Monday, August 29, 2011

More kids books that we are loving

We have now paid a fortune in library fines for the Ladybug girl books that Immy has fallen in love with and have been searching for something else we could also share with her.

 'Annie's Chair' is a great one for little kids. But "Press Here" is an absolute gem that I can't say enough that you need to get it for any kids under 6.

Today we got a delivery in the mail for Immy, a brand new book, I was going to review it some time next week, but as I have now read it six times since I got home from work I can tell you it is a winner.

A little girl and her magic hula hoop. Zoe and Beans is a lovely story. If you are extremely fussy about the books your little kids get to read (which I am overly controlling with) you will be a happy camper with this one. No scary or tense moments. Illustrations that are lovely to view over and over and best of all some pages with big words where even the smallest child learns to 'read' the page. As in 'snap' or 'big' but Immy particularly liked the elephant that got fatter and fatter and fatter and FATTER.

I am trying to get the Youtube to embed in here, it wont work, so click here and take a look.

We get most of our books from the library and I only purchase the ones I think are really worth it. If it has a wiggle, an iggle piggle, inappropriate words, boring images or tension that I feel is unnecessary for toddlers than it gets thrown out (or back to the library), or never makes it here in the first place. The three here ones I suggest are actually worth getting.

Oh, and yesterday I had a giveaway, the winner was number 14 Sarah - I will be emailing you soon!!!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Strip shopping and $100 giveaway voucher

Don't you just love supporting your local stores?

I recently headed down to do some shopping in the local shopping strip near us. I will do anything to avoid the major shopping centres.

Popps wearing one of the many hoodies I grabbed for her.

When I found Bump Baby and Beyond, who were having a sale I stocked up on quite a bit. So much that someone who works there noticed every time they saw the girls down the street, at the gym, at dancing, creche...they seemed to be wearing something from this store.

We got chatting and to further support the store I said I would be happy to give them a plug on Facebook, but they have also said they will give one of my readers a $100 voucher to spend in store!

They are online, but in the store is so so so much more.

And for this week all gift vouchers are half price...odd concept, but if you want a $50 voucher, you only pay $25! Think I might get myself a few, valid for four months too.

On top of this they have a huge sale starting on Thursday, items starting at $2 for three days.

They are located in Niddrie, 481a Keilor Road which is just near the library. So if you are a Melbourne Westie get over there.

Leave me a comment if you want the 100 smackers to spend on maternity or kids clothes (or both) and I will draw it on Monday night using Just leave the comment by 8pm.

You can enter if you are not close by and want to use the voucher online too.

See, yet another reason you should take a walk down to the local shops and support the local community...they notice.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Roller coaster days

Image from Weheartit
Today, I started to get ready for work and ended up with a ladder in my brand new stockings. I decided it was the start to a crappy day.

Then I remembered I had a new work jacket to wear and so today was going to be a good day.

Mr H was in charge of weetbix duties, I should have known he can not be relied upon to remain at his station until the task is complete so of course he left, Immy sent her cereal flying and as I cleaned her up, she grabbed my new jacket with her gorgeous little filthy hands.

Popps confirmed that she couldn't see heaps of breakfast on me so the jacket was still ok.

Yep, it is going to be a crappy day.

I headed off just in time to get the train and be on time for a meeting.

Mr H had the car yesterday and of course returned home with the petrol light on, I would now not make the train in time.

Crap day continues.

When I paid for my petrol I decided I needed a cherry ripe to get through the morning and that's when the assistant told me it was buy one get one free cherry ripe day. Woo hoo.

Today was looking better.

I made it to work for the meeting.

Only to be reminded that the meeting is next week and I had no need to be in the office today.

I have now decided that two cherry ripes and sitting in the sun at home while I do some blogging, on top of the tremendous online support and kind words from yesterday's post 'If you see an Angel" makes today a very good day indeed.

On top of that, Friday is Aussie Farmers delivery day here so I don't even have to go to the shops for food.

