‘Does my blog need a niche?’ is a question I ask myself fairly often, especially after conversations like this:

Random person: ‘Hey! Lovely to meet you! What do you do?’

Me, thinking to myself ‘well, I eat, sleep, poo…’: ‘I write a blog!’

Random person, a bit confused but trying to sound interested: ‘Oh that’s cool! What about?’

Me, sounding like the lamest person ever: ‘Oh you know, all sorts.’

You see? Rubbish. I do think it might be cooler to be able to say something like ‘Oh yes, I blog specifically about knitting patterns for dog jackets’, or something like that. (Sometimes I also say ‘niche’ in my head in an American accent so it sounds like ‘nitch’. I couldn’t figure out what anyone was talking about when I went to a US blog conference a few years ago.)

does my blog need a niche?

If you’re a blogger, you’ve probably felt the same. (Unless you do blog about the dog jacket knitting patterns.) 

Except here’s what I think…

YOU ARE YOUR NICHE. View Post

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Necessary issues to settle before moving

A poorly organised moving process can cost you a lot of nerves as well as money. Before making this serious step, make sure you have a plan and make a list of things not to forget. Great planning will guarantee a painless relocation. 

While choosing a company to trust relocating all your belongings it is better finding the best and most reputable one as only trustworthy orange county movers will guarantee safety of your stuff and here are some recommendations on how to find reliable movers:

  • Ask your friends or colleagues for referrals, browse internet for reviews;
  • Make sure that the moving company you are about to hire is licensed and insured;
  • Finally check business credentials.

These are only few basic tips that might be useful while preparing for moving out and relocating to a new house.

Packing and organizing tips

After moving company is chosen and all insurance coverage issues are settled one may be left with another hard assignments as packing. Your whole life must be carefully analyzed and packed in boxes. This whole procedure might take a lot of time so it is necessary creating a priority packing list and evaluate how much time packing will consume. Here are few essential details not to forget when start packing:

  1. Try estimating how many boxes you will need to pack all stuff you are planning taking with you. Other useful things that might be handy are: bubble wrap  that will take care of all fragile things, strong tape, paper or old newspapers for lining boxes, knives, bolts etc. Consider using red duct tape on boxes with all essential thing that will be required shortly after moving in at a new place;
  2. Carefully look through all your belongings and decide what is useful and what can be thrown away or given for charity;
  3. All essential things for the first days at your new home like first-aid kit, basic clothes,  kitchen stuff must be packed and moved  in advance;
  4. Try to pack one room at a time and don’t forget labeling all your boxes with indication of the room to which it belongs – it will be easier to find necessary things after. Try to keep all boxes for each room together, label boxes that contain breakables or fragile items;
  5. Don’t forget to pack all important documents together and keep them close to yourself. Another useful idea is to back up your computers;
  6. It is important to notify utility services at both old and new places few weeks prior to your move; hire cleaners to take care of both premises.

Following these easy instructions will make your moving process much easier as you will have your list of priorities and won’t forget any little detail.

shutterstock_154243622, moving

shutterstock_154243637, moving

Images – Lucky Business/shutterstock

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Today I have another guest from the man I like to call ‘Matched Betting Jon’ from The Money Shed. Jon has written a few posts for me before, and has one today about making money from matched betting during the football season. I’d like to say Jon pays to post here, but we’ve struck up an unlikely online friendship, based principally on him insulting my love of caravans, and so I let him post here now and again. I’ve done matched betting myself, and it isn’t some weird scam I promise, so it’s worth a go.

Over to Jon…

Foreword – I have written A Beginners Guide to Matched Betting for Jo on here which you might like to read if you wish to give this a go.

Now that August has finally rolled around and we’ve seen the most of whatever ‘summer’ we’re likely to get, the next thing on the calendar we can look forward to is every matched bettor’s favourite time of year – the return of the Premier League!

What you need to get started with RISK FREE Matched Betting

Football offers at the weekend are the bread and butter of every matched bettor, and there is potential to make a healthy profit each month with the risk-free offers that the bookies throw at punters during the season.

Here is a selection of the best offers that we saw last year, many of which are likely to make a return for the upcoming 2016-17 football season! View Post

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You want a baby. Oh, how you’ve longed for those ten tiny fingers to grasp yours and those two little eyes to stare up at you. How painful it is when this desire is thwarted time and again by infertility. But there is still hope. Depending on what you’ve gone through and the treatments that may not have worked, it may be time to investigate egg donor IVF. But in the world of infertility, which itself is shrouded in mystery, the practice of using donor eggs for IVF is riddled with misconceptions.

