Beeb’s Bunny Rescue

Well, there’s never a dull moment around here! You may recall that back in November, I rescued two abandoned domestic rabbits that literally invited themselves into my house – click here to read the post if you missed it the first time. I’ve never owned a rabbit before, so it’s been a total scramble getting everything ready for them – I had no cages, no feeding supplies, or any knowledge of how to care for them. Usually, one is prepared before getting a pet, but this was an emergency for these homeless rabbits so we just made do. ;) Just when I was starting to get everything set up for Honey Buns, Bunsen Burner showed up and I had to start all over. I literally had a food bowl in my purse that I had bought for Honey Buns when I walked up to my front door and Bunsen was sitting there waiting for me…so it became his water dish instead!

Jai has been hard at working building custom rabbit hutches for both rabbits using recovered and scrap lumber. Our house was built in 1929, and one of the windows in the living room was actually sinking because of rot in the frame, which happens in older buildings. So to repair it, Jai built a bay window, and two custom, large rabbit hutches created to fit right inside the bay window. When the window is finished, Jai is going to build a little cat door into it that will lead to an enclosed, outdoor bunny run; this will give them the option to get some fresh air when the weather is nice while still living indoors.

Custom rabbit hutches

The finished rabbit hutches

Front of the hutches

The unfinished bay window in the background is where the hutches will eventually be placed.

Because Bunsen and Honey Buns are not yet fixed or bonded to each other, they have to be separated for the time being, so we take turns letting them inside the house to play. From what I have read, rabbits are extremely picky about who they like, to the point where it’s recommended to go to “Speed Dating” events (!) before adopting a second bunny to let them choose their partner and make sure they’ll get along. Well, these two were randomly thrown together so I have to be prepared for the possibility that they might not bond with each other – so their hutches have the option to either remain separate, or be connected if they end up bonding. They seem to be friendly as neighbors, so fingers crossed for a love connection!

Once the hutches were finished, we were finally starting to get everything set up nicely for the little buns and get into a routine. So I’m sure you can guess what happened next…

Buster & Babs

Meet Buster and Babs Bunny! Oh yes, that’s right. Two more bunnies showed up! We had seen this pair running around outside, but they were more skittish than Bunsen and Honey Buns and would run away from us. That is, until, they realized what a good thing they were missing out on and decided to move into the workshop! Jai just finished re-covering our deck back in October to convert it into an enclosed workshop. There are still some things to finish up on it, such as building a door, which got put on hold in order to work on the emergency bunny hutches. Buster and Babs took advantage of the open-door policy and decided to move in to the workshop and hide under the leftover lumber from the rabbit hutches! :lol: So, Jai boarded up the door for now and these rabbits have free run over the workshop while Jai builds two more hutches for them! As you might have guessed from the names, I grew up watching Tiny Toons, and I relate so much to Elmyra – from the “I’m gonna loooove them, and squeeeze them…” right down to this moment:

:lol:

Keeping four random rabbits together may not be possible; I have no idea if it will even be possible for them all to live together after they get fixed. And if they can’t live together, I’m unsure if I’d have adequate space to house them all separately. But what I do know is that they all need my help! If I can’t keep Buster and Babs longterm, I will either foster them out through our local rabbit shelter if they are able to assist, or find a loving home myself. I feel like I’m running an extremely amateur rabbit shelter! :lol:

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement, Bunsen got very sick on Monday and had to be rushed to the vet. Jai and I have been caring for him around the clock all week to try and help him survive a bout of GI stasis, which is a serious digestive issue that rabbits are prone to that can quickly be fatal without intervention. Fortunately, he has now recovered 100%! Man, what a week!!!

To add to that, Jai and I leave for England in less than two weeks to visit family, celebrate our wedding and go on a Euro honeymoon. Between the rabbits, my workload, and preparing to travel for a full month, things are just insane here right now! We’re going to have a house sitter care for the bunnies while we’re away, and then when we get back, I can start the process of figuring out where to take them to be spay/neutered and, eventually, attempt bonding them to each other. So if anyone in the Portland area has any suggestions for me, I am all (bunny) ears! :D

A Tale of Two Buns

Honey Buns
Sample provided.

