::The Myrabev Life::

::The Myrabev Life::: February 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

{Blogger Support} Top Five (5) Apps

Starting out on a whim as a new blogger was tough, I started out on blogger and now have both blogger and wordpress dot org. I thought that was the only tools available to me to use for blogging, I thought I just had to log into google navigate to blogger and that was that. As I mentioned in Starting Out networking helped me learn a lot about blogging and over the last 18 months I have realised there are so many apps out there to make blogging easy as well as networking and promoting your posts. Today I wanted to share 5 apps that I used daily for blogging which have made my life easier. I have two phones (Iphone for work, HTC personal) and on those these phones Apps act differently, at least for me.

Blogger & Wordpress Apps - These are my little haven Apps, when I get an idea and do not want to jot it down I use these two Apps to write the posts. Sometimes the ideas are short and sometimes it's a complete post written at the spur of the moment. What I love about both Apps is even when I am traveling on the train underground and I do not have internet connect the post is saved as a draft local copy - this means that if I logged onto the computer and fired up Blogger or Wordpress these posts will not yet be on there because they are local copies but this is easily fixed by going back into the mobile version, refresh and save (provided you have 3G or wi fi) and it syncs up. Once you refresh the site on the computer it will show up. Of the two operating systems I have (Apple and Android) for Blogger and Wordpress Apps I prefer to use them on Apple as they are more user friendly and are easier to use than on my Android, this could be just on my HTC and not Android in general.

Facebook App - This is a no brainer, I am sure everyone with a smartphone has the facebook App especially bloggers. I had mentioned in Starting Out post the importance of utilising facebook as a tool to promote your blog and content. It is not easy to start out but once you find blogger groups which support blog interactions you're good. My facebook group the Lovely Bloggers is just starting out but it is a platform I have opened for fellow bloggers so we can grow together. I prefer to use the Facebook App on my iphone than HTC as for some reason facebook links do not work.

Twitter & G+ - There are so many bloggers out there who underestimate the power of twitter and google plus groups. Over the last 18 months my twitter stats have rocketed and my G+ stats are making there way.  When I started my twitter account I had 5 friends who are real life friends and that was it, I followed a few brands I like and few youtubers I was aware of and that was it nothing more. When I started blogging I was not sure about posting on twitter until I so one of the bloggers I followed posted a post on twitter which got interaction that made my resolve for using twitter and same applies with G+ they are very important in building up your blog and getting  interaction. Other experienced bloggers can explain the impact of a twitter tree I have tweets that have an outreach of over 12k you can imagine it is a lot. Supporting each other as bloggers, retweeting, favoriting all this leads to such outreach and even great interaction on posts, tweets and blogs in general

Bloglovin - When I want inspiration or have long journey ahead of me this is where you will find me. I follow over a thousand blogs on bloglovin and I have no idea how many I check out, one time I made it my business to comment on over a 100 blog posts from bloglovin when I was traveling on my 4-hour journey. I managed to do it plus more, what I saw was not what I was expecting I got back interaction on my posts that week my website visits rocketed and I was amazed. I was doing this to show support and not to get support back, I was doing what I call the blogging deal of the day - do something for fellow blogger without requesting anything in return.

Hootsuite - I love this App especially if I have lots of posts scheduled in advance and I want to schedule tweets, facebook posts and even G+ posts to go out when I want them to. I will say I do not always use it but when I do I love it. I am currently using the free version of it but you can always upgrade to get more features. I am happy with the features I am using it for now, but in the future for example when I will be really busy and want to schedule posts for my new blogger facebook support group then I will upgrade it but for now I am good.

Instagram - Not many people realise the power that Instagram harbours, as a blogger or just people who love instagram you post a lot of pictures of what you like, could be your kids or foods or places you visit etc. One thing you should use instagram for is blogging, you can share the main picture in your post and add the blog post link in the comments or better yet in the profile. This I have seen has helped to drive traffic to my sites and my blog in general so definitely recommending to all.

