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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ending Well

Here we are at the end of January 2012. I am on track. It has taken some work but it feels good.

As the year started I jumped on the Ultimate Blogging Challenge to make a post a day. OUCH

It was fine until my life got busy and then I got a little stuck with some ideas.

No writers block thankfully. The sad thing is when I really have the flow going I can bang out 500 words in 20 minutes or so. Sometimes the trouble is finding and adding the right pictures.

As the days wound down and I found myself in a pinch behind the 8 ball I grabbed some previously written up info. Recipes are good too. XLVI is coming and everyone loves chocolate. Right?

I am proud of my work on the blog this month. I owed this poor little space something. The new blog had more than twice as much traffic in 9 months as this one has in its years of existence. 

Finally I am finding my voice and an audience. There are a few new followers. It is not so much that my reach has changed. My consistency with posting and sharing is I think what has made the difference.

I have a new project to jump on. I thought it would mean giving up the blogger blogs. It might not I have not had the time to check. I got a domain and it comes with a WordPress blog. I have been wanting to try that platform out. If I can do multiple blogs. Poof we are going!!!

Still I almost do not mind being spread out. I am going to go back to posting when I feel inspired and not just because I have a live blog. There is a hit to quality that can come with that. Especially not even getting weekends or holidays off. 

Look forward to our first guest post even as I wait for my first guest post to be posted. 

I really need to show some love to my ministry and raising a teen blogs the latter has had no posts all year. The former has a few hit or misses. This challenge has sapped all my free thinking.

My normal pace is about every other or 3rd day. It seems to take that long for full viewership to take place on posts anyway.

It is my hope that my fellow challenge bloggers are really feeling energized not deflated at this point. I like a webinar I checked out last night. All of the info makes good sense. Many of the ideas just come naturally to me.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Coffee Pecan Brownies

  • 1 Square Dark Chocolate
  • 2 T Spoons of chocolate chips
  • 3 Oz (6 tablespoons or ¾ stick) butter cut up or softened
  • ⅓ Cup Strong Coffee, cooled
  • 2 Large eggs at room temperature
  • ½ C Sugar
  • ¼ Cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ C all-purpose flour
  • 3 T cocoa powder
  • 1/8 Tsp Sea salt
  • ⅔  Crumbled Pecans

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly coat w/ oil or butter an 8 by 8x8-inch baking dish 

Melt chopped chocolate and butter 

Stir in the coffee until thoroughly blended. 

Beat eggs until frothy. 

Blend in the sugars and vanilla, whipping until thick and pale colored, about 5 minutes. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and blend completely.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Add the salt. Stir the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture in 3 stages, blending well after each addition. Stir in the nuts. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.

Bake 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out slightly moist. Cool on a rack to room temperature. Use a sharp knife to cut the brownies.

Store in a single layer in a tightly sealed container or covered with foil at room temperature up to 5 days.

Remember to share or hide them which ever you wish!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

XLVI - No Cook Food

I have discussed more about football this year than I think ever before in my life. 

This includes all of about 4 posts here on the web. That is about as concerned as I am.
My daughters father was not a sports guy. My very first boyfriend was from a country where Rugby was popular. 

Go figure. I want to see a hockey game.

The one and only NFL game I attended I was so little I slept on my daddy’s knee. Must have been the 70’s.

Still my daughter speaks football. We were in the car going somewhere the night the 49ers lost their chance at going to the super bowl. Her phone rang and a friend of the family was calling to give her the sad news.

One of my contacts in MA wants me to be a Patriots fan but I think I lean more towards the NY Giants.
If I get invited to a super bowl party my schedule is open. Just do not expect me to eat any guacamole

The daughter and I are locked in an I will not eat avocado impasse. She buys them and slices them on salads or makes a dip with cream cheese that she then eats with Cool Ranch Doritos.

Speaking of recipes, I will share that one.

One whole avocado she says 

Plus 4 oz of cream cheese

Mash together

Add paprika to taste and if I know her a dash of lime or lemon in juice or zest because those are her go to additions.

Does anyone do the Velveta and Salsa one that is on all those commercials? 

I do not like cheese so I am not inclined but I wonder if it really is super yummy.

My go to chip dip is a multilayer bean dip.

I like it with re-fried black beans, sour cream, salsa and shredded cheese

We eat it chilled with corn chips or slathered on a tortilla and toasted. 

Add meat for a full soft taco variation. Everyone always loves it. You can also add as much as you want or vary it as needed.

The first time I made it a friend of mine was pulling together a baby shower for another friend.

She wanted 7 layers. That included guac, olives and either tomato or ground beef

To each their own.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where to Advertise Blogs

The number one reason I did not start a blog years and years ago when the craze took off: I did not want an online “private” diary.

I knew everyone and their extended circle wanted that feeling of self importance that comes with putting ones self out there. 

I also knew they then were met with the stark reality that no one might notice. A horrible fate no one wants to face. Live Journal has it’s place but so does blogging for fun, visibility and profit.

It took joining Twitter and hanging around there to give me the boost I needed to really dig in as a blogger.

The blog I started last spring has almost three times the page hits that this one has at almost three years old.

It only has twice the followers. 

The first thing blog advertising tip I recommend is click on any of the badges you see to the left or right of blog posts. Add your name and blog to the lists or groups they represent and post a badge.

