Joe Browns makes great clothes

Britmums Live: Winning, What I liked, Outfits and a change to WIN SWAG!



Inspire winner of Britmums LiveI WON!

OMG I can’t believe I won the ‘Inspire’ category, partially because of what a lovely title it has and partially because of the amazing women I was up against.  I was sure I had no chance, but a couple of my friends were convinced.  However, when they read out the description of the winner, even my mate shook her head as if to say ‘Oh wel
l, next time’.

“I loved reading this blog and it proved, if proof is needed, the key to a brilliant blog can be as simple as engaging, heartfelt and funny updates. Packed with personality, it is laugh-out-loud funny, which combined with great navigation and an enticing design, makes it a real winner”

Really, what me, ‘Laugh out loud funny’?  That’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about my writing, second only to what my fellow finalist Kylie said here (check it out to see her list of the lovely blogs I was up against).

I have to admit I blubbed AGAIN – my only excuse being it was such a surprise and I was just soooooooooo shocked.  So I’d like to do a ‘proper’ acceptance speech now if you don’t mind ….

Thank you so much for this award, it means so much for me to be in this category with such amazing blogs.  I love writing, and I love my readers, because without them I wouldn’t enjoy it as much.  The reason I write my blog is because I think that Mums are incredibly important in our world as we are where everything starts; so we deserve to enjoy ourselves and we deserve help to enjoy ourselves.  Big thank you to the Britmums team for their amazing organisation as always, and to Kids One Stop Shop for sponsoring this category and Carla Buzasi for being the judge (must have been a really tough job).

 

 

What Was BritMums Live Like?

discussion dens about online bullying

The thing about conferences like this is I come away with tonnes and also feeling like I missed out on tonnes.

It was a little tricky because I had Little Dimples with me, as she still breastfeeds at lunch and lots in the evening and I’m a rubbish expresser.  Nanny Bets (the little old irish lady I found in Tescos) came to help, and thoroughly enjoyed her day wandering around the hub and holding babies in the quiet room.

From it I could have learnt stuff, met people, and connected to brands, and I’ve come away feeling like I could have done loads more of all three.  To be honest I was distracted by being on the panel for a discussion den on online negativity, having Little Dimples there, and by being a little ‘rabbit in the headlights’ when faced by 500 bloggers, so I’m not sure my strategy to get the most out of it actually existed.

I got to put some faces to twitter ids, and even had a couple of ‘proper’ chats with a few bloggers; BUT there are so many I missed too *sad face*, and some people said they were too nervous to come up and say hi to me.  So I’m telling you all now – ALWAYS come up and say hi to me!

I probably missed lots because I was coming in and out by train, so I didn’t see Ruby Wax, Sarah Brown or the Keynotes.  But I enjoyed the awards ceremony, thought Katy Hill did a brilliant job, and loved Cherry Healy’s talk at the end of Saturday.  Katy insisted that even celebs have cellulite; which makes her fabulous in my eyes! Cherry really underlined how important bloggers are to PR’s and Celebs now a days and I came away with a clearer understanding of how we fit into the bigger picture.

I think it’s a bit difficult to span all experience levels, so a couple of the workshop/panels left me a bit frustrated, but I really enjoyed the Youtube one with Christine Beardsell.  I think that Mum/Parent blogs can be a bit dry, and was disappointed I didn’t get more from the ‘clever parent bloggers’ session on how to avoid this, but Christine’s session inspired me with ways that I could use Youtube as a funny extension of my blog (I already have a  Mummy Whisperer channel); but I’m not giving away my ideas yet, as Cherry told us not to!

I loved being part of the discussion den on online negativity, my summary on ‘Twitter Terriors, Facebook Furies and Blog Bummers’ will be up on the Britmums blog any day now (I’d LOVE some feedback btw) and it meant meeting some big heroes of mine:

  • Claire from a Modern military mother (a fave blog and person of mine who has unfortunately been trolled a LOT)
  • Diane from In the powder room (which I adore and have a secret desire to write for, but never admitted that to her!)
  • Paul from Viapoint (a new hero who I was really looking forward to meeting because he’s learnt loads about the psychology behind online behaviour).

I made a contact in Google who will hopefully resolve my Google-Youtube problem, thus making the whole thing worth going to.  But I must admit I didn’t put much effort into getting swag or making brand connections, which maybe I should have focussed on a bit.

However, I did still get loads of swag, and because of winning and being in a panel I have some duplicates, so see below for your opportunity to get some swag too!

My Feedback To The BritMums Live Team:

– I know you had a butterflies section, but it would be great to have a list of names of who is going, so that I could have been more organised about who I got to see (obviously some people might not want to be openly on the list, which is fine).  OOOOH and make them add pictures you can actually recognise people from!

