Guest Post : Successful Blogging for YOU

My blogging friend, Lisa, contacted me and asked if I would host this post for her.  I agreed as it's a subject that I'm passionate about and can always be found discussing off-blog in various forums and Facebook groups.  

* * * 

guest post, blog, blogging, the mummy whisperer,
If you don't know me, I'm called 'The Mummy Whisperer', and I love blogging.  I was a coach/therapist who after having kids decided to focus just on Mums; but then I found a love of blogging, won an award and wrote a best selling book to help Mums enjoy being a Mum more; so I'm now addicted totally!

I've been watching the Mummy Blogging community with interest as it starts to follow patterns I've seen before.  I've been expecting a big shake, there have been lots of disagreements which have caused upset, but the panic about do follow or no follow links for paid posts is the start of the bigger shake up.

A maturing community needs to learn to balance laws with freedom, structures with innovation, and altruism with narcissism (i.e. giving and receiving) in order to grow.  So the question is where will bloggers go and what's the future?

MOST IMPORTANTLY: I don't think that anyone *should* make any particular decision or that any of the options below are better than another.  What is important is that you don't get dragged along by what everyone else is doing and that you listen to your heart and do what works for you and your family.

1) Back To The Enjoyment

Loads are going to realise that they need to go back to doing what they enjoyed.  The overwhelm, juggling with family commitments, small financial remuneration, stress of blogger lists, constant learning curve, upsets about awards, and fallings out, are just not worth pushing it too far.  For them the joy is in the community, the diary of their lives, the writing and the cathartic nature of writing, plus a few little freebies here and there.

As their children grow some will increase their involvement, stop, or keep it as a really enjoyable hobby.

'Mummy blogging' is a fantastic solution to the feelings of isolation that Mums often feel nowadays and a way of distracting from the day to day drudgery and stress of being a mum, so I think it is 'reason enough' to blog for fun.  Be proud if this is where you are and ENJOY!!!

2) Putting In The Hours, But Not Getting Anywhere

Some will decide they want than just enjoyment; maybe it's financial gains, links to a future business, or just competitive success.  They will up their games, learn the rules of dealing with the 'real world', become more professional, and start to value their work more.  It's going to be more competitive for a while, especially if the flow of sponsored posts does reduce from companies who were after follow links.

I hate to say this, but some do not have the ability to take off here and will struggle.  It's not to do with background, class, education levels, or the ability to 'play the game' with links and comments.  It's to do with mindset, strength (remaining steady despite being flamed or trolled or someone letting you down or falling out), professional fair exchange (no whining, and making sure that we give a great service to your readers and clients without being taken the p*ss out of), and knowing who you are.

Who are you, why is your blog good, and what are you planning on doing with it or following it to, are the questions bloggers need to be asking themselves here.

If it's a struggle, the question is, are you just about to break through a barrier or is it really not for you?  It's easy to look at blogging and think that it's the thing for you; but maybe you'd be more successful at something else?

3) Blogging Success

Some blogs are going to really take off and become more successful; either in views, remuneration, awards, lists or all of the above.

The 'normal' world is getting more interested, and there will be an influx of less techie readers who realise that blogs make great reads.  They will enjoy lists of interesting blogs, like Love All Blogs, or the Britmums roundups, and linkies that collect useful information.  They'll subscribe to kindle version of blogs because it's easier or get them emailed to them, and will have no interest in using RSS.

Sponsored posts may reduce, but campaigns like the recent 'My Family Clubone will increase, where a team of bloggers from different specialities work together, and provide a full service including  attending events on/offline and a specified number of social media interactions.  There are always ways around problems, for example having email lists for reviews and competitions would work as well.

These bloggers will be putting in the time to keep up with the technical and social media changes, will have clear readerships/niches and stand out from a crowd so that companies are clear on who they will be reaching.

4) Blogging Leading Onto Something Else

One of the reasons why I reckon all mums who enjoy writing should have a blog, is because writing is magical; it gives you a sense of yourself and your voice.  Many mummy bloggers are going to learn things about themselves, what they would love to do for work and practical skills they can use.  So the blogs may continue, but purely as a backdrop to their other services.

