Monday, April 24

Blogging Struggles


Everyone wants their blog to be a success. Perhaps you're not interested in the amount of followers you have or the page views on your latest post but I'm almost certain that you don't blog with the intention of nobody reading it. If that were the case then you should have bought a diary and not a domain.

But success doesn't come over night. In fact it may not come for months or even years. That all depends on what you define as "success"though. To me it means I enjoy what I write and I look forward to connecting with other Hoomans of the internet through comments and other blogs. I love blogging and it is one of my favourite hobbies but it can be difficult. Blogging isn’t all daisies and dandelions. It requires an awful lot of effort and can be a bit of a struggle. Here are some things I often find issues with

Life

Whether you have one or need to get one, Life always seems to get in the way. I’m a busy person and like to be organised and have a routine. When Life decides to throw obstacles my way then my routine goes out the window and blogging along with it. For instance my recent absence is a result of moving out, starting my new job and then to top things off I suddenly wound up in hospital needing surgery. Don’t worry it wasn’t life or death. I’m now recovering and for the first time in a month have time to write this post.

Time

Blogging takes up A LOT of time! A post doesn’t just happen. It needs to be thought out, brainstormed, and eventually written. Then there’s editing photos, adding them to the post, pinning , tweeting and of course publishing the post. On average writing takes me maybe 2 hours but planning and photo editing could have me busy for a week. And if you’re writing regularly, even just weekly, that’s a lot of time you need! Trying to post regularly is a major thing I struggle with. I have bursts of motivation before I fall behind and then procrastinate because of all these reasons I am writing about today.

Content

What do I write about? I’ve used up all my ideas and now I got nothing. Nada. Blank. Zero. The answer to that question is I don’t know. If you do find out then please share with me.

Sometimes I wonder if what I'm writing about is fresh. Almost everything has been written about at some point.  And am I the right person to be talking about  that topic? Shouldn't I leave that to the experts? It's not my place to give advice on what you should wear or what cream is best for spots ( I don't blog about these because I have no clue and no interest in either of those areas )

Writer's Block

This is a bit different to not knowing what to write about. Writer’s block for me means I do have an idea but I just don’t know where to start. Think of it as a red brick wall between me and my keyboard. The words just aren’t flowing and I’m not sure if I know how to speak English anymore.

Effort doesn't always equal Results

And just because you spent hours perfecting that latest post that you think everyone on earth needs to read as a matter of life and death, it doesn’t mean you're going to go viral and be instantly famous over night. You can tweet all you want and pin lots of pretty pictures of your post but it just ain’t driving traffic. Why? Good question - I don’t know. It seems a little unfair though. You deserve appreciation for all your hard work.

Responsibilities and Community

In terms of the blogosphere I have a tiny following and an even tinier commenting readership. I would obviously love to have more followers but I find it much more manageable the way it is. I think it is hugely important to reply to comments and reply on their own blogs. Blogging is a two way street and to grow in this community, to make friends you need to give and take. I appreciate every comment and I always try keep up with blogs I follow. But again …. time… it’s an issue. I feel terrible when I miss a few days or weeks because then I am way behind and feel like I’m neglecting my role as a reader. I swear it’s not that your blog has become boring it’s because I’m such a disorganised lazy person that becomes terrified of the amount of unread posts in my bloglovin feed.

I constantly battle with all of the above but nevertheless am still happy to say I am passionate about blogging. 
Do you find you struggle with blogging? What problems do you encounter as a blogger? How have you made your blog successful?



Always, M

Tuesday, March 21

How To Make Your Perfect Bucket List


What is a Bucket List?

To me, a bucket list is something everyone should have. It is either a physical or virtual list of things a person wants to do before they die. Or according to google:
Bucket List Ideas
Bucket List Ideas

I wrote my first Bucket List when I was about 15. Perhaps I was a bit young to be thinking about death. Or perhaps it was about time I started thinking  about things I wanted to do in life. It was after I watched that brilliant movie "The Bucket List" starring Morgan Freeman that I went mad with ideas, putting things down like "wear a different colour on each nail for a day" and "become a famous singer". They were far off fantasies that weren't really things I wanted. I mean, I can't even sing.

At 18, I revised my list and added it as a page in my blog [picture on the right, not sure if it's very readable]. It was much more me, containing things like see the Elephants in Africa and get a tattoo. Except a lot of these things aren't really that important to me. If I were to wake up dead tomorrow (or be reincarnated as a butterfly) would I regret not doing these things? Am I desperate to achieve all these things?


So here I am, at 20, making another bucket list. This time with utmost dedication and concentration.  Wish me luck!

 Why Should You Have A Bucket List?

