Monday, 30 April 2012

Accumulation.

declutter
Image from here


If you are ever tempted to hoard stuff, don't.

I spent yesterday clearing out my Mum's old house.

She is now in a retirement village/nursing home environment and her old home is being sold.

It is a job I have been dreading with every inch of my being, for a variety of reasons. I know she is resisting. I have involved her as much as I can. Torn between practicality and speed, and giving her some dignity in this whole entire process.

Room by room I came across boxes and boxes of stuff. Cubboards and drawers, crammed with stuff.

Stuff.

Just stuff. Piles of stuff. A decade of things.

I have no idea what to do with it all.

My instinct is the skip.

My conscience suggests she would really wants to keep it all. It is hers. An accumulation of a life.

Practicality dictates that she (and by default, that means me...) must whittle it all down.

It makes me want to go through every inch of my own home and declutter. More space, more air, less stuff.

My memories are indelible. I do not need stuff.

It is all just stuff.

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Friday, 27 April 2012

My kids shit me, and that's OK...

things they didn't tell you about parenting an anthology


And whilst you're waiting, I'll add a few more -

  1. Negotiating the shops with three under three is bloody hard. Negotiating the shops with three primary aged kids is worse. At least when they are babies you can strap them in.
  2. Kids do not grow on a convenient retail timeline. If you need school pants in April, forget it - the only sizes left are size 4 or size 16. According to Target and KMart and BigW, kids are only allowed to get new school uniforms in "back to school" season in January.
  3. Nits and lunchboxes never seem to go away. Both are relentless. We have, touch wood, avoided nits so far. Sadly, the lunchbox dilemmas are ever present.
  4. Kids do not care if they get Vegemite sandwiches every single day. They don't eat them anyway.
  5. You can love your kids a lot at the same time that they shit you off entirely.
  6. There comes a time when you have to parent your own parent. This is exhausting and sad and horrible. But it serves as a reminder for us to take care of our own mental and physical health.
  7. Parenting makes you ponder the irony of the fact that when your kids were babies, they wouldn't let you sleep. As they get older, your worries for them won't let you sleep. Hence I am blogging at 3.40am
  8. Kids lose loads of school hats and even more Tupperware. It's just a fact.
  9. My kids behave for others and not for me. That makes me want to shout at them. And I often do.
  10. I love them regardless of all the above. Loads.

This list is not at all the type of glorious content you can expect to see from the "Things they didn't tell you about parenting" anthology. From that you can expect a lot more rich and enticing words...and it's coming soon...


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Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Trattoria



What do you get when you cross local tomatoes, sauteed garlic and fresh basil?

What do you get when you cross family with happy noise - that particular musical clatter of people happily laughing, eating and chatting?

What do you get when you cross red checked tablecloths and retro straw coloured Chianti bottles with dripping wax red candles?

What do you get when you cross a family of five with a public holiday Anzac day?

What do you get when you cross some ♫Tarantella with some Funicul√¨, Funicul√† ♫ ?

What do you get when you cross some new laughter lines and candles to blow out?

In an new fashioned trattoria with all the smells and sounds and tastes of Italy, on our doorstep.

You get over excited children desperate for gelati.

You get a husband and a wife lingering over red wine and coffee.

You get a birthday dinner. Mine, to be precise.

Thank you for all the lovely messages I received yesterday...I feel much loved...


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Monday, 23 April 2012

The game...


It's been a rainy stormy weekend here in Adelaide. And the last weekend of the holidays. A weekend for pottering around the house. A weekend to spend time together. A weekend to haul out the board games...

Back in the 1930's, my Dad was given, as a birthday present to his young self, one of the first Parker Brother Monopoly board games.

It became a family heirloom.

In the 1970's, my siblings and I played with the same set.

The box was long since spoiled or lost and the whatnots of the game were all stashed in a large biscuit tin. The paper money, it's colours taking on a browning of age, were thinning and well used, secured with perishing rubber bands. The ivory dice, smoother further by use, were solid. The counters - familiar icons of boot, racing car, thimble and little Scottie dog, were soft lead, and the grey battleship squashed.

The cards - property sets and community chests - all dogeared from hundreds or trades and desperate bargaining. The prized navy blue and the slummy maroon - just a couple each at opposing ends of the board, with the wealth of the $200 between them - close, but so far apart.

