Smashbox CC Cream – Yes or No?

I’ve been using  Boots No 7 Youthful CC Cream for a while and really like it to be honest but I’m always on the lookout for different ones. I’ve read quite a few positive reviews of the Smashbox CC Cream so thought I’d have a go at using it to see what happens ………

Smashbox CC Cream

I’ve been wearing it for 3 days now and I have to say I like the way my skin feels after I’ve put it on. It feels all silkily smooth and the good thing is I don’t need to wear my usual Clinique SuperPrimer underneath it. It soaks into my skin quite quickly and when I first put it on I thought it wouldn’t be any good as it seemed to disappear on application. However, that’s not the case at all. It adds a hint of colour which is all I want as I don’t like looking like I’m wearing a mask of make-up. But along with the hint of colour, it has a sort of blurring-effect which is great for fine lines and any skin imperfections. My skin has been a little greasier than usual recently so I was concerned that a new CC Cream might upset the balance even more. Touch wood though, so far my skin looks and feels better. I’ll keep you all posted, ok…….

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MyTimeFrame aka Megan’s 21st Time Frame

My Time FrameIt was my youngest daughter’s 21st a couple of weeks ago and I’d been racking my brains for a while, trying to think of something ‘a bit different’ for her.

I’d already bought her a few bits and bobs when I stumbled upon a site called The Travelling Souk   which is now going to be my ‘Go-To’ site when it comes to looking for presents for almost any occasion. It’s a veritable treasure trove of gifts – weird & wonderful, some inexpensive and some not. The eclectic range means that you should be able to find something for everyone and I reckon, I’ll be putting that theory to the test over the year.

MyTimeFrame – Personalised Art

Back to the 21st birthday in question though, something that caught my eye on The Travelling Souk was ‘My Time Frame‘. The way this works is you choose a series of words/dates which make up a word picture of someone’s life. So, say you were going to buy it for a wedding present, you may include the names of the bride and groom, the date of the wedding, the place they met, where they’re going on honeymoon, dog’s name, fave film, birth-signs, baby’s name, favourite songs etc…. in a nutshell you can choose anything which you feel symbolises the couple.

21st birthday my time frameSo I put together what I thought was a good mix of words to create a picture of Megan’s life so far. I then emailed said list to her sisters just to check if they had any additional ideas and when I was happy I chose the frame and sent the list off. Well the Time Frame came back within days and I was chuffed to bits with it. When we gave it to to her on her birthday she looked over-the-moon and actually seemed quite overwhelmed. It’s a great present and is a talking-point too. Michael Buble everyone gets but why does it say Mount Maunganui and why ‘I hate sponge’? Freckly, feisty, punny …. words which make sense to anyone who knows Meg but why ‘blender’?

It’s probably one of the best and most original gifts I’ve ever given and considering it’s a unique piece of personalised artwork, it was a real bargain!

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Yummy, Scrummy, In my Tummy

Patchwork PateJust a few of the culinary delights to pass my lips in March.

A couple of Fridays ago, Mr. C and I had some pretty amazing pâté called Welsh Dragon’s Venison Liver Pâté with Chilli . It wasn’t all hot and spicy but the chilli did have a kind of warming effect. We served it with some Spelt Oat Fingers and some nutty multigrain toast and it was more of a meal in itself than the starter we’d intended it to be. We will definitely be buying this or one of Patchwork Pâté’s other pâtés again sometime soon.

Tesco Salted Caramel Hot ChocolateWe’re really into our hot chocolate right now and love to bits the Hotel Chocolat Chilli Hot Chocolate. However the one we’ve most loved recently is the Tesco Finest Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. Now we like to go to town and do the whole yummy marshmallows and whipped cream thing but it’s got to be said that it can be a tad sickly if you go overboard on the trimmings. Nonetheless this is one of our favourites to have as a treat on a Saturday afternoon with ‘The Mentalist’ box set we’re working our way through slowly but surely.

