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Eco Tycoon (PC) 12/12/2009

A Disappointment

Eco Tycoon (PC) I really like "Tycoon" type games, and I have played a few. So when I got a voucher from CD Wow, I noticed that they were selling a new game by "Valusoft" called EcoTycoon. It retails at $19.99 on the Valusoft website, but I think I only paid about €10 for it as I had money off vouchers. The basic idea seems to be that you pick a continent, and have to biuld powerplants, waste centres and so on to be able to run your continent sucessfully. At the same time, you are suposed to research and develop "green" technologies to produce less Co2. There are also natural disasters that come up, and other challenges along the way. So when I finally received the game, I put in the cd and waited for the game to load. My first problem was missing dll files, but that was easy enough to solve - I was able to download them and then it worked. I am not sure if this would happen to everyone, but a few people seemed to have had a similar problem. So I choose to play in "Windowed" mode, and go through the tutorial. The graphics seem a little basic, and the game is based on reading graphs, so it's a little complicated to follow. But I went through the turorial none the less, until I got to one screen where I had to click on a button for the "next" screen. But the button was at the very bottom of the page, and you couldn't put your cursor on it without the curser going out of the game window. So I was unable to continue at all. So I closed down the game, and started again in "Fullscreen" mode. I ...

The Cholive Company Chruffles 02/02/2009

Let's taste some Chruffles!

The Cholive Company Chruffles From the makers of the Cholive comes the Chruffles! Created in 16 tempting flavoured ganaches, and enrobed in 55% dark chocolate, the Chruffles have been launched in time for Valentines Day. The flavours are Coffee, Hazelnut, Amaretto, Butter Pecan, Caramel, Raspberry, Irish Cream, Champagne, Black Forest, Chocolate, Cappuccino, Mint, Orange, Rum, Toasted Coconut and Tiramisu. My mouth is watering just reading those flavours! Time for some tasting, don't you think? These chocolates are encased in the same 55% dark chocolate as the Cholive, which I really like - not to dark, not too light. The Chruffles are even pretty to look at! Nicely decorated with either different coloured stripes, depending on the flavour, or coloured flakes. The only thing that puzzles me slightly so far, is why, if they are all ganaches, are they called Chruffles? Although I have to say, it does sound better than Chranaches.. Ok, first up is Cappuccino. A lot of companies seem to struggle with any coffee flavoured chocolates - A few I have tried recently hardly had any coffee hit to them at all. This Chruffle is delicious - a good coffee hit in perfect balance with the dark chocolate. The coffee flavour lingers in the mouth for a while, and finally you end up with the bitter/sweet taste from the 55% chocolate. Not bad at all! Next is Mint. I happen to love the combination of mint and dark chocolate, so this one should go down well. Mmm.. again, a really good balance between the flavour ...

The Cholive Company Cholives 02/02/2009

A Cholive? What's that???

The Cholive Company Cholives I love getting post, do you? I especially love getting post when it's a box with chocolate in it :-) And that's exactly what greeted me last week when I came into work. A box all the way from Milwaukee, USA! Up until today, I happened to have the job of working in a chocolate shop (unfortunately the recession has hit here too!). Part of the job included tasting and writing unbiased reviews of new products for the shop's blog. I was asked if I would like to sample a new product called "The Cholive". Of course, I never say no to sampling chocolate, and this sounded really interesting! At first glance, you may be misled to believe that it is a chocolate covered olive, but that would just be gross (I think...?). The company website says that this chocolate was originally made to be a chic accompaniment to a chocolate martini, but has become popular in it's own right, and is a great treat to enjoy along with coffee, wine, or on it's own. So does it live up to what it promises? I received the tin pictured here. So the first thing that catches my attention is the packaging. Now I know that people don't always agree with me, but I really do favour simple, classy, modern designs when it comes to chocolate packaging. And this tin fits the bill - it's the kind of thing that would definitely draw my attention if I saw it displayed in a shop. It's simple, and I like the fact that you can see what's inside. The other really cool thing about the tin is that is has a magnetic base, ...

Gaggia GD Compact 07/11/2008

Italian Style, and Delicious Coffee!

