I’M (NOT) GOING TO BML16!

When I hit ‘publish’ on my first post back in January I had very little idea what blogging actually entailed, I just knew I wanted to try something new. I’d read a few ‘Blogging For Dummies’ type articles, decided on a name and purchased a domain. After waaaaaaay too long faffing about on WordPress, Mess & Merlot was finally born.

I felt sick with nerves. What was I doing?! At this point nobody knew about the blog (including Himself until a fair while later!) I was mortified at the thought of even saying the words out loud; “Oh, I started a blog by the way” – CRINGE!!!

Luckily I discovered the world of linkies pretty early on and was blown away by the kindness of fellow bloggers, not only reading but actually commenting on my nonsense. As the weeks passed by I eventually started to remember which linkies to join on which day and who hosted them*. I soon got chatting, as you do, and as well as discovering a shed load of new blogs to explore I struck up some virtual friendships with wonderfully supportive, like minded bloggers. That support meant the world to me, honestly it’s probably the only reason I had enough faith in myself to keep up this blogging malarkey.

(* Lies. I have a shocking memory and go through the same rigmarole of checking I’ve actually tweeted the right hosts for the corresponding linky most days!! I am getting slightly better though.)

goldfish

 

After a few months in Blogland I noticed whisperings of nominations, pleas for support and whoops of excitement from successful applicants – yes awards season was evidently upon us!

A mere spectator in the excitement of it all, even that demanded more concentration than my brain can handle most days. Oooh who’s nominated themselves? Have they made the shortlist? YES! I was hoping they’d get through. OK, voting for them, them, them…oh, there are finalists now. Am I voting again then? Hang on, I’ve definitely voted already, was that the MADS or the BiBs though, not sure.

And so I try my best to make sense of the whole voting system in the same way I endeavoured to understand the ‘First Past The Post’ system in the last election, but minus the help of David Dimbleby with his screen full of fancy graphics.

Of course this all culminates in the main event: Brit Mums Live 2016!

Having watched from the sidelines, from the “Eek, I’m going to #BML16” tweets to the ‘Meet my Sponsor’ posts, I have to say I am so, so sad that I will not be able to be part of the whole experience

cinderella-crying.

I will not be:

  • Fretting about what to wear in the days leading up to the event,regularly checking every weather app on my phone to gauge roughly what the heck the weather has in store and if I have anything that would pass as acceptable attire.
  • Packing excitedly and jumping on a train to Fancylondontown.
  • Buzzing with excitement at the prospect of meeting all you virtual chatterboxes in the flesh.
  • Getting into the BML16 spirit with you at the Friday Fringe party.
  • Spending the next day enjoying a range of talks from an awesome line up of speakers.
  • Partaking in any post-conference shenanigans with my new blogging buddies.
  • Engaging in Twitter conversations about any of the above

I am however looking forward enormously to all the follow up posts and hearing ALL the goss next week!! To all of you who are going I hope you have an amazing time, best of luck to all those up for awards and enjoy the weekend!!

P.S Don’t feel too sad for me, I’m actually in Amsterdam with the girls this weekend, so while I am gutted that it clashes with BML16 I’ll still be having fun! Every cloud eh?

Next year I shall go to the ball…

glass slipper

 

Continue Reading

BACK IN THE GAME-ISH

Helloooooooooooooooo!! Good to be back after a fun filled half-term. I took a whole week off playing blogs to enjoy the break with the kiddos without my phone being attached to my face. Am I allowed to say it was really rather nice? With the exception my New Year’s Resolution FAIL post (in conjunction with Robinsons #enjoymore water campaign), a weeny bit of linky lurking and Twitter-ing I spent zero time in the old Blogosphere.

I’d love to say I’m back feeling pumped and raring to go but the truth is, as far as my blog is concerned, I’m feeling a bit like this little guy right now…

uninspired

It’s not so much that I’m feeling bad about it, just a bit erm…flummoxed? I’m still pretty new to this game and over my ‘week off’ have been thinking about where, if anywhere, I want my blog to go from here. Do I want to step it up a bit in terms of posting, promoting, analysing stats etc etc or just carry on as I am happily tapping away as and when the notion takes me and enjoying the many brilliant blogs I’ve discovered over the past 5 months? Ooooh decisions decisions…..

I don’t want blogging to become a chore, that sounds like no fun at all, but if I do manage to get my act together and actually plan stuff in advance (!) will it be worth it or am I just creating one massive headache for myself ? I’d hate for that to happen but let’s be realistic, there are only so many hours in the day I can get away with ignoring the long list of Mum jobs and cake orders before it’s school pick up time and therefor only so many hours I can actually don my blogger pants . Obviously it’s do-able, I just don’t know if I’m ready to be that dedicated (yes I’m admitting it!), just yet.

