Last Month: January 2018

2/09/2018

There's a certain amount of irony in that last week I was posting about creating content in advance and the importance of a schedule, but this week I've missed two of my usual posting days because I failed to do what I suggested, and what I normally do.

I'm finishing this post late in the afternoon on a Thursday, with no plans of working on any other posts once this is done. I've got no intentions of stopping this blog - I'm happy with it, I love writing for it... but I'm just a little wrapped up in other projects right now, as you'll find out later in this post.

For now, here's a run down of things I've read, watched and enjoyed last month. It was a light reading month, a heavy watching month and a semi productive month on the writing front.

All Blue So Late: Poems

All Blue So Late, Laura Swearingen-Steadwell - So, when I read the first poem, I thought that I was going to love this. Unfortunately, the next didn't impress me. Or the one after that. Or after that. For such a strong start, I really didn't enjoy this poetry book.


The Last Ship Poster Man Down Poster Gavin & Stacey Poster Community Poster

The Last Ship - I love all things end of the world so this appealed to me as soon as I saw it on Stan. Combine that with the navy (thanks, NCIS, for that obsession), it even appealed to Neil. We powered through it and although I think they found the cure too early, overall I have zero complaints about this show. Plus, my favourite character didn't die until season 2, episode 11 (which was heartbreaking, of course, but a lot later than I thought it would happen).

Man Down - To counteract the doom and gloom of disease and war, we turned to Greg Davies. He makes a brilliant (miserable) teacher and the rest of the cast is just as great. My favourite character is Brian, a stickler for the rules type whose absolutely perfect in every way and I won't hear anything bad about him. I'm waiting for him to have his own spin-off, to be honest.

Gavin & Stacey - Somehow we managed to avoid this popular show when it was originally airing, but Stan has a wonderful 'every episode ever' section and we decided to give it a shot. I'm ashamed to say we somehow watched the whole series in two days? It's easy watching, what can I say, but christ, I cringed a lot. 'Well lush', lad culture that I don't understand and WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED ON THAT FISHING TRIP ANYWAY? 

Community - We actually watched the first 5 seasons two years ago (what a great week that was) but couldn't find season 6 until recently. We were reluctent to watch it anyway, having heard nothing but bad things about it and... yeah. It was a huge disappointment, basically, and I need to rewatch the first 5 seasons and erase my memory of season 6 so I can live happily again knowing that Community is a work of pure genuis. 

The IT Crowd Poster Workaholics Poster The Detour Poster The End of the F***ing World Poster

The IT Crowd - Why is this series so short? It should go on forever! I feel like this used to be a popular series that I decided sounded lame and put off watching, but I regret that now because I need more of it, asap. I'm pretty sure we watched this is about 3 days (we had work... it could've been less).

Workaholics - This show was picked out of desperation and both Neil and I were pretty sure we were gonna hate it. And we kinda did? For, like, an episode. But then we realised we had watched the first season without realising and now we've watched it all and I'm really sad it's over. I need more of my favourite three guys. 

The Detour - Another desperate choice, and this one shows a little. I have mixed feelings about this show, even after watching every episode currently avaliable. I do, however, admire them for basing the plot on the U.S mail service instead of the FBI or CIA like most shows would. 

The End of the F***king World - The title is what drew me in, but I'll be honest, I won't be watching anymore of this series than I already have (and I like to complete TV shows, even if I hate them). I don't know how many episodes I 'watched' but I think it was three. They all blended into one another and I don't remember anything, but I know it didn't hold my attention. Obviously. Hence not remembering anything.

Snakes on a Plane Poster Non-Stop Poster Escape Plan Poster The Dukes of Hazzard Poster

Snakes On A Plane - I'm not sure why we watched this or how I've made it to 2018 without seeing it before, but we were struggling to find a movie, not feeling like a TV show or anything that requires concentration and figured anything would do. While the snakes were terrible, it wasn't actually as bad as we thought it would be. We enjoyed the ending the most, though.

Non-Stop - After Snakes On A Plane, I don't know why we fancied another film where everyone was trapped in a metal bird for the foreseeable future, but again... we were in one of those moods where it's hard to decide what to watch. But oh my God, it was... good? The premise isn't terrible and there's a little bit of suspense and mind play and it wasn't anything we expected. There was also an incredible zero-gravity, slow-mo shot towards the end of the movie that I could watch for hours. 

