Showing posts with label lifestyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lifestyle. Show all posts

DEALING WITH ANXIETY DURING A PANDEMIC

Saturday

This is a guest post from Sophie over at Girl Vs. World.

Hi, guys! It's Soph from girlvsworld here. The lovely Lauren has given me the opportunity to write a guest post for her blog regarding dealing with anxiety during a pandemic, which I'm super thankful for and really looking forward to. Today, we're going to be talking about dealing with anxiety during a pandemic.


Recently, my anxiety has been getting much worse, as being stuck inside leaves little to do other than overthink and become your own worst enemy. I have a full post about How to Protect your Mental Wellbeing Whilst in Quarantine, which may be helpful for you if you suffer from depression or any mental illness other than anxiety. 


Anyway, without further ado, let's get into my top tips for dealing with anxiety:


Woman using macbook pro
Image by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels

Don't constantly watch the news or check stats


This is the biggest tip I could give you if you're dealing with anxiety during the pandemic. Obviously be mindful and stay educated on the situation, but don't work yourself up by constantly checking the news and making yourself miserable. Yes, keeping informed on the virus is important, but so is your mental health and your days shouldn't be filled with panic and stress that is making you miserable.


Take some time out each day to watch Netflix (I have a post talking through My Top 5 Netflix Series I Watched in 2020), do something creative (write a blog post if you have a blog, or do something artistic if you like that kinda stuff!) or read a book. Taking time to do something you personally enjoy can make the world of a different when it comes to dealing with anxiety during a pandemic.


Go for a walk


This one may seem simple but it is SO important. Going for a walk is a simple yet effective, way of clearing your head and getting yourself out of the house during lockdown. Seeing other people out and about walking their dogs etc reminds you that you're not on your own and everyone else is in the same position you are.


Norfolk broads

It's also great to get out of the house so you're not staring at the same four walls all day, every day - that's not good for anybody! You are likely to feel way more refreshed after a good, long walk and more prepared to continue with your day (whether that be lounging round watching Netflix, or being productive on the laptop - either is completely fine... No judgement round here!)


Facetime your friends or family


For me, I have found this to be an absolute essential during lockdown so I don't start to feel lonely. I facetime my friends multiple times every day, especially at night when the loneliness and boredom hits a little more. Personally, my anxiety always hits more at night , so facetiming my friend is a fantastic distraction that reminds me there are always people on the other end of the phone ready to listen.


Everyone is going through the same situation, remember that. Whether you talk about silly stuff, every-day casual conversations, or have deep chats, it's great to have someone to be there. Never underestimate the power of a phone call - especially face time / video call as you get to see your loved ones face and really feel like they're right there with you.


So, there we have it! My top 3 tips on dealing with anxiety during a pandemic. If you ever need someone to speak to, you can DM me on Instagram or Twitter and I will always be there to listen to you. Stay safe, lovelies, I promise things will get better and there I always a light at the end of the tunnel. Make sure you're there to see it! 


Thank you so much, again, to Lauren for giving me the opportunity to guest post on her wonderful blog! I hope you guys enjoyed the post. 


Read next: 5 Books I wish I'd Read Sooner


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5 STEPS TO TAKING SUCCESSFUL INSTAGRAM PICTURES

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase a product through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, please see my disclaimer.

Since becoming more serious and consistent with my blog, I decided to try and grow my social media channels. Mainly Instagram and Twitter because I think these ones work best for my blog and I reached 3000 followers on Instagram recently. I did give Pinterest a good go in summer and it worked well for a while but I felt like it was taking up all of my time so I took a step back. Maybe I will try with Pinterest again but I just thought a break was needed and I haven't really gone back since.


Durdle Door, Dorset

Anyway, since I have been trying to grow my Instagram, I've been putting more care into the pictures I take and upload and I am going to be sharing how I do this. As you may have seen in my Goals for 2021 blog post, growing my Instagram is one of my main blogging goals this year.


I will also write a post all about how I am growing my Instagram in the near future too because that's the channel that is growing the quickest for me. But for now, I will just be sharing some tips on how I take my pictures. This could work really well for you or not work for you at all, it's just interesting to see different approaches in my opinion.


Tips on how to take pictures for Instagram


1. Upload content you love


Baked Camembert from The Wheatsheaf in the Woodfords, Wiltshire
In order to stand out from the millions of other people on Instagram, you need to be uploading content that is authentically you. If you are uploading content that you think your followers will like but isn't really you, then your followers aren't really going to engage with your brand and what you're all about. For example, if you're posting pictures of fashion when you are a book blogger then chances are your followers won't be interacting with your blog.

2. Try to create a theme


The accounts I see do well on Instagram are ones that have a theme. That means your photos on the grid look kind of similar to each other and there is a colour scheme. I don't actually focus on that too much because of my first point of uploading content that is you, but it can help to have a theme. This can be done by using the same preset on your photos, which I will come to in my next point.

If you are looking to create consistent branding for your Instagram then check out this Instagram Branding Pack.

3. Use Adobe Presets


Difference between ordinary image and Adobe Presets
This is not sponsored, I just use Adobe Presets for all of my Instagram pictures and it makes such a difference and really enhances my photos, making them look more professional. Presets can also help you create a theme without being inauthentic. You can take pictures that you love and that express you and enhance them and try and create a theme with presets. You can create your own presets on the Adobe app or there are a lot of people out there that create and sell great ones - whatever suits you best.

