Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Blippo Surprise Kawaii Bag Review and Giveaway

When I had an email from our friends at blippo offering me their new Surprise Kawaii Bag to review I jumped at the chance. My niece Lilly in particular loves all things Kawaii as it's always so cute. I was so excited for it to arrive and to share it with her. Blippo have also given us a bag to give away to our readers too. You can enter the competition at the bottom of this blog post. 

Here is what you get when you open your box in the post. A really cute blippo bag jam packed full of seriously cute Kawaii goodies. 





Blippo actually have four different types of surprise bags you can buy. There is the Blippo Surprise Candy Bag, the Blippo Surprise Kawaii Plush Bag, the Blippo Surprise Kawaii Stationery Bag and the Blippo Surprise Kawaii Mixed Bag which is the one that we received. 

I was so tempted to open the bag straight away when it arrived but I waited until the weekend for Lilly to come over and open it with me. We decided to do a Youtube video of us opening it which you can find here


So here is what we got in the bag:




We got a really cute Fresh Summer Juice Fan which Lilly loved so much she even took it out with us. Some really cute fruit hair clips. I especially loved the kiwi one. A comb and mirror which folds up into a chocolate bar shape which is handy to carry in a handbag and a cute bracelet with shells charms on. 



Next up we had three little purses/bags. I absolutely love the Pikachu one as I am a big fan of Pokemon. There was one with a cute face on and the other one was in the shape of a slice of watermelon. And we got a little ice cream charm that you could put on your bag and keyring in the shape of an Oreo which Lilly informs me is a squishy. She absolutely loves the keyring. It's one of her favourite items from the bag. 




Another favourite item of Lilly's is the little animal spray bottle which I think you are supposed to put perfume in but Lilly decided to fill it with water and spray her face when she felt hot. It's plastic so would be great to fill up with perfume for travelling. Then we got a luggage tag with macarons on which was cute. Has anyone ever tried a macaron? I haven't but I really want to know what they taste like as they are look really yummy. Then we got what we thought was another luggage tag with a CUTE lama on. We love the lama so much. On further investigating we found out the item is actually a credit card holder. We love it! We got some Hello Kitty geek glasses which were super cute and some little pearls that you can use to bling up your mobile phone. 





And finally we got this absolutely adorable soft plush cat which we just love and of course the cute blippo bag itself which can be reused for bits an bobs. 

We thought the bag which costs under £15 was great value for money and would make a lovely birthday gift especially for girls who love all things Kawaii and cute goodies. As you can see from the picture below Lilly loved it all and took it all home with her apart from the Pikachu purse which I have kept for myself.  We love love love Kawaii! 





***  GIVEAWAY ***


Blippo have kindly given us a Kawaii Suprise Mixed Bag to give away to one of our readers. The giveaway is open worldwide. To enter please use the Gleam widget below and good luck! 


BL Webkin's World Giveaway


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

Monday, 8 May 2017

Mental Health Awareness Week: Living With My Anxiety

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week so I thought it would be good to write a piece about how I have lived most of my life with anxiety issues. 

I can't pinpoint the exact time I first suffered from anxiety but as far as I remember I definitely had it when I was in my first year of senior school (so around the age of eleven). I started thinking I was different than everyone else and that I must be weird. I never opened up about my problems to the full extent of it until recently.In the last few months I chatted to my dad about it and he asked me why he didn't know about it until now. It's because I didn't want to tell people. I felt weird and like there must be something wrong with me. 

For me I really struggled at senior school in particular with assemblies and exams. But I even struggled in most lessons. Back then I would get into a room with my fellow students and all I would do is obsess with one of two things. It would either be needing to go to the toilet and worrying I wouldn't be able to hold it and that I would wet myself or that I was going to throw up. Both obsessional thoughts in my mind was "what if I did this? and what would people think?" I remember depending on which thought it was at the time that I would do certain things. Like I would go to the toilet a minute before the bell would go for the next lesson even if I didn't need to go or I wouldn't eat much at lunch if I was obsessing about throwing up. My grades at school definitely were affected by this. I would get into an exam and I wouldn't be able to concentrate because the thoughts were there constantly going around and around, what if? or I'm going to be sick or wet myself. Waves of panic came over me. I would go hot, I would get scared, I would talk to myself in my head saying "You are going to be alright Ellen, don't worry".  I tried to stop focusing on it and do the work I need to do but it was always there as my main focus. 

