Loved By Laura Turns Two Arena Flowers Giveaway

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I sat down to write my first blog birthday post and yet here I am again for my blog turning two! TWO YEARS OLD! My goodness what a year this has been.

Loved By Laura 2nd Birthday – A Look Back

There are so many highlights that it’s really hard to choose, but I thought I’d share some of the things that made this year so special and why it means the world to me that you all continue to support my blog.

Loved By Laura Turns Two Arena Flowers Giveaway

My First Outfit Of The Day Post

To mark my first blog birthday my friend Marcus persuaded me to pose for some outfit pictures. I was incredibly nervous as I’d never attempted a fashion post before but the encouragement I got from you in comments and tweets and on Instagram was overwhelming. I’ve been doing OOTD’s ever since!

Although I sometime have confidence wobbles, I’ve discovered that I really enjoy styling up a look and I’m much more adventurous with my outfit choices these days, so it’s done wonders for my wardrobe!

(See my first OOTD post here.)

The Bloggers Blog Awards

I was completely speechless when I got shortlisted for the inaugural Bloggers Blog Awards as a wildcard entry.

To see my name listed alongside so many talented, highly successful bloggers is still one of my proudest moments to date. I’m pretty sure that none of the other girls had a clue who I was before the day but every single one of them was down to earth, encouraging and just as freaked out by the whole thing as I was!

We all had a wonderful time at the event and it was an incredibly positive experience. I made sure that I nominated my own favourites for the 2016 Awards because if I can bottle that feeling and pass it on I want some other bloggers to feel it too!

(Read my post on the Bloggers Blog Awards 2015 here.)

Loved By Laura Turns Two Arena Flowers Giveaway

Finding My Foodie Feet

I’ve always loved writing about food and drink but in the past year I’ve been able to really grow this side of my blog. Not only have I been developing and featuring more original recipes recently (look out for a recipe in my next post in fact!) but I’ve also been able to participate in some incredible experiences and collaborate with some fabulous food partners too.

I learned how to make authentic Italian pizza with I Just Love It

Levi Roots cooked me authentic Caribbean cuisine

…and I dined with Jimmy Doherty who taught me to appreciate Jersey Royals.

Who Me?

I’ve had quite a few ‘pinch me’ moments in the last year too, where I’ve received an invitation and thought: Who me? Are you sure?!

Noteable standouts are participating in the Joe Browns Christmas Campaign (Me? Modelling? Say whaaat?) and having a bath in public. With champagne. And the Saracens rugby team. Seriously don’t pinch me I’d rather not wake up thanks.

Loved By Laura Turns Two Arena Flowers Giveaway

You Lot!

Yes you. The ones reading this post, supporting my blog and leaving me lovely comments of encouragement. You’re hands down the best thing about blogging and I thank you all for sticking by me!

Celebrate With Me! | Win £100 Voucher For Arena Flowers

In fact to say a big thank you, how would you like to win £100 worth of beautiful flowers from Arena Flowers?

Loved By Laura Turns Two Arena Flowers Giveaway

Well here’s your chance! Arena Flowers have kindly offered to send one lucky reader a £100 voucher to spend with them. I received my own huge birthday bunch from them last week and they’ve been in pride of place on my coffee table ever since.

Loved By Laura Turns Two Arena Flowers Giveaway

I had a massive smile on my face when I opened the box (they come carefully packaged in protective cardboard). Fragrant sunflowers, lilies and roses in the most beautiful hues, fresh berries and stunning foliage. The flowers themselves are lasting ages too.

You could fill your house with small bouquets, send some to a friend to show how much you appreciate them or go to all out Instagram Heaven with this premium rose bouquet!

To enter please follow the instructions on Rafflecopter. To be eligible you must complete the mandatory options, then there are some additional optional entries if you fancy an extra chance at winning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions are the rules which apply to this competition. By submitting their entry, entrants will be deemed to have agreed to be bound by the following terms and conditions.

*This competition is run by Loved By Laura in conjunction with Arena Flowers.

*To enter the competition entrants must complete the mandatory entry requirements on Rafflecopter before the closing date listed.

*This promotion is open to residents of the UK.

