Friday, 21 October 2016

Kawaii Box - September 2016 Review and Giveaway

Our friends at Kawaii Box kindly sent us their September box to review for them and also one box to giveaway to one of our lucky readers. 

Kawaii box is a monthly subscription service that sends you cute goodies each month (usually between 10 and 12 items in each box). It's always a box full of cuteness ranging from stationery, cuddly plush toys to Japanese candy. Lets take a closer look at what we received in our box:

Rabi-Dango Plush

First up we have this really cute Rabi-Dango plush toy. It's a cute little rabbit and is so soft and little and even has a little bunny tail on the back. This was the first item that Lilly (my 11 year old niece) spotted in the box and wanted to get out. 

I Love You Purse 

This little purse is so cute with a cool cat design on the front. We couldn't read the writing on it but luckily Kawaii always sends us a list of what's in the box so I believe it might read "I Love You". The purse is really cute and Lilly is going to use it for her change to take on holiday next week.

Happy Day Notebook Set and Invisible Secret Pen Set 

Next up we have the absolutely adorable Happy Day Notebook Set which has a cute little penguin on the front (I love penguins) and what looks like a little onion. The notebook is in a little blue case and when opened the paper has a cute penguin design on. It comes with a little pen and some cute stickers. 

Then we have the Invisible Secret Pen Set this is ultra cute too. You write with the pen end and it's invisible but on the other end of the pen there is a light so that when you shine it on your writing you can read it. It also comes with a little magnifying glass. We love it! 

Pastel Cupcake Pen and Dream & Explore Notebook

Our next item is the pastel cupcake pen which has a cute little plastic cupcake at the top of it. It's actually a pencil and really cute. We also received a Dream and Explore notebook which is great. We love little notebooks for writing lists and notes.  

Harajuku Hair Loop Set, Diamond Deco Stickers and Sweet Animals Sparkle Stickers

Next up we have a really cute little set of hair bands which have little hearts on. We love these as Lilly wears her hair up so we will definitely use them. We also received two lots of stickers. The Diamond Deco stickers are really nice and shiny and remind us of gems but our favourite are the Sweet Animals Sparkle Stickers. They have really cute designs and have raised plastic windows which contains little balls. We love how cute the animals are. 

Pokemon Ramune Candy and Kracie DIY Candy Kit

And finally the candy. First up the Pokemon candy which has a cute Pikachu design on the front which we think is awesome especially as I love playing Pokemon Go, the sweets tasted nice too, they were pineapple flavour.

We were very excited to see a DIY candy kit in the box as we love them and don't have anything like it over here in the UK. After a bit of searching online we found instructions of how to make the candy. Basically it comprises of tipping out the powdery pouches and adding a bit of water and doing a bit of mixing. Here is a picture of how the candy turned out.  It tasted really nice, we particularly liked the yellow section. 

As I am down visiting my niece Lilly at the moment we thought we would also do an unboxing video as well. You can watch our video here.

Overall we would highly recommend the Kawaii box to our friends especially if you love cute goodies and receiving surprises in the post. You can subscribe to the Kawaii box on their website -

*** GIVEAWAY ***

As mentioned at the start of this post the kind people at Kawaii Box have offered us a box to give away to one lucky reader.  The competition is open worldwide. To enter the competition please use the rafflecopter below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The Kawaii Box was sent to me for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Remembering Billy Franks

On 20th September we lost a true gent, a talented and beautiful singer. Aged just 60 he was suddenly taken away from this world. Here are my fond memories of the legend, Billy Franks. 

I first came across Billy in 2001 when his music was featured on my local radio station Bath FM. I remember hearing him and thinking 'wow he sounds great'. So I did a bit of searching online and managed to get in contact with him via email. Billy was so kind he sent me some of his cds to listen to and I discovered what a truly talented singer and song writer he was.

Billy and I kept in contact online regularly (thank God for the internet) and I decided to create a fan forum dedicated to him. At the time forums were the place to connect with people rather than Facebook and Twitter. It was really lovely to chat to his other fans and find out more about Billy. Way back in the 80s when I was still a young child Billy was in a group called The Faith Brothers. This was part of Billy's history that I knew nothing about and it was great to hear other fans and friends stories from back then. It also made me realise that I must be one of his youngest fans.

I continued listening to Billy's songs a lot over the years including trying to help spread the word about his talent especially around the World Cup 2010 when we tried to get his song 'The Beautiful Game' out there. Whilst Billy has always had a good loyal following he never seemed to get the recognition that he truly deserved for his music. He wasn't like the manufactured music that you hear so much of these days he had the talent where he could sit down and write his own music from scratch and his music is heartfelt and catchy. I have this annoying habit of singing out loud when out walking the dogs with Neil and quite often it would be Billy's songs and Neil would say "Whose song is that?" and I would reply "Billy Franks."

My personal favourite songs of his are 'Sleep A Little Easy When It Rains', 'I Wanna Be Your Country', 'All Mine' and 'Just' - I think I chose these songs from his album "Genius and Grace" because it was the first album he sent me so I have listened to it a lot.

I've done a little digging around YouTube and came across the first two videos that his dear friend Mick McCleery made with Billy and The Beautiful Game video which is introduced by Prince Harry. I thought I would share them with my readers, please have a listen: 

'Sleep A Little Easy When It Rains' - Billy Franks

'Love Being Lost' - Billy Franks

'The Beautiful Game' - Billy Franks with introduction by Prince Harry 

From what I read about Billy and have seen in videos of his gigs he was always a great story teller too. Sadly I never got to see Billy live or even meet him despite our online friendship of 15 years. It is my biggest regret. 

Billy wasn't only a talented singer but he enjoyed acting too. When he was young he was in a film called 'Melody' starring alongside Mark Lester and Jack Wild. I went out and found a copy of the film which was really sweet about young love. 

