Talk About Cheesecake

Musings, meanderings and meditation for my mind.


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A Proud Moment – an Extra Special Post

This is an extra special post, so I wanted it to be about something extra special in my life. Of course, there is nothing more special than my beautiful, wonderful, funny and cheeky Mini Monsters, so let’s make today about them!

I’m doing this backwards, but let’s start with Mini Monster 2.

My wee man is 3 years old. He is a funny little chap, he loves to make people laugh so that he can join in with a great big belly chuckle. MM2 takes after his dad, he likes to do things properly and he won’t take instruction. Instead he watches everyone around him until he is sure he knows what to do – and then he goes for it.

For example – take learning to crawl. Mini Monster 1 did the whole pushing herself along the floor on her tummy – usually backwards – until she was wedged under the sofa. Then she learnt to get on to her hands and knees and rock for a while before splatting face first into the carpet. When it came to walking she spent time surfing around the sofa before taking her first tentative 3 steps – and splatting turtle style.

Not so for MM2. He sat and watched everyone run around him for ages. Not even a hint of rocking. One hot sunny afternoon in the summer he sat and studied MM1 and her cousins sprinting about the garden and splashing in the pool. All day. We went indoors in the evening, sat him on the floor and when we came back he was crawling off up the stairs. Yes, from sit to climb in one afternoon. When he was ready to walk – he did. He got up one day while we were watching TV and walked from one end of the room to the other.

Of course, I don’t have a super baby. I’m not totally mental. There were a few splats. But generally he likes to study the problem and then get it right the first time.

So – on to my proud mummy boast for MM2. This month we have tackled potty training. I did try about 6 months ago but clearly he had not spent enough time studying the process then. This time round, he got it pretty darn quickly. Yay to a nappy free house!

Now on to Mini Monster 1. My delicious 6 year old girl is pretty darn funny. She loves to make jokes and is a cheeky little girly – no flies on her when it comes to remembering something you told her so that she can use it against you. Who knew they actually listened to you, right?

MM1 shares some of my more admirable qualities. No patience, the ability to completely ignore you while staring you in the face (she just discovered daydreaming is a great excuse for everything), complete stubbornness (oh, hang on, they both have that) and being able to find something funny in just about every situation (believe me, sometimes this is just so inappropriate!)

We have been working together on her maths recently – as you may recall this is a stressful time for us both. Still, it looks like it has paid off, because she has moved up a group in class and is working on the harder problems. Proud mummy boast – I have spawned a genius. Clearly she gets that from me too!

OK – maybe not.

Still, I have 2 pretty wonderful monsters to cuddle and I am grateful for that!

Which reminds me – the extra special bit.

This is my 100th post – I am amazed that I have got this far and written so much, after my 1st little post. More amazed that some of you stop by regularly to have a read – so thank you very much for taking time not only to read but also to comment.

What’s made your month special? Share it with me, we can grin insufferably together.


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Why do we blog?

There is an army of individuals out there in the world, sitting in cafes, kitchens, libraries and living rooms, carting their laptops to beaches, up mountains, to parks and remotes fields. All of them – us – are tapping away putting words to screens, trying to share some part of us with the world.

Why do we do it? Why do we blog?

I don’t mean the businesses, who are clearly marketing themselves.

I mean the people, like me, who just sat down one day and started to blog about things. Parenting, knitting, surfing, traveling, photography, politics, books, feelings – the subjects that are covered are endless. The expertise ranges. Some people are clearly professional writers who have an agenda, an aim, some opinion or knowledge they want to impart. Some people are amateurs who still want to share their experience in a particular area or skill.

Then there are those like me who just want to write. I have no particular aim, I have no specialist knowledge or exciting cause to promote. I just want to write. Whatever words come to mind, whatever subject matter I feel that day.

It is an outpouring of thoughts that run through my mind.

Despite starting my blog for no real reason, it has helped me in a number of ways, some of which were expected and some of which were not.

For example, I am practicing writing. I once thought that I would like to write but wouldn’t know where to start. Well, now I have. The more I write, the more I learn about what I like to share and what I struggle putting into words. Practice, practice, practice.

