Friday, 13 December 2019

A Post-Election and Pre-Christmas Potpourri Post: Watching the Clock, and a Couple of Skincare Epiphanies

Just to reassure you, this post will not be about actual potpourri, notwithstanding the fact that potpourri is scented. It really was 'a thing' years ago, wasn't it? - round about the time of those excessively ruched Austrian blinds, or maybe later still- and no home was complete at Christmas without some kind of petal / pine cone / random bit of stick combo in a bowl. Some of these mixes smelt truly overpowering, till the scent wore off eventually. I do in fact put out a non-scented collection of baubles interspersed with some bendy stick garnish, but whatever it is, potpourri is not the name for it.

But no, I meant the word in its metaphorical sense, as a 'mixed bag'. And to be clear, this post is not about the election either, though I will just reproduce my Facebook post on polling from yesterday, for anyone not my friend on there:

'At the polling station this morning I asked the woman on the door if I could have two votes for the price of one for turning up before midday. "Only I think I may need two." "No, sorry", she said. Asked the same question of the two women officiating at the desk, and received the same answer. One vote per person, no BOGOF or "bottomless" votes to be had at all, even though it was just turned ten."Okay then", I said, "I may just come back later in a different coat."'

What I didn't mention on Facebook was that after voting, I popped to the bakery at the hospital, to buy two of their famously creamy doughnuts for my ex's mum (aka my Elderly Friend) and me to have after taking her to a different hospital for an eye test. You have to get there early to catch them - though as you will infer from the above it was barely mid-morning. I inquired of the girl serving:

"You will still have these after the election, won't you?"
"I do hope so", she replied.

You see, they have closed our night time A & E service at Stafford, and there is a fair bit of hanging around on trolleys in corridors before being seen to, as I can testify myself, but to lose the doughnuts would be too awful to contemplate. So that is the political part of the post over.

Watching the clock

On the 30th November, my blog finally clocked up its two millionth page view. I was busy selling my knitted wares at a craft fair at the time, but was keen not to miss this major event, having not long since failed to watch the odometer on my car cycle through 20,000 miles, with its pleasing string of noughts. I started looking at the blog on my phone every few minutes once there were only about 80 page views to go, and when the clock hit 1,999,999 I was all ready to screenshot the magic number about to appear. Unfortunately, there was a small flurry of readers at that very moment - including a well-meaning friend sitting beside me who went onto Bonkers specifically to give me that final view I needed ;) - for when I refreshed the home page, the counter had leapt to 2,000,002(!). The number being palindromic is a small comfort at least. The previous evening, worried that there might have been a sudden and inexplicable wave of readers nudging the number closer to the target, due to a school project in Norway, for example, or a random mention of the blog in the Romanian equivalent of Mumsnet - for stranger things do happen to cause a sudden spike in traffic - I had entrusted a friend in Massachusetts with the task of keeping an eye on my tally during his evening, thereby adding a good five hours to our 'observation window'. As things turned out, the 2m mark happened on my watch, but he has kindly Photoshopped it after the fact to the desired figure!

Click on the image to reveal the noughts!

Skincare epiphanies - Jam today

A long time ago I wrote a post about those deeply annoying stackable plastic pots you can put travel-sized portions of toiletries in. I say annoying, because the thread on the screwable base of each pot starts to shear off and the blasted tower disintegrates soon after purchase, often with disastrous results in your sponge bag, depending on what you had put in them. The post in question arguably has one of my best titles on Bonkers: 'A slam dunk gunkfest: snap-prone stack pots'.

Then I was just washing up a mini pot of Bonne Maman jam with a view to chucking it in the recycling when it dawned on me that it would make a much more secure individual travel pot for no outlay. Plus I could 'be more Greta' at a stroke. You can buy the individual ones in a more sturdy plastic and with a white lid, but they cost about three quid each. I felt properly Blue Peterish repurposing jam receptacles! Now I just need to eat A Lot More Jam in order to accumulate enough pots for my many and various unguents. Being glass, they will be more weighty than the stack pots, admittedly, but the risk of disaster should be negligible by comparison.

Skincare epiphanies - Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturiser

My morning routine used to involve an Olay serum*, which I have talked about on the blog before, and which I would put on before my Paula's Choice Resist tinted moisturiser**. Oh yes, and funnily enough, the serum is mentioned in a post in which I lament malfunctioning beauty products of all kinds, including our very travel pots!