The houses and hotels - no plastic detailed bits - just solid wood, stained on purpose red and green.

The board - hard folded leather backed, no creak in it's spine, weathered from years of family use. Ring marks from wine glasses and a translucent greasy blots - candle wax - the 1970's was the era of the strike and the power cut...no TV lead to Monopoly in the dark, light by a flicker of a candle...

This old set now belongs to one of my brothers - still housed in that same old biscuit tin.

A wet weekend over a decade ago saw the lovely husband and I seek out a Monopoly set of our own. I yearned for wooded properties and lead counters - we found one. The set we play with now, with children of our own.

And the deal was then as it is now.

Use you allocated cash wisely but know that property is king and developing upon land will always, despite cash flow issues, ensure future security. Do it tough at first, as you invest, and weather the ebb and flow of circumstance and chance. Continue to watch your properties, act with integrity in business and keep your eyes to the ground to reap the eventual long term rewards of capital growth momentum.

I love this game.


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Friday, 20 April 2012

Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

slow cooker crock pot sausage casserole


I have made mention of my new gadget before - my 5-in-1 Multi Cooker  and it's ideal for this slow cooker sausage casserole recipe. (And for more sensational recipes using a pressure cooker, just go here - it's a really great Pressure Cooker Recipe site!)

I have been making this sausage casserole on and off for years - it's ideal for using up leftover barbecue sausages and leftover veggies. Or of course you can make it all from fresh, from scratch.

Either way, it is so simple - and a great way to introduce little kids to the idea of casserole or stew...

All of these measurements are adaptable to whatever you have - it's that kind of chuck it all in together and it'll work recipes...

Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

Ingredients:

500g (1lb) sausages, chopped into chunks. (Please note that I use standard Australian BBQ sausages which are links in casings. But common sense suggests that any sausage in casings would work just fine...)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced roughly

2 carrots, sliced
1 cup of cold water
¼ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup barbecue sauce
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
35g (approx 1.5oz) packet French onion soup mix


Method:

~ Brown the sausages in the olive oil, and then add the onions and carrots
~ Add to your slow cooker
~ Combine the water, all the sauces, and the French onion soup mix in a measuring jug and whisk together
~ Pour over the sausages and veggies
~ Set to slow cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on slow.

Serve with mash and steamed green veggies or corn.

Enjoy!

What's your stand by easy dinner that you always fall back on?



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(And thanks to Brad from Kitchenware Direct for the chance to try the 5-in-1 Multi Cooker)

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Thank you notes...

Thank you notes...

A Hallmark card chosen for a thank you note for my friend who cycles everywhere...

One of my favourite things is love letters.

Another one is reading handwritten recipes and diaries

Another is remembering to write thank you notes.

I know some of my "busier" friends and family think this is corny and unnecessary, but I like to say thank your properly. Sometimes it IS just a text or an email.

But other times, for certain people, I am drawn to take pen to paper quite literally and write a real honest to goodness handwritten thank you note.
My blogging friend Clairey is passionate about handwriting.

I have posted about the importance of handwritten notes before.

And so today all these things combine, with a mini handwriting challenge.



My school mum friend Karen deserves more thank you's than I can ever give her.


She is the Mum at school who ALWAYS looks out for my kids. She sweeps Lexie into her arms for cuddles all the time. If I am ever late, I know Karen will always keep an eye.

Karen is the school Mum that does volunteer reading and craft with the classes every.single.day. They adore her.

Karen is the school Mum that has, at lightening speed, developed gardens in all the spare pockets of earth around the school and has groups of kids involved in watering and picking of produce.

Karen is the school Mum that scours the op shops for costumes and craft stuff for Olivia and Lexie and Charlie.

Karen is the school Mum that brings extra snacks on a Monday afternoon as she knows the whole netball team and their siblings will get peckish.

Karen is the school Mum who scores at netball every.single.week.

Karen is the school Mum who asked me, a few weeks before the Easter holidays, if Olivia and Charlie and Lexie would like a full days play date at her house, to save them and me a day of vacation care. And planned so many activities for them, that the kids were reticent to come home!

Do you know a Karen?

Do you thank her enough?

Do you ever write handwritten thank you notes?