4. Treat everything as a photo opportunity


It's better to have more than enough photos because posting consistently is important for Instagram growth. If I am going out, a lot of the time I will take pictures even if something doesn't really look that Insta-worthy. You can always delete them later and they could look Insta-worthy once you have worked your magic in Adobe Presets. Even if they don't get uploaded, it's nice to create memories through photos.

5. Show your face


Lauren Kenny at Sculpture by the Lakes
For me, my most liked photos are the ones that have me in them. I read somewhere that audiences prefer to see your face across your channel because they can put more trust into you that way. I know lots of selfies and images of yourself might not fit with everyone's brand, but you should be uploading one or two, even if it's just introducing yourself. Then, people can see the face behind the account and know who they are following.

Sorting your content and deciding on the type of thing you are going to post and being consistent with it is the key to success on Instagram. At the end of the day, the images you put out there are the line between someone following you and connecting with you or not. 

If you found this post helpful, I will post about how I have been and am still growing my Instagram and will share my top engagement tips too. It's not just the pictures you post, engaging with others and using your insights is also important if you want to grow.

For more consistent branding across all of your social media channels, check out these Social Media Templates for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram Stories.

Do you have any Instagram tips? I am always looking for new strategies.


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Wool of the King

MY GOALS FOR 2021

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase a product through these links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, visit my disclaimer.

I did actually write a goals and wishes post for 2020 too but it's been such a weird year I feel like it was hard to achieve them. Although, this has been my best, most consistent year for blogging yet. All the lockdowns actually helped my blog so there's one positive from 2020, but I really am looking forward to 2021. Hopefully things will be more normal but we'll see.


Lauren Kenny at Mudeford Quay


Blogging goals


1. Reaching 5000 views on a single blog post


This is a stretch but so far the most views I have on a blog post is 3400. At the beginning of 2020 the most views I'd ever had was 1400 and that was a complete fluke. I used to get 200 views if I was lucky so if my blog keeps growing the way it has been, I really hope I can reach this goal.


2. 5000 Instagram followers


I am going to really try to grow my Instagram this year. At the start of the year I had 1700 ish (I can't remember the exact number) and I'm starting 2021 with over 3000 followers. Again, it's a steep goal but I am hoping to achieve it. I will write some posts documenting my journey on how I am intending to gain more of a following. One thing that's important to gaining followers is consistent branding. Check out these social media canva templates to help with branding across all of your social media channels.


3. 20,000 monthly blog views


Again, another steep goal but the most views I've gotten in a month so far was 15,000 views back in November - so hopefully not too far off. See how I got over 10,000 monthly views this year.


4. 100,000 yearly blog views or over for 2021


This year I reached 78,000 views on my blog for the year and I only really started properly blogging again in April, so I'm hoping with log views starting from January this time will make this a realistic goal for me. I'm definitely going to have to plan my blog and content more effectively too. Check out THE ULTIMATE yearly blogging planner to help you plan yours.


5. Make money through blogging - DONE


I love blogging without making money from it but from seeing what other bloggers can make with their blog I may as well try. It would be so amazing to be able to make even a little bit of money through a hobby that I love but I still feel like I have a long way to go for this goal. In 2020 I have done several gifted ads so I just need to go that one step further. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


6. Work on SEO and increase my DA score


This is kind of goes hand in hand with goal number 5 because I feel like most paid ads require a high(ish) domain authority score. I will be the first to admit that my SEO needs a lot of work so hopefully this is something I can improve in 2021. Again, any tips would be amazing. For those of you who don't know, a domain authority (DA) score is a score out of 100 that is to do with your SEO (search engine optimisation) and the higher your score, the more likely you are to rank higher on search engines like Google. A lot of brands will only work with you if your DA score is over 20 but some don't mind.


One resource I have started using already to help with SEO is the Google Analytics Cheatsheet mini E-book


Personal goals


1. Graduate university with a 2:1

I am hoping this is achievable for me, I usually get mostly 2:1s on my assignments so fingers crossed!! I am graduating this year, scary I know.

2. Cook more proper meals

If anyone knows me they know that I'm not really a cook. I've just always thought I was rubbish at it but that's only because I've not really tried properly. I've made a couple of things lately that were quite nice so I am going to try making more meals that I like. When I leave uni I will probably have to stop eating like a student.

3. Cut things out that aren't good for my mental health


I asked what your goals were on Instagram and this one from my friend Gee inspired me. It's so important to try and only be around things that positively affect our mental health. If something has a negative effect on me then chances are, I'm going to avoid it or cut it out this year. I am pretty good at doing this anyway but there's always room for improvement.

Post-Covid Goals


Zell am See

I would have a lot more goals if it weren't for Covid but after the way this year has gone, I have no idea what will happen. I may as well just share the things I want to do and if I can't do them, then fine but if I can it will be really nice to look back on this post and tick them off.

1. Go abroad


I LOVE travelling and going away and if we can, it will probably be the first thing I'd want to do. I don't even mind where I go but it would be so lovely to get away. We can hope!

2. Celebrate my birthday out of the house


This year, I spent my 21st birthday in lockdown. Although I had a lovely time, it would be nice to celebrate my birthday out of the house, maybe with a meal or something.

3. Go to my summer ball


I am in my final year of university which means this year's summer ball will be my last if it goes ahead. It would be great to go and celebrate finishing uni with all my friends.

4. Have a graduation


At our uni, the graduation ceremonies are held around November, so I am hoping by then we will be able to have a proper graduation but I am not going to set my hopes too high.

What are your goals for 2021?

If you'd like to see what I got up to in 2020 then head over to my 2020 round up.

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Wool of the King

MY 2020 ROUNDUP

This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you purchase a product through these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. For more information, please visit my disclaimer.