– It would be great if you could mark sessions as beginning, experienced or advanced to help us choose.

– Could we have a place marked as ‘I’d like to meet other bloggers’ area, for when we are too tired for brands or learning and fancy a chat?

– I know you gave us great maps and agendas, but I’m rubbish with them; could we have HUMUNGOUS signs please saying things like ‘Warner Bros’ (missed them until Sat afternoon!), ‘Meet bloggers here’, the room names, and marking the quiet baby room (a few bloggers with babies missed it).

– I loved the tea, cake, Prosecco, Saturday lunch, and half naked waiters!  The little snacky things on Friday evening were a bit posh for me though.  Your organisation is really slick, and I know that each year it’s going to get better and better.

 

Joe Browns makes great clothesFor Me To Remember For The Next Thing I Go To

– TAKE MORE PHOTO’s!

– Read the map!

– Take more time to work out who is going & make a list of people I don’t want to miss

– Take tissues if there is any chance of me blubbing!

– Don’t share trifle with a 2yo – they eat it all!

 

How Did My OutFit Work Out?

A huge thank you again to Joe Browns who provided my clothes for the conference.  Apart from the fact that I now have several outfits (mix and match you know!) to wear all the time now, it made a big difference to how confident I felt.  (Check out my post beforehand on what to wear to a blogging conference, which explains how come I was lucky enough to get in contact with them).

Loads of people said they liked the clothes, and I felt comfortable, but still pretty.  They also handled the freaky weather, which was cold one minute and hot the next.

Bit thankyou’s to New mum online and Mums gone to for the photo’s!

My SWAG

Britmums Live Blogging conference 2012

Presents for winners of Britmums Live

 

 

 

Now you know how I said I didn’t focus much on getting swag?  Well I still came away with a BIG pile: check out my pile just for attending on the left (and looking at the picture, it’s a shame I missed the session on photography!):

And the pile for the winning on the right (my dentist is going to love me, after all my excuses to not floss my teeth, and having been a hater of crocs I have to admit I’m a changed woman!):

 

 

 

 

 

 

But because I won and was a panelist I have some duplicates, so I thought I’d give all those people who didn’t attend a chance to WIN SOME SWAG?

There’s a lovely atlas from barefoot books, snow dogs DVD, Lego city box, little duple box, and a great game from bananagrams:

 

Barefoot Books At Britmums Live

 

So as you are meant to do something in order to win a competition, and I thought I’d ask you to give me some feedback so that I can make my blog better and better for you:

        1. What you’d like to see me write more about.
        2. What you like best/least about my blog
        3. Or What was your favourite post so far

 

The competition will end next Wednesday 4th July 2012 at midnight and is only open to the UK and Ireland (sorry postage costs!).  You can get extra entries by following me on twitter and my Facebook page.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bailey Sarwa

Nominate Someone For A Big Break

Do you know someone who needs a Big Break or needs some money?  Well if so, you can nominate them for a Big Break by clicking here.

Each month a lucky someone will get £1000.

Plus each time someone is nominated Marie Curie Cancer Care  will get a donation.

Bailey Sarwa

It’s kind of a win-win situation heh, hence I accepted the opportunity to blog about it and nominate someone myself.  Then I spent days trying to work out who on earth to nominate as there were so many people.

In the end I chose Becki Anne Jones who is the mum of Bailey Sarwa, a young boy fighting his second bout of neuroblastoma.  This photo is one of the reason’s why; it say’s more than I could put into words.

I’ve chosen her because she is working so hard to look after Bailey, and showing massive determination to raise a huge amount of money for potentially life saving treatment that he can’t get in the UK.  Plus she still has her younger son to look after, who misses her when she is at hospital with Bailey.

This family is obviously so loved that there is a massive campaign around St Albans at the moment to try and raise the money for Bailey.  There are people dancing, collecting, selling, running, jumping out of planes for Bailey, and coming up with more and more ideas for him, even though the majority of us have never met him or his mum.

We might not know him, but what we do know is that Bailey is a fighter, who in the years he was in remission raised money for neuroblastoma himself.

Bailey’s mantra is ‘I know no fear’ and the campaign’s mantra is ‘Believe’.  If it’s possible that positive thoughts and prayers can heal anyone, then I’m sure that he will overcome this fight.  All we need is the money to get him the treatment he needs.

But they have a long way to go.  So I’m really hoping that Becki will win this nomination, so that she gets the £1000, as I don’t have a thousand pounds to give to her myself.

You can nominate her too – the more nominations she gets, the more likely she is to win!

If you would like to donate or run an event for Bailey please go to this official site for Bailey; remember every little counts.

 

Let’s get them back to looking healthy and happy as in this other photo.

