05 October 2015

Low Carb....2 weeks in

My HabitBull app encouragingly reminded me yesterday that I've completed 14 days in a row! The question is, does it feel like it? The first time I avoided carbs I had lost a few pounds by this point and looked and felt much better. This time I am still pretty tired and can only feel a slight difference in my general self (which I might even be imagining). After all I read about diets (sorry, lifestyle changes) being harder after the first attempt, I am not feeling too disheartened (yet). I did also have some fries one day on a meal out, and a packet of crisps another. The crisps were definitely damage limitation as I was incessantly thinking about chocolate, cake and biscuits ALL day. Considering how much worse it could have been I think 11g of carbs on a packet of Salt n Vinegar was an achievement not a failure.


22 September 2015

Back on the Low Carb Diet

Yesterday was the dreaded 'Day One'. For the second time. I first tried low carb eating back in March this year and was pleasantly surprised - it actually seemed to work, and it wasn't that tough! I stuck to it pretty strictly for 30 days (except a pre-booked cream tea right in the middle - ssshhh), and I lost about half a stone. I also felt so much better generally. The best thing was that I felt less hungry; I was just getting so hungry all the time before. This seemed to fix that. 

So, why is this the second attempt? If it was so great why wasn't it the 'lifestyle change' I intended it to be? My excuse is that it was summer and the occasional ice cream, beer and fish 'n' chips needed to be eaten. Generally I continued eating low carb, there were just more and more treats happening. It was beginning to spiral out of control a little so another 30 strict days are necessary. My brain likes a definite yes or no - it is already appreciating the lack of choice. I am not eating carbs. It knows this now.

My summer food exploits. Who could've said no to these?
I did manage a strict 4 days last week, but there was a birthday meal on Sunday so I ate a dessert. Even though it wasn't that bad I'd rather start again so yesterday was it. Day one went well. It felt like I was back in the swing of it. I guess that's the one advantage from having done it before - I have a good list of foods I know I can turn to in hunger. And it's a pretty good list really. I ate biltong, a beef burger (no bun obviously) with bacon and cheese, salad and a small dollop of Greek yoghurt. Not bad at all. It takes about 3 days to get back into ketosis (where the body uses fat for energy) so by the end of the week I'll be well into that stage.

Are there any side effects? The first time I tried low carb I felt like I had a cold and I was exhausted. This is all pretty common and nothing to worry about. I knew it was something you just had to push through. This time around there are no side effects yet. I am tired, but no more than I have been the last few weeks.

I've read that it is harder to get results the second (or third, fourth,....) time around because the body remembers what happened before and knows to cling on to the fat for longer (it knows you're going to give up basically!). That's a weird thought. It reminds me to try to be patient. Kind of.

21 April 2015

R is for Reviews

If I'm looking to invest in some technology or just change my usual brand of whatever it is, one of the first things I'll do is a quick search online for a review. They are extremely useful on sites like Amazon, and really do influence my decisions. But I don't think I've ever actually written a review. Even for the products I love. If I feel strongly one way or another about a product, then my blog would doubtless be a good place to share it. I'll have to make this one of my blogging goals.

20 April 2015

Q is for Quality versus Quantity

I've touched on this hot topic in a previous post, but just how do you achieve that perfect balance of quality versus quantity? It'll be a different number for everyone but the answer is probably the same - enough that you enjoy posting and it's not an impossible challenge. If you have enough topics and time, then once a day (or even more) is perfectly achievable. If you're a bit pushed for time perhaps one post per week (or 2) will suffice. 

In the past I've posted 3-4 times a week, but even when I was at home all day, I still found that a challenge. It takes longer than you think to construct a good blog post, especially when you have to find the right photos, resize them and upload them too. I've definitely underestimated the time involved before, and forced myself to post too often. If I still want it to be enjoyable and not a chore, I think once a week is about right for me. When I'm being super creative and making new items for my shop I'd probably post slightly more often.

How do you achieve that balance?

