Friday, 27 May 2016

Couponing and My 8 Tips for Writing to Companies


I've recently taken up 'couponing.' Over here, we call these little pieces of bar coded paper 'vouchers' but nothing sounds as good as couponing so from now on, I'll be running with that! I mostly print my coupons online which is time consuming and if I'm honest, slightly disappointing in the UK, we just don't do it that big over here (although if you shop at Asda you're in for a treat, there's often plenty about!) I google a lot, check out freebies sites like Magic Freebies and FreeStuffUK or Extreme Couponers UK. You can get coupons in store magazines and newspapers too.

One other way of enjoying the brands I love is by the written word. I don't mention that I blog or mention my social media so there's no PR going into these letters, it's just me, my pen and some serious praising. Here are 8 tips for writing to companies and hopefully getting a little something for your efforts.

1) Be genuine. Don't just write to every company you can think of, this may get you a few more coupons but it also may not, and you'll be broke from the cost of stamps! If you're a genuine costumer who loves their product the company can tell, it'll be evident in your writing and you'll be more likely to receive a reply with, you never know, a coupon or 2.

2) Ditch templates! Get your pads and pens out and draft up letters if you're not a confident writer or sure what to say. I know several people who used templates from the Internet and of course it's obvious these are not genuine letters. It's even more obvious when you use these templates and so does someone else and then both send them to THE SAME company! So, give yourself some quiet time, pick a company you like and write a rough draft if you don't feel confident enough to dive straight in!

3) Write your address clearly! I write a return address at the top of my letters or on the left hand side if writing in a card. I also have address stickers or write a return address on the back of the envelope. Anything to make life easier.

4) Keep a list of companies you write to. It'll be a bit embarrassing to realise you've written to the same company twice and it'll definitely not look good! I have a notebook with a list of companies I love, a list with those I've written to and I've crossed off those I've received mail from (or not in a few cases)

5) Include the little ones. My most positive mail so far was the result of including one of the children in my coupon writing. Include a signature or a piece of lovely artwork, I'm sure it makes a letter of praise hard to resist when it has a sweet squiggle or a fab drawing included!

6) Don't ask for the free stuff. This is a personal one but for me? It's a no no. I write to my favourite and most used brands with words of praise and I've never included anything about myself (or my blog) and I've never asked for free stuff. I'd find it rude to ask and uncomfortable to read, I much prefer to compliment and see what happens!

7) Be different. So many people go for the plain A4 paper route or a quick email but I like to dig out my nice stationery or a card and as above, a little drawing from one of the children doesn't hurt either. You stand out and if nothing else, your card or sweet picture is bound to make someone smile.

8) Praise is good but genuine complaints should be considered too. Companies need to know when you've had a negative experience, maybe they can put it right? So instead of plastering your complaint all over Twitter or Facebook, write a letter! In my experience you often not only get a written response back but also coupons by way of apology. As I said though, it's always better to be positive but if you do have a complaint about a product, I'd always consider writing first.

Do you coupon? Have you had any success with writing to companies? I'd love to know if you have or if you think you'll give it a go!

Cupcake Mumma

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Simple Things...

Wonderfully large Bumble Bees coming out to find my flowers. I've had to rescue several already from my kitchen. They seem to be able to get in but not get out quite as easy.


A wrap and a hot chocolate whilst reading the paper on your own.


Starting to stick my letters and some wonderful stamps in the scrap book I've owned for 2 years!


Beautiful Blossom


My son starting to write properly and drawing pictures not just for me but for his teachers too. So proud.


Having a tidy house, donating a bag of old bits to a friend who does car boot sales, reading a good blog post, finding inspiring recipes for next weeks meals, eating a healthy dinner with the children, walking to school with my husband, my daughter cycling to school looking so grown up, simple bread recipes, a clean bathroom, a shower after a workout, a thank-you e-mail, a .good morning, I love you' text and many other things.

Can you name some wonderfully simple things from this week?