It was at this point that I started avoiding doing things if I could. Most kids loved a school trip but I would avoid it by pretending to be ill. I have to admit here I did a lot of skiving and played my mum a lot (sorry mum) to avoid going to school. If I had a way to avoid doing something I would.  

In my late teens and early twenties I had the darkest period of my life. I got glandular fever and then I hit rock bottom. I had a huge bought of depression which added to my anxiety. Some of the thoughts I had around that time were so dark and the slightest mention of anything affected me and away my mind would go, obsessing. All I thought was I must be a bad person and I wanted them to lock me away and throw away the key. At this time I was put on medication for OCD and I remain on it to this day. It takes away the really really dark and nasty obsessional thoughts. 

When most people think of OCD they think of people constantly cleaning or washing their hands but it can manifest in so many different ways. Imagine thinking the worst thing you could and then it going around and around in your head constantly. That was what it was like for me. My first bought began when I took the morning after pill and my tongue swelled up. At the time the doctor told me it wasn't an allergic reation to the tablet but stress. So I started obsessing that my tongue was going to swell up when I was out and about and how embarrassing it would be because I wouldn't be able to talk. I spent hours in front of the mirror checking the size of my tongue because I was convinced that if I got stressed it would swell up again. It never did swell up again.

I can remember another day I was sat at my computer and I had the thought "What if I screamed constantly? How embarrassing would that be?" it then went on from there to some really dark stuff which I don't want to write here because it's nasty and I find it quite embarrassing. Suggestions from things I would see in the media I would get taken away with and away I would go obsessing about it. The anti-depressants I am on have helped taking away the dark thoughts and whilst I have reduced my dose over the years I know in my mind that I will probably be on them for life. I would rather be on tablets my life though than feel like I am losing my mind completely. 

So in my mid twenties I started feeling a lot better as the nasty thoughts were under control due to the tablets but it didn't stop my anxiety about throwing up in public and to this day I am still suffering with this. 

The worst places for my anxiety are cinemas, theatres or where there is a big group of people in one place. No matter how hard I try I still get the thoughts of "what if I'm sick? I feel sick" I then panic. I go hot, I feel like I can feel the sick coming up and I can't breathe properly. The worst thing about all of this is I have never been sick in public so I don't know why I think it but I do. It's like a switch as soon as I get in to the situation I start getting the obsessional thoughts etc. I've felt it at my sisters wedding, my grandfathers funeral and at family meals in restaurants. 

It's only recently I have talked more about my anxiety and decided I want to do something about it. I am thirty eight now and have had this for at least twenty seven years it's time to get help and try to overcome it. I am not living my life, I am avoiding it!

I want to be able to go to the cinema or theatre and enjoy it. I want to go and see Phillip Schofield film one of his tv shows (I actually told Phillip about my anxiety when I met up with him in my mid twenties which I never thought I would do and he was incredibly understanding about it. I just didn't want him to think I was a bad fan for not going to his shows). I want to go to a Boyzone concert in an arena. I want to be able to see some of the world and travel. Most of all I want to do all these things and enjoy myself doing them, not just survive them like I do at the moment. If I go to a cinema for example I spend ninety percent of the time panicking and the last few minutes of the film I calm down because I know the end is coming up and I will get out of there. Then I come out of the cinema and in my head have an overwhelming feeling of joy, like I have achieved something because I went to the cinema and survived without throwing up. Where as most people go to the cinema to have fun. 

I often wonder if I had spoken up about it when I was eleven would my life of been different. Would I have got help and sorted it out? Would I have succeeded more in life? Would I be happy and content with my life? Would I of had more happy experiences? One of the reasons I've never had children has been because I wouldn't want to hold them back and the way I am now I would of avoided certain situations because of the way I get and that wouldn't of been fair on them. 

