Tag Archives: Blogging

We’re back!

Well, we’re on our way back. As it turns out, when you don’t check on your blog for awhile, there’s a fair amount of housekeeping and maintenance to do before you can get up and running again properly (1,500 unapproved comments binned, 19,963 to go – I’m not even exaggerating).

So, where have we been? We’ve been pretty busy between one thing and another: working hard, not really playing hard but at least picking up some new hobbies, which you’ll hear more about soon, namely the wonderful game of curling and a more advanced level of gardening. For some reason, there never seems to be enough time to do everything we want to while keeping a clean and tidy house and trying to get enough sleep. It can’t be just us, right? Who actually has time to watch Love Island or any other TV show that’s on every day?! Especially when you have an awesome little black labrador who needs feeding and walking twice a day.

Inspiration struck and we’re going to have another go at this here blog. I seem to spend an hour and a half a day cooking anyway!

Cards on the table, I forgot my password. Charles, tech guru that he is, managed to break me back in and we’ve got a bit of boring stuff to do before we can come back full guns blazing, but are at least planning a re-design, which should make things a bit more visually appealing.

We’ll see you soon for more recipes and random ramblings about things we like, maybe some books, interior design (we’re starting to look at paint and flooring for our new house), what we’ve learned from our vegetable patch and maybe even some photography from the very talented husband. Keep an eye on our Instagram in the meantime. AB out.

End of Month Review: Year Review! New blogger tips

 

I particularly enjoy reading what people are doing with their blogs to try and encourage traffic/make it look better and easier. The movement to a hosted WordPress site has been a massive learning curve to say the least. I hope people new to blogging can use this and develop their site. I say blogger tips, that is a bit of a stretch, how about my blogging trials and errors?

If you don’t know our story, a quick summary is that Alyson and I met when we were 14 and finally got engaged in 2015 (on the Isle of Skye). We are both very keen cooks and Alyson started blogging about a year ago and I started about a month ago both on separate pages and it sort of made sense to combine things into a single site (this one), since in May we are combining everything! I used to write a football blog and gave up because free time vanished and something had to give. I was keen that if we did this page together it would spur both of us on when times got tough in terms of motivation.

A Name

The most difficult thing was trying to find a name. Alyson suggested “Brookers of Blunty’s” – which is a running joke from our wedding venue as the owners just took their surname and put it in front of the place name so we did the same! A close second was “LessMessCress” – Another Alyson suggestion since I decided that every labrador I own has to be named something ending “ess”, we have had Tess and Bess. It is all leading to the day we have three and when I call them I will shout “Less, Mess, Cress”…Another silly joke we have.

So the name was finalised and it was time to get a shift on. Firstly, there was the signing up on all of the social media sights to have some consistency and then on to registering the domain.

Tech Stuff

Obviously I had to buy the URL and hosting, I used a company called TSO Host because I had heard they are excellent and also very good value. There have been no problems so far and the customer service is great. I would recommend them. Thanks to WP EAGLE for the discount code! – and all of your excellent videos.

Given that the two blogs were both started with us both lacking any sort of knowledge, when I got round to importing the two blogs into the new WordPress install, a few issues arose. I will go into this later but some are still about and are yet to be dealt with!

I wanted to get all the widgets, plugins etc all set up before we settled on a theme and then find a theme that fitted our needs by using the live preview button. I like the current theme, the only thing I would say is it would be better if the top menu was under the image slideshow!

Getting Sidetracked

My big problem – I suppose in life – is getting sidetracked. Setting up the site has been awful for this because there is so much to do and I found myself getting annoyed with something and flitting to the next thing and the only thing that was being achieved was opening more internet browser windows than anyone thought was possible!

I realise that there are so many things that still need to be done. I am on a mission to find some really smart follow us social media buttons for the sidebar but this seems to be a long process and ultimately, it isn’t a priority Here are some of the things I have done:-

  • Worked out the method to crop all images for the slideshow to be the same aspect ratio – surprisingly easy, need to find some more pictures when I have a second!
  • Set up Mail Chimp for email subscriptions. Please join! This was relatively easy in the end but took a lot of research to find a good company. Mail Chimp is free for the first 2000 subscribers so gives a bit of time to think about it! And get the button and form set up.
  • Found some share post media buttons that look good and work.
  • Get Google Analytics set up and bar Alyson and I from the data.
  • Get the Instagram widget up and running.
  • Getting the index page set up – this was trial and error but it is at a level where we are happy with it, we just have to go through our posts and re-categorise everything. Maybe Alyson can use that as an opportunity to proof-read some of her articles!!! Silly old Crispy Repper…
  • Added a Twitter follow button. We have reached double figures, a fantastic time to be alive!
  • Started to try and get involved with aggregator sites. This is very much a work in progress.
  • A dabbling in SEO with Yeost. I’m even getting some green lights!

There is still plenty to look at getting done but I am just delighted to be getting some time to actually write an article instead of messing about – I even dabbled in doing some coding last night but that was a disaster.

No views!

I know everyone in every guide says that it gets tough battling through all of the posts where it seems like nobody is reading and becoming obsessed with checking Google Analytics. As far as I am concerned, you have to earn readers and it should be tough to start with. Just because 5 people look at a page today, it is a recipe in the armoury for people to look at when you have 10,000 people looking at your pages a day. Every photo I take, I am learning from at the moment and every post I write is practice for writing, honing a style and getting to grips with things.