Saturday, 21 May 2016

I Need to be a Kinder Person...To Myself

I can't lie. I've been having a rough time with my mental health. I hate admitting it but I have to get it out. I understand now that I've just finally arrived at this place where I was always going to end up but always managed to find a way to avoid getting here directly. My destination is probably wonderful. I think it's happiness and freedom, well, almost freedom from social anxiety. What's in front of me is a bloody great big wall of all the things that is my social anxiety. All the current feelings, all the fears, every bully, every laugh, whisper, shout and every broken piece of me. That's what the wall is. It's friggin huge, Trump could use it but I'd rather he didn't have a wall...

I digress completely, I'm not entirely comfortable talking about where I am mentally because I know what steps I need to take without anyone telling me but.. I. Just. Can't.

The most frustrating thing is trying to convince myself seeing my gp is a good idea. Unfortunately my lovely, decent, helpful gp has left the surgery and in her place? A locum who wants to get me off my medicine and stick a coil up my lady garden despite my appointments being nothing to do with coming off citolopram or birth control because I'm quite happy, thank you very much. I don't even know her name to refuse her and see someone else. A real kick in the teeth for someone with social anxiety disorder.

I've been really beating myself up. I've found myself losing motivation, my thoughts consumed with the next steps because now the children are in full time education and now my husband is getting a job he'll love it's on everyone's agenda to 'find me something to do.' I get asked by family, by strangers, by my dentist what I do and I feel so guilty and ashamed. I'm not anything! I'm a blob! I'm not a stay at home mum, I'm just a woman staying at home scared shitless of stepping out in the big wide world. It's so much more than just nerves. Put yourself in a box and picture yourself with or being made to do your worst fear. Horrible.

The thing is I would never give someone else this much grief. I think I feel useless and lazy almost everyday. I feel fatter and less of everything every day. But I'm so trapped. I can't even do 'baby steps' because I'm not sure there are any more to take! I'm aware I need some help, some proper help with my social anxiety because it's very deep rooted and mainly related to blushing. Every time I'm in a social situation I'm not comfortable with I blush and with every blush yet another piece of me falls away. One day I fear there will be none of the real me left...

I wish I could be free of mental illness. Of the up and down moods, of the panic, of the social anxiety and bury it all, including the painful memories. Something has to be done. I'm not really interested in much, some days I am don't get me wrong but mostly I prefer my own company and I've taken to going back to bed in the day to avoid comfort eating only to eat loads of an evening. Vicious circles hey?

I'm pretty certain there are many people who will relate to this post and I'm sorry if you are feeling similar. It's good to get things out there and I'm not really ashamed of struggling, it's just hard to admit, especially when you actually have a wonderfully fulfilling life that you are incredibly thankful for and appreciative of. That makes it harder sometimes you know.

Much love and strength to you all X

Cupcake Mumma

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful: New Jobs and Family Time

First off, thank you to those who made the effort to contact me regarding a recent blog post. It's a confusing time for me blog wise, I don't think I can say I want it to end though. I saw the weekly tweet prompting us to think of our cheerful moments each week and I know I'd be lost without my blog, looking back through all the posts I've written makes me cheerful. I will write as and when I want to and return to the beginning where I loved Cupcake Mumma and loved to blog. Just with better photos! So anyway, thank you xx


Now some recent reasons to be cheerful are...

I had a lovely BBQ with the little ones last Friday, all very spontaneous (that's me!) It's quite funny actually, I won a competition early last week and it said that I'd won a BBQ; cue much excitement! Friday came and the BBQ turned up..an instant BBQ! I was a little disappointed, I didn't expect anything big and wonderful but neither did I expect an instant one. Anyway, it made me laugh and we had the most lovely little time outside cooking sausages and eating corn on the cob and potato salad together on Midge's blanket. It was a beautiful day for a change.

I've won a few prizes this month, my little BBQ, a cushion cover and a surprise prize which I'll have to wait for. I do love entering a competition but I make a point of not being greedy, I only enter for something I could use or put away as a gift for a loved one so I appreciate my winnings more.

