I've Moved!

Juggle Mum is now at www.JuggleMum.co.uk If you have stumbled upon this Blogspot address, you are on the old blog. This blog will no longer be updated. Please head over to www.JuggleMum.co.uk for all the latest information.

All Fur Coat & No Knickers!

Packing for a holiday is supposed to be fun, but I dropped a clanger this time. We were going to Butlins in Bognor over the Easter break and we'd decided to have 2 days in the Cotswolds beforehand, so I had two bags to pack for me and the children. One to take to the Cotswolds, and one to take to Butlins. Hubby was working so it was just me and the kids, and I thought I was pretty organised.

I remembered all the swimming stuff, I packed the kids DS consoles for the journey, I had enough clothes for each of us, but when we got to Butlins, it seems I'd not packed my 9 year old daughter's knickers! After consoling her (because it really is the end of the world to have no knickers when you are nine!) I promised to buy her some more pants on the resort, but for now she'd have to 'go commando!'

On our first day, we wanted to go to the beach, so I put her in a swimsuit and dress - she didn't need knickers for the beach! So she was happy enough, she put on her dress and her favourite fake fur coat and we headed out to meet Grandma & Grandad at the beach.

My mum and I got a blanket out so we could watch the kids running around, and I was telling the story of how I'd forgotten to pack knickers. Just then, my daughter appeared on the blanket looking so cute in her fluffy fake fur coat, and my mum just said "All fur coat and no knickers!" We fell about laughing but my daughter wasn't impressed. It was just so appropriate, one of those funny moments that I know I will remember and laugh about forever, but I'm not sure my daughter will want to share the joke!

Apart from 'knicker-gate', we all had a fabulous time away. I recorded a video which starts in the restaurant one morning when we had a 'Character breakfast' with Billy Bear and Bonnie, and ends in our room where the kids want to show you round. You will see my eldest in said fake fur coat on the video. She ended up wearing her swimwear all week as we couldn't get hold of knickers, but when we got home we discovered that I hadn't forgotten the knickers after all- I'd just packed them in the Cotswolds bag! Doh!

I have to say that you can see how nice the Butlins resort is from my video, but what it can't show you is what effect the week away had on all of us. Before the holiday we were so ready for a getaway- work, school and the daily juggle build up and you get to a stage where you need a rest, so this little anecdote describes brilliantly how we unwound on our break.

Upon arriving at the Ocean Hotel at Bognor, we checked in then took the lift to our rooms. The lifts are 'disco lifts'. It's a nice touch, a bit different, but what they are is lifts with blue lighting and popular disco music belting out as you ride. On our way to the rooms after several hours travelling in the car, we were all ready to dump the bags and eat, and my mum said crankilly
"Oh, why is there music in the lifts? We never get any peace. It would be nice to just have it quiet for a bl***y change!"

Four days later on our way downstairs in the lift to dinner, she was doing the 'YMCA' and singing along with the lift!

Disclosure: Thank you Butlins for our 4 night stay at the Bognor resort. I am a Butlins Mum Ambassador for 2011-2012 so I got to stay free of charge. All opinions in this post are not affected by the fact that we got a free holiday- knickergate really did happen as well as 'Grandma' doing the YMCA!

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Get Gorgeous While You Sleep...

I suppose it's an occupational hazard in the life of a writer to sometimes write too much. As a busy mum I have to be organised with my time and the article below is not my normal blog fodder but it is a piece that I wrote for a website that I regularly contribute to.

Only problem is, that I wrote the agreed article well in advance and had it scheduled for delivery the week before the deadline, when the Editor came back to me and changed the story! I did a completely new feature for the website but I didn't want to waste all my work on this one, so here you go! The piece is about how to squeeze in a beauty routine when you don't think you have the time! Enjoy!

Having a dewy complexion and smooth hands with glossy nails is easy, and you can do it while you sleep! If you’ve had no time for yourself over the winter, here’s a quick and simple way to get ‘spring fresh’ before the clocks go forward!

Beauty sleep is our best way to stay young looking and clear headed, but what if you could maximise the time you spend sleeping to get your body looking buff too? The key is to be organised! All it takes is five minutes before you turn out the light and a bedside box of tricks and you will have softer skin, stronger nails and tanned limbs in just a few weeks!

Our bodies have been cooped up all winter so before you embark on your quick and easy bedtime beauty plan, get down to some routine maintenance. Take a soak, shave your legs and underarms, remove old nail polish and pluck your eyebrows to give yourself a ‘blank canvas’. From now on it will take just five minutes a night to unleash your inner goddess.

• Stock your bedside drawer with some essentials. If the products you need are close to hand, you won’t be tempted to miss a night.

• For tanned limbs: use a sunless tanner. Something that you can use daily to build up a natural looking glow over several weeks.

• For ‘sandal ready’ feet: smooth over a thick foot cream to soothe tired feet and combat the dried, cracked skin that forms on your heels over the winter.

• Radiant skin: choose a night cream suited to your age. Creams can work harder during the night as they don’t have make up on top of them, and use a special eye cream too for the thinner skin on your eye area. Dark circles can be reduced by taking time to moisturise here.

• Bright eyes: you are about to sleep but before you do, use an eye drop to moisturise your eyeball. Eyes can become dry and irritated after contact with the elements and a quick drop each night will help keep them well watered and clean.

• Luscious lips: Pat on some lip balm so your pout stays pert and lips feel soft.