So here I am now. I am finally asking for help with this. I have been to my doctors and I am waiting to see a therapist to learn some techniques to overcome the anxiety. I am also pushing myself a little more to do things that make me feel uncomfortable. I've started going to bingo once a week with my mum and sister. Every single week I sit there obsessing about throwing up whilst playing along. One week I got in a really bad state where I could hardly breathe but I make myself go every week because I do enjoy it and I think maybe it's good to push myself. To this day I haven't been sick in public but the thoughts are still there. I hope one day I will find a way to control the thoughts instead of letting them control me. 

If you too are living with anxiety please speak to someone and seek help like I am doing. There are so many people out there who can help you.  Don't suffer in silence like I have done for so many years. And most importantly know that you are not alone. 


Links to charities that can help: 


Friday, 21 April 2017

My Online Dating Experience

About a month and a half ago I decided to give online dating a go and sign up to a popular free dating site in the hope I would find a new friend and maybe build a relationship with him over time. I signed up open minded about the type of men who would message me and made an honest positive profile with plenty of pictures including full length ones to show that I am a larger lady. Over my time on there I discovered there are five types of men: 

Mr Jerk - there is no way you are going to escape these type of men on dating sites. The ones who think that sending a sexual message or talking about sex after one message or even on the first message is going to get them a shag. As my messages came in I could almost tell who was going to be a jerk by their picture. These tended to be the really attractive men who looked at my profile and thought "oh a fattie, she must be desperate and easy." To me the biggest turn off ever is a man who wants to talk about sex before anything else. Don't get me wrong flirting is fine but this was not flirting. I'm not interested in your foot fetish, that you like to give other men blowjobs or you want to cum all over my face. I want to get to know you and what you enjoy doing in life not in the bedroom. I also hate it when men over use the word "babe" or "princess" when they don't even know you. I clearly stated on my profile I wanted a relationship not a one night stand but you just can't escape these type of guys. 


Mr Waster - this one is hard for me to write about and I hope I come across the way I want to. I fully understand that people have illnesses and are on benefits. I know this because I am one of those people but these are the men who are on benefits and openly admit they don't mind staying on benefits for the rest of their lives. I personally hate the fact I am on benefits and I am doing everything I can to get help with my condition so that I am well enough and reliable to get a job even if it's just part time at first. I am very understanding towards mental health issues and serious disabilities but these are guys who with help and time could get back into work but just want to take the easy way out. For example I met one guy who has diabetes and he refuses to have treatment for it and said he was going to die young and was happy to be on benefits for the rest of his life. I'm sorry but I don't want to be with someone that has no ambition at all or won't even try to help themselves. 


Mr Rude - these are the men who obviously think they are better than you that they don't even think you are worthy of a response. As I went through profiles I decided to message men who I shared common interests with. I am well aware that I am not the prettiest girl out there. I never have been a popular girl and now with my weight I feel worse about myself. I think I'm not like most girls as I am not into fashion and beauty etc. However I did find some people who I thought looked nice and shared interests with me. I guess I kind of veer towards the geeky type of guy. Anyway I would send a nice message about our common interests and then nothing. To them I obviously wasn't worthy of a reply. I guess they looked at my profile and judged me by my appearance. Whereas I replied to every single person that messaged me even the Mr Jerks. Even if it was to say thanks for the message but sorry I'm not interested. Maybe I was wrong to do that but I grew up learning to be polite and have manners and to treat people how you wish to be treated. I gave every guy I chance because you never know when something might click. 


Mr Time Waster - when I first joined the site I had quite a few responses. As a new fish in the pond everyone was eager to find out more. These are the guys who I have chatted to since I first joined but the chat goes no where. It's the same old. They come online every couple of days and message me to ask me how I am or what I am up to and then that's it. They don't ask anything about me or suggest anything more. They are happy to bumble along for months on end repeating the same old things. 


Mr Pushy - after reading about the time wasters it's probably weird that I am now writing about the pushy men. These are the guys who want to meet after one message. I understand it's frustrating logging in and chatting daily but as a woman online I have to be careful who I meet. I have been online since I was 15 years old and I have had some unpleasant experiences with some men I have met so I don't think it's unreasonable to ask to chat for a little while and then exchange numbers and chat on the phone for a bit before meeting up. You have to be careful there are some nasty people out there. These men tend to disappear when you ask them to talk a bit more before meeting.


