31 August 2011

Post Of The Month Club: August

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

It's here!
Post of the Month Club
for August :)


Come on in
It wouldn't be the same without you


Around here
Trees are drooping with apples
Blackberries are ripe for the picking
Days are getting shorter

Where are we going this month?

It's a little more personal for me this time

Here, have a seat at my table...

I saved a spot for you :)

Have you noticed anything about the photos, as a clue?

Hmm, what about my party dress?

Too much?

Okay, this has to give it away...

The party favors :)

So for me, September will be about doing 

No dairy. No sugar. No alcohol. Gluten-free. 21 Days.

Proof that you can find an adventure as close as your kitchen

Nervous - yes
 Challenging - yes
Curious - YES!

Feeling 'clean' inside & out

Most of all, I want to see how I feel after 21 days
What I learn in the process

* I'll be following The Clean Program by Dr Junger, made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow 
(I'm receiving no compensation for blogging about it)

Tell me, do you have any adventures next month?


Alrighty then
To our meet & greet

* Bloggers, just link up your best post of the month *
And see, you've already done the work

* Share the love by dropping by a few other blogs and say 'hi',
if you can *

* Would you like to add my button to your lovely sidebar or post so more can join the fun? *
Yep, we'll do this the last day of each month

* Don't forget to become a follower here too *

Don't be shy
Jump in :)

Happy September Blogging, you nutritious cauliflower, you


26 August 2011

Althorp House & Princess Diana

Althorp House, Northamptonshire

A girlfriend of mine just returned with rave reviews from the Spencer family home,
but I had to hurry if I was to visit this famous estate
before it closed to the public for the season
So off I went!

The Spencer dynasty has lived at Althorp for twenty generations
Not a museum, this house is has been occupied uninterrupted by a family since 1522,
making this house a home

Covering 14,000 acres of beautiful countryside in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, and Norfolk,
the estate includes cottages, farms, woodlands, and even villages

Charles, 9th Earl Spencer (Princess Diana's brother) lives there today

Oaks & sheep line the driveway

Making their fortune as sheep farmers since pre-Tudor times,
the Spencer estate leases much of its land for farming today
In many cases, the same family has farmed the same land for generations

As you could imagine, the Althorp House holds many stories
including courtly balls, a secret marriage (1755), a small pox victim (19th cent), and 
royal overnight guests including William of Orange (1695), 
Queen Mary and King George V (1913)

One guide assured me there are no ghosts or secret passageways, 
but I was always on the lookout for a trapdoor or hidden panel :)

Prince William Room & Marlborough Room

Exploring the nineteen rooms and a few private apartments,
I found the house to be large and grand (as expected)
with an accumulation of countless portraits,
artwork, antique furniture, and books that spans the generations

Althorp Stables

The stables hold an award-winning exhibition celebrating the life of Diana, Princess of Wales
including the famous bridal gown, her childhood letters and artifacts, 
and details of her charity work

My favorite part was seeing some of her dresses displayed next to
photographs of her wearing them

She was definitely an amazing person with all she accomplished
What a difference one person can make
(and how adorable are her two sons?!)

A Sad Day: At rest on island, September 6th 1997

I saw a visitor leave flowers here...

Located beside lake

Although the 2011 summer open days have almost past, 
there are opportunities to rent out the house for a wedding or special occasion(!)
or visit when it is open next time (the more economical choice):

Althorp Garden Art Weekend (Sept 3-4)
Winter Warmers at Althorp (Nov 25-27)

It was definitely an unforgettable day
Thank you for coming along :)

Time for another Post Of The Month Club day - yea! 

It is a great way for you to promote your best work
and meet other fantastic bloggers

Join me Wednesday, August 31st

Yep, right here :)


Ooh, wouldn't this button look lovely on your sidebar?
You can grab the code from my sidebar :)

All bloggers are welcome to join
It wouldn't be the same without you!
(more details here)
Exterior photos: by me
Interior photos: Althorp 
Content: Althorp, Wiki


23 August 2011

Blogging Tips Series: Increasing Comments On Your Blog

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

Bloggers love to receive comments, don't we?

It provides the fuel to keep us posting

Motivating. Validating. Connecting.

Here are a few ideas to keep the love comments flowing...

Heartfelt comments
[via Pinterest]


Deactivate the 'captcha' in your comment section - you know, that warped text of nonsense words used to ensure a real person is writing a comment? You'll notice the well-followed blogs do not use them. They are not user friendly.

[sample captcha]
Many people read blogs from different devices such as smartphones and iPads, on which can be cumbersome to write (or see) the captcha. It takes time, and simply is an extra hoop to jump through.

Do not fear inappropriate comments. Although I receive them occasionally, I just delete them. Plus, you can reactivate the captcha feature anytime you rethink your decision to eliminate it. All comments will continue to land in your inbox, so nothing will sneak in under the radar. Really, just try it.

Loads of comments
[via Pinterest]


Ideally, comment back on other bloggers' posts if they comment on yours
I think it increases blog loyalty and forms connections

{However, I must say life often gets this in the way, 
preventing me from doing this as often as I'd like}

Cute comments
[via Pinterest]


Personally I like when a comment box is not isolated from its post

I have a very small memory and appreciate being able to refer back to the post
while writing a comment

Flowery comments
[via Pinterest]


End your post with a question
This gives a clear message to your readers that you would like their input

What suggestions would you add?
(that's a 'ending your post with a question' question)

I really would like to know ;)


Coming Wednesday, August 31st
Hope you will join in the fun!


