Sunday, 30 December 2012

REVIEW:, buying glasses online

I was kindly allowed to review recently, so if I may I'd like to take you through the ordering process. I have worn glasses since I was 5 and have never tried contact lenses so finding the right glasses is extremely important to me. It used to terrify me, choosing glasses, because if they were bad, I was stuck with them for two years. These days, there is much less pressure - glasses are cheaper to buy (or perhaps I'm more willing to spend money on them than my parents who would get what was available on the nhs voucher I think!) and it is common for people to have numerous pairs. This is not something I've quite got used to yet - I have two pairs of glasses and one pair of sunglasses, which I never, ever remember to wear. Now that I have another pair, I am hoping to train myself more to chop, change and accessorise!! 

My only thoughts going in to the Specky Four Eyes website for the first time was that I believed a thinner, narrower rectangle frame suits me the best.

Prescription in hand, I jumped on to the website and was pleased to find it was made up of clean tool bars, useful search menus and not over cluttered. This put me at ease and I started to have a browse. I was amazed (and slightly daunted, I must admit!) at the amount of choice available. My first search I went for my obvious requirements and reduced the options to women's frames, prescription glasses, single vision, Specky Four Eyes branded frames and I was still left with 380 choices! Incredible! This gives you a good idea of the sort of practical search options that are available though - all the basic choices you would expect are easily accessible in the main search bar.

To narrow down my options, I decided to go for some whims, and so I tried to narrow down by colour, going for green frames for a change. I got these -  they were mainly black, but I did like the detailing. However, I was confused that, as you can see from the URL, they are classified as men's frames! I guess that there are a lot of unisex frames around now, but call them that!!

I found that one issue with the search function was that as you narrow down your choices, options don't disappear even when there are no glasses of that type available - for example, it will let you select a certain price range within your current choices, even though there are no glasses of that price which meet the criteria you have already selected, which I found to be a slightly frustrating glitch.

Instead of resetting my options, I decided to narrow the green frames down further by selecting a frame shape - rectangular. However, when I did this I realised that all my previous selections had already been cleared - which explained how I had selected some male design frames before!!

Time to start again then - this time I went for women's rectangular prescription glasses, with Specky Four Eyes frames, single vision lenses, and had 260 options to choose from. I selected the option where 90 frames per page were displayed at once so that I could quickly browse, and I decided not to add any more search criteria in case it reset itself again!!

Having a quick scan of the choices gave me a number of really lovely frames to choose from:
I had a look at these, but I didn't like how thick the arms were in relation to the thickness of the frame around the lense. I like the colour though.
Next I found these 'uns. I really liked the balance of brown and green but a bit worried they're men's frames again! This male thing was making me start to doubt my taste in frames!!

Yet another set of men's frames that I quite liked, made me double check that women's frames was still ticked as an option - and it was...

These were the next pair I came across. Wow! Bright and awesome. But without trying them on first, am I so daring as to impulse buy them?

By this point I realised I was mainly looking at brown or green, or possibly purple frames. So that helped to narrow down my choices while I was browsing. I was already glad I'd spent a little bit of time over it, deciding what I liked.

I rather liked the subtle purple of these:

And while I liked the cool pattern on these, I was not sure about the partial rims: 

And then randomly I liked these in blue. So a lot to choose from! 
The range of choice is really one of the strengths of the website. I had just been looking at their 'own brand' frames, but there are lots of designer frames and well known brands to choose from as well, like Bench, Guess and Nicole Farhi. They have a great help section as well, with lots of handy guides about picking frames and checking your measurements. I found it really useful that each frame had a sizing guide with it to allow you to check the exact sizes of the frame.

One of the limitations of the website that I found was when you clicked to see a larger size picture it was actually no bigger, and there was no independent zoom function to look at certain features in detail, as I would perhaps expect on a fashion website for example.

It was at this point that I asked The Boy for support as I realised I had hit an indecisive moment in my life and needed him to help me pick from the 'short'list of about 20 gorgeous frames that I had narrowed things down to!! After much umming and ahhing we decided on these at £39.00, as they were fun, but nice enough to be smart, plus they will go with most of my wardrobe and aren't too heavy for my face. They are quite dark though, so it was a new direction for me!
The final selection!