Saying all that I did speak to two potentials. The first one was a guy I chatted to online and on the phone. We even planned to meet up. We had a lot in common and then on the day we were meeting he let me down. I was understanding that things crop up that can't be helped but then he left me hanging for five days waiting to hear from him. When he finally contacted me he was in a rush and things just didn't add up. I am not 100% sure if he was already in a relationship or what. I just didn't want to be left hanging like that and so I told him and then nothing. He just ignored me and never contacted me again. So that was the end of that. 


The second guy I really liked. Not necessarily as a date as I was pretty sure he wasn't interested in me in that way but as a friend. We got on well in messages. We had friendly banter and chatted about all sorts including how hard it was to find decent people on the site. He even admitted that I am the one person he found easy to talk to and enjoyed talking to. I know he wasn't sure if online dating was for him so he deleted his profile without saying bye or anything. Then a week later he popped back up again with a new profile and we chatted again then he did the same deleted it without as much as a bye or a way to keep in contact. So I guess I thought more of him than he did of me. 

Last night I decided enough was enough. I deleted my profile. I just got fed up with the same old and realised I am not unhappy on my own. I have my family and friends online. I don't need a man to be happy. I believe there is someone out there for me and that he will probably appear when I least expect it. I'm not saying online dating sites don't work because you do see many success stories but right now it's not for me. I know love will find me in the end it always does.  


Sunday, 12 March 2017

A Fun Weekend With Lilly

One of the things I love most about being back in Somerset is that I get to spend quality time with Lilly. Before I would only see her a few times a year but now I can see her whenever I want and she loves nothing more than coming over for a sleep over. 


This weekend she came over on Saturday morning and we decided to do another video for our YouTube channel. At the moment apparently it's all the rage to do challenge videos. So we decided to do the fizzy drink cocktail challenge where we bought a load of different fizzy drinks and mixed them all up into one drink and poured them out into coconut cups to drink from. We had a great laugh as always and Lilly is a natural on camera.  Here is our video: 




We then took the dogs for a lovely walk in the fields which they loved, especially Jack who loves to run after the ball. We then had a Chinese takeaway and watched Riverdale on Netflix. We really love this series but we didn't really get into this episode as much as others for some reason. 

In the evening we decided to do the tin can challenge for our YouTube as we had bought some tins earlier in the day. Basically the idea was to take the labels off the tins and mix them up and put numbers on them and then draw numbers and eat spoonfuls of the contents of the tins. I absolutely hate fish so wasn't excited about that and we had a huge nightmare trying to find a tin opener that worked. And then to my surprise at the end of the video Lilly decided to feed me tinned dog food which she found totally hilarious! It was yucky but the video is quite funny. Here it is: 




Today we chilled out and went for another walk with the dogs. Now I am totally shattered but I had a really great time. Someone criticised me for doing the videos with Lilly but I love doing things with her that makes her happy and as you can see from them I had a great time too. It's all fun fun fun :) 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

New Beginnings

I didn't write on my blog much last year because it was the worst year of my life. The year started off with big changes that Neil and I didn't see coming that ultimately brought our relationship to an end. Well I say that but I never really found out what caused our relationship to go from happy to ending a week later whilst I was away on holiday with my family but I do know at least one other person was involved in Neil's decision. 

At the very start of last year my life was starting to look up. I had one to one appointments with a chronic fatigue therapist so I was looking forward to trying to learn to control my fatigue better and hopefully get back in to employment once I had a better sleeping pattern and I was reliable. Then after a few big changes in Neil's life on my birthday and after seven years together he decided to tell me he didn't want me anymore. My 37th birthday was the worst birthday of my life. I was heartbroken and spent most of the day crying. Neil did agree to try again but then after a month he decided to give up on us again. I do believe that other people influenced his decision and that a few lies were told but I am not really going to go into great detail because it's just not worth it.
Instead I am going to write a few things about what I have learnt from my experience: 

1. Never believe in promises made at the start of a relationship.  The start of a relationship is so exciting but things can so easily be said when lust is involved. I was promised so much from Neil including him moving to Somerset to be with me, marriage and trying for kids. I should of known after three years when he said he would move and he didn't that these things were just said to keep me interested. I don't believe Neil had any plans to marry me. In fact he confessed to me before I left that he didn't even want to get engaged. That hurt a lot because he knew how important these things were to me at the time. He may of been there before and done all that but I hadn't and I basically wanted what most women want in life. Right up to the day before Neil dumped me he told me he loved me daily and often. Those three words are so easy to say. 

