Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Over the next few weeks, I am opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am about to take and also relatively new bloggers, who are full of questions and finding their feet. So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Mercedes from Mercedes Prunty Author, The Walking Mumbie!

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
When I am not writing my blog, I am either running around after my two young daughters, taking them for days out, cooking or playing Lego, or I’m sitting in some sort of peace when they are at school and nursery writing my books.
I’m a self-published author of 5 books to date, soon to be 8 by the end of this year. My genres are mainly Zombie Horror and Fantasy but I hope to (by the end of the week after writing this) to have published my first children’s book!!!

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
I have been writing my blog for a couple of years now but at first it was mainly a hobby, a way to write when my mind couldn’t focus on books, but I still needed to write to stay sane. It’s mostly a blog about me, my books, writing tips, author interviews, book reviews, film reviews, days out – Just anything that I feel needs to be blogged about.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
What inspired me to start my blog was a woman who came to do a talk at a writers group I belonged to. She told us all that to succeed in growing our audience for our books we needed an author platform, our author platforms needed to be Blog, Facebook and Twitter (The BFT). And she was so right, although my blog isn’t huge it does have some hardcore followers which is fab and those followers follow me and my books.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
My advice would be to find your niche early on. I waivered with mine and stepped into a few niches till I found my voice, so it took me a while to build the brand I wanted to become. Also – Plan, Plan, Plan – Keep a notebook with blog post ideas in and keep track of what you post, this way you will never run out of ideas.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
How do I balance it all – Badly!!! It’s hard to keep on top of social media just because you can get lost in it and not do what it is you really need to be doing. I try to stay away during my work time (So I can write those books) and go on more in the evening when kids and hubby are asleep, as I want to keep my precious family time social media free to a certain degree.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
Hopefully booming into the success that you see others have but I feel mine is so different to the ones that make a huge success because I’m not the normal mummy and make up, I’m mummy and books which is hard to grab readers for. But I have had people tell me my blog posts help them, so I know there are people out there who do like it.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
Sourcing images. That is hard because I am on as tight budget so can only use the free sites which can be limited in their photos, but in saying that the images I have used from those sites are still high quality and eye catching.

And the easiest?
Just the whole writing it, I love writing, writing is me. I feel at my happiest once I have written something each day. So to me the writing part is easy.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
Chandelier by Sia – Love, love, love this song and it also helped me to write my book ‘Alone’.
City of the dead by S.D.Perry – It’s a book based on the hit Resident Evil 2 video game by Capcom but put into a book by the author. But it’s not just a quick scribble of what happens, the author gives the story detail the game misses and I have read it at least 20 times over so could happily read it again.
Resident Evil the film – This made me scared back in the day and can still scare me now even though I know it word for word and scene for scene. I think it’s the music in it by Marilyn Manson. Just gives me Goosebumps thinking of the music in the film.

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Mercedes for joining me on my blog, please take the time to visit her Blog Mercedes Prunty Author – The Walking Mumbie.

Mercedes is also on Twitter & Facebook

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Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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I have been opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! This week, Cath from Battle Mum is sharing her blogging story and some fantastic advice.  So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Cath!

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Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I’m a 40-year-old Irish ex-pat now living in Portugal. We lived in South Wales before our move to Portugal last year and we have a little boy who recently turned 4. I used to be a scientist before giving up my job last March before our move. Nowadays, when I’m not writing for the blog, I’m pottering around the house, walking the dog, trying to learn Portuguese or helping my folks with their shopping. It’s a quiet life compared to 12 months ago.

