Monday, April 30, 2012

large family budgeting tips

Nine hungry mouths to feed every day involves a heck of a lot of food. It also involves planning, budgeting and wisdom to make it work on a one income family. Over the years I have developed some great tips and tricks on how you can afford to feed a family of nine and to make it a little easier as a large family. 

I always knew when planning a large family that it would cost a lot of money when it came to food but I really had no idea just how much of a challenge it would be to make it work. Often when I speak to people about having lots of children, one of the questions they always ask me is about food. How can you afford to feed a family of nine? Thinking about laying out nine plates every meal blows them away and they cannot understand how we can afford to feed our family and cope with the amount of cooking that is required. 

I have learnt that we need to do things differently in our house and I am constantly searching for ways to reduce our food budget. On days when I am not in a cooking mood I really have to pull myself together and just get on with it because it is way to expensive for us to go out to dinner on a regular basis. 

Some of the ideas that have stayed with me are: 
I scan the food catalogues and look out for specials and buy in bulk (about 10 at a time)
I mainly shop on the ends of the isles in the supermarket where specials are
I buy my meat in bulk from a meat market 
I divide my meat up into portion sizes, place in snap lock bags and freeze
I shop at Aldi's to save money on basic items 
I buy my fruit and vegetables on line so I avoid spending extra money at the shops
I chop vegetables up and put them in the freezer immediately 
I shop late at night to buy bread that is reduced and fill up my freezer with supplies 
I buy home brand items that I know our family likes whenever I can 
I keep several overflow or food storage cupboards to supplement supplies 
I cook most meals from scratch 
We own chickens for an egg supply
I keep a stock of basic cooking essentials so I can create any dish we feel like 
I plan ahead what meals we will cook for the month 
I keep in bulk items such as rice, flour, sugar, oats and water 
I stock up on items in season so we can enjoy them all year round 
I have a check list of all my food items that I use that I run through before I go shopping
I keep a 3 month supply of food on hand for emergencies 
I keep a few treats on hand for when things are getting tough and we need some fun! 
I normally cook the evening meal for the day in the morning to avoid the crazy hour stress
I also cook an after school snack in the morning and make a double batch for lunch boxes 
I use long life milk for baking
We eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and not very much fried food
We eat simple and often do not have a plate of seconds
Matt and I both cook to ease the pressure


This is an example of one of my overflow cupboards.

Now I know for some of you this may sound exhausting but for me it has become a way of life. It is a necessary part of my routine to make the budget work and to feed my family so that is what I do. We generally spend $300 a week on food {which is a big chunk of our budget} and that covers everything such as: food, toiletries, cleaning products and any other household product I need to purchase.

I am sure a lot of other families follow these guidelines and use them in their homes as well. There are now so many great blogs and websites out there to help families who are looking for creative ways to reduce their budget and to save some money. I enjoy looking over them to find new ideas and chatting with other families on what they are doing in their homes as well.

Do you have any other tips or tricks you follow to make budgeting easier?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Simply Beautiful Jewels: LOVEnCHERISH personalised necklace

Recently, I wrote a blog post about personalised necklaces.
To my absolute shock I received an email from Kath at LOVEnCHERISH.

Kath told me she wanted to make me a personalised necklace.
{I may have freaked out and fallen off my chair at that precise moment!}

I screamed and replied, 'No...Way!'
Kath laughed and replied, 'Yes...Way!'

Kath is one incredible, generous lady.
She also donated a necklace to help raise money for Lisa.

Have a look at my gorgeous personalised necklace below!
It has all of my seven cherubs on it!
AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

I cried when I received it in the mail.
It is a treasure to me and I can now wear them close to my heart.

I am in simply beautiful jewel heaven!
Thank you so much Kath.

Simply priceless.