2020 has been such a weird year, but it hasn't all been bad for me. I am going to be reflecting on my year and hopefully reminding myself that there have been some positives of 2020. This year has taught me that even the smallest positives are worth mentioning and noticing. It's been the year I've gotten most into blogging and I hope to set some new goals and do some even bigger and better things with blogging in 2021.

My 2020 Roundup


January

Jack Whitehall stood up tour

January is normally a kind of nothingy month for me. It's just after Christmas and things go back to normal. One highlight of my January was that I went to see Jack Whitehall live. Remember when you could do that? He was really funny and it was a good start to the year. My dad also turned 50, he's not going to like me for mentioning that. We had a lovely meal for him at Piazza, the Italian in Amesbury.

I also went out clubbing in January in Bournemouth for my friend Jas's birthday. Again, who remembers clubbing?

February

Mamma Mia the musical in The Mayflower

In February, I did 2 days of Work Experience at a PR company in Cardiff and I had a little hotel stay in Cardiff for one. I really enjoyed my time there and hadn't been to Cardiff before. I'd love to go there again. 

I also went with Joe for some lovely afternoon tea in London for Valentine's Day and we went to the Sea Life Centre in Waterloo.

My favourite part of February was going to see Mamma Mia the musical at the Mayflower in Southampton with my mum and grandma. It was so good!

March

Amsterdam Canals

March was the month that everything changed and everyone in the UK started to realise that Covid-19 wasn't going anywhere. I went to visit Joe at the beginning of March and we had the best time. We went to Bubba Gump in Leicester Square and we went to London Zoo too. That was the last time I saw Joe until July.

Just before the lockdown in the UK, I flew to Amsterdam with my friends and it was such a weird experience. We had a great time, however, the day after we got there everything started to shut down and it got a little bit scary. Once we came home from Amsterdam, everything in the UK shut down.

April

Sausage Roll birthday cake

My 21st birthday was in April, in the week where we saw the first big spike of Coronavirus deaths. I had booked to go to Rome and had plans to go to Bristol too but these plans had to be cancelled. Regardless, I still had a really good 21st and was able to appreciate the small things. Read all about how I spent my 21st birthday in lockdown.

The rest of April just consisted of working from home and a lot of sangria over the bank holidays. I also started properly weekly blogging in April. Before that, I was never really committed but I haven't stopped weekly blogging since.

May 

Lauren Kenny garden party

May must have been when mum, dad and I got really bored because I've gone through all my photos and we had a lot of themed nights in and we even gave Hollie a bath because she couldn't go to the groomers.

I was supposed to be at Bournemouth 7s festival in May so we had a festival garden party of our own at home. We also had beer pong nights, a VE Day party and made lots of Mars Bar rice crispy cakes: Recipe here.

June

21 birthday balloons

In June, Joe and I had our 2nd anniversary, we just had to celebrate it over facetime. Mum and dad had their 30th wedding anniversary in June too, and their friends sent them a cheese hamper which was the best part!

June was when you were allowed to go in people's gardens so my family friends threw me a 21st party in their garden because I couldn't have one before, socially distant of course.

July 

Sculpture by the Lakes Dorset

In July, I attended my first ever blogging event and went for a PR visit to Sculpture by the Lakes. I had the best time and would love to go to more blogging events. I also went strawberry picking with mum in the beginning of July, I love doing that in summer.

July was when the first national lockdown ended so I was finally allowed to see Joe again and some of my family after 4 months! Mum and dad bought a hot tub too so that was a highlight of the summer. I also went out for my first meal in months and it was amazing. 

August

Lincoln

August seemed a lot more normal than any of the other months. I finished my year marketing internship in August and managed to go to Lincoln to visit one of my friends and had the best time. 

Celebrating being allowed to go out again, we went to a cheese and wine bar and went out for cocktails. I went to see Joe in London for the last time before we moved to Bournemouth. We went to Battersea park because we could walk there from his flat and didn't want to come into contact with too many people, and it was so nice! Ended up getting so many steps in too. 

Towards the end of August, I got to watch one of my best friends do a skydive for charity and it was safe to say that I was a lot more scared watching than she was doing it. 

September

Seafood platter in Hastings

I moved back to Bournemouth on the 1st of September and it was really weird being in student housing again after a whole year of being at home and working. Due to not being able to see any of my friends for my birthday, I went out with a few friends for cocktails at Be at One in Bournemouth. They gave me a voucher to spend for my birthday so we used it on cocktails there.

Joe moved back a little later than me so I went to visit him in Hastings before he moved back and we had the most amazing seafood platter.

I was lucky to get a couple of nights out and bottomless brunches in with my friends before Covid-19 started picking up the pace again. One night out was an ABBA night and I LOVE ABBA!

October

Pitbull fancy dress

This was probably the worst month for me because it started off with me actually catching Covid-19. I was quite ill with it and it really got me down but now I feel lucky to not have had it any worse than I did. I also lost my sense of taste and smell for 5 weeks which was quite tragic but I appreciate being able to taste now more than ever! 

I had to isolate by myself in my room so my housemates wouldn't catch it and luckily they didn't. I won't lie, it was a really lonely time but I got through it which is the main thing.

After I isolated and got rid of the virus, I was able to start seeing people again. I went to Bingo Lingo in Southampton for one of my friends' birthdays and started working with my housemate's clothing company, Seven Nights Clothing. You are now reading the blog post of the Creative Copywriter for Seven Nights.

For Halloween, my housemate Maddie and I dressed up as Pitbull - once again supplying you with top quality content. We also went out for a bottomless brunch with our friends and that was the last time we saw them before the second national lockdown.

