The Value of SEO for Bloggers

SEO for BloggersI’ve been blogging for many years now and hear the SEO acronym thrown about quite a lot.  I could work harder on it but there is just so much information out there on the topic that its actually really hard to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Google algorithms appear to change quite a lot and probably to my own detriment, did I stop paying much attention to SEO issues sometime back. It all just seemed too complicated. I get loads for spam mail from companies promising me extra traffic but I don’t trust unsolicited email any more than salesmen knocking on my door offering me cheap paving deals.

Every now and again I decide to SEO optimise my site and end up just reeling from all the information out there. I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit recently and would love a bit of expert help to get myself back on track, and to help out an ecommerce store that I have been trying to help but isn’t receiving any interest yet.

There are companies that offer to SEO optimise my site for me but when I take on a project I like to learn how to do things myself. There are terrible tales out there about people promising the earth and charging a lot to do it and in the end the website owners find themselves badly penalised or even removed by Google. If I learned how to do SEO myself, I would be able to tailor my exact outcomes to my hopes for the business, as well as being able to adapt the techniques for any future changes of direction.

I’ve seen and been invited to SEO courses in groups but I find it hard to concentrate in classes and they never seem to be a time or location that is convenient. Many bloggers work around their families and each has their niche, so what we need is an SEO course relevant to our personal brand and business style. SEO theory in a public class is great, but it’s hard to ask the specific questions that you need the answers to when twenty or more other businesses are also expecting perfect solutions.

This is where SEO Training London come in. For less than £500 they provide a one to one SEO tuition course that lasts four to five hours so it’s a prefect fit for school hours. London based, they can even travel out to you, if travelling to them will make the school run a bit tight. The course looks totally comprehensive and has received excellent reviews. With the amount of time I have wasted sifting through irrelevant information on-line about SEO, this option sounds really tidy – they do the hard work for you and present it in an intensive few hours that are easily understood by novices and more experienced website owners alike.

Whilst I haven’t taken the course myself yet, It is now firmly on my “want” list for my online business .

Review: APE by Monkey Nutrition

apeAs a runner and heath-concious person, I do use supplements to support my body as well as eating a lovely fresh healthy diet.  Monkey Nutrition offered to give me some advice about performance-boosting supplements from their range.  I provided them with an overview of my training requirements and to my surprise they suggested a testosterone booster.

I was hesitant about accepting, after all, I am a lady and don’t really want to turn into a hairy deep-voiced aggressive creature.  I did a little research and found that sometimes women do take testosterone for a number of reasons and actually at my age (42) I already have less in my body than I did twenty years ago.

So I said yes and started popping a handful of tablets and capsules at breakfast.  There are eight tablets/capsules/softgels to eat at one time which is quite a lot, I thought.  I unfortunately had a cold for the first two weeks and felt pretty rotten anyway but I carried on.

I’ve finished the month now and I am happy to report no excessive hair growth or anything worrying.  What I have noticed is a slightly more oily skin – which is good because mine is a bit too dry –  and an energy boost.  Bearing in mind that this is a trial of one person with no control group, I’d say that they did give me an energy boost and I am sure I have lost a bit of belly fat.  Considering I was poorly for the first few weeks, and not really exercising, this is a nice surprise for me.  I’ve also managed to knock a full minute per mile off my running, but again this could possibly be a coincidence.

I’m not 100% sure but I do think this handful of pills seems to have enhanced my body’s energy levels and performance.  It’s certainly made me curious to try other testosterone-boosting supplements, though maybe with a few less pills to take.

 

Review & Giveaway: Dobble

Never having heard Esvedium Games or Dobble before, I accepted the challenge of reviewing it with my fun-loving five year old.

dobble Collage

It comes in a sturdy tin, small enough to carry in your bag for emergency entertainment purposes and can be played by two to eight players at one time.  There are also a number of ways that you can play it, or, even invent one of your own. It relies on your speed of visual perception to match animals together and we really enjoyed it’s energetic, fast-paced and kept the attention of the Cub for a good few rounds.

Here’s a quick snippet here:

We reviewed Dobble Kids but it’s also available for the age of 6+ in the form of Dobble, which I have read is equally entertaining.

With the summer holidays coming, this would be an excellent purchase for use in the home and as a travel game.

Esdevium want to give away a copy of Dobble or Dobble kids to one lucky reader of my blog.

