Relentlessly Purple – 2nd Year Of Blogging

I can’t believe Relentlessly Purple is 2! My second year of blogging as Relentlessly Purple has been awesome, I’ve learnt a lot over the last 2 years.

Relentlessly Purple Bloggerversary!

Changing over to Relentlesslypurple.com last year was a scary and exciting move but one I’m so pleased I made! With a great friend looking after my hosting (so I don’t break anything) I’ve been lucky to escape the big issues most bloggers face. I am extremely grateful for that! If you haven’t already check out my post on his new subscription box and take a look at his fab new project, Bytesize Box UK.

Bloggers

I’ve continued to meet some awesome people in the blogging world too which has made a huge difference. Whilst I am still struggling with my mental & physical health amongst other concerns, the support I’ve had from the blogging community is absolutely amazing. It’s nice to know someone is always around for a chat about absolutely anything from blogging, crochet, crafts, days out & more!

Opportunities

Some of the review opportunities I’ve had have been fantastic. The girls have had a chance to play with gorgeous toys such as the Lucy Locket Wooden Fairytale Tea set.  We’ve met Authors & Illustrators at Little Tiger’s 30th Party and had some fun days out with Martyn & the boys at events like the Medway English Festival and the Rochester Dickens Festival. I’ve worked with Hallmark at Christmas & for fathers day too. So many great opportunities & hopefully lots more to come.

Growing Relentlessly Purple

Looking back I can’t believe I walked away from blogging before. Setting up Relentlessly Purple has been amazing. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been blogging for 2 years which I’m taking as a good sign! I never expected the blog to grow so much in so little time. Although I lose confidence at times and have days where I just can’t hit publish, I am getting braver and enjoying blogging in my spare time.

Family Fun

Blogging has become a fun part of our family life too and the girls love getting involved. Even the Mr has had a chance to try some awesome beers like Goody Ales & these Fallen beers as we’ve started trying more craft beers and share our discoveries. All round blogging has been pretty positive for all of us. Hopefully I’ll carry on for years to come & get a chance to work with more brands I love & continue making amazing blogging friends!

I decided to celebrate my bloggerversary and 27th birthday on the 14th August to run a small giveaway for my lovely readers!

After running a twitter poll it was quite clear we all love chocolate and stationery so I have decided to fill this lovely gift box below with a few surprise treats for the winner! Want to know what is inside? BEST GET ENTERING 😉

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How long have you been blogging for? Has your blog exceeded your expectations?

My Top 10 WordPress Plugins

There are literally thousands of different plugins out there that do all sorts of things so I thought it may be useful to list my top 10 WordPress plugins. Any blogger will know plugins are essential to help them get what they want out of their blog. . When setting up your site for the first time there are a few must have plugins & a few extras that will just help make blogging easier for you & user friendly for your visitors too!

My Top 10 WordPress Plugins

  1. Jetpack by WordPress.com

    Jetpack connects your blog with wordpress.com it has  ton of useful features such as showing Stats, providing security & spam protection, automatic plugin updater, as well as boosting image loading speeds. That’s just the free version too!

  2. Yoast SEO

    Most bloggers have heard of SEO and how important it is when writing posts, Yoast helps you by analysing what you write and giving tips to improve your writing & use of keywords to boost your posts and make them easily searchable.

  3. Word Fence Security

    Another security app which provides an anti-virus, firewall & malware scans to help keep your blog protected. It also allows you to view real time traffic and hack attempts.

  4. Akismet Anti-spam

    Another security feature to prevent spam comments getting through to your blog, it catches anything it considers to be spam and allows you to review it and either approve or delete the comments.

  5. Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

    Google Analytics gives Real-Time Statistics on your WordPress Dashboard by automatically tracking the code in every page of your website.

  6. Cookie Bar

    You must display a cookie warning on your site to let your visitors know  that your website uses cookies. Cookie bar makes it nice & easy!

