Saturday, 31 December 2016

Blogger Identity Issues


I'm having identity issues as a blogger

I'm a "food blogger".  I slipped into that label not long after I started my blog as most of my posts were about food.  I love food, I love cooking, I love visiting places that feed me and I love trying new things that are food related.

But I also like cats, candles, history, nail varnish, books, dresses, wine, films, technology, face creams, exploring London and napping.  Not so much make up - I'm utterly rubbish at that.

I didn't set out with the idea to start this blog as a food blog.

I've been a "food blogger" for so long and felt that every post needs to be food related but I'm starting to feel it's really limiting me on what I post and how often I post.  Lately I've been so busy with work that I can't even be bothered to make a meal from scratch, never mind coming up with a new recipe, taking pictures of it and writing about it.  I've been a pretty crappy food blogger lately which is what made me think about what sort of blogger I want to actually be and why I want to do it.

Monday, 26 December 2016

52 in 2016 - a Reading Challenge



Not normally one for New Years resolutions, I set myself a 2016 "challenge" rather than a resolution because I think that maybe the word "challenge" will make me more likely to do something...That challenge was to read 52 books in 2016.  That's one a week for people who might be mathematically impaired like me...I thought this was a sensible goal as once I curl up with a book, I can easily fly through the whole thing in a day.

So how did I do?




I don't want to be hard on myself but come on, Laura!  Just over half of the challenge?!  

Not one to give up, I'm going to set myself the same challenge for 2017 and I AM going to read more and I AM going to smash my target.  I'm stubborn like that.

I tried out a few apps to keep track of my reading challenge which might be helpful if you are thinking of setting yourself a reading challenge.






I'd been a member of the Goodreads website for a while but had completely forgotten about it until I was looking for an app to track my reading.  It's super easy to add books to your "shelves" by using the handy barcode scanner.




You can also keep a list of books you fancy reading.





Once you've added the book you've started reading you can update which page you're on and it will show you how far you are through the book.





When you've finished reading, you can award it stars and write a review.





The app will keep track of how many books you've read for your challenge and you can even add friends and see how they're doing (and possibly cheer each other on or share book recommendations).




Goodreads is great if you want a simple app that keeps track of your books and can search other books that you might like but for me being the data and graph loving nerd I am, I would have liked more analysis around the books I read.  Which leads me nicely on to the second app I tried...





Like Goodreads, iReadItNow has a "scan" feature so you can easily add a book when you start reading it but I found that it's more geared towards bookworms in places that don't recognise too many UK ISBNs so had to mostly add my books manually.





Books can be categorised into "read", "unread" and "wishlist"...I wasn't that organised when I used this app so my books are either "read" or just not on there.





This app also allows you to keep track of what page you're on and rate the book once you've finished it.




This is where I prefer this app to Goodreads - there's a statistics page.  I *heart* pie charts and graphs.  On this page you can see how many books you've read by month, ratings over the last 7 days and the ratings distribution across the books you've read.


 


As I said, I preferred this app but only slightly.  The downside to iReadItNow is that it's not got any way to track a specific reading goal.




I quite liked Booking at first as it was simple to use, pretty to look at, had a unicorn on it and was pretty good at keeping track of how I was getting on towards my reading goal.  Then it deleted all of the books I'd logged.  Not being childish or anything, I felt it only right to delete it back! 

So what was my favourite read of the year?  This one...




Is anyone up for a "52 in 2017" challenge?  I'll be using the hashtag #read52in2017 on twitter and Instagram so use the tag if you're going to give it a go, I'd love to see what you're reading!

Sunday, 25 December 2016

Pigs in Duvets

A twist on the classic Christmas pigs in blankets - chipolatas wrapped in streaky bacon snuggled with cranberry sauce in flaky pastry


Pigs in blankets are pretty special, right?  What's not to love about mini sausages wrapped in bacon, aka "pigs in blankets".  I'll tell you what - pigs in duvets.  And not just pigs in duvets, pigs in duvets snuggled up with a cranberry sauce hot water bottle.

I had a lightbulb moment when I was dreaming back to last Christmas.  We had some leftover pigs in blankets (what kind of monsters are we to have leftovers?!) and I made sandwiches with them and they were the best thing my tastebuds experienced that Christmas.  Honestly, give it a go!  Anyway, I was thinking about pig in blanket sammies and then I was also thinking about sausage rolls and then thought how amazing it would be to combine the two.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Assumption Abbey Fruitcake

Assumption Abbey fruitcake - a rich, dense cake loaded with soaked fruits, nuts and spices made by Trappist monks in Ava, Missouri


It seems as though most people, especially avid bakers, have their "go to" traditional recipe for Christmas fruitcake.  Not this family.  We don't want to spend hours in the kitchen soaking fruits, baking, sloshing alcohol over a cake at regular intervals or anything like that.  This family gets their Christmas fruitcake baked by monks.  When I say "we", I mean my mum and this is all about her obsession newish tradition of getting a 2lb fruitcake from Assumption Abbey.

Now you may think that the monks are baking a cake especially for my mum but this isn't the case - they bake around 25,000 a year!  My mum loves their cakes so much that I'd like to think they can sense that when her yearly order comes through and when it's time to top the cake being sent to her with fruit and nuts that they add a little extra love to it.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Photo a Day 2016: October


I've hit the time of year where everything I do and think about is work related as I work in the glorious world of retail.  We've now hit "peak" so the whole team have been furiously planning for the most epic time of the retail year.  The plans are now being put into action to make sure our wonderful customers have some fantastic products to choose from and will hopefully be impressed with some of the great deals that will be happening!

So yeah...blogging (and most other things) have been put on the back burner for the moment but have still been having a *bit* of fun - here's what I was up to in October...

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