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Silverwillow

Silverwillow
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Member since: 20.01.2009

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      24.03.2009 16:10
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      Great Food, Cheap Drink, What More Do You Want?

      If you were to set a challenge to have one alcoholic drink in every pub in Dumfries and remain standing, I would bet my lifesavings that you would fail! There are over 40 pubs in the DG1 & DG2 postcodes alone. With so many you can imagine that there are a great variety and something to suit everyone's tastes. People in Dumfries seem to be people of habit and it's often the same faces that are seen in the same pubs. You can like this or loathe it but I find it adds quite a sense of community to the smaller pubs.

      I obviously can't comment on every pub in the region as I've not been in them all, so I'll give a brief note about those I have frequented.

      My favourite pub is the Five Arches, it's quite daunting to visit should you not know anyone there as the locals that drink there are very close knit and are suspicious of the new drinkers (think Slaughtered Lamb in An American Werewolf in London). Once you get over this, you'll find that it's a fantastic wee pub with a lively atmosphere. More focused on the sports than anything else, it has three television sets, a pool table and darts board. They have a function room which is fantastic for live band sets and the resident DJ hired for parties has a good sense of what will get the guests up and dancing which results in a fantastic night. The staff are generally up for a laugh and the banter. The alcohol is served in measures of 35ml making it great value for money.

      If I'm out for a night closer to town, then my first choice is Greens, mainly for the pool hall and the jukebox. Green's is considered a sports bar and often shows more than one football game at a time. With three areas surrounding the horseshoe bar it caters to a wide group of people. The lounge at the front of the bar is quieter with the focus on the two small televisions, it's often used for the domino's. The second section is mainly for those wanting to sit and put the worlds to rights, the jukebox speakers are quite loud in this section which can be a bit annoying when trying to have a conversation. The third area is the pool hall, the volume of the jukebox is perfect here, you can play pool, chat and enjoy the music. Again the measures are 35ml so you get much more for your money.

      If you're looking for something with a bit more tradition and local spirit, head to The Globe or the Hole I' The Wa'. Both boast that they have been around since before Robert Burns was born and that he frequented both pubs in his lifetime. The Globe is said to have a chair that was sat in by Burns and any woman who sits in it will become pregnant (whatever gets you through the day really). It is a very small intimate pub that serves a great pub lunch. The staff are very friendly and full of stories for the tourists. Beware of the locals, they are very defensive of 'their' spaces to stand and seats!

      The Hole I' The Wa' is a strange pub. The atmosphere is always lively, especially with the karaoke and live singers that perform most nights. It is a great combination of traditional meets modern and is popular with drinkers of all ages. During the day it serves the favourites for lunch such as fish and chips.

      If you're looking for somewhere to have some fantastic food, some really good beer and a relaxed evening, then The Cavens Arms is the place to head to. This is more than pub food, this is the best pub food ever. Everything I have tried from the menu has had that 'home made' taste to it and it's always fantastic. In fact, the only downside to the whole place is the fact that it can now charge ridiculous prices for it's food because it is so busy. You have to be in for half past 5 if you want a table without a lengthy wait. Winner of the 'Best Pub' for three years running, it is one of the main 'campaigners for real ale' in the town and often has guest ales for sample, which makes for an interesting night if you can sample them all.

      We have recently been invaded by the Wetherspoons chain in Buccleuch Street. Personally, I avoid it like the plague. 25ml measures and Pepsi instead of Coca Cola are my two main reasons, but the lack of atmosphere, miserable and inefficient staff don't help the place. As for food? The kitchen staff seem to take very little care in the process of cooking and often food is undercooked or burnt. When there are so many affordable pubs in the town that serve high quality food I don't understand why people opt for the microwaved frozen ready meals of Wetherspoons.

      The Granary has recently opened and again is part of a large chain. The food here is very hit or miss, as is the service, must just depend on the mood of the staff. Still reasonably affordable for food, it's the drink where they hit your purse hard. It's over £1.25 for a can of Coca Cola. The cocktail jugs are good value for money if you are on a night out but the standard measures of alcohol are seriously overpriced unless on promotion. The resident DJ is a friendly guy and is always willing to play your requests which is a nice change from some of the DJ's in the town.

      Now if you don't want to go to the local nightclubs but you're not ready to go home, well then it's off to The Lyver with you! The outside of the pub looks dingy and well rather seedy, and you'd be right. Using old Stagecoach bus seats inside, this is the 'Solid Rock Cafe' Doonhamer style. It's a fantastic pub with friendly staff and a fantastic atmosphere. Alcohol is served in 35ml measures and is reasonably priced. Drinkers in here are very music orientated and the juke box is normally backed up with a great selection of music for most of the night.

      As I mentioned before, this is simply a small section of the pubs in the town but I would definitely give the first five on the list a visit if you're in the area!

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        17.02.2009 12:54
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        Priced for the brand name, not for the effect!

        As I've said before, working in a pub is hard on the hands, the constant washing with antibacterial soap, getting covered in beer, heaving kegs and trays of cans about. This is one of the brands I tried whilst on the hunt for a hand cream that would leave the skin on my hands feeling 'normal' again instead of dry, tired looking.