The Friday before Thanksgiving, I opened my back door and looked down to find a rabbit huddled right up against the door. As soon as the door opened, the bunny turned around and hopped right inside! This bun literally invited herself in and made herself right at home. As I petted her, she looked downright indignant that she had ever been outside – this was clearly an indoor pet. With no sign of the owner, I dubbed her Honey Buns and began researching how to take care of a bunny.

I’ve never owned a rabbit before – although I’ve always loved them – so I’ve been getting a crash course on Bunny 101. Most people are prepared before they get a pet, but since this one was literally dumped on my doorstep, I had to improvise quickly! I made several trips to the store and did a ton of research on what Honey Buns would need.

A few days later, Jai and I were returning from one of these shopping trips when we were greeted by a second bunny shivering under the trash bin by our front door! I couldn’t believe it. I literally had rabbit toys inside my purse as I walked up to the door, while Jai was carrying a mega package of lettuce from Costco; and the new bunny looked at us as if to say, “Why, hello! I heard you have rabbit toys and snacks!” We ushered the rabbit in from the storm outside, and promptly turned around to head back to the store for more supplies…

Neither rabbit had a tag, and there have been no reports of missing pet rabbits with our local animal shelter, so I unfortunately suspect that these two were abandoned. That means that Honey Buns and her new friend, who I named Bunsen Burner, are part of our family now! Having two rabbits show up randomly when you have never owned one before requires quick thinking and improvisation. So suffice to say, when Chewy.com invited me to review some much-needed rabbit bedding, I binky-jumped at the chance!

Clean & Cozy!

Jai is hard at work building a fabulous custom-made indoor/outdoor bunny hutch and run, but while that is under construction, we have the buns set up with temporary accommodation in two converted dog crates in the living room. We have to keep them separated until we can determine their genders for certain – since these bunnies showed up randomly in the middle of an absolutely insane work period where I’ve been traveling constantly, I haven’t had the opportunity to take them to an expert yet. Once we find out the genders and take the appropriate next steps, apparently the bonding process for bunnies takes at least a month and is very important for the safety of both buns, so suffice to say, this will be a long process where they will have to stay in separate enclosures for the time being. Again, most people are prepared before they get a new rabbit and don’t even think about getting two until they know they are compatible genders, fixed, and like each other – so we are having to play it by ear here in order to rescue these two precious little friends. :)

I used old newspaper as cage lining for the first week, so I was really excited to receive the Kaytee Clean & Cozy Forage Fun Small Animal Vegetable Garden in the mail from our friends over at Chewy.com. Even with a litter box and bunny-safe litter, the cage was still getting nasty really fast, and I was spending at least 30 minutes every night cleaning everything out of the cage and ending up with a huge trash bag full of garbage. Kaytee Clean & Cozy is designed to absorb six times its weight in liquid, so I figured this should work much better than the newspaper! This bedding is recycled from discarded remnants and trimmings from other hygienic products which otherwise might end up in the landfill, so I also felt like this would be a lot more eco-friendly than creating a giant trash bag every night! It also includes three little wooden chewy toys for your bunny friends to dig out and play with.

Kaytee Clean & Cozy Forage Fun

Clean & Cozy is a great product for making a cage more manageable to clean. I like the fact that it comes in a generously sized bag, since I ended up with double the bunnies anticipated when I requested to review it. ;) It also gets two buns up in comfort – check out Bunsen flopping in his cage:

Happy flop

I’ve read that rabbits only flop down when they’re truly comfortable and relaxed, so I’d say that’s a high endorsement! I think Honey Buns and Bunsen Burner knew that they were choosing the right home to invite themselves in. :)

Ordering from Chewy.com is always so convenient. I’ve made so many unexpected store runs since the buns showed up, so it was great to have this bedding delivered straight to my door and eliminate yet another trip to the store! Plus, the bunnies just love playing with the box!

