November is nearly upon us, which means two months left in 2017!! Bring on Christmas!
I’m sticking to my new set up, and talking about five of my favourite things from the month of October!
I’ve never visited here in all my previous visits to Auckland and I have no idea why. It’s so beautiful!! Also, the added bonus is that I went to Mudbrick which is a vineyard overlooking the whole island, to celebrate my sister’s wedding. Altogether, this place is definitely a favourite from the past month.
The Millenium Series
I got a decent bit of reading done this month. Mostly due to the one week off I had this month due to my holiday. But I finished the whole Millenium series, and I really enjoyed it! My favourite is by far The Girl With the Dragon tattoo. The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest were good too, but they paled a bit as the series went on. Just my personal opinion.
Night Time Cozy Subscription Box
I had a whole post devoted to this, but if you guys didn’t know, Emma hosted a giveaway for this, and I was lucky enough to win!! The box arrived last week, and I’m still delving into all the goodies, and they all mean so much more to me since they were gifted by a fellow blogger. It’s definitely given me a major mood boost after those minor blogging hiccups of last week.
Bare Minerals Original Foundation
I finally decided to try this foundation since curiousity got the better of me. While I still love my BB cream, I have been so impressed with this foundation! Yes it’s powder, but it provides such nice coverage (which I didn’t expect!). It feels nice on my skin, and it’s so much fun to play with. Also the packaging is quite minimalistic and chic.
Again, I have another post devoted to this, but I love my new planner! I’ve always wanted a big planner like this, but for my personal life, I wouldn’t use it. I have my calendar for that. For blog purposes however, this is perfect. I can plan out my posts by month and week, and I have lots of extra pages to play and doodle on. It’s perfect.
So yeah, that’s my favourites for this month! A lot of them aren’t specific things, but more a group of things, or a place, but I had to include them!
I wasn’t quite sure how to describe this one. When I wear this skirt, I like to make is swish and swoosh around. Hence the title.
The weather is starting to get so much more warmer now guys! I don’t have to wear layers a lot of the time, and wearing a singlet blouse and skirt doesn’t make me freeze.
We’re back to backyard photoshoots now. Although this was my most fun one to shoot, as I pranced around the backyard in my outfit. You may notice that I’m wearing all blue again. I keep doing that. I can’t help it though, blue is a nice colour, and it always looks good.
Anyway, on to the photos!
I love that I can show off both of my tattoos in this. Also it was getting pretty windy, so I had to tie up my hair. I often wear a ponytail though, so this is a pretty standard spring outfit for me.
To celebrate 7 months of blogging today (woo!), I thought I would share with you all the programs, tools and software I use to help with my blogging. Some of these I’ve been using for a while, some I’ve found recently. All are free, because I always look for those first, and these haven’t let me down yet.
Photo Editing Software
If you haven’t heard of this one, you’re missing out! It’s a free to use online software for making anything photo related. You can make headers, graphics, etc, and it’s all easy to use. They have a lot of free photos and layouts to use, and so much more! I really recommend just opening it up and having a play. It’s the best way to learn, and I love using it for featured images on my blog, my videos, and for Pinterest.
There is a lot of free stuff on there. You can also buy more premium images and layouts, but I don’t think you’ll ever need to. Try it out online here.
There are a lot of free photo editing software options out there, but this one has worked the best for me. It has all the basic tools I need, when it comes to editing and filtering. It’s also super easy to use, and it just makes my photos look a little more done up. I would one day like to actually learn how to use Photoshop properly, but for now, this will do.
So this is how my original photo looks like in the editor. First up, I like to use Auto Level. It just makes the lighting more even, I guess is the best way to describe it. Then I play around with everything else. Bloom is another favourite, it makes the colours ‘pop’ more. Sometimes I like to crop. Then when I’m happy I save it. Here’s what my finished photo looks like:
Very minor changes in the end. But I like to make things a little brighter, both in terms of light and colour. It just looks nicer in the end. Also, it’s just so much fun to play with the software. You can find a link to the free software here.
I very recently discovered this, but it is incredible! Look, I’m totally guilty of using images from Google Photos and just sticking it in my blog. Yes, I give credit to the original site it was taken from (which I didn’t used for a long time), but I’m trying to step away from that. I want my blog to be more of my own, my own photos, my own words…but sometimes, I just don’t have the photos of what I want! So now, I go to Unsplash, which I highly recommend.
