The WordPress Community Experiment: The Answers!

In August I decided to do a little experiment involving members of the WordPress community. I asked a series of seven questions and invited anyone and everyone to respond, regardless of whether they followed Suzie81 Speaks or not. I had done a similar experiment the year before with great success, and as my community has grown since then I thought it would be an interesting way to get to know fellow bloggers. While I expected some sort of a response, I didn’t expect the enormity of the amount of answers I received, generating HUNDREDS of individual answers to my questions. In order for me to be able to include everyone, I have had to limit it to just one answer per blogger. I haven’t compiled it in order of preference, but I have tried to include an interesting answer from each person, complete with a link to their blog if it is still available. I think you’ll agree that the responses I received are emotive, witty and offer a small insight to the variety of bloggers that exist within the WordPress world.

It’s a lot of reading, but here is a pre-made blog party for you where you can go and check out all the blogs that participated.

Editors note: If I have accidentally missed you out, please let me know and I’ll link you asap!

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1. How did you create the title for your blog?

I thought of two iconic things from where I come from and where I live now ie Scotland and New Zealand, hence Thistles and Kiwis (Thistles and Kiwis)

The DMB song “Grey Street” described my life spectacularly at the time. (Georgia Mom)

It was the name of the website that I created during my Ph.D. (which I have quit since then). Originally it was Science Fiction, Media and Fandom, but evolved into Science Fiction, Transmedia and Fandom as I did more research work. Save for gender studies, it reflects my main fields of work as an independent researcher, writer and public speaker (Natacha Guyot)

It seems like everything I say is part of a bad conversation. So every post is Another Bad Conversation. (Another Bad Conversation)

Telling the Truth. It describes in three words what I’m doing in the blog. I’m telling the truth (for the first time) about how I was groomed to be a victim, how that affected me as a child, young adult, wife/mother and professional, and what it took to survive and thrive. (Telling the Truth)

I came up with the name while talking with people at work. They kept calling me Bitter Ben because of all the complaining I would do at work. They said I should start a blog about all things I was bitter about. The natural extension Ben’s Bitter Blog. (Ben’s Bitter Blog)

It’s based on a old episode of M*A*S*H (Apple Pie and Napalm)

Special Needs children are referred to as Exceptional, and I live in Delaware, so my blog is for all the Exceptional people in Delaware, children, teens and adults! (Exceptional Delaware)

My ex was stalking me on here.  I needed to come up with a name he wouldn’t associate with Kate.  My 11 year old son came up with the name FlippyZipFlop, and I decided to keep it.  Professional looking?  Absolutely not.  However, it makes him a part of my daily writing, so I’ll continue to keep it. (FlippyZipFlop)

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2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers?

Pace yourself in blogging. Set a schedule. You can write as much as you like, but you don’t have to post it all as you complete it unless it is a time sensitive subject. I border on burnout daily, hourly. (Ronovan Writes)

You won’t get 100,000 views on your first blog post. You will start off small, but regular, interesting posts, full of passion will generate traffic. You will meet other incredible bloggers too, there to support you and provide you with advice. (A Reflective Student)

Once you figure out what your theme is, you have to remember it each and every time you post. I can’t write about fashion and celebrity in my blog unless I can find a creative way to bring it back to health and Dr. Oz’s advice. (The “Whiz-ard” That is Dr. Oz)

Participate, participate, participate. In whatever you like and where your preferences go, from Weekly Photo Challenges, Daily ones, Writing ones, all sorts of challenges other bloggers do… You will find benefits are triple, you craft your talent and things you are passionate about, you meet other people who are interested in same stuff and others see your work. (Ivy Mosquito)

My advice would be to write with passion. Write about your passions, because if you’re not having fun writing, then you will feel burnt out quickly. Also, make sure to read as many blogs as possible. This will help you meet other bloggers and help you become a better blogger (Humyn)

Be true to yourself and don’t try to cater to others. (Richard Ankers  The Writings)

Blogging is about community, about sharing, and about learning. Enjoy the process and making new friends! (Writing Rachael Ritchley)

Just be yourself and don’t worry so much about the naysayers… If you put out genuine posts then stand behind them. (Valley Girl Gone Country)