18 April 2015

P is for Projects

I'm a sucker for a project. Stick in the word challenge, assignment or project, and I'm in. I especially enjoy photography projects - they can really help spark your creativity, and it's nice to share your work with others who might be undertaking something similar. I've completed a couple of 365 projects and much easier 30 day projects. I'm much better at sticking to them over the summer months when it's actually light for more than a few hours a day, and when I naturally seem to have more creative energy. I love reading about fellow blogger's projects and seeing their progress. Again, that's another great way to feel inspired.

I can feel the need for a photography project coming on now.............

17 April 2015

O is for Online Presence

There are so many ways to have an online presence these days, and it takes a lot of effort keeping them all updated. I don't really enjoy Facebook, so I save that for keeping up with closer friends (and hardly ever post anything). I do use Twitter and Instagram, but quite sparingly. I find them both a lot more user friendly than Facebook, and it's fun searching through images and tweets, but I don't post as often as I'd like. Pinterest is another of my favourite websites - I have loads of boards now. I've always been a big fan of a mood board!

I also have a page on portfoliobox.me which is basically a small portfolio of my photography and a place to keep all my links together. 

How do you keep up with your online presence? Without it taking over your real life? Do you find it more of a hindrance than a help?

16 April 2015

N is for News

I'd like to make my blog slightly topical - not to say I want to write about the big issues happening in the world, but sometimes the smaller, or weirder, news stories I read online can inspire a blog post. For a while, when I was posting regularly, I did indeed post an 'in the news' topic each week. I wrote about robots and car eyelashes, all the important stories of the week.

I am not an avid news watcher. In fact, the only news I do watch is online. Most days I'll take a look at the BBC website, followed by the Telegraph. I admit that I only read the short interesting stories and often the 'most read' headlines. I love the weird news section on the Telegraph website, and their science stories. They can be much more inspiring and fun to write about than the heavier stories throughout the world.

15 April 2015

M is for Music

I love music, but I'm never a fan of opening a blog and having music that you haven't asked for blasted out at you. Especially if you're already listening to your own music - you end up with a horrible noise, and often you can't find the mute button on the website. Very frustrating. Optional music is a much better way to go.

14 April 2015

L is for Labels

Another tricky one today. Labels are a feature that allow you to attach keywords to your post. That's about all I know. I don't know how much they actually aid in the search process (perhaps someone who does know could pass on the knowledge please!?). Even though I'm not entirely sure of their importance, it doesn't hurt to get into the habit of using them. I think of them as Instagram hashtags - how would I label this if it was a photo on Instagram? It's a bit more tricky when it's a blog post, but there are always keywords available if you have a good think.

For example, what can I label this post with? 
  • a-z blog challenge, challenge, labels, labelling, hashtags, keywords, searching, search

13 April 2015

K is for Kaput

As I've previously written, a number of years have passed since I blogged regularly, but it has always been in the back of my mind. I kept having that thought, "I really should get back to blogging", nagging at me. Instead of my failed attempts to get back into it by writing a halfhearted post every few months, I probably should have just wound up the page. A simple statement of intent; that I couldn't see me blogging for the forseeable future so am taking a break. That might have helped give me some closure for that time off. Instead, every time I thought about blogging I felt like a failure, and it became a bigger and bigger deal. Maybe sometimes a blog going kaput is the best thing for it. Then you can come back fresh and strong if/when you do decide to.

I'm still hoping that my blog will not go kaput. 

11 April 2015

J is for Joy

I find a lot of joy in stupid little things, but how do you get across that joy in a blog post? So many times I've found inspiration in the tiniest thing, and thought "that'd make a great post for today!". But when I start to form the words to describe it, they seem to sap all the joy away. If it's something that can be written about in less than 140 characters then I'd tweet it instead, or if it's visual then an Instagram photo would do. Plus, there is often such a delay in actually finding time to write something down that the moment is passed. You don't want to end up sharing everything immediately either as that might detract from real life. Perhaps the key is to simply write it as if you were telling a friend. 

I had an idea a while back for a project called something like 'it's the little things', where I share and collect all those simple things that make me smile. Seems like this might be the perfect time to start.

