Big news in the Miss Pork Pie Household!

I am super excited to be able to share with you all the news that I have taken the leap and decided to become a full-time blogger! It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do for ages, but never thought I’d achieve, at least not for a while anyway.

It all came about because I have been really struggling to find childcare for Dinky over the summer holidays. There are plenty of people that could and would help me but I just couldn’t expect them to have him 5 days a week for the whole 6 week period. I really struggled to pull it together last summer holidays, and even on just the half term holidays I sometimes only just scraped it together.

So I went into work and asked if I could reduce my hours so that I’d be able to work in the afternoons when Dinky could go to my parent’s for a few hours. It seemed like the perfect plan. Unfortunately, my employers couldn’t offer me the hours I was after, so understandably I was told to keep my hours or resign. It really hit me hard, to be honest, I felt stupid because I’d assumed that everything would work out okay. Now though I was faced with a decision to either beg for childcare from my friends and family or to leave my job that I’d worked hard at for two years.

Dinky always comes first, that’s a given but if I can’t provide for him and support and earn money alongside Mr. Pie’s wage then what use is it being at home? So that’s where I decided to jump in feet first and become a full-time blogger. I’ve been blogging as a hobby for three years now and more recently than not my views have started rocketing, and I’ve been offered work from various brands. I’ve had to turn a few away because of working full time but I know that once I’m at it full time I can take on so much more.

I have also recently started taking on some freelance writing jobs for various people/companies, which I plan on continuing once I have finished my current job.

I am really looking forward to beginning this journey into becoming self-employed. I am going to be doing vlogs on mental health, beauty, and parenting. I also have many other ideas in the pipeline, but for now, I’d love to hear any ideas that could help me get going or even share your stories on how you became a full-time blogger.

 

Much love xx

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5 tricks you NEED to follow to successfully lose weight (and not go without your favourite foods!)

So to kick off #WeightlossWednesday I am going to share with you 5 tricks you should follow to successfully lose weight, and with the added bonus of still being able to enjoy your favourite foods!

Let’s face it we all know how to eat healthily. We all know that an apple will be better for your health than a bag of crisps, but the crisps taste better. So what if there was a way we could have best of both worlds? Well there is and I’m going to tell you how. I’ve basically taken the best and most useful bits out of every diet I’ve ever tried and popped a bit of common sense in there.

  • Drink plenty of water

This is one tip I will be pushing everyone to make sure they do. Quite often the symptoms of thirst trick the mind and body into thinking it’s hungry. So if you feel hungry, have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes. If you still feel hungry after that then it is hunger and you should eat.

Water is also the best way to keep your body hydrated, which in turn will make your skin glow, your nails longer and your hair stronger.

  • Listen to what your body wants.

When you are eating, really notice what your body is telling you. After you have established that your body is actually hungry, you need to retrain your brain and your body to realise when you’re full and need to stop eating. The best way to do this is put your cutlery down between each bite and chew slowly. Once the feeling of hunger has gone then stop eating. This may result in you eating little and often, but this is easier for your body to work off.

But remember – if you’re not sure if you’re hungry, water first, everything else comes later.

  • Everything in moderation

You’ve probably heard that a thousand times and probably hate it when someone gives you that advice but trust me, it’s the best way of losing weight and still being able to enjoy your favourite foods. Use the same principle as my last point, only eat your desired food until the feeling of hunger goes. Also remember that you should be putting nutrition into your body. Over time your body will begin to stop craving “goodies” and it will crave more of the nutrition.

Another good way of keeping things in moderation is to reward yourself for victories along your journey. For example you walked to work instead of taking the bus all week. Having one chocolate bar will not undo all of that hard work you have done to eat healthily, especially if you keep up your activity levels.

 

  • Exercise

Another thing that a lot of people don’t want to hear. People often picture exercise as countless hours in the gym on the treadmill. This is an option but exercise is any form of movement that gets your heart rate up.

As I previously mentioned, walking to work (if possible) will up your exercise massively and you will see those pounds drop off. If you’re stuck for exercising ideas I always browse Pinterest for ideas. Another site I have found inspiration from is http://www.mensfitness.com/training/workout-routines/8-at-home-workouts-to-lose-weight-and-build-muscle

  • Use your common sense.

You know that a glass of coke isn’t as good for you as water, you know a chippy dinner is worse than a grilled chicken salad. What I’m saying is use your common sense when making your meal decisions. It doesn’t mean that coke and chips are banned it just means that having them more often than not is a no go.

Here are some ideas for some healthier alternatives to junk food – https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/healthy-alternatives-for-favorite-junk-foods

If you follow these simple tricks you will lose weight.

Remember to link up to #WeightlossWednesday every week to find out how everyone has done!

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I challenge YOU to better yourself.

Who’s up for a challenge?

I’ve been a yo-yo dieter for years now. I’ve tried everything from weight watchers to slim fast, slim pod, slimming world, crash diets, boot camp and even “magic” pills.
None of these worked for me because I felt like I couldn’t eat certain things. After a few days or weeks of eating like a rabbit I would give in and binge out on crap.

