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February 2016

Living Arrows 9/52

Living Arrows 9/52

by Clare Mansell

And that’s it… January & February are almost behind us and spring is around the corner. I always breathe a bit of a sigh of relief when we get to the end of February, it’s such a watershed moment. The weather always makes a significant change when March starts and in a month’s time it will be light at 8pm which is such a heartening thought.

theo2802d_edit1600ISO 400, 50mm, f/1.8, 1/4000 (with a reflector!)

The three of us were on our own this weekend while Jim is away on business which meant Theo had to spend a bit of time entertaining himself whilst I looked after Alice. He has always been particularly good at doing this in the garden and I try and encourage it as much as I can by not interfering or complaining too much when he digs the soil over or explores amongst the plants.

We are going to try and make another go of growing our own veg this year. We attempted it two years ago and my precious baby plants were obliterated in one night by the local wildlife. Theo is desperate to grow things and I want to feed that enthusiasm, so we need to start thinking about a pretty serious rabbit proof enclosure for our raised bed. Paying out for a (lovey local) organic veg box every week also focuses the mind a bit and will make investing in the necessary equipment seem worth it.

Linking up with…

Living Arrows
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10 years of blogging.. Yeah and?

10 years of blogging.. Yeah and?

by Clare Mansell

10 years ago today I published my first blog post. Over the last month I have been weighing up how to mark this milestone, swaying between the obligation to do something significant to mark it (as nearly everyone does these days) or to ignore it entirely.

The truth is that my 10 year blogiversiary is significant to no one but me. My content has changed radically since I started a travel journal in 2006 and very few of my original readers are still on board. I’m also reading very few of the blogs I read back then too, it’s not that the authors did anything “wrong” it’s just that my life and tastes have changed, as they do for all of us.

10yearsofblogging

The blogging world I stepped into in the noughties is very different from the one I am a part of now. For my first seven years I didn’t do a single collaboration and barely touched social media. I followed advice to keep pictures small, because a significant chunk of the world were still on dial-up connections and I made terrible strategic decisions like changing my web address when we moved location every two years.

Last year rather later than most, I decided to embrace the growing commercialisation of blogging by going “pro.” I attended three blogging conferences in 4 months, I joined every blogging Facebook group I could find and I dived in to the nonsensical world of ‘like for like,’ ‘comment for comment.’ Some of it was empowering, most of it was bewildering.

The more I immersed myself in the seemingly bottomless pit of the business side of blogging, while trying to execute every piece of advice I had been given, the less time I had to live my life and create the content that had originally been interesting. My creative output dwindled and the constant and repetitive Facebook discussions about Moz updates, Tots ranks and statistics began to numb my brain.

As I delved deeper I read more about he extraordinary lengths that some bloggers go to to be “pro” and the almost endless list of weekly tasks they feel obliged to do to keep themselves high up in the rankings. I looked at my own ok statistics, the small amount of time I spent doing an average of three posts a week and I wondered what more I really wanted from blogging? Very little it turned out, so I stepped back..

It’s not that my year going “pro” didn’t prove to be successful, but rather that I was doing it because I felt I should, without any really idea of what the end goal was. I earned a little more money for a lot more hours, the opportunites got better, but they also didn’t tail off when I halved my efforts six months later.

These days I’ve stepped away slightly from the competitive business side of blogging. I follow only what I love, not what I feel obliged to follow. My Instagram list is largely photographers and not bloggers (which inspires me, but probably isn’t great tactically) and my Bloglovin account is a small but well curated list so I can actually focus on reading the content I like. There are lots of bloggers out there I admire and respect, but I can’t read it all.

I focus on quality over quantity and only publish when I have something to say or an image to share. Almost always I write more posts than I plan every week, because instead of worrying about my DA score or struggling to fill my editorial calendar, I am sewing, taking photos or trying creative ideas which feed back into what I share with you.

So what have I learned in a decade of blogging? I’ve learned that it’s a wonderful invigorating world that stretches your skills and provides great opportunities, but that I believe you have to do it on your own terms. When you become totally immersed in anything it can be hard to breathe.

If you like this, you might also like…

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Customising and sewing for a four month-old

Customising and sewing for a four month-old

by Clare Mansell

Last weekend I had a rare chance to walk round Chichester without children. It was also the first time I’ve tried looking for baby clothes for Alice in actual shops rather than online and I was slightly taken aback by the prices of some of the things I found. I’m convinced this is at least in part because she’s a girl and girl’s clothing is often more appealing and therefore easier to price up.

In the end I came home almost empty handed except for a multi-pack of M&S t-shirts and I got the sewing machine out. It’s not just the cost, I didn’t want to be sucked into fast fashion of dubious quality and provenance. I have a pretty good fabric stash already and most of the stuff she needs is pretty simple to make and customise. Baby clothing only requires a small amount of fabric and a little knowledge and you can knock up a couple of things in an evening.

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How to choose art for every home

How to choose art for every home

by Clare Mansell

What’s your interior decor style? Have you pinned it down yet or do you still hesitate when you come to choose art for your walls?

With an enormous range of prints to select from, King & McGaw have every taste catered for. So if you are struggling to know where to begin when it  comes to filling the white spaces on your walls, try the quiz below to find your art style and then scroll down to discover a beautiful selection of hand selected prints to suit your art style…

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A bedtime routine for two… with Johnson’s

One of the challenges of having a second baby is trying to find a bedtime routine that works for two very different age children. Since Alice was born I have tried a number of different ways of doing things, sometimes bathing the two together, sometimes separately. Since they started sharing a room recently there has been more of a need to find a way of doing things that works for the both of them, so when Johnson’s challenged us to try their 3-step Bedtime Routine we thought we’d give it a go.

johnsons2

Last week a parcel of supplies arrived and with half-term this week we are ready to be eased into a new routine gently. The big change for us will be the introduction of some baby massage between bath and bed. I’ve not tried this before in any capacity, so it will be interesting to learn about it and I’m hoping Theo might be able to get involved too.

Johnson’s recommend some quiet time and reading before bed, so we are going to try and combine Alice’s night-time feed with Theo’s bedtime story, the end goal for me will be to try and make the whole bedtime routine a bit smoother and relaxing for everyone. We’ll report back in two weeks time to let you know how it went!

Sponsored blog post by the JOHNSON’S® brand. I have received payment incentive and samples but all opinions are my own. JOHNSON’S® clinically proven bedtime routine consists of bath, massage and quiet time, tested on babies 7 months+, 1 week+ use.

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