I am exposed to criticism. At first it was a scary prospect, now I look forward to comments from other people. I started blogging anonymously to the virtual world only, but bit by bit I am telling ‘real people’ that I know about my blog.

I am finding out more about myself. Each time I start to type my story wanders off, often in directions I was not expecting myself. The thoughts that come out can surprise even me.

Some readers have even said I am humorous. I would never have considered myself funny. I have discovered that I like that – but also that if I try to be funny on purpose, I am not.

But one of the main benefits of blogging, for me, is that it releases some inner tension. When I have a problem or am feeling fed up, writing about something relaxes me. Writing about that particular problem helps me clarify the cause. Whereas I get tongue tied when talking, writing helps me express myself clearly.

Why do you blog? How does it benefit you? More importantly, what have you learnt about yourself since you started blogging?

Tell me more – I am interested to hear what you have to say.


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Lesson 4 – Well, a question really!

I have a question. Perhaps you can help me.

While I am still learning how to blog and have posted previously on my own findings, there is still so much about blogging (and tweeting and internet life in general) that I have yet to understand. Which is fine, I am happy to learn through trial and error. Occasionally I have a light bulb moment. I do like to try things for myself.

But I cannot quite understand the re-blog feature.

That’s not quite true. I understand that when you find a fabulous, inspirational or quality post that just speaks to you, you might want to share that with your own readers. I have tried to the feature out myself here, when I felt that this post said everything that needed to be said.

And I do like that people out there are finding something I have written worthy of being re-blogged to their site. It doesn’t happen often, but I like it. It feels complimentary. 

So maybe I do understand it better than I thought.

Except – why do some readers start a blog of their own which consists entirely of re-blogged posts? Sometimes they don’t format or personalise the blog site. Just re-post other blogs. No comment of their own, no explanation.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind being re-blogged to these sites either (after all, I have the ability to refuse the re-blog). I just don’t understand why they do it?

So, satisfy my curiosity. Educate me please.


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Versatile?

In mid December I was nominated for a Versatile Blogger Award by Fec This – I am very excited, chuffed, humbled to be considered. I am also incredibly embarrassed that it has taken me so very long to get around to replying to the nomination.

My general ramblings on this blog are meant to hopefully entertain or reach out to readers – I do write for an audience and for my own practice but without a particular focus or purpose. I write about whatever thought is in my head – some days I am amazed at how much my mind wanders and some days I wonder why I appear to have had no thoughts at all.

So, the rules for this, my first but hopefully not last award, are

  • Display the award certificate on your website.
  • Announce your win with a post and include a link to whoever presented your award.
  • Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers. 
  • Create a post linking to them and drop them a comment to tip them off.
  • Post 7 interesting facts about yourself

My first problem is that I don’t know how to display the award certificate. I hope to work it out quickly.

versatileblogger111

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My second problem is to choose just 15 of the entertaining, thought provoking or light hearted blogs I like to read and follow. Here is my selection. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Erehwon

ateachablemom

Keeping it real

BodySoluble

The Human Rights Warrior

KnowledgeKnut

Breezy Books Blog

At least we made it this far

Off Duty Mom

Bottled Worder

Ned’s Blog

One Handed Writers

Closed the Cover

A breakfast serial

More than a niche

Seven interesting facts about me –

1. I believe my best choices are made on the spur of the moment

2. I painted a large dragon on my bedroom wall as a teenager. It’s still there

3. I love to explore new countries but I am always nervous of the actual travel part

4. I managed to get the stupidest puppy in the litter

5. I have a Mini Countryman

6. I didn’t eat red meat for 16 years until I got a craving for steak while pregnant

7. I never seem to finish anything I start, even though it drives me barmy.

Well, I hope some of that was interesting. Enjoy the blogs I have linked to!


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Lesson 3 – Top tips in self-promotion

Following on from my previous post on the subject of Learning to Blog, I decided to update my latest findings. I am looking into ways of driving more traffic to a blog.