Do you have days that roller coaster up and down? Do you manage to focus on the best bits to ensure your day is ok?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If you see an Angel

Today is Lochie's Birthday

It will be a day for us to share a happy meal at Maccas and light a candle to burn all day as we remember him. Remembering the happy moments and sharing these with the Little Hueys.

I thought I would share a poem with you that my Dad wrote not long after he lost his first grandchild. It is called, If you see an Angel.

If you see an Angel with the brightest reddest hair,
Send him back to Gre Gre, they really miss him there
Take him to his Mum who loves him very much,
She would give the world to feel his gentle touch,
Or give him to his Dad who’s being really strong
He needs his little helper in the ute where he belongs.

If you see an Angel with the blue, blue eyes,
Take him to his Mama, cause she often cries
For her Angel in the garden where he used to play,
Bring him to his Poppy, no words that he can say
To quell the pain that burns, inside our breaking heart
While we grieve for the angel, who tears our hearts

If you see an Angel, who’s playing all alone,
Take him to young Matty, who’s also on his own.
They could play for hours together with their little toys
And cause all kinds of mischief just like other boys.
Or a nurse with little Abbey his brand new baby sister
He was proud of her, he’s really going to miss her.

If you see an Angel digging out some weeds
Send him to his Papa, for an Angel’s what he needs,
His Grandma saves in her heart a very special place
For her precious little boy with the cheeky smiley face
So if you see and Angel with the brightest reddest hair
Send him home to Gre Gre, they really love him there

Happy Birthday Lochie.
We miss you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why Claireyhewitt is ClaireyHewitt.

Attending some blogging shin digs in recent weeks I seem to have confused people with my name.

While some organizers decided my first name was now Clairey, as do most PRs that write to me, some others got it all wrong and used Clair (no 'e').

I just fix my name tags and off I go.

But then a couple of bloggers asked what my name was too and why Clairey?

So here is the story.

Back last century I was backpacking through Ireland with a uni friend, the wonderful Lizzy Dee. We had time to spare in Dublin and we wandered into a very high tech Internet cafe. Being such cool cats we opened yahoo email accounts to make it easier to keep in contact with those few people who had emails at home.

Can you believe that Clairehewitt was already gone. My name is apparently quite common.

As my uni friends and travel mates had been calling me Clairey, that was what I used.

Years later I don't see my uni friends much at all and my work mates have never called me Clairey. The friends I see most, my groupies, they call me Claire.

When I started this blog I had no idea what I was really doing. I used the claireyhewitt URL because once again Clairehewitt.blogspot was gone. But at that time this blog was called Babble On.

Then I hit twitter...shock horror again, Clairehewitt was taken, but Claireyhewitt was mine all mine, it is my back up, what I use when I need a log in to remember.

And then people started to read this blog and the different URL and name was confusing.

So I had my redesign done and just went with Clairey Hewitt.

But my name is Claire.

You can call me Clairey, but if we don't know each other it is kind of weird, like meeting a Louise and calling them Lou Lou, or a David and calling him Davo.

Bloggers are calling me Clairey. Maybe that is ok, maybe they read my stuff and kind of 'know' me so thus the familiar is ok. But what if they never comment and I don't know them.

I'm not sure.

But that's the story of how the name Clairey Hewitt came to be.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Instagram is where I pretend I am a talented photographer, just add a ready made filter and a dodgy photo gets a new look.

Last week I also lost an hour when I started playing around with an online photo site that will turn all my Instagram images into a printed book.

I love great photos, mainly of the girls of course. I ad just not very good at capturing them.

As the digital camera died a few months ago I am also just using the phone camera now too.

Here are a couple from the last few days

Pretty in sleep, and the last grow suit we will ever have.

Working from home, I need to reorganise the desk area, maybe totally move it, but with the desktop, laptop and two iPads going it is getting a little squishy. And remote access has to be on the laptop, I truly need it all.