*No responsibility can be accepted for entries that are lost or delayed, or which are not received for any reason.

*The prize on offer is £100 Arena Flowers voucher redeemable at Arena Flowers

*The prize is only as stipulated and cannot be transferred and/or exchanged for cash.

*Confirmation of the prize will be made by email to the winner and announced on Twitter after the closing date.

*Reasonable efforts will be made to contact the winner. If the winner cannot be contacted, or is unable to comply with these terms and conditions, Loved By Laura and Arena Flowers reserve the right to offer the prize to another eligible entrant. Failure to respond and/or provide an address, or failure to meet the eligibility requirements may result in forfeiture of the prize.

*Loved By Laura and Arena Flowers reserve the right to amend these terms and conditions at any time. If we do this, we will publish the amended terms and conditions on the competition page.

*Loved By Laura and Arena Flowers reserve the right to end this promotion at any time, and without notice.

Good luck everyone, and thanks again for helping Loved By Laura Turn Two!

LovedByLaura

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Three Loved By Laura Rose Gold Iphone 6 SE Competition

 

Loved By Laura is turning two!

I don’t always get the time to reply to all of my comments or acknowledge my new followers but this doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate each and every one of you. I can’t thank you all enough for sticking around here and spurring me on to create even bigger and better things week after week. You are the reason I blog!

So to welcome in my recent new readers and say a massive thank you to my existing ones I’m going to be running some giveaways over the next few weeks in the run up to my blog’s 2nd birthday.

I’m starting off with the biggest prize I’ve ever given away on here which I’m hoping that you’re all going to love: A Rose Gold iPhone SE.

Win A Rose Gold iPhone SE

Yes that’s right, I’ve teamed up with Three.co.uk to offer one lucky reader the ultimate fashion accessory! The Rose Gold iPhone SE features among other things a 4-inch Retina display, Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a 12MP iSight camera to help you flatlay to your hearts content!

…if I could enter my own competition I would!

Full terms and conditions are listed below and entry is via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

iPhone SE competition with Three – Ts&Cs

*These terms and conditions are the rules which apply to this competition. By submitting their entry, entrants will be deemed to have agreed to be bound by the following terms and conditions.

*This competition is run by Loved By Laura in conjunction with Hutchison 3G UK Limited, operating as Three, Star House, 20 Grenfell Road, Maidenhead, SL6 1EH.

*To enter the competition entrants must complete the mandatory entry requirements on Rafflecopter before the closing date listed.

*Entrants must be aged 18 or over.

*This promotion is open to residents of the UK, except for Three employees, their families or anyone else associated with this competition.

*No responsibility can be accepted for entries that are lost or delayed, or which are not received for any reason.

*Winners agree to participate in publicity as Loved by Laura and Three may require.

*The prize on offer is a 16GB iPhone SE (rose gold) and a Three SIM card loaded with £10 of credit.

*The prize is only as stipulated and cannot be transferred and/or exchanged for cash.

*Confirmation of the prize will be made by email to the winner and announced on Twitter by 15th August 2016.

*Reasonable efforts will be made to contact the winner. If the winner cannot be contacted, or is unable to comply with these terms and conditions, Loved By Laura and Three reserve the right to offer the prize to another eligible entrant. Failure to respond and/or provide an address, or failure to meet the eligibility requirements may result in forfeiture of the prize.

*Loved By Laura and Three reserve the right to amend these terms and conditions at any time. If we do this, we will publish the amended terms and conditions on the competition page.

*Loved By Laura and Three reserve the right to end this promotion at any time, and without notice.

Coming up…

…and that’s not all! I have some other giveaways planned too because I want to be able to thank as many of you as possible. EEK I’M SO EXCITED!!! So keep your eyes peeled in the run up to my blogiversary as there’s much more to come.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

LovedByLaura

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An attack of the green eyed blog monster

Last week I was visited by the Green Eyed Blog Monster. She’d been lurking in the shadows quite a while, but on Thursday without warning she appeared from nowhere to send me into a proper meltdown.

