29 March 2013

Lets talk... about comments

A few weeks ago in the #lbloggers chat, the subject of replying to comments came up and I was chatting to Becky, Kaz, Jenni and Louise about the 'best' way to reply to comments.  At the moment I reply to comments by email, its something that a few of my favourite bloggers do & I personally really love it. I always forget which blogs I've left comments on, and if I'm honest I don't have the time to go back and re-visit every old post I've commented on to see if someone's replied. So email is perfect for me, I can reply directly to the comment notification from my inbox and I know that it's going to be seen by whoever left it. I used to reply to comments on the blog, but I've found that an email is far more likely to get a conversation going than a reply to a comment. I don't think I ever had anyone reply to my response when I was answering comments/questions on here, but its a fairly regular occurrence by email.

The problem for me comes when people don't have their email accounts linked to their blogger profiles. I think a lot of the time this is unintentional - if I remember correctly its the 'default' setting, but someone else on the chat (I can't for the life of me remember who, sorry!) mentioned that they felt like replying by email would be a little too intrusive for them. It made me wonder if some people don't appreciate replies by email, and if some 'no-reply' bloggers have actively made the choice to not have their email address linked to their profiles. At the moment, I don't really have a set way of responding to these people - if I follow them on Twitter I tend to tweet them a response, or I'll pop over to their blog and leave a comment of my own. Which is fine, but Twitter can sometimes feel a bit restrictive on account of the character limit and I wonder if people remember the comment they've left when I visit their blogs.

I also worry that people might think that because they can't see my replies, that I'm not replying to things. I know once blogs start to get a bit more traffic then replying to every comment just becomes too time-consuming, but for me its one of the most enjoyable aspects of blogging & most of my 'blog friendships' have started with a conversation sparked from a comment.

So I'd really love to hear from you guys, because although this blog is only really a silly little place for me to write whatever - I really do appreciate every single comment left here (unless its 'follow me and I'll follow you' - they can sod off) and I want people to know that.  Sometimes people leave the most insightful, positive and supportive comments and silly as it may seem, words like that landing in my inbox really do put a smile on my face. The blogging community can be a beautiful, encouraging and supportive place and if there's anyway that I can help to promote and develop that here then I'm all for that.

So... how do you prefer to receive replies to comments? Do you ever check back for comments you've left on posts? How do you think the best way to get a real conversation going is? 

P.S If you're not sure what a 'no-reply blogger' is (or if you are one!) feel free to get in touch & I'll let you know!

P.P.S I hope you all have a great Easter weekend & enjoy the extra time off work!

25 March 2013

Monday Motivation: What drives you?

Light from Above Pine and clouds. Swim-spot Fog-light Mountain road.

These images are all taken from Brett Plank's photostream on Flickr, which is absolutely breathtaking. Many of them are taken in Kings Canyon National Park, California - somewhere I'm planning on heading on my mini-roadtrip around California. I'm inexplicably drawn to those mountains, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to visit them.

Photography drives me. I can't explain it and I'm not sure I'll ever be able to, but the art of painting pictures with light will probably always be my greatest passion. Its what I daydream about, read about, study when I'm not 'studying', wake up in the middle of the night thinking about. Probably 90% of the pictures that I take don't end up on here, this blog is more for memory-keeping than anything else. I can pour emotions into a photography like I can into nothing else. I am driven by the need to create, and for a long time I feel like I've been fighting myself over that. Refusing to recognise it - or acknowledge it, because it means that being truly happy means taking a different road to the one I'd planned out for myself. Figuring out what drives you can be a frustrating, painful and confusing experience - full of second guessing and self-doubt. That said, I genuinely think its worth it, to just know.

Pictures like this? They make me want to be better, want to learn more, shoot more, develop my style into something that's unique.  They push me to make myself the best photographer that I can be. They teach me that there's always more to learn. That improvements can always be made, and that nothing, ever, is truly mastered.

What drives you? Do you know? 

