Friday 30 March 2012

Win a £250 holiday voucher with Money Magpie

I'll hand over to Money Magpie to tell you all about it themselves!

Name our Magpie and win a £250 holiday voucher!

Consumer finance website Moneymagpie’s iconic mascot needs a name – and we think that’s a job for our readers! Perched atop the site, seeking out the latest bargains and money-making ideas – the least we can do is give our faithful Magpie a name!
So on Monday 2 April 2012 Moneymagpie founder Jasmine Birtles is opening it up to the public by offering a £250 voucher for travel site On The Beach for the best name received.
All entrants need to do is head over to the Moneymagpie Facebook page and leave a post saying:
“Hello Jasmine! I’d like to name your Money Magpie (enter name).”
The winner will be announced on Monday 30 April 2012. Entries must be received by 3pm on that day.
Good luck!
magpie LOGO.png

Terms and conditions
1. This competition gives the winner a discount of £250 on holidays (flight & hotel) or Hotel Only from On the Beach (excludes flight only)
2. £250 discount can only be used when booking directly with On the Beach by phone
3. Your booking must be made by 1st June 2012 for travel by 31st December 2012, and can include any holidays available at On The Beach.
4. Voucher must be used against ONE booking and cannot be split into multiple bookings
5. Winner to pay difference if holiday worth more than the voucher amount
6. Winner’s forename and town/city may be used in future promotional material
7. Offer is non-transferrable and no cash equivalent will be given

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Using lists to tackle Twitter

If you are anything like me, you follow a LOT of people on Twitter. And that means unless you are watching the screen 24 hours a  day, you simply can't keep up with everything that's happening. When you drop in, you can have missed thousands of tweets, and you may have missed a friend announcing good  or bad news, who may then be hurt that you haven't mentioned it. You may have missed an announcement from a company you follow - maybe a great offer you would have liked to take up or a competition you would have liked to enter. Or you may have missed the breaking of a major news item or a piece of juicy celebrity gossip.

If you have several different interests and follow people connected with them, you may also find your Twitter page is so jumbled up that you can't keep up with conversations. As a comper, a crafter and a foodie, I can find myself trying to keep up with discussions about problems with a competition judging,  a new set of embossing folders being shown on television and the opening of a new restaurant, all at the same time. It's sometimes like being in a crowded room with everybody talking at once, and you can only pick up snatches of conversation so nothing makes sense.

Because of this confusion, a lot of people give up on Twitter. But there is a way to keep on following the people you want to follow and yet not find it as confusing, or to reduce the number of people you follow and yet still read what they say. I find the latter very useful as there are a lot of people like chefs and celebrities with whom I never interact and yet I still like to read their tweets. The answer to all this confusion is to sort the people you follow into lists.

Once they are listed, you can go to your Twitter page and select "Lists" from the drop down menu in the little head and shoulders silhouette at the top right, then again from the new menu which will appear on the left.  You'll then see a list of all your lists. I have lots of lists - two for compers because I know so many, one for foodies, one for health issues, one for my own family, one for crafters, one for local friends, news and businesses,  one for each day of the week to show me which companies tend to run competitions on each day,  one at Christmas time for Advent competitions and one for everything else which I simply call "The Best".

If I'm running a competition I will create a list of the people who have entered, and if I am researching a topic I might create a list of people who tweet on the subject. When I've finished with a list, I can simply delete it.

To organise people into lists, go to their Twitter profile and you'll see a second head and shoulders silhouette next to the Follow/Following button on the top right. From the drop down menu this produces, choose "Add or Remove from lists" ad a pop up will appear with a list of your lists in it. Select the one you want to use, or start a new one by clicking on "create a list" at the bottom. You can use this to put people on more than one list - for instance a few of my comping friends are also crafters so they are on both my comping and crafting lists.  Once the little timer wheel stops working, the job's done.

If you choose to create a list, you can make it private or public. If it is private, only you can see or follow it. A public list can be followed by anybody, and you can follow anyone else's public lists by going to the list and clicking "Subscribe" - from then on it will appear in your own list of lists.

Organising people into lists can take a lot of time, but it is well worth it in the long run. I tend to do it just a few people at a time, but I try to remember whenever I follow someone new, to immediately add them to a list.  The only app I can find to help  you organise your lists is Twitlist  - however it locks up my screen every time I try to use it. Maybe if you have a different setup from mine you will be able to make it work. If you know of a better one, please tell me in a comment or a tweet!

