4 Phases Every Blogger Experiences

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I’m definitely in this train of thought, it’s much harder than one would think!

A Collection of Musings

Before my first post, I thought writing was all you needed to do to run a blog. Perhaps it is enough to run a blog, but it’s certainly not enough to run a successful blog. If you write more than 2 blog posts you will almost definitely enter phase 1.

Phase 1
It turns out it is no fun writing if there is nobody to read what you are saying. So you work on getting followers. You tell your friends. Some of them start reading your blog. Some of them wish they could have a conversation without you bringing up ‘that damn blog’. And others ask you about it regularly, but never actually read it.

misspell-stages

Phase 2
Eventually you run out of friends to promote your blog to and you focus on finding strangers to read your work. Perhaps you start to follow other blogs and find like-minded bloggers. Or…

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Rebecca – The Modern Gothic?

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So I’ve just finished Pandemonium, but I’m not ready to air my views on it yet. I am going to read the final installment of the series and then approach them together, hopefully that way I will be more excited about the prospect.

Anyway, I recently read Rebecca, which is the favorite of a family friend who is into anything Stephen King and scary, and that’s not my usual cup of tea. But I like to go back and read some classics every once in a while and make myself feel sophisticated so I thought, “why not?” And you know what, it was amazing! I read it in the fast paced way I read the dystopians I love to get all nerdy about.

Afterwards when I was thinking about why I read it that fast I couldn’t really figure out why, it was not full of a ton of action, the protagonist, who remains nameless, wasn’t all that assertive, but I kept reading because I had to know what was going to happen. Who was Rebecca, what was she really like, how was she haunting the new wife and the house? And that is the masterpiece that is Rebecca. The writing is amazing, even though it was written in the early twentieth century it’s easy to follow and I think its general creepiness is something that still makes it applicable.

Also, unlike spoofs on the classic Gothic, like Northanger Abbey (which I also love, because, I mean its Austen) it’s able to modernize the traditional interpretations of the Gothic theme. Our female protagonist is still insecure, a bit naive, and has the familiar attitude of expecting the worst. However, she is smart and eventually finds her voice, the husband turns out to be someone we hoped he would but expected he wasn’t, and Rebecca turns out to be the bitch we all hoped she would prove to be. And even though the vast majority of the book doesn’t give us adrenalin pumping action scenes or epic romances that have to fight for themselves and the betterment of the world, we get these incredibly written characters, vivid imagery, and the lasting question when we read the last page of “what was Rebecca doing exactly?”

So even if you don’t normally go for the Gothics, or the classics, you definitely need to give Rebecca a shot, it didn’t win best book of the century for nothing!

 

 

Delirium . . . Maybe I could have skipped this one

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So to begin my “research,” or Dystopian binge (I’m going to have to throw in some classics/non-fiction to break these up and make me feel like a sophisticated grown up) I chose the Delirium Series by Lauren Oliver. Some of my friends have read it but it didn’t really sound like my thing, a little too heavy on the romance and a little lacking on the action and bigger picture. I read the synopsis for Oliver’s upcoming Panic though, which sounds pretty good, and figured I should familiarize myself with her other stuff first.

So I finished Delirium last night, and honestly I was kind of bored. I think it was important not to have Lena do a 180 right after she and Alex get involved and forget the upbringing she had and the fears and whatnot, but I was sill not super invested until about the last 8 chapters. And I hope the twist with her mom actually comes up with something because I’m not too sure how I feel about that either. It just wasn’t exciting. I do really like the characters though, and thats what kept me going. Hana, the non-rebellious rebel. Alex, the sensible rebel who’s also selfless and encouraging. And Lena, who has a lot of issues but who is still relatable and dosen’t come off as helpless because of all she struggles with.

That said, I’m interested to see how the rest of the series turns out. I accidentally read the first chapter of the last book (the one downside to the e-reader I’ve found so far), which then of course I had to read the last chapter to make sure the romance was properly resolved. Then I got back on track and read the first 2 chapters of Pandemonium, the second book,  which I think is going to bring in a lot more the of action I was missing in the first book.

Ultimately, I think the concept is an interesting one and even though the first book seemed a bit sappy to me, I mean what did I expect. It’s about a society that bans love, of course the main character is going to fall in love! There are hints at bigger issues though, government lies, how the lack of love results in indifference (good point Alex) and how thats even more dangerous that hate. I mean the poor neighbors dog! And the crypt goes against to many standards of human decency. With such potential, I’m really hoping the next two books satisfy my need for some more action, and give us some additional insight into whats going on in the big picture. Though from my slip up, I have the feeling a love triangle is about to bloom, but I think with the way the first book ended it can be done really well (not like some other books out there . . .), here’s for hoping!

Let the Research Begin!

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I guess I should start with the end results of my Cleanse though. I made it! and I lost 8 lbs on the way and I’m not craving chocolate, eating less, and most of the time just want veggies, so I guess we can safely call it a success!

Anyway, “Research.” I’ve had the notion to write, or attempt to write, a book! I like to call it monuments men meets dystopia, and I’ve been reading some books on writing books (is it just me or does anyone else think they are kind of ironic?) and a main point they come back with is to know your genre and read, read, read. Well that’s something I don’t have a problem with! I’m in the last phases of finishing my Master’s program paper so I have had some extra time to read and I’ve begun to delve into the YA dystopian/fantasy world head first. 