• Stronger nails: apply a nail strengthener nightly to beat cracked, brittle nails. Also keep an emery board in your bedside drawer to keep the shape neat. It’s best to apply the nail strengthener last in your routine so it can dry whilst you drift off to sleep. Just remember to keep your hands above the duvet until it is touch dry!

Once you’ve added all the ingredients, sleep away for eight hours letting your lotions and potions do their job and wake up to a smoother and glossier you. Even with a busy schedule you can be a yummy mummy – all it takes is five minutes a night!

That's it! Normal service is now resumed:-)

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My TV Ad Starts on Monday!

So when you are tucking into your Cornflakes on Monday, watching Daybreak, the adverts will come on and wait! Just a second, isn't that Nadine? YES!

The photo above is a still from the TV advert that I'm in which will be shown on ITV1 and Sky Channels from Monday. It is to advertise the new website My Family Club, a website aimed at families to help them save money and run their homes and lives more effectively. If you look really hard at the ad, you will notice that the picture on the wall behind me is going to show me and my children on the telly but here it is a landscape. The magic of television eh?

To appear on this TV ad, I won a competition. I had to submit my best money saving tip by video - here is my tip, which my friends have told me is really good!!

The day was a lot of fun and I enjoyed meeting the crew and seeing what they did. The Director was a guy called Will Smith (not the actor!) and he was lovely. Here he is, taking me through my lines...

So I'll be on air from Monday and I'll try to tweet before the relevant ad breaks so people get chance to see it. I'm @Businessmum on Twitter if you want to follow me to get the tweets. I should have a list of when this ad is scheduled so I can be timley! If you want to see the website in question, then check out www.MyFamilyClub.co.uk

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Have You Gone Away Over Easter?

We have... to Butlins! We are there now!

It feels so odd to be writing a post announcing that I'm away as normally I'm so security conscious. I don't like to Tweet, blog, Facebook post or otherwise let anyone know any of my actions before I go away because it's like advertising that your house will be empty, but on this occasion, mine won't because my husband isn't coming!!

This is the first time I've gone away without him, but the kids and I are here with Grandma & Grandpa at Butlins in Bognor for a 'schools out' break and he has to work. Thankfully my kids are a bit older now, travelling with them is easier. We still have to make frequent toilet stops for my 4 year old, but at least they don't usually scream the place down if they have to wait for food, so it's easier for me to travel with them alone.

This break is especially nice because it's Grandpa David's 76th birthday today so we can have a lovely celebration tea later on! I packed his card and pressie before I came so I was super organised!

With the weather being so changeable recently, I've been extra cautious and packed warm boots and sandals, plus plenty of layers - you never know what the weather will be like at all do you?! I'm hoping we'll see some sun and get to the beach whilst we are here, but either way at least there is plenty to do.

Next week the kids are back in the school routine and I have to get back on track with my Slimming World. I have had this week off to enjoy my holiday, having puddings every night but that can't last forever! Whatever you are doing this week, have fun and enjoy the last few days before the clock watching begins again!

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The Difference Between Postal Deliveries

I don't usually like to moan, but Royal Mail had me fuming last week!

I got a parcel in the post- quite an interesting looking parcel I think. It was a large padded Jiffy bag which obviously had several items in it. This parcel arrived torn open with one of the items inside missing, and was given to me by an apologetic post delivery lady with details of how to complain!

This might not sound like reason to be fuming, but it is not the first time that I've had parcels and brighly coloured envelopes delivered to me already opened. On my last birthday, one of my cards had already been examined. I suspect that the person who opened it thought that there might be cash inside, but thankfully it was just a card. I've also had some foodstuffs sent to me in the post where the outer package was opened. Big packets seem really exciting when you don't know what's in them. When this one was opened, all my foodstuffs arrived intact - the person who opened that item obviously didn't fancy a fat free vanilla pudding, but it's irritating to get your post delivered to you in a clear plastic bag with a standard Royal Mail apology on it, saying that occasionally post gets damaged in transit. Strangely enough, none of my letters about Council Tax, utility bills, post in plain brown envelopes or junk mail arrives damaged - only the 'exciting' looking stuff.

So what was in my damaged package? I was sent some Dettol cleaning wipes for the kitchen and bathroom from a lovely PR, and also a Dettol No Touch was in there too- this is one of those handwash and dispenser systems that has a sensor so you don't have to press a pump to get your soap. Guess which item was missing when my post arrived? Let's just say I have a very clean kitchen and bathroom!

The Dettol stuff was sent to me because they have just launched a new Power & Pure range which cleans with no chemical residue so it is safe for mums to use around their children. Because it doesn't use bleach, the need to wipe away afterwards is removed too- saving time on the cleaning, and we all want to know how to save time don't we? I tried out the wipes and I found them nice smelling and effective at getting up the dirt, so I'm glad I got to try them out. Personally I prefer wipes to sprays when it comes to cleaning, if I can help it- as I find them easier to whizz round, but the Power & Protect range comes in a spray too. You can learn more here: www.dettol.co.uk

So that was one delivery last week and contrast that to my other experience. One lunchtime, a DHL van pulled up outside and the driver came to my door with a large box. I knew that Kellogg's were planning to send me a box of their new Mini Max cereal to try, but imagine my surprise when I got 10 boxes- a whole crate!! I think the driver thought I'd won a competition or something, but I skipped inside carrying my cereal! Much as I love cereal I didn't think I could eat 10 boxes, so I kept three for myself then gave the rest out to my family and friends. The school run mums were happy that day when I turned up with 5 boxes of Mini Max to give out! Here is me pulling along the extras!

