blogging, Community

The Destination or Pathway of Life

That old adage… Life is a journey, not a destination! Have you heard it? I have been pondering my own journey, my own path, of late.

Many of us start keen, enthusiastic, running and jumping through the years, none too concerned about potholes or hazards dismissed as temporary obstacles along my path. I tended to follow the path where it took me, not too concerned with the destination ahead. I wasn’t big on long term planning.

I discovered several paths that did not turn out to be thoroughfares at all; in fact, they were dead ends. Other paths required me to take a u-turn, and still others that were so filled with darkness that I turned, then ran from them, back towards the light.

Impending family responsibilities might allow you the luxury of a rethink of career objectives. Mostly this occurs around he birth of children, sometimes it is caring for elderly relatives. The sandwich generation.

Again and again, I have taken paths, convinced that my future destination lay ahead. Some time down the track, the journey became so arduous, the scenery so different to what I had envisaged, that once again I had to admit, this was not the right path for me.

Australia

Now, as I explore a new path, a divergent pathway, I hope, crossing my fingers that not only this path will be a more enlightened one, but that I will also grow stronger with the obstacles that inevitably arise with any new challenge. That I will not trip and fall, but rather will be content, handle and perhaps, better anticipate any problems.

I have learnt many things and enjoyed accumulating knowledge on all the past paths that I have tread. But would it have been better to be a virtuoso of one path, or adept at the many potholes of the few?

Have I bettered my experience or that of others for taking a multitude of paths?

In the end, we all reach the destination and the imprint in history will be the judge.

What about you?

Would you take a different path given your time again? Would a long term vision have sent you in a different direction?

Is Joseph Campbell on the money? In stumbling, we find our greatest treasure?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts.

Good luck on your journey and may our paths cross someday.

Marsha explores more of her destination and features more ponderings.

blogging, Community

Why Write a Blog? Is a Blog a Waste of Time?

What happened to storytelling, to having a narrative? One Blogger asked this question in a recent post about the direction of blogging. She’d come across a blogger recommending other bloggers attract more readers by offering their readers useful advice:

…figure out what our unique niche is and paint ourselves as an authority, offering them something every time you ask for something back.

thesnowmeltssomewhere
Photo by Sunsetoned on Pexels.com

List Format Blog Posts and Finding Your Blogging Tribe

Do you write advice posts or entertaining ones? Is the goal, for the reader, to find info that makes life a little easier for them? After all, home hints and time-saving tips are generous, giving and sought after by many. And yet, Snow suggests list style formats are not so dissimilar from TV reality show: repetitive, unoriginal and uninspiring, proposing there just might be,”too many self-proclaimed experts out there.” She’d prefer a blog that is just for entertainment, or storytelling.

Thinking about this, I wondered whether a story is more valuable than a post dispensing advice? I think that might depend on what kind of person the reader is. Perhaps we need both kinds of posts? Sometimes one and sometimes the other. Diversity is a good buzz word for that, isn’t it?

When I want information – the list format of writing a post helps me find salient information faster. However posts titled, ‘The Top Ten Places to See in Europe,’ is a style of post I’d read once, but hardly another in the same vein. It is becoming a trite and hackneyed format, short on meatier content, and meatier content is what I personally seek, as a reader.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

It seems that if we want, (or for monetizing bloggers, – need), people to read our blogs, we might write in this way early on in our blogging life, to filter and find our blog tribe; our community; those few like-minded souls who follow us and begin to comment regularly so that a fulsome discussion, or blogging friendship might develop. Without a few of those list style of posts to begin with, how can we build that community so many of us enjoy? Would we still find a tribe of like-minded blog readers another way?

Don’t we want any or all varieties of readers? Diversity dictates that we need differing opinions and readers from all walks of life.

Blogging Stats and SEO

Whilst I don’t read list posts anymore, I do try to use headings when writing a blog post, supposedly it is good SEO. I don’t understand a whole lot about SEO and SEO tips seems to change rapidly. Once upon a time we were told to use 10 tags, for good SEO, now it is not more than 5. It is hard to keep up with so fickle a technological beast.

