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Last Christmas I was looking for a gift for my sister when I spotted a special offer on Benefit in Boots - buy two products and get 500 bonus Advantage card points. This Pocket Pal seemed like a good idea so I bought us one each.
The Pocket Pal is similar in size to a tube of mascara. It is double ended and contains Benetint at one end and a clear gloss at the other. The products are applied with applicators which are contained within the central part of the product. The clear gloss probably needs no explanation but for those who have not come across Benetint before let me tell you a little more about it.
As fans of Benetint will know it is a lovely red lip and cheek stain. It is a very runny liquid which is applied with the small brush contained within the packaging. The directions that come with the product advise you to put three small strokes of the tint on the apple of your cheek and blend it up and outwards immediately. The product is easy to blend into your skin but you have to do this very quickly after you apply it otherwise it dries before you get the chance to blend it.
I have also tried Benetint on my lips, again the instructions just advise you to dot it on and then blend immediately. You could then apply the clear gloss over the top. I find that Benetint makes my lips feel really dry so I tend not to use it as a lip stain. As a cheek stain I find that it does start to wear off as I get towards the end of the day but not so much that I feel the need to reapply it.
I rarely use the gloss part of this product because it is fairly sticky and I tend to avoid sticky lip glosses. However, it is reasonably long-lasting for a lip gloss. I guess the selling point of this product is the fact that it is very portable and fits nicely in your handbag. Being a stay-at-home mum, I rarely have the time or inclination to re-apply my makeup when I am out and about so I keep this product at home in my make-up bag.
One word of warning - be very careful when you open the product, making sure to keep the Benetint end at the bottom. Also make sure you screw the product back together very tightly. The Benetint part of this product is very runny and will stain so you don't want any accidents!
This product retails at £14.50 so is one of the cheaper products available from Benefit. However you do only get 7g of product in total so it really won't last very long if you use it every day. This product has really converted me to using Benetint as I had not heard of it before I bought this. With hindsight it probably would have made more sense just to buy a bottle of Benetint because at £22.50 for 12.5ml it is much better value for money, especially as I rarely use the lip gloss.
You can buy Benefit Pocket Pal at Benefit counters (found in Boots and department stores such as Debenhams) and at various websites.
If you have some money to treat yourself and want a product for your lips and cheeks which is fits nicely in your handbag then this may be it. This would also make a great Christmas present for someone with a penchant for premium cosmetics.
I signed up for this site after reading a positive DooYoo review on it several months ago. Sadly I have not been very impressed with it at all and am now biding my time until I hit the payout threshold at which point I shall be closing my account.
On the positive side this is a very attractive and easy to navigate site. Signing up is quick and easy and like most survey sites you initially have to fill out a profile 'dashboard' so that you can be matched with surveys. The profile for this site is the lengthiest I have come across - I reckon it would take an hour or so to complete it all. However, the profile is divided into twenty different topics such as travel, media and shopping with each topic being made up of between one and ten different questionnaires. If you complete at least one questionnaire for each topic then your profile is marked as complete so there is no need to spend time doing them all.
To access the surveys you click the 'next button'. This then takes you to a screen which tells you how much you will be paid for taking the survey. One good thing about this site is that you can see how much you are earning as the rewards are given in pounds rather than points which convert into pounds using some obscure multiple.
To take a survey you click the logo in the middle of the screen. The surveys are hosted by other sites and they all look different so I can't really comment on the format of the survey or how easy they are to complete. However I have found that on a couple of occasions the survey has crashed when I have been halfway through completing it which is especially frustrating because you can't get back to it to finish it off at a later date.
I have been signed up to Pure Profile for three months now and have only earned £4.40. In three months I have qualified for four surveys and been screened out of seventeen which is very poor compared to other survey sites I am a member of. The one bonus of this site is that you do get paid even when you don't qualify for a survey, usually 5p or 10p but the fact that surveys are so few and far between means that this really doesn't help your earnings mount up very quickly. Occasionally you can also earn a small amount of money simply by clicking through to another site although this has only happened to me three times in three months.
Unfortunately you need to earn £25 before you can get paid; I suspect this may take some time given my current earning rate! Once you do reach £25 you can withdraw your earnings by direct transfer to your bank account.
Overall I have not been very impressed by this site due to the low level of earnings. This is a real shame because it is such a nice-looking site and one that I like using. If only they had more surveys because at this rate it is going to take me over a year to reach the payout threshold.
Go to www.pureprofile.com if you fancy giving this site a go.
