Joining in with the Friday Carnival over at the Notes from Home blog.

My husband has seven children in total. He has 3 from his first marriage, 3 with me and also has a little girl who was adopted into a new family as a baby. What would I like them to know?

Here are some father facts for you.

1. Your father loves all his children deeply. When I met him, he told me adamantly that if I could not accept his children, then there was no potential for us to be together. “They come as part of me” was how he put it at the time. We all know that your Dad is not the greatest at expressing his feelings but the love is there. I think (but can’t know) that he copes better with parenthood second time around. He does realise that he made mistakes in the past. He cries more than you know. He is also fiercely proud of all of you, each and everyone. One day, he will wake up and tell you so.

2. Your father is a really hard worker. He helps other people every day whether in paid or voluntary work and always goes the extra mile to give a good service to them. It is one of the things that first attracted me to him.

3. Your father lives with almost constant pain these days. He gets very little help from the medics and when he does, it does not seem to alleviate his condition. Sometimes he is grumpy and although it gets on my nerves and yours, I am sure I would handle pain less well than he does. When scales fall from his body and you or I make remarks about it, it really hurts his feelings. We need to do better on that one.

4. Your father will always leap in to help others when he sees them in need. Sometimes I think he should just put his underpants over his trousers and redefine himself as Superman because not only is he keen to help but he also has the intelligence and skills to sort most things out.

5. Your father put me back together again when my heart was broken and I saw no reason to live. He held my hand, he told me I was worthwhile (brilliant in fact) and made me laugh. I thank God that my heart was broken so that I could meet your Dad and have our lives together.

With love from the Striking Mum x

In my series of interviews speaking to inspirational business women, I was delighted to talk to the founder of Pudding Fairy who provides patisserie for special events.

patisserie for special events

 

Describe your childhood

I grew up in a small village not far from Lyon in France, in the Beaujolais countryside. The eldest of 4 girls, I spend most of my free time horse riding for hours with my best friend, around hills and vineyards. My grand parents on my dad’s side lived in the same village and I spend a lot of time with them after school. They were both amazing: My grand mother was a great family cook and host. She had a cupboard full of “aperitif” nibbles, always ready for someone to come in spontaneously for a drink or two. My grand dad was an amazing gardener. He had a big allotment at the bottom of the village and grew enough fruits and vegetables for them, us and my cousins family who also lived nearby.

What was your first career and why did you choose it?

I didn’t! I was more of a fan of “follow life where it takes you”. Even now, although I have started planning a little since having children. I travelled to Seattle for a few months whilst at Uni, came back, then enrolled into a 1 year living and studying in Dalian, northern China. Back in France, my first job (an office admin role) didn’t work for me. So I went back to training Polo ponies in Paris for a season. From there I moved to London, first with a sales assistant job at Maison Blanc in the French area of London, then for various high end restaurants and outside catering companies. This was an exciting time. I got to organise fantastic events like a masquerade Christmas Ball at the V&A, a dinner at Saint James Palace, PR nights at the London Aquarium….Life took another turn and I found a job as a marketing assistant for a local business in West Sussex. Marketing then web experience became my life for the next 15 years …

What did you gain from your first career?

Besides the obvious marketing and web skills, I’d say 2 principles:

Listen and learn – I have learnt to listen to people I work with (and close friends, family, and my husband!) . Really take on board their feedback and ideas. I can be quite defensive (it’s my French Latin side!!) so it’s not always easy. But it’s helped me to become better at my job on many occasions and still does. I think you live and learn everyday. Sometimes the impact is immediately obvious, sometimes it resurfaces months or even years later, and you think…..oh yes, they might have been right here! Lol

Make it happen – I was very lucky to work as part of a small team for an exciting start up in my last role. We were given a lot of independence in our jobs; at the same time every dollar invested in the project counted so we were also very accountable (and being 4 or 5 in the team to start, things are very transparent). I learnt how to create a bigger impact on my goals, to make things happen. Thinking about new ideas for your business is great (I constantly have 30 tabs open in my head!); in the end to reach success you’ve got to action them. I use this discipline a lot now, even more since I am my own boss. And once a month, I look back to tick what I achieved and set up a new list of priorities to get done in the next 30 days. Oh and this works with non work stuff too, like home projects….

What made you want to change your life?

I came to a real crossroad moment in 2013:

I needed to adjust my work/family life balance. I was away a lot, and it was taking its toll at home.

I also wanted to practice what I preached more – I often tell our kids that you’ve got one life and should try to find what you really love and if you can, make it your job. It’s so much more fulfilling. I had been talking about becoming a cake maker for quite a while, and thought “you can’t just keep talking about it. Just…do it”.