Are we all getting sucked into looking at stats and levels of engagement? I remember a blogger who posted about getting back to the real reason why she blogged and not looking at stats, or checking for new followers. Great, I thought. To my surprise, she stopped blogging shortly after! I never found out why.

Likes and Comments

I dislike the thought that someone would write to receive likes alone. Fixating on that, to the detriment of our mental health, could render our blogging platform meaningless. You’d do better to mutter a few grudge sentences on Facebook – that will give you ‘likes,’ and save yourself some time.

What would change if I disabled the like button on my posts?

Nothing? Less signs of engagement?

This begs the question: would I still be blogging if I had not received any comments? Perhaps. I hazard a guess I would still write, but not be posting as frequently.

The Blogging Audience

Diarist bloggers who inform about the week that was, without crafting a story, are perhaps still learning to make writing interesting. That level of self-expression, in Marie Kondo style, must bring them joy and could be all they need from writing? We’re all different and we all seek out and write different sorts of posts.

One Blogger [Manja], said she seeks friends in blogging, not an audience. Another thought all bloggers are looking for an audience for without it, they reach no one. This highlights a divide between the intentions of bloggers.

Some bloggers are out to make money and need that audience to do that. That is not always art. Others – those who have an urge to write or tell stories, through photos or words, enjoy their art, interact with their audience and along the way, make friends.

Monetizing a Blog

Am I interested in making money off my blog?

No, not really. If a few dollars come my way, I’d be silly to knock it back, but I also won’t put my focus in this direction and spend time and effort chasing it. Already I am slightly embarrassed about reviewing places for some small kick-back, such as a free sample. I wonder how I can write impartially when I receive a kickback from the thing you are writing about? However, I am told of certain readers that do value and appreciate reading product reviews, so I relent a little and try to tap my inner Buddha and again seek the middle path.

Becoming a Writer

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Many bloggers have the goal to publish a book, but that’s not on my to do list either. I do have a book idea, or two, rather lofty ones, but writing my blog posts with that intention does not form part of the reason I am here.

Writing a blog post feels innate, it’s in my blood. For around four centuries that I know of, there’s been writers in my family, not famous, nor polished, but writers nonetheless. I could say it’s tradition, but my writing doesn’t come from any sense of historical obligation.

For me, writing just happens when the mood hits or I should do so. It might come out as rubbish, but it is my rubbish and not contrived just to receive ‘likes.’ I once tried to write like that and the result was bland and boring.

Writing comes from both my heart and my head. I write when I feel inclined to do so, but more often than not, as I sit at the keyboard, words erupt like the melt water in a glacial stream at Springtime. Words come tumbling and running out, splashing around obstacles in their path, anxious to appear on the computer screen lest they be washed downstream and away, (ie. before I forget what I was intending to say).

Poppy, Hellesylt, Norway

Finding More Readers for a Blog.

But aren’t we skirting around the crux of this issue? If we only write for ourselves and from our hearts and heads, why do we want more exposure and more readers? Only to find more like-minds and interesting conversation via comments? Surely there is more to it, than that?

For me, the reward of blogging is the joy that comes from robust self-expression.

Any friendship that arises, from that, is a bonus and the result of two people connecting. The internet is not constraining of geographic boundaries – connection is what blogging gives back to us.

Fundamentally, I am here to learn, and to express, with a little bit of entertainment thrown in. I might find an interesting blogger to read or follow and if I wasn’t here, I’d miss that opportunity to further my knowledge and discuss topics via the readers’ comments.

Blogging is not wasting anyone’s time, it is the best classroom in the world, and the sky is the limits. I ‘like’ that.

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With much thanks to Snow for initiating this post.

blogging, Community, Photography, Travel

Friendly Friday Blog Challenge – Mountain Top

Kakani 1988

It was a perfect afternoon on a perfect mountain top, 30 km west of Kathmandu in Nepal.

