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17/03/2017

Top 5 Methods to Bust Blogger's Block | LIFESTYLE


It happens to us all, we can happily cruise along being productive and churning out some of our best work, then one day it just hits the metaphorical brick wall.  You're left questioning everything you write, your creativity flow is stunted and you've never considered giving it all up as much as you do now.  Blogger's block is just as real as writer's block, and it can be a real bitch to pull out of.
I, myself, have been suffering from writer's block since Christmas and in an attempt to pull myself out I took the advice of Charles Bukowsi - 'writing about writer's block is better than not writing at all'.

So, I've scoured the internet and picked out the top 5 that made an improvement on my blogger's block.  I hope these work for you!

1.  Change your environment

I get inspired by my surroundings, walking through cobbled streets can make me feel like I'm transported back to a simpler time or walking in a field makes me want to throw out my arms and sing about the hills and nuns... Staying in a grey room with the same scenery, smells and familiar items to distract myself with can be stagnating.  So, if you feel you're in a funk, grab the car keys or your trainers and get out of there.
Changing your environment can stimulate your senses, get your synapses firing and ideas flowing through to your fingertips again.


2.  Routine, Routine, Routine.

Routine was a big one that helped me, by setting 'blogging time' every week I felt there was structure and I could dedicate focused time rather than a bit here and there (which felt somewhat overwhelming!).  So, for instance, I know that on a Monday evening my routine is to come home from work, prepare and pop dinner in the oven, put a load of washing on and then sit on my sofa in silence with a brew.  I then sit and edit a video for the next hour until James comes home, then the laptop goes away whilst it's uploading my video.  Bam, video has been put out and my evening is still mine.
Set yourself a realistic routine that works with your life, stick to it.

3.  Workout.

A bit of a dirty word for me as I'm the laziest person going when it comes to the gym, but a workout can also get your brain engaged again.  The endorphins released from a 20 minute work out can help you accept ideas more easily and be positive about the process - it challenges the criticism your writer's block is channelling right now.  If you're not a gym bunny, then a quick walk to the shop or a swim session will also do the trick!




4.  Ditch the planners, go on a date.

I'm a big fan of this technique because it removes the pressure of feeling the need to produce content. Put away the planners and laptop, call a friend and go out for a drink.  It changes your environment, it takes your mind off the task at hand and let's you relax.  Having a good chinwag with friends and enjoying a laugh can boost your mood, which in turn releases those wonderful endorphins... Remember step 3?

5.  Remove distractions

Sometimes even opening up a page on blogger or wordpress can result in those little adverts on your sidebar distracting you, let alone your phone going off or an advert on TV catching your attention.  We live in an age where everything is trackable and marketable, the only missing factor to make that sale cycle work is your focus.  So, remove your focus from them - take it back and work out a way you can pay attention to your work.  For me, I like to turn off everything and work in silence - even music can make it hard for me to concentrate - I need an environment I can zone out within and hear nothing but the key strokes on my laptop.
Try playing about with volume levels, whether you work better with background noise and people.  Experiment and work out how you like to focus.

 

12/03/2017

Kirsty Allsop Handmade Fair Preview | LIFESTYLE


Whilst I'd like to think of myself as a creative individual, when it comes to actual crafting I suck.  I'm not the kind of person who can make super delicate things with 50 yards of string, a tin of glitter and a thrifted photo frame from Oxfam, I'm more likely to make a nasty glue gun mess on the living room carpet and walk away with third degree burns. If it's cutesy and hung up in my house then you can bet your bottom dollar I bought it off Etsy.  
However, if you're a crafter yourself or looking to upskill your own crafting hobby then Kirstie Allsop's handmade fair will be right up your street.  There's a tonne of independent stores and crafters, selling everything from the finished product to DIY kits, and even some cheeky little workshops.  I'd been invited along to a blogger preview last week (with the promise of free cake) so turned up with an eager attitude to craft away...





