The Secret Of Being A Successful Blogger

desk

What makes you a successful blogger? How do you know you’ve “made it”?

I’ve heard a lot of talk of this recently. People sharing tips and and talking about their achievements. Which is great for new bloggers who are ready to soak up advice and learn from people who have been blogging longer than they have.

But what classes as being a success?

Is it page views and unique users? Many believe that if lots of people read your blog each week, you’re a big blogger. After all, people care what you write, and they might even comment and send a link to their friends or their mum.

Is it a huge following on social media? If you have 10,000 followers on Twitter, you have really made it, right? People have invited you into their Twitter feed – they want to hear about what you’re having for tea (salmon and quinoa again? Go you…)

Making money from your blog! Now that must be what sets some bloggers apart from the rest. There are lots of people who make good money and some who even call themselves pro bloggers. They’re at the top of their game, yes?

Well actually,  I think all of the above is lovely (hey, don’t misunderstand me – anyone would get a lovely ego boost from achieving any of them) but, possibly controversially, I don’t think any of these things mean you’re automatically a successful blogger. You see, my blog is my little area of the internet where I can write what I like and I will consider myself to be a successful blogger when every post I write is fantastic. I want to make people think, make them laugh, make them react in some way. They might not agree with what I’ve written, and that’s OK, but if my posts make them respond in some way, that’s bloody great.

The bloggers that I love draw me into their posts with their language, their ability to take me on a journey. Some take beautiful photos and allow me to have a glimpse into their lives and their homes. The blogs I read regularly make my heart skip a beat when I see there’s a new post there, all fresh and waiting to be read. They approach topics from an unusual angle, or they just say what so many others are thinking. I might read a post and feel inspired, I might feel a bit heartbroken, I might feel all warm and snuggly inside – but they all make me FEEL. That, to me, is what makes a bloody good blogger.

So if I could give other bloggers one piece of advice (and really, why should I do that, what do I know?) it would be this: write what makes you happy and write about what inspires you. The rest is all smoke and mirrors.

Image: DTTSP

Meals That Go with Rose Champagne

champagne

Christmas is coming and it’s a great excuse to open a bottle of fizz. Today, I’ve got a guest post about pairing champers with different foods…

A bottle of rose champagne is a drink that can enhance, compliment, or mellow the flavours of a meal. With rose champagne, a sparkling wine, things are no different. There are certain types of food and occasions that sparkling wine is ideal for, but the suggestions below act as merely guidance. It’s important to experiment and try new combinations to get the most out of this fizzy, colorful meal accompaniment.

Spicy Foods

Pink champagne is the perfect, soothing combination for “Asian spicy foods such as Indian, Japanese and Chinese cuisines.” No more is this true than when a hot dish includes peppers, which naturally compliment sparkling wines.

Pasta and Rice Meals

Meals that incorporate pasta or rice normally have flavors that this wine holds-up well to. The smooth texture and biting acidity of a quality liquor can meet the pasta or rice flavors in the middle and work well together. Particularly, dishes mixed with saffron or tarragon combine nicely with sparkling wines, as is the case with seasoned paella.

Seafood

The fizzy, light texture of this wine makes for a fun alternative when accompanied with seafood dishes, which are entertaining meals on their own anyway. Notably, it is the creamy texture of red sparkling wine that compliments seafood dishes such as grilled tuna.

Meats

The great thing about sparkling red wine is it goes well with lots of different meats, including pork, chicken and veal. A chicken meal to try with this particular drink is chicken empanadas – a savory` meal with intense flavors. Roast veal or pork loin are also ingredients that will come alive in combination with a good bottle of this liquor.

Vegetables & Salads

Lastly, grilled vegetables, salads and asparagus all bounce off the flavours of this delectable spirit beautifully. The bitter and sweet combination works like yin and yang to blend well. A platter served with these types of vegetables, preferably grilled, will delight guests when matched with the sparkle of a quality, fizzy rose.