I’ve been feeling like I’m always going to be overweight, and for a while I’ve not really cared too much until recently when I saw some photos of myself at a family get together. I felt sick looking at how bad I’ve let myself down. I’m don’t just look big, I look unhealthy.

So the challenge…

I challenge anyone out there that wants to lose weight or improve their health to join me. I will be doing weekly posts to share my success and I’m inviting you to all leave your links so myself and everyone else can read your blogs. We can all encourage eachother.

Here are the 5 tricks you NEED to follow to successfully lose weight (and not go without your favourite foods!)
I run a Twitter account that I plan on sharing the best tips and tricks, and also motivation for all of us! Follow me over at www.twitter.com/missporkpie

I also run a Facebook group over at www.facebook.com/missporkpie – come along and join me in improving your health!

I am going to be using the hashtag #WeightlossWednesday – I hope you will all join me!

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Blog Camp 2015

I was lucky enough to be able to attend Blog Camp 2015, hosted by Sally Whittle, from Tots100. What a wonderful turn out! With around 100 bloggers there, lots of coffee, giggles and pictures, it was a truly amazing day!

Coffee and chat when we arrived!

There was a timetable, full of so many interesting topics, it was hard to choose which one to go to at times!

Here is the timetable! Lots of brilliant things to choose between!

The first one I chose to attend was ‘How to take great Headshots‘ with Phil Tregan. This was an interesting one, as I always feel like the pictures I take for my blog are never as good as all of the other wonderful blogs I read, so I thought it would be useful. Here’s a few things that I learned!

Headshots

A ‘headshot’ is a simple ID, usually you keep both head and shoulders in the frame. A question was raised asking if it could just be the head, but Phil said it’s better to take both, as the shoulders can be edited out later if needed. Another few points he mentioned were:
  • Headshot are visibly simple
  • Factual
  • Easy to look at
  • They have a clean background
  • Natural lighting is best, watch out for hard lighting, as you can end up with a large glare on the face which is hard to get rid of.
  • Posing techniques and how you stand, sometimes a headshot of a person stood very straight and directly looking at the camera doesn’t work. Things like turning the body away and then moving your head to look at the camera look much better. You are also able to find more flattering angles using this tip.
  • If you don’t have proper photography lighting, using a white reflector, or anything that can bounce light onto the face will work perfectly, to save having shadows on the face, and making the photo more flattering too.
Phil Tregan and his slideshow about portraits.

Portraits

A portrait has more going on in the photo, and in general they are more posed, and relaxed. There are often more objects in the picture, along with a background to pose with. This makes the photo more interesting to look at. These are few things to remember when taking a portrait:
  • What’s the intended purpose? – What are you trying to show with this photo?
  • Environment. Often photographers will have to arrive at a shoot and take the photo quickly, and use the surroundings closest. Which is the best place to take it?
  • Rapport. What will my subject give me? Often getting the person to talk about themselves makes them more relaxed, which then leads to a better photo.
  • Pose. Help the person you are taking provide the best pose.
  • When taking pictures of children, it can be hard to get them to pose for a photo, so often, photos of them playing with their toys are best. Getting down to their level to take the photo is also another good tip.
Cake break! 🙂

Next I attended the ‘How to be a fashion blogger‘ with talks from Christina and Kat. I truly loved this one, as I’ve been looking to get myself into fashion blogging. I picked up some really good tips from them and here they are!

  • Concentrate on brands you always wear, companies are more likely to work with you if they can see you normally wear their brand.
  • Be nice to brands! This one came up quite a lot. Brands are busy, and sometimes they will mistakes, it’s never on purpose, and they will always apologise if they have. Also if you’re nice, they’re more likely to want to work with you again.
  • If you are emailed by a brand and you’re not sure if you want to work with them, that’s ok. Don’t sit on the email, let them know and then they can find someone else who wants to do it, it doesn’t mean they won’t come back to you in the future!
  • Showcase your skills – reach out to brands so you can get on their radar.
  • Buy a branded item and write the most epic piece you can about it, then tag them in it on social media, this will help get them interested in working with you.
  • Practise selfies of yourself in clothes, work out your best angles, and buy a large mirror if you do not already own one!
  • Using flat lays instead of wearing the clothes are perfectly ok too! Although wearing the clothes shows the reader how it looks on!
  • If reviewing make up, show it on yourself, on your lips, a dab on your hand to show how good the colours look with your colour skin, because that’s what the readers want the most!
  • Create wish lists from brands you wear, and tag them on social media, this also gets them interested!
Lunchtime! Absolutely beautiful food!
I couldn’t NOT have dessert! 🙂
Next, I went to ‘So you want to be a vlogger?

I was really interested in hearing what Sally and Sam had to share about this topic, and I’d always thought about vlogging, but didn’t really know much about it. After finding out these following tips and tricks, I can’t wait to record my first product review and post it.

