Blogging || What You Need to Get Started


So you want to blog, you've seen how blogging can change the lives of others and you want to be apart of the movement. But, you're unsure how to get started. Blogging can be a daunting and scary business for a newbie especially with the sheer number of posts from other bloggers giving their advice on all of the tech that you need, all of the courses, the backdrops, lighting and thing-a-my-jigs. Well, here I am doing the same but without all of the unnecessary bells and whistles.

Tools of the trade. 

You will absolutely need a laptop or PC with internet access or at least, regular access to one. I use a Macbook Air and can't recommend them enough but you can use any working laptop.  You'll also need a camera. Again I thoroughly recommend Panasonic's Lumix compact camera range, especially for a novice blogger.

Here's the kicker. The above products are ALL you need to get started. Sure you can splash out and really go crazy buying gadget after gadget, backdrops, lighting,  props and software but, this won't make you an amazing writer and it won't make you a pro blogger either unless your writing is also amazing.

So you've got your physical tools, what do you need online? 

I'm going to base this on the Blogger platform. You can, however, choose to use Wordpress or even your own website. There are plenty of instructions on how to use those sites out there if you go a quick Google search.

 Set up your Blogger taking into consideration your blog name and the URL. You want it to be something that you can grow into. You want it to reflect your ideals and what you represent. This is why so many professional bloggers end up re-branding and using their own names because ultimately the blog does not control you, you control it and it becomes an extension of yourself. Using your own name is an excellent way of showing others that it's your business and blog. Cost: Free

 Do you want to get a custom domain? I recommend Go Daddy. They're affordable and easy to use. Choosing your own domain right at the start allows you to build up a credible DA (domain authority) score. If you choose to stay with the yoururl.blogspot.com you won't be able to give companies your DA score, this is OK if you are choosing to be more of a hobby blogger rather than pro blogger. Cost: £10+

 How are people going to subscribe to you? You need to get this in place right from the get-go. Most bloggers use Bloglovin as it's easy to use and the website emails your subscribers with an update on your latest posts. Most Pr's and brands also accept Bloglovin as a credible source to view your influence. You can however, choose Google+, Twitter or Facebook or a custom newsletter that allows subscriptions. Apply the widget or gadget of your chosen method to your blog so your new subscribers and readers don't need to hunt. Cost: Free

 OK so you have your blog and you can now direct your readers to subscribe. Let's talk about your images. When you take your shots you're going to at some point want to do some editing. I recommend Picmonkey which is free and Canva which is free. You can subscribe and get access to more tools for around £5 per month but so far I've not needed it for Canva and since using both Picmonkey and Canva I've been able to cancel my Picmonkey subscription. Cost: Free-£5 per month. 

 If you are looking to up your photo game then you can't beat natural daylight. If you can take your snaps outside then fantastic. If not, I recommend purchasing a daylight build and a cheap desk lamp. This works in a similar way to a S.A.D lamp where the blue light gives off a natural daylight effect. If you have a larger budget then you can source soft box lighting, light boxes and reflective umbrellas on Ebay or Amazon for around £15-£60. Be sure to check out the reviews first. Cost: £10+

 You can make your photo's look more professional by using props and backgrounds. Speak to most bloggers and they'll tell you wallpaper samples, fabric and large sample tiles are the low cost and most feasible options. Aged wood, whitewashed textures, marble or polka dots seem to be the on trend backings at the moment. Stick to a backing that shows off your product rather than swamps it. Cost: Free

 Organisation is important if you want to be a pro blogger because without it, you will get swamped and bloggers block will set in. Blogging block sucks. Journals, planners, organisers and cute stickers, notepads and stationery helps also because it keeps it lighthearted and fun. This deskpad from Not on The High Street is the ideal pad to have if you tend to procrastinate. Cost: £10+

Time management, again this comes down to planning. You can always write your posts and schedule them ahead of time. You can also use IFTTT to create recipes which will take your published posts (for example) and promote them elsewhere like Twitter or on your Facebook page cutting out lots of time that would have been spent promoting your blog. You can also use Tweetdeck which will schedule your Tweets ahead of time and Latergram for Instagram. For Facebook, you can schedule directly on your business page. Cost: Free

Final tips.

And once you've followed each of these steps you'll come to realise that what you write is far more important than what you buy. You'll also come to realise that you could have stopped at the first step which stated you only needed a laptop, computer and a camera in order to blog.

