New Design!

booksbakingandbloggingIf you’re reading this on my blog, and not in some fancy reader you must have already noticed: Books Baking and Blogging has a new layout!

I’ve been wanting to change things up for a while now, but always postponed actually doing it. Re-doing your entire layout is quite the job and takes a lot of preparation. I wanted it to be (mostly) right in one go, so I had to make up my mind before implementing all the changes. That was the difficult part, really… Making decisions is harrrd, man.

But when I found out earlier this week that in my old layout the “Older Posts” button had gone missing completely when looking through the categories, I decided it was time to finally do it!

So, I spent most of today working on this layout, and especially the header. I’m pretty proud of it, if I do say so myself! I think the new look fits me and the feel of my blog way better, so I’m quite content.

Of course, I’m curious to hear what you think!

Some minor things might still change throughout the next couple of days (or weeks…). For instance, I’m not sure yet if I’m happy with my current social media icons, and I’ve been wanting to add a complete list of both my book reviews and my recipes for aaages, so now seems a pretty good time to do that, too.

I’m also thinking about adding some kind of rating system to my book reviews, so the structure of those might change a little in the future as well.

Sooo, what do you guys think? Any tips or suggestions? They’re more than welcome!

Teacupcake’s iBlog – A Feature Story on My Blog

About a week ago I saw a post from the lovely Nicole over at teacupcake, who has started a new little project: she wants to write profile feature stories about her fellow bloggers, to get to know them better and to reach new readers as well. I was (as far as I know) the first to react, and the first installment of iBlog is about Books Baking and Blogging! Nicole wrote a lovely story about my blog. I hope you enjoy, and don’t forget to visit Nicole’s blog!

DARK chocolate, plain flour, butter, sugar, eggs and raspberries.  Anne is making brownies.
The rich, dark chocolate mixture glistens in the pan and she smiles, they’re perfect.
Baked to perfection – a light crisp texture on top and still gooey and fudgey inside. What better way to start?
Once cooled, Anne cuts them into squares and casually-yet-precisely places them onto a crimson plate. She focuses the camera lens on the delicate morsels and click!  The perfect picture for her first post on Books Baking and Blogging.BBB5
Sitting down at her computer in hometown Groningen in the Netherlands, Anne munches on a chocolate brownie as she contemplates introducing herself to her future readers.
“So, why Books Baking and Blogging? Well, let’s take it one at a time,” she says.  “I love reading. When I was little my parents used to read to me before I went to sleep, and ever since then I’ve loved stories.
“Once I was able to read I took full advantage of it and read every night before bed without exception.”
While Anne’s love of books is ingrained, her love of baking came later in life – although she’s not entirely sure just how or when. What she does know is she loves it.
“It’s not really about the end result (although it’s a nice benefit) but more about the process,” she says.  “Baking is sort of therapeutic to me. If I have a lot of stress it calms me down to just be busy with those ingredients and not worry about anything else.”
BBBAnne, a 20-year-old English student, started Books Baking and Blogging in October 2013, but she’s no stranger to the online medium.
“I’ve had a few blogs when I was young teen, no older than 16,” she says.  “Those were mainly diary-type blogs in which I told about what happened to me. I’ve always liked writing, and have been writing ever since I can remember.
“I started BB&B because I missed writing on a regular basis (and writing stuff that didn’t have anything to do with my studies).
“I had been walking around with the idea of starting a new blog for a few months, but I wanted a good idea about what I’d write about before actually  starting. I didn’t want it to be like an online diary anymore. I wanted to start a ‘serious’ blog with a specific topic.
“My life is not even close to being exciting enough for starting an interesting diary-type blog!”
And so Anne set about writing about her two loves, with the occasional anecdote thrown in for good measure.
“I try to maintain a nonchalant way of writing, to keep things light and (I hope) sometimes funny,” she says.  “I also really like to take the photos that accompany my posts.
“I bought my camera in the summer of 2013, and kind of regretted it later, because I hardly used it after my trip to London. Now, however, I use it weekly, and am getting better at taking pictures. The photography is a really fun part of blogging.”
BBB1While Anne started blogging again to write more (and admittedly bake more), it is this new-found passion for photography, connection built with fellow bloggers and creating each post that keeps her inspired.
“I aim to post twice a week (Thursday and Sunday), and I like having those deadlines each week,” she says.  “I feel a little proud every time I make the deadline.”
When Anne’s not reading, baking or blogging, she’s just like every other university student.
“I love to play guitar in my spare time and hang out with my friends – watching films, having a few drinks,” she says.  “I also like to play the Sims 2, have been playing it ever since it came out, and it’s still one of my favourite pastimes.
“I also watch a lot of series, like Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Castle, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl (it’s a looong list). My all time favourite show is Friends, though; I’ve watched all the episodes way too many times, and still enjoy watching it every time.”