To be clear, I have not yet found the answer. I am still wandering through a Google search to see what insight there is. A lot of the posts and websites dedicated to the subject use terminology I am not yet familiar with so I am learning by trial, error and a lot of playing about.

So far, a few simple things have worked for me.

1. Being freshly pressed. Frankly, I am not sure what it was about my post that stood out but thanks to the Freshly Pressed pickers I had over 900 visitors in 2 days. Before I feel too smug though, I admit that very few seemed to want to stick about to read more.

That’s fine. Lesson learnt that my writing may be cathartic for me, but maybe not so exciting for the reader. The main problem with this is that a visitor to a blog who doesn’t enjoy what they read rarely leaves a critical appraisal behind aimed at my personal development.

2. Browsing blogs and leaving comments. I like to read other blogs. I have browsed through a number of sites every day in the last few months. However I cannot agree with the concept that I should like and comment on posts even though I am not really interested in them, just to encourage the same reader to my own little corner. That seems rude.

I want people to comment on my posts because they are interested in something I wrote about, not just to grab my attention and drag it to their own page. So I will pay back the same courtesy. If I have liked or commented on your post, it is because it provoked a reaction. (If I haven’t, maybe I just didn’t find your blog yet. There are a lot for me to get through).

3. Replying to comments left on my posts. There seem to be 2 trains on thought on this. One is that I should reply to every comment left, to be polite and show my appreciation for a visitor taking the time to reply. Another is that replying to every comment is time consuming and becomes repetitive.

I suspect the latter is aimed at those people who receive hundreds of comments a day. Perhaps when I get to that point I too will run out of responses and time. For now, I really do enjoy every comment I receive and I do endeavour to respond to them all. It’s not just being polite, it’s because I am enjoying the interaction and the chance to meet new friends!

4. Using social media. Now this is the tricky one. So far I have created a Facebook page linked to this site. I believe I have had one visitor – a friend from the real world. I don’t think Facebook is the way to meet strangers online, personally I use it for friends and family.

I have also joined Mumsnet bloggers – it being suggested that as I write about family and my kids as often as anything else I should fit right in. I am not sure yet how much traffic that generates, but it has given a whole new arena of blogs to read. So much reading, so little time!

Twitter is of course the favourite. Every piece of advice mentions having a tweet – it’s a whole new verb in it’s own right. I have to say that I find it strange though. What should I post about on Twitter? Are you interested in what I had for dinner or should I stick to promoting the blog only? Or is that just boring?

So how much is too much?

I am currently setting up a blog for my brother to promote his business and photography. I linked it to his Twitter account, last updated 300 days ago. I suggested he should update it more often. He replied that he felt he should post less frequently but with ‘content rich’ posts, both on Twitter and the blog. Too much, he said, and no one would pay much attention.

I, on the other hand, have found most advice suggests to post more frequently to encourage interest. Only posting monthly would surely mean that followers lose patience in waiting for the next update. Neglect your readers and they will neglect you in return.

But who is right?

I expect the answer is somewhere in between. Post regularly, but make it relevant and readable, rather than random drivel. Of course, applying that to Twitter will require a different interpretation to applying it to a blog.

Now – back to my research to find out just what it is I am meant to tweet. Any suggestions?


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Blog Hop – a great way to meet new bloggers

This is an entirely new concept for me, but it sounds like fun. I am taking part in a Blog Hop, to discover great new blogs to read.

To participate I need to answer some questions, so here goes  . . .

 

Who Am I?

I am a mum, a wife. I work part time from home.

I am curious that in describing who I am, I always start with being a mum. That is apparently the most defining thing about being me right now. I am also a youngish woman (I refused to accept that mid-thirties makes me old or even middle-aged, therefore I must be young)  interested in reading, writing and all things wordy. I love to drive.

Why did I start blogging?

Partly because I always feel I have something I want to say, but I don’t know who to say it to. So now I am just putting it out there to see who may want to listen. Partly experience. And now I have started, partly because I cannot stop.

Which post am I most please with?

Gosh, difficult! I felt the most when I wrote this post about my wonderful and much missed nan. I enjoyed writing this one as I found  the whole situation hysterical.