There is a huge market of small businesses who have been either trying to do stuff themselves, or being ripped off by 'specialists'.  They will love the fact that as bloggers we are ahead of the game on understanding Blog Design, building a website from a blog, social media, PR and writing good copy.  We can save them TIME and MONEY by taking over these roles for them.

Some will end up going back into the corporate world as 'specialists' due to their blogging experience or in the area that their blog covers; like parenting experts, eco subjects, craft, photography or cookery.
Some are already being paid to write for magazines and websites or have already written their own ebooks via Amazon or got a publishing deal.

A few have written eCourses, already, and it would be great to see more so that the great knowledge on our blogs can be passed on; perhaps you know how to buy the perfect buggy, home schooling, or dealing with difficult employers?

Even face to face workshops will happen, especially for crafts, cookery and writing skills.

5) Making a name for themselves

There is always a hierarchy, that's the way the world works.  A few lucky bloggers are going to become stars in their own rights.

We've already got a lots of bloggers who started out vlogging and ended up on radio or TV, and two have got their own shows already; how amazing is that!  The media is going to find that bloggers are a great source of innovative opinions and ideas, so expect to see more and more of us appearing on radio shows or the TV.  A small number will get their own shows or become regulars; there is a particular craft blogger who I suspect will be one of those!

Backing us up are the different communities and conference organisers like Blogcamp/Tots100, Cybher, Britmums and Love All Blogs.  Whatever you think of them and even if you prefer to stick to being in just one 'camp', be in no doubt that we need all of them in order to succeed as a community.  They provide diversity, different approaches and opportunities.  They are most likely to become the intermediaries to many of these opportunities like 'agents', and will therefore continue to earn from the blogging community; which is fair enough.  They saw the opportunity, they put in the hours and hard work and created the structure for us, and they will have the contacts.

The Result

Now don't go panicking about where you are and where you will end up.  I got a bit depressed this week while writing this post myself as I'm not sure where I will end up either.

At the end of the day I feel it's right for me to keep writing; I just need to decide wether to chill more for a bit and ramp up later, or go for a few opportunities now.  We are Mums; the eternal jugglers of life, so this will constantly be our battle!

All in all, expect seismic tremors on a massive scale, and a huge shakeup which might change your view of where you want your blog to go.  But out of that is going to come a much stronger community, more than the currently rather insular one.

There will be new bloggers afterwards following the same sort of path, but they will not get the chance to see loads of bloggers go through them at the same time as we will.  It's going to be a ride, just remember whichever path you follow to make sure you are enjoying it too!!

Where do you think you will end up?  Are you looking forward to the changes, or dreading it?  Are you overwhelmed or excited?

Do you think you are putting in too much time practically speaking for your family's commitments, or is now 'your time' to shine?

Who do you think has the potential to go onto huge amounts of success?  You?

Blog Camp : Caption Time...

You don't expect to see the back end 
of a cow at Blog Camp...

back end of a cow, blog camp
back end of a cow, blog camp

I'd say "click'em to embig'em" but you don't need to damage your eyeballs in that way!
Maybe hover your cursor over the images for an explanation?


Blog Camp : Blogging About Blogging

blog camp uk 2012 birmingham
It's that time of the year.  I've attended Blog Camp UK and I'm going to bang on a bit about what I learnt, what inspired me and how I move forward with my blog.  Non-bloggers look away now.

Have they gone?  OK, lets get down to it.  First of all... I LOVE BLOG CAMP.  Every time I attend one I come away re-enthused about blogging and full of ideas.  I want to spend time evaluating what the speakers said, think about how I can implement that to my advantage and find ways to keep creating interesting content.  That's what I want to come away from any blogging conference with, to be honest, but I have total confidence that Blog Camp will deliver every single time.

The agenda was ram-packed and there were a few sessions that were double-booked but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go with your gut instinct.  I'm glad I did as I managed to centre some thoughts and get clarification on my idea of the way forward.