~~~ Update at 17 November 2010 ~~~
Over the last few months the number of surveys available on this site seems to have increased considerably and I received my first £25 payout a few weeks ago. Since then I have accumulated almost £9 more so am already well on my way to another payout. Surveys seem to come in clusters - some days I can have 4 to complete, each paying 75p to £1 and then it will go for a week with nothing.
A few months ago I ran out of eye makeup remover at around the same time our Avon lady left a brochure for me to peruse. As I didn't want to buy anything else from the brochure I thought I'd avoid the guilt I feel when I don't order anything (our Avon lady is really very nice) by buying this product.
I'm not a huge fan of Avon products - actually I don't think that there is anything I have bought from Avon that I would happily buy again - but I figured this eye makeup remover was worth a go. The product comes in a plain white 150ml bottle with a black screw cap. It looks pretty non-descript and although I can't say that the packaging is unattractive this is because it is so boring there really isn't anything I could complain about.
To use the product simply unscrew the cap and squeeze the eye makeup remover through the small hole in the top of the bottle onto some cotton wool. The instructions on the bottle state, "gently sweep over eye to remove all traces of make up." If only it actually worked like this.
Now, I don't wear waterproof eye makeup, nor do I wear a lot of eye makeup so I can't imagine that it should be too difficult to remove all traces of my makeup however this product really isn't up to the job. I find that I end up having to press fairly hard just to get any eye makeup to come off and even after spending a fair while sweeping the cotton wool pad over every last part of my eye and into every last corner and crease, I still end up with a nice panda eyes effect the following morning.
Not only does this product fail to remove eye makeup effectively, it also leaves my skin feeling uncomfortably greasy. Plus it stings like hell if you get any of it in your eyes. The eye makeup remover also smells fairly unpleasant - in fact the smell reminds me of the PVA glue we used to have at primary school which is slightly worrying!
If you don't want to listen to me (and the three other people who have reviewed this product on Dooyoo and were similarly unimpressed with it) then you can buy this eye makeup remover from www.avonshop.co.uk for £4. I can't remember how much I paid for it but I very much doubt I would have spent this much. At least I hope I didn't!
I bought this book for my son's first birthday a month ago because he adored the Baby Touch Peekaboo book he had been given some months earlier and I thought he might enjoy this one equally as much.
~~~ Description ~~~
This book is 25cm square and has rounded corners on the right hand side so there are no sharp edges. The pages of the book are made from quite flimsy cardboard but despite this my son has not managed to damage it - yet!
The book has twelve pages and each one has nice bright pictures with lovely textures for your child to touch. There are five rhymes in the book, each one illustrated with a large picture on the left hand page which has some nice textures to feel:
1. Round and round the garden - illustrated with a picture of a velvety tree with a corrugated cardboard trunk
2. Pussycat, pussycat - illustrated with a fluffy cat and some fluffy mice
3. Row, row, row your boat - illustrated with a boat with a wavy cardboard sail
4. The wheels on the bus - illustrated with a sparkly bus with bumpy wheels
5. Twinkle, twinkle little star - illustrated with a house with a wavy cardboard door and a woven fabric roof.
On each right hand page are nine circles which contain pictures, patterns or textures most of which appear in the big picture on the right.
Each page has little instructions for your child to follow, for example "wave to the teddy," or "tickle the pussycat's tummy."
The book is very cleverly designed in that some of the small circles on the right hand pages are actually holes through which you can see a picture or a texture on one of the later pages in the book. Then when you turn the page you can see back to an element of the larger picture on the page before.
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
My one year old really does love this book and often brings it to me so that I can look at it with him. When I first looked at the book I did think that it was a little limited in that it only has five nursery rhymes in it but I find that I don't actually read the rhymes in the book to him. This is because out of the five nursery rhymes in it, he knows four of them and the actions that go with them and so when I sing the rhymes he becomes more interested in doing the actions and so loses interest in the book.
In my opinion this book would be good for babies and toddlers of six months and up. Young babies can enjoy touching the textures whilst older toddlers can have fun spotting the little pictures within each big picture.
The book has a wide variety of textures in it and some of the textures are repeated throughout the book. My son's favourite is the fluffy cat - it has a lovely thick and soft orange fur which is much nicer than any other furry texture I have seen in a touch and feel book.
I really like the way the book has circular holes scattered throughout it so you can see through to the next page and back to the page before. My son uses these holes to get hold of the page to turn it, he is not yet old enough to appreciate that he can see through to other pages. But this is one of the reasons why this book is so good - it has different elements that will appeal to young children of different ages and when my son gets a bit older he will enjoy looking through the holes to other pages.
Overall this really is a lovely book even though I don't really use it as a nursery rhyme book. The pictures are simple and bright and there are lots of interesting textures to feel. In fact as I've been writing this review I've been stroking the fluffy cat and running my fingers over the wavy cardboard sail. I would highly recommend this to anyone with young children.
