Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My Fabulous Winning Year

I have had another fantastic year with my comping hobby, winning some pretty amazing prizes over the year.

Spa Days for 2 x 12 in January with Barclay Cards Facebook comp. We had a girls day out using 16 of these in one go. It was great fun.

Attending the Baftas thanks to the Mirror Newspaper and the Book Awards with Specsaver. Both of these included overnight stays in London and were amazing.

I have been to the Buckingham Palace Coronation festival thanks to Waitrose purchase comp and  as VIP to the Henley Regatta from a twitter comp.





 
A week in Turkey
 
 
I was asked to go and review a hotel in Turkey for a week for Solo holidays which was due to writing reviews for http://silvertripadvisor.co.uk
 


Spun on rides at Alton Towers again thanks to twitter and had afternoon tea in Bond Street. Another booked for February as well as a theatre tickets.



My nephew has watched his favourite team Arsenal from the executive box and his brother and sister had a wonderful time at a sleepover in Hamleys Toy Shop. One was an email comp the other a good old fashioned slogan.


A hudi from Tescos twitter comp, Sci-Fi weekend passes for 6 from an email and plenty of small prizes.

My best prize by far this year though has been winning one of the ten Nutella £3,000 plan your own special day prizes. This was a fun creative comp. We have chosen to go and see some whales in Scotland so that is something to look forward to next year.

I use compers news, http://www,prizefinder.com and http://www.moneysavingexpert.com for most of my comping information and they are all brilliant. You do need to put in the hours though and search around for those low entry comps. I am not keen on fb comps but really like twitter. I am happy to enter most comps except voting and have won a few prizes using photos the most recent being a fancy coffee pot from an advent comp. Plus smaller prizes.

Total value of my wins is over £12,000 - excellent year

Here is my pinterest board showing some of my great prizes

http://www.pinterest.com/chrismse1/my-winning-hobby/

Have a lucky 2014


January 2014


1. Afternoon Tea at Gorge Hotel in Knightsbridge

2. Box seats, champagne and programme to Let it Be Musical London

3. Goody bag and book for 12 years a Slave

4. Babour Dog Coat

5. Sets of 2013 comemerative stamps

6. Now TV freeview box

7. A Two Day London Pass - excellent free entry to lots of places.









Friday, 27 December 2013

Happy 2014

Wishing Everyone a happy and healthy 2014

Friday, 15 November 2013

Keep Warm Tips

The weather is certainly getting colder so I have listed some links and tips on keeping warm. The snow will soon be causing it`s usual havoc.



I am going to start with a Girl Called Jacks very useful and interesting blog post here : http://agirlcalledjack.com/2013/11/14/my-tips-for-keeping-warm-in-winter-from-a-veteran-of-freezing-houses-wooden-floors-and-big-windows/

She has some great tips and people are adding to them in the comments section so do take a look.



My tip for keeping feet warm is to insert foam or sheepskin inner soles into your shoes or boots. This really does help and you can get them in £1 shops.

Next is this article on heating a room for 8p a day using tea light candles and flower pots. Haven`t tried this but there is a video link explaining it all if you would like to try it yourself. I don`t think I would hold out to much hope of it working well. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2492549/Video-reveals-heat-home-using-just-TEALIGHTS-FLOWERPOTS--costs-just-8p-day.html

My tip for anyone who doesn`t like onesies (like me) get yourself a honcho like this.
fleece new pink flower


http://www.festivalkit.co.uk

If your crafty make yourself one out of some cheap fleece blankets. They are great. Mine goes on the minute I get indoors.

The famous http://www.Moneysavingexpert.com site has a thriving section on keeping yourself and your home warm. You can find all kinds of tips in the old style money saving forum section. 

If you are lucky enough to have a coal fire try this tip for getting that fire started without using firelighters.

Rub petroleum jelly over a bunch of cotton wool balls then store them in a zip lock bag. When you're ready to make a fire, pull a few cotton strands out and place a ball under your kindling wood then light. Success!






Lots of tips on http://www.mumsnet.co.uk for keeping babies and children warm without putting them at risk of overheating.

My tip is walk a dog, borrow one if you don`t own a dog. Great to get outdoors walking warms you up and your not paying for heating when you are out. The dog might have other ideas though and prefer to lie down!