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Monday, 16 April 2012

Trial and error, change...



I recently published a post about working with brands. I have been really really lucky. All the while that I needed to be at home around the kids, I have been able to negotiate work from home gigs, and I've managed to slot all of my blogging and my writing and work at home commitments around the kids, the lovely husband, the gym and my Mum. Around baskets of ironing and writing deadly dull policy documents, I have undertaken a whole stack of blogging and content writing.

A great deal of this blogging has been lucrative - my blog has lead me to a lovely amount of writing work off my blog. I've never taken this for granted - but I have worked bloody hard. There have been too many evenings where I have gazed wistfully at the couch and my lovely husband, but I've not been able to join them - because I've been on a deadline.

My youngest, Lexie, is now very much settled into school. Charlie and Olivia are incredibly secure and settled. We have done the hard years of being totally absorbed with little children and their needs. We have managed on one income for over eight years, topped up by my part time income.

And now I am back at work, back to my career.

It is part time - about 30 hours a week - and it is intense. I am loving it. I am working in a marketing role, for a large property development organisation. I feel my brain exploding with the possibilities of the role, and the market I am in. My pride and ownership levels are growing daily - along with my enthusiasm to make things happen in the organisation.

I have, by chance or design I am not really sure, timed it all so that I am totally satisfied that the kids are all at the age and stage that I can work at this level. The past month or so have shown me that I can truly switch off from the kids when I am at work, and not fret. And, in turn, by the time I pick them up from school at 3 o'clock, I can happily focus on them entirely. It's early days, obviously, but I have demonstrated to myself that we can have it all - me and the fab five are making it work. I have no doubt the seams will show the strain at times, but I do not anticipate it all coming apart.

And the result of all this? My blog is no longer my part time job.

Earlier this year, when I was planning on my return to the corporate world, my blogging suffered.

Then I spent a weekend in the company of passionate bloggers - and some brilliant writers, and a lot of wonderful friends. This, as I anticipated, re-ignited my love for my blog.

I have been blogging for nearly ten years. Nearly a decade. Fuck, that makes me feel old.

I am not going to stop anytime now.

But I will no longer be doing many reviews or giveaways. (I will, I hope, still be bringing you cool stuff from Kitchenware Direct, because they rock...)

I will no longer be doing PR stuff or sponsored posts.

The commercial stuff will be very much in the background.

I severed ties with Nuffnang ages ago, for a variety of reasons. I have now also taken myself off the PR Friendly lists. (I am still friendly - I just don't want to be bosom buddies with the endless PR pitches....)

I realise that I am being very long winded about this.

I love blogging. I don't mind the odd fling with Twitter too. Facebook is OK for the occasional one night stand.

Blogging - writing - tinkering with words - is what I like best of all. Sharing stuff with you, my lovely readers, and getting YOUR thoughts and your comments and feedback - that is the bit of blogging I really love.

So, from now on, my blog can go back to being just a blog. And I am very OK with that.

I hope you are too?


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Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Campaign Trail...


It's that time of year again.

Blogging competitions are out in force.

Some kind people have nominated me for both the 2012 Kidspot Top 50, and also the Sydney Writers Centre Best Blogs 2012

I am not going to bang on about either of the competitions.

I am not going to beg for votes.

If you want to, the buttons are there, on your left. Click if you want to.

And this is where the campaign trail starts and stops...
I would make a very poor lobbying politician, I fear!

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Thursday, 12 April 2012

An ace era...





In 1995 I was 26 years old.

I was working a million hours a week, running a restaurant in the north of England.

Ace of Base were huge on the dance scene.

In our limited time off, we would congregate in smoky dance clubs. Monday nights were the Saturday night, the party night, of all hard core hospitality staff.


When you work as hard as we did, in such anti-social conditions in such a teasingly social environment as as bars and restaurants, you party really hard too.

I worked with phenomenal crews and we were magnetised together in the total absence of normal hours normal conditions and normal work-place pleasantries.

When you pull 14 hour shifts with a whole load of other savvied folk in their early twenties, you get closer than you should, closer than you normally would. When you face the intense pressure of cooking for and serving 200 covers a night, fast, and hack it, you have a pressure release valve that is ready to explode.