A reminder of how well they really do get along

I love this image, Immy is very independent and bossy and determined. Usually I would want them to take off the ballet clothes, but she insisted on wearing them for the day. Plus the too small hat. I can just see her thinking up her next request and trying to work out how she was going to get her own way.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Letter to my daughters

To my most wonderful Girls,

I would like to wrap you in clouds or sew airbags into your clothing so that you are never hurt.

If I could, I would wish you the earth, with trips to the moon, a life as shiny as stars and the warmth of the sun to keep you well.

I want nothing but healthy and happy lives for you both. Right now I protect you as best I can and try my best to teach you ways to make your lives as happy as possible. Daddy and I will help you to learn and be educated, we will support your interests and celebrate all your achievements, no matter how small.

In years to come there are things you may forget, so here is a list of things I want you to know.

That you are worthy.

Worthy of being treated with respect and kindness from people that you meet.

That you are beautiful of mind and kind to others and that you are worthy of receiving the same from them.

That it is worthwhile applying for that job that you think you wont get, because you are just as worthy as all the other candidates.

Remember that it is ok if not everyone likes you. Don't waste your time worrying about why.

Don't ever beg for someone to like you. You are worth more than that.

And don't think you can make someone love you. There are lots of other people out there who already do.

Use eco washing powder and the clothes line to wash and dry your clothes.

You should know that you are going to make mistakes, probably quite a few, but never will there be a mistake that makes us not love you, we may be angry, annoyed or disappointed, but we will quickly get over it, manage it and move on. You are worth the world to us. Nothing will change that.

Do what makes you happy, don't wait for others to find your happiness, you can do that all by yourself.

If you really truly believe you are right, than you probably are.

If your tummy gives you a bad feeling about something, it is probably best to listen to it.

The world is full of many, many people, most of them are pretty good sorts, if you find a bad one, then move on, stay away and surround yourself with people who make you feel happy, safe and loved.

Look after each other, a sister is a precious gift, not everyone has one and those that do are among the lucky. Cherish your relationship and you will reap the rewards for life.

Eat your greens.

Eat chocolate.

Drink nice wine. But not too much.

Make time to call your grandparents.

Keep making birthday cards, they really are the best.

Use suncream, especially as a teenager.

Anti cellulite cream does not work, I know because I have tried them all.

Your Poppy Ray is full of good information, but I want to share one of his most used phrases. He usually reminds me of this when I am wallowing in sorrow or wasting time on what other people were thinking.

"You only get one life, so get busy living."

You have a lot to do, places to see and people to meet. Be confident, believe in yourselves, be strong, be brave.

And one last thing: Getting your tongue pierced does not make you original or interesting. It just means you have a hole in your tongue with a thing in it. Read a book or the newspaper, listen to music or go out with friends, it will be more fun, less painful and make you much more original and interesting.

And I will always love you.
Mum xxx

The Fairy visits

Little minds with no TV can lead to a very imaginative place.

When I was dragged in to see the result of Popps having to play quietly for a few hours I could see she had put in significant thought to the whole concept of inviting a fairy to visit.

Her plan was that if she made a place welcoming enough then the fairies would have to visit. If they didn't then that would probably be because they aren't real.

Her bedhead is the perfect place for the fairy land to be and it meant that she would try very hard to hear them when she slept.

She started with drawing the red mushroom and sticky taping that to the bed, a tiara to make them feel like princesses, some golden shoes with specially folded tissues to make them more comfortable for little fairies and a lounge chair stolen from Polly Pockets boat so the fairy could have a rest.

A fairy card with a picture of a fairy, in case that was one of the fairies friends and a note that reads

I want to know if you are real if so please write back to me (with a full stop after each word).

A box was recycled and turned into a sleeping area for the fairies, with soft toys for them to cuddle incase they got lonely.

A little piece of paper was ripped up and a tiny bit of crayon was broken down to provide the fairies with the tools to leave her a letter to confirm they exist. She also knew that they would never arrive with the light on or if she was awake.

For the first time ever, she was in bed at 7 pm, lights off and shooing me out the door to get to sleep.

And the fairies? They did visit.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Popps, TV, Me and Rollerskates.

