Monday, 30 September 2013

September Review

In Life

At the beginning of this month Chris and I celebrated 6 years of being together, and 1 year of being engaged! Chris had a gig with the wonderful Emma Stevens, which I was able to go along to. The festival was called Weyfest, and for some reason there were Daleks and other Dr Who related things there! Emma dedicated the song 'Once' to Chris and I which was ever so sweet, and prompted a shout from the audience of 'When are you having babies!?' to Chris, which he seemed to pretty much ignore. After Emma's set we hopped over to the main stage where UB40 were playing, they were super awesome, and I think we managed to catch all their best songs!

Here we are kissing a Dalek.
And here I am getting shot by one. They are fickle these Daleks.

What We Watched

2012 - This film was so ridiculous, i'm not sure if the makers intended it to be taken this way or not, but actually I loved it! As the world was literally collapsing around them, our main characters seemed to escape each time with no more than a second to spare.
The Other Guys- I've actually forgotten what happened in this film already. But it had Will Ferrell in it, so not a total loss.
Elysium - This was a pretty cool film. It was directed by Neil Blomkamp who also directed District 9 (awesome film!) I loved the performance of Sharlto Copley in this (also the lead character in District 9), I thought his portrayal of a bad/crazy guy was great!
The Dark Night Rises - I'm not going to lie, I find Batman confusing. There's quite a lot of political stuff going on and if you haven't seen the previous films recently it is a bit tricky to know quite what is happening. Having said that it was quite enjoyable. I do think Christian Bale's voice as Batman is ridiculous though, and why does he insist on using it when he is talking to someone who KNOWS THAT HE IS BRUCE WAYNE!?

And of course Dexter and Breaking Bad. I was pretty disappointed with the last episode of Dexter, not to ruin it for any of you that haven't watched it yet, but it left me feeling really dissatisfied. It seems that a lot of popular shows end with something purely for the 'shock factor' rather than anything else. I am hopeful for the last episode of Breaking Bad though, which I will be watching tonight! Excited!

What I Read

Happier at Home by Gretchen Ruben - I read The Happiness Project a little while ago and thought that was great! While this book did seem to cover some of the same subjects again, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it!
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making - I haven't quite finished this one actually, but I am really enjoying it so far. I am quite a fan of fantastical adventures and this certainly falls within that category! It reminds me a bit of Alice in Wonderland. Worth a read.

In Blog Land

My blog was featured in the 'Blogs we love' section of Reloved this month. What a lovely surprise! Thanks to Rebecca from Musings From the Pigeons Nest for spotting this!

My Favourite Posts

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Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Alphabet Dates - C is for Camping, Crazy Bears and Cocktails!

So, it was meant to be my turn to think of a date idea for the letter C, but it was kind of a group effort. Chris suggested that we go to the Crazy Bear in Stadhampton, and I suggested that we go Camping for a couple of days before! This was our first trip out since Pip had been spruced up, and it's all SO much easier now that everything has it's place.

I've actually made us little wash kits up that we can just leave in the van, so we can get going at a moments notice! And they live in our new 'his n hers' cubby holes!

Since we run our own business we couldn't really stop working for the days that we went away, but as we had electric hook up we were able to work on the laptop and ipad between adventures, it was great!
Anyway, we stayed at Fir Tree Falconry in Banbury. It was gorgeous! Behind our van was a fishing lake (where you can probably catch carp, or cod), and in front was a beautiful view of the countryside. Can you spot Pip in the picture below?  There were other vans, but they were at the top of the hill, so it really felt like we were on our own. On the campsite was also a falconry, and we managed to get a sneaky peak of the birds. One of which was the biggest owl I have ever seen, they were amazing.
The day after we arrived we discovered that the campsite was right next door to the National Herb Centre. I never knew there were so many varieties of each herb! It was really interesting.
After the herb centre our main aim was a day out in Stratford-upon-avon.  So we hopped back in the van, and stuck behind this bus to make us a bit more aerodynamic.
We had a lovely lunch then wandered around the shops. This is the house Shakespeare was born in!
It got cold and we had to put our silly winter hats on.
Then we came across some lovely Shakesperian sculptures, here's Chris hanging out with Lady Macbeth.
And here's good old Shakey himself.
The following day we went to Oxford, as it was en-route to The Crazy Bear. I found a Deli online before we got there which served wheat free bread for Chris!
The Crazy Bear sure lived up to it's name. It was Crazy! The reception was a double decker bus! We had a bath in our bedroom, and the sink in the toilet was made of glass. The carpet in the dinig room was leopard print, and the walls were covered in Ostrich leather!