Next search Twitter for blog contests, parties, rolls, logs challenges and other events. Even if you do not have an account or are not logged in you can search what is publicly trending on Twitter.

The other great place to find blogging viewers community and support is Facebook. Find some groups or pages. I think Iam in 5. (updated...)

Creating a fan page can work but it can also be a pain. You have to really know what you are doing to get that to work. It helps to have a large friend base or maybe a large Twitter following that wants to join you.

Post your blog to your Facebook page as a status update.

You can do this as often as you like. Once a day at most I would suggest. You should probably do it less. Everything depends on your connections and the response you get.

I am on G+ so I add my blog up dates there.

Networked Blogs is an FB ap you can get hooked up with. That will auto post your blog updates to FB as you select. It also connects you to all the other blog authors using the service.

Unless you are already fabulously rich and famous being a successful happy blogger will be about networking.

Make connections, reach out to people.
There are other social networks where you might hang out. Ning, Yahoo, anyone still on AOL anything?, Ravelry, Etsy, Pinterest

Many if not all of them will have ways and places to show case your blog. If you do not already have an established presence and understand the communities approach with caution.

Lastly I will say keep your ear to the ground. There are large blogging conferences such as BlogHer every year. On a much smaller scale there are local events going on.

People are exciting and their energy can be inspiring. When you meet people and make an impression they will seek you out via social media. They will be doubly delighted to find that you’ve posted about the event they remember especially if they have also made an impression on you and there is mention of that.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Guest Posting for Success

I was struggling to write a post about guest blogging. Especially since a business owner and social media personality asked me to help them break into Twitter. 

It is what prompted me to write a series of posts on the issue.

I thought they would take my info as a guest blog post. That did not happen. I was thinking they missed an opportunity to have me help promote their business. 

I posted about that and being stuck on this post elsewhere and then I slept on it. When I woke up I knew what I had done wrong.

Hello silly: should have invited them to guest post. 

I thought when I first saw guest posting since bloggers always squee about it and it was mostly women that it was about friendship.

Now I am not saying it cannot be but it more than that.

A successful blog becomes it’s own little community. Bringing in guests is about variety, buzz, expertise and networking.

So now the exciting news I get to squee about. I revamped what I have learned about Twitter and submitted a guest blog post here. It should appear in the next few weeks. I will keep you all posted.

Do you have a favorite blog author that you think can speak to your viewers and followers?

Have you thought of giving them the honor of an invitation to guest post?

Any heroes in the community that you would love to talk about, hear from and show case? 

Can you use your blog as a platform to highlight something you want to see addressed locally or globally?

Have you looked at a blog and thought there was something you could add to the discussion the author has been having?

That is what I did when I read the call for submissions. I looked over the blog. I searched it. I read all the posts that came up with my key subject word in it. There were not that many. 

I wrote about 500 words on things that had not been covered. It is a business and some what therefore more technical post.
On another blog it might be a relate able story mirroring one that has been posted. Guest blogging does give the host author a rest for a day. It also puts you in front of a whole new sphere of people.

Put your feelers out or just to a little rummaging to find bloggers looking to host guest content. 

Challenge yourself to spice it up and have some fun.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How to Knit & Purl

I volunteered to help with a crafting MeetUp earlier this month. I want to teach some classes but this came along first. A good practice and pre run.

The first thing you need to do is learn to make a slip knot.

Once that is done cast on about a dozen and a half stitches. (18)

Now you are ready to knit!

Knitting is worked normally from right side of the work to left side of the work. This is opposite of the way your work moves on the needles.

*Your right needle enters a stitch on the left needles and pulls another stitch through onto itself.

Repeat this until your 18 stitches have moved from the left needle to your right needle.

Now turn the needle in our right hand around and place it in your left hand.

Repeat from the * above. This is very basic knitting. It will produce a little swatch or sample of stitches.
After a few rows you should be able to see them and understand better what you are doing.

I suggest a scarf as a first project. It is simple and they work up quick. You can make it as long as you want. 

For the purposes of a beginner trying to master new skills this might be the time to also learn a few of the next skills needed to have a full range of knowledge to knit anything from hats to sweaters and socks.
Let’s Purl!

On the next row of your now swatch or about 8 rows in when you switch the needles bring the yarn to the front of your work. 

Insert the right needle into the front of the first stitch. Grab the yarn there and pull it through as usual. This might be a tad tricky but take your time.

Repeat. You are purling. Knit stitches make V’s that lay flat. Purl stitches make wavy bumps ~. 

They are the reverse of each other so sometimes knitting is thought of as the front of work and purling the back. 

When you knit every row there is no noticeable front or back. Different people like the look of all these variations and more. 

You have seen what we call ribbing, a mixture of the two stitches facing the same way in a piece of fabric. Most often used on cuffs, bottom or top edges of garments and hats.

That will be our 3rd adventure if there is time in our session together. Meanwhile you are purling about 8 rows to get a feel for it. Assess yourself at the end of these 16 rows. Assess your work. How does it look and how do you feel?

Are you making a lot of mistakes? Are there any random holes in your work? How are your edges?

Answering these questions will tell us what we need to work on next. What other things do you want to learn how to do? 



Knitting in the round

Aran patterns

What are you finding most challenging? 

How to hold the yarn? Knitting? Purling?