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Versatile Blogger award – seven facts about me

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I was nominated by Becky from The Laughing Owls for ‘The Versatile Blogger Award’ – thank you! My blog is fairly specific, mainly concentrating on arts and crafts for kids, but I’m starting to open up and write about other things! This is a good way to get to know me as a person 🙂

The rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are as follows:
1) in your post say thank you to the blogger that nominated you
2) write 7 facts about yourself and nominate 7 other bloggers
3) use the versatile blogger award badge on your post

Here you are then – seven facts about me!!

1) I am terrified of crabs. For a very long time I couldn’t paddle in the sea, go to the Sea Life Centre – I even had a panic attack after seeing a dead one on a seafood stall on a Paris market stall! It is getting slightly better since I forced myself to hold a crab, albeit for a second, at the Sea Life Centre, but I still hate the horrible things

2) I was a primary school teacher. I’ve always wanted to reach since I was at nursery school myself and played schools with dolls but have given my job up to bring my kids up. Will I go back? Who knows?!

3). I am a little bit completely obsessed with Dirty Dancing. I have watched the film well over 100 times, know the script pretty much off the top of my head and know evey song. My lovely boyfriend took me to watch the musical at Aldwych Theatre a few years ago and it was amazing!

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4)I am completely addicted to coffee. I do not function without a cup of coffee or three in the mornings! I worked at Starbucks on a Saturday whilst I was at uni, and I think that triggered the caffeine addiction. I struggle to walk past a Costa (so much nicer than Starbucks!) without sneaking in for a skinny extra shot vanilla latte!

5) I love shoes and handbags. When we moved into this house I was really strict with myself and had a declutter. I sold and gave away about half of my bags and shoes, so now I’m down to about thirty pairs of shoes and about fifteen handbags. I love pretty sparkly high heels but being 5ft 10 and spending my days at home with two toddlers I tend to live in my treasured Uggs and Converse!

6) I’m immensely proud of the fact that I’m still breastfeeding Alex, who is sixteen months. Harrison didn’t want to know but Alex is a little boob monster! Some days, like today, where he has fed every ten seconds (or felt like it anyway!) I wish he would start weaning but o know that’s probably a while off still, and its doing him (and me) the world of good.

7) I get bored of my hair really easily. In the last few years it has been red, brunette and blonde (currently blonde) and very short, very long and various lengths in between (currently chin length). I’m never happy with it – when it’s long I want it cut and when it’s short I want it long.

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So yep, there’s seven facts about me! I now nominate the following bloggers:

Ickle Pickles Life

Mum to a Monster

Candy Floss Cloud

Charlie and Mollies Mummy

Vintage Days and Retro Nights

Wiggy’s Wardrobe

One Mummy and her Double Buggy

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So you want to write a blog?

I only started my blog back in November 2013, so it’s only three months old and by no means established yet! However, for a new blog I don’t think it’s doing too badly! I get a decent number of views and visitors and I’m regularly being approached by companies to review for them and write for them.
Recently, I have had one or two friends ask me about blogging and setting one up, so now I’ve got to grips with the basics, I thought I might try and give some advice and tips from a newbie perspective!

1) Time

Blogging takes a fair amount of time, so make sure you have plenty of it. It’s not the actual blog writing that is time consuming, but the photo editing, the promoting on social networks, the networking with other bloggers, tweeting, reading blogs and commenting.

2) A hosting site

You could jump straight in deep end, buy yourself a domain, and go self hosted. This means your blog is entirely your own – consider it as having a mortgage rather than renting, which is what a free blogging site is. The benefits of being self hosted is that you have complete control over what it looks like, what you install on there, adverts etc. The downside is you have to pay for it, and if something goes wrong it’s up to you to sort out. I would personally recommend using a free site to start with, as you may well find blogging isn’t for you but you’ve spent the money! I have aimed for my 6 month blog birthday as my target to go self hosted.
The two main free host sites are wordpress and blogger. I can’t comment on what blogger is like as I use wordpress. It’s simple to use, even for a technophobe like me, and you can download an app for apple or android devices.