Sleepy bun!

So there you have it: A tale of two buns who invited themselves over! They are both so sweet, with personalities like dogs – Honey Buns begs for treats, while Bunsen begs to be petted and loves affection. I’ve never met a more cuddly or sweet bunny anywhere, it’s pretty amazing! They’re so full of personality, and it’s sad to think that these pampered house buns were wandering around outside. I’ve been so concerned about getting everything set up right for them since I was caught so unprepared when they arrived needing help, so it’s gratifying to see them happy and thriving.

Have you ever owned a pet bunny before? Do you have any advice on keeping their cages clean? Or just share your cute rabbit photos in the comments!

Make Auto Shopping Easier With Cars.com

Sponsored post.

Buying your first vehicle is an intimidating process. When I bought a car for the first time back in 2005, I relied heavily on Jai’s advice as I decided what to purchase – he’s spent many, many years working on cars and is very knowledgeable about them. If he weren’t around, I would have been much more at a loss; my parents didn’t drive when I was growing up, so all of my vehicular knowledge has been sought out on my own as an adult. In fact, Jai’s the one who taught me how to drive!

My first car, back in 2007

My first car, back in 2007

Fortunately, there are many more resources available to us nowadays, so if you don’t have a Jai in your life, don’t worry: Cars.com is here to help! Cars.com is your resource for everything automotive, offering a handy database to research new car models, informative videos and DIY repair tutorials to help you become more vehicle-savvy. Once you have an idea of what type of ride you’d like to purchase, you can shop cars for sale directly from the Cars.com website as well as get advice for listing your own vehicle for sale. Doing your homework is crucial when it comes to car ownership, so it’s vital to do your research and learn as much as you can. A website like Cars.com is such a helpful starting point for becoming more auto-savvy!

Cars.com

Who did you turn to for advice when you bought your first car?

Buffalo Bill Center of The West: My Trip to Wyoming

Buffalo Bill Historical Center Group Photo

Pictured, left to right: Salli, Wendy, me, Deborah, Connie & Emily. Photo by Brittany Rawlings. Travel & all other accommodations provided by Buffalo Bill Center of The West.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a press trip to Cody, Wyoming on behalf of my sites and MomStart. It was my first visit to the state and I had a wonderful time – I had all kinds of new experiences, from eating biscuits served out of a chuckwagon to hanging out with Buffalo Bill’s hologram. I met an owl, got rattled at by a rattlesnake (It was behind glass, don’t worry!), stayed in a hotel where Ernest Hemingway once finished a manuscript, and so much more. Want to know more?

For an overview of my trip and some fun photos, click here to read my recap on Beeb-Log!
To read all about the cowboy cuisine that I ate, click here to read my post about the food in Cody.

I have an in-depth series coming up on MomStart, so stay tuned for that as well!

Introducing 2 New Sites & Contest Corner Upgrades!

This morning, I am excited to unveil two new blogs and announce several forthcoming upgrades and improvements coming to Contest Corner!

New sites:

Beeb-Log

Beeb-Log is my brand lifestyle blog, featuring reviews, photography, recipes, personal posts, and much more.

Cooking Catastrophe

Cooking Catastrophe is a fun new blog that looks at the funny side of homemaking, from Pinterest fails to food photography woes, along with realistic recipes and tips.

Part of the reason I started these new blogs was to improve Contest Corner. Because Contest Corner covers so much content at the moment, I feel like it’s limited in how well it can serve its readers – people who visit for recipes get lost in all the contest listings, and people who come for the giveaways are a little puzzled by the Wordless Wednesday photography posts. Going forward, Beeb-Log will be home to all my personal posts, reviews, and photos, so that Contest Corner can be further refined to do what it does best: Contests! Of course, we’ll still be sharing our own fabulous reader giveaways with you. We have also invested in new software to run the backend of our giveaway submission form – it has grown in popularity so much that it’s impossible to keep up with all the submissions, so this upgrade will enable us to streamline the process, keep up with the volume of submissions and publish way more contest listings than ever before.