For a full list of the speakers you can see the Blog Camp UK website or the Tots100 blog (who totally stole my idea for this blog post title, by the way).  I wonder if you can work out the ones that I went to listen to?  Think #nerd, #sarcasm and #inspiration and you're half way there.  I shall share some of the best tips of the day with you, though:
  • Links in and out of your blog are good.  With reference to the dofollow/nofollow discussion you should dofollow genuine links and nofollow paid links.  The End. (ref: Lee Smallwood, Geek le Freak)
  • Grow, Change, Evolve (ref: Muireann Carey-Campbell, bangs, bun, spikes, heels)
  • If you think a PR is feeding you bullshit then contact the brand direct (ref: Stephen Waddington, apologetic on behalf of all PR companies)
  • Don't be a dick! (ref: Stu Heritage, Snark-Extraordinaire)

We might get worried about the technical side of blogging, wonder how we can monetize our blogs and stay legal, try to figure out who might be copying our content, become obsessed with how other bloggers are getting on our tits... but it's all about publishing new content and keeping the internet alive.  It's about being a community and supporting each other.  There's enough posts out there to keep us all out of mischief so if you see something you don't like then move on or offer a constructive viewpoint.  Make your journey around the World Wide Web an enjoyable and memorable experience for yourself and everyone else.

But the biggest lesson that I learnt is that it's important to go all out to get a good photo angle but remember, you're surrounded by bloggers who are doing exactly the same...

To see exactly how I got this amazing (!) picture, have a look at "Blog Camp : Caption Time".  And don't forget to have a read of why I took three jackets to Blog Camp UK too.

Big thanks to Sally and all of the Blog Camp team for slick organisation plus a mention to the 
Blog Camp sponsors - Skype and Growing Up Milk - who made the event totally free for all attendees.

How many jackets...?

How many jackets does one take to an important event (It's like the start of that old "lightbulb" joke, isn't it?  See here for my own Twitter version of it)?  I ask because it now seems that I am known as "Three Coats O'Hara" within certain circles.  Let me try and explain.

This is my "smart jacket"
Sally was my official chauffeur offered to pick me up and drive to Blog Camp UK last Saturday (aka: Blogging about Blogging) and we had a pretty early start - 6am on the road.  I wore jeans, boots and a t-shirt and needed to take the following:

  • a black cardigan to travel in;
  • my smart jacket for during the day;
  • my big coat in case of emergencies.

Now, in my world, that's normal.  But not really normal according to everyone else.  Apparently, one jacket would have done the trick.  I DISAGREE.

It was a cold morning so I threw on my sloppy, comfy, black cardigan to keep the chill off my aging bones.    I also knew that we would be in the car for up to three hours (possibly more with Sally's sense of direction) so my smart jacket may have got creased and I don't do travelling in cars whilst wearing proper coats very well as it's restricting.  It was raining quite heavily and I'm the sort of person who keeps an emergency travel pack in the boot of my car in case I ever break down (this includes a hi-vis vest and probably says more about the sort of car that I drive rather than anything else) so I took my long coat that I could wear at the side of the road should we need to clamber out onto the hard shoulder of the motorway.  

Sensible, right?  Other Blog Campers didn't think so and all seemed to manage with just one jacket.  Madness!

As it was, I left my long coat and my sloppy cardigan in the car and ended up getting drenched in the downpour whilst walking back to the car park at the end of the day.  If I'd have had my long coat with me, that wouldn't have happened.  Just saying...

So, I ask, how many jackets do YOU normally take with you on a day out?

Related Link
Blog Camp : Caption Time...

Money Saving Tips

My Family Club money saving tips
Frugal times call for frugal measures so I was really pleased when My Family Club approached me and asked me to help spread the word about their website.  Their website is full of articles based around saving money as a family and includes voucher deals, offers, discounts and "best price" tips for household goods each week.

As mum (and nana) to an ever-growing family it's important that we squeeze as much as we can out of every single pound that comes into the house but to also findi ways in which we can still enjoy ourselves without it feeling like we are counting the pennies all the time.  I call upon my fellow parent bloggers all the time for their amazing Top Tips (as does Lisa from The Mummy Whisperer) and here are a few of the ones that I've been using recently.

Money, money money...

Amanda from Flying Start Magazine tells me that her best budgeting tool is to calculate how much money you are going to use for a given period of time and draw cash out of the hole in the wall.  It always hurts more to spend money than it does to swipe a debit card.  Kate from Kate Takes 5 draws her full weekly budget out of the bank and doesn't go back for any more!

