How I Write A Blog Post

I’ve been regularly posting stories on this blog for almost two years now. A lot has changed from day one. The overall concept and layout of the blog has done a 180, and most importantly, I’ve changed. Now that I’m in college, I either don’t have the time, or don’t want to make the time to sit down and write a post every week. There are many factors I put into my process that a lot of people don’t even think about. Everyone runs a blog a little bit differently, and they do whatever works for them.

I’ve never used a planner to write up posts. I write almost every blog post in my notes section on my phone. It’s convenient for me, and I can whip it out whenever I need it. I have a minimum of three separate note documents going at the same time.

The first document is my list of post ideas. This list is just a bullet list of anything I’d like to write about. Sometimes if one is time specific (like for a holiday or season), I’ll list that next to it. Also, at the end is a list of dishes I want to cook or ideas for future recipes.

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Second would be my monthly schedule. At the beginning of the month I lay out everything I need to do for the month. Normally, this includes two regular blog posts about whatever I want, 4-5 recipe ideas, and my end of the month favorites.

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When I’m brainstorming ideas, I’ll refer back to my post idea list. If I can’t think of something, I’ll just google things that are happening this month or see what’s coming up in my life.

 

Making recipes is my favorite type of post to write. Again, I start by looking at my list. From there I go on to Pinterest. There on the cooking home page, it shows me trends and helps me find inspiration. Now that I have the dishes picked out, I move on to research.

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I look at what other people are doing when they make their recipe. I try to sort out what the essential ingredients are of a dish and I build off of that. I think of what flavors work well together and how can I make this recipe as easy as possible. Finally, I test out that recipe. I usually cook two weeks of recipes at a time. I’d say 90% of the time, the recipes come out as plan, or I try to salvage it into something different. I then make any needed changes to my recipes.

 

My third document of the month is all about my monthly favorites. Whenever I find something that I love, I just write myself a quick note about it. Also, I try to find source links to go with the product. This includes songs that I want to put in my monthly playlist too.
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My actual writing process is two weeks long. If I don’t procrastinate, I start writing a week before a blog post is supposed to be uploaded. I do this so I can make changes to it during the week and have time for my editor Amanda to read through it. This doesn’t always happen though. I write two weeks worth of posts at a time just so I can get it out of the way and work on other things.

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After I have my first draft done on my phone, I copy and paste it into Google Drive. From there, I turn the pages of nonsense into a post. Again, I copy and paste it into Grammarly to get any initial grammar errors sorted out. Then one paragraph at a time, I listen to Google Translate read it back to me. Finally, I make my final edits and send the file to Amanda to do her edits.

 

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While Amanda does her magic, I get a headstart on pictures needed for the post. Every post needs a header, and some require me to edit photos. I use a Rebel T6 to shoot photos, and I always take the pictures in a RAW format. I start by opening them in Adobe Bridge, then edit them using Camera Raw in Photoshop. My headers are cropped to fit the screen properly and are exported as a JPG file.

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Sometimes I don’t take the photos I use on my blog. Majority of the time the images come from Pexels, which is a free stock image website. Other times, I use Creative Commons to source non-copyrighted pictures.

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Though I add to my monthly playlist of music throughout the month, sometimes it’s not long enough. When this happens, I add music that I’ve downloaded in the last 30 days. I go the extra mile and make a cover for the Spotify playlist. Those are made using Canva.

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Cream Puffs

O Valentine’s Day! The one day of the year that couples make sure you know they are couples. Once again, I’m single. Luckily, I have my best friends and a dog to show my affection to.

Whenever I’d have a school party back in elementary school, my mom would bring a tub of cream puffs. It wasn’t until I was 10 or 11 that I realized they were just from the freezer section. I took my mother’s sarcasm for the truth when someone would compliment them, and she’d say “I worked all day on them” followed by a laugh.

Though I’m sometimes critical of America’s reliance on GMOs, I’m happy that I can get ripe strawberries in the winter. If you can’t get your hand on fresh strawberries, or if you don’t like them, this recipe can be made without them or with a different fruit.

