug socket. That way, the shaver itself doesn't need to have any exposed electrical openings (unlike the docking station) and thus remains watertight. (At least, I assume this is the whole point behind the docking station, otherwise I don't get it at all.) This docking station, however, causes a few problems...

Firstly, it means that you have to have the station sitting around all the time, which could easily be a space issue (as in clutter) for a lot of people. It would be so much easier to be able to bang the shaver directly into any socket you want whenever a recharge is required. Second, a more minor point, there isn't enough room in the provided carry pouch for both the razor and the charger. Since you'll need the charger because it's the only way of charging the unit, you'll have to figure out alternative storage arrangements if you're planning on taking it on holiday, which of course rather undermines the whole point of including that nice, soft pouch in the box! Third, and what could be the biggest problem, the charger is a little on the plastic-y side: if you break it, which would be likely if dropped, you won't be able to charge your shaver any more! (Philips may well offer replacements, I don't know, but that's not the point.)

All in, although it's a nicely designed main unit, at the time of writing the price is set at approximately £200, which simply seems too high for what you get for the money, especially considering the above docking station issues. If it were £100 cheaper, it might get a solid 4 stars from me. For the moment though, it is with reluctance going to have to be 3.

Omron RS6 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor
Omron RS6 Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor
Price: £59.66

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seems good to me, 3 Aug. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
According to the website of Blood Pressure UK (a charity devoted to the general lowering of the nation's blood pressure), a blood-pressure monitor for home use needs to be, A, clinically validated and, B, able to be recalibrated if needed (perhaps every few years or so to make sure that the unit is functioning properly). This unit is indeed clinically validated, but I didn't know how to recalibrate it, or if it were even possible, and so I emailed Omron directly. Their reply was prompt and courteous. They told me that, to recalibrate, if desired, you take your monitor to your GP and simply ask to compare yours to theirs to make sure it's working properly. If it isn't, you can send it back to Omron and they'll sort it out, but you may have to pay for the service (if you do, it's about £30). So, as this model is clinically validated and able to be recalibrated, it seems to tick the right boxes as far as the advice I read on the blood-pressure website.

As for the unit itself, well, I'm no expert but there doesn't seem to be much to say. It's small, very quiet (almost silent), easy to use, and tells you your current pulse and, of course, your blood-pressure, accurately I presume, due to the aforementioned clinical validation. So, if that's what you're looking for, I guess you've found it ; )

If you do decide to go for this monitor, one thing to bear in mind is that you do have to wrap it reasonably firmly, or else it tells you on the screen that it hasn't got a good enough grip. Wrapping it this firmly does make the reading process slightly uncomfortable as the unit inflates automatically and squeeeezes your arm, forcing blood up into your hand and turning it pink! It's very gentle though, just bordering on uncomfy, and only for a few seconds before the whole thing deflates, again automatically. So, all you really do is put the batteries in, put it on your wrist and press start and it does everything else itself. It will even tell you to move your arm up a bit or down a bit, or to wrap the cuff more tightly, so that it can do its job properly! The whole reading is done in less than a minute, probably more like 20 or 30 seconds.

The only other thing worth mentioning is that, according to the website I visited, an upper-arm monitor is preferable to a wrist one since, apparently, upper arm ones are even more accurate. To what degree this is true I'm afraid I do not know and you may want to do your own research into this. I have removed a star for that reason (possibly unfairly) and also because, well, I just can't bring myself to be "5-star excited" about a blood-pressure monitor!

Hope this helps, everybody. Good luck and good health to you.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 19, 2014 2:22 PM BST

My Piano Is Crying
My Piano Is Crying
Price: £0.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 26 Feb. 2013
This review is from: My Piano Is Crying (MP3 Download)
Superb creativity along with years of experience ringing out clear. If you like something different, something quirky, something with soul, as opposed to the increasingly bland, 'churned out' chart offerings, how could you NOT like this? I listen to it over and over to inspire creativity. Thanks, Mekanik! Great stuff.