Feel free to check out Kath's awesome work on facebook HERE
Any of her items would make a wonderful Mother's Day Gift.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Happy Days in May (Project)

Happy Days In May Project

"One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. 
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself." 
{Gretchin Rubin}

Background

Last year in May on my blog I ran a happiness project. Inspired by the book from Gretchin Rubin {The Happiness Project}, I encouraged other women and bloggers to record one sentence a day about what was making them happy during that day for one whole month. There were over 100 bloggers who signed up to participate and many more who participated at home. At the end of the month as bloggers we all published our months worth of sentences to share with each other. I loved reading through what made other's happy during the month. There were so many similarities but also so much uniqueness. It was simply inspiring.

Project

This year I still want to run a happiness project with the same theme but have decided to call it: Happy Days in May. As a busy mother I struggle to find time to write in my journal {too much time blogging maybe!}and I love having a project to help me focus on being more aware of what makes me happy. I also love to help others focus on happiness as well. 

I love that this project involves only one sentence a day and a short time for me to reflect each night on what has stood out as a great moment during my busy day. This idea and project is manageable. It is simple and a way for me to put pen to paper quickly each day. It also allows me to be more grateful, to count my blessings and to be aware of my family and surroundings. I need that reminder right now. 

What you need

To take part in the project you need a place to record your thoughts and a regular time each day to write them down. Find yourself a special notebook, use your current journal, use an app on your phone, use your blog and get yourself ready to start on May 1st. Determine a time each day, preferably at night, where you can take a moment to ponder and to reflect over what moment has helped you feel happy during the day and then write it down. 

Example

An example of how simple and wonderful this project is:

12th April
Liberty helped me put away three baskets of washing today and I was touched to be included in a lovely blog post about friends and I felt brave enough to decline a blog promotional event.

13th April
My boots arrived in the mail, loved making some new blog friends, Matt gave me a lovely chocolate surprise and I was able to see Harmony perform a play at school.

14th April
Went to the Anzac Day parade at school to see two of my girls sing and it was beautiful, touching and heartwarming to see them using their talents and skills to uplift others.

Join Me

I would love for you to join me in finding more Happy Days in May and would love you to tell me you are taking part. If you have a blog and are joining in, link up below. If you are not going to blog your experience but are still joining in let me know in the comments section below. I would love to make May a month where we all encourage each other to find a little more happiness and appreciate how awesome life really is. Let's get Happy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

teaching my kids life skills and my kids job chart in our home

I am a big believer in teaching your kids to work and to help out around the home. I believe a family should work together as a team to help make a home function and work. I also believe that as a mother of a large family that my children should not be doing all the work and that I should still be doing a lot of the housework around the home. So Matt and I have set out to find a system that works well for us.

In the morning my kids mainly focus on getting ready for school. They do the normal jobs like: get dressed, make beds, brush teeth, clean bedroom, pack school bag etc. I do not have an assigned list that they follow for the morning but do sometimes give them extra jobs to do. So, if I do need help with something I ask one or several of my children to help me out and they generally do. 

After school and after dinner time is when my kids do most of their jobs. We have a job chart in our home that we use to rotate jobs. We change the job chart at the start of each week so the kids focus on their assigned jobs for one week at a time. We have tried doing it for 2 weeks or even 1 month but have found that keeping assigned jobs for one week works well for us. 

The older four kids rotate certain jobs and the younger three kids rotate certain jobs. For the older kids they rotate: Sweeping the floor, Loading the dishwasher, Unloading the dishwasher, Cleaning the rumpus room and Cleaning the toilet. For the younger kids they rotate: Setting the dinner table, Clearing the dinner table, Emptying the wash baskets and Cleaning the loungeroom. Matt and I work on helping the kids learn to to do these jobs properly and the rest of the housework around the house Matt and I take care of. 

Along with the assigned jobs that they have every day we also work on training them life skills. We teach them how to cook, how to answer the phone, how to make an appointment, how to type, how to shop etc. We have a chart up in our home with age appropriate skills we want our children to learn. It looks very much like this chart below I found on Pinterest with thanks to Freja. I have to also add that I do not follow this list exactly and I use wisdom in how we teach our children. 

For example: I do not get my three year old to wash walls but if they have drawn all over a wall with crayon you can bet I get them to help me scrub it off. I also don't get my kids to make their lunch box every day but if I am ever sick they do know how to do it themselves. So in creating a list for your family it is important to plan what you feel comfortable with getting them to do.