 

 

Direct Debit are the company sponsoring this big break campaign, so here is a little plug for them plus an opportunity for you to win £10,000 if you decide to organise your monthly bills …

Giving a special someone a break by nominating them to win £1,000 is part of The Big Break campaign from Direct Debit . And, as well as putting someone forward for that £1,000 prize, if you sign up to pay your bills by Direct Debit with a participating biller, you will be in with a chance of winning your very own Big Break to the tune of £10,000.  At the same time, you’ll trigger a donation to charity – either to the biller’s own nominated charity or to Marie Curie Cancer Care.  You can find out more about the campaign here http://www.thebigbreak.co.uk 

Disclosure: I wasn’t paid anything to write this post.

 

Competition To Win An Amazing Joe Browns Coat: You don’t get if you don’t ask!

I am so chuffed about this competition to win a gorgeous Joe Browns Navajo Coat worth £89.95; just look at that gorgeous lining, which will flash every time you walk or put it on and off.  This coat says ‘I’m happy to stand out, I’m gorgeous, I’m sparkly, I’m bored of being dull’, ‘I might be a Mum, but I’m also a person in her own right’.

When I go on the school run, I’m one of a huge number of black quilted sausages walking up and down the school drive.  Curly Headed Boy’s school has it’s own weird micro-climate which means that it’s always a couple of degrees colder by the school than anywhere else in Hertfordshire, so there is sense in the sausages.  There is one lone Mum in a red quilted sausage!  But even when the weather is good, Mums seem to navigate towards boring dull coats, in dull boring colours and dull shapeless shapes.

Why?  In the few seconds it takes to put on a coat, you can give yourself a massive pick me up straight away.

So next time you catch yourself in a shop window or the mirror of a lift, one of you lucky ladies is going to look fabulous in a Joe Browns coat (sizes 8-18 available).  I hope that those of you who don’t win will consider your next coat purchase more carefully, and just push the boundaries a little.

This coat has taught me a couple of valuable lessons, and made me think through a lot about Mummy Blogging in general.  I have been getting a Joe Browns catalogue for a while, but had never bought anything as I’d been waiting until my weight loss stabilised.  Then I fell in love with their coats and cheekily tweeted did anyone fancy giving me one.  To my surprise I got a reply from the lovely ‘Best British Bloggers‘ – OMG!  So this definitely proves that if you don’t ask you don’t get, and over the last couple of months I’ve been thinking more about my blog and what I would ask for it to achieve and do.

Ironically at the same time a big (rather typical) argument kicked off in the mummy blogging world, with people accusing other bloggers of being blaggers, blah blah blah.  I wrote a post about how important it is to realise that we are all blaggers in our own way, somewhere or other, and that it’s important to not ignore it but ‘use your blagging for good’.  Some people really got it.  Others didn’t, they just wanted to be sure that no one ever considered them a blagger, and didn’t see that I was saying that as long as you are giving a fair deal to your readers, the PR, the company and yourself, then blagging is a really useful quality to use sometimes.

Was it cheeky of me to ask for a Joe Browns coat; yes, thats why I consider myself a ‘blagger’.  But was it without fair reason? I don’t think so.  I’ve been blogging since 2009, I’ve won a national UK blogging award, my stats are above average, I’ve put in the hours and the posts.  Although they offered me the coat, I quickly decided that it was fairer for them to give it away as a competition because they will get more views that way.  Luckily for me they then sent me a top, which is gorgeous.  Which is especially lucky as with the Big Northern Hubby being made redundant I wasn’t going to be able to buy myself my promised stash of Joe Browns stuff.

Expect a lot more ‘blagging’ from me over the next couple of months, because the practicalities are that I need to change my priorities, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be still getting great posts.  My book is out there and written now (only 99p remember, and you can read it on a computer, phone, iPad or Kindle!).  Now I need to cover my fixed costs, my variable costs and the cost of childcare, and that is not a small number.  If I can’t cover the cost, I won’t blog; end of.  Luckily for me, the mummy blogging world is also full of very kind women who have come to my aid over the last couple of weeks and taught me so much.  So my chances of bringing in some money have improved massively; thank you so much ladies!

Back to the competition.  I’m using one of those cute Rafflecopter widgets.  You have to enter a comment, and then click the button to say that you’ve done it.  I’d like a comment about the worst or best coat you’ve ever worn, or why you love Joe Browns stuff please.  You can then increase your entries if you wish by liking Facebook pages and following on twitter etc.

The closing date is Thursday Dec 15th at midnight – any entries after then will not count – and the results will be released first thing on Friday 16th.  I will need your address really quickly, to make sure that your coat is sent out on the 16th or 19th of December.


Competition and What on earth to buy the relatives who has everything?

