Thursday, 31 December 2015

Competition Wins 2015 - I won 179 prizes!

It's been another year of entering competitions and whilst it feels like it's becoming harder to win prizes at times (as more and more people are discovering the hobby) I have had another great year and won some lovely prizes. I usually I write a list of my wins in a note on Facebook but this year I thought it would be nice to have a round up of my wins here on my blog. 

Entering competitions has been my hobby since 2000. Some of the early years I entered less competitions but in the last ten years I would say I have entered more. I wrote a little guide to starting comping on my blog awhile back with a few of my tips on how to get into competitions. So if you are interested and would like some tips see my post here

I feel it's important to say that there is a new breed of compers (people who enter competitions) these days and the comping community is not what it used to be sadly. Whilst social media has seen an increase in competitions to enter and us being able to get closer to the brands we love it has also caused a lot of conflict with people going all out to win even the smallest prizes. This year has been sad in that we have seen more people using multiple accounts to enter competitions, people using bots to enter competitions automatically, people stealing other peoples images to win competitions and people using sob stories galore in order to try and get the sympathy of the person running the competition to let them win. This in my opinion is ruining the hobby. Whilst there are these bad people spoiling it for everyone else there is also a great community too and I have made many friends through the hobby. 

What I really want to say is that for me, for the most part, comping is just about luck. You win some, you lose some. I personally wouldn't be happy entering a competition knowing that I had cheated in some way in order to win that prize. Or that I had begged to used one of the sad stories in my life to win a prize. I keep it real and know that every prize I have won has been won fairly and if I don't win then that's life. I personally love reading about other compers wins. There are so many competitions out there for everyone to enjoy. So my hopes for the comping world for 2016 is for everyone to be a little nicer to each other and be fair. Sadly I know that there will always be cheats out there spoiling it for everyone else. 

There is also a bit of a negative feeling between some bloggers and compers too. Some bloggers feel that if you are a comper then you shouldn't be able to win their competitions. I'm not sure why. Some companies do the same too and it's sad because compers are just people who help bring awareness by sharing with their friends and also we do have a life away from comping and enjoy the same things every other human being enjoys. Also there is a new breed of bloggers who feel it's acceptable to use their blog as a way to win competitions by basically telling the company they are entering the competition for that they will do a review of their product on their blog if they win the prize. This in my opinion is just as bad as cheating. I would never use my blog to blag a prize. It's not fair on the people who don't have the time or inclination to blog. 

Anyway I think I've gone on enough about my views. I just want to say comping is a hobby. A fun hobby. Lets keep it real my friends! 

And without further a do. My wins of 2015.....

A Magners Beanie Hat, Christmas Pawsome box, Cushella Koala, Christmas hamper.... 

This Christmas hamper from Woman and Home magazine was amazing.
Lots of booze, condiments, chocolate and Christmas goodies and meat. 

Chicken dinner at the Harvester, Prince of Darkness blu-ray, Fingers & Tongues book, Bluebeard Revenge gift set, £10 Amazon voucher, £150 Joshua James Jewellery Voucher, The Equaliser DVD, Heart bowl and ladle, My Little Pony DVD, Looking (season 1) DVD, The Best of Me DVD, £95 Schuh voucher, Whole Earths 3nut butter and pancakes, Dog bed, Jordan's Granola, Hobgoblin t-shirt, 2 x nail varnishes, Bride In Bloom ebook, Tractor Ted book and DVD, The Vintage Guide To Love and Romance book, Dolphin's Tale 2 blu-ray, £300 Currys Voucher....

I won this £300 Currys voucher from Ace UK on Facebook...
we spent it on a new gas cooker which was very much needed

Atomicron, Fury goodies, Girls Will Be Girls book, Cheese voucher, Oxo good grip products, The Traitor's Mark book, a beauty bundle, Unfinished Business goodies, Broadchurch DVD, Tilda Basmati Hamper....