~~~ Details ~~~
Published by Ladybird in 2009
RRP £7.99, available from Amazon for £4.98 (new)
Like many people around here I signed up to a few survey sites with the aim of earning some extra pennies. Onepoll was one of the sites I signed up to, and is probably the one I have been the least impressed with.
Unlike other survey sites, Onepoll does not screen you out of surveys if you do not meet the qualifying criteria. Instead you can take as many surveys as you like. Instead of emailing you with surveys that fit your profile like most other sites do, you have to log in to the site and click on 'Surveys available for you' which brings up a list of surveys which you can take.
The site claims that it pays out between 5p and £1 per survey but I have never actually seen a survey paying more than 10p. I have been registered with this site for two and a half months and have logged on virtually every day to complete all of the paying surveys available and so far have made the princely sum of £12.05.
Onepoll pay you £2.50 for signing up which sounds generous until you realise that you have to earn £40 before you can withdraw the money you have made. If you do get to the magic £40 mark, you can withdraw your earnings through BACS, Paypal or good old-fashioned cheque.
At my current earning rate I reckon it will take me until next summer before I make it to £40 and that's if I don't get sick of it before then! The surveys offered by the site are usually on topical issues such as how much you plan to spend this Christmas, what your opinions are on diets or how often you use the language skills you learnt at school. Whilst this sounds like this might be more interesting than the usual surveys on washing powder or mobile phones, it actually becomes quite tedious after a while. I have lost count of the number of surveys I have completed about Christmas and often the same questions are recycled in several surveys. Some of the surveys are quite nice as they are fairly short but I have come across surveys paying 5p which have almost 40 questions - that doesn't seem like a great return for the time you have to spend completing them.
The site and the surveys are well laid out and it is easy to navigate your way around the site. Each survey appears on one page and you scroll down as you complete it. This is useful as it allows you to check how long the survey is before you start so you can work out whether or not it is worth bothering with.
Some of the surveys can be frustrating in that the options for a particular question do not give you the one you want. For example, I completed a survey on Casual Sex, it was quite interesting, fairly short and earned me 10p. But it drove me crazy because 'Zero' was not an option for any of the questions. So when I was asked things such as how many times I've gone home with somebody and not been able to remember their name in the morning, I had to answer 'One' even though the correct answer would be 'Zero'. So sadly in Onepoll-land I am now labelled as a bit of a slut!
Onepoll also have competition surveys where you can win prizes, usually £25 in Amazon vouchers. These surveys are generally much shorter than the paying surveys although again there are some seriously long ones which are really not worth completing. For the first two months I was a member of this site I took part in every single competition survey, probably 50 or 60 in all, and I didn't win a thing. Needless to say I have now stopped wasting my time doing these.
If I wasn't already over a quarter of the way towards my £40 I would stop using this site right now. But having invested a fair bit of time in it I feel the need to get something back. As soon as I have hit £40 I intend to take my money and run. My advice - don't bother with this unless you have an awful lot of time on your hands.
I got this book free with a magazine some months ago. Actually I bought the magazine specifically because I wanted to read the book and it was cheaper than buying the book itself. You see, I am a second wife and I was hoping that this book might have something useful to say about dealing with that fact.
~~~ The Plot ~~~
This book details the trials and tribulations of four second wives who meet regularly to offer each other support and advice. There is Alison whose husband Luca has a seriously scary first wife. Then there's Fiona who not only has a disgruntled first wife to deal with, she also has a stroppy teenage step-son. There's Julia, a glamorous and self-assured woman who is rattled by her husband's friendship with his first wife. And finally there's Susan who is surrounded by constant reminders of her partner's perfect former wife.
The story kicks off when Alison's wedding is gatecrashed by her new husband's ex. A wedding guest, Fiona, invites her to a meeting of the Second Wives Club and then we learn more about the other three members. For the most part, the book swaps between the four main characters with each chapter dealing with one woman apart from when all the characters meet up (which happens fairly often).
During the course of the book each woman has to deal with issues, both major and minor, as a result of their husbands' previous marriages. The book explores the conflicts between first and second wives, step-children and step-mothers and between husband and wife. Each woman goes through a major turning point in her life as the book nears the end but that doesn't necessarily mean that they all end up getting what they want.
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
I finished reading this book a week or so ago and am now finding it fairly difficult to remember much about it. At no point while I was reading it did I find it difficult to put down. As I neared the end of it I did have a compulsion to finish it but that was more because I wanted to start reading my next book rather than any real interest in finding out what happened at the end of this one.
