Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is the one day of the year when it pays to be a tosser.

Unfortunately I suck at flipping pancakes so I tend to go for a more decorative way of doing pancakes. Which as a Comper usually works out well as there is usually a lot of competitions to show off your creative wares (unless like this year Valentines Day is the next day and all the companies are promoting the day of love instead!!)

Still we did pancakes. Every year I rack my brains to come up with something that will not only hopefully look great but that will be enjoyable for Jake, so we quite often theme our pancakes around his favourite things/characters. In previous years we have had Gruffalo pancakes, Peppa pig and Olaf from Frozen. I was expecting to see lots of Owls, Unicorns and Squirrels this year thanks to the supermarket selling 'pancake art' kits so I wanted to avoid those themes, although I think I like Unicorns more than Jake ever will.

Most people will know Jake has a slightly obsessive personality and one of his obsessions is Scooby Doo. So there we had a theme for our pancake!

I made a basic crepe, allowed it to cool slightly and then cut it to a Scooby Doo shape. I then using a picture on my phone as a reference point, used milk and white chocolate to decorate it and add detail before adding some sliced banana with the word Scooby! written on as a healthy addition!

Jake certainly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Jumping into January

We are now into a brand new year, 2018, although I still keep writing 2017 on lots of things.

And with a new year comes a new notebook and spreadsheet for tracking wins.

January was much quieter for comping for me compared to previous months. I really struggle to keep my positive outlook during the month and it showed in lots of aspects of my life, however, I still managed some lovely wins.

My very first win of the year was on the 1st January - what a great way to kick things off! It was a Compers News Year Planner and was won via their facebook page in which I'd commented on my favourite win of 2017.

My next prize was a 'surprise' from Crafter's World. I wasn't sure what I would get and as a comper I can tell you 'surprise' prizes can be a bit iffy (Worlds Smallest beach towel aka a flannel from Trainline I'm talking about you!) although I have had some really good ones too. It turned out to be some crafting dies which will come in handy as I really am determined to do some more crafting this year.

My first Instagram win was a gorgeous Italian Florals Candle by Spode. Its a beautiful glass jar candle and RRP is £36 and it smells amazing!

A very small although useful win was some Star Wars themed Elastoplast plasters in a collectors tin, won on Instagram from a simple comment.

Most of my comping pals, and none comping pals will know that I'm a bit of a Harry Potter fan. I have all the books and a few other items displayed in my room so when I saw LoveBooksGroup offering a copy of the Scottish version I decided I really wanted to win it to add to my shelf. It was a simple retweet comp but I sent them a picture of my collection and also a bit of effort in to my reply saying how I had read an article about the Scots version and 'ah wid loue tae read Harry tak' oan ye ken wha' in Scottish (apologies to any Scots reading this) and they announced me as the winner - yay! I have flicked through the book and its bloody awesome I've learnt some new words like skinnymalinky.

Carrying on with the book theme I won a copy of Sunflowers in February.

Then my first purchase competition win of the year was with KitKat who are giving away some awesome Joe Mugs. I chose the Glam version.

Colourful Bites on instagram ran a comp for a box of Macarons which I won and oh my goodness they were delicious!!!

Another candle win which should have been Pink Grapefruit and Vanilla but they sent a different scent, which although may smell amazing lit I'm not keen on in the jar so it's gone in the gift cupboard.

Another purchase comp win was from Cheerios and we won a Star Wars Cereal Tub.

By this point it is the 12th of January Christmas was almost 3 weeks ago and I thought I'd had my full share of advent wins but I was wrong.

My first ever snapchat win was from the Cineworld advent. You had to send them answers to questions and I went a bit out there with my accompanying pic. The prize I won was for a CoCo goody bag so i painted a sugar skull on my face and sent it to them with my answer.

Our first Kids mag win of the year was Transformers The Lost Knight on Blu-ray. We love the Transformers movies and this was the only one we hadn't seen.