  7. CommentLuv

    This plugin lets your visitors link up their most recent post by selecting CommentLuv when commenting. This helps increase comments & community spirit. It makes it much easier for me when someone comments to return the favour!

  8. Broken Link Checker

    This plugin is extremely helpful, it detects any broken links and images and notifies you via the dashboard so you can either update or delete them.

  9. Addtoany Share Buttons

    This app allows you to add as many different social media share buttons as you like to display on your blog to help you visitors share your content on pretty much any platform! There are over 100 different social share buttons available with share counts which are also integrated with Google Analytics to track shares.

  10. No-Bot Registration

    After recently being hacked by bots I was told about this plugin which helps prevent bots getting through. It works by blacklisting emails and presenting people with a security question when registering or posting a comment.

  11. Share drafts publicly

    Ok I lied.. but I had to add in this last plugin as it has been so helpful for me! If you want a second opinion on your post or you are working with a company who wants to see your post before it goes live this plugin allows you to share a private link to your draft!

What are your top 10 WordPress plugins? Have I missed any you think are important when starting up a blog?

Making A Grown Up Blogger Decision

I have no idea what I'm doing

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog over the last week.. And I have some news.. I made a bit of a grown up blogger decision, with a fair bit of pushing from Tracey from One Frazzled Mum and Phil from Public Void Apps .. I’ve gone self hosted & moved over to relentlesslypurple.com!

I’ve still got a LOT to learn about this website stuff but I am remembering little bits & pieces and learning as I go and I seriously can’t thank Phil & Tracey enough for their help

I’m still looking for THE theme and keep tweaking things and changing my mind but I’m so impatient and excited I just couldn’t wait to share it with you all!

So what do you think so far? Do you have any tips or improvements you think I should make? Any theme suggestions? My site is for my reader’s and I am a bit of a noob haha! Providing it has some purple I’m happy 😉

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

 

 

Staying On Top

I’ve shared quite a bit on this blog over the last year and I have to say it’s definitely helped, even when I went through a quiet patch the blog was still here being read and liked & commented on and I’ve started to get back into the swing of things again.

Staying on top

I’ve met some lovely bloggers & I’ve noticed myself interacting more and over the last few weeks that has given me a bit of a boost to be honest. Now I’m full of idea’s again and being a lot more organized jotting down notes and dates so I don’t keep forgetting and feeling empty and useless.

On top of all that reading what other’s have gone through or are going through has really been a big motivation for me on bad day’s, if they can carry on & find ways around their challenges I can too!

Sometimes it makes it easier to push through and get things done and sometimes it reminds you to take that much needed break. All in all I think it’s helped me restore some kind of balance and I feel like I’m staying on top of everything again not just the blog.

During my quiet patch I spent a lot of time thinking I was completely useless. My brother especially has helped me see that although I am limited by what I can do, it doesn’t make me lazy, he reminded me of our ‘mother’ growing up and how much more I do for my girls in comparison.

I spend a lot of time pointing out what I can’t do and all the things going wrong but I’m trying to focus on what I can do and what’s going well instead. Instead of feeling awful for taking a break I use that time to blog or chat or crochet so I’m still doing something rather than feeling sorry for myself.

I know there are still going to be days where it is all too much but hopefully with a bit more positivity those days will become fewer.

I’ve started writing notes in notebooks, on post it’s and on our little whiteboard on the fridge to help me remember things & it is definitely helping me be a bit more organized. Perhaps if I finally start using my planner and calander a little better too I’ll spend less time frustrated & forgetting things & getting more done aswell as actually resting when I need to.

Hopefully I can stay on top of things and keep positive for a while! How do you stay on top? What help’s you stay positive?

A whole year blogging as Relentlessly Purple!

Can you believe I’ve spent a year blogging as Relentlessly Purple!

I’d blogged before setting up Relentlessly Purple but tried to put far too many restrictions on myself, only letting myself publish positive posts & eventually I felt like I was unable to write anything.