We’d travelled in the back seat of an ageing and dusty Black Toyota sedan to Kakani. The lack of seat belts in the car might have given an inkling of the car’s advanced age, but it was mainly the dark exterior that prompted our Nepalese guide to label it, “the Mafia car” suggesting with a hearty laugh, that our driver looked “criminal!”

nepal guide
A young Amanda at 6500 Feet at Nagarkot with Nepalese Guide Madhav

Thirty odd years ago, the road to Nagarkot Mountain Top and Lookout was narrow, winding and precipitous. Dirt tracks, barely one car width wide, that would be better suited to goats, twisted their way sharply around steep hillsides with never a guardrail to be seen.

Despite this, I was focused less on my safety than on the countryside itself. It looked alive and thriving. Almost every hill no matter how steep, had been heavily terraced and cultivated with crops. Quaint mud-brick farm cottages clung to 80 degree slopes and the mountainous backdrop grew ever more spectacular with each and every bend. I pinched myself.

Was I really here at the top of the world? I marveled at how the puffy white clouds perched high up in the sky were not actually clouds at all, but the Himalayan mountain tops tinged with snow!

Every few kilometres, or so, smiling school children appeared on the roadside, waving enthusiastically at our car, as we passed by. Our Guide informed us that many of the chuldren walk several hours just to reach the nearest school. No School of the Air exists in Nepal. A very different life to Australia, where schools are located in every suburb and in remote areas, lessons with a teacher are given over radio communication, (now, presumably skype), each day.

nepal mountain road

Nagarkot Lookout

On reaching Nagarkot Lookout, we were invited to sit on a deck chair at the cliff’s edge. I actually couldn’t stop smiling. I have never seen anything so extraordinary. It is a cliché, but the air was palpably clean and pure. Hauntingly beautiful flute music played in the air adding to the mystical atmosphere.

Sitting and looking out upon the highest mountain tops of the world brought me feelings of tranquility and material needlessness to my head. In those moments, any yearning for material objects and acquisitions completely vanished. Even my materialistic other half, the Moth, agreed that afternoon. We struck up a conversation with another traveler. He was from – wait for it: the Australian Gold Coast. Thousands of miles from home and I meet a stranger who lives less than 60 minutes from my home!

Meanwhile Mudhav, our smartly dressed guide, complete with pristine, ‘Mrs-March” bleached shirt, stated he never gets bored with the mountains. He reads Wordsworth, Keats and other romantic English poetry. He says his presentation as a guide, is different with ‘good people,’ like us.

Again, I smile!

We didn’t anticipate the final surprise that was yet to come.

Nepalese Women Carry the Load

As we sat on that small area of level ground surrounded by precipitous cliffs, enjoying the view at 2200 metres above sea level, two women appeared from below the cliff face, casually climbing up and over the rock incline directly in front of us.

Such was their physical strength they were able to scale an almost, I guess, 80 degree vertical slope, as if they were taking a light stroll.

There is no photo of them, but to our shock we noted they carried large straw baskets down their back, laden to the brim, with potatoes. The basket was held by a narrow rope tied around their forehead. You can imagine our astonishment and our incredulity at the strength of their necks under such a load!

Amazing Women!

Nagarkot and Kakani can get very cold as night draws near, but the view of  Mt. Annapurna, as well as the other mountains that make up this part of the Himalayas: Machhapuchhare, Ganesh Himal and Langtang, are in a word stupendous Mountain Tops. It is very easy to sit and watch those mountains for hours, so mesmerizing is this special part of the world.

My photographs are showing their age and the quality is not so good so I have included two videos to enhance your impression of the area.

Join in the Friendly Friday Blog Challenge

Every other week we post a topic to inspire a post on a particular theme. This week the theme is Mountain Top. Your challenge is to feature a story, photo/s, a recipe or anything else that captures your imagination.  

You can post once, twice or as many times as you’re inspired by the topic.

