2015 - A Year in Review

2015 has been a rollercoaster of a year. There have been so many ups and quite a few downs. It’s been a year of change. But more than anything, I feel like it’s been the year when I’ve finally found myself.

Looking back, I can’t believe how much has happened this year and how much I’ve accomplished. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that have come my way and that’s what I want to celebrate today. I’ve seen these 2015 review posts around the blogosphere lately, so I wanted to join in and share my own highlights.

Top 5 Highlights of 2015

1. Getting the best job I could wish for as a Marketing Coordinator for a local sixth form College.
2. Seeing the sights, drinking cocktails and watching the sun go down in Nice, with Tom.
3. Our first family holiday in a long time to the beautiful Penrith.
4. My brother, Michael, getting a fantastic degree and going onto do a Masters.
5. Seeing Chvrches live in Newcastle, which was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to.

Blogging Achievements

1. In Summer, I finally made the decision to up my blogging game. I transferred ABOH from Blogger to Squarespace and designed the whole site myself. I was scared at first and there were a few tears. But with help from Tom and support from my family, I did it. Six months on, I know it was definitely the right thing to do. My confidence is definitely growing, because I want to make even more changes now...

5 Things: Christmas Day Traditions

Welcome to the last blog post in my little festive series. We've talked about the lead up to Christmas, Christmas Eve, and now we're onto Christmas Day traditions.

Christmas will be very different for us as a family this year, but we're all still really looking forward to it. I love Christmas Day. It always goes so quickly so I try and cherish every single moment. And as the big day is nearly here, I wanted to share with you some of my traditions.

This will also be the last blog post from me until just before the New Year as I'm taking a break over Christmas

So I wanted to take this time to thank you. You reading this right now - you play such a huge part in my life. You keep me coming back to this space and creating content for you almost every day. Thank you so much for all your support over the last twelve months and here's to a brilliant 2016!

Now onto the traditions...

5 Things: Christmas Eve Traditions

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring...

Apart from my bunnies bounding around and Maisy rolling about on the floor...


As if it's Christmas this week. This week! Wow. These last few months have been such a whirlwind that it seems to have appeared in no time. Usually, the days leading up to Christmas seem slow, but this year they won't, because we're so busy. We're getting everything ready today for going away on Wednesday, I'm getting my nails done tomorrow and then we'll be heading up to the Lakes. Do you always find that you're really busy in the lead up to Christmas?

Anyway, carrying on with the little festive series I've got planned, today it's all about Christmas Eve traditions!

I find that Christmas Eve is always so different when you've got a full-time job. Most people working 9-5 have to actually plan their holidays so they can take Christmas Eve off. I'm lucky now that I work in the education sector that I get this time off. Last year I had to work it and wasn't allowed to take it off! When you're at school or uni, you can really get into the festive spirit early. But when you're working it's a different feeling.

So for those of you who might be working over the festive season, this is for you. I hope this list of Christmas Eve traditions will get you feeling festive in no time!

5 Things: Traditions in the Run up to Christmas

Guys - Christmas officially starts today. That's it. It's my work's Christmas party, I finish for two whole weeks and I'm feeling very festive. My nails are glittery, the Christmas jumper is on and the festive season is well and truly in full swing.

For today and some days next week, I actually had different posts planned. I was going to round up some of the posts that you guys have loved on ABOH this year. But when it came to writing them, I wasn't feeling it. 

I've been thinking about where I want to take this blog in the new year. One of my decisions has been to bring more of myself to this space. I used to love writing lifestyle and personal posts. Lately I feel like that's been missing. So I hope all of you will be happy about this new aspect of ABOH. I feel really good about it!

So because Christmas starts today, I wanted to put together a little mini festive series for you all about traditions. Starting with my traditions in the run up to Christmas.

