It would be fair to say that I’m not renowned for my colour co-ordination, but the emerald green that is the Pantone colour of the year for 2013 is something I can’t help but feel drawn to.

I love all things emerald, purple and turquoise and if you can spot the colour in a peacock feather, chances are I will love it. These colours feel so expressive – they seem to have a depth and a passion to them that other colours just don’t have. They make me imagine myself as some sort of exotic spice trader, roaming the markets of Marrakech, my long dark hair wafting cumin in my wake and the bells around my ankles tinkling excitedly. Sometimes I have a small pet monkey on my shoulder, wearing a deep purple velvet waistcoat.

*closes eyes just for a minute and inhales the market smells*

For want of a pet monkey, I’ve been having fun this morning looking at all the beautiful green interiors stuff for this year. (I know, I know, I really work too hard sometimes.)

Here are some of my favourites:

"Velvet armchair"

Green velvet armchair from Oliver Bonas

"animal wallpaper"

Animal farm wallpaper by Bodie and Fou

"Wine goblets"

Wine goblets from Ines Cole

"owl cushion"

Owl cushion from Donna Wilson at John Lewis

Do you have a favourite colour? Have you spotted anything green this year that you love?

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In case you didn’t know, (do you not follow me on Twitter or something??), I’ve recently set up a new business with my friend Rin*, an interiors journalist. The essence of our business is to provide marketing and PR training to small businesses, to equip them with the skills and confidence they need to shout about their business, make social media work for them, and get journalists’ attention.

(That sounds rather good doesn’t it? Like a proper grown-up business.)

There are some bits of the business, like registering for corporation tax and taking out insurance, that aren’t exactly thrilling, but there are other aspects that we’ve been really enjoying. If you are thinking of setting up your own business in 2013, these are the parts I think you’ll love:

Choosing a name
So long as no-one else has registered it already, you can choose any name you like for your new business. Any name at all! How cool is that? You could be Dog Bowl Media or Pineapple Chunk Construction Limited – absolutely anything that takes your fancy. We’re called Inside Scoop. Nothing to do with ice cream.

"Media training"

For all your marketing and PR training needs!

Getting business cards
This is possibly my Best Bit. I love all kinds of stationery so getting official business cards is really exciting! Make sure your business card includes all essential information such as your name, business name, website and contact details and do double double check everything is correct before you go to print. Compare prices too – perhaps a local printer and an online service like Instant Print. We went for rounded corners on ours – always the mark of a professional.

Becoming a Company Director
Because we’re a registered company, both Rin and I are now officially Company Directors. Now when I have to write a bio for anything I write ‘Jo Middleton is an award-winning blogger and Director of media training company Inside Scoop’. I’m almost too intimidated to look in the mirror in the morning quite frankly.

Business meetings
I know this is supposed to be the boring bit, but the great thing about setting up a business with a friend is that business meetings are actually coffee and waffles in your favourite cafe with a bit of a chat about something nice like business cards or magazines that we really like or cushions we want to buy. It’s hardly like work at all really. We probably should actually cover more of the work element to be honest.

Do you run your own business? What’s your favourite part of being your own boss?

*This makes me sounds like my mum, who always refers to people as a phrase rather than a name – ‘my friend Andrea’ or ‘my cousin Mandy’.

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This competition is now closed.

I’ve got a little competition for you today. When I was first approached about it, I have to confess that I saw the word ‘IQ test’ and immediately wanted to take part. It’s not that I’m competitive, I just like to be the cleverest. All of the time.

"Be food smart"Don’t panic though, it’s not an ordinary IQ test – this one is a food IQ quiz, to see how much you know about hidden nasties like fat and salt. Apparently 77% of respondents have scored 50% or less, so I’m sure you won’t be able to resist seeing if you can do better.*

The quiz is part of the he Government’s healthy living initiative Change4Life and the new ‘Be Food Smart’ campaign, and as an extra incentive, everyone who signs up to Change4Life gets one of these funky ‘Meal Mixer’ healthy meal planners:

"meal planner"

If you’d like to win a meal mixer AND £50 to spend on food at the co-operative, all you have to do is take the food IQ quiz and share your score. There will be a bonus entry for liking the Slummy single mummy Facebook page and for every time you share this post.

Entry will close on 30th January and a winner will be picked at random after that date.

Good luck!

*I got 75%. Just saying. Not that it matters. *Whistles casually*

Also listed at ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

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Belle is home from school today. I sent her in yesterday, despite her protests that she was definitely going to be sick or faint at any moment, and when she got home she did seem actually unwell. She went to bed at 7.30pm, rosy-cheeked and whimpering, and was asleep before 9pm – practically unheard of for Belle, who normally likes to sit up in bed crafting small items out of coloured paper until at least ten o’clock.

This morning then, I was prepared for her to milk her feverish state as much as possible, and so when she came into my room at about half past seven, forcing out a cough and doing her best ‘look how sick I am’ face, I relented, and sent her back to bed.* Now though, seemingly having made a partial recovery, she is sat in bed quietly making friendship bracelets and reading her library books. She is being very quiet indeed, hoping I think that I will forget she is there and not make her go into school at lunchtime.

It’s such a difficult one though – when exactly should you keep a child home from school?
"Thermometer"

Open wide…

Canvassing opinion this morning on Twitter and Facebook, it seems that there are several rather distinct schools of thought. Some parents are happy for sick kids to snuggle up in front of the TV under a duvet when they’re off school. Others, like me, are more in the ‘cruel to be kind’ camp, believing that if a child is ill enough to stay home from school they should be in bed, being as bored as possible. Boyfriend, who is slightly more extreme in his views, would just send her in with a plastic bowl and a packet of Tunes, but I’m a little bit too soft for this – partly just because I’m lazy, and partly because I don’t want to be That Mum – the one who sends a child in with their leg falling off just so she can get some peace and quiet at home.

I’ve probably been influenced as well by own experiences as a child. My Mum, and I’m sure she would be the first to admit this, has never been a fan of tough love. At the first sign of a quivering lip she’d have you on the sofa watching Richard & Judy. Sneeze in her presence and you’d be whisked off to the doctors, have been told to drink plenty of fluids, and be in the chemist buying a sugar-free lollipop before you could get your hanky out. I was off school a lot as a child, and have fond memories of being sat under a duvet with a bowl of tomato soup sprinkled with grated cheese.

That’s the problem though isn’t it? I don’t especially want Belle to think fondly of her time off school, otherwise where is the incentive for her to get better? By making a day off as dull as possible, the hope is that her bout of ‘feeling sick’ will be over as quickly as possible. What do you reckon – is this mean or just practical for a working mum?

Before finishing this, I thought I should go up and check on her. In desperation she has finished her maths homework and is learning her spellings. “How are you feeling?” I ask her.

“Fine,” she says, without thinking, and quickly corrects herself. “Well not fine of course. I feel a bit better, just not 100%”

Sounds like she is on the mend to me. It’s amazing what a good dose of boredom can do.

*I am possibly being a bit mean here. I do believe that she doesn’t feel well.

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