Blogging as Relentlessly Purple & not restricting myself makes it much easier to write and publish posts although admittedly I have been slacking majorly over the last month or 2 but it’s nice to see I still get visitors daily.

I may not have posted much recently but writing on the blog has helped me get through some tough patches over the past year & I really appreciate the love & support given by other bloggers especially my fellow spoonies who have given me some amazing advice & tips.

I feel like I’ve achieved a fair amount on the blog considering I’m not a regular poster, with 80 wordpress followers, over 2,500 twitter followers & 200 Instagram followers.

I plan on working harder with the blog over the next year and hope to have doubled these numbers by next year if possible and interact with other bloggers more.. Seems silly to sit & stare at posts on social media and not respond in case you ‘bother’ someone so I intend to be a little braver & interact a lot more!

How long have you been blogging for? Is your current blog your first? What did/have you achieved in your first year blogging?

A busy quiet patch

I’ve barely blogged, barely Tweeted and even my Instagram has been much quieter over the last few weeks as thing’s have been quite up & down and I really haven’t felt great at all.

Despite being relieved I passed my ESA assessment  my back hasn’t been amazing, my hip’s feel worse & I discovered I have anaemia which has been causing me to feel constantly drained too which has made it especially difficult to focus & write anything over the last few weeks. I have started taking iron tablets again though which has definitely helped over the past few days

On a good note I received a nice little back pay a few weeks ago as I was entitled to the ESA support rate backdated to the 13th week of my claim, I was aware they do this but didn’t realise how long I had waited so it was a lovely surprise and arrived in time for me to be able to treat the Mr properly on his birthday for pretty much the first time in the 10 years I’ve known him!

I gave him money to spend at the Thurrock Beer festival which he attends every year since its around his birthday and he loves real ales. He came back happily carrying TWO! of these bottles (admittedly one was cider for me :P) & a glass.

 

a busy quiet patch
The Mr happily came back from the beer fest with this!

We also ordered him some new trainers from ebay which turned up with paint and marks all over & didn’t appear genuine, after waiting for our refund & the Mr still struggling to find a pair he liked we decided to order him a pair of Nike ID’s which are custom made how you want!

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The design the Mr ordered

 

He has to wait anywhere up to the 8th august for them but it stops him settling on a pair and not being happy especially as he does so much running around doing school runs & shopping where I cant. We ordered them last thursday and already recieved an email yesterday (6 days after ordering) telling us the finishing touches are being done before they are shipped! So hopefully we wont have to wait too long.

After giving up on our desperate backpack search we gave in and bought him a new backpack too (which I’ll review at a later date) since he does all the shopping and carries it all home from town.

I spoilt the girls a little with some new clothes & shoes..which may have led to a new wardrobe to fit them in.. Admittedly they did genuinely need a wardrobe and the clothes & shoes so it was another issue sorted for us!

I treated my brother to a few lunches & little bits whilst out shopping including some yummy pancakes & a chocolate milkshake at Roadhouse in Basildon! They were so good but so filling that we both took the rest home for later!

image

I also treated myself to a new bag, purse and a few clothes aswell as doing things like having my eyebrows threaded over the last few weeks and the Mr dyed my hair purple on Sunday too which has made me feel much more human!

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Izzy approved of the new handbag & tried to steal it!

It’s been lovely being able to do those things as we’ve been struggling to buy things like clothes and pay bills on time so it has been a lot less stressful financially.

The kitchen toilet & bathroom didn’t get finished off properly but the Mr has somehow managed to fit in repainting the toilet purple & glossing the wood as the way it was left made it feel extremely claustrophobic! He’s purpling the bathroom & kitchen next too!

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Although I have been really down lately I am thankful there’s been a lot of positive going on for me to focus on too and Izzy has been going almost everywhere with the Mr lately give me a lot of time to rest & focus on myself doing silly things like actually straightening my hair, having a bath in total peace, taking a nap etc which has really helped my mood the last few days.