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
My blog started life over three years ago as a parenting blog during the last two months of my maternity leave. I had kept pregnancy diaries and thought it might be a good way of documenting life with our son. However, due to a long recovery from birth I didn’t start writing until our son was 10 months old. Since then the blog has evolved and is now a family travel and lifestyle blog. I write more about our travels than anything else, and my blog naturally change pace last year.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
My husband and sister-in-law were both writing blogs at the time and I admired them. My husband was writing a blog about life as a first-time-dad. He wasn’t necessarily sharing things about our son, more his own experiences alongside geeky things, and I thought I could fill the gap. My sister-in-law is a very successful beauty blogger in Ireland and I admired her for it. So, my inspiration came from them.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
Before you type one letter, buy your domain name and go self-hosted. I didn’t know anything about this, but my husband insisted I wait until he set me up and I’m so glad I did. It meant I never had to worry about going self-hosted later and brand opportunities passing me by because I wasn’t.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
This is something I struggle with, as I’m sure many other bloggers do. Social Media takes up a huge amount of time and I find it hard to balance this with everyday life. To gain a presence and followers, you need to be seen on social media and be engaging, and as one successful blogger puts it, social media is a time suck. If I check my phone with the intention of only doing a couple of minutes, an hour later I’m still on one platform or another. I try to limit my social media time when our son is around as it’s not fair for him to see me on my phone a lot. I also don’t check social media in the evenings when I am relaxing with my husband as we get very little time together as it is. If we’re out and about, I’ll try avoid it at all costs, and only post to Instagram when we get home. I also try to limit it as much as possible to during the day while my son is in school. But it’s a real struggle for me.

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Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
I’d like to see other parents and families get value from my blog now that it’s focused on travel. I want to share our travels and advice to encourage more families to travel with their kids, even from a young age, and I hope we can inspire them to do that. I’d love to make a living from my blog, but I do think this is going to be difficult without sacrificing family time for more blogging time. But now that I have a focus, I can see me enjoying writing even more over the next few years.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
The hardest thing I find is that it is so much more than just typing a few words about a subject. A lot of my travel posts also include some level of research, to do the post justice. Then you’ve got the photos to sort and edit, the graphics to prepare, find the best keywords for SEO, and all this before you hit that Publish button. After that, it’s promotion on social media, taking part in Facebook groups and everything else that goes on afterwards. People who don’t write a blog themselves think it’s easy and is ‘just writing’ but it’s so much more than that. And even more so if you are working with a brand as there is an added level of pressure to do a good job. I sometimes wonder how I kept a blog going while working full-time in the UK.

And the easiest?
The easiest part is when the words are flowing because you feel passionate about the post, or it’s a post about something you have/do enjoy. Those ones are the easiest for me to write and are the ones that are completed very quickly.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
If I could only watch one movie again it would have to be Some Like It Hot, my all-time favourite movie.

The one song is more difficult. Music plays a big part in my life and it’s hard for me to pick one song. Perhaps Africa by Toto or Everybody’s Talking by Nilsson. Both have special meanings for me.

As for the one book it would probably be Lord of the Rings. I’m probably cheating but I’m sure someone has published the three as one somewhere!

Thank you Cath for joining me on my blog – please take the time to visit Cath’s Blog – Battle Mum.

Cath is also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube

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Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

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Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it, which for many of us means thinking about getting something special for our loved ones. Over the last few weeks, I have had some fun working alongside some fabulous companies to put together a rather special Valentine’s Day gift guide, which will hopefully give you some ideas and take away some of the stress in finding the perfect gift!

To be honest, I always get a little bit stumped when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I like to try and find something a little bit different, yet something personal and thoughtful too; and I think the following gift ideas certainly tick all three of those points!

Personalised Star Map – Under Lucky Stars

Under Lucky Stars is a company that creates personalised Star Map’s, which shows the alignment of the stars, where you are, at a moment in time special to you. All you have to do is visit their website and start creating and I challenge you to try and narrow your special moments down to just one! Or, you can do what I did, and get lost in stargazing for well over a hour!

When I designed a Star Map, I thought about all the special moments my fiancé and I have had together and I thought about our last weekend as a couple (before Pumpkin). We had planned a romantic weekend together and “surprise surprise” Pumpkin decided to make an early appearance and share the weekend with us! So, I chose our Star Map to reflect the moment our little star said hello! The result? See for yourself, it’s really beautiful and is a constant reminder of when our lives changed forever!

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Star Maps start from $55

A New Map of Love – Abi Oliver

To me, a book is a really personal present, as it shows the person who has gifted it has taken time to think about the recipient; their likes, dislikes, their humour and also taken the time to have a sneaky peek at their book shelf to get an idea of the kinds of books they like to read!

Since becoming a Mummy, I have not been able to read any where near as much as I would like and to be given a book for Valentine’s would be wonderful, although I would also be telling my fiancé to expect to see me with my nose stuck firmly in the book every evening until it’s finished too! Perhaps, not quite so romantic, but such a gift of a “little bit of me time” though!.