Why You Should Reflect On Your Career At The End Of A Year

What do you reflect on towards the end of a year? The moments you’ve enjoyed the most, what you’ve achieved and what you want to accomplish over the next year, probably. But do you ever think about reflecting on your career?

Sure you can talk about everything you’ve produced and the projects that have gone really well. But that just comes down to one job along. What about your plan? What about where you want to be in five years time?

Our careers are such big and important parts of our lives. We need to give it substance and treat it with the same reflection that we do with other things

Last year, I had a Skype session with a career advisor. I was completely stuck and didn’t know what to do. In that call, he gave me one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever heard. 

He said I should evaluate my career path each year. Evaluate it in the sense of whether I was happy, how much I was progressing and whether I still wanted to carry on.

If you’re anything like me, you’re not a coaster. You don’t want to stay in the same job role, on the same wage, doing the same thing for the rest of your life, right? Hell no! You want to push yourself with more challenges and more responsibilities. Evaluating your careers helps you understand whether you’re on track to achieve this - or whether you need to find new opportunities in other places.

No matter where you are in your career or if your career hasn’t started yet, evaluating where you’ve come and how far you want to go is so important. It keeps you honest about what you want

Last year was the first time I evaluated my career. I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t doing the work I enjoyed and I knew at that time that it wasn’t the career I wanted.

Six months later, I felt the same way. I took this as a sign to evaluate again. That’s when I found the job I’m in now which is the best job I could hope and wish for.

So even though you might not realise it, you could be in a place now where you’re living passively through your career. You might think that there’s no point in making a change, or you’ve been there so long now that it doesn’t matter. Or worse - that it’s too late.

It’s never too late.

I used to think of my career as just jobs. Not an actual career. Now I think differently. And I think you should too.

Today, I want to talk you through the questions I ask myself when I want to reflect on my career. Make a brew, sit somewhere comfy, get a notepad or your laptop and get ready to dig deep.

Setting Boundaries - Why It's So Important

Next Wednesday, I’m heading up to the Lake District to spend five days over Christmas with my family. I’ll be putting my first ever “out of office” email on as a blogger. I also won’t be tweeting, instagramming (if that’s even a word!) or snapchatting. Last year, I still went on social media over Christmas. It was nice to check in with what festivities people were getting up to. I never thought I’d step away from it completely.

This year, I am. Usually, when I take a break, I still check emails, respond to comments and check social media. Some of you will think that’s totally natural. Some of you won’t. It’s all about personal preference.

But the reason I see people not taking a step back from social media during this time of year is for fear. And more specifically, the fear of missing out (FOMO). It’s something we’re all familiar with as bloggers.

When I went to France for a week in June with Tom, I had that fear. Coming back and going on the internet again for the first time in seven days felt like a really long time. And I had missed out on a lot.

But was that more important than the time I got to spend with Tom? No. Because I fear on missing out on time with him more



Social media has become so natural. It’s become something that’s just part of our routine. We check it without thinking. It’s become a source of communication for us. Don’t get me wrong – I love it. I honestly really enjoy checking in with you all on social media and having a chat. I’m grateful for the community on there.

But I think it’s important to have boundaries in place. Because it can start affecting everything

The 28 Day Blogging Breakthrough Challenge

Are you excited by that title? I know I am! Welcome to the official Blogging Breakthrough Challenge. Yep, starting on January 4th we’ll be going through a challenge to help push you out of your comfort zone and get a real breakthrough with your blog. 

You heard right. For 28 days we’re going to be doing some game-changing tasks to get your blog ready for a brand new year and take it to the next level. I’ve been planning this challenge ever since 2015 started. It’s easy to just coast along, doing the same things for our blogs all the time. So I’m saying, why not switch it up a bit? 

But this challenge is different. These tasks won’t take you hours or days. It’s all about working smarter, not harder. You know High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) - where you do a lot of work in a shorter amount of time? That’s what this is going to be like. 

