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perfectlypolished

perfectlypolished

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Known as perfectly-p on Dooyoo . Will still pop by occasionally to read & rate but in the mean time I wish all a peaceful Christmas and Happy New Year.

Reviews written

since 30/07/2006

42

Bio Oil Face Cream 04/11/2008

A little really does go a long way.

Bio Oil Face Cream My favourite facial moisturiser was half price at Tesco's and having bagged myself a bargain I was perusing the shelves and I noticed the Bio-Oil. I have read several positive reviews on the product and thought I would give it a try. My reason for buying is because I have several brown blemishes on my face called melasma. What is melasma? Well, the short explanation is that it is a skin condition producing irregular brown patches. It has been linked to hormonal causes such as taking the contraceptive pill, pregnancy or HRT (but obviously not all at the same time!) and exposure to UV light. This increase in skin pigmentation does fade naturally over a period of many months but unfortunately it is also likely to reoccur. What can be done? My melasma is caused by sun exposure, not excessive as I always wear a high factor sun screen, but my face is extra sensitive to the UV rays. Some experts suggest chemical peels or bleaching to make these marks less noticeable but that seems far too radical for me. This brings me to trying Bio-Oil. ⌂⌂⌂ What is Bio-Oil? ⌂⌂⌂ Bio-Oil is produced in South Africa by Union-Swiss. The company was established in 1954 producing personal care products but since 2004 has concentrated solely on the production, marketing and distribution of Bio-Oil. Their claim is that Bio-Oil will help improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks and uneven skin tone and its special ingredient "PurCellin Oil" makes ...

Pumpkin 22/10/2008

My Halloween pumpkin.

Pumpkin It is that time of year again when I go to my veggie patch and select a couple of voluptuous pumpkins to make Halloween lanterns and soup. Well actually I am telling a small fib because this year they have been more like large oranges than giant footballs. I blame global warming, but if there is one thing that pumpkins like while they are growing it is regular water, and lots of it. My water butts were empty for part of the summer so everything suffered slightly this year. Never mind, they will probably taste slightly better than the big ones. I started growing pumpkins several years ago when my children were small and they were easily impressed by how quickly pumpkins grew. They are, usually, quite easy to grow to a football sort of size, although if you are looking for a monster then some specialist tender loving care is necessary. First, a little background information about pumpkins. Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family - technically known as Cucurbitaceous. Also part of this family are marrows, courgettes, squashes and melons. Pumpkins are a squash and the squashes are divided into summer (when they are ready for harvesting) and winter (again when ready for harvesting) varieties. Summer squashes include marrow and courgette (aka zucchini in Italy and the US), the winter squashes include butternuts and pumpkin . Pumpkins originally come from America and the word 'squash' originates from the Native American word 'askutasquash' which means 'to be eaten ...

Anarchy and Old Dogs - Colin Cotterill 17/10/2008

Anarchy and Old Dogs by Colin Cotterill

Anarchy and Old Dogs - Colin Cotterill This book was huge fun to read and certainly quite different from the usual detective tales. The story opens with Dr Buagaew collecting a letter from the post office in Vientiane, the Laos capital. Nothing too strange about this scenario, one might think, until he inadvertently steps in front of a runaway truck. In a city where two cars passing at the same time would be called a traffic jam why did he not see or hear it? It falls to our wonderful protagonist, Dr Siri Paiboun, a coroner - in fact the only coroner in Laos - to investigate. We soon learn the deceased was a retired blind dentist and his death was initially assumed, by all who witnessed it, to be due to some deep karmic debt; after all what are the odds of stepping in front of a driverless truck in a city with virtually no road traffic? But Dr Siri begins to question why a blind man should be collecting letters from the Bureau de Poste and when he discovers the letter is in fact a secret code written in invisible ink his suspicions are aroused. He believes he has stumbled upon a possible military coup and is joined by his old friends, Civilai a government official, Dtui his nurse assistant and Phosy a local police officer to investigate. We follow this eclectic cast of characters as they track clues through rural villages, across the Mekong River into a refugee camp in Thailand and back to the capital with one mystery leading to another. Set in the late 1970's, Dr Siri is a slightly eccentric ...