I received an email to let me know I'd won a rafflecopter competition from Lulamercer. The prize was a Hotel Chocolat goody bag which I've gifted to my nan. I don't do daily entries on blogs or the tweets so I'm a good example that it's still possible to win from them.

Four lovely nail polishes were won on instagram from ORLY

Then it was J's turn for an advent prize - a Money in the Bank/Extreme Rules WWE DVD from Epic Mag on twitter.

A quick comment on an insta post won me a tote bag which always come in handy!

Blue Monday came and boy did I feel blue! There were lots of competitions about though to cheer people up and I won one! A selection of 7 sauces from Gordon Rhodes on twitter.

Another twitter win from Sony Home Pictures of a Teletubbies DVD which will be fab for my nephew.

My next two wins were from purchase comps of a KitKat Joe mug and this time on the Cheerio's comp a BB-8 breakfast set which is super cool and quirky but slightly impractical. These both have a lot of prizes to give away and are products we would normally buy anyway so it's always worth looking out for comps on your favourite products and similar brands.

I received an email from Layered Online to say I'd won one of their Advent prizes and received a his and hers TIGI hair set.

Due to the way J is in school at the moment we are doing quite a lot of home educating alongside so I've been on the look out for things we can use and I won two small but lovely prizes on instagram of some imagistones and a personalised name crayon set.

J also won a Paw Patrol rucksack from a children's magazine.

This Is Powder on instagram do a lot of giveaways and gave a 100 winners a StarSkin sheet face mask and a Benefit Porefessional Sample. I've not had a chance to try the mask yet though as i fear I might end up looking a bit like Jason from the Friday 13th films with it on haha.

My next win really cheered my month up. MyReclaim on Facebook were running a live competition giving away 60 different prizes. I don't normally bother much with live competitions as I feel a lot like I am invisible or don't have much of a chance however after seeing a few friends win decided to join in and I think I was in time for the last 5 prizes, and I won one! £200 Love to Shop vouchers! Which are going to come in very very useful.

I won a lovely book bundle for J on facebook from Picture Book Post. Lots of lovely new bedtime stories plus great as I'm trying to find inspiration for World Book Day.

Two more books for me from the adult book club I'm part of, and then, my first Toppsta in almost 2 years!!! Turns out I had an overdue review, eek. So moral of the story guys is always check you have left a review on Toppsta to be eligible to win again.

My final win of the month was an instagram win from Alison Young and is an amazing NUFACE Trinity facial toning machine RRP £300 which I am hoping will leave me looking younger and help me banish my extra chins. There will be some before and after pictures in a future post.

Summary of the month:
Total Prizes won 31
Total RRP of Prizes £909

Prize breakdown:

Thursday, 1 February 2018

That time I had my own make up for sale in Superdrug....

At the end of 2013 we were living in my grandparents spare bedroom whilst we waited for things to complete on our home. The majority of our belongings were in a storage unit but being an avid comper and having a new home to deck out I had my laptop with me.

Sometimes when you enter comps you win some weird and wonderful prizes, some things are money can't buy and some things are just simply unique and this certainly ticks all those boxes.

I was fairly new to entering comps on Instagram and didn't post as avidly as I do now but spotted that Superdrug were running a competition alongside GOSH to find a new lip and nail colour. They wanted people to photograph colours and then they would shortlist their favourites and put it to vote with the winner getting their shade made into a real life product!

I had a look around at what few worldly possessions we had to think of something to enter and came across Jacobs Duffy bear. Duffy is Disney's version of Build a Bear and although they don't sell them in the stores anymore you used to be able to get dress up costumes for them and Jacob's was wearing a Sully costume from Monsters Inc at the time. I took a close up of the fur of Sully and applied a filter and entered, not expecting to even get shortlisted let alone win. I thought the turquoise colour would make a great nail colour!

I entered and forgot about it, as I usually do with competition entries, and then I got a message to say they loved my colour and it had been put to the public vote. I'm not one for voting comps, I like people to win on merit rather than popularity which in my case is a good thing as I have no friends! I put a status up twice asking if anybody liked my colour would they mind voting, and people did like it, and they did vote.