Here are five common misconceptions—and some information to help put your mind at ease if you are considering using donated eggs.

Misconception #1: Using an egg donor is for older women

This is partially true. With each passing month, women lose some of their egg stores. Generally, women are born with close to a million eggs, and by age 30, only about one-eighth of them remain. By age 45, only one percent of women can conceive naturally. On top of that, older eggs are more prone to genetic abnormalities.

However, there are other reasons a woman might need a donor egg. Some women have fought through illnesses, but have impacted their fertility with medications. Others experience decreased ovarian function or even early menopause before age 40. Other women simply experience unexplained infertility.

Misconception #2: Anyone can be an egg donor

A common belief is that egg donors are just looking to make some extra cash—and therefore, they must be uneducated and economically disadvantaged. However, almost all egg donors have completed high school or are pursuing or have finished a college degree. While these women are compensated for their time and for treatment, most donors agree that they primarily want to donate in order give parents the chance to experience the joy of having a family.

Additionally, becoming an egg donor is not as simple as filling out a quick application; all egg donors must pass a rigorous screening that includes medical, genetic and psychological testing prior to being selected to donate. Of the thousands of applicants that egg banks get each year, only about 10 percent meet the standards to become an egg donor.

Misconception #3: Frozen donor eggs are riskier than fresh donor eggs

Although using a frozen donor egg to complete IVF is one of the newer assisted reproduction technologies available, the technology is no longer in its infancy stage. Previously, a slow-freeze process allowed ice crystals to form inside eggs during freezing, damaging them and leading to fewer viable eggs after thawing. Now, the most successful clinics use a technique called vitrification to freeze donor eggs by immersing them in liquid nitrogen—in other words, flash freezing them. With vitrification, frozen eggs produce almost the same likelihood of pregnancy as fresh donor eggs.

Misconception #4: Using an egg donor takes a lot of time and coordination

This is really only true for those who choose a fresh egg donor. For a fresh egg donation, the donor and the recipient must both be ready at the same time. The donor has to take medications to stimulate egg production, the recipient has to take medications to prepare her uterus for the forthcoming embryo, and both women have to get their monthly cycles in sync so that when the eggs have been retrieved and cultured, the mother-to-be is ready for implantation. And if the egg donor is not local to the recipient, traveling back and forth to the clinic is another complication. Not to mention, some donors do not respond as well to the medications, and it’s impossible to predict how many eggs a donor will produce.

When using frozen donor eggs, many of these steps are eliminated. Donors have already been through their egg retrieval, and a recipient can simply select a donor who meets their needs and can begin the IVF procedure when the timing is right for them. Additionally, the recipient is informed up front how many frozen eggs they will be receiving.

Misconception #5: The baby won’t look or feel “yours”

It’s heartbreaking to think that this is such a common fear for women who so very desperately want a baby. On the practical side, many couples often choose a donor that looks similar to mom, and use the father’s sperm, when possible, to have a genetic tie. On the emotional side, from the moment that little embryo burrows into the uterine lining to the moment the umbilical cord is clipped, mom and baby will share an unmistakable bond. To have two hearts beating inside the same body, to share nutrition, to feel each other’s movements is to forge a connection that is hard for non-moms to understand. And from birth on, you will have decades more time to connect with this new member of the family—who may inherit more from you than you may think. Genetics, after all, are not the only thing that determines a family.

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So you’re single again. Sometimes, breakups happen for a good reason. Other times…blame it on timing, stress, fear or sheer impulsiveness. Whatever the reason, you now find yourself without a boyfriend.

But you just can’t stop thinking about him.

Whether he broke up with you, or you dumped him, you just know that the split was wrong and you tell yourself, “I’m going to get my ex boyfriend back.” That sounds good in theory, but before you take charge and get back into his life, make sure that you’re right by looking for these simple signs:

Everyone Thinks You Should Get Back Together

You know that you and he belong with each other. Sure, you could be wrong, but then your best friend mentions how good you two were together. And then your mother does, too. Heck, you ran into his father at the grocery store and even he mentioned it. Yes, it seems that everyone knows you should get back with your ex.

