Sunday, 26 June 2011

REVIEW: MadBid.com Website

I was asked to do a review of MadBid.com and given 100 free credits so I could get a feel for it and be able to do a thorough review and this is what I thought...

Signing up to the site was fairly quick and easy - you have to fill out your basic details, however you need to register your mobile phone number in order to receive a verification number to activate your account. I didn't like this, as I don't like giving my mobile phone number out, because no matter how much companies promise not to sell your details or anything, you usually end up getting annoying sales calls anyway. I don't know if that's the case with MadBid or not, but I am always cautious from past experience with other sites. That plus, if you choose not to have a mobile phone, then you are excluded entirely. However, if you do have a mobile phone and don't mind supplying your number, it doesn't add much time to the sign up process and overall, signing up is quick and simple. However, MadBid.com states "MadBid.com asks for your mobile number so we know you are a real person with only one account and not a computer and so we can alert you when you win."

You get 2 free bids just for signing up, so it gives you an opportunity to have a little try out with it before you commit to buying credits. In fact, you can participate in the rookie/newbie auctions which gives you a good chance of winning and with my first 2 bids I won 25 bids for 1p (well 50p when you include the bizarre 49p p&p which I didn't get at all??) and 50 bids for 1p (again 50p by the time you add postage for a virtual item!!).

After signing up, it is a good idea to look over the FAQs http://uk.madbid.com/faq/ and watch how other people bid to see what strategies work best.

There is also a video tutorial available at http://uk.madbid.com/how/ if you are still unsure.

When I started bidding on the non-beginner auctions, I found I quickly got through my 100 bids and the other 75 I had won too. I jumped in a little too quickly I think and quickly got through about 100, before pacing myself and trying to be a little more strategic, but by this point, I didn't have many bids left and quickly got through those too. With 175 bids, I never even got 1 win :(

I found it easy to get carried away and you can see why they recommend you that you only spend what you can afford as it is as easily addictive as gambling and easy to spend a lot of money (more than you can afford) trying to win something that you may not even win in the end anyway - refer to http://uk.madbid.com/responsible_bidding/.

Each bid costs up to 6 bids (the newbie ones are 1 bid, but bigger items like laptops may be 6 bids  for each bid).

If you are in the middle of bidding but need to go out or go to bed or something, you can simply use the auto-bid feature to carry on bidding for you - you can find out more at http://uk.madbid.com/list_autobids/.

MadBid.com works with The Children's Trust too, and hold regular auctions whereby all the profits are given to the charity - so it's nice to see they are giving something back too.

I can't say I managed to master a great strategy to help me win lots of stuff at bargain prices - but I wish I had!

It was fun, however, though very addictive. There are some great prizes up for grabs everyday - some of the things on offer today include a Nintendo 3DS, £200 cash, an Apple MacBook Pro and much more. A £75 Debenhams gift card just ended at just 38p! £1,000 cash sold for just £75.16! There are some real bargains to be had if you are just lucky enough to be the winner. I do wonder how much people end up spending before they get a good win, however.  A bargain is great, but if you've spent 3 times as much as your win is worth getting it, you might as well have just gone out and bought it in the first place - that's just my opinion, however! I guess you could look at it that you're paying for entertainment and it's a bonus if you win a bargain, but I got through almost £25 in value worth of bids and got nothing in return - granted because of the 100 bids to review and the 75 for £1 I won, then I only lost £1, but I'd be far more annoyed having lost almost £25 in money and gaining nothing.

The cost of bids are as follows:
£374.99 -> 3,750 bids (normally 1,500 bids)
£194.99 -> 1,950 bids (normally 750 bids)
£99.99 -> 1,000 bids (normally 375 bids)
£27.99 -> 275 bids (normally 100 bids)
£14.99 -> 135 bids (normally 50 bids)
£9.99 -> 80 bids (normally 30 bids)

So, how would I rate this site overall? Well, for entertainment 10/10, time wasting 10/10, chance of winning at a profit 1/10, cost of bids 4/10, choice of prizes for auctions 10/10, ease of use 10/10. Overall, maybe 5/10 - simply because it is fun, but it is also addictive. That plus, unless you are lucky, you might have to spend a lot before getting a decent win. I guess I'm biased based on the fact that I didn't win however, so maybe if I'd have been more strategic and won with those first lot of credits, I'd have been shouting out more praises - I guess what I'm trying to say is, your perception of the site will likely change based on how you do the first time you use it - you win, you're happy, whereas you lose, you're annoyed at having wasted your time and money!