        I thought after the rave reviews of the Protect and Perfect range that the hand cream may just be what my poor hands were needing. Being the good little Boots shopper I waited until I had a money off voucher and made sure to get my points. Thank goodness I had the voucher as £10.25 for a 75ml tube is ridiculously expensive for a hand cream in my opinion, unless it is going to work miracles.

        The packaging is very typical of the No 7 skin care range. It comes in a very simple white tube which is slightly translucent so that you can see when you are running low, with the details of the product on the front in gold and black writing. It claims that it 'is quickly and easily absorbed, vanishing to reveal younger looking hands with fine lines appearing reduced in just two weeks.'

        Well firstly...it took a good while and a lot of rubbing to get it rubbed in, even when using a relatively small amount. It left a greasy feel to my hands after application and I had to wash them soon after application as my fingers were slipping off the keyboard at work. Another wee thing I noticed was the odd shine that it leaves on your skin, almost as if you've used an illuminating lotion on your hands, not a plus or a negative point, just a strange observation. The smell isn't unpleasant but I wouldn't say it's a lovely fragrance either, the good thing is that the smell doesn't linger.

        Secondly, I didn't see much difference. After three weeks of religious application my hands are no softer than when I use a more affordable brand. There doesn't seem to be any change in tone, I don't know if this would require a longer period of usage, but honestly I just couldn't justify spending a tenner on hand cream every three weeks. Maybe my skin isn't tired or wrinkly enough for it to take effect or maybe I haven't used it for a long enough period but I certainly haven't been impressed. I will not be buying another tube to see if it just needs a bit more time to take effect.

        Wee side note for those with sensitive skin - don't touch your face or any other sensitive areas after application as it may cause a reaction.

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          13.02.2009 14:57
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          A natural way to balance your hormones and get back to being YOU!!

          After losing the rag with the husband for no apparent reason yet again, I decided that something had to be done. I'd watched PMS upset my mum for years and I was determined that I wasn't going to be like that. After visiting the doctor and detailing my irritability, sore boobs (I was having to cross my arms to subtly hold them in place when going down stairs at work) and general misery at that time of the month, the doctor explained that it was a simple case of hormone imbalance.

          Now after many years of being on horrible painkillers and medication that have left me with permanent side effects I'm not a big fan of prescription drugs. So I declined the offer of a prescription and I was pointed in the direction of Boots (trusty Advantage Card in hand) and told to purchase some Floresse.

          My initial reaction at the £8.30 for 30 capsules that for a supplement that was bl**dy expensive, until my husband piped up that he'd gladly pay ten times that a month if it worked and got me back to my usual self.

          I did some research on Starflower Oil before I started taking them and 'experts' claim that it can help restore hormonal balance, help ease eczema and psoriasis, reduce high serum cholesterol and blood pressure and many other additional benefits. It is known to have been used worldwide in the research and treatment of cancer for over 700 years, as quoted by the Cancer Research Campaign, Registered Charity No 225838.

          As someone who has suffered from eczema since I was little I was very curious to see the effects.

          There are some warnings on various websites stating that Floresse should be avoided by persons taking blood-thinning products such as aspirin and warfarin and is not recommended for people with temporal lobe epilepsy.

          The packaging is very bright and eye-catching, it's not the most discrete though if you are planning on carrying it around in your handbag with 'May maintain your hormonal balance' plastered across the front. The back of the packaging explains that one capsule should be taken each day but 'should not be used to replace a well balanced diet or healthy lifestyle.' It also states that it contains the active ingredient Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) found in Evening Primrose Oil but at twice the concentration.

          All sounding good so far. The pills are contained within a plastic and foil blister pack, they do look rather large and as a non-fan of pills I did worry about having to swallow them whole. I shouldn't have worried as with a little water they went down very easily.

          It was well into the third week when I started to notice a difference. I was surprised that it took so long, but it was definitely worth the wait. Some of the new patches of eczema that had appeared since Christmas had become less irritable and the skin was healing nicely. I've been taking the supplement for 5 weeks now and those eczema patches are gone, the more severely affected areas aren't completely gone but the difference between now and the start of the course is drastic. The skin is no longer as easily irritated and continuing the use of my usual moisturisers the skin is starting to look healthy again.

          The biggest test was my 'time of the month,' the difference between this time and my last is incredible. I usually suffer from horrendous cramps and whilst I still suffered from cramps they were nowhere near as uncomfortable as they have been previously been and lasted less than half the time they normally would. Two days suffering instead of five, I can certainly handle the £8 a month for that. The difference in my temperament, not only during my period but on a general day-to-day basis, is the biggest difference. I'm back to my usual laid back, easy going self. Don't get me wrong I still have those snappy moments as we all do, but I can notice when they are sneaking up on me and take the measures to stop it rather than snapping and not realising until later. Hubby has even commented on the difference as rather than being stand-offish (my usual defence to prevent myself taking out the irritability on him) I've been very affectionate and cuddly.

          In all honesty, I just feel better in myself. There's no better way to say it than that! So do I recommend this? Yes! Yes! Yes!

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            12.02.2009 13:39
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            A great shampoo to prevent blonde hair becoming dull as quickly!

            I bought this shampoo when it was on offer shortly after having my highlights put in. I only bought the brand as it was on offer in Superdrug and I got the shampoo and conditioner for £4. I had heard good things about it previously but had refused to pay extortionate amounts for a shampoo!!