Popps is often up for a bribe or two.

It 's the way she likes to function.

She also watches way too much TV for my liking and I am constantly turning it off and then hiding my iPad as she is quite keen on iView too.

Two days ago she approached the bench.

She wants roller skates she says. She wants them so bad that she is willing to do any chores to earn them that day. I know she is thinking maybe set the table and hang a towel might do it.

I say, to get them, she will be required to go without any TV for the next week.

I don't expect her to agree, or if she does, I don't expect her to get through the first day.

Here we are though at day number 3, she has to last til Saturday.

She seems to be doing it easy. Trouble is, I am finding this challenge rather tough. I quite like knowing that while I am in the shower they are glued to one spot and not moving. Or if I want to do a spot of work that I can turn on ABC Kids and get an hours work done with no interruptions.

On top of that, I can't find any roller skates.

Do your children ever go technology free? How do you cope?


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nearly ten things NOT to buy the under threes

We all have items we have purchased, received or borrowed for the toddler that didnt work out to be all they should.

So to help everyone out here is my list of things not to buy.

First up, those lovely soaps that smell yummy and look exactly like a fruit, a doughnut or cake. They are so good that they will be licked, chewed and swallowed in moments.

Closely followed by bath crayons, forget what the packaging says, they DO NOT easily wash off. They require much domestos and scrubbing...before you even get to the tiles and bath.

Rollerskates. Even if they have Dora on them.



Crayola grip hold Tadoodles, they will not teach a child to hold a pencil, they won't even be able to be held by a toddler. They will easily have the ink suckered right out of them and your child will end up looking like you dipped them head first into a bucket of paint.


More like Cranky Clairey by the end of it.


Steve Parish story books. These are the dullest books to read to toddlers. Same image every page pretty much and as a double whammy, boring stories too. Parish is a great photographer, end of boring story!

A 500 piece jigsaw. The child will not sit and watch and look for the edges. They will throw it around, hide the pieces, stand on what you have done already and wonder why you are not playing with them.

A real golf club, even a junior size one, no Mr H, your daughters are not to be trained to play golf to fund your retirement.

A real cricket ball. It will hurt, but not the child. Your windows, your bodily parts, your walls, your renovation budget.

A real china tea set, handed down from Great Granny. It shall not be handed down again.

I cant think of number ten, help me out, what have you bought, received or gifted a small child that just worked out all wrong?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting reddy. For Daniel

Awareness is key to making changes.

Out of sight out of mind is too often the case.

So today we are wearing red. To remember Daniel Morcombe and the too many other children that are abused.

Because the more people who show that as a community we won't tolerate those who abuse children, the closer we come to saving another child.

Support the foundation if you can.

And link up with if you are a blogger and joining in.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Little towns and a little history.

Can you imagine what people will read about us in 100 years time?

Will they pick up the Herald Sun newspaper, read Andrew Bolt and think his were the views of our era? Will they look at the stats of A
Current Affair and think we all watched and believed it?

Who knows.

I really like history, especially Australian history.

When we went to Walhalla the town had recently tidied up the war memorial from the first world war and our guide gave us the history of it.

Take a look?

Notice anything?

Start with the American spelling of Honor.

That there is not a single name on the memorial, a mining town full of young men, yet no names of any lost in the war.

And the dates. Wrong again.

The mines in Walhalla started closing in 1911, people left, the train finally arrived, the war started, the people kept leaving, the money ran out, the men went to war.

Those that remained in this isolated area wanted a memorial for the towns fallen. But they had no idea what was going on, and they were all planning on leaving town too.

So they guessed.

They just guessed how long the war might go for and it is presumed they were still to know the names of any men (boys really) that were not to return.

So they did what they could to honour the lives of our ANZACS. And made a shrine a little the same, but different to all the other towns around the country. So often we just walk straight by them without really taking a look.

Do you like history? Do these little things interest you when you visit a town?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dancing along

We have some dancing issues going on.