My husband got a new job! He will start in June or July and will be working as a care support worker for adults with disabilities. He's worked hard for us 5 days a week for 5 years now in a bacon factory, I am so thankful he has found a place where I know he will do good. He won't stay there forever, but he's realised what he's meant to do and that's so wonderful. He will get so many opportunities at his new work and I hope he's very happy.

My new hygienist is lovely, I can't tell you how strange it is to go to the dentist and not be wracked with nerves! I've had a good clean and picked up some tips for my oral care and also the children's so I'm really happy.

What are your Reasons to be Cheerful?

Cupcake Mumma

R2BC at Mummy from the Heart



Monday, 9 May 2016

Freebies and Prizes ~ February and March


February's Freebies

I wrote a letter to Udis with Midge and I was so surprised when a big box of goodies were handed to me from the company. We had all sorts in there, even some new products and two £2 off coupons.

Box of goodies from Udis!

I got some nappies from Pampers in the mail, I didn't think I was getting a whole pack so I was really pleased and passed them on to my friend whose little boy has just gone up a size. I got some nail stickers for Midge which are pretty funky, a Cancer Research pack which will be great for our fundraising for the Race for Life. I also got a valentines card for Mr B which was super sweet!

A mix of February and March freebies here including a Valentines card, Woodland Trust pin badge, Nail stickers, Colouring books and a perfume sample

February's Prizes

Some tasty homemade marshmallows, a children's book (Rapunzel) that I won with Midge in mind (she loves it), £50 online Amazon voucher which went towards Little A's birthday gifts plus a book voucher worth £15 which got me 3 new, fab books and lastly a £50 Disney gift card.


March's Freebies

A book about teeth, Lego Junior mag, Face cream, Seeds, Confetti and The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Just in time for Easter this tooth book fell through my door. I have no idea where it came from but I found it really funny. I got a great selection of colouring books as a Mothers Day gift from Buster Books which was so lovely. The Very Hungry Caterpillar dropped through our door which was a great surprise and a fabulous freebie, I gave this to Little A with the Lego mag that finally arrived! I was really pleased with my woodland trust pin badge, my real petal confetti and seeds for my garden.

No prizes for March sadly!

Do you have any freebies and prizes to share? Drop me a comment below!

Cupcake Mumma

Sunday, 8 May 2016

What We Got up to In April

Wow April just flew by huh? I don't think it was a very busy month all in all quite chilled out really. I started it with a visit from my friend who brought her 3 little ones down to stay locally and that was a nice visit even if it was a quick one. Because of tooth pain I have spent a lot of April being pretty lazy and chilling with the pooch who kept me company on my low days. We did a fun colouring book Twitter party and the children got their own books, crayons and masks to wear while I Tweeted along, I thought it was fun!

 A masked Midge// Peppa Dog sunning herself// My happy place on the sand// Porthleven harbour// Seaside// Footprints in the sand// Siblings on the beach// Breakfast in bed// Frank the cat

I also spent a weekend at my parents house with Midge and Roo at the beginning of April. It helped take my mind off things. We went to the beach, I got caught on 3 occasions by sitting down watching the children and not noticing the tide coming in! The children had so much fun running around, Roo really enjoyed himself once he got used to the feeling of the sand. I think I'll get him some beach shoes soon. I was really in my happy place. We baked cakes, watched Iron Man, had hot chocolate, a lovely hot bath each and I made Mum and Dad breakfast in bed as I got up early leaving Roo watching Netflix and Midge still snoring away.


 Peppa and I chilling// Quick Costa// The Dawlish line// Time with Little T// Roo on the merry-go-round// Blossom// Breakfast// Roo reading// Scrap booking letters

I went away for 3 days to Trowbridge to see my friend and her brood. The train journey up there wasn't fantastic, well once we switched at Plymouth it wasn't so bad! I always get nervous going across the Dawlish line because the waves can get pretty big and you'd have to live under a rock not to have heard of the damage caused by the sea in that awful storm last year. It's a lovely bit to pass but it always unsettles me! Coming back to my babies was wonderful though, I really missed them and Mr B as I always do. 