Now you can start to use your lists - for instance if I'm in a crafting mood, I can read  my craft list. If I'm wanting to catch up on comping news, I can read one of my lists of compers and if I want to know what the traffic's like on the local reads, I can read my local list.

The main Twitter page of advice and information about lists has lots of step by step advice about using them. But if you are using the Twitter web page, you still have to visit each list separately. You could, of course, open each one in a separate tab so you can  watch them all, but a really great way to view them all at once if you don't want to miss anything is to use Tweet Deck, where you can add a separate column for every list.

Now you have your lists, here are a few tips for using them to make your Twitter experience better:

  • even if you have blocked somebody, if you have them on a list you will still see their tweets. So if you REALLY don't want to see what they say, unlist them. And remember that if THEY have YOU on a list they can  also still see your tweets, so don't be TOO rude about them!
  • unfollow them and free up space to follow some new people.
  • If you are following two people, you will see conversations between them both, even if you aren't part of the conversation. If you have them on a list but don't follow them, you won't see the conversation between them. This can do a lot to declutter your timeline.
  • A list can't contain more than 500 people. Once you reach that point, you will need to either remove somebody or start a second list.
  • You  can't add yourself to, or remove yourself from, somebody else's list, and nobody  can add themselves to or remove  themselves from yours.
  • You can only have a maximum of 20 lists. This appears to include other people's lists that you are subscribed to.
And finally,  I wish I had £1 for every time I have used the word "list" in this post! I'm sorry for being repetitive but there really isn't any other word for it.

Monday 26 March 2012

Mary Queen of ....... SOCKS?????

Mary Portas, well known for her TV series "Mary Queen of Shops" has created a hosiery line, and Posh Tights are giving you a chance to win £150 of products - that's one pair of each of the eleven styles plus one extra pair.

To enter, you need to register with the site, which counts as one entry. After registering,  you will get an email containing your personal Competition Code. Then tell a friend about the site and ask them to register, quoting your code when they do so. You will then be entered into the competition, and your friend will get a code which they can use to refer somebody else for their own entry.

The competition closes on May 31st, but you will also be given a 20% discount code, valid until the end of June.

Friday 23 March 2012

Be clean and green for a year - win with Dishmatic

Did you make a New Year's resolution to be greener this year? And have you already broken it by picking up your old familiar cleaning brands from the supermarket? Well, Spring started this week, the sunshine is streaming through our grubby windows and spotlighting winter's grime, and it's time to think about Spring Cleaning so what better time to revive those resolutions?
Dishmatic and EcoForce are giving away a year's supply of spring cleaning goodies worth £50 helping you to go green when you clean.  
For your first entry, enter on line at

For a second entry, like them on Facebook

and for one more entry, follow them on Twitter!/Dishmatic and use the ready made tweet on the competition entry page above to tweet about the competition - all you need to do is click on the tweet button they have provided!

Closing date: 30.4.12.

UK and Ireland only. Adults 18+ only.
And since I haven't got a photo of anything being spring cleaned for you, here is a gratuitous dirty photo (I wonder how many people searching Google for "dirty photo" are going to be disappointed by it?)

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Fine dining...... in FLEET

Recently Peroni ran a competition where you had to phone in with details from your pack for a chance to win a pop up restaurant in your home, with runners up prizes of hampers. Having only entered once, I was surprised and delighted to be the winner of the first draw back in November -  a chef to come to my home and create a real pop-up restaurant.

As it was my husband's birthday last weekend, we arranged to take the prize last week, and chef Mario Presi came to our house to create a very special dinner for two. He had already visited to help me plan the menu and this time he brought two helpers with him who set to to transform our dining room from this

to this

While they were creating the restaurant - having brought everything with them from candles to lighting, and  cutlery to music - Mario got to work in the kitchen. He was cooking constantly from when they arrived just after noon until late in the evening! My kitchen, which is quite used to seeing a lot of activity on a daily basis, had nevertheless never experienced anything like it. Every surface was covered in wonderful food and the finest ingredients.
Mario didn't mind when we popped in to ask questions or inspect unfamiliar ingredients, and was happy to let us take photographs.
The smells and sounds coming from the kitchen were very tantalising and neither my husband nor I got much work done that afternoon!
Eventually it was time for dinner and we settled down in the living room, which had also been transformed with a beautiful arrangement of flowers
Aperitivo were served by Olga, the waitress - chilled Peroni, of course, accompanied by Polenta and Sopressa Veneta, Rosemary Foccacia with Stracchino and Rocket and Slow Cooked Rabbit with Borlotti (Note- from this point onwards, we were too busy enjoying ourselves to take photos, so the remaining photos have been reproduced with kind permission of Mario Presi, who recorded each dish as it was ready to be served)