By taking care of a lot of the housework myself it gives my children more time to develop talents and to play. They have time for music practise, sport, to play games together and to learn new skills from the list we have created similar to the one above. I really want my kids to be prepared to be independent and to survive in the real world when they leave home so we have starting training them young. We teach them how to do certain jobs, how to learn life skills and also role play on how to respond to certain situations they might be in, such as what to do if someone asks them to take drugs.  

Teaching life skills and jobs to kids does not need to be complicated. Keeping it simple and working out a plan that works well for your family is the key to success. If your kids see you working around the home I believe that is the best example to give them and understanding that they are not going to do a job like an adult will save you a lot of frustration.

Monday, April 23, 2012

a home of happy chaos


I have just finished reading the book 'Happy Chaos' by Soleil Moon Frye. You may remember her from the 80's show Punky Brewster. The book is a nice read about life growing up as a child star mixed with stories of raising her two girls. She shares her personal experiences mixed with questions and advice from her readers on her website

According to Soleil, 'Happy Chaos' is the sign of a family that is operating at it's best - when parents accept that they will make mistakes and will experience messes, tears and skinned knees. This got me thinking about our home and the happy chaos we have here.

Before I became a mother I spent time observing other families. I saw many large families who ran a very strict home and other large families who seemed to function in total chaos with no order. My goal going into motherhood was to strike a balance between the two. I wanted a house of order but a house that was set up for happiness and fun as well. As I read through Soleil's book I felt that we have achieved our goal of having a home of happy chaos and order. 

It has not been easy to arrive at this point. It has taken a lot of work and consistency in teaching our children that there is a time to work and a time to play. Of course we love those moments when working together becomes fun and joyful and feels like play but life is not like that every day.

For me Happy Chaos means a home with freedom to make, create, learn and explore life. It is a home environment where it is good to ask questions, to be able to share opinions and ideas, to be respected and listened to. A place to share emotions - happiness, sadness, anger and joy. There are opportunities to play games, dance, draw and build. Where appropriate affection is shown, where kindness is practised and where making memories is encouraged. 

Our home is not perfect, our family is not perfect but our home is a place we want to come home to and our family is a family we want to be with. That to me is real happiness.

What does a home of 'happy chaos' mean to you?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

entrance way of my home

Home tour: entrance way of my home


I get a lot of emails from readers asking how I keep my home organised. So I thought I would start a little home tour and begin with the entrance way of our home. I like to keep my home organised and my decorating simple. As we have a lot of people in our home I like to buy furniture that has some type of storage associated with it. We need all the storage we can get as a large family.


I also like my home to reflect what we believe as a family. As soon as you step inside our door you can see what our focus is. The flowers, although very dead, make me smile when I see them. Memories. 


I picked up this sign on ebay and adore it. It reminds me to work hard in my mothering role. The windows I love as I enjoy flowers and I love when the sun shines through and casts a coloured flower shadow in my entrance way.

In our home the children take off any shoes that they are wearing and put them in the shoe basket as soon as they walk in the door. They then grab them from the shoe basket when they are heading out the door as well. Wearing no shoes on in our home has stopped a lot of dirt and mud being trampled all over our carpets and therefore less cleaning for me. I have found keeping them in a basket is much easier and more pleasant looking than a shoe rack as my children never take the time to put them on a shoe rack properly.


The wall in our entrance way I wanted to keep simple but also reflect a family focus. The heart shape is a collection of Instagram images that I printed out and arranged into a heart shape. I wrote about it here: http://www.sevencherubs.com/2011/10/how-to-make-instagram-heart-wall.html I also wanted a storage unit and it had to be something that my children could sit on to put on shoes if they needed to. This unit works well to fill both roles. 


I found this storage unit at Target and it has been great to help keep us organised. The baskets in the bottom row I use to store hats. The first basket on the left if for school hats, the second for girls casual hats and the third for boys casual hats. Keeping hats at the front door in one place means we are less likely to forget them when we go out to the playground or on another adventure. 


