Summer holiday no fun

I wander how everyone else’s Summer is going! If there feeling over whelmed like me and a big no fun let down.
When the term ended and the summer began I had the idea that everyday would be full of joy and fun packed things to do. But after the first week, ok, ok the 3rd day! I realised there would be little joy and more endurance.
There was very little I could describe as joy


How your senses can help your marketing strategy

We often think that marketing can be a daunting concept, something that we have to spend copious amounts of money on before we see a return, and most business’s get caught out by actually doing too much marketing rather than not enough.
Trying to get all your services and product information out there, and to everyone without a clear target audience can be quite damaging to your marketing budget. Your so excited by your products and services you just want everyone to know about it and be as enthusiastic as you and your employees, after all it is the best, isn’t it?
Well the cold hard truth is there’s people in the world that don’t need your product, don’t want your product and just don’t care! But wait that’s ok, because these are the converters and these are the ones you need to keep happy by non direct marketing, yep that’s right, by non direct marketing.
They don’t need your product…… Well they may do one day, or know someone that does today.
Don’t want your product………But it could be a gift for a friend and they may need it one day.
Just don’t care……….ok that hurts, but we need to move on, when their needs change we’ll be here, and they’ll know we’re here because of our fantastic marketing strategy!

So with that in mind, you need to target customers that need your product, want your product and also customers that have your product.

Firstly put a criteria together for customers that need your product or services. This could be age range, gender, related products and interests. Think about where these customers will be, put yourself in their shoes and go where they go. Listen to them, talk to them and find out what they want, don’t hard sell. You need to do market research before you market your product, you may think you have what people need but you have to make it what people want.

At this stage you want to introduce the senses strategy. Invite people to try your product or services, it’s up to you and your business budget if you would like to charge for this but I would recommend an incentive or discount. It’s important that customers or clients are aware of the purpose of the exercise, if they know it’s for the purpose of marketing and feedback they will be more inclined to give honest feedback, but if you bombard your regular customers with questions they may just give white washed responses.
Once your customers have used and experienced your products and services, give them a questionnaire to find out if you met there expectations. Remember to use a scoring system, make it simple and quick for your customers to answer.
Once you have your customers responses you can tweak your products or services to meet demand. You’ll be able to target your target audience confidently and understand their needs better. But most importantly you will have customers that have seen your product, touched your product, experienced your product and these customers will lead your non direct marketing campaign. They will tell family and friends, talk about it on social media, all you have to do is wow the now!
Remember every customer or client and even friend and family member is part of the non direct marketing campaign, but more importantly it’s the senses that create a response. Don’t get stuck behind a keyboard, Facebook is a great way to advertise but don’t rely on this for your business, it’s one of many tools but the most important tools are you and your current clients.
I’ll be putting together future posts on how to generate clients from social media, but in the mean time remember don’t blanket your marketing campaign, and stop and listen to your customers, they may have lots to say!