  • Video blogging or ‘vlogging’ is much more lucrative than a regular blog post, this can include anything including reviews, stories, days out etc..
  • Enjoy doing it. No one is going to want to watch someone who clearly doesn’t want to be talking on a video, or someone who is stiff and lifeless.
  • Make your blog relate-able to your directed audience.
  • Think about what you want to post, do you want your family life posted on the internet?
  • Use a welcome video for your YouTube channel, keep it short and informative.
  • Thumbnails are important, when editing your video, choose a thumbnail relevant to the video, it’s more likely to attract viewers.
  • Organise your content.
  • Add relevant website links to your uploaded videos.
  • Add featured channels.
  • Schedule your uploads for when you will get the most views.
  • Make sure you know how to use your editing software.
  • Don’t start your videos with a pause, and make sure you cut out hesitations and ‘ums’.
  • Promote your video, especially in the first 48 hours!
Another delicious treat before writing workshop!

Writing workshop with Fiona gave me loads of useful tips, and they came from a different angle than I expected, which made me think more about my blog posts. Fiona said that everything you write is a story, and that everything you write is like a TV series or a film. It needs to be gripping, it needs to involve characters, it needs to include suspense, and most of all, it needs to make your readers want to come back.

She also said that you need to really think about what your top like is. Within the first few seconds of clicking on a blog post, a reader decides whether they are going to continue reading or not. Also your ‘story’ doesn’t have to be in chronological order, if there is an interesting point in the story, start with it and then continue to go back and start from the beginning. This way you will draw your reader in. A few other good ways to improve your blog posts are:

  • Rule of threes – things work better in threes
  • Anaphora – repeating a certain phrase
  • Contrasting pairs – when you say something and then contrast it back in the same sentence.
  • Delayed drop – a little bit like a punchline
Nipped out on one of the breaks and saw this awesome lift door art!

Last of all, everyone was gathered together to listen and ask questions with Vicki, Ruth, Frank PR and Lindy. I loved listening to all of the things they had to say about blogging and working with brands. There were many questions about payment for your work, and many answers and opinions given. I think my favourite point made was “write because you’re interested in it”.

I would like to thank everyone at tots100 who made the day happen, and for letting me be a part of it! I met some wonderful people, including Mojo blogs, who I have known for around 4 years now, and never had the chance to meet. I’m already looking forward to next year!

The beautiful Zara (Mojo Blogs) and myself!
Much love xx
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Baker Days Review

I was so excited when Baker Days contacted me and asked me to review a Mother’s Day cake for them!

I chose this design because pandas are a very loved animal in the Pork Pie house! We have teddies, DVD’s phone cases, t-shirts, you name it, we’ve probably got a panda on it! So this design seemed fitting.

Although I didn’t order the cake through the website, I took a look anyway to see how easy the process would be, in case of future ordering, and I must say, it looks very easy to order! It’s easy to find what you want on the site, as it is arranged into events like Birthdays and Valentines etc. The cakes are very easily personalized, with an easy ability to change the size, and the recipe (normal sponge, chocolate etc). On the next page you are able to completely personalize the text on the cake which I think is a lovely touch, it makes it more personal to whoever you may be sending it to.

I have to admit, before I received the cake I wasn’t aware that it would be a letterbox sized cake. That may sound a bit dim but I just thought it meant it would be a smaller cake than normal, not that it would actually come through the letter box! It’s very charming! I was pleasantly surprised when I walked through the door to find a neat little box sitting on the floor.

On opening this box I was immediately hit with an amazing sweet smell, to find this sweet little tin

I thought that this was a lovely way to present the cake, also, a tin that may be useful for after the cake has been eaten! Alongside the cake were some balloons, a couple of candles and a party horn, which I think is a nice touch.

Another thing which I thought was nice was the little tab that helped lift the cake out. Not only was it very useful, it put a smile on my face with this written:

Devour with great gusto, I planned to!

The cake was neatly wrapped in plastic to keep it fresh, although a piece of card that came with the cake informed me that the cake had two weeks of shelf life! I’ve worked in bakeries before and never known a cake to last that long, I’m impressed!

So, it was finally time, the moment I’d been waiting for since I first found out about this review. Tasting time. I cut myself and Mr Pie a large piece each. Mr Pie was first to bite into it, and before I’d had a chance to ask how it was, or even try my piece he blurts out “HOLY CRAP!” and gave me a ‘you’d better start eating yours so we can finish this cake’ look. I bit into the cake and wow. What an amazing balance between sponge and icing. They complement each other perfectly. The sponge was a beautiful consistency, and the buttery sweetness of the icing on the top made it heavenly.

I checked out the price of a letterbox cake – £14.99! For the size of it I’d say that was too expensive, although the cake was really tasty, and everything else to that point had really impressed me, it seems like for the size of the cake, it’s a bit steep. Saying that though, if I had the money to spend, I probably would buy a letterbox sized cake for a gift, but not for myself.

Overall, I think that Baker Days have a really good idea going on here, but as I mentioned, the only time I would buy from them, is for a special occasion. Everything was perfect, apart from the price. 

I would definitely recommend trying these cakes though, it’s easily made it into my top 5 cakes ever, and I love cake.

Disclosure: This product was sent to me free of charge for this review, but all opinions stated in this review are my own.

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