Pinterest is a great source of tips and information. See my board on easy tips here.
http://www.pinterest.com/chrismse1/easy-tips/



rub petroleum jelly over a bunch of cotton balls then store in ziplock bag. When you're ready to make a fire, pull a few cotton strands out and place under your wood then light your cotton ball

Monday, 21 October 2013

Fantasy Interview with Lily Savage

MY FANTASY INTERVIEW WITH LILY SAVAGE  


 (ENTRY INTO WRITING COMPETITION)


JOB ROLE -  LILY IS BEING INTERVIEWED FOR THE JOB OF NANNY TO TWO ADORABLE?! BOYS

Details of competition here:


#JobAcademy portal

http://www.iamtypecast.com/2013/10/interview-competition.html


include this link to the #JobAcademy portal - http://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/jobacademy/ (and one to this blog post if you like) - See more at: http://www.iamtypecast.com/2013/10/interview-competition.html#sthash.vlqGlB8h.dpuf
include this link to the #JobAcademy portal - http://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/jobacademy/ (and one to this blog post if you like) - See more at: http://www.iamtypecast.com/2013/10/interview-competition.html#sthash.vlqGlB8h.dpuf
http://www.totaljobs.com/insidejob/jobacademy/













MEET THE BOYS ! (photo from Halloween pinterest board)




Questions I ask Lily and her answers :


Q. I know you can look after dogs but what about kids?


A. Well there is not much difference really, except I wouldn`t walk the kids on a lead. I might tag them though.


Q. If you needed to scold them what would you do?

A. That`s easy tie them to the back door and hit them with a wet mop.


Q. What healthy meals would you cook for them?


A. Cook?! me! its pizza or chips and they will damn well like it. I got cabbage and spuds when I was a kid.


Q. What would you do it they would not go to bed ?

A. Well if I couldn`t hit them with a frying pan, I`d hang them by the ankles out of the window.


Q. How would you help them with their homework?

A. Google, google and eeeem google. I hope they know how to google.


Q. This is a non- smoking household is that a problem for you?

A. Not at all I never touch tobacco!


Pinterest - no monkey business board.


Does Lily get the job?

Yes, I`m sure its the perfect job for her, It is either Lily, boarding school or Borstal for these boys.







Friday, 27 September 2013

Foodbank Networks

WINTER IS ON THE WAY SO IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING SPARE PLEASE DON`T FORGET THE LOCAL FOODBANKS ARE IN DESPERATE NEED OF DONATIONS.

UK Foodbanks

13 million people live below the poverty line in the UK.
Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. Trussell Trust foodbanks provide a minimum of three days emergency food and support to people experiencing crisis in the UK.
In 2012-13 foodbanks fed 346,992 people nationwide. Of those helped, 126,889 were children. Rising costs of food and fuel combined with static income, high unemployment and changes to benefits are causing more and more people to come to foodbanks for help.
The Trussell Trust partners with churches and communities to open new foodbanks nationwide. With almost 400 foodbanks currently launched, our goal is for every town to have one.

Desperate times...

‘We had to borrow a tin of soup from next door to stop our

18-month-old daughter from going to bed hungry.’

Ann-Marie, Salisbury Read story

‘If there was no foodbank I’d have to steal something to feed my family.’

Jamie, Andover Foodbank client
Foodbanks help prevent crime, housing loss, family breakdown and mental health problems. A simple box of food makes a big difference.
All food is donated by the public and sorted by volunteers. Frontline care professionals such as doctors and social workers identify people in crisis and issue a food voucher. Clients receive three days of nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food in exchange for their food voucher. Foodbanks also make time to chat and to signpost clients to other helpful services.

Why do people need emergency food?

Today people across the UK will struggle to feed themselves and their families. Redundancy, illness, benefit delay, domestic violence, debt, family breakdown and paying for the additional costs of heating during winter are just some of the reasons why people go hungry. Read client stories

What’s in a foodbox?

Each foodbox contains a minimum of three days nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food.
Foodbanks rely on the support of local communities. Click here to find your nearest foodbank.
If there’s no foodbank near you why not find out more about starting a foodbank.

Eat Well, Spend Less courses

The Trussell Trust has piloted, and is currently looking for funding to roll out, 'Eat Well, Spend Less' courses that teach people how to cook when on a low budget. The course includes basic cookery lessons as well as providing advice on food budgeting, hygiene and nutrition. If you or your company could help to fund this project we'd love to hear from you: Contact Mark Ward, Funding Team Manager, 01722 580176.


Find your nearest foodbank here
Find

Foodbank photos

Collecting food at a supermarket
A primary school gives harvest gifts
Sorting food donations
Girl with her own shopping list
Receiving a foodbox
Mother leaves foodbank with bags of food
Click on each image to view larger
More

Monday, 16 September 2013

PES 2014 - COME ROUND PARTY

Grace Claims the first Goal




We received our  PES 2014 party pack from Come Round for our PES 2014 Party which took place on 13th  September 2013.

Here is our review


 
 
 
Great Graphic make the pitch and players realistic and the game fun. We used the PES 2014 for the XBox.

 
The boys compete for Man of the Match


Yes! I won

 
 
The final Whistle!


Everyone agreed that the PES 2014 is the game to have for Christmas, whether you are old or young, if you love football this game is a must.