            The colour of the packaging depends on what type of the shampoo you chose. I purchased the lightest 'Platinum to Champagne Blondes', which is in a very pale, almost golden tube. The tube has a snap close lid, which is easy to use with wet hands.

            The packaging claims to 'Optimise the effect of light for truly glistening blonde,' 'bring out highlights and shine' and 'gently cleanse hair by ridding it of darkening and dulling build-up from tap water and typical conditioning and styling products.' Sounds great on paper!

            The shampoo is very thick and pale yellow in colour when you squeeze it onto your hand and smells wonderful. It has a very fresh, clean scent, which is almost citrus-like. I have quite long hair and a lot of it but a 10p-sized blob on my hand was more than enough to wash my hair as it lathered up extremely well.

            My hair had that 'just washed' feeling for the next two days and it smelled great with that fresh citrus scent which also lasted the two days so I was very pleased.

            Having very fine hair that I have to treat with a smoothing serum, then a thermal protective serum before straightening and finally a shot of hairspray to hold it all in place, there is a lot of product in my hair when it comes to getting it clean, throw in the usual dirt and grime that is picked up on a day to day basis and a mucky pup of a nephew, well it's a challenge for any shampoo. After using it two or three times my hair felt fantastic and VERY clean compared to other shampoos I have used. It must just have taken a few washes to clear the build up and now it's a case of maintaining.

            Despite using the product for 5 months now, I can't say that it has made any difference to my highlights, but it has helped keep my colour brighter for longer. My hair does feel healthier than it has with previous shampoos and I would definitely recommend this brand.

            As much as I love this shampoo, I will only buy it when it is on offer. At £4.69 (250ml bottle) each for the shampoo and conditioner from Boots, it is a rather steep price tag. I try to buy it from Boots to make sure that I get the advantage points for it.

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              11.02.2009 13:06
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              A fantastic way of reducing chemicals in your cleaning routine!

              In my bid to make my life more eco-friendly one cupboard that needed serious review was my cleaning cupboard. With several different bottles 'needed' to cater for the different surfaces in my home I dread to think how many chemicals were in them all.

              My mum had recommended the Microfibre cloths that were currently being sold in our Poundland, £1 for three. My mum used to be a domestic worker in the local maternity hospital back when the ward matron would use a white glove to check the surfaces, so you can imagine how clean she likes her house to be.

              The packaging that holds the cloths together states that it is 'made from a unique microfibre fabric' and claims it can absorb up to five times its weight in liquid.

              The water in my area of town leaves limescale marks that would make you think I'd thrown salt and glue about the bathroom but there is no way that I can get the husband to wipe the shower screen down after he's showered. I'd tried every glass cleaner/specially designed bathroom glass cleaner I could find and even then the marks remained more stubborn than me. I tried the microfibre cloth on it's own and whilst it did the job nicely, however some marks remained. So armed with a vinegar and water cleaning solution I tried again and my shower screen looks like new and is nasty chemical free. The cloths shine up my taps as if I'd stood and polished them for hours, where really I've thrown the cloth across them in a matter of seconds.

              With tiles in the bathroom and kitchen, cleaning is a nightmare with normal cloths mainly due to FLUFF! These microfibre cloths are fantastic for cleaning tiles as they leave no trace of their usage behind. Add water, use one cloth to wipe down the tiles and use another dry cloth to dry and polish off. Great results.

              Those of you who own flat screen TV's and laptops will know the dangers of polish, yet with grubby little fingers that aren't old enough to understand a normal dry cloth isn't enough to get rid of the fingerprints. A gentle rub with a microfibre cloth and the prints are gone, leaving only shiny cleanness behind!

              They are fantastic on windows, simply wipe over with one of the cloths slightly dampened and then polish with a dry one! No worries about leaving streaks either.

              With several stainless steel items in my kitchen, including sink and drainer, I'm very wary about using chemical products on them as I don't want to dull the steel. I don't have to worry at all now as a wet microfibre cloth and they are shining like new. They still get treated with an anti-bacterial spray to kill any bugs but not half as often as previously.

              I've treated myself to a few of these cloths, scrapped all the old ones and have managed to cut my cleaning cupboard down to a few bottles on a shelf. I use the clothes for everything!! I like that they pick up the dust and not just move it around, as an eczema sufferer that is a massive plus for me.

              The best part about these cloths - they get thrown into the washing machine along with the dark load. Well that and the cost of my shopping has reduced as I don't have to buy different expensive cleaners to get my house shiny again! I would definitely recommend investing in a few of these cloths.

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                10.02.2009 16:46
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                When you're partner has cancer, so do you or at least that is how it feels! For every step of the way you have to be there too, every hospital appointment, every operation, every chemotherapy session, every check up. As strong as your partner has to be, you have to be stronger.

                Cancer was already dark cloud over our family when my husband found a lump 'down there.' My uncle had just died after a long struggle with bowel cancer; my aunt was undergoing the latest of a number of lumpectomies and was set to start another cycle of chemotherapy. Having seen the extremes of cancer and it's treatments, he put his macho attitude aside and didn't hesitate to get a doctor's appointment booked.