Entry is via the rafflecopter form below, UK &  europe, no cheating please :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

6 Solutions for the Most Common Prom Dress Wardrobe Malfunctions

Solutions For Your Prom Dress MalfunctionsOh, Prom Night. That night when girls everywhere compete with one another for attention, long gazes, and Instagram likes.

And if there’s one thing for certain, no girl wants to be the one who has a public wardrobe malfunction on Prom Night. No way, no how.  Nuh-uh. Especially with YouTube, Instagram, and SnapChat waiting in the wings to make the experience go viral.

So that’s why we wrote this guide. This guide is intended to help our high school friends avoid the devastation that could come with a Prom Night wardrobe malfunction, and the embarrassment of what Mean Girls might do with such a malfunction.

Let’s begin with the basic stuff and work our way up to the life-threatening devastation only teenage girls can understand.

1. Underwear Lines

I know some ladies will say that it’s easier to not wear any underwear on uber-fancy occasions like prom because they can’t chance the underwear lines under prom dresses 2016. Well, ew. I can’t chance the one string holding my dress up to snap and then have nothing below. Lacy thongs are virtually invisible, but aren’t a hit with moms. And they are pretty uncomfortable. I hate feeling like I got “hungry bum” all night with a string down my behind. Gross.

String bikini underwear, same thing. I prefer a hybrid; either high-waist or something a little more J-Lo. They don’t cover the whole butt, but they sure cover more than a thong, they look fancy, and they leave no trace. Next!

2. Blah Nail Polish

Either you over-do it and smudge it –or your nail polish chips off. In either case, fret not. Less is more. Take all of the nail polish off and go au naturelle with a clear coat.

3. Random Stains

Ok so you’re out about town and there it is. Mustard stain. Solution: Tide-to-Go stain remover pen. Bam! Good as new –or at least it won’t stain. Do not rub it in, or you’ll make it worse. Dab it, and if it’s still there, try a little hand soap and water in the ladies room.

4. Hair Has a Mind of Its Own

Flat, stupid hair. For whatever reason, it keeps falling down, frizzing out; whatever. Solution: Braid it out or show even a little more neck with a hair bun. Most boys I know go nuts when they see the small of a girl’s neck. It’s the sexiest non-taboo part of your body you can proudly show off.

5. Torn Dress

Pack a whole lotta’ good, strong safety pins with you just in case you tear your dress. They’re easy to conceal because you can affix them to your dress in advance. Just make sure they’re in a place they can’t be prompted to open up and hurt you.

6. Horrible Fake Tan

Uh-oh. I don’t know what, but what is it with girls that try to look orange on homecoming? Seriously, ladies. Orange is not that “new black”! Orange will and has always looked silly. And if your any reason you have a mishap like this –like, you decide “hey I want a fake orange Jersey Shore-looking tan” –do it at least a week in advance, on a Friday evening (so you can hide indoors on Saturday and Sunday exfoliating the heck out of your skin). If you’re lucky, no one will notice.

Petplan Pettakeover with @petplanuk #petplan

“My name is Shadow and I like sticks.  And water.  My  very kind (clever, funny and beautiful) and responsible owner Catherine strapped a GoPro to me so that you yourselves could experience the joy of Sticks And Water.

Some special people at PetPlan provided the camera and then let us loose with our sense of adventure and creativity.

My lovely owner did swear a bit whilst editing our fun day out, but I hereby approve the following video for posting on her blog:”

 

May the force be felt with you

I came to love Star Wars a bit later in life than most and mostly thanks to the enthusiasm my son has for it.  We’ve done the films, and the games and he even owns his own Darth Maul lightsaber now too. epic yarns

We were delighted to receive these books for review.  They are a collection of “epic yarns” and depict three Star Wars movies with simple words and photos of hand-crafted felt  figurines.  Brilliant, unique and beautiful to look at too.

Jedi apprentices and little princesses will delight in this (heart)felt retelling of the Star Wars™ saga. And so will Star Wars fans of any age! The Star Wars Epic Yarns series launches with the original trilogy, and every word counts in these small but perfectly formed yarns. That’s because each volume features 12 iconic scenes, handcrafted in felt and pithily summarised in just a single word.

The creators, twin brothers Jack and Holman Wang, worked tirelessly to craft each character to exact 7:1 scale and meticulously re-create each setting and scene – bringing the felt characters on location to the desert, swamp, forest and snow.

Star Wars Epic Yarns is a perfect introduction to the saga for young readers and gift for Star Wars fans of all ages.