Sandy and I take turns in posting challenges.  Keep notified of new themes by following both our blog’s at  Something to Ponder About  and  The Sandy Chronicles

How to join the Friendly Friday Challenge

  • Write a post titled ‘Friendly Friday – ‘Mountain Top’ and add a tag: ‘Friendly Friday’
  • Include a link to this Friendly Friendly Challenge within your own post.
  • Optionally, you can include the latest Friendly Friday Challenge logo. Download it here.
  • Comment below, on this post so that others can read your post.
  • Remember to include a url link to your own post in your comment below. This will guarantee a visit, in the event the automatic ping-back does not work.
  • Visit other Friendly Friday entries by following their links. It’s fun!
  • Follow the host blogs to see future Friendly Friday Challenges

The Benefits of Joining Blog Challenges

  • Increase your exposure in the blogging communities
  • Inspire and be inspired by diverse blog articles
  • Challenge your creativity
  • Make new friends and keep in touch with old ones

Are you joining in with this theme?

Where is your favourite Mountain Top?

How do you feel when you reach the summit? This motorcyclist loves the countryside too.

Blog challenge Friday
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blogging, Community

Bloggers with a View Video – Market Day

Credit: Sandy from The Sandy Chronicles

Our ongoing project with Vero, Sandy and other bloggers around the world continues.

It’s a really fun way of taking a trip around the world even when you are in lockdown. Bloggers with a View is the brainchild of Vero from LesFrenchChronicles.

Something to Ponder About followed up later a Vlog collaboration on Morning and now it is The Sandy Chronicles’s turn.

Sandy has used the theme Market Day.

It is interesting to note how similar and also how different we are. {Please note we are mask and Covid free in Australia. We are not breaking rules}

The level of professionalism escalates with each new Vlog collaboration and release. Sandy’s work with this is nothing short of perfect. Take a look below or use this link for audio version.

Contributors from around the World include:

Next Bloggers with a View Collaboration – Goodness

The next theme is Goodness. If you would like to participate, hop over and tell Vero you would like to join in.

It is loads of fun.

Cheers from Australia

Amanda

beach sunrise with motivation saying to unite bloggers around the world
blogging, Community, Motivational, Travel

Morning World Blogger Video

When Vero from LesFrenchChronicles started a Vlogging collaboration, Bloggers with a View, it was a fun idea that connected bloggers around the world.

Taking a look into the snippets of another’s life, another’s world. People that we only knew through words on a screen.

That is one reason why we yearn to travel isn’t it? To see different perspectives and sights?

To meet and get to know other people?

The first Bloggers with a View video not only was fun to think about and to make, it connected us in new ways.

If one shakey video has the power to connect people from opposite sides of the globe, then what would happen if we did it again, and possibly again?

Thanks to Vero, the Vlogging Project was born. The theme for my Video ‘Vlog’ collaboration was ‘Morning.

Blogger Video Collaboration themed Morning
Blogger Video Collaboration – Morning

Contributing bloggers were from France, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Let’s take a look at how different parts of the world greeted the January morning.

Joining Something to Ponder About in this collaboration were the following bloggers. Thanks so very much for your supportive efforts. Well done!

Sandy – The Sandy Chronicles

Ushasita – Le coin des bobby

‘Toon’ Sarah – Travel with Me

Vero – Les French Chronicles

Are you a blogger who would you like to join in with the next collaboration?

Visit here to find out more

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Australia, Community, Mental Health

I was only just saying….

Sometimes a word or two can spark an outrage or can offer comfort. Other times words might even be prophetic.

Unfortunately, it seems the later is the case. I write about Australia’s Covid-free bubble and cautioned that we shouldn’t become too complacent and forget hygiene measures.

At New Year’s Eve, I noticed people were fast getting a too cocky with life, resuming normal practices like hugging and kissing, even though there were still a few isolated Covid cases in a few states, including ours. All cases were in hotel quarantine and out of public access, until now. Then:

Credit: Facebook meme

New Covid Outbreak in Queensland, Australia

A cleaner in hotel quarantine has come down with the highly infectious UK strain of the virus. The cleaner was catching public transport for a week prior to detection.