I couldn't believe how much rice I won....and we have already gotten
through most of it....there is also a Wok hidden in there too! lol! 

Scar Tissue DVD, Bahlsen biscuit hamper, 3 Drumond Park games, £150 cash, £10 Co-op voucher, Sunlife pen, Royal Family book and DVD, OPI nail varnish set, 3 bottles of Choc shots, Dolce Gusto coffee machine (with cups and After Eights), We Are All Made of Molecules signed book, Raised By Wolves DVD, Cricket Top Trumps, Dave mug, Secrets Of The Singer Girls book, Case of Toffee Crisp Honeycomb bars, 6 x packs of Chewits, £250 Joseph Joseph kitchen products....

I absolutely love these products I won from Onken, they are quality. 

Black Cherry Yankee candle, The Versions of Us book, Big Game goodies, I followed the Rules book, Unearthed food goodies, The Island Escape book, Border biscuits, Father's Day Kipling cakes...

I love winning personalised goodies and this one is no exception
for my Dad on Father's day...with a picture of us. Love it!

Into The Woods DVD, Horrid Henry DVD, Chocolate buttons, Monchhichi, keyring and goodies, Laimon Fresh memory stick, Pokey LaFarge CD, Nature Valley goodies, Head and Shoulders Shampoo/Conditioner, Safe House DVD, 30 degrees in February DVD, Pantene Shampoo/conditioner, Thrive on Five book, Apple Sports Watch...

I love winning gadgets and an Apple Sports Watch is a biggie! 

GoDoChoc Chocolates and Benefit goodies, Shiseido Zen shower gel, Thank you box of chocolates, A panoramic pod, bath bombs, Higher Ed book, Summertime book, Aquafresh Inside Out goodies, bundle of DVDs, This is Acoustic CD, 100 Bloody Acres DVD, Beyond The Lights DVD, Son of a Gun blu-ray, Accidental Love DVD, £20 Amazon voucher, Handmade Burger co voucher, Tealight holders, Emma signed book, adult colouring books, Personalised lip balm, £30 cash, Super Sweep toy, World of Warriors trading cards, Spongebob Movie blu-ray, Diesel Only The Brave aftershave, bath truffles, pizza voucher, £10 iTunes voucher, £15 Co-op voucher, P'tit Quinquin DVD, Scentiment candle, poodle mug, £20 The Works voucher, Zootfoods bars, 3 months subscription to Shaken Cocktails, £25 Amazon voucher, Crushed drinks, The Krays Kill Order DVD, The Martian goodies, Chocolate box, adult colouring book, lavender diffuser, £10 Amazon voucher, Third Time Lucky book, Let The Right One In book, Henry V CD, Hobgoblin gloves, Signed Cliff Richard calendar....

I love this win. I'm not a huge Cliff fan but my friend
Katie in Australia is. I made her day by sending her this.

Sanctuary Spa goodies, popcorn maker, Conor Couglan signed CD, Dogs of Courage book, Film book bundle, WKD and cauldron, 3 x deodorants, Boofle goodies, gingerbread advent calendar, case of Wicked Wyvern beer, Who's The Lucky Guy book, Senspa goodies, carbon monoxide alarm, 2 x She Who Dares fragrances, Cheerios personalised calendar, The Royal Secret book, case of Boost drinks, Snoopy wristband, box of Valley Mills wax melts, Steve Jobs book, bottle of Coldpress, adult toy, Partners in Crime DVD, A Cat called Alfie book, caricature of Shortie....

A bit of an unusual win but I love it. My dog
Shortie as a member of Gryffindor by Big Art Vinyl

Bottle of Shloer with limited edition bag, Decleor night balm, cinnamon snow candle, chocolate truffles, adult toy, 3 signed Sarah Morgan books and a tote bag, a bubbly santa, A Winterfold Christmas book, Dell Chromebook...