When these delicious morsels were finished, Olga escorted us through to the dining room. We hardly recognised it with the pictures softly spotlit and candles flickering on the table! Our amuse-bouche of Cauliflower and Saffron Fritter with Broad Bean Purée was brought next - this was one of my favourite dishes of the whole evening, along with the Slow Cooked Rabbit and the Pork Belly which came later.
After all this food, it was time for our starter! We had Busiate Pasta with Trapani Pesto - a Sicilian style pesto that included cherry tomatoes and almonds, making it completely different from the more familiar pesto Genovese
Different wines were served with every course - above you can see us enjoying a refreshing glass of prosecco before moving on to our main course of pork cooked three ways - Fritters of Pork Cheek, Saltimbocca  and Pork Belly, on a cauliflower puree with Marsala sauce. Herbed roasted potatoes and Chantenay carrots, and broccoli were served with this.

Finally, as I don't eat dessert, Mario had provided us with a platter of beautiful Italian cheeses which was served with a selection of fresh fruits and some delicious sesame crackers. And as well as coffee, he offered a selection of teas including my favourite after-dinner drink, fresh mint tea.

We'd had a wonderful "evening out" - with no worries about getting home afterwards, no irritation from other diners (why is the person at the next table always the one with the loudest voice?) and no stress about being rushed to make way for the next party. And a  wonderful meal at home with no cooking or washing up. The kitchen was left spotless and the fridge was so full of food that we made all our meals for the next two days from the leftovers.

Thank you to Peroni and everyone involved in running the competition for making this amazing experience possible, and to Mario and his helpers for turning the dream into reality. It was an evening we will remember forever.

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Grape Vine does Basingstoke

Yesterday I decided to make Basingstoke the venue for one of my "safaris" - a hunt for new competitions to include in Grape Vine (or indeed to enter myself).  The next issue of GV will cover competitions closing from 13th April onwards, but I found a lot of new ones with earlier closing dates that I wanted to share with you, and as the April update has already gone out I thought I'd tell you about my day out and give you the entry information at the same time.

Those of you who know Basingstoke will know what a labyrinth the multi storey car park is. I'm always convinced that if I don't park in exactly the same spot every time, I won't find my car again! Luckily, "my" place was free so I could relax. In the lift there was a notice
Visit Procook for a chance to win a set of baking tins
So I headed straight there. That was a draw just for the local branch, but if you are in the area before March 31st, pop into Procook and give them your details for a chance to win. While you are in Festival Place, look out for stands offering you a chance to win a £15,000 wedding, closing April 7th. The stands weren't manned when I was there, but with my 35th wedding anniversary approaching and both daughters now married, I probably don't need to win a wedding!

My next stop was the new branch of Topshop where there is a form to hand in, again exclusive to the Basingstoke branch, to win the entire window display of £350 worth of fashion.

I continued around Festival Place, carefully examining each shop for piles of leaflets, posters, special displays  and window stickers. Almost immediately, I spotted a window sticker in USC fashion. It said
 Win a trip to New York. Go to or ask a member  of staff
The competition  closes 31 Mar and unfortunately is a "most likes" competition and therefore open to abuse. But there are daily prizes of iTunes vouchers, Spotify premium accounts and Converse apparel, and it's very easy to  enter, but I see they only had 11 entries yesterday so you might want to give it a go.

It wasn't time for a coffee  yet, but I had to pause at Muffin Break where a poster said
Win free coffee for a year - find MuffinBreakUk on Facebook
This is a tiebreaker competition - you need to complete the sentence "The perfect treat to have with my Muffin Break coffee is...." in no more than 25 words, and  it closes on 31st March.

There was nothing new to me in Superdrug (although they did have several competitions)  or Poundland, no new competition stickers on any of the books in W H Smiths or Waterstones  and  no leaflets in any of the fashion, home or beauty concessions in the department stores, so my spirits were starting to flag, but then I found competitions in Wilkinsons and Halifax which will be in your April Grape Vine. Tesco hadn't had their delivery of magazines yet, but in Schuh I picked up a postcard directing you to for a chance to win a year's supply of shoes and a private screening on The Hunger Games, with 10  goody bags for runners up. This closes on 31st March and there are film merchandise bundles for 10 runners up.