Autodesk SketchBook Pro 6 (PC/Mac)
Autodesk SketchBook Pro 6 (PC/Mac)

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A subjective reaction, 11 Dec. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Please don't misinterpret the three stars. For digital sketching, SketchBook Pro is probably near perfect with a particularly simple interface and plenty of pens and brushes to play about with. Once it's up and running on your computer, it's all incredibly self-explanatory and easy to use. There's almost nothing to it! Just a blank page, some layering options if you want them (for placing a more finished piece of work over your 'sketchy' line art, for example, without the one interfering with the other), and the drawing/painting tools.

So why three stars? Well, that's simply my personal reaction to sketching on a computer. Having only dabbled with digital art, Sketchbook Pro in particular has made me realize that I simply prefer traditional materials and in fact find the digital medium something of a redundancy. Give me an F grade pencil, a blank page and a kneadable eraser and I can draw anything, any time, anywhere. So, for me personally, I just don't have the motivation to sketch on a computer screen, something which, I must admit, I actually find kinda cumbersome and lacking in sensitivity compared to traditional materials. In fact, one of the things that I like about good, old-fashioned art is that it gets me AWAY from a computer screen. And if I ever did want to 'ink' or colour something digitally, I'd still probably just draw it with a pencil on paper and then scan it in, rather than trying to bother drawing it on screen in the first place.

Of course, not everyone will feel this way--it's just my feeling, that's all. But like I said, to be fair, if you do want to sketch on your computer, SketchBook Pro seems like a tidy, simple, almost sweet little package. That certainly seems to be its unique selling point and it may be exactly what you're looking for. Lastly, as I think others have said, you absolutely will need a tablet, otherwise it just plain sucks!

Waterpik WP250 Nano Water Flosser
Waterpik WP250 Nano Water Flosser
Price: £44.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Theory Vs Reality, 19 Jun. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
First of all, a warning. This product has three power settings. The third setting, which is the most powerful, is a full-blown mini water-cannon. There is NO WAY that I would want to put this thing in my mouth on that highest setting. I think it could actually do SERIOUS damage to the inside of your mouth. The water really does thunder out of the nozzle. Following the instructions, I started on setting one, the lowest, and then ventured up to about one and a half. Even at this setting, not even half way, the jet stream felt slightly uncomfortable on the soft parts of my mouth, such as under the tongue, which it inevitably comes into contact with as you move it around your gums.

Second, I think this product simply makes your teeth and gums FEEL clean, without actually MAKING them clean. I know that this isn't especially attractive to talk about but for the sake of honesty, after having used the product, my mouth FELT pretty nice but still had some plaque or tartar or whatever you call it that needed removing with a traditional toothbrush. Upon reading the other reviews of this product, I notice the same comments: their mouths FELT good, but of course that doesn't mean that they were ACTUALLY any better of for using the product in terms of dental health, if you get my meaning. Again, you could shift to a higher setting, but I for one didn't want to risk it as it was already starting to feel, frankly, a little painful even at the lower settings (and that's NOT due to any particular sensitivity on my part).

Lastly, the product is simply inconvenient (and messy). I had to use an extension cord to get it into the bathroom, a two-pronged adapter to plug it in and then had to cover the whole lot with a towel to make sure that no water came into contact with the electricity supply. And believe me, it's a possiblity. You see, once this product is switched on, the water jet is constantly squirting out of the unit until you turn it off again. So, given the slightest opportunity, the water jet will happily fire all around your bathroom. Until you get the hang of it, you will almost certainly end up with puddles on your bathroom floor. On top of this, the water reservoir doesn't last for very long at all so you may have to refill it several times during a session. However, you then risk overheating the product and waving the warranty.

All in, I put this product fairly firmly into 'gimmicky' gadget territory, the kind of thing that may sound great but in reality never ends up getting used. I have given it two stars only because it does make your teeth feel nice and because it may have some merit for those who can't use normal floss for some reason (those with certain types of braces, for example). For everybody else, though, I'd say that you'll get just as good a teeth cleaning, and probably better, with a good ol' fashioned toothbrush and floss. Moreover, you'll avoid the hassle of this product, the mess, the outside chance of being electricuted, the potential threat of damaging your soft tissues, and you'll save yourself a not insignificant amount of money in the process. By all means give it a try if you want, but personally and in general I wouldn't recommend it to anybody.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 22, 2014 11:59 PM BST

Koh-I-Noor Kneadable Eraser
Koh-I-Noor Kneadable Eraser
Price: £1.00

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, 30 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Oh, boy, where have these things been all my life? I've been using this eraser since last year (it's had quite a lot of use now) and it's fantastic at lifting graphite. It can be shaped into a little point for accurate erasing and leaves no residue or bits behind on the page.