Psariasas woes

Ever since I can remember I’ve had psariasas, it’s been bad, mild, sever but seldom never there. It’s part of me and something that very rarely bothers me, but it does control me, it controls every decision that I make wether I realise it or not. Starting from what I’ll where for the day, short sleeves or shorts, short dress or maxi dress. To be honest I don’t even own many short dresses and shorts because I don’t bother buying them.
So once I’m dressed, I then have to decide what the kids and I will do for the day, shall we go swimming or the park? Well can’t go swimming so it’s off to the park, again!!
Oh wait I have a message on my phone, it’s a friend offering me a free makeover session and manicure as part of her training, result! Wait, sorry can’t do that due to the horrendous state of my nail psariasas!
Despite all of this I just get on with things and it’s not much of a big deal, I often forget until I’m reminded by strangers glancing at me and that’s quite rare. But when people do notice they always feel they need to tell me how they suffer with dry skin on their elbows and show me the extent of their dry skin problems, I’m sure this is to show some empathy but really what they fail to see is that there just showing me how amazingly bad my skin really is and the only person who’s feeling good in the conversation is them.
Pregnancy is always like rolling a dice when it comes to psariasas, hormones can affect the body in so many different ways and in both my pregnancies this was true. My first pregnancy turned out
To affect my psariasas in the worst possible way, which was even more bitter sweet as I had been clear for 3 years before. After my daughter arrived it settled but did not clear again until I fell pregnant 3 years later with my second child. My second pregnancy turned out to be completely different, I had amazing skin and I was even going swimming. But then at 36 weeks pregnant it gradually became worst again. It was OK though,  I’m used to it!!
And how sad is that, that I’m so used to being a scabby mess that I’m resolved to letting it control me. It’s not just sad but up until recently turned into a real problem, but with the help of friends I think I have finaly overcome it.
Because recently I had an out break that was so sever that there was no way I could ignore it or keep going, I had to ask for help.
About 3 months ago I became very ill, my glands were swollen, I couldn’t eat, I was hot and cold and my throat was inflamed. And gradually my psariasas got worse, but it was so gradual I barely noticed the change. It wasn’t typical of my usual psariasas, my skin had changed and it was red and inflamed all over. It was sore to the touch and even walking and my clothes touching my skin was unbarable.  Breastfeeding was starting to get uncomfortable and painful and the skin flakes had gone to another level.
Even my doctor had to admit that she couldn’t help me and could only refer me to the dermatologist as an urgent case. Well that referal never came, I patiently waited 7 days, getting worse and worse each day. On the 7th day I couldn’t even walk or put my shoes on and I had developed a sore under my breast that just wasn’t healing. I was a mess and I felt completely broken, I couldn’t even take my daughter to pre-school. I was finally ready to fight for my treatment and not put up with what I had  just got used to being normal.
After ringing the doctor’s back and finaly getting someone from the dermatology department to talk to me I was given an appointment….. in 5 weeks! I politely described my symptoms and the severity of my outbreak and assured them that without an appointment my only option would be A&E. I was then offered an appointment that day within 2 hours.
Since that appointment I have received treatment and am slowly getting better, as I’m breastfeeding my treatment was a bit complicated. It may have taken a while for the hospital to see me but I can not fault the care I’ve had . I’ve been given options and clear information in regards to the medication I’ve been given and they’ve seen me regularly to assess the results.
I can not say what the doctor’s thought once they saw me I can only tell you of my experience, from visit to visit. For example my first visit I had one doctor see me on arrival and than she refferred to her colleague, who both saw me and then sent me for relevant blood tests and medical photos. I was then asked by the medical photographer if she could go on to use the photos for an up and coming medical photography competition which would then see my photographs used in a number of medical journals. Of course at this point I’ve got nothing to loose and as a fellow photographer I’m happy to see something positive come from my situation, basically as long as I don’t have to see them, knock your self out!
4 days later when I returned to the hospital and I was greeted with 10 doctor’s,  my two original doctor’s and a number of their colleagues, who had all seen my photos and we’re keen to see how my prescribed treatment had affected me over the weekend. I got the feeling now I was a bit of a medical spectacle and not a typical everyday patient. These were not student doctor’s that were coming to see me but seasoned professionals that seemed to be called in to give their medical opinion and to see a case that quite frankly was shocking.
I’m suprised my ears hadn’t been burning and fell off over the weekend as these guys were well up to speed and had seen my pictures and read my medical notes. But still I was being treated and to be honest I actually liked the fuss I was getting, in a way it made me start to realise that I shouldn’t have been making do all these years and people cared enough to study and dedicate their studies to a specialist field because people like me needed help.
So more treatment was prescribed and 2 weeks later on my third visit I was greeted with the same fan fair, the same doctor’s keen to see how my treatment was working and how much I had improved.  I could now walk with comfort and I wasn’t as flaky, the redness of my skin had gone down and I wasn’t so sore. I was happy and to be honest if my treatment had ended that day I would have been happy with what I was left with, how sad is that? But that was the old me, the new me wanted to finaly be free of this skin burden.
I’m now receiving regular Ultraviolet treatment twice a week and my skin looks so much better, although this week I started to get unbearable itching as a side effect. Which I’m told is quite normal. I’ve had to take some antihistamines and so far that’s managed to help.
In a way I’m glad that this happened to me as it’s forced me to take better care of myself and stop taking my skin problems for granted. I’m just hoping now I can get on top of it, I’m not expecting to be psariasas free at all but a little clearer would be nice!
1 week after treatment.

3 weeks after treatment.

Today, 2 months after treatment.


Back to work

Well I have made the decision and I’m not going back to work after my maternity leave ends this month. I’ve now relaunched my business and after opening my studio, I’m finally a full time photographer!