The main reason you should have a bucket list is because you want to. If you have no interest in trying new things, then what's the point? I think it's important for some people to make a bucket list as it gives more purpose to your life. You have goals that can motivate and inspire you to achieve. Bucket lists help the imagination and can spark curiosity. You'd be surprised what you learn and maybe what new talents you find. It's also important to actually do things on your bucket list. Don't just leave these dreams on paper, make them happen.


How To Write A Bucket List

Bucket List IdeasIf you're stuck, the best way to kickstart the process is using Pinterest or WeHeartIt. There are so many ideas on those sites. Make a board and use that as your bucket list. But don't limit yourself to just pinterest. You can think of anything! Choose things that YOU want to do.

Remember, it's not a wish list. It's a list of dreams that you intend to do. These are things you will set out to do and most definitely want to  do. Anyone can write down "See the Eiffel Tower". I'm not saying it shouldn't be on your bucket list but if it is then be sure that it's not just filling up space.

The best way to start the actual list is with pen and paper. Write them all down. One per line. It's  your first draft. Then when you have them finalised you can write them on a big A3 paper and nicely decorate it. Perhaps hang it on the wall in a frame, that way you're less likely to forget about it.

And remember: Do Your Bucket List!


A few things from my Bucket List:

- Learn to drive
- Get a Facial Piercing
- Get a Tattoo
- Visit the Harry Potter Studios(London)
- Travel to every country in the world
- Write a Book
- Become a Vegetarian
- Take part in a protest/march for something I believe in
- Get a PhD

Even though I am starting a new bucket list, I'm keeping things I've already crossed off. These are important accomplishments to me. At 17 I got a nose piercing. At 19 I passed my driving test. At 20 I got my first tattoo ( that was only a couple of weeks ago, it hurt .... a lot). So I'm not finished my bucket list but I am certainly getting through it!

What is on your Bucket List?

Always, M 

Sunday, March 12

Female Role Models


Last Wednesday was International Women's day. Women, Men and Children marched on the streets all over the world. It was a day where many women striked in protest to the economic inequality, prejudice and insecurity faced by women in the workplace. In Ireland there was also a focus on striking to repeal the 8th ( if you want to know more about that total injustice to women I already wrote a post on that HERE). While I myself wasn't able to take part in the march because I'm fortunate enough to have a right to education but unfortunate to have an exam and team project deadline that same day. But I felt very proud to see the turn out of people in support of these basic human rights. Now that International Women's Day is gone, I think it is important to remember that the inequality that was here a week ago hasn't disappeared with one march. We must still  protest inequality and support human rights for men AND women!

There are many people out there who inspire me to do better. I guess you could call them role models. I know there are a lot of pros and cons to having role models and I myself agree with both sides of the argument. These role models that I have aren't people I worship like a God but they are just people who I admire and do things that I agree with. When I hear a speech from Emma Watson campaigning for equality I am reminded of the social injustice in the world and she inspires me to do more, to be grateful for what I have and to want a change in the world. Likewise when I see a post on instagram from Sarah Tyrell about body shaming and loving who you are, I feel more comfortable in my own skin and it makes me stop and think about judging people for how the look and what they wear. These women are people I want in my world. I think if everyone was a bit more like them then it would be a happier place.

Emma Watson


Emma has been a role model of mine ever since I was 7 and started watching Harry Potter. Even though it was Hermione who I was looking up to back then, Emma isn't all that different from her character.

She shows me you can be whoever and whatever you want to be. She shows me that being smart is a good thing and to never dumb yourself down for anyone. She fights for equality and gives hugely inspiring speeches. She accepts not being perfect and doesn't follow the crowd. She is strong and fierce.

She is someone I greatly admire.

"It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals"




Louise O'Neill


Louise O'Neill is the author of Only Ever Yours and Asking For It. I first heard of her when she came to one of those festivals in Cork, it was probably the world book one. So I picked up a copy of Asking For It and was absolutely blown away by the book. I had never read a more relevant or horrible story. It sparked a rage within me to take more notice, to stand up for what I believe in, to fight against this rape culture. Because no one is EVER asking for it.

While her book had such an impact on me, I took an interest in Louise herself by following her on twitter and instagram and reading her articles in the paper. While I find her writings inspiring, it is the trolling comments on her pieces that ignite my anger at civilisation. How can people be so bloody ignorant? But none of this hate stops her and she continues to fight for justice and equality.
I'm very much looking forward to her new book.


Scarlett Curtis

The first time I heard of Scarlett Curtis was during English Class in 2012. My teacher Ms. Foley was talking about blogs and specifically Scarlett's blog Teen Granny. She suggested blogging as a way to improve essay writing and practise for the Leaving Cert exams. I wasn't a great English Student, much preferring maths and art, so I decided I better look into it for the sake of my future.