Meal Planning, Slow Cooking,  Home Baking and Food Shopping

I'm a great fan of my (very old, only has the on/off setting) slow-cooker.  I love throwing a mishmash of ingredients in to make a hotpot and my husband makes great pea & ham soup.  For both, serve in huge bowls, butter some bread and dig in!  I also do my 12-hour beef in there too: large lump of beef, half an inch of water, lid on, switch on and forget about it - LUSH!.  And because I have no idea how electrickery works, regular slow-cooker users, Kate from The Five F's and Chrissie from Mediocre Mum assure me that a slow-cooker uses about the same amount of power as a lightbulb.

Tasha from WAHM-Bam loves making big veggie stews which create two or three days of food for under £10.  Even better... freeze it in those plastic tubs from the local take-away and you've got a one-portion meal for when you're in a rush.

Adele from Circus Queen advises us all to bake cake!  I'm not going to disagree with that even though my own attempts at cooking and baking are a bit hit and miss. Emily from Babyrambles and Helen from Actually Mummy both believe that you should be creative with the food you already have in, ignore sell by and use by dates and live on the edge (sort of...).  Emily also swears by The Thrifty Cookbook and says that she uses it loads.

Weekly meal planners include Jenny from The Gingerbread House, Molly from Mother's Always Right and Cass from Frugal Family.  They encourage you to write shopping lists based only around the meals you are planning for that week then use any leftovers for more meals.  Roast chicken leftovers can be made into a risotto and the leftover risotto can be made into risotto cakes.  A small portion of chilli can make a great chilli-cheese wrap for lunch the next day which leads me onto Caroline's Lunch Box World website.  Take a packed lunch to work or get creative with themed lunch boxes for the kids at school.

Browse the aisles at the supermarkets.  Sometimes special offers are cheaper than own store brands.  Also, if you shop at certain times of the day or the week, the short dated and/or fresh items are reduced by a massive amount.  Jo from Mum Friendly tells me that she prefers doing her food shopping online so that she can stick to her budget instead of impulse buying (but she applies this to everything - I know the feeling!).

Use Money Saving Websites, Voucher Codes or Cash Back Websites

Ellen from A Bun Dance and Simone from Sims Life recommend using websites like Quidco when you buy anything online, including tickets for days out at family attractions.  The small amounts add up really quickly and you can set how often you want your cashback paid out to you.  I usually use Quidco for larger purchases such as house/car insurance (I received £70 cashback last time) but I'm going to make more of an effort to use it for the smaller purchases too.

Kerry from Multiple Mummy likes sites that give you freebies and coupons (she cites Magic Freebies and Treat Street as her favourite two) and Annwen fom Real Suburban Mummy likes that clubcard vouchers can be worth up to four times their face value when exchanged for days out or restaurant vouchers.

The best of the rest...

Francisca, who blogs over at Teens and Twincesses uses baking powder to clean burnt pans (I could have done with that tip last Sunday *ahem*) and a spray using soda crystals (about £1 for a bag) to clean the kitchen and bathroom.  Ruth from Lemonade Life doesn't use fancy face products - she uses an oil cleansing method (oil on, let it soak in, wash off with hot water and a facecloth which opens up the pores and exfoliates) and makes her own soaps too.  On the same theme I'd really recommend the blog written by A Thrifty Mrs.  She's got some great money saving beauty regimes, household cleaning tips, charity shop bargain ideas and craft tutorials.

Becky from The Mummy Adventure reminds us all that using cloth nappies and reusable wipes will save you hundreds of pounds compared to buying wet wipes and disposable nappies plus it's better for the environment too.

Merry from A Patch of Puddles swears by buying good quality clothes for two reasons; they stay looking great even as hand-me-downs but also make fabulous craft supplies too when they can't be passed on any more (especially the socks)!

And finally, Mel from Raising Playful Tots advises us to look for open days (like with the National Trust) and write them on your calender so you can plan ahead and you don't forget about them.  I think that's a fab way to build up to a free or cheap day out.

Your Turn

What is your Top Tip for money saving?  Let me know in the comments - I'm willing to give anything a go.  Post links to cheap and cheerful recipes and websites that you have tried and tested.  Do you know of any voucher loopholes that give you double discounts?  Share your secrets with me... I won't tell anyone!