There was plenty of interest in The Entertainer where I picked up forms  for a monthly draw for £100,   a Sylvanian Families children's writing competition closing 1st May and  one more writing or drawing competition, closing 31 March, exclusive to the Reading, Basingstoke, Camberley and Winchester branches with prizes of theatre tickets and gift vouchers.

I picked up the Toni & Guy magazine but they no longer seem to have regular competitions, then decided it was about time for a cup of tea. Knowing their new magazine was due out, I thought I'd have my tea in Wetherspoons. I ordered a cup of tea and asked for a magazine, and was rather surprised by the assistant's reply.
"I'm sorry but I don't think we can find the key to the dungeon."
She seemed to be puzzled about why I found that funny. However by the time I'd drunk my tea, she must have found the key as she brought me a copy of the magazine. It was very sticky - I wonder what goes on in their dungeon???

Refreshed and with my mind boggling, I left the town centre and set out to comb the out of town supermarkets and retail parks. In Chineham, the huge Tesco still didn't have any magazines, but I picked up promotional packs  of Pepsi  and Capri Sun. The nearby Brantano had an entry form and in Martins newsagent I found details of an instant win promotion when you buy Maltesers.

Next Morrisons where I spotted new competitions on Frubes, Feel Good drinks and Lech beer, as well as an entry form for one of three trips to Dublin. To enter this, you need a till receipt dated between 19th March and 1st April showing a purchase of a 475ml bottle of HP Sauce with Guinness and then either send it with an entry form or give the details from your receipt at by April 9th.

The next retail park included Toys R Us, where there were no competitions at all, JJB  where I got information about one to win a chance to watch the England team play, and Currys where there were leaflets about a competition to win a trip to LA. I popped into Hobbycraft to get the latest copy of their in-house magazine, and then headed on to Asda where I found competitions on Trebor Sweets, Fruitypot Jelly  and Delamere Dairies milk.

I decided to make a slight detour on my way home to visit one final branch of Tesco  and it paid off, because they had the magazine in. You'll need to pick up a copy of your own, and a multipack  of the new 250ml sized Pepsi Max, 7 Up or Tango if you want to enter a draw to win one of 3 x £1000 adventure holiday vouchers. One of the other competitions closes too soon to be included in the April GV. It is on Dove Men+Care Antiperspirant and Bodywash. The prize a VIP box at the Heineken Cup Final on 19th May for the winner and up to 7 guests, all of whom must be aged 18 or over.  To enter, buy one of the products from Tesco and keep your receipt in case you win. Then text (normal rate) DoveMen and the last four digits of the barcode from your pack to 57782. One entry per person per day is allowed until the final closing date of 19th April.

Finally I got home after eight hours of competition  hunting. And of course the first thing I did was to open my post. There was a Lands  End catalogue containing details of a new competition, an invitation from Hotel Chocolat to attend an Easter  event which will have a prizedraw, and best of all, written confirmation from Blue Dragon Foods that I am a winner in their instant win competition,and will be having a chef coming to my home to prepare  an Ortiental Banquet for eight.

Then I had to check press releases for info on new competitions, deal with Grape Vine renewals and sample requests and cook dinner, which, inspired by my letter, was an Oriental banquet of my own!

Last night I had a very early night.......

Monday 19 March 2012

A quick apology

I've got several blog posts planned for this week, but at the moment I'm having problems with my internet connection. It's affecting the whole local area and repairs are predicted to take around a week, so I may not be able to keep the blog up to date this week. it also means that any comments you make on any of my posts may take a few days to appear, as I have to approve them.

I hope I'll be able to keep in touch with you all over the next few days, but if I can't, behave yourselves and keep on winning!

Friday 16 March 2012

Breathe Happy with Febreze

WIN breathe happy prizes from Febreze!

Febreze is offering multiple chances to win up to £8,000 worth of prizes on

 Febreze is offering everyone the chance to ‘breathe happy’ this spring with weekly competitions with individual prizes worth up to £250. Over 17 weeks from March until June, there are more than 250 prizes up for grabs! In addition, for each week that you enter one of their competitions, you will automatically be entered into a grand prize draw for the chance to win the ultimate breath of fresh air- a fantastic holiday in Switzerland worth up to £3,000!

 Visit the Febreze UK Facebook page every Monday  until Monday 25th June for a new competition prize and fresh opportunity to win. Prizes range from Febreze products, to weekends away – designed to make you breathe happy and smile.