Once your frame is selected, you get some simple options to choose an appropriate lense. These are phrased as simple questions, such as how will you use your lenses - e.g. single vision, varifocals, frame only. Then you get to pick which Specky package you want - this is essentially your lense coatings and choice of thickness.  I went for the Specky 2 package for £19 which gives standard thickness lenses (I have quite a heavy prescription, but thick lenses don't bother me), with scratch resistence and anti-reflection coating. Apparently this coating will repel water away from the lens, so they should be better in the rain - time will tell on that one! You also have the option to take the free lenses with no coatings, for an even more pocket friendly solution.

There are other fun choices available, making your glasses into prescription sunglasses, adding accessories to your order and so forth. Then you enter your prescription (easily done, it takes you through step by step and I found this to be very straightforward) and review your order.

Job done, you register and select your delivery option - essentially £3.99 standard or £9.99 special delivery. This struck me as a little high, as glasses in a case are not very heavy, but the frame prices are so cheap that this is offset somewhat. Your payment options can include debit or credit card, cheque or Paypal, so it is very flexible. The whole ordering process took me under 5 minutes once I had finally made a decision about frames!!

I got an 'order complete' message telling me that my order would be sent 'soon'. I was quite surprised there was no estimated time of delivery. Two days after I placed my order I received an email titled:

Great! I thought, I'll be receiving those soon. Upon reading the email I discovered 
"We just wanted you to know your prescription has been authorised by our optician and is being processed." Ah well, I could hang on for another couple of days.

Good job really! I had a bit of a wait left ahead of me. I had an email the next day to say 'preparation is in progress', then the next day that they were 'awaiting lenses and frames'. I'm not sure what they had prepared if that was the case! Four days later to my relief, I got an email saying my order had been shipped and so I eagerly awaited the postie for the next four days, until I got yet another email saying 'package in transit'. How there can be a four day wait between my order being shipped and the package actually being in transit confuses me. By this point we were on the 19th December, so coming up to Christmas, but still!

Whaddaya reckon?
My glasses arrived two weeks after I placed the order - a not unreasonable amount of time, but I would have preferred to get an estimated delivery when my order was accepted. I think the barrage of emails was unecessary -  I imagine they are intended to give you a good idea of the progress of your order, keep you informed, but I just found them irritating - I just wanted one email saying your glasses are winging their way to you and you'll have them tomorrow!
Now I have my glasses, I am extremely pleased with them. The Boy has been most 
complimentary about them, as well he might since he essentially picked them! The quality of the frame is excellent and the lenses are just what I ordered, as per prescription. Overall, I would happily award Specky Four Eyes 8 out of 10 Extreme Points. There are a few areas of their service which could be tightened up, but their range is phenomenal and their prices are very easy on the wallet.
Orange on the inside. For the win.
I received a complimentary pair of SFE frames with a Specky 2 package for the purposes of this review, 
but I paid the postage myself and received no other compensation. 
As ever, all opinions are my own!


Silent Sunday

Friday, 21 December 2012

The End is Nigh

Well, we're halfway through the 21/12 and there is no sign yet of the impending apocalypse. Appears like the Mayan calendar gets to the end and then starts back at the beginning for the next cycle, just the same as ours.

I have enjoyed hearing the media coverage of the coming doom though- including a random village in France which is apparently home to an upside down mountain filled with aliens which today, has its population doubled because of the amount of journalists that are stating there waiting to be first on the scene when he fire and brimstone comes.

I also like the idea that Mayans don't exist any more, when they clearly do, still in Mexico, right where we left them.

My favourite theory about today though is that the date is just symbolic- and it will be our collective commitment to change that will bring in a new era as the next Great Cycle begins. I love the idea that mankind could truly grab hold of its own destiny and make a change for the future. Particularly in the current climate when so many people in this country are suffering in the face of job losses and austerity measures and for what? To pay back a debt owed to who knows, when no real money ever changed hands in the first place.

It would be a great time for humanity to look again at how we live. To ensure the gap between the haves and the have nots is reduced, to try and find a way to get all the food that is out there to the people that need it, to stop the chasing of the almighty dollar to the detriment of your neighbour. But I imagine the sun will set tonight and rise again tomorrow in a world very much unchanged.

Vive la revolution, comrades.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Last chance to win...

My friends at local Leicester business 365 Electrical are offering a lovely competition at the moment, where you can win one of three black Indesit kitchen appliances. You just have to visit their facebook page, like it and enter your details on the competition tab. It takes just 30 seconds and allows multiple entries.