He also starred in films directed by his good friend Mick McCleery including  'Track 16' which was a thriller/murder mystery film with Billy playing the main character Paul Matthews. Billy also wrote the sound track for the film. Again some very catchy songs in the film including 'My Best Friend Stole My Girlfriend' and 'The Girl Of Your Dreams'. Mick kindly sent me a copy of the film which I really enjoyed. 

And in 2008 his friends filmed a fantastic documentary called 'Tribute This' where they travelled all over the world trying to get famous singers (ie Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams etc) to perform a song on a tribute album for charity full of Billy's songs. Could they get these celebrities to sing on an unknown singers tribute album? you can find out in the video below. I thought the it was such a great idea and the adventures they had were awesome. I watched the documentary for the first time this week it made me laugh and it made me cry. The friendships that Billy had were so special.

I really recommend you watch the documentary which is now available on Youtube thanks to director, Mick McCleery. It's a true tribute to Billy. Here it is: 

Tribute This

Billy was so kind and over the years did a lot of charity work too helping others in need. He was always willing to help where he could. He was an inspiration. 

My letter to Billy

To Billy, you was one of a kind. A true gent. A kind, caring and considerate man who worked so hard. You was so talented and special. I may never have got to meet you in person but I considered you as a friend. You deserved so much more recognition. You never gave up on your dream and for that you will always be a huge inspiration to me. You made a lot of people happy. They always say the talented ones are taken from us too early and I truly believe that. You will be missed by everyone who was lucky enough to come across you. You will never be forgotten because your music will always be there for us. Sleep a little easy my friend. Rest in Peace xxx 


Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Truth About Comping (Entering Competitions)

I haven't written in my blog for awhile. I have had a lot of personal issues going on which has made me lose focus a bit. I am still dealing with these issues but I feel really passionate about my hobby of comping (entering competitions to those who don't know) and felt this was the best place to write about my thoughts and feelings towards the hobby at the moment. 

I started entering competitions way back in 2000 and it was such a different community back then. This was back when there was no such thing as Facebook and Twitter competitions which seem to have taken over these days. Most competitions were posted on websites or entries by postcard or entry forms. Fellow compers used to be so lovely back then with sharing entry forms, congratulating each other on our wins and helping each other to enter. It was a small group of people who enjoyed entering competitions and didn't mind if others won, in fact were happy to see their friends win. 

In my opinion there are a few things that ruined comping: 

1. Social Media - there are still a few competitions that you can enter via entry forms on sites but I am sure my fellow compers would agree that a lot of competitions these days are entered via Twitter or Facebook. This of course has caused an increase in entrants as the competitions are shared around. Over the last week I have seen people moaning about people entering the same competitions as them but that's what the companies wants people to do. To share the competitions with their friends to get more interest in their company. No company really runs a competition without an agenda to self promote. It's lovely they are so generous but in their minds it's about getting people to see their products/services. This is all fine. Most of us go about our lives happily sharing these competitions around. I love nothing more than seeing some of my non comping friends see a competition I enter and enter it for themselves and winning it and I personally have introduced a lot of friends to the wonderful world of comping.

The biggest problem with social media competitions is that it causes arguments; including people slating each other because of jealousy towards winners. People accusing others of cheating when they have no proof and people being nasty and spiteful to others. And on top of that you need to add the little group of people who absolutely love nothing more than getting involved in drama. It's sad. Before social media there was forums and newsgroups and their seemed to be far less drama especially on the moderated forums where moderators would defuse the situation. It's extremely sad to see people breaking friends with each other over a hobby. 

2. Sob Stories and sucking up - this kind of comes with the social media. On like and share competitions peoples comments sometimes make me cringe and bring vomit up in my mouth. We all have been through tough times in our lives or lost members of family we love or have sick relatives but to use that as a reason why you should win I personally feel is disgusting. I refuse to use such stories because I don't see that the spirit of comping and I would feel guilty winning a competition due to a sympathy vote. I like to hope that promoters see past all that and not pick them as winners but I know sometimes the sympathy card has worked for people. 

On the other extreme you get the people who overly suck up ie over a £1 bar of chocolate from "oh thank you for this PHENOMENAL AMAZING competition I would be over the moon to win this generous prize #NoHarmInTrying". Just cringe. Or "I have posted this to my blog page" when actually all they have done is post it to their own page but think having a blog means they look better to the promoter than the average Joe Bloggs who says "thanks for the competition, sharing with my friends."

I really hate competitions that ask you "Why do you deserve to win?" because it just opens it all up for the above sickly comments and sometimes I even avoid these competitions these days.

3. Comping Queens - there are a small group of people who seem to think they know everything there is to know about entering competitions. These people seem to feel superior to other compers. Almost that they run the whole community with their group of minions who suck up to them because they think they are awesome. Some of these people have been comping for a matter of a couple of years. They really are no better than any other compers but they thrive on recognition and people sucking up to them and then use these people to enter their referral competitions to gain more entries into competitions. 

4.  Media Hogging Queens - this pretty much comes under the Comping Queens category as usually it's these people that our a bit big headed that feel the need to go blabbing off to the media about the hobby so they get more recognition and making ridiculous claims which I will come on to in a minute. These people decide to go to the media because they want to brag and seem more superior to others and because they have another agenda. It's ruining comping because it's giving people false hope and is very misleading. After these reports we see a huge increase in people entering competitions and whinging when they don't win. You can't win them all. It takes time and commitment. 

5. CLAIMS YOU CAN LIVE OFF COMPING!!! - I put this in capitals as it's the most annoying of all. The media hoggers lie to the media that you can live off entering competitions. This is false and wrong to even suggest it. Most competitions wins come about by luck and each month is very different. I can go weeks without winning anything. I probably don't put as much time into comping as some people do due to my fatigue but I do a fair amount including comping nearly all evening most days and win no where near the amount that you could live from. I know for a fact one of the people who claims to live off comping runs a blog too which they make money from so they aren't living off it. It's really sad to see these claims. 