Journey's End - R C Sherriff 06/09/2008

A short but poignant journey

Journey's End - R C Sherriff I read this book because my daughter was studying Journey's End for her GCSE English Literature exam this summer. I had never read it before, nor seen the play, so I thought it would be good idea to read it for myself so I could then discuss some of it with her. I should point out that Journey's End is actually a play and not a novel and it is the play that is being studied at GCSE, not this book in particular. Also, when reading Journey's End you need to keep in mind that it is written for actors with the intention of it being performed to an audience and so comes complete with stage directions. I am reviewing the Heinemann book edition that is produced with the GCSE student in mind. Heinemann produce books, software and online resources specifically for schools, colleges and their students. Details of their learning resources can be found at www.heinemann.co.uk. This book is directed at the GCSE student; those studying for higher levels will probably find the 'extras' too basic. It comes in a handy A5 size with a plastic coated hard cover which should make it reasonably resilient to being taken in and out of most school bags. As well as reproducing the play this book comes with many extras which I will deal with first. At the beginning of the book is a seven page introduction. This firstly covers, although rather briefly, some details about the author R C Sherriff. I think it is important to keep in mind, when reading and trying to understand this play, that the ...

West of the Wall - Marcia Preston 28/07/2008

West of the Wall by Marcia Preston. A good read.

West of the Wall - Marcia Preston I love reading a book that makes me want to find out more about a time and a place - and this is such a book. It is a story of a city divided in two by the building of a wall that physically separates families and friends, of the suffering and despair of East Berliners under strict communist occupation and the desperate choices one woman has to make. Set initially in the early 1960's we are introduced to Trudy and Rolf Hulst. Following the building of the Berlin Wall young Rolf becomes a political dissident running an underground organisation helping people to escape to the west. Eventually his organisation is identified and he too has to flee. Trudy is left living with her aging mother-in-law to bring up a small baby, Stefan, not knowing whether Rolf made it safely to the west. Life is grey and harsh in Communist East Berlin and Marcia Preston effectively draws the reader into the drudgery of Trudy's daily routines. Soon Trudy learns through an old friend, Wolfgang Kruger, that, as the wife of a defector, she is in danger of being brought in for questioning by the Stasi. Faced with possible imprisonment, torture or worse Trudy reluctantly takes up an offer of help to escape to the west. Tragically she is unable to take Stefan with her - a heart-wrenching decision for any woman. Having survived the terrifying ordeal of her escape, Trudy learns the fate of her husband and sets about trying to find a way of being reunited with both Stefan and her mother in law. ...

Recipes for Desserts 27/07/2008

Chocolate mousse and honey biscuits

Recipes for Desserts Chocolate mousse with crunchy honey biscuits. I suppose I could have written two separate reviews but I usually use these two recipes together for a scrumptious desert, I guess you could say it is a BOGOF. First the chocolate mousse. I don't want to put you off this recipe but I must first point out that the recipe uses use raw egg so it will not be suitable for pregnant ladies or small children. This is because of the risk of salmonella bacteria infection. With this in mind, no matter how young or old you are, it is important to make sure you are using very fresh eggs and choose those (in the U.K.) that have the red lion mark stamped on them. This shows they have been sourced from vaccinated flocks and produced to high food standards. While talking about choice of ingredients, a quick word about the chocolate. Try to choose one with as high a cocoa content as possible. Of course the cost goes up but the higher the cocoa content, the less sugar it contains and the more chocolaty tasting it is. It also melts at a lower temperature. On with the cooking. Ingredients: ½ oz butter 6 oz plain chocolate 3 large eggs 1 teaspoon rum 1 teaspoon coffee essence What you need to do: 1. Gently melt to chocolate and butter. This is probably best done in a bowl placed in a pan of just boiled water. Alternatively you can do it in the microwave, just please don't over heat it. 2. Separate the eggs. You can get a special gizmo that's like a small colander to do this ...