Learn the Rules, and Then Break Them

Consider these suggestions as a set of rules that at any time can be broken. People have their own tastes; some prefer certain flavors to be enhanced, while others like them mellowed. Wine can really enhance a dining experience, so it pays to work at developing your palate and discovering exciting new combinations.

Have you ever tried pairing rose champagne with other meals? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

Thanks to Tesco for collaborating with Not Another Mummy Blog on this post!

Tips For Styling A Boy’s Room

boy-on-car

I hear friends who have boys moan about how hard it is to find nice boys’ clothing and lovely bits and pieces for a boy’s bedroom. Plus, boys, both old and young are sometimes not the easiest people to get answers out of when it comes to bedroom design. Mostly you’ll find yourself hitting a wall of shrugs and ‘I don’t knows’. If you’re currently getting ready to redesign a boy’s room, these tips may be just what you need to style it in a way you’ll both be happy to live with.

The Essentials

The essential part of any bedroom is the bed, but it doesn’t have to be plain or boring. Styling is about matching a space to its inhabitants, and boys are often busy characters with their own unique personalities. Take a look at websites of specialist furniture stores like Super A-Mart for some unique inspiration to match these lively characters. There are beds to suit every boy these days, from bed frames with draws built in underneath to the always-popular bunk and trundle beds.

A Tough Finish

Let’s face it; boys are not particularly gentle on the things they own, so it’s important to include plenty of furniture that will be able to cope with their wear-and-tear. Choose sturdy, solid bed frames and desks, use a wash-and-wear paint on the walls and include a large rug on the floor to avoid any marks being made directly on the carpet. Avoid breakables as much as possible, and try and cover up all the sharp corners or edges of furniture that look like the perfect place for a disaster to occur.

Be Practical

Storage solutions are a must when it comes to styling a boys room, as it will keep the space tidy and allow for clear access to games and other important items. By allocating specific drawers, shelves and cupboards to specific items, the room’s owner – or you – will easily be able to dump everything back in its spot when playtime is over.

Space it Out

Kids very rarely keep still so it’s vital that their bedroom has enough space to keep up with their constant movements. Keep all furniture to the edges so plenty of space is left for them to move and play. Don’t go crazy on additional furniture either, keep it to the bear minimum. Kids can sometimes have more appreciation for extra play space than a new bookshelf. Also, avoid having too many surfaces that can be used as a dumping ground, that way the room will stay slightly less cluttered.

Make it Personal

Every boy has different interests and this should definitely be showcased in their room. Don’t go overboard though, as growing kids also tend to be mind-changers, and you don’t want to be changing the design every few months. Keep the themed elements to the flexible items of the room such as bed linen and wall displays. A neutral colour with maybe one block-coloured wall is the way to go when incorporating this style technique.

Boys will be boys as the saying goes, and there is not much you can do to change this. By keeping in mind what their nature is like as well as what they love to do in their own space, you will find it much easier to get your styling hat on.

What have been some of the best and worst themed boys rooms you’ve ever come across? Comment below and tell me.

Thanks to Super A-Mart for collaborating with Not Another Mummy Blog on these tips!

Life Before Frozen…

Anna and Elsa dolls

Let me just freak you out with a fact. A year ago, NONE of us had seen Frozen. It was released in early December 2013 here in the UK (and I believe on Thanksgiving weekend in the US) so this time last year, only a handful of people in the whole world had seen it … I’m guessing people who work for Disney, preview audiences, perhaps some press.