Another biggie, A Dell Chromebook....I think Neil might claim
this one :-)

Liz Earle goodies for my mum, Black mass goodies, 2 x Krispy Kreme doughnut tins, bundle of gadgets, Star Wars print, dog biscuits, fir tree bangle, bottle of wine, Big colouring book, Star Wars Rebels magazine, Harry Potter style kindle case, relaxing goodies from Sealy, Sue Perkins book, small bottle of gin, Beverly Hills toothpaste hamper and Michael Kors bracelet, chocolate cake for my niece Lilly and a chocolate cake card for me, bracelet, Football boot light, A Christmas star DVD, £10 Aldi voucher and my last win of the year that arrived today 3 x boxes of Fish "n" Chips....

Three boxes of Fish n Chips....yummy!!! 

And that is my list of my wins of the year. Some are small but I love them especially books and Neil always loves the foodie wins. My favourite wins though are the ones that I can give to members of my family or friends to  make them happy. 

I also have my Webkin's Poll competition still up and running to win a £25 Amazon voucher and more. It closes on the 10th January. I run the competition each year (though I missed a few years) for fun and to give back to others. Good luck if you decide to enter. 

All that's left to say now is to all my comper friends new and old - Happy New Year and may 2016 be very lucky for you! Good Luck my friends x 

Monday, 28 December 2015

My Christmas 2015

It feels like Christmas came around really quickly this year. I haven't managed to blog much because on the run up to Christmas there are hundreds of advent (daily) competitions which took up a huge chunk of my day. I had some good wins which I will discuss in my next post about my wins from this year. 

This Christmas I decided to stay at home again in the Midlands with Neil and our fur babies - Shortie (the dog), Tigger and Harvey (the cats). So the weekend before Christmas my Mum, sister Anna and niece Lilly visited us from Somerset. It was so lovely to see them and exchange presents. I showed them around Kidderminster and we went in some of the shops and then we went for a nice meal. We had a great time though Lilly got a bit upset about having to leave but I know she will see me again soon. I miss her a lot too, she means the world to me. 

Me, my mum, Anna and Lilly in Kidderminster.
Me with Lilly and the nutcracker (I can't believe how tall Lilly is getting) 

Christmas came around quickly after their visit and we woke to see that Santa had brought up lots of lovely gifts. I can't believe the amount of lovely presents I received this year from my family and Neil's family. Thank you so much to them all. 

My pile

My presents
Amongst my favourite presents was some lovely walking boots from my mum which will be perfect for walking the dog in the winter especially as they are waterproof. I also got some amazing Funko Pops that I have wanted from Once Upon A Time which is one of my favourite shows but also I was so shocked that Neil got me Dorothy and Toto and the Winged Monkey from The Wizard of Oz. They are quite rare now and I totally love them. 

My new Funko Pops. 

I also received a lovely present from a fellow comper Claire. There are so many reports of horrible people who cheat on competitions all over social media at the moment but there are good people too and one of them is Claire. She won a Christmas Monchhichi. As people know I collect them and her son was scared of the one she won so she kindly sent it to me. This made me so happy and I can't thank her enough for her kindness as I really wanted one and I know they were sold out in most shops. Neil also got me a couple of Monchhichi's for Christmas too which brings my total to around 25. They are so cute. 

Christmas Monchhichi opening boy Monchhichi 
After opening our presents we got on with our Christmas dinner. We decided to have turkey and all the trimmings and it turned out well considering we are still getting used to our new cooker. I love Christmas dinner. I especially love the pigs in blankets, stuffing and sprouts! I don't understand how people can't love sprouts they are so yummy. 

Our rather large Christmas dinner
After dinner we just relaxed, watched tv and had a few drinks. I watched the final ever Downton Abbey which was just perfect. I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet but the ending was just right and everything tied up nicely. Just how I would have liked it to end. I'm sad to see it go though as it was a favourite of mine.  