The region is now in lockdown from 6pm tonight and masks are mandatory. [You might remember I was prevented from wearing masks, last year in my workplace].

shopping centre with consumers

The announcement came at 8.30 am today, but at 8.20 am people were already out and about panic buying.

Toilet paper supplies, I suspect.

The lockdown is only until Monday morning, but they suspect it could last a week.

Has the public forgotten shops were once closed all weekend? Are we not able to survive more than one day without shopping? Are toilet paper supplies that thin? (Excuse the pun).

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

One Covid case; (no new cases today) and wholesale chaos reigns at the stores. Think of the UK – or other states and countries that have been in lockdown for months.

The hotel staff in the quarantine hotels, are now going to be tested daily. I wonder why this wasn’t previously instituted?

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technology
blogging, Community

What Pisses You Off?

I recently volunteered to assist an animal rescue group. I am retired so would like to contribute more to community not-for-profit organizations.

This group have a private messenger chat so that they can access volunteers quickly when someone has called in an injured animal. I put my hand up and I wanted to help. I was added to the private group chat as advised during my “induction.”

Photo by Anton on Pexels.com

All good so far.

Recently, a message came in via the group chat that help was needed, at a location, less than 1 km away from my place. The main rescuer, it went on to say, has a bad back and needs help lifting a cage. I am new at this task, but okay, I think, sure I can help. I indicate this on the group chat saying I can be there in a jiffy.

There is no response.

Just silence, which seems highly unusual, going by what I have read so far on past chat convos. So after ten minutes or so, I again message the group: “Look I am new at this, it would be my first rescue, but I can definitely help lift the cage and am in walking distance of the location.

The response is strange: “If you do want to help, you will have to contact Don.”

Me:Who is Don and how do I contact him?

After 10 minutes, the response comes: “I don’t give out other people’s phone numbers.”

I mull over this and think how, the devil, am I to help if I am not given the contact details of the person I need to contact.

So I give up. Maybe this group isn’t for me. They are clearly worried about privacy issues. Which frustrates me, well, it really pisses me off. I could discuss this later with the President, to clarify matters but right now I feel unsure if this is the right group for me in my retirement. It all seems a little too hard. Doesn’t it?

What do you think?

Privacy Issues

How many times have you, as an individual, listed your phone number on a internet sales purchase, delivery form, survey, hotel, tradesmen enquiry, or Covid declaration in a cafe, of late? If you are like me, it is all the darn time. So why are they frightened of giving out a number in a closed group within a private chat amongst volunteers who are all interested in helping animals, I wonder?

The irony is a week or so later, an unrelated email comes out with all and sundry’s email addresses listed. So much for privacy concerns.

computer
CC0 Creative Commons

Has privacy issues gone so far as to block communication?*

*N.B. I am not advocating advertising your phone number publicly, as no one wants unfettered offers aka spam texts or messages that contain offers of enlargement medications, bitcoin or the opportunity to be the sole beneficiary of an inheritance from a stranger from Sierra Leone, do they? Me neither.

What pisses you off lately?

Here are 18 insignificant things that seriously piss people off – seriously!

What would you do, if you were me?

Blog logo on transparent background
blogging, Community

Using Tags in Blog Posts

The keywords you enter in a post show up at the bottom of your article or blog post in WordPress and are commonly called ‘tags.’ If your blog post is about your trip to New Zealand, your post might be tagged Travel and New Zealand.

Do you add so-called ‘tags’ to your blog posts? Do you think much about what the tag might be?

There is so much debate about whether tags are beneficial or deleterious to SEO, I have assembled some tips for you to decide, for yourself, based on the purpose of your blog.

Tag Pages in WordPress

WordPress will create a Tag Page linking your post to all other articles tagged with that keyword. This is important from a Search Engine perspective as it can help you rate higher in a search index.