I spotted a gap in the market for a new type of event patisserie

Patisserie for special events

Pudding Fairy is all about patisserie for special events. I marry delicious French inspired recipes and techniques, with creative designs inspired by the British lifestyle and the gorgeous Sussex countryside, where I live. I describe myself as a “franglaise”, French born and English “adopted”. My cakes and sweet treats are like me, franglais and a little quirky. I design bepoke cakes for weddings, celebrations and corporate events; I also run private cake decorating classes and team building events like mini Bake Off challenges, buttercream piping and glitter (a great way to relax after an intense conference for example)…share delicious happiness!

What life lessons would you like your kids to take from you?

Have a plan (a bit of a plan at least) but be prepared to be flexible with it and adapt your course. I am a great believer in saying yes to new opportunities, even if they appear a little challenging or daunting. I have actually written about this in my blog, The Patisserie Diary. (http://www.puddingfairy.com/the-patisserie-diary). Beyond that, remember to smile and have fun, and be kind. To you, to people around you. Carpe Diem! (my life motto).

Who supported you in moving forwards positively?

My family and friends are all absolutely amazing at supporting me and Pudding Fairy. The kids are incredible ambassadors, telling everyone and anyone about it. My husband is a very talented, successful and recognised sales coach expert working for himself. He’s fantastic at helping me grow the business commercially- not only helps me be a lot more efficient at selling but also launched his own business 4 years before me, so knows about the importance of measuring efforts versus returns to make it a success.

I have also been very lucky to gain great support from my previous employer when I started, as well as from the top marketing agency I worked with in London. Those guys gave me a real leg up. I hope I’ll be able to do this in turn for someone else in the future.

On a day to day basis, what can be challenging working for yourself is the lack of human interaction. I have joined a great support group run by Janet Murray from Soulful PR last year. It’s a brilliant virtual hang out place. Janet has got tons of energy and top level advice.

What advice would you give a woman who has a dream but lacks the confidence to pursue it?

Do your research – you’ve got to make sure your plan stacks up financially. Passion is brilliant but you can’t live on it alone.

Find your niche- you should be able to explain what makes you and your business unique in 30 seconds to anyone. Having a clear vision of what your business is about really helps with decision making and prioritising

Experiment and learn – I tried things like print advertising and pop up shops that didn’t work and cost me money. But I tried them, and learnt from those, to refocus and narrow down where to place my marketing efforts. Not everything will work but you’ve got to find out. Assign a small budget to new tests, and look back at the result with open eyes.

Network – Word of mouth is my best and biggest source of new business. Attend local or industry relevant events. Find forums of likeminded people (Twitter is brilliant for this). again be pragmatic and see what they bring to you versus the amount of time you spend on there. There are only so many hours in the day.

Just do it – there is rarely a perfect moment to start making your dream a reality. No one will do it for you. But as the great Mr Walt Disney once said “if you can dream it, you can do it”. Bonne chance.

I hope you enjoyed reading Laure’s inspirational story as much as I did. Now go and get your tastebuds tingling by checking out The Pudding Fairy cakes and patisserie for special events.

It takes a lot for the women I feature to share their stories so openly so please do hit one or more of the sharing is caring buttons below.

Pink Pear Bear
My Random Musings

Here is the weekly round-up of cheerful things posted as part of the wonderful Reasons to be Cheerful blog hop that is guaranteed to help you make blogger mates and smile on the most challenging of weeks.

So let me show you how to be cheerful.

1. All three little darlings have gone back to school. They all seem to be settling in fine although my youngest protests every morning about having to go but that’s just him really. Battle first, winning smiles later. My daughter has moved to Junior School and is loving every minute of it having worried about going for the last year. She is flapping a lot which is always a good sign with her, little bird wings going up and down all the time with excitement. My oldest son is doing fine too, a bit of a teenager in training but happy on the whole. From my point of view, one lovely surpise is that the council now send a minibus to my front door to take my children to school. Shhhh, don’t tell Mr Cameron!

2. I have had contact via email with all 3 of my adult step-daughters this week. Four strong-willed women have not always found it easy to get on so I celebrate the new level of understanding and forgiveness of past crimes that exists these days. One I bond with on the grounds of both having 3 children so knowing how challenging that can be. One is a kindred spirit. The other gave the wonderful news that she is engaged to her girlfriend. For a girl/woman who struggled to love and be loved (and for very good reasons), I am over the mooon that she has found happiness and where she fits best.

3. With the children back at school, I am staring a New Year, New Me regime on many fronts. I have made a less than perfect start but still a start. Small steps and all that. Will be holding myself accountable for positive moves on the health department via the Mumentum blog hop.