This week's competition is to win one of 50 brand new Febreze Car air fresheners. You can now transform your car with the same nose-pleasing fresh scents and odour elimination brought to you by Febreze that keeps your home smelling fabulous. Not even the odour of last night’s fish and chips will remain!

The prize changes each week, so make sure you keep coming back for more chances to win different prizes.

To enter the weekly competition and to be entered into the grand prize draw, simply visit and answer the multiple choice question for your chance to win that week’s prize!

Thursday 15 March 2012

A crafty day out

A few weeks ago  I entered a competition on the Make, Thrift London Facebook page  for a collection of craft goodies, some of them themselves hand made, and a hand made book.

When I was picked as the winner, Daisy, who runs the business, offered me the chance to make the book myself. Now I've made thousands of cards in my time, but I've never made a book, so I jumped at the chance. Tuesday of this week  saw me heading to Daisy's home in London to create my book.

After tucking into sausage sandwiches and admiring the beautiful cat we got stuck in to the crafting. The room was paradise for someone like me who loves tea, books and crafting - I was surrounded with books and papers, scissors and fabrics, and plied with a constant stream of tea served in cups from Daisy's beautiful collection of vintage teacups which you can see behind me in the photo.

I have to confess that I was too busy chatting to concentrate on measuring as accurately as I should have done, so my book ended up with a slightly chunkier spine than it ought to have done, but even so it didn't take long to produce a really pretty little book which  I plan to decorate with dragonflies (one of my favourite crafting themes) and carry round in my handbag to note down the new competitions I find.

And now I know how to make books, I'll be making a lot more of them in the future!

With today's post, I'm joining in with Hand Made Thursday over at White Lily Green.

Inspire Me Beautiful

Monday 12 March 2012

How to give the URL of a Tweet - updated for New Twitter

   This was originally posted in September 2011, but since then we have all been moved on to New Twitter and sompe of the apps wwe used to access Twitter with have changed to fit in with it.                                       

Usually, once you have sent a tweet on Twitter, you can forget all about it and move on to the next one. But what if you want to draw somebody's  attention to that particular tweet? The most obvious reason for needing to give a link to a tweet, if you are a comper, is to prove that you have entered a competition. Then you may need to send the promoter the URL, or address, of the specific tweet you entered with.

Sometimes when you enter a competition on a blog, you are asked to tweet about it for one of your entries. What better way to prove that you have tweeted than by giving a link to your tweet? And there is a new service that handles entries for blog competitions, called Rafflecopter,  which makes it so much clearer how to enter each competition than the old "list of tasks", but if you enter by tweeting, you need to be able to paste in a link to your tweet.

If you want to see Rafflecopter in action, have a look at the current competitions on Fuss Free Living   - and read on to see how to paste in a link to your Twitter entry!  

First send your tweet in the normal way, using whatever system you prefer. Then log on to your Twitter web page and select Profile or Your Tweets, so you can see a list of your own tweets, and identify which message you want to link to.

Look at the top message above - "Please ignore this message for now....." (If you were watching me on Twitter as I was writing this post you may have been wondering what it was all about.). Can you see where it says "12 minutes ago" underneath the message?

Update: to open the page as shown below now, you need to find the time it was posted, which is now at the top right of the tweet. When you hover your mouse over it, the time will change to "Open". Click on this and you will see a line of further information  about the tweet underneath it. Click on the word "Details" at the right of this line and your new window will open.

Well, that is the time it was sent, and if you  click on the time at the bottom of your message it will open a new page, something like this:

And there you are - your tweet, on a web page of its very own, which you can save as a bookmark or copy the address from the browser bar to give as a link to it. You can come back to your tweet days, months or even years later - the URL will not change.

If you are entering a Rafflecopter based competition and you are really, REALLY quick, once you have clicked "send" on your tweet you will see the message "View it on Twitter" appear in the box just before it closes. Clicking on this will take you straight to the tweet so you can copy the URL. But you have to be quick! The box disappears after only about a second.

If you would like to practise by posting a link to one of your tweets as a reply to this, feel free to give it  a try!

Sunday 11 March 2012

Three new competitions for you to enter!

Three popular restaurant chains have new competitions with some lovely prizes!

