This Quiz Book That I Wrote

Over the past few weeks I've been slaving away over a Word document, attempting to pull together an idea that came to me in a flash of inspiration about four weeks ago. 

You may or may not know that I founded the Friday Twiz (a quiz on Twitter every Friday evening) four-and-a-half years ago. It's a small community of quizzers who come together every Friday evening to battle with their knowledge and their wit for no prize other than kudos.  After running this venture for so long I had amassed a huge bank of questions so thought I'd pull some of them together and publish them in a book.

The book 
is now available to buy on Amazon

(and it's cheaper than a cup of coffee)

You can find out more about the book here.  There are three sections in the book; an interactive quiz section, three picture quizzes and a revision section.  This way, the book will never get boring - at least not until you have memorised all the questions and their answers. 

It's very strange to see an idea come to life so quickly but I wanted to publish now because this book will be perfect for your Christmas party (either at home or at work) or just to swot up to win that round of drinks down the pub. Let me know if you buy a copy (and don't forget to leave me a review).  It's a rather exciting "next stage" down my life path. Price Drop : Joseph Joseph Elevate Kitchen Utensil Gift Box

Joseph Joseph, Elevate Kitchen Utensil Gift Box,
In the run up to Christmas I'd really recommend that you sign up to to grab yourself some bargain presents.  The great people at Suppose are currently sending me email alerts to their best price drop products so that I can try them out - and I'm not disappointed.

I've recently acquired this Joseph Joseph Elevate Kitchen Utensil Gift Box set which price-dropped to £23.00 (down from £37.10) and it's going to make a fantastic present for my daughter in her new house.

How does work?

Suppose are passionate about finding great deals from major retailers.  After signing up for an free account on Suppose, you can search for an item on the website, track it and then receive an alert when the price drops.  Yes, it's that simple! You can also receive alerts your favourite UK retailers and access the pricing history to ensure that you are getting the best price. 

Joseph Joseph, Elevate Kitchen Utensil Gift Box,

Watch out for more recommendations from Suppose (and me!) and let me know if you spot any fantastic price drops!

This recommendation has been published in line with my disclosure policy.

Linky's Dream - The BEST Monthly Stationery Box

Almost three months I've been waiting for my Linky's Dream stationery subscription box...THREE MONTHS. But it was so worth the wait.  I'm astounded at the goodies you get for the price and it's all wrapped up and put together so beautifully. Here's a little unboxing video that I made. 

This isn't a review - I first saw these stationery boxes on Anna Brim's YouTube channel - but I wanted to share with you how much thought goes into each box and how it's presented.  Leah from Linky's Dream hand-picks the items to go in your stationery box and sometimes does a bit of research to see what you like so the box is almost personalised. She only makes (I think) 200 of these boxes per month hence them selling out so quickly and everyone cramming for the advanced orders.  

Catch up with Leah here

PS... Leah's stationery box subscription is sold out until April 2015 but there's plenty more for sale on her website. She's having a (well deserved) month off but keep an eye out for the subscription service starting again too if you don't want to miss out!

linkys dream, stationery, subscription box,

PPS... Here's a quick run down of the contents:
Pilot "B2P Soda" pen (made from an old plastic bottle), a four-colour Bic, a green biro with "Actually, in fact, I don't really care" written on the side, a silver wand shaped biro, a fun little star-shaped wand which I guess the grandchildren are going to take ownership of, 2 rolls of decorative washi tape, heart-shaped stickers, four packs of sticky notes (various styles), a Martha Stewart magnetic "To Do" note pad, a highlighter pen in the shape of a nail varnish bottle, 2 x "Culture Vulture" sheets, a personal sized Filofax dashboard/page marker with handbags and shoes printed on it, a Vogue postcard, a couple of Smashbook-style inserts with quotes, a batch of scrapbooking papers, a sheet of hole reinforcements, a cloud-shaped eraser, some Filofax/notebook page markers, decorative paperclips and plenty of pompoms, confetti and glitter for the arts & craft box. Oh and some sweets! 

Sun Bingo's Having A Ball is BACK!

Back in my childhood (oh, so long ago), I remember my Nana playing Sun Bingo with numbers in the newspaper. If she knew I was due to visit she would save the numbers for me to cross off her weekly card. We never won anything but she introduced me to that "I just need one more number" thrill! 

Sun Bingo, Having A Ball, Brian Dowling, Rustie Lee, Jean Martyn
Sun Bingo has moved forward into the digital era now and their Having A Ball show is available live online each Thursday from 7pm with Brian Dowling returning to host the play-along show. 

I've partnered with Sun Bingo to bring you a recap of each live show, celebrity interviews, some behind the scenes secrets and a teaser for next week's show. I'll also have a bit of a giveaway for you in a couple of weeks so watch out for that. 