You’ll still see some reviews and other content published here through the end of the month, while we work on finalizing the new giveaway form and streamlining the site theme. We’ll still post reviews and updates on here from time to time, so it won’t become a completely impersonal contest site, but doing the majority of personal posts on Beeb-Log will allow us to improve this site and serve our wonderful sweepers better!

Please tell me what you think about these forthcoming upgrades to Contest Corner, and the new sites! I take reader feedback very seriously, so let me know how I can make this site the best it can be for you!

Our Weight Loss Journey: Month 1 After Nutrisystem

As members of the Nutrisystem Nation Blogger Panel, Jai and I received the Nutrisystem program free of charge in order to share our honest opinions with you. We were not required or compensated to write this post – we just figured our readers would be interested in a follow-up! Always consult with your physician before embarking on any weight loss or exercise program.

After reading our final Nutrisystem post last month, I know many of your were curious as to how we’d handle the transition back into “Regular” food and what we’d do to maintain the weight loss. We wanted to continue sharing updates on our progress on a monthly basis, so you can see how the results hold up in the “Real world” along with sharing what we learn and our tips for others getting ready to transition. So without further ado, here is our weigh-in after one month transitioning off Nutrisystem:

Beeb’s Weigh-In – One Month After Nutrisystem:

Beeb's Weight - One Month After Nutrisystem

Starting Weight: 164.5 lbs
Final Weigh-In on Nutrisystem – April 20th, 2013: 128.8 lbs
Weight One Month After Nutrisystem – May 19th, 2013: 128.2 lbs

Beeb’s Measurements – One Month After Nutrisystem:

Beeb's Measurements - One Month After Nutrisystem

Jai’s Weigh-In – One Month After Nutrisystem:

Jai's Weight - One Month After Nutrisystem

Starting Weight: 217.5 lbs
Weigh-In on Nutrisystem – April 20th, 2013: 166.4 lbs
Weight One Month After Nutrisystem – May 21st, 2013: 168.8 lbs

Jai’s Measurements – One Month After Nutrisystem:

Jai's Measurements One Month After Nutrisystem

So after transitioning off Nutrisystem for one month, I have lost another .6 pounds and Jai has had a slight gain of 2.4 pounds. His water weight tends to fluctuate in the 160s as his body adjusts to being in this weight range again, but we’ve both been monitoring our weight throughout the month and felt comfortable with it staying overall consistent.

We began the transition off Nutrisystem first by replacing the NS breakfasts with our own meals, then the lunches. We still have quite a few Nutrisystem dinners left – I’d say around 2 weeks worth – so it’s been nice to ease back into our own food in a more gradual way. Transitioning off the program has actually been easier than I expected in many ways – the hardest part is probably just making the time to go shopping again, since I was spoiled by 11 months of not having to prepare food. ;)

As I mentioned on Super Coupon Girl recently, I decided to go easy on myself and stick with pre-prepared foods for the first month or so. With the kitchen remodel looming, I quickly realized that attempting to cook a huge batch of freezer meals in a torn-up house was a really bad idea. Instead, I opted to buy granola bars on Amazon as replacements for our breakfast and lunch bars. I like these because it was easy to find bars roughly around the same portion size as our NS entrees, and there is zero cooking involved, which will be important when the kitchen is completely out of commission. Also, our work schedules have been very different this month, with Jai needing meals he can eat on the go several times a week.

Once we replaced the Nutrisystem lunches and breakfasts, we realized how seamless the rest of our routine was. We’re already used to buying our own PowerFuels (Protein snacks for the morning), SmartCarbs (A carbohydrate snack for the afternoon), and veggies, so buying granola bars has been the only real change in our routine. I’ve really noticed how seamless it is to go back to “Normal” life from Nutrisystem, because you already have such a consistent routine established.

