Friday, 18 October 2013

Ariel 3in1 pods - A review

The Savvy Circle was running a campaign on Ariel 3in1 pods.
I have been using Ariel pods for colours for a few years but always stuck to my non-bio washing tabs from another brand for white.
This was a good opportunity to try the new Ariel. 
One claim is the new brightening power. 
Can I ditch my expensive soft-bleach for keeping whites white and bright ?

So what does Ariel says about the new pods ?

Small is powerful

Ariel 3in1 Pods are Ariel’s most concentrated detergent ever – at only 28ml each and use 40% less packaging than Ariel liquid detergents, so are more environmentally friendly too. 
How do they deliver such mighty cleaning power we hear you ask? Well, it’s down to their unique combination of new technologies:

Green – Cleans your clothes
A super compact detergent, reinforced by the inclusion of new ‘cleaning active boosters’, to help the detergent reach the dirt quicker.

White – Lifts stains off your clothes
A unique cocktail of six enzymes designed to combat a large spectrum of everyday stains.

Blue – Brightens your clothes 
Thanks to the revolutionary three compartments, meaningful combinations of the right ingredients are released at just the right time to deliver outstanding brightness for your laundry.

What do I think ?

How did I try it ?

The Savvy Circle sent me a full-size box of the new Classic Ariel 3in1 pods (16 washes), an information booklet, 10 samples to give to friends, a report booklet with detachable surveys to accompany the samples and a few money off coupon.

The Classic version is best suited for whites. 
I therefore tried it on : 
- "White" tea-towels (heavily stained)
- Cream bath sheets 
- White bedlinen
- White shower curtain

How convenient is it ?

This is what I used to do with tea-towels : Spray the stains with stain remover, add a couple of powder tabs to the draw, fill a measuring ball with 100ml of soft-bleach to add to the drum and add a sanitizer to the draw.
For the bed-linen, a simpler combination of powder tabs, conditioner and soft-bleach.

If Ariel delivers on its brightening and stain-lifting promises; the effort is dramatically reduced ! 
Pop a pod in the drum, add some conditioner to the draw and wait for the washing machine to complete the cycle ;-)

How did it fare on stains ?

Unfortunately, not that great. 
Some of the stains disapeared but many persisted (albeit lighter).
I tried to give it another chance as my shower curtain developed mould patches during my time out of the country.

I used to wash the shower curtain every 4 weeks or so. Ariel has really not done much for the mould here; despite the fact it was washed on the longest 60c cycle.
Not impressed so far !

What about the brightening power ?

As far as my bed-linen are concerned, I am adopting Ariel without hesitation.
I haven't washed the sheets often enough to notice the difference but they sure came out feeling really clean and fresh whilst looking bright and light.
I am happy to trust Ariel on their brightening claims here.

How does it smell ?

Fresh but really too strong.
The Ariel fragrance over-powers my favourite conditioner .
As I washed the sheets a couple of days before a trip away, and only changed the bed on my return.
Not only the linen had been sitting, folded in the draw for over 10 days but after a further 3 days of use, the bed still offered this over-powering smell of laundry detergent.

This may be good news for some, but I miss the soothing smell of my conditioner.

Any surprises ?

Yes, Yes and Yes !
I certainly didn't expect this and Ariel never came up with the easy-iron argument but my bed linen has never been so easy to iron.
Ironing the duvet cover took a third less time than usual !
For this reason alone, I am adopting Ariel for the bed-linen without hesitation.

My final verdict ?

I am unfortunately not impressed by the stain removing power and will keep on using my old and trusted method.
I wish the smell wasn't quite as strong, but that's my personal opinion.
On the other hand; I would never dream of using anything else for bed-linens, I love the reduced ironing time; the new Ariel 3in1 pods is definitely replacing my old products for bed-linens.

All things taken into consideration, I can only give Ariel 3in1 pods two different ratings :
- Stained whites : 1 out of 5
- White bed-linen : 4 out of 5

Disclaimer:I recieved the product for free as part of a SuperSavvyMe campaign. However, this post has not been sponsored or endorsed by the PR or manufacturing company of the product.  All words and opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Dyson DC38 Vacuum Cleaner - Review + competition

My old Miele vacuum gave its last breath after a good 10 or 15 years !
I realised that Argos was selling an extensive range of Dyson and decided to go for bag-less.