I raved about the Legend series a couple weeks ago, I’m an obvious fan of The Hunger Games, and found Divergent entertaining. I think The 5th Wave is amazing too and just reread it, can’t wait for the second one to come out in May! I’ve been trying to widen my scope though and abandon some of my preconceived notions about a lot of the other series. I’ve bought a few, a classic from my middle school days, The Giver, I just finished the Under the Never Sky series (better than I expected with a title like that) and I just started the Delirium series last night.

I’m trying to keep an open mind and learn from the books, what makes them popular, how fast the pace moves in each one, what makes it maintain its readers interest, etc. So, any recommendations or observations?

 

Healthy Chocolate Granita

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So I know living in Hawaii doesn’t give me much leeway to comment on the weather, especially with whats going on on the main land. But it’s been pretty gross here this week with days of heavy rain and low 70s weather mixed with sunshine and high 80s the next day, vog from the big island (it’s real I promise) making its way over, and all the general ickyness that accompanies all of that stuff. So being a main-lander and abnormally affected by the drastic weather shifts I’m feeling pretty gross today. I made myself a treat the other day that fits in with the clean eating cleanse I’m on right now and it’s definitely somethings that gives you the comfort of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s but doesn’t leave you feeling weighted down. Perfect with a cup of tea for uplifting the spirits or just a healthy dessert on an average day.

My Chocolate Granita combines almond milk, cocoa powder, and maple syrup (yes, only three ingredients!) to be scraped into tiny shards of chocolaty goodness. It’s light and airy and melts with a creamy texture giving you the satisfaction of a rich dessert without the calories.

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Here’s how i did it:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons all natural maple syrup (get the stuff from Vermont and you know it’s the real)

Mix all the ingredients together and rest in freezer until solid. When ready to serve let rest on the counter for a few minutes and use a fork to scrape the surface into crystals. Spoon into a bowl and enjoy!

Personally, I like to have mine with baked apple slices sprinkled in cinnamon, but its good on it’s own or with berries of your choice.

Cleanse Friendly Chocolate Fix

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Chocolate mini muffins

So it’s day two, and all I want to do is eat a loaf of bread!

It’s really not that bad. I woke up feeling great, tried some new ideas to make the shakes better with varying degrees of success (blueberries and a bit of cocoa powder seems to be the best so far) and didn’t have any cravings until after my small dinner while I finished my binge marathon of Downton Abbey season 4.

I Pintrested for dessert options, then saw a tortilla recipe that I almost tempted, but after seeing how labor intensive it was (I mean who really owns a tortilla press?) I decided to resort to my favorite TV Chef  Giada. In her new healthy cookbook I found a vegetarian, gluten free, dairy free recipe for chocolate muffins, that with little tweaking would fulfill the allowed foods on my cleanse list (For info on the cleanse check out my last post). The biggest issue I faced was the omission of eggs, which I left out completely. The maple syrup I replaced with molasses and nixed the chocolate chips all together. Overall, I got a dense chocolate bit that washed down with a glass of almond milk calmed my cravings for both chocolate and bread. I think it was a general success!

“Clean” mini chocolate muffins:

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. baking soada

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

2 eggs (if not omitting, they need a binder though so keep if you can)

1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1/4 cup molassess

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix all ingredients together until combined, scoop into lined mini muffin tin, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Let cool completely before eating.

Let’s Try This Healthy Thing

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Be Well Cleanse

So today marks day one of my two week cleanse. So far I’m not hungry so I think the main challenge will be the taste of the three shakes a day I have to drink. It’s not great. Actually, there isn’t much of a taste, but the slightly gritty texture gets me, especially once you reach the bottom of the glass.

After seeing a list of eight celeb endorsed cleanses on my Pintrest feed I decided to do some research. I wanted something fast, relatively easy and inexpensive, and would give my metabolism a kick-start.  I looked into them all, narrowed it down to about three, and chose the Be Well Cleanse, which gives you three shakes a day, two supplement packs, and allows you to eat two small meals based on the approved food list. The food list isn’t as bad as you would think allowing basically every fruit and vegetable, most meats and fish, brown rice and some other grains, beans, nuts, and some other things that I have never eaten before so don’t  care about.

I’m already going through carb withdraws though, and in order to prepare myself for these next two weeks I stopped drinking booze and coffee last week. And I really want them now, especially a glass of wine to help my analytical writing juices flow. Not too promising for day one right? Well I’m hoping that getting through the next couple days I will begin to have less cravings, which the cleanse disclaimer states is a long term benefit to the experience. It’s certainly not helping with my paper writing though as I feel extra tired today and just want to lay on the couch. The rainy day could also have something to do with this.

The price of the cleanse was also one of the best I saw. Many of the strictly juice cleanses were only available in certain locations, and the ones that do ship nation wide had to be overnighted, so you end up paying more for the shipping than the actual product! Anyway, the fact that I get to eat with this process was definitely a winning point, and I have even found some pretty appetizing recipes that fall into the OK list of foods, like this Red Lentil Soup.

Now it’s time for another shake, I tried mixing my last one with almond milk and it was a bit better, I think we’ll throw some blueberries into this one  . . .