This crowdsourced blog post was put together as part of my involvement with My Family Club who I am working with and promoting for the month of April.  

Please see my disclosure page for more details.

Review: Frankie and Benny's, Blackburn

Frankie and Benny's Blackburn Lancashire
Having the week off work over Easter gave me the best opportunity to go and sample the new menus over at our local Frankie & Benny's restaurant (voucher supplied, see disclaimer below).  We've never eaten in Frankie & Benny's before so thought we would try the lunch menu (available Monday to Friday, 11am - 5pm).

The Blackburn restaurant is just outside the town centre but ample parking is available at the ice arena or the shopping area behind the restaurant.  I rang beforehand and was told that we wouldn't need to book a table.  I was even called "Madam" on the phone!!  We turned up around 3.30pm and the restaurant was quiet, with around 20 or so diners already eating.  We were shown to a table immediately on arrival and provided with menus.  Our waitress answered all our questions about the starters and main courses, advising us with recommendations.  The lunch menu has 1-course, 2-course and 3-course options (different prices) and a 2-course order was taken so that we could order desert if we still had room at the end!

Frankie and Benny's Blackburn Lancashire
Starters that we chose were:

Jake: Doughballs (with garlic and cheese dips)
Michael: Soup of the Day (vegetable)
Kev: Garlic and Cheese Mushrooms
Me: Amazing Skins (BBQ Chicken flavour)

The soup was piping hot and took a while to cool down before Michael could eat it whereas my skins and Kev's mushrooms were just warm.  Jake's doughballs were about the right temperature and he certainly got the best deal.  There were about 16 doughballs in the serving and I would suggest that this starter may be enough for two people.  Kev was a little bit disappointed with his mushrooms but we're on the hunt for a replacement of some amazing stuffed mushrooms from a take-away where we used to live and nothing has come close in the last 8 years so this is not the fault of F&B's.  My skins were just the right portion size and really tasty.

Frankie and Benny's Blackburn Lancashire
The main courses that we chose were:

Jake: BBQ Chicken Pizza
Michael: Hawaiian Pizza
Kev: Penne Meatballs
Me: Cajun Mayo Burger

The boy's pizzas were traditionally thin crust and they both said that they were amazing.  Kev really surprised us all by choosing a pasta dish because he doesn't usually order pasta or spaghetti but he said he fancied choosing something different for a change.  He wasn't disappointed either.  The portion size looks a little meager to start with but the three meatballs are enormous and it comes with a side order of chips or salad too.  My burger was cooked to perfection (I'm always a little worried how thick burgers are going to turn out) and there was enough for me without the chips.  It all got a bit "Man versus Food" at one point because we were all struggling to finish our mains but they were so delicious that we didn't want to leave any.

We had opted for the "unlimited drink refills" at the beginning of the meal and our waitress kept us topped up with our drink choices (you can choose between Coke, Diet Coke, Fanta and Lemonade) with fresh glasses each time, not minding that we weren't all drinking at the same speed.

After our main course we noticed that the restaurant had filled up slightly and that there had been a staff /shift change.  Because of this, we were left with plates on our table for a bit longer than necessary as one waitress was dealing with a large party in the center of the restaurant and another was on the other side of the restaurant.  In a way we were glad of the rest - our food could settle ready for dessert - but I still feel as though we waited a tad too long.  In the end the manager came out and cleared our table, someone else then took our dessert order, then we were asked (again) if we'd ordered desserts by the manager and it took a while to get our final drinks refill.

Frankie and Benny's Blackburn Lancashire
The desserts that we chose were:

Jake: Aunt Carla's Real Dairy Ice Cream (a scoop each of Chocolate, Toffee and Mint Choc Chip)
Michael: Aunt Carla's Real Dairy Ice Cream (three scoops of Mint Choc Chip)
Kev: Mama's Hot Crumble (Apple and Rhubarb) with custard
Me: Cinnamon Waffle Crunch

Again, the quality of the food was top notch and the servings were a good size.  By this time the boys were getting a bit bored of my "DON'T EAT YET... I NEED TO TAKE A PICTURE OF IT!" attitude, with Kev asking at one point, "What are you doing now, Nic?" and Michael responding with, "She's being all weird again..."

