Softsole Express VS Milky Foot

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In Australia, it is heading into that time of year again where you might want to get the feet out of their shoes and socks. I like to do a foot peel from time to time in spring and summer. I’ve used Milky Foot before – it is usually $25+ where I live, so when I saw Softsole Express for $8.99 in Priceline, I thought I would give it a try.

I found it to be slightly less efficient than Milky Foot but at that price you can nearly have 3 of them for the price of one Milky Foot. You have to leave it on for longer than Milky Foot. I would buy Softsole again. Weirdly it cannot be found on the Priceline website. Maybe that is a lack of talent on my part, though.

Six tips I would give you –

1. You need to get yourself organised before you put these things on your feet, because walking will be virtually impossible in fact it is downright dangerous. Use the bathroom first. Have everything you are going to need for the next 60-90 minutes handy eg water, your cup of tea, a snack, whatever. Make sure your phone is nearby.

2. If you have a spare pair of older socks which you don’t mind if they get the solution on them, you can put socks on over the booties. This will not enable you to walk safely, but it will keep your toes warm if it is a cooler day.

3. Keep your feet flat on the ground while you have the treatment socks on, otherwise you may notice some solution begin to leak out of the back.

4. After the treatment moisturize your feet twice to four times a day for the first few days as you will get a better result this way. It can take 3-4 days for the skin to begin peeling off. You will probably notice small bits coming off to begin with usually on the underskin of the toes.

5. Once your feet start peeling, if you want to speed up the process a little you can soak them in hot water with some peppermint oil added.

6. Don’t do this treatment if you have a special event coming up in the next couple of weeks where you will have your feet out on display. The peeling can happen for 2-3 weeks.

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Here is a review of the product you can read, and also the Softsole website, if you want to know more.

Milky Foot is excellent and worth a try but at the price you will likely only want to do it once over the summer. That is not a bad thing because you don’t want to do a foot peel more than once a month. Here is the Milky Foot website.

Between the two – softsole smells a lot better than milky foot does. The softsole packet is less optimal than the milky foot one is – it is more prone to splitting on the top. I could walk very carefully with the softsole packet on, I could not with the milky foot one. I think there is a lot more liquid in the milky foot packet.

My Korean friend tells me these treatments are super popular in Korea. My Chinese Aunt tells me these treatments are very popular in China. A couple of years back Milky Foot did a big advertising drive here in Australia and that is where I first heard about them.

health, reviews

Lone Star Shellharbour

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Loco cheesy land trout garlic bread & Amarillo cheese fries

We were so excited to hear Lone Star had opened at Shellharbour. Even though it is an hours drive away from us, we have many good memories of the old Lone Stars we used to visit years ago. We made a booking the day before our visit for the 6 of us. Lucky we did because the place was absolutely packed when we got there on a busy Saturday night.

We go to Shellharbour once a month or so but we had never been at night time. If this is the case for you, maybe you will wonder the same things we did – where do you park? Is the shopping centre open to walk through? You can park in the normal carpark near the food area which is open till 10:30pm, and part of the shopping centre near the restaurants is open – they have security gates locking off the non-open area. Kmart was open, as was Coles.

The atmosphere was brilliant. It was a little noisy. There is not much in the room to soak up the sound. The Old West theming of this restaurant is very well done with lots of wood and big wine barrel tables at the bar.

From the start our server Grace was constantly checking in with us, making sure we all had drinks and taking our order for entrees. We chose the Amarillo fries x1 and the hilariously named loco cheesy land trout (bacon) garlic bread x3.

While waiting for this to arrive I saw the garlic bread appear at another table and I began to be concerned we might have ordered too many as they are 2 slices in the serve but the slices are quite long.

We took a while to choose mains and Grace was very patient with us. In fact just as we finished ordering our mains, all the entrees arrived. The garlic bread was actually one of the best garlic breads we have eaten, ever. Smooshy bread, lots of flavour. We did not leave any behind. The Amarillo cheese fries were just as we remembered them, the ranch dipping sauce delicious.

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Because we were late ordering our mains we did have a bit of a wait to receive them. We were right up the back of the restaurant near the food pass and it turned out this was a very interesting spot to be. There seemed to be a bit of confusion going on at the pass at times – I do not think that pass is big enough for a restaurant of this size when it is a busy night. All the other food going out past us looked great.

