Tuesday, February 09, 2016

I Love Your Blog: Jasmin Charlotte

One of my favourite things to do here on the blog is share some of my favourite bloggers with you.  The I Love Your Blog series gives me a chance to do this and to celebrate some of the people whose writing I go back to again and again.  There are so many wonderful writers and bloggers out there - I love being able to feature them here.

A blogger I am so fond of (and who I'm lucky enough to see in real life often as we both live and work in London) is the marvellous Jasmin Charlotte.  Funny, intelligent and kind, I love reading Jasmin's blog for great posts on the city, fantastic travel pieces, and amazing tech tips (bow down, all).  I was so please she agreed to take part in I Love Your Blog, and hope you enjoy her answers below!

Pictures used in this post kindly provided by Jasmin Charlotte

How long have you been blogging?

Almost 2 years! Well 2 years in April. I only really discovered blogging a few months before I started. I wish I had found and started earlier as I love it so much!

What do you blog about?  Do you have a specific goal with your blog (i.e. reviewing products, promoting a business, transitioning into a writing / media / digital career), or is it more a record of your life?

The general gist is ‘Lifestyle, Travel and Tech’, the blog is very much just a record of what I’m up to, things on my mind and things I find interesting. I find it a really rewarding hobby, in terms of connecting with others and even making a whole host of friends (like the lovely Claire! - you're too kind, Jas!). However, I think if I had to write for a living I would soon get unmotivated so I’m very happy to keep it as a hobby!

What is your favourite thing about blogging?

I think it’s connecting to a whole host of other people! London, despite being a huge metropolis can actually be a really lonely place. A lot of the people who live here are very busy and it can be really hard to make friends, especially when I first moved. Blogging gave me the opportunity to connect with other Londoners, not only just by reading their blogs but also by meeting them!

Outside of that, my favourite thing about blogging is having that creative outlet. I work in business and tech so it’s nice to have something to balance that out with. I love thinking about content ideas and getting down to just writing a whole lot.

What is your least favourite thing about blogging?

On a pure blogging level, the thing I struggle with the most is photography! I’m definitely getting there but it is probably the main bit of blogging which really doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m always in awe of other people’s gorgeous images.

Speaking of others, I think another hard bit of blogging is comparison. Although I try very hard to never compare my space to others, sometimes it can happen and it can dishearten you. However, it’s just always so important to remember this is YOUR space, and you blog cause you love it, not because of the numbers or the stats!

Do you have any favourite posts on your blog – pieces you’re really proud of, which document something special, or which seemed to strike a chord with your readers?

I’ll pick a couple from my different sections –

Lifestyle – I recently wrote a post on just Accepting Yourself. Not only did it feel awesome to write but it really resonated with a lot of my readers!

Travel – My Scotland Series was a real highlight, mainly as I just loved the trip so much, reliving it was amazing!

Tech – My Bloggers Guide to SEO was definitely one I was proud of, those does need an update for 2016!

Whose blogs do you love?  I’m always looking for recommendations :) 

Ah so many! For travel I love Unlocking Kiki and Let Us Wanderlust, for food I love Rachel Phipps and Sophie Loves Food, for lifestyle, I love Sophie Cliff and Life Outside London.

You are so good at advice and tech tips for bloggers – what do you think have been the most useful posts/well-received posts you’ve written on this?

I think my Bloggers Guide to SEO which I did last year was probably one of the best received. I know SEO can be a bit complicated if you aren’t keen on tech so I tried my best to break it down into more manageable chunks.

More recently, I did a couple of posts on social media optimisation which were interesting to try to experiment with. My post on increasing my Instagram by 25% in one month was a popular one – they are simple tips but ones that totally work when you put them into practice. I also really liked my post on getting the most about scheduling tweets.

You are a whizz at social media; do you have a favourite platform, or one you’re aiming to use more?

Out of all the platforms, I think twitter is probably my favourite! Mainly because you can have a good conversation with people and you can get a good lot of referrals to the blog relatively easily. I tend to be more of a word-y person and I like that you can quickly share updates without having to put a whole load of thought into it.

One that I’m aiming to use more is definitely Pinterest. I have declared 2016 the year of Pinterest! It is a platform I didn’t really use, but I’m starting to get a lot more into it. So many bloggers rave about how it can do wonders for blog traffic so we will see if that happens!

I adore your travel posts – where are your favourite places to visit/holiday?

Travel is a huge thing for me, I am a total addict!! It’s hard to pick a favourite place as I’m always looking for a new city or country to explore. If we narrow it down to the past couple of years, then I’d say my favourite places have been my road trip around Scotland last year, which reminded me so much of home in New Zealand. I loved seeing Loch Lomond, driving through Glencoe and ending up at the Isle of Skye. It’s an area of the world I can’t wait to go back to.