10 April 2015

I is for Interviews

Interviews don't have to be with someone else. You can also interview yourself.  There are lots of quizzes and fun questionnaires you can share on your blog. Your readers can find out more about you, and you might just enjoy finding out about yourself a bit too. I personally love filling in questionnaires or making random lists of things I enjoy or things I want to do. 

Once I've found a good set of questions I'm definitely going to interview myself for my blog. I might even combine it with a 30 day or photography challenge.

09 April 2015

H is for How To

A really great thing to share on a blog is a well written and useful ‘how to’. Tutorials and how to’s are one of the top reasons I’ll visit a blog, and if I’ve found them helpful I might stick around to explore more pages. For most things you can think of, there will already be a blog or article with instructions or helpful tips. This doesn’t mean you can’t make your own of course. Frequently instructions are poor or make no sense, so there is always something you can add to a topic. Perhaps you have great examples, or have worded something in a much clearer way. Or maybe you have found a topic for which no one else has made a tutorial. Hopefully this doesn’t mean no one else is interested. Just that you got there first. And that can only be a good thing.

08 April 2015

G is for Goals

In my head I have a vision of me as a blogger; effortlessly writing thought-provoking and beautiful posts each day, whimsically replying to the many insightful comments I receive, following the creative opportunities merrily presenting themselves to me after seeing something amazing on my blog. Sadly, the reality for most of us bloggers is pretty far from this magical ideal. Sometimes, no-one at all will read a post, and even if they do, there will be no exciting comments to encourage us. Visitors may not even look at anything else you've written. It can be a slightly soul destroying experience. That's why I think goals are very important.

Goals can stop us feeling that it's all a complete waste of time and getting overly disheartened at the start. Once you've faced the reality that most blogs are not going to become an overnight success, you can really focus on what you personally want to achieve. That can be a tough question. I've still not decided if I definitely want to run my blog again or not, but the process of goal-forming should help........

  • I want a place online to share the projects I'm doing 
  • I want to share fun things I've found or ideas for things to buy etc with others
  • Ideally I'd like to establish a core set of readers that will comment and converse occasionally
  • I want to make something that represents me, shows my creative side and inspires me to continue making art and taking photos - something I can be proud to show people
They may be a little vague to some, but those are the reasons I want a blog. It's about sharing what I'm doing and what I find with people who are interested. It is great when one of your posts is viewed by more than a handful of people, especially when they take the time to comment. Now I just need to create posts that encourage people to do just that. Simple.

07 April 2015

F is for Followers

I have 152 followers as of writing this post. Most of these came from the first couple of times I completed the A-Z blog challenge. Some were from flickr groups and online courses I took. They were all from before I changed my blog title from ‘fur will fly’ to ‘flailing DORIS’, and I don’t even know if any are still active followers. It would be great to get some more followers, but for that I need to write more regularly. Perhaps then I can start actively looking for more. 

Then the question is, how do I get more followers? My brainstorming has come up with these ideas so far…..any others are very welcome!
  • Host a giveaway (entry is by following blog)
  • Link to new blog posts on social media – build up those followings first/as well. It’s easier to gain twitter or Instagram followers than blog followers
  • Follow and comment on other blogs
  • Post regularly
  • Label and tag posts with common keywords
  • Write about popular topics
  • Make it easy for people to follow you
  • Guest posts on other blogs or get other bloggers to guest on yours

06 April 2015

E is for Enthusiasm

Enthusiasm goes a long way. It’s so nice to read a blog and really get a sense of how passionate the writer is about their topic. Of course it can be difficult to get that across, and more often than not something that sounds so much fun in your head doesn’t come out that way on the screen.

On my own blog, the fact that I have lost enthusiasm for blogging itself probably comes across. I need to get back into so many of my fun creative hobbies, that blogging has taken a backseat. Perhaps I need to see my blog as a good tool to encourage my creative outlets, not to take time away from them.

