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Month: August 2017

#WorkshopWednesday – How to Use Giveaways to Build up Your Audience

#WorkshopWednesday – How to Use Giveaways to Build up Your Audience

Welcome to #WorkshopWednesday, my weekly feature with a focus on all things blogging! Each week there’ll be tips, tricks and advice on how to get your blog running like a well oiled machine!

As a member of the blogging community it’s likely that you see a lot of giveaways popping up as you browse social media. Giveaways are a super way for brands to further their reach, getting their products and/or services out into the world for people to try out and hopefully recommend them to others. Running giveaways isn’t just beneficial for brands, they’re also a great way for bloggers to further their reach, to increase traffic to their blog and to increase follower and subscriber numbers across their social media platforms.

How do you get giveaways from brands?

Getting giveaways from brands is a lot easier than you might think, most of the time all you have to do is ask! Even if the brand or PR don’t mention a giveaway in their initial correspondence, simply asking them if they would like you to host one is usually met with a positive response. It’s a good idea to agree terms here too; will the prize be posted directly? How long will the giveaway run for? Make sure you’re both on the same page so the giveaway runs smoothly!

What products/services should you accept and host?

In theory there’s no restriction to the kinds of giveaways you should accept and host. In reality however, it’s good practice to host giveaways that are relevant to the niche of your blog. That way you’ll attract readers that may be interested in the rest of your content, not just that specific post therefore helping to build up your audience.

How do you host a giveaway?

Hosting a giveaway is really easy if you use widgets such as Rafflecopter or Gleam. Personally I’m a Gleam fan, I find it simple to use and install, I also think that it’s really user friendly when it comes to your audience entering your giveaways.

Setting up a Gleam giveaway is pretty self-explanatory once you’ve created your account. The platform walks you through each step; from setting start and end dates, adding entry options and including your terms and conditions. Once you’ve completed each step, you’re provided with a code to embed the widget into your post. It really is as easy as it sounds!

Adding entry options is a key area when you’re using giveaways to build up your audience.. You can add options such as visiting your Facebook page, following you on Twitter and subscribing to your You Tube channel. This gives you chance to showcase your social media platforms and to hopefully increase your following!

What terms and conditions should you include?

Including correct terms and conditions in your giveaways is essential. Hosting a giveaway doesn’t mean you can just create a competition and promote it across any platform, for anyone to enter by any means you see fit. There are UK regulations that have to be adhered to if you want to make sure that your giveaway is legal. HERE is a really useful article that will help you make sure you’re running your giveaways properly and most importantly, legally!

 

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PLAY! – Our Perfect Family Outing at Chester Zoo!

PLAY! – Our Perfect Family Outing at Chester Zoo!

I love the zoo, it’s always been one of my favourite things to do even before I had children. Now that I have two girls, I certainly don’t take any persuading if a trip to the zoo is on the cards. So when we were given the chance to take our girls to Chester Zoo for the day, I literally jumped at the chance!

We were all super excited on the morning of our trip. With Hubs singing ‘We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo’ and the girls raring to go, I packed up a picnic and we headed off. We were really lucky on the journey as both girls had a little nap, there’s nothing worse than a tired toddler combo when you’re off out. When we arrived in Chester, they were rested and ready to go!

 

As we headed through the gates of the zoo, we were greeted by a lovely lady who gave the girls a bag full of goodies which absolutely made their day. I still find the biggest walking around with her Chester Zoo bag over her shoulder! The eldest of our girls is a huge fan of elephants and as we walked into the park they were ready and waiting for her just around the corner, she was in awe of them – especially the baby elephants who were so cute!

 

One of the highlights of my day was walking through the butterfly house. It has a free flight zone with the most beautiful, big butterflies I’ve ever seen. As we were walking through, a vibrant blue butterfly landed on J’s coat and sat there happily as we made our way through the house. It really was amazing to see! Soon after we went into the free flight area in the bat cave which was also great fun, we had to do so much ducking and diving as the bats darted around our heads!

 

Both of our girls were in their element as we made our way to the PLAY! zones at Chester Zoo. The main play area was amazing for the kids to burn off a little energy! The zoo also has smaller play areas dotted around the park, adding more entertainment for them along the way.