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 1/3 cup Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2/3 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • ¾ cup Whipping Cream
  • ⅓ cup Confectioners’ Sugar
  • 2 cups Fresh Strawberries, sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring to boil water, butter, and vanilla. In order to get the hollow-ish inside and hard outside shell, we have to make this puff pastry on the stove top.
  3. Then in the pan, add the flour and salt. Keep stirring with a spoon until a ball forms.
  4. Remove from heat and beat in the eggs until smooth.
  5. On a baking sheet or silicon sheet, make 8 equal mounds of the dough.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Next, take them out of the oven and remove them from the sheet. With a toothpick, cut a small hole on the bottom so the steam can escape. Then, put them back on the sheet and cook for an extra 5 minutes. After they’re done baking, let them cool for about 2 hours.
  7. Normally, you would pipe in the cream, but I want to stuff them with strawberries. Now, cut the puffs in half, and with a spoon scrape out the inside.
  8. In a large bowl, beat the whipping cream. Once foamy, add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
  9. Fold in about 3/4 of the sliced strawberries.
  10. Fill the puff with the cream, then layer the remaining of the strawberries. Then add more cream on top of the strawberries. Finally, add the other half of the puff on top.

Chicken Parm

There are two types of people in the world. People who love chicken parmesan and people who hate it. Chicken parm can be broken down into three main ingredients: chicken, tomato sauce, and parmesan.

This weekend I’m going over to a friend’s house. To make this a little easier to transport, I’m going to make it like a casserole.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs Chicken, breast or thighs
  • 28 Oz Tomato Sauce
  • 1 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 cup Mozzarella, grated
  • 1 cup Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Cook the chicken either on the grill, stovetop, or oven until fully cooked. Roughly chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken to the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
  3. On top of that, evenly spread on the tomato sauce.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Then sprinkle on top of the chicken. You don’t have to mix the two, but I did this so that the flavor is continuous throughout.
  5. On top, add the bread crumbs and Italian seasoning.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with noodles or by itself.

Study Tips

One thing I take seriously is my education. Maybe not to the point where I only ever study and get straight A’s, but I do think how I keep organized and study has helped me stay on the honor roll and get/ keep scholarships over the years.

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Most of the time I type my class notes. Though it’s scientifically proven that written notes help you retain more, I type my notes because that means I can study anywhere. Since middle school, I’ve been using Google Docs to type my notes. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a free online version of Microsoft Word. I have the app on every device I own so I don’t have to haul around notebooks.

 

At the beginning of each semester, I make two documents for every class. The first one is for in-class discussions and any information that might be found on the professor’s PowerPoint. The second document is just for notes from the textbook and outside reading assignments.

One thing I’ve never seen anyone else do is that I put the date in the document’s title so I know just by looking at it what was the last time I added to my notes. For example, for my in-class environmental issues (EI) notes it’s called “2/7 EI – In Class.”

Another thing I do is that I put a header every day in the document before I start typing notes. In the header, I list day of the week, date, what the main points are of the reading/ discussion, and if there is any homework or upcoming dates that I need to remember. I don’t keep a planner, so this gives me something to refer back to.

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My notes are usually in an easy to read font (probably Arial) in 12 point. I bold vocab words and italicize examples given by the teacher or book. When I’m in a classroom setting, I’m usually typing so fast that I don’t want to waste time highlighting words.

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I keep a binder for every class. I even do this for classes that don’t have homework. It’s just a place for me to put any handouts and store finished homework.

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Each one of my binders also contains a notebook that’s clipped in the back. Even though I type my notes, I never know when I’ll need paper. Some classes require me to write a journal, so I just put it in the binder too.

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This year when I went to college, at first I got lost around campus. Now each binder has a cover on them that tells me my teacher’s name, what class the binder is for, what time the class starts, and what building that class is in.

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On the other side of the binder, I keep a copy of a school map, and I highlight what building my class is in.