In the top row of baskets starting from the left I keep candles to be prepared for a black out. I have a variety of different choices as we have a lot of storms here in Brisbane and you never know when you are going to lose power to your home. In the second basket I keep aprons for cooking. It might sound like a weird place to keep them but I simply do not have any room in my kitchen and this way they are all kept together. Most of them are aprons I have been given for doing blog work. In the third basket I keep the green style shopping bags. I placed them here to remind me to take them with me shopping. Of course I forget more times that I remember!


At the end of my entrance way I have a corner that I have simply decorated with items that I love.


I found the table at Ikea and I actually think it is supposed to be a bedside table but it fits perfectly in our entrance way. I like a white, fresh look when I walk into my home and keep it simple so I can fit keys or any other items I need to remember when I am walking out the door on the table.


I love this flower arrangement as Matt gave it to me for a wedding anniversary. It has the right flower and metal combination to represent all of the years we were married at that time. I love that he went out of his way to find this combination to give me as a gift. 


Above the table I have a large mirror. I picked it up in Ikea as well. I have it in the entrance way for those last minute mirror checks before you walk out the door. As the mother of four daughters I thought it might get some serious use!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running for Cherubs and Angels


I am a big believer in dreaming big, setting goals and going after them.
I also believe in living a life that is inspiring to others, especially your own children.

I have small moments where I feel like I am achieving those two goals but many, many moments where I feel like I fall short. Such is life. Lately I have taken on a new goal, a mission, a purpose and a new determination to reach a goal I have had for a long time. You see, it is a goal that seems absolutely impossible in my own mind and for me to achieve it I need to face a lot of fears and misconceptions I have about myself. It is going to test me in ways that I am terrified of facing. I am scared of failing and therefore have many times put off even starting. 

My goal is I want to run a 10K marathon.

For many women running 10K is nothing. Easy even and a daily part of their routine. Running for me is not easy. I am not a runner and when it comes to running I am more of a couch sitter. I much prefer to walk and I do not have a good running style. I am not fast, I run slowly and when I run I feel like it is awkward, uncomfortable and not natural for me. In fact, I remember people laughing at me on many occasions when it came to running as a younger child.

So to help me achieve my goal I have been spending time running nearly every day. I have now finished the Couch to 5K running program and can slowly run 5K. I run on my treadmill at home as I am too embarrassed to run outside and my time for running the 5K is not fast at all but I can keep running until I hit the end. I am still amazed by it and have been thankful for the lovely support from other bloggers and readers as I have shared a little of my journey on twitter and facebook.

Now that I have achieved the first goal of being able to run 5K I am working on the big goal of making it to 10K. I knew it would be hard but I am finding it a lot harder than I thought. 10K is a really, really long way. So to help me get to the end I have come up with a plan to help motivate me and to help raise awareness at the same time. 

You see, I always wanted to have 10 kids and have finished having my children at the number 7. I have decided to let the 10K represent 10 cherubs. The first 7 for each of my kids and the last 3 for those mothers who have lost children and who have angels in heaven. The reason for this is that I really think that if I push myself I can run 7K. The last 3K I simply don't think I have it in me to make it myself. To make the distance I need to do it for someone else. I need that to motivate me to finish. 

Therefore, the first 7 will be for cherubs and the last 3 will be for angels.

So as I start to step up this journey I want to blog about it to help raise awareness for an organisation that helps mum's who have lost cherubs. I have a lot of friends and even some family who have lost sweet cherubs and it has been heartbreaking to watch. I do not know what it feels like to lose a baby. What I do know is that my heart will never be the same after hearing Kristie read out a blog post about losing her dear Avery. Her grief, her pain and her deep, deep sorrow was life changing for me. I have not stopped thinking about it since I heard it. 

Running for me is painful. Exercise and pain do not mix well for me. I am too weak. I stop when it starts to hurt and I give up. In thinking about this I keep coming back to the fact that it is nothing compared to what many women face when they lose a baby. You have no choice when it comes to facing pain when you lose a cherub. You have to face it, you have to immerse yourself in it and you have to live through it to move on. 