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Our mains arrived and they were delicious. Absolutely no complaints, those who ordered steaks got them exactly how they wanted them, mostly medium or well done, they were cooked perfectly. I had the chicken which was yummy. I missed out on taking pics of two of the meals, sorry! ;)

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We did not have any dessert intentions but Grace changed our minds by offering us a look at the dessert menus, and we ordered 4 to share between us. Raspberry cheesecake at the top, the chocolate brownie in the middle, and then pecan pie at the bottom. The pecan pie was served warm and was incredible, I had the cheesecake which was also great however once I tried the pie I had some order envy.

The bill was a little more $$ than we had expected, however two of our party were ordering some expensive beers. Food wise it worked out at less than $50 a head for entrees, mains, and dessert.

They still do the birthday clapping thing with the sparkler on the brownie, but the hourly boot scooting dancing was not seen. I kinda think that is a good thing in some ways. The staff have other things to be doing!

Oh, I nearly forgot, there was a magician named Jordan who visited our table, who did a card trick for us. We are still trying to work out how it was done. He was lovely.

The only negatives we experienced – no name badges for the staff, the wooden booths can be a bit uncomfortable for longer visits (BYO seat cushions!) and the plates for the mains are a bit too small and fancy and make eating a bit difficult because of the lip, especially with the ribs as they are longer than the lip of the plate.. I would say they are fine for entrees but a larger mostly flat plate would be better for mains in my opinion.

I was worried when I read the reviews before we went, however I did have a feeling that most of those complaints were due to teething issues as the restaurant was quite new and staff training issues. It seems they have heard the feedback and taken it all on board, because many of the previous complaints mentioned on the web did not appear for us – eg missing cutlery and napkins, not checking in about how the food was, checking we were ok for drinks, all of that stuff went great for us.

We loved it and we will be back, for sure

Here is the menu which is presently unavailable online. You can visit the Lone Star website here.

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food, reviews

Greenwell Point Chinese Restaurant

greenwellpoint1The view from the Greenwell Point Chinese Restaurant

On our very first visit to this area when my parents were told they would be transferred here, we went for a drive to Greenwell Point. We drove past this little club with a Chinese restaurant attached and thought it looked like a place we should try. Little did we know that we would be eating there at least once a month and sometimes once a week, for the next 10 years. It is our go-to place to take our visitors.

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There are two tables that seat 10, if you are bringing a large party you *always* want to make a booking here. If you are visiting in school holidays, you NEED to make a booking or else you might not get a table, even for a small party. If you cannot get a table inside the restaurant, you can always order take away and eat it out in the bowling club or take it home with you.

There are usually two sittings at most of the tables – one between 5-630 and one between 7-8.30 – so if you can’t get a table at the time you want, try asking for earlier or later. Outfit wise, I recommend layering up, sometimes the wind coming off the water can be cool and if you are sitting near the large glass windows that area can sometimes get a little chilly.

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For starters we usually pick one of two things – Sang Choy Bow, or Mini Spring Rolls and Fried Dim Sims. Note – you only get 6 of each – we specifically asked for 8 on this occasion as there were 8 of us. You can also get the Dim Sims steamed, which we have done before too. They come with a sauce similar to sweet and sour sauce. We’ve tried all the starters and they are all fantastic, the soups are also great. The prawn toast is delicious too.

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King Prawns in Garlic Brown Sauce was once brought to us by accident. It is pretty amazing to say out of 10 years of dining here, that was the only time we ever had an item brought to us by miscommunication with the order taker. We were very thankful it happened, because this is 100 times better than regular garlic prawns and we have been ordering this dish ever since.

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There are several sizzling dishes on the menu – here you see Sizzling Steak. I will say three things. Do not touch the plate, because it is incredibly hot! Be careful where you put this on the table, because tiny sizzling spatters will fly into the air, and you will not be moving this plate. If you are wearing glasses, do not sit near this dish.

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This is Fried Duck in Plum Sauce. This dish is a real star, especially if you like duck. I do not like duck, but I will still eat this dish. If you do not like duck, but people with you do like it and they order this, try a piece and see if you like it. You might be surprised.

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Fried Pork in BBQ – Salt and Pepper Squid

I do not usually like a lot of pork, but I enjoy this dish, especially the smaller crispy pieces. The Salt and Pepper squid is incredible, it has never been anything but incredible. Just don’t order it as take away, because it loses the crispiness of the batter. If you want squid as a take away dish, try one of the many other variations on the menu.

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This is our most recent star dish – butter pepper chicken. I’ve never seen this on a menu anywhere else, the sauce is a combination of butter and pepper, which does not sound like a good thing to order. However something happens here – perhaps the pepper cuts through the richness of the butter, or maybe there is another secret ingredient doing that job.. it is amazing. The mushrooms are amazing as well.

