Blogiversary Special: What’s New + Blog Goals

What's New + Blog Goals

In the final installment of our BLOGIVERSARY WEEK I wanted to up date you on a few changes at Captain America & His English Rose.

After a whole year of blogging, there are a few things I have been able to introduce

Firstly, we now have ADVERTISING SPACE available!

Large Advertising Space – 300px wide x 200px high – $15

 

Advertise Here

 Small Advertising Space – 150px x 150px – $7.50

 

Advertise here 2

All advertisements will run for 30 days. All payments will be made securely through Paypal.  No Paypal account required to make payments.

 

If you would like to advertise here, follow the link Advertise With Us

 

Secondly, we now have INDEXING so it is much easier to find all your favorite recipes and articles.

I have been wanting to add these for some time but it takes so much time – I finally was able to do it and now you can navigate your way around the blog in a much simpler way.

We have sections for Recipes, a Faith & Ministry section so you can hear more about our International Missions and New Nation Church International – the ministry Captain America is the Apostle over.

Thirdly, we have the opportunity to sign up for EMAIL UPDATES

If you sign up below you can receive an update via email 3 times a week – so you never miss a post.

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There is nothing like reviewing the past year’s blogging to get you thinking about what my blog goals are for this coming year!

I know most people write their goals at the beginning of the calendar year, but for me this week marks an important landmark in blogging…..so what better time to do it than now…..so in case you are interested

Here are my Blog Goals for this year:

1) Make enough money to renew my domain name in a months time 😉

2) Make more money

3) Attend a blogging conference 

4) Travel internationally to extend that part of the blog

5) Get 20,000 pageviews per month…..or more

6) Learn more about HTML, and all the other blogging terms I don’t really understand

7) Become more creative and diversify my blogging niche

8) Talk more about my faith on the blog

9) Gain more social media followers and learn how to use that to grow the blog

10) Understand Twitter….I still have no idea what it really is and why it’s important! LOL!

10 Myths About Bloggers-Demystified

10 Blogger Myths

Continuing our Blogiversary Week Series, I wanted to burst a few bubbles when it comes to bloggers and blogging!

Since I started blogging a year ago, I have had many conversations with people trying to explain what it is I actually do! I have discovered it is nearly impossible to describe to people, even Captain America only has a vague idea of what I actually do!

So for all you wannabe bloggers, skeptics, cynics, critics and fellow bloggers – here is my 10 Myths About Bloggers – Demystified!

Enjoy!

1) We are technologically minded….naturally

technology

We are not!  Well many of us are not!  I have learned so much over this past year about all aspects to do with blogging – from photography, editing programs, WordPress, writing code, social media and advertising.  I couldn’t do any of it, and still barely a day goes by when I don’t discover something new and think “how have I never figured that out before?”.  I work on the theory if I cannot ‘google’ the answer, and undertsand what I find then I won’t be able to figure it out.

2) We are well dressed in the latest fashions

fashion

HA! This is hilarious and couldn’t be further from the truth! Case point – it is nearly 2pm and I am still in my pj’s and I haven’t moved from my spot at the dining table (AKA Blogging Central) since 9am this morning….except to pee and get more coffee! This happens far too often, I am embarrassed to admit! I am far from up-to-date with all things fashion….in fact my version of ‘fashion’ since I started blogging is making it to the shower before 4pm, getting out of pj’s into sweatpants and putting my hair in a top knot……I am delighted that there is now live webcam feed on my computer!

3) We live in spotlessly clean perfect houses

dream home 2

Firstly, we live in a 900 square-foot apartment, not a perfect house decked out in the latest fabrics and decor that I personally handcrafted from sticks and thread using only a glue gun with one hand tied behind my back! I haven’t made a single thing in our house…..except a mess!

Secondly, I HATE cleaning, I do it because I have to, as quickly and as efficiently as possible.  I do not have a cleaning chart, or my own set of personalised all-natural, home-made, environmentally friendly cleaners and we cannot afford a cleaner (much to my dismay)! To read more about my dislike for cleaning and my ‘perfect’ solutions, CLICK HERE

4) We make home-made, allergen-free food from scratch for every meal without even breaking a sweat.