Every time I get on the treadmill, I feel weak and I don't feel strong enough to achieve my goal. I think of those women who have lost cherubs and I try to push myself through the pain. Most of the pain is in my own mind and not in my body. It is a battle of self belief that I can do it and make it to the end. I think about this small dream that I have and of all the lost dreams that mother's have who lose cherubs and then I start to run. I run and I cry.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have started trying to achieve this goal and failed to make it past this stage. This is the longest I have ever tried for. I also have to say that I am really scared about putting this out there and not being able to do it. I am so not a runner and am really scared about failing.

But, I have decided it is better to try and to give it a go and to see where it takes me and to see if it is possible to make it to 10K. I am currently up to Week 4 of the Couch to 10K program and I am hoping I can make it to the end of the program.

One organisation that I know has been of great help to those who have lost cherubs is Heartfelt

{Heartfelt is a volunteer organisation of professional photographers from all over Australia dedicated to giving the gift of photographic memories to families that have experienced stillbirths, premature and ill infants and children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units of their local hospitals, as well as children with serious and terminal illnesses. Heartfelt is dedicated to providing this gift to families in a caring, compassionate manner. All services are provided free of charge.}

I personally know Fiona and Carissa who are heartfelt photographers and love that this is a free service to provide beautiful memories for families who are dealing with grief and loss. The many images I have seen of families and cherubs is inspiring and also heartbreaking. I am hoping that as I run and blog about my journey that I can raise more awareness for those sweet angels who did not need to spend much time here on Earth and for those families who are left behind.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lion King 2 & 3 + Giveaway


There is no doubt that the Lion King movie is a massive favourite of many children and parents. My cherubs have enjoyed watching it over and over and we even saw the Lion King musical many years ago. Recently we were invited to attend Australia Zoo to celebrate the release of these 2 movies on DVD and Blu-Ray. I thought I would have my own celebration with a giveaway here at Seven Cherubs. Here is a little about the movies:

ABOUT LION KING 2 - Simba's Pride

Experience, the power of “Upendi” – which means “Love” – as Kiara, Simba’s strong-willed daughter, seeks adventure away from her father’s watchful gaze. Timon and Pumbaa can do only so much to protect her, especially when she encounters an intriguing rival, Kovu, a cub who is being groomed to lead Scar’s pride. As Kiara and Kovu search for their proper places in the great “Circle Of Life”, they discover that it may be their destiny to reunite their prides and bring peace to the Pride Lands. Featuring the original all-star voice cast, the breathtaking animation and enchanting songs, Kiara and Kovu's adventure continues for another new generation.

 ABOUT LION KING 3 

Hilarity reigns in this comedy adventure that take's you way back to the beginning, before Simba’s story began. From their uniquely hysterical perspective, Timon and his windy pal Pumbaa – the greatest unsung heroes of the savanna – reveal where they came from, how they helped Simba save the Serengeti and what really happened behind the scenes of The Lion King’s biggest events. This last movie in the Lion King trilogy features the original voice cast as well as your favourite characters and music by Elton John and Tim Rice. You will feel the love in every funny moment!

Giveaway items:


1 x DVD Lion King 2 
1 x DVD Lion King 3
1 x DVD Lady and the Tramp
1 x DVD Lady and the Tramp 2
1 x Lion King Read - Along Book with Audio CD
1 x Lady and the Tramp Book with Charm Necklace
1 x Lady and the Tramp Hardcover Book
1 x The Lion King Story Book with Audio CD 
1 x Australia Zoo Soft Plush Lion

Giveaway Details:

