Category Archives: blogging

Book Challenge Update

Oh my, how much can one read when one has a week off?!

The answer: shitloads!

From my original Read-What-I-Have challenge I managed to get 3 books finished, which means I have only 4 more to go in total and then I will have read everything on the list – hooray!

This week I have read The Mill on the Floss, The Woman in White and Ivanhoe. I have also bought a few books, both from a physical bookshop and Amazon. I read The Fat of the Land, Strong, Get Rich Blogging and How to Make a Living with your Writing. AND I managed to get in a couple of e-books and magazines.

Phew!

7 physical books and 2 short e-books is not a bad haul in one week!

I have to say I really enjoyed The Woman in White, I couldn’t put it down, it was so well written. I found it full of suspense and drama and the way it was told from the points of view of different characters (thereby having different narrators) I  thought that was a really modern thing to do (even though it was written in the early 1800s).

Interestingly, even though Ivanhoe was written at around the same time, the language used was very different (even challenging). It is set in Medieval England and has appearances from Richard the Lionheart, A Knight called Ivanhoe, Friar Tuck and even Robin Hood. One downside was as I was reading it all I could see in my mind was an image of those Hollywood films from the 40’s and 50’s where all the costumes were bright and the fight scenes were hilarious (to say nothing of their hairstyles!). And poor Isaac the Jew! He is the untold hero of the story.

The Mill on the Floss was OK, it actually has some really good quotes in, but after spending 3/4 of the book focusing on their childhoods, it was too a sudden and abrupt end, ending as it did. It was OK, just OK.

How to Make a Living with your Writing I ordered from Amazon, it’s a lot tinier than I expected – really thin and that says it all really – not much substance to it. The hints are quite general and vague.

BUT. I really liked Get Rich Blogging by Zoe Griffin. That seemed a bit more practical and helpful for me and I liked the case studies in it, even if they weren’t all in the same ‘niche’ as me (parenting- urgh not yet thanks!). I liked it and it’s one to dip into for inspiration every now and then.

SO. 4 more books to go and then I am free to buy to more (although as you can see, they have already started to creep back in – let’s see if I can’t keep this bookshelf free).

They are:

  1. Vanity Fair
  2. Rob Roy
  3. War and Peace
  4. Anna Karenina

And I can already see that I will hit my target for this year – yay!

But I need a break now, all this reading lately has had one downside.

NO CRAFTING! EEEEEEEEEEK!

No knitting. No crochet. No writing. No nothing. (Apart from baking scones today).

And after a nice relaxing week off work, it’s back to the grind tomorrow 😦

Enjoy what’s left of your weekend, Ellen xx

This Week

Five things this week:

  1. Pilates class on Monday night. This was not how I expected a Pilates class to be like, since it was my first time. I thought it would be more like Yoga, and indeed there were some Yoga poses in there (which weren’t explained so if I hadn’t have done it before I’d have been stuck) but it was a bit strange! I am going to go to a few more until I make up my mind properly – not judging a book by it’s cover and all that!
  2. Tai Chi class yesterday. Again not what I expected – I thought it would be much slower and it was quite quick actually! I won’t be able to make it every Thursday, maybe one in two or three but I would like to do more of it, even if I was a bit wobbly and confused yesterday!
  3. Went into Waterstones yesterday after Tai Chi and came out with 2 books! One of them was The Fat of the Land by John Seymour, him of the self sufficiency fame. I read it in one go yesterday, because I am sad in the fact that I like reading about other people’s forays into keeping livestock and growing their own veg on a small holding. It was written in the early 60’s but is still a classic. It’s quite funny with the exchange rates – he managed to get a 25 year rent on a cottage and land for £25 a year! And when they mention cars and how difficult it is to get certain things, I just have to remember that it was 50 years ago now!
  4. Being inspired by the book I was reading yesterday, when my mother and I had tea at a local garden centre, I decided to carry on a tiny tradition of mine when I was a kid and teenager and that was to keep cacti. I have only ever had one at a time, so in a burst of impulse buying I bought 2 cacti and 2 little pots to put them in.
  5. If you know anything at all about politics in the UK, you will know that yesterday was the general election and I did my bit and voted. How very grown up of me!

25.04.17

Hi all,

I know it’s been a while now, almost a month, but sometimes you just need a break from blogging and time to get back into the real world and all that.

I have been rather busy this past month, having started a weight loss scheme run by my local council I have been making use of the 12 week free gym pass it comes with and actually turning up at the gym. I even went after work yesterday and did a spin class today – maybe that’s why it decided to hail as I got out of the gym?! I have lost a tiny bit of weight, quite a lot more to go, but it’s a good start. 🙂

I have caught up with old friends, made some progress on blankets I am knitting and crocheting, started reading Daniel Deronda again (couldn’t get into either last year or the year before, which is quite rare for me to put a book down to one side once I’ve started it). I finished Game of Thrones up to season 4 so I just need to watch 5 and 6 now (payday on Thursday yay!).