4. I am going out with my Dad today for fish and chips. Sometimes, spending time where he enjoys has to be put above losing weight for me. It will be great to return to an old routine after many weeks where he has had to go on his own or not at all.

5. My beautiful ginger cat is recovering after coming off worst in a cat fight. Thank you to our wonderful vet.

6. My husband went away with work and I did not throw my usual fishwife mood about it. I get the most illogical insecurity sometimes and am a bit of a madam to say the least. Good to behave reasonably this time and to feel relaxed about it all. Maybe recent events with my brother have made me wake up to what and who is really important in life.

Big apologies for my cock-up on my old blog with #R2BC. Was gutted to mess it up but actually not really my fault hence my change to a WordPress blog.

Massive thanks to all those women who have come to see me here and left such lovely comments.

That’s me but there is whole lot more cheerfulness going on in the blogosphere. Check it out at http://bod-for-tea.blogspot.com/2011/09/reasons-to-be-cheerful_08.html

Love from the Striking Mum x

Mumentum is a blog hop where mummy bloggers are supporting each other as they try to lose their baby weight and get healthier.

I have thought about joining in for some time but then, I have thought about losing weight for some considerable time.

I don’t like the way I look. In fact, I hate it. As a child and teenager I thought I was fat. I wish I was fat like that now as I really wasn’t overweight at all back then. It was all in my mind and the mouths of the bullies.

When I met my husband I was about 9 and a half stone. I am now nearly double that. OK, yes that is a bit of an exaggeration but not much of one really.

Why did I put on the weight? It started like in most new relationships with lots of meals in and out and just feeling confident enough to not worry about it. 14 years and 3 babies later, I look at myself and see a monster. I can dress it up in nicer terms but that is the truth of what I say to myself.

The worst part is that I know this is not the real me. How do I get that Kate back?

It is not just about the weight. It is about rediscovering myself on all fronts. What I like to do rather than what we like to do. What I want out of life rather than what others want for me. What I think is OK rather than accepting the judgements of others.

Tomorrow, the children go back to school. I am treating this as a New Year for me. Mumentum will keep me on track I hope or at the very least make me feel less isolated in this struggle.

Now my husband tells me he does not mind what size I am, that he fell in love and married me and not a dress size. My children say I am fat but still pretty. These people are biased of course.

I find it hard to motivate myelf. I wonder if being obese adds to that feeling. I am so keen to walk tomorrow once the children go to school. I might even work up the will to open the Wii Fit stuff I bought months ago. Perhaps I should return to Weightwatchers on Saturday. It has worked well for me in the past.

Do I think I can do it? I would like to think so but know how self-sabotaging I can be.

In the meantime, it is New Year’s Eve so an excuse for a party. Healthy eating starts tomorrow and I will report in next week. Being accountable if only to my blog and blogger friends can only help.

Wish me luck as hopefully you wave some of me goodbye

With love from the Striking Mum x

It is Freddie Mercury’s birthday.

I am joining in with this blog hop for the first time. I love music, always have and have eclectic tastes too. So I hope to be a regular for this particular linky.

I have to select a Queen song today in honour of Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday.

Freddie is a hero of mine. I became a fan when I realised that I liked every Queen song ever made. So how do I choose just one. I like his solo stuff too so that gives even more to consider. Can I have them all please? After all, it is a very special day.

Don’t Stop Me Now has played loudly in my life whenever I need a particular boost to my self-belief. Education, jobs, public speaking, parties – it works well for them all.

Killer Queen is another favourite but as soon as I say that I think of a load more I love. I think I would like as my epitaph, “Perfume came naturally from Paris …” I don’t live a glamorous life but, hey, there is time yet.

Barcelona is special because my mum loved it. We both cried when Freddie died. Even Dad had to admit that Freddie had a great voice even if he did get very grumpy when we ended up in the traffic for the Knebworth Queen concert when I was a kid. He said to me, “Couldn’t you have bloody told me and I could have taken a different route?” Mum and I smiled at each other slyly and enjoyed the impromptu Queen party as people got out of their cars, danced on the road, laid on bonnets and sang along to Queen from their car radios.

When mum herself died, I turned on the radio and heard Radio Ga Ga. I played it very loud and the lyrics took on a whole new meaning. I found it quite life-affirming on the most difficult of days. It made me think things would somehow be OK. Freddie there for me in my hour of need again.

I don’t just like Freddie’s music. I like the things he said too. When asked if he was good or bad, he replied “Both, just like everybody else”. That is true sanity and so many people identify as one or the other when actually we are all a unique concoction of the two.

Well, I could go on and on but I think you get the message by now.

Happy Birthday Freddie. I bet there is a huge party going on in Heaven today.

With love from the Striking Mum x

The Pramshed