The Dyson should last as long my old vacuum if not longer.
Furthermore; it combines quality, design and practicality.
Looking at the specs and prices; I set my eyes on the Dyson DC38 Multi-floor it was on offer (£50 less, bringing the price down to
£249.99 ;-) )

Which features was I instantly attracted by ?

- Suitable for all kinds of floors (I do intend to replace the old carpet by wooden floor at some point!)
- Really compact (Perfect for us City Dwellers with restricted storage space)
- Easy to manoeuvre (Thanks to the ball technology)
- Easy to empty (A simple press of a button)

What was included in the box ?

- The stunningly designed and compact vacuum
- A super-light hose and telescopic handle
- The flat-out (super slim) floor-head
- The stair-tool (Also great for sofa, mattresses etc)
- The combination tool (A nozzle that converts to brush tool for dusting)

How did it clean ?

I first tried it out on the carpet : as you can see from the picture, the carpet was pretty grubby.
I also had spilt some powdered milk around the bin, it had been sitting there for a couple of days and was deeply encrusted into the carpet.
The Dyson allowed me to clean the sitting room and get rid of a lot of dirt in no time !
The suction power seemed excellent when put the test on encrusted dust. (see pictures below)

One of my pet hate used to be skirting board, I never had the right tool to do it with the old vacuum and
had to use a dusting cloth.
Thanks to the combination nozzle, I didn't have to bend down on my knees to clean the skirting anymore.
Goodbye Cinderella ;-)

Finally, I put the stair tool up to the test.
Living in a flat in West London, I do not have stairs to look after.
However, this little accessory looked just perfect to give my sofa a little refresh.
I also used it on the bed mattress.

Cleaning the powdered milk

How did it perform ?

One of the advertised feature was a reduced noise level.
It is less noisy than my old vacuum indeed ! However do not expect a noise-free vacuum cleaner quite yet.

Mr Dyson, when are you coming up with a silent vacuum ?

The one feature delivered as promised is the lightweight and manoeuvrability.
It is one of the lightest vacuum I ever came across, fantastic if you have to leg the vacuum up and down stairs.
And is just as easy to pull around, you barely feel it moving.

Another great point of the Dyson DC38 is the super slim floor head.
I can easily clean underneath the sofa and bed without having to move furnitures around.
Thank you Dyson for such a great invention !

What about allergies ?
I am slightly allergic to dust mites.
Not enough to use a special mattress and pillow protection but enough that I really need to vacuum the pillows and mattress every week.
I tend to wake up with a runny nose otherwise.
I felt better than usual waking up in the morning; Dyson seems to do a good job at removing dustmites.

How easy was it to use ?

It took no time to assemble all the parts together.
The parts click on and off very easily.

It is just as easy to operate : the buttons are restricted to an on & off switch, a power cord retraction switch and a press button to release the dust reservoir.

One of the downside I have found is the length of the power cord.
I used to be able to vacuum the whole corridor in one go. With this new Dyson, I have to move to another power outlet half way through.
I suppose this is the small price to pay for such a compact vacuum though.
The total length of the cord is 5 metres.

Emptying the reservoir couldn't be any easier. (see picture above)
Press the button on the vacuum to unlock the reservoir.
Bring it over to the bin and press the second button to release the bottom.

Freshly cleaned carpet

What about the cost ?

At a RRP of £299, reduced to £249 in Argos at the moment; it doesn't come cheap !
However, most bag-less vacuum rely on you having to replace the filter every so often.
The filter in the Dyson DC38 is washable.
Clean it under running water once a month; let it dry for 24 hours … the difference in price to other brands is quickly made up.
Besides, Dyson guarantees the product for 5 years.
According to a few friends, a Dyson will easily last 3 times as long as the guarantee.

Of course, there are cheaper options, still within the Dyson range and with the same reliability of the brand.
You can see the whole range at Argos

A full reservoir after cleaning the whole flat !
By filling the Rafflecopter below; you will get a chance to win £25 Argos voucher.
This can be redeemed against any Dyson product from Argos or to buy any item of your choice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions
Superlucky blog - Competitions listing
Loquax competition forum and listing

Disclaimer: This post was made in association with Argos.
However, I have not received financial compensation for this.
All words and opinions are my own

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Grilled stuffed mushrooms - Recipe (with Quark)

I am thrilled to announce this was my winning entry in a Quark recipe competition.