                He was seen the same day by his GP who advised that she couldn't tell him anything for definite: it could be a cyst, a simple blocked tube or 'something else.' He was referred to the hospital for an ultra sound. It was a two day wait until his hospital appointment and it fell on the day of my uncle's funeral. After the ultrasound, the doctors called and asked him to attend an appointment at 5pm that day. When he called to ask me if I would go with him to the hospital later that day I knew then it was bad news, for them to call him back that quickly, something had to be wrong.

                Up at the hospital he went into the room himself, his show of strength. A nurse called me to join him some ten minutes later. On the screen were the results of the ultra sound and I will never forget that doctor's face as he told me to sit down. I couldn't sit down; I stood behind S and held his shoulders tight. I knew that I would have to be his eyes and ears in these appointments, take in everything that would have to happen, the changes that would have to be made. The cancer cells had spread and the doctors wanted to move fast, scheduling his operation for the week after. What shook me most was being able to see the obvious tumour on the ultra sound, being able to see the tumour and how it had infested his cells.

                Some hidden inner strength kicked in during that appointment, I wanted to know everything and my business side took over as I began to understand the medical jargon that they had thrown at us. I knew that S had to fight and couldn't lie down to this disease, he couldn't let it win. From that point, even whilst in the presence of the deadly serious doctors, we started to have a giggle, winding each other up as we had done since the moment we met (much to the bemusement of the doctor). Keeping that hold on what was our 'normality' was important to me.

                I'd like to mention that at the point of his diagnosis, S and I had been together just under 8 months, we were no where near the point in our relationship of discussing such things as children. The doctors were unsure of how the chemotherapy would affect the remaining healthy testicle and with them removing more than they had hoped of the other testicle and tubes, etc, they offered S the chance to freeze his sperm. We decided that the best way to proceed would be to leave every 'door' open. Everything was done so that if S was infertile he would have that back up regardless of what happened between him and I.

                I read everything I could get my hands on with regards to the disease, the operations, the treatments, the survival rates and most of all side effects of the drugs being used in the chemotherapy cycles. I was going to be prepared for everything and anything, he would have to go through hell and back but I'd be there with him. We told those who needed to know and they instantly picked up on the positive, fighting attitude that I was trying to establish.

                I spent every moment I could by his side. We made the trips to Edinburgh for the chemotherapy more like short holiday breaks, packing any form of activity that could be done at his bedside such as puzzles and games, deciding on the plans for the wedding (S proposed two weeks before starting his chemotherapy) and trying to have as much fun as is possible in a cancer ward. I cannot thank the nurses on that ward enough for their happy, positive attitudes and being so flexible as to allow me to stay every minute with him.

                The chemotherapy did have its side effects, S was tired, his immune system was destroyed, the anti sickness pills played havoc with his insides and his appetite was non-existent. His bedside cabinet became a pharmacy, the pills the doctors had given him as well as a large supply of recommended medicines that they suggest we buy. The food cupboards were full of weak-scented meals and I spent a day each week cooking to make sure that there were fast and healthy meals in the freezer ready for him. He had to eat as soon as he felt hungry but strong smells would put him off very quickly. I think we kept Jaffa Cakes in business as these seemed to cover the metallic taste that the drugs had caused.

                The routine of entering the house was the same as entering a hospital ward, no visitors if they had been exposed to bugs or viruses, use the anti-bacterial gel on your hands before going near him and leave your shoes at the door. S did contract Septicaemia, but that's another completely different topic. Thankfully he fought hard and the doctors were keen to keep his chemotherapy on track to prevent delays. The end was in sight.

                I have no doubt that the cancer caused more emotional damage than physical, the months during and following the chemotherapy he was very insecure about his body and other people's perception of him. The doctors had warned that depression is easily to slip into after the chemotherapy ends as although the 'all clear' is five years away, there seems nothing to fight anymore it is just a long case of waiting to see what happens next. He did slip but we did everything we could to pull him out of his slump and keep him going, and thankfully after changing his job and refocusing he was as close to his normal self as he was going to be.

                The advice I'd pass on to anyone else that has a partner who has been diagnosed with testicular cancer:

                - Become their eyes and ears from the start. They will not be able to take in everything that the doctor advises at the appointments, it will be over the next few days that the questions they would have wanted to ask will come to them. It makes it easier if you have pre-empted this and have their answers.

                - Research anything you don't understand. A lot of terms that the doctors use are terrifying but a little understanding can make them much easier to deal with. It is also easier to keep your partner calm and positive if you can push the doctors to use 'lament terms' or explain the jargon they have used.

                - Buy a digital thermometer! It saved S's life. During chemotherapy if your temperature rises above 37.5 then you have to get to a hospital ASAP. Should this happen, tell A&E IMMEDIATELY that the person is undergoing chemotherapy as they should be moved to a private room away from possible infectious patients. Make sure that doctors/nurses use the hand gels once they are in the room as door handles are disgusting. You'd be surprised at the number of people that don't realise this even doctors.

                - Keep all of the paperwork and letters from the hospital together in a pack, take it to every appointment and to the hospital if required. You'll be surprised at how much time this saves the doctors, as they do not have to rely on information from other wards/hospitals filtering in.