Overall impressions of the Frankie & Benny's restaurant in Blackburn are great.  We really enjoyed our visit and I love that the kitchens are open hatches, even though we didn't wander over to have a nosy.  The decor is reminicent of an Italian restaurant in America (if that makes sense) with appropriate, not overpowering, background music.  I do think that the waitress hand-over could have been handled better as I'm not sure anyone was assigned to looking after us after the initial warm welcome from the first waitress but it didn't really detract from the visit.

I tried to use the free WiFi offered in the restaurant to check into Foursquare and tweet a quick picture but kept getting the message "Your connection is wonky.  Try again."  I tried again and the same happened so I gave up.  The thing is, I don't really go to a restaurant to use a WiFi connection so I'm not sure it matters too much.

Our 3-course lunch menu cost £9.25 each and our unlimited drink refill cost £2.45 each for the first regular drink.  Our total bill was £46.80 which we thought was a really reasonable price for four adult meals and about 11 drinks (yes, the boys tend to take advantage of what they consider to be 'freebies').  

You can find out where your local restaurant is on the Frankie & Benny's website.  They have four new menus available at the moment with different offers for different times of the day and/or week.  We'll be going back again soon so maybe we'll see you there?

Disclaimer:  I was provided with a voucher that covered the cost of our meal.  
Please view my disclosure policy for more details

Addicted To Sleeping Tablets?

tablets in a blister pack
Living with someone who has to take a myriad of pills to keep them on an even keel for a number of reasons means that I am very aware of dependency, the side-effects and the reason for taking them in the first place.  But for a while now I have been worried about my sleep pattern.  I am a light sleeper and my husband is a deep sleeper, to the extent that he snores really loud.  I was experiencing a maximum of four hours broken sleep a night and it got to the stage where I was delirious through lack of sleep, I was snapping at everyone and was resentful if they were enjoying a lie-in at weekend.

One trip to the doctors resulted in me chatting about relaxation techniques (tried and tested with a big fat fail as a result) and not much more.  I'm convinced my medical history and erratic sleep patterns are related to my weight gain too but no-one seems to be able to advise anything other than 'getting in the zone' and 'dieting'.  Another trip to the doctors lead me to mentioning the fact that I don't take HRT at the moment following a hysterectomy when I was 31 years old.  One quick prescription later and a suggestion of some mild over-the-counter sleeping tablets and it's a bit of a revelation, to say the least. A minimum of six hours sleep a night, no fuzzy head when I wake up, oodles of energy and the knowledge that the same will happen tonight and tomorrow is a breakthrough.  The best three months in recent times.

But now, I'm starting to recongise the signs of addiction.  I'm constantly clock-watching on the approach to bed time so that I can take the wonder tablets.  I panic when I'm getting down to the last couple in the blister pack and the few nights that I've actually made a conscious effort not to take the 'sleeper' I've hardly slept.  I've woken at the slightest sound and I've even decamped to the sofa downstairs away from the snoring of my bed mate.  And then the vicious cycle of irritability starts again.

I'm scared of not taking the tablets now.  Is it psychological?  Is this a form of addiction?  How do I break the pattern that is already forming?

Our Song

Weirdly, I thought I would try and write more this week seeing as though I have a week off work and plenty of time to be creative with words but every which way I turn I seem to find something music-related that inspires me.  Then Nicki mentioned my "great taste in music" (her words, not mine... and no, I didn't pay her to say that either) so I thought I'd surprise you with the song that my husband and I consider "Our Song".

We didn't have a proper reception at our wedding for a number of reasons so we don't have a song that we danced to.  If I get my way, we shall be reproducing the dance scene from Pulp Fiction during the party for our 25th wedding anniversary (in 5 years time... eek!).  To make up for that I choose Dub Be Good To Me as "our song" because the lyrics totally resonate with how I envisaged our relationship in the beginning and also what everyone thought about us too.

And because I never stick to the rules totally, you can have this one too.  In the Time Before Children this was one of our favourite songs to get stoned to.  We even had our own Strawberry Field... *immediate vision goes misty and wibbly as thoughts drift back to 1990*

What song would you choose as "Our Song"?  I mean - your "Our Song", not mine and yours. Or maybe I do?  If you're really stuck you could tell what song reminds you of me.