Jack and Holman Wang are twin brothers who grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Holman still lives. As well as being the creators of the Cozy Classics board books, Jack is a professor of writing at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, and Holman, a former attorney and middle school teacher, is an artist and author. Jack Wang is currently based in Norwich until the end of May.

 

This shows how the books were made, and the work that went into them is quite incredible:

I was worried that The Cub would think they were a little bit too young for him, but he loves them.  His reading is coming along really well at school, and now he has added Star Wars words to the many other words he can now read.

He wanted to read you all three but I cut it to the first book:

You can also win this collection, by simply completing the Rafflecopter tasks below. Good luckyarns2

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Father’s day with British Tea Lovers

happy father's day teaThe video on the British Tea Lovers’ website says it all: What DO  you buy for the Father who has everything, for Father’s Day?  After four decades of Fatherhood, and three daughters, my Dad is probably sick of socks, and ties, novelty gifts and (dare I say it?) even, beer.

Enter British Tea Lovers, who have created an unique smoky blend of loose leaf tea in it’s own specially crafted tin for Father’s Day.  Plus, who doesn’t love a handy tin too? #bonus

Being a massive Tea Lover myself, I have been happily testing this amazing blend of Ceylon Black Tea and I can indeed confirm that it is truly a rich, comforting and unique blend. After a hard day’s graft, it’s like a hug in a mug, warm, cosy and with a wonderful aroma of bonfires.

If you’ve not got a Dad, then buy it for yourself, it’s amazing, and you can use the code DAD165, plus, if you sign up to the newsetter you’ll get an extra 10% off (you can use two discount codes per order).

Check out the British Tea Lovers on Twitter and Facebook too.

 

What to Do with a Glut of Squashes and Courgettes

If you find yourself with an overabundance of delicious squashes and courgettes, to the point that you really don’t know what to do with all of them and you have already given so many away that no one else wants anymore, rest assured that there are plenty of yummy ways to incorporate them into your meals.

Check out some of the tips and recipes below to help you get rid of your glut of squashes and courgettes with ease.

Super Easy and Really Nutritious Salads

There are a lot of delicious recipes that you can prepare that include squashes and courgettes, so rest assured that there are plenty of ways to use these vegetables without getting bored. And you will be getting loads of nutrition by transforming these vegetables into salads throughout the week.

A simple marinated veggie salad is one way to go, and this is the ideal side dish for grilled foods at a summer barbeque. You can also prepare a no-cook shaved squash salad. Or you can instead opt for a more indulgent salad that consists of summer squash, walnuts, and red quinoa.

A Vegan Carpaccio

Want to add a plant-based item to your weekly menu options? Then try making a vegan Carpaccio dish that will use up quite a few of your courgettes. Use tofu, lemon juice, garlic, shallots, parsley, capers, and nutritional yeast to create a delicious ricotta. Then slice your courgettes paper-thin and arrange them overlapping on a platter after preparing them with lemon juice, olive oil, green onion, fennel, and basil.

Make a Chocolate Cake

You may not believe it, but you can use your excess courgettes to make a hearty, healthy, and indulgent chocolate cake. All you’ll need is dark brown sugar, caster sugar, unsalted butter, sunflower oil, regular or dairy-free milk, eggs or your favourite egg substitute, self-rising flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, small bits of chocolate, and grated courgettes.

Then it’s just a matter of creaming the oil, butter, and sugar together, beating the eggs and milk, and combining these ingredients. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder together before combining with the egg mix. Then add the chocolate and courgettes to the mix. Use a paper-lined tin to bake the mixture for roughly one hour at 180°C.

Make Gift Baskets for Friends

Again, when you have far too many squashes and courgettes to cook and bake with, you can always choose to give them away. But do so in a unique way by putting them together in lovely gift baskets that your friends and family will love. This is especially handy if you have a special event coming up, whether it’s a simple summer gathering or a housewarming party, and you need to bring a gift. Other gift ideas can be found on Glut.co.uk.

Now that you know what you can do with all of your squashes and courgettes, you won’t be so afraid to grow as many next year!

5 Great Ways to Upgrade Your Home on the Inside and Out

To increase the property value of your home and enjoy your house more than ever, you may need to make some upgrades. But in addition to upgrading the interior rooms of your home, don’t forget to also upgrade the exterior and your garden space. Check out the five tips below to generate some ideas on how you can upgrade your property and fall in love with your home all over again.

Add Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is really important because it is the first impression that your house makes on everyone who sees it from the street. So go ahead and spend time gardening or hiring landscapers to make your front lawn look gorgeous.