I have a lot of catching up to do with the blog and saying hi to people again but I’m hoping to slowly catch up over the next few weeks, feel free to say hi and send me your latest posts to help me catch up!

Overcoming a bad patch

I’m pretty sure I am not alone in saying January was mostly awful!
I’ve been trying to overcome a bad patch. The cold weather made it miserable and made my whole body hurt so much I had to keep myself fairly dosed up, something I generally avoid doing as much as possible as I really don’t like taking any kind of medication and dealing with the side effects.

As you may have read my LGG4 died leaving me without a phone and almost camera-less.. I say almost because I do in fact own a real camera, I have a Fujifilm finepix S1500 but I misplaced the rechargeable batteries and hunted through the flat huffing and sulking for a good few days until I eventually found them.

Just as I thought I was winning I managed to take a few shots and went to put them on my laptop only I couldn’t find the USB lead! So of course I spent another few days tearing apart the flat like a madwoman.

The Mr  then suggested asking our tech geek if he had a spare. Turns out we went through all this when I got the camera (second hand) and tech geek had given me a memory card reader to use instead.

Of course this was sat in my kitchen junk draw staring at me for the entire week whilst I searched the draw for the batteries (which were actually in there too!?) and the non-existent USB lead.

Normally it wouldn’t bother me so much but I needed the pictures for our Weekend Box review and the Mr found a local photography group a few weeks back and I was hoping to brave it and try going to hopefully learn to take much better photo’s and to give me a break as well as meeting new people in the area.

I also started on the mission of cleaning my brother’s flat leaving me exhausted and well behind on my own housework. Obviously I don’t mind doing it as it really is needed and I am the only person he trusts to go through his stuff and sort it but I am suffering for it.

Both girl’s have been ill on and off throughout January too which obviously makes it even harder to get thing’s done or catch a moment to myself. Add to that the Issue’s we have been having with Eva’s school it has been a hectic, stressful and lonely month!

Overcoming a bad patch

So all in all January was a bit crap to be honest. I know to most people all these little things seem so silly but for me it just felt like one thing after another was going wrong and this caused my depression and anxiety to spiral out of control a little. Luckily February seems to be going fairly well minus a poorly Eva and issue[s with her school.

Reviewing the Weekend box really perked both Eva and myself up and gave us something to do whilst Izzy slept over the weekend.

I eventually managed to upload my pictures and finish the blog post too. I missed another photography group meet though as I have been overly anxious all week but I’m hoping to pluck up the courage to go on Tuesday.

As it turned out the LGG4 was still under warranty and although the collection was delayed by a day the G4 was collected for repair on Wednesday and should hopefully be back working within a week,
I have everything crossed it is fixable as I really do love that phone!

My brothers flat is so much cleaner and a lot more organised and his asthma has started to ease up slightly where there is less dust & mould. He is doing better in himself and on my last visit we went to ads with an unused gift card I found at his and bought him a decent saucepan, strainer and utensils and enough food to keep him going until my next visit.

Although I’ve been in a lot of pain lately we worked out wearing the Mr’s long johns helps with my leg pain where they stay warmer. Also the Mr has been making sure my wheat bags are warmed every night and he has been using a fan heater to warm the bed up each night to help too. Plus knowing I only have another month to wait until my steroid injections I am hopeful the pain may decrease a little!

To top it all the blog seems to be doing fairly ok even though I’ve struggled with posting and networking lately and I have a few more awesome reviews coming up very soon.

Over the coming month I’ll have more time to chat to other bloggers and read more posts too which I love doing! So if we haven’t spoken before please feel free to come say Hi sometime as I love discovering new blogs and having a chat.

Hopefully this coming Tuesday I will manage to make it to the Photography meet up, I just need to try not to think about it too much in the days leading up to it to keep my anxiety down. Easier said than done but I really need to try and do this for myself, give myself a bit of time out doing something I love & hopefully make some friends around here too!

