Five Years Of Blogging!

Back in 2012, I decided to start a blog for something to do while I was briefly unemployed.

I never guessed that I would stick at it for this long!

As a fan of blogs, I wanted to have a go myself, writing about baking, music, vintage and decorating our house. I also wanted to improve my IT skills.

Fast forward to half a decade later and my improved IT skills are minimal!

Most of those subjects have fallen by the way side now, and my blog has evolved into a personal online diary of sorts. But its been nice to record my memories.

And five years on, once again, I am currently unemployed! Oops!…..Although I am calling this period of being out of work my “extended maternity leave”!

Thanks to everyone who has read my crappy lil’ blog and commented on here. I never set out to gain readers or any financial gains etc (although some extra £££’s would be nice!!!), but it has been a lovely, positive perk. If I could, I would buy you all a drink, but instead I will rise my tepid mug of tea to you all and say clink-clink, cheers me dears!!!

Happy 3rd Birthday To My Blog!

Wow, who da thought it eh? Using My Loaf is three years old today!

Its been a good three years, and on the whole still I love blogging and blogs in general. Yeah, wider read blogs are changing with more sponsored content on them and all the rest, but if you look further there are still plenty of genuine blogs about peoples lives, interests and passions, all written in a well informed way, with beautiful photography.

And then theres mine!

Nah, I jest! I like my blog and I am happy with it. Proud of it even. My blog might not win any awards for layout and design (still waiting for my coding wiz OH to spruce it up) and I might not be the best writer, nor am I educated to university level, heck, not even grammar school level! But the main thing is that I try my best. Blog posts do take time and effort, and I take an average of 18 proof reads before I am happy that my posts are relatively readable and make any kind of sense. And then I still edit them again after publishing!

Its always amature hour on my blog eh! Sometimes I will read a brilliant post from another blogger and think why do I even bother? Even the comments readers leave on their post are so well written and intelligent, that I feel a right numnuts joining in with my little blurb with kisses on the end and bad punctuation!

But I think its the thought that counts when it comes to comments, they are nice to receive and this year I have vowed to up my game and leave more (even if mine do sound a bit divvy!)

Moving forward into my next year of blogging, I have a lot of ideas that I want to utilise on here. Maybe a few new features? More photos? More mid century? Who Knows?

Lets just see how things pan out. I might not have a schedule, target audience or want to make money and score freebies from blogging, but the one thing that I can promise is that things will always be real on here. I don’t write life changing stuff, nor do I get too controversial, opinionated, political, review stuff or write wise owl advice type posts on how you should be thinking and acting (who cares about my opinion anyway?).

Its just me and my life which is so average it hurts. I am cool with that though. I always joke about how no one reads my blog, but I like the fact that I have a small audience. I am actually quite a private person, who then shares stuff online (go figure?) I try to write about the best and most random stuff that makes me happy and hope to continue doing so for many more years!

Happy 1st Blog Birthday To Me!

Well, well, well, who would have thought of it, Using My Loaf is one year old today!

A year ago I decided to have a go at this blogging lark, with no real expectations of me sticking to it. I had long been an avid reader of other peoples blogs and wanted to see if I could to create one myself to keep a record of the updates we made to our house, as we were planning on installing a new kitchen (which has still not been shown on here – opps!)

If you have found me then well done, as I have not bothered to promote this blog at all. I have not even told my friends and family where to find it. I have just blogged for myself as a new hobby and a little creative outlet.

In my first year of blogging, it seems all I have mostly talked about is –

  • myself
  • the new kitchen
  • my bad photography
  • I live in a 1950’s house
  • I like mid century modern stuff
  • Rob
  • my cat
  • cake

Yep, pretty much a true representation of me and all I drone on about in real life………and think about too, but in reverse order!

On the plus side I feel my writing has improved. Yeah, I know my grammar leaves a lot to be desired and thank goodness for spell check. But this blog is something that I enjoy and is not hurting anyone (except maybe punctuation purists) so why not carry on?

When I started this blog I had not done any creative writing since school. At first I found it a real struggle to compose my posts. It took long time and many re-edits to try to a) structure my sentences properly, and b) to write a post that I was happy with. So while I am not a natural writer, writing has now become more natural to me……if that makes sense???

My goals for the next year are to keep improving the content and the pictures and just keep at it really (and show the kitchen on here!)

Anyway, thank you again for reading my blog.

Poppy says all the right things!

 

 

Today I Learnt I Was Right. Dammit!

I have been open about my IT skills (or lack of!) on here. I want to learn how to be a better blogger at my own pace, and will document my improvements in the “blogging for beginners” posts. Plus if it can help someone else out there reading them, then better still!