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With so many visits over the years, we have tried almost everything on the menu at least once. We like to order several mains and rice and share what we’ve ordered. We have gone through stages where one particular thing would have to be ordered on every visit, and then we’d try something else and move onto that.

We are not big on ordering dessert here – they do have fried icecream and we’ve had it and enjoyed it. The Bistro out in the club does some awesome desserts if you are looking for something a little more fancy than the desserts offered at the Chinese. We have never eaten at the Bistro because the Chinese is just too amazing.

You should be aware that my Dad declines the concept of this review. When I started taking food photos, he asked why I was doing that, and I said I was going to write a review because nobody had reviewed this place on Zomato – it is on Tripadvisor.

“No, don’t do that” Dad said. “If you tell everyone about this place, we won’t be able to get a table anymore”. Sorry Dad, the food here is so good, the world needs to know about it. :) We’ll just have to book a little earlier.

Greenwell Point Chinese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I will be doing a few more local food reviews with the holiday and tourist season coming up – important to note – We always pay for our food. Nobody pays me for writing these reviews. Sadly nobody asks me to review their restaurant/cafe/food place as yet. If asked, I will review a food place, but I will not accept payment for any reviews. I will review freebies or free items but I will always make it clear if something is free.

You might be interested to visit my disclosure page if you want to know more.

family, food, Greenwell Point, Happy Snoskred, reviews

The Huskisson – Review

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~ image from The Huskisson website
~ the place was so packed with people it was impossible to get a decent shot ~

On a sunny Sunday in early November, we revisited one of our favourite local places to eat. They have this delicious pizza there which I was suddenly craving, friends were visiting, the timing seemed perfect. This place has a fantastic location as you can see by the images.

It should be noted, I previously reviewed The Huskisson @Tripadvisor on May 13 2013. In that review I mentioned some issues with the design of the place plus they were only using one till for food ordering.

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~ image from The Huskisson website

On a previous revisit in 2014 I noticed they were doing some internal renovations and I had hoped these design issues would have been fixed. Sadly they were not fixed. People are still queuing across a walk way and there is still only one till. We ended up sitting near the ordering area. I had a great view of the pass and that was designed quite badly as well, with a staff member there the whole time moving plates around, trying to work out what food went with which receipt and then using a buzzer system to let people know their food was ready.

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Design issues aside, the food is still fantastic here. The bruschetta ($14 for 3 pieces) is amazing. It has avocado on it! I’d never had it with avocado before finding that here and it is a brilliant addition. The bruschetta also has tomato, fresh basil, toasted ciabatta, and fetta. It arrives on a plate which has been drizzled with a gorgeously sticky balsamic vinegar glaze.

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You can see the menu here. For mains, 3 people ordered fish and chips ($24.50) – they all said it was delicious.

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The Other Half went for the Waygu burger ($19.50) minus the beetroot relish because he does not like beetroot.

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One friend chose the Chicken Parmigiana ($23.50). I’ve had that before and it is very tasty as well.

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But me, I cannot go past the Husky Pizza ($20), which has Danish salami, chorizo, roast chicken, mushrooms, Spanish onion, roast capsicum, olives, fresh basil, prawns, Napoli sauce, mozzarella cheese. In fact, the pizza was even better than ever before. They did something to the base and it was super thin, crispy, crunchy and just awesome. I will make a very large call here and suggest this is one of the best pizzas in the Shoalhaven. You can see the full menu here.

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We did not have desert sadly but I took some photos for you, they do coffee here as well.

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Our lunch was delicious and much enjoyed by all. We will return many times. If you visit and want a peaceful lunch, I recommend sitting as far as possible from the ordering area and the pass. If you want some entertainment, then I do recommend sitting near both of those things!

The Huskisson Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I will be doing a few more local food reviews with the holiday and tourist season coming up – important to note – We always pay for our food. Nobody pays me for writing these reviews. Sadly nobody asks me to review their restaurant/cafe/food place as yet. If asked, I will review a food place, but I will not accept payment for any reviews. I will review freebies or free items but I will always make it clear if something is free.

You might be interested to visit my disclosure page if you want to know more.

food, Huskisson, Jervis Bay, reviews

Orient Point Bakehouse

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I belong to a local restaurant feedback group on Facebook. People post photos and text of their experiences at local restaurants. I pay attention and store away nuggets of gold for future reference. Such nuggets involve names of places that get good feedback regularly and photos of food that look like something I want to try.

