Looking Back At 2017

Looking back at 2017, I can honestly say it was one of our better years. Things still went wrong.. a lot. But we coped better, we have some amazing people around us who have helped in so many ways to make 2017 survivable.

Looking Back At 2017

Looking Back

2017 was stressful at times, looking back at our year we have had several expensive things break. Our dishwasher was first followed by the washing machine, the new washing machine, the Mr’s phone, the cooker, my phone and of course we couldn’t end the year without one more thing break.. the Mr’s new phone. Less than 90 days old. My good friend Slim and his lovely mum have helped us a lot this year through these issues and I am eternally grateful to them. Fingers crossed 2018 is a better year with less breaking and needing replacing!

2017 has also been great in so many ways! Realising we do have some fantastic friends, blogging friends talking me through the ups and downs and giving me something to giggle over and my confidence has at least grown enough to stand up for  myself again. I have met so many lovely people through the blogging world who have helped me see I am not alone.

Blogging Buddies

We have had some fantastic days out with Martyn (Inside Martyn’s Thoughts) who we went to the Medway English Festival and the Rochester Dickens Festival with. We also met the lovely Hannah (Cupcake Mumma), Martyn’s better half. 😉 Hannah helped Martyn put on a lovely little party for Izzy’s 3rd birthday when we couldn’t manage it ourselves. They are such genuinely lovely people and it brightened up our year. 

Izzy & Martyn

A lot of lovely bloggers chipped in and bought Izzy a replacement pirate ship too. A visitor broke hers and she was absolutely devastated but she loves her new ship even more and plays with it just as much! I actually cried over this, it was such a lovely, thoughtful thing to do for Izzy!

 

Making Progress

I have travelled out of my area via public transport to visit Martyn. A small thing for most but a huge thing for me as I struggle to go too far from home especially alone. Especially just for me to get out for a break and a catch up. I think this has helped a lot with my confidence too, knowing I can do it even with a few small wobbles on the way. I’ve stopped feeling guilty for going out. Looking back I have realised its good for the Mr to spend more time with the girls alone. It’s great for me to have a break occasionally too, something I rarely do.

I have slowly learnt to manage my chronic pain better. Whilst I still over do it at times, it happens less now. I am learning my limits! This has helped with my mood so much, I no longer snap as easily as before. I am able to speak up when I know I need a hand, maybe not all the time but compared to before it is a big change! I still spend a lot of time dosed up curled in my corner recovering from something simple like a walk into town but I know when to admit I have to stop.

Coping Better

My anxiety and depression have become slightly more manageable too. I still have awful days and anxiety still eats away at me regularly but I am recognising the signs of a big meltdown and can at least let someone know I am struggling. More counselling will no doubt be needed at some point but for now I am happy I have made some progress alone. I know my anxiety is still ridiculously out of control (not helped by nurses!) but it isn’t 24/7 now maybe more 20/7. Crocheting is still calming me when I really struggle and so is blogging, hopefully over the next year I can progress some more and try to overcome the choking anxiety I feel most of the time.

Growing The Blog

Looking back the blog has grown a lot this year. Thanks to blogging we have had the chance to review some amazing products over the last few months and visited the Rainforest café to see Santa in exchange for a review which was fantastic fun for the girls. I’ve worked with some great companies on subjects that are important to me.

I wrote about the importance of handwriting in children in collaboration with Stabilo. I shared a lovely 2018 Page A Day Diary from Ryman. There are several gift guides I have worked on and lots of lovely books too. These little things remind me that I am not stupid or lazy for not working. I am still trying to do something useful. It means the girls get a few extras we otherwise couldn’t manage. 

The blog has become a big part of our life and I definitely want to carry on growing it. I would love to review more events and days out with the girls too as we really enjoy it!

Feeling Good

A lot has changed this year. Looking back through the good and the bad, I have realised I am not alone, ever. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, I just need to reach out, someone will be there. Having people to talk to this year ( I am sure some wish I would shut up at times haha!) I’ve managed to get stuff off my chest I have bottled up for years. I honestly think that has been the greatest help. I have stopped beating myself up so much and come to accept a lot of my past. Nobody is perfect and having a group of people who admit they aren’t, who listen with an open mind and just be there (even if it’s just in emoji form) has made 2017 that bit better. Thank you to everyone who has helped make 2017 survivable!

I’m hoping for a better year in 2018 with my Mr and girls with a few good friends around us. I can’t wait to see what is in store for us! Lets just hope no more appliances or phones die 😂😂

Tammymum

Setting Up A Blog – The Basics

Setting up a blog can be tricky whether for personal use or setting up a small business.