Gaggia GD Compact I have used this machine for a little over a year now at work in the shop where I work. We are not a cafe, so we don't sell huge amounts of hot drinks each day - about 15-20 drinks on average, and this machine was recommended for our amount of use. The machine is not plumbed in, so would be suitable for home use as well - there is just a hose pipe that drains out into a sink. The Gaggia machines have a great reputation, and I can understand why. The machine just looks gorgeous - it is finished in a stylish metallic red, and has a kind of retro feel about it. Its is very easy to use, and makes great coffee (depending on the coffee beans you use of course!). You can make either single or double shots of espresso - depending on what kind of coffee you are making. To fill the machine with water, there is a lid at the back which is easy to remove, and you just top it up as and when you need it. It is recommended for areas with hard water to use water from a filter jug to prevent limescale. The machine takes about 10 minutes to heat up in the morning before you can use it - there is an easy to read pressure guage which shows clearly when the machine is ready to go. We have the single group machine which has a hot water tap to the left, the coffee making part in the middle, and the milk frother spout to the right. It is also easy to clean each evening - you just change a little metal part and flush water through the machine until it runs clear. Once a week it is ... 07/11/2008

Get Creative, Get Printing, and Get Published!! Have you ever dreamed of having your own work in print? Perhaps you have written a novel or a set of poems.. Perhaps you would like to get your blog printed in book form.... Perhaps you would like to showcase all those photographs from your wedding that you have sitting on a cd somewhere.. Perhaps youwould like to produce a school yearbook, a cookbook of your own recipes, a note book featuring your favourite photos... perhaps you are an artist and would like to publsih your best works.. Perhaps you would like to have a professional looking portfolio showing off your photographs, or craft projects.. Well is for you - you just need plenty of time, and some imagination! I have tried making photo books with a few different companies, and havent been disappointed with them - however, I recenty did some wedding photography for some friends, and wanted something of a bit better quality. However, Blurb is more than just a book printing company - you can also create and manage your own bookstore. If you have a book that you have created - be it text, photographs or whatever - you can display it in your own online bookshop, and set the price to whatever you like. Blurb handles the order, prints the book, takes the payment, and ships to the customer without you having to deal with any of that hassle. You get paid once a month once you have reached a certain amount of profit. If you dont reach tha amount, it rolls over to the next month. The only charge is a ...

Butlers Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Bar 07/11/2008

Smooth, rich, nutty and delicious!!

Butlers Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Bar This is my favourite Butlers chocolate bar! And yes, I have tried them all! First for the technical stuff: The bar costs €1.50 and weighs75g. Ingredients are as follows: "Milk chocolate (sugar, full cream milk powder, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, emulsifier: soya lecithin, flavour: vanillin), hazelnut paster, plain chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier: soya lecithin, flavour: vanillin), hazelnuts, butter oil. This product contains cow's milk, soya and nuts" No nutritional information on the bar - and none that I can see on the website. The packaging is stylish, as with all of the Butlers bars. A simple white wrapper with the Butlers logo embossed in gold. A simple photo of the product on one end, showing the bar outside and inside! These bars are nice and chunky, and one is plenty to satisfy a chocolate craving. The bar is encased in a thick layer of Butlers milk chocolate, and inside is a rich and creamy hazelnut praline. Inside each square of chocolate, there is a whole hazelnut - giving a crunchy, nutty, smooth, rich mixture with each bite. Definately worth a try - if you like chocolate and if you like nuts! ...

Butlers Hot Chocolate 06/11/2008

Butlers Hot Chocolate Drink

Butlers Hot Chocolate Firstly, I would like to point out that although this product comes under the category of "Cocoa (Instant)", it is not cocoa - it is Hot Chocolate! That means that it is a drink made with "real" chocolate, not with cocoa powder. I have mixed feelings about Butlers chocolates in general - I have tasted many of their products, and I love some of them, and am not so keen on others. So, it was with interest that I tried this new product. It has only just become available here in Ireland, I am not sure you can buy it in the UK as yet. First things first - the box itself is very attractive. It is a rich chocolatey brown colour with the Butlers logo in gold, and a photo of a pair of hands holding a teacup with a delicious looking chocolate drink in the cup, and a piece of the chocolate that you find inside dropping into the drink. Looks very yummy and inviting!! When you open the box, there is a "chocolate box" style tray inside with 10 pieces of chocolate shaped kind of like a teacup (see accompanying photo). Also inside is a small card with instructions, and ideas for variations on plain old hot chocolate. Eg, use cream instead of milk, add marshmallows on top, add a shot of espresso to make a mocha etc etc The box contains 10 servings, the net weight is 230g, and contains the following ingredients (no nutritional information - you can probably find that on the Butlers website)... Skip this bit if you want to go straight on to the taste test! "Milk chocolate ... 13/03/2008