Here is the link to Nicole’s post, which also includes further information about participating in this project!

My Plans for 2014

Sooo, it’s the 2nd of January, 2014… A new year, already! For me, 2014 feels a bit like a fresh start. 2013 was quite a tough year for me, but I’m looking forward to this one, and I’m feeling all energised and positive, which I hadn’t thought possible a few months back.

Part of my positivity has to do with this blog. I started Books Baking and Blogging a little over two months ago, and I’m having so much fun with it! I got really excited the other day when I realised I’d be entering my first full year of blogging in 2014. I intend to enjoy every single minute of it.

I don’t mean for this blog post to be filled with clichés and stuff, but I do want to talk a little about my plans for 2014 because that’s what’s been on my mind for the past few days.

negativemindpositivelife2I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions — I’m pretty sure they don’t work for me and will only hold me back. You see, I’m a worrier. I worry constantly about anything and everything, and if I had to take a couple of resolutions into account as well, that wouldn’t work. At all.

That’s why this year’s goal is just to have fun and be happy. That should be enough, right?

Sure, I want to do well in my studies, and perhaps exercise a bit more, but I don’t want to enter this year feeling like I’ve got a burden on my shoulders. I want to enter it feeling like it’s going to be a great year. I want to be positive by focussing on the good things, instead of negative by only paying attention to the things I need to improve about myself.

This year, I’m going to do fun stuff.

I’m going to bake delicious things in my tiny little kitchen, make beautiful pictures of those baked goodies and then I’m going to devour them, hopefully with my wonderful friends to help eat them. This year will also very much be about friendship because I’ve come to truly appreciate my friends over the past year.

I’m also going to read lots of books and give honest reviews about them on here. I specifically chose not to do any reading challenges (like the Goodreads one) because I don’t want to put any pressure on my reading experiences. I do think I’m going to set up a proper To Read list on here some time soon because that thing is getting longer and longer each day…

And, last but not least, I’m going to continue to blog every Thursday and Sunday because I absolutely love it.

The Liebster Award

It’s four weeks ago today that I created this blog, and the response I’ve gotten in those weeks is quite overwhelming. I didn’t think anyone would read that first post (on chocolate brownies) but it got 11 likes, and people already started following me after that one post. Now I’ve got 35 followers and over 50 likes, and I’ve come across some really great blogs myself as well. It’s been a wonderful experience so far, and I’m enjoying the blogging game very much. So thank you to all those people who’ve made it worthwhile!

Why am I dedicating a blog post to this? Well, a few days ago I was nominated for the Liebster award by Gwen from Little Growing Pains! I was extremely surprised. I mean, booksbakingandblogging is not even a month old yet! It really made my day, and I want to thank Gwen once more for the nomination! Thank you! You’re wonderful, and your blog is really amazing (seriously people, go check it out).

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I wasn’t familiar yet with this whole award business, but apparently (at least for this award) I need to answer eleven questions Gwen asked me, and tell you eleven other random facts about myself. I love random questions and random facts, and I also thought it would be a nice opportunity to tell you guys a bit more about me, since I haven’t shared all that much about myself yet, so I’m happy to answer these!

 

Gwen’s questions:

1. If you could insert yourself (as yourself) into any literary world of your choosing, what would it be? I don’t even have to think about this one — that’s definitely the Harry Potter world. It would be so tremendously cool to be able to go to Hogwarts, and to do magic! Although, the “as yourself” part of this question would suggest I wouldn’t be able to do magic… I’m just going to ignore that!

2. Coffee or tea? Tea, definitely tea. I don’t drink coffee (I think it’s disgusting) and tea is practically the only thing I do drink when I’m at home, besides a glass of lemonade or orange juice every now and then.

3. What is the WORST piece of advice you’ve ever been given? You know, I thought long and hard about this, but I really don’t know. The thing with bad advice is that I just forget about it because it sucks and I won’t do anything with it anyway. And maybe I have gotten some bad advice but didn’t know it was bad advice… Who decides what’s bad advice anyway? Wow, getting philosophical now — next question!

4. Crumple or fold? Fold. I’m not an extremely tidy person, but when it comes to folding stuff I’m quite neurotic. Although, now that I think about it, this only goes for paper. My clothes aren’t really folded that neatly.