What are some of your favourite blogging Apps? Do you use any of the above mentioned?
If you have not yet joined our facebook group, click HERE.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Chicken and Eggplant

Last week I shared with you why I started my meal plan and some of the foods that I cook, my favourite being chilli beef. On Saturday I went food shopping for the month and I picked up some diced chicken fillets which were on sale and a few other things including my mince, eggplant and pork for my all time home made delicacies. Today I wanted to share my meal plan for this week (Monday and Tuesday) since I won't be home rest of the week until Sunday.
I can not recall the last time I ate eggplant so much that I was not sure how I was going to cook it, after some research (maestro google) I decided I was going to bake them. Several recipes has mentioned just putting straight in the oven but I wanted to some how cook them a bit before the oven. I found a recipe that suggested I soak the chopped eggplants into slightly salty water for half an hour then slightly fry or grill them until brown (I chose to fry).
As I have mentioned previously I am not good at writing out recipes so I will add captions to each photo as a way to explain what I did.

Step 1: Chop onion and asparagus, then diced the chicken fillet. Fry both on either side of the pan on low heat for 10 minutes or until fairly cooked.

This is how it should look like, almost cooked but not yet.

Step 2: Add tomato puree (I added some chopped tomatoes as well), salt, pepper (and chilli if you want) then add water and simmer for 10 minutes
Whilst I was cooking the chicken I had already soaked the eggplants in the salted water for 30 minutes, I then removed from the water and heated a pot with olive oil (just a tablespoon)
Before and After frying the eggplants for 3 minutes.

Step 3: In the baking tray layer the eggplants then top over with the chicken sauces cooked earlier, then sprinkle some oregano and cover with foil before baking for 20 minutes.

Serve with choice of side dish, I felt like some rice so I had mine with rice.

I can promise you, you will be licking your fingers all day. I love how simple and easy this is to make and could probably be done faster than me but it was first time so I was happy to take my time. Cooking has become something I enjoy and is very therapeutic and it's my me time so this is awesome to recreate something I will enjoy.

So what do you think of my cooking? How do you cook your eggplants? I have some more in the house and need more recipes for next week so please do share.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

{Blogger Support} Starting out

Starting out as a new blogger can be tough and at times daunting, everything is so new, the language is weird and for most! none of your friends are bloggers so you do not yet have someone to talk to about it all. Your decision to start a blog could have stemmed from a number of reasons, mine was honestly boredom and loneliness. Others it could be they have been reading blogs for a long time and are ready to start one or as an outlet for your everyday life or the creative streak in you. Whatever the reason you have (or had) started, now what is next after starting your blog or blogs? How do you go abouts getting the content you've spent maybe a few minutes, or even a couple of hours researching and writing to the outside world? Press publish of course (insert smiley of choice), but it does not end there.

One thing non-bloggers or those not familiar with the work that goes into running a blog don't know is just because I have published the post does not mean my work ends there, unfortunately it doesn't that is just the beginning of it all. Once you have published your post you need to share it on the monster web and even then you're not guaranteed that people will see it and come visit and comment on your blog. Those who see it will just look and go, some will love it enough to comment, some will love it but not comment. I have friends who read my blogs: A July Dreamer and The Myrabev Life and tell me offline how much they loved the post, this will happen plenty. I want them to comment and some say they are not comfortable commenting online and some will say I do not know what to say. This is common do not get discouraged be happy someone is reading.
Though I am not and do not claim to be an expert in the blogging world I know what has been working for my blogs so far. I am everyday learning and picking up tips on how to blog, how to promote my content etc and the most common one I see is supporting one another as bloggers. With this in mind I embarked on doing one thing that I know has worked for me and I know works for other bloggers too and that is joining a facebook groups and because I know most facebook group owners require you get permission before talking about their group (which is very understandable) I created my own face group sharing group called Lovely Bloggers and I am inviting you all to join and support each other grow.