 

We had the best time at Chester Zoo, it was amazing to see our children enjoying themselves so much as they took in all of the amazing sights. If you’re thinking of heading to a zoo this Summer, we can’t recommend Chester enough! It really was the perfect family outing and we will definitely be returning, thankyou Chester Zoo!

*We were given entry to Chester Zoo in return for our honest opinion of the day. As always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.

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Is the Key to Success Self Doubt?

Is the Key to Success Self Doubt?

Ever since I ventured into the blogging world I’ve been bugged by my own self doubt. Wait, who am I kidding? I’ve ALWAYS been troubled by my own self doubt. I suppose blogging has just resurfaced old feelings, now that I’m constantly tip tapping them down for all to see.

Becoming a blogger brings with it a lot to think about. Obviously there’s the workload, which you don’t realise is so hefty until it’s too late. Once you get the blogging bug, there’s no going back.  Then there’s the feeling of exposure, when you think about who might be reading your stuff. What do they think of it? Is it any good? At some point, every blogger I know has had a crisis in confidence and has thought about closing their laptop for good.

In a strange way though, blogging has also given me a much needed boost in confidence. I wouldn’t have dreamed that I would end up being a blogger and a writer when I was in the early days of motherhood. It took everything I had to function daily, never mind to consider building up a brand new business with very limited technical knowledge. As time went by though I knew I needed something more. I dipped my toes into blogging and quickly realised what amazing possibilities lay before me.

I think that living with a lurking aura of self doubt can be the unexpected key to our success. Apart from the drive I have to be a someone in the eyes of my children and husband, I want to prove to myself that my demons aren’t in control of my future. Every time I get the feeling that I’ve taken on too much or I get anxious about looming deadlines, I turn that negative energy on its head and convert it into ambition. OK not every time, but I try to ignore the bad feelings and replace them with good. I do my best to ignore the voice that’s telling me I can’t and I amplify the one that tells me I can.

I’ve never had a passion for my work life before I found blogging and writing. I’ve always just gone through the motions. Yes I’ve built up a business before, but I didn’t care much for what I did. Now each morning I get up with fresh ideas, ready to power through another day of doing what I love!

 

So, if living with self doubt is what I have to do to make a success of myself, so be it. I’m only human after all!

 

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How to Create a Work/Life Balance to Suit You

How to Create a Work/Life Balance to Suit You

Having a good work/life balance is essential for you to thrive. All work and no play makes for a very dull existence and all play and no work is just not a sustainable way to live. I wouldn’t go burning the candle at both ends either, that’s a sure fire way to reach burnout at top speed!

Balance is not always an easy thing to achieve, especially when you have a demanding job and a family to support. Somewhere along the line something has to give. Compromises have to be made to make sure that you’re getting the most out of life.

For me, working from home has proven to be a challenge of epic proportions in relation to creating a decent work/life balance. First and foremost I am the primary carer of our two young daughters, they come first no matter what. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have to work though. It doesn’t mean that I don’t have deadlines to meet on a regular basis and that more often than not I’m spinning plates.

In my experience, there are ways to help yourself. At particularly busy times in your life, when you feel like those plates are going to crash to floor any minute, you can regain your balance. All it takes is putting a little thought and action into the following:

Be realistic –

Know what you can and can’t achieve at any given time. If it helps divide your day up in to time slots and dedicate an activity to each. Don’t try to fit in tasks that you know you won’t be able to finish and don’t let tasks that should take you a little amount of time, spill over into the next time slot.

This may seem like a very regimental way to live, but being realistic with your targets and abilities keeps you feeling on top of the game. You won’t feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your workload as you’ll have it all planned out and ready to complete in due course.

This plan doesn’t just have to be for your work life, allocate time to leisure activities too. The more balanced your planner appears when you look at it, the more balanced your mind will feel. Ah the power of organisation!

Learn how to say ‘no’ –

Saying no can be really hard. If you’re a people pleaser, you want to take on everything that comes your way to keep the guys on the other end happy. Now I’m not saying that you should become uncooperative and decline everything. Just have a clear idea of what you can and can’t fit in to your already busy schedule.