Peppa in the sun watching me clean// Pen pal writing// Delicious salad// First visit to new dentist// Screen time with the kids// Roo as Iron Man// Steam engine at Trevithick Day// The Viewers band// Roo admiring hand crafted boats

The end of April I had my first appointment at the new dentist (he's fantastic by the way) and I got everything sorted for future appointments including 1 filling and 1 root canal but I'm not so frightened about them anymore. We had a lovely day at Trevithick Day on April 30th. We only saw a few steam trains because Roo was with us and it's really about how much he can deal with. He loved watching the band for 10 minutes and we escaped to see the miniature railway, hand crafted boats and Meccano projects, all very interesting. They both had fun bouncing around on the giant bouncy castle and bought a Slushie to share plus getting a treat each. Roo chose a new dog which was red and reminded him of the red dinosaur teddy he dropped on the train track last year heading to Cambridge *sniff sniff* 

It's fair to say April was a bit tough much like March. Now I'm in May and am pretty much pain free my mood has lifted considerably. The weather has helped a lot too of course but it isn't that reliable! I have no big things planned in May, we are just plodding along with school, hygienist appointments and whatever else life has planned for us.

April on the Blog

I pretty much had a blogging break over April but I did write about a lovely crafty day I had with the children, a new and fantastic online shop which has saved me quite a bit of money recently called LoveTheSales (review post) and I did our March catch up plus doing my usual blogging on a train thing I do whenever I'm well, on a train.

Hope April was good for my lovely readers

Cupcake Mumma x

Reasons to Smile ~ March and April

As both March and April were quite difficult months for me in terms of low mood and some stressful goings on, I didn't feel I could pick out 10 things for each month but I didn't want to ignore the wonderful things that did happen so I've combined March and April together for this happy post.

March

1) Seeing my sister! Issy came down to celebrate her birthday and I put on a spread for her and some of the family. I baked a cake which wasn't great but tasted fine so that's the main thing!

2) Parents evening this year was really encouraging. Midge is doing well and I got to hear so many wonderful things about my number one girl, she makes me so proud. I wish they knew how they were getting on at swimming though because I have no clue! She just says "Well, I didn't drown today," so I'm guessing it's not going all that well but she's trying!! Little A is being referred to a educational psychologist to come in and see him and his teachers so we can get some ideas on how he learns best. He's doing well but does struggle to settle down and focus on his reading and writing.

3) Reading lots! I got to read at least 4 books and I was so happy to be enjoying my books again. I dip in and out of my reading, when I do read though I read a lot and I love it.

The Unmumsy Mum, I enjoyed reading this book

4) I've been discovering some new free from goodies at Tesco! I've found some delicious ice cream which reminds me of mini magnums! They've brought back chocolate ice cream tubs too and garlic bread is new! I enjoyed some chicken nuggets and since Midge has been free from wheat for a few months now she was over the moon to have them on her plate.

New soya yogurts, ice cream, ginger biscuits and garlic bread

5) Making candy bunnies and cones for Easter which people loved. I had great fun making these, I made them for a few of the children's friends and for their teachers and helpers then I sent some off to a Facebook friend who wanted some for her children. I loved getting a smiley photo on Twitter from one of her children holding his bunny packets!


Bunny bags and candy cones

April

1)  Seeing Kat and the kids. Kat visited fleetingly at the beginning of April which was lovely and I made my way up to see her on April 15th for her birthday. I stayed for 3 days and had a lovely time with her and the children, it was all pretty relaxed (well, as it can be with 3 little ones and a teenager!) I think we all had fun celebrating Kats birthday with cake and gifts.

2) My new dentist. He is so wonderful and although I'm still a very anxious patient, I am able to go through with the treatment I need and I now feel positive about my future treatments.