                - Accept help! You're going to need someone to talk to as well as your man. CancerBacup is a great service if you need information or just a nurse to talk to about what is going on. You will have negative down days and whilst it's ok to let your partner know you are scared or a little stressed, it's best to have someone close that you can blow off all your emotions to without worrying about their reaction.

                - Be prepared and aware of the chemotherapy side effects. Soups are a great food to have in the house as they can be prepared quickly, he will have to eat when he is hungry and before he loses the notion to. Keep lots of snacks and encourage him to let you know what is affected by the metallic taste so that you know what to have available e.g. maybe chocolate is fine, but crisps are not. Mouthwashes, constipation relief tablets and antiseptic gels are a must on the shopping list.

                - Talk about everything with your partner! They will be offered prosthetics, different treatments, counselling and they will probably want to know your opinion on it all.

                I wouldn't wish anyone to have to go through cancer or indeed for anyone to have to watch someone they love go through it. But if there is someone out there that is in the position I was, I hope the above helps a little. It's daunting to be thrown out there in the midst of it and although there is help out there it's not the same as hearing it from those that have been through from the same perspective.

                To every guy that reads this - I cannot stress how important it is to check yourself for lumps. Rather you go to the doctors, suffer a little embarrassment and find out it is nothing than let a cancer spread. You don't want to hear those "if you had come to us sooner..."

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                  10.02.2009 11:13
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                  Natural healthy glow...in a bottle!

                  With pale skin and freckles I often find it difficult to find a shade of foundation that doesn't look washed out or orange. Whilst having a make up trial for my wedding day I happened to mention this to the make up artist who told me that I should purchase this illuminating lotion to mix in with my foundation in order to prevent that 'Tangoed' look.

                  The product comes in a 30ml glass bottle, with a black lid and the typical No 7 font in black detailing the brand, the product name and that it is hypo-allergenic. It is easily dispensed by pump allowing you greater control on how much of the lotion you wish to use. I love the colour of this lotion, the shiny, glittery pink for some reason just really appeals to me, you can actually see where the light catches the lotion when it's in the bottle. The packaging claims that 'this light, radiance-boosting lotion softens flaws and brightens skin.'

                  There are so many ways to use this product, I was told to add one pump of lotion to two pumps of my foundation to help tone the foundation to my skin. It worked a treat and gives my whole face a fantastic healthy glow, great for days where you're feeling a bit under the weather. I also add a little to my cheekbones and collar bones after applying my foundation if I feel that they need a little more definition (once dry it doesn't leave horrible marks on any clothes either which is handy.) You can also use it under your foundation or under powder, methods I have yet to try.

                  The product feels incredibly light on the skin and when having applied only the lotion and no other make up I often forget it's there.

                  I suffer from very dry skin and eczema and I'm happy to say that it didn't affect either of these. It is easily smoothed over dry skin and doesn't sit in any dry patches that you may have. The best part is that those dull dry parts, even those get a touch of the brightness that this lotion provides, leaving you looking much healthier in the most natural of ways.

                  I have found that on my face the lotion's 'glow' lasts as long as the foundation I'm using but it generally lasts most of the day and it's small enough to be placed into a handbag for touch ups before a busy evening.

                  Taking it off is just as easy as putting it on, it simply wipes off with a gentle cleanser, another plus if you don't like scrubbing at your skin.

                  At £10.50 it does seem on the pricey side but this product is worth every penny and I would highly recommend it. The pump allows easy dispensing of the lotion and there is never much waste once you get to know how much you need for the manner in which you are going to apply it. Plus you don't need much to get the desired effect. But as with all Boots products, keep an eye out for the offers, money off vouchers and extra points!

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                    09.02.2009 15:34
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                    More like a lip balm with great colour and shine than a lip gloss.

                    When payday arrives each month I like to treat myself to a little something special for the makeup bag and on one such occasion I had treated myself to this High Shine Lip Gloss.

                    I purchased this particular brand as No 7 is generally safe for my sensitive skin and it's a reliable brand for quality.

                    At £8.50 it is quite steeply priced for a lip gloss but keep an eye out for the '3 for 2' offers and the '£5 off' vouchers which can help make it a more reasonably priced product.

                    The gloss usually comes in four shades (Ice, Whisper, Flirt & Lust) but look out for the limited editions (Caress & Dream) which are also available occasionally.

                    The packaging is very sleek and typical of the No7 range, black lid, 100ml clear tube and gold writing detailing the product. It claims to 'leave lips looking dewy and fuller.'

                    When you unscrew the black lid, a wand is attached to it. The wand is basically a plastic stick with a foam applicator attached to the bottom. The applicator is shaped into an angle to allow easy application of the gloss. I really liked the applicator as often when I apply gloss in a hurry I get it everywhere, with this one I can apply it quickly and precisely. Always a great point when you're rushing out the door for that impatient taxi driver.

                    The gloss is very smooth to apply, the wand glides over your lips leaving a great coat of colour. Whilst not being a 'sticky' gloss it definitely holds well and didn't slide off my lips as some other glosses have done. Should you lick your lips there is no unpleasant after taste or indeed taste at all which is a refreshing change. After application, the colour did hold for just under an hour but there were transfer marks on everything I drank from and on the husbands lips. At £8.50 a bottle he is now warned not to kiss me and waste the expensive stuff when I'm wearing it (hehe).