So really, there’s only one thing I need from you. A maximum of 30 minutes each day, for 28 days to complete this challenge


You. All of you. If you’ve not started a blog yet, this can be your launch checklist. If you’re a beginner, these are great things to tick off as you’re starting out. And if you’ve been blogging for 6 months or 6 years, this is for you too. 

If you’ve never taken part in a challenge before or you’re thinking you want to reach the next step with your blog, the #BloggingBreakthroughChallenge is for you. 

If you feel stuck, uninspired, unmotivated or you’ve simply lost your blogging mojo, this is for you. And hey, I’ll be doing it with you. So we can be accountability partners too. 


The challenge will start on Monday 4th January with Day 1 and will end on Sunday 31st January. Every day during that time, there’ll be a new post up on ABOH with the next task in the challenge. We’ll be covering everything - small things that make a big difference. 

You can choose to start the challenge with me on the 4th. Or you can pick it up and start it whenever you want. That’s the beauty of it. There’s no set way to do it. You don’t even have to do it over 28 days. You could do one task a week if you wanted to. It’s all about doing it at the pace that works for you. 

But this is doable. If you’ve got a full-time job, a house to look after, a family - this is doable. And it’ll make a difference.

So, to get your mind rolling, here’s a quick overview of what we’ll be looking at on each day of the challenge. 

When you think back to your earlier social media days, a lot has changed, right? It used to be all about MSN and MySpace. Now it’s all about flat lays and Twitter chats. But there’s one main thing I’ve realised over the past few years.

Using social media as a blogger is very different to using it as a non-blogger. Three years ago I never had to think about optimal times to post my tweets or what link to share on Facebook. I posted what I was getting up to that night and what I was having for breakfast - plus my pictures weren't taken with that much care!

Then when you get into blogging, you realise something. Paying more attention and putting more effort into social media actually pays off.

I’ve learnt so much from spending time on social media. So much so that not only do I love it - I also blog about it and it’s my day job. So as a sort of fun post to round off the social media year on ABOH, I thought I’d share some of the best things I’ve learnt so far. And if there’s one thing we need to get to grips with to get ahead in the game, it’s social media.

It’s crazy to think that I schedule tweets for a living. But that just goes to show how important all of this really is. So get ready, and take note!

#1 | Images are everything

Really, they are. They’re one of the most shared things on Facebook. Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are all image-based platforms. And if you include an image with a tweet there’s 150% more chance of it being shared. Is that not enough to get snapping?

Take care when taking your photos. You want them to mean something or inspire someone. Capture the perfect moment. Capture everything. Then take your pick. I’ve recently started putting much more care into my Instagram feed and it’s definitely paying off.

#BloggingBreakthrough - G is for Google+ (The Ultimate Guide)

Hey #BloggingBreakthrough friend! Are you ready for Chapter 7? Yes? Good answer. For the letter ‘G’ we’re going to be talking again about another social media platform. A platform that a lot of us don’t really get – myself included. But there are actually plenty of reasons why you should be using it.

So far in the #BloggingBreakthrough series, we've looked at your audiencebrandingcategoriesDisqusemail lists and 

But today’s post is all about Google+. Here’s what we’re going to cover:

  • What Google+ actually is
  • Your profile
  • How often to post
  • What to post
  • When to post
  • Hashtags
  • Creating a community

Remember, if you want access to all the extra exclusive content that goes alongside this post, sign up to be a member of the Blogging Breakthrough community!

Most of us don’t know about Google+. We believe that the platforms we need to promote our blogs are Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram. But this isn't true…


Bloggers can actually get their brand out there a lot more with Google+. It’s one of the best social platforms for getting you more visibility. A lot of us have it – I do myself – but we don’t really know how to use it.

Now in this post, I'm not going to try and convince you to get on Google+. That isn't what this is about. Instead, this is more about raising your awareness of this platform by making you aware of some of its best features. That’s what we’re going to dive into today as part of the Blogging Breakthrough series.