You indulge in stuff you shouldn't, because you are so bloody tried but you are desperate not to waste the few hours you do have that you are not working; and you  want to feel...feel different. And then you indulge some more in other stuff to recover. So that you can back up to work together again by lunchtime Tuesday.

With Ace of Base ringing in your recovering ears.



It's a beautiful life.

I have no regrets.

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Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My Blog, My Story...

My Blog, My Story  - one of the many things I spoke about at DPCON12









It was the end of 2007. I was submerged in the chaos of three children under the age of three, but I finally felt that I was emerging from the mind numbing mind fuckery mundane that the life of a stay at home Mum to very small children can be.

I was determined that the next year was going to be better. It had to be. Else I feared I would find myself curled up in a ball, in a lovely white jacket with very special sleeves…

So, I took stock.
Lovely husband? Check

Beautiful, healthy children? Check
Great house in a lovely location? Check

Plenty of work from home opportunities? Check
Friends? Close friends nearby? Check.

A handbag and jewellery collection to die for? Check.
Health and happiness? Errm. No.

Great figure? Errr, no.

A wardrobe full of beautiful clothes? No. (Lots of sacks though…)
Body confidence? Nope.

Loving myself? No, not at all.
Feeling great? No, actually, feeling totally shit. I felt like crap.

 I was 126kg and a size 26. I was morbidly obese and close to forty. I was a smoking. I was a heart attack just waiting to happen. Addicted to comfort food, addicted to emotional eating and addicted to cigarettes too…
I was sad, disappointed with myself, tired and very unhappy.  In hindsight I suspect postnatal depression coupled with a lifetime of hang-ups over food…

We had so many plans for the future, the lovely husband and I. So many exciting ideas for ourselves as a family, as individuals, and as a couple.
Each time I came up with a strategy to ensure that the forthcoming year would be our “best ever year”, the elephant in the room would loom. Dark and grey, and whilst not menacing as such, a great big blot of annoyance and inconvenience.

The elephant in the room was my weight.
My weight and size and health were blocking everything.

So I determinedly decided right there and then that I had no choice but to just tackle the hurdle of my excess weight.
I am a project manager by trade. This meant that I really felt the need to write down my plan, my goals and to journal my progress. Perhaps, I thought, I should blog about my weight loss?

I have blogged since early in 2002. Since before Blogger was owned by Google, since the olden days when you had to PAY for a Blog account. And there was no ability to upload photos in those days. But I was familiar with the idea of online journaling every day – why not add the diet to my daily electronic scribbles?

So a new blog was cranked up. I called her Diminishing Lucy. Set to public. Somehow I knew that I had to be honest with myself and the world wide web about my health. I suspect I needed to let it all hang out. Metaphorically, of course…

Gradually, very gradually, I began to lose weight. Gradually, more readers followed.
There is no secret to my weight loss. I eat less, and move more. But we all know that if it were that easy, no one would ever be overweight. It’s the emotional aspect to food that began to really intrigue me.

Over the past few years I have lost nearly 40kg. Vital to this story is that I have kept it off.
Did you know that over 80% of people that lose weight go onto regain it all back again and add a few more kilos on into the bargain?

I strongly believe that the reason I have not regained the forty kilos is because I have blogged.
Blogging about weight loss makes me accountable. Blogging about my life as a whole, the good, the bad, the ugly, means that I represent all the women you’ll ever meet that are trying to lose weight as they manage busy lives, families and careers.  Blogging has helped me connect with women and men all over the world.

Blogging about weight loss made me really analyse, for myself and others the reasons behind my emotional eating. It has made me search into my past, into my childhood and my family, for all of the reasons I can find, to try and solve the emotional eating struggle.
My blog started gathering a little bit of momentum when I had lost about 20 kilos. This did wonders for my motivation, and my pride drove me forward. My away from motivation to lose weight was my health, for my children and my life. My toward motivation was the pride I found through my blog, and my future.


The pictures you see up here? They show the outward story. The physical changes are evident. I am no doubt smaller and I certainly fit into a much smaller dress size. I am still not skinny by any stretch of the imagination.

The internal differences are, however, the ones the count.
Energy? Do I have loads of feel good energy every single day as a result of liking myself enough to eat for health? Yes. Check

Do I love feeling comfortable and positive about my health and my future and my habits? Yes. Check.
Do I feeling reassured that my lifestyle is one that positively influences my children rather than negatively impacts them? Check.


