Category Archives: Work

Top Tips for packaging Christmas parcels

I run a small business from home; I eBay an awful lot; I’ve got family scattered across the four corners of the world, I therefore spend an awful lot of time carefully bubble wrapping things, parcelling them up and sending them off into the big wide world via TNT Direct.

Christmas is coming and I’ve already got a small pile of gifts ready to be packaged up and sent to Scotland, Devon, America, Belgium and Argentina (I did say the four corners of the world, that’s close enough surely). Sending parcels is for me at times a fairly nerve-racking business, will they arrive in good condition, will they arrive at all, will it cost three times as much as the value of what’s inside the parcel to send it?

When you send as many parcels as I do, it’s pretty essential to have a courier you can trust. How many times have you sent something and it’s disappeared forever, been dumped near someone’s bins while they were out, or arrived looking like it’s been stamped on and it’s cost you the earth for that second class service.

Here are some of my tips for wrapping a parcel for posting or sending by courier:

  • Padded envelopes are great for flat-ish, non-fragile items such as books, games and puzzles, as well as smaller items.
  • Wrap items in bubble wrap, even if they’re not especially fragile, they might get bumped during transit. Better to be over-cautious just in case.
  • Fragile things should be really carefully wrapped and placed in a sturdy box or package, use a “fragile” label too.
  • Clearly label your parcel to the addressee and don’t forget your return address just in case.
  • Tape down any edges that might catch or fray in transit, you can never use too much tape, bubble wrap or those polystyrene quaver things.

These days I tend to use a respected courier like TNT Direct, I know I’ll get the service that I pay for, my parcel will get the respect it deserves and it’ll arrive on time. Their website is really simple to use and their prices are competitive. It’s always best to use someone you can trust, especially at this time of year.

Happy First Blog Birthday HodgePodgeDays

Hurrah! Today marks the very first anniversary of my first blog post and the start of what has been an incredible journey for me. It’s been a busy and emotional 12 months and I want to thank each and every one of the lovely people who read my blog for sticking with me, for supporting me and sending me love when I’ve needed it.

My first ever post was this one, a recipe for a skinny veggie homity pie, looking back it has its imperfections, but it’s a good recipe that is pretty easy to follow.

In the past year I’ve rattled off just a smidge over 250 posts, so I’ve picked out five of my favourites, hope you like them too…

  1. Body Confidence – how I learned to love my lumpy, bumpy body (includes me in my nicest pants).
  2. Peanut Hottie – a recipe for a delicious and VERY boozy milkshake.
  3. You know you’re a parent when… – 15 funny ways you know you’re in the Mum & Dad club.
  4. The night before my life began again – remembering my first operation and all the physical and emotional healing afterwards.
  5. A love letter – lovely words about a very lovely man.

HodgePodgeDays

I wonder what capers are in store for us, I guess we’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Jane x
 
 

My Blog Redesign

My blog has been self hosted since November 2013 and for a little while now I’ve had a nagging feeling that I needed to do something with the look of it. Sort a proper logo and header out, brand me up a little bit. Do something which said a little bit more about me rather than just some generic swirly things.

I was lucky enough to bump into Feb25 on Twitter and when I mentioned I needed to pull my finger out and get it sorted they offered their expertise. They’ve re-branded bloggers before and they’re fond of HodgePodgeDays, I had a good feeling about it all, so we set to work.

From my point of view it was easy-peasy. They wanted some background on me and what makes me tick, so I showed them this blog post all about me and I listed my interests, which are…

  • Mother
  • Tweeter
  • Blogger
  • Music lover

They went away and created a logo, I was blown away by how much they’d captured me. I showed it to some friends who loved it too. It was clearly a winner. They supplied me with a banner, a logo for social media use and a favicon, everything a blog redesign needs. All I needed to do was upload them and I had a brand new, unique, beautiful look.

blog redesign

It really was the most simple process. I started off having absolutely no clue what I wanted. They got a feel for me and came up with some suggestions. They’re happy to tweak and tweak until things are just right and for me, this is just right.