Get a thick skin. In the infidelity blogs it’s dangerous. You show your pain and hurt and you get people who did the same things to other people, be they cheating spouses or their third parties, who come in and insult you or patronise you and try to make you feel you caused it, or you should do (insert self serving course that let’s them off the hook). Well, screw that. You have to be strong enough to stick to your voice and not be hurt by them. I’m sure trolls hurt bloggers even on less sensitive topics, so the thick skin is my best advice. (Writes Itself)

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3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

Working at in Int’l border crossing and a naked man walked in and asked my supervisor for a cigarette and a light, then walked back out into the rain… We all just stared as each of us was speechless. (Annette Rochelle Aben)

When I worked in another city, I found out my “twin” (the one they say you always have) worked in the same building. For a year, we had fun taunting and fooling those who knew us. (Mary J. Melange)

Strange doesn’t really happen to me…stupid, yes, all the time, but not strange so much. The strangest thing that’s happened might be my mother picking out my husband nearly a decade before we got married. (Somber Scribbler)

Being knocked out by an electric potato peeler and waking up thinking I was in heaven because this beautiful lady was looking down at me. (Hugh’s Views and News)

The day my Father in Law asked me to do him a manicure and pedicure. He had never had one and saw me doing my own. It felt a bit odd and it did take me aback when he asked. He passed away that night, a heart attack in his sleep. I always wondered if he ‘knew’… (CeeJayKayFit)

During the last month of my pregnancy I was on full bedrest due to concerns about pre-eclempsia and it was the height of summer in the DC Metro area so the windows were shut tight with the AC on full blast.  During that last month periodically I would start to smell my grandmothers Snickerdoodles (which she made me every year for my birthday) or her perfume (Heaven Scent) – my grandmother had passed away a few years earlier.  My son, The Boy of Terror (BoT) talks about her now and about her snickerdoodles (Masala and Blarney)

It involved a sleepless night, Apples to Apples, some lab goggles, my eventual detainment and a supposed ban from WalMart nationwide. Try not to re-live it. (Permashift)

Being surrounded by the SBI and law enforcement and soldiers and things while innocently exploring a cooling tower at a nuclear power station. It turns out that just because the front gate is open does not mean that you’re welcome to visit. (This was before 9/11 or things would have probably been even stickier than they were.) (Nerd in the Brain)

I was 16 and some random guy proposed to me at the library. He also asked me if he could meet my father to ask for my hand in marriage. I just looked him up and down and walked away. Btw he wasn’t joking … (Nuuray)

I had taken a $20 bill, in singles, and left them all in a family Dollar store as  Random Act of Kindness. About a week later, a woman handed me a $20 dollar bill in the dressing room, in my yoga studio, saying – “You must have dropped this because there was no one else there.” Astoundingly weird! (Lavender Reflections)

On my blog or in life? In life, setting the garbage truck on fire is probably the strangest that my wife will let me talk about in public. It’s a long story so you gotta find that on my blog. (Parnassus Musings)

If we’re talking about overall, probably the time I was kidnapped, robbed, molested, tied up, and left for dead by 4 Guatemalans in the jungle in Belize on the first full day of my honeymoon. I wanted to go to DisneyWorld. (O Pie-oneers!) EDITORS NOTE: WHAT!!!!

 

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4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

My boyfriend said to me once “We will both grow old and let’s face it, not look youthful and fabulous any more. But you have wonderful personality so you will always be the most beautiful person in the world to me.” (I Follow Islands)

I had a meeting with Dr. Dre about the possibility of his buying my bank robbery script. He told me, “You are one sick mother$%^&*” and that’s the coolest compliment I’ve ever received about my writing. And it was from Dr Dre! (The Return of the Modern Philosopher)

The executive director at work (large, worldwide organization) wrote the following statement on his well-read blog last year (about me managing the internal communications blog) — and he’d never done that before or after about anyone else. “… If you ever get the chance to meet Diane XX, please thank her and give her some feedback. She is amazing and we are lucky to have someone like her as a part of our team. Her enthusiasm and desire to help is second to none.” That had to be the high point of my working life! (Thoughts, Tips and Tales)

My mum. Just a few weeks before she died. I stayed over night with her in hospital and she woke up the next morning and said: “how lovely that I open my eyes and the first thing I see is you” (Carol’s Learning Curve) EDITORS NOTE: THIS MADE ME CRY.