The primary change we’ve made is regarding the Nutrisystem desserts. We could easily replace those with some lo-cal snacks, but knowing how tempting that would be, we decided that it really wouldn’t be a good idea to stock up on cookies and cakes. Instead, we replace the dessert with a SmartCarb or popcorn, which has been working out well so far. I feel like we are surrounded by desserts anyway, since we are always offered them when we visit friends and family, and I often get snacks mailed to me for review; so it’s not like I have to go far out of my way to replace them anyway, you know? ;)

The other big change this month is that – gulp – we haven’t worked out at the gym for a month. This has been a really difficult month for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that we’re finishing up our remodeling projects while simultaneously working on one of the biggest business projects I’ve ever undertaken. You’ve already gotten a peek at some of the new sites I’ve launched, and there are several more planned. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes to make Contest Corner better than ever and to increase the efficiency with which we can bring you great giveaways; when we roll out the launch of these improvements next month, you’ll see why it was so much work! :D In addition to these, both Jai and I have been working really long hours and taking on extra work, and since our schedules are different now than they were last month, it’s made it hard to adjust and find the right slot for working out. I’m giving myself a break because really, my routine is going to be thrown off until we get the remodeling done anyway, so I’m doing my best just to keep up with everything in the meantime. Jai and I have been going for walks whenever possible and I’ve been staying active around the house, so it’s not like we’ve just been sitting around, but I know we would have built more muscle tone if we’d been able to do more exercise this month – hence the gain in our measurements!

For us, realistic, long term changes are about keeping our priorities straight and doing as much as we reasonably can when we can. For us, keeping on top of our eating habits has been the first priority. I almost feel like my small amounts of extra time have gone towards shopping for food rather than hitting the gym, and that’s OK for now. By keeping our eating habits stable, we maintain our progress even when we’re not as active.

We’ll be back with another post next month to update you on how we continue with our weight loss & fitness goals!

Preparing to Renovate Our Kitchen

Preparing to renovate our kitchen

Glidden

Glidden are providing us with the supplies for this project in order for us to share this makeover experience with you. For more on Glidden Paint and where to buy, click here to view the full line of paints.

Now that we have wrapped up our extensive living room makeover, it is time for the final room in our Glidden makeover series: The kitchen! Once this is complete, every room in the house will have been officially made over and completed. (The bathroom and master bedroom weren’t included in this series as they had both been painted fairly recently and weren’t in need of a re-do.) May 2013 is going to be a significant month for me, as it will mark the 10th anniversary of my mom’s passing. By mid-May of 2003, I had become an overnight homeowner, inheriting this house after the very sudden and unexpected death of my mom. I began the strange and slow process of dealing with everything mom had left behind and beginning all of these much-needed renovations. It’s so bizarre to me that it’s already been ten years that my mom has been gone and ten years that I’ve been DIY-ing this home. It’s interesting timing how we’ll be finally finishing all of the major renovations of the home right around the 10th anniversary of all this. It will make me feel good to really feel like I am starting the next chapter of my life and putting some of this behind me. 2013 is all about fresh starts for me!

As eager as I am to complete this renovation, I know it will be a big job – we left the living room and kitchen until last, as we knew they would be two of the most disruptive rooms to tear apart. So I wanted to ask if anyone here who has done a kitchen remodel has advice for staying sane during it? I know cooking will be difficult, and since we’re still transitioning off Nutrisystem, I’ve been focusing on easy, ready-made meals – we’ve been doing granola bars for breakfasts and lunches with Nutrisystem dinners at night. For extras, we’re sticking with things like hardboiled eggs, bananas, and oatmeal; I figure I can embark on elaborate culinary adventures after I have a space to cook in again. ;)

Although I’m sure I’ll be tearing my hair out when my pots and pans are stored in the living room, I cannot wait to get the kitchen revamped. It’s always been one of the ugliest rooms in the house, from the chipped, broken cupboards to the lack of dishwasher. Even the curtain is torn! Time to discard the last of the “Old” and usher in the new.