Each photo gives you a link to who uploaded it, so giving credit is simple. I mean, you don’t have to, but it’s nice. You just search for any image you want.
For example, let’s search for coffee.
And that is only a tiny section. Essentially, it’s a whole collection of photos, where anyone from around the world can upload and share, and they’re free to use. It definitely inspires me to up my own photo game. You can find them here.
Yoast by SEO
I heard about this from the wonderful Bella, and have since seen it’s name thrown around in my blog learning and exploring. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, basically, how easy your blog is to find on the web. There’s a bunch of factors that go into this (keywords, descriptions, image description). If you’re self-hosted, then you want to take your blog further, and this is a big part of that. This plugin helps you navigate all that. If you’re not self-hosted, you don’t really need to think about this.
It has a guideline on how to ‘optimise’ your post in terms of readability, and keywords (how it looks through search engines). Basically it helps to increase reader engagement, and increase visitors from Google and Bing. I’m still very new to this and I don’t follow it to the letter, but it has been an interesting learning curve. You can find the plugin here.
I know it’s not the best system, and I would love to do it on paper, but I hate crossing things off and getting it messy. It’s weird. So I need a digital planner, and surprisingly, Powerpoint has been the most helpful. I downloaded a calendar for 2017, and for each day, I just click and write my post idea. If I change my mind and want to shuffle things around or cross things out, then I just erase and rewrite. It still looks neat!
This has been my planner tool since starting back in March. It just works for me, and I can plan a week or month in advance. You can find lots of calendar online templates from Microsoft.
I primarily blog from my laptop. It’s where my planner is, where I back up all my photos, and where I write pretty much all my posts.
This is where my on-the-go planning happens. I make little memos during the day if I get inspired, or if I’m reading a post and get inspired, then I bookmark it and come back to it at the end of the day. It’s still kinda my main camera, as I bring it with me anywhere, so if there’s a photo opportunity, I take it. It’s also what I use for Instagram, which is my second most used social media.
My point and shoot camera is getting a little old, so I upgraded to a beginner DSLR! I’m still getting the hang of it, but the quality of the photo alone is such an improvement. Even than my phone camera! The process may be more complex than just pointing and shooting, there’s more dials and buttons, but it’s also so much more fun! It is a bit more difficult to bring with me everywhere (as it’s bigger than my phone), but after work and on the weekend, it’s become my go-to.
This has been amazing in my photo taking and video filming methods! I don’t have to balance my camera in weird places as I can attach my camera to the tripod and know it won’t fall down. This has also made taking outfit photos so much easier, as I don’t need to worry about asking someone to stand and take it for me.
So yeah, this got a bit longer than I thought it would. But these are all things I use in my blogging. Not all at once, and some I use with some posts, but not others. But altogether, these all help with me with me general blogging game. I think we all have blogging ‘tools’ that help us, you just need to figure out what works best for you!
What’s one of your essential blogging tools? Do we share any?
Jamie blogs over at the amazingly named Don’t Give a Jam. She’s based somewhere in the United States, maybe Boston? She’s 26 (any other fellow 1991 babies out there?), and has a job of some kind. Her blog has been around since October 2015 which is incredible! She blogs three times a week about lifestyle, beauty, OOTD, award/tags, tv shows and whatever else is going on!
Jamie is one of the people I’ve been following since waaay back. I loved the way she wrote her posts, and her pictures were also always on point. We can also talk a lot about television shows which is always fun 😀
Here’s a snippet from her About page:
I studied words in college, which helps me rant poetically and I’m a firm believer in speaking before I think… I’ve always had a passion for writing and this word girl wants to share that with the world, in the form of a lifestyle blog called Don’t Give A Jam.
Jamie is a big fan of tv shows. She often writes about them, and it’s always fun to know what people’s favourites are. As Jamie says “It kinda gives you a fun glimpse into what they like, what they’re interested in”.
Jamie, you are definitely the best word girl. I love how you write your posts (especially your award/tag posts!), and your sense of humour is hilarious. Whatever you choose to share always comes out as gold, keep doing what you do! 😀
Emma blogs over at The Emma Edit (previously EmZeeBee). She lives in Norfolk, in the UK. She’s in her mid 20s, she works as a chef (she has always worked in the hospitality industry I believe). She started her blog in January. She blogs about her interests which go from beauty, fashion, food to snippets about her life!