For some reason I really struggled to keep track of who was who in this book. Now I may have a bit of a baby-addled brain at the moment (the sleep deprivation is getting to me) but I don't usually have this problem with books. I put this down to the fact that there are four members of the second wives club plus their four partners, plus their partners' four ex-wives, plus a total of four children by previous wives, all-in-all a total of sixteen names to remember. No wonder I had difficulty! A further explanation is that none of the characters are especially memorable.
I really didn't learn much about dealing with being a second wife from this book. I struggled to relate to the characters mostly because of the four members of the Second Wives Club, two were instrumental in their husbands' break-up with their previous wives. I had very little sympathy for these two as they had caused a lot of the problems they were dealing with. Julia in particular was a fairly unlikeable character and I found myself hoping that things would go wrong for her to stop her getting her own way; I would be interested to find out if this was the way the author intended the reader to feel about this character, I suspect not!
There are some funny moments in this book and it is nicely written. However, overall this is a fairly forgettable read. It passes the time nicely enough but in a few months time I doubt I'll even remember that I read it.
~~~ Details ~~~
Paperback edition first published by Arrow Books in 2006
Available from Amazon for £5.49 (new)
My son is now just over a year old and has become very interested in books so I took him to our local library recently in search of some new books to read with him. This was one of the books I picked out, mostly because he really likes touchy-feely books and also because he seems to get really excited whenever he sees an animal be it on the TV, in a book or in real life.
~~~ Description of the Book ~~~
This is a board book which has 12 pages (if you include the front and back covers). It is fairly small in size at about 15cm square. The front cover has a hole in it so you can feel the fur of the rabbit on the first page. There are five different baby animals in the book, each with a different texture to feel. The five animals are:
1. A rabbit with soft grey fur
2. Two elephants with rough, leathery ears
3. Two fluffy ducklings
4. A calf with brown velvety skin
5. A soft furry gorilla
The text in this book is minimal, as you would expect in a book intended for young children. It simply tells you to touch the animal and feel the particular texture. For example, "Scratch the rough skin on the baby elephants' ears."
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
My son does seem to like this book although it is not his favourite. I was less impressed by it, mostly because of the five baby animals in the book, three are furry and have more or less the same feely texture, albeit in different colours and with varying lengths of fur. This is probably the reason why my son likes the book because furry textures seem to be his favourite. The touchy-feely bits in this book are nice and large which gives children a big textured area to feel and also helps them to quickly and easily identify the feely spots.
This book does contain some lovely photographs of the baby animals and they really are very cute. I like the way that each page shows the animals with part of their habitat, for example the ducklings appear with some grass and the calves have some hay. This provides something else for parents to talk about with slightly older children.
The book seems to be fairly sturdy and despite the fact that it has been in my local library for a couple of years, and has presumably been read by many children in that time, it remains in very good condition.
This is a nice book but is perhaps a bit limited in that it only contains five different animals. My son doesn't tend to spend very long feeling the textures on each page and always wants to turn the page to see the next animal and feel the next texture. With only five animals this means that we get through the book very quickly. I probably wouldn't go out and buy this book but am glad that I got it out of the library as my son has enjoyed looking at it.
~~~ Details ~~~
First published by Dorling Kindersley in 1999
RRP £4.99; available from Amazon for £4.49 (new)
I have never been a big fan of soup until recently when I discovered how great it is as a quick and filling lunch. When doing my weekly shop in Tesco earlier this week I spotted that they had selected New Covent Garden soups for £1 each - bargain! So I chucked a few in the trolley and have been happily eating them for lunch all week. The first one I tried is Plum Tomato and Basil.
For those who have never come across New Covent Garden soups before, unlike a lot of other brands of soup, they come in a carton. They need to be kept refrigerated and can also be frozen. The cartons are fairly easy to open; you just fold out both sides and then pull from the corners. The only problem I could foresee with the packaging is that, unlike soups that come in a pot with a lid, you can't reseal the carton if you don't want to eat all the soup at once. Having said that, the soup apparently keeps for up to 24 hours in the fridge anyway so being unable to reseal it is not really an issue. You can either heat this soup up in a saucepan on a hob or by opening up the carton and popping it in the microwave.
New Covent Garden soups are made from all natural ingredients and this one is no exception. It contains: Plum tomatoes (43%), water, onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, sugar, basil (0.9%), garlic, salt, cracked black pepper, oregano and rosemary. This soup is suitable for vegetarians.