I’d read about Cronuts on lots of different food blogs with interest, so when someone posted about locally available cronuts at the Orient Point Bakehouse, I added that place to the very top of my list. Before we could organise a visit, they closed for a months holiday.. and I counted the days until they reopened. We headed down there *early time* on the very first Saturday they were open.

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I ordered the Iced Salted Caramel ($5.50) – it was quite spectacular and perfectly balanced. That caramel on top was fluffy and very special. The Other Half chose the Iced Mocha (seen below, $5.50) – I tried it and it was packed full of chocolatey coffee flavour goodness.

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While we were waiting for our food, I began to worry that the cronuts I saw on the counter – initially 6, now down to 2 – were the last ones available! I spoke to a staff member and it was as I feared, so I asked if they could be put aside for us.

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I felt like the cronut might be too much sugar for my still yet to awaken stomach, so to eat I chose the bacon and egg roll with tomato relish. People. I’m not kidding. This is by far the best egg and bacon roll I have ever experienced in my lifetime and I have had quite a few. The bacon fat – which is normally something I remove as much as possible – was perfectly rendered – not chewy, not noticeable, just very tasty.

The tomato relish was the element that lifted this from normal to extraordinary. It was vinegary, tomato packed, flavourful, and zingy. This was quite large – that bun is about the size of a hot dog roll – and all for the teeny sum of $5.

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Deeply satisfied and with cronuts in hand, we left. I was so full from breakfast that the cronuts waited until 3pm coffee time. And I thought the bacon and egg roll was good. There are no words for how amazing this was. Topped with whipped cream and a gorgeous blueberry jam, and dusted with CRISPY sugar, I am very glad this place is only open weekends. If it were open weekdays, I might be tempted to cruise down and pick one up on a regular basis.

There are two important things to know before you head off to this place –

1. They take cash only. I’m not sure how I knew this because it does not say anything on the website about that. It might have been reading reviews on the web. This is somewhat normal for our local area but I do find it to be a negative in this day and age, I will not lie about that.

I rarely carry cash myself and I was not sure there would be an ATM down there. We had to make a special trip into town to get enough cash before we headed down that way. While we got out of there for just over $30, some of the menu items are more expensive, so my advice is to bring more cash than you think you would need.

2. The place is quite small with limited seating so if it is packed you may have to wait a little for a table or get take away. They have some tables out the front as well if the weather is sunny.

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They do have a sample menu available via their Facebook page with some pricing.

This was our first ever visit to Orient Point, which is a sleepy coastal village on the NSW South Coast. We will be back regularly. I’m thinking once a month will allow me to try many menu items before spring and summer are over and also not be too calorific for my present lifestyle. How will I choose something other than the bacon and egg roll? I’m not sure.. :)

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Orient Point Bakehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I have heard these guys are moving to Culburra Beach sometime this year, so make sure to check the address on the website before you head over. :)

food, Orient Point, reviews

Harvest Box Snacks

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Sometimes these flybuys offers are pretty excellent. A few weeks ago they sent me an email offering me either $50 credit at Coles, or 10,000 flybuys points which also = $50 credit in return for spending $70 a week for 4 weeks. I prefer to use my flybuys credit in small chunks so I went for the points. You can redeem 2000 points for $10 off a shop and I like to save my points for weeks when the budget needs a little helping hand.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I realised we had not spent our $70 for that week, so out into the rain we went, for an impromptu and somewhat rushed shopping trip. We only needed $36 worth of stuff, so a few items we would not normally buy ended up in the shopping basket.

I’d heard of Harvest Box before and I’d wanted to try their healthy snacks subscription box when I was working in the call centre but never got around to signing up, so when I saw these new packaged Harvest Box snack packs at Coles on special for $2 each, I thought I’d give them a try. It was a total impulse buy.

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I am a sucker for cherries, so I grabbed these without a second thought and without reading the packaging.

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I ate one of each item before I took the photo, which means there were 2 cherries. 7 hazelnuts and 20 yoghurt balls. This is not especially balanced in my opinion, and me personally when a product has Cherry in the title, I’d like to see a few more cherries in the mix. With that said, the yoghurt balls are very tasty and more-ish.

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Strawberry Milkshake was a little better, with 4 strawberries and a mix of other berries. I didn’t count the other bits but it seemed like a much more reasonable mix with just 12 yoghurt balls.

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The biggest concern I have with these is the little thing on the back of the packet that says “Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients” and nowhere could I find out more about the origin of the items I was eating. I searched the website and their Facebook page to no avail.