While the opinions of a group of people are not always necessarily true, in this case, it’s a good sign. The people in your life have your best interests at heart: they don’t want to see you get hurt or make a terrible mistake. If your loved ones are telling you that you and your ex were good together, then it’s safe to use that as confirmation of your own feelings.

The Thought of Being With Other People is Crazy

You broke up, moved out and moved on, convinced that the future is bright and another perfect guy is right around the corner. But…you can’t imagine yourself with anyone else. Try as hard as you can, you can’t see yourself with that cute guy from the gym or the veterinarian your friend set you up with. No matter how hard you try, you can only see yourself with your ex.

And you can’t imagine him with anyone else, either. Not because of mere jealousy, but because no one knows him like you do. You know his favorite things, his quirks, his turn ons and turn offs. These thoughts are good signs that you miss him and have genuine feelings for him.

Just do not confuse these thoughts with rosy nostalgia: be honest with yourself about your relationship and make sure your are not convincing yourself of them out of the fear of being alone.

You Don’t Regret The Time You Spent Together

Breakups can make a relationship seem like a waste of time. What was it all for? You’re a little older and now back to square one, on the dating scene…it would have been better to not get involved with your ex at all.

But when you think about the relationship with your ex, it makes you smile. You remember that, sure, there were bad times, but the good ones far outnumbered them and you were genuinely happy together. You know that the relationship was not a waste of time, but a part of you that, even after breaking up, would be just as good now as it was then. In fact, being away from each other has made you realize all the more that the two of you were good for each other.

That doesn’t sound like regret. That sounds like true longing for what was.

The Breakup Was Cordial

If the breakup was bad, or you caught him in Amsterdam’s red light district or something, then these points are moot: you obviously broke up for severe reasons and you should let your ex go.

If, however, the breakup was amicable, then there is always a chance it could be saved. Perhaps the two of you have stayed in touch, or even remained friends that can still go out together with friends and have drinks, or run into each other at a party and not feel awkward. Cordial behavior toward one another is a good sign that there are truly no hard feelings and that the relationship may still be salvageable.

If you have not stayed close, reach out to him and see how he feels about the breakup. Chances are, he will be honest with you either way: if he is angry, he will show it by being short with you (or, really laying into you!), and if he is receptive, then he will love hearing from you. Either way, you will know how he feels and it will give you a good idea of how to proceed from there.

Not all breakups are permanent, so pay attention to these signs to see if your should try again, or just let it go.

Amy Banks works as a relationship therapist. She writes on topics of the heart for a selection of publications both online and offline.

 

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When you own a new home, it’s exciting. But, when you have children, that excitement can also be dangerous. Here’s how to keep your little one safe and save your sanity.

Your Bedroom
The bedroom is an innocent place, right? Not so fast. It’s basically a room full of tall furniture. IKEA made big news when it voluntarily recalled a line of popular dressers after one fell over onto a 2-year-old boy, killing him. A single death might not seem significant, but statistics show one child dies every 2 weeks when something falls over and crushes the little one.

What can you do? IKEA encourages parents to adhere to its taller furnishings to the wall with a bracket. You can do the same with all furniture, if brackets are available. If not, you may need to buy some and retrofit your furniture to protect your child. Keeping your child out of the bedroom isn’t always an option, either. But, if you think you can manage it, childproof your door, close it at all times, and keep the kid out of there.

Floors

Once your baby starts to get mobile the floor becomes a veritable booby trap! All kinds of things get picked up and put into your baby’s mouth, so be extra aware of keeping floors clear. Think too about trip hazards if your baby is walking or experimenting with a walker. A baby walker for carpet can easily be derailed by loose items on the floor, or could pull out cables.

The Flat Screen T.V.

Flat screens are a modern marvel. It’s a T.V. that takes up virtually no space. But, it does take up space, and that space is usually on top of the furniture that’s being knocked over onto the child. An estimated 41% of emergency room trips involve televisions, with 65% of fatalities coming from falling ones. This is according to a January 2015 Consumer Product Safety Commission Report. A survey from Safe Kids Worldwide showed 48% of parents haven’t secured T.V.s and furniture.

Unsecured Windows

You can see homes online from these guys at Bridgfords.co.uk, and get a good idea about which standard features come on homes for sale in various areas of the country. What you’ll find is many of the older homes do not have secured or safety windows. This is a problem.

Even on the first floor you need security windows. Trips, and slips, out of windows, down staircases, off bunk beds, and other places cause 150 child deaths per year. The falls are a leading cause of death. Nearly 2 million children age 12 and under visited the ER in 2013, according to the Safe Kids Worldwide organization. Window screens aren’t enough to prevent accidents either.