Here’s what the Blog Monster said:

  • You’re not getting anywhere with this blogging thing.
  • You’re NEVER going to get anywhere.
  • Why don’t you have more followers?
  • Why don’t you have HER followers?
  • Why does that blurred picture of a coffee on Instagram have 106 favourites in 10 minutes and the photo you couldn’t wait to share got 36 likes period?
  • Everyone else is posting about how they doubled their followers. Why is yours stuck?
  • Maybe you should just give up on Snapchat, it’s for people to show off the ridiculously fabulous party/boat/event/holiday they’re on, not your cats.
  • Why didn’t YOU get that box of Benefit Brow goodies? Everyone else did.
  • You know, however well you do, other people are always one step ahead. Doesn’t that bother you?
  • Wait, you’re over thirty and you couldn’t even get shortlisted for a Thirty Plus Blog Award? Hahahaha. QUIT NOW.

You see, my Blog Monster likes to compare. And, as much as I don’t like to admit it, the Blog Monster is part of me.

Why I DO compare and why it’s okay to aspire to more

An attack of the green eyed blog monster

I know that I’m not supposed to care about numbers and that I shouldn’t compare my own blogging journey to others but it’s really bloody hard sometimes, especially when you see the people who started at the same time as you on a stratospheric rise and your blog seems to just be plodding along.

Here are some simple, unavoidable truths about why I DO care and why it’s okay to aspire to more.

The more followers you have (and I’m talking genuine followers, not bought ones!) the more likely you are to:

  • Get page views
  • Have posts shared to a bigger audience
  • Get MORE followers (because the irony is that the more followers you have, the more of an endorsement it is to other people to click follow too!)
  • Be approached for opportunities (you can do an absolutely blinding post but if no one’s going to see it, you’re not as likely to be noticed/approached)
  • Win public votes and awards (I hope that doesn’t sound controversial, but you know what? It’s true!)

I have no plans to quit my day job and I don’t make any money from blogging (in fact I spend a fair bit to keep it running!) so things like a loyal, growing following, shares and comments and brilliant experiences are the things that make me feel rewarded and supported and like I should carry on. And I think it’s okay to admit to that.

I also know that some people will read this and think: I really don’t know what she’s going on about, she’s really lucky! I’ve seen all of the wonderful freebies and events she’s been to that I would have given my right arm to get invited to. Stop comparing!

But that’s the thing about the Blog Monster, it’s never satisfied despite what we achieve (and yes, I’m INCREDIBLY grateful for everything so far by the way!!!). There’s always someone or something else to compare yourself to.

It’s Okay

I don’t even know where I’m going with this post, other than that I wanted to share it because the Blog Awards season has started and whilst it can be fun and exciting and make people feel amazing, not everyone can win and it can also lead to disappointment and comparisons and people feeling like they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. So I suppose what I’m trying to say is, It’s okay, I feel it too!

So what to do about it? How do I cope when I get an attack of the Blog Monster?

An attack of the green eyed blog monster

Step one: I get it off my chest.

Not on social media, HELL NO! But sometimes just voicing my hopes and fears and frustrations out loud to an understanding friend or my husband helps me to sort through what is genuinely getting me down and what is simply a silly little niggle. (Plus my husband is good at telling me when I’m being a self absorbed, nonsensical prat).

Step two: I step away from social media.

The easiest way to stop comparing is to have nothing to compare to. If you’re feeling an attack of the Blog Monster loom, don’t pore over social media making yourself feel even worse, go and watch Netflix for a bit, make yourself a cuppa, take a bath… whatever helps you to clear your head.

Step three: Let it make you stronger.

Once I’ve indulged in a pity party, I dust myself off and tell the Blog Monster to go shove it! The I go out and MAKE things happen. I’d go so far as to say that when I feel frustrated or knocked back, it just makes me more determined to do more and do better.

It’s easier said than done I know, but to get anywhere with a blog these days takes persistence, determination and effort. Quitters never win and winners never quit!

Step four: Celebrate other’s success, don’t begrudge them it.

Remember that the people who have ‘made it’,  the ones with those million instagram likes a second or the ones who’ve just gone on a press trip more than likely earned it through their own hard work and determination! By all means, it’s okay to feel jealous, but don’t let it lead to resentment or begrudge others their opportunities, celebrate and support other’s successes, just as you’d want them to celebrate yours.