Details here

More Blogging Tips:
Increasing Blog Traffic (here)
Photo Editing (coming soon)

21 August 2011

Blogging Tips Series: Increasing Blog Traffic

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing or where it would take me

I found as 'followers' increased,
my motivation did too

Here's a bit of
what I've learned so far about increasing readership...

[via Pinterest]


Discover new blogs
Connect with them through their comment section and become a follower

Indicate that you are new to their blog in a comment (ie,'...your newest follower')
so they comment and follow you back

Find new blogs by
clicking on blogs listed on others' sidebars
or check out those who left comments on blogs that interest you

And if someone new comments on your blog, 
it is polite to return the favor
with a 'follow' and comment :)

[via Pinterest]


When I first started,
there was a core group of bloggers I got to know online from 3 different countries
(hi, girlies!)

It began with commenting on each others' blogs regularly
-we each had under 100 followers at the time-
and through our comments (and some emails) we got to 'know' one another

. Lucky me, I even had tea with bloggers Sarah and Rona

Some of these bloggers linked to me at different times in their posts
or added me to their sidebar (thank you!), 
which brought a few new readers to my blog

 So put yourself out there, make connections, and see what happens :)

[via Pinterest]


Linky Parties are a good way to meet other people like you, 
especially when the party has a theme that interests you
such as photography, crafts, or decor

Add your post to a party or participate by
commenting and following the blogs you connect with
 {it can be a goldmine of interesting blogs}

Or you might want to host a Linky Party on your blog

I host a Linky Party at the end of each month, 'Post Of The Month Club' 
- not to self-promote, but just say'n :)

[via Pinterest]


You wouldn't know it, but I actually have a lot more email subscribers than followers
 - quite a few RSS subscribers too -
which puts me over 1000 readers

If you haven't signed up for Feedburner to forward your new posts via email, hop to it, my friend
(Blogger now offers it as a Gadget)

A little spring cleaning
[via Pinterest]


Tidy up your blog regularly

Make your text easy to read with a clean background and easy-on-the-eyes font

Your 'Follow' button should be near the top (if that's important to you)

And images or photographs will break up text, making your posts easier to read

Make each post your best :)

Do you have any tips to share?

More Blogging Tips:
Increasing Comments On Your Blog (here)
Photo Editing (coming soon)

16 August 2011

What I Miss From The USA

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

I am asked frequently what I miss most from the US


Aside from friends & family
I miss

{fried okra, biscuits & gravy, grits}
not healthy but big on the yummy-comforty food factor

it is shocking how quickly I can wash and dry 
a weeks worth of clothing in the US

this mega store not only has everything I need at good prices,
but their merchandise is often cute cute cute

that latchy-thingy on the handle that allows your gas to flow
while you wait in your car in the rain

with the 'customer is always right' attitude
and making it a priority that I have a pleasant
experience in their establishment, 
what's not to like?!

Wishing you a wonderful rest of your week :)

09 August 2011

Candy Wars

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK

My family was happy to help with a blind taste test
of 3 different sweets from the US & UK

US (top) vs UK (below)

Clearly the KitKat packaging graphics were very different
but what about the taste?

Everyone agreed the UK KitKat tasted 
'better', 'richer', and 'more chocolaty'

First 3 KitKat Ingredients
US: Sugar, Wheat Flour, Cocoa Butter
UK: Sugar, Dried Whole Milk, Cocoa Butter

US (top) vs UK (below)

Interestingly, although the UK Snickers bar looks bigger 
they were actually the same size
Ah, the magic of marketing

I do think having an image of peanuts on the package 
is a good idea for those with allergies

There was no clear winner on the Snickers bar among us,
as most of us thought they tasted the same

US ingredients: Milk Chocolate, Peanuts, Corn Syrup
UK ingredients: Sugar, Peanuts, Glucose Syrup*

*According to Wiki, glucose syrup is make from starch crops 
such as potatoes, wheat, barley, rice and cassava

US (top) vs UK (below)

I admit to not liking Skittles at all,
but it continues to be one of my kiddos favorites so...

Aside from obvious packaging differences 
(the UK bag looks very 80s to me),
the UK certainly won the prize for appearance 
as their candies were more cheery and brightly colored

Although the US bag did not include blue Skittles,
most of the colors tasted the same as their foreign counterpart

Their ingredients?
Sugar, Corn Syrup, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil (US)
Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Vegetable Fat (UK)

Overall I would say the UK KitKat tasted better than the US bar,
and the UK Skittles looked more appealing in their brighter colors
but otherwise there were no clear consensus

I guess we will just have to try again :)

02 August 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Posted by Happy Homemaker UK


Some common names in the garden
are different between England and the US
Here are a few

Rowan Tree (Mountain Ash)
Persian Acacia Tree (Mimosa)
Nigella (Love-In-A-Mist)
Cow Parsley (Queen Anne's Lace)
Eggs and Bacon (Toadflax)
Busy Lizzie (Impatiens)
Ragged Robin (a type of Lychnis)

Isn't that delightful?