Can you even remember what life was like pre-Frozen? Let me remind you…

  1. Your child’s favourite movie was probably Tangled. Or Toy Story. Crazy times!
  2. If someone asked if you wanna build a snowman, your reply would probably be “yeah OK…” rather than singing: “Come on, let’s go and play!”
  3. If you heard someone say: “Take me up the North Mountain” you might think it was a saucy request. Not now, now you know that the North Mountain is where Elsa’s ice palace is.
  4. The most famous Elsa you’d heard of was a lion cub (disclaimer: this may be a reference only people over 35 may get. Watch the 1966 movie Born Free…)
  5. When someone you knew was having a little rant about something, you might have rolled your eyes and said: “Let it go!” Now? You can’t possibly say it without the other person bursting into song…
  6. You could say the name “Anna” without any small child in earshot, correcting you, saying: “No. It’s Auuuunna.”
  7. Toddlers and pre-schoolers had no idea what a fractal is. Now they know all about frozen fractals. And how they spiral all around.
  8. Your naive little mind assumed if you wanted to buy a Disney doll or dress, all you’d have to do is pop to the Disney Store. Ha! (You’d never experienced the frenzy of trying to get hold of Frozen merchandise…)
  9. You couldn’t imagine singing a Disney duet with your other half in the car. Now, every time Love Is An Open Door comes on (because you obviously have the soundtrack CD) you try to emulate the wonder that is this couple.
  10. You’d never plaited your child’s hair. These days, the request for “An Elsa plait please!” comes almost weekly.

Have I forgotten anything about LBF (Life Before Frozen)? Remind me!

Making Difficult Decisions

 

SUNSET

In a couple of weeks time, I’m going to my very first primary school open day. In a way, I’m dreading it – it’s a sign that my little girl is growing up and after a few years of us all being cocooned in the nursery and pre-school world, we’re going to be thrust into a world of timetables, homework and tests. But I’m also a bit excited – taking a look around schools that might be where she spends so much of her future, speaking to the teachers, getting a feel for the place. Choosing which schools to apply for feels like a massive responsibility – especially when you have other parents telling you their (often wildly differing) views on your local schools.

But we all have to make difficult decisions in life – whether to stay in a job we dislike or make a jump into the unknown, whether to stay in a relationship that isn’t good for us or leave, whether to move nearer our family as our parents get older and need our help.

When I think back to when my gran was in her late 80s, she moved from her family home near Edinburgh to a smaller flat in the town I grew up in. She was close by and I would regularly pop in for a cuppa and chat. As she needed more care, it was decided she would move into a care home near Edinburgh. It was a lovely place, run by nuns, and suited my Gran well.

I’ve been thinking about how you choose a care home for an elderly relative – it is one of those decisions nobody really wants to make. It reminds us how short our own lives are and how quickly we lose the people we love. But just as I can’t stick my head in the sand now, and pretend my daughter isn’t getting older and doesn’t need to go to school, it’s important that we tackle choosing a care home properly.

And just as we don’t dictate to our kids (unlike 20 or 30 years ago), we shouldn’t dictate to the older generation either. We explain why things happen to kids, and we give them options to choose from. We give them a sense of control (eve if it’s little things like which colour of t-shirt to wear). So we shouldn’t make a decision for an elderly relative either – work with them rather than decide for them. Think about what suits them and chat to them about different options and share any issues and concerns. Value their opinions. Reassure them that you’re listening to them and that they are loved and safe.

Do your homework carefully when looking at a care home. Whether you’re looking for a care home in Wiltshire like Gracewell’s Salisbury Manor or a more independent retirement setting like Kernhow Park Homes, you’ll find retirement villages scattered across the UK that could be perfect for your elderly relatives.

As well as how the place ‘feels’ when you walk in, here are some things to consider:

  • How easy is the care home to access? Is it near public transport?
  • How clean is the care home?
  • How happy do the staff look?
  • How happy do the residents look?
  • Ask to see an inspection report – they can give you a good idea of how the place is run.
  • Are the bedrooms light and airy?
  • Are there any nasty smells?
  • Is the care home, and the bedroom, wheelchair accessible and are the corridors wide enough for a walking frame?
  • Is there a garden to walk in?
  • What are the communal areas like – are the residents encouraged to mix and join in activities?

It’s such a big decision to make, but don’t put it off, and by working with your elderly relative, you can choose a care home that will be a happy, comfortable place for them to live and be cared for.

• This is a sponsored post. Image: Nate Embrey / DTTSP