A day at Australia Zoo

As a family we love packing up our bus and heading off on an adventure together. We especially love a trip to the Zoo and were delighted to get an invitation as a family to attend Australia Zoo to help celebrate the release of Lion King 2 & 3 on DVD and Blu-Ray. 
We have been to Australia Zoo before as a family but snapped up this chance as we knew they would have a day of fun planned for us and how could we pass up an opportunity to see the Irwin Family in a Croc show!
Australia Zoo clean, well set out and a lovely place to visit and walk around. Sure Croc's are not the most exciting creatures to look at as they do not move much but there are a lot of other animals there and the Zoo really is a top place to visit.
Our visit to Australia Zoo happened to come right at the end of our holiday and we were all exhausted but excited to have one last day of family fun together.
My cherubs started out by having their faces painted to get into the Lion King theme. All of mine decided to get the same! 
Crikey! What a bunch of cherubs and bloggers!! We all gathered together for a photo shoot and then headed off to watch a Lion King movie in the Crocoseum.
We all piled into the Crocoseum for a private viewing to watch Lion King 2 complete with popcorn and drinks.
The kids all loved it and so did the parents!
We were then all ushered into the special VIP Seating area in the Crocoseum to watch the Croc Show with the Irwin Family. Last time I came Russel Crow was sitting in these seats so we were all feeling pretty special with the lovely treatment we received.
The show started with a big puff of smoke and then out came who my cherubs were dying to see!
The Irwin family. It was lovely to receive a special greeting from them and to hear Terri Irwin talking about how awesome mummy bloggers are and the great influence and power we have as a voice. We even were shown on the big screen to a packed out Crocoseum and my older kids were a little shocked by the special attention.
We were delighted to see Bindi feeding a massive croc. Pretty cool shot hey!
After watching the show we headed off to a private elephant feeding experience.
Hello! Totally spoilt!
My cherubs all jumped in and had a turn feeding the elephants. Seriously, how often do you get the chance to do that! 
It was wonderful to be so close to such magnificent creatures.
After the elephant feeding we were free to go off and explore the rest of the Zoo. I loved this large picture of Bindi and would love to have such a massive picture of my cherubs in my home.
We stopped to check out the new Africa section of Australia Zoo and well, I just couldn'tt show you pictures of what that is like as that would spoil it for you when you go visit :)

We had such a lovely day thanks to Disney Australia and Australia Zoo. I have a giveaway planned to go with this post but will add it separate as this is quite a long post!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

post natal depression and my love of clouds


I have shared a little of my journey with post natal depression here on my blog in the past and how it felt like I was living each day with my head in a cloud or a fog. During this time I found each day difficult to endure as I struggled to make decisions and to see clearly any good in my life. 

Every day I felt like I was living my life in the dark, that a storm was raging in my mind and that my vision of how I saw myself and my family was clouded. It was a horrible, challenging time in my life. I sought help, worked hard and was finally able to clear my mind from the dark clouds that overshadowed me.

Last week as we went on a family holiday, I sat on a gorgeous beach with the sun shining down upon me. As I sat watching my cherubs play in the water, I had a moment of clarity. 

You see for the last couple of years I have secretly been obsessed with clouds. I love to look at them, to see the different formations and shapes they create and to study the variety of textures and colours they contain. I constantly find myself being drawn towards them and have a good collection of images that I have taken of them on my camera.

As I sat on that beach it hit me why I love them so much. 

So often during that difficult struggle with post natal depression I found myself looking down, feeling down and raging inside of myself. Storming.

Now I feel so much lighter, I feel free and I love to look upwards. I enjoy turning my face towards the sky and smiling at the clouds. I love to feel the sun's warmth on my face and to see the white, fluffy clouds scattered through the sky. 

I had no idea that over the past couple of years that I was drawn to clouds so much as they reminded me of how far I have come and how much I have changed. So many days I felt I would never get better, that I would always have a storm raging inside of me and that I would always battle my own mind.

Now I feel completely different and at peace. I feel light and happy. I have days where I feel like I am floating even and my mind is clear. It has been an amazing journey and I love that clouds remind me that with hard work anything is possible.


Standing amongst the clouds on top of Mount Wellington, Tasmania.

