Morning treat

I'm treating myself to a delicious breakfast in recognition of the work I did last night in customising my blog. I have zero knowledge of either how the Internet works or any image editing software so it felt like I'd conquered Everest when I got my very own handmade header on the site. To celebrate: porridge with honey and bananas. Yum!

Braid Wednesday

These bad boy braids were worn to a trip to Diggerland many moons ago. I particularly love that they were also paired with a bow. More braids with bows needed!

Braid Wednesday

Today's braid is shot in the highly glamourous studio I like to call my bathroom:

The close up shot clearly shows the kirby grips used to keep this firmly attached to my head. As it lasted all day at work I'm happy to let the visible structural assistance slide but had it fallen out as soon as I stepped out of the door I'd have been less than enthused.

These images are not the celebration party I had envisioned for reaching one of my four simple goals, but realistically this is my hair looking fairly presentable and you can clearly see the colour of it.

Yes, that's right: I have completed goal number 1: to dye my hair a darker, redder shade of brown and this is my proof.

I also went back to peruse my goals as I had actually kind of forgotten them and by some miracle I have achieved them all! Posts to follow this week to document each success. Embarassingly, I had met all of my goals in October which means I have been aimlessly wandering through a goal-less life ever since. My first goal is to set new goals!

Toms for winter

These winter Toms are absolutely gorgeous. I adore the orange with the tweed.

But its so hard to choose which winter pair to get with beauties like these competing for my affections:

Oh how cute!

This Etsy shop is adorable. I want everything in it!

Braid envy Wednesday

via sfgirlbybay

Braid Wednesday

I love love love the Braid Wednesday flickr group and would like to contribute. However, braids are hard and Wednesdays can be busy. I will post my braid pictures on a Wednesday from now on but these images may not have been actually taken midweek. For example, this batch of pics were taken on Saturday while walking the mighty GwilDog.

Brrrrrrrrrilliant weekend

I was spoilt by the warmer climate down in London and since my return to the North West has left me shivering and longing for home. As my hotwater bottle heats up my bed I’m uploading some of the pics from Saturday’s bonfire celebrations.

@Nikki made us a lovely butternut squash soup to start and I made treacle toffee for everyone and sewed up bags of greaseproof paper for everyone who joined us at Ealing Cricket Club.

The fireworks there really are amazing and this year was no exception with the star of the show being a batch of fantastic smiley face fireworks. They had me jumping up and down clapping with glee.

Afterwards we had an absolute feast with @Lodark’s homemade Stromboli, a fantastic bean stew by @Effialise and some well chosen hot dogs from @crayman.

And to finish it off we had a gingercake made in the slow cooker / crock pot by yours truly.

Good times were had and I can’t wait to make blondies with @Effialise when she’s settled in her new home.

An even better way to keep up with your blog!

After posting about how to keep up with blogging when you are terminally poor at it, the utterly inspiring Elise told the world about something amazing: an editorial calendar!

It was briefly mentioned by Elise so I wikipediaed it and it seems like just the thing for keeping you on track when finding your blogging feet.

I also checked out some other people's views on the editorial calendar and this dude has amalgamated my plans to do a weekly posting with the calendar for some mega awesomeness!

I will certainly be using this to try and get my blog off the ground in the next few weeks and I may even reward myself with something as yummy as the earl grey poached pears with cinnamon panna cotta I am demonstrating here.

Why every blog you've tried to start failed within two weeks and what to do about it

Have you started a blog with all the intentions of getting all your wonderful thoughts out there and sharing them with your adoring fans? Because let's face it your internal dialogue would immediately have legions of adoring fans hanging on your every word. So you have some ideas and one fine day you come up with an idea that forces you onto that free blogging platform. Here it is. Your big moment has arrived. And it's hard. You type it out. Twice. And somehow your great idea didn't really work like you thought it would. And so you try a few more posts and within 2 weeks your blog has fallen by the wayside until you hardly remember your blog even exists and have totally forgotten the log in details. When you do have a look at it it’s sad looking with its three half baked posts with no pictures so you decide to delete it. And then you read some blog posts about how to write a successful blog and you do it all again. So why does this happen and what steps could you take to ensure that your next blog effort lasts at least three weeks next time?

Nothing to write about

The worst case scenario when you start your blog is the realisation that your life just isn't that interesting. Suddenly you don't do half the exciting things you thought you did. And without living an envy inducing lifestyle, what are you going to blog about? And without thousands of avid readers, why share your opinion?

Getting started is tough. Leo of ZenHabits has plenty of good ideas at how to get new habits to stick and while you're trying to get into the habit of blogging semi regularly a good idea would be have some regular feature blog posting that you can do to limit the agonising decision of what to blog.

1. Pick a day of the week
2. Pick something you like or that you could easily incorporate into your schedule (bonus points if you can describe this in an alliterative way with the day you picked)
3. Blog about said thing on said day and tada you are regularly posting about something. And in the early days of your blog that really is what's important.

Struggling to find your voice

Even worse than not having something to post about is having something really great to blog about and not being able to turn it into the blog post of your dreams. You write and edit, write and edit but when you read it back it just doesn't sound like the witty monologue you have running through your head. You just didn't turn up.

How many times have you picked something up and instantly been awesome at it? I can count on one hand the activities I've been good at from the get go. When I first picked up a brass instrument I could not get a note out of it. I blew so hard I damaged my ear drum. But I kept at it and 5 years later I was a nation champion best solo player.
The good news is there isn't a championship for blogging so you won't have to wait 5 years to see an improvement.
Start blogging around your pre-thought out post ideas to build a habit and from that will spring better writing. But until you start writing regularly you're unlikely to see improvements. I don't know anyone who found that quitting something they sucked at made them better at it.

Not enough time

I have definitely fallen into the trap of thinking I can emulate some of my favourite bloggers only to realise very quickly that they must be superhuman to get stuff done and still have the time to blog it. Actually, when I looked at my favourite bloggers, a lot of them are actually blogging about their work. If I got to blog at work I'm sure I'd do a heaps better job of it than doing it in my spare time.

There are 2 options for this. Quit my job and blog full time or scale back my posting ambitions. Whatever you think you can achieve, half it. You'll work your butt off to meet that. And if you are able to surpass that level of output you feel great rather than feeling like a failure if you don’t meet your initial unrealistic expectations. I know it goes against the concept of setting challenging goals but if your confidence is low you need easy wins. Once you've managed to keep up with a super easy posting schedule you can up your game but make sure the habit sticks in the early stages.

Also, don't think you have to write a post all in one go. This post is the first I haven't typed directly into my blog. I typed it in my phone’s notes then emailed it to myself. This allowed me to type it whenever I had spare time. Blog away from your computer occasionally.

Lack of pictures

One of the main reasons I love reading blogs is for the images. Great photos really do make a big difference to blogs. However, if you are not a professional photographer or if like me you don’t even own a SLR camera, what can you do? I love the hipstamatic app for the iPhone. It makes an ordinary photo look heaps cooler. You can’t get away with all photos being in such a format but in starting out it’s a great way of using photos taken with your phone camera. Start off with these and see what you want to do about pictures once your blog is established.

Proof in the pudding?

I’ll be following these tips in an effort to be a better blogger.

Let’s see how well it works!