Oh if only this were true! Yes, I make as much home-made food as possible, but mainly because Captain America and I love cooking.  All the recipes you see on the blog are what we actually eat, we cook to eat not cook to blog! I don’t have the time or the patience (or any desire) to present to you some perfect recipe that I have spent months perfecting and refining…..you get it ‘hot off the press’ raw and real, with mistakes and errors.   I choose to do it that way because I am not an expert and neither are most of you so this way we are all starting from the same point, working toward the same goal, and hopefully if I make a mistake along the way I can save you from the humiliation.

I have made two gluten-free recipes in my life and they are the only ones I can make!

I have a series of cooking and baking disasters that I have shared with you, for example, The Cataldo Pie Escapade & Part Two and don’t even get me started on the Cheesecake I made last week (coming soon on the blog) which not only cracked but resulted in it being nicknamed “The Grand Canyon Dessert”….it tasted delicious but looked like a hot mess – but I will still share it as the taste is the most important thing after all!

5) We have lots of spare time

time flies

LOL! Not at all!  I don’t think bloggers know what spare time is!  The reason for this is that there is always something else you could be doing to improve your blog, social media presence, earnings etc……I have a to-do list as long as my arm, most of which I have never even attempted to start as I am too busy doing everything else.  I do not have another job (currently) and I don’t have any children – how people balanced being a wife, parent and any other work as well as blogging is beyond me! There are just not enough hours in the day! See #8

6) We make lots of money

money

To date I have made $30.28. That’s the worst rate of return EVER! I have worked on average 6 hours a day, 6 days a week for one year!  Don’t blog for money – it takes a lot to make even minimum wage!

7) We are very creative

Not really – many bloggers are incredibly creative….but I am not one of them. I have some creative elements, but to me REAL creativity comes from making something from scratch – I am more of a look around for ideas, which gets me thinking and then I adapt the idea, work on it and make it my own!  Where I borrow someone else’s idea I give them the credit – because they deserve it more than me! We are in this together after all!

8) We get everything right first time

Todd Collage

This photograph montage above proves that this is not the case!  I have a really fancy camera that I know about 5% of the functions of….therefore to get a photograph I want can take quite a few attempts.  This is just a few (no really there were so many more) of the photographs I took to get the photo at the end that I used in one blog post…..just one! Poor Captain America sat VERY patiently as I took tons of pictures to get the lighting, background and effects correct.  This was late on a Friday evening, we were both exhausted and easily irritated! Praise God we survived without killing each other or giving up!

9) We find blogging easy

NOT AT ALL see #8 and #1 and #4! Nothing about blogging is easy!  It takes way more hours than it should, patience, expertise, creativity, knowledge and so much more! To find out more about this read, 10 Things I Wish I Had Known.

10) We think we have something invaluable that the world needs to hear

womanI would not presume to be so arrogant.  I am amazed that ANYONE reads my blog to be honest!  I don’t think I have very much of interest to say, so it’s nice to discover that there are people out there who disagree with me and actually read the blog and make the recipes, and comment and find inspiration!  I love that you, the readers, give me permission to continue in my little piece of the internet.  It is an honor and a blessing.  Thank you!

 

Celebrate our Blogiversary week with us by entering our BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY, click the banner below to enter:

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10 Things I Wish I Had Known

10 Things I Wish I Had Known

To celebrate our Blogiversary  this week I am writing a series of special posts about blogging.

This post is about the things I wish I had known BEFORE I started blogging.

If you are a blogger then hopefully this will give you a laugh, some advice and some sympathy.  If you are considering starting a blog, read this carefully and take it all in……and then start a blog anyway!

Here are my Top 10 Things I Wish I Had Known:

1) What I was getting into

One year ago I didn’t even know what a blog was! I’m serious!  I had read a few, but was by no means an avid blog follower.  I didn’t even know HOW to start writing a blog…I literally Googled it! I was a bored housewife, sat at home all day, newly married, in a new area, away from my friends and former volunteer work, waiting for my visa process to complete so I could legally work.  Captain America was out at work all day and I was going crazy in our 900 square-foot apartment.

Months earlier, a friend had suggested I start a blog, and I laughed at her saying “I don’t write status updates on Facebook because I have nothing interesting to say, why would I write a blog!”.  Somewhere that thought had lodged itself, and I was reminded of it, so then I looked into it….for all of 10 seconds (I am not the researching, patient kind!) Here was a window of opportunity stupidity, and I was going to take it!

I literally had NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING and so began the constant, uphill struggle of learning to blog!