Funnily enough, writing this post has made it quite apparent that I’m not ready to become a slave to the Blogger’s Checklist just yet (are you sensing that??) but I could definitely be more organised in my approach, with a view to gradually ramping things up a bit in the months to come.

That leads me onto the next quandary – THE IDENTITY CRISIS!

whoisshe

See what happens when I take time off and am allowed to think? Dangerous I tell you. Niche, tribe, category, whatever you want to call it, it’s something I am very aware of in the world of blogging but have no clue where I fit in? I’m a Mum, and sometimes I mention my children but I wouldn’t really describe my blog as a Mummy/Parenting Blog – God help you if you ever needed to come to me for advise on that sort of stuff. I appreciate peonies, cute stationery and a beautifully arranged shelf as much as the next person but I’m not a Lifestyle blog. I love reading other people’s fashion blogs, but I’m quite happy in my T-shirt/skinnies/Converse uniform thank you very much. There are LOADS of categories that I know I don’t fit into but none that I really do. I know it’s early days and I’m still learning SO MUCH STUFF about blogging having never even written before (in the professional sense, obviously I know how to write, although my 7 yr old’s knowledge of grammar puts me to shame. I still don’t know my graphemes from my phonemes!).

Write what you’re interested in, write what you would want to read. Good advice. Christ, we all know that sinking feeling when the linky post in front of yours that you know you now have to read is sooooooooo not your thing right?! And I do write what I’d want to read, even if it’s a review post I like to combine it with something I actually want to write about and would enjoy reading myself. Recently I posted ‘Why Body Shamers Can Kiss My (Squidgy) Butt!‘ and ‘All The Carbs Please‘, two posts that were quite personal, on a subject I feel very strongly about. I really enjoyed writing these posts, for the most part the words came quite naturally and I had the most amazing response from a lot of those who read and identified in their own way. I’m also aware that that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, here she goes, banging on about diets again (SPOILER: If that is your cup of tea my next post is me, banging on about diets again!!) However, some days I might just feel like writing about my lovely new nail varnish (still going strong btw!). I’ve read articles about how not focusing on one main genre is detrimental to your following etc etc but I started this blog for me and it’s still wet behind the ears in comparison to most. I don’t want to become a people pleaser for the sake of my stats – surely that’s what page tabs were invented for right? To sort posts nicely into various categories.

Basically, I just need to figure out how to add tabs.

Images giphy.com

 

Continue Reading

EEK – I’VE GONE PUBLIC!

 

IMG_3839
Hello!

 

When I started my blog 3 months ago I knew I was going to be a secret blogger to begin with. I’m not a ‘proper’ writer. My blog is work in progress and I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to figuring out the many different aspects of blogging. The thought of anyone I actually know reading my posts makes me feel a little bit sick. So why go ‘public’ I hear you ask?? Well, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot since I started blogging. While I am not a confident writer, I did say in That Difficult Second Post that “I want you to know I am human”. While I enjoyed the security of anonymity I always felt equally uneasy about it,  as if I wasn’t being 100% honest with the reader. I also know that I personally prefer it when I visit a site and can see who the blogger is either through their About Me page or Twitter profile. Oh, and I have an atrocious memory so an image definitely helps me remember and differentiate between all those brilliant bloggers that I want to follow.

 

A couple of things last week helped me make up my mind to ‘out myself’ properly; although my family and I have actually popped up in images within previous posts and I still haven’t quite advertised it to all and sundry, I have decided to change my Twitter profile to a mug shot and added an ‘About Me’ section to my blog. So still *slightly* wussy but if anyone who knows me stumbles upon my blog it would be quite obvious who was behind it!

So what was it that gave me the final nudge I needed? Firstly while I was on holiday last week I had a message from a friend to say that she had started a beauty blog if I wanted to check it out and having enjoyed a large glass of Merlot (the irony) I decided to ‘fess up, come clean, shout it from the rooftops (to the 3 people included in the message, my oldest, closest uni-mates) that I too had been dabbling in a bit of blogging! So that was that. Actual real people knew. Gulp.

What if
Image: Pinterest

Of course they have been very lovely and supportive with their comments (and fluffed my ego up no end) but that’s what friends do right? Plus I’d kill them if they said anything to the contrary.

 

Secondly I read a great post by Honest Mum, What Other People Think of You is None of Your Business where she talks about trying not to worry about other peoples opinions of you and having enough self-worth not to be shaped or limited by them. You should check it out if you get a minute, she says it much better than I did! It definitely made me consider how much of what we do (or don’t do) is as a result of the fear of being judged. So I put my big girl pants on and went for it.

