Ok, so I know the old saying ‘you can’t get something for nothing’… but when your finances are looking as downright shitty as mine are right now, you tend to have a go anyway. What am I talking about? I’m sure you’ve all seen them; those sites that claim to give you prizes/gift vouchers/etc without paying anything out for the pleasure. I’m pretty sceptical about them all to be honest, but like I say, I can’t afford the things I’d like to, so I look into them, Google them extensively, look for success stories and/or scam stories and then, if I really think they’re legit and worth my while I will sign myself up and give it a go.

First off, I’d like to mention two sites that I’ve been using for a good few years now, one of which I know pays off from personal experience and the other which I’ve seen mixed opinions on, but am waiting to decide about for myself.

The first site is called VALUED OPINIONS and this is the one that I know pays off! I’ve been a member for about three years now, and over that time I’ve earned £60 worth of vouchers! Two of those were hmv vouchers which were posted to me to use in store, and the other four were amazon.co.uk voucher codes to use online. (They pay out every time you reach the £10 mark y’see!)

Basically, all you do to earn your rewards is join up, and then they email you market research surveys, some of which you will qualify for and some of which you won’t. You usually get rewarded with between 50p to £1 for every survey that you qualify for and complete, but it can be more, if you’re lucky.

This site is only available to people in the UK as far as I’m aware, and I don’t get anything for promoting them! I just genuinely love the site! It’s the only way I can afford to fund my cd habit! Lol! If you like the sound of it, take a look! It can take a while to reach the £10 mark, but lately I’ve been getting there faster for some reason! Dunno if that’s just what happens if you stick with them longer…

Anyway, the next site on my list is called YOUGOV. I’ve been a member of this one just as long as the last, but haven’t had a reward as yet because they only pay out (with a cheque) when you hit the £50 mark. I believe this one is more global than Valued Opinions, which is useful, but lately I have seen some bad press on the net about it, saying they’re hard to get hold of if there’s a problem, etc… However, I have also seen people say that they have received their pay outs without any hassle… so I guess, if you’re interested in this one, just research it for yourself and make up your own mind about it! 🙂

Like I say, I’ve been a member of this one for about three years too and I’ve just reached the 3000 points mark… 5000 is the £50 paying out mark. So yeah, it takes a while with this one, but hopefully I’ll discover that it’s worth it in the end! *fingers crossed*

It works in exactly the same way as Valued Opinions does, emailing you surveys, except with this one you always qualify for the surveys… or at least I always have! Lol! They’re more about things like political issues than products here too, which I find heavier going, but still simple enough to complete! 🙂 And since I’m not giving out any financial details or anything, I figure I’ve got nothing to lose if it doesn’t work out in the end, even though I’m hoping it does, obviously! Lol!

Ok, next I’m going to consider a couple of sites that I’ve only started to look into recently… They’re not survey sites like the above two, so I’ll try to explain them both as best I can…

The first is one that I reckon most people who are interested in ‘online freebies’ have probably heard of already. It’s called FREEBIE JEEBIES. Now, a quick search of Google or YouTube will tell you that this one is actually one of the most reputable sites out there! It’s been featured on news channels like BBC and CNN and you can finds a whole load of ‘unboxing’ proof videos on YouTube from satisfied customers. For me, however, I know without a doubt that this one is not going to work.

Basically it involves signing up, completing an offer, some of which are ‘free’ (I’ll come back to this in a minute) and then referring a certain number of other people to do the same. Now, when I say ‘free’ I do mean free… BUT you have to enter credit card details for, for example a free 14 day trial of LoveFilm rental. Now, if you cancel the trial before the end of the 14 day period (as long as you have actually rented one dvd, as far as I understand it) it won’t cost you a penny.

Now then, if that was all it entailed I probably would have given it a go by now. As it is, however, signing up is as far as I’ve got. Y’see, once you’ve completed the offer, you have to get people to sign up under you and complete an offer each too. For the 8gb 3G ipod (the thing I would be interested in receiving) you have to refer 16 people. I know full well I’m never gonna manage that, so I haven’t even bothered completing the offer! Lol! Now, if you have the drive and determination to get out there, promote your referral link, etc, etc this is a pretty sure fire way to get that expensive piece of electronics that you want but can’t afford, for someone like me, however, I just can’t ever see it working. But it is highly reputable, so… If it sounds like your kind of thing, research it yourself and go for it! The BBC wouldn’t lie would they??! Lol! (By the way, not entirely sure what the participating countries are on this one, but I think there’s a fair few.)

Okkkkk, the last site I’m gonna mention (sorry for going on and on and on by the way… :s) is called SWAGBUCKS. Yup, the one I’ve added an advert for over there <<< cuz I really rather like this one! Lol! Again, there is lots of evidence for success stories with this one, albeit for mainly smaller prizes, and I haven’t seen anything to suggest that it’s not completely legit! It is only available to people in the US, Canada and UK though.