Popps started the year a keen dancer, but her overly stressful outlook is making it hard for her to attend. She has now set strict guidelines around her attendance.
1) some weeks she will dance and some she will not
2) no one, not parents, other children or grandparents are to watch her, if anyone enters the dance room she sits down or leaves the room
3) she will not be performing in the concert at the end of the year but would still like me to purchase the fancy costume and book tickets to the event, just in case she changes her mind.
4) she agrees it is really fun and she has a good time. That the other girls are all really funny and nice and 'her friends' and she likes being invited to their birthday parties.
5) if she does complete a full class, she needs a reward.

Mr H and I decided she needs to finish the year out, after begging for jazz shoes, tap shoes etc and the fact that she really does enjoy it when she is there. We would also like her to see that her fears, whatever they may be, are not so big after all, and maybe, just maybe, if she does manage to take part in the concert, the achievement will be wonderful for her.

Then we have Immy.

She is attending a class at the same time, it is for the 3 and 4 year olds, but as we are already there I asked if she could just join in and flap about. They agreed and we pulled together a costume from the dress up box and some hand me downs.

Six months in and at 2 1/2 she is addicted. She dances her little feet off, sings and skips about. She seems to believe she is Angelina Ballerina. She dances all week to the point we have downloaded the songs from class for her so she can practice her moves.

What started as just filling in time for Immy while waiting for Popps has turned around.

I don't know how Immy will go on concert night, how many two-year olds really do cope on stage? But I can't see how I am going to keep her away.

What do you do when your kids change their minds about activities?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Do you know you eat with your eyes?

I was going through a stash of items that have arrived here in recent weeks to see what I could pass on to some of my friends, readers, Facebook friends etc.

I was flicking through a book wondering who might like it when I realized I had now read the first 40 pages and actually I might keep this one for myself.

There is nothing ground breaking in it but it talks about the effects of marketing on all of us.

It was a reminder to me how we all eat with our eyes. Wine makers spend lots on making sure the label will convince us the wine tastes great, put the same thing in a clean skin bottle and our eyes and minds devalue the wine instantly.

Research on kids shows that if you put the Maccas they love in plain packaging that they don't actually like it and that it only takes one viewing of a commercial for a toddler to become aware of and then desire a product.

It could be a can of tomatoes or a loaf of bread but there are certain things as consumers we choose because of packaging, not taste, we usually don't even know it.

This book gave me tips on getting control back of the eating habits for our household. A little reminder that I will choose what my children need to eat, not food marketers and certainly not the two year old.

What foods do you taste with your eyes?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Why I went to Walhalla: part 1

Heading off Saturday morning to a destination I knew little about was rather fun. I knew two things about Walhalla, it was a bit of a drive and it was likely to be pretty cold.

The drive actually wasn't too bad, just straight down the freeway to Moe turn left and follow the signs, as the road gets windy you know you are getting closer and as the road narrows to pretty much single lane you hit the quaint town of Walhalla.

But why would I jump into a car with three woman I had only met briefly before and head to a place a few hours away?

Or is the question more about why would Destination Gippsland ask me to go away and put me up for the weekend.

This was really what the people staying at the Walhalla Inn with Toushka and me wanted to know. They had been told they would be sharing the place with some Melbourne journalists. Much laughter from us and much confusion from them about this blogging thingamig and we explained how it works.

For those of you interested, this is why it works.

We spend so much of our lives online now and ask Master Google for so many answers that blogs have become a source of information for many people.

You can look at a brochure and read a little, but will it tell you that Sheriff who runs the mine tour is really very knowledgeable, that the mine is not too tight and if you don't like cramped spaces you will still be ok to do this tour. I was a tiny bit worried that I would find it uncomfortable, but the smaller section is just pointed to and the tour only takes you along sections that have been prepared for the tour. You also wont learn from a brochure or a snippet in the paper that during Black Saturday, tourists that had remained in the town were able to be safe and secure in the mine chamber.