Speaking of great television I absolutely adored The Sound of Music Live! with Kara Tointon as Maria and the rather dashing Julian Ovenden as Captain Von Trapp. I thought it was brilliant tv and they did so well including all the children bless them. Just fantastic. I love The Sound of Music as it's my mum's favourite musical. She went to the cinema to see it seven times when it first came out. As a child growing up my mum would play the sound track all the time when doing the cleaning so I know the songs word for word. I was so pleased that Julian Ovenden was in it because he is a brilliant singer and actor and I have been a fan of his music for awhile now. 

Overall we had a lovely Christmas and are now looking forward to the new year and seeing what 2016 brings us.

Seasons Greetings everyone from Ellen and Neil xxx 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Degustabox Review - October 2015

Back at the end of October we received our Degustabox. We are always so excited to get a Degustabox to see what lovely foodie surprises we receive. I'm sorry this review is a little later than I would have liked but it's that time of year when everything gets a little bit hectic. Here is our box: 

You can't help but notice that winter is drawing in. If it wasn't the weather showing us that, it would be the abundance of Christmas decorations flying up in towns and cities. To help us through these colder months, we have a lovely selection of heart-warming (and tummy warming) goodies; from feel-good snacks to spicy sauces. 

So without (much) further ado, onto the unboxing!

Kabuto Noodles - RRP £1.99 

First up, is a repeater from January's box. Kabuto noodles. We loved these the first time we had them and were excited to see them in the box again; they are a favourite. This is for two reasons. The first, obviously, is the taste. These are great tasting noodles. But the second reason is for the amount of fun and playfulness that has gone into the packaging. 

See what we mean? You can't but help smile when you read instructions like, "Beware Samurai, for your noodles will be hot. Make sure you eat them before they get cold and do not reheat. Failure to follow instructions will bring great shame to yourself and your family" 

Incredibly playful. Incredibly tasty. Still a favourite!

Geeta's Korma Curry Paste and Lime and Chili chutney - RRP £3.10 

A few months back in our Degustabox we received a jar of the Geeta's Mango chutney which was a really delightful mix of flavours. It was a mild chutney with a bit of a curry kick to it; and it oozed quality. So when we saw these (the first of two Db Discoveries this month) we were over the moon. In keeping with the winter warming, the chutney is hot (although balanced by the Korma being mild).  
What impressed us with the previous Geeta's we'd received was how well balanced the flavours were; this time is no different. At time of writing we've not made up the Korma, but we have sampled the chutney which has a great taste to it. The lime shines through and isn't over-shadowed by the chilli, and the chilli is hot enough to be warming without making you feel like your head is on fire. Great for dipping, and not bad for adding a kick to cheese and crackers - we loved it!

Chip Strips - RRP £2.00 

We were sent a couple of packs of Chip Strips. These are new to us and we wasn't really knowing what to expect. Would it be like the potato version of matchmakers? Would it be something completely different? Oh the questions we asked; but the only way to find out is open the packets. 

We were sent two flavours, salt and vinegar and BBQ. On opening we were met with a bunch of very thin strips. They had a decent crunch to them and were packed full of flavour. I guess the things I can compare them to are the old Smith's square crisps – only, instead of being square, they're long and rectangular. They are also perfectly flat; no curling here. 

While we just munched straight through them, we'd imagine these would be great for dipping. (Although, might be a bit fragile - but it would be fun trying!)

Naked Marshmallows "Ahoy Sailor" -  RRP £1.29 

One of our favourites this time around was this little bag of handmade marshmallows. Little is the key word; the bag only had three marshmallows.... but... they... were... divine! 

These are definitely the best and tastiest marshmallows we have ever had! It was probably a good thing there were only three in there – if there were more of these delightful things we would start looking like marshmallows! They had a great consistency, awesome flavour and … no... no matter how often I look in the packet, there aren't any more in there. Loved them. But send more next time nom nom nom!