Which post had the most response?

Easily the post I wrote ‘Are weddings a child free zone?’ as it was Freshly Pressed. I was surprised, firstly that it was chosen to be FP’s but also at the variety of opinions I got back in the comments – great to get some feedback and I do like to hear different opinions, so I greatly enjoyed the experience.

Which blogs do I like reading?

I enjoy reading these blogs for different reasons. I’m not going to tell you what they are, I think you should take a look and choose for yourself!

Elizabethly

Geeky Book Snob

Emma Wolf

Bucket List Publications

 

 

Finally, here is the link to the start of the Blog Hop to get you going!


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Lesson 2 – Being over prolific is not necessarily a bonus

As I am new to blogging, I thought I would keep a running log of any lessons I have learnt as I go. Hopefully it might be of use to other new bloggers. More likely, someone with more experience may drop by to correct my assumption and possibly give me some much appreciated advice as to where I am going wrong. 

 

In the last few days I have got round to writing a number of posts, which I immediately added to my blog. However, now I think about it, this may not have been the best approach.

Since every new post appears on the ‘front page’ of my blog, any followers who receive a mail about there being a new post may just pop in, read the top piece and then move on to another blog. Which, not wanting to sound greedy, means they haven’t read all of my posts. 

I am not assuming everything I write is interesting to everyone, or anyone. Or that it’s great. But the aim of writing a blog (for me, anyway) is to try to reach an audience. Ergo, I want to keep that audience until they have read every word.

In addition, there are days when I don’t write. Had I saved some of my posts ‘for a rainy day’ then I could have posted them in a dry spell.

In summary – being over prolific doesn’t see to me to necessarily be a good thing. Save something for tomorrow!


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A bit here, a bit there.

Looks like I have been very neglectful. There I was, full of good intentions to write this blog and keep it going, yet within weeks I have wandered off and been distracted.

It’s a busy time – we thrust our way through Christmas, partied, celebrated, indulged and imbibed. We spent a fortune and gained weight. New Year came at us and passed by in a haze of good will. And here we are, here it is, January.

It’s the start of a new year, it should be a time of positivity and forward thinking. We make deals with ourselves to be better, improve ourselves and our lives. And then, by week two or three, the majority of us have failed.

Well – I have promised myself I will get back on track with my diet – and I am struggling. I have promised myself I will do my coursework – and I am failing to push myself to do it. I intended to update this blog weekly – and, well, enough said. Luckily, I didn’t make too many promises, since there is only so much I can *not* do in any one month.

On the other hand, let’s consider the accomplishments. I have been looking for a new job, I have at least started my course, albeit slower than I intended, I have almost singlehandedly planned a wedding, honeymoon and hen night (hey, who am I kidding – it was completely singlehandedly), I have managed our home and cuddled the kids.

You know what – I think it’s all just coming along nicely.


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The start of blogging – Lesson 1

What is a blog anyway?

I could have done this sensibly, researched blogs, writer’s tips, tags, categories and all the other terminology and abundance of useful information available online, spent a few months planning and preparing the first few posts and then, and only then, launched (or blogged, or whatever the term should be).

Instead I vaguely contemplated it on and off over a week or so, located two blogs written by friends, read a few of their posts and got stuck in. First post launched on day 2. Day 1 was spent contemplating the name – after all, what’s in a name (that’s a post to come!). It says so much and yet so little. Does it give an idea of what the blog is about? Is it catchy, vague, relevant . . ? So, how did I choose mine? Oh yes – I like cheesecake.

It seems that blogging is a very personal thing. Even if you are not using it as a public diary of your daily activities, you are sharing your thoughts and opinions with other people, thereby opening yourself up to criticism and ridicule. In fact, I am less bothered by complete strangers seeing this than I would be friends and family.

I know there will be mistakes – spelling, grammar, punctuation. I am sure a few diehards will pop up to point these out, particularly when I begin my proofreading course. It’s like waving a big juicy hunk of fresh baked bread dripping in runny sweet strawberry jam in front of a wasp nest. One or two will come for a poke and before you know it you are running for a handy pool of water.