Speaking of books, I saw this article on the BBC today.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-39653776

Apparently almost half of people asked in a survey were too busy to read and 35% struggled to find a good book they wanted to read.

To which my reply is…don’t be so damn fussy! Some of the best books I have ever read are those I have either heard mixed reviews about or those where I have literally judged them by their cover. And it’s not school. It’s not university. You don’t have a set amount to read every night so there’s no excuse!

Now, it’s time to write up my gym planner and get sorted for tomorrow, pics of stuff to be posted tomorrow, I cant be bothered now…too tired from the gym lol!

Ellen x

bloglovin’ vs Stumbleupon

Good morrow fellow bloggers, it is I, Ellen, here to tell you about 2 blog sharing sites that you may or may not want to join up with.

It’s kind of like the Matrix in one respect – “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Last week I signed up to both Bloglovin’ and Stumbleupon. One I love, one I hate.

Stumbleupon

StumbleUpon is a discovery engine (a form of web search engine), that finds and recommends web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social -networking principles.     WIKIPEDIA

I joined this first and I have to say I was a little confused and non-plussed with it all. You sign up, make a tiny profile, choose some interests and click stumble. You get a random web page linked to those interests you specify. NOT A BLOG, BUT A PAGE. Yes you can continue looking around the site/ blog but you only get one at a time. You can like or unlike the page. The more likes a page gets the higher in the stumbleupon rankings it gets and therefore more likely to be seen by more people. You can add and share your own content, but who wants to be inundated with your followers pushing their own stuff on you all the time, you know? Press stumble button again and you get a new page.

I also found a lot of the pages were old, years old, some even when pages were grey and square/ rectangle boxes everywhere (I’m trying to say they wouldn’t have looked out of place in 1999!).

It’s all a bit overhyped if you ask me.

Bloglovin’

This one on the other hand is much easier to use, it’s much clearer with a more modern and cleaner finish to it.

Bloglovin’ is a platform that allows users to read, organize, and discover their favourite blogs on mobile and desktop. It is a design-focused platform that aggregates feeds from sources with RSS feeds, allowing users to discover and organize content. As of April 2014, Bloglovin’ reaches over 16 million global users monthly. Bloglovin’ caters primarily to the “lifestyle” crowd. 90% of Bloglovin’s users are female.       WIKIPEDIA

Bloglovin reminds me of Pinterest but instead of pins, you get blogs and their pages. It’s very visual like Pinterest, so I imagine those posts with pictures do better on this site than just words.

Sign up and straight away you can search for blogs, I recommend searching for and claiming your own first. I find it’s better if you’re searching for blogs with the whole address on here ([example.wordpress.com]) but again you can search for your personalised interests on here.

To claim your blog, type in your address and click on yours when it comes up, to the right will be a little link that says ‘claim it’ and click on it. A little box with code in will come up, copy and paste this onto a html blog post (the last post I published shows you what the code does – it verifies you are the blog owner and provides a link for people to follow you). So you will need to have wordpress open in another tab ready and waiting when you claim your blog.

I couldn’t find a way to do this on the dashboard so I had to use the my site page to do this (when you see all your stats and have the option to use the reader you will see all the options on the left side, that’s the page I mean). Click on add new post and you will find a tab on the top right which says html, click on that and post your code there. Publish the post. Done.

Sounds complicated but it’s really not!

Bloglovin actually offers a useful help page so there are lots of screenshots to help you.

So, what next? I will keep up with bloglovin, but I think I may be deleting my stumbleupon account soon, it’s that horrible in my eyes. Maybe I could upload something, but it’s very difficult to work things out I think.

So, these are just a couple of options if you want more ways to generate traffic to your blog or just to reach out to more blogs, since they won’t all be wordpress ones.

Maybe you will have more luck than I on stumbleupon, maybe you will hate bloglovin. Good luck with both and hope to see you on bloglovin soon.

Ellen xx

 

Testing, Testing, 1 2 3

My discoveries with WordPress continue. But in this case I am seeing what a poll looks like on my posts. Just a look-see!

Here goes…

 

OK, so the white doesn’t show up as well as I thought it would and I need to leave a couple of spaces after the poll really, to be able to see what I want to write next. I guess this is a good way to get feedback, especially if I keep it open for a week (which I think is the longest I can anyway).

It’s something different. You can post videos, images and audio to go with your poll if you wanted.

Why use a poll? Got a new pattern/ idea/ project you want feedback on? Want to know what people would think is a reasonable price for something? A poll can be a useful way to get feedback for your crafty business plans (although not scientifically accurate as not all of your followers will vote) and it can offer something different for your readers who are used to just words and pictures.