Do I wake up every day with an absence of guilt? Yes. Check.

Am I happy and hopeful? Yes. Check
Do I have pride in myself and in the friendships I have made through my blog and through social media? Do I have pride in my blogging? Yes. Check.

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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Stop the nagging already...


I saw a lady in the supermarket last Thursday - her trolley was filled with chocolate eggs. I am not sure how many kids she had, but her trolley was chocablock full of shiny foil covered chocolate eggs - the big ones in the cardboard boxes, smaller cream filled ones, and a load of bags of little solid ones.

I love a bit of chocolate just like anyone else. Lindt is my personal fave. I digress.

The lady was moaning at the checkout guy - over how her kids go feral on chocolate. She went on to say, in a tired fashion, how expensive all the Easter Eggs were.

She then ended up chatting to me about how they were having an Easter Bunny hunt in the garden. And how her kids always bickered over who got what eggs, and how they argued if one child got even one little egg more than the other.

"And then I spent all day wiping chocolate from their faces and fingers before they spread it around the walls."

I smiled at her - I get this, I really do.

"I hide their Easter Eggs at the top of the fridge, once the egg hunt is done, so that they don't eat too much chocolate. But my kids get the chair and try and get to them anyway..."

I smiled, as sympathetically as I could muster.

And wished she would hurry up already and pay for her Easter Eggs and let me pay for my milk and apples.
"And then I spend all day nagging them to stop eating so much chocolate. It ruins their appetite!"

No shit, Sherlock.

Eventually she grumbled her way out of  the supermarket.

The guy at the checkout raised his eyebrows. I grinned. Nothing else needed to be said.

But...

"Maybe we should only just buy the kids the amount of chocolate eggs that we're happy for them to eat?"

Wise words indeed.

This year my kids are having an Easter Bunny Egg hunt in our garden.

My Mum is coming for the day - the first time she has been well enough to visit our house for three years.

We will let the kids gorge themselves on the modest amount of eggs they do find. If they eat no lunch, no biggie.

They will also be indulged with a treasure hunt for a few small Easter pressies - in the form of books and glow sticks and stickers.

I love Easter. I hate nagging.

How about you?

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Friday, 6 April 2012

Garden of Eden...

Eden Riley Edenland World Vision

I can cook, and I can cook well.

Our groceries get delivered and laid out on the kitchen table weekly by the nice people at Coles.

I buy sensational gourmet small goods without even checking the price or availability.

I shop twice a week for the lushest fruit and veg and produce that Australia has to offer. A class.

I can budget, but we generally have a rule that the last thing we economise on is food.

Because we are lucky. So amazingly lucky.
We live in a society, in a country, where food and income are profuse.

We live in a household where my three children have the expectation that brekky is three courses and their lunchbox will always contain home baked treats and fresh fruit.
We live in a home where the kids help cook dinner and they choose daily what they love to eat. (They also have the kid habit of being picky little tackers at time too.)

My friend Eden is in a place at the moment where she is dealing with children and families who are at the opposite end of the scale in terms of foodie luck.

Her posts have made me cry, made my husband sponsor children through World Vision, and made my kids realise how lucky they are.
That all the children in the world could be as blessed as ours.

Eden, thank you.

If anyone is moved to donate to the East Africa Emergency Appeal, just click here.

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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Do’s and don’ts...

Do’s and don'ts...for Easter



DO -

  • Take time to chill
  • Rest
  • Play with a cuddle the kids
  • Make love to you partner
  • Eat outside and drink good coffee
  • Take pleasure in the change of seasons
  • Enjoy a four day break
  • Empty the kids school bags 
  • Read books
  • Have long showers
  • Eat fish on Friday
  • Have a glass of vino, if you want to
  • Catch up with friends - even if its just by 'phone
  • De-clutter a little, but then again, no worries if you don't find time
  • Go for long walks
  • Breath deeply
  • Spend time with your Mother...