3) What you will blog about

Have an idea of what you will blog about. Anything and everything goes when it comes to blogging, from crafts, parenting, lifestyle, food, fashion, beauty, technology….just make sure it’s relevant to you, and it is something you would enjoy writing about. If it doesn’t interest you, you’re going to struggle to wrote anything half decent and you’ll run out of steam very quickly. Try and plan a few posts in advance. I know roughly what I’m going to be blogging about for that week or so, and everywhere I go I take a notebook and pen in case inspiration strikes! My ideas have a habit of popping into my head just after lying down to sleep – and the odd one has happened in the middle of the night so I keep a notebook by my bed. I also have a few posts lined up for when I don’t have any ideas and I just hit publish!

4) Be a blogger and not a blagger

If you’re doing it to make money or blag freebies, don’t bother! Sounds blunt but that’s not what blogging is about, and it doesn’t work! I get sent plenty of gorgeous freebies (which aren’t technically free, they’re
payment for my time!), but they really are just a nice perk. I blog because I enjoy writing and sharing ideas.

5) Reviews

Saying that, there is no harm in asking for or keeping an eye out for reviews. I’ve sent the odd cheeky email and had a few things sent out – but these were things that I genuinely use and refer to a lot in my blog and would probably feature organically anyway. I’ve turned down plenty of products which personally I would have loved (things for my cat!) but would have being completely irrelevant to my blog. Watch out for hash tags on Twitter such as #prrequest or #pbloggers (parent  bloggers). Also, wrote about products you already own or love. My first review was about a set of kids books we adore (‘That’s Not My…Review’)  We weren’t sent them, we already had them. I emailed the company the review which they loved, especially as I had done it off my own back, and sent me a lovely craft book to review (100 Christmas Things to Make and Do review) I’m now on their PR list!

6) Get on the social networks

Bloggers love Twitter. It’s a great place to promote your blog, ask for advice and network with other bloggers and companies.
I’m on all the main social networks: Twitter,
Facebook, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest

7) Interact

Interact and talk to other bloggers. I try and read and comment on five or so blogs a day – and quite often they will return the favour! Here’s a few of my favourite parenting and lifestyle bloggers:

Edspire
Crazy with Twins
Motherhood Journeys
Baked Potato Mummy
Wiggy’s Wardrobe
Redhead Babyled

8) Blogging Communities

Join them! As a parenting kind of blog, I’m registered with:
Tots 100
Britmums
Mumsnet Bloggers
Netmums Bloggers

9) Link up!

Join in with linkies. This is where you link your post up to a hosts blog usually around a theme but there are some generic ones. It’s generally considered good manners to visit and comment on a few other blogs that have linked up. It is a good way to network with other bloggers, get a few more visitors and give you inspiration! They usually start on the same day each week and are open for a few days to add your post.

Some of the linkies I participate in are:
Binky Linky (for new bloggers)
Pocolo (to get some comments and love for any post you have written that week)
Country Kids (about being outdoors with kids)
Messy Play for Matilda Mae  (messy play ideas)
Blow Your Own Blog Horn
(promoting your blog)

10) Proofread

Check several times for spelling and grammar before you hit publish. We are all human and yes the odd mistake slips through the net (I noticed and corrected one tonight in a post I wrote in December!) but there is nothing worse than reading a post peppered with mistakes. I’ve read several blogs with no capital letters or all stops – needless to say I didn’t visit them again!

So there you have it. There’s more to learn about – guest posting, disclosures, media packs, follow and nofollow links (pretty important to read up on if you do any paid reviews or sponsored posts). But never be afraid to ask for help. Twitter is an amazing resource to get help from other bloggers, and there’s lots online – tots 100 has lots of tutorials.