The greatest tip I could ever give you in order to help you become a blogger is ''plan your features'', ''get a clear route in your head of what you want to be perceived as and therefore, write about'' and always work up to one season ahead of the current date so you can cover yourself against any illness, Internet issues and unexpected events. Just do you. When you start overthinking it that's when you'll stop enjoying it and what was once something you loved will become a tedious chore.

Good Luck.
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Secrets To The Perfect Kid's Party


I'm not sure how to approach this post. On the one hand, you want to make the party great for your kids. On the other, you want to finish the day in one piece. Which should you choose? Hosting a kids party can actually be a lot of fun. But getting it right takes a little effort. So what should you be doing?
Organisation
The first step in any hosting party is to make sure that the event is properly managed. Part of this means picking the right venue. What venue do you think your child would most appreciate? Perhaps they have a particular interest in swimming and want a swimming party. Or maybe they want to go bowling. A party doesn’t necessarily have to be at your house.
Sometimes, a party can't be held in a house because of the sheer numbers of people. When a bigger space is required there are usually local church halls that can be hired out. 
Once you've picked a location, it's time to get the invites out. Don't feel like you have to invite every little 5 and 6-year-old your child has ever come known. Managing huge numbers of young children can be difficult. Just stick to the ones they know well. 
Have a Theme 
To stop the party from descending into complete chaos and pandemonium, it's a good idea to make some activity the focus of the afternoon. Outside providers, like Little Squigglers, offer some suggestions. Maybe your child has got a creative streak and would like to develop their creative side. An art and craft-themed party would allow them to do something they enjoy and give the whole experience a focus. 
You could also have a themed party and stick to that. One idea would be to have everybody dress up as either a pirate of a member of the King's Royal Navy and have games based on that. 
Sort Out The Menu
I'm sure you're a responsible parent when it comes to your children's diet. But this is their chance to have something a little bit special. The thing is, you were probably born in the good old days when eating jammy dodgers and cake was something you ONLY did on your birthday. Now, though, it's become all too common.
Having great party food for kids doesn't necessarily have to be cheap junk. You can do a good job of imitating it in a way that won't lead to type 2 diabetes. Make your own brownies with less sugar. Get sugar-free fizzy pop and put healthy toppings on a pizza. If you do a good job, the kids will love it, and in the future, they'll love you for it. 
Have Great Entertainment
The crowning jewel in any party should be the entertainment. And kids tend to be far more easily impressed with live entertainers than jaded adults that have seen it all before. For young children, anything that messes with their sense of reality seems to be very well received. I'm thinking clown-shows and magicians. For teens, stick with a DJ.

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5 Ways || Creating A Cool Teenage Bedroom

Teenagers can be notoriously difficult when it comes to interior design. They don’t want fluffy teddies and animal wall stickers anymore and they’re not quite ready to go for more sensible and reserved adult decor. The aim is to find a middle ground, which offers your teen a cool hangout, which is also suitable for studying and getting a good night’s sleep. These five simple refurbishment tips will help you to create the perfect space for your teenager this spring.


Think about colours

Children’s rooms tend to be neutral or bright. With teenage rooms, it’s often best to add splashes of colour with accessories or a feature wall. Choose your teen’s favourite shades and add accents with lamps, cushions and rugs. For a modern touch, go for a printed wallpaper on one wall. Zig-zags and stripes are popular patterns. If you’re not blessed with artistic flair, you could also invest in a wall sticker.

Get some ideas

With a blank canvas, it can be tough to envisage what your room will look like with certain design elements. This is where research comes in handy. Flick through some interior design magazines and search online for images and inspiration. Once you have seen some pictures you like, you can start thinking about how they would work in your home. Share your thoughts with your teen and encourage them to do their own research and give you some do’s and don’ts.


Create a functional space

A teenage bedroom is not just used for sleep. Teenagers like to hang out with their friends in their room and they may also need space to work, watch television or play computer games. A sofa bed is an excellent way to provide seating during the day and a spare bed if friends want to stay over. If you’re tight on space, you could invest in a work station with a bed over the desk. Box shelves are an ideal way to provide storage for books and files. They also look modern and funky.


Show some personality

Interior design is a fantastic way to express your personality. Take the opportunity to show off your teen’s hobbies, interests and individual style in their bedroom. Personalise the space with photographs or canvases and show off their interests. You could pay homage to a passion for music or sports, with band posters or sports memorabilia, for example. Keep accents subtle for a more mature look and choose your teenager’s bedding carefully. Go for colours and prints that complement the rest of the room.