November

Sole bay fish and chips

Before the second lockdown, Maddie and I went to Suffolk for a little break and we had such an amazing time. After that, November was quite nothingy because we were stuck in again. I did manage to get out and do some nice walks around Dorset. It's been nice to be able to get out by the sea.

In November, I also reached my highest amount of monthly views on my blog - 15,000 views! Check out this Google Analytics Cheatsheet mini E-book to help you keep on top of your analytics.

December

Christmas mug and tree

In December, I went home from uni for Christmas. My mum and dad moved to a new house in November so I have just been getting used to it at the moment. It's really nice and Christmassy at the moment and it's in the middle of the countryside, about a 15 minute drive from my old house.

There's a really cute farm shop nearby that I talked about in my Things to do in Wiltshire post and we have been getting brunch from there. I've also been watching lots of Christmas films, wrapping presents and preparing for Christmas.

How has your year been? I will be posting my new year goals next weekend!

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Wool of the King

TOP 10 CHRISTMAS FILM RECOMMENDATIONS

One of my favourite things to do to get in the holiday mood is to watch Christmas films! If you celebrate Christmas, I have some suggestions lined up for you that you need to watch! I hadn't seen a lot of Christmas films before because I have kind of had my favourites since I was a kid, then I would just watch those every year without seeing any new ones. This year, because we've been in lockdown, I have made it my mission to watch more Christmas films that I haven't seen. If you're like me and watch the same ones every year, then why not try watching some of my suggestions?


cosy hot chocolate and gingerbread man
Photo by Nadi Lindsay from Pexels.


1. The Grinch


I think the Grinch is probably my favourite Christmas film. I really loved the new Dr Seuss animated Grinch that came out a few years ago. It's just really visually pleasing with the colours and all the Christmas decorations. The animated version is available to watch on Netflix.


2. Home Alone 1 & 2


I love Home Alone 1 & 2 so much! I know there are other but they really don't appeal to me as much without the original cast. Even if you don't like Christmas these are still enjoyable because it just shows the struggles of little Kevin when he gets left behind by his family at Christmas in a comedic way. Both films are on Disney+.


3. Santa Claus 1, 2 & 3


All 3 of The Santa Claus films are classics. I really like watching any of these in the lead up to Christmas just because they are all about Santa Claus and getting the toys to children - it's just cute all round. These are also on Disney+.


4. Miracle on 34th Street


Can you believe I only watched this film recently? This is my mum's favourite and she always tells me to watch it but I haven't until a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed it and it's definitely in my top favourites now.


5. Love Actually


I am just going to make the assumption that 99% of you have already seen Love Actually if you're from the UK? However, you never know. If you haven't, you must! It basically has every British famous person ever in it and it's just a film all British people seem to watch at Christmas time.


6. Christmas with the Kranks


Again, this film was new to me this year. It's not the most amazing Christmas film I've seen but I did enjoy watching it. 


7. A Christmas Carol


There are so many versions of this film and all of the ones I've seen seem to be pretty good. The Muppet's Christmas Carol and Mickey's Christmas Carol on Disney+ are cute to watch too!


8. Elf


I've seen so many people on social media watching Elf this year, I have only watched it a few times but it's such a classic for so many people. I'm not usually a fan of Will Ferrell films but I don't mind this one because it's Christmas.


9. The Holiday


The Holiday is another one I had only watched recently. It's definitely a Sunday afternoon Christmas chick flick.


10. Nativity


I think I had only seen bits of Nativity when it had been on TV but this year I watched it all the way through and I really enjoyed it. I need to watch 2 and 3 now to see if they're any good.


What are your favourite Christmas films? Are there any not on here that I need to watch?


Join my mailing list for exclusive content and resources here.


Looking for more Christmas content? Check out my Christmas activity ideas post, featuring some of your favourite bloggers.


Wool of the King

CHRISTMAS ACTIVITIES TO DO AT HOME

This year has been quite a depressing one for so many people. If you celebrate Christmas, it could be fun to do some festive activities at home to get you into the celebrating mood. I have compiled a list from several bloggers and asked them their favourite Christmas activity to do at home. After reading this post, make sure you check out all of their blogs too!

Christmas Activity Ideas to do at Home


Christmas Wreath
Photo by Oleg Zaicev from Pexels.

1. Make a Gingerbread House - A Girl with a View.

This is such a classic Christmas activity and there’s a reason for that - it’s a good ‘un! I never used to be into making gingerbread houses until recent years but now it really helps me to start feeling festive and ready for Christmas. I am by no means a baker so I take the cop-out route and buy a gingerbread kit and focus on the decoration but, if you want to go hardcore then you can even make the gingerbread yourself and feel like you’re on bake off at the same time! I am by no means a baker or decorator so I can’t say that my gingerbread houses ever look that amazing but it’s the thought that counts. This is one of my favourite activities to do to make me feel ready for Christmas, it’s such a fun way to spend a cosy afternoon especially if you have some Christmas music or film in the background!

2. Socially Distanced Exchange Gifts and Virtual Get Together with Friends - Pieces of Liz. 

During Christmas season, my friends and I usually plan a get together consisting of dinner and exchange gifts. But with COVID-19 still around, we're not doing that yearly tradition. This year's going to be a little bit different. Yes, we're still going to have exchange gifts but instead of giving it in person, we're going to have it delivered to their homes instead. As for our get together, we're taking it virtually. Zoom dinner get together so even if we're far away from one another, we still get to celebrate. 

The next few ideas are from Nyxie's Nook. 