2. Never move from your happiness for anyone.  For me I have always been extremely close to my mum, dad, sister and niece. I know a lot of people move away from their family when they are adults but for me it was the hardest thing to do but I did it because I loved Neil and wanted our relationship to progress and it was the next step for us but it lead to four years of unhappiness for me. Yes we had good times but I felt terribly homesick for my family and for Somerset. Kidderminster was never my ideal location to live. I think anyone will know there is a huge difference between Bath and Kidderminster. I just wasn't used to it and I saw things there I have never seen before in my life. I made a few friends there mostly through walking Shortie but they weren't really people I hung out with so I was incredibly lonely most of the time and the house wasn't my idea home, it was always Neil's house and I never felt I could make it my own. I just got on with it though because I loved Neil and I wanted to be with him. Only since moving back here I have fully realised how unhappy I was up there outside of our relationship. 

3. Good guys aren't always the best.  I've never gone for the tough type of guy and I am not going to go out now and find someone rough for my next relationship but there is such a thing as being too nice and I think Neil fell into that category. When we were together he was my rock and even when we split up and before I moved he was still kind to me but the problem with this is he had no balls. When we got together he promised me he would always be open with me if he was unhappy but he didn't tell me and right to the end he kept things from me because he was too scared to tell me. I was always totally open and honest about me thoughts and feelings but he couldn't do that which I found extremely cowardly. 

4. Some mothers need to let their sons grow up and fight their own battles.  When I was with Neil I really liked his parents and respected them but that when down the pan when Neil's mother decided to take it upon herself to quite frankly butt in to our relationship and be totally disrespectful to members of my family who she had never even met. I understand that everyone is going to protect their child but Neil is in his forties yet his mother still treats him like a little boy sometimes. It wasn't needed. The thing that really showed her spitefulness was when she gave me a gift before Neil dumped me and then as I was leaving she demanded it back. Lots of my friends said to just take it but I decided to leave it because I am a better person than her. I would never do that to someone. She has to live with that though. I believe in what goes around comes around and maybe Neil's next partner won't be as kind as I was and maybe can tell her to back off a bit and let Neil be the man I believe he can be. 

5. I deserve better and happiness.  Over the months that I remained at Neil's looking for somewhere to move (which wasn't easy due to my health problems and my dogs) I did a lot of thinking. Every day for months I had to watch the man I loved move further and further away from me and leave me alone every night whilst he went up to the attic to sleep in the other room in the house. At first it hurt a lot. Neil withdrew from me so much in the end that I'm afraid to say I doubt we will ever have the friendship I had always hoped for. He started walking the dogs alone for longer and didn't want me to go so he could talk to other people on the telephone. He even left me to spend most of Christmas and New Year alone. 
The biggest thing I have learnt is I deserve better than Neil. I have my problems and faults but that doesn't mean I am a bad person that doesn't deserve to be loved and happy. Right now I'm enjoying time alone, being just me, but in the future I do believe I will find happiness with someone else. During my early adulthood I spend my whole time searching for "the one" then when I hit 25 I decided to take time out and just have friends and find myself. At 31 I met Neil and I believed he was "the one".  Now I am not sure I believe in "the one" theory. I to believe that people can have more than one person who is special in their lifetime. I live in hope I will find something special again in the future. 

Despite everything that has happened I will always think highly of Neil because we had some really good times together and like I said he is a nice guy he just needs to be a little more open with people. I wish him well and happiness too. 

So at the end of January I moved back to Somerset. When I was getting towards the moving date I was so worried that I wasn't going to cope and that my depression was going to flare up in a big way but when I moved back it was almost like an instant switch in me. I became this new and more positive Ellen. I still have really bad fatigue days but for the most part I am happy. My family says even my voice sounds different. I am far more confident and don't wake up thinking I have nothing to live for or look forward to. 