The format of the live show is produced in three 30-minute slots of chat/bingo play with a host/chat. The chat sections are with studio regulars Rustie Lee and Jean Martyn and a celebrity guest and feature some "players news", information and updates about games available on the Sun Bingo website and a few daft (but engagingly funny) show segments including weekly World Record attempts and lots of player and viewer interaction.  If you loved Saturday morning television as a child, this is your adult version.

My favourite section of the show this week was 'Rustie's Ratings' which tested and rated some of those "Life Hacks" you see all over the internet. The absolute best one was a demonstration of how to open those hard plastic sealed packets (usually containing sharp objects or children's toys) with a tin opener. Just genius! 

Over the next few weeks each live show will air every Thursday at 7pm and there will be a Christmas special on Boxing Day.  As the show and the games are membership only you do need to register with Sun Bingo and deposit £10 into your player's account before you can access the live show, the online games and additional features. However there are plenty of opportunities to win a tonne of prizes during each show including a brand new iPhone 6, Sun Bingo merchandise, shop vouchers and money into your player account. 

Of course, this is an entertainment show connected to gambling and the show's presenters provide regular reminders of gameplay awareness and competition terms and conditions which is hugely important. 

Next week's show is the Hallowe'en Show. Who is joining me?  

Sun Bingo, Having A Ball, Brian Dowling, Rustie Lee, Jean Martyn

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This and future posts about Sun Bingo are featured on this blog in line with my disclosure policy.

YouTubers - The Brat Pack for the 21st Century

Those of us of a certain *cough* age will remember Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, et al. They were our 1980's idols : The Brat Pack - so named after a fairly negative article in the New York Magazine in June 1985. It felt like all coming-of-age movies starred these beautiful people and their (film) collaborations were the thoughts and actions of our angst-ridden teenage lives played out on the big screen.  It wasn't just us that was feeling this way.

YouTube, vloggers, brat pack, gleam team, future stars
Fast forward 30 years and now we have a Brat Pack for the 21st Century.  This time we can access them on the small(er) screen of YouTube but the premise is the same. Zoe Sugg, her brother Joe, her boyfriend Alfie Deyes, Louise Pentland, Tyler Oakley, Tanya Burr and Grace Helbig, to name but a few, are being touted by the media as "the most famous people you have never heard of" (see these articles in the Independent and on Buzzfeed as examples); they are the teenage idols of today - sort of... I asked my 15 year old son if he knew any of them but he was oblivious even though he uses YouTube on a daily basis however his girlfriend of the same age knew exactly who I was talking about.

On the surface, the videos that appear on an almost daily basis are filmed in the YouTuber's bedroom. They talk the talk, they walk the walk. They are carefully edited to only show the good/funny/relevant/essential content.  As an occasional vlogger, I know how much time and effort goes in to filming and editing a video to show it at its best (although I have to keep most of the bad bits in because there'd be no content otherwise).  The audience is only seeing a short (usually under fifteen minutes in length), fairly positive snapshot of daily life or a prank or cross-channel video (known in the world of YouTube as a "collab" or "collaboration") with friends. Let's also not forget that the majority of these vloggers are now managed by a variety of YouTube managers and agencies, one of which is Gleam, giving this new 'Brat Pack' their nickname of The Gleam Team.

YouTube is the second biggest search engine after the main Google website. Even I search for demonstration-style videos on there because, for me, a visual/written balance is needed.  On some occasions, being shown how to do something or listening to someone else's experience (with facial expressions) is much more meaningful than reading a blog post.  Other times it's the flip-reverse. Therefore I can completely understand why the high school generation is tuning in and getting sucked in to the types of videos that are being produced by The Gleam Team. 

We need to ensure that this younger generation totally understands that this small group of vloggers are now media and agency led, that they are using professional editing equipment and are promoting a positive outlook on life. Now, there's nothing wrong with that but these videos are being watched hundreds of thousands of times, cracks are beginning to show because of their artificial and elevated 'celebrity' status and sponsored partnerships are not being declared appropriately. During a conversation with Lynn Schreiber of Jump! Mag this morning (see a Twitter snippet here), we talked about how brands must be keen to work with these vloggers because of the exposure however the blur between authenticity and corporate behaviour needs to be more transparent because of their target audience.  And that's currently not happening. 

Almost all of the 80's Brat Pack had their careers derailed by the end of the decade due to problems caused by alcohol, drugs and at least one sex tape.  The speed in which fast-paced media moves now, who knows where The Gleam Team and their compadres may be this time next year?  Many of them have helped create (or put their name to) clothing and beauty ranges, have had the opportunity to publish books and have put their own positive spin on life in general.  

Is this a real world that we want our teenagers to aspire to or is it giving them false hope? Is the perfect life portrayed in these short vlogs giving a fractured outlook and making our kids think even more that the only way to success is to be famous for fifteen minutes?