In this post I mentioned that a 10 year old probably has better IT skills than me. Today I have been proven right! Today in the news a 9 year old blogger has generated a lot of publicity for her blog “NeverSeconds” after being told to stop posting pictures of her school lunches by her local council.

Well I had a little look at her site myself.

Young upstarts eh?

Yep she is better than me. Yep I have blog envy!

In other news I installed another font plugin. Now I can do this!
Plus I can write in

rainbow

Find it here if you also want to add it to your wordpress blog. I have noticed however that the different fonts I selected do not show up in my google reader. More work must be done. And yes, I do subscribe to my own blog!

P.S. Hands up who thinks Martha gets help from her Dad.

Pink Baking

Pink baking

As part of my blogging to do list, I added “Compile one of these wish-list thingies” as something I wanted to learn.

I can do Etsy Treasurys no problem. I just typed Etsy treasury list into the google and found a site with a code generator to do so. Easy. I just got to figure out how to turn the dollars into pounds now!

But these wish list collages have alluded me. I have been typing all sorts into the google (yes I call it the google!) and found nothing helpful. Luckily the other day I discovered Polyvore! By discovered I mean clicked on the link on someone else’s blog.

So I had a little play around and made this collage above. I just clicked on random things with a vague baking theme as you can see. But I think I can tick off #12 now! Whoop!

Kitchen update – We are nearly there, I am cleaning it up between working two jobs. I’m slowly finding homes for my rubbish essentials. In a week or so (and once I get a nice sunny day!) I can take some snaps to share on here! Double whoop!

 

I Learnt Something Today!

Today I learnt that you can buy crisps from Kent. They were very nice thank you.

I also started to work on #8 of my Blogging Goals list. To improve the look and layout of my blog.

I know I will not win any awards for what I have done, but for a complete thicko novice like me its some progress.

I hated the look of my blog and had been patiently waiting for my web developer/former graphic designer other half to make it smarter for me. But Rob is a busy man and to be honest, I dont want to make the poor boy to stay sitting in front of his computer in the little he has of his free time. So I decided to try myself. Plus I need to learn the basics.

How things used to look

I also forgot to do a screen grab of the before look of my blog so I grabbed this teeny-tiny image from bloglovin!

When I started this blog in January, I  purchased a domain name to self host my blog with WordPress installed, instead of using a free blogging platform like Blogger or going through WordPress.com. The self hosted option is what serious bloggers chose apparently. I just did this as hosting is a service my partners company offer – feel free to contact me if you are interested in purchasing your own little space of the Internet etc!

I set my blog up and installed the 3rd most popular theme Twenty Eleven. I set to work customising it to the best of my abilities, choosing turquoise and pink as two colours to pretty up my blog. This theme was easy to use and customise, but I could only do so much. Partly due to lack of knowledge and partly due to laziness.

The thing I hated most was the black bar across the top and lack of font options. Today I have learnt that one of these things was easy to change. I just needed to install a font uploader plugin. Doh!

As you can see I have installed a new theme. I spent a little time finding one I liked and chose San Kloud as it is turquoise and cute! I have also done a little playing around adding some fonts now I know how to!

I know this is nothing groundbreaking and a ten year old child probably knows more about this stuff than me (scary but true!) But surely I cant be the only person out there who feels a little overwhelmed by all this blogging lark?

If someone (or in fact anyone ha!) reads this and it helps them out then that’s great. I kind of feel embarrassed of my lack of IT, grammar, photography skills. I left school with slightly above average GCSE results, then went to college but I did not purse higher education. Since college I basically have rotted my brain in dead-end retail mcjobs, including a 12 year stint at a high street opticians as an administrator.

But then I think to myself although I am now *cough*32*cough*, I am not to old to learn new skills and better myself. I still have many, many years of hard slog ahead of me before I retire. So I need to push myself.

Maybe one day I will put the URL of my blog on my CV. Maybe not. Sometimes I will have no enthusiasm to blog. Sometimes I will drone on about nothing in particular in far too much detail. Sometimes I will be mediocre. Someday my writing will improve (I hope) as practice makes perfect. And I know I will never be perfect, but that’s fine. I will just do the best I can and carry on learning, after all is’nt that what life is all about!

Edit 15/08/12 – I have now returned to using the Twenty Eleven theme as after updating to the new version of wordpress, I seen to have a few problems with my layout which were beyond my abilities to sort out.

Life List

Back in November last year when this blog was just a twinkle in my eye. I compiled a life list of sorts in my google docs. Some aims were of the big life goals/bucket list variety and some were just silly fun things I want to try out. I recently reopened this file and was pleased to see that I had since achieved a few of my goals.