                    Whilst it didn't make my lips look 'fuller' I definitely agree that the 'dewy' look was achieved. My lips looked soft and kissable with a great shine.

                    The downside to the packaging and the wand is that the tube often gets residue of gloss and needs a wipe regularly to prevent it becoming sticky and unhygienic.

                    For the price I was expecting a much greater 'staying power' and in that sense I was disappointed, but after using the gloss my lips felt like I'd been using a lip balm which was very pleasant. I purchased the 'Whisper' shade and I must admit, I LOVE this colour as it's great for a day in the office or finishing off my make up for a night out.

                    Overall, I do recommend this product but not at the £8.50 price tag. Should you find yourself in possession of a £5 off voucher then I would definitely give this lip-gloss a try. It's a fantastic wee treat.

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                    09.02.2009 12:28
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                    Great conditioner but does the same job as a much cheaper brand.

                    I bought this shampoo when it was on offer shortly after having my highlights put in. I only bought the brand as it was on offer in Superdrug and I got the shampoo and conditioner for £4.

                    The packaging does look very up market and I was quite happy to leave the product sitting in the shower rather than hide it away in the drawer. The colour of the tube depends on what type of the conditioner you chose. I purchased the lightest 'Platinum to Champagne Blondes', which is in a very pale, almost golden tube. The tube has a snap close lid which is easy to use with wet hands.

                    The tube claims to contain 'illuminating minerals and nourishing proteins, so your hair attracts more light.' It also states that it will 'help you add strength, shine and amazing silkiness to your hair.' All good things should they work that way.

                    The conditioner is very creamy when you squeeze it onto your hand and you can actually see it sparkling where the light hits it. It smells lovely, somewhere between fruity and citrus-like but with neither being overpowering.

                    The instructions on how to use the conditioner are pretty much the same as any other. I applied it rather liberally as my hair gets quite dry during the winter months. Even before rinsing I could feel it softening my hair.

                    Once dry and despite having used two products since the conditioner, I could still smell the lovely fresh fragrance that it leaves behind. My hair felt fantastic and soft, but not as flyaway as some conditioners have left it, it even felt soft and clean for the next three days.

                    After using it for 5 months now, my hair is in great condition and it doesn't look as dull as it sometimes did 6-8 weeks after colouring. If you're looking for a dramatic change you're not going to get it from this, but it will maintain your bright and healthy blonde look.

                    I stock up when the product is on offer as I feel that £4.69 each for the shampoo and conditioner is far too pricey. I tend to buy at Boots when on offer to get those advantage points to put towards a free bottle.

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                    06.02.2009 15:11
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                    A Great Liner To Throw In Your Handbag!

                    I love eyeliner and since I go through loads of the stuff I decided that I would try a less expensive brand in the hopes that it would do the same job. I now own it in black, brown and blue.

                    This liner costs £1.99 in Superdrug and has been included in previous '3 for 2' offers.

                    The pencil is very simple, it is the colour of your chosen eyeliner (in this case black) with a silver plastic lid. The brand, colour and the fact that it is 'precision colour' are all detailed on the pencil.

                    With very sensitive skin generally, I am extra careful of what I apply on or near my eye area. This pencil allowed the liner to be applied smoothly and didn't pull on the skin as some previous liners I have used. It was very easy to apply with the pencil being easy to hold and control. The downside to the softness is that the pencil needs sharpened regularly in order to remain 'precise' and not thick and rounded, it also means there is a lot of waste.

                    I applied the liner, dusted my lid with powder and then reapplied. I've found that this has made previous liners last that little bit longer. It takes two applications of this liner to get a dark and black line rather than a dull grey.

                    The liner did need touched up after about 3 hours but I was quite pleased with this as the pencil is small enough to keep in even a clutch bag on a night out, making touch ups possible.

                    Even after two re-applications, the liner came off easily using my cleanser and best of all, it hadn't irritated my skin.

                    What I like most about this liner is that I can go for a subtle yet smoky look for during the day in the office or apply more to get that dark lined look for an evening out.

                    Overall, it is good value for money and that extra time and care taken when applying the liner will make it last that little bit longer.

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                      06.02.2009 10:35
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                      Great For When A Fast Meal Is Required!

                      I bought these whilst on offer at £1 in Tesco's. There are two nights a week where my husband and I just simply don't have the time to cook, but with our New Years Resolutions to eat healthy we wanted something a little better than the ready meals we had been purchasing. We hoped this would do the job.

                      The packaging is very simple and typical of the Tesco own brand but at £1 who's complaining, it's what is inside that counts. You can slide the sleeve across to see pasta in a tomato sauce with onions and two small balls of mozzarella. It definitely looks yummy.

                      Cooking this in a microwave is very simple and quick. Although I no longer follow what it says on the pack. The pack says to put it in the microwave for four minutes and ta-da you're sorted. I pierce the film before putting it in and give it a stir after 2 minutes before putting it back in for the remaining 2 minutes. The Tesco's way didn't mix the cheese through the sauce and you'd end up with clumps of overcooked/undercooked pasta.

                      It is far better if you have the time to cook it in the oven, but as this takes between 20 and 30 minutes it takes away the speed factor, which is the only reason we buy ready-made meals.

                      Whatever way you cook it, remember that the plastic tub holding all the pasta will lose it's solidity when very warm and wobble, you don't want that hot pasta over your hands or kitchen floor.

                      If you have a healthy appetite then this isn't going to be enough to keep you going. I always throw half a garlic baguette in the oven to eat with it to make it a more filling meal.

                      As for taste - it is enjoyable but nowhere near as great as a pasta bake made freshly. At £1 and ready in less than 5 minutes I don't suppose I can complain though. As with all ready meals it is high in salt and as someone that doesn't add salt to my food I do find it a bit salty, so a little doctoring is generally undertaken in my kitchen before I munch on it. I add extra tomatoes from a tin and some grated cheese after 2 minutes of being in the microwave, makes all the difference. If you don't have to worry about the smell I really recommend adding a quarter teaspoon of 'Lazy Garlic' and mixing through.

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                      • Suicide in General / Discussion / 64 Readings / 55 Ratings
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                        05.02.2009 17:34
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                        *

                        January 13th 2003 is the day my world stopped.

                        Wrapped up in my stressful world of studying and exams, I took no notice of the door slamming and my mum running to the car until my mum's partner called my sister and I downstairs.

                        A carer had phoned to say that she couldn't find our gran. There was a cryptic note, but no sign of her. Now my gran was a very defiant woman when it came to illness and age, she wasn't letting either of them affect her independence, so we assumed she'd just nipped out to pick up her paper or check in on one of her 'old biddies' on the street to see if they needed anything. That's the kind of person she was, everyone came before herself. She'd be home soon, telling us off for worrying.

                        When my mum returned just over an hour later we knew that something was horribly wrong. I have never seen my mum look as devastated as she did that morning. She told us that gran had taken her own life in the toy cupboard of the spare bedroom, the one place the carer hadn't checked. Even in her last hour she'd been thinking of the family, gran had organised it all so that it would be the carer that found her and not one of us, unfortunately that part just hadn't gone to plan and it was my dad who found his mum's body.

                        The more we thought about, the more we realised that she'd had this planned for a while. She'd cleared out some of the cupboards and sent old toys down to us, when asked why the big tidy out she replied 'just getting things sorted' and we thought no more about it.

                        I'd always (wrongly) associated suicide with depressed teenagers and those down on their luck in life with no road out. I never once thought that someone like my gran would take their own life. Maybe this is why it hit me as hard?!

                        There were (and still are) so many emotions to deal with that day. The worst of them all is the frustration of not having noticed the signs (that only hindsight can uncover). Then there is the devastating hole that is left in your life by the absence of their life. Nothing prepares you for a suicide of a loved one, if she had been seriously ill it would have been 'her time,' if she was in an accident it would have been 'Gods plan,' then what of those that take their own life? What comforting line do we give then?

                        But the worst part is the ignorance, the ignorance of those around you that don't think before they speak. We didn't and still don't broadcast the way in which my gran died, this in fact is the most public I have been with the details and my feelings. Hearing people talk of suicide 'being a cowards way out' brought out an aggression in me that I didn't think was possible. She wanted to die with her dignity in tact, she wanted to go out on her own terms, she didn't want to let an illness ruin our happy memories of her, she didn't want us to have to watch her die slowly and painfully, how is that cowardly?

                        Six Christmas's have past, my wedding day has been and gone, her great grandson (my first nephew) was born and has now celebrated his second birthday. Each of these occasions have reminded us of her absence. With time I've accepted the reasons for which she did what she did, I have forgiven her for the pain it caused us all, but no matter how much time passes, the sense of loss remains as strong today as it did that day. I think of her each and every day, I think of how it could have been if euthanasia was legal, she need not have died alone. I wish she had seen us grow up, I wish she could see our successes, comfort us when we've failed. Did she have any other choice than to take her life?

                        Suicide leaves more questions than answers. When society starts to open its mind to suicide and euthanasia, maybe then we will be able to discard that stigma of a 'cowards way out' of the 'sinners that murdered themselves.' Maybe then they won't talk in whispers when they discuss suicide; I for one stand proud of my gran's choice. Yes it may hurt each and every day, I may cry for her more than she would want me to, but I know that she went in death as she did in life, independently, dignified and of her own accord.

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                          03.02.2009 18:50
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                          Probably more for those with skin that is sensitive to perfumed shower gels!

                          The way we go through shower gel in our house I would never dream of spending £1.95 on a 250ml bottle of shower gel, but when this was on offer at 99p in Superdrug I thought I would give it a shot. After all, it would be worth paying for one that didn't leave me red and blotchy, I could always hide it from the shower gel monster that is my husband.

                          The packaging focuses on the 'natural' selling point. The plastic (recyclable) bottle is clear with a snap lid. It has an anti-drip rubber stopper for those people like me who tend to drop or knock things over in the shower. The bottle states that Simple are 'experts in sensitive skin' and that the product contains active ingredients of Cucumber Extract to 'naturally invigorate' and Chamomile Oil to 'gently soothe and soften.' So far, so good I'm thinking.

                          The back of the bottle claims - 'Gentle cleansing combined with a blend of naturally enhancing ingredients, that nourish and care for your skin. Cleanse and purify your body with our refreshing shower gel. Added moisturisers prevent drying, leaving your skin soft and supple.'