I’ve been following Em for a while now, to the point where I can’t remember who followed who. All I know is that we’ve been mutually supportive of each other, and her blog is both professional and fun to read!
Here’s a little snippet from her Facebook page about her blog:
I didn’t plan to start a blog, it just kinda happened. I was feeling uninspired one day and needed something to get me motivated again. I guess you could say I had a ‘light bulb’ moment and decided to start a blog.
When you start a blog you are recommended to pick a niche and only blog about that. But, I ignored that: I like to blog about beauty, fashion, recipes, lifestyle, and whatever else takes my fancy.
Hey all! I wanted to do a post today about some thoughts and happenings with my blog lately. Nothing major, I just wanted to talk about some things.
One, I changed my theme. I was getting bothered by the double Life of Angela on my homepage with the previous theme. This new one really appeals to me. Especially the crazy way that my posts fall down on my home page. It cracks me up. I also have a new header thanks to Katie, who’s done both Natalie and Kali‘s new header too!
Two, you guys may have noticed that I’m reposting a lot of my older posts. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I plan to continue it for most of the month. It gives me a little break from my previous crazy blogging schedule (remember that I used to do three posts a day, what a lunatic), and I am feeling the need for a bit of a break. I’ll still be posting twice a day, but one will be a repost from a while back to give me a breather. I just got done reposting a whole bunch of clothes/make up related posts. My next bunch of reposts will be all my bakings, as I’m super proud of all those. After that, I’m thinking wedding things, cause it’s getting up to our five month anniversary.
Three, I just wanted to say thanks to you guys for your continued support. It really means a lot. I have noticed a dip in engagement since moving over to self-hosted, but I did expect it. Your blog is still a lot more accessible if you’re still on wordpress.com rather than wordpress.org. I feel like I used to celebrate reaching a milestone every week before moving over, but it’s definitely slowed down. When I transferred over, I had 1133 subscribers, and now, three weeks later, I have 1196. The past three weeks before going self hosted, I went from 880 to 1100. There’s been a drop, or technically it’s slowed down. But as I said before, I expected it. Doesn’t stop my brain from getting bummed out about it though. Thanks brain.
This has sort of become a rant, so I’m going to cut it here. I didn’t mean to end it on a strange note, and I’m telling my brain and creativity to move past this and just keep writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing for my blog, and I plan to continue doing it for the next long while. I will still probably eyeball my stats, but I am learning to stop comparing with my previous site. While “Life of Angela” has been going since March, The Life of Angela.com is only three weeks in. I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t now thought of staying on the free site for those sweet sweet stats. But then I would have run out of media space (pretty fast), and not own this wonderful little corner of the internet. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves why we did that thing in the first place right? 🙂
That’s all for my blog-related thoughts. If you made it to the end, thanks. I just wanted to get them off my chest. I don’t normally write posts like this, but it was really nice. If you have any blog thoughts you want to get off your chest, feel free to.
So to continue this batch of beauty/fashion posts I’ve decided to do for the next week I thought I should dedicate a post to the most important item in all of clothing. Cardigans.
Every time I go into a store, it’s the one thing I have to stop and look through. It’s a weakness, and possibly a sickness. When I tell Rory I’ve bought something, he’ll ask “Is it a cardigan”, eight times out of ten, it is. So, anyway, I’ve decided to compile all the cardigans I own and show you the whole collection.
Long cardigan. You guys may have seen this before. I’ve showed it every now and then. This is one of two long cardigans I have. I like it as it’s good when it’s windy, it doesn’t blow up, so if I’m wearing a skirt, it weighs it down so it doesn’t fly up. This is also the oldest item in my closet, dating back to 2007 or 2008 (also it was my sister’s originally).
Extra Cardigan. I bought this during my office job days. I didn’t like lugging around my extra thick jacket around, so I got this extra thick cardigan. It’s warmer than a regular cardigan, but easier to lug around than my big jacket. I still occasionally wear it, but not as much as I used to. I can’t bring myself to get rid of it though. I’ve had it since 2013.
Peru Cardigan. One of the souvenirs I brought back from Peru (alongside Pedro) was this cardigan. It’s made from alpaca fur I believe. I bought it in a market stall. It caught my eye immediately, it was so cute, and sooo soft. It’s still soft now, but not as much. It’s so warm to wear. I wear it quite a bit still. I’ve had this since early 2014.