Destination Gippsland would like to share with more Victorian families, especially those from Melbourne more of the little hidden things on offer within the area. Naturally we couldn't visit the whole region in one weekend, but we could really experience the best of Walhalla and learn about a quaint town that really is different to any other within Victoria. By organising this weekend, Louisa, Toushka, Megan and I will be showcasing the bits we liked and the things we didn't, or the things we think may be important to our readers. As 'Mummy Bloggers' we understand what other parents might be wanting to know. For instance, the camping ground is free! But, there are no showers, so you need to be happy to really camp, not go 'glamping'.

Being sent on a weekend away does not mean we come home and write a post that says "Go to Walhalla".

We will also share with you that if having all your gadgets and gizmos is important to you, then Walhalla may be frustrating. This town is isolated.
There is no television. There is little mobile phone coverage. There is none with vodafone nor optus. The best place to get Telstra reception was in the cemetery.

Speaking of the cemetery, we were spoilt to get a guided tour by one of the ten residents of the town. (yes, only ten people live there).

I quite like checking out the history in cemeteries but having a tour guide who knew everything was a real treat. It is a pretty place to lay your head for the last time, with lots of interesting characters to hang with should you all come back for a ghostly visit. Apparently one grave is haunted, we took the risk and had our photo taken with it anyway.

Tourism is important to many areas of Gippsland and neglecting to use the influential blogging arena to get their message across would be using a marketing strategy with a piece missing. Bloggers around the country are sharing their knowledge on all sorts of things, from kitchen mops to face creams, vodkas and holidays. Not all of them are so well organised, not all of them are executed so well.

Businesses who really believe they have an excellent product should be happy to share that item with bloggers who are usually pretty happy to share that on again with their readers. Walhalla was pretty confident they could show us a nice weekend and they did deliver.

Some bloggers require payment for the posts they write about businesses, we were not paid to write any posts, we were not given a press release to write from, but I did ask many questions about what the town of Walhalla would like to see out of the weekend. No surprises that they would like more tourism, but the difference here is they are really interested in more winter and spring visitors. Which is why for August they are running a special light festival, with a nordic twist, a connection to the towns origins. Walhalla is a town with community spirit, when they want something to happen, they all take part, people volunteer and projects work. It is wonderful to see that happening and working so well.

Some people might be worried about the weather, and it is cold.

I survived very well with a polar fleece, puffy jacket and on the night train a hot water bottle was actually supplied. Love. I really loved that gesture and the fluffy cover on it. Can you tell?

I still have so much to share about what I enjoyed about Walhalla, I will save them for another post. You can also visit the blogs of my companions to read more about Walhalla and get the view points of some other journalists mummy bloggers.

This weekend was organised by Destination Gippsland, Brand Meets Blog and I attened with Louisa, Toushka and Megan.


Monday, August 8, 2011

A horsey post

There is a little niece of mine who is totally horse mad.

Since the age of three she has been riding her ponies and taking part in the rural pony club. She has collected a huge number of items relating to all things horsey over the years along with many ribbons for competing at horse events. I was keen to see what Miss Abbey thought of the new DVD Secretariat. All about a famous American horse, I expected this new Disney movie could be just the one she would love.

She was thrilled to have it arrive and promptly sat down with her Mum to watch it.

It was a bit heavy for an eight year old.

She sent me this

I didn't like the start of the movie as it was a bit boring and sad.
It was hard to follow and I had to ask mum what was going on.
I really liked the part where the horse had a foal, and all the horse racing parts.I like Big Red the horse he was very nice and very fast.
I would watch it again but it was a bit long.


The start includes the death of the parents and there are topics along the way that she needed to ask Mum to explain. She also found it a bit tough going to understand the story line at times as the concepts were a bit above her Grade 2 level.

Her Mum thought it was actually quite good. She enjoyed it but admitted she is a little horse mad herself and wasn't sure if non horsey people would be so enthralled. She also suggested it was for an older child to watch, or if your younger children are watching it, to certainly watch it with them to explain certain issues and concepts.