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A lot of people may have forgotten the frozen berries and Hepatitis thing, but I have not. I would not buy these again – as tasty as they were – purely because of that tiny little writing on the back of the pack.

In fact, these were bought on a very rushed shopping trip and had I checked the label in the store, they would not have gone home with me at all. I usually check the label of any new product I buy. That discovery was very disappointing. :( I’m sure if I spend some time in the dried fruits aisle, I can find better options grown here which are more reasonably priced and if I can’t find what I am looking for, I would prefer to eat something fresh but grown in Australia.

I hope companies realise when they are not specific about what items are imported they might be losing sales. For example, my favourite salad dressing now has Made in Australia from local and imported ingredients on the label. I contacted them for more information – not wanting to have to find a replacement salad dressing – and was informed that the only imported ingredients were the extra virgin olive oil, which came from Spain, and the balsamic vinegar, which came from Italy. It would not have been very difficult to make that clear on the label.

As always, nobody paid me for my review of these items, I bought them myself with my own money, I am reporting to you my personal experience, and this is totally my own opinion which others might not agree with.

Australia, food, reviews, shopping

Wax Melts Sample

Snoskred received a free sample which any PINCHme member could receive as long as they answered the survey questions and qualified for the sample.

So let me say right up front.. Nobody is paying me to write any of this, though I guess that will become somewhat self evident as you read on.

PINCHme had a survey you could fill in to see if you would qualify for a “secret sample” – so I filled it in, and I got an email telling me I qualified and I would receive a sample of Glade Wax Melts.

So they were aware, from my answers to this survey, that I burn wax melts regularly, and that I have never bought their wax melts before. I looked at them when they first came out and there was a special pack with the burner but they were all sold out when I went to get one. I had picked them up and smelled them, and there were a couple of flavours I would be likely to purchase.

I was extremely excited about this sample because I am a wax melts girl. I love those things. Here are some of the Yankee Candle ones I brought back from Hawaii last trip..

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I am now able to source the Yankee Candle melts here, though at double the US price. You can buy them too – most Spotlight stores now stock them. I’m here to tell you from a lot of testing these personally, they smell amazing, the scent lasts a long, long time, and there is a huge range of scents to choose from. The candles are awesome as well but not at all cheap.

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I also brought back a bunch of Essenza candle melts and a bunch of Better Homes and Gardens wax melts. And even though I have been using them regularly I still have quite a few of these left.

With all that said, I like to mix it up and have as many different scents to choose from as possible – because who knows if I will be in the mood for Red Delicious or Black Coconut or Spiced Rum Cake.

So here was a chance for a new company I do not usually buy product from to win my regular wax melts business. They were sending me a sample! YAY! I was very excited.. but day after day went by, and no sample appeared. The date for me to give feedback on the sample was getting closer and I was starting to think I might not be able to leave any feedback this time. Then I got an email advising me there was a delay with the sample and it will arrive sometime in January.

And eventually, arrive it did.

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And then I wondered why they even bothered to send me this stingy one little wax cube.

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Glade, you are asking me to spend $8.99 for 6 wax cubes on an ongoing basis, while sending me one, tiny, little cube.

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I think, perhaps not.

Samples are a great chance for company and consumer to try each other out, see if maybe a relationship can develop. I took the time to fill in the sample and qualify for you that I am a potential customer, and then you scrimp on the sample you sent me? Stingy much?

For your future reference, Glade. Fairy sent me 3x dishwasher tablets. Pantene sent me enough shampoo and conditioner for 5 washes. If you are going to send out samples, I think 2-3 squares in different scents is the minimum you should aim for.

Sephy you ought to get this – Better Homes and Gardens Wax Warmer Starter Set, Woodland Deer – next time you are at Walmart, if you can’t find an Essenza kit at Costco.

Here are some closer views of the Yankee wax melts.

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aromatherapy, PINCHme, reviews, shopping, Snoskred hearts

Crabtree and Evelyn Hand Therapy Tin

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I bought myself this gorgeous tin full of fragranced hand creams a while back and I have not posted about it. How remiss of me! ;) The reason I am mentioning it now is because I found the musical Christmas tin with 12 hand therapy creams is presently on sale for $55.30.

I have been using this hand cream for several months now and it is far and away the best hand cream I have ever used. I think it is a decent deal at that price tag, especially when you get a keepsake tin as well and 5 tubes of 25g would normally cost you around $50, here you are getting 12 tubes for just $5 more. I’m not so sure on the musical tin thing. But they have some other good specials as well, including 25g of various flavoured hand creams for just $7.

