Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Big Giving Giveaway

I tried a little experiment, something a little different.

You see I have received over 100 (I lost count) emails from people over the past few months who would like me to spend time away from my family and give space on my blog to advertise their products or services, for free. This is nothing new in blogland and happens a gazillion times a day. I have often said yes to such requests. If someone has faith in their product and believes I will really love it, they send it to me and if it’s worth sharing, than I sometimes do.

However, with Christmas approaching the emails started coming in more than usual. I decided that I would have one Christmas giveaway, simply because giveaways are fun, it’s a great way to share little gifts with my readers and I love being able to give stuff to people. But I decided that to be a part of the giveaway the business would have to do three things – they would have to provide me with a sample of the product to review, they would need to offer a product for a reader giveaway and then offer one more version of the product that I will give away to a charity, or a worthy cause or to someone that really needed a hand right now.

So with each email request I received, I replied with what I was doing this year.

But all those businesses that thought I could work for free for them and promote their products through the internets, well, most of them were not feeling so generous themselves and did not want to give something to a charity. 

But I wasn't budging on this one. 

So of all those emails that I sent my reply to, just six, yep 6, were able to join in. The coffee machines and kids toys, the clothing labels and books you might usually see here and not here this time. I also sent the idea to a number of the Public Relations agencies that I have dealt with this year. Pretty much silence from most. Apparently the clients are not interested in this at all.

So. With this in mind. I give you SIX totally wonderful prizes to win, from six businesses that all replied yes within seconds of receiving my email. Each of these products have no problem at all giving to others. 

Each of these businesses actually know what the season is truly about.

So let's get started: 

Tickets to

Disney Live is performing around the country and I have TWO family passes to giveaway to one of the following events: 

You can pick the show that suits you, but you MUST be available at the time stated:

·         Perth - Friday Dec 27th, 1pm
·         Melbourne - Friday Jan 10th, 4pm
·         Wollongong - Wednesday Jan 15th, 4pm
·         Adelaide - Sunday Jan 19th, 4pm

Tickets have already been given to a family that I heard about through my work at the hospital, after the nurses told me about one little girl who had four surgeries in one week.

The family passes are worth $154: a family pass includes 4 tickets, please ensure you are available to attend on one of the dates above, just leave me a comment telling me who you would gift a ticket to and you might be going too!


RRP 99.95
The robots that are the thing to have this Christmas and many of the usual shops have sold out already so this might just be your last chance to get them,

The girls opened the box when these arrived and they were fighting over who got to have them first. Mr H was the winner and got to have the first look at them. 

They are fun. 

They are hard to get decent photos of, so here is a promo image for you. 

Battroborg are a motion controlled  robot. You use your own hands with a wireless remote that puts you in control of the action of your robot and then you battle it out.

Would your kids like these? Got someone that you could give this to for Christmas? They are valued at $99.95 each. Let me know which charity or person you would donate one of these toys to if you would like to win one, and you and they might end up with a Battroborg this Christmas.


Me and You Book
RRP $77.00

Do you like paper products, do you like the smell when you first open a new notebook? If so, when you open this book up you will be smiling from the inside. I don’t even want to write in this book, I don’t want to wreck its raw beauty, the crisp pages and clean look. It’s the kind of book that I will try to only use my best pen on, that I will sit at my desk and write in and think carefully before I put pen to paper.

This is a book you can buy for yourself or for a gift for another Mum, or for your own. Or win it here. It is $77 (including postage) on the website.
One copy of a Me and You Book has already been donated to the chosen charity of the founder, which is Playgroup Australia. But if you would like to win this book, let me know who you would donate a copy to. 
For more details about this treasure of a book you can see their website. 
Christmas Decorations
Over $100 worth

Each year I buy one really nice Christmas decoration, a little Christmas splurge, I have some special ones from Vienna that mean a lot to me but not to any one else. The girls have made a few that we keep adding to the stash, but there are also a few that just need to go. Typo have put together a sample of goodies to keep my house and my tree looking a bit more swish for 2013.
Each of my remaining two packs include 15 quirky ornaments to decorate your tree, a packet of 'Shake Your Pom Poms' in light pink, 4 packets of " Get Your Pom On" christmas trimming and 2 packets of "Pretty Spesh" glass baubles in glittery hearts. All valued at just over $100!

Tell me who else I should donate a Typo Christmas pack to and you will be in the draw to win them yourself.

The Killing
Series 1, 2 AND 3.
RRP $99.95

Over at Madman they have DVDs and movies galore. I wasn't sure which DVDs you would all like the best. I couldn't decide what I liked the best. Immy liked My Little Pony.  But I chose The Killing, it is only just out last week so even the person with everything is not likely to have it yet.
I checked it out by searching the hashtag on twitter and saw nothing but positive raving about this show. 