Dunkables Chocolate Chip Cookies 21/04/2008

Naughty but nice!

Dunkables Chocolate Chip Cookies Whilst at the back of a long queue at the checkouts in the Range my eye was drawn to a display of chocolate chip cookies. I hadn't planned on buying them but feeling peckish I popped a packet in my basket. These cookies, I thought from the packaging, were made by the Bentley Mill Biscuit Company who I have never heard of before. More about that later. They come in a clear plastic tray wrapped in a yellow and blue foil bag. Once the tray had been removed from the bag it was almost impossible to get it back in as the foil began to rip. I therefore had to transfer the contents to a proper biscuit tin to keep them fresh. The plastic tray did not have any compartments or divisions, so when I opened the packet the biscuits were all hickeldy-pickeldy, to say the least. There were about 35 biscuits in the packet and about 5 broken ones. Each biscuit is round in shape, about 5cm across and a very agreeable pale brown colour. The best bits, in my opinion, are the chocolate chips. The packaging says there are 18% chocolate chips and I can well believe that. There are far more chocolate chips than you get with many other similar biscuits. It would seem each biscuit has a dozen or so chips in it. The biscuit itself has a crunchy crumbly texture which makes a mess on the kitchen floor when you are quickly trying to sneak one into you mouth without anyone seeing. The chocolate flavour quickly bursts through making these biscuits rather moorish. It doesn't say anywhere but I would ...

Bone China - Roma Tearne 14/04/2008

Bone China by Roma Tearne

Bone China - Roma Tearne The author, Roma Tearne, was born in Sri Lanka and moved to Britain when ten years old. Before becoming a writer she trained as a painter and her work has been widely exhibited. Bone China is her second book and is a very enjoyable and moving story, following four generations of the de Silva family, from the 1930's onwards. The de Silva's are a Tamil family living in Ceylon, or Sri Lanka as it was. Grace is the family matriarch to a somewhat dysfunctional family and is the link that bonds all the characters of the book. Grace was born into a rich land owning family but she marries Aloysius for love and watches with great dignity as, over the years, he drinks and gambles away her family's fortune. Always trying to maintain the traditions and customs of her time, in a country every increasingly torn apart by political and civil unrest, she brings up five children, each of whom have very different qualities and ambitions. Alicia is doted upon as a child and is a gifted concert pianist until her husband, a young up and coming politician, is killed one evening. To her, the lid of his coffin and the piano lid close simultaneously as she withdraws into herself until many years later when she moves to England and meets her young niece who has inherited her musical gift. The second de Silva daughter is the much plainer Frieda who, although very astute to all around her, seems to have no ambition other than to remain with her parents in Ceylon. Jacob, the eldest son, ...

Ipswich Meet 2008 17/03/2008

When virtuality became reality

Ipswich Meet 2008 When I was young my mother instilled in me the importance of writing thank you letters. So this is my small thank you to all the lovely members who made the journey to Ipswich last weekend and also to David for finding the venue and providing lots of help, encouragement and support throughout the planning. I hope everyone enjoyed the afternoon as much as I did. The minutiae of when and where are detailed in a previous review but, to summarise for those who don't know, the meet was held at the Golf Hotel in Ipswich last Saturday, 8th March 2008. The idea was hatched a few months ago when I asked Docpov (David) if he would be interested in co-arranging an East Anglia Ciao meet. I had no idea how many members lived in the area but knew David was fairly local and so our collaboration began. We each wrote a review in the Café suggesting a meeting in the Ipswich area, put the word out via our 'about me' and also chatted to 'friends' in our guest books. The result was a wonderful afternoon of conversation and transforming virtual friends into real friends. Some members travelled vast distances; fortunately for me I only had a short journey along the A12, although my sat nav had a hissy fit when I refused to travel through Ipswich town centre, opting instead for the A14 and Orwell Bridge. Thank goodness the meet wasn't scheduled for a couple of days later as, due to the strong winds, both the QE2 Bridge (who some members needed to cross) and the Orwell Bridge were closed. ...