I enter hundreds of competitions most days and I will like to show you what I won in June so you can see what I mean. So my wins for June (and average amount they would be worth): 

Mascara - £10
Case of Hobgoblin Beer - £20
Fudge - £10
Hovis Queen Birthday Pack - £4
Vincent Niclo cd - £10
Batman vs Superman Lego - £75
Kylo Ren Pop! - £10
Horror DVDs and Poster - £80
Hard Boiled Eggs - £2.50

Total - £221.50

So I could really live off that could I? hmmm I think not. Don't get me wrong I am very grateful for all my wins but this is to demonstrate that you can't live off it.  I know some people enter for anything and everything (I personally don't) and I'm not going to lie and say I haven't sold a few prizes here and there especially as I don't currently work due to health and don't get any benefits but these have mostly been gadgets and sometimes I have sold to other family members. BUT I mostly enter to win bits and pieces that I can give to my family as presents for birthdays/Christmas or because I know someone who would love the prize. I occasionally get this wrong with the kids prizes because my nieces and nephew change so much each time I see them but for the most part I get it right and they are all really grateful for my wins. I don't enter competitions for tickets to events no where near me that I know I won't be able to go to. Although I  have won a few as runner up prizes.  Each to their own but I feel experience type prizes are nicer to leave for people who can actually use them.  

Comping isn't easy it takes a lot of time and dedication to win. I enter competitions for hours a day and sometimes I win very little but I actually enjoy entering the competitions and imagining what it would be like to win the prize or how the person I give the prize to would love it. I have actually learnt a lot of random trivia too from answering questions on competition sites. It is a fun hobby away from the above nastiness. 

These are all my opinions and I know others will not agree with them. My advice to fellow compers reading this is to just crack on with comping. Stay away from the drama and be positive and enjoy this wonderful hobby. 

If you are thinking of starting out comping click here to see my tips on starting out. Feel free to add me on social media via the details on that link. If you add me on Facebook please message me first to say who you are because I am getting a lot of random weirdos add me on there at the moment. 

Good Luck to all compers old and new - don't feel you are any different to any other comper. No one runs the comping community. No one is better than anyone else. And most of all have fun and be lucky.  

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Let's Help Izzy Walk

I would like to introduce my readers to a very special little girl. This is Izzy. She is 10 years old and is my partner Neil's niece.  

Izzy was born with cerebral palsy due to a premature birth which was a big shock to all the family. Despite this she has grown into a beautiful and bubbly little girl. Everyone who meets Izzy instantly falls in love with her because she is just such a sweetie. Sadly Izzy has never been able to walk unaided and mostly uses a wheelchair to get around but even so she has been so brave and got on with her life just like all her friends. Even though she is only 10 she is a huge inspiration to me and other family members because of her attitude to life. 

So imagine the scene. Dawn (Izzy's mum) and Izzy had an appointment with spine surgery consultant a few weeks back to discuss a life changing operation that would enable Izzy to walk. The 50 mile journey to the hospital was made with hope and excitement. When they got there the consultant told them that Izzy would benefit from the operation but it's no longer funded on the NHS and would cost £10,000 which us as a family would have to pay. As you can imagine Izzy is devastated. All she wants more than anything in the world is to be able to walk and run with her friends. As a family we do not have that kind of money but we will do everything we can to raise the funds to get Izzy walking. Neil is running a half marathon tomorrow and Dawn and her son Joshua are also doing a 10k run to help raise funds too. 

If any of my kind readers are touched by this story and would like to help us and donate even as little as £2 we would be so grateful. Dawn has set up a fundraising page and so far has raised £700 in a week which is absolutely amazing. We cannot thank everyone who is helping enough. This means the world to Izzy and all of us who love her. 

Donate to help Izzy Walk - Click here

Please share our story on social media using the buttons under this post to help spread the word too. 
Thanks so much everyone.  xxx

Friday, 19 February 2016

Tsum Tsum Squishies from The Entertainer and Competition

This week I am down in Midsomer Norton, Somerset visiting my sister and my niece Lilly. When I got here Lilly showed me her collection of Disney Tsum Tsum Squishies which she has bought from her local The Entertainer store here in Midsomer Norton.

Lilly with her collection

Tsum Tsum Squishies are cute little figures of Disney characters from their various films over the years. At the moment we are on series 1 and there are 50 to collect. They are so adorable and sweet. The Entertainer has a huge selection to choose from. You can buy two packs where you get to see one and get a mystery one or you can buy the bigger packs. I think it's great that you can see some of them so you can aim to get ones you haven't got and then you have a chance to get a surprise too. Of course like most collectables some of the figures are rarer then others. You can also get other Tsum Tsum toy sets for them from The Entertainer. Check out their range online here

In The Entertainer Midsomer Norton choosing a prize for our competition. 

What we love so much about The Entertainer store is that they really care about their customers by doing various extra things that a supermarket or other shops we shop at don't do. In the case of the Tsum Tsum's firstly they have three limited edition Squishies to collect which are gold, silver and bronze. When you buy any Tsum Tsum you get a stamp for each one you buy. When you reach 10 stamps you get a bronze Olaf, when you reach 25 stamps you get a silver Elsa and when you reach 50 stamps you get a golden Minnie Mouse. So it's fun collecting and knowing you get a bonus one when you reach a certain amount. The Entertainer also ran a swap day for collectors to go in and exchange Tsum Tsum's and meet other collectors. These little touches from The Entertainer makes our little collectors very happy. You can also join their collector's club online here to receive offers and information about competitions. 