Charlie takes the trophy as the guys grab a beer. The chicken and Mushroom Pot Noodles disappear in half time. It is one thing to watch your team lose, its another when the kids beat you. Time for another game everyone. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Charity Shop Bargains - Master Chefs Cookery Books

The Master Chefs Collection

Twenty four small books from chefs like Rick Stein, Michel Roux, Anthony Worral Thompson  and many others.


Got this little bargain for the pricely sum of £3 in a Heart Foundation Charity Shop.



 

The selection of chefs cover things like Baking, Cooking for Two, Fish, Hot and Spicy, Curries, Chicken, Desserts, and Mediterranean cooking. It is a great useful collection that will happily sit on a shelf in my small kitchen.


£3 well spent


Then for £2 in the same charity shop







This book is not just a recipe book, it is a lesson in foraging for garlic, berries and other wonderful things that grow wild. It is beautifully written and the author Denis Cotter is obviously passionate about his adventures  finding fabulous food. 








Tags, Master chefs, cooking, cookery books, charity shops, foraging, apples, garlic, berries

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Rant about Jamie Oliver

Ping: - the chef says the poor need lessons in buying and cooking decent food to stop them eating ready made meals.

Strange I thought he was a chef not a politician.

The damn cheek of it, how would he like it if someone decided to tell him what to spend his money on.

Shall I make a start? four kids is a bit much these days Jamie, think of the planet.!!!!

The assumption that poor people are uneducated in what to buy, cook and feed their children is laughable. You see someone with a mobile phone coming out of a fast food place and suddenly your superior to them.  They haven`t `cooked from scratch` and have fed their kids rubbish. Wow shoot them at dawn then!

How scary is that attitude? benefits have been cut to the bone, low income families are struggling, as are all but the richest in society. We do not need millionaires making us all feel worse. I was born in the 50`s, no celeb chefs, just spuds, butter, bread, veg, eggs and school dinners.  We survived, people do. 

What worries me is the `I`m a better person because I eat organic food and make my own cakes`attitude really?! 

The town I live in has queues all the time in the market. People do buy the bowls of fruit and veg for £1 and I am sure they must eat it.

I have said it before and I`ll say it again people will always cause damage to themselves in one way or another. They drive to fast, or smoke, or drink, or climb mountains covered in ice. It is human nature, back off Jamie and let people choose how they live.

Maybe you wouldn`t object to people spending £20 quid on a silly Jamie flour shaker when they can buy a sieve in the poundshop.

Rant over :)




 
  Tags - Jamie Oliver, rant, organic food, fast food

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Sarah - A Short Story

Sarah had a wonderful childhood, she skipped about in the bluebells on spring holidays, sat on Santa's knee at Christmas, and played on the beaches of Cornwall in summer.

Why then was Sarah so intent on killing? she didn`t fit the box of neglected child, she wasn`t bullied at school and daddy didn`t love her too much.
She was intelligent, pretty and popular, lived in a red brick semi and went to a good school. Nothing strange or odd about her, she was just a teenage girl living a very ordinary life.

Maybe when Sarah put the pillow over her grandmothers face one morning she simply didn`t like her granny. Sarah had been staying with her gran for the weekend, they had spent the day shopping, then watched a weepy movie before going to bed. At 5 am as the birds began to sing in the garden Sarah silenced her grandmother forever. Nobody knew, why would anyone suspect a bewildered sobbing teenage girl, she had gone to wake her gran and found her dead, she said. Natural causes, the lady had a heart condition, she was old, so off she went to the next world.

Sarah enjoyed the drama of sorrow, the black dress, the sympathy, the red rimmed eyes that made her mother look hideous. It only lasts so long though doesn`t it, then people have to `get on with their lives`. Sarah needed another dose of drama, the black sorrowful kind of drama, the drama that has people asking how you are. The heads that shake in disbelief at such a tragic loss and say how hard it must be for you.


Gemma had walked across a train track taking a short cut, so people thought, what a loss for the sake of a few minutes walk to the level crossing. Nobody knew that Sarah had soaked Gemma with petrol and threatened to set her alight. They didn`t hear the choice she was given. Walk across the train track and try to live, or die now by burning alive. They didn`t see the terror on Gemma`s face as she tried to step over the electric cable. She didn`t make it. Sarah was consoled for weeks over losing her best friend.

Drama, a teenage addiction, yet to be discovered by parents, police and courts, by people researching serial killers, drama its just rubbish soap operas on tv isn`t it.


by
Chris Reid


Tags, authors, agent, book, short story, new authors,
magazine short stories

Monday, 19 August 2013

Ask Italian - Restaurant Review

A trip to London recently to see Mama Mia started with a meal at Ask Italian. I booked a table for two at the Baker Street branch of Ask Italian
for myself and my niece.

The restaurant was bright and cheerful and looked clean and welcoming. We booked a table at 5 pm and at this time the restaurant was quiet.