I once went out with my version of The World’s Most Interesting Man and he said I reminded him of Ireland. This guy absolutely loved his trips to Ireland and he has been everywhere and went on to explain how I remind him of his favorite place. It was very, very smooth of him. So, I replied with well that sucks because I’m Scottish Welsh. (Winter Bayne)

”The world needs more people like you”, (my grandfather) (A Blonde Brain)

I have a husband who says lots of wonderful things—probably far more than I deserve. I think, though, that the day a student came in and told me that she got into nursing school and thanked me for helping her with her application was one of the best moments I’ve had—it was a moment of really seeing that what I do really and truly affects other people. (Part Time Monster)

My son telling me that he was finally feeling OK, months after his depression hit its lowest point last year. Being told “I love you”,  sincerely, by someone you love is also a nice thing to hear. (Not a Punk Rocker)

This is a toughy. One time before I got married to Mrs. Fearless Leader, her daughter (now MY little girl too) came up to me while I was washing dishes and asked, “Toby? Would you be my Daddy?” It’s pretty hard to top that. (Dumbass News)

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5. When presented with a time machine, which one time and place would you visit?

My teenage self to warn against making major life decision based on love for the wrong me (tenderness on the block)

Middle Europe at the end of the last Ice Age, right after the eruption of the Laacher See
volcano (Germany) 12900 years ago. (A Neat Street)

Piazza Maggiore in Bologna on VE Day at End of World War ll. (A.K.Andrew Writer’s Notebook)

Most definitely pioneer days. I’d be on one of those Conestoga wagons heading off for new adventures out West. (misterio press)

Any time during the life of Gene Kelly or Frank Sinatra. I absolutely adore them both and would worship the group that Gene Kelly walked on if he was still alive! (New Teacher Life)

I would go back and see The Beatles in concert in 1963 or 1964. I was too young to have seen them. (Vintage Rock)

I’d travel into the future to see if we ever terraform Mars. Then start quoting Total Recall; ”Are you crazy? I don’t even know anything about Mars!” (One Man’s Adventures in the Big Wide World)

I would go to a place near Moscow (Russia) to 1974 and play badminton with my dear friend Yury (he passed away in 1976 when he was only 42 years old). (Pursuit of Happiness)

I’m more of a “never look back” person. I try to live in the moment and learn from each experience. While it is tempting to ponder time travel to an early time in my own life, and maybe tweak a few things, I would refrain. You always have to go through the dark to get to the light. If I was thinking about it from a historical perspective, there are so many times I would love to visit, mostly during the 20th century. The world went through so many dramatic changes. It would be fascinating to experience things first hand. Specifically, I would visit the 1940s. Politics, war, fashion, music. It was an important time. (Steps Times Two)

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6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

Well, my first name is pretty cool. If I just had to change it, I’d go with Cesare and insist on the correct pronunciation. (Sourcerer)

Duke, because of a chance encounter I had with John ‘Duke’ Wayne which ended with him asking me to wear his nickname as a thank you for a service I was able to render him. (dukea98)

I’m named for my grandfather. There isn’t another name in the world I’d like better. (Old Road Apples)

I absolutely can’t think of any other first names I’d like because I’ve taught so many girls over the past 43 years and probably have memories of all of them. (How Can I Control My Class?)

Years ago, when I was working as a psychic, I was advised to be a one-name psychic and that Jennifer is not my name. I chose Rachael. After 14 years of not using that name, I am using it again. I truly am Rachael, not Jennifer. The name never suited me. Makes me think of a leggy blonde with biceps. Rachael is the Earth Goddess.  (A Little Fluff)

I’d like to have the first name Éilís which is Irish for my real name. It rhymes with ‘I wish’ when pronounced correctly. It’s unusual and a traditional link to my heritage. (Green Lizard’s Blog)

Probably the name of some literary character given that I named my daughter after the heroine in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. (Parent Your Business)

Hmmm, that’s a tough one. Maybe something like super or amazing or uncanny. Incredible, astonishing, spectacular…. well you get the point. I might even need a cool costume made of spandex. I would need to go on a workout binge first though. (JED’s Playhouse)

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7. If you were a ‘B’ Movie, what would it be called?