Parents need to install window guards that have a quick-release function. They also need to look into installing gates.

Cords

Cords dangling from the window blinds is another threat. While common, these are strangulation traps for small children. It seems so innocent. The cord gets wrapped around the child’s neck and can strangle him or her within seconds. Keep kids away from the cords is key, but so is properly managing the cords. Completely eliminating the risk is your best bet. Consider honeycomb shades with an internal cord, or a cordless roller shade.

Medicines

Medicines are very dangerous to have in the house, but they may also be necessary. According to the Safe Kids organization, there are roughly 185 children taken into the ER each day after accidental ingestion of medicine. That’s 67,700 children every year. Always lock up your medicines, or keep them out of reach of children. Most medicines have safety caps on them that prevent a child from opening them. But, don’t rely on them alone.

Always keep the medicine locked in a medicine cabinet. Or, keep the meds in a container that is out of reach for your child.

Detergent Pods

Kids might not know they should pay stay away from the pods. There’s an increasing deadly confusion between laundry packets and dishwasher pods. They both look like candy, and more than 700 children age 5  and under experienced side-effects after getting into laundry packets between 2012 and 2013.

The problems include breathing trouble, eye burns, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. The solution is to lock away all dangerous products.

Door And Window Frame Lead

Most parents know the dangers of lead paint, and they may even have dealt with the issue in their home. But, for many, it’s hard to tell you have it without proper testing. And, once ingested, lead leads to kidney damage and can affect your child’s nervous system and blood cells. Even worse, the child can absorb 4 to 5 times the lead an adult can. At these high levels of exposure, it can cause convulsions and death.

Emma Harris worked as a realtor for years before leaving that line of work to raise her kids, finally getting involved in property investment. She is knowledgeable in all aspects of housing and enjoys writing informative articles to help others on their way to finding a new home.

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There are many upsides to encouraging children to play outdoors – the smell of freshly cut grass, being at one with nature, letting imaginations run wild and getting some much needed exercise.

Of course, the biggest perk to playing outdoors is slowly being able to shut the kitchen door and unwind to the Archers while preparing dinner, without any “Mum, I’m hungry… when is tea?.. urgh, that’s ages! What even is it?.. Urgh I HATE mushrooms, why do you want me to STARVE?!”

Even though my children (who are barely really children anymore) are older now, I still remember them having a lot of fun playing outside. On one of those rare occasions that Bee was actually willing to play with Belle nicely, they would often go outside and make forts or dig up soil with their hands or something along those lines. (I wasn’t really paying much attention.) There was even one game they particularly enjoyed, which involved tying each other to a chair. Whatever they find fun, I guess.

These days though it is a lot more difficult to get kids to play out doors. Back In My Day, we always used to play out in the garden, because childrens’ TV was on for about five minutes a day and computers were a mere twinkle in someone’s eye. (Well, a bit more than that, but no one had one.) Nowadays, all kids want to do is play on iPads, Xboxs and watch endless episodes of the same old Disney Channel shows. If your kids are making it their mission to never breathe fresh air in their life, I’ve got some genuine tips on great activities that you can try with them. Or, hopefully, without them, while you enjoy a cup of tea in front of your iPad. (There are different rules for grown ups.) View Post

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Do you remember a little while ago I told you about Webfluential? I was telling you about how much I liked the way you could set up a blogger media pack with them, and earn money by referring other bloggers. (Have a read now if you don’t remember, it was interesting.)

Well, Webfluential have introduced a brand new tool for bloggers, to help you streamline the process of securing work, called Booked By Webfluential. It’s essentially a booking form, that you add to your blog with a plugin, or attach to your media kit, and that links back to your Webfluential profile. Webfluential are the first company in the world to focus on developing innovative tools like this that gives bloggers the potential to really grow their business and means that you can taken bookings from anyone, anywhere.

I’ve set it up here as a live page, so you can see it in action for yourself, but essentially it looks like this. You can customise the introductory text:

Webfluential booking tool View Post

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And by good old days, obviously I mean when I was a teenager. You have to consider those the good old days even if they were rubbish, that’s how it works.