This new cereal is made with wholegrain wheat to help you stay fuller longer, and I found it really tasty too. My kids weren't willing to give it a try unfortunately. My daughter likes her bacon for breakfast and my son can be fussy anyway, but I will definitely eat the Mini Max myself- all three boxes worth! If you want to try it for yourself, it is in supermarkets now.

**I want to thank Kellogg's for the free cereal they sent me and also Dettol for the Power & Pure wipes. The lovely PR is also popping another Dettol handwash into the post for me as my last one went astray, so thank you for that too!

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Shall I Slip Into Something A Little More Comfortable?

That's just it - all my clothes are a little TOO comfortable - they are all too big!! It feels so nice to say this - a lot better than saying "My clothes are too tight" which is something that I've said a lot over the years!

Last weekend I had a massive clear out of my wardrobe because I've lost more than a stone in weight since January, and dropped two dress sizes. I've been going to Slimming World which has been brilliant in offering team support and some fresh ideas of things I can cook so I don't go down the 'eating the same thing all the time and getting bored' route! It is working. Apart from a week each month when I go a little off the rails for reasons you ladies will understand, I've found the plan easy to stick to and as long as I use the website and magazine for recipe ideas, I've had so much variety I can't get bored!

So what to do with all my big clothes? The timing is perfect because TK Maxx have just launched a campaign in April called 'Give up Clothes for Good'. This is the fifth annual campaign which encourages people to take quality used clothing to their nearest TK Maxx store during April, which will then be passed to Cancer Research and sold in the charity shops, with the proceeds going to fund research into children's cancer

I've got a couple of pairs of jeans (really nice ones too!) plus a few tops and two flowery dresses to donate which should raise some money for a great cause whilst clearing some room for me in my wardrobe! Fortunately I have some 'smaller' clothes to wear- things that I've been storing for the past 4 years or so and can now fit into again so I'm not completely naked!

For more info about the TK Maxx campaign, see here: http://www.tkmaxx.com/page/giveupclothes/give-up-clothes/page/giveupclothes

For Slimming World, see here: http://www.slimmingworld.com/

But if you are in the Methley area of West Yorkshire, my Sister in Law is about to open up the latest new Slimming World group (on 24th April)! Stop by and say "Hi" and in a few weeks you too could be clearing out your bigger clothes! Lyndsey's group is at Methley Village Centre on Tuesdays at 0930 - tell her that 'Juggle Mum' sent you!!

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Nadine in Internet Video Sensation!

Did the headline make you think this would be a 'Tulisa sex tape' kind of post? Sorry to disappoint if that's what you were after but I really do have some great news about me and video and the internet at large!

This blog has been shortlisted for a BiB Award which stands for 'Brilliance in Blogging', and it is one of 20 blogs that are shortlisted in the 'Video' category!

Video Shortlist

The funny thing is, when I appealed for a few votes a fortnight ago on this blog, it wasn't even for that category! I was going for 'Inspirational blog' but I guess my readers had other plans and thought my videos were better! *Thank you!*

Doing videos on my blog has always been a passion of mine and I have plans for some great new videos in the coming months too but if you wanted to see all my videos in one place, check out my YouTube Channel.

What happens now is that the voting has started for all the blogging categories and I would like to ask you all, dear readers, if you would do me the honour of voting for this blog!! Every single vote helps me get to the final and being a finalist in a blogging awards would be the best thing ever! I've never been in a blog award final before and would LOVE to have the chance to get glammed up - I may even get my tiara out again and be the 'queen for a day'. Remember this picture when I got onto BBC Radio Leeds?

To vote it is REALLY simple. It will take about 30 seconds, I promise! Just go to this page: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/bibs_shortlist and you can see all the categories and the shortlisted blogs. Go to category number 6 for the 'Video Award' and this blog, Juggle Mum is blog number 8. Just tick the box next to 'Juggle Mum' and go to the bottom of the page to click on 'DONE'. That's it!! You don't have to give your details, you don't have to fill out a complex form, just vote for me and submit the vote, that's all there is to it! However you can only vote once from your computer so if you want to vote for other bloggers in other categories, make sure you do it all on the same form!!

If you wanted further proof of how importantly I take my video blogging, check out this recent post I did on Juggle Mum, which was a challenge to survive a day without paper! HP set the challenge and I wrote my script, shot each segment of video, recorded it (with the help of my children!), edited the video and published it to this blog. I was paid for doing this video which goes to show how modern marketing methods for big companies are changing - turning to vloggers like me to help them get their message out alongside their other promotional activities. I have been paid for doing several videos on my website, not all of them, and I do put a note into the blog post where 'sponsored content' is shown but isn't that fab? How mums these days can be at home with the kids and still make money from doing something that they love?

There are exciting times ahead for video blogging and I will be at the forefront of them, showing you what I've been up to and how I did it so if you are interested in getting a bit of the action for yourself, you can see how! It would mean such a lot to me to be a finalist in this awards category, so please do cast a vote my way, and if you have any thoughts about what kind of topics you would like to see me cover in future video blogs, leave a comment below and I will make a list of future videos to do!

Here is where you can see which blogs were shortlisted for all the categories and the link to the voting form is here too.