3. Create a Christmas wreath using an old hoola hoop, fake berries, leaves, etc and some battery-operated twinkling lights. 

4. Using old toilet roll tubes and fabric you can create a nativity scene. Your can also use the same concept to create Santa, angels, reindeer etc. Great to keeps the kids entertained! 

5. Starting early you can work on a Christmas hamper for friends and family. Instead of big expensive gifts, create a gift basket full of useful things such as toiletries, snacks, photo frames with photos, tea bags etc. Anything you think that person/family would appreciate. I always include soaps, sweets and chocolate and even socks. 

6. Using old gifts bags, create gorgeous home made pictures for your friends and family. I recently created a beautiful picture for my sister using a gift bag from our wedding.

7. Festive Baking to Spread the Love - Alex Faith Writes.

One of my favourite things to do at home during the Christmas period is bake! With my Christmas jumper on and the festive music turned up loud, I love to make all kinds of Christmassy goodies to really get into the festive spirit, especially this year as going outside isn’t always an option! And, as seeing loved ones is getting a little trickier, baking them some festive treats and dropping them round to their homes, socially distanced of course, is a great way to spread some Christmas cheer and show them you care. Christmas cookies, decorated as Christmas trees, reindeer and snowmen, or even chocolate orange brownies, are my personal faves. There’s so many great recipes online to keep you busy during the Christmas period at home, and to spread the love amongst your friends and family.

8. Making DIY hampers to give away as gifts - Aimsy's Antics

My idea for a Christmas activity at home is making up your own hamper to give away as gifts. This can either be from shop-bought items or having a go at making some bits yourself. I love adding in some homemade cinnamon sugar almonds, jams/chutneys or biscuits. Some can be made further in advance, like the jams and others closer to the gift dropping time so that they stay fresh, like the almonds or baked goodies. I guess this is lots of activities broken down into one, so making the goodies and then packaging them up all pretty. The best bit is, if you make extra you can keep some of the goodies for yourself too!

9. Creating mason jar snow globes - Rach Talks Business

My Christmas activity idea is creating mason jar snow globes. They are easy to make and very affordable! All you need is a mason jar, a little tree ornament, glitter, some warm water, clear glue and a glue gun (not essential). You first glue your ornament of choice to the lid of the mason jar. Secondly put a spoonful of clear glue into the jar with warm water and mix. Then add the glitter, you can play around with how much! Then finally screw the lid back onto the jar. Make sure it is super tight! There you have your own mason jar snow globes, perfect to keep children entertained but just as fun for the adults. Get creative, I can not wait to see what you come up with!

10. Creating Christmas crafts - Tales of Belle

A great activity to do at home with kids is to make DIY Christmas crafts. This past weekend my daughter made Christmas cards by colouring and drawing on a blank piece of paper and adding stickers. You can then mail the cards to extended family members that you will not be able to see this year. You can also make DIY Christmas decorations with kids such as making cotton ball snowmen on construction paper, decorating paper plate Christmas trees, creating tissue paper wreaths, and painting salt dough ornaments. The ideas are endless and you can use items you have around your home, and most importantly, it is a fun activity for kids!

I'd love to know your favourite Christmas activities! Be sure to check out all of these wonderful bloggers who took the time to share their ideas.

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Wool of the King

5 THINGS TO DO IN WILTSHIRE UK

When I'm not living in Bournemouth for university, I live in Wiltshire, UK. I will always say that there is nothing to do in Wiltshire, so this list as well as for my readers, is for me, to remind me of what there is to do when I'm at home. If you live in Wiltshire or want to visit after the lockdown, then here are some ideas of what to do while you're there.


Things to do in Wiltshire


1. Caen Hill Locks

Caen Hill Locks is placed on the Kennet and Avon canal near Devizes. It's a really nice place to go for a walk or picnic. Wiltshire has a lot of countryside walks but this one is different because you get to see the canal and the boats on it.

Caen Hill Locks

2. Longleat

Longleat and Center Parcs are very well known in Wiltshire. Longleat is a safari where you can drive through or go on a bus and see the animals from your window. There is also a zoo and lots more things to do when you've finished driving around. Just try not to drive through the monkey enclosure, they can be pretty ruthless with your car. It's a great day out for families.

3. Cholderton Farm Shop.

I really love the farm shop in Cholderton. It's only a small shop but they serve great breakfast and lunch, you can sit outside too to appropriately social distance. My favourite thing to go for is the brie and bacon panini. They have chickens walking around outside as well which is a bit more exciting than your normal breakfast or lunch out. Proper countryside.

Cholderton Farm Shop

4. Rosebourne

I mentioned Rosebourne in my Top Places to Eat Out in and around Salisbury post. OK, this one is actually in Hampshire but not by much. I'd describe Rosebourne as a shop / restaurant / garden centre / farm shop. It has it all. I love going there for lunch and then wandering around the shop after and recently they've had their Christmas decorations out which definitely makes the shopping more exciting. A lot of their food in the shop is quite high end and some of it can be a little pricey but good for a treat.

5. Stonehenge

This is a pretty obvious one as Stonehenge is world famous. If you are visiting Wiltshire, Stonehenge is a must! You can visit Stonehenge through the visitor's centre and hear all about the World Heritage Site. Or, if you just want to see Stonehenge briefly, you can drive past on the A303. However, I would recommend walking so you don't potentially cause a car accident. You can walk up past Woodhenge in Amesbury and you will be able to see it from a little further away.

Stonehenge

Have you ever been to Wiltshire?

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SMALL BUSINESS CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE

*This post contains PR samples for review and affiliate links meaning I may earn a small commission when you buy through my links at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own and I would never recommend any products that I don't deem of benefit to my audience. For more information, please see my disclaimer.