Do you have a Blog Monster? How do you deal with it?

LovedByLaura

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5 ways to avoid distractions when working from home | PowWowNow #FlexibleWorkingWin

As well as running this blog I also have a full time job in the city. Most days I commute into the office from my small village in the countryside, but over the past year I’ve been able to move to a more flexible working arrangement which has made a huge difference to my work life balance.

Flexible Working Wins

Flexible working can mean a change in your employment hours, adjusting your start and finish times or working remotely. For me it means working from home when I need to.  I avoid the stress of my long commute, gain back hours of my day and I no longer need to use up annual leave just to wait in for a plumber or the postman.

At first I  struggled to avoid distractions and get into a good routine, whereas now I feel that days spent working from home are just as productive, if not more so, than days in the office. Plus I apply it to my blogging now too so that I can put out more lovely content each week!

PowWowNow #FlexibleWorkingWin 4

So for my fellow procrastinators, bloggers and social media addicts, here’s how I learned to do it!

5 Ways to Avoid Distractions When Working From Home

Set up a dedicated work space

Set up a designated work space in a quiet corner. You don’t need a fancy white desk with a wall full of inspirational quotes (although by all means kit it out to your hearts content if it helps!). My workspace, for example, is currently my kitchen table, or my garden! This gives me a calm, relaxing space to work in with no TV in sight.

Brush your teeth and freshen up

Sorry for sounding like your mum here, but as tempting as it is to roll out of bed and stew on the sofa in yesterday’s pyjamas, in the long run this is likely to make you less productive! You’ll feel sluggish and it’ll take you longer to wake up, and it’s more likely that you’ll find yourself distracted with thoughts of all the things you haven’t done yet.

Simple things like brushing your teeth and taking a shower will help your brain switch into a more alert mode and by getting the tasks out of the way early on your mind is free to focus on what you sat down to achieve.

(And you know, there’s nothing to stop your change of clothes being a fresh pair of pjs!)

5 ways to avoid distractions when working from home | PowWowNow #FlexibleWorkingWin

Hide your phone

I know, I know, this is a really hard one! But ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you really miss out if you read that email 2 hours later?
  • How much time do you waste getting distracted by other things like social media once you’ve opened the phone?
  • How often do you read something, then put the phone down to go back to work only to find that your mind wanders back to that message you just received instead of concentrating on what you need to get done?

Avoid the above by hiding your phone for a bit! Put it in another room, or in a drawer, or on the shelf behind you so that your back is to it… whatever means that it’s out of sight!

The freedom of not being tethered to your phone for a few hours will clear your head and leave you sharper and more attentive to the task that you’re trying to complete.

Keep what you need in easy reach

Plan ahead and equip your work space with everything you need for a few hours of work. Keep a drink and a snack beside you and have a pen and notepad handy along with any other items that you might need. This will avoid the need for you to get up and look for things halfway through your work, so you don’t break your concentration.

5 ways to avoid distractions when working from home | PowWowNow #FlexibleWorkingWin

Take regular breaks

Every 90 minutes to 2 hours get up, stretch your legs and take a short break away from the screen. Not only will you come back with a fresh focus, but this will also help avoid muscle and joint pains in the longer term.

The Ultimate Guide to Flexible Working

If you’re interested in learning more about flexible working Powwownow (one of the UK’s leading teleconference call providers) have put together The Ultimate Guide to Flexible Working which you can download for free here: The Ultimate Guide to Flexible Working (for employees).

Flexible Working Wins PowWowNow

It covers everything from knowing your rights when applying for Flexible Working, to finding the best forms of communication when working remotely and recommendations on great places to work from.

You’ll even find flexible working tips from bloggers dotted throughout the guide including yours truly… us bloggers certainly know all about flexible working! I hope that it helps!

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, however the kind folks at Powwownow sent me a box of goodies to enjoy when working from home in thanks for sharing my tips for the guide (including the Nakd Crazy Cola Raisins pictured above which FYI really do taste like cola bottles – YUM!)