Have you watched it? I have it ready for the end of the silly season when I can sit and not move and watch grown up stuff without any interruptions. 
If you would like to win the box set all three series of The Killing just let me know who else you think I should donate the box set to.
Catnaps Pj's

Jo From Catnaps was really enthusiastic to get involved and has sent me some items to give away to a charity of my choice, plus these two nighties for Popps and Immy to check out. 
I really love supporting other Mums that start up their own businesses and those that can manage to make it an Australian made garment really impress. Aussie quality is always excellent and catnaps are great products. Get your kids into them. 
If you would like to win let me know who you think I should donate some cat nap items to. You will then be able to pick an item of your choice from the website in any size up to an 8, that suits the little person in your life. 

Phew. It's a big post to get through even though there are only six items, so here is the summary: 

1) Pick which prize you would most like to win.
2) Leave me a comment telling me which prize it is and which charity/person/organisation you would suggest it was donated to. 
3) Comments open on Wednesday 27 November and close on Friday 6 December 2013. 
4) I will decide on the winner of each item and email you for your details. If you do not reply within 3 days a new winner will be announced. Please include a way to contact you. I will decide separately where each item will be donated to. 
5) You can enter as many times as you like, but each entry must be in a new comment. 
6) Australian residents only
7) Be kind and share this with your friends.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A walking billboard

I was over reading the crazy Mrs Woog and how her t-shirts got printed with the wrong logo and it made me think about the whole crazy idea of branded clothing. I left a comment saying how I love branded clothing and all its wanky-ness. Because I do. The thought processes that go into designing them, how to distribute them and the want of them by people is intriguing.

The concept always works. Marketers decide to turn people into walking billboards and the people fight for the chance to do it, for free.

Brands like Billabong and Rip Curl perfected this so well that people started to pay huge cash to be able to be the billboard for them. Teenagers LOVE paying to be walking billboards. If it was the 90s you might have seen me paying my pocket money out each fortnight to be in an Espirit top and carrying a Sportsgirl bag, I would have loved to have the Country Road towel too, but I never saved up enough.

Back to the freebie marketing branded merchandise. If you ever watch home renovation shows and look at the staff helping in the background they are all wearing Bob's Plumbing or Jane's Painting t-shirts, the phone numbers are in BIG letters and they most likely have tops for people to 'win' later on.

Law firms and accountants 'sponsor' netball teams. When I say sponsor, I mean someone drags out ten t-shirts from the marketing cupboards and gives the team a branded top to wear and they call themselves the Suits R Us team. Every week other people see them and say "that's the Suits R Us team", they see the logo and they get a weekly reminder of where to go should they find themselves in the shit and need a lawyer.

While I was at uni I worked in a bar. We were given new t-shirts to wear from alcohol companies every second week. Usually they were in size extra extra large and the bouncers would be thrilled as they got stacks of t-shirts. Us girls pouring drinks had to tie them at the back and get that skanky bar maid look going on. These nights always increased sales in that particular brand of drink. Free t-shirts for staff = reminders of a certain bevvie to drinkers + a few free t-shirts to give out during the night = Profits.

Branded t-shirts are like a uniform for men to wear when mowing the lawn on Sunday in the suburbs. They are used to plug holes in pipes or clean the dog. No need to buy new night wear when you have a drawer of logo t-shirts to wear, they are perfect for sleeping in.

My favourite story about a branded t-shirt is my sisters. While some women go out and waste a $100 on something floral, fancy and feminine to wear for the birth of their baby, this is really not necessary. The logo t-shirt is the perfect option. Huge enough to wear over your preggy belly, happily thrown out the next day and totally free.

And that is how my first nephew arrived in this world. With his Mum happily wearing a t-shirt provided from days working behind the bar years beforehand, that screamed Galliano Liquer!

Have you got any branded t-shirt stories? Are you still paying to be a walking billboard for someone? 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Imogen turns four: A Christmas Birthday Party

Last year Imogen turned four and decided that she wanted a Christmas themed birthday party. I wrote about how I was planning the party but I never did a post on her actual party.

This year I was looking for some ideas for another Christmas function and I was searching for my post on Immy's party, when I realised I never got around to writing it up. So please forgive me for writing this post totally for our families memories. This blog is often our 'scrap book' of special events and there is a special event missing.

Having a Christmas themed birthday party was an excellent idea. The house was already festive and needed no further decorations.

With a handful of four year olds over to play we pretty much just left them to run around and do what they do best. Squeal, dance and play. They danced to Christmas Carols and played musical statues.

I served up a Christmas Tree Cake:

 And easy fun Christmas biscuits.

There were other really easy Christmas treats that required no recipes and no spending hours and hours trying to get them right.

If you have someone in your family that has a birthday close to Christmas, then the Christmas themed party is simple and really quite fun.

