Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Welcome to the final edition of Blog, Brew and Biscuits; over the past couple of months, I opened up my blog to a group of rather lovely bloggers who have been sharing their blogging wisdom with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am taking and also new bloggers, who are also full of questions and who like me are finding their feet. So, for the final time, please make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know from Julz from The Red Head Diaries.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I am married to my soul mate; I have five children; four I parent and one I share just her memory. I am a dinner lady and a volunteer at our local school; as well as attempting to write a novel or two; I am a Committee Member for a Majorette troupe, and finally I set up and run a local infant loss group! Phew!

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?

I actually have two! The first one I have been writing for almost six years and the second almost four – I have no idea where the years have gone! The first is my relationship with grief for our daughter. The other is a place where I can share memories, and pieces of fiction I have lingering about, which aren’t quite long enough to place into books.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Well, I have always loved writing and luckily for me my husband is also a writer and is incredibly supportive. In more recent years, I began jotting down our daughter’s life through NICU, what was meant to be a diary ready for memories, turned into a diary centred on bereavement, when I became pregnant with her younger sister I decided to blog our pregnancy. In time I really fell in love with writing and wanted to include the rest of the family, and the things we do; but felt it was inappropriate to share parenting memories on a place I wanted to give comfort and hope to newly bereaved parents. Although there have been a couple of name changes – The Red Head Diaries was born!

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?

1. Would be to look into self-hosted ASAP. It is reasonably cheap, easy to set up and if you don’t like it. Cancel it.
2. Know your content; I lost my way a little bit, just after I finally turned to self-hosting; I found I was comparing myself, and trying to keep up and do the same as the thousands of other bloggers out there. I hated it. Be yourself.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?

I try to schedule as much as I can; but I spend my weekends working on content as we’re both home. We’re still trying to find our way; but we’ll be sure to get there.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?

I just want my work to be read; I don’t want it to go un-noticed. I love writing for both the blogs; raising awareness with one, and just plain writing for the other. That would be awesome!

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?

Content Planning. Sometimes it can be hard to find the content; when you do you realise wither everyone else has thought of it; or you have forgotten you have already covered it in a different manner. Also I think getting your blogs seen and read is really hard; unless you have time to literally sit on your phone all day on Instagram, sharing, sharing, and sharing (which is amazing if you can – I can’t); then placing yourself on top of all the other great bloggers can be hard and at times really disheartening.

And the easiest?

Writing and planning. When you have found your Niche, and the content you want to put in you blog it can be easy just to sit and go with the flow. Do NOT procrastinate in the middle of that flow – because you will break it!

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?

The one movie would be – Gone In 60 Seconds
The one song would be – Radiohead – Creep
The one book would be Alice in Wonderland

I would like to thank Julz for joining me on my blog – please take the time to visit her Blog too – The Red Head Diaries.

You can also find Julz on:

Facebook Page: Mrs S Writes
Instagram: mrsswrites
Twitter: mrsswrites

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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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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 Sam from Travelling With Our Kids.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I’m Sam, and I have just turned 30! I have 2 little boys who are 6 and 2. I’m married to Nick who I met in 2009 on an online dating site. We got engaged after 3 months and married in 2012. When I’m not writing my blog I am working full time for the family business. My husband works in our bike shop along with my younger brother while I work alongside my parents running the holiday business

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
The blog is about family travel and days out. I have also started to add in some posts about gluten and milk free travel as our boys are intolerant to both. I started writing when my youngest was born, so it will be 3 years old at the start of February.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I had been reading other blogs (What Katy Said being the main one) and loved the idea of doing my own. I also have no hobbies whatsoever so the blog gives me some “down time” in the evenings.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
Go self hosted straight away if you plan to make money from your blog. Also it is a lot of work, so get organised and schedule your time on your blog to get the most out of it.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
Badly? I normally ignore all social media during working hours unless its for our family business. Once the boys are in bed I spend an hour or two just doing social media. It isn’t the best but it works for me. If I did the blog full time then I expect this would be different.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
At the moment my blog is just something to keep me sane after a hard days work. I would love for it to take off and be able to spend more time on it. However, our family business is pretty important so this always has to come first.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
Trying to find my voice. I still don’t think I have quite mastered it. However, my writing has improved greatly over the years and I spend some time each month updating old posts.

And the easiest?
I don’t think anything is really easy when it comes to blogging. Ha! I love social oopmh and it takes the stress out of scheduling twitter on a daily basis.

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?
I like comedy so something like Bad Moms, one song Want to Want me as my boys love the song. I don’t tend to read any books, so probably read a children’s book to the boys.

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Sam for joining me on my blog, please take the time to visit her Blog Travelling With our Kids.

Sam is also on TwitterPinterest & Instagram

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First Shoes

Since moving to Somerset and having more space for Pumpkin to move about and explore, he has quickly reached the milestone of walking/stumbling around like an extra on the Walking Dead.

This only meant one thing…Shoe shopping! The fleeting thought of taking Pumpkin to the nearest town and letting him choose a pair of Converse, was abruptly pushed aside at the reality of the task ahead. After all, Pumpkin is still learning how to use his feet, they are still developing and growing and we need to give them the best start they can have. So all, thoughts of a lovely bright pair of Converse were pushed aside (incidentally, when Pumpkin was shown pictures of them on the iPad, he chose a pink pair…that’s my boy!).