Do you need ideas for those difficult presents?  Well I have two ways of helping you in this post: Ideas and a competition for a fabulous £100 hamper.  (Actually I recommend keeping the hamper or giving it to me, and buying the presents!).

What I’d really like to say to the men ‘who never need anything’ or ‘who have everything’ is, PLEASE STOP BUYING STUFF FROM SEPTEMBER ONWARDS, so that we have a chance of finding something to buy for you!

Or there’s the ‘Oh I prefer to give at christmas, I don’t need anything in return’ thingy; yeh whatever, I know you, I know you are going to turn up with a lovely, well thought through little gift for me and I’m going to feel really guilty!

But I have a solution!!  Oh yes I have!  (Ok relatives, please now go and read something else!).

If you have a really rich relative, then blow them away by winning this fabulous hamper from Interflora worth £100 and giving it to them by leaving a comment below (see more details about competition entry at the end).  Or as I suggested, keep it for yourself – you can always invite them over for Christmas dinner.

There are lots more Christmas Hampers here, which go from a much more affordable £19.99.  Personally I like the Christmas biscuit tin, but then I love tins or boxes of any kind as you’ll know if you’ve read my de-cluttering posts!  Or the christmas cracker packed with chocolates would suit me too.

For my in-laws I reckon the ‘Luxury Breakfast tray’ is gorgeous and definitely something that you know people would use.  I have a little irish granny help me with looking after Little Dimples who the ‘Christmas Cracker’ at £60 would work as I know she loves champagne and she’s been a really special person, so worth it.

If you have a friend, wife, sister or sister-in-law to buy for then they have a whole section called ‘gifts for her’.  My favourite is the box (remember what I said about boxes/tins) with gorgeous hand cream, candle and shower gel.  Or there is a box of personalised cup cakes, which look gorgeous and since my son’s party I’ve been a big fan of cupcakes.  I didn’t realise that Inter-flora did anything other than flowers (of course there are flowers too, if you want to be more traditional).

Lastly if you love watching Kirstie Allsopp, but are actually pretty craft-challenged or maybe just don’t have time like me then you can buy your wreaths all ready made.  They are quite expensive for parents cutting costs at christmas, but the little festive outdoor barrel would look really pretty on our porch and would be a lot more tasteful than the huge box of lights that the big hairy northern one is about to get out of the loft (yep he is one of those, but I have drawn the limit at a Santa running across the roof).

Right now onto the best bit of this post, Inter flora have kindly sponsored this post and offered that fabulous hamper worth £100.  That’s a pretty big part of the christmas lunch bill off your expenses list, so apply now and then be kind and tell your friends to apply; so that Santa brings you a present too for being such a good Mummy (or Daddy!).

The closing date is Thursday Dec 8th at midnight – any entries after then will not count – and the results will be released first thing on Friday 9th.  So you have less than a week to enter, because I wanted to make sure there is time for the hamper to get to you.




 

Tops From Joe Browns For Mum To Wear at a 6yr Old Boy’s Party By PolkaDot Parties

How did that happen, Curly Headed Boy is now 6 years old? (Yes, it is a rhetorical question, I kind of get that time passes, I just never knew it could be so quick and never imagined what it would be like for him to keep getting older and older!).

Would you like an idea for a really unusual birthday party for your son/daughter?  Plus a fab top for you to wear and look great without being overdressed at the party? Great ….

Apparently the degree of stress that a parent feels on the day of a party, is proportionate to the amount of fun the child has, as Curly Headed Boy announced that ‘it was the best party ever in the whole wide world’ and that ‘can we do it again next year please Mummy?’!

We took a huge risk in organising a party that was going to be predominantly outside considering it’s November and last year it was snowing by now, so that was a big worry.  Plus of course it’s been a challenging week with the Big hairy northern hubby’s company thinking that just beforeChristmas is the ideal time to make someone redundant.  But the thing is that we met the lovely Lindsey from PolkaDot Parties when she did ‘Outlaw bootcamps’ at the Just So Festival last year and it was definitely Curly Headed Boy’s favourite part of the Festival.  I cheekily sent her a Facebook message asking if she fancied doing a party down here and hey presto it was so.  Luckily considering the week I had, Lindsay did all the party bags for us, and turned up really early to help.  Then she was off, teaching them how to hide and sneak, then forage for their food (hidden in little cardboard boxes in a tree), and back inside to learn a play about Robin hood to show the parents later.  They say that when it’s windy it makes kids and dogs go a bit crazy, and that definitely seemed to be true, so after a little while back inside we decided that practicing the play outside was better, so out they went again!  The final performance was fab, Curly Headed Boy (robin hood of course) got to marry Maid Marrion and the world was set to rights.