In the  Lovely Bloggers group I will be putting up threads where you can share posts you want comments on (reciprocate two above your own), Facebook like & comment threads where you share facebook links you want liking and comments on and also Follow threads which will either be daily or weekly. I have started this group with a sole purpose of supporting other bloggers and helping each other grow because without each other our growth is limited. You're welcome to share this group link with fellow bloggers so we can grow and support one another. 

Over the last 18 months I have developed a routine that I practice almost every morning, I shared Bloggers, Events & Friends post on A July dreamer. This post I shared how I developed my routine and with insomnia being my best friend I find myself with more time which surprisingly I use to read other blogs than blogging. I have created this group that I am taking full responsibility for and hoping to discover more blogs to add to my routine. And because I travel a lot I am always looking for new blogs to read, I love blogs of all niches as I do not want to limit myself. I believe supporting one another, promoting and helping out fellow bloggers is the best way to grow as a blogger.

Come join this new facebook group where your blog will definitely get support from me be it a comment or sharing on my social media. I hope to see you all there and thanks for joining a Lovely Bloggers  facebook group.

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Top 5 Friday

Hi there and welcome to the Top 5 Friday, its been a while since I did this type of post but today I thought I crack one out. The last couple of weeks have been absolutely awesome, if memory serves me right this is the best start to the year I have had in a long time and I am so thankful. As always I will list 5 items I have been itching to talk about or want to share this week so without further adieu. 

5. 50 Shades of Grey ~ I think it's about time I shared with y'all my view of 50 shades of grey especially with the movie having come out already. Before I read the 3 books I had heard so many stories about how erotic it was and basically a porn book. I was both intrigued and confused because no one person who read the books could give you a straight answer everyone had their own interpretation. So I embarked on the journey that is 50 shades of grey and I was quite taken in by the first book until someone told me there were two more books to go, I was excited to see what more the author can add in and hoping the grammar and spelling will improve in book two and three. To my disappointment it did not felt like it was getting worse. Book one told you a story of two people in love and each with different life issues. Yes there was a lot of sex descriptions which your mamma should not catch you reading but compared to the French erotica books I had read that was nothing. I love Ana and could relate to how she felt in some parts of the book and Christian was overall your kind of guy 'good in bed' but the mummy issues he came with he can keep thank you. Books 2 and 3 well I remember the violence and the escape from death for Christian other than that not much. If someone ever wanted to read the books I would encourage them to read the epilogue in book three then read the books from the beginning, as its the only part of the book not completely filled with grammatical errors and actually is from Christian's point of view.

4. Kingsman - This movie was fun from start to finish, a friend of mine and I went to see it this week and we were definitely not disappointed. It definitely gave James Bond and Jason Bourne a run for their money. I loved the London chav humour, the posh-'toots' added in for good measure and Colin Firth (forever my Mr Darcy) was absolutely on point throughout the movie, his character was well played, so easy to like and absolutely loved the suits. There is nothing like a well tailored English gentleman suit, I am sure they are many to dispute this but that was my opinion. I think everyone should go watch this movie.

3. Rewards - This week has been full of rewards both blogging and work which has been absolutely uplifting and very encouraging, I am literally on the excitement high and I do not want to come back down. I will share more next week this week I just want to be selfish and enjoy it myself.

2. Hemingway Quote ~ During the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, Colin Firth's character quoted Hemingway, I had never heard of the quote before but it stuck and now me and my friend are quoting it every time we remember which for me now is daily

1. Family - For me the most important thing in my life is family above all else, I have committed my family to God and I am eternally grateful for the everyday blessings we receive, just being alive is a blessing enough. The air we breath is a blessing we do not see it but we know its there and we utilise it, same with God we do not see him directly but we know he's there and we feel his presence be it in out friends, neighbours or even just ourselves.