I didn't write on my blog that last year Neil and I adopted a new dog. He belonged to my friend Debs but he just wasn't that happy with some of her other dogs so she did the kindest thing for him and gave him to us. We knew Jack from the age of 8 weeks and to be honest I fell in love with him instantly. He is such a special boy. He loved Neil a lot but when we split up there was no way Neil could keep him with work commitments and I wanted to keep him so he moved back to Somerset with me and Shortie. 

The hardest thing I had to do was leave my Tiggs with Neil. Tigger was my cat for 16 years but I had to do what was best for him. Some people criticised my decision on Facebook saying they could never leave their cat but I had to do it for him and I know Neil will take good care of him. As Tiggs is an older cat I thought it would be unfair to take him away from where he was happy. If he had come with me he wouldn't of been able to go out and Tiggs is such an outdoors cat. He loves to roam about. I cried a lot over my decision and not a day goes by when I don't think of him. I really hope he would forgive me and know that I had to put his happiness first.  

I love being back in Somerset. I love it down here. I love living in an uncluttered home. 




I am enjoying lovely countryside walks with my dogs, Shortie and Jack. 



And most importantly I am loving spending time with my family. I go to bingo with my mum and sister Anna every week and I go walking in the fields with Anna, my niece Lilly and our dogs often too. 



I also get to have sleep overs with Lilly which is so much fun. We do things like go geocaching or make funny videos. Today we decided to do the smoothie challenge where we got some yummy and yucky goodies to put in and made smoothies. It was very messy, gross and funny. Here is our video if you want to see what we put in the smoothies. 







One thing for sure - I wouldn't change my life for all the money in the world right now. Home is where the heart is and my heart is with my family and Somerset. I would never go back now. 

"It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me.....and I'm feeling good" 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Great Balloon Experiment

When I was 15 years old my family visited a garden centre in Bath. On the day in December they were handing out helium filled balloons. My sister, our friend and I decided to grab one each. When we got home we decided to make labels with our addresses on, attach them to the string of the balloons and cover the labels in sellotape to make them waterproof. We then went out to our cul-de-sac and released them into the air. We actually found one of the popped balloons the next day over the field nearby in a tree but the other two went away and we didn't really think about them. 

Early March of the next year there was a knock on the door from a teacher from the local school which was on the road nearby our road which had a similar name. The teacher was holding a letter addressed to me. When I opened the letter I was amazed to see my balloon with my label in the envelope, a coin and a letter. I read the letter and it was from a young boy, aged 11, called Daniel. He had found my balloon near his home in south GERMANY! I was amazed that my balloon had travelled that far and that he had kindly looked up Bath on the map as I didn't think to include England on the label. He also sent me a lucky coin from Germany too. I think it was the equivalent to a penny over here. We wrote to each other a few times but he didn't know much English at the time so we stopped after about two letters. Sadly as the years past and I moved home I lost the balloon and label but I always tell the story of how my normal helium filled balloon travelled all that way. 

So today my niece Lilly and I decided to recreate it with five balloons and see if we get any replies. We went down to the local card/balloon shop here in Midsomer Norton and got 5 plain coloured balloons filled with helium. We came home and made a brand new gmail email account for the experiment and made the cards asking for people who find them to email us with their special numbers for each balloon. We stuck sellotape around the card to make them waterproof and attached them to the ribbon on the end of the balloon. We then walked over to the local field to release them. 

Lilly holding the balloons

Due to it being a bit windy they got a bit tangled up on the way so it took us awhile to untangle them ready for release as we wanted them to go separately and the pink one got away first. Then we set about releasing the others one at a time. 


Lilly saying goodbye to one of the balloons

I did try and do a video but in the fluster of unravelling the ribbon it didn't work. We don't think the green one will get too far as it seemed heavier and a bit of a slow starter but it did eventually go up so who knows. 

Our green balloon the slow starter

We really hope people find some of our balloons even if they only live nearby and it was great fun to do. If we get any replies we will definitely update our readers. You never know one of these could be heading over the sea to Europe! Fingers crossed!

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 - http://www.kawaiibox.com


*** 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 




Links:

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.  

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


*** COMPETITION ***


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:

BLDEG15


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


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