Another tip I have for you is to have cupcakes made (there is a local Mum who made gorgeous ones for us with bows and arrows, targets and robin hood hats on them), use them as ‘the cake’ by putting candles in them, and then hand them out with the party bags.  It saves a lot of time, and is great if like Curly Headed Boy your child thinks they like cake, but are in fact really fussy and don’t like it much.  Or a cheaper option is to buy a standard flat cake and get a picture made for you to go on top, I’m sure many supermarkets will do it for you.

In the meantime, it really wasn’t as stressful as it sounds, although organising parties when Little Dimples is around and escaping can be a little problematic.  The in-laws and sister-in-law had kindly come down for a visit and helped out loads; we had the boxes to assemble and jam/cheese sandwiches to make, plus carrots and grapes to cut and balloons to blow up, then banners to put up and late families to direct (I’m suspecting they might not be so keen next year!).

At least I was dressed in the perfect top for an Outlaw party, as it’s a little bohemian.  It can be a bit tricky to look like you made an effort, but not look over the top at things like a children’s party or coffee morning for school mums, and I think that this top from Joe Browns is the perfect option (big thank you to them for not thinking I was a cheeky blaggerwhen I asked for some clothes!).

The colours are lovely, and I felt really pretty in it.  It was my second wear, as I wanted to see how it washed, and the great news for a non-domestic goddess like me is definitely no ironing required!

Plus, it’s the perfect top for breast-feeding in as well as Little Dimples is what they call ‘an extended breast feeder’ and I’m really not keen on breast-feeding tops, which seem to me to be either too expensive or too drab.

Make sure you keep your eye on my blog next week as I’m going to be having a competition for this gorgeous Joe Browns coat worth £89.95.

(If you don’t know how blogs work, check out this page on how to not miss a thing).

 

Vote For Tutbury Eco Power In Energyshare’s competition and help a Primary School Cut Costs


At the weekend I told you all about the exciting project I’ve been asked to be involved in, where I am supporting Tutbury Eco Power in Staffordshire, in their bid to win £75,000 in the competition hosted by Energyshare (whose founding partners are River Cottage and British Gas).  If you are a fan of Three Hungry Boys on Channel 4, then you’ll have seen the competition being kicked off on their television show.

Tutbury have done really well so far to go from 1 in a thousand to 1 in a group of six.  But now they need your help!

You’ve got until Dec 3rd at 5pm to vote!

(Remember when you vote, that you need to make sure you have voted by trying again; some people are only subscribing and forgetting to vote.  Check you have clicked on the activation email, and test it by trying to vote again, or read their description of how to vote here.).

What will they do with the money?  They are going to put solar panels on local community buildings, so that important buildings for the community can cut their costs and spend more money on things that the community can gain from.

The first 3 buildings to gain from this project will be:

  1. The local primary school – well you can imagine what they will be able to spend the money on, as schools always need more money to help the kids learn.
  2. The old school building – where they have the pre-school and scouts/guides
  3. The village hall – where they run fab things like Tai Quan Do, Yoga classes, and the Women’s Institute.
I had a chat with the local primary school head teacher (a fellow mummy blogger too!) and she had this to say …“I must say I am very passionate about the project. The idea of solar panels saving us money was good enough, but then I thought of the economic teaching and learning aspect for the older children. I see that part being a Young Enterprise project – the children would work out the savings; they could work out price per unit, etc. The costing type exercises, I believe would benefit our Y6 children tremendously.    The actual solar panels would generate much speaking and listening and lead to learning about renewable energy – what other sources there are, etc. There is a lot of educational value behind this project, so I dearly hope we get many more votes.”

