How Your ‘5 a Day’ Can Help a Blogger (They’re not all millionaires, despite the rumours!)

You know when you ‘Google’ (other search engines are available) to find a fact, or check an ailment, the responses you find are often written by a blogger.

The headlines about bloggers making millions with no effort are usually fake news, or a sales pitch by someone building their own online business.

Good luck to them, some bloggers do make a great living, they work hard so deserve it.

HOWEVER most bloggers don’t make enough to live on, and never will.

Many bloggers don’t do the work to earn a fortune, most genuinely want to serve, support and help you, their audience.

Blogs exist across the globe for every topic you can imagine.

Self-help, educational study and mutual support groups, hobby groups and that isn’t even mentioning the travel, health, beauty and fashion blogs that you may be familiar with.

You know when you ‘Google’ (other search engines are available) to find a fact, or check an ailment, the responses you find are often written by a blogger.

When you read something online that you find informative, helpful or of value why not support the person who delivered it to you.


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How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

I use Ikea alongside salvage yards and junk shops to bring the rooms to life and make them my own.

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip - My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

I love interior design. I adore art. I love beautiful things and want to be surrounded by them. Sadly my budget doesn’t always match my aspirations.

Over the years I’ve lived in rented one room apartments, mortgaged victorian terraces and larger ex-council properties. Whilst renovating my various homes over the years, I’ve made no end of mistakes, some more costly than others. I’ve learned by them.

Let me help with a few tips to keep you safe and sane.

They may just save you from making those time consuming or expensive mistakes.

The best friend of the interior designer on a budget is Ikea. Can you believe it’s nearly 30 years since they opened their first UK store? I’m a self confessed addict. It started with a mutual love of wood and candles and has developed over the years as we’ve both aged and matured.

I use Ikea alongside salvage yards and junk shops to bring the rooms to life and make them my own.



Here’s how I do it…

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How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture – My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

Things that were minutes ago just squares and shapes laid snugly in a well fitting cardboard box are now a three dimensional gorgeous addition to your home.

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture –  My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture - My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide - ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

Do you hanker after well designed furniture but can’t afford it?

How about flat pack? Scared of it looking cheap and wobbly, with poorly fitting doors etc? Be scared no more, Ikea could well be the answer to your problems. Never shopped in Ikea before? Have a look at my shopping advice here.

If you followed my previous advice, you got home safely with all your bargains and flatpacks and are ready to make your house into a home.

Many people, sadly often the lovely men in our lives (I’m not sexist but guys, you know this is true) do not like following instructions. If this is you, then walk away. I can’t help you.

Walk away, with your big hammer, your tool belt and be prepared to break things.  Get your ‘might come in handy stuff’ box, aka toolbox, for all the left over pieces you didn’t think were necessary. You may want to keep the drill handy too, you know you love a power tool. For those who are less gung ho and want to do the job as suggested by Ikea, this post is for you.

Right then, who’s still here?

You did swot up and buy, or borrow, all the required tools didn’t you? No? Oh dear, you may have a problem, or not. DO NOT PANIC! I can help. You will just be reading instructions, or rather following text free diagrams with little pictures of people helping you along the way. No language difficulties here.

Check your watch, it’s not a race, this is a task that could take time. If you don’t have time, leave it. A panicky last minute build could be disastrous. Happy? OK, we’re going in.

My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – My 5 Practical Tips

1. Prepare your Construction Zone

Are you ready to go? Great. Get changed, be comfy, wear trainers not slippers or barefeet (bare toes and sheets of glass or wood don’t make for a healthy mix.) Grab a glass of water, it can get heated.

It’s a good idea to cover the floor area or table (only use a table for small projects. Picture frames usually have glass in them, you need to keep it flat. Furniture is heavy, you need to keep it as low as possible.)

Bedsheets / blankets to protect your flooring or carpet are ideal.

You don’t want to produce one gorgeous piece at the cost of scratches and marks on another.