Setting Up A Blog - The Basics

I have written a few blogging tips before including My Top 10 WordPress Plugins and decided to share a few more tips on setting up a blog/website.

Setting Up A Blog

Choose A Domain Name

Choosing a Domain Name is the first and most important step. It needs to stand out from the crowd whilst reflecting what your site is about. Always make sure you check to see if your domain name is available. Check to see if it is used anywhere else or could be confused for a similar name.

Pick Your Host

Choosing a reliable host is so important, people won’t return if your site is always going down. A host that offers support is always a bonus which is why I like 1&1. They are easy to talk to on the phone even if you have anxiety like me. There are plenty of hosts and plans available so look around and read reviews too.

Find The Right Platform

Selecting the right platform for what you want is one of the first decisions to make. I personally prefer WordPress as I just can’t get my head around Blogger. I find WordPress is much more user friendly and with so many plugins available including woo commerce it is perfect for any type of website. There are others available, each will have different packages so take a look around and work out what is right for you.

Branding & Web Design

The next step to setting up a blog is creating your branding. Your branding needs to be strong, it is what helps you stand out from the crowd. Choosing the right design, colours, style and logo for your site is very important as it is the first thing visitors to your site will notice.  If you are unsure what works best there are plenty of web design companies that can help work out what is best for your brand.

Create Relevant Content

Create relevant pages such as a contact us page, about us, testimonials, products etc. It helps to create a few pages and posts before sharing elsewhere so your visitors have something to browse. Whilst I personally don’t feel you have to fit an exact niche creating relevant content for your readers is important. I don’t fit one single niche however I have readers who just visit specifically for tips, parenting posts, product reviews and mental health rambles. Creating categories helps with this. Anyone that visits my site can select a category from the top and go straight to the relevant posts.

Connect Social Media Accounts

Create and connect social media accounts on the relevant platforms. LinkedIn is great for those looking to connect with other professionals. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube may be needed depending on your type of blog or small business. Connecting all your accounts makes it easier for readers/customers to find you.

Learn SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) determines how you rank through search engines such a google. Learning SEO from the start can save months of trawling through blog posts and pages. There are so many SEO guides online and they are well worth the watch/read as they can help your ranking dramatically.

Connect to Google Analytics

Google analytics provides useful insights into your users, their demographics, best performing posts, referrals and more. This is a useful tool to learn more about your customer/reader and what they are looking for more of. You can create more useful content for your readers which generally leads to more visitors too.

Once you have covered these basics of setting up a blog or business site you are ready to go!

 

 

 

Creating Simple Logo’s With LogoJoy

I’ve been creating simple logos with Logojoy who offer a logo designer with a range of packages available. Logojoy would have been perfect when I first started blogging! Trying to find a quick & simple way to create a logo for the blog was quite difficult. I wanted something that stood out whilst being simple & purple (of course!).

creating simple logos

Creating Simple Logos

Logojoy’s logo generator comes with plenty of fonts, colours, designs, layouts & logo’s. When you land on their homepage you asked for your company name to get started. You are then given a page of logos where you are asked to like at least 5 or more you like.

Pick 5 Logos

There’s several colours to pick from next followed by the option to add a slogan. You can then pick 5 appropriate symbols for your logo. Most are quite plain compared to a lot of the colourfully illustrated logo’s I’ve seen. Whilst the options are quite plain they are perfect for a first logo.

Once you have made all your selections LogoJoy then generate several logo options for you to browse with the option to browse more & favourite those you like. You can then edit the fonts, sizing, positionings & symbols before deciding if you want to keep & download the logo.

Generated Logos

The main thing I love about Logojoy is the fact that you can edit and create logo’s for free! Only paying once you are completely happy with your choices.

Packages

Packages start at $20 for a Low resoloution image.

The premium package which I chose costs $65. This includes:

High resoloution Logo

Vector EPS & SVG Files

Transparent Background

Black/White Versions

Lifetime Phone Support

Font Names & Colours

Full Copyright Ownerships

Make Changes & Re-download

Print Ready

Brand Guidelines

Social Media Kit (Extra)

They also offer an Enterprise package for $165

This includes:

One Hour Design Time

High resoloution Logo

Vector EPS & SVG Files

Transparent Background

Black/White Versions

Lifetime Phone Support

Font Names & Colours

Full Copyright Ownerships

Make Changes & Re-download

Print Ready

Brand Guidelines

Social Media Kit

 

Overall I think Logojoy is a great tool for bloggers starting out who need a simple logo generator that loads quickly. Being able to save your favourite logos and go back to them and edit them in future is a great feature.

What did you use to create your logo? Have you heard of Logojoy before?

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!

unnamed
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!

image
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!

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?