Now then, how this one works is using a search engine, first and foremost. Basically, you use the Swagbucks search engine exactly as you would use Google etc, and every now and then your search will win you some swagbucks. Now, I’m gonna be honest here, the search engine itself isn’t that great (even though it’s a combination of answers from Google and Ask) because there are a lot of sponsored results mixed in with the regular ones and you don’t get many pages of results either. BUT this doesn’t bother me too much, because you only get swagbucks if you search every few hours anyway! Excessive searching gets you nowhere, so I just use Google in between and switch to Swagbucks every now and then to try my luck!

There are also other ways to earn swagbucks, such as completing offers (exactly the same as with FreebieJeebies) and finding swagcodes on their blog/Twitter/Facebook pages. Ok, granted, if you want a big prize you will have to save for a while to achieve it, but I’ve been a member for 3 days now and I’ve managed to make 30 swagbucks already! 🙂 Now, considering that you can get a $5 Amazon voucher for 45 swagbucks, I don’t think that’s half bad! 😀 (Yes, I know, I’m English and don’t use dollars, but y’know, just an example! :p) You can get a huge range of different rewards from this one too, which I love, ranging from gift cards to stationary to signed music merchandise to musical instruments to those big electricals that everyone wants most. And best of all? I’m actually having fun collecting for this one! Since I would be online a lot of the time researching stuff anyway, it just seems sensible to make it pay!

I’m nearly done now, I promise! :p

So, what I’m trying to suggest here is that you CAN get something for ‘nothing’ when it comes to money, but you DO have to put a fair bit of work into it… but if you have a lot of time on your hands like I do and could do with a bit of help on the finance front, I honestly don’t think there’s anything to lose using the sites I’ve taken a look at! 🙂

If they appeal to you, have a go and I hope they’re useful to you! If they don’t appeal to you, I’m very sorry for rambling! Lol! I just so want to believe that you can get something for ‘nothing’ in this world… Naive, I know…

If anyone has any opinions on any of these sites I’d love to hear them! I don’t want to be scammed after all! Lol! And I definitely don’t want to be endorsing sites that might scam other people!!! So yeah, let me know if you think I am, thanks!

Jem x

I know it’s a cliché, but oh my God… It really is the best medicine isn’t it??! Like… ridiculously so!!! Take just now for example… I was sitting at the comp, pottering about, feeling pretty miserable because my apparently perfectly normal but still bloody terrifying irregular heartbeat was making me think I might drop dead at any second… When I noticed a new post on a rather hilarious blog a friend pointed me towards the other day…

Words cannot describe how loud and hard I laughed when I read it… And now? Now I don’t feel so awful! My heartbeat seems more calm… I don’t feel like I’m about to pass out on the floor… Well, I did at first because I was laughing so hard I could scarcely breathe, but that’s a different ball game all together! I love that feeling!

So, I’m gonna keep this short: LAUGH! Any chance you get! You forget how much it does for your mood until you do! =]

Jem x

Ugh. Having a major few days of inner turmoil at the minute. Wanting to change. Desperately. So much that it aches sometimes… because I know fine well that I won’t ever do it. I’m so terrified of everything. I’m terrified of living. I’m awful at it. I’m the poorest excuse for a functioning human being imaginable. In short, since I don’t want to waste thousands of words depressing everyone, I desperately want to follow the advice of the following song…

“We only got 86,400 seconds in a day to turn it all around or to throw it all away…”

~ The Script, ‘Live Like We’re Dying’

If only it was as easy to change as it is to wish about changing…

Jem x

Nothing much to say today, so here’s a pretty picture I took instead… =]

Sunset

And a little lyric to go with it…

“Now I’ve made it this far and the pain isn’t over, but the sun keeps on rising and I keep getting stronger.”

Westlife, ‘Sound Of A Broken Heart’

Jem x

‘One of what?’ I hear you cry, well, let me explain… =p Everyone should have an instant grin song. Yes, I have made the name of this phenomenon up, but that doesn’t make it any less true! Here, for example, is my own personal instant grin song…

Yes, I know that most people are going to protest about this being a piece of rubbish pop nonsense, but if you do, you’re completely missing the point. Personal taste doesn’t matter in the slightest when it comes to instant grin songs. Whatever your specific genre preference (and I have many, so don’t be too quick to judge) I honestly believe that everyone who has even a vague interest in music will have a song that does for them what this song does for me.