Escape Plan - The premise of this movie hooked us immediately but I'm not sure what our expectations for it were. Again, it surprised us with some twists we weren't expecting. The casting for this movie was spot on too. We quite like Vinnie Jones and, though he's pretty much typecasted, he plays a bad guy so well that I don't care. I'm also willing to say this is Arnold Schwarzeneggers' best role, too.
The Dukes of Hazzard -  Neils' choice of film, but it was somewhat entertaining. I like the accents and I fell a little in love with Luke because, well, who wouldn't? I'm there for the sidekicks, y'all. It's ridiculous, but whatever.

The Open House Poster Open Season Poster Open Season 2 Poster Open Season 3 Poster

The Open House - This one is... not really memorable, at all. It didn't ever really hook me, for a few reasons. First, it was really slow to start with. I mean, technically the pacing was fine. It's a long movie. But the set up took half an hour when it could've easily took up ten instead. And then it just seemed like the amalgamation of a lot of movies, from that one with the mum and the two ghost kids who were allergic to sunlight when they were alive who don't know they're dead and think their house is haunted and some other, just as forgettable 'horrors' that take place in an old house out of the way. There's nothing different about this film and the suspense was boring, not suspenseful.

Open Season 1 - Does anyone ever really grow out of kids cartoon films? I mean, really? I'll admit that the only reason we started watching this is because we couldn't be bothered to keep searching... but we liked the characters so much that we had to watch the sequel...

Open Season 2 - ...and the seqeul to the sequel...

Open Season 3 - ...and they were all great, but the first one is the best, of course.

Super High Me Poster Pacific Rim Poster

Super High Me - A documentary about a comedian going 30 days without getting high and then 30 days for getting high, while recording the effects it has on him... FYI, he's a terrible comedian when he's sober, but that's just my opinion. I feel like they could've done more testing and science stuff, really taken advantage of these two months of extremes to find out more about how marijuana affects the body, but it wasn't bad.


Pacific Rim - This movie is brilliant, so with the sequel coming out this year, I had to a) re-watch it for myself and b) introduce Neil to it so that we can go and see it when it comes out. Great cast, excellent soundtrack... 2013 was such a great year for cinema, wasn't it?



 The cover consists of a white background with a purple VHS tape in the center. On the VHS label is the band's name in black as well as the album's name written in purple. 

I've made a bit more effort to use Spotify this month, by which I mean I actually bothered logging in to change my country so that I could access it again, and have been taking full advantage of the new release section. Without a doubt, Waterparks 'Entertainment' is my favourite album so far (every song is so catchy) but the other two are pretty decent too. I've also had Kalina Tyne's Caffeine EP on repeat all afternoon.



This month, I've taken to continue writing There Are Worse Ways To Die. I started it last year and dropped it for a while, but it's a story I'm really excited to continue. Admittedly, I didn't get as much done on it as I wanted to, but let's just think positive for now. It's starting to come together and that's better than nothing.

In other news, I decided to get Wattpad. What am I doing with that Wattpad account, you ask? Well, other than reading loads of really good stories that are still in progress and leave me frustrated because I need the ending now, I'm not a patient person damnit, I decided that I'll be posting Seafarer as I edit it so you can expect updates at least once a week, if not more... I'm aiming for more, to be honest, because I've been getting good feedback so far and just want to share this story with the world already.
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Since I've requested a ton of new reading material on Netgalley, I'm hoping that I do a bit more reading this month (how am I already behind on my Goodreads goal?) and continue to edit Seafarer... I'm enjoying it so much, but I'm sure I'll tire of making sure I'm using an active voice the whole time. Each chapter is taking so long.

How was January for you? Tell me all about it in the comments and don't forget to subscribe to stay up to date on the latest posts!


Better Blogging: Preparing Your Content In Advance

2/02/2018

As a blogger, there are multiple reasons for wanting to prepare your content in advance. Whether it's because it helps you stick to a self-imposed schedule; because you want to keep posting through periods of uncertainty when you may not be able to create new content; or because you're going on holiday for two weeks, this months Better Blogging post is covering some ways you can make it a little easier on yourself.
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1. Get An Editorial Calendar

Everyone talks about it, and for good reason. You may have one already, but if you don't, it's time to get an editorial calendar sorted for your blog. 

It can be done by paper and pen or using technology. Personally, I use a monthly layout calendar on Excel. This way, I can write my planned content down without worrying about making a mess of it if it needs to change. And trust me - it changes. Multiple times a month, for multiple reasons, my editorial calendar changes. Sometimes I have better ideas; other times I need more time to work on what I'd originally planned.

Getting an editorial calendar means you can see your content at a glance, make sure it's not getting repetitive and plan accordingly. 

2. Create A Writing Schedule

Blogging might be a highly visual medium, but most blogs involve a lot of writing too. For that reason, it's important to have some kind of writing schedule. Without one, it's easy to feel like you're always playing catch up.