It’s a common misconception that people will resent you for saying no. Often people respect you more. Look at it this way, how can you expect someone to respect your worth and abilities if you don’t respect them yourself? Be strong and fair, you’ll feel so much better for it!

Utilise time saving technology –

These days there are apps out there for everything, reminders, planners, lists, schedulers – you name it. Use them! You’ll be amazed how much easier you can make your life by ditching the pen and paper and going ‘appy. The time you save by doing this can then be spent enjoying a break from work, it’s all about the balance!

Stop comparing yourself –

This is crucial! We waste so much time and energy on comparing our lives to those of others. Valuable time that could be spent hitting your next target, or taking some time out to enjoy your family in the present. Making comparisons holds absolutely no weight, because even the person who looks like they have everything together has their troubles.

Remember that everyone has good times and everyone fights battles, the best thing to do is concentrate on your own!

 

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#WorkshopWednesday – How to Create a Media Kit in Minutes

#WorkshopWednesday – How to Create a Media Kit in Minutes

Welcome to #WorkshopWednesday, my weekly feature with a focus on all things blogging! Each week there’ll be tips, tricks and advice on how to get your blog running like a well oiled machine!

 

A media kit is a document that showcases who you are as a blogger, what services you provide and how much you charge for them. If you’re a blogger that intends to monetise their blog, then having a media kit to hand is essential for sending to brands and PR’s at their request. It doesn’t have to be a huge document, offering reams of information. A short, to the point account of who you are and what you can offer the brand will suffice.

Personally, I think Canva is a super way to create documents like this. It’s simple to use and allows you to add a little design so that you’re media kit matches your branding. It also allows you to save documents in PDF format, making it perfect for sending straight over to the people who may want to work with you!

 

What Should Your Media Kit Include?

 

An introduction –

The best way to start your media kit is to include an insight into who you are and what your blog is about. Think about who your target audience is and the value you offer them. Include information about the journey of your blog and what you’ve achieved so far. Humbly outline your successes, letting brands know that you’re a contender and that you’re blog is going places.

 

Your stats –

In this section include all the significant numbers that you’ve spent time building up. Facebook page likes, Twitter followers and so on. Don’t be too worried if some platforms have lower figures than others, it still counts as reach and it shows your working towards building up your following further.

It’s a good idea to include your domain authority here too and the number of monthly visitors to your blog.

 

Brands you’ve previously worked with –

This is super important to show that you’ve worked with brands before and that you’re familiar with how the process works.

 

Your services and rates –

Think about what services you’re willing to offer and how much you’ll charge for them, separately and as part of a package. I have a rate card that includes everything from sponsored posts right down to single tweets. Having a rate card doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for negotiation. It just gives you a starting point, letting brands and PR’s know that you know your worth and won’t be working for nothing.

 

Contact information –

Does what it says on the tin – email address, social media handles etc. Make it easy for them to get in touch and find you!

 

Testimonials –

Including testimonials is a great way for brands to get a little insight into the service they’re going to get from you. A couple of positive testimonials could mean the difference between getting the gig and the brand moving on to someone else.

 

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#TermTimeEssentials with Highland Spring – Staying Hydrated and Conquering the World!

#TermTimeEssentials with Highland Spring – Staying Hydrated and Conquering the World!

As a family we adore spending time outdoors, letting our little ones get to know their surroundings. Our children are perfect little explorers, they love nothing more than feeling the excitement of learning something new each day. Their endless curiosity and desire to conquer the world in front of them is amazing to see.

Now that the Summer is here, it’s the perfect time for them be outside to finding insects, building dens and enjoying what nature has to offer. For them to enjoy all of this though, it’s vital that they stay hydrated. So when we were contacted by Highland Spring to take on their #TermTimeEssentials challenge, I thought it was the perfect time to instil good water drinking habits into our children before the new term begins. It’s also the perfect time for my children to show that they’re #BravebyNature, a project created by Highland Spring allowing children to showcase their ability to conquer the world!