As part of our deal we got a free afternoon tea, which included a cocktail that came in a glass teapot, and a glass teacup! It was raspberry flavour, and you got a jug of cream to pour in to make it raspberry ripple!
It was a great trip! Next time we are on the letter D, I wonder where that will take us!

Laura xXx

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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

SEO help and tips for beginners

SEO help and tips for beginners
I've been learning a bit about SEO lately, and I thought I would share some help and tips for beginners! Are you ready to learn? Grab your favourite pen and notebook and lets get started!

Lets kick off with the basics shall we? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Basically we are talking about what you can do to each of your blog posts, in order to make your blog rank higher on Google searches (or any other search engines for that matter!). It might sound complicated, but it's really simple once you know how, then it's just about getting into the habit of it. Here are my 7 top tips for optimising your blog...

1. Decide on your key words, I'd pick about four or five. What are the most important things about your post, and what would people search for? For example, in this post I have chosen the words SEO, help, tips and beginners. You are going to use these words as much as possible throughout your post.

2. Make sure your key words feature in your title, and that the most important words come first. For example, I titled this post 'SEO help and tips for beginners'. I could have written 'Beginners help and tips for SEO', but I think SEO is the most important part of this article, so I chose that to come first.

3. Rename all of the picture files that you are going to include in the post using your key words. Put a hyphen in between each word when doing this. The reason for doing this is that Google and other search engines will find it easier to read. For example I have named the picture above seo-help-and-tips-for-begginers.jpg.

4. Use your key words in the very first paragraph and the very last paragraph. Take a look at mine. Obviously it is great to use them as frequently throughout as possible too, but these are the most important places.

5. Write at least 300 words per post. If your blog is quite picture heavy, and your posts are constantly under 300 words, you might want to think about how you can include posts with more writing. Google likes lots of content!

6. Use Alt tag/Alternative text on each of your pictures. Again, use your key words. If you have more than one picture you can chop and change each one, for example one might be 'SEO for beginners', another might be 'tips and tricks for SEO' and another might be 'beginners guide to SEO'. The title of the picture should be the same text as the Alt tag, so just copy and paste it. Since I am only using one picture in this article, I chose the same words as my title 'SEO help and tips for beginners'.

7. Make use of your 'search description box', and you know whats coming... Use your key words! However, you will want to write this in a more conversational tone. But still use your most important words fist! For example, for this post my search description was 'SEO help and tips for beginners - In today's post I teach you some of the basics of using SEO to make your blog rank higher in Google.' You can use more words here, so by all means, use them if you need to!

Thats it for today. I hope you enjoyed my beginners help for SEO! It's fun when you can share something new you are learning with others! Have you got any SEO tips that I didn't mention?

Also, I mustn't forget to mention the photo credit for the lovely picture at the beginning of this post which was taken by Rachel from Oh NO Rachio! Although I may have sneakily changed what the pennant says by the wonders of modern technology!

Laura xXx

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Monday, 16 September 2013

Snail Mail Collective - My under the sea package

snail mail collective - underwater
The other day I showed you the awesome package I received from Bev for our Snail mail collective swap. Now that my package has finally arrived with Bev (phew, I was getting concerned it had gotten lost!) I can share with you what I included in her package! Don't forget, the theme was 'under the sea'. 

So I started off with a postcard of The Mary Rose, since this ship was under the sea for quite some time, I thought this was pretty apt! I actually bought this the day Chris and I went to Portsmouth harbour for our first alphabet date.
under the sea themed box
I found an old book about scrapbooking in a charity shop, and it had lots of pictures of the old fashioned scrap book images. Luckily for me there were a few pages with boats, sea creatures and shells, so I used the pages to decorate my box. Unfortunately I forgot that I would have to put an address on the front of the box and tape it up, which ruined the look slightly. I didn't think that I could just wrap it in parcel paper! Doh! But this was what it looked like before.
emma stevens - underwater ep
Chris is currently playing bass for the very talented Emma Stevens. Her new EP is called 'Underwater', so I thought that would be a nice thing to include. You can have a listen to some of Emma's songs on her website here, and I really suggest you do, I think you will love it! Emma is doing really well at the moment, she has been playlisted on BBC Radio 2 and recently played their Radio 2 Live at Hyde Park Festival! You can also see a video of her playing live (with Chris on bass!) here!
The Tide Turner - by Angela McAllister
My mum is friends with the children's author Angela McAllister, and I had a feeling she would have a book with an 'under the sea' theme. Luckily I was right, and The Tide Turner was just what I was looking for. I know that Bev has an interest in children's literature, and she also have a baby on the way, so hopefully they can enjoy this together in years to come.