What Iffing
Image: Pinterest

 

I still cringe every time I think about the fact that eventually more and more people I know may read the odd post and I’m not sure yet if this will have any impact on my writing but I know that I feel a little bit proud of doing something even though the thought of it scares the pants off me!

Can any other bloggers relate to this? I would love to know what you think and the reasons why you decided to be a secret blogger or not?

X

 

 

 

 

Continue Reading

WHY AM I BLOGGING, REALLY? 10 GOOD REASONS

At the moment I’m still finding my feet as a blogger, having only posted a handful of blogs since my initial foray into this wonderful world a couple of months ago. If I’m excited about the prospect of starting something new, I tend to have a  ‘just do it now and figure it out as you go’ attitude. And boy have I been busy figuring it out! The realisation that blogging is  actually pretty hard work! (I know, shocker!) came quite early on,  the actual writing part makes up a small percentage of what you actually need to do if you want people to SEE you and interact with you. So as the initial excitement of ACTUALLY STARTING A BLOG! wears off and I continue to get to grips with all the different aspects involved, I found myself asking:  “Why am I blogging, really?”

IMG_3306

Luckily, I managed to think of lots of reasons – yay! So here are my own personal Top 10 Reasons for Blogging :

1.Skills! – I am not a writer. Or a food stylist. Not an ex-editor of ‘insert glossy mag name here’,  or a freelance writer or any such role that has ever required me to ever put words down in the understanding that someone is actually going to read them. Ah. While this would have been MEGA useful right now, I’m seeing it as a positive that at almost 37 (practically a dinosaur in my kids eyes) I’m on a steep learning curve as a result of my decision to start a blog ‘just for fun’. I am extremely lucky to have the time to indulge myself in some reading or writing blogposts while the kids are at school and although I probably spend far too much time doing this I do try to justify it to myself by getting the dark wash on and a bit of exercise in first! It definitely stretches the grey matter more than daytime telly that’s for sure.

2.It’s mine, all mine! MWAHAHAHAHA…. – At the moment my role of Mummy, SAHM, homemaker or whatever you want to call it is made up largely of taking care of my family, which I LOVE and appreciate every day. It was a conscious decision that Himself and I made after Flump, our second, was born and one I have never regretted for one second. However, giving up my job undoubtedly had its downsides too (apart from the obvious lack of cash appearing in my bank account every month). I definitely feel that I have lost my sense of independence, or that I at least have to try harder to be recognised as an individual, rather than someone’s Mummy. Starting a blog is a great way to have a project that is completely my own and although I would definitely consider it a ‘Mummy’ or ‘family’ blog (hence the name), its something that I keep totally separate from time spent with my family. One day my role as  wiper of noses, tables, bottoms or tears, will come to an end and I don’t want to wave my kids off into the world thinking “Wow, that was great but who am I again?”
Chat Bubbles on Modern Communication and Technology Word Cloud
3.Comradery – WOW, my experience of the blogging community so far has been nothing but positive. Such a welcoming, entertaining, intelligent, awesome bunch of people to hang out with! I’d say I’m generally pretty happy in my own company, I never really get lonely at home during the day and would much rather go out for the day by myself than with friends (is that really bad? I love my friends, I’m just not someone who needs to see them or be on the phone to them regularly. In fact preferably only when there is wine and no children involved). So in that respect, making new connections online suits me perfectly. I can happily converse with a total stranger on my thoughts on parenting/Topsy and Tim (please go away)/Cumberbatch (please come back), etc etc without ever having to leave my kitchen or tidy the house before you arrive!
4.Enrichment – OK, I’m aware this is now at risk of turning into one massive post so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet from here on in (*must work on waffling less). I’ve found joining in with linkys in particular a surprisingly enriching experience. Aside from the obvious benefit of a few people hopefully reading my blog, I have read and enjoyed articles which I never would have found otherwise. Some may be funny or useful but others have actually made me think about subjects which I would have never normally considered.
5.Confidence –  That’s not to say I am lacking confidence especially but would I want my nearest and dearest to read my ramblings? Probably Absolutely not, because in relation to writing, I am most definitely NOT confident (hence, for now anyway, I’m a relatively secret blogger).  Like most new skills, its a learning process, and the more I blog, the more my confidence grows little by little in my writing. Every tweet, every reply, every little comment from other bloggers or readers means a great deal to me, like a virtual ‘keep up the good work’!
Diary 2
6.Dear Diary – I couldn’t bring myself to refer to it as Journaling. When did that become a thing anyway? Isn’t that just a term that we stole from our American friends for writing in a diary Adrian Mole style? OK maybe Diarising doesn’t have quite the same ring to it (*waffling again, naughty). Anyway, there are already moments that are woven throughout my blog that I would have without a doubt forgotten had I not written them down. A family event, a special moment or an awesome experience that I will now be able to look back on in the future and remember fondly.
7. I got Style! – Or do I? In relation to the contents of my wardrobe I got ‘jeans and t-shirt’ style but as far as blogging goes, developing a writing style is actually something that never really occurred to me. I naively assumed that writing just consisted of getting the words from your brain onto the page. Nope. The more I read other blogs, the more I realise that there are actually quite a few different writing styles and that I have no idea how I come across to the reader. Another learning curve. For now I’m just writing the same way I would probably say things out loud, but minus the swears and with the help of spellcheck.
8. Contributing something – Despite starting a blog just for kicks, I would like to think that some of what I say might actually be read and enjoyed by other people. I mean, otherwise I may as well just keep it to myself right? I’m not talking changing the world with my views on e.g. the antics of CBeebies finest, but it’s nice to think that as I mooch through a linky, cuppa in hand, someone somewhere might be doing the same, enjoying something I wrote.
9.Wearing your Blogger hat – I feel like there should be some sort of official process whereby you need to sit an exam, or complete a challenge or at least do a meaningless 95% discounted Groupon course in Grade 1 Blogging before you should be allowed to refer to yourself as a Blogger?! But then I suppose I didn’t have to do any of those things to become a mother so…never mind. I now find myself questioning the most random of topics, thoughts or products as possible blogging fodder. Luckily for you, the majority of these ideas fall down the back of my brain never to be seen again but starting a blog definitely makes you think more about all aspects of life, however ordinary and I love that!
Computer key - Share
10. Courage of convictions – regardless of subject matter, blogging forces you to think before you type. Once you hit that ‘post’ button your words are out there for good, so you better be prepared to be accountable for them! Questioning what I truly feel on a subject, either on my own blog or when commenting on others has been a new and interesting  experience for me. Honesty is the only way, in my opinion, that you can write with conviction while building your own credible identity online, giving readers a true reflection of yourself at the same time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, I did go on a bit didn’t I?! Sorry. I’m sure there are lots more reasons that I love blogging that I’ll remember later. I’d love to know the driving force behind your blog – what made you want to start and more importantly made you want to carry on?
X
Continue Reading