I am so excited to be sharing my first proper Christmas gift guide post. A couple of years ago I wrote a post on buying gender neutral Christmas gifts, but it was mainly just ideas and not really a full comprehensive list. After the year we've had with the pandemic, it is increasingly important to support small businesses. Therefore, I will be sharing some of my favourite small businesses which I think sell products that would make great Christmas gifts.


Lifestyle


Inside the Fragrance


Alisha from Inside the Voyage blog has started selling the most amazing smelling wax melts. They are such good value for money and I can't recommend these enough! Perfect for a relaxing, self-care evening. 


Inside the Fragrance wax melts


Needle & Stitch


Paulina has very recently started Needle & Stitch. She is making really cute felt keyrings at the moment that would make great stocking fillers!


Melissa Mary Creates


Melissa sells homemade crafts on her Etsy page. These include conker wreaths and really pretty candle jars.


Asia Jade Beauty


Over on Asia's Instagram page, she sells dupes of designer perfumes and aftershaves such as Dior Sauvage that smell exactly like the real thing for such a good price. I have tried the 449 which is a dupe of Jimmy Choo Fever and it smells the same. I would definitely recommend these as Christmas gifts.


Asia Jade Beauty perfume


Simply Katy


Katy has an Etsy shop where she sells prints of locations and cities that she designs herself. Some of the locations include Amsterdam, Lincoln and Venice. I just really love the prints she creates and they would look great on someone's wall. They are well priced for the quality.


The Artist's Lab


Lauren from the Artist's Lab sells embroidery kits for beginners. This would be a great gift for someone creative. It would also be a good present to get someone in case of another lockdown or self-isolation. It's something to do while at home and could be a great way to unwind and get away from a screen for a while.


Earrings


Jess Adams


Jess sells really cool statement earrings over on her Etsy. I have been loving statement earrings from small businesses at the moment, they are all just so unique.


Art by Kateh


Kate makes the most beautiful resin earrings with pressed flowers. These would make great gifts for people who love earrings like this.


Alice Lizzy


I haven't seen any earrings like the one Alice makes before. They are so unique and look so cool! Again, they are statement earrings so would be great for people who wear earrings. Alice has made a Christmas gift box containing 4 pairs of polyclay earrings for the value of £17, saving you £7! You can add an optional personal message with this gift box and the packaging is 100% recyclable.


Use the code GIFTGUIDE20 for 20% off when buying any product from Alice Lizzy.


Alice Lizzy Earrings


Stationary


Amanthis


Amanthis is a black-owned small stationary shop with a great range of helpful products. My go-to product from Amanthis is the Master Mindset Diary. I couldn't live without it at uni. For more information, read my review of the Master Mindset Diary by Amanthis.


Amanthis Master Mindset Diary


Robin and Thorn


Robin and Thorn is a small lifestyle shop. They have all sorts of products including stationary. I use their list pads for my to-do lists and I find it really helpful.


Gifts for bloggers


Jordanne Lee Creative on Gumroad


Jordanne from Of a Glasgow Girl has some really helpful products on her Gumroad including Instagram highlight covers and blogging planners.


Use code LAUREN20 for 20% off your order.


Jenny in Neverland on Gumroad


Again, Jenny has some really helpful products on her Gumroad. Her products are particularly helpful for blogging beginners.


Stocking fillers


Carfume


Carfume is a luxury car scent business. These would make great stocking fillers for drivers as we all love to have nice smelling cars.


Carfume


Children's gifts



Abi from The Peg Place, makes really sweet peg dolls for children. She has made Disney princess dolls, Frozen dolls and Toy Story dolls too so far, among others. These would make lovely Christmas gifts for little ones and they are even more special because they are hand-made and eco friendly.


What are some of your favourite small businesses to shop from?


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Related Read: Christmas Activities to do at Home


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3 DAYS IN SUFFOLK

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the introduction of a lot of travel restrictions, I have been much more appreciative of seeing different parts of the UK. In summer, I spent 48 hours in Lincoln and 48 hours in Hastings.


Before the second lockdown, I was able to get away to Suffolk and stay in a lovely house there with my friend Maddie. It was a really old, beautiful house in the middle of the countryside. The house was a short drive away from some pretty beaches and seaside towns so we were able to explore them.


Wroxham Norfolk Broads


Day 1


On the first day, we wandered round a town called Aldeburgh and walked along the beach. There were quite a few independent shops there and lots of really cute dogs! We had an ice cream there and then went back to the house. I did some uni work in the house too - the grind never stops in third year.


After going back to the house, we decided to go out for dinner. We went to this Italian / pub called The Angel which I thought was a little strange but the food was delicious. I tried scallops for the first time in my seafood linguine.


Southwold Sea


Day 2


Similar to day 1, we walked around another little town and beach in Southwold. Again, they had lots of little shops and really cute dogs! Not far from Southwold, we went to this hidden away fish and chip shop called Sole Bay Fish Company. I might even go as far as to say it was the best chippy I've been to. You could get alcoholic drinks there, and you could sit in too. They didn't just have your classic cod, chips and mushy peas. They also had muscles, lobster, crab, you name it. I had muscles and chips and they were amazing!


After that, we went back to the house and played some board games and had an amazing cheese board. I have to shout out to Maddie for this, she really put on an amazing spread!


Sole Bay Fish Company

Cheese board platter


Day 3


I think Day 3 was my favourite day. We took a trip up to the Norfolk Broads and went on a boat around the broads. I really love going on boat trips, we went on one in Amsterdam around the canals too and that was really fun. It's probably just a novelty for me because it's something I only do when I go away.