My keepsake tin with a rainbow floral and fruit theme on the outside measures 27cm by 37cm. Open it up, and the rainbow theme continues.

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Let us take a closer look at the scented hand creams contained inside.

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In this row we have – Pomegranate, Argan & Grapeseed – Tarocco Orange, Eucalyptus & Sage – Somerset Meadow – Citron Honey & Coriander – my favourite scent on this row is the Citron Honey & Coriander.

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In this row we have – Lily – Avocado, Olive and Basil – La Source – Himalayan Blue – with Avocado, Olive and Basil being my favourite scent on this row.

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Finally – Lavender – Iris – Evelyn Rose – Rosewater – with Lavender being my favourite here.

About the hand cream –

They are not kidding when they say ultra moisturising. For me that is a good thing because I wash my hands more often than a human should. Also, a tiny little dab of this cream goes a long way. I usually use a dab about half the size of a 5 cent coin. It absorbs into the skin super fast and does not leave a sticky residue. It feels quite silky and it stays feeling silky for longer than you would expect.

The scent is intense when first applied – for example the lavender smells like you just took dried lavender and smooshed it with your palms. What I really enjoy about it is that the scent changes over time and you get different hits from the various notes. When you open the tube and smell it, the scent you first smell is not necessarily the scent you will get once you apply the cream.

Some of the scents I am not a huge fan of, though none of them are unbearable to me. My least favourite is the Pomegranate, Argan & Grapeseed. There’s a note in there I don’t like. If you have a Crabtree and Evelyn store near you I would strongly recommend you drop in and try the creams to find which scent is your favourite before purchasing.

If you are willing to take a gamble and risk having a tube or few you don’t love the scent of, the tin of different scents is good. My experience has been you really need to trial each fragrance separately. Id suggest choosing one tube each day for 12 days and apply it 2-3 times across the day.

I bought mine online without having tried it and the only hand cream I have ever used that I like as much as than this one is the Hemp Hand Protector from The Body Shop. However the Hemp cream tends to be a little sticky and takes longer to absorb, and if I use that then I can’t type or touch things for at least 5 minutes, so I mostly save that cream for bedtime.

These little tubes are perfect for me while working at the computer and I’ll even use up the scents I don’t like as much just because the cream is so good. Because there are so many different scents, I like to mix it up and not use the same one each day. And though I have been using these regularly for some months now, these tubes show no signs of my using them. It is almost like a magic trick.

You can find a slightly different version of my gorgeous rainbow tin here –
Crabtree and Evelyn Hand Therapy Tin.

I should mention that I also purchased some biscuits which were amazeballs but I bought them for The Other Half so I only got to eat one. They were not cheap, nor did they taste it. He loves a shortbread and they had an orange one.

I purchased my own products and I am reviewing this product here because I love it. If ever I do a review where the products are supplied to me, I hope you all know I would disclose that very clearly at the top of the post, plus whatever I say will always be my own thoughts and opinions. :)

reviews, shopping, Snoskred hearts, yay

Madonna – Confessions On A Dance Floor

It is not often that I buy a CD and like every track on it. In fact it is incredibly rare that I like a CD enough to want to write about it on my blog. Even with a favourite artist there is usually something which doesn’t sit right or something I don’t like. How many times do you buy a CD and find out later you only like 2 or 3 tracks? I hate that. That is exactly why so many people download music these days.

A couple of months ago we bought some CD’s. For long drives The Other Half likes something with a beat, something that keeps him awake. We had a few Madonna tracks on our compilation CD’s and I have always liked her music but I had no idea what a treat we were in for when we bought Confessions On A Dance Floor. If you like your music without all the ho’s and beeyotches that you find in (c)rap these days and you enjoy dance music, you will enjoy this cd.

You may recall a couple of the songs from this album – if nothing else you may remember the film clip where Madonna was dancing in a pink leotard. Yes, the outfit was just wrong for several reasons, not the least of which was the tan panti-hose which ended mid calf. However it is mesmerizing to watch precisely because it is so wrong.

This was soon followed by the track “Sorry” which contained a couple more equally wrong outfits, namely a purple leotard and silver leotard. The ugly tan panti hose was thankfully nowhere to be seen.

Every track is wonderful but my favourite would be Future Lovers which is like taking a bath in bass when it gets played in the car, and I love the “Give me evidence of his brilliance” lyric, and the harmonies. There’s no official film clip for this track but I found the song on you tube anyway. ;)

The bottom line is simply this. When I have to do housework I like to put music on that makes me move and this music is exactly that. It’s just over 55 minutes long and that is the perfect time – you do chores till it’s done, then you take a break for 5-10 minutes. This CD has been played over and over while we moved, at least once a day for almost two months. I still enjoy it as much as I did the first time I listened to it.

