On Essex Mums this month
Happy New Year! I hope 2011 was lovely for you and your family but that 2012 brings you even more happiness and many wonderful things. As so much has changed on the site over 2012 I thought I would take this opportunity to go over the many different things on the site. I'm sure you know it like the back of your hand but just in case there's something you missed!

Can I also say a quick thank you to everyone who has been a part of the site this past year (and previously). When I started it back in 2008 I never would have dreamed of it becoming what it is now - hopefully a useful and interesting site, but most importantly a supportive, friendly and amazing group of parents who have been there for one another through thick and thin. Thank you Essex Mums, there's a lot I would have struggled to get through myself without some of you.


Nabu

The Forum
Without the forum, where would be be? So many of us have made great friends here, kids have grown up together and we've given and received some amazing advice. If you've never posted, please make it your new year's resolution to come and say hello; if you posted once but decided it wasn't for you, please give us another chance! We're always happy to see some new faces, just dive right in to one of the daily threads. If you're pregnant or already a parent and need some advice, there's always someone who has been there, done that. There's a section for Essex Dads, for those of you who fancy a bit of stardom, who fancy a debate or just want a rant; you can get professional advice from a Solicitor or a Midwife, ask for opinions on medical issues, or on schools and nurseries. If you want something different for your child's birthday party you can find it on the forum, and likewise if you have a business opportunity you'd love to share, you can do so here too. There's even an area for buying and selling!


Things to Do
Hopefully a section you're all familiar with! The Things to Do section is a fantastic listing of what's on for families across Essex. It's divided into different areas to make it easy as well as types -  one off events, parent and toddler groups, classes, groups for older children and things for parents. I'm always on the hunt for new goings on so please do contact me if you have anything you would like listed here. Every event links through to a forum post with more details, which means there is also the opportunity to discuss things you have been to yourself, and find out what others have to say about them. Regular events, venues etc. are also listed on the map, which makes it easy to search for what's on near you.


Places to Go
The Places to Go section is still very much a work in progress but features more detailed descriptions of venues and attractions across the county, divided into categories to make it easy to find something if you fancy a day out.


Family Friendly Eats

The Family-Friendly Eats section contains listings and reviews of family-friendly restaurants and cafes, so that parents make informed choices about where their family can enjoy a meal, and where might be best to avoid. Hopefully over time we will be able to award establishments certificates of family-friendliness, based on what the users of Essex Mums have said. The categories are arranged according to area, cuisine and type of establishment and will eventually feature everything from playcentres to five star restaurants. You can search in the drop-down menu on the left. You can also use the map to find places near you. Look out for an improved and more user-friendly version coming this year.


Competitions
Things to win! Check out the great competitions we have on Essex Mums, and let me know if you would like to run a competition yourself.


Alternative Shopping Guide

Looking for great gifts, fairtrade or handmade toys, clothes that are a bit different to what's on the High Street, or just something to treat yourself? You'll find it all and more on the Essex Mums Alternative Shopping Guide! Use the links below to browse shops on the guide by category, or search the product guide for that perfect buy! Now is the perfect time to sign up for the Guide so drop me a line if you're interested. See below for new shops added last month!


Product Reviews
Want to find out what's worth buying and what's worth missing out on? Where is good to go and where to avoid? Then consult our crack team of Essex Mums (and Dads!) product reviewers before making your purchase! Click on each reviewer on the Product Reviews page to see all of their reviews, or click here to browse the reviews or search by categories such as age range and type of product.  
Click here if you have something you would like reviewed! We can allocate a reviewer to you, or you can choose someone you think fits what you're looking for.


The Directory
The Directory is your guide to local services, shops and more. There are free basic listings available to all which include contact details, website etc. and inexpensive lifetime listings for those who would like a little more exposure.

The Blog
The blog features posts from me as well as from guest bloggers, so if you have something you would like to write, please get in touch!


Ad Rates
If you'd like to consider advertising on the site, take a look at the Ad Rates page. There are a range of ads to suit all budgets!



IPS Photography
 

Product Reviews
Here's a list of what's been added this month! 
You can see a bit about each of our reviewers here, or can go straight to the reviews here.

Babies
Dr Browns Natural Flow Baby Bottles
New Baby Keepsake from Bobby McCabe Designs

Toddlers
Garden Games Fairy Princess Play Tent 
Koo-di Bottle Beanie

Children
Garden Games Fairy Princess Play Tent 
Maxi Micro Scooter
Meerkats Keychain & Bobblehead Car Toy

Tweens
Meerkats Keychain & Bobblehead Car Toy

Mums to Be
Knitted Striped Dress – Black/Pink from A Beautiful Mummy
Toffee Latte Bra from Cake Lingerie

Events
Aladdin, Thameside Theatre
Santa’s Grotto at Lakeside Shopping Centre, Thurrock, Essex



New on the Shopping Guide
The Shopping Guide features both a shop listing and a product listing to help you find that perfect gift, whether it's for someone else, or for yourself! The guide features lots of lovely products that are a bit different to what you'll find on the High Street, and new products are being added all the time. Take a look! If you are interested in being featured, please let me know. 

New additions this month:

  • Printed cards, invitations and giclee prints from Kelly Martin's original watercolour and textile designs from Little Patch
  • Stamptastic... the fastest way to name your belongings! 
  • Warren Crafts: Handmade Quality cushions, bedding, bags & home accessories, childrens & nursery bedding & accessories
  • ZagZig Designs: handmade items that appeal to those who are looking for something that “little bit different”

Everything else
As always, please send any events, feedback, ideas etc. to me at louise@essexmums.org. I love hearing how people use the site and ways I can improve it. Oh, and make sure you enter some of our lovely competitions!

I hope you have a lovely month and that I'll get to see you at a meet-up soon.

Kind regards
Louise

Nadine WyattNadine WyattPampered ChefHerbalifeNadine WyattBody Shop at HomeConscious BirthKathleen's Sparkles






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