Goals For 2016

My blog will be 1 year old in March so I haven’t had the opportunity yet to do a yearly goal post. So I have thought long and hard about my list for this year and what I want to achieve for my blog. 
I have also added a little list at the bottom of this post of my own personal competition win goals for 2016, which is something I have never done before, but with a new baby on the way really soon and the up keep of my blog I want to be more focused in what competitions I enter to save time.

  • Content:

Posting: I need to be more regular at posting material to keep my readers loyal. I have got a blog planner up and running now so hopefully it will keep me on track! 

Book reviews: I would love to read, review and post a book review each week. 
7 Hints and Tips: I had great success with my series of 7 Hints and Tips posts last year so this is something I would love to get back into again and come up with some great fresh ideas.
Monthly Competition Wins List: When I first started blogging I used to post at the beginning of each month a list of competition wins from the previous month. This used to be my motivation for keeping up the comping. This is something I need to get back into. 
  • Promoting
My goal this year is to be more proactive in promoting my blog and posts, using tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule tweets throughout the day. Post regularly on instagram and use pinterest more. I would also like to discover more blog linkups and link to these at different times throughout the week. 

  • Statistics
  1. Increase Twitter followers to 2k
  2. Increase Instagram followers to 300
  3. Increase Pinterest followers to 300
  4. Increase Bloglovin followers to 400
I would also love to increase my blog visitors to 2k per month.
Competition Goal Win List 2016

  • Ipad
  • Kindle Fire
  • Love2Shop/Amazon Vouchers
  • Baby bits and bobs
  • Food Hampers
  • Books
I would love to hear about your goals for 2016. What is on your competition win list? Or if you are a blogger what are your blogging goals for 2016?

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A Cornish Mum

7 Hints and Tips on Planting and Caring for Azalea’s

This is one of my azalea shrubs out in bud. It’s a gorgeous red colour and stands out well in my back garden against the barked area. My back garden is sloped into the hill, so I have found that azalea’s are perfect for bringing colour and interest to this drab area.
           
The azalea’s I have are very young plants, so I am looking forward over the coming years to see them grow and develop. This is my white azalea below, it’s very forward compared to the red one above. They have such beautiful spring blooms and bring joy to my garden. 

So as you enjoyed my other hints and tips post’s here is another 7 Hints and Tips to add to the series. This time on how to plant and care for azalea’s. 
  1. Appropriate Location – choose a location that is not in direct sunlight. Azalea’s prefer the morning sun and afternoon shade. My shrubs have the morning sun and are shaded by the house in the afternoon due to them being planted in the slope. Azalea’s grow well when planted under shady trees
  2. Soil Conditions – Azalea’s love well drained acidic soil. My garden has a very high clay component in the soil, so to get around the drainage problem, I loosened up the soil with lots of compost and other organic matter. Another way to get around bad draining soil is to plant the shrubs in pots or raised beds. 
  3. Watering – When newly planted, azalea’s need to be watered every 2-3 days until the roots are established. They need to be kept moist, not wet or dry. Too much water is just as bad as too little. 
  4. Mulching – Azalea shrubs like some sort of protection around their roots. This can be pine bark, pine needles, wood chips or something similar. This helps to keep the roots warm in winter, retain moisture around the roots and keep weeds away.
  5. Pruning – To keep the shrub full bodied, you can prune azalea’s after blooming. Prune no later than 3 weeks after the blooms have died down, otherwise you will be cutting off next years flower buds.
  6. Fertilising – I think the best time to feed your azalea is after blooming. Only use a little as they are light feeders and only require a small amount of feeding, otherwise you could burn your plants. Do not use any fresh manure on your azalea’s as it is too strong, and could kill your plant.
  7. Common Diseases and Pests – Insects that can affect azalea’s are lace bugs and spider mites. Lace bugs are more prone to attack your shrub if it is grown in full sunlight. They attack the underside of the leaf sucking out all the chlorophyll, leaving the leaf a grey-white colour. The azalea can be treated with sprays which you can buy from your local garden centres who can advise you on the best course of treatments. 

   

I hope you enjoyed this post and find it very useful. You can follow me here on Bloglovin Twitter and Facebook
Rachel xx

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7 Hints and Tips On What To Do With Asparagus

I won these beautiful boxes of asparagus with @GrownWithLove on Twitter last week. It might sound strange to some of you, but I have never tried asparagus before so this is an ideal chance for me to discover what it’s all about. They look very beautiful and fresh.
           
I have been reading up on what asparagus actually is and how can it benefit you.
Apparently asparagus is a spring vegetable and only the young shoots are eaten before the buds start to open otherwise they turn woody.