New customers who don't win, get their bid package refunded the next day to try again which is a bonus!

REVIEW: Sudocrem Skin Care Cream

I received a sample of the new Sudocrem Skin Care Cream to review...

Firstly, I must say I was astounded to find that Sudocrem made this - when I think of Sudocrem, I think of the cream that's for nappy rash and minor burns and grazes and things. I had no idea they made a skin care range, but having used Sudocrem cream for many years and been pleased with it, I was very curious about trying the Skin Care Cream.

Having given it a go, I found it helped soothe my skin. I have very spot prone skin, especially on my face and I found using this was very soothing.

My skin is also very dry, and I noticed my skin felt a lot softer to touch after using it which surprised me as I have never managed to find a product prior to this that has worked on my dry, spotty facial skin.

The cream is quick and easy to use. And the tube is small, so it is very transportable. The cream smells very alike the normal Sudocrem cream. I guess I was expecting it to smell different for some reason, but it didn't.

Apparently, Cheryl Cole swears by using this as part of her skin care regime, so it obviously *does what it says on the tin* or rather tube, as celebs have so much money, they wouldn't buy just anything. Other celebrities such as Amanda Holden, Kimberley Walsh and Martine McCutcheon are using it too.

The cream is very versatile, working well on dry skin and spotty skin, but you can also carry it around during the summer and use it on sun burnt skin, if you are prone to getting sun burnt (fortunately I am not).

The Sudocrem Skin Care Cream comes in a small, easily transportable 30g tube. It is something that you can use as often as you need it. It soothes irritations by forming a barrier to keep moisture in and damaging pollutants out.

Sudocrem Skin Care Cream retails at £2.11 for a 30g tube and is available from pharmacies and major retailers nationwide.

Below is an interesting feature based on a study from Sudocrem. 

Women flying the British bag for 2012


A recent study by Sudocrem found that women around the UK are choosing English designers over their once preferred European rivals.

Debbie Percy creator of Handbag Therapy, teamed up with Sudocrem to give UK women the chance to send in a picture of their handbag and its contents, and find out what their bag revealed about them.

The results showed that women were “flying the flag for England” with over half owning handbags by British designer labels, in particular Osprey London, Anya Hindmarch and Burberry.

It appears that the savvy British women are looking to promote our homegrown talent with vintage influences over our European counterparts such as Gucci and Dior.

“I was awash with British designer handbags”, says Debbie Percy, “and all the better for it, handbag therapy gives women the chance to identify their hidden talents which can then be built upon with life coaching to create a more confident and successful woman. These women are clearly proud of their local designers.”

Kate and Pippa Middleton are the new style icons hot to the British fashion scene. Last month, 26.2million of us watched in anticipation as Kate unveiled her wedding gown, which was delicately made by British label Alexander McQueen designer Sarah Burton.

With British designers winning their way to the top of the fashion stakes, it is no wonder that UK women flaunt their British bags with pride.


REVIEW: Munchy Seeds

I received a selection of the new Munchy Seeds to review...





To be honest, I'm quite a fussy eater and seeds have never appealed to me, so I would not ordinarily have ever gone out and bought them. I eat sesame seeds on a burger bun, or the seeds in certain types of bread, but never on their own. But here's what I thought of the ones I received to review.


Omega Sprinkle
Savoury roasted sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, sesame, rape, linseed and flax seeds.
These are a lovely combination of a variety of seeds. Eating seeds makes me feel like a bird, I must say, but they actually are far more appetising than they appear to be. They are a good combination that work well together and they have a nice taste to them, and much to my surprise, they also have a good texture too. At 153 calories however, considering I am on a diet, they are quite calorific for a 25g packet. These ones contain Omega 3 and vitamin E, so you can rest assured they are good for you overall, however. They are also high in fibre and protein, are a good source of zinc and are free from artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives. They are also suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs.