I often find soups taste too salty for me but I do not find that with this one. It does contain 0.3g of salt per 100g (0.9g per half carton serving) but this is a lot less than some other soups I have tried. Other nutritional values (per 300g half carton serving) are as follows:
Calories .................... 132 kcal
Protein ............................ 3.9g
Carbohydrates ............... 15.6g
Of which sugars ............. 14.7g
Fat ................................. 6.0g
Of which saturates ........... 0.9g
Fibre .............................. 3.9g
Tomato is not one of my favourite types of soup but I found that this particular one tasted delicious. It has quite a runny consistency and contains lots of soft tomato chunks and flecks of basil. It tastes, as you might expect, tomato-ey with a hint of basil and other herbs. But unlike other tomato soups I have tried it is not too acidic and tastes almost creamy despite the fact that no cream goes into it.
This soup usually retails at around £1.99 for a 600g carton and you'll find it in the chiller section of most supermarkets. In my opinion this soup is so yummy that its well worth the money and it is definitely one that I will be buying again.
When my son was ill earlier this year my best friend bought him this book as a get well present. I'm not sure that this helped him feel better (he was only six months old at the time) but when he'd recovered this fast became his favourite book.
~~~ Description ~~~
This book is quite large as baby board books go at about 25cm square. The corners of the book on the right hand side are nicely rounded so there are no sharp edges. The pages of the book are made from reasonably thick board. My son has been chewing his copy of the book and although you can see teeth marks in it, the pages have not been scratched or torn as a result.
The book has twelve pages, five with peekaboo flaps for baby to lift up. Each flap has a hole in it so baby can see what is underneath. On each page there are three smaller pictures on the left hand side with a larger picture underneath a flap on the right. Some of the pages have textures for baby to touch and these are not just restricted to the large picture under the flap. Each page has a sort of theme:
1. The sea - a starfish, a boat and a whale appear on the left hand side of the page and a bumpy octopus is hiding under the right hand flap.
2. The countryside - a bee, a fluffy bunny and a tractor are on the left hand side and a fuzzy caterpillar is under the flap.
3. Wild animals - a zebra and giraffe are on the left along with a colourful hot air balloon (ok so that doesn't really fit with any kind of theme!). On the right is a tiger with stripes which are allegedly furry but are actually made out of a smooth, soft fabric.
4. The sky - the sun, a bumpy rainbow and a bird are on the left and a sparkly helicopter is on the right.
5. At home - Mummy and Daddy are on the left with a fluffy cat and a mirror is under the right hand flap.
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
I was a little disappointed when I first looked at this book because it doesn't really have a story, there aren't very many different textures, and the choice of pictures in it seemed fairly strange. However when I first gave it to my son he was fascinated by it straight away. This was the first proper book he had (apart from cot books and other fabric books) and he really enjoyed looking at the pictures, touching the textures and lifting the flaps. The one page he was fascinated with was the page with the fluffy bunny and fuzzy caterpillar, probably because that is the only page which has two different textures on it. He also liked the mirror at the back of the book because he got a nice surprise when he lifted up the flap and saw himself.
With hindsight I probably shouldn't have let my son have this book to play with whenever he wanted at such a young age. Now, six months after he was first given it, all but one of the peekaboo flaps have been torn from the book. This is a real shame because he really used to enjoy lifting the flaps to see what was underneath, he just got a bit over-excited and managed to tear them. The flaps do tear quite easily because they are hinged on the right hand side of the book and every time they are lifted they weaken a little bit. The one flap that my son has not tried to tear is now looking quite fragile and that's simply down to normal wear and tear.
The story in this book isn't the greatest. I have never really read it to my son because when I try it sounds a bit odd. As an example, here's the first page. "See the smiley starfish, a boat on the water. Now see the whale with her tail, swish. What does she do? She says peekaboo. Hello, bumpy octopus." I prefer to make up a story myself instead or just chat about the pictures.
In my opinion this book isn't really very good and there are far better peekaboo books out there. I probably wouldn't have bought it for my son because although the book has nice, bright colours and pictures, there aren't that many interesting textures for baby to touch and the pictures and text seem a bit, well, random. However, I will have to defer to my son for my rating of this book. He absolutely adores it and has spent many happy hours turning the pages and looking at the pictures. Because he enjoyed this book so much, I have gone out and bought him two other books in the Baby Touch series and he loves them just as much as this one.
~~~ Details ~~~
Published by Ladybird in 2009
RRP £7.99, available from Amazon for £5.99 (new)
Rod Campbell is a very popular author of books for young children. I first came across his books when I took my son to a singing and story session at our local library and Dear Zoo was the book they read to the children. My son sat listening very attentively to the story and seemed to really enjoy it. I certainly enjoyed it and soon after went to my local bookshop to seek out other books by this author to read to my son. I'm Not Scary was one of the books I bought for him.