22 March 2013


Notice how clean he is BEFORE we go in the woods?
Notice what he looks like now?! 
We randomly found Alpaca's & Zak was curious.
This made me laugh hysterically, I'm not sure why? Reminded me of Charlies Angels.
 It scared the hell out of Zak and he legged it back to hide behind my legs... 
The creepiest fog rolled in which me and Meggie were out. It sparked a conversation about how I'm only every worried about weird and violent things when its foggy. I blame this book.

Walking over to the hospital every day to visit Nan

Thankful that she seems to be doing much better

Working on my last ever essay for a Geography module

Enjoying wanders through the woods with the little guy

Loving this video that Allie tweeted yesterday

Laughing at the Amazon reviews on this banana slicer 

Catching up with people I haven't seen in a while

Getting stuck in the mud on a photography jaunt with Meggie

Drinking home-made smoothie with my breakfast every morning

Daydreaming about this summer...100 days left until I get on that plane!

Spending my evenings reading on the sofa rather than on the internet - and loving it

Figuring out my California road trip & making lists of everything I want to see

Searching for the perfect recipe to make Mum a birthday cake (any suggestions?)

Looking forward to kicking back tonight with the copy of National Geographic that came yesterday (favourite magazine ever)

Eating baby spinach leaves with everything and discovering that spinach and scrambled egg is great in a wrap

Practising mindfulness and really noticing the difference it makes to my productivity 

Wondering who all the new people around here are? I'm so grateful that you want to follow along with this little blog, but I'd really love to know who you are! Introduce yourselves?

15 March 2013

And all I want to be is home

8 weeks = the time since I was last home. Maybe it doesn't sound like a lot, but I'm really looking forward to spending time with family & friends, soaking up sea air & taking long walks with the pup.

3 weeks = the time I'm going to have at home that's undoubtedly going to go far too quickly.

3.5 hours = my train journey tomorrow. Its supposed to be 5 but I'm meeting the rest of the family in a different town & getting a lift back.

3 = pieces of coursework to do over the 'holiday'.

1 = exam to revise for.

15 = hours left to pack... I'm trying to take as much stuff home as possible that I don't need to bring back, because I don't have a whole lot longer left in this place & I have a lot more than one car-full of stuff here!

70l = the size of my backpack. Its huge and when its packed up full it's high enough to reach my hips. Getting on the bus tomorrow morning is gonna be fun ;)

1 = bottles of cider drunk this evening.

1/2 = a giant portion of fish and chips consumed.

Hows your weekend looking? 

12 March 2013

Current favourites - According to iTunes

Music has been saving my sanity this week. I'm trying to get as much work as possible done before I go home for Easter (roll on Saturday!) so I've been clocking up hours sat at my desk. I've always had to slog it for my grades, which I don't mind too much, but I do get ridiculously a tiny bit  jealous of people who manage to get by with minimal work. I'm really funny about music when I'm working - sometimes I absolutely can't stand it, and other times I really need it to keep me focused. I'm really into mellowed out, guitary, folk-ish music at the moment (not sure if that's technically a genre) and it makes really good background music. I always find it really interesting/funny/embarrassing to look back on playlists of music that I was really into when I was younger, me and my brother used to burn our own CD's and give them completely ridiculous names. Now everything's digital I tend to delete playlists when I don't listen to them and I miss being able to look back over them. Guess that's one of the downsides, huh?
Anyway... back to the point of this post ;) According to iTunes these are my current favourites...

1// Bon Iver - Beth/Rest - for some reason this song reminds me of pine trees and rain, its good stuff.
2// The Paper Kites - Featherstone
3// Maroon 5 - Lucky Strike - bit of an odd one out! Not really sure why I love this so much...
4// Andrew Belle - The Ladder
5// Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Box of Stones
6// Iron & Wine - Boy With A Coin
7// Carrie Underwood - Blown Away
8// Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
9// Tyrone Wells - In Between The Lines
10// Of Monsters And Men - Dirty Paws - if you want to read something weird then google the lyrics... so odd!

I'm always on the hunt for new music - so if you've got any recommendations I'd love to hear them!

The plus side of desk-time? Sunsets like this...