Sage 20/02/2008

A sagacious choice of herb

Sage My Tricolor sage plant was looking way past its best; it was about 4 or so years old, rather woody and about 3 feet high. I had bought it as a small plant from a garden centre for a couple of pounds. I had certainly had my moneys worth from this plant so I took some cuttings in the autumn which is supposed to be very easy to do. Unfortunately the strong winds of a couple of weeks ago blew down a garden fence panel and many of the pots and young plants that were nearby were either squashed or were blown all across the garden. To cut a long story short I shall now have to restock my sage from a garden centre. The herb sage originates from the Mediterranean areas and the proper name of the regular sage is Salvia officinalis. The word Salvia comes from the Latin salvere which means to heal or save. The use of sage can be traced back to the ancient Greek times when it was used for medicinal purposes. It is still commonly used in medicines and cosmetics today for its antiseptic and cleansing properties. Some even say that gargling with a sage infusion (i.e. a tea like mixture) will ease a sore throat but I must confess I have never tried this. In the kitchen this is the classic herb to go with pork or to combine with onion to make a stuffing. Sage is a hardy, ever green shrub which can be grown in a pot or as an ornamental plant in the flower garden. There are many different varieties of sage including the very pretty Tricolor which, as the name suggests, has variegated ...

Proposed Ciao Meets 10/02/2008

Proposed Ciao Meet near Ipswich…All welcome

Proposed Ciao Meets I have never myself been to a Ciao meet. I have read several post-meet reviews and have felt I probably missed out on quite a unique experience. So instead of waiting for one to be organised near to home docpov aka David, and I, are arranging one in the East Anglia area. It will hopefully be an opportunity to put a face to some writers whose reviews I have often read and enjoyed and also to put a proper name to some familiar nom de plumes. Mind you, walking into a strange place to meet people I have never met before is actually quite a scary thought, although I keep telling myself we will at least all have one thing in common, and that's Ciao. At the moment there are no definites. We decided there was not enough time to arrange anything before Christmas and everyone has enough to do at that time of year anyway. Then we thought about January. By this time some may be partied out, but also the weather can be unpredictable so we have decided on a Spring meet. Hopefully the worst of the weather will be over and the daylight hours are getting longer to assist travelling. We stuck a pin in the diary and are proposing the weekend of 8th or 9th March 2008. If you are interested it would really help if you would leave a message if you have a preferred day or time (either a Saturday or Sunday, morning or afternoon or even all day!) and, although we obviously won't be able to please every one, hopefully we can go with the majority. We will try to be as flexible as possible. We ...

Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 01/02/2008

Half of a Yellow Sun

Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie I don't often write book reviews but I really enjoyed (if that is the right turn of phrase) this book and thought I would share my thoughts. Half of a Yellow Sun is set in Nigeria during the 1960s and the title comes from the national emblem for Biafra. Whilst I, like many others of my generation, remember the harrowing television images of starving children during the Biafrian crisis, I have to confess my understanding of the background to that crisis was quite derisory. Although this book is fiction it is set during the now well documented political revolution and, judging by the dedication at the front of the book, it is a period time during which some of the authors forefathers perished. It provides a harrowing account of the impact that war can have on civilian life; touching on issues of class and race and of tribal hostility arising out of Nigeria's colonial past, politics and political propaganda, the brutality of war and of child soldiering and the consequential famine and suffering of the ordinary people. It is a book that can invoke many emotions in the reader… read it for yourself to find out how you feel. This is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's second novel and was, rightly in my opinion, the winner of the Orange prize for fiction in 2007. She was born in Nigeria in 1977 and I think the writing in this book shows a maturity and depth far beyond her young years. The book focuses on five main characters weaving together their lives as they are swept up in the ...