The next day, off we went as a family, phones in hand to document this milestone, to one of the nearest shoe shop that offered a specialist fitting service for a child’s first shoes. Unfortunately, they didn’t advertise that their staff had a distinct allergy to small children/mini beasts. Pumpkin, picked up on this allergy immediately, the mischievous sparkle in his eyes was on high beam, as he yelled “shoeeeeeys” at the top of his lungs and promptly lunged for the nearest shelf to sample the shoes on sale. The shop assistant put on her best fake smile, whilst looking like she was sucking on a “Sourz” sweet, and came at Pumpkin with the foot measuring device. At this point, I should have called it a day, but the foot measuring device had caught Pumpkin’s eye and miraculously he had calmed down and was taking a keen interest in what was about to happen.

Please, picture the scene: Pumpkin is now sat angelically on my lap, beaming his best smile at the shop assistant and there is an eerie silence in the shop…I am putting on my best Mummy voice telling Pumpkin what we are about to do and that he will get a pair of shoes of his own etc etc. When suddenly, he makes a grab for the measuring device, no one is quick enough for this, he is delighted at this moment of glory as he swings it around, narrowly missing the shop assistants fake smiley face. Somehow, in this mayhem she has worked out his foot size, to this day I still do not know how she has done this, for the measuring device did not once go near his foot. Off, skuttles the shop assistant (probably to seek cover in the stock room) and I mouth to my partner to quickly gather our things and go.

However, in this moment, this one moment that we could have done a runner…this one precious moment where we could have avoided the horror of what was to come next…Pumpkin had caught sight of the toy box (let me just edit that, toy box is a very loose term, it was a plastic box, with tired, broken toys, that no child in their right sense of mind would want to play with, apart from our darling child of course!) and he had emptied it’s contents across the floor, grabbed the nearby shoes off the shelves and was sat in the middle of the mayhem looking thoroughly delighted with himself. I didn’t know whether to laugh or still walk out the door leaving the mess behind us. However, before I could make a decision the shop assistant was back (face now looking like it was about to explode) with the most hideous pair of shoes, I have ever seen (cue, horrible flashback childhood memories from me). I sit here writing with my hand on my heart, I can honestly say, they were the most hideous things I had seen, this includes the horrors that I tried on as a kid and had no choice but to wear as I had such wide feet. I did not want Pumpkin to wear those horrible things, to some that may seem petty, but I remember the feeling of wearing horrible shoes as a child, when all my friends had gorgeous dainty shoes and I had big clumpy ugly ones. So, I put my foot down at this point. I declared that Pumpkin was getting grumpy and I felt this should be attempted again another day. We tidied up the toys and the shoes and left as quick as we could, retreating to the nearest coffee shop for a caffeine and sugar fix to recover from what had just happened.

The next day, with Pumpkin in a better mood, we set off to a more well known high street shop, a little bit further away. We were helped to find the perfect pair of first shoes by a brilliant assistant called Megan. Megan became Pumpkins new best friend, she let him wreck her immaculate shoe displays, in fact she helped him do it and they had fun with the shoe measuring device, he wanted her to hold his hand as he walked around the shop to get used to his first pair of shoes. We were able to take photographs to make memories of this precious milestone in Pumpkins life. In the not so distant future, shoe shopping will become a mundane task, but for that moment, it was precious and fun for a little boy who is making his first little steps into a big world.

I need a little time…for me.

I have toyed with the idea of writing about the adventures of becoming a mummy to our wonderful little pumpkin and living with Lupus; which likes to rear its ugly head when I least expect and want it to.

However, time has flown by for the past 11 and a half months and I have never quite found some time to sit down and write.  As there is always a nappy to change, better still a cuddle to be had, a lullaby to be sung or at its worse a blood test to be arranged. Oh, and now the The Great British Bake Off is on, so let’s throw another challenge into the mix and while we are at it, and I should just admit it, just by watching the GBBO I get serious cake cravings, so therefore, I’m playing my part increasing M&S’ cake sale profits, as I just don’t have time to bake at the moment – the Domestic Goddess is out of the office until further notice!

Despite all these hurdles, I wouldn’t change a single thing, I absolutely love my little family and everyday I am learning to live with Lupus and embrace it as part of my life too.
I have finally realised that I need a bit of ‘me’ time in this busy hectic thing called motherhood and did I mention we are also in the middle of relocating from Kent to Somerset, stressed? Me??!  Therefore, I am regaining some “me” time by writing a blog amongst all this chaos.

I am hoping that by writing about the day to day happenings in our family life, it will be therapeutic to me (taking away some of the stresses of packing/being surrounded by boxes), to perhaps become a journal to share with Pumpkin later on (I may have to be selective at times) and hopefully be a support to others in similar situations to myself.

So, pour a mug of coffee, grab a cake and join me on this blogging adventure. In reality, that should read…So, while you are enjoying a cold sip of coffee and left over Colin the caterpillar cake, enjoy this insight into my life.