11 March 2013

Monday Motivation: The Art of Non-Conformity

Last month one of my goals was to be more intentional with the media that I consume. To only spend my time on things that truly add value to my life - even if that value comes in the form of how hilarious I find videos of cats ringing doorbells... (Sidenote: have you seen this? ITS TRYING TO GET IN LIKE A PERSON) Back to the point though, when I set this I meant it to be mostly about the Internet - I wanted to spend less time aimlessly surfing, less time on the computer in general and more time doing things I really enjoyed. Like reading, for example.

Reading is something that I always find myself doing a lot less of when I'm at Uni - partly deliberately but mostly accidently. The thing is, when I get stuck into a really good book I become physically inseparable from said book/kindle until I've finished it. Which is rarely a good thing when I have work to do, because it goes something like this..."Hey look, time for a break - think I'll read a chapter of my book" then 4 hours later the book is finished and I've done no work. Or I force myself to wait until I go to bed and then spend all night reading. I just can't help it. Its a problem, okay? So I end up reading 'fluff' - books that I don't particularly dislike, I just don't like them enough to get really involved. But who wants to read a mediocre book? Not me. No siree. 

So in solution to the 'I want to read good books but I don't want to fail my degree either' dilemma, I've been reading quite a few non-fiction books recently. I don't get as 'involved' in them but I still really enjoy them & I get a lot out of them. On Saturday night I started reading 'The Art of Non-Conformity' by Chris Guillebeau,   I wasn't really too sure what to expect - I read Chris' blog because he's trying to visit every country in the world & I think that's a pretty amazing thing to do - but I didn't really have any idea of what the book was about. 

Turns out it is exactly what I need to be reading right now. This stuff is magic. I'm almost half-way through it & its been a real thought provoker. If you're a little unsure what you want to do with your life, if you're feeling like you're being pushed in all the wrong directions or you want to go in a completely unexpected direction but are worried about it then I really do recommend giving this a go. I'll probably (maybe) write about this again when I've finished it, but for now I'll leave you with my favourite passage so far...

"When you were a kid and wanted to do something your parents or teachers didn't like, you may have heard the question "If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would you?" The idea is that it's not good to do something stupid, even if everyone else is doing it. The logic is, Think for yourself instead of following the crowd. 

Its not bad advice, even if it's sometimes used to exert control more than to support independent thinking. But one day, you grow up and suddenly the tables are turned. People start expecting you to behave very much like they do. If you disagree and don't conform to their expectation, some of them get confused or irritated. It's almost as if they are asking: "Hey, everyone else is jumping off the bridge. Why aren't you?"

Motivation Mondays is a series where I share images, quotes, videos or whatever else I find that really gets my brain going and/or my creative juices flowing. Being on a motivation/inspiration high is such a beautiful feeling and I want to really push myself to discover it every. single. week.  Ideally every day, but no-one's that positive, right?! 

08 March 2013

March: goals

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Simple goals for March. Lately I've been feeling a little unmotivated and a lot overwhelmed. Due to a bit of a timetable mix up I wound up taking 40 credits last semester and 80 this semester, which is wonderful. I thought I was coping pretty well, until this week when all the coursework got set & I'm now wondering how on earth I'm going to get everything done. I know people always say that students 'have it easy', but I've been pulling 14 hour days this week and don't seem to be getting anywhere. So I guess March is going to be a lot about work, which also means I need to really make the effort to take care of myself.  I know that I work better when I remember to take the time off every now and again, but usually that doesn't end up happening...

Any of you have any advice about convincing yourself its okay not to work every hour you're awake? I could do with it! 

06 March 2013

A world bathed in gold

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Just a few snapshots from a walk I took on Saturday afternoon, I shared one of the pictures here, but thought I'd share a couple more today. As much as I love winter, I really can't wait for spring to get going. Feeling the sun on my face properly for the first time this year was magic. I'm looking forward to longer days, afternoons in beer gardens and not freezing my backside off every time I leave the house. Its crazy to think that it could soon be shorts weather - last year in March we had a BBQ in the back yard  and it was warm enough to eat lunch in the park sans-tights. Seems a world away from the heavy fog that's outside right now!