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The view from my bedroom at 7am this morning. Beautiful. A new day is about to start, full of possibilities.
There is always good in the world, there is always crap. You decide what you focus on and what you look for. I think if you look for the crap, that is what you will see. I choose to look for the beauty, the life and the positive.

Enjoy today- whatever it brings.

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Blogging Saved My Life!

You know when life becomes all about work and the fun just disappears? This was me a few years ago, before I switched things around and prioritised enjoyment.

The past seven years have seen me building up my business. I started working from home in 2005 after a year of planning whilst holding down 'the day job'. I'd just had my daughter and I wanted to work from home so I could be there for her and whilst I have been able to run my company whilst she has been at school and with a little childcare help from both Grandmas, the focus has been on the family and the business.

When my son came along, I had a new challenge. Keeping my head above water with the business whilst caring for a new baby, giving my daughter the attention I wanted to be sure she had, and keeping the household going. Any small business owner will tell you that it is not an easy life. You live and breathe the business. You are always looking for ways to bring in new customers, make your offer more attractive, make more money. The family came first but after that- the business was priority, then the cats, then the cleaning, then at the bottom of the list -me. Or this is how it felt a lot of the time.

Juggle Mum was created to give me a creative outlet. I needed something to do that was pure fun, totally in my control and just for me. Nothing to do with clients, kids, housework. Not an obligation but a pleasure. Something where I could write what I wanted, how I wanted and when I wanted, without having to self edit and think about how 'it might look to a customer'. I love my blog and I love what it has become. It has evolved with me, accepting my new interests, helping me make new friends and helping me to discover new interests and new people to share them with.

Four years ago everything changed. Drastically.
My son was born, the recession had just started, I was keeping the business going whilst trying to have some sort of maternity leave and trying to work out how I was going to get back in control of my life. Babies turn your whole world upside down, and even though you know what to expect a bit more the second time around, second babies have a way of making you look at what you are juggling and wonder if you can keep all those balls in the air with two kids - the way you had probably been managing with one. I juggled through. The kids were ok, the housework was being kept on top of as we employed a cleaner, hubby and I just got on with it- heads down, plough through. Something always gives and that something was me. My weight shot up to almost 17 stone- I was comfort eating to help me cope and the sugary food gave me a much needed energy boost as I wasn't getting much sleep. Of course this was followed by the slumps, so I ate more energy boosting sugar and the rollercoaster began.

I've spent the past few years working hard on regaining my brain space. I don't know where my head was at- I had the fog of new motherhood again and no sleep makes you a crazy person. A year ago times were really tough financially as the Government cuts and global economy took their toll and we had to let our cleaner go. Luxuries went, belts were tightened and I had to face the fact that my small business wasn't pulling its weight financially. How could it? I'd been off caring for a newborn and when you are self employed if you don't work, you don't earn. I cut back the business activities and concentrated on one service that would continue to bring in an income whilst I was off mothering, and I accepted that my business had to take second place- which was hard after it had been 'joint first' for so long.

But this sacrifice brought with it some freedom. I didn't realise it at the time - it all just felt difficult, but like a plant in the soil, things were shifting underground even though it looked outwardly like nothing was happening.

My tomato and onion plants have sprouted through the soil this week- all of a sudden, and this reality was echoed in my life too. I was getting on with the business of keeping our family afloat, taking what money my husband brought into the home and maximising the hell out of it- making it stretch as far as it could. I leaned how to cook cheaply from scratch, where I'd been reliant on pre-made 'ready meals' for so long, I learned how to patch things up in the house and was motivated to repair old clothes rather than throw them away which I'm ashamed to say I once did. My blog became a new way to get back some of those luxuries that we'd given up like days out and new clothes, as PRs and marketers started to see that these mummy-bloggers had a voice, a platform and an audience, so offered us free products to review to get some publicity for their clients.

I threw my energies into being a great mum and really noticing the time spent with my children. We live completely in the moment, never wishing our lives away, and paying attention to what was going on made it easier to write up blog posts! In short, I'd learned the art of home-making.

My last blog post was about becoming a Professional Housewife. It was about how I focus on my family and home and what that means for those within it and shows some ways in which I reigned my housekeeping activites in, getting back full control.

There is a saying that 'A good family gives you roots and wings', and this is my aim. To care for my family, keep a lovely home where they can come back to and feel safe, and really enjoy being a mum. These days the business is not the second priority after the family. The new order is family - always family. Then ME! Then the home, the cats, and the business. That's right! I've clawed my way up from last place in the priority list to second- and I can live with that. I get my rest, I take time to exercise, I'm shedding that weight (I've lost 2.5 stone so far) and I make time for my own headspace. I blog. I love to blog, and I hope that you get as much joy from reading my blog as I get from writing it.

This post has felt really therapeutic to write. Try for yourself and see how much lighter you feel after you get a thought out of your head and onto the screen. Share your stories and thoughts with me below in the comments and I promise to try and respond to each one.

My piggy bank tale is about learning prudence. I've become careful with money now, more like my mother was when I was growing up. I think that there is a lot of wisdom in some of her ways, and its only when you get a bit older that you realise that! This post is also my entry to the BritMums Piggy Bank Tales competition, sponsored by Virgin Money.