Store stuff discreetly

Storage can be an issue in smaller bedrooms, so search online and look around interior shops for clever storage solutions. It’s always best to hide clutter, so invest in some discreet boxes and drawers. Innovative ways of creating more storage space include using:

Drawers under the bed
Vintage looking chests and trunks
Fold-down shelving units.
Chalkboard paint behind closet doors
Pinboards

If your teenager’s bedroom is in need of an image overhaul, follow these simple steps to achieve design perfection. Get your teen on board, share some ideas and enjoy the decorating process together.

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Beauty Tips || Spring Makeup Change Up

I am so ready for Spring. It brings with it brighter days and a sense of new life. Naturally it means I can think about brighter and lighter makeup. When I think about Spring makeup, I think about subtle pink tones on my lips, a delicate rose finish on my cheeks and lovely wide and long lashes. A real pretty look. I see spring as a chance to give your skin a little TLC after a harsh winter. I thought I would share my spring beauty recommendations and tips. 

A good base.

I think spring is the perfect time to tone down the heavier makeup. While this can scare some people you can still achieve an even complexion without full coverage foundation. That is why I think spring is the perfect time to embrace a good BB or CC Cream. BB and CC creams cover but without the added caking. They also have the the added benefits of being a moisturizer and with a decent level of SPF, it’s the perfect spring to summer base. If you find BB or CC creams are too orange or not light enough for your skin tone I would suggest a colour correcting CC cream - this is what I use. I have really light skin but it's irregularly toned due to redness and pigmentation. The green colour correcting CC cream neutralises the redness while then turning into a a foundation based moisturiser. It's really magical.

You can spend as little or as much on a BB Cream. It’s up to you. My recommendation is to try a few out and find the perfect match for your skin and look. Don’t go for a darker shade as this could take away from the more natural look especially because you're only going to cover your problem areas and then blend, blend, blend your complexion to perfection. (I was a poet and didn't know it).

Blush and bronzer

Blush and bronzer can go a long way however highlighter and bronzer can go further in Spring especially if you've got your CC, colour correcting base on. Highlighting your cheekbones and anywhere that the sun would hit can give off a real dewy, youthful complexion. Using bronzer on your cheeks, nose, forehead and chin is a good place to start but don’t be too heavy-handed with it. 

If you can't go without your blush then choose one or two shades lighter than you've gone for in the autumn and winter. I would then suggest using a nice rosy blush or cream blush for your cheeks and a good illuminator for your cheek bones. The illuminator can give you that dewy look. NYX have an excellent selection to take a look at. 

It’s all about the lashes. 

Spring is the time to ease off the eyeliner and just focus on those lashes. Investing in a good lash lengthening mascara and some eyelash curlers will give the desired effect. Add to your eyelid either a pinky or gold shade to give a subtle finish. Of course, you can still use eyeliner for a little definition. Maybe you could use an off black or grey toned pencil eyeliner rather than full on liquid blacker than black liner.

Let’s talk about lips. 

When I think about spring, I think about pastel tones, natural tones and a hint of colour. I tend to keep the brighter tones for Summer or when the sun's out. Again I'd recommend keeping your coverage light and natural, lip stains, gloss, tinted balms and liquid lipsticks are your friend. I'd veer away from the full coverage matte lips and lip liner as they can look quite heavy and drying. 
For the evening you can absolutely take your look darker by choosing deep corals, orange-reds and rose pinks to get that full looking pout that's so popular right now.

Spring also means a chance to take care of yourself on the inside and out. A chance for a fresh, clean start now the days are getting brighter and longer. Most people spring clean their homes but why not your life, health and wellbeing? Spring's as good a time as any so really go for it. Plus new makeup always makes me feel happy but remember to get rid of your really old products as they might be expired or harbouring some unseen nasty bacterias.

What do you like about spring? Do you have any makeup techniques to share for the season ahead?

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Five Ways || Tips For Making a Memorable Summer


Now that we’re into the first quarter of 2016 and the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year is over, I find myself almost wishing this year away a little, craving the warmth that summer will bring. Plus, this will be the first summer in our new home, and my mind is already racing with ways that I can make it the best yet for my kids. As I’m sure you’ll know if you’re a regular reader, we’re quite a bohemian family, and spending time together, making experiences and creating fond childhood memories for my sons is one of the most important things to me.