THAT DIFFICULT SECOND POST

question-mark-1313007

It’s been exactly a week since my first blog post. It’s out there, floating around like the new girl in class, smiling at all the other mummy blogs shyly, giving a little wave while thinking “please like me, please like me” but mostly getting ignored by the cool girls who’ve earned their spot at the top through hard work and dedication.

Rightly so. There is no magic formula for a successful blog but if you’re willing to put in the hours reading, researching and trying to figure stuff out (oh and actually enjoying the process of learning along the way) then at best, other people will want to read it too and at worst you get to enjoy your own little corner of the internet to do with as you please!

It’s a strange feeling, writing a blog entry that may in fact never be read – a bit like the online equivalent of talking to yourself. I definitely feel a bit crazy doing it- but I like it!!

Since my last post I’ve been swotting up, there’s a lot of ‘how do I…, beginner’s guide to… and ‘top tips for new bloggers’ in my search history. What do I blog about? Who is my target audience? What identity do I want my blog to have? Basically A LOT OF QUESTIONS. Obviously there are many amazing bloggers who I enjoy following (check out my blogroll) but I don’t want to (nor could I even attempt to) steal their style.

It seems obvious that I blog about what I know and love, mainly my family, my home, food, fun and the odd random sparkly life-size unicorn thrown in for the hell of it (don’t you just love TK Maxx?!). I want my posts to be honest, light hearted and enjoyable. I want you to know that I am human. I want this to be a journal of all of the above in one place like an online equivalent of a child’s sprawling ‘What I did this Summer’ scrapbook. I think Oscar Wilde, my undisputed king of quotes says it perfectly, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

unicorn


Continue Reading

HERE GOES…

Hello!

Thanks for dropping in to my brand spanking new-born blog. This is my first ever post (go easy on me) and I am so excited and a little nervous to be dipping my toes in the pool of Mummy blogging. It feels exactly like the moment between being belted into your seat, and climbing the Big Dipper!

A big fan of many of the other amazing Mummy blogs out there for years, reading mainly when my babies were sleeping and I should have been catching up on housework or doing something remotely productive, you know how it goes. This year my littlest started Big School and after a few busy months with building work at home and the excitement of Christmas now a distant memory I feel ready to start something for myself. A little corner of the internet for me to share my thoughts on family life, food, style and general chin wagging with similar minded big people with little people.

If you would like to know a little bit about me please click on the About tab above. Feedback, comments and hellos are very much encouraged, you can do so below.

I really look forward to getting to know you and hope you enjoy visiting my blog (even if the baby is sleeping and you should probably be doing something else!)

x

Continue Reading