You need as big a space as you can wrangle, spreading out will help you keep track. It’s also safer, you don’t want to be stepping over or on the flatpack pieces during construction.

At this stage it’s worth putting your drink where it won’t get knocked over but you can reach it. You may need extra energy so bring the Ikea Dime pieces, you DID buy some didn’t you?

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Redundant? Your 5 Step Action Plan – How To Turn A Job Loss Into An Opportunity. Survive and Thrive!

Now read your notebook. It should be a visual feast of fears and thoughts, dreams and aspirations, Q & A’s and more importantly your plan for your future. Your life is literally in your own hands.

Redundant? Your 5 Step Action Plan – How To Turn A Job Loss Into An Opportunity. Survive and Thrive!

I’ve been through the stress of losing my job a few times over the years, always in circumstances beyond my control.

If I hadn’t experienced the sheer terror of thinking I could lose my home I may never have had the courage, or cash, to go backpacking to the other side of this awesome planet.

I may not have moved house.

I probably wouldn’t have studied for a degree or learnt numerous new skills.

I could go on and on.

On my journey from worthlessness and fear to confidence and personal acceptance I’ve picked up a few tips on how to cope.

I’d love to share how you can turn a redundancy or job loss into a positive experience and opportunity. I’ll give you some ideas and reassure you. 

You are not on your own.

You really can come out smiling, in fact smiling throughout really helps not just you, but also your colleagues to get through the bad days!

First things first, get yourself a notebook and pen.

It’ll become invaluable. Treat yourself to one that makes you smile, not one you always use in your current job. This book will become important so buy one you like the feel of and that’s easy to carry around. 

I find a good way to organise your notebook is to use it the right way round to record the FACTS then turn it upside down and back to front to write all your thoughts and/or feelings. 

Now Your 5 Step Action Plan – How To Turn A Job Loss Into An Opportunity

1 – GET THE FACTS

Book an appointment with a legal advisor and your bank or financial advisor.

If you are in a union or with a caring company they may provide this free of charge. Most lawyers, in UK at least, will do a free consultation.

Get online, look for local resources, drop in centres.

If you’ve been shut out of your job without notice, don’t panic, still book appointments. You need to know your rights.

Write down the questions you have (these will often come to you at 2am so keep your notepad at the side of your bed) you’ll then be ready to ask the real experts. This’ll help you sleep as you’ll feel more in control.

Get facts, write them down, with dates and names of who told you what.

You won’t remember. Trust me!

Everyone will have an opinion and it will all pile up in your brain. To manage it all and make sense of the chaos your notebook will be invaluable.

Sadly some cases do go to legal action, if you need to go down that route your notebook will be invaluable. It’s handy to speak with people you know, especially those who’ve been through it, however don’t take their advice as fact.

Unless your friend is an employment lawyer they may not be giving you accurate information.

Refresh your CV.

There are plenty of up to date templates on the internet, update yours, this helps you to realise you have some amazing skills.

It’s good to do this exercise with someone who knows you well. We all have skills that we don’t recognise. You could ask a colleague who is going through the same changes to sit down offer a coffee and go through the exercise together. 

If you’re being offered a redundancy package it is probably highly detailed and could take months if not years to be put in writing. Don’t wait, start your research early.

So, the stressful stuff is in hand. The lawyer and bank appointments are in the diary, the CV is up to speed. Now have some fun! 

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Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone – Go Backpacking

Get your pack packed and on your back. Yes it’s called a backpack for a really good reason!

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone – Go Backpacking

OK, I’ll stand up and admit, I’m a traveller and I’m on a little bit of a mission.

Christie Adams with a backpack

I want to persuade you to go backpacking. Somewhere. Just once. Borrow a pack if you don’t want to invest just yet. You can stay where you like, hostel, campsite, B&B wherever you like.

City break or countryside hike, just be a backpacker for a day, a weekend or hopefully longer.

 

I have now been round Australia, with quite a big pack, which I still find Christie Adams sat under a tree at Uluruawesome and unbelievable.  I have been around the Greek Islands with a very small pack, carry on only. You can choose any style you like.