A fab dinner party starter. Lay them on a bed of salad and enjoy.
Easy to make and more importantly, really quick !
I have replaced the cream with Quark, which is higher in protein and virtually fat free.
Do bear in mind the mushrooms are also stuffed with blue cheese, so not that low-cal ;-)

Here is the recipe:

Win a family ticket to the Dungeon in London, York or Edinburgh

The Dungeon has moved to Southbank in London.

To win your own chance to scare the family, enter the Rafflecopter below :

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions
Superlucky blog - Competitions listing
Loquax competition forum and listing

What to do with the kids ? - The London Dungeon visit and your chance to win a family ticket for the Dungeon (London, York or Edinburgh)

Last week I visited the London Dungeon for the first time since it moved from the old London Bridge location.
My last visit must be around 10 years back now ! And the Dungeon has changed quite a bit.

The idea is still a "Horrible History" lesson on London from the Great Plague to 1783, where you will plunge to your own death after being sentenced to hanging!
Each of the experience / room present a show with a live actor : 18 in total !

So what is it all about ?

You will start your descent into the murky past of London through the Leper's lift.
The Leper will welcome you to the Dungeon and to his lift.
After learning a bit about leprosy; if you are lucky, you will arrive at Thames River Dock.
But will you survive the ride or fear will be taking over you ?
(During our visit; 2 children had to be removed from the Dungeon !)

Monday, 26 August 2013

Quark & Bacon Souffle - Recipe (Economical recipe)

Do not be put off my making soufflé.
The picture-perfect ones you will find in books are no guarantee but it is very easy to knock up a heavenly light, airy and comforting soufflé.
And this recipe even cuts corner to make your life easier.

A cheese souffle is usually based on a béchamel sauce.
Quark will give you very similar results in 1/2 the effort.
And if you want to soufflé to be really cheesy, do not hesitate to add some grated Parmesan cheese to your base.

What does it take ?

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes
Serves: 2 to 3
Cost: Economical

What do I need ?

- 4 eggs
- 1 pot of Lake District Company plain Quark
- 50g finely grated parmesan (optional)
- 100g bacon / lardons
- Salt and pepper
- Nutmeg (optional)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard or 1 tsp powdered mustard
- Butter to butter the dish(es)

What do I do ?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Win a bottle of Alassala's delicious and super healthy Organic Argan Oil, as well as two pots of olives of your choice

Alassala's has kindly offered a bottle of their fab Argan oil (for cooking and salads) as well as some olives of your choice.
I recently reviewed their delicious products, wonderful ethical business and created a couple of Moroccan Chicken Tajine recipes (traditional)

Product Review: My review of Alassala's Organic Argan Oil and other products
Traditional Recipe : Traditional Moroccan chicken, olives and lemon tajine
Casserole dish version : Chicken tajine in a casserole dish - Modernised version of a traditional Moroccan dish

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Protein fuelled, low fat lunch wrap with tuna, avocado and Quark - Recipe

A super proteined lunch for sustainable energy.
Even better news, it is very low fat.

My lean version of tuna mayo used to be mixing tuna and cream-cheese.
Thankfully, now that Quark is available on most super-market shelves, this is the ultimate in low fat lunch ;-)
Quark is virtually fat-free and as tasty and creamy as cream-cheese !

Here is my recipe

Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time : 1 min
Quantities : for 2 wraps

What do I need ?

- 2 tortilla wraps
- 1 small can of tuna in brine (200g)
- 1 avocado pear
- 1/2 lemon
- 1 shallot (optional)
- 3 to 4 tbsp The Lake District Company plain Quark
- 1tsp Dijon mustard
- A large pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt

What do I do?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Lemon and coconut tarts with Quark - Recipe

These are particularly delicious warm.
It is a classic french recipe, usually made with shortcrust pastry.
I made this one with puff pastry to :
1. Gain time, the puff pastry doesn't need blind baking ;-)
2. The result is even better with the flaky puff pastry against the light macaroon type filling
I made individual tartlets but feel free to make a large single one.

Preparation time: 15 mins.
Cooking time: 25 to 30 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 tartlets or a large tart for 6 people

What do I need ?