P.S: If you could help this sweet cherub it would be great appreciated.
He recently suffered severe burns and any donation will make a huge difference.
Thank you xx

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blogging: Understanding PR emails


I have really enjoyed working with many different Public Relations (PR) companies as a blogger over the years with my Seven Cherubs blog and have been thankful for the opportunities that have come my way because of them. I have had some really cool experiences, been invited to meet some wonderful people and have had my eyes opened to a whole new range of topics and styles of writing that I never thought were possible.

I know when I first started my blog I had no idea that you could even work with PR reps as a blogger and was shocked when I received my first email asking me to help promote a product. I was very surprised that they were interested in working with me and quickly replied saying that I was willing to give it a try. I decided to try it to see if I liked it and if my readers would respond to it. Thankfully they did and I have had a wonderful time promoting and challenging myself with writing different blog posts for a variety of products.

Since that time I have received hundreds of emails from PR companies asking me to work with them. From my experience I have discovered that PR reps tend to send out 3 different types of emails. Knowing the difference of what these emails are and how to reply to them has saved me a lot of time as a blogger and allowed me to spend more time with my family. 

Being a blogger is not a full time work for me so I quickly taught myself how to effectively assess if an email was worth replying to or if hitting the delete button was the best option. I often get emails from other women starting out in blogging asking me how to respond to a PR email when they receive one for the first time. So here are my tips and advice on how to understand the 3 types of PR emails you may receive as a blogger:

1. A press release - Normally these emails are a straight copy and paste type of email that contains information about the product they are trying to promote. Often they will even state at the beginning of the email: Press Release for Immediate Distribution. These emails will not include a hello or be personally addressed to you as a blogger. 

A tip if you are thinking about replying to them is that they are normally bulk emails sent out to bloggers and are a clue that if you want to be involved in promoting this product that a whole bunch of other bloggers are also deciding if they want to be involved in it as well. 

These type of emails I do not even read. I delete them immediately. I only accept emails from PR reps if they personalise them simply because I now get a lot more emails and I don't have the time to read through them. It seems that some PR companies feel that bloggers are like magazines or even newspapers and think that sending out a press release is the best way to work with us. From the variety of experienced bloggers that I have spoken to over the years, none of us generally like to get a press release email.

If you are new to blogging and do receive a press release email and want to be involved because you feel it fits your blog or it is a product you are interested in promoting and reviewing feel free to reply and you will surely get back a very happy email from the PR rep. 

Press release emails can also be helpful if you are looking for blog content and are having a writers block. You can also use the information to keep your blog running if you are taking a break. Another tip is to use the content to do a shout out on your facebook page or twitter if you are also looking for something different to share.

2. Dear Blogger: The second type of email they send out is a personalised email but only as far as calling you a blogger. Often these emails are also bulk emails sent out to a group of bloggers to quickly get the message or product out to see who will be interested in working with them. 

One thing to keep in mind with PR reps is that they can't sit down and read every single blog that is out there so they send out bulk emails and go from there. They can then look through who replies and work out who they think would best fit the campaign they are working on.

As these emails are generally addressed to any blogger, you may find that as you read through them that you will spend a lot of time thinking to yourself, why in the world are you emailing me as it is so obvious if you read my blog that this is not a product or company that I want to work with. You can tell immediately that they have not even read your blog!

They will be emails that cover a wide variety of products, events and promotions so be prepared to make your own careful assessment on whether they fit your blog or not. If you are interested in it go for it, make it happen and give it a try.

I have received a lot of dear blogger emails in my time. Most of them I delete but some of them I have replied to and ended up with a wonderful experience promoting a great product and even been able to include a giveaway for my readers. 

My favourite type of dear blogger email I have ever received though actually started with, Dear Sir....

3. Personalised and Specific: I so love to receive a great PR email. I almost want to cry with delight when I get them as they are so rare! Let me share with you what they include; they address me as Naomi, they introduce themselves and the product or event in detail, they are positive and fun and they clearly spell out exactly what they are wanting me to do as a blogger. 

They understand that for me to work with them there needs to be something in it for me and for my readers. They know that is important to me and will influence me in saying Yes to deciding if I want to work with them. They clearly spell out what they are offering and have already planned out what to offer me and my subscribers before sending me the email, saving me time with back and forth emails and negotiations. 