Surprisingly I was enthralled with Scarlett's blog because of my love for baking, knitting and crafting. Now it's 5 years on and I'm still blogging! So Scarlett is one of my role models because she inspired me to pursue something I love. She made baking, reading and knitting seem cool when at a time I was easily persuaded by peers and social media. Today she is still an inspiration as a blogger, activist, feminist, writer and girl. I follow her on twitter and instagram where she promotes equality, fashion and basically all things pink.

Just a couple  of weeks ago I tweeted a blog post as I sometimes do when I'm being organised. Not long after, Scarlett actually replied and followed me on twitter!! *dances around room* I was absolutely  thrilled. It means so much when one of your role models acknowledges your existence.

Sarah Tyrell

It was only a couple of weeks ago when I accidentally stumbled across Sarah Tyrell's instagram. I think Sarah is a hugely inspiring woman and so so brave.

For a girl whose struggled with body image and confidence all of my life, I felt very compelled by Sarah's blog. She posts pictures of herself on instagram and shows others that we shouldn't be ashamed of our own bodies because of how we look. Most people don't have that "perfect body" that is thrown in our faces by photoshopped magazines and advertising.

In her blog she talks about positivity and overcoming the pressure put on us by peers, social media and even ourselves. I think her message is so important and every person should hear what she has to say. It comes from her own experience so she knows exactly what she is talking about it. I wish I was as brave as her.

"One thing I've learned is that beauty isn't really visual. It's not something we can see. It's not something that can be bought, or applied, or created using products. It's also not really something we can strive for either. It's something that's already there, hidden, hurried deep down inside of each of us under a pile of bullshit expectations, rules, false beliefs, and fear. It's in there, desperately struggling to get out. And the thing is, even when you understand this and make the choice to let it out, you can't simply reach in and drag it out, through all of the clutter that's piled up and around it. It's not that easy"

*Disclaimer: none of these pictures are mine. If you are unhappy with me using them and want me to remove them then contact me and I will do so.

What is your opinion of Role Models? Who do you look up to?
Always, M






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Wednesday, March 1

Red Velvet Heart Cake


I know what you're thinking. Yes, it is March. And yes, I know that Valentine's was in February.But even though this cake is a Valentine's themed cake, it is still cake! And it is ALWAYS time for cake.

I actually made this and had a little photoshoot a year ago. But I didn't post it because 14th February had come and gone so instead decided to wait till 2017. And then I also missed that deadline.... What can I say? I am a terribly unorganised person.


Anyhoo, this cake is a three tiered red-velvet cake with a cream cheese frosting. The recipe belongs to the brilliant cake artist ( that's right, there's a profession called a cake artist, I think I've found my true calling in life)  Peggy Porschen.

Ingredients:


Red velvet sponge: 
105g butter
275g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
A few drops of extra-red food colour
250g buttermilk
2 medium-sized eggs
235g plain flour
15g cocoa powder
2 pinches of salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1⁄4 tsp white wine vinegar

Vanilla frosting:
250g full-fat cream cheese, softened slightly
250g unsalted butter, softened
625g icing sugar, sifted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Decoration: 
Red velvet cake crumbs


Method

1. Make this one day ahead of when needed. Start by preheating the oven to 170°C.
2. Line three 15cm sandwich tins with oil spray and greaseproof paper. Place the butter, caster sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer and, using the paddle, beat at medium-high speed until fluffy.
3. Mix the red food colour with the buttermilk, checking for lumps.
4. Lightly beat the eggs in a separate bowl or jug and, with the mixer set at medium speed, slowly pour into the butter mixture. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour to bring it back together.
5. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt together and, once the butter, sugar and eggs are combined, add to the mixer with the coloured buttermilk and beat at low speed until just incorporated.
6. Whisk together the bicarbonate of soda and vinegar and quickly add to the cake batter.
7. Using a rubber spatula, fold through the batter to make sure everything is well combined.
8. Transfer the batter to the lined tins and gently spread it towards the edges with a step palette knife.
9. Bake for 20–25 minutes. The sponge is cooked when it springs back to the touch and the sides are coming away from the edges of the tin. You could also insert a clean knife into the middle of the sponge; if it is cooked, the knife will come out clean.
10. Once the sponges are baked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes. When the sponges are just warm, run a knife all the way round the sides of the tins, transfer to a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Once cool, wrap the sponges in cling film and leave them to rest overnight at room temperature. This will ensure that all the moisture is sealed and the sponges firm up to the ideal texture for trimming and layering.


11. Make a cream-cheese frosting then flavour with the vanilla extract. Chill for at least two hours, or until set.
12. Trim the sponges (reserving the trimmings for decoration) and sandwich the layers together using the vanilla frosting. Mask the top and sides of the cake using the remaining vanilla frosting.

Red-Velvet is one of my favourite cakes. It is so delicious! What are your favourite types of cake?

