Friday, 30 January 2015

2015: 12%

It's scary that I'm talking about January being over. It's crazy we have nearly finished the first month of the year. It's even crazier that January looked more like Christmas than December did. Whilst I didn't see a single snowflake in December, I've been left skidding and sliding all over the place this month. Don't expect to see me at the local ice rink anytime soon. 

You will be proud to know that I have stuck to my resolution to live. I've grabbed every opportunity and focused on doing things that I enjoy. I went to a lovely meal with all my family from my mum's side in Chester. I have a really small family and we try and see each other every couple of months. I've also been struggling with peculiar pain in my wrists, which literally appeared overnight. I'm having tests at hospital to find out the cause so I'll keep you updated. Oh, and I happened to buy a car. A Ford KA in Gumental. And yes, he does have a name; Kornelius.

As cheesy and cliched as it sounds, I've started to realize that time passes regardless if your happy or sad, and unfortunately, you can't press rewind. This month I've focused on getting rid of all the things that have made me unhappy, and even started to have an effect on my health, and create a master plan to get me back to my happiest. 

What I've Been Loving This Month

  • Using my Foreo Luna. No other product or tool has provided such a gentle, but effective cleanse. A review will be coming soon; watch this space!
  • Lush Hot Toddy is quickly reaching favorite status with me, and is right up there with Lush Snow Fairy. It's a very rich and warming fragrence and has helped me beat the January blues.
  • I have become a right Youtube addict lately. One channel I recommend you check out is LucyAndLydia, two twins from Norwich. I predict big things!
  • I've had Blank Space by Taylor Swift going round my head constantly. Life is too short to pretend you don't love Taylor's catchy songs.
What have you been loving? Have you done anything exciting? What's your car called?

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

The Four 'P's' of Blog Organisation

How to organise your blog

We all know what it's like. You sit down to do some serious blogging, get into the blogger state of mind and then BAM. Suddenly you three episodes into American Horror Story, and have no idea how you got there. Before you know it the teeny tiny window of decent light has passed and it's nearly time to get get ready for that evenings blogger chat on Twitter. Somehow your day has ended and you have no blog posts to show for it. But fear not my fellow procrastinators, I have found the secret to keeping you blog in tip-top condition and it begins with the letter 'P'.

Yes I said it. The dirty word of the moment, planning seems to be dividing the blogging community in two firm camps with no middle ground. I understand that some people like to retain an element of spontaneity about their content, but I for one just cant do that and blog consistently. Even if you only plan a day in advance, planning gives you a little bit of time to think about structuring and what you actually want to say, rather than rambling on with no clear message. I tend to provisionally plan posts a month in advance and schedule them in pencil in my Personal Planner (*). A week or two before I will then review what I have planned and swap posts around or replace them as my mood dictates.  I will point out now that this "planning" literally only takes me about 15 minutes for the entire month, with the reviews being about 5 minutes, nothing time consuming.

It's not just your posts though that you should think about in advance. It might take less than a second to snap a photo, but some serious thought goes on before you can get trigger happy. From the location, to even the time of day for the best lighting, Of course, let's not forget you need to consider what you going to take pictures of! If your firmly in the spontaneous camp and still reading, I am seriously impressed. You can still plan and be spontaneous with your pictures. Simply making a scribbled list on the back of a receipt of what you want to photograph or what posts you need photographs for before you start clicking will help focus your mind and stop any unwanted distractions. If your more of a long term planner like me, you could even make a list of photos you know you will eventually need, and start working your way down. This is especially useful for FOTD and tutorials, letting you take advance of the good skin week before a planet forms on your chin. 

You've planned your posts but now it's time to prepare them. I do appreciate that this must be those anti-organisations worst nightmare, but stick with me, it's not half as bad as it seems. If you know what you're going to write about, you've already done half the work. Now you've got to go one step further. To prepare you simply need to collate all your thoughts into one place. I find the easiest way to bullet point key ideas in my blogging notebook as I try out products. It may be that you just list the products your going to include in the post, but at least you know whats going into the content of the post before you begin to tap it out.