I wrote to The Enterainer about Lilly's collection and this blog post and they kindly sent her some more Tsum Tsum Squishies for her collection. She was so surprised and pleased to receive them. Here are the ones they sent to her. Her favourites are the golden Minnie and Jessie from Toy Story.

Tsum Tsum's The Entertainer sent us and our collection card


Lilly loves Tsum Tsum's Squishies so much that between us we decided it would be lovely to give one of our readers the chance to win her swaps (including a limited edition Bronze Olaf) and a pack from The Entertainer.

The prize for one lucky winner! 

Please enter through the rafflecopter widget below. This competition is only open to residents of the UK. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The Entertainer sent us some Tsum Tsum Squishies for Lilly's collection. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, 8 February 2016

Degustabox Review - December 2015

A knock on the door, a man with a box under his arm – it can only mean one thing. It's the arrival of our December Degustabox; so, with a, "Healthy New Year!" Let's crack it open and go ahead with the review.

As you can see - it's another wonderful selection from out friends at Degustabox,

Hip Pops - RRP £1.00 per pack

First out of the box is two packs of Hip Pops! These are healthier snacks than regular baked or fried snacks (we're talking about 98 Kcal per 25g bag and less than 11% fat). We were sent the Cheese and Onion and the sweet Chilli Flavour packs. (There are 6 different flavours available, 4 of which are gluten free).

I have to say – love the taste! They have a good balance with their flavours – the sweet chilli as an example having a bit of heat, but plenty of flavour. The fact that the snacks are 'popped' rather than fried or baked means they have a satisfying crunch to them too. Brilliant! Would love to try some of the other flavours in the future!

Fabulous Bakers Mango and Pineapple Bars - RRP £1.80 

These are nice! I wish there was more than four bars in the box! But wait, I've gotten ahead of myself. Next up we have a four pack of Mango and Pineapple bars from the Fabulous Bakers. These tasty bars are loaded with fruity flavours; texture-wise they feel a little like a popcorn bar – but made with real fruit and oats they are a high in fibre, slow energy releasing snack free of sugar or 'nasty' additives. Love them!

Nothing But - RRP £1.69 per pack

Next up – we have a couple of freeze-dried fruit snack packs from "Nothing But". One pack of Pineapple and Grape and one pack of strawberry and banana. Freeze drying seems to be in vogue at the moment (I'm sure I've said that before), but I'm not complaining! I'm a definite fan!

I've had freeze-dried strawberries and banana before; so obviously went straight for grape and pineapple. Obviously, you get a bit of a crunch (if you want to crunch it); but if you let it sit on your tongue and rehydrate a little you get that slight fizz and fruity flavour on your tongue.

Love these; and I think it isn't just for the novelty of it all either. I'm definitely a freeze-dried fan!

Barilla's Mediterranean Vegetable Sauce and Whole-Wheat Fusilli pasta 
- RRP £2.00 and £1.50 each

The Degustabox product of the month is next up; we have Mediterranean Vegetable sauce and whole wheat pasta from Barilla. We are pasta fans, but haven't gotten around to sampling this yet – it looks really tasty and a great combination – so we don't expect this to sit around of the shelf for long!!

The sauce is a combination of Italian tomatoes, courgettes, aubergine and sweet peppers with no added preservatives. The pasta gives you 20% of your daily fibre needs which is essential for body balance (I think that means it keeps you regular lol).

Crabbie's Light Ginger Beer and Red Square Toffee Vodka
- RRP £1.49 and £1.99 

Well, this is one of the first times we've actually attempted one of the Degustabox recipes; on the back of this months list was the "Crabbie's toffee mule" which combined ice, half the bottle of the red square toffee vodka and the majority of the Crabbie's light ginger beer to make Crabbie's Toffee Mule! Not bad (although probably better if I had ice to add).

The light Crabbie's is what you'd expect; a gentle ginger beer with an alcoholic kick. As a Ginger beer and alcohol fan I love it. The Red Square Toffee vodka though, that is something special. It's like a little bottle of alcoholic, liquid toffee. I can see why they only gave us a 5cl bottle – any more and this review would be a rambling drunken rant! Love it! (Probably far too much)!

Betavivo crispy oat heart cereal - RRP £1.00 

Almost every month in the Degustabox selection we get something breakfasty; this is a nice thing - it's good to have a little variation in our morning food selection. This month is no exception and we've been given a couple of packs of Betavivo crispy oat heart cereals. These heart shaped cereals are apparently good for reducing the cholesterol in your blood – so - it's a good healthy thing. I tried a pack with another of the Degustabox items, the KoKo coconut milk (which I'll talk about in a moment).

The cereal, it is heart-shaped; but I can't help but look at it and think "cat treats!" It keeps its crunch, even after sitting in the milk for a while; although, to be honest I don't see anything remarkable about the taste. To me, it tastes like it needs a little sugar adding – which probably would go against some of the good intentions. Saying that though, you would probably get used to it after a while...

Koko coconut milk - RRP £1.79

Now I know we've had a few milk alternatives in the past; and while some people are fans of them, a lot of people aren't. The problem I think you usually find is that you have pretty much a good idea of what milk should taste like, so when you see claims that "it tastes remarkably like cow's milk on breakfast cereals, cooking and hot drinks" you automatically have you sceptic's hat on.

In truth, this isn't bad. It is sweet enough. It is close to milk, but it isn't milk. You taste the coconut, which isn't bad; but it does taste coconutty. Which should be expected. You get both the sweet and that kind of dry taste that you get from dried coconut you'd use in a trail mix or recipe.

I don't mind it; it's probably an acquired taste – but – I could see for anyone wanting to have a healthy alternative to cow's milk – particularly for allergy related issues, this would be a viable alternative – and you would probably get used to it.