First up is Bella Italia who have partnered with the release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Down Part 2 on DVD and Blu-ray on March 12 and are giving away a shopping weekend for 2 in London that includes
· 1 night’s accommodation at the Hoxton Hotel, London, with breakfast.
· A £60 gift card for a meal at Bella Italia,
· A personal shopping experience at Topshop,
· £250 spending money, a Flip MinoHD 4GB camcorder
· And The Twilight Saga: The Story So Far Box Sets
To enter, head over to the app on their Facebook page (hint: you'll find the answer to the question on the top left of the page) 
Closing 31 March.  

Next, Café Rouge, who are celebrating Mothers Day by giving away a pair of flights to Paris.  Again, you need to visit their Facebook app and answer a question - but this time it's so easy I'm not going to insult you by giving you a hint! This one closes on 23rd March.

Finally, Strada  are celebrating the "Mese Delle Donne", the month of the woman, so they have created a Facebook app where participants can to select a 'card' design from a gallery and write their 'message' there to post it on the timeline of their favourite woman.
Agnesi pasta gift box sets. This one closes on 25th March.

Friday 9 March 2012

What it means to be a Comper

About 20 years ago, I was a keen Scrabble player and was absolutely delighted when the word "comper" officially entered the dictionary. I was already a comper, but until then I couldn't play the word in Scrabble, which was annoying as it would have got rid of those frustrating letters C, M  and P which aren't all that useful for making quick high scoring words, yet can block your rack making it hard to use all the letters in one turn for a 50 point bonus.

Once the word was  accepted into the dictionary I made a point of playing it as often as possible, and it was almost always challenged by my opponent. And I could sit back smugly while they checked it and saw the definition:

comper [ˈkɒmpə] n
Informal a person who regularly enters competitions in newspapers, magazines, etc., esp competitions offering consumer goods as prizes

But that isn't the only meaning of the word.  If you visit Japan, don't tell somebody that you are a comper, they might think you said "compa". A compa party in Japan is a sort of speed-dating party - you might end up at one of those when all you really want is access to the internet to check for winning emails!
On the other hand, in Italy, Comper is  the name of a brand of rather lovely jewellery. I wonder whether it's ever given away as prizes?
In Brazil, Comper is the name of a chain of supermarkets  - and yes, when I found the website, I DID look to see if there were any competitions  although my very limited knowledge of Portuguese left me none the wiser.
Comper can also be a surname.  Sir Ninian Comper was an ecclesiastical architect who even has a chapel named after him in the All Saints Pastoral Centre, St Albans  while Nicholas Comper was an aircraft designer who gave his name to several aircraft.
There are places called Comper too. In Crawley, there is a road called Comper Close  while in Oxford there is the Comper Foundation Stage School
But my very favourite "other Comper" is one I would really love to visit; Comper Castle in Brittany.  I am fascinated by Arthurian legend (those of you who  have known  me for many years may have  occasionally seen me pop up on comping groups and forums in my alter ego of Morgaine) and this is where Viviane, the Lady of the Lake, is said to have been brought up. The whole area sounds magical and historic,  with the castle's name giving it an extra meaning for me. You can read more about Comper Castle here
Many thanks to Martin Cross for his help and permission to link to his articles about Comper Castle.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Happy Birthday Handmade Thursday

The Handmade Thursday blog linky at White  Lily Green is celebrating its first birthday today - Happy Birthday! There is a lovely competition going on there to celebrate - and you don't have to make a Handmade Thursday post to enter.

My crafting goes in fits and starts, but a couple of weeks ago I went to the Make It Show in Farnborough. I didn't manage to win any tickets myself, but thanks to a lovely comping friend who won tickets for me, I was still able to go for free and save my pennies (and pounds) for a  shopping frenzy! To be fair, I had been making a shopping list for some months and didn't buy much that wasn't on the list, but I did manage to get everything on my list so I was very happy.

But more important than the shopping, for  me, was the inspiration. Every stall was festooned with samples, and many of them had demonstrations going on for most of the time, and I came home fired with enthusiasm. Here are just some of the cards I have made since the show:

And I think I still have enough ideas and enthusiasm to see me through until this time next year!

Why not pop over to White Lily Green to say Happy Birthday and enter the competition?

Inspire Me Beautiful

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Finding your way around your Twitter page

Maybe you are completely new to Twitter. Or maybe you were happily using it, and knew what you were doing, until a few weeks ago you logged in one day to find it looked completely different. Over a period of a few months, Twitter has gradually been changing from "Old Twitter" (which wasn't really all THAT old) to the redesigned "New Twitter" and now everyone has the new look version.

You'll find it really useful to have your own Twitter page open in a separate window before you read any further, so click here to open it.