- 1 sheet of ready-made puff pastry
- 60g butter
- 75g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 75g plain Lake District Company Quark
- juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
- 45g desiccated coconut

What do I do ?

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Batiste - Leave in Smoothing Conditioner Mist - Review

Still part of the latest BzzAgent Batiste campaign, I was given a can of Leave in Smoothing Conditioner Mist to try for free.

I thought the dry shampoo was convenient for emergencies but I wasn't converted.
Now; I am definitely a convert of the Conditioning Mist !

Through the years, I have tried various leave-in conditioners with results ranging from mediocre and leaving my hair greasy to good or above average with decent softening properties.
Never had I yet come across a miracle product.
Batiste Conditioning Mist could fit into this category now ;-)

What does Batiste say about it?

Goodbye brittle mop, hello silky locks - a few spritz of the superlight dry feel Smoothing Conditioning Mistspray, infused with Argan Oil, is perfect for the days when you are fighting the frizz or dry ends are driving you dotty. A quick spritz into the mid lengths & ends nourishes, smoothes fly-aways and helps retain moisture in dry unmanageable hair, giving you shiny, great looking hair every day.

What do I think ?

Monday, 12 August 2013

What to do with the kids this Summer - Cutty Sark - Deck & Captain's Quarters - Greenwich, London

Here is the second and last part of the Cutty Sark's photo album.
We are looking at the deck and some of the Captain's quarters.

The bow and some impressive rigging
More below:

Saturday, 10 August 2013

100% Ethically Source and Organic Cooking Argan Oil from Alassala - Review

We all know the benefits of argan oil for beauty and the product has now become ubiquitous in cosmetics.
Many claiming they contain argan oil, even if it is a fraction of a percentage.
However, I fell in love with aragan oil for its initial intended purpose about 10 years ago : cooking !
The taste is wonderfully nutty but more discreet than hazelnut or walnut oil.
I used to buy it on trips to Morocco or some specialists shops on the continent.
Finally ! I can now buy it in the UK, online at Alassala :-) 

What is Alassala Organic Argan oil ?

Argan oil comes from the nut of the argan tree.
It is only found in South West Morocco and produced naturally by women cooperatives.
After cracking, the inner “almond” is ground into paste and the golden oil extracted. 
One tree, producing 30Kg of fruit, delivers just one litre of oil. Alassala Organic Moroccan Argan Oil is 100% pure and natural. It is perfect for healthy diet as it is rich in essential vitamins, such as Vitamin E and Omega acids.

Win your own Alassala's Organic Argan cooking oil and Alassala's olives of your choice starting soon.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Moroccan Chicken tajine with Alassala Organic Argan Oil - Traditional method - Healthy recipe

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for the Moroccan chicken tajine with olives, preserved lemons and potatoes.
As most of us do not own a tajine dish, I modernised the recipe and made it in a casserole dish.
However, for the traditionalists; here is the recipe as my nanny used to make ;-)
If you have a tajine dish, this is even more delicious than the previous recipe !

The Argan oil is not compulsory but will make a delicious and healthy addition.
You can buy the Argan oil at Alassala on line; they also sell some delicious olives and preserved lemon.
And for those of you who only believe in Argan Oil for beauty; they also sell the cosmetic version.
Alassala online shop

Win your own Alassala's Organic Argan cooking oil and Alassala's olives of your choice soon.

A new competition to win the above will start on 20th August.
Come back to this site to enter through the rafflecopter on the competition post (Will be published 19th August)

See the range of olives here : Alassala's olive range

Here is the recipe :

Monday, 29 July 2013

Batiste dry shampoo strength & shine - Review

As part of the latest BzzAgent campaign, I was given a whole range of new Batiste product to try.

The first one was the Strength & Shine Dry Shampoo.

What does Batiste says ?

Who says you should be resigned to a bad hair day just because you’re between washes? The resident expert in dry shampoo, Batiste, has introduced a new range of products that keeps your hair looking fabulous on the days you don’t wash your hair. Quickly and conveniently give your hair the care it needs on with a little help from Batiste!
Check out the next page for more information on each of the products

  • Daily hair styling can cause your hair to become weak, brittle and tired looking. That’s why Batiste created the Strength and Shine Dry Shampoo, enriched with
  • L-Arganine – an amino acid known to stimulate the hairs follicles. A quick burst instantly refreshes your hair between washes and helps it to look and feel stronger, shinier and altogether gorgeous!