Listography : Top 5 Albums by a Male Solo Artist

Kate Takes 5 Listography
Listography time and it's another music themed collection.  I'm don't really buy albums unless they are compilation albums or a 'Best Of...' because I'm a bit mainstream but you do get some amazing hidden gems on album tracks.  Here are my chosen six five (Kate made me boot one of my favourites.  You'll never know which one it was now...)  When you're done, head on over to Kate's blog to see what everyone else has chosen.

Freddie Mercury - Mr Bad Guy
Freddie Mercury Mr Bad Guy
I could listen to this album over and over again.  I have it on vinyl (somewhere) and have it downloaded as mp3 files on my phone.  The personal lyrics ooze out of each song and I'll never forget my daughter dancing along to Living On My Own when it was re-released after Freddie's death.  She was only 2 at the time but had fantastic choices in music.

Eminem - The Real Slim Shady LP
Eminem The Real Slim Shady LP
Was this the last ever album to officially be called an "LP"?  Marshall Mathers III is a lyrical genius as far as I'm concerned.  He takes poetry and real life situations and turns them into songs.  It's one form of anger management, I suppose.  His videos are great too.  A slight dig at himself sometimes but always relevant to the song.  Have a watch of Guilty Conscience on YouTube - very clever!

Billy Joel - The Ultimate Collection
Billy Joel : The Ultimate Collection
Dad introduced me to Billy Joel (along with a few other musical favourites) but he has never felt quite my era, if that makes sense so to opt for Ultimate Collection as my favouite album of his is a much better choice for me as it includes all his best songs.  And whilst Piano Man is almost as old as I am, it remains my favourite of his.

Prince - Very
Prince Very
Whilst I could never get my head round the fact that he ordered people to wear peach and black to his concerts, that he decided to use a squiggle as his name (I can do that with my own name in my own handwriting without trying) and the matter of him being about 4' 3" there is no denying that he produced some of the best songs ever written in the 1980s.  Another compilation album that gathers together some of his finest music - especially as he's so up his own arse that he's banned the use of his own music on YouTube unless someone has snuck it on there or named it differently.

Michael Jackson  - Thriller
Michael Jackson - Bad
Michael Jackson ThrillerMichael Jackson Bad
How do you choose between Thriller and Bad?  Thriller represents the music that was very prevalent at start of my high school years and Bad was very much the music that ended my high school years.  

I know they are corny classics and I'm a bit predictable but you can't change those first impressions and I believe that the music from your teenage years stays with you for a long time if affects you in the right way.

My Oldest YouTube Favourites

sheet music"Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die."
Paul Simon

I remember hearing a comedian talking about Google Maps and Streetview, saying that you have the whole world literally at your fingertips and where do you go first?  Your own house!  

It's the same with YouTube. I save weird little clips of all genres all the time so I scrolled right back to page ten of my favourites (I somehow have accumulated 939 favourites.  I should really have clear out...) and it's like stepping back into the 1980s.  Now, where's my puffball skirt and my blue eyeshadow...?


I have no idea where I found this clip from and the sound is ever so quiet.  Five Star were one of my favourite bands in the 1980's and their concert at Preston Guild Hall in 1986 was my first foray into live gigs.  I got a tad over-excited the other week when the official Five Star twitter account started following me and retweeting me when Denise Pearson was on The Voice UK.

There had to be a Duran Duran number in there, didn't them.  
This is my favourite version of The Chauffer.

One of my all time favourite films.
"Tallulah" is my nickname on many forums across internet land thanks to this film.
I also NEED Future Cinema to come up North so I can see Bugsy Malone!!!

Remember when this video was "cutting edge technology"?
I'm sure we can all do better ourselves now with Window Movie Maker.
However, the song is definitely a classic.

I had forgotten all about this song and hadn't heard it for ages.  
I've now downloaded it, added it to my phone, played it over and over on YouTube, probably to the extent that everyone in the house is sick of hearing it.


D.I.Y. Survey with E.ON and Jewson

This is an advertorial
All survey results provided by E.ON and Jewson

E.ON and Jewson have been conducting some research into attitudes towards DIY by asking about DIY experiences (good and bad) and promoting their "buy 1 get 3 free" insulation offer at Jewson stores (subsidised by E.ON).  They have loads of information and money saving tips on their related website, What's In Your Loft.