I won!

My picture was sent off to the lab and they created a nail polish based on my picture and the nail polish was sold in Superdrug stores with my name on the label. I received a couple of bottles as part of the prize and a hamper of other GOSH products. The polish is no longer on sale under my name but I'm told it is still on sale under the shade name Sea Me.

So there you have it, that time I won a really unique prize and had my own make up for sale in Superdrug.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Comping in 2017

I have to say I had a pretty spectacular year for comping in 2017. 

I won a total of 425 prizes.  

Some were small - like a bag of chocolate buttons or a really awesome ring made from a penny. 

Some were big - like Jacob's Sphero Ultimate Lightning McQueen 

Some were priceless - like tickets to Paw Patrol Live and seeing my boys face light up. 

Before I started 2017 I made a little wish list of things I wanted to win, and we managed to tick quite a few things off it. Hubby got his track day, I said I wanted to win a FitBit but won three... and whilst I didn't manage everything on it I am so pleased with what we did. 

I've managed to give friends and family some amazing presents that I wouldn't have normally been able to. 

My family have had days out from the Cinema, to Paw Patrol Live, LEGOland Discovery Centre in Manchester and we have tickets and passes to use throughout 2018 for things like the Jorvik attractions and Thackray Medical Museum. 

I've done a little breakdown of how I won my prizes, social media was definitely my friend this year, and we did amazing with childrens magazines winning 45 prizes from them across the year! 

So now as 2017 ends and 2018 begins I'm looking at what I would like to achieve from comping next year. I've made my little wishlist again like I did last year so I can focus on finding prizes that are on it and some of the prizes that we missed out on in 2017 have carried over. 

I hope my friends and comping buddy's have an amazing year of winning.

Danielle xx 

Saturday, 25 November 2017

The Right Tools For The Job

From the moment you see that blue line on a pregnancy test you start to plan out your childs future in your mind. Your wants and hopes for them, how you expect their first day at school to go, what attributes they will get from you and if they will have their Dad's bad habits, and you know you will love them. Sometimes life decides the journey isn't going to be a smooth one, it's going to be scenic and at times the scenic route isn't going to be very pleasant, it's going to be rough and bumpy and even a bit treacherous. You are going to feel jealous of those who go from A to B in 1 fell swoop when you seem to have hit every other check point apart from the final destination but you stay strong, because it's your childs journey and you will do what is best for them to get them to where they should be.

As many know starting school for Jacob hasn't been the easiest of times. So I thought I would do a wee quick update as I know some people care but are afraid to ask me for fear of me bursting in to tears.

The school are amazing, super supportive and the staff try their utmost when it comes to helping Jake but due to the physical layout of the school it's not the best environment for Jake as he is a climber and adventurous and he doesn't see the dangers around him so he's constantly at risk and whilst they've made as many changes to the school setting as possible, they can't pick it up and move it to somewhere all on one level away from main roads. As well as being physically unsuitable because of sensory issues that Jacob has the class - which consists of 30 children, is just too big and too busy and loud. They don't have a quiet room that Jacob can disappear off into so he has no escape from the hustle and bustle and it causes sensory overload. In the mean time the school have made him a den which is a pop up tent filled with sensory toys and lights, and he loves it, so much so we've created similar at home for him. Jake feels safe in his den and spends most of his school day, which is only 2.5 hours long in there or running around the school trying to escape. So along with feedback from other organisations who have been involved with Jacob it has been decided this school isn't for him and in the new year we will be looking for somewhere more suited to his needs so that he can be settled, and learn.

The complex needs team who have dealt with Jake from being the age of 2 at nursery have assessed him and said that in their professional opinion they believe him to have ASD and ADHD but obviously they can't give a diagnosis, but it is definitely no longer just classified as Cognitive Delay which it was when he was younger. I already knew that but due to a lack of support from nursery the Paed had always just kind of shrugged it off and said there is definitely something there we will assess when he's older.