DON'T -
  • Stress about your mother
  • Forget to enjoy the fresh air
  • Worry about your exercise routine
  • Stress about the kids bedrooms that are full of crap
  • Feel guilty about your friends - they understand
  • Get hung up if you sink a whole bottle of wine
  • Fret about religion
  • Niggle about saving water
  • Forget to introduce your mother to the books you love
  • Have a meltdown over lost school hats
  • Stress about your work to-do list
  • Worry about the autumn plantings that will possibly wither - there's always next weekend...
  • Rush so much you forget to just enjoy waking up and smelling the coffee for once...
  • Criticise the bits of your body you still don't like - he doesn't care - he loves you anyway.
  • Forget that often the very best parts of your kids day is when you sit down with them for a smooch and a cuddle and a chat about not much at all. They love that. Don't put those moments off in favour of chores.
  • Cram so much in that it feels like you need another holiday
  • Eat too much chocolate.
Have a wonderful Easter everyone...


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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Just do it...


You know when you used to have homework lurking? And you used to forget all about it, or at least try to, and then on Sunday night you'd have to do it? And it was awful?

And you wished you had just got on and done it earlier?

Or, you know when you get a toothache and you finally go to see the dentist and it costs a fortune and it's embarrassing because you put it off for too long?

And you wished you had just done it earlier?

Or, you know when you skip a car service in order to save some money? And you leave it so long that your warranty expires? And you kick yourself and wonder why you didn't just get the bloody car serviced when you shoud've done?

And you wished you had just done it earlier?

And you know when you know the dishes are all lurking, needing to be done? And the thought doing the dishes is just so boring and yuk, you just don't wanna?

But then you finally get your rubber gloves on and just get on with it and do it?

Yeah.

You know all those situations.

So do I.

I used to waste so much energy and time and emotion putting weight loss off.

I used to waste so much time worrying about the fact that I wasn't getting any exercise.

I used to waste so much emotional juice by all my negative self talk.

The doing of a thing is so much worse, so much more ick, so much more time consuming that the actual doing of the thing.

If you have something niggling on your mind - just go do it?

Whether it's losing weight, decluttering your home, starting an exercise plan or fixing a relationship, just do it?

Whether it's drinking more water, going to the dentist, making an awkward phone call - just do it?

Are you putting something off?


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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Working with Brands (my thoughts on blog sponsorship)


This offer was on the reverse of my business card, for the Digital Parents Conference attendees - now extended to ALL my readers - just use code KWDFREEKNIFE at checkout!

Working with Brands (my thoughts on blog sponsorship)

In the years that I have been blogging, I’ve managed to consistently work with some really great brands, large and small.

I get emails from other bloggers regularly, asking me how I managed to score such great deals, such generous giveaways or such effective partnerships.

Whether its freebie product samples, big ticket appliances or cash sponsorship to events, I have been really lucky to score.

Or is it really luck?
Do I curl up on the couch with a glass of wine and watch all manner of amazingly offers just drop into my email box?

Do I blog intermittently and gather a few followers and all of a sudden PR companies and brands want to leverage off my random audience?
Do I wish so hard I could work from home that it just magically manifests?
Sadly, not.

But I started in 2010 with a commitment to blog daily, about a broad cross section of topics that may spark the interest of my small audience. And I stuck to that commitment.
I also promised myself to engage with my small readership – through a two way commenting system, through Twitter and through Facebook.
I also promised myself to draw up a decent media kit, just in case. Just in case I could ever dream to offer it to someone.

And I read a lot of blogs and commented on them all.

And gradually, my readership increased and my stats began to blossom.

My blog became, through 2010, an unpaid part time job. I would work on my blog, its content, on photos, on social media, on writing, for at least 4 hours every day. I averaged 25 hours a week. All unpaid. I volunteered myself to myself!

Some weeks it felt like I was kidding myself. That I was just dropping the kids at school, neglecting the housework, all to play on the internet, to write.

But every single day, I blogged, and I also made sure I did something to push forward, something to make an inroad into the possibility of earning a decent part time living from writing.

Gradually, once I was signed up to all of the various agenices and opportunities to give me good exposure, the offers slowly began to trickle in. The more I pitched, the more successes were mine.
The more I pitched, the more work I got. Who knew...!

Some were poor offers. Which I rejected.

If it didn’t “feel right”, I declined.
Some offers from brands were negligible, but I took them on board if I loved the product. I have never felt as if I sold myself for hand soap. If a hand soap is a great product that I love, I enjoyed working with it.