With this in mind, I decided to list a few ways I’m going to try and make our summer 2016 the best yet - hopefully these inspire you too...

Take Unexpected Trips

I think it’s important to be a spontaneous parent on occasion. like I said, we try to live a free-spirit boho lifestyle and despite modern day expectations. When the boys are off school we love to take impromptu trips to the countryside, Falkland Hill or to local fairs as they are a great way of letting go and spending time with them. We generally ask the boys at the start of the year where they would love to go this year and what they want to do so we have a list in mind that we can just pick and choose from without them knowing. Spontaneity is great for kids as they get so excited and it stops them getting bored so I’m definitely going to fit as many surprise trips into my schedule this summer. 

Have More Parties

I like things to be informal and relaxed at my parties, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. I want to make a pact with myself to have more people round, enjoy being with the ones I love more, but making it memorable by having something that people will talk about. A great way of making a feature for a party whilst feeding the five thousand is with a hog roast machine - while we don't own one I've always thought it would be a fun spectacle for a party, a unique twist for a BBQ, but also really easy to use and practical.

Make More Than Memories

When you have kids, you don’t want them to sit and watch TV all week, so why not get them up and moving? Whether it’s baking scrummy cakes or building a fort in the garden out of furniture, make it a fun experience. There are tonnes of ideas for this on Netmums, from example planners to arts and crafts.

Soak Up The Sun

In this country, those moments of sunshine are rare, but there’s nothing I like better than laying on the lawn in the sunshine, going for a walk to the park, being closer to nature and feeling utterly relaxed. The sun has a natural calming effect, and your summer will be a lot more enjoyable if you get out into the sun as much as possible in order to destress. Oh and remember to purchase a paddling pool early on in the year because they sell like wildfire when the sun comes out, get ahead of the pack by purchasing when it's not needed. The kids will be grateful also. 

Learn Something New

This was one of my new year’s resolutions, and I think summer is as good a time as any to pick something new to learn. Warmer temperatures usually mean that many people feel positive, motivated and have a new vibe to get up and go, so make the most if it - learn something new and make your summer unforgettable. I think I’ll take those new Yoga positions into the garden for a sun salutation.

I wish all of my readers a happy and healthy run-up to summer this year. If you have any tips, please share them with me in the comments section 

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Helping a Friend Pick Special Jewellery

Perhaps your friend has been left some inheritance money that the giver wished would be spent on a truly individual piece of jewellery. Or maybe their wedding is coming up, and they need a hand picking their band. These are just two reasons that your friend might need your help when it comes to shopping for jewellery. The item they pick should be loved and cherish for years to come. So can you help ensure this happens? Read on for a guide to the questions you should be making sure to answer along the way. 

What jewellery does she wear the most?
Although it might be tempting to go for something a bit different, stop and think. Ask you friend; are you sure you will wear this? For example, is she is looking for a watch but has never worn one before? If so, is the reason for this because she finds them annoying, or uncomfortable? If this is the case, it doesn’t make much sense for her to chose the same item again. Suggest she invest in something she already wears often. Perhaps she always has lots of rings on, or never leaves the house without a pair of earrings.

Can the professionals help?
Quite simply, of course, they can! If it’s a more expensive item your friend is looking for, guidance is of particular importance. With diamonds, for example, Your Diamond Guru offer tips and advice free of charge.  Professionals will have great advice for your friend, and may suggest things she hadn’t thought of. They’ll also be able to give an insight into the more complex things, like sizes and materials.

Has she considered lots of different options?
Even if she finds the perfect piece in the first shop, tell her to consider walking away for a while. Shops are usually happy to reserve pieces for a few hours while a decision is made. She might find something she loves even more in the next shop. Or, seeing lots of things she doesn’t like as much could help her make up her mind.

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Is it good enough quality to last?
It can be tempting to cut corners on the price. However, if this is a special piece of jewellery, it is really important that it last. For this reason, be sure to buy from reputable retailers. Also, ensure she considers; can the material be cleaned easily and cheaply? Can it be plated in the future if it starts to become worn? These questions must always be asked. The answers might help guide the hunt in a new or a final direction. 

Is insurance affordable?
For expensive jewellery, it isn’t just the cost of the item that needs to be considered. It is also the cost of the insurance. Insuring it goes without saying, and will allow your friend to relax when wearing it. But she must first ensure that she can afford to insure it, and keep it insured in the long run.