Staying hydrated is so important for both adults and children, but did you know that children need more water in relation to their body weight than adults? Also unlike us, kids don’t always recognise when they feel thirsty. With this is mind, I’ve made it my mission to encourage our children to drink more water throughout the day. I’ve put a ‘little and often’ system in place and since doing so,  I’ve already begun to notice a positive difference in our girls attention span and concentration. Whatever they’re up to they always have a bottle of Highland Spring with them, reminding them to keep sipping water as they play.

 

The Positives

One of the main positives of taking on the #TermTimeEssentials challenge has been the improvement in our girls’ attention span. They have more determination than ever to explore and to complete the tasks that we set them. Prior to this, it would become obvious that their concentration was waning and that they were becoming irritable. I know now that a simple hydration boost would have made all the difference and given them incentive to succeed!

Days out with Highland Spring by our side have given our girls even more drive to be #BravebyNature. This year they’ve enjoyed days out in the sunshine, surrounded by nothing but open space. They’ve learnt to fly kites, play football and have loved investigating woodland trails full of obstacles for them to overcome. As a parent, there’s nothing better than seeing your children have so much fun on these long Summer days!

 

Making Highland Spring one of our #TermTimeEssentials

Taking on the #TermTimeEssentials challenge has been a real eye opener for Hubs and I. Making sure our girls stay hydrated has always been a top priority, but making simple changes such as implementing the ‘little and often’ rule has been an obvious benefit to our girls. They’ve embraced their ability to be #BravebyNature, tackling anything that has gotten in their way!

 

So, thankyou Highlnad Spring! Not only have you been our Summer time essential, but your bottles of water are at the top of our #TermTimeEssentials list too!

 

*This post was written in collaboration with Highland Spring.

 

 

 

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#MumisBest Guest Post – Carly from Mom of Two Little Girls

#MumisBest Guest Post – Carly from Mom of Two Little Girls

Welcome to another instalment of my new guest series #MumisBest!  #MumisBest is all about the ever-growing SAHM/working mum debate.  I really want this series to highlight that there’s no right or wrong way, but whatever works for you and you family.  If you’d like to take part do get in touch, I’d love to hear from you!  For now I will leave you in the hands of Carly from Mom of Two Little Girls!

 

I am a Stay-at-home-mom. My husband works and, is the bread winner and head of our house-hold. I stay home, look after our daughters and keep the house running. 

Some feminists out there might look at my life at surface level and immediately label me a sell-out.

Call me what you like, but this is what works for our family.

All during my pregnancy I was adamant that I would return to work after four months’ maternity leave. Then in the 7th month of pregnancy and after months of us arguing about who would be suitable to look after our baby when I returned to work, I just decided that I had to do what was best for her. I quit my job.

Shortly after she was born we moved to be closer to my family. Life went on, and then I fell pregnant with my second baby.

By this time, life was very hard for us. We were living in Zimbabwe with a declining economy. My husband was working with my dad and they were doing well, but the income we were relying on fluctuated monthly. I couldn’t take the stress and uncertainty anymore and we decided it would be best if my husband went back to working for a company in South Africa.

When my baby was 5 weeks old we moved to South Africa. Hardest thing ever!

The visa I am on here is a Spouse permit which allows me to live in SA, but not to work. My permanent residence application has been pending now since November 2015 … “Never rush a good job” as the saying goes. I’ll just leave that right here.

My husband works in construction on large road building projects so we move around quite a lot, moving to where the work is, up till now. This will stop soon as my eldest is starting Grade 1 next year and we don’t want to uproot her and move them once she starts formal education. Not if it is avoidable. Me not working has also given us the flexibility of being able to ‘follow’ my husband around wherever the work takes us. Whilst it has its own set of challenges, I am grateful to have been able to do this.

In around August last year, I was feeling low and frustrated with life. I felt I had no purpose. My husband’s job was going great, the kids were thriving in school, we were done with babies, nappies, bottles, and had moved on to the next stage of kids – out of the toddler zone! Whilst I love being a mother and I love my girls, “motherhood” the job was not satisfying me and I thought to myself that there must be more than just this. I decided to start my blog.