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Becoming A Professional Housewife

The last few months have seen me taking full control of this house. I don't just mean I have cleaned it from top to bottom, but I have re-organised, re-cycled, de-cluttered, mended, re-painted, re-located things, brought in new systems of organisation, planted flowers and vegetable seeds and created a crafts corner where I can keep all those empty packets, jars and swatches of fabric that just 'might come in' for something.

I have found old fashioned but effective (and cheaper!) ways to clean my home- from using denture tablets down the loo (to get rid of some hardened limescale that just looked grotty) to bicarb of soda sprinkled in the bottom of my kitchen bin so it doesn't pong.

I have actually started using my composter which has been sitting empty in the back garden, judging me with its 'too clean' outward exterior, so you know it hasn't been used. I've owned that damned composter for ten years - and now I am VERY PROUD to say that I'm actually using it! Plus I found a ceramic cream casserole dish with lid, on sale for half price so I bought it to use for the sole purpose of keeping my kitchen peelings, eggshells and old teabags in to take to the composter! It looks a lot prettier on my kitchen worktop than a carrier bag or bucket.

This house has become a home. A well functioning, well cared for, lived in, comfortable, well stocked, pleasant to live in home, and it became this when I became a professional housewife!

When finances became tight a few years ago, I started to find cheaper and more effective ways to run our household which included using technology like apps and websites to price compare food and using vouchers but also looking back into the past and the ways women used to manage. It has sparked an interest in me, in finding the best and most cost effective ways to do things. Looking for the value in the products I'm using, so whilst they might not be the cheapest, they are the best for my family.

I love blogging and through this blog I will share with you what I find, what methods work, what don't, ideas for things you can make and do cheaply at home (did you see my recent post about updating a laptray?!) and the things I do within my home to make life better for my family.

I've always been a 'business mum', running a small business and doing freelance work, but I've taken the same business focus, eye for the bottom line and strategic thinking that I have used in my career to date and applied this to my home too. I have even created my own home 'mission statement' to remind me of what is truly important on those days when the small stuff seems to take over and you get caught up in minutia.

So whilst 'home-making' hasn't been a particularly desirable career option for 30 something women in recent years, being lower in status than the long term unemployed, I'm now proud to say I'm a Professional Housewife, Mother, Stay At Home Mum. For me, this is the most rewarding career of all, and by blogging through it- it is creatively fulfilling too.

This post was inspired by a writing prompt on the Tots 100 website where Morphy Richards are looking for 10 house-proud innovators to test kitchen appliances and offer giveaways to their readers! I'm applying so I will let you know how I get on! Share your own thoughts on how you run your home below...

Other posts you might like: Blogging Saved My Life!

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Sponsored: My Day Without Paper- An HP Challenge

Ooh! How would you cope if you couldn't use paper at all all day? It doesn't sound too difficult does it? Have a look at my vlog to see how I got on with the challenge!

How would you get on with this? Leave me a comment below!

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Win A Prize in my Virtual Easter Egg Hunt!

Here is my daughter, isn't she beautiful? She is wearing her 'Sunday Best!' The team at George at ASDA offered me the chance to dress my daughter in a fab new outfit to show off her 'Sunday Best' and I have a treat for you too- as we are doing a virtual Easter Egg hunt! More details below...

The dress and sandals are from the girls clothing range and this pretty dress will look lovely on our summer holidays later in the year! The whole outfit (dress and shoes) came in at £20!

So what is a 'virtual Easter Egg hunt?' I hear you cry...
Basically 16 bloggers have put together the best Easter Sunday look for their child. Hidden in each blog post is an undisclosed number of Easter Eggs! If you look hard you will see one or more eggs in my photo.

You have to find the other 15 blog posts and count up the eggs in their pictures. Or you can just take a guess as to how many Easter Eggs are featured across all the blogs. The first five entries to get the right amount (or closest to the right amount) will win a £20 gift voucher from George. You can enter the competition here (this will take you to another web-page where you will see the Rafflecopter competition widget.)

Before you go off to enter this competition, the competition organisers want to award prizes to the participating bloggers for 'Best Look'; 'Best Smile' and 'Cutest Kid'. Would you help me to win one of these prizes by leaving me a comment below and let me know which award you think I should get with this picture of my daughter. Thanks a bunch for that!!

All the participating blog posts are live now, so 'hunt' them down! Or you could just enter with a guess. To give you a clue, the colour of the eggs in my photo are purple and yellow- but there could be more than one of each colour! Knowing the egg colours may help you to find the hidden eggs in other bloggers posts too!

To make it even easier for you to find all the participating blogs, I have created a Linky below so that if you are a blogger that is involved, just add the link to your page below so our readers can find the eggs!!

To try and win one of five £20 George gift vouchers, enter here. Bear with the web-page if it is slow to load. The competition entry box will get there in the end. Good luck!

Terms & Conditions:
1. Open to UK residents over the age of 18.

2. The prize is a £20 gift voucher from ASDA/George.

3. Instructions form part of the terms and conditions.

4. This giveaway is hosted on behalf of ASDA/ George who will deliver the prize(s) following confirmation of winners’ contact details.

6. The prize sponsor’s decision is final and binding on entrants; no further correspondence will be entered into.

7. There is no cash or alternative to the prize stated.

8. The prize is selected in good faith, however the prize sponsor may substitute with one similar value/type if original one is unavailable.

9. Failure to claim prizes within 7 days will result in a replacement winner being chosen.

Bookmark the Juggle Mum blog to see all current giveaways and return to this post for bonus chances to win daily!