Well so much has happened over the past few months and I’ve wanted to blog about everything but that’s proved very difficult. Not because of time but just respect, you see my blogging journey set off a series of events and decisions that together have changed the course of my immediate future. 7 months ago I said goodbye to my work colleagues and my manager with full intentions of returning back to work, not in a million years did I think that that wouldn’t happen. So when I was faced with the childcare bill I had to face some tough choices!
It wasn’t just not returning back to work, it was more of a case of what would I do instead if I didn’t go back to work, unfortunately I can’t afford to work and I can’t afford not too, ironically!!
But up until last year I was a part time photographer, but due to a miscarriage I felt I could no longer continue juggling a full time job and a business, something had to give.
So now fast forward 12 months and I’ve got the baby I so longed for and I have my own studio!
So why the radio (blog) silence? Well I had a plan, a business plan and a dream but although I was confident I could pull it off I wanted to give the business a few months head start before I handed in my notice. Also out of respect for my company after 8 years service , I wanted them to hear it from me and not read it through my blog.

I’ve been so busy with promotional shoots and marketing aswell as working on Mad Mummy Crafts & design, I’ve not even been worried about my weight, which is why I started blogging in the first place. I’m pretty sure I’ve not lost much but it’s not important to me anymore, my focus is now on being a successful business owner and a happy mummy. I’m so excited for the future and am so loving what I’m doing. I’m still working hard but I can work flexible hours, spend time with my children and I get to be creative every day.
My first few months of launching the studio have been fantastic and I have reinvented myself from a Wedding photographer to a baby, toddler and children photographer.

I still do weddings but I can now work around the kids too, it’s pretty much perfect for me.
When I started photography 5 years ago the dream was always to one day become a full time photographer, I just never realised it would be my children that would give me the opportunity to follow my dreams! What’s the biggest change you’ve made since starting your family?


Mad Mummy Crafts & Designs is official

I’ve mentioned in previous post how walking has helped me to think clearly and make decisions. I’m not sure if all of them have been good decisions but time will tell with that.
But it’s funny how we can start a journey and end up getting lost but than we still find where we need to be even if we are a little late. Or in my case get lost and when I do get to my destination realise I’ve been here before! And if you hadn’t realised Yes I am talking in metaphor.
4 years ago I talked about starting a business and successfully started that business. I wanted to run a business and stay at home with my new baby, life was meant to be perfect. But it wasn’t, the conditions weren’t right, I wasn’t living in the right house or area and my business was a start up, I couldn’t possibly afford it. But the biggest obstacle I faced was me, I had no faith in myself, I never fully trusted myself so I never let go of my day job. Which meant I never had to work hard on my business.
So after a few successful years I started to drop the ball, my focus was on concieving and going to work and business took a nose dive cause it had no one to love it. I than suffered a miscarriage and I realised I couldn’t do everything. So I decided to stop! Put my camera down and step away. I was dissapointed but I didn’t feel like a failure cause I knew I had simply given up and I think that’s different to trying and failing, I’d stopped trying along time ago!
I kept my bookings and commitments through 2014, even a wedding a few weeks after I had had my daughter.
And it was different, because I still loved it, I wasn’t sad anymore and I wasn’t at work so my focus was back to being passionate about photography. I began to have doubts and I knew I had made the wrong decision, to give up my photography business . So I started small jobs again for friends and got myself back into the saddle.
But the real catalyst was my childcare bill, I knew going back to my day job was going to be hard, financially and finding a work life balance would be even tougher. But giving that up would be the hardest desicion I’ve ever made, but was it? On paper it seems like a no brainer but the reality of being financially vulnerable is a very scary concept and that’s exactly what I needed,  a bit of fire in my belly!!!
That’s how I would make this work, by taking full responsibility.

So today I open my home studio, I’ve managed to fill half my session slots this month and have been working hard to get ready so when I do have to finally make that decision and not go back to work it won’t seem like such a gamble.


I’ve also been busy planning and designing word art prints for my craft business which I also launched this week. It’s been a really busy 6 weeks but I’m so focused and unlike 4 years ago, the conditions are just right, I just have to have a little more faith in me.
So walking 6 miles a day hasn’t just helped my waistline but it’s helped me work out what I want to do in my life and given me the courage to make changes. But I’m not gonna lie I’m back in the car now, it’s been a good 4 months of walking so I don’t feel guilty, I’m 25lbs lighter and I’ve started 2 new businesses so that’s not bad going from a new year resolution to sell my car.
What new year resolution changed your life? I’d love to hear your story!