Every children's party I host, the fruit is always the first to go, and this party was no different.

Candy Canes were used to decorate the table and they were actually all still there at the end of the party.

Many of the things I used for this party we already had, I didn't have to go and buy many new things and I used the same cutters for different things - the Christmas Tree cookie cutters were great for sandwiches and for watermelon, which I froze and used a cake pop stick to make watermelon icy poles.

I didn't worry about putting lolly bags together either, I gave each child a Christmas stocking of treats instead. JUST TOO EASY. You can buy a huge range of Christmas stockings these days to suit your own tastes or that of your child. Why leave all the celebrations of Christmas to just one day when there are so many fun ways to play!

I love trees

This post is sponsored by Masters

Whenever I think of a really nice street or whenever I drive down a street and think 'this is such a lovely street' there is one thing that is always the same.

The trees.

Nice streets have nice trees. Big established trees, trees that blossom, trees that are great for climbing or trees that provide shelter, trees that encourage beautiful birds.

I have been wanting to fill our front yard with trees since we arrived three years ago. We have talked about trees and thought about trees, we did plant some hedge type trees but they looked wrong.

Then we planted a small flowering gum tree, but it wasn't right either so it got moved too.

Mr H planted a clump of random bulbs at one stage which looked truly awful and they got removed too.

Finally a few weeks ago we settled on getting fruit trees. Masters had a good range of fruit trees to choose from, plus other non fruiting trees but this time I really wanted to maximise our limited garden area and have trees that could do all the things we needed.

I want the front fence filled with fruit trees. We already have a nectarine tree and the neighbour has a great peach tree that hangs over our fence. We have a couple of lemon trees, a bay tree and a lime tree that is finally starting to produce the odd lime or too, so I asked Mr H to get apple and pear trees.

Mr H and Popps got everything they needed at Masters.

They came home and planted just two trees.

I was hoping for at least four.

They planted a nectarine tree and a peach tree. Exactly like we already have!

A little tanty from me and Mr H was back in the car!

There is now a third tree along the front fence, a lovely apple tree has joined the family and a hammock has snuck in too.

I have big plans for these trees. They are going to provide privacy for our very open to everyone front yard. They are going to attract birds (hopefully not possums but that is ok too). They will provide snacks of yummy fruit and lovely shade.

Just six weeks after planting we have the beginnings of some fruit.

Now I just need the remainder of the street to start planting lots of trees and we will one day live in one of those fabulous streets with all the lovely trees.

And I do still need a pear tree.

P.S. This is the second of my posts for Masters. If you missed the Magnetic Chalk Board Wall I did earlier, click back for a look.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sometimes this happens

I don't know why, but sometimes I just like to write stuff.

I get the words perfect. Exactly like I want them to be, the story flowing and the words just so.

I re read the post checking for typos and then decide that I don't really want to share that post at all.

Sometimes I know this from the moment I start writing and other times it isn't until the end but either way they are words that I just decide are mine alone.

Sometimes it's because I don't want anyone else's opinion, sometimes it's because I think someone might be all judgey on me for my thoughts or words or actions. Then other times it is because writing can be like a cheap woman's therapy, it can be like talking to someone without paying the bill.

There are posts that I write because I find the topic interesting but I am not sure how interesting they are to everyone else.

Usually a post that gets hit with the 'drafts' button is written among many others that are published. But lately, it's the opposite. The draft posts just keep getting written and the published ones are having to fight a little harder to be seen.

Do you write anywhere? Ever kept a journal or a diary, a public or a private blog? 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

You are ON before you are ON.

My boss decided to take serious action.

After two years of me actively working to ensure I hardly ever had to speak in public, something had to be done and I am currently attending the month long Speak With Impact  course. It is part of my professional and personal development. I did attempt to make excuses to not attend, but eventually I ran out of excuses.

Public speaking and I are not friends in the same way that you never want to make friends with things like gastro or plague. Just like gastro or plague, I find public speaking is something to be avoided at all costs.

Speaking in front of large groups of people that I don't know makes me sweaty, it makes my tongue expand and fill my mouth and make the words hard to get out. I lose my memory and even though I know the presentation, once the anxiety reaches into my brain everything else is lost.

I am fine in meetings, I am fine in networking functions. I have no trouble talking to people higher up the management pecking order. It's just the standing in front of a crowd that freaks me out.

It's only week two and I have had to speak in front of people six times.

Ah, the pressure.

Tonight we were reminded that when you are a speaker at an event you should remember that you are ON before you are ON.

This sounds so simple, but it took someone telling me to make me really think about it. The times I have had to speak, I try and make myself nearly invisible beforehand. I sit at the back of the room, I arrive late. While the introductions are being made I keep my serious face on and my head down, eyes towards the floor.