These are my Top 5 Friday, what do you have on your list? Have a blessed weekend.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Meal Plan

A few months ago after I returned from my trip to visit my friends and family in Zambia I decided to make a change in my life. I got tired of spending almost £30 every week to buy ready meals for the week since I could not be bothered to cook. I now spend about £30 a month of food and since it's just me its a good amount. I buy meats in bulk and buy fresh veggies every week for my salads which I surprisely eat daily to accompany all my foods or by themselves.
My meal planning is pretty simple since it is just me, myself and I. I spend a few minutes every month and decide what meats I want to eat and sometimes what other veggies I want to try out and that's it. I do not have a specific day during the week when I cook loads of food and freeze them, for me it all depends on my mood and level of work plus how much energy I am left with when I return from work.
I have made my meal planning as painless as I possibly can, I cook my favourite delicacies and I cook these in huge amounts to last me a week or two. And I have days where I feel like eating cereal or having my jacket potato with cheese and sauce for me it's really simples.

My favourite all time recipe to pull out is my chilli beef recipe, I can not remember the last time I bought ready cooked chilli or chilli beef con carne or anything along those lines as I really do believe mine tastes much better than the store bought. I will share a few steps but I am not that great at explaining recipes so I hope the pictures will be enough but if not when I do get a chance I will update this post with the recipe details. 
Step 1: Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan and fry onions until tender then add mince until brown

Step 2: Add  tomatoes, spices (and as much chilli as you want) and cook for 3 minutes then add tomato puree and water and cook for 10 minutes

Step 3: Add the beans (this is optional) and cook for 2 minutes

Step 4: Cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes


I portion my food out into small lunch boxes and carry one to work. I made a salad to go with this chilli beef

Portion control is very important so I usually use this size ball to measure.

Because I do not want my meals to look dull I always switch it up, I sometimes have the chilli beef with nachos, yoghurt and cheese. It's so delicious you really should try it if not done so already.

So how do you do your meal planning?

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Monday, February 16, 2015

{Food Box} January Degustabox

For the last 7 months I have been receiving the Degusta-Box and I think the January box has definitely tipped of my last favourite box. The January box has everything that I love and use and currently left with the cake mix only which I am preserving for a night-in I am planning with the Mr. I honestly love each and every single product, some new and some old favourites that I had tried and tasted way before Degusta included into the box and still just as happy.
For those who are not overly familiar with Degusta box I will give you a quickie run down.
Degusta is a food box that costs £12.99 every month (payment taken around the 10th and you receive the products around the 25th). Every month you are sent between 10-12 items which can range from snacks to big meal ingredients. Not only do you get this amazing products to try each month you also get coupons for some of the products in the box which I think is awesome. 
The charge includes delivery, this food box is available for Europe and UK only but heard they might be branching out to more countries in the near future.
To find out more about Degustabox and how you could start receiving some goodies as good as mine check out their website. I will not list the products I received but you can find out more on them HERE.
You can check out my other reviews on the Degustabox HERE, HERE and HERE.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

How blogging helped save me money

When I started blogging I was not aware of how much this would help save me money. I started blogging with the sole purpose of passing time, sharing my evolving life and then it because a little haven where I would escape and write whatever I wanted because it was my little part of the online world. I did not start blogging with the sole purpose of saving money or getting freebies these have been added bonuses which if I am honest are pretty awesome but not what I am about. Some of the products I have tested I would have done so anyway if I had the money or if I had the knowledge of them. Blogging has allowed me an inside knowledge of so many products which I did not know existed or even knew I needed. I have learned about routines, I have learned about what works for my type of skin, what to avoid and what should be given my own opinion before and/or after testing. Let's take 2014 has an example as that's when blogging really took off for me.