A New Map of Love is such heart warming read about a gentleman called George Baxter and the journey into his new life following the loss of his wife of twenty-six years. It’s a novel about second chances in love and do you know what?, that is all I am going to say about it as I don’t want to spoil the book for you! Yes, I know that’s rather mean of me, but, I loved it and savoured every reading moment and I want everyone else to have that experience too! Plus, there is the little issue that I have passed the book on to my mum, who no doubt will be reading this and will not have finished the book yet and will be cross at any “spoilers”.

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Couple’s Personalised T-Shirts – Genie Gadgets

Personalised couple’s T-shirts are a big thing and Genie Gadgets have some amazing ones to brighten up any couple’s wardrobe! Whether you and your partner are “Sweet Peas” or “Huggy Bears”, you are sure to find a T-shirt to personalised to suit and reflect your personalities! These are such a fun idea, the only problem you will have is choosing what ones to get, will you be matching or will you be independent personalities?

When I showed my fiancé, he wasn’t to sure whether I was joking or serious about them! I don’t think he could even disguise the look of pure terror on his face when the T-shirts arrived, perfectly cuddled up together in their packaging! Terror was replaced with relief when I assured him I wouldn’t make him wear it out, although I can guarantee the one day he does wear it to take the bins out, he will be caught by the neighbours and stuck chatting for ages! I shall enjoy that moment (and promise to update this post with photographic evidence)!

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Personalised T-Shirts £12.99 each

Cupcake Bath-Bombs 

I love bath bombs, especially if they come with the promise of a disturbance-free bath! Is it just me, or whenever I get in the bath or shower after my son has gone to bed, I can mysteriously hear him cry and when I go to check, he is actually snoring away! If I dare to have a bath whilst he is awake, I will hear a knock at the door, followed by “mamma mamma” – which gets increasingly louder until an ear piercing cry is about to be let loose in the hallway!  So, bathing, always comes with a big “do not disturb sign” and Daddy is on duty during this time!

These Cupcake Bath Bombs, are just so pretty and come packaged as a Little Box of Love! There are Six Bathbombs in total: Chic & Cheerful, Love Buds, Kiss Me Quick, Rosebud Buttercup, Feel The Love, Urban Rose.

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Cupcake Bath-Bombs £9.99 – as an added bonus, you can get 10% of all orders, use the discount code LUPSIE218 at the checkout!

Luxury Dog Collar ID Tags – Paws With Opulence

Dog’s are important members of the family and why should they be forgotten about on Valentine’s Day? This is where Paws With Opulence comes to the rescue with these incredibly beautiful broken heart dog collar ID tags!

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They are available in Sterling Silver, 9ct Gold and 9ct White Gold, and also available in 2 other different designs, with hand-engraving available too. All of Paws with Opulence’s products are all handmade using the finest quality materials, so you can be certain your dog is going to be well and truly spoilt!

Whilst your choosing your dog collar ID Tags, why not have a look at Paws with Opulence’s collars, leads and accessories and I dare you not to fall in love with their gorgeous range and spoil your dog a little bit more!

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Broken Heart Luxury Dog Collar ID Tags: Sterling Silver £89 9ct Gold £229
9ct White Gold £289

Wooden Toy Two Tier Cake Stand & Cakes

I have covered presents for pretty much everyone in this gift guide, except for the important little people in our lives. When I was a nanny in the USA, I was surprised at just how big Valentine’s was! It was also a day for friends and family members too! So, it would be rude not to include the little ones too!

Pumpkin enjoys making everyone imaginary cups of tea at the moment and would absolutely love these toy cakes and cake stand, to make it a proper tea party! Plus, its wooden, so it will withstand some of the rigorous testing that only toddler can give it!

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Two tier cake stand and cakes – £19.99 – to get 10% of all orders, use the discount code LUPSIE218 at the checkout.

I hope you like the gift guide, below are links to the retails main websites, where you’ll find a wide range of other gift ideas too!

Under Lucky Stars

Abi Oliver – A New Map of Love

Genie Gadgets

Paws with Opulence

What2buy4kids – Don’t forget if you use the discount code LUPSIE218 you will receive 10% of your order!

Disclaimer: Some items were gifted for the purpose of this gift guide, all opinions are my own.
Contains affiliate links.

Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Over the next few weeks, I am opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am about to take and also relatively new bloggers, who are full of questions and finding their feet. So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Debbie from My Random Musings.

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Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I’m Debbie, I’m 36 and I live in North East England. When I’m not blogging, I’m usually writing my novels (or someone else’s as a ghost writer), reading or having a Netflix binge.

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
My blog, My Random Musings, is a bit of a mixture. It started out as somewhere I posted whatever was on my mind, hence the name. Now it’s main focus is motivating people to go out and live the life they truly want with some writing and blogging based posts and posts about books thrown in for good measure.

I’ll have been blogging for three years in March of 2018.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer and when I finally decided it was time to stop saying it and start doing it, a blog seemed like a good place to start. I hadn’t written anything in years and I wanted to get back into writing before I started on my first novel.
The blog was meant to be a short term thing but I fell in love with it and now I couldn’t imagine ever not blogging.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
To someone thinking about starting, go for it. Just do it.

To someone who’s just started, I would say enjoy the ride. Learn as you go, talk to other bloggers and don’t compare yourself to someone who’s been doing it for years.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
I don’t lol. Seriously I try to schedule blog post updates when I schedule the actual post and then I can concentrate on the fun part of social media daily. I allow myself half an hour to catch up on everything I’ve missed overnight, then I just pop in and out throughout the day – probably way more than I should.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
I would love to have more readers of course, but content wise, I think I’ve finally found a balance I’m happy with. My main goal with the blog is to keep posting daily and (hopefully) produce content that my readers enjoy and find useful.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
I’m hopeless with the techie stuff. I spend more time Googling and messing up than actually getting the thing done lol.

And the easiest?
Writing the content. I love writing and that’s the part I enjoy the most, so I guess by extension, it feels like the easiest part compared to the dreaded techie bits and the marketing.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
Oh wow that’s hard.
Ermm, ok the movie would be Grease. The song would be A Thousand Years by Christina Perri.
It’s way too hard to choose just one book, this is killing me lol. Right now, it would be Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. It was one of the first horror books aimed at adults I ever read when I was around twelve and I’ve loved it ever since. But if you asked me the same question next week, my answer might well be different haha.

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Debbie for joining me on my blog, please take the time to visit her Blog My Random Musings.

Debbie is also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Amazon Author Page

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Pumpkin is One

One year ago, I was in Labour, which wasn’t supposed to happen as I was booked in to have an elective C Section 4 days later, at a set time, with no, I repeat, no labour pains! However, no matter how much I was repeating the mantra “this is not how it is supposed to happen” to myself, I was reminded every 3 minutes for the next 18 hours, that I was well and truly in labour and Pumpkin was going to come out sooner than planned. It was at this point, I wished that I had paid more attention in the ante-natal class about other birth plans/pain relief. In the end, I had an emergency C Section, my surgical team were amazing and all was fine.

Roll on a year, one of the most magical, life changing years of our lives. A year ago, we became parents to the most adventurous, mischievous and comical little boy, who everyday without fail, makes us laugh and feel extremely lucky. I can’t lie, sometimes the realisation of the responsibility of being a parent to Pumpkin can be overwhelming. Frequently wondering if we are doing things right: are we feeding him the right foods, is he warm/cool enough etc. Then, all we have to do, is look at Pumpkin, he is thriving, happy and learning so much, so quickly; and then we fall in love with him even more than we already have.

Tomorrow, Pumpkin will wake up to his family celebrating his birthday, will he understand what is happening? The lovely scrunchy wrapping paper, the new toys and books, the bright birthday banner across the wall and the sugar loaded cake which he will have as a special treat for his pudding? I don’t know how much he will understand, but it’s his special day and we are going to make it as special as the day he arrived screaming into the world and our arms; the day our lives changed for ever.

For us, we are celebrating a year of surviving as parents and a stronger relationship as a result. This year has been amazing and really hard work; there has been laughter, tears, pure exhaustion, some bickering (again, usually down to pure exhaustion) and a love never experienced before for a little person completely dependent upon us. So, think of us tomorrow evening, eating left-over Birthday cake and then wishing we hadn’t, when we are desperately trying to fall asleep, but can’t because we are on a sugar high at 10.00pm (for those without children…that is a late night, when your little one likes to wake up at 5.00am!).
Happy Birthday 1st Birthday Pumpkin xx