03 March 2013

Saturday snapshot

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8am - Tea & blogs in bed. 

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9am - Crocheting flowers & watching the news

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10am - Having the window wide open while I cleaned my room. Finally letting some warm(ish) fresh air into the house was so good.

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11am - I'm a huge fan of brunch. Fun fact... I eat eggs for breakfast pretty much every single day. 
I love them. 

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12pm - Trying to sort out colours for a blanket I've accidently started making...

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1pm - This was my view from my exhausted heap on the floor after I finished working out. 
Jillian Michaels is a killer!

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2pm - Tea & last months National Geographic. Mum brought it up with her last weekend and I've been holding on to it until I have time to read it properly!

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3pm - Hanging washing out, makes a change to be able to dry things outside! 

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4pm - More National Geographic. Its the only magazine I buy and I love it.

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5pm - Went for a wander right around golden hour & this was one of my favourites

It was a pretty chilled out Saturday, but one I really needed. I haven't felt 100% this week and taking some time 'off' was really good for me. I did do a couple of hours of Uni work in the evening, but quickly got distracted by Photoshop & my kindle. I've just started reading "The Old Man and the Sea" by Hemingway and I'm really enjoying it so far. 
I've never (successfully) done a 'photo an hour' before. Its quite difficult to (a) remember and (b) photograph whatever you happen to be doing at that time in a way that makes it look vaguely interesting. I'm making a big effort to push myself with photography at the moment so you might be seeing a couple more of these around! It sounds daft, but I really do find that it helps to try and photograph things that aren't typically photogenic - I think it gives you a better eye for what works and what doesn't, regardless of the subject. 

How was your weekend? Have you ever tried to do a photo an hour? Let me know! 

01 March 2013

Goals revisited: February

February, you're a short month but you seem to have lasted forever. Is it just me that thinks that? Quite a lot of goals this month, but I did pretty well (in my opinion). 

In February I chose to:

1. Stop biting my nails - I'm terrible for this. I do it without even realising. And yes, I know its disgusting, but its a hard habit to break. However... I actually have nails right now so I'm considering this a success. 

2. Eat clean - I had a bit of a blip in the middle of the month when large amounts of pizza was consumed (hi there Valentines day offers...) but overall I'm pretty pleased. My downfall is days when I get back late and I'm tired, because all I feel like cooking is pasta. 

3. Get back into running - I ran more in February than I did in January, but I wouldn't say that I'm back into a regular routine. I am loving the lighter mornings though, I can run really early before anyone else is awake & for some reason I really love that. 

4. Be more intentional with the media I consume - I'm making progress. This goal partly came from a desire to try and live more simply - to reduce the things in my life only to what's necessary and that I enjoy. Watching TV programmes just for the sake of it, or reading blog posts that have stacked up 'just to get through them' doesn't really fit with that. We don't have a TV license this year so I'm spending far less time watching programmes that I don't really have an interest in & I've had a big 'blog purge' so I'm only reading things that genuinely inspire me. I've found that I've had a lot more time for the things I want to spend my time on (like reading) and that can only be good. 

5. Simplicity - Simplicity isn't a goal that can ever be acheived (in my opinion) but its something I'm really striving to cultivate in my day-to-day life and I think I'm getting a little bit better at it all the time. 

6. To stay on top of lecture notes - Erm... to be fair,this was more of a conscious decision - I've decided to focus more on getting all the lecture reading done than writing my notes up. Have I kept up to date with reading? No. But I'm not far behind...

7. To get reading again - Oh yes! I've been making an effort to read for a bit every night before I go to bed. I'm deliberately not reading books I know I'm going to find really difficult to put down (because then I don't sleep...) but I've been using it as an opportunity to read things that are easy to pick up and put down. Is anyone actually interested in what I read? I don't want to bore you all to tears banging on about it, but I do really like books...

8. To take more pictures than I did in January - Mission accomplished. Partly due to a timelapse that took nearly 600 pictures to put together, but even excluding that I was up on January. 

Conclusion? Pretty damn good. 

Did any of you make February goals? What were they? How did you do? 

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