~~~ Description ~~~
I'm Not Scary is a touch-and-feel board book and in typical Rod Campbell style, the story is short and sweet. On each page is an animal that you might find in your garden and each animal says, "Touch me, I'm not scary!" The animals all have interesting textures for your child to feel and some of them are hiding under flaps that the child can lift up. At the end of the book is a big pop-up spider who says, "I am scary! Touch me if you dare!" The animals your child can discover in this book are:
A scratchy grasshopper with a sandpaper-y leg
A snail hiding under a flowerpot with a raised snail slime trail going across the page
A dragonfly with pink sparkly wings
A caterpillar with a soft, spongy body
A beetle hiding under a leaf with a shiny red body
And the scary pop-up cardboard spider
The version we have is a board book but the pages are not as thick as that of some board books so it would be fairly easy for them to get bent and spoilt. This book is also available in a hardback version which may be more sturdy although I have not seen this book in the shops so cannot tell you for certain.
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
The pop-up spider on the final page of this book came as quite a shock to me the first time I read it (and I'm not at all scared of spiders!). I would imagine that some children could find it terrifying. I do find it a bit odd that by having a "horrible, hairy spider" who is scary, this book is effectively teaching children that spiders are scary. My son does not seem too bothered by the spider but maybe that's because he is only a year old and not a lot seems to trouble him.
I actually have a different problem with the spider, my son seems fascinated by it and tries to reach out to grab it when we get to the last page of the book. This is a bit of a problem because the spider is only made out of fairly thin card so is quite fragile and I live in fear that it will get torn.
Scary spider aside, the other creatures in this book are lovely and the different textures and flaps to lift make it a very interactive and enjoyable book to share with your child. I like the way that the book teaches children not to be afraid of creatures such as snails and beetles, it's just a real shame that the author did not adopt the same approach with the spider.
I'm only going to give this book three out of five stars because of the horrible, hairy pop-up spider as I don't think it is a good idea to scare young children with spiders. There are far better Rod Campbell books out there.
~~~ Details ~~~
Board book published by Campbell Books in 2008
RRP £4.99, available from Amazon for £3.49 (new)
Every so often I am faced with a question I don't know the answer to. Like what gift you are supposed to give on a first wedding anniversary. Or who won the World Cup in 1994. I could look the answer up on the internet but that involves getting the laptop out of its case, plugging it in, switching it on.... Instead, far easier to pluck this book from its handy location on my living room bookcase and keep my fingers crossed that the answer I need is inside - it invariably is.
This book contains all the useful pieces of information you might ever need to know and also a lot that you won't but which are nevertheless very interesting. Here's a random smattering of things you can learn from this book:
* How to drive from Lands End to John O' Groats
* The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
* Types of clouds
* Zodiac dates
* Famous cat and dog owners
* Antiquarian paper sizes
* The names for particular phobias
* Palmistry lines
* English coin specifications
* The curious deaths of Burmese kings (like Tabinshweti who apparently was beheaded by his chamberlains whilst searching for a fictitious white elephant)
The book is printed on lovely thick cream paper and has some black and white illustrations. Although the book is only 153 pages long (not counting the index), the amount of information contained inside is amazing. Every time I pick it up I find myself wasting time flicking through it. There is an index at the back of the book if you are looking for the answer to something specific. Otherwise you can just dip into the book at random and learn something new and interesting.
This book would make an excellent present for a trivia fan or somebody who likes to think of themselves as a bit of a know-it-all. I live in hope that some of the facts I've picked up in flicking through this book will come in handy one day - maybe I need to join a pub quiz team?!
~~~ Details ~~~
Published by Bloomsbury
First published in 2002
Available from Amazon for £7.14 (new)
There are also two other books in the series which deal with more specific areas:
Schott's Food and Drink Miscellany
Schott's Sporting, Gaming and Idling Miscellany
Each year since 2006 there has also been Schott's Almanac which contains details of the year just past.
After dabbling with Sudocrem and Johnson's Nappy Cream, I settled on Bepanthen as my nappy cream of choice and found it by far the best on the market.
Bepanthen can be used not only to care for nappy rash but also to guard against it occurring. It is extremely gentle so can be used at every nappy change and contains no colours, fragrances, preservatives or antiseptics so is suitable for use on sensitive skin. It is white in colour but once applied it becomes clear. It is very easy to apply and you only need to use a small amount.
My son is not prone to nappy rash but has had a few short bouts of it, usually when he has been teething. I found that some of the other nappy creams affected the absorbency of disposable nappies because they form a barrier to prevent moisture from being absorbed into the nappy. I have not had this problem at all with Bepanthen. When my son has had a touch of nappy rash, I found that after applying Bepanthen at each change the rash would clear up in less than a day. This cream is non-drying, unlike other nappy creams I have tried, and leaves my son's skin feeling soft and smooth.