Vegetarian Recipes 20/01/2008

Cheese and spinach in filo pastry.

Vegetarian Recipes At the moment I can't think of anything in particular to write about so I am going to share this easy to do, kids love it, recipe. It looks good on the plate and if you are vegetarian, or you have friends who are, then it is perfect for an informal supper. Please keep in mind that all my recipes have a fair amount of give and take as to the exactness of quantities of ingredients; so if you have a little more or less of something then I'm sure that will be just fine. What you need is: A 300g (or similar) bag of spinach A small onion A small clove of garlic, optional 120g/4oz ricotta cheese 120g/4oz feta cheese cut into small cubes 120g/4oz gruyere or Emmenthal cheese, grated 1tsp chopped fresh marjoram, a dry substitute or in fact any dried mixed herbs Some butter, cooking oil, salt and pepper. A packet filo pastry Quickly cook the spinach in boiling water for about 3 minutes max then drain in a colander or sieve and press out the excess water. Heat a splash of oil and a small knob of butter in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic, if liked, for a few minutes until soft but not brown. Take off the heat and add half the spinach stirring well, then add the ricotta and stir until really well mixed. Stir in the remaining spinach followed by the feta and Gruyere or Emmenthal, marjoram and any salt and pepper according to taste. Now we get have to get slightly arty. Take a sheet of filo pastry and brush with a little melted butter, cover with ...

Tesco Green Tea with Lemon 11/01/2008

Tasty with no calories.

Tesco Green Tea with Lemon I popped into Tescos the other day determined that I would only buy those items specifically on my shopping list and not to be distracted by any special offers. I more or less succeeded as my only deviation was a packet of Tescos own lemon green tea. I was intending to buy my usual named brand but I hadn't seen these before and at 59p for 25 bags they sounded a bargain. What is the difference between green tea and any other? While green and black tea both come from the same plant, called the Camellia Sinensis, the difference is the way they are processed. Green tea leaves are not fermented before steaming and drying and this gives them a more delicate taste. This means that green tea also has more natural antioxidants which are said to protect the body from harmful free radicals which can be the cause of cell damage. These tea bags come in a predominately green, recyclable, cardboard box, wrapped in protective cellophane, with a picture of two lemons on a branch hanging over what I assume is an illustration of a tea plantation. This packaging did not make these tea bags stand out from any other on the supermarket shelf as they all seemed to be packaged in similar coloured boxes. When you open the box you immediately notice a distinct lemon aroma. The tea itself originates from China although it is packed in Poland which seems to me to be notching up some extra unnecessary air miles. The bag is a paper pouch measuring about 2" by 1 ½" folded over at the top and ...

Braun MR4000 21/09/2007

A whiz in my kitchen

Braun MR4000 This wonderful hand blender comes in the distinctive Braun turquoise blue and white cardboard packaging with pictures of the blender and descriptions in half a dozen or more different languages. There is an instruction book which at first glance looks impressive until you realise there is only a couple of instruction paragraphs in English and the rest is simply repeating those instructions in 20 (yes I counted) languages. This blender comes with a two year guarantee which is subject to the usual caveats of improper use or unauthorised repairs. Whilst reading the small print, for the purposes of this review, I discovered my blender was made in Poland and to determine the year of manufacture there is a 3 digit production code stamped on the handle. The first digit of the production code refers to the last digit of the year of manufacture and the next two digits refer to the calendar week of that year. Mine has the number 712. So it was manufactured in week twelve of 2007. Clever stuff! The blender itself comes in two working parts which simply twist (about a ¼ turn) and click together for use. The handle part houses the 450 watt motor which I think is reasonably quiet when running. I did notice when flicking through the instruction booklet that in some countries the motor is only 400 watts, I'm not sure why this should be. From the top of the handle runs the power cord which is about 4' long so you should always be within reach of a plug socket. The top part has a blue ...
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