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Growing Our Own Veg

We've talked about growing our own veg for a while and my husband's Nanna has even given us a few books on what to grow and when, to get us started. ("Thanks Nanna!")

A month ago I wanted to get the children excited about vegetables, and so I asked each of them to make a list of what they wanted to grow. My daughter is a brilliant veg eater- she will try anything and has a varied palate. My son on the other hand, really dislikes veg- but the annoying thing is that he's never actually knowingly tasted any!

He had pureed veg in the weaning stage and loved it all but once he grew into a toddler and learned that he could exercise his own free will, he has avoided fruit and veg- saying he "doesn't like them!" So this veg plot is my sneaky way of trying to get him excited about food and where it comes from. I want him to grow something from a seed then taste it himself after he has nurtured it and harvested it in the summer.

Last weekend we hit the garden centre and bought some top soil, seeds, a propagator and some brightly coloured kids garden tools in preparation and today we have dug out the plot, marked out everyone's areas and planted the seeds.
Here are the kids digging:

Here is my husband with our son, checking where to plant!

A new book came out last month called "Grow Your Own For Kids!" by the Royal Horticultural Society, and I was sent a copy which was great timing for my veg plot! The book is aimed at children and features lots of photographs of kids digging, planting, caring for and eating the veg they have grown. It was easy to get my son interested in making his own plot when he could see boys of his age doing the same in the book.

We found the book really useful when it came to the snails we had in our plot. I knew that worms were good, but I didn't know that snails were damaging to our crops as they will eat the seedlings, but when we saw that written in the book, we all promptly re-homed the snails to under the trampoline where they were away from the plot and could do no harm! The book is published by Mitchell Beazley and costs £12.99 for a hardback, and well worth a look for budding children gardeners! It costs even less on Amazon.

Here is my son with the book:

Now all they need is watering, sun and time so I will let you know how we get on later in the year.

Have you ever tried to grow your own at home? If you have any tips for me, share in the comments below!

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Updating An Old Laptray!

I had two laptrays that were looking tatty and after a recent trip to Dunelm Mill, I also had some offcut oilcloth so I decided to spruce up my tired old laptrays!

Here they are 'before':

...And here's how I did it!
First step- prepare the surface by peeling off ripped lining, and cleaning off any spills:

Then, paint over the old design so that it can't show through the new fabric:

After this I cut the oilcloth to size, stuck down with superglue and taped over the edges with masking tape to finish! I couldn't find brown tape which I think would have been better, but I used black and it looks ok!

What do you think! Do you like the new design? Drop me a comment!

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A Girly Lunch and a Fishcake Demo!

I had the girls round last week to treat them to lunch. As we'd been to Slimming World together in the morning, I was keen to prepare a low syn lunch so we could all stick to our plans, but this was also a low cost lunch too!

I had decided to throw the gathering to share a new recipe that I'd picked up at a recent blogger event with Morrisons. They invited a group of Northern bloggers to their Head Office in Bradford to give us a kitchen demo with their Head Chef and to launch the new M Savers range. Here are some of the photos from the night:

From left to right: Karen from Help Me To Save; Ellie from Insomniac Mummy; Laura from Are We Nearly There Yet, Mummy?; and Annewen from Ramblings of a Suburban Mummy. The lady stood in the background is with Morrisons!

Here are the bloggers to my left:

From left to right: The arms belong to Claire from Life, Ninja Killer Cat and Everything Else; Cass from Frugal Family; Jen from Mum in the Madhouse. Then Sarah, the money saving expert who was there to present the new range!

Everyone split into pairs to make one of the dishes on the M Savers recipe cards. Here is my team-mate Annewen checking our chops!

That's the thing with us bloggers, we have to photograph EVERYTHING!!!!

...And here we are as a group having a lovely dinner!

...So back to my event, here is me demonstrating the fishcakes! On the blogger night I made pork chops but the fishcakes looked easy enough to tackle and I love a bit of salmon, so this is why I prepared them at my girly lunch.

....And here is the finished meal which was delicious BTW!

If you are interested about Slimming World, each fishcake is 1.5 syns on Extra Easy if you use reduced fat pesto- otherwise it is 3 syns per fishcake using regular pesto. The breadcrumbs that coat the fishcakes should also be counted, I didn't work out the exact syn value, it was tricky as I didn't use much, but I counted an extra half syn for the breadcrumbs. Here is the M Savers recipe card. As you can see, this meal serves two people for a total cost of £2!

I really enjoyed my lunch and sharing my new recipe with the girls! Morrisons gave me a whole stack of cards to work through so I will be kept busy!!

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Nominate me!!

Hey! The BiBs 2012 have just been launched - this stands for 'Brilliance in Blogging!'

I am going for the category of 'Inspire' as I like to keep my blog positive, upbeat and enthusiastic, and I hope that you feel all those things when you read the posts I write!

Brilliance in Blogging: Inspire!

For the next two weeks, blogs are being nominated for various categories, and each nomination I get will increase my chance of being shortlisted for the awards, so if you like what you read, please do nominate me!!

You do this by clicking here and this brings up the nominations form. Then, look for the INSPIRE category which is the third one down, and in Blog Name, put JUGGLE MUM. Then, in INSPIRE! Nominee, put in http://www.jugglemum.com or insert the URL to a specific post that you might like! I sent in my recent post about following my dreams and how my book has helped others to do this too, as I think this is inspiring!!