Chilli Mix
Dry roasted sunflower & pumpkin seed with crushed chillies and a dash of savoury sauce.
These were by far my favourite - if you're a fan of spicy food as I am, then you too will really enjoy these. They are very nicely flavoured and deliciously fiery too. Again, the seed combination works well together and the taste and texture are a real delight to the tastebuds. Again, at 151 calories per 25g packet, they are a little heavy in the calories for someone who is on a diet like myself. These ones contain Omega 6 and 9. They are free from artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives, have low GI and are suitable for coeliacs, vegetarians and vegans.


Vanilla Pumpkin
Sweet roasted pumpkin seeds with a vanilla flavoured dusting.
I didn't like these ones at all - I really didn't feel the sweet flavour of the vanilla worked well with the seeds  and I really didn't like the taste of them in the slightest. I'm normally a fan of sweet things, but this just didn't work for me. At 135 calories, these were probably the best of the four I received for a dieter. They are high in fibre and protein, are a good source of iron and zinc and are free from artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives. They are suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs.


Pumpkin Mix
Savoury roasted 3 seed blend (pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seed).
I enjoyed these too - I thought it was a great combination of seeds and a delicious savoury taste. Both the taste and texture were perfect and I liked them a lot. 



Munchy Seeds are a small family company based in Suffolk.  Through their passion for “mindful munching” they take pride in developing high quality, delicious nutritional snacks.  They have been roasting high grade seeds with a variety of savoury and sweet coatings for over 12 years.

Munchy Seeds are available in a variety of flavours to suit everyone:
Omega Mix – Savoury roasted 7 seed blend (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, linseed, flax, hulled hemp and rape seeds)Pumpkin Mix – Savoury roasted 3 seed blend (pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds)Chilli Mix – Hot savoury roasted 3 seed blend (Apricot kernels, Pumpkin and sunflower seeds)Vanilla – Sweet roasted pumpkin seeds dusted in vanilla icing sugarMunchy Granola –Roasted oats, seeds, sultanas and orange zest drizzled with honey and maple syrup.Original – savoury roasted 2 seed blend (sunflower and sesame seeds)Choccy Seeds - nutritious chocolatey mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds with pieces of dried apricot, enrobed in luxurious quality Belgian milk and dark chocolate

Available in 30g snack pack size sachets, 200g tubs or 500g tubs. Free from Gluten, Cholesterol and artificial colours and flavourings.  Suitable for Vegetarians and Coeliacs.


You can find them on twitter http://twitter.com/munchyseeds and on Facebook by searching for “Munchy Seeds”, plus at lots of shows across the country throughout the year.

Stockists of these Munchy Seeds include Tesco Extra stores, Booths, Waitrose and Lakeland stores nationwide, plus  are available to buy directly via www.munchyseeds.co.uk or by calling 01728 833004.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

REVIEW: SodaStream Fizz Home Drinks Maker

The lovely people at SodaStream gave me one of their new SodaStream Fizz home drinks makers to review...





I have wanted one of these for ages, but lack of spare money held me back, so you can imagine how delighted I was when I was offered the review.


This new model of the SodaStream includes a Fizz Chip which lets you see just how much fizz you are adding to your drink. This is a very hand feature, as it lets you vary just how fizzy you make your drink and means you don't end up using more gas than you need to in order to make your drink as fizzy as you want it.


Setting it up was really easy. I was expecting it to be more difficult. Putting the gas canister in takes less than 30 seconds and simply involves removing the back cover and screwing it into place. Then once it's screwed in tightly (this is done by hand - you don't need tools), you just replace the back and you're ready to go.


For some reason, I was expecting it to plug into the electric, but this is not the case which makes it very cost effective.


Making the drink is really easy - you fill up the drinks bottle to the fill level with tap water (though I used bottled still water as our tap water tastes of bleach!) and then press the button on the top to flip out the front and then you screw the bottle into place. Again, this is a quick and easy process that takes less than 30 seconds to do.


