Don’t vote for me to win. Seriously.

October 11, 2011 § 3 Comments

I'm a winner on www.havealovelytime.com

This is a somewhat unusual post. Unlike the (seemingly) myriad requests to vote for someone for being the smiliest person in Berkshire, this is a plea for you to NOT vote for me. Well, ish.

I have been (ridiculously) lucky enough to have been Highly Commended in the Have a Lovely Time actual proper Travel Writing competition, and there is a special (secret) Reader’s Prize for the most popular of the eight Highly Commended entries.

And that is the point. It is a writing competition, not a popularity contest, so I don’t want you to vote for me because I’m lovely (I am) or because you think I am funny (haha or peculiar, don’t mind) or even because you have met my husband and feel sorry for me. You may think you’d rather not vote for a sarcastic old cynic (see * below)

But IF you think my entry is the most well-written, the funniest, the weirdest or the most Welsh, click away and vote for me.You aren’t even required to register so the ‘competition’ promoter can build themselves a saleable marketing mailing list afterwards*

And then we can all find out what the Readers’ Mystery Prize actually is…

Dear so and so

October 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

Dear So and So...I enjoyed myself so much last week, I thought I would do it again. Although I am very glad I checked out 3bedroombungalow’s first as I was going to do exactly the same addressees (read it and you’ll see what I mean). Great minds…

 However, it’s been a (very) bad week so I can’t guarantee the amusement factor, but here goes…

Dear person responsible for Monday
Not any or every Monday, which is bad enough, but the person responsible for making me cry almost non-stop for 24 hours, on one of the top 10 worst days EVER in my life, I just wanted to say thanks. And you are a silly bitch.
Yours, one who has (just about) given up on the idea of GBH but who is still quite cross.
Dear school,
When you run a ‘sponsored’ reading session at school, please refrain from involving my children. Firstly, they *should* be reading at school, that is your job, and second it is just an excuse to bleed even more money out of parents. And don’t try and pretend the money is for books- you do this every year and still some of the reading books are 25 years old. I have checked.
Yours, someone who is tired of shelling out 
Dear Co-operative group of companies
I ranted about your car insurance recently, and now your financial services have joined them in utter stupidity land. And your supermarkets don’t even sell Garibaldi biscuits. Pathetic
Yours, ex-co-operative consumer
Dear Ken Bruce
When you play ‘Tragedy’ on the radio in future, is there any chance you could play the Steps version instead of the original BeeGees? Thing is, when you play the original I have to sing in a very high strangled-frog style falsetto and it hurts my throat.
Yours, someone trying to do the actions while driving.

Dear so and so…

September 30, 2011 § 3 Comments

Dear So and So...Just lately I have been reading the Dear So and So posts over on my friend Nicki Cawood’s blog Curly and Candid. I didn’t realise how much I was enjoying them until last week when she DARED not post one. Of course I chastised her about this over on Twitter and she pointed me in the direction of the insightful Three Bedroom Bungalow, who started the whole thing and where a Linky to many other Dear So and So posts can be found.

But by not having one to read, I have been inspired to write one. Can’t promise it’ll be any good, but here goes…

Dear Old Boss
After your behaviour the past week or so, I am mightily glad you are now my Old Boss.
Yours, one with a much better job, thanks.

Dear small girl,
When you said you wanted to run the country I was very proud. Who would have thought my just-turned-four year old would have such lofty ambitions at so tender an age. I was about to tell you to go for it, why not aim high, when I realised you meant you wanted to do the school cross country run. Running across the school field may be a more immediate goal than running the country from Number 10, but I am no less proud.
Yours, someone who would really like to nose inside Number 10

Dear School Mom
How dare you not invite my son to your son’s 7th birthday party. My son is far more interesting than your son and therefore couldn’t fail to liven the event up. Bet it’ll be rubbish anyway. You are now dead to me.
Yours, overreacting mum.

Dear Neighbours
I like you. I have no issue with your slightly hippy tendencies. But your new organic fertiliser on the front garden? It smells like, well, exactly what it is.
Yours, someone who winces every time they use their front door.

The mumpreneur conference 2011- creating a business instead of a job

September 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

The final seminar in the suite is by Elizabeth Graney, Hampshire Business coach and she wants to know whether your business is letting you live the dream?

  • loads of income
  • flexible/reduced hours
  • impressive work/life balance
  • greater status
  • better job security
  • more days off

No? Many business owners find the exact opposite and that is because they have fallen into the trap of exchanging hours for income, and that’s the difference between a job and a business.

A business is “a growing commercial enterprise that is profitable and independent of any one individual- even you!”

So, have you fallen in the trap? Typically you will be a skilled tradesperson who is too busy doing the business to run the business

Dos and don’ts

Do

  • create passive income streams
  • constant marketing
  • delegate tasks
  • plan for progression and growth
  • write everything down
  • automate procedures
  • work strategically on the business more often
  • develop and train your team

Don’t

  • be your own slave
  • exchange hours income
  • forget to plan
  • only ever work in the business (not on it)
  • do tasks you’re not good at
  • forget to take a break

If you have fallen into the trap, at least you now know, and you can take steps to get out of it!