They were an absolute dream to work with and the turn around was really quick. I can’t recommend them enough. If you’d like to find out more about Feb25 and what they can do for you, check out their website or find them on Twitter and tweet them, they’re lovely. I promise!

What do you think of my new look? I’d love to know.

Word of the Week 28/3/14

My Word of the Week this week is “Possibilities”. I feel at last I’m on the cusp of something different and special in my life.

My personal life seems generally positive. One of my best and closest friends has moved away, this is a great sadness to me and probably always will be. But I am blessed with lots of remarkably fantastic friends who will always be there for me. Plus I’ve met some really lovely people lately who will help take my life in the direction it needs to go in.

Possibilities

 

 

 

 

 

Work-wise this has been an interesting week. Yes I could do with tonnes more work, but what I’m doing I love. With my Social Media hat on I love working with the businesses that I do, the people are unrelentingly fantastic, so much fun and make work not seem like work. I’ve had a few new copywriting opportunities lately too. I want more, I need more, but I’m content to let it grow naturally. I’m not the type to be banging on doors asking for work.

So, in summary. This week has been full of possibilities. Long may that continue!

MAD Blog Awards 2014

A few months after I first started blogging it was the MAD Blog Awards ceremony and the twittersphere was filled with delighted award winners. I looked on from afar with my brand spanking new blog and thought, maybe, just maybe in a million years I might be like them.

I’ve been blogging now for nine months. I’ve learned so much, experienced so much and must’ve written enough words to fill a novel or two. I blog most days. I blog about me and my mental health; I blog about my boy and our family; I blog reviews, trips out, meals in lovely restaurants, anything and everything. And I love it.

Over the past few weeks people have been busily nominating for the MAD Blog Awards 2014. Lots of lovely people have kindly nominated me for..

  • Best Blog 2014
  • Best New Blog
  • Best Thrifty Blog

I’ve been absolutely blown away to have been nominated into so many categories. I’d love to move to the next stage and possibly, maybe, potentially make it, but that’s not up to me, my destiny is in your hands (cue dramatic music).

So what can you do? Well if you could pop into the MAD Blog Awards website and nominate me for whatever categories you see fit (the more nominations I get in each category, the more likely I am to get through to the next stage).

 

I can’t offer you anything but my eternal thanks, a whole lotta love and maybe a cup of tea and a posh biscuit if you nominate me, but I think that’s a fairly tempting offer, don’t you?

So, erm, Vote HodgePodgeDays etc! 🙂

Want to Write? Take my Advice

Since I was featured in the February edition of Writing Magazine, a few people have been in contact asking for my advice on how to get started. I’m no JK Rowling I admit, but I do write and I do get paid for it. So here are some of my thoughts and tips about starting and keeping on writing. And if all else fails, just follow what the wonderful Neil Gaiman has to say.

writing magazine feb 2014

Writing Magazine, February 2014

Write for yourself 
I just started blogging for myself, people liked my style and it just snowballed from there. When I started blogging I didn’t expect anyone to read what I wrote. I wrote it for myself, to get things off my chest or to pour my heart out somewhere. If you write because you love it then you’ll not go far wrong.

Blog for the love of it
The best thing I did was start my blog, it’s worth investing ÂŁ50 or so in getting your own domain right from the start, but write for yourself at first, about your life, things you’ve done, places you’ve been. Make friends with local bloggers in your area and get on twitter and search out review opportunities and interesting things to do. Eventually once you’ve built on this PRs may approach you to write sponsored posts, you can earn some extra pennies that way. But find a balance, if your blog is entirely reviews for freebies you’ve got and sponsored posts then it won’t have a heart and people won’t embrace it.

Find a mentor
Find a mentor or an honest friend who will read what you write and tell you the truth. I’ve got a couple of mentors and friends who help me immeasurably both in my writing and generally in terms of my career. Writing is pretty solitary, or it can be and having trusted but honest people you can bounce off is incredibly useful. Writing is like a muscle, you’ve got to keep exercising it, so write, even if it’s just for you.