2) How much time it would take?

time flies

At first, this didn’t matter at all…….remember I was bored out of my mind so I didn’t care that it took me 2 hours to write one blog post or that I would lose at least 4 hours trying to figure out how to move one box or format one picture – time was flying by and I was happy and busy!

Fast forward a few months and now I am hooked, I love it! I’m seeing more and more readers each day, I remember the day my first post hit 50 views (I was so proud!) and I was learning new and exciting things each day! So we bought our domain name and signed up for self-hosting (way before I should or needed to btw!), I moved the blog to WordPress and now I was spending 8+ hours a day designing, learning HTML, googling EVERYTHING I didn’t know how to do, and only understanding about 10% of anything I read – which lead to horrible back and neck pain, hours and hours of frustration, hitting my head against any and every technological brick wall, eye-strain, feeling like a failure, and to top it off I gained weight because I was sitting ALL DAY!

HOW MY BLOGGING BUBBLE BURST…….but you see I also have a stubborn side and I was determined to keep moving forward!

3) What HTML, SEO and widgets are?

I would tell you….but I still don’t really know!  I think my SEO is average-ish, but like everything to do wiiht blogging there is always room for improvement! I can edit some HTML but only if I know EXACTLY what to write and where to insert it in the code, or I can find someone else online to show me how, and widgets are really cool and do lots of fun stuff to make your blog look better and become more user friendly.

4) That I was a writer

Writing Tools

Many people start blogging as an outlet for their ‘writing bug’.  As we have well established, I did not have that bug – at all!  I still don’t really consider myself ‘A Writer’, but many people have told me that I am skilled at it and can convey who I really am in my writing – which is important to me.  This blog is about my life after all – so it should be my voice!

I have also come to appreciate the value in having ‘a voice’, however small it may be – it gives me a chance to share what I believe is important and give a voice to the things that need to be heard.  I greatly value that opportunity and do not take it lightly.

5) A Growing Social Media Presence: How it works and Why it is important

growing social media

Social Media Presence is as obnoxious as it sounds!  There I said it! In order to have a ‘successful’ blog I have to have a good and growing social media presence, which means that a Facebook Page, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Google + accounts are a minimum. Instagram is good if you use a lot of pictures and Bloglovin is the new blog ‘Reader’ so you need an account there too.  There are literally hundreds of other social media sites that people use, and new ones being developed everyday, each one claiming to be “the one you need”.

Not only do you have to have these accounts but you have to use them regularly, more than once a day, ideally every few hours.  Then you have to learn how to optimize your use of all of these sites, each has their own systems which change frequently, you have to keep up to date with all the changes, understand how and why they work and use them to your advantage!  I have now discovered that there is a blogging world just designed for this alone, along with many ‘social media specialists’ who help/advise/confuse you.

I do not do this….I have accounts, I understand about 10% of their capacity at best, I do not use any of them to the best of my ability, if I think about any of them for too long I get overwhelmed and want to hide!

I still don’t understand Twitter and I don’t think I ever will!

I have drawn a line with social media for my own sanity, I choose to ignore most of it most of the time – and I am happy with that even if it means I will never have the world’s most successful blog!

6) Pinterest – it’s so much more than a dream board!

Pinterest

Pinterest is the only social media that I have actually found useful.  For the first few months I didn’t understand why I kept finding articles written by other bloggers saying that Pinterest was the most important social media site you could have.  They were telling me Pinterest will “drive traffic” to your blog and how I needed to pay close attention to it.  I didn’t understand.  When I pinned blog pictures nothing happened, I would gain a few pageviews, but that was it.  I would repin other people’s pictures and they would be repinned hundreds of times…..but not my pictures 😦 Then, another blogger pinned one of my pictures – I had the highest number of pageviews ever on my blog, in fact that recipe is in my Top 5 Blog Posts BECAUSE OF THAT REPIN it still drives traffic DAILY to my blog because it has been repinned so many times.

Let me explain: When a picture is posted on Pinterest from your blog, it creates a link.  If someone then sees that picture, and repins it, it creates a second version of that picture but keeps the link to your blog, now there are two versions of that picture going around Pinterest for people to see and repin.  Every time someone clicks on any one of those two pictures they come direct to that page on your blog, creating ‘traffic’ and pageviews.

7) What “Driving Traffic” really means?

driving traffic

Driving Traffic has nothing to do with cars! It is about using that wonderful social media presence you have created to ‘make’ people come and look at your site.  It’s important and yet you can’t really control it – whatever any social media expert may tell you!