I know the form looks long but you don't have to nominate someone in each category if you don't want to! But if you have lots of favourite blogs, this is a great way to nominate them all in one go!

I really hope to reach the shortlist for this awards, as this is my first blog awards and I feel ready after 4 years of blogging to take this step!

Thank you so much in advance for your nomination. It will only take a few minutes of your time to complete and you will be making me smile even wider!!

If you want help finding a blog post to nominate, then here is a URL of a recent inspiring post for you to copy and paste into the awards form!

You DON'T HAVE TO BE A BLOGGER to nominate me for this awards! All you need to do is make sure you press 'Submit' at the bottom of the form!!

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Is Your Book Still A Dream, Waiting to Happen?

Today is the start of the third month of 2012 and some of us will be still going strong with our New Year’s resolutions whilst some of us are back on the carbs, ciggies, chocolate (delete as appropriate!) But it’s not too late to make positive changes and any day can be the first day of the rest of your life.

One of my ambitions several years ago was to write a book. Not a novel or piece of chick-lit, I’d tried that before and become stuck quite quickly! I wrote a non-fiction book, drawing upon my knowledge and experience, and I timed it right – my subject was emerging in a business marketplace so the book achieved a lot of success, becoming a best-seller on Amazon! After this, I used to get scores of people approaching me at events to tell me that they’d always wanted to write a book but didn’t know where to start or how to find the time!

Writing a book is an ambition that a lot of people hold, but it is also an ambition that we can easily talk ourselves out of, worried that we won’t have enough to say to fill a book, that no-one will buy it or even if we have it in us to finish it in the first place! I’m a big believer in going for it – regardless of what ‘it’ is for you, so I knew that I wanted to write another book to help people who wanted to write their own book.

‘I Don’t Have Time To Write’ came out in 2011 and has so far, helped hundreds of people to believe that they can write a book and to find the time to actually do it! I have the writing bug now and have the synopsis written for four further books on my computer, I've yet to decide which I'm going to tackle first!

It’s exciting to think that having one book written has led to a thirst for doing more, and nothing is more satisfying than achieving a long held personal dream. My next goal is to shift some weight which I’ve been doing slowly for a while but have turbo boosted since January! I’m focused and ready to make it happen, and it will. Tell me about what you will make happen for yourself in 2012? I’m willing you on – you CAN do it and I'd love to hear about it when you do.

Leave me a comment below!

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The Girl On The Train With A Mop Bucket!

She was coming to see me.

Ten years ago I would have been the PR girl schlepping a bag of samples and a press release on and off trains to visit people for my clients, but roll on a decade and I'm the one being brought treats! I wish it could have been make up, fashion or maybe a shiny new gadget but my little gift was stuff for cleaning!

It made me laugh later that day as I unwrapped my easy rinse power scourer. In my head I still feel like a trendy teenager on the cutting edge of cool. If PRs want to send me any products to try they should be Margarita Mix and a pair of suede hot pants to wear whilst I'm drinking it. In my head, I'd be whisked off on a hedonistic weekend break by the travel PR for the Isle of Fernando's whilst carrying the latest 'Harper' bag, given to me by my good friend Victoria Beckham.

But the reality is that I don't drink much at all- the odd glass of Asti maybe at a party, or if it's a hot day- a cool beer. ...And I'd never get those hotpants past my knees- even after I get to my Slimming World target!

Let's face facts, I'm a mum. I love being a mum - and if I say so myself, I'm a pretty good one. But mums don't get whisked off to the Isle of Fernando's - they get sent mops to play with instead.

Bless her, Vic had hauled ass from Manchester to Wakefield with a change over at Leeds in her trendy outfit - accessorised with a shiny red mop bucket. That's dedication. She took me through the Vileda range, enthustistically telling me what each bit did and how it all worked, and I told her that I can't really get excited about mops unfortunately, (unless they are like robot mops that come and do it all for you- making you a cup of tea after they have polished the floor)! But I listened and took it all in and was rather pleased later that day when I whipped the 1.2 Spray Mop over my kitchen floor and found it easy to use and did the job in seconds so I could have a proud housewifely moment, enjoying the clean floor before the cat came in and chewed his beef in gravy all over it.

Mums may be the target audience for products for the home, but we are also the target for sleepy kisses from our soft cheeked kids, cuddles at bedtime after they have gotten into their clean pyjamas and wonkily hand drawn pictures of one eyed chicken robots with 'I love you Mummy' written underneath. Whoever gets to go to Fernando's wont get all that, so I wouldn't swop it for the world. Even if Paddy McGuinness came to the door and asked me himself!

The Vileda website is here in case you are motivated by this post to have your own housewifely moment! Here is the blog too.

This is me and Victoria (The Vileda PR) at our meeting:

She's the young, good looking one on the right, in case you were wondering.

Disclosure: A) I was given a few free mops and pan scourers by the Vileda PR which is why she got a train to see me.
B) Victoria Beckham doesn't know me from Adam!

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WigWam Bam, Gonna Make You My Man!

Here is my little man - and my little miss in the new wigwam! We reviewed this recently and here are my thoughts!

**This is a Product Review Post**

Product Name: Wigwam by Garden Games
Buy Online Here: www.playhouses.co.uk
Price: £49.99
Star Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The blurb: Our Wigwam is a house for your "savages" to hide away and plot their day. Decorative motifs adorn the textile cover held up with 6 wooden poles standing 1.9m tall. Wigwam diameter: 1.4m. "New" Updated Versions now come with Velcro fastenings instead of ties...