In this email it will also contain links for me to click on to learn more about the product and company involved, saving me time from having to research it on my own and there is no pressure to be involved in the campaign. There is also the understanding that I will be sending a media kit with prices and different options on how I work with companies and the expectation and request that they will receive one from me. 

Although I often do send my media kit in reply to these type of emails, I have to share that when I receive a well set out PR email I often love it so much that I am happy to promote the product for free as they have saved me so much time negotiating and researching. As they make working with them sound fun I normally reply immediately as I get excited to be able to promote it and to share it with my readers.

Here in Australia more and more PR companies are understanding that we want to be compensated for our work and our time we put into on our blog posts but that is a topic for another day :)

Some advice to remember when dealing with PR emails:
There is a person at the end of a PR email so be polite.
If you are starting out and want to work with PR companies start small and take any option you feel comfortable with.
PR emails can be frustrating to deal with and there is nothing wrong with hitting the delete button.
PR companies here in Australia are slowly understanding more and more how to work with bloggers so be patient.
It is a new learning experience working with bloggers for PR as it is for us working with them.
The more we help them understand what we want as bloggers the easier it is to work with them.
Building a relationship with the PR people involved will help you have a happier and more personal experience.
Often PR reps will tell you they have no budget to pay you and you need to work out what you can receive in return.
Spell out clearly what you want and what you need.
Remember you can change your mind at anytime with a campaign.
Do not be afraid to ask how many people are going to be involved in promoting a product.
Have fun and be grateful for opportunities that come your way.

I hope that this has been helpful and it is just my opinion of what I have found over the years. You may feel that I have it completely wrong or have had a different experience. I am not out to put down PR companies and I totally understand that for many of them it is hard to work with us as bloggers simply because they do not have the budget to pay us when they really want to. 

I can't imagine how difficult it must be to promote a product with no budget to pay anyone or product to even use to give to people to review or as payment for writing a blog post. I don't understand how that works but that is the reply I get some times in answer to my return emails. No budget and no product - why bother emailing I say! 

                                                            

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Girls Talk Pack Giveaway


I love a good chat session or deep and meaningful talk with my girls and am thankful that we get to have these on a regular basis. Often these moments come when I least expect it and I have found that taking the time to respond to questions that my cherubs might have has been very rewarding for my relationship with my daughters.

As my daughters are getting older the questions and conversations we are having have become more meaningful and way more fun. We now talk and laugh and giggle over a variety of topics and I love it when they share the feelings of their heart. These to me are sacred moments that I treasure and make my heart burst!

Recently, we received a Girl Talk Pack from Cath over at Leaf. Paper for Life which contained a Girl Talk Journal and Story Starter Cards. The journal is bright and fun. It contains pages dedicated to recording favourite things, memories, drawings and dreams. Our favourite item though would have to be the Story Starter Cards. We have had a wonderful time connecting with each other as we have used the Story Starter cards to have conversations together as a family. These cards are great to break the ice with strangers, to get to know your acquaintances better or to deepen your relationships with friends and family. You can even use them to help encourage your cherubs to write in a journal.


In the story starter card pack there are 2 different types of cards. One has a story starter line and the other is a theme. My cherubs have been having a great time playing with these cards and it has been wonderful to listen to the true stories and made up stories shared as they play with the pack. I was very interested to hear the answer to the above card combination that came up when my oldest daughter turned these cards over. I was all ears as she giggled her way through the story and conversation we had.

Cath has a range of Journals, Story Starter Cards and Stationery all targeted towards helping cherubs express themselves and to record their hopes and dreams. She has generously donated a Girl Talk Story Starter Pack to giveaway here at Seven Cherubs to a lucky reader.

The pack includes:

* Girl Talk OR Kids Stuff Story Starter Journal $21.95 
* Girl Talk or Kids Stuff Story Starter Conversation Cards $19.95 
* Add a Greeting Cards pack $22.95 
* Notebook Duos $14.95 

Valued at $79.80

To enter the giveaway please use rafflecopter below: