10 Reasons why The Blogcademy Rocks

Blogcademy group shot

I recently attended a two day blogging masterclass called The Blogcademy.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a course taught by Rock N Roll Bride’s Kat Williams, Gala Darling and Shauna Haider, aka Nubby Twiglet, and is a no-holds barred ask-any-questions, tell-no-lies class on everything you need to know to make your blog, well amazing.

I’ve read reviews ranging from people slating the three ladies who teach the course (snark central) to others who have basically said it is the best thing since sliced bread with a dollop of glitter on top and a side portion of jazz hands wrapped in the Emperor’s New Clothes. Not willing to jump on either bandwagon I figured the best way to find out was to see for myself. And yeah, I’m glad I did. I’ve not had chance to really put any of it into action yet as I’m currently at the Commonwealth Games but…

Here are my 10 reasons why you should get schooled at The Blogcademy:

  1. If you have a blog and you want to make it into something bigger and better then The Blogcademy is a solid investment in yourself. You are your best investment so why not back yourself? OK so it’s a fair whack of money but if you believe in yourself and you can pull together the cash then take a chance. I bet you’ve been on courses that work has paid for, right? So why not this? I was a bit coy about it but I’m so glad I took the plunge.
  2. You will learn an absolute HEAP of ways to improve your blog content. And I mean a heap. I basically got RSI from writing so much down in my notepad over the two days.
  3. Shauna’s branding masterclass was indeed that – a masterclass. I learnt how to make my blog’s brand more cohesive and how to make it pop (although I’ve not had chance to do it quite yet as I’ve been super slammed at the Commonwealth Games). Soon, though!
  4. You get to meet and make friends with a roomful of talented, intelligent and amazing women who are all passionate about blogging and harnessing the power of the internet on their own terms. It really is a positive feeling to be surrounded by people who *get you* and who don’t pull a funny face when you try to take an arty photo of a massive paper flower. For the fifth time.
  5. You get to wear a pair of sparkly ears. At first I was like, ‘WHAT?’ but it really helps break the ice. And did I mention they are sparkly? What’s not to love?!
  6. Gala, Kat and Shauna aka The Headmistresses don’t shy away from answering any question about blogging at all. The one-on-one advice I got from Kat and Shauna was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to get from my two days on the course too. It really gave me the confidence to know that I’m on the right track while also giving me a ton of ideas as to how I can improve things.
  7. There are cupcakes. Really tasty cupcakes covered in buttercream.
  8. It must have been something about the whole positive vibe of the two days, but I left with what I think is one of my best ideas yet and something I’m hoping that will take this blog to a new level. But that’s all hush hush and super top secret for now, sorry!
  9. The goodie bag is AMAZING! Seriously – so much fantastic stuff.
  10. The overall feeling of confidence and belief in myself that I left with confirmed that I had made the right decision to attend. Sometimes as a blogger (which can be a bit of a lonely venture from time to time) you just need an event to give you a boost and added confidence.

If you’re thinking of going on a blogging course or are umming and ahhing whether The Blogcademy is for you then I’m happy to answer any questions you have if you drop me an email or leave a comment.

Have you been on a blogging course? If so what did you take away from it? Would you recommend it? I would love to hear your views.

Lots of super-blogging love,

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Behind the Scenes at the Commonwealth Games

The SECC

I know I’ve mentioned it before but I’m currently in Glasgow with work to cover the Commonwealth Games. Both Wayne and I are sports journalists - I’m reporting on the gymnastics and Wayne is doing swimming/other bits and pieces – and I thought it might be interesting to give you a peek behind the scenes into my day job.

I love big, multi-sports event like this and always have since I used to watch them on TV when I was little. We were both lucky enough to report at the London Olympics so when the chance came up to work at Glasgow we both leapt at the chance.

Here’s a glimpse into what I see on a day-to-day basis while filing lots of copy on swirling ribbons, glittery leotards and Louis Smith’s pommel horse routine.


Sunny fun times looking for a bit of colour while I waited to do an interview, George Square:

The Big G at George Square

Wayne and I spent the whole of our first day in Glasgow interviewing athletes in a tent. Which had a bush growing in it:

Bush in the media tent

One of the people who turned up was Sir Bradley Wiggins. He is very cool:

Sir Brad

Inside and outside of the Hydro, home of the rhythmic and artistic gymnastics:

Inside the Hydro

Hydro

My view of the action from the press tribune:

Gymastics view

Press tribune

The all-important press accreditation and my diary – lots going on (including my planned blog posts!)

Diary and accreditation

Getting to where I need to be in the venue, accreditation checkpoints and behind the tape in the mixed zone (where the post-competition interviews are held):

The Main Press Centre workroom:

MPC work room

Clocks (2) Getty (2)

The main media conference room (where the daily briefings are held):

The big press conference theatre

Our office (including abandoned chairs!):

PA Office (2)

The Clyde Auditorium is next door, where you can catch some weightlifting:

One of Wayne’s pictures from the swimming at Tollcross:

Swimming at TolcrossA quick spot of netball during a five-minute break:

Netball

After a morning covering the rhythmic gymnastics I was asked to help one of my colleagues by getting quotes at the cycling:

Commonwealth Cycling

The mixed zone/interview area was in the middle of the track:

In the middle of the velodrome

Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome


So there you go, a quick glimpse into how the Commonwealth Games looks away from the TV cameras. The rhythmic gymnastics have now finished so I’m moving on to the artistic gymnastics – think pommel horse, parallel bars, balance beam and floor. If you would like to see any pics then check out my Instagram page as there’s sure to be a few! Also, while you’re there, why not have a look at and save the #craftyaugust prompt list. For more info on that, please click here.

I hope you liked this behind the scenes look at the Games and enjoyed finding out a bit about what I do in my job. Have you been watching the Commonwealths?

Lots of gymnastics love,

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#CraftyAugust: An Instagram Challenge!

Crafty-August-header

Hello everyone! Who’s up for a bit of a challenge? Don’t worry, it’s nothing strenuous!

If you’re on Instagram you might have seen people posting a new picture each day with a specific hashtag. I’m talking the #100happydays, #marriedmay and #radicalselflovejuly hashtags – where you post a picture based on a certain topic.

Well, I love a challenge (as long as it doesn’t mean running anywhere – seriously, my hips can’t take it) and I thought it would be ace to do a crafty hashtag.

Starting on August 1st, I’m going to be using Instagram to document the crafty goings on in my life, and I’d LOVE you to join me! All you need to do is put the hashtag #craftyaugust on your pictures!

I thought this would be a nice way for people who make lovely products, art and crafts to show off their wares, share what inspires them and give everyone a sneaky peak into their studios or workspaces.

All you need to do is take a look at the picture below, post a photo on Instagram relating to the listed topic on that day and use the hashtag #craftyaugust! If you’re lacking in Instagram inspiration this could also act as a helpful prompt!

I’m hoping that #craftyaugust will help to connect people who love craft in a new and exciting way, sharing ideas, inspiration, things you’ve made that you’re proud of and add to the already amazing crafting community on social media. So who’s with me?!

Crafty-August

#CRAFTYAUGUST

 August 1st – Say hello!

This is pretty much what it says on the tin! You could post a selfie, give us a wave, draw a picture of yourself or come up with another way to say hi. If you want to tell us a bit about yourself too then that would be ace.

August 2nd – Favourite Material

What craft material do you love to work with the most or what has a special place in your heart? This could be anything from wool to wood, paper to felt or the material you have the most fun with.

August 3rd – Workspace

Flash a snap of your desk/studio/sofa/kitchen counter or wherever you create your lovely handmade loveliness!

August 4th – Best thing you’ve made

Don’t be shy – use this day to blow your own trumpet and share the one thing you’ve made that you’re super proud of. I want to see and I’m sure everyone else does too!!

August 5th – Couldn’t live without

It could be a cup of tea, your cat or your favourite crochet hook – share the one thing you couldn’t live without during your crafty day.

August 6th – Work in Progress

Share a photo of a project that you’re currently working on, no matter how big or small. If you’re in between projects, you could post a pic of the last thing you’ve made.

August 7th – Florals

Let your imagination run wild and post something flower-related! It could be something you have made that’s covered in flowers or a picture of some blooms in the park. No holds barred as long as it’s floral!

August 8th – Favourite craft/art

What is your favourite craft? Post a pic and tell everyone why it’s the apple of your eye.

August 9th – Best Tutorial

You could choose to share a tutorial you made that you’re super proud of or one by someone else that has inspired you. This could be a tough one as there are so many fab DIY guides out there to choose from!

August 10th – What you’re Most Proud of

It could be learning a new skill, selling your first or 1,000th item on Etsy, cracking how to make that super complicated pattern – tell us what has made you totally chuffed.

August 11th – Favourite crafty Instagram person

There are so many inspiring Instagram accounts so today’s the day where you share the one that gets you clicking the Like button on the most regular basis. I’m always after new Instagram accounts to follow to this is a nice way to help share the love!

August 12th – What’s on your desk?

A still life snapshot of your desk in action, as it were, even though it mostly just sits there and holds all your stuff :)

August 13th – Pastels

Again, let your creative juices flow! Post a picture of anything you like as long as it’s made up of soft and pretty pastels.

August 14th – Favourite Supplier

Which is the one place you love to shop for your craft/art supplies? Online or an actual shop, it’s time to sing their praises!

August 15th – Current inspiration

What is currently making you leap out of bed with a mind brimming with creative ideas? It could be a colour, place, another artist or what you had for breakfast – whatever floats your boat. Or indeed, a boat!

August 16th – Favourite Make

What’s the favourite thing you have ever made?

August 17th – Glitter and Sparkles

Everyone loves a bit of sparkle, right? Post a pic of something bright, sparkly and shiny!

August 18th – Love

What makes your heart sing? Have you made something covered with hearts? Share a pic of something or someone you love, or a love-themed crafty item.

August 19th – Craft Storage

How do you store your craft supplies/things you have made? I need a bit of help in this area so I would love to see how you do it.

August 20th – Name a crafter/artist who inspires you?

Big up someone who you think is awesome. Again, this could be a tough one as there are so many talented people out there.

August 21st – Fabrics

A quilt, blanket, jumper, chiffon flower or some curtains you can’t wait to turn into something amazing; today’s the day to get all creative with fabric in your photo.

August 22nd – Best Craft Resource

It could be your favourite blog, shop, magazine or a class you go to. What’s your favourite craft resource?

August 23rd – Summer

Let the sunshine flow! Share a photo of what summer means to you.

August 24th – Top Etsy Pick

If money was no object, what would you buy from Etsy? Go on, share it here, as Father Christmas might be watching…

August 25th – Dreams

What do you dream of? Have you seen a dreamy piece of art or do you dream of owning a dog/your own shop/getting a commission by David Beckham. Whatever it is, today’s the day to spill the beans.

August 26th – I Wish I had Made

What’s the one thing you have seen that made you think: “That’s an AMAZING idea! I wish I had come up with that!”

August 27th – The Great Outdoors

Feel the grass beneath your feet or get inspired by the sky. What do you love (or indeed hate) about the great outdoors? Do you use anything from nature in your craft?

August 28th – Why do you love craft?

What is it about craft and making things that you love so much? Is it the satisfaction of making something? Does it relax you? Does it make you overwhelmingly happy? Share why today!

August 29th – Brights

Get your sunglasses out as today is all about getting bright, colourful and positive in whatever way you choose.

August 30th – Something pink!

Post a pic of something pink. It could be something you’ve made or not, but today is the day to think pink.

August 31st – Future plans

Share your next project, holiday plans, job hopes or maybe even simply a dress you have been eyeing up for months and are finally going to buy. On the last day of #craftyaugust, give us a hint of what is coming up next for you!


How do I get involved?
It’s really easy! You could save the image above or like it on Instagram so you’ve always got it handy. Then, use the daily prompts to share your creativity with the world! Take a photo each day, upload it to Instagram and tag it with #craftyaugust. I will do weekly roundups to see what everyone has been up to!

What if I miss a day?
Don’t sweat it – just pop the kettle on, make a cup of tea and catch up in your own time.

Can I post the challenge photo on my Instagram?
Definitely! That way you will always have it and other people might see it and get involved too, spreading the crafty love. Just don’t forget to use the hashtag!


Er, and that’s it! I hope you like the idea and get involved!

Looking forward to sharing the crafty love,

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And the Megs Broken Wings Bracelet Winners are…

bracelets

Happy hump day! I’m going to make this Wednesday that bit more awesome for four of you as it’s time to announce the winners of my Megs Broken Wings gemstone bracelet giveaway.

Again I was so pleased that so many people took the time to enter my giveaway and I hope it helped to showcase the talent of the lovely Megs, who makes some really beautiful pieces of handmade jewewllery.