In addition to planting a garden, there are a variety of other ways to add curb appeal to your home. These include installing a new front door, adding outdoor lighting, and making over your mailbox, though you can certainly get creative and make your home the most beautiful and unique one on your street in other ways as well.

Install a Garden Room

An outdoor garden room can be used in a variety of ways. For example, you can create one that is specifically designed for use as an outdoor office, or you can instead opt to use it for relaxing, creating art, or as an outdoor play area for the kids. GardenSpaces.co.uk offers a variety of great garden rooms so you can customise the one that you want to have in your outdoor space.

Update Your Kitchen

If budget constraints are forcing you to choose just one room in your home that you can upgrade, make it your kitchen. After all, this is the main area in your home where your family entertains and spends most of their time, so definitely make it a point to focus a lot of your time and energy in keeping it modern with updated appliances, new cabinets and countertops, and great lighting.

Add New Paint Colours to the Walls

An easy way to upgrade the interior of your home is by simply adding new colours to your space. While it may be a hassle to move and cover the furniture so that you can paint, you will definitely enjoy the end result because your walls, which may be dirty or outdated, will look fresh and new again. And adding a new colour to a room can really transform it and bring it to life.

Install Eco-Friendly Elements

Eco-friendly homes are highly valuable today because everyone is trying to lead a “greener” lifestyle and save money on energy costs. There are many eco-conscious upgrades you can make, including upgrading to a tankless water heater and adding water-saving fixtures to your kitchen and bathroom.

There are many ways to upgrade your home from the inside and out. Some are easier than others, and some will require more time than others, but they will all be worth it. You’ll not only increase the home’s value, but you’ll also be creating a space that you will love to live in.

Win a four-day adventure with Steve Backshall and the Brave Bones Club!

The weather might not have been perfect this half term but this hasn’t stopped us getting out and about.  On Monday, we visited Bosworth Water Park and the Cub immediately stripped off down to his pants and ran across the sand into the newly-created paddle/swim pool.  I stood there in awe (in my coat), politely declining his enthusiastic attempts to get me to join him (I didn’t have my swimsuit/wetsuit with me ;).  I promised to join him in a few weeks when the weather was a bit (lot) warmer.

On Tuesday we went to Snibston Discovery Museum, a firm favourite of the Cub’s and well worth a visit, especially as Leicestershire County Council seem intent on closing it at the end of July. PLEASE sign the petition here  to keep it open.

Today we visited Rosliston Forestry Centre and the Cub and I built a den and searched for mini beasts amongst the trees with the kit kindly provided to us by the Brave Bones Club.  The Brave Bones Club  is an initiative championed by Cheestrings and Celebrity Adventurer Steve Backshall. It’s all about getting kids outside, building their confidence and getting them engaging in their own mini adventures.  They sent us a backpack filled with adventuring equipment – a drinks bottle, some binoculars, a magnifying glass and a really cool device that you suck bugs into for examination purposes before re-releasing them into the wild. It was a brilliant day, the Cub running wild with some of his best friends and I expect us both to sleep soundly tonight.

If you are struggling for things to do this half term, why not first of all enter a competition to win four days of mini adventures with Steve himself, here: http://www.funkidslive.com/win/win-a-four-day-adventure-with-steve-backshall-and-the-brave-bones-club/

and watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STbUPeS0ZX8

The prize is open to boys and girls aged 6 to 10, these mini adventures will be filmed and will create five online videos with how-to tips and tricks which we will publish throughout the school holidays (starring the prize winners!).

The competition closes on the 29th May 2015.  (further t&c’s on the website)

Then tomorrow, see how many of these brilliant and (even better) low cost things you can get up to:

TOP 20 LOW COST OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS TO DO WITH THEIR PARENTS (RANKED)

  1. Going to the park (60%)
  2. Throwing and catching a ball (48%)
  3. Kicking a ball (47%)
  4. Looking at wildlife (46%)
  5. Going on nature trails (45%)
  6. Playing sports (45%)
  7. Riding a bike (44%)
  8. Playing with animals (36%)
  9. Looking for wildlife (35%)
  10. Building a den (33%)
  11. Putting up a tent (31%)
  12. Riding a scooter (30%)
  13. Flying a kite (22%)
  14. Preparing a vegetable patch (18%)
  15. Identifying planets and stars (17%)
  16. Climbing a tree (15%)
  17. Skating (12%)
  18. Building a fire (10%)
  19. Learning to fish (6%)
  20. Building a treehouse (5%)