It will happily mop up a LOT of graphite, as long as it's not too dark or ingrained into the paper. So, as long as you keep your sketching lines 'reasonably' light, this eraser will remove them COMPLETELY, leaving no trace of graphite behind AT ALL. And you know what that means: you can sketch endlessly, erasing and redrawing, until your drawing is EXACTLY what you want it to be. Thanks to this eraser, I now feel confident that as long as I have enough time to work and rework I can draw ANYTHING. Also, if you ink over the top of your graphite drawing, you can then go over the ink with this eraser and any initial pencil work will be eradicated leaving a perfect, clean inking.

By the way, ultimately (after, say, several weeks of use), it will absorb too much graphite, at which point you can just wash it under the tap using ordinary household soap. That will restore it to its orginal condition.

Also, just in case you're wondering, it can be used to some degree on charcoal or pastel (or similar) but it won't erase them particularly well. But then nothing does really. It's just the nature of those chalkier tools and not the eraser's fault!

All in, then, as far as I'm concerned, this eraser is a little gem. I use it with a Staedtler Mars Lumograph Grade F pencil and feel it's a winning combination. Note: anything darker than F or HB, on white paper, and the eraser probably won't remove it completely, and will instead just lighten it a lot.

One last thing, a warning really. I was slightly disappointed to find that the eraser is not that gorgeous aqua-greenish blue that it appears to be in the picture. It's more of a dull greyish blue. Just thought you might want to know so that you're not disappointed when you unwrap it. All in, though, a delightful and amazingly useful purchase. I don't think it's going overboard to say that kneadable erasers are one of professional artists' top trade-secrets.

What's for Dinner?: Easy and delicious recipes for everyday cooking
What's for Dinner?: Easy and delicious recipes for everyday cooking
by Fay Ripley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.95

133 of 144 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If it ain't broke, 21 Mar. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's interesting, isn't it, how positive reviews always seem to be voted as more helpful than negative reviews? It's as if the voters really want to like the product they are looking at and don't want to hear anything bad about it.

For what it's worth, the reason why I didn't take to this book, at all, is the almost total lack of organization. Main meals, breakfasts and desserts are all thrown together and given a good shake so you never know what's going to be on the next page--it could be anything. This makes it impossible to browse through a selection of dinners, for example, to compare them, and to home in on what you fancy. And please don't underestimate this. As you've probably experienced for yourself, page flipping through, for example, all of the dinners in a cookbook, one after the other, really helps to get the appetite going, and helps you to choose just what exactly you'd like to make at any given time of the day. Again, it just isn't possible to do this with this book unless you flip through the entire thing every single time (either that or you get down to some serious work with a stack of post-it notes).

When the book first arrived, I flipped through it for several minutes without settling on anything before my brain finally said, 'What the heck am I looking at?' Desserts followed by main meals followed by breakfasts followed by more desserts. Rather than get my appetite going, it seemed a little revolting. I flipped back a few pages in the search for a chapter heading that might shed some light on the matter and all it said was 'Thursday'. Great. That clears that up, then.

The thing is, in her introduction, Fay herself says that you can, of course, make any of the meals on any day of the week, which instantly begs the question why on Earth bother to lump everything together under an arbitrarily chosen weekday heading, then? Why not just organize the book according to meal time which would be altogether more useful? I guess that's why every other cookbook does exactly that. And you know what they say: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

So, in trying to be too helpful, in deciding for you what to cook when (I'm quite sure that you, like me, can decide for yourself when you want to cook something), the editors of this book have ironically shot themselves in their collective foot and produced nothing more than a mess of recipes. Given that there are so many other good cookbooks available, would I recommend this one? Nope.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 11, 2014 8:40 AM GMT

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