What do I think ?

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Things to do with kids this Summer - Cutty Sark - Lower Hold - Greenwich London

Having a stay-cation or visiting London with the kids this summer ?
I will be posting 2 different series of this wonderful ship.
Let's start with  the Lower Hold :

Cutty Sark was built in 1869 and was one of the very last tea Clippers.
She was the fastest sailing cargo ship ever but steam power came  to replace sails.

Besides, with the opening of the Suez Canal in the same year Cutty Sark was built; steam ships enjoyed a journey to China or Australia cut by a huge 3,000 miles !

The main trade was with tea from China.
This is a stunning example of a tea Chest.

Clippers were racing to bring the tea back from China.
Betting on the fastest ship became a national sport ;-)

The ship bringing the first tea of the year would win a considerable bonus.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Favourite Holiday wardrobe from Phase Eight

What would buy from Phase Eight for an essential holiday wardrobe : a day dress, an evening dress and accessories to match both.
Despite the heat-wave, I am not forgetting to pack some sleeves for the cooler nights.

1. My first choice was the Newberry print dress 95% viscose and 5% elastane, it will keep you cool and won't crease too much in your suitcase. Currently reduced to £69 from £79, offering a saving of 13%.
Easy wash, easy care, easy iron and really pretty … a perfect summer day dress

Monday, 22 July 2013

Moroccan chicken and lemon tajine with Alassala - Organic Argan Oil (Healthy recipe)

A little while ago, I came across a press release for Alassala's distribution of Organic argan food oil in the UK.
I used to use Argan oil for Mediterranean dishes after I bought some in Morocco.
I love the nutty taste of it and it is a super healthy oil.
Unfortunately, I have never seen it in the UK.

You can now buy it online ;-) ;-)


As well as other products imported from Morocco : Olives, Olive Oil, Preserved lemons, Gherkins, Amlou paste, and cosmetic argan oil.

I will be reviewing the oil and tell you a bit more about the benefits shortly in a different post.

Back to our tajine :
I grew up with a Moroccan Nanny.
She was born in Oujda and came to my country after completing her history degree.
She used to spend hours and hours making delicious Moroccan pastries every time my parents were entertaining guests.
But on a daily basis, she used to feed me with the most amazing Moroccan dishes, all made in the tradition of the women in her family.

I will post the traditional recipe IN the tajine next week.
In the meantime, most of us do not have a tajine dish at home.
I have therefore twisted the technique to my own (Afwan Saliha ;-) )

I served it up with some Moroccan spiced carrots.

Update : 

Win your own Alassala's Organic Argan cooking oil and Alassala's olives of your choice soon.

A new competition to win the above will start on 20th August.
Come back to this site to enter through the rafflecopter on the competition post (Will be published 19th August)
See the range of olives here : Alassala's olive range


Feeds : 2 big eating adults or a family of 2 adults and 2 children
Preparation time : 15 mins
Cooking time : 30 mins to 1 hour (Depends on the size of the potato chunks)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Lost in Translation 2 - Beijing - Photo album

This is going to be my very last post about Beijing (At least until I visit again)
These pictures were all taken at the Great Wall

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Caorunn Gin - A Sensorium experience and review

A few weeks ago, I discovered Caorunn Gin through a master-class at their Taste of London stand.
I have always been a gin lover from the classic G&T to the more fancy Gin Martini cocktail.

For many years, only Gordon Dry Gin with Schweppes tonic water would do for G&T's
(Fever tree since Schweppes got greedy and replaced some of the sugar by artificial sweeteners in all their drinks !)
Then I discovered Bombay Sapphire with Noilly Prat for dry martinis
Eventually Hendrick, Tanqueray, Plymouth etc in martini cocktails
As you experiment with different brands, you realise that gin, like whisky have many faces, each with its own predominant flavour (Juniper for Gordon, spices for Bombay, and cucumber for Tanqueray)

What does Caorunn say ?

Photo credit : Caorunn Gin webiste

What do I think ?

Caorunn Gin Sensorium in full swing at Taste of London
Photo from Caorunn's Gin Facebook page