8) That I have been on the biggest uphill learning curve ever!

graph uphill

Blogging is hands down the biggest uphill learning curve I have ever been on!  There is not a week (or day) that goes by that I don’t discover something new, or something I should be doing.  I didn’t realize how much I knew about blogging until recently when we had a handover meeting with our church website designer – I was the only one in the room who knew what he as talking about.  I must admit that made me feel better about all this time and effort I have put into the blog this past year.

9) Comparison is you best friend and worst enemy

Don’t compare your blog!  This is almost impossible to do, but try or it will destroy you!

I can’t look at another blog and wonder why they have this much advertising, or why their blog is seemingly more successful than mine.  My blog is my blog and your blog is your blog!  Yes, I can take tips and advice and learn from other more experienced bloggers – that has been invaluable to me and something I strongly recommend you do. However, I have to set boundaries for myself – if your blog is growing (even slightly) you are doing a great thing!

10) That it is satisfying, rewarding and beneficial

Having said all of that……I LOVE IT!  I have made ‘blogging friends’ (something Captain America laughs at all the time), I have networks of other bloggers who I can talk to and get advice from.  I have made some money from it……very little, but some.  I have some fabulous comments on posts I have written, people share their hearts and lives with me and I with them.  I have a space to speak into about the things that matter to me.  I have an outlet for my creativity.  I am now more tech-y than I ever thought possible.  I have a growing blog, something I created from scratch that evolves and develops and changes. I have something to be proud of.

There is a reason I am celebrating making it to one year of blogging, it is a landmark, a thing to be celebrated!

Celebrate with us by entering our BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY, click the banner below to enter:

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Blogiversary: Our First Year!

blog turns 1

Well what a year it has been!

I must say I am amazed by how much the blog has grown, and which posts have had the most views!

We just hit 10,000 pageviews this past month, something I have been aiming for so I was delighted to make it just before the 1 year mark!

We average around 7,500 unique visitors each month.

We also have a active social media presence:

900+ Facebook

1,000 + Twitter

1,300 + Pinterest Followers

700+ Google +

Blogiversary Crazy Faces

I spend an average of 4 hours per day working on the blog, some days I have spent about 9 hours on it and some I have’t done a thing! Captain America is always reminding me that I actually work on it much more than I realize because the social media side takes up so much time!

I don’t write this to boast, but rather to celebrate the achievement.  Blogging is such a lot of work, and such a time commitment….if nothing else this serves as a helpful reminder to me that it is worth while! Continue reading

Our First Blogiversary + Giveaway


blog turns 1

Today is our FIRST BLOGIVERSARY!

I cannot believe that we have been blogging for one whole year TODAY!

How time flies!

It has been a crazy year, with the biggest uphill learning curve EVER, it’s been tough, challenging, rewarding and such a blessing to share this little piece of the internet with you all!  To thank you for your continued support and love I have a real treat for you!

This week we have a series of special posts to celebrate this incredible landmark – and we are kicking off with a giveaway to beat all giveaways!

Blogiversary Giveaway Banner

We are so honored to be able to partner with all these wonderful, talented and creative ladies who have donated some incredible prizes for ONE LUCKY WINNER!

Below are the details of each part of the one prize, including a little information about each lady, who she is and what she does.  Please take a moment to show them some love by visiting their blogs, shops and websites – I promise you won’t be disappointed as these are some of the best of the best!

To enter: Complete as many entries on the Rafflecopter link as you wish – it’s at the end of this post then on Sunday February 9th ONE WINNER will be selected at random and notified via email.

Now let’s get on with this giveaway…….read on to find out more about the wonderful prize you could win! Continue reading

Coffee Date

Coffee Date

It’s a Christmas Miracle! I did a Coffee Date Vlog!!!

Thank you so much for your patience over the past few weeks as i just have not had the time to do a vlog for Coffee Date – however yesterday afternoon I found myself with 15 minutes to spare, dressed, hair straightened and make-up done (ready for an early family Christmas dinner later that night) and thought I should make you a quick vlog.

Apologies if I ramble, I realize that “I’m really excited” is my favorite phrase….but hey…a vlog you want so a vlog you got!

Enjoy!