Currently, I take one day a week to write three posts for the following week. If I'm trying to create more of a backlog (for times when I may be away from my blog for extended periods), I'll write three posts each day on multiple days that week. So, if I spend every day doing that, I know I can write 7 weeks of content in one week. Since I'm trying to become a fiction author alongside maintaining a regularly updated, having just one day a week focused on creating blog content is ideal. Obviously, for you, it might be different. Assess your goals and the time you have, then figure out what works best for you.


You can always adjust your schedule as things change and you discover how you work best. Having an editorial content comes in handy here. That way, you know exactly what needs to be written by when.

3. Work In Batches

Writing all my posts for one week on one day is an example of batch work. The other, most common place I use batch work for is photo editing. Working in batches is more productive than flicking between different tasks all day.

The time you have to spend on your blog will dictate how you decide to go about this. If you set aside a day for blogging each week, you could simply follow your to-do list and tick each item off as you go. Alternatively, you might have a few hours each day to work on your blog. In that case, commit to one task each day. Anything you get done beyond that is brilliant, but if you get a batch of writing or photo editing out the way one evening, at least you know you're on track. 

You might even choose to schedule content across your social media or answer to emails. For me, I just do those tasks when I have a few spare minutes (with the exception of the odd morning where I'll schedule all my social posts at once). 

4. Schedule Events, Photography Sessions, Etc

Whatever you post about, it's important to schedule time to collect whatever you need for that content. 

If you're writing a travel post, make sure you factor in the time it'll take to research the destination and visit it, as well as take photos at the place. Book reviews? Set aside some time to actually read the book you're planning on writing about. Make-up items? Give yourself the time you need to test out the products first. Especially if you're a lifestyle blog, you need time to do the things you're writing about. That's why I like having about two months of content planned at any time. 

For example, I have a post coming up that requires several steps, including ordering online and waiting for the item to arrive. With that in mind, I've penciled that post in two months ahead of the time I started working on it. While that might seem excessive, this way I can be positive everything will be ready in time and the post won't be rushed. 

5. Give Yourself Free Time

The whole point of preparing your content in advance is to relieve the stress that comes from feeling like you're constantly working. It's so easier to get wrapped up in your blog, but taking a step away from it (even if it's just once a week) is integral to your well being. After all, you want to avoid the dreaded burnout.

By having an editorial calendar and scheduling when you'll be working on what, you can also plan when you'll take a break. I do my best to make sure I have no blogging work that I need to do on the days my boyfriend is off work. That way, we can both relax and enjoy our time together. It varies each week how much time we have together, which means my routine also varies. 

If you want to be working on your blog when you promised yourself you'd relax, try reading others blogs instead. Leave a comment while you're there, but take your free time as a chance to refill your creative well - so I just gave you permission to consume as much media, written or visual, as you'd like! 
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As I plan on doing farm work for my 2nd year visa in Australia soon, these are the five things most important to me having everything prepared in advance. That's three posts a week for three months that I need to have planned, but ideally, I'll have a month or two either side to be on the safe side. After all, who knows where the nearest WiFi connection will be?

Of course, circumstances may change what you can or can't do at anytime and all of these tips should be followed with that in mind. However far in advance you're planning your content, remember to have fun with it and don't stress out if you miss a post. 

What tips do you have for preparing your content in advance? Tell me in the comments and don't forget to subscribe for more Better Blogging posts in the future!




Blogs I'm Loving: January 2018

1/31/2018

I've been reading blogs for a while now. Like with everything in life, it's easy to get stuck in a rut with blogs and end up reading from only the same few bloggers every day. In the last couple of months, I've been making more of an effort to find new blogs to read and wanted to share a few of my favourites with you, for your reading pleasure. 

So, in no particular order, here are some bloggers that I think you should check out.
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When I discovered Lottie Does, I didn't think I was going to go several pages deep into her content, but that's exactly what ended up happening. There's something about Lottie that makes me keep reading, even when it's content I wouldn't usually seek out (namely, Disney). Perhaps my favourite thing about her blog is exactly what she wants it to be, from the design to the content... She hasn't fallen into any trend traps and it makes visiting Lottie Does slightly magical. 


I followed Jess on Instagram long before I checked out her blog, but it was her style that drew me in. Although my mostly black, totally practical wardrobe doesn't show it, everything she wears? Oh my God, it's my dream closet. I love the plaid and the colour, and her hair makes me want to go out and buy all the dye right now. I just all about her aesthetic, and her writing style is so friendly that I wanna keep reading and become friends.