Decent People Also Succeed. (ashokbhatia)

If it’s the 1950’s campy invader type, it’d probably be something like “Revenge of the Lab Wererat”.  If it could include late ’70s and ’80s sci-fi and comic book movies, it might be “Song of the Stars”. (the tao of jaklumen)

Close Encounters of a Would-Be Reporter! (Thoughts By Mello-Ello)

Frenzy of the Sleepless Zombie Mama vs Mutant Laundry Pile of Doom (Barb Taub)

The Day It All Went Weird. (Manchester Flick Chick)

Starship Captains Don’t Wear Dresses. When I was a kid, they said that would be the name of my biopic. (Things Matter)

Indecisive Decisiveness (though, that may run the potential of becoming an art film…) (Ecclectic Alli)

Estrogen Overload…I have four daughters who are 21, 20, 18 and 15. Good times!!! (greatsnaps, goodtimes and me)

“My Time Is Now” and its sequel “Damn, That Was Fun!” (Butterfly Sand)

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: A special thank you to Gene’O and his blogs, including Sourcerer Blog who posted all of the links onto a Pinterest board.

Interested in seeing all of the answers in full? Visit the original post here and read on!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @Suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

Image Credits

Game of Thrones: zipmeme

Peanuts: manovotny.com

Xibit: troll.me

Polar Bear: makeameme.com

Delorean: hdw.eweb4.com

Baby: currentbuzz.my

Futurama: quickmeme.com

Oscars Edition – Top Three

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The Bloke and I adore films, our vice being the purchase of literally thousands of DVD’s over the years to the point where they are beginning to take over the house. We have certain films that we watch repeatedly according to day, mood and time – Friday evenings are reserved for action/fantasy, Saturday afternoons are great for rom-coms, Sunday afternoons are perfect for animation, and Sunday evenings are usually reserved for Asian martial arts (I’ve got a thing for Donnie Yen).

We don’t normally get the opportunity to watch the Oscars as it is shown into the early hours of the morning here in the UK, so to celebrate I have decided to create my own homage to the movie industry, and I would love it if you guys got involved.

To participate, you simply have to answer one question. You can do this directly in the comment box below or by creating your own post and linking it back to this. You can invite all your friends. If you wish to include a link to your blog with your answers, feel free to do so to allow other bloggers to visit you! 

My question to you is:

What three films could you watch for the rest of your life? 

You can simply list the films or you could give an explanation why you have made these particular choices. It’s a difficult question – I could easily list 20 or 30.

Here are my Top 3:

Carlito’s Way – tense, incredible acting and heartbreaking ending.

American Beauty – cleverly written, superbly acted, fabulous plot twists.

500 Days of Summer – a different take on the rom-com, with an unexpected ending.

I asked The Bloke this question and these were his answers.

13th Warrior

Kelly’s Heroes

Underworld

 

I’m looking forward to seeing your answers! You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.

January Round-Up: My Favourite Posts and a Party!!

January has been one of my most productive blogging months since I started Suzie81 last April. There are three posts that I am particularly proud of and so as part of the the ‘Zero to Hero’ Challenge I thought I would share them again with you in case you may have missed them. You can see them by clicking on the link or the accompanying picture. As always, I’d love to know what you think!

However, as it is the weekend, I’ve decided to turn this into a Blog Party that you can all join in!

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23 Things You Should Actually Do Before You’re 23

23 Things You Should Actually Do Before You’re 23 was written on the January 3rd, in response to a rather controversial Freshly Pressed post that went viral. Since then it has been viewed several thousand times, it has been reblogged several times and has been shared more than any other post I’ve created on Facebook and Twitter.

The focus of the post is about things that you could possibly achieve before the age of 23. I’ve tried to keep it as balanced as possible and avoid judgement.

 

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Blogging Worries and Paranoia

Blogging Worries and Paranoia: Are We Limiting Ourselves? was created on January 20th. This has also received a good response and I’ve had some really great discussions with various people about some of the subject content.