Anyway, without further ado, the winners are… *drumroll*

Bec F

Alison T

Emma D

Natalie C

Congratulations! Check your inboxes as I will be sending you an email to get your deets! I would love to see you pics of your new bracelets on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram too when you get them.

Right, well that’s it for me today. I’m at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow watching lots of muscley men throwing some shapes on the floor and whizzing round a high bar among other things (gotta love gymnastics training!) so I’ve got my hands pretty full right now… Ahem.

Lots of pretty jewellery love,

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How to Make: Buttons the Cute Glove Puppy

puppy1

The school summer holidays are well and truly upon us so I’ve decided to include a DIY project which you can get your children involved with if you’re looking for something to fill a crafty afternoon.

If you don’t have kids then this make is still fun (especially if like me you’d love to have a real life pooch of your own). The bonus of this little guy is that you don’t need to take a plastic bag with you if you go out on a walk…

I called this little character Buttons – hardly original I know as he’s got buttons for his nose and eyes but it sounds better than Glovey I reckon! I used to love making things like this when I was little, way back when in the 80s, and thought it would be nice to resurrect making toys out bits and bobs.

Anyway, this is a really easy make but does involve some cutting and sewing but there’s nothing too difficult and it doesn’t take long at all. The instructions are coming up in a handy downloadable PDF document to make things nice and easy!

Buttons

Click the link below to see the instructions, which you can print off.

Instructions: Buttons the Glove Puppy

I would love to see your pictures if you end up making Buttons yourself. Have you made any other toys from a pair of gloves? I would love to see those too!

Lots of woofs and tail wags,

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It’s The Blogcademy Eve (and Friday Link Love)

Hello everyone,

I hope you’ve all had an amazing fun-filled week! Today’s post is an all-round excitable joy-fest as I have such a brilliant fortnight coming up I feel like I might actually burst.

First up is my trip to London tomorrow to go to The Blogcademy. I’ve been waiting to go on this super-charged blogging course run by Gala Darling, Kat Williams and Shauna Haider for SO LONG and now it’s finally here in all its glittery and positive glory I cannot WAIT! Saying that, I am a bit nervous too. So many amazing women in one room along with little old me… I’m hoping I’m not going to be mega shy…

Then, as soon as I get back from London, Wayne and I are heading up to Glasgow as we’re both covering the Commonwealth Games for work (in our everyday guises as sport reporters). We were both lucky enough to cover the Olympic Games in London two years ago and if the Commonwealths are half as good as London 2012 it’s going to be amazing! Keep your eyes peeled as I’m going to be doing a ‘Behind the Scenes’ post about the Games while we’re there…

Anyway, there has been an absolute truckload of brilliant posts doing the rounds this week so I decided to share the love with a link roundup. Here are my top links of the week:

Crafty bits and pieces:

Other cool things

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Lots of glittery love,

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Photos from The Blogcademy Instagram page

 

How to Make: Scrappy Fabric Bunting

Fabric bunting

I’m going to say something a bit controversial so I’ll do it in a whisper.

*I don’t like bunting*

(Looks over shoulder, checks that I haven’t been struck down by the crafting gods)

Don’t hate me! Maybe it’s because I saw so much of the traditional triangle-shaped bunting on a load of wedding blogs in the run-up to mine and Wayne’s wedding earlier in the year. Maybe it’s because it’s been pretty much everywhere for what seems like ever. I love vintage and all things kitsch but I just don’t love bunting that much anymore.

Saying that, I an absolutely LOVING tassels and fringing right now. Garlands made with tissue paper strips or brightly-coloured plastic in an ombre effect get a big thumbs up from me.

This got me thinking – why not do this with pretty fabric? It would look lovely AND there would be absolutely no sewing involved. (I’ve got to admit, this is something that totally puts me off running up a few metres of bunting. Yeah, I’m still very much eyeing up my mini sewing machine with total suspicion…)

Bunting

This scrappy fabric bunting is not only easy peasy to make, but it would look as great at a wedding as it would on your bedroom wall. You could work an ombre effect going from lighter shades to dark, go with pinks or blues for a baby shower or a nursery. The choices are endless! As there is no sewing involved it would also be a great craft project to work on with children.

Anyway, enough of the chat, here’s how I made it.

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Get a Free Beak Up Crafts iPhone App Icon!

Get the Beak Up Crafts app!

Hello everyone! I wasn’t going to post today but I’ve just done something which is pretty cool (well, I think so – nerd alert!).