The reason I wrote this list was that I found it inspiring (and still do) reading other bloggers life lists or birthday lists e.g 21 for 21 things (my age ha!!) etc which are everywhere right now. Plus I love making lists, it’s therapeutic!

I decided to share my list as it was my birthday this week and I have been thinking about making one of these lists to have as a feature on here as I cross things off to keep my blogging creative juices flowing. I then remembered the list I made six months ago so thought why not! What harm can it do?

The list was a good reference point so I copied and pasted it here, then did a little reshuffling and tidying up. I have also been thinking about how to move this blog forward to, as I don’t want to be boring readers about my history with dodgy ovens and rambling on about crusties! So I separated my list into two and added a few more goals to keep me motivated and to help improve my blogging skills.

BLOGGING GOALS

  1. Start a blog. DONE!
  2. Get better at photography.
  3. Improve my writing skills.
  4. Learn to use Photoshop or PicMonkey at least.
  5. Learn to use google analytics.
  6. Get better IT skills in general.
  7. Learn how to put pictures side by side.
  8. Improve the look and layout of this blog.
  9. Continue with Tuesday Tune.
  10. Show the rooms of my house on here that we have decorated already.
  11. Compile one of these wish-list thingies. Once I figure out what they (wish-list thingies) are officially called to google how to make them or find the software etc!
  12. Keep this as a happy place and do not rant on here!
  13. And remember to just keep on blogging for self improvement in general!

Some of these things I have added to the list today and some of these things are probably quite easy to do like #4, #5 & #7. I just have not tried to learn how to do these things. Some of these I might will need Rob’s help for i.e #13!

Here is the rest of my life/bucket list. I hereby retrain the right to change my mind about any of these goals listed. In no particular order –

LIFE GOALS

  1. Start a blog. DONE!
  2. Visit Berlin.
  3. Keep chickens in my garden.
  4. Grow my own vegetables.
  5. Make bagels.
  6. Get really good at making cupcakes.
  7. Bake some whoopie pies.
  8. Bake some no knead bread.
  9. Make a red velvet cake of some sorts.
  10. Go whale watching.
  11. Crochet a granny squares blanket.
  12. Bake a rainbow cake.
  13. Build an Eco house
  14. Move to a less chavvy town.
  15. See the northern lights.
  16. Climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower (I have been before but only made it up 2/3rds of the way. I was with my mum and she gave up at that point, as she did not like the see through-ish stairs we were climbing – chicken!)
  17. Organise my iPhoto library.
  18. Get some some nice photo books made.
  19. Buy more secondhand clothes or vintage dah-ling.
  20. Make my house beautiful.
  21. Own a camper van. DONE!  21)b.Get campervan MOT’ed & road worthy.
  22. Buy more secondhand furniture. DONE! I will show my purchases on here at some point.
  23. Go to more gigs.
  24. Own a rescue greyhound.
  25. Join a book club.
  26. See Tutankhamun’s mask.
  27. Go camping at least once a year.
  28. Keep going to as many festivals as financially possible. Sod being too old.
  29. Get a greenhouse and grow amazing cucumbers.
  30. Eat more leafy green veg.
  31. Plant a herb garden so I never have to buy expensive fresh herbs from supermarkets.
  32. Use only green household cleaning products or make my own.
  33. Get my completed/decorated house as a tour on one of my favourite blogs (or in a magazine?).
  34. Buy only ethical/organic/outdoor reared meat.
  35. Save cooking fat for the birds.
  36. Visit Loch Ness.
  37. Stay in the Pantone hotel.
  38. Sew a dress.
  39. Get a job I want to do, or in failing that one away from retail at least.
  40. Swim at least once a week.

By the way I am not forty next year. I just thought I would point that out!

Award!

I got a blogger award from Words That Can Only Be Your Own! A sunshine award no less!

As part of the award you have to answer some questions about yourself.

Favourite colour: Turquoise then yellow
Favourite animal: I have been thinking about this all morning – its such a hard question! I think the answer is Whale. Mainly Whale sharks, Narwhals and Beluga’s. But I don’t think I want one as a pet. Then sloths, orangutans, elephants, giraffes, dogs, cats, I could go on…
Favourite non alcoholic drink: Tea. Decaff please.
Facebook or twitter: Facebook. I cant be arsed bothered with twitter.
Getting or giving presents: Giving.
Favourite flower: Err yellow ones. I am not really a flower person.
Favourite pattern: Not something I have thought about really but I like 50’s atomic style patterns, Lucienne Day stuff and Sandersons Dandelion clocks. Oh and recently triangle patterns.
Passion: Music, films, baking, reading, long walks, green environmental stuff. The usual.
Favourite number: 21

Now I am new to blogging and when have seen these awards doing the rounds I understand you have to pass them on to five other bloggers, which is really sweet and a good way of connecting with other bloggers. It kind of reminds me of chain letters or chain texts from back in the day. I was a right party pooper then as I never bothered continuing them when I got sent one which meant that I got seven years bad luck or a puppy died in China or what ever the curse was for breaking the link!