You then press the lever on the front until you hear the buzzing - this is how you carbonate or "fizz" your drink. You use the Fizz Chip indicator to see how fizzy you are making your drink. It has three levels of fizz - I found the lower amount worked best if you are likely to drink it there and then, whereas if you're making some to put in the fridge and drink over a couple of days, the second or third level of fizz work better and keep it fizzy for longer. Once you've fizzed up your water, you just unscrew the bottle the same as how you screwed it in to start with.


Once you've fizzed your water, you add a cap full of the flavour you want slowly to the water whilst tilting the bottle. You have to pour it into the fizzy water really slowly. The first time I made some, I went for pouring it straight in and ended up with a big mess when it fizzed up really quickly and overflowed out of the bottle!


The setting up and making my first drink took less than 5 minutes - I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was. I'd always pictured the whole process being more complex and time consuming, so I was very pleasantly surprised.


Making a drink is so easy, my 8 year old son gave it a go and found it fun and easy!


I received two flavours to use with the SodaStream, and this is what I thought:
Cherry
I liked the cherry - it was a lot nicer than the cherryade you buy in the shop. It had a very intense cherry taste too - it wasn't weak. My son liked this a lot, but the hubby said it was OK, but nothing special. My 9 year old sister liked it a lot, but my Mum had some and she said it was too sour - but she's not much of a fizzy drinks person, so that could be the reason.
Mango & Apple
I didn't much like this flavour - of course, it's down to personal preference, but I found the drink just ended up tasting like fizzy flavoured water and I didn't enjoy it in the slightest. My hubby and our son didn't like it either.


The new 21st Century SodaStream is available in a variety of colours - white, blue, titan, bold green or red and will look great in any kitchen.


There are over 30 great-tasting flavoured SodaStream concentrates available - from fruit flavours to cola, sugar-free, energy, mixers and isotonic variants.


The new Fizz Chip Soda Stream is available from John Lewis and costs around £119. For more information, visit www.SodaStream.co.uk or look them up on Twitter @SodaStreamUK.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

REVIEW: WeightWatchers Biscuits

I received some WeightWatchers products to review...


5 Caramel Wafers
At 78 calories per bar, I thought they sounded too good to be true. They looked appealing, but I worried what they would taste like as surely they couldn't taste as good as a normal caramel wafer?!

Well, I was wrong - I would go as far as to say they are better than some caramel wafers I have tried in the past. And the best thing of all is, I can rest safe in the knowledge that they are a guilt-free snack as they won't spoil my diet.

As most of you know, I am on a diet at the moment, and I must say, I've been missing my chocolate fix quite a bit, so when I received these bars to review, it was like Christmas come early - getting to have a delicious chocolate covered caramel wafer but without the worry of how it will affect my diet.

They have both a delicious taste and texture. It's a delicious chocolate covered wafer with some delicious, chewy caramel in too.



5 Chocolate Biscuits
At 89 calories a bar, again these are a dieters dream snack - chocolate without the guilt trip!

In all honesty, I wasn't very keen on these - the chocolate was delicious, but the actual biscuit was very chewy and grainy and it didn't have a very nice texture. The taste of both the chocolate and biscuit were fine, I just didn't enjoy the texture and crunchiness of the biscuit.

To be honest though, beggars can't be choosers - if you've been on a choccy vacation because you're on a diet, you will want to eat them anyway - I know I did!


REVIEW: B_E_E Dishwash Liquid

I received the new B_E_E Dishwash Liquid to try out and review...



I was a little confused at first as the label calls it "dishwash liquid" so I was thinking for the dishwasher... but it's not it is for washing manually.


After being used to overpowering citrus or various other soapy smelling fruit concoctions, it was nice to open the bottle and get a simple but appealing cleanliness smell. It simply smelt like it would clean stuff.


The packaging was easy to grip even with slippery wet hands. It was a little more viscous than other washing up liquids I have used and came out the bottle nicely with just a little squeeze. It made plenty of bubbles. Plates, cups and pans were as easy to clean as with other washing up liquids. It dealt with greasy frying pans and plates after greasy food with no problems. Glasses came out shiny and sparkling. After using it my hands felt quite good. 