I approached Brad from Kitchenware Direct, in May last year, after I had happened across their site. They are an Aussie based organisation that sell everything you would ever need for your kitchen, online. They appealed to me from a consumer perspective as their website was so very user friendly and detailed. I noticed that they stocked exceptionally high quality products. And that they were indeed very social media savvy.

Kitchenware Direct started with 1 employee in 2007 and has now grown to over 40 employees. They are now the largest online retailer of cookware and kitchenware in Australia. Kitchenware Direct's success has come as a result of great prices, an easy to use website and above all outstanding customer service. This appeals to me. They are a small business who is driven by the needs of their customers in a digital world. And they do KNOW kitchenware! They are really proud to support the Australian blogosphere.

I approached them and offered to complete a review, on my blog, of a product I had already purchased myself. I offered to give.

Straight away, they offered to send me an item to review, with a giveaway to match. Win win.

Gradually, with me writing posts for them that were of genuinely good content, trust was built. I stuck to the self-imposed deadlines I set, and engaged with a consultative approach with Kitchenware Direct as to what would work best for them. We worked as a team. They sent me useful products to review in exchange for a little bit of my internet real estate.

So, six months later, when I realised I would like to attend the Digital Parents Conference,  I felt comfortable in approaching them for full sponsorship. We already had built a mutually beneficial relationship. I set out a flexible proposal that would benefit them, that I would enjoy delivering, that would be useful and worthwhile in terms of content for my readers.

Win, win, win.

I am now able to offer high value giveaways to my readers, because the trust between me and Kitchenware Direct is solid.

Writing a review post for a Kitchenware Direct product takes me hours. I use the product a lot first, so that I know I can be accurate.

I take a lot of photos and I recipe test fully, sometimes three or four times.

The end result? Good content, quality posts, a genuine review, and a generous giveaway.
Win win win.

In the few years that I have been blogging I have worked with a lot of brands.

The key word here is WORKED.

I have worked at it. I have worked on my blog, and off it. And I have worked, sometimes for free, for brands I genuinely feel an affinity for. I cannot fake it. I love it. But it is work.

I am lucky that I love the work that I do…

Any questions on this, please email me!



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Sunday, 1 April 2012

The highs and lows of DPCON12

naomi suz kirrily mrs woog kelly be a fun mum
Naomi, Suz, Kirrily, Mrs Woog, Kelly

The highs and lows of DPCON12

If you've been reading any of my blog recently, you will know I have had a weekend away in Melbourne, attending the Digital Parents Conference.

If you were watching the tweetstream of #DPCON12, you'll see how much social media chat there has been surrounding the event.

The social media chat is nothing in comparison to the chat that goes on in real life at such events!

My highs?

  • The socialising. It was tops. I spent a great deal of time with close friends. I hope on hope that I did not ever appear "cliquey". But I am proud, very proud, of my posse. They are the girls who know me, who I can truly relax with, who "get me" totally.  I can cry ugly snot with them, and they do not judge, and I love them. So I will not apologise for spending a great deal of lovely time with them.
  • The new friendships made and deepened. Bloggers I know I clicked with, from real life and from blogging - we sought one another out for the first time or again - to share. To hug, to chat. To laugh. Gold.
  • The content. Blogging for social good, presented by Darren from ProBlogger, was a panel discussion that made the cogs of my brain start whirring.  The idea of blogging for social good is still whispering in my ear and and echoing in my heart. Watch this space.
  • I was also avidly involved with Nicole Avery's Blog Coaching Boost session, and came away with this - set yourself an absolute goal for your blog, stick to it. and then the decision making process in relation your blog becomes easy. Oh, how obvious, but how I need to hear and implement that!
  • The Kleenex Mums Photo Booth. Tops!
  • Hotel breakfasts. I bloody LOVE hotel breakfasts.
The lows? Not long enough. Not enough time to chill and take it all in.  That is all.

I had a wonderful time.

If you regret not going, promise yourself that next year you will?

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I worked closely with a brand, as their brand ambassador, to attend the Digital Parents Conference. I
am very grateful to Kitchenware Direct for their support.  I am planning on sharing my thoughts in relation to working with brands on my blog over the next few days - so watch out for that - it will give non-conference attendeeds a taste!