Love Kombucha Ginger - RRP £2.25

This is the Db discovery this month; it’s an organic drink filled with probiotics, organic enzymes and amino acids … and it's fermented... and I should like this... I should like this; I like ginger, and I like lime... but... this just does not do it for me. The problem I have with this is that the fermentation process leaves a bit of a "gone off cheese"-ness to the drink. The ginger isn't strong, and doesn't give it a nice kick or anything.

I managed to drink about half the bottle before giving up.

Which is a big shame, because this drink is packed so full of good stuff; there are three other flavours, Blueberry, Ginger and Lime and Original. It would be interesting to see how the others match up, but, for me – the ginger is a no-no. Sorry!

Complete Energy Bites - RRP £1.99 

These look really nice but Neil grabbed these for next time he does sports. There are two chocolate bites infused with 1 premium coffee's worth of caffeine in each.

I've not had any of these "energy things" before; so I was quite pleasantly surprised when I opened the packet and inside are two squares in a plastic seal. Ideal (I'd imagine) for keeping in a runner's pocket ready to munch on after a few miles.

Trying one square. It's a nice lemon/ chocolate mix. It's a little like a firm chocolate truffle, but not bad. Taste wise these can't be confused with chocolates you'd find in a box of milk tray; which is a good thing. The amount of caffeine might have made me a little hyper and a whole box might be disastrous!

Liked them though. Will consider using them next time I run a significant distance!

Drink me Skinny Chai Latte 

As a special gift, we have a sample sachet of "Drink Me" Chai Latte, Skinny Blend. Neil's a hot drink fan and really is a fan of chai – so I let him have this to try this.

He said that it had a pretty good taste; he needed to add a couple of sugars because he's got a bit of a sweet tooth; but it had a good chai taste. He'd have it again.

And there we have it – another Degustabox full of things; some of them have been added to our "new favourites" list – others – we have been glad to have the chance to try because it's something we probably wouldn't pick up. That's the beauty of these boxes – it is a selection of things you know and love, haven't heard of – but will love, and a few things you'll either love or hate. It gives you a chance to sample and expand your culinary range.

If you would like your own Degustabox, please go to their website. It costs £12.99 a box (including delivery) however Degustabox has given us a special offer code for our readers to get £6 off their first box. The code is:


We are very happy to recommend the service and selection they provide.

Disclaimer: The December 2015 Degustabox was sent to me for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Japan Candy Box - December 2015 - Review and Giveaway

Here we are again with a nice little box of candy making its way to us from our friends at Japan Candy Box

Like our previous boxes, this is a marvellously cute box filled with candy and snacks from Japan - I could go on, but let's get straight onto the review...

Popin' Cookin' Cake and Ice Cream Shop DIY Kit 

Love these DIY kits. Okay, they take a little more work but there is something incredibly fun about mixing and making and then eating; although, admittedly a lot of my creations are a lot less fancy than those on the packet. Lots of fun! Creative and tasty! 

Yaokin Sour Paper Candy - Apple 

I'm a big "sour thing" fan, so this was the first thing I took out of the box. It's a thin, translucent, green, gummy candy - covered in sour sugar. Not unlike a fruit winder ... once you unwind it. Tasty and sour, but not suck-your-face-inside-out sour. 

Tohato Anpanman corn rings 

These are interesting. I'm not entirely sure how to describe these. There is a subtle sweetness to these tiny corn rings - that look - a little like cheerios in shape and size, but not texture. In texture they melt like a wotsit or something. I'm not sure about them, but I can't stop eating them. And the packaging, like everything in the box, is hyper cute! 

Abe Seika Abekko Ramune Candy 

These are nice! It's a tiny, little packet of tiny, little round candies. They're grape flavoured and - I was expecting something firm, but; you stick them on your tongue and they just melt away in a fizzy grape-taste explosion. 

Lotte Pokemon Ramune Candy 

Pika-pika! Pika-pika! This candy, in a little pikachu themed bag is small, round and cola flavoured. It looks a little similar to the Abe Seika Abekko Ramune Candy, but doesn't fizz and melt. Instead it sits a little longer on the tongue, tempting you to bite. 

UHA Lemon Gummy 

Now these are interesting. If you think of English Lemon candies, there's usually a sharpness with a sweetness. These lemon gummies are more bitter with the sour, than sweet. The sort of thing you think, "I shouldn't like..." but yet, can't stop eating! 

Puccho Chewy Candy - Pink Grapefruit 

We've had this Candy from Japan previously - and loved it. There's something about the way this candy feels. It looks like a starburst but feels less yielding, like plastic or something. And then there are little gummy balls that escape as you bite into it and chew. The grapefruit flavour is good too; not a usual "English" flavour for candy. Nice - and cute little wrappers! 

Kabaya Hello Kitty Cookie Sticks 

Now these you'll have seen before; there are a number of these "biscuit stick things with a flavour on one end" you get over here now; usually it's chocolate, or something similar (I'm thinking Mikado style) - but this one, it tastes a little like a biscuit with a tasty, strawberry yoghurt coating. Nice, and tasty! 

Meji Petit Bubble Gum 

Now these we've had before and loved (Wish I could remember when we had it before!). Very cute, and very tasty! Nice to have a returning favourite.

Yaokin Takoyaki Snack Stick 

This is an interesting one; I know, my word of the review appears to be 'interesting'. This is a savoury corn-snack that tastes a little like... I'm not entirely sure what. I'd say it's a bit like if you had a seafood, slightly spicy chow mein flavoured, giant wotsit. Or something. Tasty, but a little odd.

And that's it - our ten wonderfully Japanese candy snacks and candy. We loved it as always and would highly recommend their service. If you would like to get your own box check out the Japan Candy Box website or try your luck in our competition below. 

*** Competition *** 

Japan Candy Box has kindly given us a box to give away to one of our blog readers. Please enter through the  rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway is open worldwide. Good luck!