Eva is booked in at the Dr’s Monday and I’m hoping we can get to the bottom of her headaches and a few other thing’s.

February is definitely looking to be a much better month already! How was your January? Do you have high hopes for February?

10 Things I’m Looking Forward To In 2016

10 Things I'm Looking Forward To In 2016

10 Things I’m Looking Forward To In 2016.. A whole new year to look forward to! I usually don’t have too much to look forward to as we enter each new year however so far 2016 seems to have a few things in store for us which I can not wait for. So here are My 10 things I’m looking forward to this year.

  1. Steroid injections in March I know it’s strange to look forward to a procedure like this but especially as the pain is creeping back again I’m hopeful they will help ease even a tiny bit of the pain to allow me to continue strengthening my core.
  2. The Easter holidays – Although we don’t particularly celebrate Easter as we aren’t religious in any way we do love to scoff a few choccy eggs! (Don’t we all!?) The holiday itself is a nice break for us and a chance to do things as a family. Things are looking slightly better financially so we are hoping to fit in a trip to London during the Easter hol’s to visit the science museum and anywhere else that takes the girl’s fancy. We haven’t had a chance to get out and do much with the girls & I intend on changing that this year!
  3. Eva’s 6th Birthday (10th May) – The last few years the majority of people have let Eva down on her birthday so last year we decided against a party. This year however I’ve decided we are going to do something different & take her & her friend out for the day to the zoo. If we have our own car by then it will probably be Colchester zoo otherwise we can all take the train & visit London zoo instead! ( 😀 I Love it when I have a back up plan!)
  4. The summer holidays (June-Sept) – Who doesn’t love it when the sun is shine and that alone is a perfect excuse to go out & enjoy it. I hurt so much when it’s cold it makes it hard for me to feel motivated enough to take the girls out much but in the summer I always make up for it.
  5. August – It’s part of the summer holidays but I love it for other reasons too! My brother turns 21 on the 5th, Izzy turns 2 on the 6th, and I turn 20… (6 D: ) on the 14th. It’s a big one for my brother this year and I fully intend on making sure he damn well enjoys it!
  6. Spending more time with my brother – In the last 2 weeks we have seen him 4 times, usually we see him maybe once every 2-3 months as he hides away when he is struggling but he seems to be realising now he can come to us no matter what & we will help in any way we can even if he just needs to be around people and chat nonsense 🙂
  7. Figuring out how to make pretty knitted & crocheted items – I’ve been knitting a few years now but never had the confidence to do anything other than a plain knitted blanket or scarf, this year I want to focus on my knitting a bit more & learn to crochet properly. (If you have any tutorials/patterns etc please Get in touch :D)
  8. Growing the blog – Getting back into blogging again has already helped me loads & it makes me really happy to see my followers growing and people actually reading my rambles. It makes me even happier when people like & comment too. I’m really enjoying blogging again & cant wait to see what progress I can make in 2016 & look forward to connecting with other bloggers too.
  9. Working with brands – I love product reviewing and testing all sorts of stuff from technology to food, toys to appliances, there’s very little I wouldn’t mind reviewing if I’m honest & after testing a Cake for Baker Day’s it’s reminded me just how much I loved doing this on my last blog.
  10. Learning to manage my pain – I am now under a pain management consultant who really seemed to listen on my first visit & has explained so much to me that although I still feel a little lost with it all after  we now have a plan in place to help me manage the pain and build my core strength back up. The plan so far is that I will see  my consultant every 8 weeks or so with steroid injections & physiotherapy alongside it and once I am able to manage the pain better I can work harder on building up my strength, in the meantime though I just need to keep active but not push myself so hard and actually rest when I need to.. easier said than done admittedly with 2 young children but I am at least trying to slow down!

So that’s my list (I love lists!) of 10 things I’m looking forward to this year, what are yours?