So while I am chuffed to bits to receive this award I will give forwarding it a miss as I don’t know who has received it already, and I am a little bit shy about contacting bloggers I do not know. Is it possible to be shy online? Nevermind. I will show my appreciation to other bloggers by leaving comments or adding them to my reader.

Fellow bloggers keep doing what you are doing and keep doing it well! I say.

Photography and Me

Isn’t it sad that Kodak have registered for bankruptcy recently? It got me thinking about what photography means to me. I cannot pretend I am a good photographer by any means – hey just look at the pictures on my blog for evidence! But I have always loved taking pictures and do appreciate other people’s artistry in the field.

Kodak GIMINI

from sebseballade's Flickr stream

When I was nine I received my very first camera for my birthday. It was a bright yellow rectangle 80’s point and shoot which took 110 cartridge film. How I loved that camera, I received it just before my family went on our first ever holiday abroad to Menorca. I took pictures of a sunset, some piglets that we saw while on a bike ride and the usual family line up posed snaps. I cannot remember the make of the camera but it looked very similar to this one from the same period by Kodak. I remember it did not have a built in flash, instead I had this clear plastic rectangle of 10 odd bulbs which I attached to the top of the camera when needed and blew a bulb each time I took a snap. How I wish I still had that camera to display in my black, white and yellow dining room!

At college I took photography as an A Level. I learnt about the history of the medium, I used a SLR camera for the first time and I developed my own film and photos in a darkroom. This was in the late 90’s just before the digital revolution took off. I loved it!

When I finished college I did not go on to further education, so the camera got tucked away in my wardrobe (I still have it!) and life generally got in the way of me pursuing my interest any further. Although at one point I did have a job in an in-store Kodak franchise photo development lab for Superdrug for a short while.

For the following 5 years or so I am ashamed to admit that when ever I had a holiday or a festival coming up, I would buy a disposable film camera for these events. Eventually I got a cheap point and shoot 8MG Olympus digital camera which I used for another 5 years or so.

I have been wanting to get back into photography for a while, so for my last birthday Rob bought me a Fuji Finepix bridge camera as my old point and shoot digital camera needed upgrading and this camera is half way between a compact camera and a digital SLR. In that it has the same functions as a SLR but you cannot change the lens on it, so it is a good starting point.

I am ashamed to say that since May last year I have been taking pictures with it on auto mode and I still have not read the manual! But 2012 is the year that I want to challenge myself. So I will get around to reading the instructions, and maybe I will dust off my old A Level textbook or do some googling and refresh myself on ISO’s and F-stops etc. This blog is forcing me to take the time and think more about each shot before I take it, plus I have started a photo project on my baby nephew. I want to learn edit in photoshop in time too, but with my IT skills I am not going to run before I can walk!

Food photography is really hard BTW. I have a new respect for it, as it is very hard to make some foods look pretty, plus you want to eat it up before it gets cold! I will try to get better, I promise!

80's alert!

Got It Wrong Again!

I have been informed that something I have been doing for as long as I can remember is wrong.  The informer, my other half Rob said that I should not be putting two spaces after a full stop.  It just needs one like after a comma.

Also I put two returns in for each new paragraph – wrong you just need one!  This is going to be a hard habit to break, I have failed on this blog post!

Here is a little Etsy treasury for you.

Apparently the way I type is the old fashion typewriter way.  But I like typewriters!


Small Typewriter Brooch – Yo…

$9.00

Smith-Corona SILENT SUPER ma…

$495.00

Royal Quiet DeLuxe Manual Tu…

$450.00

Write on, Vintage Typewriter…

$12.95

Words of Wisdom – Hand-Cut S…

$85.00

Retro image pendant necklace…

$9.00

Vintage Typewriter Illustrat…

$22.00

Jewelry with Typewriter Keys…

$45.00

Drawing – Illustration – Pri…

$15.00

Bright Yellow Triumph Typewr…

$250.00

Typewriter Key Ring – Initia…

$34.99

Keep Calm and Type On (Typew…

$6.99