Did you know that if you repeatedly use a tag word indiscriminately, WordPress will bump you from the WP reader? This lowers the chance for readers to find your site.

Tag your posts accurately

Google reads tags or keywords completely differently: “website” and “web site” and “websites”.

Duplicating the same term in a category, as well as a tag, will confuse Google and the search engines will not know which page or site to rank first.

Be consistent in the way you tag your posts.

There’s nothing wrong with either keyword, [‘web site’ and ‘websites’, above], but choosing one form and using it that way consistently increases your chances of getting ranked for that form of the keyword.

So pick one and stick with it. Either you always use “website” as your tag or you use “web site”. Don’t use both interchangeably or you’ll be missing the chance for better rankings and more traffic.

theblogpress.com/

Use Tags that relate to your article

Doing your homework and looking up the number of searches each version of a keyword gets, is time-consuming and tedious, but it will help you when you are starting out. If you add bogus keywords as tags, then your “tag pages” will be full of spam.

theblogpress.com/
business workplace
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

How Many Tags is a Good Number to Use?

What is a good number of tags to use?

The jury is still out on this question. Some recommend 4 – 12 tags, others say the less the better and still others maintain the more you use, the higher you will rank.

When visitors click on a particular tag, they reach the page whereon all posts, having the same tag, are displayed. It allows them to look for the desired content easily. Tags and categories are both examples of a taxonomy system. When used correctly, a good taxonomy system can boost your site’s SEO. The opposite is also true: when used wrong, it’ll break things. (theblogpress.com/)

What have you found worked for you?

Less tags or more?

Do you use Categories and Tags, or one or the other? Let me know in the comments.

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lavender products
Australia, Community

Something to Smile About

If you want to find other blogs of interest and read fun, uplifting and positive things that are happening in the world, head on other to Trent‘s collection of Weekly Smiles.

Because…….

We all need good news stories at the moment. Right?

This week I joined in on a free Qi Gong Exercise class on the beach at sunrise. This group practises every day at the same time, and the best part is that it is totally free. No strings attached, no hidden agenda, just a wish to have a community activity that would include and welcome all.

It started with a few ladies who were going through Breast Cancer rehabilitation and has grown to include a dedicated group of instructors and attendees. The oldest is 88 years old and is an instructor on the weekend. She pulls in the bigger crowds. She is inspirational and takes me to task, in a gentle way, if I am not doing the exercise correctly.

And although it is gentle – meditative almost, I feel it in my gluteal muscles the next day! So it has to be doing something.

And I am still smiling.

The other surprise I had was to receive a generous gift of aromatherapy lotions and creams from Utama Spice in Bali. This is the first free gift I have ever received as a blogger so it certainly made me smile. It was the perfect timing as I was just writing about lavender at the Home by the Sea, recently.

Community

Worldly Wisdom

 No one can climb a tree with no branches

– Finnish proverb

Helsinki
Birch Trees in Helsinki, Finland

What do you think the underlying message says. Does it refer to the support of friends and family that folk find so essential to personal growth and development?

Or, could it refer to the many divergent paths one might consider, or does take throughout life, before we reach our ultimate destination or end goal?

proverbial-thurs

I often find there is profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages, to the reader. Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

.

Nothing is more beautiful and powerful than a smile that has struggled through the tears

~ Demi Lovato (Actress and Singer Song-writer)

smile www.cuded.com
Source Credit: http://www.cuded.com

This theme of this week’s  quotes is power, not raw power, but rather that power of the self, as an entity, that power we find within ourselves.

The less effort, the faster and more powerful

you will be

~ Bruce Lee

Bruce lee

We have nothing to lose by trusting the infinite power

of the Self, except the bondage of our own ignorance

~ Mata Amritanandamayi Devi

smartphone
First World Problems

And finally there are these words:

“You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now.

How?

By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged.   Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.”

–Dale Carnegie

Linking to Friendly Friday’s Smiles Challenge

Sharing one’s perspective increases understanding.

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blogging, Community, Motivational

Blog Conversations

Are all Bloggers would-be storywriters, in disguise?