Good luck!

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Cool Skillz

I’ve never been very good at doing physical stuff. In the days when I was young and children were far off in the distance, I was a pretty fast runner (long legs gave me an advantage). I was also pretty good at netball (being tall helped!), but apart from that…well, lets just say I kick a football in one direction and it goes the other way.
Harrison is already showing signs of being a little boy who loves doing anything physical – jumping, running, having a kick about in the garden and throwing balls,which I’m really pleased about., and I’m sure Alex will be the same. However, I have no idea how to teach him or help him develop these further. How can I teach him how to throw and catch when I can barely do it myself? That’s where Cool Skillz is going to give me a hand!

Cool Skillz is a multi skills physical activity club run by qualified coaches. The club works with children aged three and up to develop agility, balance and coordination through fun games and activities. It doesn’t focus on one particular sport,  it aims to teach children those all important gross motor skills, as well as social skills such as following rules, listening and team work. Lewis, the founder of Cool Skillz, has sent me some great ideas and activities to do with Harrison and Alex at home or in the garden (if it ever stops raining!). These activities can be found on the Cool Skillz Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/coolskillz .

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Lewis is running a special fun day this weekend (Saturday 22nd February)at Warstock Community Centre in Birmingham. It starts at 10am for the little people and is £2 per person. It’s a chance to show some of the great activities the club does, so if you’re local I would definitely recommend popping along – much better than Saturday Soft Play hell! There all be plenty of fun physical games and challenges, including my personal favourite – the parachute!!

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For further information about the fun day or to book a place or to find out more about what Cool Skillz has to offer, contact Lewis on 07794912079.

You can also head over to their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/coolskillz and check out some of the ideas you could try at home.
You can also follow on Twitter @coolskillzclub

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Go along and have fun!

*Disclaimer
This is an advertorial post for which I received a small payment.

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Let’s Potty – a review and giveaway!

As a mum to a potty training toddler, I jumped at the chance to review a game all about potty training!

Let's Potty

The box was lovely and colourful, and the contents didn’t disappoint. It’s bright and sturdy. Quite often, the ‘task’ cards As a mum to a potty training toddler, I jumped at the chance to review a game all about potty training! board games can be a bit flimsy but these were made of thick glossy board.

The idea of the game is to make it to the toilet. You choose a card and it either praises you for one of the aspects of potty training – washing hands, flushing toilet, pulling down pants etc, which allows you to move forward, or you get a card that keeps you on the spot because you have had an accident.

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Because the game is produced in America some of the language is Americanised, such as diaper instead of nappy, but it’s not a big issue. More than likely it would be an adult reading it so it would be easy enough to substitute for more familiar language.

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It would be fab for parents, childminders, nurseries or anyone potty training more than one child at a time and is a great way to encourage turn taking and following rules.

I am giving this board game away to one lucky winner. Check out the rafflecopter form below to see how you can enter. This competition is only open to Uk mainland residents. It will close on Monday 17th February and I will notify winner.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!!

***Thè winner was Kim Campbell***

* Disclosure
I was sent this game free of charge for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Family Fever
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Growing Cress

Not that it’s the season to grow much, but I really wanted the boys to have a go at planting and growing something, and what better than cress? Even me, the most incompetent gardener on the planet can manage cress!

Cress is a brilliant thing to grow with toddlers as it’s fast growing and you can see a difference in it almost daily, but still teaches them to have some patience and that plants don’t just appear instantly. It’s also cheap (60p from Wilko’s) and you don’t need any fancy equipment to grow it.
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We stuffed some cotton wool into plastic drinking cups. Obviously, you can use proper pots and compost but we were taking the easy route!

Harrison and Alex then had fun sprinkling the seeds onto the wool and pressing them down. We then drowned watered the seeds and wrote our names on the cups. We’ve left them on the windowsill, and hopefully on the next few days we will start to see them grow!

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