There were some amazing holiday homes on the Broads, it was just so relaxing and fun on the boat. It did get really cold really quickly though.


Norfolk Broads


Where is your favourite place to visit in the UK?


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Related Read: 5 Things to do in Wiltshire UK


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PLACES YOU NEED TO VISIT IN DORSET

Since I have been studying in Bournemouth for the last couple of years, I've visited a lot of nice places in Dorset. We are lucky here to be surrounded by lots of beautiful places, and to be right by the sea. I've put together a list of all of my favourite places in Dorset that I have visited so far. There's still some places I haven't been to and things I haven't done, so I'm going to be making a bucket list for my final year of university. I may post it on my blog and tick it off as the year goes by so keep a look out for that.


Places you need to visit in Dorset after lockdown


Bournemouth Beach


Obviously, I have to put Bournemouth Beach as the first destination on the list as I live in Bournemouth. It's one of my favourite places to go in the country. It's such a lovely beach to visit all year round, that's why it's so popular. There's also lots of things to do nearby like the Oceanarium and the arcade.


Sandbanks


Sandbanks

Only 3 miles from Bournemouth Beach, Sandbanks is one of the most expensive places to live in the UK. Sometimes, I like to go there just to drive past the huge houses there. It's half beach, half harbour at sandbanks and it's just an all round nice area.


Hengistbury Head


Still on the beach, Hengistbury head is a great place to go for a walk and you will usually see lots of cute dogs. It's basically just a big hill on the beach and once you get to the top, you can see amazing views of the sea and you can see all the way to Christchurch and Mudeford too.


Poole Harbour


I really love going to Poole harbour and pretending I'm rich and deciding what boat I'd have if I was. Maybe one day, I can dream! They usually run cool boat trips from Poole harbour too, with some going to Swanage and Brownsea Island. I would check that though because of Covid.


Corfe Castle


corfe castle

Corfe Castle had been on my list of places to visit for a while and it's such a lovely village. The actual castle is really high up so has great views of the rest of the village.


Swanage


Swanage is just your typical seaside town which I love. There are lots of little independent shops there and it's just a really pretty place. The arcade there is really fun too!


Sculpture by the Lakes


Sculpture by the lakes Dorset

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to visit Sculpture by the Lakes near Dorchester on a PR trip. It's such a tranquil place and a really great day out. Read all about my trip to Sculpture by the Lakes.


Tyneham Abandoned Village


Tyneham is a village that was abandoned during World War II and no one ever returned. It's an interesting visit but is a very little place so it doesn't take very long to look around. I believe it is only open to the public for visiting on Saturdays but it's really interesting to see.


Durdle Door


durdle door

Durdle door is one of the most beautiful places in the whole of England in my opinion. I don't feel like I need to explain this one - the picture says it all.


Do you live near any nice places to visit? Until the lockdown is over, stay safe x


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Related Read: 48 Hours in Hastings


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GET TO KNOW ME Q&A

 *This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through this link, I will receive a small commission that is no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclaimer.


I recently asked on my Instagram for questions that could form a Q&A blog post and I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of questions I received.


I was asked all sorts of questions about blogging and just about life in general, so without further a do I will start answering them!


Lauren Kenny Wool of the King


Get to know me!


1. How did you get into blogging?


I started my blog in 2016 while I was in college. Back then, it was just a way of me writing my thoughts and I didn't know how long I'd actually stick to writing. It wasn't until this year that I've started keeping up with regular posting and this year has been my best year stats and opportunities for things like reviews and press events.


2. What are your tips for coping mentally at uni?


This is a hard one because university can be really draining sometimes. My advice would just be to force yourself to stay motivated and on top of everything. A lot of the time I won't feel motivated, but as soon as I get the tiniest bit of motivation to do work, I will force myself to try and do as much work as possible, just to make the most out of feeling motivated.


It can be so hard to balance everything so I would recommend keeping a diary and staying really organised. If you feel like you have your life together, you will feel better about university. And if you don't, then it's a fake it til you make it kind of situation. Read my tips on how to stay organised at university for more information.


3. What is your favourite trip away that you have been on?


Definitely either my trip to Sorrento, my trip to Amsterdam, or the Christmas markets in Germany. I find it so hard to pick a favourite because then were all so different. I hope to go on many more trips away but then it would make it even harder to pick a favourite!


4. What's the best food you've had abroad?


I have had some really good food abroad but I'd have to say the pizza in Sorrento was the best. You just can't beat Italian pizza!


5. Who is your favourite blogger?


Again, so hard to pick a favourite but I can give you my top 5 in no particular order:


6. What do you enjoy writing about most?

My favourite thing to write about is Travel. I just love going on trips away, writing about it and taking lovely pictures. I wish I could travel more so I could write about travelling more. For now, I will just try to do what I can in terms of Covid and my student budget.

Lauren Kenny on Stonehenge Chair Salisbury

7. What is the best way to increase traffic to your blog?

Basically just promote, promote promote. Twitter is the best source of traffic for me at the moment. I have dabbled with Pinterest because I know some people get millions of clicks form that, but I haven't gotten on with it just yet. Generally, the more effort I put into promoting my blog, the better results I get. If you want to learn more about how I promote my blog, you can read how I got 10k blog views in one month.

8. What is the most difficult thing about uni life?

For the most part I love uni life. It can get really tough at times though. The hardest thing is probably that you can feel quite lonely at times but you are surrounded with lots of people who are going through the same thing so that's comforting. Also, I was not ready for the third year workload and I can't cook very well so it's difficult when I don't have my mum to cook for me anymore. Joking aside, I do like uni life and everyone is probably feeling the same as you if you are finding it tough.

9. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

This is a hard one because I am always trying to be the one who's always in a good mood and I normally find myself giving the advice rather than someone giving me advice. There's currently nothing that stands out to me apart from obvious things like don't compare yourself to others. If I think of anything that stands out, I'll add it to the post.

10. What's your favourite animal?

Dogs!!!

11. What is your favourite memory from your first year of uni?

Probably when me and Joe got dumped in the same week, then our flatmate Kitty, got us a cake that said "Dumped and Dumpeder" and now me and Joe have almost been together for 2 and a half years!

12. Greatest blogging achievement?

Reaching 11k monthly views in August! I used to have such Impostor's Syndrome with my blog and that nobody read it, so to see so many people actually reading it makes the time and effort I put into blogging worth it.

13. How do you keep the motivation to write?

Honestly, with some difficulty. Sometimes when posts don't do as well as you'd like them to it can be hard. However, even though it feels good to reach goals and get good stats, stats aren't everything. I really enjoy getting positive comments mainly. Blogging is also just something I enjoy doing anyway, even if no one reads my posts.

I mostly find that keeping organised helps me with motivation too. Using a blog planner definitely helps! Here is The ULTIMATE Blog planner from Of a Glasgow Girl that has everything you need to stay on top of blogging.

14. How are you feeling about final year of uni?

Truly terrified. I am excited to be living with my friends but I know how quickly time goes and I really don't want to finish uni. I'm also just not feeling too positive about online uni and the workload but I'm going to try my best. I'm definitely more confident after having a year's marketing internship though.

15. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I love writing and I love going out and taking pictures for my blog. It's also made me connect with a lot more people to. There are so many great bloggers out there that have so much in common with me. I would have never connected with them if I wasn't blogging.

16. If you could have 3 people round for dinner, who would it be?

Hm so the first person would have to be Gordon Ramsay so he can make the food because I can't cook. Clever! I've also always wanted to try Michelin Star level food. Secondly, I'd invite Lana Del Rey because she's my favourite. And the final person would have to be David Attenborough because I just find him so interesting and cool.

That's the end of my questions. I really enjoyed answering these so if you have any more questions for me, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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Related Read: 20 Facts About Me.

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THE GOLDEN BLOGGERZ AWARD

What is the Golden Bloggerz Award?

It’s an award made by Golden Bloggerz to motivate and reward all these amazing bloggers that work daily to serve their audience and they worth more recognition. Their priority is to do their best to help their readers solve their problems & reach their goals!

Golden Bloggerz Award

Rules 

1. Place the award logo on your blog. 
2. Mention the rules. 
3. Thank whoever nominated you and place a link to their website. 
4. Mention the awards creator and add a link to that too. 
5. Tell your audience three things about you. 
6. Answer your nominator’s questions. 
7. Nominate 10-20 people who deserve this award. 
8. Let the nominees know by messaging/commenting on their social media or their blog. 
9. Ask your, nominees, any five questions that you want. 
10. Share 2-3 links to your best posts. 

Thank you to Nic's Adventures for the nomination. Be sure to check out her Golden Bloggerz nomination post. Also a big thank you to Chris from Golden Bloggerz for initiating the award.

Three Things You May Not Know About Me

1. I have been blogging since 2016.
2. I can't ride a bike.
3. I am a really fussy eater.

Visit my 20 Facts About Me post for more.

Nic's Questions

What are your favourite seasons of the year?

My favourite season has always been and will always be summer I think. It just brings me so much happiness. I feel like there's so much more to do and the sun just brings everyone's mood up. I love everything associated with summer too like the fashion, travel and of course Pimms and Sangria.

Dark or Milk Chocolate? 

Definitely milk chocolate. I could eat dark chocolate, but it really wouldn't be my first choice. My favourite chocolate is Cadbury's giant buttons. When it's ladies week, nothing else will suffice.

What does blogging do for you in terms of happiness?

Blogging in general makes me really happy, especially when I receive positive comments on my blog. It's just so nice to know that people read what I have to say. Even if no one read my posts, I still really like writing about what I've been up to and to share my advice. It's a nice thing for me to have to keep all of my memories in one place if nothing else. Sometimes, I will get stressed about what to write, as everyone does but overall, I really love blogging.

What are your favourite desserts to make? 

I am not really a baker and I don't eat dessert that often, so I would have to say cheese and charcuterie. I know that's technically not made and isn't a dessert but it's something people often eat in the evening. I would just love to choose all my favourite cheeses and put on a spread. 

Tea or coffee?

I don't drink either and this is something I have to explain to people a lot. I just don't like tea or coffee. The only hot drinks I'll have are hot chocolates or chai lattes in the winter.

My Nominees

8. Becc4 

My Questions 

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self?
3. What's your favourite way to spend a self care day?
4. Dogs or cats?
5. If you knew you would have your last meal tomorrow, what would you choose to have?

Some of my favourite posts


Sculpture by the lakes

I wrote this blog about my first ever blogger press event and I had so much fun there. I loved taking pictures of all the sculptures and was so glad I had the opportunity to go.


Auschwitz Birkenau

This is one of my older blog posts from 2017. I had such a moving trip to the Auschwitz in Poland and I really enjoyed writing about my experience.


Homemade Bramble Cocktail

The cocktails post was a lockdown project for my mum and me. We had so much fun making the cocktails and getting pictures of them. I am hoping to do a part 2 soon with some more easy to make cocktails so keep a look out.

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