Preparing for photos is obvious. You need to get all your items together. Remember the list I suggested above? Go down it and see which ones you are able to take during the same "session". I also find it helpful to put all the products or items I want to photograph in to a box all together. It saves so much time as everything together and I'm not running around trying to find things at the last minute.

It's at this point that I will hold my hands up and say I don't always follow my own advice. Sometimes I don't take the photos as planned and miss the good lighting. You know how it is, things just crop up. Most people give up and take the pictures another time, but don't! Carry on as normal, take your photos in the dull cloudy light. Once you've done, head over to PicMonkey and upload your chosen picture for editing. You can then play around with the exposure to make your picture brighter, as well as the saturation among other things. By editing your photos, you can make them even better than if you had snapped them in the good light! 

The second point I would say about photography is to consider taking some stock photographs when you have a spare 5 minutes. Stock photographs are those random pictures you see on many a blog that don't focus on any one particular item, such as the one at the top of this post. I like to keep a variety of stock photos ready and waiting to be used if, for any reason, I haven't been able to get a picture ready for a post, If you run your blog to a schedule, they can save your neck. If your more spontaneous, they can help you out when you suddenly get the urge to write, but can't think of or get a suitable picture.

Last but certainly not least is polishing. This is something I'm slowly getting to grips with myself, but I will happily admit struggle with. Like most pieces of work, it's important to polish it up once it's all done. Make sure you have a look at a preview of your post as this is what your readers will see. Does the structure allow for easy reading? Does it portray a message or just ramble on about nothing? Have you got your theirs and there's confused? Now is the time to edit these. Ideally, this should all be done before it's published, but if not, just edit it following the post being published. 

Now you've done all the hard work, you need to show it off. For me, social media brings the highest traffic to The Crown Wings so I've really been putting in extra effort to improve my online marketing. Since the New Year I've been using Hootsuite to help schedule posts throughout the day, improving my online presence. This does take some time, especially if you do it in weekly blocks like myself, but its definitely worth it if you find yourself busy during the day.  

What are you best blog organisation tips?

Monday, 26 January 2015

Boxing Day Sales Haul

You'd be correct in thinking I was on a spending ban. I am, and believe it or not, still going strong. This rather large bounty was bought in the Boxing Day sales and for some reason, I've waited to now to show you. 

After shouting more expletives than I'd care to admit at my iPad, I finally manged to add two Lush gift set's into my basket and checkout. I don't know what it is with the Lush website, but it does seem to be an annual tradition that I simply crashes every Boxing Day. Surely you'd think they would have learned by now? Aside from that I had to have a look at Space NK. I have a love hate relationship with Space NK. I love the store and hate what it does to my bank balance. I feel that I was actually quite restrained this year. I stocked up on my favorite Laura Mercier bath goodies, a REN skincare set and finally got my hands on some NUDE products.

I'd already started shopping for fashion bargains on Christmas Eve. My mum actually told me about this Lulu Guinness bag, which was half price at House of Fraser, when I came home from work at lunch time. I've been after a Lulu Guinness bag for quite a while now and loved this one as soon as I saw it. It's a small structured bag with a long gold chain strap which could be worn on the shoulder or cross body. How cute is the little lipstick charm?! I also picked up an over-sized blue clutch and black jelly shoes from ASOS. I was desperate to get some jelly shoes for my holiday to Crete before the shops bump the prices up. I was umming and ahhing about getting a pair of neon pink ones, but the practical, boring side of me won, and I opted for simple black. I then nipped onto Zara. I needed a new work back as my current one from Primark, is 5 years old and slowly falling apart. I managed to find this beautiful navy city bag which is the perfect size, as well as this necklace. It's so heavy, but I cant stop staring at it. It's like lots of wine gums stuck together! Obviously on a bit of a spending spree, I then had a look at New Look and managed to persuade myself I needed another pair of black heels. Oh and this tribal necklace just happened to fall into my basket. Online. Oops. 

Did you pick up any bargains?