My only complaint about Bepanthen is that it comes in metal tubes similar to the tubes that are used for tomato puree or the kind of tubes that toothpaste used to come in many years ago. Now, these tubes are fine for tomato puree because they are not being used several times a day, but for a nappy cream which is used regularly the tube is not the best. I find that once I've used about two thirds of the tube, it starts to split and I get cream oozing out in several places as well as from the top when I squeeze it. I've tried being careful with the way I squeeze the tube but to no avail. And once the tube is split, it is very difficult to continue to use it, unless you want to get your hands completely covered in nappy cream, which results in a lot of wastage.
Bepanthen is available from chemists and supermarkets and comes in several different sized tubes. At Boots, prices are as follows:
30g tube for £2.09
50g tube for £4.99
100g tube for £6.79
I find this good value for money considering that it is so good. Each tube lasts a long time as well; I bought a 100g tube a couple of months ago and it is still going strong.
I noticed the other day that my local Boots is also selling Bepanthen in the form of a wipe at a fairly steep price of £2.89 for 12 wipes. Apparently the benefit of these wipes is that they are easily portable - why not just carry one of the smaller tubes around with you and save yourself some money?!
I'm only giving this product four Dooyoo stars because of the problem I have with its packaging. If only they sold this fantastic nappy cream in plastic tubes like they do toothpaste they would have got five stars.
I have had a vague awareness of In the Night Garden for a few years now as I have a six year old stepdaughter who was really into it a few years ago. Until recently my knowledge of it was limited to the names of a few characters but now my one year old has become fascinated by it, I feel I know it fairly well.
~~~ Summary ~~~
It is tricky to explain what In the Night Garden is about. As an adult it completely baffles me as nothing really seems to happen but young children certainly seem to find it fascinating. It is designed for children aged one to four and is aimed at stimulating their imagination. It was created by the people responsible for creating the Teletubbies and I believe it now has almost the same cult status amongst teenagers as Teletubbies once did.
According to its creators 'In the Night Garden' is "best described as a modern televisual interpretation of a nursery rhyme picture book." If that makes any sense to you then you're doing better than me! The theme of the programme seems to be centred around sleep and dreamtime as the programme starts with a child going off to sleep and ends with the characters going to sleep.
~~~ The characters ~~~
The characters in the programme are slightly strange-looking toys. None of the characters actually talk properly themselves, instead the show is narrated by Derek Jacobi.
Iggle Piggle - Probably the main character of the show, Iggle Piggle is a cuddly-looking blue creature with red hair who carries a red blanket around everywhere with him.
Upsy Daisy - She is a cheerful soul with pink, red and yellow hair which wiggles when she sings. She has a bed on wheels with a mind of its own that often accompanies her.
Makka Pakka - is by far my favourite character. He is smaller than the others and is a dumpy little thing who has a scooter and a sponge he uses to wash the other characters faces. He is obsessed with stones and several episodes revolve around Makka Pakka and his stones. Makka Pakka seems really sweet and cuddly which is why I like him so much.
The Tombliboos - These three characters remind me a little of the Teletubbies. They live in a big bush and are often seen running around inside it.
The Ponty Pines - these are a family of ten very small wooden dolls who live next door to their neighbours, the Wottingers.
As well as the characters above, there are also appearances from:
The Haa Hoos - giant round cushion-like creatures who live in the Garden
The Ninky Nonk - a kind of train which travels around the garden and has different carriages for the different characters
The Pinky Ponk - an airship-type thing which floats around the garden and which the characters can travel inside.
~~~ The Episodes ~~~
Each episode is half an hour long and follows the same format. Each programme starts the same way with a young child holding their hand out so their parent can trace a circle around their palm with their finger. Then we see Iggle Piggle on a dark ocean in his boat. He takes his sail down, lights his light and then lies down with the sail as a blanket and goes to sleep. This is a nice, comforting and reassuring way to start the programme and even young children can recognise it.
The main part of each programme usually revolves around one event. For example, all the characters get on the Ninky Nonk in turn and ride in it around the garden. Or Makka Pakka gives a stone to each of the other characters and then discovers he has none left for himself.
Each programme ends with the story that has taken place being retold as a short illustrated bedtime story with all the characters (except Iggle Piggle) being tucked up in bed.
~~~ My Opinion ~~~
In the Night Garden is one of the programmes I don't mind my son watching as it is a nice gentle show with colourful characters and some singing and dancing. Each of the characters in the show has their own song which they sing when they first appear. Unfortunately these songs are really rather catchy and I find that I get them stuck in my head for hours on end so probably best to watch this programme with your child whilst wearing ear plugs!