Disguise

I had to think a little more about why bloggers are attracted to write in the first place?

Is it because we have a desire to express ourselves and communicate to others, using the written word?

Blogging is like a Facebook post on caffeine!

Writing Your Own Story

I believe the stories we, as bloggers, write are to entertain or inform. Whether that is a work of non-fiction or a completely fictitious story, it can be entertaining for the reader.

Mostly, for the reason that people ARE interested in the details of other peoples’ lives and happenings. If you are in doubt, just look at how many Reality TV shows are on TV.

It can be a levelling experience for us to be watching or engaging with others. In doing so, we also learn about ourselves, as well as the journey through life.

Attracting More Blog Followers

Sandy and I have been discussing the art of blogging and the purpose of maintaining a blog after WordPress kindly reminded me I had begun this gig, ten years ago! This revelation was, for me, a little embarrassing when I looked at some bloggers who had acquired massive followings, in that same period of time. [And I say this trying hard to not focus on that number that pops up in my sidebar or notification lists.]

I do not blog to gain more followers, but I have to be honest: I do look at that number for feedback. I question myself: Am I writing something of interest to another person? Was my post boring? Is anyone listening to what I am saying? Did I communicate that well?

Blogging Feedback

In our Conversation, Sandy mentioned:

I worried too that my blog wasn’t focused enough, that I hadn’t found my niche. The thing is, I don’t know my niche.

Sandy from Thesandychronicles.blog

From the comments on these posts, it seems many of us, including me, might have this niggling doubt that our blogs. We worry our writing is not focused enough to gain interest, that is, unless we are a committed food/photographic or travel blogger, who posts solely on the one chosen topic.

Then I thought about the fact that we DO have people visiting and taking the time to post a comment, so that seems to prove otherwise. Thus, I’d like to challenge this almost subliminal notion many of us have, that our blog should be more defined.

Does it really matter if our blog is diversified in its topics?

I have some followers that enjoy my Sunday quotes, others who only like and comment on the photographic challenges and still others who will presumably only read the art, or lifestyle, posts.

With just a single focus for blogging, I would miss out on, “chatting” to this wide spectrum of readers via their own blogs and the comments they make.

Each and every one of my readers bring, with them, their own individual opinions and thoughts, which results in a wonderfully rich tapestry of backgrounds and perspectives that can only be beneficial for me, as a writer.

The number and content of comments on our posts, are perhaps the real litmus test for any Blogger. Growing a dedicated Blogger community will never happen overnight. In the meantime, we can continue to hone our craft and have a lot of fun in the process.

What is it that attracts you to a certain blog?

Join the Conversation with Sandy and Amanda

This post is a part of a new series of CONVERSATIONS between Sandy and myself. Over the next little while, we’ll talk about a topic, compare notes, share Q&A and invite you to join in.

Do you have any topics to suggest for our Blogging Conversations?

Pingback to join in and write a conversation post.

Still in disguise
Community, Food

Broccoli and Spinach soup

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2013-06-20 18.42.46

I blogged earlier about the benefits of magnesium rich foods, and broccoli and spinach are great sources of magnesium. Broccoli soup is an easy and delicious way to eat much more broccoli than one can eat as a humble steamed vegetable.

Broccoli Soup

  • 500 g broccoli (diced stalks and sprigs)
  • Several large spinach leaves, chopped roughly (or silverbeet or rainbow chard)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Several celery stalks,sliced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream, (if you want cream of broccoli soup)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • pepper and salt to taste
  • Lemon slices  as garnish
  1. Saute the onion and celery in a pan til the onion turns transparent.
  2. Wash broccoli and cut into sprigs and add broccoli, chopped Spinach, chicken stock and onion/ celery mix to a large saucepan.
  3. Bring  to boil and simmer for 10- 15 minutes til broccoli is soft.