It has been almost a salvation to me. It has given me a purpose, something to own, a creative space and an outlet for all my emotions. I get to interact with adults online and share ideas and learn about other ways of life. I am committed to sharing the reality of my mom-life. The highs and the lows, the ups and the downs. #thisisreallife. We are not an Instagram Perfect family. My home is a place where we can be ‘normal’ – whatever normal is. I can be quite sarcastic and ranty on my blog, but if I’m not letting my personality out on my own blog, where can I? I like to think I can be quite funny too if you get my ‘dry & sarcastic’ sense of humour.

Our days are pretty standard and routine. My husband is gone from 05.00 until 18.00. I get the kids up, take them to school, then run around doing all the chores, blogging and everything I can whilst they are at school. Afternoons are spent ferrying them from one after-school activity to another, swimming, dancing, tennis, football – to name a few. We try to eat at the table as a family most week nights. This is our time to just be together, catching up with each other. Then it’s tidying up, bath, a little bit more TV, and then bed. When the kids are in bed I get to chill and can usually be found with a glass of wine in hand watching Grey’s Anatomy or some other Shonda Rhimes addictive series. 

We often talk about if whether I should go back to work or not, and the reasons why I don’t are always the same:

·        I am available for the kids and my husband 24/7. This is important as we do not have any family support at all.

·        I don’t speak any other language other than English so living in a very Afrikaans area of South Africa, the chances of me finding a job that was worth sacrificing all the perks of me not working are very slim.

·        We don’t need the money – any income I will earn will be used to pay someone else to do all the jobs I do around the house, plus more will be needed for after-school-care for the kids. It really does not make any sense.

·        My sanity is no longer in too much jeopardy now I have my blog. I’m grateful my husband recognises this and supports me.

So, yes, whilst I am a SAHM, I’m so much more to my family. It’s not fair to them yet for me to go back to work. Maybe when they’re older … isn’t that always the answer. Not too sure what my husband will do if/when I go back to work, but I’m sure the kids will be fine when the time comes.

You can see more from Carly here:

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How to Stop Work Getting on Top of You

How to Stop Work Getting on Top of You

Whatever kind of work you do, sometimes it can all get too much. It’s easy for your workload to get out of control and leave you feeling like it’s getting on top of you. This is not a healthy situation to be in. Too much work can have adverse effects, leaving you feeling stressed and anxious.

In the blogging and writing world, the workload is never ending. I have a to do list as long as my arm and it’s still growing! Don’t fret though, there are ways to help battle that overwhelming feeling of dread when work is getting too much. It’s important that you tackle your situation now to reduce the amount of pressure you’re under, before it begins to have an effect on the rest of your life. Consider the following:

Find ways to delegate –

Admitting that you need help isn’t always an easy thing to do, but it the long run it can be one of the most beneficial. If you have jobs that aren’t your strong point, you could ask for a little guidance from someone who finds it a breeze.

Maybe you simply don’t have enough hours in the day to complete every task on your list, in that case hiring extra help can come in handy. This may seem drastic, but it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think. For example, hiring a Virtual Assistant to do your scheduling for you will free up hours that you can dedicate to other jobs and most of the time they only charge a small fee.

If all else fails get your partner to help out, make it a family business!

Plan your workload –

I love to plan. If I didn’t my work life would collapse around me. Dedicate time slots to tasks if you have to, simply knowing when jobs will be completed can take them off of your mind until you are ready to tackle them. Don’t let work that you know needs to be completed later, affect what you’re doing now.

Give yourself a break –

When you’re planning your tasks, plan some time off too! A break is essential if you want to stay focussed and work to the best of your ability. No one can work hard without breaks, it’s just not healthy. Close the laptop, make a cuppa or go for a little walk. A bit of space can help you put things into a little more perspective, as well as leave you feeling refreshed.

Learn how to properly relax –

Figure out how you can relax properly. Whether it’s spending time with family, watching the television or something a little more soothing like hypnotherapy. Once you know how to make your self feel completely at ease, take time to do it regularly. Constantly feeling stressed and anxious takes a lot of energy, so it’s important that you take time to replenish it!

Don’t let work get the better of you, you’ll feel a hundred times better once you’re back in the driving seat!