The product contains South Pacific kawakawa which they say looks after your skin; also it contains essential oil of rosemary and spearmint. The cleaning agents are made from natural ingredients which is a refreshing change, these include coconut and sugar! Overall B_E_E Dishwash Liquid has been designed with the environment in mind as well as caring for your hands and there seemed to be no compromise in it's cleaning power. The bottle and label are recyclable and the product has not been tested on animals.


For more information, visit www.planethealth.com.au/. RRP £3.95.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

REVIEW + COMPETITION: Aleyna 'Sun Kissed' Range

I was delighted to review some of the new Aleyna 'Sun Kissed' range to review. This is what I thought...


Aleyna Sun Kissed Tomatoes
I loved these - before I say anything else, I have to say that... They are SO delicious. They are sun ripened and slow roasted tomatoes - they are deliciously sweet and succulent and very flavoursome and juicy. I ate some straight out of the jar and they really are supremely delicious. My husband tried them too and really enjoyed them.

Aleyna Sun Kissed Peppers
In general, I wouldn't eat peppers on their own - I can only generally tolerate them as an ingredient in different foods, so I was pleasantly surprised when tasting these as I thought they were very nice. Although I preferred the tomatoes in the range, I very much liked these peppers too. Again, they are slow roasted and are very soft, succulent and tasty. They also have a touch of oregano and garlic which just intensifies their delicious taste. As with the tomatoes, I tasted these peppers straight out of the jar too. My husband really enjoyed these and I had to take them away from him quickly to stop him eating the whole jar!
They have kindly given me some extras to offer to you, my readers. Details of the competition are below...

COMPETITION
Right, two lucky readers will each receive a jar of each of the Aleyna Sun Kissed range. If you would like to win, follow these simple steps:
1) Follow my blog with Google Connect
2) Leave a comment below letting me know how you would eat/serve these if you won and let me know if you have ever tried them before
3) Tweet the following "I want to win the Alyena Sun Kissed range with @MyRandomBlurb Enter here http://bit.ly/kD7aaa #MyRandomBlurb"

Competition ends on 16th June 2011 and is open to UK residents only.

CONGRATULATIONS - @foxyowl |den71cross AND @Isis1981uk | Isis1981uk - please send your address to twitter@myrandomblurb.co.uk

REVIEW: Radcliffe's Wines

I had the pleasure of receiving two bottles of Radcliffe's wine to review and this is what I thought...


Radcliffe's Muscadet
This is a 2009 French white wine. It is a very aromatic, dry white wine with a delicious crisp taste and hints of an appley flavour. It has an 11.5% volume.


I served it chilled with a nice lemon chicken and cous cous meal and it accompanied the meal very well. It was very easy to drink and I enjoyed every sip of it. I love a nice cold glass of white wine to wind down and relax at the end of the day, and this wine did not disappoint. It was very rich in flavour and taste. I'm trying to describe it as it was for me, as I am not a wine expert, so I cannot describe it in a connoisseur kind of way.



"Muscadet is a classic French white wine, made from Melon de Bourgogne grapes grown in the maritime climate of the western Loire Valley, in the region irrigated by the Sèvre and Maine rivers. This wine is pale yellow-green in colour, with attractive citrus and floral aromas and delicate flavours. A crisp, refreshing wine that is traditionally served with fish and shellfish, or on its own as an aperitif."


Radcliffe's Chianti
This is a 2008 medium-bodied Italian red wine. It has a deep ruby red colour and has scents of berries and vanilla. It has a 12.5% volume.


I am not a very big fan of red wine - I'm more of a white wine person, whereas my husband is more of a red wine person, but we have both red and white to please us both. This was a very nice wine however - it has a very depthful taste to it and is a pleasure to the tastebuds. I had this wine as an accompaniment to a roast chicken and mediterranean  vegatables meal and it made the perfect match to the meal. I didn't much like the after-taste, though that may be because I simply am not a big fan of red wine - my husband thought it was very enjoyable on the other hand, but then he does like red wine best.