The pony club Miss Abbey attends is hosting a fundraising day to raise money for Breast Cancer Research, together with the PR firm HayStac (who supplied the DVDs) we decided to assist them with their efforts and have donated my spare copy of Secretariat to be raffled off to another horse loving person, who is bound to enjoy this movie and contribute to raising vital funds for cancer research at the same time.

Abbey and her Mum

Secretariat is available on DVD in stores this week from August 10th. It is rated G and is the true story of an amazing horse. Check it out.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Yellow Daisies

Buying flowers is one of the little things we don't spend money on.

We have a great rose garden that flowered for many months last year and allowed me to have fresh flowers in the house for a long time. The winter months have meant we have been flower free indoors for what feels like forever.

This week, I don't know what happened, but Melbourne got a burst of warmth, some sun and some warm winds. We had enough time to spend outside  to run around and pick the daisies and the daisy bushes are huge and filled with little flowers that are easy for tiny hands to pick.

I have never been a huge fan of the simple daisy before.

Now I know that some days a bunch of daisies is all the table needs to look a little sunny.

And I can feel summer approaching.


Monday, August 1, 2011

The Goodie (and the Baddie) bag

I have spent the past weekend attending the blogopolis conference and surrounding functions relating to blogging and it made me realise how many businesses accidentally waste the chance to really promote their products.

If you are a business and contemplating a marketing campaign where people (especially bloggers) are going to test your product there is one vital thing to remember.

The tiny sample size packet is no good. Besides the negative environmental impact from packaging, most of the samples just get thrown in the bin. Really, most of us are not that desperate to trial a face cream by ripping open a tiny smidge of foil and squeezing like crazy to get four drips out.

We will not decide whether we like something from one tea bag being placed into a show bag at an event.

Nor will feeling the fabric swatch of something encourage me to purchase anything.

As a marketer and a blogger I have compiled and received many goodie bags over the last 15 years. I have had to source promo items and tried to build brand awareness through giving out 'stuff'.

At my most recent blogging events it was clear those companies that do get it oh so right and those that still think I should feel privileged to be able to trial their product.

Garnier stocked me with so much product to try that I did a deliberate promo shot on twitter for them. I will also be passing some product off to some other people as there is only so much moisturiser my legs can absorb, which gets their product even more exposure.
Thanks Glowless and Mummytime for modelling
Blackmores kept asking if I had kids...than take these, and a husband try these, and don't forget to look after yourself, take these. Full sized products, not a tab of three trial pills. I stopped them at the Conceive Well products as I am not planning on ever needing to worry about my folate levels again. But I knew my brother was getting fish oil for his kids so I grabbed him a jar of those. He can try them for me (and them).

Mooo also got my tick, they included an offer of one of their products, I just need to order it online and they will send it out. I like this idea as it allows the person using it to really customise the product to be exactly what they want. If you don't want it, they have not wasted their time or yours and nothing extra is going to landfill. I can also make it a gift for someone else and make a tick on my Christmas list (hello Family Calendar for my sister!)

No need to shame those that didn't quite 'market' their wares so well, just a reminder that if you are paying to have your product displayed to a target audience, don't skimp on the most important aspect, your product.

Service providers have a much harder time at doing a giveaway or a trial offer, seriously, who ever wants to trial a lawyer just for the fun of it or hey, how about you go and see a psychologist and see if you (and they) are normal? But many still want to increase public awareness of what they offer and how they are better or different to their competitors. Again this is a tricky business and it is important to get right. But as far as I know, no one ever decided on a service provider by looking at a stress ball, a mouse pad or a pen, few people would decide on a travel destination simply because of a postcard in a bag full of marketing waffle that is usually tipped straight into the yellow wheelie bin.

So don't just empty out the marketing cupboards from old stock to fill a conference swag bag. Target the audience with something specific, show them how you are different and be available to talk with those that show an interest.

I have now received some rather bad items in swag bags and some incredibly good ones but I would love to hear some of the favourites or failures that you have received. Time to share the good, the bad and the skimpy.