So there you have it, our roads hit a bit of a bump and not gone quite to plan, but I've always said I wanted Jake to like school, to make friends, to learn, and to be happy and at the moment that isn't happening. On Monday me and his current school are going to make a start on applying for an EHCP plan for him, the paed has been chased up, complex needs are going to be intouch, STARS are being contacted and school is behind me every step of the way and in the new year we will start looking for a new school for him.

I was upset, not about Jake being different, I've always known he was special. Just upset that my boy wasn't getting to be happy and making friends etc. Then I spoke to my dad and he said to me:
''Dani, if Jacob was blind you wouldn't send him to a mainstream school where all the work was written on the board that he couldn't see meaning he couldn't learn and would fail. You would send him to a school that had all the right tools to deal with children with his needs and that is exactly what you are doing now. This isn't a negative, this is a positive, you are going to find the place to give your boy the best possible chance to succeed.''

So there you go. Mama's busy getting my boy a brand new tool box, full of the right tools for the job.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Hello Can You See Me

I often feel invisible and like the odd one out.

I don't really have friends, not ones I see in person, my friends are at the end of a keyboard, on the other side of a computer screen. Some of them I've met in person, most of them I've not. 

My family don't really bother either, I'm not one of the chosen few. I've always felt like a black sheep despite doing no wrong. Yet the ones who cause issues and aren't very nice always seem to get along? 

I suffer social anxiety it's like a chain around my ankle, a noose around my neck and a belt around the chest, that weighs me down and tightens up the closer to a person I get. 

People tell me that I'm lovely, caring, compassionate and kind. I try to do the best for everyone, even people I don't know. Yet I always feel the odd the one out, I still end up alone, so I hide off in the corner, playing with my phone. 

Is it too much to ask for people to like me? Have I grown a second head? Maybe it is my physical appearance that flashes the warning red?

I've tried to join in social groups - for myself and J. Yet somehow I still end up ostracized no incentive for me to stay. 

I sit on the outside looking in at people smiling, laughing, making friends and I ache from deep within.

I'm not asking for a side kick or best friends with an unbreakable bond. 
I'm asking that just sometimes, I could feel that I belong. 

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

My little jigsaw boy - part 1 Finding out we were pregnant

I remember the day we found out we were pregnant with J so very clearly.

Having had one of my tubes and ovaries removed, losing a baby and having several chemical pregnancies I'd dismissed my chances of ever being a mum. So I had the implant put in and I gave up hope.

As life went on friends announced pregnancies and had babies and the feeling of wanting a baby never left, so although we didn't feel very hopeful at being successful I had my implant removed, we started using temping and charting to track my cycle and I read up about all these different things that could help you conceive from cough medicine to avoiding certain foods. I never got a period after having the implant but I had had a temperature spike on my chart which symbolised ovulation and it recommended a day to take a pregnancy test

Sadly at the beginning of January my mother in law had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and she had gone down hill pretty fast. My sister in law came up from down South to help care for her and spend some time with her and we had Marie Curie nurses come in on an evening too. , On the 30th January, the day my app recommended I tested, I was woken at 3am by a phone call from the Marie Curie nurse to tell me Rosie had passed in her sleep. I woke Ant and we cried then began to get ready, as I went to the bathroom to get washed and dressed I remembered it was test day. I quickly did a test and a very faint line appeared, my heart broke in to a million pieces at that moment. I was so happy and yet so sad. Overjoyed and scared. I showed Ant and he cried some more and we headed to his mums house. It should have been an exciting time for us but it was tinged with sadness and not just sadness but an overwhelming sense of fear. I'd managed to get pregnant before, the hard thing was staying pregnant and I didn't know if I could take another loss.

Pancake Day

Pancake Day is the one day of the year when it pays to be a tosser. Unfortunately I suck at flipping pancakes so I tend to go for a more d...