Do you want to have a go at one? Dashboard – Feedback – Polls

It’s very simple to create and you get a choice of layouts too. Have a go, just to say you made one.

And did you know you can change the message at the bottom of your posts which says ‘leave a reply’ ? It’s right before the comments section.

If you want to customise that too, go to Settings – Discussion and take a long look at what comes up – you can even change how long you want people to be able to comment on posts (do you want to close comments after a day/ week etc?).

May the WordPress discoveries continue!! Ellen xx

Follow Mrs Blooms! She’s got cake!

Back when I first started blogging (way back in June 2015) I was new to the whole blogging scene. People liked my posts and people commented on them, re-blogged them and followed them. And it was all new to me. I was a like a little puppy who’s ears perk up every time they hear something. What’s this? What’s this?!

One of the first people I came across was Mrs Blooms (I just sort of started calling her that – I hope she doesn’t mind lol! :O) from Candelo Blooms. I’m not kidding when I say she is probably the nicest person on the internet. Her comments are always really sweet and she takes the time to write long ones not just a thumbs up!

Her latest post is up and involves Martenitsas which I wrote about a few weeks ago. They are Bulgarian good luck charms and are worn throughout March pinned to clothing (or trees I think). See, Trina Collins, look what you have started! Now even people in Australia are wearing them!!!

The Summer Garden

Mrs Blooms always takes such amazing pictures of her garden and flowers and I do sometimes wonder how long it takes her to put a blog post together as there are always so many lovely pictures. I also like nosing at the veggies and fruit which are being grown, it’s the eco warrior in me…makes me dream of smallholdings and homesteads.

You should definitely head on over there to have a look and follow her lovely blog, a while back she posted a recipe for an apple cake which I tried and was very delicious just so you know!

Have a good day Ellen xx

Knits and Bits

Now that I have all that technical wisdom stuff out of my system, I can get back to what I have been up to.

Making Mozzarella Cheese

Christmas 2015 – my parents bought me a cheese making set to make either mozzarella or ricotta (you provide the milk and there’s enough rennet and citric acid to make 10 batches). I think they got it from Steamer Trading which sells kitchen stuff in the UK but here is a link to the actual cheese company’s website.

http://www.bigcheesemakingkit.com/

The kit has lain around the house in various places and it’s only now I got the oomph to make it (with a little help from my lovely assistant aka mum). It was quite easy to do too although I didn’t really take a lot of pics and document the whole process as a lot of it is literally looking at milk! In the picture below my balls of cheese are in ice water cooling down and the white stripe across the pic is the reflection of the light above! Just in case you were wondering…don’t think you were, but anyway. I also added a few chilli flakes to a few balls so we will see how they turn out.

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Knitted Spring Bunting

Just got one more triangle to do, weave in ends and make a long strip to attach them to and hang up, also they are quite twisted so will need blocking first. I think I am going to go down the edge them with crochet route so that should help them stop curling too. I changed my mind slightly on colours, sticking with 4 triangles of 3 colours – pink, yellow and green. I was going to do light blue as well but decided it just didn’t fit. Also I may do the strip in blue to denote the sky! And since I had to throw 3 triangles away after realising I had done them in 4mm needles and not 5mm ones….this project has taken longer than it should have!

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New stuff

Yesterday bought Let’s Knit magazine and a few more stitch holders since mine has gone walkabouts. The knitting mag came with a free crochet pattern mag and I actually like a few patterns from here, so not a bad buy I think!

The stitch holders were from Wilkos which I never think about for knitting supplies.

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Mollie Makes

Magazine through the post today, will look at later. 🙂

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Books

I am reading Daniel Deronda at the moment, tried to get into it a couple of years ago but lost the will, so am trying again. Of the 13 books in my Read What You Have Challenge in the pages above I have now read 4 so only 9 to go! Most are classics which as we all know are never a quick read, especially when, with some of them it’s a case of here is a paragraph. Three pages later the paragraph has ended. The style of the writing itself can make a book very hard to read, even though the story may be fantastic.

I am also having a look at the ones below. Coz I have a whole shelf of crafty books. And sometimes we just need pictures!

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Using up my stash

The only problem with knitting magazines is that a lot of the time for me the free gifts are either naff or just what I wouldn’t make. So I had LOADS of leftover yarn and nothing to do with them. Finally decided to make a few knitted squares as I think I showed you in a previous post somewhere and some crochet granny squares which are a heck of a lot quicker to make. Will darn in the ends and maybe find a charity to donate to or make something simple, don’t know yet, just wanted the pile of tiny balls gone!

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And it has suddenly got REALLY dark and rainy now. I’m British, so a dark overcast afternoon means only one thing – time for a brew! 🙂