These pages may just inspire you a little bit…

http://www.christieadamswriter.com/5-reasons-i-became-a-backpacker-yes-me-a-50-year-old-woman/

5 Reasons I Became A Backpacker, Yes Me, A 50 Year Old Woman!

http://www.christieadamswriter.com/5-great-reasons-to-go-back-packing/

Get your pack packed and on your back.

Yes it’s called a backpack for a really good reason! Please travel without a car, use a bus or train or boat, talk to other travellers and locals. You will not regret it.

The Hero’s Journey Formula – How To Write A Successful Novel

Fiction writers, especially new ones, sometimes fight the idea of conforming to a genre or sticking with a formula. They think it may suppress their creativity, but this isn’t the case.

The Hero’s Journey Formula – How To Write A Successful Novel

You will be familiar with The Hero’s Journey, even if you haven’t heard of it by name.

Star Wars, Matrix and Jane Eyre are just a few of the classic stories that follow The Hero’s Journey formula.

One vital component of the correctly applied formula is that at the beginning of the story, the protagonist can not possibly imagine how much their life is to change. They’ll go on a journey, their ‘character arc.’ As the plot moves along, so does their transformation.

In Star Wars Luke Skywalker has his dreams but in the wildest of those dreams he couldn’t contemplate his vital role in the fight against Darth Vader (No spoilers here just in case you happen to be the one person on the planet who isn’t aware of the storyline.)

Jane Eyre travels through her life and against all odds survives and ends up in a life she too couldn’t possibly have dreamt of. (Again, I won’t spoil your enjoyment of my favourite book, please read it, it’s beautiful.)

Fiction writers, especially new ones, sometimes fight the idea of conforming to a genre or sticking with a formula. They think it may suppress their creativity, but this isn’t the case.

If I use this formula won’t my story be predictable?

By being formulaic it doesn’t mean it will be boring or predictable. It will however be written in a way that your fans know what to expect. Fiction book readers like a story they can expect to a certain extent. This is why publishers usually give you clues. In the blurb or reviews on a book cover it will often say things like ‘If you like Harry Potter…’ or ‘This writer is the new Baldacci…’ these pointers help your fans find your book in the mass market that is the modern day bookshelf, whether that be in a physical book store or a digital one.

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Vietnam – The Hanoi to Hue Overnight Train – Not for the squeamish but an unmissable experience

British Rail would be twitching and litigating against such apparent recklessness

Hanoi train station

The station in Hanoi is quite bare compared to Europe’s sign-written, commercial railways. Stark grey concrete and not a word of English or at least none that we could see. No shops or the niceties of vending machines or cafes.

The trains are utilitarian and reminiscent of a film noire.

 

It’d make a great cold war film set. In comparison to the madness of colour, sound and constant frenzied friendliness that is Hanoi it just made me feel cool, cold almost and quite vulnerable.

Vietnam's bustling red lanterns and fast motorbikes

It was quite an odd feeling on a hot and humid day. 

This was when we were sure that going on a G Adventures accompanied group trip was worth the money. The vast open station with platforms lined with long anonymous aged trains was quite daunting. You know in an exciting way.

Officials in Vietnam like a good uniform preferably with braids and metallic trimmings demanding respect.

I didn’t get to grips with who was the police, security or rail staff throughout the whole trip. We meekly followed our impressively uniformed train guard and Cambodian travel guide across train tracks, YES, we walked across the train tracks.

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Why You Should Go On A Bike Ride In Hoi An, Vietnam

My untrained eye didn’t deceive me on that one as the seat dug into places it really shouldn’t, or at least not without due invitation!

Why You Should Go On A Bike Ride In Hoi An, Vietnam

What better way to immerse myself in the culture of Vietnam than to cycle. While somewhere in town a tailor was creating my beautiful hand made clothes, I decided to pass the time seeing a bit of the ‘real’ Vietnam.