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Most teachers don’t require this, but I do this for myself. Right now, I’m working on an independent study and a research project for an upcoming event. Luckily the two projects go hand and hand, so I’m using the same research information for them. Because there are so many parts of the project, I’m putting everything I have for it in a binder of its own. Anything I print off or am going to use as a source, I put into the binder. Now that I’m in the writing process, I’m going to put the different drafts in there too.

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Some classes require students to read online articles as part of the class. When this happens, it’s just easier for me to print it out.

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I only highlight the mentioned people and the main point of each paragraph. After I finish it, I type up a small paragraph summary of it to put in my notes.

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You don’t need to do a full outline when writing a paper. I do think you need to make a simple one in order to know what you need to be researching/ writing about.

If I’m doing a research paper, I start by filling out an outline with the main points that I already know. From there I start my research on Google and on databases. Then once I get some research done, I go back in and fill out the details in the outline.

For non-research based papers, I follow a similar process with an outline. I start with what I know about the topic and continue from there. Normally, I’ll begin by cramming out a strong couple of pages, then I’ll take a break.

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Like I said before, I use Google Docs for school. This is the same for when I write papers. When I’m done with an assignment, I put it through a program called Grammarly. This gets most of the grammar error and formatting stuff. Personally, I’m a member of Grammarly Premium that finds more advanced issues like sentence structure and cited sources. From there, I copy and paste it into Google Translate. This reads it back to me and helps me find small errors that Grammarly didn’t pick up.

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Most of the time this is fine for daily assignments. When I’m writing long papers, I have someone else look at it.

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Everyone studies differently. Some people can do it in a loud crowded room, while others like me do it in a quiet room. Luckily, I don’t have any classes that require me to have homework, but I have a lot of reading assignments. For the most part, my teachers give me a list of all the assignments for the semester.

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Normally, I do all my reading for the week all at once. For instance, my World Cultures class requires me to read four articles a week. At the end of the week, I sit down and read next week’s articles. Same goes for the rest of my classes. I like to read on the weekends so that I’m free during the week.

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When I used to have daily homework in high school, I’d do that assignment right after that class or that night. Even if I didn’t have that class the next day, I’d get it out of the way while the information was still fresh in my head.

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I normally start studying for a test a week before. I’ll print out my in-class & book notes and highlight the main points of each. Then I’ll look up Quizlets for the class or make a study guide of my own.Screen Shot 2018-02-07 at 11.05.20 PM.png

 

Other Tips

 

The best way to get a good grade is to attend your classes. This should be a no-brainer. More likely than not, the teacher’s lecture will cover what you need to know for the test.

 

Asking questions during class is the best way to understand something you might not know. The person next to you or your friends probably don’t know the course like your teacher does.

 

Get in a study group. Joining a study group is a good way to meet people and can help you get through studying faster than just by yourself.

 

The week after the semester starts, I sit down and figure out when is the best time for me to study for each class during the week.

 

Listen to music during study time. If you live in a noisy dorm/ house, it can help you focus and stay on task. This is my favorite playlist.

 

Drink water when studying and take breaks every 45 minutes.

 

Pack your bag before you go to sleep. It’s a lifesaver for me in the morning because I’m always running behind.

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Chicken Fried Rice

I LOVE FRIED RICE! This week I attempted to make some at home for the first time. In theory, this should’ve been easy. But also in theory, a lot of things should be easy. I made a lot of this just to keep on hand for this week. I placed the rice into a smaller container so I can just reheat it in my dorm for an easy lunch.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Rice
  • 1 pound Chicken Breasts
  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 bag Frozen Peas and Carrots, thaws
  • 1 Small Onion, small dice
  • 2 Eggs, whisked
  • 2 teaspoon Sesame Oil

Directions

  1. To start, prepare the rice by following the instructions according to its package. For this recipe, I like to use brown rice that already measures out for me by cup.
  2. Now cook up about 1 lb of chicken breast, then dice them up.
  3. In a large skillet, melt down the butter with the garlic. Once that happens, fry the peas, carrots, and green onion in the butter. Then crack in the eggs and scramble it.
  4. Combine in the rice, chicken, and sesame oil. Cover the skillet with a lid, and let the flavors come together for five minutes on low.