What to do next month

I think next month is going to be about trying to find some avenues for people to find our blog. The nice thing about it is that we sort of have a 6 month grace period as we still live our separate lives and the blogging will really take off as a couples activity once we tie the knot and move in together, and hopefully do some YouTubing.

I am quite tempted to put an advert up just as a barometer of how many page views are counting in comparison to the Google Analytics data. This is more as an understanding exercise than trying to make any money.

We are talking a lot about how to get set up into a routine for doing posts and doing the things that aren’t obvious.

Oh, and get a picture on FoodGawker – just submitted my first one!

If you have any questions please drop a message in the newly formed contact section and we will get back to you promptly! And please leave some of your own new blogger tips in the comment section.

 

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 Sunday Chat

I just wanted to have a little catch up with all you lovely people to touch base about life in general and to say thank you to everyone who has supported me so far. 

  
If you’ve read my “After my Exams”post, you’ll know that studying for professional qualifications after work has taken up a lot of my free time. But now I’m finished, and I’m taking a well-earned break, and that leaves me free to dedicate more time and energy to a lot of things, but particularly my blog. Just this morning I’ve decided to sort out my Twitter account and start using it again, as well as trying really hard to get better at scheduling my posts, although I’m not entirely sure sticking to the same upload days is necessary (I’m not a YouTube sensation after all). 

I’m also going to take some time to consider hosting outside of Word Press, as well as thinking about how to make the leap to YouTube eventually. 

  
On Saturday, I’ll be taking part in my very first collaborative post, which I’m really excited about. It was spearheaded by a lovely lady, Siobhan, who has a fantastic beauty blog, Beautyandthelook and who basically out herself out there with a shout out to anyone who fancied joining in. So on Saturday, Siobhan, myself, Jennifer, Becca-Louise, Karen and BunniesBlanketsandBandanas will each be blogging about our top 5 Christmas party essentials – it’s really exciting for me to be part of, if for no other reason that it’s put me in touch with some lovely bloggers who have great blogs. That will be dropping at 6pm on Saturday 28th November if you’re interested. 

  
I’ve had a bit of a mixed bag this week after having an amazing long weekend with Mr Brooker, seeing two great bands (Truckstop Honeymoon and Beans on Toast) at the Voodoo Rooms in Edinburgh after last Friday night, and then  Will Varley, Skinny Lister and Frank Turner at Newcastle uni on Saturday night before having some quality time being spoiled rotten by my wonderful husband-to-be.

  
Then it was back to work with a heavy heart and a scratch throat, only for that to develop into a horrid cold, then a cough, meaning I’ve been off work Thursday afternoon and Friday. I’m starting to feel a bit better now thankfully, however that’s been replaced by my right eye having a horrific allergic reaction to my parents’ central heating. All of that and a dozen lectures from my Mum about being “too thin”. 

This is something I want to take some time to address because it’s an issue that affects a lot of people, throughout the ages. I’ve always been chubby, curvy, whatever you want to call it. A UK size 12 on the bottom and a 14 on top, which might seem great to plenty of you until you add in the fact that I’m under 5′ 2″. I love food, you know that, of course, and yet I’ve never quite been 100% happy with my body. I loved having a decent cleavage, but I hated the cellulite on my thighs, my seemingly immovable muffin top and bingo wings, and I have been making numerous attempts with varying degrees of effort over the years to get into better shape.

  
I’m asthmatic, so exercise has always been a difficult concept for me, but I got into regular workouts when I moved into my own place last February. Davina’s workout DVDs were hard, but ultimately fruitless, although I suppose I shifted a few pounds by lightening my lunches a little and making breakfast bars for work. It was Jillian Michaels‘ 30 Day Shred which finally got my muscles to take shape and burned off some of that fat. After repeating that for a few months I was starting to get a lot happier about how I looked but also about how I felt. So I stepped up the healthy eating. 

I’m not going to call it a diet, because it’s not. It’s just a better way of eating. It’s not  even that super-healthy. I’ve swapped white rice and pasta for whole grain, stopped snacking on biscuits at work although they still sometimes sneak in, cut down on bread and increased the number of fruits and vegetables I eat. It’s not Paleo or clean eating or anything like that. It’s just being a bit more careful about what I stuff in my pie hole. I have a full fat yoghurt for breakfast every weekday, fruit to snack, then a homemade soup or salad for lunch, followed by more fruit. When I get home at night, I work out (I’m now doing Blogilates, which has kept up and built upon Jillian’s hard work, without there being too much off-putting cardio) and spend some time making a healthy supper of the type you see on my blog. I eat good portions. At bed time, I have a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits. If I bake, I’ll eat cake. If I’m eating out, as long as it’s not too often, I’ll eat pizza, pasta, bread, pudding and I’ll have wine.

 
I’m not hungry all the time and I’m not too thin. I’ve dropped down to a 10 on the bottom and a 12 on the top and people keep telling me how great I look. And I feel a whole lot better about the idea of prancing about in a wedding dress next May. I’m not trying to show-off here, I’m just trying to work-out when it became ok to tell someone they’re too thin, but still it’s rude to tell someone they’re too fat. I mean, it’s not like I’m Cheryl Cole.
  
Anyway, I’m off to put my glasses on and cook until I feel a whole lot better, before tucking into some fresh fruit and then a cup of coffee and one of my Nana’s cupcakes. Hope I didn’t bore you too much!