Happy Baking!
Always, M

Tuesday, February 14

V-Day Feminism


Happy V-Day to all the men, women and and other genders out there. The ‘V’ in this case stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina. Upon stumbling across Emma Watson’s instagram page at the start of the new year, I found myself joining her online book club. The book of the month happened to be The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler. Thus began my education on V-Day.

V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. V-Day occurs on the 14th February whereby creative events take place around in the world to increase awareness, raise money and revitalise the spirit of existing anti-violence organisations. It all started with Eve Ensler, a woman who wrote a play about women's sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse, creating a new conversation about and with women. She based it on dozens of interviews with various women who told Eve about their own personal experiences. Many women who attended performances of the play felt inspired and compelled to share with Eve their experiences too. Then in 1998, a group of women, including Eve Ensler established V-Day. They felt by organising performances of the play that it would move people to act to end violence.

I decided to talk to women about their vaginas, to do vagina interviews, which became vagina monologues...At first women were reluctant to talk. They were a little shy. But once they got going, you couldn't stop them. Women secretly love to talk about their vaginas. They get very excited, mainly because no one's ever asked them before.


After reading this book, the feminist within me wants to stand at the top of a tallest mountain and shout "VAGINA" to the world, while waving my bra like a flag in victory. However when I really sit back and think about this book, I am not as impressed as I thought I would be.
The Vagina Monologues was written back in 1996 ( the same year I was born). A lot of the people featured in the interviews have a tendency to be ashamed of their female "bits" or don't know enough about it. It's almost like a taboo topic. However, reading this twenty years on, it didn't reveal anything I didn't already know. Talking about vaginas and sex with my friends isn't an unpopular conversation, in fact, it's a favourite.  This is a positive thing, I think. It shows that we have come a long ways in twenty years. From my experience, we are much more comfortable with sex and talking about it. I do think the Vagina Monologues is an important book and probably far better seen performed.
I think it is definitely a more western/American story. Cultures are different everywhere so some people may not relate at all to the anecdotes in it, I think we can all appreciate an respect the stories and come away from it with a better understanding of ourselves and the world. ★ ★ ★ ★



I’ve always considered myself a feminist. Saying it made me feel cool. Belonging to a group made me feel strong. And being part of something that was important-, that was going to change the future made me feel inspired. It wasn’t until a few months ago, when I really started to take an interest in the world that I realised being a feminist wasn’t as simple as it seemed. I learnt that there are a lot of “types” of feminism and there is a whole lot more of people who disagree with feminism ( including women, surprisingly ). I had heard about femi-Nazis, man-haters and sexist-bigoted men. I just never believed they were real or that they were giving feminism a bad name.

Not too long, I scrolled through pinterest and came across an article about why women chose not to be feminists. This peaked my interest and I was baffled to think what reasons people could have to be against feminism.

"I don't consider myself a feminist but I wish more men would treat me like a human and not a stereotype" ~ tell me again what feminism means? Your oxymoron precisely says you want men to see you as a person, not a woman whose purpose is for raising children and working in the kitchen, YET you disagree with feminism EVEN THOUGH it promotes that women can work, have equal pay to men and enjoy sex as a thing of pleasure not just a method to get pregnant.

"I'm a girl, yet I hate feminism. I think demanding equality yet still expecting  chivalry is wrong. You can have one or the other. " Opening a door for a woman does not mean that they are too weak to do so on their own or that you're doing it just to look at her ass. Respecting a woman as a human being is not the opposite to chivalry. Being equal to someone does not mean you have to be unkind or unfriendly.

"I agree with equal rights but feminists are always so angry and aggressive. " Of course we're angry! And don't tell me it's un-lady-like to be angry. I think the best response to this is to read an article by Louise O'Neill [HERE]

There were many other reasons why women chose not to be feminists. After hearing both sides of the argument I can safely say that I choose to be a feminist. I want women to be equal to men because they are still (one of) the oppressed gender(s). I want to repeal the 8th and give human rights back to women to be able to take control for their own body. And I want men to be not ashamed to have feelings and that it is okay to talk because mental health and suicide in men is significantly high. And I want all genders to know and understand consent, because rape is wrong. Your body is your own and no one else should have a say in it.

There have been many feminist in the past like Betty Frieden and Nuala Fennell. They "burned their bras" and got women the right to vote and to contraception. The feminists today use media as a tool to inspire others and continue the empowerment of women. Books like The Handmaid's Tale and Asking For It spark conversations. Speeches from Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson motivate us to fight. Feminists like Scarlett Curtis, Mary Robinson, Louise O'Neill and Emma Watson encourage the on going movement to equality. If this has been the past, and this is the present, will you be part of the future of feminism?



Happy V-Day! {()}
Always, M