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Coffee Date – 200th Post

photo 2_01

If we were having coffee today I would tell you that:

Today is supposed to be our weekly vlog Coffee Date – however I just didn’t have time today to make and edit the video……so I am afraid we are back to the good old fashioned written word!!

This is my 200th post since I started blogging on February 1st!

I couldn’t believe it when I saw the number!  I dread to think how many words that must have been!! Thanks to those of you who are regular readers, we really appreciate your support, we couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you! 

It has been a crazy crazy couple of weeks, with so much happening, above and beyond the scheduled stuff so it has been a real challenge to keep up.

Last weekend we decided to launch a Holiday Bake Sale Fundraiser, which involved a lot of preparation work, including a last minute baking day on Saturday to get some samples ready to sell at an event on Saturday night.  It went really well, and we raised $115, which isn’t bad for a last minute attempt.

We have since received a few orders – enough to make it worth our while , but not too many to make it overwhelming!  We are thinking this will become at least an annual thing for our church to fundraise, especially seeing as we have so many talented bakers at church.

We are still forging ahead with our plans for our Mission Trip to the UK and East Africa.  The fundraising is slow but steady – but we are still a long way off our $18,000 total.

If we were meeting today, I would tell you the sad news that on Sunday, Captain America’s Nana had a stroke and was rushed into hospital.  We knew it was serious and were told that she would not recover.  As a family we did what we could to make her last few days as comfortable as possible.  She passed away early on Wednesday morning. Many of her family got to see her, Captain America and I were able to visit her every day.  On Sunday evening she was responsive and talking, although it was very slurred, and still making jokes with us all.  We got to tell her we loved her.  The next few days she gradually got less responsive but remained peaceful and comfortable.

Today is her funeral, where we get to celebrate her 99 wonderful years on this earth, knowing that she is now rejoicing with her Savior in Heaven.

Next week, we will be in Las Vegas on a family Thanksgiving getaway – so there will not be a Coffee Date 😦  However, I promise to do one the following week to make up for it!

In the meantime, have a fabulous Thanksgiving week, and come back on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for some last minute AMAZING Thanksgiving recipes in a special round up I am doing! I have gathered recipes from the best Food Bloggers, so this can be your one-stop go-to for all you Thanksgiving recipes!

 

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ONLY 27 DAYS TO GO, we have raised 14% of our $18,000 total!

To give to our East Africa Missions Fund – click the picture below:

Africa Mission Blog Button LARGE

You will be redirected to a secure giving site, Mogiv.

Simply create an account and donate!

 

21 Graces During 31 Days {Day 19}

21 Graces During 31 Days

For our regular readers, by now I’m sure you are very familiar with our 21 Graces weekly article. For the month of October we have moved 21 Graces to a Saturday as part of or 31 Days series.

For the rest of the articles on our 31 Day Series – Walking Out A Leap Of Faith, click HERE

If you are new to the blog, or if you are joining us for 31 Days Series: Walking Out A Leap Of Faith – you can find out more about 21 Graces here: 21 Graces – Introduction

Here is this week’s 21 Graces:

Week Twenty One – 10/19/2013

1) Breakfast and Pedicures with my BFF on her birthday

2) Dinner with a dear friend – catching up!

3) Finding our dream house……..now all we need is the deposit and a monthly income 😉

4) Visiting my old church and seeing lots of friends….filled up my love tank!

5) Finding inspiration for a blog post in the 15 minute window of time I had available

6) An hour long massage……for free!

7) A conversation with Captain America about our marriage (thanks to a study we are doing!) that didn’t result in an argument and encouraged us both 🙂

8) Our Married Couples Small Group!

9) Being blessed by some young people who drove a 4-hour round trip to prophecy and minister in my Prophecy Class

10) One of our church members getting healed after being prayed for by the aforementioned young people!

11) Hearing lots of positive feedback about my very first printable

12) Being a part of a Christian Blogging Group – they are wonderful, encouraging and uplifting!

13) Being inspired by some of my closest friends

14) Making Butternut Squash soup – even if it is 80°F outside

15) Getting lots done and being efficient with my time – it always makes me happy

16) Being blessed with a cheap, yet wonderful accommodation option for our 1st Anniversary in a couple of weeks!!

17) Finding out we are going on vacation for Thanksgiving with family 🙂

18) Pumpkin Patch visit

19) Date Day with Captain America

20) Carved my very first Jack O Lantern!!

21) Launched our first fundraising campaign for our mission trip to East Africa!