Liberation Foods Oven Baked Salted Cashews and Peanuts - RRP £2.00

As a nut fan, Neil grabbed these for his snacks. He said they had a great taste to them; they didn't feel oily like some nuts – which might be part of the oven baking process. He thought they were full of flavour and really delicious and fresh tasting. 

We love their ethos being fair trade fans, and they delivered on taste. It would be interesting to compare with some of their other products which sound curiously tempting. Great stuff!

Degustabox 'product of the month'  - 9Bar - RRP £2.49 

This month's degustabox product of the month is a pack of 9Bar Super Seeds Original Carob hit. We have tried different 9Bar products previously and loved them and these are just as great. The mix of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and hemp) plus the carob chocolatey flavour are such a great combination. These bars feel like they are full of energy; the ideal thing for people with busy lives filled with activities. 

Loved the taste. Loved the texture. Loved the flavours and would seek them out again. A definite favourite!

The Snack Organisation presents Sweet Chilli Rice Crackers - RRP £1.00 

The first of two things from the Snack Organisation; we were sent a pack of Sweet Chilli Rice crackers (other flavours include lightly salted and Teriyaki). How do I describe these? Well they're small and round, thin with a nice crunch to them. They're gluten free and suitable for vegetarians. The chilli flavour was nice; very warming but not quite reaching a blow-your-head-off heat – which is nice; sometimes you get spicy things and they're just a little too spicy... or, worse, not spicy enough. This hits the right spot.

We ate them in a similar way to how you would eat crisps, but have a good firmness for dipping (imagine they'd be good with a nice blue cheese dip). They also kept their crunch and flavour a good week after opening which was nice too (probably would have kept it longer too if we hadn't eaten them all!) 

Very nice! Wouldn't mind getting them again in the box. Lovely!

The Snack Organisation Presents Freeze Dried Apricots  - RRP £1.00 

In previous Degustaboxes we've been sent freeze-dried fruit before (and enjoyed it) and these Apricots are no exception. We don't know if it's a thing that's 'in vogue' at the moment, but we are glad it looks like it. There is something about them – they have this firm texture and almost fizz when you pop them in your mouth; and once in your mouth you get that apricot flavour; if it wasn't for the texture and crunch to them, you wouldn't think they weren't actual apricots. 

We love these. They're also available in Strawberry, Apple and Pineapple and are gluten free and Vegetarian.  

President Unsalted Butter - RRP £2.00 

What can we say, it's butter. There is something really nice about proper butter – especially on a hot crumpet or muffin. I know, butter; not exactly the healthiest... but a nice little knob melting away once in a while. It's pure indulgence, and we all deserve a little indulgence every once in a while.

Cirio chopped tomatoes and Cirio la classica - RRP £2.25

We haven't used these yet, but are familiar with the brand; previously I've written about my diet and the wrap pizza; when we've made these we've used Cirio puree as the tomato sauce for the pizza wrap and have loved it. It's a great tomato taste and we expect these are no different (obviously, chopped tomatoes are chopped tomatoes – I assume Neil will use these in a Chilli in the near future)

Lorina Coconut-Lime - RRP £1.49

Now I know not everyone is keen on coconut water flavours; but this isn't that. This is a carbonated, French, Coconut and Lime drink. We didn't really know what to expect here, but, it is wonderfully refreshing. The combination of coconut and lime works really well and is in all honesty, quite a pleasant surprise. 

And that was our box; we love that Degustabox always gives us recipes to try out (although we rarely, actually, try making them ourselves.) This month's recipe is the bane of masterchef contestants everywhere; melting chocolate fondants. We might give this a go later... but we equally, might not. (Or might and not talk about it if it's an unmitigated disaster!) 

Another great box; we love the mixture of old favourites and new friends – although, to be honest, this month's box is more new friends than old favourites. Not a bad thing though. We loved it! 

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 October 2015 Degustabox was sent to me for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own.