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!

Video Wed: Me Practicing My Losing Gracefully & Humbly Jumping Up And Down Faces

Sally Whittle, the organiser of the MADs Blog Awards, really likes to see me look daft!  I love her blog, and it brightens my day, so here is my present for her!

You see, I’ve been wondering whether I should be practicing my faces for the awards ceremony in SIXTEEN DAYS TIME?  Yes, I am ridiculously excited about the whole thing!

I’m also excited that the lovely TK Maxx are bringing me into London next week to get an outfit, and most importantly to style me and give advice from a fashion blogger.  How fabulous is that!

So here you go, am I managing the ‘of course I’m so pleased for them’ face (whilst actually wanting to hit them on the head with something very heavy), and the ‘really, what little old moi’ face (which will probably actually be me in floods of tears within seconds if I win).

For my lovely Kindle Blog readers, just check out my channel on YouTube and you’ll see it there in the introductions.

Mummy Went Out: Blogcampuk, TalkTalk, BangsInABun, SEO, BlogDesign, Blog Communities

Do you remember what’s it’s like to do that first independent thing purely for you after a baby, that required travel or something unusual?  Or are you still at the place where your baby is too young?  Well I went out yesterday, all the way into London for a Blogging conference no less.  It wouldn’t have meant much to me years ago when I was attending meetings and training courses all over the world.  But for me yesterday it was a big deal and I was insanely excited about it.

In all honesty I wasn’t totally baby/child free as Little Dimples is still breastfeeding infrequently and I’m a rubbish expresser.  So she also got a trip to London, with the lovely irish granny that helps me look after her.  She didn’t like the trip in, and cried all the way; I don’t think she liked the people on the train and they kept getting on and off!  But she had a fab day with Nanny Bets, and then got to come up to the conference for the last couple of hours and play with another little girl a few months older.  So it wasn’t entirely child free, but I felt like it was a big adventure, so it worked for me!

TalkTalk (the sponsors) arranged it to coincide with a new home internet security product called HomeSafe which I must admit sounds brilliant.  Basically rather than have the protection and control for the kids on the computer, it’s on the wifi, so anything that uses the wifi in the house can be protected.  Not it doesn’t protect them on their phone network, but it’s a great beginning.  I’m sure you are going to see a pile of announcements about it and that all the other companies will follow suit soon.  (No, they didn’t insist I write all that in return for a free blogging conference, I thought they were pretty low key and well behaved about not pushing us to market their new product, hence I have mentioned it).

First was this gorgeous, tall, leggy brunette with a pink short dress and gorgeous heels and tights with little squares all up the side (Ok it might not sound right, but it looked fab).  What a brave woman!  She walked into a blogging conference, which was going to have a pile of different levels of geeks or mums in it, who are not known as the most glamourous set in the world, knowing that we were going to look at her and say ‘who the hell does she think she is?’.  It was a brilliant lesson for me about something that I have been thinking about in terms of being brave enough to put your head above the crowd in order for your blog to be found.  ‘Fight for every page’ she said, and she’s right.  Check out her blog <bangs and a bun> here.

Then there was a talk about creating a blogging community from Sian at Domestic Sluttery with some wise words about the difference between your friends and your community.  We had blog design ideas from Cite, and amazing technical advice from Lee Smallwood about SEO stuff, which I’m not going to share, so check out his blog and hope he writes about it!

The weird part to the day was wandering around staying at boobs trying to work out if you recognised the name of a blog.  I’m sure I missed tonnes that I wanted to meet, so a big *wave* to anyone I didn’t get to say hi to.  St Albans appears to be a prolific blogging area, so what I did get to do was meet up with the ‘naughty corner’ as we called ourselves.  If you don’t have kids and you’re reading this blog, you can’t possibly imagine the treat it is to see other Mum friends and be able to talk to them.  But that’s one of the blessings of being a Mum, you really start to appreciate the little things in life (well you actually get forced to, but it’s sort of the same thing).

So what a fab day, thanks to Sally Whittle (follow her blog, she makes me laugh every time I read it!) from Tots100 for sorting it out. Make sure you check out the Blog Camp UK website for more events, hopefully there will be loads more in future.  It’s even made me brave enough to consider ‘inconveniencing’ (if I was my own client I would so slap myself for that thought) the family and attending a course this weekend, to help me maintain my credentials.  You never know Mummy might get to go out more from now on, woohoo!