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7 Hints and Tips on Caring for Orchids

Over the past few years orchids have become very popular for indoor plants. You can find them in almost every supermarket nowadays at various prices and in many different colours. The orchid below was given to me about 4 years ago when we just moved into our first house. It is still going strong by following a few a tips on how to care for your orchid.
Due to the popularity of my previous hints and tips posts (book reviewsphotography and caring for cacti) I have decided to continue the series, so here is another set of 7 hints and tips, this time on how to care for your orchids.
  1. Watering instructions – Water every 5-12 days depending on the temperature of the room, the type of orchid and the time of year. More frequent watering is required during summer months. Always check the watering instructions when you buy the orchid. Orchids prefer soft water.
  2. Support – When your orchid is in bloom support the stems with clips and sticks, which you can pick up from any good garden centres.
  3. Sunlight conditions – Orchids prefer bright indirect sunlight. North or east facing windows during summer and south facing in winter months.
  4. Trimming – Orchids have little nodes (triangular bumps) on the stem and each one is a potential flower bud. So when all the flowers die and fall off, trim the stem down to the lowest node and cut diagonally to stimulate new growth.
  5. Growing media – Orchids prefer moist well drained conditions. There are several types of growing media that can be used: fir bark, rocks, cork, sand and potting soil. Most of the orchids you buy at the supermarkets are grown on bark. Re potting should be done every other year to encourage growth. Remember to remove any dead roots and old compost.
  6. Leaf health – You can tell how healthy your orchid is by looking at the colour of the leaves and checking to see if they are getting enough light. They should be bright green rather than dark green, which tells you that the orchid is not getting enough sunlight if it’s too dark. Reddish green leaves is too much light. If the leaves develop black blotches it most likely has sunburn, through being in a hot sunny window. So move to a north facing window.
  7. Pests and disease – Orchids can be affected by mealybugs, scale and aphids. These can be washed off and treated with insecticidal soap, which again can be found at all good garden centres.

 

This stunning pink orchid I picked up at M&S at a reduced price.
I love how perfectly formed the flower heads are. The orchid is one of the most highly coveted ornamental plants, and in ancient Greece the orchid represents fertility, because in the ancient Greek language, orchid actually means testicles!
It’s also associated with beauty, love, luxury, strength and wisdom. They have very delicate and graceful flowers which shows perfect symmetry.
Different coloured orchids have different meanings:
  • Pink, like the one above represent happiness, innocence and joy.
  • Blue represents spirituality and meditation. They are also very rare.
  • White stand for beauty, elegance and innocence.
  • Yellow orchids represent friendship and new beginnings.
  • Purple symbolises royalty and respect.
  • Lavender coloured orchids represent grace and feminine beauty.
  • Green orchids represent health, nature, life and longevity.
  • Orange coloured orchids stand for boldness, pride and enthusiasm.
My favourite colour orchids are the pink ones and they represent happiness which is how I feel at the moment in my life. What would be your favourite colour orchid?
Rachel xx
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7 Hints and Tips for Writing a Book Review

I have been reading lots of book reviews lately, and learning as I go along trying to find a formula to writing a fantastic book review.
What makes a book review great?
What makes you want to go out and find that book to read?
These are the questions I found myself asking, and I’m sure there are many of you asking the same. So I have compiled another 7 Hints and Tips post to help us all become better book reviewers and writers. 

These are the 7 tips that I have come up with, along with some hints on what to include in the book review.
  1. As you read the book, make notes as you go along – Write down your thoughts on the authors writing style, add quotes to your lists, that you think would be relevant to your review.
  2. Include the authors name and the book title in the first paragraph – Make sure to mention these so the reader will know exactly who wrote the book.
  3. Describe the book – What is the book about? What genre does the book fit into? What is the main idea of the book and plot structure? Don’t forget to include the theme, settings and the book cover.
  4. Add a paragraph on what made you like the book – Is it a story that kept you entertained? Guessing? How real/believable are the characters? Who is your favourite?
  5. Mention any dislikes – Didn’t like the way the story headed, frustrating ending, slow start, didn’t like the main character.
  6. Summarise your thoughts – What type of reader would you recommend the book to? Is it a book you would read again one day?
  7. Give the book a rating – eg. 3 out of 5 stars

I would love to hear your own thoughts on whether you decide to read a book based on a book review alone.
Rachel xx

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7 Hints and Tips for Photography Beginners

We love to go for walks on Sunday morning’s so it’s a perfect opportunity for me to learn better photography skills. I am an absolute beginner in this area, but cannot wait to learn more to help with my blogging photos. It seems to me nowadays that for most blog posts to stand out they have to have captivating photographs. Being a new blogger everything is a learning curve for me and photography is one of my main areas I would like to work on.
This old house boat down at Malpas in Truro has always caught my eye so I thought it would be a perfect project to learn more camera skills. I have been reading and discovering lots of photography hints and tips along the way and have compiled a list for you.
So here are some basic tips for improving your photos:
  1. Make sure the camera is in the correct mode, e.g landscape, screen shot or shutter priority.
  2. Lighting is very important. Don’t shoot people pictures with the sun behind them.
  3. Understand white balance. This I’m learning more about all the time, it just means that you adjust the balance to get colours in photos as accurate as possible.
  4. The Rule of Thirds: Imagine a grid of 9 squares over your photo, well place the main elements of your photo on one of the lines or intersections. The eye will naturally be drawn to one of those points on the photo, making it interesting and improving the composition.
  5. Angles: Find different angles that are intriguing to you, i.e photos of buildings from the bottom up. This gives your photos different perspectives and fascinating elements.
  6. Photo Selections: Be selective in which photos you want to use.
  7. Apps/programmes: While I am learning and experimenting, I am using apps to help with the editing process. i.e cropping, colour-correct, and exposure. The quality of the photos are very much improved

These are my basic learning photography skills, I would love to hear about your hints and tips for capturing great photos, and where you find the best locations to take pictures.

Rachel xx

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