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Disclaimer: The December 2015 Japan Candy Box was sent to me for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own. The competition is being run directly by Japan Candy Box.  

Monday, 18 January 2016

I'm dreaming of...

I knew it was only a matter of time before I decided to do a post about my dreams. I'm not sure if it's because I have chronic fatigue or my anti-depressants but from as long as I can remember I have had the great ability to wake up and remember my dreams. I can remember multiple dreams a day depending on how my sleep schedule is and whether I am napping in the day. I dream in colour and I remember every single little detail of what I dream. It's very rare for me to wake up and not remember my dream or if I don't remember it straight away it might come back to me in the day. So I thought it would be kind of cool to document some of my frequent dreams, spooky dreams, scary/awkward dreams and one of my most memorable dream. 

Frequent Dreams

There are two dreams I often have. Sometimes they change slightly but they both revolve around the same main points. 

My first is that I am at school. That I go to classes but I don't have to do Science, I skip English as much as possible and I don't do PE because the lesbian teacher fancies me and lets me off it. The weird part of this dream is that I am the same age as I am now. I am always chasing around after a teacher I fancy (this person can be teachers from my past, actors from shows I have watched or just random people). The whole of the dream is me trying to explain to them that I am not 16 but I am 36 and I am there because I am repeating my GCSE's every year to try and get a good grade. 

My thoughts on this dream: I would say 9/10 times my dreams revolve around romance. Whether it be fancying someone who fancies me in the dream or chasing someone who runs away from me. I think it's just because I have a lot of love to give and I adore romance. I love the excitement of romance. Sadly I rarely dream about my true love Neil and when I do it can be bad. More on that later. The whole still being at school/GCSE's I believe is because I moved schools half way through my GCSE's so I had to go back a year as I did different subjects. I think I dream about school because it was a big part of my life. I don't do science in my dreams because I was rubbish at it and got an E in my exams. Not sure why I skip English so much and PE no idea though at one of the four senior schools I went to there was a pervy female teacher. I never fancied any of my teachers when I was at school so find it bizarre to start fancying them in my dreams. I find it a bit gross when I wake up. As for actors having watched shows such as Waterloo Road, 90210 and Pretty Little Liars I just think the various actors just happen to be in my head at the time. Random people I have no idea its quite frustrating because I am sure I read somewhere that you can only dream about people you have seen/met. Sometimes people from school feature in the dreams too. People I haven't spoken to or thought about in years.

My second dream is about aeroplanes. I dream that I go to America to see my family in San Francisco and that I am too scared to get on the plane to come back. The dream has changed somewhat in the last year to that every time I fly I fall asleep and no one can wake me up until the flight has landed. I have also had dreams that I go on a plane to France and take the cat and dog with me and they aren't allowed in the hotel and so they have to stay outside and sometimes the cat goes missing and never comes back or I lose one of the pet carriers for the plane back and I have to spend ages running around shops trying to find one. 

My thoughts on this dream: I visited San Francisco in 1995 when I was 16 years old before my depression struck. Since then I have found it hard to travel. I am not scared of the plane crashing it's more a fear that I can't cope with being cooped up and getting claustrophobic and wanting to get off when I can't. I have no idea why I have started dreaming that I get knocked out and can't wake up. I also don't know why I dream that I take the animals on a trip to Disneyland Paris!

Spooky Dreams

There are two dreams I remember that still to this day freak me out a little bit. 

My first spooky dream is from way back when I was about 10 years old. I had a dream that an old man (not dissimilar to the old men with the beards that tried to fix the car in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) stuck his head through the window and poked my foot with his walking stick. 

My thoughts on this dream: I know it doesn't sound too spooky but it's when I tell you that I was in my sisters room, the window was wide open and my foot was hanging out the bed when I woke up that made it spooky for me. Below the window outside was a conservatory. I am not sure why I had this dream but maybe my foot got cold in the night and that's why I had a dream about it. I have had dreams that I have broken my arm before and woken up with a dead arm from sleeping on it. 

My second spooky dream is from when I lived in a Victorian B&B in Bath which I helped my mum run. I had a dream that a black man came right up to my face and shouted BOO! in my face. I woke up screaming and thought I briefly saw the man then he disappeared. 

My thoughts on this dream: It felt so real. I could still feel the breath and smell it when I woke up. That night I had fallen asleep with the light on. I am not sure what to make of this dream. All I know is that the room I was sleeping in was once the kitchen and was once the servants quarters so who knows. I am surprised my screams didn't wake the guests up but I told them at breakfast the next morning. 

Scary and Awkward Dreams

My scariest dream I have was in the past few years. I have spoken to Neil about including this dream because it involves him and he thinks I should because it freaked me out for days. 

I had a dream that I was laying in bed asleep and that Neil turned around and stabbed me in the back. I turned over and then he stabbed me in the chest and I was bleeding to death. 

My thoughts on this dream: It scared me because it felt so real. I woke up the next morning and I felt odd towards Neil. I told him about the dream that day. I also told my sister too because I just couldn't get over it. I knew that Neil would never hurt me but it felt so real. I found the next couple of days hard to shake the dream off and didn't sleep well. Now I just laugh about it because it's silly and the way I reacted was silly. 
My other dream that scares me is the dream that I can't wake up. That people are trying to wake me up and I can hear them but I just can't wake up. Or someone is breaking into the house but I can't wake up. 

My thoughts on this dream: I am very concious that I sleep a lot due to my fatigue. I think often about the fact that I spend most of my life sleeping and what a waste. Maybe it's something to do with that. For me dreaming I can't wake up or dreaming the obsessive bad thoughts are coming back are my worst fears. 

My awkward dreams usually revolve around dreaming about having arguments with members of my family. I wake up the next day and talk to them on the phone and feel bad for having an argument but it was in my dream. I love my family so much, we are a close family and it's very rare for us to have an argument. 