Walking journey update

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog recently, as I’ve been busy setting up various projects which I shall be blogging and sharing about soon. The whole purpose of me setting up my blog was to share my post baby weight loss. And although that was the catalyst the blog it self has evolved, much like myself over the past 4 months.
I mean 4 months isn’t a long time in the grand scheme of things but blogging for me has really helped me to analyse and make decisions in my life, important decisions. And I put this all down to one thing, my original decision back in January, to sell my car.
If it wasn’t for selling my car and making myself walk everyday to do the school run I wouldn’t be at the stage I’m at now. Every day that I walk I’m left with only myself to think and question my life. It’s the time I use to have ideas and to make things happen. It was my first day of walking that I decided to blog and from blogging I have highlighted other things that are important to me and how I want to change my life for the better.
Walking has also given me the opportunity to make new friends. Instead of jumping in and out of my car and running into the school because I’m late, as usual, I now have the time to chat and make friends.
I thought that the biggest positive of walking would be the exercise and weight-loss, but turns out that’s just a by product. For me ditching the car was a huge lifestyle change but now it’s just the norm, and 4 months later I’m still pounding the pavement. But I won’t lie, I am starting to wish I had a car, not for the school run, but for the little journey’s and the social aspect of being able to visit friends and take day trips out with the kids.
So I’ve decided it’s time to get back behind the wheel, I will continue to walk my school runs and just use the car when I need too.

I’ve lost 25lbs in total but I don’t think the walking is helping much now towards my weight loss. I’ve still got 19lbs to lose to get to my overall goal of 11 stone, ideally I’d like to be 10 stone but I’m realistic.
I am so proud in what I have achieved, but now I have to open a new chapter and challenge myself more. I was so focused when I first began this journey but over the last 6 weeks my focus has been geared towards other important things in my life, hence the projects I’ve been working on. I’m actually having to remind myself that this is still important to me and convince myself that I can still achieve my goal.
So this month I’m completing the 30 day shred and trying hard to stay away from those pesky takeaways.
Although I’ve not been sharing I’ve still been completing my video diary, I just need to find the time now to get updated and back on the blogging horse.


Happy Mothers day


Happy Mothers day, it’s the best and most rewarding job you will ever have!
Every year I celebrate the day with a photo with my daughter, and this year we get to add my newborn to the tradition.

I know I should probably use this opportunity to celebrate my own mother, but we’ve had a very strained relationship over the years which has recently come to a head.
So I wish I could gloat about what a wonderful mother I have, but sadly that is not the case. Instead I will use this time to celebrate all of the wonderful mothers that I have had the pleasure of knowing and the mothers that are reading this post. Slightly tired and mostly under appreciated throughout the year, but proud none the less.
You do what you can because you can and because you are mum, you don’t need a day to make you special because your children make you special.
Wether their babies, children or grown ups they will always need you and there love will shine through even in the darkest times. Because now you will never be alone, you will always be loved and cherished. Have a wonderful Mothers Day you deserve it. xxxx


Battling the Big Box

And the award for lazy parenting goes to, Mad Mummy Marshall. That’s how I’ve felt over the past few months. I’ve seriously dropped the ball when it comes to mainly everything, but it’s easy done when your waddling like a penguin and struggling to move due to SPD. And having to charge round after a 3 year old is tough, I really commend those parents that have three or more children, I really don’t know how you do it!
I spent most of my third trimester when I wasn’t working sitting on my bum recovering from working and plopping my daughter in front of the TV.


I would suggest putting on a film and snuggling on the sofa and within minutes we would both be asleep in the early afternoon. But she soon got wise to it and would demand to go to soft play and the day I relented I was seriously punished. It wasn’t just the moving around that was difficult but the fact that I physically couldn’t fit or manoeuvre around the complex was a big factor. At one point I had to rely on a stranger to get my daughter when she had bumped her head and was crying for me, that was tough!
So after that day I decided swimming, or should I say bopping around the pool was a better choice of past time.
But at home it was just easy to put the tv on so I could shut my eyes for half an hour.
Than baby came and not much changed, I was still tired and tv was still an easy option. Deep down I knew it was becoming a problem, so the day I decided to make a change I wasn’t suprised when my daughter looked at me with shock and demanded to know why she couldn’t watch TV.
It had become normal, which had always been a worry for me. I’m the mother that used to restrict tv to an hour a day and now the tv had become a constant norm. Now a month later we have cracked it, she rarely asked to watch it and her toys are getting the use they deserve as toys.
It wasn’t even that difficult to be honest it was just the case of breaking habit and distracting.
The first thing I did was join her to the library and made a point of going every week. I also arranged play dates with her friends and lunch dates with mine. We’ve been so busy she doesn’t get much of a chance to watch TV and when we are home we either do crafts or she asks me to read her books. When the TV has been on she’s even asked to turn it off, I’m one very proud mad mummy and I finally feel in control.