I am on about my tenth? bottle of the Olay serum, and remain a big fan, but then along came this Neutrogena moisturiser - or rather I suddenly became aware of it, as it was already 'along' - and for sheer hydrating staying power, it tops the serum. It is to a chance watching last April of a Caroline Hirons TV review on This Morning that I owe this discovery. The stuff is nothing short of amazing, on account of its extreme moisture retention. It is a creamy gel-like consistency, and though it looks like goop on your fingers, dries without stickiness, and it is just as easy to apply my tinted moisturiser over it as was the case with the Olay. I honestly think it has softened my morning wrinkles and eye bags since I started using it in May, though it might be a combination of that and regular use of coconut oil at night. Also, I was buying the Neutrogena moisturiser from Boots for about £12.99, but do shop around as there are some great offers at Tesco or on Amazon.

[NB I have no personal connection with Caroline Hirons, other than the rather offbeat fact that she once lambasted me on Louise Woollam's Facebook wall for confessing to repeatedly microwaving my tea.]

*Full name = Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum
**Full name = Paula's Choice Resist Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defense SPF30

Finally, here is the palindromic number, specially for Undina! (As before, click on the photo to see the numbers properly.)


Tara said...

Hi V
Great post on many levels. Firstly though huge congratulations on the 2M views! That is a truly amazing mulestone.

Nice to hear you've got on so well with Neutrogena moisturiser. Will you continue with the Olay serum underneath?

I remember Trinny Woodall saying she went through 11 trials of those travel pots before she found a design she was happy with for her make-up stack products.

I have been eyeing the Bonne Mamaj advent calendars with envy that some vloggers have been sent. Much classier than my Maltesers one.

I think you shouldn't knock microwaving tea until you've tried it.

Tara said...

Is that very bright coloured jam in the doughnut?

Tatiana said...

Congrats on the 2 million views. Do the jam jars leak liquids? Or do you only put creams in them? I tend to seal all my travel jars with Parafilm lab tape as an extra precaution against leaks.
My daughter really enjoys the Neutrogena moisturiser, I suppose I should give it a try some time.
Caroline Hirons certainly has strongly held opinions about microwaving tea and how you wash your face, etc. I wouldn't want to cross her, but if I needed an ally for some campaign I'd certainly want her on my side.

Anonymous said...

Oh yum - I have never seen a doughnut like that before; it looks well worth the hassle of securing it!

Congratulations on the amazing number of views, and here's to many more millions in the future.

Hah, I laughed about your statement that pot pourri can be overwhelming when fresh. I remember sticking a bowl of it in the wardrobe once and still couldn't get away from the smell and ended up chucking it in the bin (outside).

I am so impressed with La Roche-Posay's Cicaplast hand cream - for me it's been a miracle product. My hands had suddenly aged and were so sore; I kept buying products (some of them expensive) in the search for something to help and came across this, and it's cheap (about £5)! It has really made a difference, even reducing the wrinkles, so I recommend it to anyone suffering from winter hands. If I try one of their face creams I will report back- although it sounds like you have your holy grail already.


Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

That is indeed very brightly coloured jam sitting on top of the cream in a thin line - more a decorative flourish I'd say than an ingredient in the proper sense of the term.

Re the Neutrogena moisturiser, because it has hyaluronic acid in it, while the Olay serum has various peptides of some sort, I only wear one or the other, then the Paula's Choice on top of that. So you could say that I am moisturising twice(!), but the Neutrogena has the acid, while the PC has the SPF30. And you can't have too much moisture, especially if it doesn't look greasy.

I would like to know what travel pots Trinny did end up finding that worked. Val speaks highly of the MAC ones, I see, but I shall give these jam pots a go, as I have them. ;)

Not seen Bonne Maman advent calendars but the ones they make these days all sound scrummy. In my day you didn't have anything behind the door except a religious-themed picture!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tatiana,

I would not think to put a liquid in the jam pots, indeed I have never carried minis of a liquid - too risky in my view. Though the addition of parafilm sounds like a good move. There always seem to be solid alternatives to liquid products like cleanser etc, so I haven't been that daring up to now.

I am indebted to Caroline Hirons for also putting me onto fish oils in one of her blog 'cheat sheets' to do with acne. She is outspoken all right, but I like that about her.

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Interesting that you have had the experience of an overly strongly scented potpourri!