Best Cookery Book Ever

5 Ingredients 10 Minutes….. and finally to the Best Cookery Book we’ve ever used… 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes by Jules Clancy. You know when you’ve been in work all day and need/want to find something that’s quick to prepare and cook ….? Well this is the cookery book you need. everything genuinely has 5 ingredients or fewer and really does only take 10 minutes to cook. A flipping marvellous Cook Book! Mr. C (our resident gordon blue chef) has been in his element producing various yummy culinary masterpieces for me! Buy it – it’s not expensive and you’ll love it, I guarantee!

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5 Star Beauty Products

Over the last few weeks there have been a few beauty products worth mentioning as being particularly great.

Victoria Green Beauty Bag1. Victoria Green Beauty Bags are not only stylish with unique designs that you won’t find in every other shop on the High Street but they are big, wipe-clean and superb value for money too.  Victoria Green definitely gets The Thumbs Up and I can highly recommend.


NHP Hair Care2. NHP Nourish Hair Bath is without a doubt ‘the best shampoo’ I have ever used! Mr. C has heard me say that so much over the last few weeks and when Maddie (middle daughter) tried it at the weekend she said exactly the same thing. NHP stands for Natural Haircare Program and the NHP Nutri Argan range I’ve been trying out is made up of a blend of organic Argan Oil and Macadamia Oil. Usually if I use hair products with oils in, my hair goes all limp and dull but the NHP shampoo has made my hair lovely and soft and shiny and it kind of calms down the flyaway static hairs which often stick up around my parting. The NHP Hair Mask is in a league of its own and the fact that it’s free of parabens, paraffins and colourants is an added bonus! The Thumbs Up to NHP!

3. Niki’s Organic Balms have been a NIki's Organic Lavender & Chamomile Balmrevelation to me. I particularly like Niki’s Organic Lavender & Chamomile Balm which I’ve been using as a Hot Cloth Cleanser. It has a really lovely scent and is calming on my skin. Lots of cleansers make my skin go all red but Niki’s is spot-on!
Niki’s Rose Balm is equally as good and I’ve been using that as a night-time moisturiser. It’s a little bit greasy on my skin for day-time use but other people I’ve asked say it’s fine for using in the day under make-up.

So that’s just a few of the 5 Star beauty products in my life at the moment.

Next week I’m thinking of writing about the 0 to 1 Star products in my life although it’s got to be said that there haven’t been a lot of them recently.

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Easter Competition To Win Funky Eiko Egg Cup Boilers

EikoI’m not a big egg eater – unless it’s the chocolate variety – but even I could be persuaded to have a boiled egg for breakfast if I had some of these funky Eiko Egg Cup Boilers!

I have a set of 4 Eiko Egg Cup Boilers here ready to send out to the winner of my New Easter Rafflecopter Competition!

Everyone in the family likes their eggs cooked differently and if you use these Eiko thingummyjigs, then you can do that easily enough.  Eiko hooks on to the side of thEiko Egg Cup Boilere saucepan and holds the egg in place, so you don’t need to worry about the egg cracking when it is added to the water. The egg hangs down in the boiling water, but the handle stays cool.  When the egg is ready all you have to do is unhook Eiko and transfer straight to the table as the brightly-coloured cup doubles up as an egg cup. As the cup boilers are different colours you won’t get the runny and the hard-boiled eggs mixed-up. Just remember which Eiko Boiled Eggscolour belongs to which egg eater.

Win Eiko Egg Cup Boilers

You can buy Eiko from and each set includes 4 egg cup boilers (orange, yellow, blue and green) priced at £12 per set. Matching spoons are also available for £6 per set of four.

To Win these Funky Eiko Egg Cup Boilers, take a look at the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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A Weekend in Manchester

Coronation StreetI was going to just write about a recent weekend in Manchester here but I have to start by asking how many of you out there watch University Challenge? To be honest I have no idea why we watch it as it seems that its main purpose is to make me feel thick. It definitely makes me think about how much I’ve forgotten or think I’ve forgotten anyway.

The number of times you’ll hear either me or Mr. C (or even both of us) say ”Oh yeah’ after the question has been answered corrrectly by one of the boffins and we’ve failed to come up with the right answer in time, is nobody’s business! He’s good at the geography questions, I’m good on the literature and generally we both have a good go on the ‘ologies we’ve heard of.