Once again, I started following Robyn on Instagram (all I really use Instagram for is for lusting after alterego!Astrids' style) before visiting her blog and I love her style just as much. It's a little darker than Jesses', but that makes it a little more approachable for me (dark colours don't show dirt as easily... do you know how hard it is to find a decent washing machine while you're traveling? This is why I can't have nice things). Once again, her writing makes her seem like such a down to Earth gal that I can't help but want to read more.


As soon as Olivias' photography caught my eye, I fell in love. It's so fun and playful that I want to run straight out to Target and buy myself a ton of props for flatlay photos I don't even take right now. Once again, her blog is really unique to her and the content never gets stale. Just scrolling through her posts gives me a jolt of happiness.


Like Lottie Does, Avril Marie is another blog I visit when I want something different from all the rest. With a heavy emphasis on music, I feel so at home when I visit. Aside from the content April shares, I'm also completely in love with her photography. In fact, everything about her blog makes me a little nostalgic for my teen years where me and my best friend went to gigs all the time and tried to get into music journalism/photography. Damn, I miss those days.
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As you may have noticed, the blogs I love reading the most are the ones with the style and life I kinda wish I had (it's hard to travel and go to all the gigs with your best friend at the same time, so these are the sacrifices we gotta make), but I love finding new blogs to read and would like to make this a regular series on the blog. So, with that said, please leave me links to your blog so I can check it out. 

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you're subscribed to me so that you don't miss anything.







Best Books of 2017

1/29/2018

Last year, I spent time between lessons with my head buried in a book, but despite that didn't read a lot. Even more surprising, as I look back on my year in books, I found that the majority of them I wasn't a huge fan of. Despite that, there are still a few books that I read last year worth mentioning.

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The Elvis Room
1. The Elvis Room by Stephen Graham Jones

This short horror story has stuck with me since I read in. No spoilers, but I get a little creeped out when I'm in an elevator now. For that, and the fact the it was so thought provoking - I love anything that looks at something from a different angle - The Elvis Room has to make the list for best books of 2017.






Piper Perish2. Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan

Easily one of my favourites last year, Piper Perish is the first book that came to mind when I set about writing this list. The main character, Piper, encompasse all I want to be - she's full of creative talent and disipline and spends her days with her equally talented, creative friends. If I could enter the world of one book, it'd be this one. The best part? No romance!




P.S. Your Not Listening3. P.S. Your Not Listening by Eleanor Craig


In an effort to read more non-fiction, I was searching Kindle Unlimited for books on writing when I came across this instead. First published in 1972, it follows a year in the life of a teacher and her five students, all with different problems, in one of the first classes of its kind. Over the course of the book (and the year), it's nice to see both the teacher and the students grow and improve.






Noteworthy4. Noteworthy by Riley Redgate

The only reason I read this book was because I can't resist anything where music and school collide. Those kinds of stories tend to be a bunch of fluff, but I enjoy them all the same. This one features acapella AND a girl pretending to be a boy to follow her dreams so... what a great combination, am I right? I'm right. As expected, this was just a fun little read, nothing serious, but one of my favourites from 2017 all the same.



One of Us Is Lying5. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus

I hesitated to list this one, but months after reading it I still think about it. I'm not saying it was the most unique story I've read - it reminded me of Pretty Little Liars, to be honest, with a bit less glamour - but the characters intrigued me. Some of them I hated, others I was rooting for, but all the same, something kept me reading this story even when I was convinced it wasn't going to hold my attention for long, so it deserves a mention on this list.


It Only Happens in the Movies6. It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

Holly Bourne is easily one of my favourite authors and I've loved her books since The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting (I'm not a fan of Soulmates, but that's it). Maybe it's because she's an English writer, so the teen culture is more representative of something I recognize than other books, but I find her stories so grounded in reality. Saying that, there's always enough 'drama' going on to keep me reading. So, without a doubt, It Only Happens in the Movies is one of the best books I read last year.

Artemis7. Artemis by Andy Weir

Since I love The Martian (the book, which is awesome and entertaining, not the movie, which is terrible and boring), I was pretty nervous about whether or not Artemis would hold up to my high expectations. Luckily enough, it did. Weir is a fantastic, witty writer and his characters are so endearing. I want to live in Artemis, I want more stories about Artemis... I just can't get enough of this book, guys. If someone wants to fangirl over it with me, I'm right here, waiting.
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So, despite the fact that I didn't read as much as I'd hoped to and the majority of what I read didn't stand out at all, so it was fairly easy to pick these seven as the best books of the year. Hopefully, 2018 will be a better book year.

Tell me about the best books you read last year and don't forget to subscribe if you enjoyed this post!