If You Try Any New Make Up - Try This!! Well, girls - you MUST try these products! I was introduced to this website by my sister living in USA about two years ago, and now I buy more or less all of my make up from them. I have also introduced many friends to Everyday Minerals, and they are all still using these products. So what is mineral make up anyway? Everyday Minerals make up contains all natural ingredients. Their make up is free from all plastics, oils, fillers, talcs, and other cancer causing chemicals found in other make up. This make up will not clog up your pores, and therefore will not cause blemishes. So basically, this stuff is all natural, good for those who suffer from senstitive skin and doesnt clog pores or cause blemishes. Using this mineral make up takes a little bit of getting used to compared to ordinary products, but the website has a very good step-by-step guide to using their products, and once you get used to it, you can apply your make up as quickly and easily as any other type. So, all the make-up (lipstick and all) is in powder form. This makes it a little bit messy, but I definitely think that is is worth a bit of mess! The beauty of this is that you can use the same colour/powder for eye shadow, eye-liner, blusher or lipstick making it extremely versatile. If you want to use a certain colour as eye-liner, just dampen a thin eye-liner brush, dip into the powder, and apply as normal. If you want to use it as a lipstick, apply with an eye shadow applicator, and just put ...

Christine Falls - Benjamin Black 08/01/2008

Not Exactly Crime Fiction, But a Quality Read.

Christine Falls - Benjamin Black Firstly - Please note that although this book is listed as Children's Fiction, it is definitely not a children's book! Benjamin Black is the name that Booker Prize winning author John Banville uses to write crime fiction. The story is set in 1950s Dublin, and the central character is Quirke, who is a pathologist. One night, he comes accross his paediatrician brother-in-law seemingly falsifying a death certificate of a young woman called Christine Falls. Intrigued, and increasingly unable to let go of the story, Quirke embarks on a mission to find out what really happened to Christine and why. Black covers issues such as adoption, the Church's control over people in Ireland, Irish Americans, and family relationships. As far as a crime/thriller/page-turner goes, I would say that the book doesnt really work. According to the reviews on the back of the book, I was expecting unusual twists in the story, and an emotional ending. To be honest, I had the plot figured out pretty quickly, and didnt get any surprising twists. The ending was, as is too common in crime fiction, too neatly and quickly tied together in the end which takes away from it's credibility. Blacks writing style is very descriptive and colourful, but better suited to novels than cime fiction. It is not the kind of book you can scoot through quickly, dying to know what happens next. It is more for readers that appreciate a bit more depth, scene-setting and character painting. He explores some interesting ...

Melaleuca Whitening Tooth Polish 08/01/2008

Another Whitening Toothpaste.

Melaleuca Whitening Tooth Polish This is one of the Melaleuca products that I have continued buying. This toothpaste is pleasant tasting - not too strong, but with a mild minty flavour. The benefits are the non-harmful ingredients. The toothpaste contains propolis and Melaleuca Oil (Tea-Tree oil), which fights bacteria, and flouride to prevent cavaties.The whitening formula does not contain harmfull chemicals, but works naturally. I have found that my gums are much less inflamed and red since using this toothpaste regularly. I cant quite make up my mind about it's whitening ability.. Its hard to tell really, as i think it is with all whitening toothpaste. I think there is a slight improvement, but nothing drastic! The down side is that you can only buy it on the Melaleuca website, or through a Melaleuca agent. The toothpaste costs €5.99 for a 108g tube retail price, and €3.99 if you are a Melaleuca customer. The retail price is steep enough, but I guess they want you to join up! Worth a try if you are planning to sign up anyway, or know someone who is a member. ...

Philips GC4311 04/01/2008

When Buying An Iron, Do You Get What You Pay For??

Philips GC4311 After getting completely frustrated with the iron that was in our rented flat I deceided to splash out on a new iron. I was curious to know if it was my ironing skills that were at fault, or whether its true in the realm of irons that you get what you pay for. So with a budget of €60, I scoured the Argos catalogue and reviews on Ciao. The Argos catalogue has a method of rating irons based on the amount of steam they produce, and the grade of the soleplate - with ceramic being the best. So eventually I picked out the Philips Azure as best value for my budget, and sent my husband to queue in Argos for said iron. Being the wonderful man that he is, he actually came back with the object of this review - the Philips GC4311 - as it was on sale from €90 to €45. So I actually got a more expensive iron for less than my budget - always a plus! The iron itself is nice enough to look at, as far as irons go. The cord is average length, and the dials are all pretty much standard, and easy to work out. The water tank was easier than previously owned irons to fill, and you can fill it while it is standing up, and water doesnt splash all over the place. The water tank itself is a decent size (350ml), and it needs to be as it produces a lot of steam. It is a good bit heavier than my previous iron (1.6kg to be exact), but that is no harm. Once I got used to it, I found it easier to control than a lighter iron. In my opinion, one of the best features is the steam tip. You know how you can ...

Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream 04/01/2008

Worth Spending A Bit More Than Normal

Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream This product was recomended to me by a beautician for fne lines and dry skin. Of all skin care products, the only thing I have faithfully stuck with is moisturiser as I generally have dry skin. I have tried loads of different products over the years in varying price brackets, and with varying degrees of satisfaction. Initially I was put off by the price of €36 for a 50ml tube but seeing the beginnings of wrinkles, I decided it wouldnt hurt to try. The first tube that I bought was during the spring/summer months, and even using it more or less every morning and evening, it lasted almost six months. And I was happy to go and spend the same money again for a fantastic product. The moisturiser is thick and 'elasticy' and you dont need to use very much of it for good results. My skin is noticeably softer and there is generally no sign of dry skin. It is an excellent non-greasy base for use under make-up, and I have never noticed any shine. I would say, though, that now in the colder months, I use a good bit more of the moisturiser, and would possibly recommend going for an even more intense product while its cold outside. I would wholeheartedly recomment this prduct! ...

Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser 04/01/2008

Worth every penny!

Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser I first tried this product when I received a number of small tester sachets. To be honest, I do not generally do the whole cleanse, tone & moisturise programme - and tend to buy the cheapest make-up remover and moisturiser from Boots. But having turned 30, and seeing a few wrinkles appearing here and there, I thought I would be good and take better care of my skin. So, samples in hand, I still took off my make-up with Boots' cheapest, but then I used a damp cotton pad and cleansed my face with the Dermalogica Cleanser. Its amazing how much muck was still on my face that the Boots stuff left behind! The Cleanser is creamy, but doesnt foam up when you wash it off with warm water. It doesnt have a fragrance at all, and is suitable for even very sensitive skin. I suffer from generally dry skin, and found that this cleanser did not dry my skin out at all. After about two weeks of faithfully using the cleanser morning and evening, I noticed a definite improvement in my skin. It felt softer, smoother, and fresher, and no spots to be seen! So I finally went ahead and bought the 500ml bottle for €30, and am still delighted with it. I would recommend it to anyone, and say it's absolutely worth spending the money on this product. I have had this bottle about 2 months, and only have about a fifth of it used. Go ahead and try it! ...

BT Verve 500 TWIN 04/01/2008

Not Bad, But Check Out the Alternatives.

BT Verve 500 TWIN We bought this phone a little over six months ago, and so have had plenty of time to form an opinion of this phone. It was definitely the stylish look of this phone that influenced our purchase, plus the good range of features. To be honest I am not sure that we would purchase the same phone again, or at least would have a good look around to see what else was available for a similar price. The main disadvantages are the small and very fiddly buttons that I find hard to use (even though I have tiny fingures!), and the short delay from the time you press the number to the number coming up on screen or ringing. This means that you have to be very careful dialling numbers, especially long ones, and wait a few seconds between pressing each number to avoid missing any numbers out. The menu is also a little awkward, especially if you are used to using similar menus on your mobile phone. However, on the upside, the phone's modern design looks good, the sound quality is fine, and the answering machine is excellent and easy to use. The screen is clear and colourful, and you can even change the wallpaper like you can on a mobile phone. The ringtones are changeable too. Other useful features include speakerphone, missed call functions, and uploading phone numbers from your SIM card. Overall, not a bad phone, but some features could be improved upon. ...

Lily O'Briens Toffee 04/01/2008

Caramel Lovers Be Warned - Extremely Addictive!!

Lily O'Briens Toffee Lily O'Brien's Sticky Toffee comes in a pouch of individually wrapped chocolates weighing 110g for the reasonable price of €3.99, or a small 43g bar for €1.00. There are also a few in some of the box selections. The pouches can be bought online at, in Tesco (in Ireland anyway), Dunnes Stores and independent chocolate shops. The smooth, and gooey sticky caramel center is encased in a crisp shell of Lily O'Brien's creamy milk chocolate with a small dollop of dark chocolate on top. The perfect companion to a steaming mug of hot chocolate, coffee, or even a shot of Baileys! The pouch is well presented, and at a decent price point to make it a perfect 'token' gift, a great bring-a-long if you are invited round to a friend's house. It looks well in a chocolate lovers hamper, and also makes an indulgent gift to yourself! If you love caramel, this chocolate is a definite must - but be warned - I have known it to become extremely addictive! ...
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