We were watching it on Monday when Manchester beat Southampton in one of the quarter-finals. There was kind of a double interest in this particular show as way back in the dim and distant I was a student in Manchester University and one of my daughters is currently doing Medicine in Southampton Uni. Whenever ManUniversity Challenge logochester are on, even after all these years, I always will them onto win. Sentimentality and all that!

Anyway, I suppose this was kind of one of the reasons why we went to Manchester a few months back for the weekend. We had a really good time but it’s funny, because when you go back to a city you were once a student in, it’s a very different place you’re visiting. 1. You actually have money to spend and 2. You go to different places!

Yes, I insisted on dragging Mr. C around Fallowfield where I lived in Halls as a naive 18 year old embarking on an independent life for the first time, but not unsurprisingly I didn’t go back to Moss Side where my final year house was! There was a bit of reminiscing as is only natural but I suppose the weekend, as most of our weekend breaks, was more about eating, drinking and walking our little socks off.Trafford Centre Manchester

There’re loads of things to do in Manchester and we had a fun evening in ChinaTown .There are lots of different restaurants and eateries there and the area has quite a buzz to it. If you’re into your shopping then you’ll have a whale of a time in Manchester as there are many different shopping centres and streets teaming with independents. The Trafford Centre  is worth a mention. If I was with the girls, I’d probably do more shopping but Mr. C has the patience of a gnat when it comes to going around the shops so we tend to go to shopping centres, browse a bit and go for coffee lots! If I do want to buy anything then I park Mr. C in a coffee-shop and as lonHilton Manchesterg as he has Internet and sustenance then he’s fine for an hour or so!

Incidentally, we stayed in the Hilton on Deansgate  and after going through all the usual sites we got a pretty good deal at Hotel Direct . It’s a funny looking hotel that Hilton as you can see in the photo. That top bit which overhangs really worries me!

Oh and now I’ve had a think about it, I suppose one of the reasons we watch University Challenge is more that there’s a kind of TV desert in between the two Corries on a Monday and not that we’re wannabe boffins! The great Mr. Paxman also holds far more appeal than the alternatives on the other channels!

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Value Not Rated

No Talk with TalkTalk

TalkTalkSometimes it just beggars belief that a company, whose sole purpose is to serve you as a customer, can get it so, so wrong.

I refer here to our dealings with one of the UK’s largest telecoms providers concerning what should have been a simple home move.

My parents moved home recently and, getting on a bit in their years, rely quite heavily on both the telephone and – yes – the internet as part of their day-to-day lives.  They both use the web quite a lot; my father for his genealogy stuff and my mother for keeping in touch socially with her brothers who both live abroad.  They had used TalkTalk at their old address for several years and had no grievances or reasons to change, so they decided they’d stick with them and initiate a home-move deal with them.

Everything went quite smoothly to begin with.

Day 1.    6th January. A date was arranged for disconnection of the line at their old address and then, despite having to wait a few weeks, an installation date of 6th February for the new line at their new address.  What could go wrong?

Day 31. The installation date came and despite my father receiving a text advising him to ensure someone was in at the property to avoid an additional charge, no-one showed up.  I tried to reassure them by saying that the switchover might not happen till late that night.  A call to TalkTalk customer services (I was going to say ‘a quick call’ but there’s no such thing with TalkTalk!) re-iterated what I told them.

Day 32. Still no active line and no correspondence from anyone, so I again phoned TalkTalk on my father’s behalf – he simply couldn’t afford to spend up to 1 hour each day waiting to talk to someone on his pay-as-you-go mobile phone.  It took me 54 minutes to finally find someone to tell me that the line hadn’t been connected yet.  What genius!  I didn’t need to wait on the line that long to find that out.

Day 33. A miniscule 36 minutes to discover that TalkTalk still knew nothing about it.  We contact TalkTalk via social media to try to get some sense from them that way.  Their response was to send numerous texts saying that a callback had been initiated and that they’s discuss it with us – and wait for this!!! – on the number they hadn’t installed yet.  Unbelievable!  Lots of supportive posts from other Twitter users who had all experienced similar problems though.confused

Day 34. TalkTalk today refuse to discuss the account with me because I am not my Dad.  I don’t know what the password is on the account.  He knows nothing of any password, so we’re stumped.  TalkTalk call my father and then agree a password so that he can give it to me so that they will allow me to talk to them again.  Why, I’ll never know, because they still know nothing!