It’s possible some few will find me offensive. After all, it’s so easy to bang on the nose of someone’s sensibilities these days. I walk around my real life with my foot in my mouth, why not do it in cyberspace too. What can I say – I don’t mean to, well not all the time anyway.

And in the first 24 hours I have learnt 3 things already.

1. Trial and error with the dashboard has shown me categories, pages and posts.

2. Always leave it a while, then have a final read before posting, rather than the inevitable 13 edits later.

3. At some point you have to find a way to finish the post. Rambling is not good reading!

I have begun. Now to find out more about it through trial, error, rambling and editing.


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Grabbing a Chunk of the Cheesecake.

Hello. So somehow you have wandered  into my blog, probably whilst looking for recipes for quick, easy and delicious white chocolate cheesecake (don’t worry, I’ll add a recipe later) or perhaps because you have been nagged to have a read by me and finally found yourself with time to spare and all the ironing done, or maybe, hopefully, you wanted to be here and spend 10 minutes lost in my ramblings while you slurp your hot coffee and absentmindedly nibble through half a packet of chocolate bourbons. And now you are wondering what is it all about anyway.

I considered a few titles. ‘Finding Myself’ was a possibility, except I am not lost. I know who I am and how I got here. It’s a bit grandiose for me. ‘New Starts’ or ‘Out with the Old, In with the New’ perhaps. Well, maybe there are some elements of that. But that’s not what it is all about. After all I like my life so far, there are definite elements of my life to date that I wouldn’t change for anything. I like them, I want to keep them.

So, ‘Grabbing a Chunk of the Cheesecake’ it is. (I did consider just the first 3 words but that sounds like this blog would head in a whole different direction to the one I am aiming for!) What am I doing? I am moving on with life, taking what I have and what is being thrown my way and mashing it all together to see what comes out the other side.

A fortnight ago I was made redundant. It wasn’t a shock, we had been told it was coming at least 6 months ago. There was time to prepare. But of course, few people did.

Around 3 months ago, perhaps some awareness of the change ahead did permeate my daily routine, because I did suddenly decide it was time to stop saying ‘one day’ and start making things happen. Oh, not to do with my career, looming redundancy or anything useful. Nope, I decided it was time to go on a diet and give up smoking.

Two months ago some small but determined part of my consciousness did send up a few damp rockets. ‘Hey you,’ it squealed in a barely audible monotone, ‘Get off your butt. Do some training. Write a C.V. Find a future.’ I put some small part of my attention to a C.V., I even applied for a few jobs. And I made a lot of humorless jokes to my workmates about being the last to find work. Guess what, I was right.

One month ago I decided that I didn’t really like my current job anyway, or the industry, or the hours (although I did like the pay packet, but surely money isn’t everything. Is it? That’s a discussion for another day!) So I debated a career change. A new course. What should I be? Accountants earn ok. The police might be fulfilling. Charity work would make me feel like a better person. Decisions, decisions!

Today, where am I? Right. Part way through a diet. Ok, I cheat a lot but overall I am 2.5 stone down. One to go. I have mostly stopped smoking. Except when drinking or within 10 feet of my sister-not-in-law. I have signed up to a course with various elements of writing, proofreading and editing. I have yet to start it. I am looking into a few career options. Possibly the biggest change to come is – I am getting married.

And – I have started a blog. It’s not an earth shattering new approach to understanding life. It’s not going to be a daily monotone of what I cooked for dinner, how many nappies I have changed and why all my socks have holes in them. It’s just a start for me to try out some new ideas, practise some writing and encourage myself (and maybe even a few others) to try new things.

So no new start, nothing old being thrown out, nothing new being brought in. Just reaching inside, finding elements of my life that were already there and dragging them further into the light, where I can pick them up, turn them over and see if I like them. I will make mistakes (after all, that’s why there is an ‘edit’ button), I will start things and not finish them and I will no doubt blog about things other people just didn’t want to know about me!

Well here goes!

Oh – and why cheesecake? Because I love it!