The second you hear your instant grin song, you find yourself beginning to smile… You can’t explain it; it just happens… You might be in a foul mood… and you might try to fight it accordingly, but no matter how you try, it will get you in the end. Embrace it. Your instant grin song is one of your best friends in the world. Honestly! Some days it can make a great mood even better, other days it can be the only thing that just about drags you through, kicking and screaming.

If you don’t have one, get one. If you do have one but are embarrassed of it’s ‘cheesiness’, don’t be. If you think I’ve lost my mind, you’re probably correct. Go on. Press play, smile and… yeah, why not? Dance your ass off! =]

Jem x

For as long as I can remember, literature has been a huge part of my life. When I was a kid, I used to spend hours with my nose stuck in books, just losing myself in the amazing fictional worlds brought to life by the simple, written words of another human being. It’s a pretty amazing phenomenon when you think about it… Those pages were completely blank… Nothing existed there… But then someone, somewhere had an idea and embellished it with words, and suddenly there’s a whole story set out before your eyes, full of people and places and occurrences conceived completely by someone’s imagination and brought to life by their craftmanship of language… Wow.

I think this realisation had a lot to do with why I also started writing my own stories at a very early age, and why I haven’t stopped doing so ever since. These days I don’t read as much as I’d like to… My concentration levels seem to be decreasing as I get older… But when I DO read I am still in awe of the way a skilled writer can paint such ridiculously vivid images through the medium of words alone. I try to do this myself when I write, but I doubt I’ll ever be anywhere near as good at it as some of my favourite authors are. For the purposes of this blog entry, I’m going to use P.G. Wodehouse as an example. Let me explain why…

I’m nearly 25 years old, but even to this day I remember one tiny piece of advice that a primary school teacher gave us about writing when I was about 8… She said that you should always try to describe things in a way that’s a little bit different. You shouldn’t just go with the old, overused ‘white as snow’, ‘bold as brass’, ‘black as coal’ clichés; instead, you should pause for a moment, think about what it is that you’re trying to bring to life and do so in a way that no one has before. Ok, yes, I realise now that it is almost impossible to ever say something in a piece of fiction that no one’s said before, but that little piece of advice still really stuck with me. As the teacher explained, wording things in a more unique way will make your readers have to stop and think a little; their brains will be just that little bit more engaged, and as a result, the images your words are painting will be just that little bit more vivid.

So, with this in mind, it’s no wonder I have fallen for Mr. Wodehouse’s work. He has this extraordinary way of describing things in a way that I would never even think of. I especially love his descriptions of people; you can see them instantly and with such comic quality that you can’t help but smile when you encounter them. Let me illustrate what I’m saying with a few little quotes…

“The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked  as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say ‘When!'” ~ P.G. Wodehouse, ‘Very Good, Jeeves’

“In build and appearance, Tuppy somewhat resembles a bulldog, and his aspect now was that of one of these fine animals who has just been refused a slice of cake.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse, ‘Right Ho, Jeeves'”

“…his head emerged cautiously, like that of a snail taking a look around after a thunderstorm.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse, ‘The Code Of The Woosters’

Aren’t they just genius?! Hopefully it isn’t just me who thinks so! Haha! My favourite is the first! You can just imagine the poor chap overflowing his clothes here and there… Just that one simple line brings him instantly to life and that, for me, is what good literature is all about! =]

So, hope the quotes made you smile, even if it’s not your kind of thing! Oh, and one last thing, if you do insist on using clichés, at least make them funny! ;]

“I’d always thought her half-baked, but now I think they didn’t even put her in the oven.” ~ P.G. Wodehouse, ‘Jeeves In The Offing’

Think outside the box! =]

Jem x

A few days after new year, as 2010 was just beginning to get underway, I received a Facebook message from a friend of mine; a message that touched me rather deeply and really made me stop and think… I do not, as a general rule, enjoy my life at present. I want to, believe me, but I just feel like there is always something holding me back or dragging me down somehow. Anyway, this friend told me that, in spite of how I feel, I have:

“a very enviable talent for seeing the beautiful side of life that most of us don’t notice from one day to the next.”

This really stopped me in my tracks… and I realised that she was kind of right! I am forever grabbing my camera and taking snaps of beautiful sunsets, autumn trees, fresh spring flowers and the like. Forever gushing over the lyrics, vocals or strings of a favourite song. Forever underlining passages in novels that instantly bring another world to life before my eyes. Forever attempting to do the same with my own amateurish but sincere attempts at the creation of fiction.

So… with this in mind, I decided to try something. I decided to try creating a blog with which I can document these moments of beauty in what may sometimes seem like a terrifying and overwhelming world. So, whenever I feel like pants (because that is the official medical term for it) I intend to rush over here and blog about something that will lift my spirits, and hopefully the spirits of others too…

Wish me luck! =]

Jem x