Angela was kind enough to offer to sign the book for us too!
the tide turner
 With my last pennies I bought a little fishy bath toy, I thought he was cute!
Under the sea bath toyUnder the sea - snail mail collective
 You can see Bev's review of my mail here. I can't wait for this months Snail Mail Collective!

 Laura xXx

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Friday, 13 September 2013

DIY plant pot tutorial (for baby succulents)

DIY succulent plant  pot tutorial
Earlier this week I recieved a lovely little package from Harriet. Inside were some lovely little succulent babies! I didn't really have any suitable plant pots so I thought I would make some out of some glass tumblers I bought a little while ago from Morrisons. I got a set of 4 for just £1. I thought I'd try out three different DIY tutorials to spruce them up.

washi tape succulent diy tutorial
Washi Tape design
Lets start with a simple one! I don't think I need to tell you how to do this, but what I would suggest is that if your Washi tape is not particularly sticky, then use a little bit of double sided tape or a dab of glue to secure the end down.
spray paint polkadot plant pot tutorial
Polkadot spray paint design
To achieve this look I used a single whole punch on some masking tape. Then I wrapped the tape securely around the glass. I turned the glass upside down to spray paint, and then once it was dry I peeled off the tape.
diy polkadot pot

spray paint pot diy

gold polkadot diy
Sharpie arrow DIY pot
Sharpie arrow design
Sharpie actually lasts pretty well on glass, especially if it is on something that isn't handled often like a flower pot. I hand drew these arrows, but you could really go wild with this and draw whatever you want!
diy succulent plant pot tutorials

So there you go! Which one is your favourite? 

I think these little pots will be great for all my succulent babies, but once they get a bit bigger I will plant them up properly in bigger pots with drainage. I can't wait for them to grow up! I'm looking forward to displaying them in my new conservatory!

Thanks Harriet!

Laura xXx
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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

VW T25 Campervan DIY Makeover - Pip returns!

t25 vw campervan makeover
Guess what guys? Pip is back! Unfortunately due to wedding planning, running our own business and buying our first house, Pip has been a little neglected. We haven't taken him out to play much, but he has been spending some time at his grandparents, and my dad has finally finished all the woodwork and electrics!
VW Campervan DIY Makeover
We now have a fully operational cutlery draw above the fridge, hurrah! and there are shelves in the 2 bottom cupboards too, so no more shoving all of our food on top of eachother!
Here's where we will be keeping our plates and mugs! The shelf comes complete with a cardboard insert to hold them all in place! My dad didn't make it out of wood in case we decied we wanted new ones at some point. At the moment we are using ones which were donated by my grandparents,  they are exactly what we need at the moment, but perhaps when I get around to re-upholstering everything, we might buy something to match.
We have a nice new wooden frame around out window, very neat!
My Dad made this VW hot pot stand a little while ago. Now he has made a clip to attach it to the wall, ingenious!
We have loads of storage now. You see that big cupboard door above the sofa, well we actually finished that bit quite a while ago, but check out what we used for a handle! We popped open the bubbly to celebrate completing one of the many stagest of Pip, and my Dad went and stuck the cork straight in the cupboard hole, it works great as a handle now that it has expanded again!
Champagne cork handle
This is the top cupboard on the left. It now has 2 shelves, but one is removable, so that if we need to keep a shirt or dress crease free, we can actually hang them up!
diy vw campervan cupboard
Here is the bottom cupboard which my dad signed inside, just in case we forget he made it!
t25 vw campervan
This is a little shelf and cubby holes next to our bed. We can use this for storing our books and popping our coffee on in the morning!
campervan makeover
If you are a relatively new reader, and you haven't heard about Pip before, you can check out our other adventures with him here.

But here is a quick reminder of exactly what he looked like before. This is what he looked like when we first bought him...
t25 vw campervan before pictureAFTER
And here is what it looked like when we had to strip it completely, because there was a leak that was gradually soaking the wooden floor. Luckily we spotted it and now its all fixed! Basically everything has been made a new except for the curtain and the sofa cushions, and even those have been changed to fit!
All that is left to do now is to make new curtains and re-upholster the sofa so that they match the floor! I did have it in mind that I wanted to paint all of the woodwork initially, but now I am not so sure, I quite like it! What do you think? I might wait until it gets a few marks and scuffs and then paint it so that I have a reason.

We are going away on sunday for our first trip with Pip's newly finished interior, and then we have a wedding on the 21st where we will be camping over, he is going to get some good use out of him from now on!

Yay for my Dad and his mad DIY skillz!

Laura xXx

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