 

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#WorkshopWednesday – Time Saving Tactics

#WorkshopWednesday – Time Saving Tactics

Welcome to #WorkshopWednesday, my weekly feature with a focus on all things blogging! Each week there’ll be tips, tricks and advice on how to get your blog running like a well oiled machine!

It’s after you get into blogging, that you realise the sheer amount of work that it takes to keep your corner of the internet running smoothly. Most of the bloggers I know are up until the wee, small hours on a regular basis, often there just aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s why it’s essential to develop a few time saving tactics to help you on your way. If you can save a few minutes here and there, it all adds up to time better used elsewhere!

During my time as a blogger, I’ve developed a few key time saving tactics. It makes my life easier and saves me a tonne of extra work in the long run!

Email Templates

Having templates saved on your laptop or phone is a real time saver. More often than not emails from brands and PRs will command a similar reply, so I have a draft email tucked away ready to copy, paste and tweak when I need to. This is especially useful when the girls are around, as I simply don’t have the time to spend on typing a fresh email each and every time I need to reply. Obviously this isn’t always the case, some emails do need a little more thought, but when I can I use a template!

Keyboard Shortcuts

I’m a huge lover of keyboard shortcuts. There are so many you can use, some you will find useful and some you won’t. Have a play around with a few and get used to using them, honestly it makes blogging so much quicker and easier. My most used shortcuts are ‘ctrl + c’ to copy and ‘ctrl + v’ to paste, simple yet incredibly effective in the time saving game!

Store Commonly Used Hashtags

If like me, you’re an Insta lover, the chances are that you’ll have a set of hashtags that you commonly use alongside your image and description. The hashtag limit on Instagram is thirty and there’s absolutely no way I can remember that many – especially as I use a variety of different combinations depending on the image I’m posting. That’s why I have a few different sets of hashtags stored in the notes app on my phone. Copy, paste and voila! Done in seconds!

 

Do you have any time saving tactics?

 

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Four Fun Garden Activities for Kids

Four Fun Garden Activities for Kids

This week, 14th – 20th August 2017, marks National Allotments week. When I found out it was coming up, it reminded me of the many hours I used to while away on my Grandfather’s allotment and how much fun I had in the process. As a result I love nothing more than spending the day outdoors in the nice weather, whilst my girls wear themselves out discovering nature. We don’t have a huge outdoor space but we definitely make the most of what we have. Our garden is jam packed our with flowers, toys and a sandpit for the girls to play in! So with that in mind and taking into account our love for the outdoors, here are four fun garden activities to keep your kids entertained this Summer!

Growing Plants

Growing plants is a great way to teach children about nature and for them to have fun! The planting process means they can get messy digging holes in the compost and planting seeds. Then teaching them to look after their plant by watering it and making sure it has enough sunlight gives them responsibility, which they will love. The best part though is seeing their little faces when their plant begins to grow. Growing plants is a great way to teach your children how to nurture another living thing.

Make a Den

Making a den is brilliant fun for kids! You can gather up sticks, leaves and anything else you find lying around to build walls and to make a roof! Making the den is only half of the fun though, once their little house is built they’ll play for hours in and out of their new crib! If you really want to make den building extra special you could take a look at Garden buildings from Lidget Compton. My girls would love their own house in the garden, it’s the perfect parent free zone!

Make a Bug Hotel

Bug hotels are super easy to make. All you have to do is gather up leaves, twigs, bricks and wood – literally anything you find sat unused in your garden. Then piece them all together creating a variety of habitats, with nooks and crannies galore for bugs to hide in. It doesn’t take long for insects and the like to take up residence in their new accommodation, the kids will be fascinated by all the different species that move in!

Homemade Bird Feeders

Homemade bird feeders are a great way to attract many different kinds of birds into your garden. My girls love to see our feathered friends, so making feeders is a firm favourite of theirs. You can use old plastic milk bottles, drinks bottles or even hollowed out fruit such as oranges. All you have to do is fill them with seed, hang them in your garden and watch the birds flock for the goodies you’ve put on offer. They’re fun for the kids to make and it’s amazing to watch the birds enjoy their seed!

What are your favourite outdoor activities?



 

*This is a collaborative post.

 

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