Glassons Cardigans. Glassons is one of the biggest stores for clothing here. They tend to have everything, including the basics, in every single colour and size basically. I lost my favourite black cardigan back in 2014 which I also got from here. So I came back and got one in a dark blue (which I wear all the time), and also got a light grey for the fun of it. I wear the blue one waay more (to the point where it’s starting to fall apart in places), but you guys know I like blue.
Multi-Coloured Cardigan. I remember in 2015, it struck me that I was wearing a lot of black sometimes. Or just lots of dark colours in general. During thrift store runs, I found this cardigan. It had pockets, lots of patches of colour, and I figured I could have fun wearing this. I’ve often worn this on top of my standard dark blue, grey or black tops and pants, and suddenly I’m less neutral coloured which is always fun! It’s also fun to wear it to work and name all the colours on my tops with the kids.
Blue Cardigan. Yes, another blue cardigan. I got this one in 2016. We were in Sydney, and my previous trusty blue cardigan from Sydney got a huge rip in it. A loose seam caught on my bag and pulled it, creating a very noticeable hole. Understandably I was heartbroken. So, we searched through stores, and I came across this blue cardi. It’s a different shade of blue, but it’s also way softer and warmer. It’s fast become my preferred blue cardigan,look closer at a lot of the weekend review photos, I’m often wearing this cardi.
Polka Dot Cardigan. This cardigan actually has shorter sleeves than the others, it means I don’t have to roll them up which is nice. This cardi is quite thin though, so it’s more of a layer for those warmer seasons. It had polka dots and it felt so nice on that I had to buy it when I saw it back in 2016. The first time I wore it to work, one of the little bubs who was painting grabbed my sweater to catch her balance, leaving a purple stain that took two washes to come out. I don’t wear it too work anymore 😀
Big Black Cardigan. This is my current favourite cardigan. I bought it back in June, and I wear it constantly. It’s huge, baggy, and so warm. I can wear it around without a big jacket on top as it’s that warm. I normally button it up which I never do with cardigans, but I like to be extra snug and warm. If it’s not too cold that day, then I’ll leave it open. But you guys would have seen this cardigan a lot lately. I wear it heaps.
On top of these I also have quite a few sweaters, jumpers and other long sleeves. I’m spoilt for choice when it comes to layers for winter. For summer, I wear a few of these (mostly the thinner ones), for added layers on those cooler summer days or evenings. For now though, it’s good to wrap up as I wait this long ass winter.
What are your thoughts on cardigans? Do you guys also have a weakness item when it comes to clothes?
Siyana blogs over at Siyana Online. She is currently based over in Glasgow, but often heads back to her home in Bulgaria as well. She is currently working part time as she studies. I’m not sure how old she is, but I’m assuming early 20’s maybe? (Correct me if I’m wrong! 😛 ) She started blogging in February (where she was previously called Brush and Needle!), and moved to self hosting in June. She blogs a mixture about makeup and lifestyle, as well as sharing blogging tips and tricks!
I’ve been following Siyana since way back, to earlier this year. She was one of the advocates who encouraged me to give self-hosting a go! It’s always fun to see what her creative brain will come up with next and to see what she’ll post!
Here’s a snippet I’ve taken from her About page:
Hello and welcome to my tiny piece of the Internet, which I happily occupy in my free time. Please make yourself at home, and I hope you enjoy your stay!
I usually share various products reviews, blogging tips or some thoughts. If you are following me closely, from time to time you would be able to learn about my personal experiences with my biggest journey called life.
Speaking of what she talks about, here’s a few of my favourite posts of hers:
Siyana shares with us reasons what she likes in a blog, and what she doesn’t. We all have our reasons as to why we follow blogs, and which kind of posts or blogs we like to read, or don’t like to. It’s always interesting to see read about this subject, and Siyana wrote a really good post about her thoughts on it!
Instead of throwing out an old bulb (like I would), Siyana turned it into pinterest worthy decor! Look how amazing and creative this is!!
As always, make sure to check out Siyana on Instagram!
Siyana! We’ve been blogging buddies for a while now. I love how supportive and sweet you’ve always been. It’s also been amazing seeing you develop your blog! Your blog is incredible professional and sleek! I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next 😀