Dreaming of the dead

I dream about dead people. In particular I dream about my Nan's husband Uncle George. He died when I was 13 years old. He was a good, kind and caring man. I have fond memories of him. When he comes into my dream it's usually to say he is looking after my Nan and that everything is going to be okay. 

My thoughts on this dream: The thing I find odd about the dream is that my Nan is still here with us in the living world. She hasn't been very well for awhile now though. The distance between us makes it harder for me to see her and I worry a lot that I don't get to see her enough. It would be so lovely to think that Uncle George does visit me in my dreams because I admired and respected him so much but I can't see how it would be possible. It's nice to remember him and "see" him again even if it is in my dreams. 

Me having an afternoon nap with Uncle George (aged 3)

I also had a dream about Stephen Gately (from Boyzone) not long after his death. He said "hello" to me. I think it's because he was on my mind and I never got to meet him before. 

Memorable/Favourite Dream - Dream Island

There is this one dream I had a couple of years ago that I thought a lot about so I thought I would share it. It involves a guy who to save any embarrassments I am going to call "X" throughout my recollection of this dream. 

The dream actually starts in the bedroom. I walk to the window and instead of the street being out the front there is sand and in the distance I can see the sea. It's a bright sunny evening out there. I see this guy looking up at me and beckoning me to him. I look back at myself asleep on the bed. Then I look down and see the drop through the window. I look at the man and he shouts "you will be fine, come on." so I take the plunge and land softly on the sand. I walk over to the man. He looks at me and says "Welcome to Dream Island. You have been invited by someone to join him here. He is dreaming too and you can find him up the top of the hill in the you go and have fun." 
I walk up the hill to the shop. I look around the shop and down the couple of aisles. I don't see anyone. Then I walk to the shop counter and there he is X. I turn to him and say "what's going on why are you here?" and he says "ahh Ellen, I've been waiting for you for ages, so long in fact that I got bored and decided to get a job here in the shop. Wait there whilst I find someone out back to take over from me and then we will go for a little walk." 
I waited and we walked to this bench by the edge of the cliff overlooking the blue sea. The sun was just setting. I turned to him and said I didn't understand what was going on. He said "It takes some getting used to coming to Dream Island. You can only come if you are invited and I invited you here because I want to tell you something." I turned and looked into his eyes and he said "I love you Ellen but I can't be with you in real life. But now we have met here on Dream Island we can come here whenever we like and be together."We hugged, kissed, chatted and laughed with each other.  

I did return to Dream Island one more time in my dreams and again we mostly chatted and sat on that bench. Sadly I haven't been back there for well over a year now! 

My thoughts on this dream: It's on odd one. I knew I was dreaming in this dream. I know that there can't possibly be a "dream island" but it's a nice thought that this other world exists. 

I think I will leave it there...if I have any more interesting dreams I am sure I will share them in the future. Do you remember your dreams? feel free to share them. Or if you are a dream interpreter I would love to know what you think of my collection of dreams. 


Monday, 11 January 2016

Degustabox Review - November 2015

Our November Degustabox arrived at the beginning of December. With Christmas and New Year being hectic we have only just got around to finishing our review. 

The November box was full of delightful foodstuffs; from breakfast delights through to festive desserts. Lets have a look inside.

Butterkist popcorn - £1.49 / £0.55 per bag (156g/27g)

First thing that jumped out of the box at us was popcorn! We were sent two bags of Butterkist popcorn; one being the rather posh, share-sized 156g bag of Butterkist discoveries, salted caramel flavoured popcorn. The other, a smaller individual serving-sized 27g bag of Butterkist sweet and salted popcorn. 

The first thing I have to say is that I have always been a fan of Butterkist. As a child, if I was to think of popcorn, it would be a bag of Butterkist. Now these two bags are very different to the caramel covered corn I enjoyed as a child. First up, the sweet and salted popcorn. This 136 Kcal, 27g bag (with 60% less saturated fat and best ever recipe). It's simple, but not detractingly so. It's a good balance of sweet and salty; exactly what it says on the packet. 

Moving onto the Discoveries salted caramel. SOMEBODY TAKE THIS BAG AWAY FROM ME! I CAN'T STOP EATING IT! If heaven was popcorn, this would be it. The taste is similar to the butterkist of my youth, but, as if Heston Blumenthal was let loose on it and reinvented it and made it so much posher. This is divine popcorn. And although the recommended serving size is 20g, 81Kcal... I bet you can't but help shovel the whole lot in and munch like there's no tomorrow. LOVE IT. 

Divine 70% Dark Chocolate with Raspberries - RRP: £1.00

From divine tasting popcorn to Divine chocolate. I'm a fan of this. Many moons ago I was fortunate enough to win a chocolate hamper from Divine chocolate. There is something about them that is quality. Divine by name, divine by nature. The dark, velvety chocolate is complemented nicely by the raspberries. Fruit and chocolate – what is not to like? 

(For those that need a bit more of a reason to like Divine chocolate over other brands; they are fairtrade, suitable for vegetarians and free of palm oil). 

Nim's Pineapple and Mango Fruit Crisps - RRP. £0.99

Now these are an incredibly nice surprise. I was expecting thick chunks of dry fruit; but these are nothing like that. These are very thinly sliced. I think the thinnest slices of dried fruit I've ever encountered! And there is something definitely inspired about the Mango and Pineapple combination. Sweet and delicious, and counts as one of your five a day fruit-and-veg. They're high in fibre and Vitamin C and we love them! 

Tuckey's Proper Digestives - RRP £1.80 

Now this is a nice idea. The Db Discovery this month is a box of Tuckey's proper digestive biscuits. Proper? These 'demonstrably different' digestives are made from a 1950's original recipe. 