I’ve just made an App Icon for Beak Up Crafts which you can add to your iPhone’s home screen! This means if you ever want to check out the blog, all you have to do is click the icon on your phone and it will take you to the site straight away. Super quick and easy with no typing. HOW COOL IS THAT!

All you have to do to get this super slick shortcut is follow these steps:

Get the Beak Up Crafts App!

  1. Using Safari, go to http://www.beakupcrafts.co.uk on your iPhone and press the share button
  2. Press the ‘Add to Home Screen’ button
  3. Press ‘Add’

That’s it! The new icon will appear on your iPhone and lots of crafty news (and my random ramblings) will be at your fingertips!

Oof. After that bit of technical fun, I’m off for a lie down.

Oh and a big shout out to Dana at The Wonder Forest who wrote an excellent tutorial on how to do this which you can find here.

Lots of bloggy iPhone App icon love,

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So what’s the word on Lucky Dip Club?

Lucky Dip Club box

Morning everyone! I hope you’re all ready for a brand spanking new week.

To kick things off on the blog today I wanted to share an interview with the super-talented Leona Baker, the crafty one woman thrift-tastic mastermind behind Lucky Dip Club – a new take on the monthly subscription box. Do you love handmade, vintage and surprises in the post? Then Lucky Dip Club is for you!

It’s probably best if Leona tells you all about her brilliant new company herself, so without further ado, here’s Leona…

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How to Make a Bow Tie Necklace

Bow-Tie-necklace-header

Morning everyone, I hope you’ve had a brilliant week. If not, the weekend is now bearing down on us like a two-day mecca of relaxation (with any luck!) so it’s not all bad!

Anyway, following on from my earlier post about handmade jewellery (click here to check it out and to also win one of four beautiful gemstone bracelets) I decided to have a bash at making some myself.

I’ve never tried jewellery making before and to be honest the whole thought of it is quite scary. I’m talking about wielding pliers, mysterious things called jump rings and the expense of doing it. But then I had an idea. I’ve quite fancied having a bow tie necklace for a while; Tatty Devine had some gorgeous glittery ones a few years back and Ladybird Likes makes some pretty ones from wood, but I don’t know how to laser cut acrylic or anything like that.

What I do know how to do, though, is crochet, so after watching a couple of YouTube videos relating to the jewellery bit and buying this cheap jewellery set from eBay, I decided to try my hand at making a crochet bow tie necklace.

I’ve got to say I’m pretty pleased with it (and it’s hot pink brightness, naturally) and thought I would share it in case anyone else would like a try!

You will need:

  • Basic crochet knowledge
  • Wool (I used hot pink neon in DK (double knitting) weight)
  • Crochet hook (to fit the wool you are using)
  • Scissors
  • Darning needle
  • Four jump rings
  • a chain
  • A clasp
  • Pliers (although you could use your fingernails, if you don’t mind them breaking!)

How to:

  1. Make the crochet bow tie first.
    To do this, ch 23.
    Tr into the third ch from hook. Tr to end then turn.
    Ch 3. Tr into the third ch from hook. Tr to end then turn. Repeat six more times.
    Finish off and leave a long end for sewing.
  2. This will give you a rectangle. Fold it in half lengthways and stitch together.
  3. Make the tie bit.
    To do this, ch 13.
    Tr into the third ch from the hook. Tr to end then turn.
    Ch 3. Tr to end and fasten off leaving a long end for sewing.
    Stitch the two short ends together.
  4. Slide the tie over the middle of the rectangle make in steps one and two to make the bow tie. Put this to one side.
  5. Measure two lengths of chain measuring 8.5 inches and cut. I used scissors, which worked fine, but be careful for little bits of chain flying around!
  6. With your pliers (or fingers!) open up the jump rings. There’s a video which shows how to open and close them here:

    How to Open and Close Jump Rings

  7. Slide a jump ring through a loop of your bow tie in the top corner. Feed the jump ring through the chain too before closing the jump ring. Repeat at the other side.
  8. Add a jump ring to the chain at the other end and slip on a clasp. Close it up.
  9. Pop a jump ring onto the end of the other chain – this is where the clasp will fasten.

That’s it, you’re done!

In the end my first foray into jewellery making wasn’t so bad after all.

I hope you like my super bright pink bow tie necklace!

Lots of dapper love,

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