So why vote for this project and not the others?  Because …

  • These guys are Passionate about their local community with a capital P.  It’s not just about Eco-ness for them.  It’s about giving back and helping their community.
  • You could win a River cottage cookery book, as 5 are being given away each day
  • They are going to be helping the local primary school.  In all of these buildings, there will be Mums and kids gaining.  So these people have clearly got their priorities right!
  • They will be able to help more than one building and community project, whereas other competitors are only helping one group.
  • Their logo was designed by the local kids, which is an example of how they are constantly engaging with the local children and getting them interested in community and eco knowledge and has a big ‘ahhhh’ factor.
  • They have a proven track record and are already developing a hydro project for the community
  • This solar power project is both practical and effective, without affecting the community’s beauty or having some of the downsides of the other types of renewable energy.  It’s considered the most financially efficient as well, so you will definitely be making sure that your vote gives the most KW’s for the competition prize money.
  • They’ve found a way to combine a beautiful old village with renewable energy by being really sensitive to their surroundings.  So they won’t be affecting the beauty of the village, but will be making one of the villages from the Doomsday book leap into the future with the use of renewable energy.
  • There are no problems in the way; they’ve got all the necessary local groups/organisations involved, like the council, housing association etc, etc, so they are ready to rock and roll and you can be sure of their success.
  • They’ve got the whole community behind them by listening to all the concerns that have been voiced and making sure that it was done thoughtfully.  For instance, they have purposely decided to not consider wind (massive great big turbines) or anything that would require a big unsightly building.
  • They meet in the pub; another sign they are a good bunch of people!
  • By voting in this energy share project we are showing British Gas that we are interested in renewable energy
  • Other organisations have shown their belief in them by giving these awards: Trent and Dove Housing Association Impact On Community 2011 and Heart of England In Bloom Environmental Award 2011, and been registered with the FSA as an IPS.
  • In a way they need you more, because they are a well established group, but have been focussing on connections with the local community, so they haven’t got the social media influence going yet  (i.e they are just learning about twitter, Facebook and blogging!).
  • They are all volunteers and none of them are being paid for all this work that they are doing for the community.
  • Because I asked you too ;o)
Feeling cynical still?  I met with Gary Rowe from Tutbury this week and any concerns I might have had about this project purely being to promote Energy Share have flown out of the window.  They are a really inspiring, lovely group of people, who have a massive commitment to their community.  They have done so many things, I’m gobsmacked by them.  After reading so much depressing stuff in the media recently, you would never know that there are people out there who give so much of their time and expertise for people that they haven’t actually met.  He really worries about Tutbury, the people, the elderly and the kids.  He explained to me about fuel poverty and how they are working closely with the local Housing Association to make sure that they can start to reduce or remove it totally by using schemes like this solar panel one.  They won a grant and made a pile of eco friendly toys (like solar powered helicopters) which the school looks after and then lends back to the group for shows.  They go to shows to share what they know and have learnt about renewable projects, without expecting anything in return for their knowledge and consultancy.  They are packed full of ideas for the future.
So I know they will make the most of the money if they win, and I know it will be in safe hands, and I know that the community really will benefit.
Got any questions about it, feel free to comment.  Otherwise, go on, you know you want to do it, and it’ll only take a couple of minutes of your time.  VOTE HERE or click on the widget above, and double check you have voted by trying again.  If you have any problems with voting check out their description about the process here.
Just as I mentioned in my previous post, this is a sponsored post, but if I didn’t believe in the project I wouldn’t have taken it on.  Plus I was only paid to do one post, and a few tweets, so I clearly feel strongly about them as I’ve done loads more than that.

OMG Huge Thankyou’s for the MAD Blog Awards and a few less tears!

I have HUGE thank you’s for you guys, because you put fingers on the keys and voted for me for the MAD Blog awards ‘Small business category’, and even better I actually WON!!!!

I’ve got to write this post, because my acceptance speech consisted of slightly muffled ‘sob’ … ‘thank you’ .. ‘sob’ .. ‘OMG’ .. ‘lip wobble’ …. ‘this is so important to me’ …. yep, I did one of those ‘oscars speeches’, nothing like the planned face I’d videoed!  I’m very much hoping that the organiser Sally Whittle (better known as ‘overlord‘) does not publish the real video acceptance speach!

First some stats, because I’m a bit of a geek and love a stat.  Plus some people (like the guy who commented on my FB page) might think ‘hmmpf a few mummy bloggers, whats that all about?’.

  • Mummy (and Daddy) blogs are the new must have thing for PR companies to use to review/advertise their products.  We are a little behind the USA, but it’s becoming a real phenomenon.
  • People tend to read/write them to share experiences of being a parent, review products, and be a lot more interesting that the news (they are also not all about being a parent, there are tonnes of subjects covered).
  • Many are now getting regular writing jobs or writing books (like mine ‘Six steps to a sparkling you and enjoying being a Mum‘, due out on the Kindle at the end of Oct, plug, plug)
  • There were 700 blogs nominated for 14 different categories
  • There were 50,000 votes of nominations
  • 750 people watched the live blog at home and thousands watched it on twitter
  • There were 1500 tweets on the night reaching 360,000 people and generating 2m impressions

So, the thank you’s ….

Thank you so much for taking the time to vote: I still get tears in my eyes when I look at the award or tell people about it.  All the awards before hand seemed to be going to ‘big name’ blogs, so I had totally assumed that I had no chance, and was jokingly hiding at the back with the rest of the Small Business Nominees who had a really good ability to down glasses of wine.

Thank you to my family, clients, and friends for inspiring the ideas for the blogs: I love to write and you are a constant source of ideas (I have over 100 draft posts!).

Thank you to TK Maxx for my gorgeous princess dress (official photos to follow later in the week) plus photos of the other girls who I thought looked lovely.