5. If we were to go on a date (hypothetically), where would you take me and why? Wow, good question. I actually had a really hard time coming up with something because I’m not that original when it comes to dates. Perhaps I’d cook some nice dinner for you at my place and maybe go and watch a film. Depending on the weather a walk around the park here in my city would be really nice, too. But I really have no idea, to be honest…

6. If you could go back in time ten years and tell yourself one thing, what would it be? Hmm, ten years ago I was ten years old… It’s difficult to remember what I was like back then. I think in those days I was quite insecure about my friendships and afraid people didn’t like me, so I’d tell myself that I’d be getting some really great friends in the future. Oh, and that if people don’t like me for the way I am they can just bugger off! That’s something I’ve learned.

7. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? I love ice cream and there are so many great flavours… I think if you’d ask me this question again tomorrow the answer would be different but right now I’m going for hazelnut flavour. It’s really delicious!

8. What kind of toothpaste do you use? It’s called “Aquafresh freshmint”.

9. Above all else, what are you afraid of? Death. And losing the people I love to it. Thinking too much about death really scares the living daylights out of me (I’m not religious, so I don’t believe in some kind of heaven).

10. So far, what has been your favorite age to be and why? The year I had the most fun was the year I was 18. That’s when I started university, when I met some of the best friends I have now, and when I had my first boyfriend. It was an awesome year.

11. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? Wow, so many things! If I really couldn’t fail I think I’d start my own bakery. Or finally edit the novel I’ve got sitting on my computer and send it to a publisher.

 

11 random facts about me:

1. I absolutely adore the tv series Friends. I’ve got all ten seasons on dvd and watch them over and over and over again. It never ceases to entertain me.

2. When I was eleven I was a vegetarian for about a month. Then I just couldn’t take it any longer and started eating meat again because I loved it so much.

3. My favourite colour is red, and that has resulted in me having a lot of red stuff (my friends sometimes tease me with it). I’ve got red glasses (they’re awesome), one red wall in my teeny tiny living room, a bright red sofa in that same tiny living room, a lot of red clothes, red Converse All Stars, most of my bed sheets are red, and my eReader is red as well. And I’m sure I’ve forgotten many red things.

4. I play the guitar. I had guitar lessons for over 5 years but I quit those when I started my last year of high school. I still play, though, and I’ve started up singing as well. Mostly in the comfort of my own home but I sometimes play a tune or two for my friends.

5. I don’t like caramel, cheese or coffee, which one of my friends thinks is ridiculous. She makes fun of me for it at least once a week!

6. I don’t wear any make up, ever, except perhaps to a fancy party. I just don’t like wearing it and it’s too much of a hassle to put it on and take it off again.

7. I love Disney films, especially the newer ones. My favourite ones are Finding Nemo and Tangled.

8. I think Despicable Me (both 1 and 2) are works of genius as well but those aren’t Disney films, so they get their own fact! (Don’t judge me! Thinking of random facts is hard, okay?)

9. Ever since it first came out I’ve been obsessed with The Sims 2, and I still play it every week.

10. When I was younger I had guinea pigs and I desperately want one again but that’s just impossible for my current living situation (no room!).

11. Instead of the guinea pig I’ve got a plant (a spathiphyllum) and it’s called Johnny.

 

So, now we’ve got all that out of the way it’s time for me to announce my nominees! Officially I have to nominate 11 new people, but 11 is a large number and considering I’m only following about 30 blogs yet I thought that would kind of defy the whole purpose of an award, so I’m going to go for 4 nominees. Here they are!

Bec from Daisy and the Fox! I love her blog, she has really fun posts about all kinds of stuff, like great recipes, accompanied by lovely photos.

Clare from A Little Blog of Books and Other Stuff! I already followed her blog before I even made my own. She posts really lovely book reviews.

Poppy from Poppy’s Patisserie! She posts great vegan recipes, and the photos of all her creations are mouthwatering.

Nicole from Short and Sweet Treats! She makes the most gorgeous cupcakes and cakes, and when I first came across her blog her creations just put a smile on my face.

Before I’ll post my questions for you, I just want to point out that this is completely optional. If you don’t want to answer the questions and/or nominate a bunch of new people for the award, that’s fine! If you do, here are the rules: include the award photo in your post, answer the eleven questions I ask you, share eleven other random facts about yourself, nominate eleven other bloggers for the award (and notify them!), and give them eleven questions to answer. That’s it!

My questions for the four nominees are not really original — I decided to go for favourites, because I like to hear about favourites.

1. Favourite book?

2. Favourite food? (as in, dinner)

3. Favourite dessert?

4. Favourite candy?

5. Favourite city in the world?

6. Favourite flavour of tea?

7. Favourite item of clothing?

8. Favourite of your possessions? (for me, for example, it’s the aforementioned sofa — or my computer)

9. Favourite game? (either video or board)

10. Favourite tv series?

11. Favourite smell?

Congratulations to you guys! And thanks again to Gwen for nominating me and to all of you who are reading my blog!