3) Trevithick Day was once again a brilliant success. Last year I only took Midge with me as we were still struggling with Little A's sensory processing difficulties, but this year we were more prepared and we all had a fantastic time. The children understood it was one ride each, they both happily spent 10 minutes on a huge bouncy castle while I watched, wishing adults could have a go too. We listened to some live music, saw lots of school friends, shared a blue Slushie and both children bought something from a stall. We all enjoyed looking at the miniature railways, Meccano and the boats too.

Little A looking at all the boats

4) I took the children to Pothleven to see Pops and Grandma which as usual they really enjoyed. It was a very relaxing weekend and to be honest, none of us wanted to go home but we couldn't stay becasue we had school the next day! We enjoyed a roast dinner and some cake baking but what we all most enjoyed was being by the sea, playing in the waves and burying our feet in the sand.

Siblings on the sand
Beautiful seaside

5) I caught up on some pen pal letters in April and after clearing up the clutter in my bedroom I have found my room to be my favourite space in the house. It is calm and peaceful which I love and it's been so nice to write while having the window open and the fresh air flowing through.

The dog likes to keep me company when I'm upstairs

As always I'd love to hear what made you happy in March or April, do share in the comments below!


Cupcake Mumma

Friday, 6 May 2016

Reasons to be Cheerful

Hello all! It's been exactly 20 days since I last posted a blog. I have been in one of those up and down places for the last couple of weeks but even though I am waiting for all these dental appointments, I am currently not in pain (oh such a difference to the frame of mind that makes!) By saving in previous months, selling some things and my wonderful parents giving me some money I am able to afford the private dental care and am positive that the outcome will be very good. Although we are in a situation with my husband redundant, we have an opportunity that we can go for and it seems to have come at just the right time. Basically I feel like I'm being looked after both on land and off is what I'm saying.

So all of the above are reasons to be cheerful and here are some other things:

My new slow cooker. I have felt so organised this week after finding it at a cheap store, it is my new favourite toy! I've made mince for a spag bol, a chocolate rice pudding and a lovely veg and mince stew with some gluten free dumplings. Although I'm struggling to watch what I eat, I think I've made a good choice in getting this little thing to help me along.


My new dentist! I'm actually not scared of seeing a dentist! I know it costs a blooming fortune but the care I have received so far now that I'm off the NHS is just amazing and I haven't even had my big scary root canal yet! It's just, you really cannot underestimate how important it is to be made comfortable the minute you walk in and then see dentists and nurses who are so friendly. It also helps my new dentist works with a lot of anxious patients.

Warmer and sunnier weather. Oh it has done wonders for my mood. I have some lovely photos of different flowers blooming which I get to pass everyday on the school run. We had a lovely walk today, Midge was telling Roo all about How to Train your Dragon and he was listening intently, asking questions, then they overtook me on the pavement and I caught this precious photo:

Brother and Sister hand in hand
Beautiful pink flowers

My friends and family have made me not just cheerful but thankful. I cannot thank my parents enough for helping me, I know they don't want the thanks, I know I'd do the same for my children but still, I'd still be utterly miserable if it wasn't for them. A friend that always texts me everyday means so much to me. I've had help from a blogger about my little man and his writing, a friend bought a camera off me which enabled me to take my babies to the fun day out in the town that they had been talking about all week. A friend that is going through so much and yet still calls to see how I am when I had bad news. Pen pals for staying in touch and making me so happy every time their letters fall through the letter box. Not to mention all the positive root canal stories from everyone and words of encouragement, Thank you all.

What are your reasons to be cheerful this week? Please visit Michelle's link up to read more happy posts.

Cupcake Mumma

Friday, 15 April 2016

Train Musings

Currently en route to Trowbridge to see my dear friend Kat. I haven't made this journey for over a year and I'm pretty nervous about travelling. I'm sat on the train now, the first of 3 and I'm doing okay. Im being typically British about my train travel. You know, staring people out who stare at me getting on with my luggage, screwing my nose up secretly at my neighbours gross sandwich, pretending no one actually exists, complaining to myself about the crap seat then not moving to the nice one by the window (I love being British!)