Madonna has always been a controversial strong female artist. She doesn’t do those silly high notes like Mariah does. Her voice is much more sing along and Confessions On A Dance Floor is much more dance along than any of her other albums that I can recall. If you don’t have it and you like the tracks posted as videos above? Keep an eye out for it because if you liked that you’ll enjoy the entire cd.

Obviously this was not a sponsored post – I wish it could have been! I wonder why music artists don’t seek reviews from bloggers because if we like something we’re going to tell everyone. ;) Maybe there’s not enough money in music these days with all that downloading.

music, reviews

A night at The Sydney Harbour Marriott

I’d like to do a bit of a review of one of the hotels we stayed at – the Sydney Harbour Marriott which is a true 5 star hotel. After staying there, I can really say I had never stayed anywhere which was 5 star before.

We booked through wotif.com.au which we have been using for some years now. The package was this – $309 *Revive Package* Revive yourself by sleeping in the Marriott Bed! Deluxe room with 1 King size bed, includes Bvlgari bath pack and wine take away, Buffet Breakfast for 2, Valet parking, access to health club with indoor heated pool and late checkout of 2pm.

On arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by the Valet. We’d never used valet parking before and yes, I am terribly possessive of my vehicle so this was a bit scary for me. However, the staff member who greeted us instantly made me feel at ease, asking about our luggage and what we wanted to take out of the car and saying he would have it sent up to our room. We entered the hotel lobby and just walking in there put a big smile on my face. It was beautiful. I did not take photos because nobody wants to look like such a tourist in the hotel lobby, but it was *worthy* of a photography session.

We were quickly checked in, given a room on the 27th floor, and whisked away by the elevator – which, I might add, was also stunningly beautiful. I can’t describe it. I wish I could. We did not realise at the time just how lucky we were, because we’d been given a room that was fairly unusual. Once we got inside and I shut the door, I was able to see how unusual it was.

marriott1

As you can see, there are only two rooms on each floor shaped like this. Excellent Feng Shui, in my opinion. I’m sorry the pics aren’t the best, we took them with the camera phone and please note we took them in the morning after sleeping in the bed, it looked much neater than this when we arrived!. Here’s a view looking towards the desk where The Other Half set himself up (with broadband internet I might add) for the stay.

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And here’s a view towards where I set up my laptop in this amazingly comfortable wing chair.

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My pictures don’t really do it justice, ya’all. And to not have curtains, to have shutters! What a BRILLIANT idea.

So, after a walk around Sydney we returned to the room pretty tired and thought we’d have room service instead of go out to eat. The menu was not cheap, but there were many excellent choices there. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich and they had mashed potato on the menu as a side dish you could order with any meal, which I really felt like. So odd, but delicious. The other half chose pasta. It arrived fast, and was really delicious with big serves. We thought about dessert, but chose not.

While we were waiting for dinner, I took a shower because even though it was cold and raining Sydney was still quite humid, and then we got on the subway, which is fantastic but makes one feel quite not clean, especially a germophobe like me. The toiletries supplied by the hotel were scented with lemongrass, and absolutely heavenly. I’ll admit I am a shower snob. I like good water pressure, and I like a shower where the designer has actually thought about what happens when you shower. I hate it when water goes all over the bathroom floor. This shower was very well designed, the water stayed in the shower. As it should! The towels were a little on the small side, but there were plenty of them.

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The other half took some long exposure shots of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the window of the room. Click for a bigger view. I thought dinner was good, but I had no idea of the breakfast delights that awaited me.

Knowing you have a late checkout really takes the pressure off when it comes to morning. We didn’t wake up till 9am, and then I lazed around for a bit while the other half showered. After another scented shower from heaven and a quick hair drying session (the wall dryer was 1500 watts, not 1200 like every other hotel, makes the job a lot faster) we wandered out to catch the lift to breakfast, which was buffet style in the Icons Brasserie. When we got there, quite a queue of people were forming to be seated – looks like we caught the rush, we thought.

I should first mention, I don’t really do breakfast. If at home, I’m lucky to have a bowl of cereal once a week. A hot breakfast is out of the question, except for the occasional Sunday. My parents like hot breakfasts on the weekends but I never got into the habit. I’d rather a cup of coffee. Maybe a croissant.