Face products - I can not honestly remember the last time I went to a beauty store and bought face products and if I have recently I had a coupon (voucher). This has saved me tons of money as though I am economical with my face products in how I use them it does add up after a while especially buying monthly or every other month. So let's do a little mathematics, the average price for my simple face products (cleanser,wipes, toner & cream) is about £10 and I had only bought these twice (I think) so that leaves me with 10 other months where I have saved an outstanding £100+/- a few pounds. This as you can see is amazing, most of you know I am trying to rid of my university debt and I have 6 months left to clear it all and just be left with normal bills (rent/mortgage, gas, electric etc). So having such a saving has been a bonus and I have used the money to pay off a debt or two.

Let's talk food, I have saved quite a bit in this department too. When I signed up for Degustabox last year June I didn't know how much this would impact my food spending. For £12.99 I get to try out 10-12 different types of foods, this removes from my normal shopping which then allows me to save up in this department too. My average monthly food shopping was between £50-70 a month for just me now if we calculate this from June last year so £60 by 6 is £360. This is a lot of money with the Degustabox being £12.99 and me spending max £20-30 a month I have managed to save approximately half of £360 (£180) in 6 months. This has been a big welcome and a big change for me.
I am also saving big time in clothes shopping, having companies send you clothes, vouchers and even just entering competitions to win a bit of cash has helped with saving money. I can not honestly calculate how much I have saved in shopping for clothes department as whatever I had not used because I was sent something I had used to take my sister shopping or sending a loved one the money.

Blogging has really opened my eyes to a lot of things. I know I have in the past been frugal with some things but blogging showed me so much more and has opened up so many venues though I will not be giving up my day job. One thing I do want to make clear is just because I have had all these opportunities does not even in the slightest mean I blog to get free stuff NO I blog for me and me alone. If I am offered something that I needed or have always wanted but could not afford then you betcha am going to accept but if it compromises my integrity I will say no.

There have been offers that I have thought oh wow I could do with that money but then I realise this is not me so I have turned them down. And sometimes these compromising offers come when you running on your last penny and you a few days shy of payday. But it's about knowing and believing what you stand for, I am not judging those who do because I do not know your circumstances I only know mine.

To my fellow bloggers, how has blogged helped you save money or even helped you make money? Let me know your thoughts on when a blogger turns from just blogging for them to blogging for freebies.

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Sunday, February 01, 2015

How to save money this Valentines day

As with most holidays they have become so commercialised that we seem to be forgetting the true meaning of the holiday. I love Valentines day like the next person but I do not want to waste money on something that I will probably not use or will forget about after a few good shots of something (not advocating drinking at all this is just me). I am not averse to receiving gifts on these holidays but I think the most memorable gifts are usually those that were given a thorough thinking and most times are free. Today I wanted to share a few ways you could have a romantic Valentines without breaking the bank.

1. A couple that cooks together

I love the idea of staying at home, spending time together and making a meal together. You don't have to buy anything you just use what you already have at home and make a meal or buy a few supplies and cook together, this is very romantic and very memorable. She will love it as much as he will love it because you are spending time together and creating something together.

2. A couple that walks together

Again it doesn't cost anything to go for a walk either in your neighbourhood or a short drive from your place or the nearest park. Take some time to explore together and just be together in oneness without distraction, make sure its technology free walk too (I am not talking about activity trackers I mean mobiles).

3. A Couple that watches together

With so many outlets to choose from you no longer have to go to the video store and rent a movie but if that's what you fancy do so otherwise check the telly guide and see what's on that you could watch together. In the name of love watch a movie that your partner likes and take turns.

4. Personalised Gifts

Ever since I was gifted my first ever personalised mug and calendar I have been over the moon. I love the thought that went into making those gifts. I have had CD's burned with favourite pictures on them which has been such a wonderful gift that I cherish even today. You can make your partner a calendar, a card, a CD the list is endless even taking their jewellery and personalised it.

These are some of the ways you can ensure you save money for these over commercialised celebrations. Like I said I am not averse to going out and having a romantic meal but I prefer to do the above instead. 
How are you spending your Valentines?

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