Thank you to Katie from K and S Jewels who leant me the beautiful Stella and Dot jewellery that sparkled on my ears, neck, fluffy coat and wrist.  (official photos to follow).

Thank you to Sally and the team for organising a fab night out; which involved a lot of extremely excited Mummy Bloggers (and 3 daddy bloggers, as unusually there were very few nominations for Dads this year), great music, loads of applause, lots of music, and the amazing Bangs And A Bun who managed to keep us all in order and be the main presenter of the night.

Thank you to Parent dish and Talk Talk (sponsors of my award and providers of the location) for backing the event

Thank you to Little Dimples who had to come with me on the night, and stunningly slept all the way through the awards.  When she gave me this hug, it so felt like she knew what had been going on and that I had won (thank you to whoever took the photo too; Lindy I assume it was you?).

Thank you to the lovely Betty (irish granny I found in Tescoes) who looked after Little Dimples upstairs so I could have a little freedom (I’ve promised lots of Mums at the blog to tell you the story behind my discovery of Betty), who burst into floods of tears when she found out I had won, and who appears to be my lucky mascot when it comes to getting on a train with 1 minute to spare.

Thank you to the other Small Business guys for not booing or tripping me up as we had previously discussed when we assumed that Baby budgeting was bound to win (Little Stuff, All about the boys, Queen of Easy Green); only joking Becky, thank you for all your advice, I’m so going for the Kindle publishing now and not worrying about other options!

Thank you for all the lovely chats with the mummy bloggers that I’d always wanted to meet in person: Violet Posy (Liz Grayson who designed and moved my blog to self-hosted), RedTedArt (my fave crafting blog, who was thoroughly lovely in person), Carol (for all her tips), Liska from New mum online, Marylin from softhistle and a tonne more!

Sparkle Tips: Go Shopping With Friends

We might not all be able to afford a personal shopper, but we all have mates.  (Mind you I don’t think that all personal shoppers cost money, it’s just that they cost money in persuasion!).  So why not treat yourself to a shopping trip with a few friends, especially if you would like to pick out some bargains.

It might surprise you to know that I’m not very good at clothes shopping, considering I keep talking about sparkling and how important it is for us Mums to take care of themselves.  The big hairy northern one is much better at it and tended to just put me in a fitting room while he found clothes for me to try on.  Since having kids this has obviously been more difficult because he would be trying to catch bored children who think that hiding under a railing full of clothes is really good fun.  So I must admit I tended to opt for clothes shops with extremely helpful assistants who would do all the thinking for me, or none at all, or quick raids while Little Dimples is asleep.

However, I’ve changed my tune after being invited by TK Maxx to let them style me for the MAD Blog Awardsceremony (this friday, cross your fingers for me!).  I’m the kind of shopper whose eyes go cross eyed when faced with lots of rails packed full of clothes, so I have always avoided sales and shops like TK Maxx.  But no longer, because I have found the secret for those of us who don’t possess the gene that includes ‘finding a gorgeous bargain’!  ……

Go with mates!

In my case the mates weren’t mates at the beginning of the day, but there is nothing like a shopping trip and discussion of body issues to bond a group of women!  There was the lovely red headed geeky mummy, the little but very cute Busy Mama, the reliably honest Sally Whittle (organiser of the MADs and writer of ‘whose the mummy’ ), the lovely Kylie with her son Joshua (who slept all the way through lunch; so well behaved!) who is in the same category as the gorgeous Claire (inspirational), the not so on the brink Monica.  Plus we had additional guidance in the form of Polly from TK Maxx, and I took my gorgeous irish granny (the one I found in Tescoes) to help with Little Dimples.

Did you know how much easier it is to look for a dress for your friend?  Or how much easier it is to find a dress for yourself when you are giggling with someone else?  This is definitely the trick to shopping!  We all had our issues, for me it was the need to be able to still breast feed Little Dimples as I’m still feeding in the evenings, so I need a certain degree of ‘accessibility’.  But we helped each other to work around them with ideas for different styles of dress, or gorgeous shoes and accessories, which was made especially easy with the help of all the sparkly dresses and gorgeous shoes at TK Maxx.

There was one slight problem, which was the arrival of the desserts after our lunch, very kindly paid for by TK Maxx.  Seriously, these were not the kind of desserts that you could ignore; they were extremely yummy, which is maybe not ideal the week before an awards ceremony when I still have 1pound to lose.  (I’m just being stubborn about wanting to hit my goal of a 2 stone weight loss by this friday).