Last night Belle and I watched Point Break. (The original, not the terrible looking remake.) It came out in 1991 I think, when I was 13, and I must have watched it dozens of times. Partly I just liked looking at Keanu Reeves, partly I wanted to be Tyler, because she was so cool and tough and looked amazing in that denim short/off the shoulder stretchy top combo, and partly because it made me want to join the FBI and do cool chases through people’s back gardens.

(Obviously I would never be able to do that, I’d just be huffing and puffing, shouting ‘come back!’ before collapsing in a paddling pool.)

It’s an ace film though isn’t it? A proper classic, which I why I wanted to introduce Belle to it at a similar age. When I got the box out though, I realised it’s an 18!! Seriously. I was stunned. An 18?! 

I did some research online and ‘bloody shootings’ and bad language seemed to be the thing, along with one scene where you see a flash of boob. I talked to Belle about it, as she is quite sensitive about things being age appropriate, and she agreed she would give it a go. I even said the word ‘fuck’ out loud, which I don’t think I have ever done before in front of her, to prove that it was only a word and couldn’t actually hurt you. She seemed a little taken aback, and I’m not sure I’ve ever read that technique in a parenting book, but I did really want to watch the film…

As we watched, I kept waiting for ‘the thing’ that would warrant the 18 certificate, but apart from the 71 uses of the F word, (Belle kept a tally), and a few shootings, there really wasn’t anything. I think about the sort of films nowadays that get 18 certificates, like the Saw films, which I could never bear to watch, and it just doesn’t seem to compute. 

Is it just me, or are films more violent now? If Point Break came out now, would it really get an 18 certificate do you think?

Point Break review

Image – underworld/shutterstock

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This morning I am meant to be writing an important feature about digital consumerism, but seriously, how dull does that sound? Instead, I decided it would be much more fun to make an infographic. 

Who doesn’t love an infographic?

This one is about Twitter, and contains seven cool Twitter tips, to help you get that little bit better at using Twitter. Some of them you may know already, but hopefully there will be at least one that makes you think ‘Ah, that’s cool! I did not know that!’ That way you’ll feel less inclined to close the window with a feeling of disappointment lingering as you sip your coffee.

Fingers crossed.

If you like this, you might like this other Twitter post I wrote, about ways to get more Twitter followers.

cool twitter hacks and tips

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If you have friends who live far away or are in a long distance relationship, then just seeing each other occasionally or speaking on the phone doesn’t have to be the only way to socialise together. There are lots of things that you can do online with people in another city or even another country that mean you can still have fun together, catch up and stay connected.

Skype  

Skype is an amazing tool that you can use to video chat with friends, no matter where in the world they are. With multiple users in the same chat you can catch up with friends or relatives anywhere, all at the same time, without having to leave your living room. Just agree on a time to all be online and you’ll be sharing old stories before you know it.

Online real time games

If you would rather do something together than just talk, playing online real time games can be a great way to virtually spend time together. With loads of different game sites out there, there are games to suit everyone’s taste and you can choose to play with other people or in a closed room with just you and your friends.

Online bingo

Another fun thing to do with friends online is to have a go at joining an online bingo community. You can join the same games to cheer each other on while having fun and hopefully winning some prizes. These days, you can get more of a bonus with online bingo when you shop around different sites for beginner’s offers.  

Watch together

As well as games you can play together, there are now sites on the internet that will let you watch shows together in real time so it’s almost like you’re sitting there watching them together. As well as TV shows and movies, you can also use sites like these to watch YouTube videos together for hours of fun.

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A post from my fiancé.

Two things of note have happened lately.

1.  We finished watching Downton Abbey.

2.  Our National Trust membership for 2016 has already paid for itself.

Two random facts you might think, but they do link back to each other.

I introduced Downton to Belle and Jo last year.  We powered through the first few series, and then when we were all fed up with the bad luck thrown on Anna and Bates we took a break. We picked up again in December and watching the final episodes at the end of January.  I know the girls were getting fed up with me commenting on Lady Mary’s wonderful dresses and exclaiming “She’s so like me” every time Dame Maggie Smith made a waspish comment, but the whole experience did prove to be food for thought.

Julian Fellows must be applauded for the way he portrayed the social changes in country houses and English society after the First World War.  Changes in social conditions and the lack of young men meant country houses started to shut at an alarming rate as the aristocracy lost the ability to run large estates.  Over 600 houses were destroyed around the time of the Second World War as our nation’s great houses became derelict.  From a historical point of view it’s a staggering statistic to think what historical gems we lost.  View Post

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