Inside the 240g box are four packs of four biscuits; ideal to take as a snack in your lunchbox. I have to say that these are quite nice. I am a digestive fan, and these do have a different taste to them than your regular digestive. It's like a subtle difference, but it is there. It would be definitely be good to try other biscuits in the range and see how they compare. 

I'm not just saying that because I like biscuits. Honest! 

We enjoyed these a lot. Not sure we picked up on the nostalgic "before all the good was taken out 10-15 years ago" vibe though; but maybe that's because today's digestives don't actually taste that bad. But I think it's a personal thing. We'd like to try other biscuits from the range though, definitely.

Bourne and Wallis pickled onions - RRP £1.40

Just the thing to accompany our boxing day meal of Turkey, Chips and Pickles. And these are delicious! Some of the best pickled onions I've ever tasted! A lot of it is the vinegar. The vinegar has a distinct sweetness to it, but with a gentle hint of spice. And it perfectly compliments the onions.

With the Tuckey's biscuits; the difference between the traditional and the current, I feel is slight. With these onions though, you can taste something definitely more traditional about them. Almost a handmade-ness to them. 

Like the jar lid says, "made with love and care" and they definitely taste like they are. 

Belvita Soft Bakes - RRP £2.79

Now we are already fans of Belvita; they are our "go to" for a quick breakfast bite in the morning on those days where the alarm doesn't go off on time and we have to eat on the run. But these soft bakes are new to us. 

Like other Belvita products, each box comes with a number of individually wrapped portions; 5 in the case of these soft bakes. Each portion contains a single, rather thick biscuit bar. 

There are three different flavours available, but we were sent the Red Berries this time. 

Sampling; they taste good. The soft baked bar has a slightly unexpected quality to it; I think being used to the firmer bars in the range didn't prepare us for how soft and chewy these are. There is a bit of a crunch to them though; which for some reason reminds me of a crumble. 

All in all. Loved them. The only problem is that although one bar is enough, they're a bit more-ish and it's hard to just have one bar. 

Teisseire gourmet flavour drops - RRP £2.79 each

Not necessarily just for breakfast, we were sent two little flavour drop, squirty pot... things. (I'm not entirely sure how you're meant to describe them); you've seen them before, usually adding cordial flavours to water bottles in the summer; these are for the coffee-shop connoisseur. We were given the vanilla and caramel flavour drop-pots; so set about using them right away. 

All I can really say is they do what you'd expect them to. They turn an ordinary coffee into a vanilla one; they make a hot chocolate a caramel hot chocolate... 

The flavours are good; they work well. 

What I might do is – next time I'm at the coffee shop – sneak a squirt into my plain latte and see if I can save on the 30p plus they always charge for these little additions. 

Cheddar and cracked black pepper Ryvita Thins - RRP: £1.89

Okay; you got me. How did you know my Achilles heel was cracker things I can dip into hummus (and similar things)? These are great. Alone you get a subtle cheddar flavour with the heat of the black pepper. 

But with a flavoursome dip, the cracker thin seems to compliment and not overpower. The only problem I have with these is that they are far too more-ish! I can't stop eating them. Great for a party platter or a buffet style meal thing. Very nice. 

Ryvita Green & Black Olive Crackers - RRP £1.29

A second cracker pack this month; whereas the other crackers were very much party dipping thins for sharing, these are individual packs of crackers for your packed lunch; or to help you with that all important portion control – or maybe, just maybe, to stop that annoying cracker malady that happens – the soggy, soft, open cracker disaster. 

These are thin, crispy, firm crackers. I'd compare them to water biscuits, but with a bit more of a crunch to them. They're available in a variety of flavours, but we were sent the green and black olive flavour – and you can definitely taste the olive in there. At first bite it throws you, but subsequent nibbles and you wonder what you were worrying about. 

Nice with stronger cheeses that would definitely compliment the cracker. 

Williamson Lemon Tea - RRP £4.00

In previous Degustaboxes we've been offered Williamson teas before – a few boxes back it was the ginger tea – which is a firm favourite in our house. However, lemon teas we approach with some trepidation. Lemon tea is one of those things that... well... I'd say it doesn't always tickle our tastebuds. 

First we tried the tea black; and it didn't do it for us. But, committing the heinous crime of adding a splash of milk and some sugar and it turned it around. There is a nice flavour there; the lemon is maybe a little subtle, but all in all, it's not bad. 

Very much a quality product with their nice little fabric pyramid bags. This ethical tea … well... because we're not lemon fans, we won't be picking it up – but we'll definitely be keeping an eye open for their other flavours. 

Branston Orchard Fruit Chutney - RRP £1.49

Unfortunately, we have so many open jars of chutney in the fridge at the moment, we didn't manage to get around to this one – however – it looks and sounds delicious! So we'll be looking forward to sampling it in a few months time when we throw away the last empty, open jar. 

We're a fan of Branston – so are expecting something tasty! 

Hartley's Jelly -  £1.29 

Another item we didn't manage to make up yet – but definitely will; we're Jelly fans! And the glitter sparkle jelly looks and sounds really cool. (We were sent Black Cherry Jelly and Strawberry Glitter Jelly). This one fell foul to us having too many mince pies, chocolate puds, Christmas puds, crumbles and other deserts to munch our way through... but... as most of those have now been eaten, these won't sit untouched for long! 

Jim Jam's no added sugar Hazelnut Chocolate spread

And one final item we haven't gotten around to yet; we have some 'other brand' hazelnut spread on the go as I write this – although I expect that we will be onto munching this very soon. It looks good! 

And that's it! That was the November Degustabox - another great value foodie box full of wonderful surprises. 

If you would like your own Degustabox, please go to their website. It costs £12.99 a box (including delivery) however Degustabox has given us a special offer code for our readers to get £6 off their first box. The code is:


We are very happy to recommend the service and selection they provide.

Disclaimer: The November 2015 Degustabox was sent to me for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own.