I was well chuffed to find a train ticket to my destination for under £70 but now I know why..I'm on the smallest, stuffiest, crowded little thing for 2 hours. My coccyx hurts already and the tuna man is still chomping his sandwich..at least I brought blueberry muffins and cookies for my fellow travellers nose (nose only, no one shares my food) (seriously) I'm hopeful my journey will improve, maybe someone will pass me a paper? Or stop eating disgusting lunch? Maybe...

Anyway, about my trip. It's a rather spontaneous one as they usually are with me, it was only planned a couple of weeks ago because of a certain birthday which I need to make special because well, everyone deserves a decent birthday don't they? And to not be on their tod. I have banners, candles, ready to go cake mix, white tack and gifts I am so ready for a birthday I love them! I don't think we'll be getting up to much, just chilling and eating and negotiating with a 5 year old, 4 year old and a 1 year old because well, it just happens like that. My only real thing to do this weekend is have a bath and not just to relax but because up near Bath the water is BLUE! Honestly it blows my tiny mind every time I visit, can't get enough.

I don't think there's much else to say here, I've moaned about train travel but done nothing about it and I think it's time I broke out my peanut butter and jam sandwiches but I'm not sure if I'm that much of an arse!

Cupcake Mumma

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

What We Got up to in March

March went by so fast! Sadly it started with a round of tummy bugs with Midge being the last one to get it (mildly thankfully) On one of her days off I took her for breakfast which was lovely. It was one of those days where she could've gone to school but you have to stick to the 48 hour rule and I wasn't complaining because I was with my girly. I had my toothache start again last month causing me a lot of pain so I had to book a dental appointment. In the mean time I used this Orajel which has been amazing. Spring started to come out with some lovely blue skies and flowers and we had parents evening which went really well. Midge drew a picture of a cheetah which you can see below, apparently that's the animal she'd be if she could be any animal.

Roo is doing well in school, he's been referred for an Ed Psyc to observe him in the classroom so that'll be interesting. I got to look through all their books which was nice and when I had some spare time at home I made the children some Easter gifts for their teachers. I had my tooth out last month too, I got so fed up in the end I just had it removed! I enjoyed a Costa before the ordeal!!


Lots of reading done// Roo's portrait// Midge's cheetah// Sad post dentist face// Easter bunnies// Easter candy cones// Midge being mindful and colouring in

We had world book day at school which the children had fun dressing up for, I do love a non uniform day! I had a lovely Mother's Day receiving handmade pictures, a plant from Little A, a new mug and some biscuits with hot chocolate powder so all my favourite things. We got outside in the first week of the holidays by doing some crafts with paints, card and pasta, the dog enjoyed herself too! We managed an egg hunt and saw my sister on her birthday for gifts and a buffet.


 Roo with his Mother's Day flower// Doing homework// Midge as Hermonie//  Wheat free garlic bread!// Hot dog as big as Roo's face!

Cuddles// Happy mail from Buster Books// Roo's bonnet// Midges bonnet// Quiche// Birthday cake// Roo at school// Outgoing happy mail// A cuppa and a cuddle

Canvases for Mothers Day// Roo's dragon// Happy mail incoming and outgoing// Easter egg hunt at home// crafting// playing with Peppa// New shoes!

What About Me?

I had a bit of a pants month if I'm honest. I'm still not getting relief with my teeth so it's time to look elsewhere for a new dentist and I'll be complaining to my current one because I'm so unhappy. I've put on yet more weight too *sad face* but it's my fault. I loved seeing the family over Easter, having a nice roast with my Aunt and Gran and seeing my sister. I did manage to save £160 in March, which I am so pleased with and is thanks to being up to date with the council tax, whoop! I fear that money will go on private dental care though until I can set up a plan with them.

March's Blog Posts

I blogged about the cool Avengers Tea Party we had for Little A and I felt I needed to post a simple catch up on the blog. We had fancy dress fun on world book day, I wrote about my pesky teeth, what we got up to in February and my 10 reasons to smile. I shared my favourite monthly blog posts from other bloggers and our brand spanking new printer from Epson. Phew!

Cupcake Mumma