As I have blogged since early 2009, I reckon I must have learned some things of value to bloggers whether new to the exciting game of blogging or old hands. Here are my 5 top tips for bloggers.

1. Make your blog your own in terms of content and style. Don’t try to please the crowd because it is false. Be yourself and perhaps get a real wake-up call when you realise you are not alone with your thoughts and feelings. The more true and heartfelt you are on your blog, the more people will like and respect you as the individual you are.

2. Network for advice and support. You will be delighted at just how willing most bloggers are to share their tricks of the trade with you. There are lots of networks for bloggers both at home and abroad. If you don’t know their names, just join Twitter and ask on there. I am a member of Netmums, Britmums, Mumsnet and Love All Blogs. They all provide slightly different things so go and find which one/s suit you best.

3. Don’t write yourself off on the technical side of things. When I started I knew nothing about themes, widgets, buttons and all those sparkly bells and whistles. My friend Kat gave me some help via emails and then I just realised that perhaps I should have more faith in myself and have a go at the techy stuff myself. I am the most untechy person you could wish to meet so if I can do it, so can you.

4. Don’t become a slave to reviews, awards or statistics. They are all entertaining to an extent but it is easy to get sucked in to thinking they define you. They don’t and that way insanity lies. Believe that you are worthwhile in your own right and if plaudits come your way, celebrate them but don’t get needy for them.

5. Expect the Unexpected. Blogging is an unpredictable and exciting journey. My first surprise was when people read my blog and commented on it. My second surprise was realising that I was not quite as weird as I had previously thought (or that if I am, there are an awful lot of folks like me out there). My third surprise was when a public relations firm asked me to review a toy. My fourth surprise was when a founder of one of the networks listened to me and appeared to value my opinion. My fifth surprise was when I was asked to speak at Britmums Live. My sixth surprise was when I was featured as Blog of the Week on Netmums. My seventh surprise was when old college friends found and read my blog. My eighth surprise was how blogging helped my relationship with my stepdaughter. My ninth surprise was when famous authors and journalists read my blog and encouraged my writing. The tenth surprise may well turn up today!

So there you have it and now pop over to the Kate Takes 5 where you will find lots of lovely bloggers sharing their own ideas on what works best for them as part of the weekly Listography.

Steak casserole recipe

By using Princes Stewed Steak, you can have a hearty casserole ready in a quarter of the usual time…perfect after a hard day’s work.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
450g potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
400g can chopped tomatoes
150ml beef stock
100g button mushrooms
2 x 410g cans Princes Stewed Steak

How to make it

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the carrot and potato and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, stock and mushrooms, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

3. Add the Princes Stewed Steak and stir gently. Heat through for 4-5 minutes until piping hot and serve.

Corned beef hash recipe

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 x 340g can Princes corned beef, diced
120g unsalted butter
1 large onion, chopped
900g potatoes, boiled and diced
Oil for frying
1 egg per person (optional)

How to make it

1. Melt 40g of unsalted butter in frying pan and fry one large onion, chopped.

2. Cut 340g of Princes corned beef into 1cm cubes and add to pan.

3. Empty mixture into a bowl. Add 900g of cooked, diced potato, another 40g unsalted butter and black pepper.

4. Fry in a little oil and 40g of unsalted butter.

5. For a traditional twist, poach one fresh egg per person for 2 minutes and place on corned beef hash. Serve immediately with green beans.

 

 

Roscon de Reyes – Three Kings Cake recipe

(Makes a 15” cake)
Ingredients:
400g flour
3 eggs
100g butter
100g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 litre milk

zest of 1 lemon
dried mixed peel for decorating

glace cherries for decorating
salt

250ml whipping cream for filling

Model king / small toy / butterbean for decoration (optional)

Method

1. Mix the baking powder 4 tbsp of the milk add this to 100g of the flour. Mix together until it forms a dough type mixture – cover with a clean tea towel and set aside until it doubles in size.

2. Place the rest of the flour (300g) in a bowl and add the eggs, sugar, pinch of salt, the rest of the milk and zest of the lemon. Mix well then add the butter and continue mixing for a further 2 mins then add the dough mixture – once a smooth dough has been achieved cover and set aside for 2 hours.

3. After 2hrs knead the mixture then put it in a ring shape on a greased baking tray. Decorate with the dried mixed peel and glace cherries. Brush with milk and bake in an oven at 160 degrees for 15-20 mins.

4. When cool, whip the cream and slice the bun in half. Fill it with whipped cream (you can hide the toy, model king or butter bean in the cream). Slice and serve.

Reasons To Get Your Car ServicedGetting your car serviced so that you always have a smooth and safe ride if vital and all too easy to overlook in the business of life. So today I am sharing some good reasons to get your car serviced.

Learning from experience

My Dad always emphasized the importance of car servicing and I noticed that he usually passed his MOT easily and never ran up huge car repair bills unlike boyfriends who neglected to get their cars serviced.

Cars are complicated

A car is a complicated machine with many different compoments  such as the brakes, battery and exhaust. We look after our bodies so they perform better and cars also need us to look after them well for greater performance.

Modern cars

Modern cars are often fitted with a computer chip (the ECU ) which manages various aspects of the vehicle. It also collects information on events that occur as the car is driven. Garages have diagnostic equipment which can read the logs of issues that the ECU has recorded and this may prompt actions which may prevent failure at a later date.

So what do you do when the dreaded “Service Required” message appears? You can check your mileage against the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals

Where to get your car serviced

Local garages often offer a better level of customer service and you can build up a great relationship with  them so they know you as an individual and get to know your car too.

For example you could visit Ossett Tyre House  to avail of their car exhaust repair service in West Yorkshire.

Do I need to take my car to the dealer?

If your car is under warranty it is usually conditional on following the manufacturer’s service schedule but that doesn’t mean you must go to the main dealer. There are many specialists in various makes who will follow the specifications set by the manufacturer and stamp your service book. A local garage may also do the same if they have the diagnostic equipment. It is well worth building a relationship with your local garage so they know you, your car and you know what to expect from them