7 Tips For Eco Friendly & Sustainable Travel

1/26/2018

The older I get, the more I give a damn about the planet I'm living on. While I've never denied climate change, I never made an effort to reduce my carbon footprint before. And growing up? Well, I don't like the dark, and I slept with the light on for so many years (I'm talking way past an acceptable age).

With my growing interest in living a more environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyle (aiming for zero waste one day, but baby steps for now), I thought it'd be great to start writing some posts on the topic. As someone whose lifestyle is built around travel, here are some of the things I try to do to travel in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.
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1. Stay Local.

Let's get real here. Unless you cycle, you'll be using fuel one way or another. And planes? They are just about the least environmentally friendly ways of getting around. As great as it would be to live the jet set life, flying off to new, exotic locations every week, there's probably plenty to do without getting a plane. Besides, who needs the stress of airports? Not me, that's for sure.

Have a staycation, pack up your car for a weekend road trip, or better yet - take public transport where you can! If you live in Europe, you can still visit another country by taking a train. But if you have to fly, book direct where you can. Like stopping and starting at red lights, take off and landing uses the most fuel.

2. Reuse And Recycle.

Instead of buying travel sized items of this and that, purchase reusable containers to fill up with the full-sized product before you leave home. Better yet, re-use old packaging instead of throwing it away. The small pump bottle of hair oil I have isn't going in the bin when it runs out - it's getting cleaned out to make way for another product.

Do you have a water bottle yet? Instead of buying water in shops (which can get expensive), fill it up at the hotel/in restaurants/etc and cut down on a huge amount of waste. It's better for the environment and your wallet.

3. Environmentally Friendly Accommodation.

Whether you're sleeping in a tent or a hotel, there are some things you can do to keep your carbon footprint as low as possible. Look for hotels that encourage you to reuse bedding and towels during your stay. I'm sure you don't change these things every day in your own home, so it shouldn't be any different in a hotel. On a similar note, turn off the lights when they aren't needed and don't run the water for longer just because you're not footing the bill.

Think about the ways that you try to be environmentally friendly at home, and do the same wherever you stay.

4. Be Wary About What You're Bringing Home.

If you like to bring gifts home for your friends and family, be careful with what you pick. The most obvious issue here is that the item will create needless waste if they don't appreciate the token and throw it out after a couple of months. Not only that, but some souvenirs may be made out endangered species and may be illegal (ivory, coral, etc).

Even easier an oversight would be what's clinging to the bottom of your shoes. While going for a hike in a forest by your backyard won't change the ecosystem, if you're coming from afar, you may be carrying bugs, seeds and other living material with you that will and may be invasive. Take a moment to clean your shoes before returning.

5. Go Chemical Free.

Everything from deodorant to sunscreen has chemicals in. It's hard to say what damage they do to you, so this tip is for your health as well as the Earths. Try making your own toothpaste or deodorant (the plus here is that you can cut down on packaging waste too!) and opting for biodegradable soaps.

Since you should be wearing sunscreen every day, search for one that lists zinc oxide and titanium oxide as the only active ingredients. The inactive ingredients should be made up of natural, plant-based ingredients (sunflower oil, beeswax, etc). The best rule of thumb? If you can't pronounce it, be wary of it! (This goes for products you're consuming and wearing).

6. Do Not Pay To Have A Photo Taken With Wild Animals.

By now, we should all be aware that any tourist activity involving wild animals is wrong. By paying for the pleasure, you're encouraging the cycle of supply and demand, my friend. We all want that once in a lifetime experience that no one else we know has had. We all want a photo with a cute animal.

But put aside your fuzzy feelings and show some humanity, damn it.

7.  Leave No Footprints Behind.

I like to think that we're all grown ass adults who are capable of cleaning up after ourselves (and that the adults with kids are responsible enough to make them clean up too), but since there's a whole movement dedicated to 'leave no footprints' and beach clean-up days seem to be growing in popularity, apparently we still need a reminder. So, here it is: take your trash with you and leave places as you found them. You could be moving an animals' home when you pick up rocks and walk away with them.

In the interest of keeping Earth clean and limiting plastic use, try and use paper bags instead of plastic ones! Keep hold of any you get from stores or purchase them from home and garden stores. Don't forget to recycle, too.
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There are so many more ways to be environmentally friendly, but these are just a few of the ways you can begin to make changes. A lot of the ways that you can help save the planet are obvious, but the reminder is needed to get our butts in action. 

How do you try and be more eco-friendly in both your day to day life and when you're on holiday? Leave your tips in the comments and don't forget to subscribe for more posts like this in the future!


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Hi, I'm Astrid. I write, make noise and take photos.

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