The other spot which was pretty idyllic was Gran Canaria – I really didn’t expect much from the holiday which I went on with my whole family but it turned out to be an amazing island, completely full of hidden gems. It’s nice to know there is a gorgeous island only an Easyjet flight away!

What tips do you have for bloggers growing and nurturing their blogs?

I think it’s important to find your balance of consistency, but not just writing because you feel you need to. It’s key to post regularly, whether than be daily, weekly or monthly, but if you are only posting something for the sake of it, putting out something which may not be of your usual quality will probably hurt more than just being consistent. This took me awhile to figure this out myself!

Otherwise, I think it’s about thinking of your goals and taking small steps to get there. If you want to grow your following, focus on a couple of social media platforms and see if you can grow on there. If you want to increase engagement then get chatting and sharing with other bloggers. There are so many great blogs out there sharing blogging tips and advice, I think some are really handy for when you need to focus in on where you want your blog to go!

Thank you so much for taking part in this series, Jasmin.  I *loved* reading your answers!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Flipping out for perfect pancakes

On Tuesday, it's Shrove Tuesday, or as we have it affectionately on these shores, 'Pancake Day'.  An early Easter has the fun of Pancake Day and the start of Lent very early in 2016 - it feels like a hop,skip and jump we were all getting back into the swing of things post-New Year's!

I love Pancake Day.  There's something so fun and festive about having breakfastey-dessert foods for dinner.  I'm aware of the many delicious and tasty savoury options available for pancakes and crepes, but in the Thornley household growing up, it was always yummy, sweeter options on Pancake Day.  We liked to prep for Lent with a bit of a sugar high!

My mum is great at making pancakes - she'd make stacks and stacks of them to enjoy for tea, smothered with lemon and sugar; or if we were really good laden with chocolate sauce and topped with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.  We'd have the thinner, crepes style pancakes, rolled up and light, as opposed to the big, fluffy American style pancakes.

As I grew up and set up my own home, I tried to emulate mum's pancakes, but I could never get it quite right...all too often I'd give up, and have a little subconscious sadness (nothing major, I'm aware this is very much a first world problem!) that I couldn't make the same pancakes for Matthew and me.  When I did try the result was all too often lumpy, stodgy pancakes and a smoke alarm blaring....

Flash forward to last week, when the folk at Debenhams asked if I might like to try out a crepe maker from Breville.  With a little trepidation, and imagined smoke alarms beeping in my head, I said "Yes, please," and prepped to meet my pancakey nemesis again.  Would this time be different?

The team from Debenhams sent me a crepe maker, and some super cute items from the Ashley Thomas range too (love Ashley, her homewares are gorgeous!).  

I love that it comes with a little stick, just like a proper crepe making chef would use!

Love these bright and busy accessories - I already had a flour shaker so I filled this with sugar for sprinkling!

I checked my recipe (I used this BBC one), put a little butter on the crepe maker, and switched the crepe maker on.... My first effort was a little off (I think it was just a matter of grasping how much batter to ladel on to the cooking surface!), but by the second one I was feeling in control and pretty darn happy.  My efforts looked like pancakes - just like mum's, in fact!  As I made each one I transferred them over to a heated plate in the oven, ahead of serving.

The finished article, laden with fresh lemon juice and sprinkled with sugar.  What a treat!  I'm now mega excited to try some more ambitious variants on Tuesday - I'm thinking chicken and spinach crepes to begin, then s'mores style crepes for afters?  I'm thrilled that I'll be able to make us pancakes that are actual pancakes, and so excited to try out new recipes.  I'd heartily recommend this gadget - if it can help me with my sorry prior attempts, it's going to help anyone!  I'm also intrigued to try other things using the gizmo - griddling peppers or making omlettes, perhaps?

Will you be enjoying pancakes on Tuesday?  What's your favourite topping?

Note: I was gifted this crepe maker and the Ashley Thomas kitchenware by Debenhams (thank you!).  All opinions, stories, ramblings and evangelical endorsements of gadgets are my own :)

PS The box is also kitty approved for sits.  Poppet makes me laugh!

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About Me

I believe in 80s pop, 90s teen movies, and proper thank you notes. I just like smiling...smiling's my favourite.

I write here about London, food, books & travel, and a lot more besides. I'm never happier than when having adventures, cooking for friends, or lost in a good book.

Upcoming Travels

  • March 2016 - Aberdeen
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  • September 2016 - New York
  • September 2016 - Boston
  • September 2016 - Toronto
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