The general idea of the post was to highlight the worries that bloggers may have when writing something new, and discussing the idea of holding back from saying what we actually think to avoid offending others. This has been something that has bothered me for a while, and I was relieved to find that lots of others felt the same way.

 

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Why We Should All Love Justin Bieber

Why We Should All Love Justin Bieber was written yesterday in response to the ridiculous outpouring of love for the train-wreck that is Justin Bieber at the minute. I normally try and stay away from controversial subjects, but I got increasing frustrated with my Twitter feed being clogged up with news about this moron…

In a ridiculously short space of time this post has started to be shared across Twitter and Facebook and to my relief I haven’t received any Belieber abuse yet, although give it time!!

 

Instructions for the Blog Party.

Choose your favourite post from your own blog – preferably from January but any post is fine. The subject of the post can be anything you like – blogging, food, parenting, life, travel, thoughts, photography… Note: This should be only one post or it will get sent straight to the ‘spam’ folder and I may not be able to find you for a while.

Paste the link to your post in the comment section of this post.

Enjoy! Relax, pull up a chair, meet new people! Find new blogs, comment on their posts, follow, reblog and share. Let them know that you met them here! This is a really useful way of discovering new blogs, particularly if you are new to the blogging world and when I have participated in similar things I have really enjoyed them!

You don’t have to follow me to participate, you don’t have to be an established blogger – you could have written just a single post – and feel free to invite your friends! While you’re there, check out the winners of my New Year Week 3 Competition – their buttons are in my sidebar!

The party will remain open until this time tomorrow… Have fun!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @Suzie81.

Blogging Tips: The Sequel

I was going to call this post ‘Empire Strikes Back‘ as it is the sequel to something that I wrote a while ago (Blogging Tips), but then realised that it made no sense whatsoever to do so.

I’ve recently been getting lots of writers who are new to blogging that are asking for tips and advice. I’ve only been doing this myself for about five months and therefore hope that you don’t feel patronised by this, but rather than writing the same thing repeatedly I thought I would add to my previous list and create a complete post that may assist others when starting out. Please note: this is not a definitive way to blog – these are just tried and tested ideas that have proven to be successful for me. As always, I’d love your comments, feedback and feel free to reblog if you feel it is at all useful to you.

1. Contrary to other’s opinions on blogging, it isn’t necessary to have a theme ie. you don’t have to focus on fashion, or food, or films. Write about what you’re genuinely interested in and don’t concern yourself with the possibility that some readers may not share similar interests. Your passion and enthusiasm for a subject will always be evident in your writing style.

2. Write as frequently as possible – the more you write, the more opportunities the blogging community will have to see your musings. I try to visit my blog daily, although this has been every few days as of late due to work, moving house and sick pets. It takes lots of time to build it up and at weekends I can easily spend HOURS writing. However, remember that quality is always better than quantity.

3. Make sure that what you write is presented in a way that will entice others in. Punchy titles, interesting pictures and well-written paragraphs will not only spark initial interest, it will encourage people to follow you. While i’m on this subject, make sure that you do your best to credit any images and text that you have used that isn’t your own – I’ve seen quite a few examples where bloggers have enraged a photographer by using their pictures without permission.

4. This may sound a little snobbish, but make sure that what you post is well – constructed and well – written. Proof read things before you post them. It doesn’t have to be the ‘Queen’s English’ or of Ph.D quality, but don’t write as though you would text or answer your own jokes with ‘lol’ mid sentence. I instantly switch off after the first few sentences if they are poorly written.

5. Follow various challenges. I participate in the Daily Posts  ‘Daily Prompts,’ every ‘Weekly Photo Challenge,’ and post examples of my writing on the weekly ‘Community Pool.’ It is a fantastic group to follow – they have wonderful writing and photography suggestions with over 50,000 members that are participating in the same challenges and I’ve found it a great place to read fellow bloggers ideas. I also like to particpate in ‘A Word A Week Challenge‘ hosted by Sue and Susie Lindau’s Travel Theme.