So what did I honestly think of the clothes at TK Maxx?  My dress is the prettiest dress I think that I have ever had.  I can’t show you yet, but it is definitely a ‘princess dress’.  So it definitely gets 5 stars from me.  Plus, with a little perseverance I got a lovely bag, scarf and little coat to go with it; all for an amazingly small amount of money.  So that’s another 5 stars.  I don’t think I have the ability to manage kids and shopping at TK Maxx, but from now on I will definitely put it on my ‘Mummy needs an hour to herself’ list of options, especially when I want something very special without a special price.

If you do have the ability to see a bargain easily in a rail of lots of clothes and don’t go to TK Maxx, then ‘why on earth don’t you go?’.  For the rest of you, do what we did.  Go with mates, buy a pretty dress, and then go and eat LOTS of cake.

Big thank you’s to the girls, Sally, Polly, TK Maxx, and you guys who voted for me to be a finalist, thereby getting me a gorgeous pretty princess dress.  Now all you need to do is focus on me winning on friday, and if you want to check out my likely expressions, then see the video I made last week … 4 days and counting!  Whatever happens, you’ll get to see a picture of my gorgeous dress next saturday, even if I’m sulking because I didn’t win (only joking, I’m sure I won’t sulk; well maybe just a little bit!).

p.s. If you haven’t seen the advert and don’t know what TK Maxx is all about, then here it is for you.  Basically, they have designer kit in with massive discounts.

p.p.s Massive discounts on dresses that were over £2000 can still make a dress £500!  I picked up one dress that the eagle eyed Sally pointed out was way over our agreed price limit with TK Maxx.  They did kindly offer to lend it to me, but really I did ever so well with the dress I got for 10 times less, so do remember to check the price tags, unless you are very rich, in which case; have fun!

Amazing Competition: For a Radio Flyer!

I am soooo excited!  My first every competition is going to be for the most amazing prize, a Radio Flyer from The Wagon Company.

What is a Radio Flyer you might ask, and why would I want one?

Well initially I just thought that it looked like a nice red trailer that my kids might like to play with, but which was maybe a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’.  However, since buying one, it’s definitely one of those ‘must haves’ that I know my kids will have happy memories of until they are old and grey.

We saw it mentioned a few times on a forum about going to family festivals.  Hubby got on the case immediately and started investigating types of tyres, and lots of technical stuff that I totally zoned out from (like you do!).  He decided we definitely needed the bigger, and better option, and I was a little cynical, but kind of went along with him.  However, how right was he!

If you ever go for long walks, or have kids who like to collect stuff when out walking, or have old dogs who need a rest, then you need one of these.  If you are going camping or to a festival, or have more than 1 child to transport without pushchairs, then you so need one of these!  Or if you don’t have any excuse, apart from the fact that it looks fun, then you totally need one!

It’s first job was to transport all our stuff from the car to our Yurt at the Just So Festival (read my post about it, if you have ever wondered about going to a family festival, I really recommend it).  Without it life would have been tough, even though there were the wheelbarrows provided.  Next year we are going to try and camp in one of the Glades at Just So, which is a much further walk, so we will definitely need it.

Then it was the carry all the ‘stuff’ we were carting around with us, when the kids wanted to run around.

Then it was a general carry both of the children when they are tired (Curly Headed Boy was 5.5yrs and Little Dimples was 1.5yrs at the time).  I was amazed at how sturdy it was, as we went up and down hills, over bumps and all sorts and it didn’t tip over at all.

 

Then it was the sleepy place for Little Dimples on the friday, Saturday and Sunday lunch time.  Fabulous, just look at her!  I was so worried about fitting stuff in the car, but with all the camping equipment I really didn’t want to bring the pushchair as well, so it was a bit of a risk, but she slept brilliantly in the wagon.

It’s the ‘Big brother looks after little sister’ option too, as he loves to wheel her around in it.  Bizarrely, Little Sister is incredibly strong, so it is also the ‘Little Sister gets to push Big Brother around’ game.

So, it’s ended up being one of the best buys we ever made; and you can now WIN one!

Next year we are totally planning on going back to the Just So Festival, plus a pile more.  If you think you might like to try some out too, then check out these sites for more info.  I think that it’s a really fun way to spend the summer, maybe even better than a traditional holiday:

Conditions of the competition

  • Because I think this is such a fabulous prize, this competition is going to be open for 2 weeks until midnight on Oct 4th.
  • To enter, just put a comment below with your email address (which will be hidden), so that I can contact you
  • I will use a random generator to work out which person has won
  • You don’t have to like my facebook page, but you might want to, just to make sure you don’t miss out on any other competitions or blog posts
  • You don’t have to like the Wagon company’s facebook page, but its a good idea, just incase you don’t win this time and you get a chance to win another competition
  • Sorry, you do need to be in the UK
  • I will contact the winner, and post a blog post with your name, and need your address to send the wagon to