"A classic Tuscan red wine, made predominantly from Sangiovese grapes and characterised by a deep ruby red colour with shades of violet. This typical example has pleasant aromas of red berry fruits and vanilla, and a remarkable body with good balance and a long finish. It is the perfect accompaniment to both red and white roast meats, or Italian cured meats."



The complete Radcliffe’s Collection includes Muscadet, Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Grigio Blush, Rioja, Côtes du Rhône, Corbières, Chianti, Chablis, Sancerre, Barolo and Châteauneuf du Pape.

Available from www.radcliffeswines.co.uk, branches of Martin McColls, Wine Rack, Bargain Booze, Wine Shak and independent wine merchants nationwide. Prices start at £5.49.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

REVIEW + COMPETITION: Nature Valley Snack Bars

I was very happy to receive a large selection of the various varieties of Nature Valley snack bars to review and this is what I thought...


CrunchyRolled wholegrain oats baked until crisp. 2 Bars in every pack. They come in packs of 6 double bars. And there are 3 flavours and a variety pack with two of each flavour in:

Roasted AlmondReally nice not overpoweringly nutty like I was expecting them to be.

Oats & HoneyNice crunchy with a delicious oaty taste. With real honey in to sweeten it nicely.

Canadian Maple SyrupNice oaty flavour again but this time topped off with maple syrup flavour.

Chewy TrailThese come in packs of six, RRP £2.19 from Sainsburys and Waitrose. They contain oats, nuts and fruit pieces:

Mixed BerryOpening the packet they have a really nice fruity smell. The bar is soft and easy to pull bits off. The main taste is the berries. Soft and easy to chew. Not overly sweet like some snacks. Filled with mixed berry pieces, roasted nuts, honey and whole grain oats.

Fruit and nutJust like the mixed berry this one is soft, chewy and easily breakable. Opening the packet releases a deliciously nutty aroma. I preferred the berry one but that is just down to personal taste. They are full of almonds, peanuts, honey, raisins, sunflower seeds and oats.

Crunchy and moreThese are new from Nature Valley and they have been well thought out! Two great flavours with good sizes pieces in them. They come in packs of 5 double bars:

Oats and berryNice crunchy bars with real chewy fruit pieces in. These smell fantastic and are good and satisfying to munch on. And you get the real feeling that they are much better for you than chocolate bars!

Oats and hazelnutsVery much like the regular crunchy Nature Valley bars. The big difference is the size of the nutty pieces which are much chunkier rather than the smaller bits. Also just when you think your snack time is over there is a whole second bar in the packet.



In my pack, I was also sent some gardening gloves which was fantastic as I do a lot of grow your own (vegetables and fruit). I also received some "ready to plant" seeds, a USB stick and a lovely bag for them all too.

If you would like to know more about Nature Valley products, you can visit their website at www.naturevalley.co.uk.

COMPETITION
How would you like to win some delicious Nature Valley snack bars? We have 3 prizes up for grabs:

1st Prize 1x 10 bar pack of Nature Valley Crunchy & More Granola Bars: Oats & Hazelnuts plus a 50p off coupon
2nd Prize 2x Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix: Mixed Berry bars, 2x Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix: Fruit & Nut bars plus a 50p off coupon
3rd prize 2x Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix: Mixed Berry bars, 1x Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix: Fruit & Nut bar plus a 50p off coupon

HOW TO WIN
1. Follow my blog using Google Connect
2. Visit www.naturevalley.co.uk and leave a comment telling me which snack bar you would most like to try and let me know if you have ever tried Nature Valley snack bars before - be sure to leave your Twitter username, a link to your Facebook profile or your e-mail address in order for me to contact you if you are a winner

BONUS ENTRIES
6. Leave a comment on any other blog post (not including competition posts) and leave a separate comment here telling me which one you left it on (3 entries)
7. Sign up to the blog newsletter over on the right - you must click to verify in your e-mails (3 entries)


COMPETITION ENDS ON 20TH JUNE 2011 AND IS OPEN TO UK RESIDENTS ONLY.


1ST PRIZE WINNER: @googoodoll83
2ND PRIZE WINNER: @bloomingfox
3RD PRIZE WINNER: @essexgirlSE
Please e-mail your name & address to twitter@myrandomblurb.co.uk