The first workshop was a bit of a disaster, I tried my best to make the copper floral brooch that everyone else had so lovingly made and were parading out with great pride but mine just ended up looking like a urbanised chick's nest - the Pinterest kind of chick who deal in rose gold, innit.  I handed over my masterpiece to my friend to 'fix' and then took a photo before moving onto the next table.  Epic fail.
The next workshop however, I rather enjoyed! Printing our own patterns onto tea towels (stay with me here...) with wooden stencil blocks and fabric paint, we were shown how to wiggle our block into the fabric and dab the paint in the correct way, then I let my creativity run wild.  I went for country, floral border with bright colours and hummed a little song as I did it... I was crafting!  Look at me mom!  Who knew this could be so much fun?!




All in all, the night gave me a great taster for the fair itself and crafting.  I'll be off myself to the event at Ragley Hall to buy some more stencils so I can pattern everything in my house...

05/03/2017

The Church, Jewellery Quarter | FOOD



I'm a sucker for gems found in the rough, a dodgy looking store front which turns out to make the best Chinese within a 9 block radius is completely my jam - it's the unexpected joy of finding something that throws you off radar.  When I was in the Jewellery Quarter area this week I appealed to my friends for food recommendations and the lovely Naomi suggested making a trip to The Church.  

I rocked up at, what can only be described as, the rough area of Birmingham and Google Maps directed me to a pub with peeling paint from the window panes and a hanging sign that had seen a better time.  I pushed through the front door and instantly changed my mind, the bar looked something reminiscent of a set from the Peaky Blinders and there was sweet soul playing over the speakers into a low lit room that smelt deliciously like chicken.  





My date and I sat down on a small corner table against some beautiful stain glass windows and were approached with a bottle of water and some menus.  The menu was limited and offered only a few meals, all with a Southern American feel to them - Gumbo, chilli's, fried chicken and burgers - so we very quickly chose our mains and waited eagerly for our soul food to arrive.  
We had both chosen the soul food fried chicken; two buttermilk fried chicken breasts with sides of mac'n'cheese and ham hock greens.  In addition, because we were feeling particularly ravenous that night, we'd added on some naked fries and the peel stone garlic bread.  It barely fitted on our table when it arrived but crikey, it looked good!




The buttermilk fried chicken melted in your mouth, it was perfectly crispy with a hint of cajun and paprika in the batter but a succulent and juicy chicken breast in the middle.  The ham hock greens weren't wilted and wet but firm with a smoky flavour from the ham hock, the carrots were slightly roasted which gave a sweet edge to them. The mac and cheese was light and not overly salty, for me it could have had a stronger cheddar edge to it - maybe some extra mature cheese in the mix or parmesan sprinkled on top - but was tasty nonetheless.  
The soda bread garlic bread was crispy and packed with garlic taste, I mean I seriously considering ordering some more to take home with me - that with some left over chicken?  That's the stuff of lunch dreams...
We sat in silence for a good ten minutes eating our food, it was the kind of meal that you communicate your appreciation in grunts and moans.  We'd complete underestimated the joint and in return it had delivered us some seriously tasty treats!



Now, let's talk about cost.  Something as 'Pinterest worthy' as this place, with it's vintage soul and bottle collections, would cost you a pretty penny in central London... especially if the food is exceptional.  However, you will be pleased to know that for our meal plus two drinks it came a mere £32 plus tip. Bargain!

I'll be back here for sure, the chicken is already calling my name back to it's sweet soul home...


19/02/2017

24 Hours In Amsterdam | TRAVEL



One of our joint aims for 2017 was to travel and adventure more, now as we're getting married next year this isn't about the big trips (though the drive through the Californian coast and the wonders of Mumbai and Goa are enticing me greatly...) but it is about packing the backpack and setting off on a wonder together - pushing us out of our comfort zones and exploring.  With this in mind, when P&O ferries announced that they were doing the two for one minicruises again during the Winter months I booked a small trip to Amsterdam for James' birthday.  £90 would get us an overnight sail and 24 hours in Amsterdam, which was a perfect idea for a great day out!

Of course, I vlogged it for our memories, so...  click here to be taken to the video or hit play on the embedded video below.  I hope you enjoy!


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