Initial Thoughts: We were so excited when the wigwam arrived and set about building it straightaway. The instructions are printed on the box, but they proved quite tricky to follow. The first time we assembled the teepee it ended up inside out! (So the print was on the inside) We had to pull apart each pole at the central connection to reverse the fabric to get it right. This wasn't really difficult to do but we felt it could have been made clearer on the box. Once assembled, it was a good size- my kids both got inside with some dolls and a cat to play, but as it is still so cold outside we played indoors. In the summer we plan to erect it in the corner of the garden and it will make a great extra place to play on a hot day!

I Liked: The fabric of the teepee was really good quality, very thick and substantial, and I love the print design on it. It worked great for my kids as it was neither too girly nor too masculine! It was quite a retro design which would work well in any house or garden. Kids always love a 'den' and our cats enjoyed hiding in the wigwam too!

I wasn't Keen: Aside from the trouble with the instructions, we did find that the teepee kept shrinking down so the fabric would slide down the poles at the top and needed pulling back up. It never prevented the kids from getting inside but we kept needing to tighten the knot at the top of the wigwam to keep things in place.

Overall: There are three playtents on the website. The wigwam is here and is personally my favourite of the three. If your kids are looking for a fun play tent, this one is suitable for all ages. My children are 9 and 4 and they had great fun in it!

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Shhh! A Cheeky Secret!

I did something a few weeks ago that made me smile in secret all day long!

I had seen a little job advert and had decided to go for it - what the hell, eh? It was a writing job so I'd be able to work from home and it consisted of doing one column a month for 12 months. I figured I would apply - the only thing is that this was a writing job with a *ahem* difference! It was to be the new Sex Columnist for Easy Living Magazine!!

I have been with my husband for more than 20 years (even though we are both in our 30's) and we have two young children. This was the criteria you see. You had to be in a long term relationship with AT LEAST two young children and be keeping things spicy! I thought we might just fit the bill. I wasn't up for any 'same sex' or 'threeway' shenanigans, but a bit of dressing up, a toy or two and some dirty talk would be pretty easy to accomplish and then write about anonymously.

I smiled all day long because what a secret eh? To be walking round your town or doing the school run looking like a normal person when actually you are a secret sex goddess!! To have on your lace trim satin tie side panties and matching balconette bra under your jeans and T shirt combo, rather than the usual Hanes black hi-leg stretchy practical briefs?!

My husband couldn't stop smiling either- when I told him what I'd done. We had a juicy secret, and it was a lot of fun! Then a few days ago I got an email. One of those 'Thank you for your interest but we have been inundated with applications and on this occasion, you didn't make the shortlist'. I wasn't surprised- it actually made me giggle a little. Thank God! I think I was a bit relived that I didn't have to share my bedroom antics with the world at large. But it was a nice daydream for a while - it brought our intimate life into more focus. It is easy in a marriage to take each other for granted or start to neglect the activities that you maybe did seven times a day when you first got together but have lapsed to once every few weeks because you are both working all the time, the kids have been ill and the cat keeps on puking up on your carpet. It made me think about it a lot more, and you know how the saying goes - thoughts lead to action!

...I'm also pleased to say I have spring cleaned my knicker drawer!

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The Train, The Zoo, The Pandas and The Family

Isn't it funny how the smallest of things can make you feel so happy? Check this out...

I know I should've turned the flash off, but if you can see it says 'Reserved Hill'- when we got on our train last weekend for a short break in Edinburgh, this is what greeted us in the First Class carriage! Like a country bumpkin on Rodeo Drive, I had to get out my camera and take a shot - even if that meant looking uncool in front of the other 'Firsties'!

Cross Country Trains very kindly offered my family and I a return trip on their network, so after an evening spent with a map of their route and the family diary in hand, we chose Edinburgh! I wasn't expecting to get tickets for the First Class carriages (I usually travel 'standard' because it is cheaper) but it was lovely to be seated in a less crowded carriage away from the hustle and bustle of other peoples' tinny headphones, rustling papers and one sided chats on mobile phones! Here we are making ourselves at home:

Once we had zoned in on the destination, I'd set about some internet research to work out what we'd do to occupy our time in Edinburgh and was delighted to see that Edinburgh Zoo is now the home of two Giant Pandas who arrived in December for a ten year stay, on loan from their home in China. I remember seeing this on Daybreak- the massive lorries slowly rolling through the streets of Edinburgh, transporting Tian Tian and Yang Guang to the zoo, with well wishers lining the streets waving flags! I knew our kids would love to see them so we booked our tickets and a panda viewing slot and off we went!

Here is Tian Tian playing peek a boo with my camera:

...and here she was bored after a few seconds!

Here is her panda friend Yang Guang, sleeping (so cute!)

Other than the pandas, we saw all sorts of monkeys, birds, big cats, bears, zebras, hippos and penguins. Here are a few shots:

...and this picture was just begging to be captioned! Even in the animal kingdom we have multi tasking mamas!

What a great weekend! We've never taken a train for a family short break before, usually taking the car but it made a pleasant change for all of us to be able to relax en route, rather than my husband being the driver. It also helps that you can take small kids to the loo without stopping the journey which is a bonus!

Disclosure: Thank you to Cross Country Trains for the return train tickets from Leeds to Edinburgh.

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