Not a lot of work to bag yourself a pretty sweet prize! Go on, give it a go and support a local business!

Grand Prix Driver of the Year

It's been an exciting year for Formula 1 and I was asked to contribute to MoneySupermarket's Grand Prix Driver of the Year. This was because of my entry into their Monaco Memories competition earlier in the year. All of the judges ranked our favourite drivers using the F1 usual scoring system and then our results were compiled.

In case you were wondering, my top ten shaped up a little differently to the average. I'm not a Lewis Hamilton fan...

Vettel A very consistent 2012, even despite a lack of wins at the start of the season. Some notable gains of position at Belgium and Abu Dhabi.
Raikkonen A fabulous victory at Abu Dhabi, coming towards the end of a steady set of drives in 2012 that had begun with a great drive in Australia.
Alonso Difficult decision for third and fourth here, two drivers with real grit and talent, but Alonso just with the touch more pinache across the season.
Webber Good season, great win in Great Britain, but not the most exciting driver this year.
Button Not Button's strongest suit this year, but a good start to the season and some good drives matched with some disappointing mechanical failures.
Perez A bunch of unexpected podium finishes and some great drives making up places, such as at Italy. One to watch, especially as he will be driving for McLaren next year.
Rosberg A quiet riot. Easy to miss, but some lovely drives – I was happy to see Rosberg come to victory in China and will be interested to see how he does when partnered with Hamilton next season.
Maldonado Very much in the middle ground, but his name has stuck in my brain after that great win in Spain. He's made some schoolboy errors but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and another season or two to prove himself.
Kobayashi The King of the Backmarkers, Kobayashi has had some good times, some bad times and of course, his career best third place at his home Grand Prix in Japan.
Grosjean He has made some stupid errors and some had some terrible lapses in judgement, but I like him. Some strong stints have taken him to the podium, and at the European Grand Prix he was putting in a great performance until a mechanical failure. Looking forward to him maturing a little bit.

No thanks, I don't smoke

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while may remember I posted about my experience trying to quit smoking using Champix early in 2012. And I am still not smoking now - one year and two weeks on. I think it's time to define myself very much as someone who does not smoke. I've not had one slip or slide on the path - the Champix really worked for me, although it's quite a while ago now so I don't really have any more comments to add about the quitting process and what that was like.
This means that I have not smoked at any point during 2012. I'm really pleased with this because I know that the health benefits of getting off the ciggies before you are 30 are significant, so it was the right time to get on with it. I put on over a stone in weight, however, I definitely wasn't expecting the almost constant urge to snack in those first few months. I kind of let myself go with it though, in order to not make things more difficult.

I started to lose the post-smoking weight I put on in May 2012, and then a couple of months later I joined in with all my online Diet Buddies as a bit of a support network, and now I've finally got back to my target weight, which feels great. 

I'm back at the gym now and of course, in February I ditched the bus and started cycling everywhere. I think that all of this activity has really helped to sort out my weight, and of course without quitting smoking first I doubt I'd be bothered to do as much as I am doing now. The weird thing is that now I'm getting to the point where I'm really enjoying hte exercise. I miss the gym when I don't get to go, and it definitely feels strange if I've not been on the bike for a day or two!

So, 2013 is shaping up to be another good, healthy year for me. I am determined that 2013 will be a time of maintained weight and increased body tone. I think it's good to set goals - what are you heading for in 2013?

I'm writing these reflections as my entry to the Get Fit Feel Epic competition from with Mum Reinvented - thanks for the competition, the prize is a FitBit, which I really, really want, so I've definitely got my fingers crossed on this one!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Elf is on the telly, the first Gu Christmas cracker has been pulled and the truffles devoured. It must be nearly Christmas.

I have just finished putting our tree up. I have attempted to fill it underneath with about a half metre thick of presents to stop the cats rootling around under there. I fear that this ploy will fail and, as I do every December, I shall spend the next three weeks re-dressing my Christmas tree on a twice daily basis. Hooray for Christmas!

I have gone for white, black and silver decorations on the tree this year, except for the special decorations I have that were gifts. I seem to have a surprising number of cat based decorations. So what do you think of my efforts?