You will see your "timeline" - the list of tweets from all the people you follow - is the main column going down the right hand middle of the page. At the top left is your picture, or avatar, and below it your number of tweets, followers and the people you follow.

To write a new tweet, start typing in the box below that OR click on the blue box at the very top right, on the black band that runs along the top of your screen. It's supposed to look like a quill pen in an inkwell! If you want to add a photo to your tweet, click on the little camera which you can see very faintly underneath the box. And if you want to send your tweet to a particular person, type an @ then immediately start typing their name. Twitter will  give you a drop down menu of people to choose from: unfortunately it only picks them from the most recent 500 people you have followed, so for instance, it doesn't suggest to me the name of my own husband if I start to type his name! I suppose they feel that if you followed somebody more than 500 people ago, you know them well enough to type their names from memory. They obviously don't understand people with a memory like mine.

If you hover your cursor over a tweet in your timeline, you will see four options along the top - reply and retweet are self explanatory.
Favourite will save the tweet for later, in your list of favourites. It might be something you know you will want to read again, it may have a link in it you would like to check up on later, or if you are a comper, it may be a notification of a win. I always favourite win notifications - that way, when the prize arrives I know just where to go to contact the promoter to thank them. And if I unfavourite the tweet at the same time, I can see at a glance if any prizes have not arrived because the tweets are still there in my favourites.
Open will give you more information about the tweet - it will get a little window all of its own, with the time, the Twitter client it was sent from, who, if anyone, retweeted it and the word Details along the bottom. If  you need to give the URL of a tweet, for instance in a  blog competition that uses Rafflecopter, click on the word details and the tweet will open up in a window of its own. Copy the address from the address bar and you have your URL.

Now go back to the black band at the top of the page. Next to Home, you will see @connect and #discover. @connect is where you will find  tweets that are sent to you, or those that mention you, and where you will see any new  followers and retweets. Click on it and you will have two options - Interactions shows the tweets  and the followers, Mentions shows just the tweets. If you are a  comper, make sure you check your mentions every day - that's usually the first place you learn about a win!

The #discover section leaves me rather puzzled. I don't really see the purpose of it! It contains sections called stories, which gives links to the backgrounds of trending topics, activity which tells you who other people you follow have themselves followed or retweeted, who to follow - which has just offered me a list of minor celebrities in whom I have no interest, find friends which can help  you to seach for people and browse categories which gives you yet more suggestions of people to follow. Apart from "find friends" there doesn't seem to me to be much practical use for this section, but it might be a fun place to while away a wet afternoon.

Next there is a search box, which is self explanatory, and then a little head and shoulders silhouette. If there is anything you can't find, it is probably here! Click on the little arrow at the side of it to bring up a drop down menu, as in the photo above. As  well as links to helpful information and a place to change your settings, you will find Direct Messages and Lists on this menu. Lots of people have asked where their direct messages have got to on new Twitter - well, this is where they are hiding. In the lists section, you will not only find any twitter lists you have made, but if you click on Lists/member of you can see if anyone else has listed you. Your favourites are also here,  along with all the photos you have recently posted on Twitter, and list of people you follow and who follow you. One of the most useful sections of your Twitter page - and one of the best hidden!

Finally, not really part of this article but relevant to new Twitter, and something lots of people, especially non-compers who may not be quite as used to seeing retweets as compers are, have asked:
Why do I see tweets from people who I don't follow in my timeline? Surely if I'm not following them I shouldn't see them?
If somebody who you DO follow retweets something from somebody you don't, it no longer looks  like a tweet from the person you follow, it looks like a tweet from the original tweeter. So of Fred tweets "Happy birthday Sue" and Sue retweets it,  Mary, who follows Sue but not Fred, may be puzzled to see the tweet from Fred in her timeline. But if she clicks on "Open" as described above, she will see at the bottomof the tweet, a note that Sue retweeted it.

Monday 5 March 2012

February winners!

A huge round of applause to all the Grape Vine winners for February.

First of all, we had two competitions here on the blog. The first was for a £50 Experience days voucher and was won by

Jo Bryan

The other competiton on the blog was for a year's membership of the Winnin Post club, and was won by

Hayley Kinnaird

Over on the Grape Vine website, the monthly competition had a double prize - the usual six months subscription AND a year's membership of the Winnin Post club. This was won by

Steven Maughan

There were two subscriber-only competitions in Grape Vine during February. These were judged by a panel of experienced compers.