Just go for it
I started writing for free to build up my published portfolio again after my extended break from writing, now I’m getting paid. Approach local magazines and see if they’ll commission a free article maybe. Once you’ve got a decent portfolio you can start scouting about for paid work.

I got “spotted” via my blog by an editor and now they send me to review plays and things, as well as writing general articles for them.

Sleep on it
Sometimes when I’m in the mood I can bang out some pretty decent stuff which I’m instantly happy with. Sometimes I might really struggle to find the right words. Whichever side of the bridge you find yourself, it’s always a good idea to give yourself and your writing a bit of breathing space before you click “publish”. So sleep on it, or leave it for an afternoon. Come back to it with fresh eyes and pat yourself on the back, or make the drastic revisions it needs to make it a piece you can be proud of. Don’t be afraid to scratch it and start again, if it needs it, it needs it. Oh, and write tight, don’t witter on, like I’m doing now…!

Always remember, if you write from the heart and honestly, then you can’t go far wrong.

Happy writing!

Working from Home – The Reality

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Hello, I’m Jane and I work from home.

Sometimes I sit in bed with a cup of coffee and work. Sometimes I wear pyjamas for the whole day and I work. Sometimes I sit in a comfy chair, wrapped in a blanket and work. Sometimes I go to a nice cafe, enjoy their free WiFi and work. Sometimes when the sun shines I sit in the garden and work. Quite a lot of the time you’ll find me at 3 or 4 in the morning still working.

I’ve left the rat race. The scramble to find somewhere to sit on public transport; the open plan offices from hell and the requirement to wear proper, clean clothes on a daily basis. Those days are thankfully behind me.

Working from home is brilliant, but it’s not the skive people seem to think it is. People think I spend the day lolling about watching daytime TV. Honestly it’s never on unless there is some seriously significant breaking news I need to be aware of. People think I do very little, but my to-do list is probably longer than most 9-5 peeps.

The trade-off for working in bed, or wearing pjs or drinking nice coffee in a nice cafe is that I have to work ruddy hard. I start work when the boys leave at around 8am and its fairly non-stop from there. The great thing is no two days are the same for me, there are different things to see and do on every day of the week. I meet some great people and sometimes I get to collaborate with them on exceptionally exciting things.

Most days I do have appointments, meetings and events to go to. But factoring in searching for work, researching jobs, doing work, invoicing for work, admin, attending meetings and events, my days can be horribly long. I get very little family time, I often work well into the early hours, as I type this I’m nearing my 20th consecutive hour of work, I hardly sleep, my mind is constantly on the job. Even when we’re enjoying full on family time I’m always thinking can I blog about this, should I blog about this?

I earn very little, a pittance really. Would I swap it for a stuffy suit, a grotty open plan office and a game of sardines on the bus? Not on your nelly! I love my new found self-employed status, despite the long hours I don’t regret it for a single second.

Giz a Job

copywritingThose of you who know me personally will know that this week I handed my notice in on my old job. I’d not enjoyed it for a long time, it was a huge source of anxiety for me and I’ve been off sick for nearly a year having operations and such like.

Being off for such along time forced me to re-evaluate my life. Some changes have been tough for me, some have been tough for my husband, but changes needed to be made, I just needed to grow a pair and get on with it. Hence the resignation.

What am I going to do? Well for a start I’m returning to my first love which is writing. I trained as a journalist 300 years ago, briefly worked as a journo, then taught creative writing for a long time. Lost my mojo and gave up on my dreams.

I’ve got my mojo back now, so I’m going to try and build up some work as a copywriter and blogger. I also run some social media accounts for local businesses and have done for a while now, so that too.

I have a very tiny amount of work at the moment because until my notice period is up (4th December) I can’t really chase work, but please think of me if you need a copywriter, someone to throw some words onto a page; manage a Twitter account; write and manage your email campaigns or just to blog about something fabulous. I’m your girl!

Please contact me for a chin wag about copywriting, go on you know you want to!