Day 35. TalkTalk advise us today that installation will now take place on the 26th February.  Apparently there was a problem at the exchange on the original installation day.  Much to our disgust and protest, we have no choice but to accept this date and to wait patiently again.

Day 51. Another text arrives warning Dad that if he was not in he’d incur a penalty.  The cheek of it!  Engineer turns up at the house to advise that there’s a problem with the cable on their roof.  He’ll come back next week to fix it.

Day 53. Telephone TalkTalk to find out some sort of confirmation of this and they kindly inform that line will now be fitted on 6th March (2 months after initial order).

Day 55. After so much disappointment, the hours and hours of waiting, day after day to speak to someone at TalkTalk, numerous unresolved queries and an overwhelming uncaring attitude, my parents decided that enough was enough and that TalkTalk could stuff their order.  TalkTalk really didn’t seem to give a hoot about the ongoing chaos and treated the cancellation as a simple matter-of-fact occurrence.Exhausted man

I would never, ever recommend them any more after what must surely be the worst customer service I have ever had the misfortune of receiving from any company – ever!  I have – and still do – use their business service here in the office, but their domestic service will be strictly off-limits to me from here onwards.

Footnote: I am fully aware that TalkTalk rely on BT OpenReach to carry out their installations.  If we had been able to take up the issue with OpenReach, then we would possibly have, but it must be remembered that the contract was with TalkTalk and it is TalkTalk’s responsibility to ensure a good line of communication between the installer and the customer.

Update: Day 92:

Trying to arrange refund of the pre-paid line rental paid when the line was first ordered is still ongoing.  I was into my 27th minute on hold while they were trying to arrange a refund and then they just cut me off.  Absolutely unbelievable!  So I’ll try online chat… Aaaaarggghhh… waste of time.  They just tell you to ring them on an 0870 number (Free from a talktalk line – if you have one!)

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Time Bomb Collagen Bomb Essential Skin Fuel

Time Bomb Collagen Bomb Essential Skin Fuel – now that’s what I call a mouthful of a product name!

Why didn’t they call it Collagen Bomb or even collagen bombEssential Skin Fuel? One descriptor would probably have been enough, don’t you think?

Long names is one of my bug-bears along with ridiculously long addresses which won’t fit on a normal-sized envelope properly!  Anyway I digress….

I’ve been trying the Collagen Bomb for about a month now and have genuinely seen no changes in my skin at all. Now I know a month isn’t a long time in the scheme of things but it’s generally the length of time we’ll try a product for before deciding whether or not it’s worth buying again or not.

A ‘nice’ moisturiser but ……..

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with it and the Time Bomb Collagen Bomb is genuinely a great all-round moisturiser. It sinks in nicely, isn’t greasy, has a fairly neutral scent and makes my skin feel soft and moisturised. But I’d read so many glowing reviews that I suppose I thought I was going to ‘de-age’ miraculously overnight or something. At £39 for 30ml it’s pretty much a premium product or certainly on the way towards that ‘status’, but I didn’t feel it delivered on its promises. If it was under £10 and available in supermarkets, I would probably pick it up with my weekly shop. But at closer to £40 plus postage costs, I won’t be ordering it online anytime soon!


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I Love You, I Love You Not…..

Milana CandleI’m loving my new Milana Candle and it really does smell like a ‘Bed of Roses’! My living room smells so good! Apart from the simply scrummy scent, it’s made from 100% soy wax and is free of petroleum, paraffin and  beeswax products, so it’s a much cleaner burn. No black sooty marks on the wall and better for our lungs too! I’ve been using it every night for over a week now but it’s hardly gone down and is going to last around 40 hours apparently. Yay!

Ted Baker Perfume Set

Ted Baker perfume gift setI bought this really gorgeous Ted Baker Perfume Gift Set for a friend for her birthday last week and nearly didn’t give it to her as it’s so nice. The box alone is worth a mention as it’s got such a lovely on-trend print on it. The set contains a Body Lotion and an Eau de Toilette both in a ‘great-to-wear-everyday’ light floral scent.