If this is the case, and you’ve explored all of these options, then hurrah! You’re done!

Paying It Forward || Good Deeds You Can Do Locally

Sometimes, even though we have an active life, there is still time to do a little more. If you are someone who loves to help people out, then maybe you could start thinking about ways that you can do this. There are a lot of people out there less fortunate than ourselves and from time to time they need a little support and assistance. Whether it is having someone to talk to, or help with their grocery shopping, there are lots of ways you can spread a little happiness.

In every community, there are people with problems. Depending on the nature of the obstacle, it can be very hard for them to overcome. You probably know an elderly person who lives on your street. Do you ever see them struggling to get their heavy shopping bags back to their house? They would probably really appreciate a helping hand but are too proud, or shy to ask anybody. Maybe they are solitary people who don’t have much contact with anybody locally. Next time you see them politely ask them if you can lend a hand. small acts of kindness like this go a long way with people!

Moving to a new area can be a big deal for a lot of people, especially if they are not from the area. The world is a fast-moving place and there are always people coming to other countries to start new lives. It could be that they are escaping persecution in their homeland, or are left homeless due to war or natural disasters. You can be there to help them make the transition to a new way of living and help the, settle a lot quicker. We all need a friend and good neighbours can be the first step in feeling like you belong. Perhaps their English isn’t great but they would like to enrol in the local education system. You could contact local schools or get them some information on international admissions counseling. This could mean they are able to enter a college to further their studies.


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Do you know of anyone who suffers from a disability? They might need some work doing on their home that you could assist them with. It could be something big that they need with organising, or it could be as simple as changing a lightbulb. I am not suggesting that you go knocking each of your neighbours’ houses asking if they need anything. They will probably think you are crazy, even though your heart is in the right place. Start with people you know and see if word spreads. You could organise a group of like-minded souls and do a regular grocery delivery service on your street or block. I can feel the good karma already!


Those are just some ideas to get you thinking. I will leave the rest up to you. Needless to say, there are lots of people out there who need a little help now and then, as we all do. Gandhi said we should be the change we want to see happen, so get out there and start making the world a better place!

Recovery || 5 Tips to Recovery


Getting sick is the worst feeling in the world. No matter how much you try, you can’t bounce back until you are fit and ready. And, even then you might not feel your best. Luckily, you don’t have to lie on your sick bed for the rest of your days because there is an alternative. In fact, there are several alternatives, all of which you can find below.  Hopefully, these tips will help you feel better in no time.

Get Some Rest

Before you start the long process back to full fitness, you need to rest your body. Rest is the only time that your body gets to shut down and take stock of the day. Only then can it start to regenerate cells and tissues that have atrophied while you were sick. If you get plenty of rest, you will find getting better much easier than if you come back too soon.

Listen To Your Body

To link to the last point, you should also listen to your body. You are the only one that knows whether you are ready to make a comeback.  How? By listening to your body and analyzing the answers. For example, if you start to get a fever or an elevated heart rate while you train, it is a sign that you need to take it down a notch. Your body will give you all the signs – you just need to spot them in time.

Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon

It is human nature to want to make up for lost time. So, as soon as you hit the gym, you will go hell for leather. Bad move. Because you have been off for such a long time, your body needs time to settle down. If you try and perform to your standard before you became sick, you will overload your body in a bad way. The result is that you could easily get an injury. Or, it may affect your mental health. People that can’t perform to the same standard think that they should just give up because they are no longer any good. That is not true. You are just struggling because of your layoff from exercise. Every athlete, from Messi to Usain Bolt, would suffer the same results.

Try Different Types Of Medicines

Drugs work well, and you should take them to get better. But, alternative sources of medicine are also a good option. even if they don't have a medical effect, they can have a placebo effect and still make you better. try and mix the different types of medicines and therapies. 

Go To Rehab

No, not drug or substance abuse rehab: physical therapy rehab. There are rehab centres in both the UK and US. In the US, you'll find centres such as the rehabilitation sun city center specialises in helping people get back on their feet. In the UK, you can go via your own GP to be referred. It doesn’t matter what type of illness or injury you had because they have all the personnel and equipment you need. Plus, it is also easier to recover with the help of others. The staff almost act as your personal trainer, pushing you when you and slowing you down when you need to.