My niece ordered meatballs and pasta with a side salad and I ordered a lasagne with side salad. My niece said the meatballs tasted nice but there were a mere two on the top of the spicy pasta. At £10 this seemed stingy.

Then came the dessert, my niece ordered a warm chocolate cake with ice cream. The cake arrived frozen and was inedible, when we asked for this to be changed the surly manager poked the cake with his finger to ensure it was indeed frozen.

My advice would be ASK for a different restaurant!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Budget Bucketlist Competition

Post for competition full details here  www.moneysupermarket.com/life-insurance/competitions/budgetbucketlist


Budget Days out in London


London Eye

Check in advance and see whats on, I used the kids theatre week promotion to buy two adult tickets (which gets two kids tickets free) to Horrible Histories at the Garrick theatre on 15 August. Total cost £35 and these are seats in the stall not in the gods, so very happy with that.  The show starts at 1pm and finishes at 3.30pm leaving plenty of time for a picnic then a wander down to see the palace.

I am lucky that London is only half hour away by train and with group train tickets being reasonable, and all days tickets cover tube travel. It is cheaper to go to London than take a family to the cinema.


Science Museum

The amazing, fantastic jaw dropping Science Museum and British Museum.  Both free, both fill hours with wonder, and if you or the children do get bored hop on the tube to any of the parks, or Camden market for another few hours of London.



The tall ships are coming to Greenwich in August and although tickets are  needed to get very close to them, just find a spot on the banks of The Thames and watch them sail past.




Away from London

Travelodge and booking early is the key to budget family getaways for me.  We booked family rooms in Windsor Travelodge six months in advance and got them for £15 a night. We had a great time wandering in Windsor Great Park, Picnicking by the river bank and taking a boat trip (£4.50 each) past Eton College and Windsor race course.







National Trust

I love the National Trust properties and they often have amazing gardens. Near my home we have the fabulous Ashridge National Trust Estate and the Magnificent Dunstable Downs. What can be more fun though, than fishing for tiddlers in the local park for the price of a fishing net.




My Dream Getaway if money were no object would have to be Richard Brandson`s Nectar Island. It sounds the ultimate getaway, white sand, blue sea and total seclusion.  The only thing that stops me from going? well maybe its those six little numbers not falling in the right order.



You must list three blogs that you think would be interested in this competition as part of the terms and conditions. My three are here. Good luck to everyone who enters.







tags. London, science museum, british museum, travelodge, windsor, national trust








Saturday, 13 July 2013

My Fabulous Palace Coronation Concert Win


Katherine Jenkins


 
A Waitrose competition was listed in compernews magazine recently offering tickets for The Coronation Concert in Buckingham Palace Gardens.  You needed to purchase a product form a range made by gsk and enter your till receipt number.  I entered a few times and was lucky enough to win.

It was an amazing evening with beautiful weather in a stunning setting. Our seats were close to the stage and we joined the stars and celebs for a lovely evening of music and glamour.




Katrina and I in the Palace Rose Garden.  Then we wandered over to see the eye popping cars from some of the sponsors.


 
 
 
 
 
The stage lights up and then the music starts.



Beefeaters, youth dancers, ballet and opera were all represented to make it a lively celebration of the Queens last 60 years. It was exciting and memorable and we loved every minute of the evening.


 
 
 
 
 
 
I enjoy entering competitions and sometimes a lovely prize comes along like this one. I do spend a lot of time entering them and wins can be few and far between but this one was quite simply fabulous.
 
 
 
Tags Kathine Jenkins, Buckingham Palace, Coronation Festival.

My Fabulous Henley Regatta Win

Henley Regatta





Wednesday 12 July 2013  and my daughter Katrina and myself were sitting on the banks of the Thames enjoying the Henley Regatta. What a beautiful evening it was too, everyone was dressed up, champagne was flowing and The Beach Boys were preparing to go on stage.  I won VIP tickets with Lavazza Coffee via a twitter competition. You had to say what your best coffee moment was. As I was watching Andy Murray on Centre Court at the time that it what I said. Luckily for me they liked it and so off we went for a wonderful evening.


Fun and celeb spotting were part of the evening entertainment and Cilla Black took her seat just behind us once the concert started. Master chefs doted the grounds and we all bopped to `Surfing USA`.


Fireworks lit up the sky at the end of the concert then it was off to dance at the disco until the early hours. A fabulous night and we were so lucky with the weather.





Aren`t they tall! the sails of the ships represented by these brave ladies.


Horsing around with Katrina.



If you get the chance do go to see this event, see tiny rowing boats and large passenger boats join the yachts and barges to make the whole Thames heave with glamour and laughter. It was quite a sight to see so many 


boats!   













Tags - Henley Regatta,boats,Beach Boys, Henley-on-Thames,champagne