The layering effect of the body lotion with the eau de toilette helps to make the scent last all day – always a bonus. And do you know what the best thing is? This incredibly pretty gift set only cost me £10 from The Perfume Shop!

Number One Beauty Blog?

This week I’ve decided I’m a massive EBuzzing fan as they’ve said that TheThumbsUp is their Number One Beauty Blog for February 2014. Now I know I’m not just a beauty blog as I write about holidays and loads of other stuff too but it’s really good to know that someone out there likes what I’m doing and the way that I do it. Thank you EBuzzing!

Number One Beauty Blog


The Husband's SecretAnother thing I’m giving ‘The Thumbs Up’ to this week is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty which I finished reading last week. It was a really good, gripping read and to use a cliche, ‘unputdownable’! The lives of several families are intertwined in the book and it kind of makes you think that no matter how cool and collected people look on the surface, we’re all treading water madly underneath. The book starts with a woman finding a letter from her husband addressed to her but only be opened in the event of his death. Should she or shouldn’t she open it? Well as you may have guessed, she does and what a Pandora’s Box it turns out to be.

Read it! It’s brilliant and well worth buying!

Where To Go On Holidays?

Kos HolidayMr. C and I have been talking for months about booking a holiday for this year but we simply can’t quite agree on where to go.

For that matter, we can’t even decide what sort of holiday to go for. If money was no object then it would be dead easy . But we are in a similar position to most of you, there’s only so much time we can take off work and there’s a limited budget too.

It’s a big Wedding Anniversary this year for us and as we got married in New York, we’d love to go back there for a little holiday. The problem is we got married just before Christmas which everyone knows is one of the most expensive times to visit New York. If we did go for New York though, it would kind of be easy enough as we would definitely book our hotels and flights independently online as that would almost definitely be the cheapest option.

Aegean Village Kardamena KosThe thing is we have a shed-load of Tesco Clubcard Vouchers which would save us almost £1200 off a holiday if we used them but we’d have to go for 7 days. As I’ve done New York once, I wouldn’t necessarily want 7 days there so then we were wondering if we could tag one of our favourite destinations, Vegas onto it so 3 nights New York and 4 nights Vegas or vice versa. We need to make a call really to Tesco to find out the costs of that option.

We’ve also been thinking of going to Sri Lanka again as we had an absolutely amazing holiday there a few years back. We went with Virgin on a half-board basis to a lovely hotel called The Royal Palms in Kalutara. Royal Palms HotelWe loved the Sri Lankan people, so polite and even-tempered and the weather was just about perfect. Hot but not too hot if you know what I mean. The food was superb and the various cocktails (I think we tried most of them!) were pretty good too. At the end of the week we had a fairly hefty drinks bill though which brings me onto our next holiday thought….

All Inclusive Holiday?

Should we go the all-inclusive route again as we have done a few times already? One all-inclusive holiday to Crete  with First Choice  was particularly memorable although it was a tad hot for me at the time we went. Everything was included from lunchtime crepes and snacks to drinks of all kinds. We got to know one of the bar-men very well and we must have tried every cocktail under-the-sun there. Creta Panorama First ChoiceAnd best thing about it was that there was no scary ‘extras’ bill at the end of it. The food in the main restaurants was varied and at the end of that holiday we both said that we’d go back there again in a shot if we could.

Going to a hotel that’s off the beaten track then doing the all-inclusive thing is probably our best option but we often think that if you’re near beach bars and a main town, then it’s nicer to perhaps go half-board or just B&B so you can get out and experience the real atmosphere and try out local restaurants.

St Julians Malta First ChoiceAnyway we are still no closer to making a decision on where to go on holiday as we’re now battling with the ‘Do we go somewhere we know and love?’ or ‘Do we go somewhere new?’. Shall we just book an package holiday all-inclusive to Croatia or The Italian Lakes, where we’ve never been? Or do our own city break in New York and/or Vegas? Or go back to Sri Lanka? Another consideration is that I’ve never been to Malta and as one of our daughters will be on placement in a hospital in Gozo for the Summer, that also looks like a good option too. Oh no, we really are rubbish at making our minds up! Help!!