I have not considered that I am On before I am ON.

Tonight we were reminded and taught about the power of the way you stand, the power of your own body language, the way you enter the room, the way you walk to the front, the eye contact you give to every single person you speak to. The power in silence and pausing. The power of being quiet.

It may be an act, it might not be easy, but you can actually trick your own nerves into thinking they are confident and happy to present. I just have to arrive already in presenter mode. The course presenter stressed that it is ok that you don't want to be there. It is not ok for anyone listening to realise that you don't want to be there. If you turn on before you are on you are off to a good start. We also started working on making eye contact and speaking s l o w l y.

I am yet to master the skills of Speaking with Impact.

But when I enter a room, I have a new on switch.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today I was photographed in the nude.

Yes, today I had an appointment to get some photography done.

I knew I was going to have to be naked.

'Great' is not the thing I was thinking.

When you know you are going to be naked for photos there are a few things that go through your mind. The sag of your stomach is one of them. No matter how big or little the sag is. You also don't want to wear any clothes that are tight when going for the photos, because you really don't want those nasty elastic lines on your skin. I also decided not to eat breakfast, but by 11 am was feeling rather faint (not a suggestion I recommend).

When I got there I was thrilled when I was told that I was allowed to keep my knickers on, which is a great start, I just had to roll them down as low as possible - phew.

My trusty photographer got snapping away and told me to close my eyes as the flash is very very bright and she had quite a few poses she wanted to snap me in.

All was going not so bad until:

"Could you please raise your breasts with your hands so I can get an image of the skin underneath." 

Don't you just love getting old.

A couple more poses; side on, right leg bent, palms outwards, hair back, etc etc and I was good to go.

My body has now been mapped out with every freckle and mole that it contains, from the soles of my feet to the tips of my nose. All to make it easier for my dermatologist to keep an eye on the garden of spots that my body seems to grow.  With skin cancer in Australia so ridiculously high, people like me with super white freckly skin need to be extra cautious, and nude photography is all part of the plan to ensure none of those little freckles turn kamikaze and try to take me out.

Ever been starkers in front of a camera? 

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Bookshelf Wants

There are always a few things on my want to read list.

For my birthday this year I requested one thing only. A book. It was Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks.

Didn't get it!

A few weeks post birthday I went off and bought it myself. I don't think it is one of Brooks' best books, but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. If historical fiction is your thing, it's worth the read.

They say when you write a blog post you should have one reader in mind, one reader who you are 'talking' to. So, with this in mind HELLO MR H. Please note the images below and ensure there is one of them wrapped under the tree with my name on it next month.

Knowing I have a book to drift into at the end of each day is one of my favourite things of every day. I can't sleep without reading something, no matter what time of day I finally get to bed. These ones are a mixed bunch, which is even better.

Do you have anything you are looking forward to reading?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Why I won't be doing Frocktober again

It’s a bit of a negative title that one. A bit anti-fun, a bit anti-do-er.

I took on the challenge of Frocktober knowing that I would find the task of wearing a dress for 31 days a, well, a challenge. I also decided to do it because I like showing my girls how they can take part in community events in so many ways.  It is a fundraising cause that does not include me giving up anything, going anywhere, running or adventure sport of some kind. The cause is also important to me, cancer of any lady bits could affect me, my daughters or their daughters, working towards cures to such things is worth it. Without the work and the effort of people today we don’t make any progress.

There were many days that I just didn’t want to wear a dress. Some days I considered just flinging on a pair of tracksuit pants and hiding inside all day. The only reason I didn’t was because at each of those moments I told myself that the women with ovarian cancer, they don’t get to take a day off. They have to fight the disease every minute of every day. All I had to do was throw on a dress.

And that is the problem.

Melbourne is still cold in October. There were few days when I was free of leggings or tights and cardigans. The number of dresses that suit cold weather in my wardrobe is less than a handful. I had to wear the same outfits over and over. Sometimes I felt really over dressed, other times I felt like Punky Brewster with odd cardigans that didn’t match my dress or wearing leggings with dresses that usually wouldn’t be teamed together.

I tired of thinking about dresses. But I learnt quite a bit about the frock. I learnt that most females have quite distinct feelings about dresses, many will say ‘I don’t wear dresses’ as though the humble dress is something to stay well away from. Others love the pretty or the vintage, some love the well cut styled suit, some love a floral pattern others like bold block colours. For many people dresses are so much more than just a piece of fabric.

If you live in a hotter climate than you should certainly give Frocktober a go. If you are looking to take part in a challenge that you can do no matter what, even when you are tiring of the challenge, than Frocktober is certainly for you. If working towards a cure for cancer is important to you than you should get on board or if you haven’t given it a go before I suggest you stock up on dresses through the year and be prepared for next October. You will learn more about yourself than you expect.