January Favorites

New Year. New Me. Yeah, right! Though I’m excited for a few of my projects I’m currently working on, it’s just the same old, same old in my neck of the woods. After sleeping my life away during the first half of the month, I started my second semester of college. I have a feeling that my classes are going to be easy, but i’m still counting down the days until summer.

Under Armour Bag

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On the weekends, I go back home which causes me to have to pack a bag. I have a lot of stuff, so my backpack wasn’t cutting it. I’ve been using my nasty old color guard bag and my dad’s duffel bag. Thankfully, my thoughtful mother bought me a new duffel bag for Christmas. The best part of it was that it has side pockets for shoes so that my clothes don’t get dirty. I can’t find the exact same bag online, but this one is pretty much the same.

 

Color Design Sensational Effects Lipstick 329 Love It (Cream)

 

Another Christmas gift was this Lancôme lipstick. I’ve always loved the color design lipsticks, but I’d never spent more than $10 on a lipstick. I guess this came in a gift pack that you get when you spend so much at the makeup counter, but this is a nice color for my skin. Normally lipsticks are too pink, but this is just nice enough for it to work.

 

Naked Ultimate Basics 

 

I’ve just been wanting a change of pace in my eye makeup. I do like glittery and the metallic eyeshadows, but I’d wanted to try out a matte pallet. I wanted something more natural looking, as I went through a phase of really dark and smokey eyeshadows. Online right now there isn’t a lot of options. That was, until I found The Naked Basics pallet. Last month I bought this, it was under $30. I’m assuming that it was discounted because Urban Decay is going to stop production of this pallet or something. I love all twelve of the colors, particularly the shades Instinct and Extra Bitter. Also, I’m using Black Jack for my brows filler.

 

Black Leggings

Just like every other girl on campus, I own black leggings. I just picked these up because it has dramatically gotten colder over break. I thought I’d trade in my shorts and capri leggings at the gym. There isn’t anything special about them; I just bought them at Old Navy when I was there. It’s also nice to wear them under jeans when it’s extra cold out.

 

January Playlist

Banana Bread

I applaud everyone who is trying to eat healthier in the new year. With that, I recommend trying out a different recipe because this isn’t even close to healthy.

I was heading to work Monday, and I remember that everyone was out watching a presentation. This meant I had about 25 minutes to kill before I had to be back. My school’s student union got a new Starbucks this semester, so I went to buy myself a hot chocolate. That’s where I saw the thickest piece of banana bread in my life. I knew after that moment that I had to make some banana bread that weekend. I’m not going to lie; I’m probably going to sneak this into the movie theater tonight.

By far, I’m a better baker than my mom. Don’t worry, she will admit it too. Growing up whenever my mom would try to make banana bread, it would always come out raw in the middle. Even though she is trying to be healthy right now, I dedicate this banana bread to my mother.
Ingredients

  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup soft margarine or butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 cups ripe bananas, about 4-5 small
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Spray down a loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
  2. Start by mashing the banana into a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and butter. Then add in the eggs and continue to beat. After that, stir in the bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla extract.
  4. After this, mix the flour 1/2 cup at a time until incorporated. Finally, combine in the baking soda and cinnamon.
  5. Pour this into the loaf pan and bake for an hour. Once this is done, test the middle with a toothpick to check if it’s cooked.

Why I Blog + Content Update

Everyone has something they do in their spare time. Some people watch TV, paint, play a instrument, work out, etc. I seem to have a lot of extra time after I finish my schooling for the day. So I cook, travel, go to the movies, and even have a little bit of a shopping addiction. Anyone who follows my blog might know this. This website represents everything that’s important to me. Everything I love is represented here.

I’ve always had commitment issues surrounding activities. I’d start something and never finish it. Maybe this was why my mom never let me join Girl Scouts. Just in the past few years, I shelled out hundreds of my own money to make a short film and start a podcast. (The podcast equipment might not go to waste though 😏) This is why my family and friends wouldn’t trust me with long-term projects.