But at times I still feel slightly guilty when she wants me to play and I’m saying in a minute cause I’m feeding the baby or changing nappies, it seems to be my catch phrase at the moment.
I know we all have those moments where we think we could do better as parents, but the important thing is that we know when we have to do better and try and do what we can.


The Question


Well despite me feeling slightly normal and regaining parts of my identity, I was reminded this week that my hormones are still in full control! This week we attended our last week of baby group and it got quite emotional, not because it was our last group, but it was the question we were asked. what are you enjoying most about your baby? Well in true mad mummy fashion I added that being off work was what I was enjoying most, now to be honest that was just a joke. I am enjoying not being at work, until the three year old is asking me the same question over and over and over and over again.
But taking it in seriously and really thinking about the question, it’s always been one thing I’ve enjoyed most about both of my children and that is the gaze. Breastfeeding was very natural for me with my first daughter and I was lucky my daughter took to it so easily. The second time however was not so easy and I’ve always said if it was my first child I may not have continued. But what spured me on through the difficulties was the gaze of my new born, her big eyes taking me in.
Her happy and content face and that loving and lingering look in her big blue eyes!
My first child would not take a bottle no matter how hard we tried but my new born is happy to take my milk from me or a bottle. But this has come with mixed emotions for me, I was going to have more freedom but at what cost, I felt like I had lost a little bit of my exclusivity. However I’ve got over it and every time I put her to my breast nothing else matters. Explaining this to the group brought tears to my eyes because this is my last child and the time goes so quickly.
Recalling to the group the memory of my first child got me so emotional as I realised how special those moments were to me and watching her running around in her usual crazy fashion I knew that she had no recollection of that time. She didn’t remember and it was gut wrenching, it was then I was reassured that it was those moments that made our close bond, that made her so confident and secure.
So Wether I’m breastfeeding or bottle feeding I will hold every moment close to my heart and always remember. I’ll never forget the glare of wonder and comfort and the beautiful sounds of my baby suckling and wimpering and I’ll always remember that question. What are you enjoying most about your baby?


Our Craft Box

The one thing I say to any one with children is it’s never too early to put together a craft box.
Our craft box naturally formed over time, but there were times I had to make special trips to the shop for specific items. You can buy craft sets and boxes and they are great to get you started. But here I’ll show you what you may need to add to your own craft box, a few must have items that you won’t buy at the shops and I guarantee will be required at some point in your toddler/child creative play times.

Here is a list of items pictured above
● Any non toxic glue ie. PVA and glue stick
● Paint, obvious must have, but don’t get sucked in by all the fancy colours you can buy. Start with prime colours as you can have fun teaching them how to make their own colours. Although silver is a good colour to have just in case you want to make a robot and I’m sure you will.
● Various coloured paper, card, foam and Crete paper. You can never really have enough. I’ve run out on several occasions, I have a child that puts one line on a piece of paper and wants a new bit.
● You’ll get into a habit of recycling bottles and pots, you’ll never look at a yoghurt tub without thinking about how you can craft it up. Just make sure to give them a good clean.
● Play doh, I can’t quite remember when my daughter was able to play with Play doh without the fear of her ingesting it. But I do remember being surprised when her nursery worker told me she had been playing with it without incident. After that we always had Play doh despite the mess it leaves as I don’t think any child can manage not to get it all over the floor.
● Ink, I have used this many times and find it useful to have not sure if it’s a must have.
● Pipe cleaner and pom-pom balls of various sizes
● Sticky googly eyes, craft box essential.

● String, this is just a handy house hold item. I have needed it for all sorts.
● And the old favourite toilet roll tube or any tube is handy.

There are some other must have craft items that are not pictured because we simply ran out, just goes to show how often we use them. Here is a list of our most used.
● Paper plates, inexpensive and you can pick up 50 for a £1 at your local £1 shop.
● lollypop wooden sticks and skewer sticks.
● Plastic cups, pick them up with your paper plates.
● Various pasta shapes.

Our craft box ended up turning into a craft cupboard and as we’ve recently moved a dumping ground for all creative tools. I really need to give it a good sorting out.

You can see how our craft box turned into a cupboard. So what’s in your craft box? Do you think I’ve missed anything?