Then either A or B below:

A.  If wanting to make cream of broccoli soup, process using hand blender or vitamizer-blender till smooth. Add cream and return to saucepan heating through whilst adding seasoning and lemon juice. Garnish and serve

B. Gently blend or stir til broccoli breaks up into small sprigs. Add seasonings and lemon juice. Garnish and serve.

A nice accompaniment to Broccoli and Spinach soup would be almond or walnut bread.

Delicious to ponder about, even better to taste.

Cakes, Community, Food

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge- Guest Post – Something Different

In addition to our regular posts, the Friendly Friday team at TheSandyChronicles and StPA, are featuring Guest Posts from Bloggers who contribute to the Friendly Friday Photo Challenge.

Ju-Lyn, a Singaporean blogger, from All Things Bright and Beautiful especially enjoys food and cooking, in addition to making ‘purposeful choices, ‘ and has kindly contributed a guest post to our weekly theme of “Something Different, in the form of a post about a Basque Burnt Cheesecake.

Ju-Lyn regularly posts mouth-watering foodie delights, on her blog, and this recipe is no exception.

Did someone say Cheesecake?

I hope you will be tempted to try it, for yourself.

Here’s Ju-Lyn:

Guest Post by All Things Bright and Beautiful

I love cheesecake, of all sorts: baked/unbaked, cream cheese/ricotta, New York/Japanese. I will scoff each with delight!

It was love at first bite! So enamoured was I that I didn’t realise there was no crust, which I only registered in retrospect. I have never made a cheesecake without a crust before so the idea intrigued me and I begged the recipe off the friend, who gifted me the slice.

It took us a while to get started because our baking shop was out of 500g tubes of cream cheese. After searching for more than a week with no small tubes in sight, I decided to take the plunge and bought a 2kg block. With this quantity, I was free to experiment. The recipe is simple enough, but it makes a tall cake baked in a 6-in circle tin, resulting in a silky gooey centre. Older Daughter wanted to see if dividing the batch into two, (ie. 2 x 6-in tins), would make any difference as she prefers a firmer crumb.

So we did. The verdict is split. Half of us love the taller version, with a slightly squidgy centre. The other half prefer the uniformly firmer texture of the shorter slice. We do all agree that we love the intense, smokey caramelised top of both versions.

Ju-Lyn, All Things Bright and Beautiful

Recipe – Burnt Cheesecake

adapted from ButtermilkPantry

Ingredients

· 430g cream cheese, room temperature

· 100g caster sugar

· 3 large eggs, room temp (approx 150g of eggs without shell)

· 270g heavy cream/thickened cream

· 20g all-purpose flour

· 1 tsp vanilla extract

· 1 tsp lemon juice

Method

1. Line a 6” circle cake tin with 2 layers of baking paper and trimmed to have an overhanging amount of 1.5″-2″.

2. Preheat oven to 240 degrees C.

3. Cream sugar and cream cheese together until smooth.

4. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.

5. Add the vanilla and lemon juice. Beat until just mixed.

6. In a separate bowl, mix flour and heavy cream until smooth.

7. Slowly pour the cream/flour mixture into the cheese mixture until mixed through.

8. Bake for 30-35mins until top is dark amber and almost charred at parts but the middles still has a wobble to them when you give jiggle the pan.

9. Cool in the tin fully on a wire rack at room temperature to allow the cheesecake to set.

10. Remove from the baking tin and enjoy at room temperature.

11. For a less “gooey” center, place into the fridge after cooled to allow it to chill and set.

For the 2-tin version, we lined the tins with only 1 layer of baking paper.

We shortened the bake time by 5 min.


Thank you Ju-Lyn for creating something different for us.

The photos are enough temptation for me to try creating this on my own.

Friendly Friday

If you would like to feature in one of the Friendly Friday Team’s Guest Posts, please contact Sandy, from (TheSandyChronicles) and Amanda, from (StPA), either by way of comment below or directly via their Blog Contact Pages.

The Friendly Friday Photo Challenge with the theme Something Different, will conclude Friday this week, when Sandy will post a new theme on The Sandy Chronicles.