The Mumpreneur Conference 2011- Dress to Impress

September 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

What conference filled with (mostly) women would be complete without a seminar about clothes? Dress to Impress with Beth Goodrham was all about dressing to impress yourself.

Beth (who looked absolutely stunning by the way) is no Trinny or Susannah. No one had to get naked and stare at themselves in a mirror, there was no prodding, poking or pointing out problem areas.  Beth as simply offering hints and tips aimed at inspiring you to try new things.

There are three key issues to think about when thinking about your wardrobe-Figure, Lifestyle and Budget. Whatever your clothing wants or requirements, they have to be practical for your life, and your style needs to take account of your body shape and your personality.

Mums particularly are apt to neglect themselves, or their wardrobes- too concerned with packed lunches, reading diaries and after-school clubs. Many mums feel that they have lost their way, in a purely sartorial sense of course.

So some tips, for dressing to impress- yourself:

Know your body shape- hourglass, apple, pear, column, inverted triangle, and take account of this when shopping.

The fit of your clothes is very important. Including underwear. The top three size sins are wearing clothes that are too small, wearing clothes that are too big and just buying the same size in every shop and for twenty years. Sies in most shops are now larger than they used to be and can vary significantly between different stores.

Play to your strengths. If you have great legs, wear a skirt. If you have a tiny waist- wear a belt instead of that voluminous top.

Take note of the length of  your clothes. Don’t highlight your worst bit. If you have a big bum, don’t wear a jacket that finishes on your widest part. Same goes for wobbly upper arms and cap sleeves or chunky calves and midi skirts or cropped trousers.

Distract people (including yourself) draw the eye somewhere else. Wear a bright necklace or sparkly shoes to take emphasis away from a mummy tummy for example.

Arm yourself with a capsule wardrobe and some key on-trend pieces per season. And Be Yourself!

The mumpreneur conference- Business Branding with Louise Lloyd (@BabySigningMum)

September 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Welcome to the MumpreneurUK live blogging of the 2011 mumpreneur conference.

After a fantastic introductory ‘getting to know you’ round (we had a Cambridge boat race rower and belly button-free person on our table) the first seminar I am attending is about Business Branding by Louise Lloyd, better known to most as the branded Baby Signing Mummy.

A good place to start is what IS a brand, and do we need one? Branding helps customers and potential customers identify and recognise your brand. Louise had her brand name @babysigningmummy and wanted to develop her brand, as advised by Dragons in the Den to many uninvestables.

Louise explained that her logo grew out of the sign for mummy. It is a small child’s hand (Baby Signing Bella) on a daddy’s (Baby Signing Daddy) hand. She has traditional pink and blue baby colours and white background, and these colours are consistent across her website, promotional materials and information to reinforce the brand.  After already establishing a strong brand and strong brand identity, Louise then developed her actual real-live mascot (and daughter) Baby Signing Bella into an illustrated mascot to complement her brand and brand identity.

Louise also talked about the values behind her brand. Friendly, approachable, tailored to children, flexible, and the other complementary images and names that she has developed into a strong brand. She is now in the process of trademarking all her Baby Signing Mummy brand and is franchising/licensing her business. This makes it even more important to have concrete (written down!) brand values to ensure the integrity of the brand is protected.

So how do *you* build a brand? Ask yourself some questions first.

  • What do you want your brand to show or achieve? What are the values you want to be reflected in your brand?
  • Is your message clear? If people come to your website do they know what you are about?
  • Do your customers understand your brand? Existing customers are the best ambassadors for your business and most likely to get you new customers.
  • Do you have a recognisable feature? This could be a logo, a method, a mascot, a name, anything that is recognisably you and your business over any other.
  • Are you consistent in your approach/colours/message? If you are continuing your branding outside your website, particularly in social media, try to make sure you stay on-brand. If you send follow up messages, for example, and your brand style is friendly, make sure your follow up isn’t cold and impersonal.

To sum up, Louise says that a brand is not just one thing, it is a combination of process and product and should fundamentally represent you and your business.

What’s your number? And is it good or bad?

August 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

This weekend I came face to face with the boy who took my (eagerly volunteered) virginity. Of course he was no longer a boy, but a man, much as I was no longer that 16 year old girl, but in the 18 years since, he has changed hardly at all, while I would give my eye teeth to still be as I was then.

But seeing him (and hiding behind large sunglasses so he didn’t see me) got me thinking about my sex life. I’m not talking details here, but I am wondering whether the number of sexual partners I have had is reasonable or not? I don’t think it’s a particularly high number, given my age, but if I then consider I have been with my husband for ten years, it then gets slightly less respectable. If I then think that before I met my husband I was in long-term relationships for 5 years, am I on my way to becoming one of those girls?

I have never really considered myself as one of those girls, after all I am the nice girl who did NOT sleep with her husband-to-be on the first (or even the second) date, a fact which said husband later admitted would have probably meant our relationship was over sooner. Hypocritical bloke.

But given I am a ‘Generation X’ er, who is still supposed to living up the high-and-career life at the ripe of age of 34, surely the rest of my peers (and facebook does seem to confirm the trend among the majority of my school year) who are still on the market as it were will be well into double, if not triple figures by now. And is that OK, given their extra time on the pitch, or are they brazen women too?

Just wondering aloud, and would love your thoughts (no specifics needed!)

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