Now let me admit I can ride a bike in the tradition of ‘you never forget’ however I have still to master the art of jumping up kerbs and no hands trick cycling a la BMX style. This basic skill of mine is enough to enable me to get from A – B but not in any artistic, or too speedy, fashion.

You can therefore imagine my trepidation / terror…

…when the cycle man arrived with a bunch of bikes with varying degrees of rust and dents, in my amateur opinion very aged brake cables and decidedly uncomfortable looking seats. My untrained eye didn’t deceive me on that one as the seat dug into places it really shouldn’t, or at least not without due invitation!

 

Well I had decided to try everything I could

I would embrace all new learning experiences with a smile so I got in position and set off. Wobble wasn’t the word to quite cover the way the cycle heaved quite violently at every bump, and let’s put it this way Vietnam is not known for its smooth pot-hole free highways.

Cycle_ride_in_Vietnam_with_local_cow

We took our life in our hands…

to cross a major junction, remember I can’t do hands free so…mirror ( what mirror), signal (WHAT NO HANDS) manoeuvre (don’t go too fast they will hit you!) took on a threat level as significant to me as a two year old walking across the UK M1 motorway. OK I admit it I was scared. It lasted approximately one minute until I reached the other side and then the absolutely stunning beautiful although rather bumpy raised grass pathways between the rice fields.

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Vietnam – Mekong Delta Day Trip – Coconuts, toffee and snakes

‘Hello love, here’s your jacket spud and beans and by the way how about holding a Python later.’

Vietnam – Mekong Delta Day Trip – Coconuts, toffee and snakes

We had Mekong Delta trip as an item on the Vietnam to do list. You may already be familiar with my 1 – 2 – 3 method of planning a trip.

No? Well quick recap:

1 – MUST DO THIS!

2 – Really want to do this

3 – Will I have time / money to do this?

So back to the Mekong. It was a no 1 but prior to the trip I’d not booked it. We knew we had a few days spare at the end of our Vietnam tour so a trip to a local agent would not be a problem. We’d compare prices and get the best deal.

In hindsight maybe we should have done that, however as we had travelled and enjoyed our whole trip with the tour guide we didn’t. We took his recommendation and slotted into a trip he knew about.

We climbed on board a very rickety boat, very rickety!

If it’d been at the beginning of the journey it would have made me nervous but by now we’d melted into the way of the East. We’d accepted their Health and Safety concerns aren’t managed quite as they are in the West. Those who’ve been there will understand I am using a tad of understatement here! Some others on the trip were ‘newbies’ apparent by less creased clothes and a more nervous demeanour.

Vietnam Beauty

The local guide chatted to us in English and gave us a small printed map of our trip. We’d be out all day and see a lot, lunch included. The first stop off was reached and I took my life in my very shaky hands as I climbed up a rusty ironwork bridge to land. I love land. I don’t like bridges.

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No Spoiler Book Review – where my heart used to beat, Sebastian Faulks

I imagined him in a slightly mucky rain coat, hair a bit unbrushed, a bit of dandruff on his collar. In his youth, an army uniform well pressed but also well worn.

No Spoiler Book Review – where my heart used to beat, Sebastian Faulks

Title: where my heart used to beat

Author: Sebastian Faulks

Copyright: Sebastian Faulks 2015

Ebook

Audio Book

Blurb:

On a small island off the south coast of France, Robert Hendricks – an English doctor who has seen the best and the worst the twentieth century had to offer – is forced to confront the events that made up his life. His host is Alexander Pereira, a man who seems to know more about his guest than Hendricks himself does.

The search for the past takes us through the war in Italy in 1944, a passionate love that seems to hold out hope, the great days of idealistic work in the 1960s and finally – unforgettably – back into the trenches of the Western Front.

This moving novel casts a long, baleful light over the century we have left behind but may never fully understand. Daring, ambitious and in the end profoundly moving, this is Faulks’s most remarkable book yet.

Plot:

This story follows the life, as told by the main character to another, so very much from his view point.

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