Watch this space to see our final makeover unveiled – and let me know how you handled your own kitchen renovations, if you’ve done one!

How to Paint Crown Molding: Tutorial

How to Paint Crown Molding

As I mentioned in my last post featuring our Glidden living room makeover, this room was time-intensive due to the elaborate crown molding and batten trim in the room. I wanted to put together a separate post detailing how we achieved this effect – we received complimentary paint for the project, but this post wasn’t required by the client; I simply thought this tutorial could be useful to anyone else faced with how to paint crown molding in their own home. I did include my Amazon Associates link for the special tape we used below, so if anyone decided to purchase it for their own project, I will put the 10 cents earned towards my next renovation project. ;)

This house was built in 1929, and the living room features some of the most elaborate molding I’ve seen. Previously, the walls and crown molding were all painted one solid color:

Crown molding before painting

For years, I’ve been thinking how impressive the room would look if I painted the trim a contrasting color from the walls. Inspired by the ceiling, I thought about various “Checkerboard” style paint jobs, eventually deciding that I’d like to do the walls deep red and the crown molding black. This was a bold choice, and one that would either look fantastic if done right or terrible if done wrong.

Living room: After

After a month of working on the room, we have completed the project, and while my color scheme would not be to everyone’s taste, it turned out exactly how I envisioned it and I am thrilled. Jai worked very hard not only to meticulously paint the trim, but also in coming up with a creative solution to the problem of taping off the crown molding to paint.

Painting in progress

We knew this project would be fraught with challenges. For starters, none of the lines in this old house are truly straight; not to mention, the crown molding and trim has many, many curved angles and covers the entire ceiling and all four walls. Figuring out how to adequately tape the rounded portions of the crown molding was one of the biggest issues we encountered.

Making a template to cut tape with

As with most DIY solutions to renovating an old home, the solution was rather unorthodox. After a fruitless search for any type of circular stickers or tape that would cover the wall at each point where the crown molding curved and joined together, we decided the only way to cover this area would be to cut our own circular sections of tape to fit. Jai found a small paint jar that was the exact right size to fit this area, and used this as the template with which to cut the tape.

Cutting board

The first step was to lay a portion of Scotch-Blue Painter’s Tape Advanced Delicate Surface on the cutting board. Jai did this so that when he put down portions of tape to trace and cut, they wouldn’t lose their stickiness as quickly.

Preparing to cut tape

Creating the circular template

Using the paint pot as his guide, Jai carefully traced around the bottom to create a circle in the size we needed.

Cutting the Scotch-Blue Painter's Tape into circles

Once the circle was traced, he carefully cut out the circle with scissors. This isn’t a project for the paint of heart (Typo caused an unintentional pun so it stays!) – he cut over 40 of these circles in order to have enough to cover the room!

Taping off crown molding to paint

To tape off the room, we first laid down a strip of regular painter’s masking tape in strips. Then Jai would cut his carefully crafted circles in half, placing them directly over the sections where the regular tape met up. We had to be very careful with how we placed the tape in order to ensure that it right up against the crown molding. It’s recommended to use the Scotch-Blue tape for all the sections over the regular masking tape, but we had already spent $40 on all the tape we had bought and didn’t want to go out and buy even more. We tried using the regular masking tape to make the circular portions as well, but it just didn’t stick well enough – the Scotch-Blue is a lot weightier.

Jai painting

The actual painting process took time, not only because Jai was being careful with the paint to get the best possible result, but also because we were working overtime at our jobs during all of this and had to work on it during stolen moments in between everything else. We were concerned during the taping process, because the masking tape kept peeling off; and because it had to stay on the walls for about a week and a half, we worried that as soon as we peeled it off, all the red paint on the walls would come off as well. Fortunately, that did not happen!

Batten molding - before

Batten molding - after

I give all credit for this project to Jai’s steady hand and attention to detail. The project was as time-consuming as we expected, but well worth it. If you have a complicated paint job coming up, I hope that sharing how we dealt with our particular crown molding and batten trim issue will give you some inspiration!