 

6. Take the time to visit other people’s blogs. Don’t go through every blog you find and ‘like’ something without reading it. If you genuinely are interested by what somebody has written, comment and let them know that you enjoyed it. Follow them if you feel that their blog is entertaining. Get to know them a little.

7. Share the work of others. Reblogging a post that you thought was well – written takes thirty seconds, but it provides the opportunity for others to view blogs that they may not necessarily see. I have a ‘Sunday Share’ where I highlight blogs that I enjoy reading and I host a monthly ‘blog party’ which allows people to share their favourite posts from their blog. This has also increased the traffic I’ve had both to my blog and others.

8. Don’t become obsessed with your stats. This may seem a case of ‘pot calling kettle’ as I check my stats daily, but you’ll find over time that they become less important. If you lose followers don’t allow yourself to be disheartened – I’ve lost quite a few, but I’ve gained several thousand and these are the people that matter.

9. Appreciate the people who take the time to comment and leave advice on your blog. While I haven’t been brilliant this over the last few days, I usually try to thank every person that has commented as it means a lot to me – they’ve made me laugh, cry (tears of joy I must add) and made feel much better about myself. I’ve been lucky to have met some wonderful people on here and now often receive e-mails and Twitter updates from some of them which is always lovely.

10. Use other social networking sites to promote your blog. I have opened a seperate Twitter and Tumblr account and although it is still in its early stages I have gradually started to include my posts and increase my following.

11. Invite Guest Bloggers to write a post for you. It’s a brilliant opportunity to allow talented writers to share their stories with others. I’ve done this many times and I still have quite a few lined up for the next few weeks…

12. Like any internet venture, protect yourself. Don’t put your personal information or photographs on your blog and don’t allow people to have access to your email address, your personal facebook and twitter or give out your home address unless you feel absolutely comfortable with it.

13. Be honest in your writing. Don’t be scared about telling your readers how you feel about something. I initially started my blog in an attempt to get rid of lots of issues that have been plaguing me for a long time and while I felt a little uncomfortable at first about sharing my true feelings and experiences, the feedback and support that I received was incredible. I call it my ‘WordPress Therapy’ and it has indeed been a truly therapuetic journey.

14. Most importantly, enjoy yourself! WordPress is a wonderful community that allows bloggers from all over the world to be able to meet, support, share, laugh and cry together.

Hope you find this useful! Happy Blogging! You can find me on Twitter @suzie81blog and Tumblr suzie81blog

Picture Credits:

 

Triple Happiness

ImageHave any of you ever had an impending, persistent feeling of dread about something, only to find that the thing you were dreading was actually brilliant and you wished you hadn’t wasted all that time worrying about it?

This happened to me yesterday. I’d been dreading the return to work for a while and although I tried to keep myself busy I couldn’t shake the little anxious bubble that had seemed to manifest itself in the pit of my stomach. Getting out of bed yesterday was tough.

However, when I arrived I found that I was actually in quite a happy place – my colleagues are great and we all talked excitedly over each other about our holiday experiences, our exam results have improved massively since last year and so the data presentation given by our principal was positive and celebratory and we were provided a beautiful lunch as a thank you.

I love the idea that things happen in three’s, and yesterday afternoon was definitely proof of this. I was going through some assessment criteria with my boss and we were interrupted three times:

1. My faculty line manager walked in to show me an email that he’d received from a teacher at a primary school that I’ve been doing some workshops at. It was the nicest, most complimentary email I’ve ever had.

2. The ICT technician walked in to hand me a new iPad that the school had bought for me.

3. My faculty line manager’s boss walked in to tell me that as I’d come into work when it was technically my day off (I don’t work Monday’s) I could have Tuesday off instead.

What a brilliant day!

So here I am! I thought that I would take the opportunity to catch up with you all as I feel like I’ve barely looked at my blog. I’ve been delighted about the response that I had to my recent Blog Party so I’d like to thank all of you who submitted entries and reblogged various things – it was a brilliant opportunity to meet lots of new people and read some amazing stories! I’ve decided to make it a regular thing which will take place on the first day of each month. I also still have quite a few Guest Posts that I need to put up.

I’m off to catch up on all the posts that I’ve missed. If you are interested in following me on Twitter: @suzie81blog

Happy Blogging!