I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve always struggled with English and writing. It wasn’t until I actually had a supportive English teacher that made me feel like it was ok to share my work with the world. Then I joined/ was forced into newspaper, and I had no choice but to publish my stuff. Around my birthday in May 2016, I had an idea for a movie review blog. With each post, I would make a recipe to go along with the movie that was themed. So I launched the first version of this blog. At first, I had a friend “edit” my stories to check for grammar issues. It wasn’t until three months later that I figured out she never even read them. From the heavens, my dearest editor Amanda appeared – the godsend grammar guru that has been helping me ever since, and also has started a blog of her own.

Why I do this and continue to do this is because it helps me get out of my shell. This makes me publish my stuff and try out new recipes as well. I’d never think in a million years that I’d know how to make a Thanksgiving turkey or meringue cookies. Since middle school, I’ve written every night before I go to bed. About 90% of this stuff will never be published, but some do turn into blog posts.

Two years later, I’m still shocked that I’m still doing it. Right now, I have a writing schedule that works for me and my life. That’s really the key to keep doing it. Next month, I’ll probably post how my process goes.

I know since I’ve started college, I’ve cut back on posting. In this new year, I’m planning on talking about the stuff that’s important to me like education and what it means to be a woman of STEM. I might even adventure into some uncharted territory like ** pause for dramatic effect** politics. Don’t worry, I will not force it down anyone’s throat. There are just certain topics that I’m studying right that I want to share with everyone, such as global health and the UN’s place in today’s society. I swear it will not reach family Thanksgiving levels of politics.

 

Chicken & Garlic Soup

Living in the Midwest, the winter fluctuates day to day between below freezing and feeling like a nice spring day. Still, it’s a good time to curl up with comfort food and a good movie. If you read last week’s post about me talking about my all-time favorite films, you are already set for the movie part. I cooked up a soup that’s even impressed my mom and helped me get rid of all the leftover chicken in the fridge.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Butter
  • 2 cups Shredded Chicken
  • 4 ounces Cream Cheese, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons Garlic, minced
  • 2 Carrots, minced
  • 2 Stalks Celery, minced
  • ¼ Onion, minced
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Cream

Directions

  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt down the butter.
  2. Once this happens, add the shredded chicken and coat it using tongs.
  3. Now that the chicken is warming up, add in the garlic, carrots, celery, onion, and cream cheese. Let them melt down and blend together.
  4. Since the base of the soup is done, it’s time to add in the liquid. Pour in the chicken broth and heavy cream. Allow this to sit and reach a boil. Once this happens reduce the heat to low. Let this simmer for 4 minutes.

Ranch Pork Chops

I’ve never been a super picky eater, but growing up I absolutely hated pork chops. It could be because my prepubescent taste buds hated pork. But let’s get real, I’ve always and will forever love bacon. Looking back now, it could have been just too salty, or I didn’t like how dense the meat was.

I found this article on Daily Mail that discussed that some people have a gene called OR7D4. This can alter the taste for pork for people who are carriers. I’m 99.9% sure I don’t have this gene, but I used to profoundly hate this cut of meat.

It wasn’t until some time in middle school before I even ate or tried one again. It turns out I actually liked it, and from there on I enjoyed having one every once and a while. This all changed a few years ago, when my dad bought enough pork chops to feed a small army. Seemingly, we ate pork chops once a week for like six months. At that point, I was sick of eating pork and I ingested enough salt for a saltwater tank.

Late one night last week when I was planning out recipes, I was craving a pork chop. Like who craves a pork chop? I was feeling brave enough to go outside when it was 20 degrees out, so I grilled these up on my BBQ. If you want to go the extra mile, marinate these all day.

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Ingredients

  • 4 boneless Pork Chops
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Ranch Powder
  • 1 tablespoon Chopped Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat a grill or pan over medium heat.
  2. Coat the chops with olive oil and set them aside on a plate.
  3. In a small bowl, place the ranch powder, parsley, garlic powder, and pepper.
  4. Sprinkle on the ranch seasoning on top of the pork. Then flip them over to get both sides coated.
  5. Grill for 9 to 11 minutes. Make sure to cut one in half to see if it’s done.