04 April 2015

D is for Design

When I visit a new blog I can be very judgemental. If it doesn’t look visually appealing then I probably won’t stay long, and I certainly won’t return. The design is very important. Obviously everyone has different opinions on what they like, but for me……
  • it should look full but not cluttered,
  • clean and fresh,
  • have big bright photos or images,
  • have a readable font in a normal size (nothing too fancy or small),
  • definitely not have white writing on a dark background,
  • it should be simple to navigate – I especially want to find the about me section, the follow button and the blog archive easily

I can see I need to improve my sidebar areas and make sure navigation around the site is easy. My blog can look a little cluttered sometimes, but I like the double sidebar layout for now. Perhaps it looks cleaner with one sidebar and a larger blog post area, but then I find too many things listed in the sidebar so it becomes a longer process scrolling down to find things.

I’d be interested to hear what you think are the key design elements, and what changes you’ve made to simplify your own blog layout.

03 April 2015

C is for Comments

Ah, the elusive comments section. Much underused. Maybe people can't work out how to leave a comment (although spammers seem to manage). It can't be because there is nothing worth commenting on, can it? 

Often perhaps, that is exactly the case. Unless you've written a piece that sparks debate or challenges concepts and viewpoints, perhaps it just doesn't require a comment. Someone may have enjoyed your post, and even found something new because of it, but just not been compelled to tell you about it. Sometimes you have to log in to leave a comment, or decipher an indecipherable captcha. If it is hard work in the slightest, then only the most conscientious reader will bother. 

I've read that a good way to encourage comments is to start a dialogue with your readers; ask questions, ask for their opinion or ideas. If the post is being read by the right people then hopefully someone will take the time to write. If they do, it is a good idea to reply individually to them, starting a conversation perhaps, and hopefully encouraging them to return.

02 April 2015

B is for Blog Header

Your blog header is usually the first thing people see when they start investigating your blog. Therefore it should be something you put a fair amount of thought into. Done well, it can really represent you and your style. A good header can also make your blog appear more professional. I made mine using Paint and Photoshop - and once I had the right shot, it didn't take long at all to complete. Well, a day or so of fiddling, but that's only because I get extra fussy.

I'm actually pretty pleased with my blog header. It's not perfect but it says what I want it to - it clearly shows I like photography and the photo itself is in focus and nice and bright. I've had a number of different headers but the one I have now is my favourite, and for now is one thing about my blog I don't need to urgently fix! 

01 April 2015

A is for About Me

The About Me section of a blog can be a very important tool for gathering followers, or it can be completely irrelevant. Personally, If I’m reading a blog for computer advice or quick tutorials, then I don’t really care much about the author. That might be a little harsh, but I only really become interested in the author when I’m reading a lifestyle blog or something that deals with more personal issues. I like to read blogs by people who are similar to me or have shared interests. And if anyone else is like me then I need to spruce up my own About Me page.

Mine was written years ago. It isn’t even called ‘About Me’. In fact, I have 2 sections; ‘My Story’ and ‘Who Am I?’ which is confusing and unnecessary to begin with. By the end of April it’ll be fixed. I have ideas……….these are the questions I’d want to know the answers to………
  • Why is your blog called that?
  • Who is the person behind the name? How can I relate to you?
  • What is the blog about? Why would I want to read it?
  • Where else can I find the author online? 
Some tips for answering my own questions:
  • Succinct but interesting answers
  • Include some random facts to keep me interested
  • Remember a photo sometimes speaks a thousand words
I'll keep a look out for good About Me pages on the challenge blogs I visit. So this is homework for us all.

April A to Z Challenge

This is the start of the April A to Z challenge. Firstly, a confession. I am a lapsed blogger. I haven’t written a blog post since the 8th October. Since that day, I’ve considered blogging many times but written nothing. This really is going to be a challenge.

I’ve chosen an appropriate overall theme for the month – “back to blogging”. This is my attempt to revitalise my blog, and (just maybe) get back my love of blogging. I might also throw in some actual posts about random things too, so none of us get too bored.

I’m hoping that many of you signed up to the challenge because you too are lapsed or disenchanted bloggers…….perhaps we can band together. My posts won’t be tips or advice – I am in no position to give any – just my own ideas to spruce up a tired old blog and engage with the habit again.

But none of this begins with A.
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