Glidden Home Makeover: Our Living Room

Glidden Home Makeover: Our Living Room

Glidden

Glidden are providing us with the supplies for this project in order for us to share this makeover experience with you. For more on Glidden Paint and where to buy, click here to view the full line of paints.

As we mentioned at the end of last month, we’ve been working on our living room makeover. We knew that this room was going to be complicated, and from start to finish it took a little over one month. This was part due to the bold color choices and ambitious choice of painting the extensive crown molding and batten trim a contrasting color from the walls; not to mention, we’ve been working overtime and dealing with things like taxes in between. It was tough having my couch stored in the middle of the kitchen and having no entertainment center or seats all month; however, the results were worth the inconvenience.

Finished living room

For the walls, we chose Red Delicious and for the trim we chose Onyx Black. It’s a very bold, Gothic color scheme, which is exactly what I was going for! I wanted to paint the room’s elaborate crown molding a contrasting color, which I knew would be a big job and a bit of a risk. We put a lot of time into very carefully taping off the trim so that the paint would look as straight and even as possible, and I give all credit to Jai for doing an amazing job! I wrote a separate tutorial explaining how we did this, so if you’re curious, click here to read it.

Front door - before

Front door - after

Living room window - before

Both living room windows - before

Living room windows - after

Living room doorway - before

Scuffed up paint - before

Scuffed up baseboards - before

Living room walls - before

Living room walls - after

Door from the living room to bedroom - before

Door from the living room to the bedroom - after

Crown molding on the ceiling - before

Crown molding on the ceiling - after

Chandelier

One of the reasons this project took a while is because the red paint required a lot of coats to cover completely – about 6. We started with 2 gallons of the Red Delicious, and we ended up buying another gallon on our own while Glidden sent us an additional three gallons simultaneously, so we went from not enough paint to a bit of a surplus. A friend that was helping us paint had also painted one of her rooms red using a different brand of dark red paint and had the same problem, so I think it’s just the nature of deep red paint. If you’re planning to do a room this color, be prepared for more coats than with most other colors.

So, what do you think of my goth living room? :D

Introducing BloggersLondon.com – Why I Want to Attend Cybher 2013

Introducing Bloggers London,  a new network connecting  UK bloggers & brands!

As a London-born British expat living in the US, I’m a long way from home – but there are constant reminders of the my nationality. Some are subtle, yet important cultural differences (Lack of tea) and some are larger (Like filling in the extensive paperwork to renew my greencard!). But as a blogger, one of the biggest differences that I’ve noticed is the lack of resources for bloggers outside of the US.

America is the central hub for PR and advertising, so it stands to reason that much of blogging culture would focus on brand outreach for US-based outlets; but time and again I have been struck by the lack of opportunities available to bloggers outside of North America. It’s not just about PR opportunities being limited stateside – there’s are fewer tools and communities geared towards UK users. So much of the success I have achieved so far has been through the networking and resources I’ve accessed in blogging forums and groups, leading me to brand opportunities, providing me with unique means of social media promotion, and interesting discussion and tips on everything from SEO to plugins. Accessing these resources is a lot harder for UK residents, who are often disqualified due to location and are at a disadvantage with many of the social aspects of networking in forums due to the timezone difference.

Inspired by this, I began working on number of projects last year which I am very excited to unveil to you today: International Blogging, Bloggers Britain, Bloggers London, and British Giveaways.

The International Blogging Network aims to solve the issues facing non-US blogs by providing an inclusive, extensive resource for bloggers and brands to network on a global basis. The initial launch will include sub-sites for 6 countries, and I will be taking suggestions for future sites.