Leek and potato soup

I made another super healthy dish yesterday, which I made less healthy by adding some pre-packaged olive oil croutons that I had bought from Approved Food a while ago. It was a lovely filling leek and potato soup using an autumn leek which I pulled straight out the garden and got in the pot, as well as some of the remaining homegrown garlic. It tasted fresh and creamy and was lovely and thick in texture. A great winter warmer.

Leek and Potato Soup
(Serves 2)


Leftover new potatoes - I think only about 100g
One leek
2 cloves garlic
Small bundle of fresh rosemary leaves (also out of the garden!)
Stock cube
Small pinch of salt
Splash of milk, about 30ml


Roughly chop the vegetable ingredients and add to about a pint of boiling water - enough to just cover the veg
Add the stock cube and salt
Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the potato is tender
Add a splash of milk and blend (I find decanting into a pyrex bowl and blitzing with a stick blender is best so the boiling soup doesn't crack blender jugs and also to stop your pans getting scratched.
Serve - with fattening, high calorie croutons if you like!

Nutritional Info per portion*

100 calories
0.5g fat
22.2g carbohydrate
2.6g fibre
3.1g sugar
2.9g protein
325mg sodium
35% RDA Vitamin C
9% RDA Iron

Croutons - 115 calories and 4g fat!

* Nutritional value calculated using this recipe calculator. Values may vary if you make it yourself, this is just intended as a guide.

Weekly weigh in

That's more like it!

My weight maintaining is going well. I've lost the pound I put on last week by eating sensibly, only having one  night out, one night where I had one glass of wine and one night in with friends - counterbalanced with some quite long bike rides, a zumba class, an hour of aerobics and 90 minutes of yoga. I had pizza one night (I won a voucher which expired after two weeks, so I had to. We obviously had to get the biggest size as well, since it was free.)

So all in, I've not been depriving myself at all - but been trying to counter with some good home cooking (see my Leek and Potato soup recipe) and I've been really enjoying my exercise. Let's hope I can keep it up!

Good look to all my diet buddies. Only Jane has posted so far this week, but it sounds like she's having a great time of it in the run up to Christmas! Well done Jane!


Seventh day advents

The advent chocolate for the seventh of December is a lovely little robin. I therefore dedicate it to my furry babies - Gipsy-Moo, Morrighan and Maneki Neko, in the hope that the chocolate will act as a talisman and they will never, ever be able to catch a robin and bring it home. Our garden is like a Murder Present version of great British birdlife sometimes and indeed Maneki brought home a mouse yesterday, but I would be sad if this iconic British bird suffered at the hands of my Bean Feets.

Merry Christmas Kittehs!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Sixth of December advent

Today  the advent calendar is a little angelic chocolately choir girl, with a spooky hole in her head. I've had a lovely day and this chocolate is a fitting end to that day. Therefore I am dedicating today's advent calendar to all the special partners in your lives that have made your day a little more angelic, with quiet holy singing in the background, like The Boy does for me.

Happy Sixth of December!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Day 5 advent calendar

Happy fifth of December - today we have a beautiful star, so I am dedicating it to Noddy and Big Ears. They are big stars. Aww.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Advent: third and fourth of December

Today I realised that I'm not organised enough even to remember to open an advent calendar every day.

Therefore I have a double whammy of treats, a dolly and a gingerbread man, which I am devoting to Kaye, of because she's a wonderful blogger and all round funky chicken. Merry Xmas Kaye!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Weekly Weigh in

Just getting in on the linky before it's too late... Will post the results later!!

Edit: so i put on. Basically because the wii wasn't working on Sunday so I had to weigh myself after a nice lunch and a few glasses of wine down the pub - which in no way takes into account the two Zumba classes, or the hour of aerobics or the fact that I ha been really good and not drunk wine the rest of the week. But I'm still 8 and a half stone and most of the time I am making good choices, so I'm pretty happy with that!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Second day of advent

So today on my cheaply advent calendar I got a poorly made, weirdly bubbly chocolate wreath. I dedicate this to all the hardcore compers who are bravely slogging through the incredible numbers of daily online advent competitions that are around this month. May you be lucky, not bubbly.


Silent Sunday

Saturday, 1 December 2012

First December Advent

My friend Rob has announced on Facebook that he hasn't got an advent calendar this year. I feel bad for him, so I thought I'd dedicate the day 1 treat I got in my 10p sale man united calendar to him.

This one's for you buddy: BEAR

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