Buffets can be nightmares. People vying for the best food. People who won’t get out of your way. Some places I have been, you are reminded of pigs at a trough. Not so at the Marriott. There was plenty of room, and the buffet was divided into sort of sections, to make it easier.

On the bar, there were all the fruit juices. I’m a big pineapple juice fan but there were 5 flavors to choose from. I went and got us both a glass of juice, and then a staff member asked us if we wanted coffee, of course the answer was yes. ;) The Other Half said lets eat, so we wandered off to look at the buffet. The choice was incredible. I can’t even remember it all, because I was so stunned by the fact that at the end of the buffet, they had a little section with an egg cook and a pancake cook. I wasn’t really sure what the deal was with that, so I got some scrambled eggs and bacon from the buffet and returned to my seat somewhat amazed. I finished my plate and before you could blink a staff member appeared and asked if they could take it away.

Intent on investigating the egg cook situation, I asked the other half if he wanted pancakes, so I could stand there and watch what was going on. On closer inspection, it appeared you could go there and order what you wanted, they would make it on the spot for you. Fried eggs? Poached Eggs? Boiled Eggs? Omelette? With stuff in it? They had every filling you could imagine there. Pancakes – plain, with blueberries, with fruit in them, crepes..

The urge for an omelette took over, and I forgot all about the other half’s pancakes (a good thing too because he’d gone back to the buffet and filled his plate a second time) and ordered myself an omelette with capsicum, mushroom, shallots, and cheese. That’s what the guy in front of me had, and it sounded so good I ordered it too, and then the person behind me chose the same as well! You just stand there and wait for them to make it, when they’re done you hand them your plate, they put your freshly cooked request onto it and you walk away.

As I’m going back to the table, I realise I had not even noticed a lot of what was on offer because I was so shocked by the egg and pancake situation. I spot what can only be described as an alcove of sweet things. It was like a large bookshelf, filled with continental breakfast bakery delights. Danishes. Doughnuts. Croissants. Friands. Muffins. Next to that was the cereal station. On the other side of the buffet was the toast station, with many toasters and an alcove full of Beerenberg Jams. My favorite!

When I got back to the table I was offered the juice of the day, which was Guava and Pineapple, and that was lovely too. My omelette was delicious beyond my wildest imaginings. Can you tell I really enjoyed my breakfast? :) We both did, actually. We stayed down there for an hour, sampling many treats from the various sections and stuffing ourselves to the gills, I won’t lie to you. ;) I didn’t want to leave, and neither did the other half, but we were so full we couldn’t just sit there watching everyone else eat. Though, I considered the option because the people were fascinating to me. A real cross section of tourists from all over the world. Accents from every corner of the globe were coming to me as a surprise and as we sat there so many people were enjoying themselves as much as we were.

I was also enjoying watching the staff. They seemed to work together very well, and they all seemed very happy, which I found unbelievable. Hotel service jobs must be no fun, in my opinion. People can be really nasty, I know that from retail and I imagine they have customers who are quite troublesome. Yet they all seemed as if they were enjoying doing their jobs and having fun doing it. I had to give up the staff-watch after I found just to look in their direction meant they kept coming over and asking if I needed anything. :)

We wandered back to our rooms and as we got off the elevator we noticed the aroma of lemongrass from everyone’s morning showers had filtered out into the hallway. It was aromatherapy heaven. Then we relaxed for about an hour before making the decision to get packed up and on our way. I collected the remainder of the heavenly toiletries to take home with me, wishing I could buy them ;) We took the quick pics you see above and headed down to check out.

Our car was returned to us exactly as we left it and I thanked the valet who drove it up so heartily I think he was surprised and gave me a beautiful smile. In fact all the staff gave us beautiful smiles, the whole time we were there. It’s not till they’re missing that you notice the absence of smiles.

Now I know why my sister doesn’t do less than 5 star. :) I’d certainly like to do it again, and most hotels won’t meet up to the wonderful standard set by the Sydney Harbour Marriott. The one down side to our stay was, we think the springs in our bed were broken. Hotel beds must get an absolute thrashing and I reckon some kids must have been jumping on this one. I’m not one to complain, it was just a little noisy when turning over, and I liked everything else so much I don’t really care, but I did write a note on the comments form to let them know. I’m sure the hotel will fix it, they probably already have. :)

Just in the interests of disclosure and to prevent confusion, this was NOT a paid review in any way. We paid to stay there ourselves. But if any hotel wants me to come and stay and review them, here is my contact page, I’m happy to oblige ;) As long as you know I’m going to tell people what I really thought of my stay there.

5 star hotels, Happy Snoskred, reviews, travel