My son had never really been interested in the television until one day when he was about 10 months old, I switched CBeebies on to find In the Night Garden was showing. He sat glued to the television for a good five minutes (which is unusual as he usually has a very short attention span). Now that he is a year old he is still fascinated by the programme - as soon as the theme music comes on he will walk over to the television and stand watching it.
There is an awful lot of merchandise you can get related to In the Night Garden, most of it at a fairly extortionate price so be wary of letting your child get too addicted to this programme!
The programme seems to be quite relaxing for young children which is why CBeebies shows it in their Bedtime Hour from 6pm to 7pm. The narration is very soothing and the song at the end is nice and gentle.
All in all this is a lovely little programme for little people.
~~~ When Is It On? ~~~
In the Night Garden is shown at 10:30am on weekdays on BBC2.
If you have access to digital television, it can also be found on CBeebies at 11am and repeated at 2:30pm. A different episode is then shown at 6:20pm.
For more information see:
A while ago I visited my local Clinique counter in search of a foundation that would suit my oily skin. By lunchtime I usually find that my nose, chin and forehead are starting to look shiny so the Clinique consultant suggested I also buy some Pore Minimizer Oil Blotting Sheets. As there was a Bonus Time offer on (if you buy two products you get a selection of Clinique goodies for free) this seemed like a good idea at the time.
These little sheets can be used to absorb excess oil, even through makeup. The Clinique assistant I spoke to advised that when my face got oily, instead of applying more powder to it, I should use an oil blotting sheet first to remove the excess oil. I tried this and found that the blotting sheet absorbed enough oil that I didn't need to apply any more powder.
The sheets themselves are unlike any other oil blotting sheet I have bought in that they are not made of a thin powdery piece of paper but are instead almost plasticky. They are thin and very soft to the touch. To use them you press them to any oily bits of skin and the oil is absorbed. They are strangely satisfying to use; as you press them to your skin you can see the sheet picking up the oil so it seems like they are actually working. I find that one sheet is usually enough to remove oil from my T-zone.
The sheets come in a small cardboard pouch which is about 10cm by 7cm. On the inside of the lid of the pouch is a sticky circle which is meant to pull one sheet out at a time when you open the lid. Unfortunately I found that this doesn't really work and I usually end up getting two sheets at a time and then have to try to stuff one sheet back in again. This results in the second sheet getting covered in oily fingerprints.
The cardboard pouch is not that sturdy if you are planning on carrying these around with you in your handbag which, let's face it, is highly likely. Having said that, I've had my pack in my handbag for ages and although it looks fairly tatty, the sheets inside are in perfect condition.
These are available at Clinique counters for £7.50 for 50 sheets although you can get them cheaper if you shop around on the internet (they are currently £6.50 from www.feelunique.com). At the full price this works out at 15 pence per sheet so they are very pricey. I have not found a better oil blotting sheet but I won't be buying these again because they are not so good that I can't live without them.
Since I was a teenager a tin of Vaseline Lip Therapy has accompanied me more or less everywhere. I don't use it excessively but I find having it with me invaluable, especially in winter when dry, chapped lips are more of a problem.
Vaseline Lip Therapy is simply petroleum jelly which comes in a small, blue and white metal tin, about 5cm in diameter and about 1.5cm deep. The size of the tin makes it very convenient to carry around with you; it is perfectly sized to be popped in a handbag. I have several tins lurking around at home in various bags.
The one and only problem I have with this product relates to the tin; I sometimes find it an absolute nightmare to get the lid off and have ended up breaking countless nails in the process. The lid simply sits over the top of the bottom half of the tin so to get it off you have to work your nail around the tin between the lid and the base and ease the lid up. Be very careful that you don't push the lid on too tight because you'll struggle to get it off again.
This product is perfect for moisturising dry lips and leaves them looking slightly glossy. I do find that my lips feel a little greasy for a while after use but not uncomfortably so. This is also very effective at moisturising other areas of dry skin. When I had a mole biopsied recently, the doctor recommended that I use Vaseline to help minimise the scar. I have been applying it to the scar daily for a couple of months now and the scar is barely visible although obviously I don't know what it would have looked like had I not applied the Vaseline.
There are several other types of Vaseline Lip Therapy available:
SPF 15 (in a yellow tin)
With Aloe Vera (in a green tin)
Rosy (has a subtle pink tint and comes in a pink tin)
Vaseline Lip Therapy is available from chemists and supermarkets and is priced at £1.15 in Boots. I find that one tin lasts for absolutely ages so it is definitely well worth the money.