The first was to win a year's membership of the Winnin Post club.  Readers were given the first line of a limerick to complete. The winner was

Carol Pattrick

whose winning limerick was

For beating the February blues
Think Prizes – A Car, Cash or Cruise,
The ‘Winnin Post’ is in sight
With every entry you write
By ‘Sommer’ you’ll be sharing good news!

The second was to win a tub of Rim Wax (for cleaning car wheels) along with the entry form and receipt needed to enter the competition to win a holiday to California. There was a tiebreaker to complete, with the lead in line "I want to polish up my wheels because...." and the winner was

Ian Ryder

whose rather cheeky entry made all the judges laugh:

Rim Wax makes my alloys dazzle,
Sparkling like my Wife's vajazzle

Well done to all the winners, and thank you to everyone who entered.

Friday 2 March 2012

Win some great kitchen goodies with Brabantia

Brabantia are giving you the chance to win £400 of kitchen goods including

Your choice of Limited Designer Retro bin 30L
Quickpull corkscrew.
Digital kitchen scales.
Knife block.
Herb rack with 7 glass jars.
Wine cooler with Neoprene bag.
3 litre mixing bowl.
Set of kitchen knives
You  can read all about this splendid  prize on the Brabantia blog. Five runners  up will also win their choice of bin.
To enter the competition, pop over to their Facebook page, and vote for which of the two new designs of bin you prefer by going to the "Tug of War" tab and voting for then commenting on your favourite. Don't forget to give them your name and email address in the box that pops up after you've voted! Everybody who has voted for the design that eventually wins will be entered  into the draw,  which closes on March 28th.

Thursday 1 March 2012

Thai-m for a banquet!

On Valentine's Day, I was the lucky winner of a Thai banquet from CP Authentic Asian Foods in their one day only Twitter competition. I've been a follower of theirs on Twitter and Facebook for some time, not so much because of their occasional competitions but because I love all kinds of Asian food. I lived in Hong Kong for seven years and Brunei for one year, and my husband was born and brought  up in Malaysia and served in the Brigade of Gurkhas, so we both feel a close affinity with the whole continent of Asia, and especially its food. In fact I've taught several series of evening classes in Oriental Cookery.

I was absolutely delighted to win, and even more delighted a few days later when the carrier arrived with a huge insulated box, containing the frozen dishes. They sent
  • 2 portions of king prawn wonton soup
  • 2 portions of firecracker prawns
  • 2 portions of red Thai chicken curry
  • a half crispy duck
But that wasn't all they sent - they also included a beautiful Thai dining set of a silk table runner with matching tissue box cover and wine bottle cover, bamboo place mats and coasters and elegant wooden chopsticks and chopstick rests, with a carved wooden tea light holder to complete the look.

There was far too much food there for us to eat in one go, so we had the chicken and duck dishes, both of which were excellent. Generous portions and really delicious to eat - all I really needed to add was the cucumber and spring onions for the duck, but as we are huge veg eaters I did some stir fried Chinese leaves as well. The flavouring and seasoning were excellent - not over-salted, which is something that usually puts me off ready made dishes, and with lots of lovely authentic flavours like lemongrass and lime leaves.

I'm not used to ready made meals and was impressed at how simple to prepare they were, although I was a bit alarmed that the chicken dish only had microwave instructions as I don't have a microwave. But  I emptied the chicken and rice into casserole dishes and heated them through in the oven with the duck, and steamed the pancakes as I usually do, and everything turned out perfect.

I'll  definitely be buying these dishes again!

Win a year in the Winnin Post club 2012-13

THE WINNIN POST CLUB is now taking members for 2012-13. Members receive Winn Sommor’s annual booklet of around 25 competitions in the summer plus prize quizzes in autumn and spring. With a limit of 250 members, your chances of a win are excellent, and the puzzles and quizzes are great fun.

To join the club, send a cheque for £13.00, made out to WINN SOMMOR, to

Winn Sommor,
The Winnin Post Club,
Dept JW,
Erica Handling House,
LN4 4NR.

We have  a prize of a year’s membership to be won. If the  winner has already joined for this year, they will receive membership for next year.
To enter, follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter widget below. Please note that clicking on "I did it" without actually doing the task - commenting, following or tweeting as asked  - or doing the task without clicking on  "I did it" - won't get you into the draw.

The competition closes  on 29 February, but as I'm using Rafflecopter which uses American time zones,  it, erm...... won't be at midnight. I can't get my brain around time zones,so please be guided by the ticker that tells you how much time you have left to enter.