                          The gel is quite thick and comes out looking a bit like a paste until moisture hits it and it looks more gel-like. The good thing about this is that you only need a small amount as it lathers very quickly. It was very nice to use as the lather glided over my skin and washed off easily.

                          The gel may not be perfumed but you can definitely smell the Chamomile Oil which isn't exactly the most pleasant smell, but it is a very clean smell.

                          I don't really know where I stand with this product. After using the product there was no obvious difference to my skin compared to any other shower gel I've used. The next morning though, the areas of my skin which are relatively normal (not dry) did feel nice and soft but the dry areas were still as dry but also irritated.

                          Although they claim to be experts in sensitive skin I would definitely say that this wasn't suitable for my sensitive skin. Is my skin just TOO sensitive? I would recommend this if you have 'normal' skin that is in need of a little TLC. I will not be buying it again.

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                            02.02.2009 16:50
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                            As Super As Noodles Get - Pass The Beef Ones Please!

                            My former flatmate calls me his Super Noodle Queen and for good reason. I absolutely love them and always have a cupboard stocked with a supply. At 39p in Farmfoods and Poundstretchers they are perfect for lunch time with some toast or for every meal should you have overspent during the month and payday is still a few days away! (Ah those were the days.)

                            William Batchelor must have been told I was born in 1985 and of the title I would earn with the help of his brand. He is also the man behind other convenience foods like Cup-A-Soups and the Pasta'n'Sauce.

                            The packets are very distinctive compared to other noodle brands on the supermarket shelves. With a blue metallic package, they are colour co-ordinated depending on flavour e.g. green are curry flavoured, gold/yellow is chicken and blue is beef. There are over 10 different flavours but these three seem to be the best sellers at my local supermarket.

                            Now if you're looking for a nutritional meal with lots of goodness, these aren't for you. If you need something filling and ready in under 5 minutes, then boil your kettle now.

                            To make them more nutritional you can experiment with them, that is what 5 out of 8 of us in my office are now doing at lunchtimes (we should have bought shares). Adding spring onion to the beef ones is very nice and has been our favourite so far. Beans are good on the side too. Sad aren't we?

                            Basically, you open the pack of noodles, open the flavouring and pour it into 300 ml of boiling water, place the noodles in a saucepan or microwave safe dish and pour the now flavoured water over the top. You then cook them on the hob or blast them in the microwave, whatever takes your fancy, either way you're lunch is ready in under 5 minutes. The noodles are ready when the sauce has thickened and there's no wateriness in the mix.

                            There have been some serious debates on these noodles in our office, for example I crush mine in the pack before opening it making them easy to eat with a spoon, one lass doesn't break them apart at all so she can eat them like spaghetti.

                            I stock up on these every time they are on offer as they are just so handy to have in the cupboards. Morrison's currently have them on offer at 4 for £1.

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                            • 17 Lasting Fix Lipstick / Make Up / 16 Readings / 15 Ratings
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                              02.02.2009 14:31
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                              A fantastic lipstick if you have the time to apply it correctly.

                              With a 'goth' night out to attend I realised that I had nothing in my make up box that would do, I was going to need a black or close to black lipstick that was suitable for sensitive skin. I felt there would be a challenge ahead.

                              Whilst browsing in Boots I came across the 'New Black' (a very dark purple) shade from 17's Lasting Fix. At £3.71 it was a bit more than I was willing to pay for a 'one off lipstick' but I knew with such a dark shade I would need something with 'hold' to prevent it slipping onto my teeth.

                              The lipstick case is dark grey with a slight glitter shimmer through the plastic. The brand logo 17 and description of 'Lasting Fix' are detailed in silver. Compared to the sleek packaging of No 7, this looks like the childrens version.

                              17 Lasting Fix claims to be a 'creamy, long-lasting and moisturising lipstick that lasts upto 4 hours and provides transfer resistance.'

                              There are 7 shades currently in the range which are mainly shades of pink. The shade I purchased is no longer available which is disappointing as after seeing the photo's of that night, I really liked that shade.

                              The lipstick was very easily to apply as it was very 'creamy.' I blotted with a tissue and reapplied, then repeated to ensure it would stay where it's meant to...on my lips! The colour was fantastic and just what I was looking for.

                              My lips did feel very soft and smooth using the lipstick and it didn't 'bleed' into the cracks at the side of my mouth like some other lipsticks have done in the past.

                              The lipstick lasted approximately 4 hours as claimed, but I had a feeling this was more to do with the way I had applied it than the actual staying power of the lipstick. As for non-transferance, it's not entirely true, whilst the colour did stay on my lips there were definite lipstick marks where I'd taken a drink from my glass. My husband also had to check for purple after he'd kissed me. Not a good look for the boys. Reapplying was surprisingly pleasant as again it simply glided over the faded previous coat and left even coverage.

                              Removing it at the end of the night was not so pleasant. It took quite a bit of cleansing and a few face wipes in order to get it off my lips, even then there was a distinct purple tinge to my lips until another attempt at removing it the next day.

                              This is a great lipstick if you're prepared to take your time when initially applying as it will last up to the said 4 hours as promised even when having food and drink. Definitely great value for money.

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