Not too long back we replaced the insulation in our loft, mainly because our house is so old that we can't have cavity wall insulation (the walls are too weak) and we are constantly looking for ways in which to keep the house warmer.  And it's usually when we're wearing an extra layer of clothing and scrutinising the utilities bills that we think about ways in which to save money and energy.  

I'm lucky in the fact that my husband does most of the jobs around the house; and if he can't turn his hand to something, he probably know's 'a man who can'.  At the moment we have a list of jobs that we need to do but keep putting them off until we have better weather (for the outside painting) or until we have spare cash (for the inside jobs).  Of course, the best plan would have been to arrange something for this week but, like more than a quarter of Brits (29%) we are unsure what we are doing this weekend.

I suppose we're a bit different too as we tend to tackle DIY together.  We have the most horrendous rows when assembling furniture (maybe because Kev doesn't trust me to put something together like 74% of the men surveyed) but we know that I'm always right in the end... *ahem*.  There's no way I'm admitting that I don't know what I'm doing and I'd like to have a stern word with the 55% of women surveyed that admitted that.  I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR (whilst brandishing a screwdriver and a set of unreadable instructions).  When we bought this house it needed renovating from top to bottom.  We had a professional plumber and tiler in to refurb the bathroom but we ended up doing the kitchen ourselves after have a free plan and design create for us and buying the cabinets.  It's probably our best work to date (click the pic to the right for before, during and after images).

So what happens in your house when it comes to DIY?  Do you tackle it yourself or pick up the phone and give the local handyman a call?  Have you had any major DIY disasters?  What have you done in your house that you're most proud of?

What Do You Want To Know At CybHer?

cybher, geek, chic, inspire, innovate,
CybHer is the first all-inclusive female blogger event of its kind in the UK and is being held on Saturday 12th May 2012 (the last few tickets are still available at the time of writing).  I've been asked to speak in one of the 'Geek' sessions on the day.

Now, rather than me tell you things that you may not need or want to know, I'm inviting you to guide my session so that I deliver the content that is going to help YOU.  The session is aimed at beginner and intermediate bloggers who use the Blogger platform, so ideal for people just starting out with their blog or who have been blogging for a short while.

My session details are:
"Ask A Blogger Geek"
2.00pm - 2.45pm
The room will hold 30 delegates.  
You don't need to book for the session - you just turn up.  I hope at least one person attends or it will just be me sobbing into Twitter on my phone... 

The session will be very informal with every opportunity to interrupt and ask questions about blogging on the Blogger platform.  For me, blogging is all about writing from the heart, creating discussions and being individual.  Your blog is your space to do that and I hope that I can give you some pointers that will set you in good stead.  We can talk about how to set up a blog on the Blogger platform, the new blogging tools that are being introduced (including S.E.O facilities), which widgets are 'must haves' and anything else you can think of.

You can get in touch prior to the session in the following ways:
See you there!

100,000 Tweets. What Next?

So this happened yesterday...
(click the pic)

... and it was a bit of an anti-climax to tell you the truth.  I mean, to spend that much time on Twitter denotes that you have nothing better to do or that you spout a lot of shit.  WhatEVER! *makes the W sign with fingers*

But the pressure to say something memorable was MASSIVE.  Yes, I know that's not what Twitter is about.  I'm not the first person to reach 100,000 tweets and I won't be the last (obviously) but when you normally have a lot to rant about say then there might be people watching to see your insightful input.


oh how I love that expression

oops, sorry, you're not all members of the Parent Blogger group on Facebook, are you and that's where I first heard it.  And I can't even remember who first said it but I love it!

SDER means Self-Directed Eye Roll and it's my new favourite acronym.  I do it so you don't have to.


The point of this post was to show you where the quote in that tweet came from.  My (fucking amazing) sister-in-law knew straight away (but don't follow her because she talks football and Benidorm shite All. The. Time.)

But she was on the ball with that one - she knows me so well (just ask her about the Duran/Spandau thing).  This Robbie Williams song is amazing when you listen to the lyrics.  Enjoy.

PS... for more of my inane shite and to try and work out how I think you can see the music inside my head from last week.
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