Bloggers Britain, the first site to launch in this network, provides a directory of UK bloggers searchable by brands and readers in addition to a forum which provides PR opportunities specifically for British bloggers, including product reviews, sponsored posts, brand events, and more. These forums will also offer the critical networking support that has been so crucial to me, including areas where bloggers can exchange ideas, ask questions, support one another’s blog posts and gain social media followers. Bloggers London is an offshoot to this network that will focus on brand events and outreach that are local to Londoners. Finally, UK bloggers will be able to further promote themselves via British Giveaways, a companion site to Contest Corner. By offering a giveaway database exclusively for competitions open to the UK, British-based bloggers will have an additional promotional tool at their disposal to gain exposure for the giveaways which they host; plus, Brit Contest Corner readers will now have a resource specifically for them, eliminating lengthy searches through giveaways that they are ineligible for!

Bloggers Britain - UK Blogging Opportunities

For brands, Bloggers Britain will mean an easy way to get their product in front of influential UK blogs. PR representatives can submit their requests for distribution to the network, bridging the gap between brands and worldwide audience. In addition, British companies who wish to break though the American market can submit their requests for distribution to my US blogger counterparts. Because I have colleagues, connections, and business knowledge in both countries, I’m in a unique position to connect PR representatives, brands, and social media influencers in both Britain and the United States.

I’ve been strategizing and gathering information for my international blogger outreach since late last year; when I mentioned this project to brands I was working with on Holiday Gift Guide features, I got a lot of eager feedback and assembled a waiting list of clients looking to get their products into international hands. There are countless US companies that want to increase their visibility overseas and don’t know where to start, so I’m thrilled to be able to launch a resource for them.

This is just the beginning of several new projects I have in the works, which have been in the planning stages for many months. I have more sites in the pipeline, and though I had planned an April launch for them, I wasn’t sure which order I would be tackling the projects in. That changed when I saw that Collective Bias was hosting a contest giving one of its members a chance to win a trip to London in June to attend the Cybher conference – I knew that the timing was serendipitous, and I took it as a sign to launch the Bloggers London site first. I’ve been working tirelessly this week on launching these new sites, and have debuted them just in time for the April 25th deadline!

You’re already familiar with how much I love Collective Bias and its Social Fabric community, so it should be no surprise to hear that I am impressed with their overseas efforts. I have noticed over the last few months that they have been working hard to provide opportunities for their UK bloggers, which sets them apart from so many other social media firms. They are sponsoring a cocktail party at the Cybher conference this year as part of their British outreach, and I think it’s brilliant. The British blog market is expanding fast, and it makes so much sense to cater to this audience – the brands who do so now are getting a jumpstart on what I believe will soon become a powerful market leader.

Bloggers London - Brand & Blog Outreach For London PR Friendly Sites

I think I would be the perfect person to attend Cybher this year, because I feel like I have a lot to offer and a lot that I could learn. As a British person in America, I am in a unique position with having know-how and contacts on both sides of the pond, along with industry and cultural knowledge of both. The timing is ideal – I can’t think of a better conference for me, the webmaster of Bloggers London, to attend than a blog conference in London! I believe my forum is going to be a useful tool to connect London bloggers with sites such as Social Fabric and other brands that want to work with them, and this would be the ideal opportunity to network with as many people as possible. Can you imagine how quickly I could grow this forum if I had a chance to network in person with potential members and PR representatives? It’s an exciting prospect! Not to mention, there is much to be learned from their workshops: For example, one of my goals in the coming months is to expand my Google+ presence, so “The Art of Plus Size” keynote about G+ would be very informative.

And on a personal note, it would be fun to return to my birthplace – I haven’t been back to the UK since 2011 and I’m getting really homesick. It’s tough to live almost 5,000 miles away from half of my family, but part of my goal with these international sites is to position myself to better work and live between both countries so I can spend more time in England. If I am selected to attend this conference, I may be able to sneak in a little visit with family before the conference starts – although my dad’s home of Liverpool is over 200 miles North of London, it’s so rare that we are on the same continent that I’m sure we can figure something out!

Thank you to Collective Bias for hosting this contest – regardless of whether I win, it’s inspired me to carve out time to get these sites launched this week!

Readers: I would love to hear what you think of these new resources, especially if you’re based in the UK!