Ah, that Cicaplast I have tried but for my eczema around my eyes when it was very bad. Or a version of it for very sensitive skin. A little too thick for that area I found, but soothing, certainly. I imagine a hand cream version would work nicely in that richer consistency, if it is the same.

I never think to apply cream to my hands, I must say, indeed I am woefully neglectful of my skin everywhere but on my face! I only moisturise the rest of me if a particular body part actively feels uncomfortably taut, which happens only occasionally. I will probably turn into a turkey overnight sometime, as punishment for this cumulative skincare omission.

Anonymous said...

We have been bombarded here with Brexit-news, like earlier in the year at various times. I see the pound is getting stronger compared to our currency already. Not sure what to make of it all, and then we also have our own social security scandal related to export of sick leave pay and such, all thanks to the EU-rules not being understood correctly over here, so the implications of a common market become clearer to everyone now.

I seriously thought you would write about potpourri, even if it seems to have gone out of fashion, being replaced by a variety of other scented objects.

The Cicaplast cream is really helpful (and costs around 8-9 pounds here!) , but I would not have used it near the eyes, where I favour light creams or gels specifically made for that area.

Boots used to have sturdy travel pots, but not stackable. And I think they only came in a set with rather useless bottles for lotions (a kind I would not trust not to leak). So I have saved some mini jars which originally held honey, but for air travel I'm not sure I would trust anything but sturdy plastic given the way suitcases are handled.

Congrats on the many views of your blog, quite a milestone!

Undina said...

Did you have to mention Caroline Hirons?! :) I mean, since I had no idea who it was, I went to Google... then for 20 minutes I listened to her trying to decide whether I liked or disliked her. Then I got curious about the “not an advent calendar” she mentioned in that video, and had to find the next video to see what it was. I hate that YouTube doesn’t provide skip N seconds back/forth capability, so I watched that nonsense for a while. And then I clicked on video from completely different make-up person... so, I spend almost an hour on that - instead of commenting here! :)

Very impressive milestone, I must say. But, in my opinion, the palindromic number looked even cooler! Congratulations!

I rarely use “decants” for skincare - unless I get a sample/travel size at some point and then keep replenishing it from the full-size bottle. But those jam containers look extremely cute (I saw them in RL). One thing I wanted to ask though: speaking of real pods, why do they have to be stackable? Separate ones should fit better in those air travel allowed plastic squares.

Vanessa said...

Hi Anonymous,

Sorry I don't know who / where you are, but mainland Europe I am guessing? The pound is indeed stronger - at least momentarily - and I actually exchanged a wodge of sterling on Friday and sent it over to my French bank account (that I use for the running costs of the house over there). A better way of making money these days than the miserable interest rates on savings accounts.

Yes, potpourri seems to have been supplanted by scented candles and those room fragrancing stick things. I would write a post about potpourri if I thought it would be of interest. I might have to invest in a lot of it for research purposes, that's the only thing, and I am quite glad to be rid of the stuff for the moment. ;)

I truly cannot recall which Cicaplast cream I had in the past - I know it was suitable for eyes, but I don't like anything that rich and thick near the area in case some of it gets in.

Yes, I know exactly which travel sets you mean in Boots. I would buy them and use the travel pots, discarding the ones for liquids you mention!

And may I also say thanks to you and everyone who has congratulated me on the 2m milestone. I have no idea what traffic other bloggers have, and I suspect it might not be a big number at all by comparison, but it is nice of you all to say it is an achievement!

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

I did laugh at how much time I inadvertently caused you to spend messing about on YouTube - all too easy to do as I know to my own cost - one thing really does tend to lead to another...

As you like the palindromic number, I am going to add the image of it to the end of my post for you!

Hmm, re the stackable angle, I do think the pots take up less space that way, by quite some margin, having experimented with individual ones vs two stacks in just the kind of plastic square you mean for going through airport security. I can get about 8-10 different products packed in a smallish space overall. However the inevitable leakage aspect is a huge downside! My plastic bag soon gets smeared with daubs of foundation that oozes out the sides of the pots. ;)

Oh, and see my comment to Anonymous above re people's kind congratulations on my milestone.

Vanessa said...

PS Also, when they are stacked I memorise the order they are in - or keep a little written 'key' / list on a piece of paper in my wash bag - and it makes it easy to identify individual products without the need for labels on each one.