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Kat (aka Laydey Katabella) recently organised a brilliant Instagram photography party for members of the Cambs Meet Up blogging group.

Laydey Katabella #instaprettyparty Instagram photography tips

She couldn’t have chosen a more perfect setting than the Wild Frost Cafe, which is in the market town of Ramsey near to Huntingdon. Not only does it serve up scrumptious cakes and other baked delights within its stylish vintage interior but it is also a florists.

Our hosts had gone to great effort to fill the space with seasonal blooms for us and every inch of the place had something beautiful and interesting to photograph, so we were in our element.

Laydey Katabella #instaprettyparty instagram photography tips

Laydey Katabella #instaprettyparty instagram photography tips

Laydey Katabella #instaprettyparty instagram photography tips Laydey Katabella #instaprettyparty photography tips 8

Kat brought along a box of props and accessories for us to experiment with. She’d even made us all an adorable handmade keepsake flip book of photography tips to take home which she talked through as she demonstrated how she composes the perfect flatlay.

I definitely need some coffee this morning! I hope you

all had the best bank holiday. Let’s kick Tuesday’s butt 👊🏻 #yougotthis #flatlay #coffee #tuesday #instapretty #quote

#beautifulblooms #bbloggers #fbloggers #youtube #lbloggers

A

photo posted by laydey_katabella (@laydey_katabella) on

We set to work rearranging every cup, fork and spoon in sight and liberally scattering accessories around the tables until we had all nailed our perfect Instagram shot.

There was only one rule: Nobody touches the cake until it’s been snapped within an inch of it’s life!

Laydey Katabella #instaprettyparty instagram photography tips

…which made us enjoy it all the more when we finally got to tuck in, with Kat doing the honours!

Laydey Katabella #instaprettyparty instagram photography tips

Here are some of my favourite tips taken from the day plus a few of my own!

5 Tips For Beautiful Instagram Photography

1. FIND BEAUTIFUL BACKDROPS…THE EASY WAY!

You could be mistaken for thinking that every beauty blogger’s house is full of marble and all food bloggers have gorgeous rustic kitchens with stripped wooden floors. I’ll let you in on a secret though, many use trusty DIY wallpaper and tile samples! Kat brought along a selection for us to experiment with and they create such pretty backdrops.

Try experimenting with different patterns to see which work best with your images. You could try white painted brickwork, oak wood or even vintage patterned prints, each will give a different look and feel.

Laydey Katabella #instaprettyparty instagram photography tips

2. USE PROPS AND ACCESSORIES TO CREATE INTEREST

Accessories placed around your focal point will add interest to an image and can help to create a story. For a travel inspired picture you could add a passport cover, some travel money and sunglasses to your shot, or for a pretty beauty shot try adding buttons, beads and jewellery.

How to take beautiful instagram photos

3. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Don’t overclutter your images, keep things nicely spaced. Don’t be afraid to have some things going out of shot too, it can help draw the eye to your focal point.

How to take beautiful instagram photos

If you’re not sure whether your image is too cluttered, remove a couple of items to be on the safe side, your first instinct is usually right!

4. THE RULE OF THIRDS

Mix up where the main focal point is in your images. Sometimes the subject might be dead centre, but experiment with moving things off to one side and leaving some negative space – it can give a really nice contrast.

If I won the lottery my house would look like a tropical jungle! 🌷🌼🌺🌸 #lbloggers #flowerpower

A photo posted by Laura C (@lovedbylaurac) on

5. PLAY AROUND WITH ANGLES

I like to take lots of shots from different angles and then compare them all to pick the best one for the subject. Some things look better with more contrast and depth so I choose a 45 degree angle, whereas others look better as a flatlay (birdseye shots looking straight down).

My weekend consisted of cameras and cake – perfect! #instaprettyparty

A photo posted by Laura C (@lovedbylaurac) on

A BIG thank you to Kat and to the Wild Frost Cafe for hosting such a wonderful party.

…and if you’re not already following me on Instagram, then you really should click here! (Shameless plug over!!)

LovedByLaura

Do you enjoy Instagram? What draws you to follow someone’s feed? Let me know in the comments!

 

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