Tag Archives: Tips

The Value Of A Good Blog Title

2 Jan
English: Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging

Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s start with a poem I wrote some years ago:

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The Thing About Poems Is

Titles
are
vital

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The same is true of blog posts.  Titles are vital to lure an unsuspecting reader to your blog, where you will surround them with your wit and wisdom and encourage them to waste time they could have used for eating, watching TV and sitting on the couch.

Here is a bad example from my own post titles:

  • Joke 648

Unless you are looking for 648 jokes, it’s rather dull.  However, it does tell you exactly what you will find – a joke; the 648th joke in a long line of jokes.  

It helps to be specific:

  • The Value Of A Good Blog Title 

is not particularly interesting but it will attract people looking to improve their blogging.  I know this because 

  • Seven Tips For New Bloggers 

still attracts readers, months after being posted.  

It helps to be topical:

  • It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Posted in December, it’s seasonal and likely to attract Christmas fanatics like me.  In November, it makes me the blogger who’s ahead of the game; in June, it makes me quirky and will, hopefully, make the reader curious.  But beware: posted in January it’s the blogging equivalent of the guest who won’t leave when the party’s over.

Sometimes, being topical leads to dumb luck:

  • Some Snow Facts

A fun factual post a year earlier led to my best-ever day – 4,720 hits – when Google Doodle celebrated the 125th anniversary of the discovery of the World’s Largest Snowflake.  I’d have been happier if just one of those people looking for the Google Doodle had left a comment but, hey, I’m not one to look a gift spike in the mouth.

Referencing popular culture in a title is a good way to attract readers.  Here are some posts of mine which still receive hits:

  • Twilight: I Hope Bella Remembered To Shave
  • Seven Of Nine, And Not In A Good Way
  • Robert Pattinson With Small Hairs

Being up to date with the news helps:

  • What Really Happened To Gaddafi

brought in hundreds of people who thought a housewife in Stockport could tell them what 24-hour news channels and thousands of dedicated reporters could not.

Adding the word ‘Review’ to a title is another good way to attract readers. However:

  1. It irritates readers if you use the word ‘Review’ and then don’t review whatever it is you claim to be reviewing.
  2. Reviewing books and movies four years after they’ve been released is unlikely to make your post a best seller.

Key words and phrases that people use in searches are useful.  Here are some posts that still receive hits; one was written over two years ago:

  • You’re Only As Old As The Woman You Feel
  • Smile And The World Smiles With You    The word ‘smile’ is the top search that finds this blog, with over 10,000 visits.
  • A Is For ‘Arguments’    The key word here is ‘A’.  Bizarrely, the letter ‘a’ comes in at Number 7, with 1,044 searches.
Sweaty Armpits

Sweaty Armpits (Photo credit: mricon)

Finally, have fun with your titles.  After all, it doesn’t matter who reads them so long as you are enjoying yourself.  Here are some of my favourite titles from posts that I have written in the last year.

  • Famous With Sweaty Armpits  
  • Okay, Tesco: I Forgive You
  • If I Break Wind, I’ll Write About It
  • I Have To Kill My Kindle
  • Love Many, Trust Few And A Canoe
  • I’m Three Mugs Of Tea Away From Becoming A Feminist
  • So Many Jokes, So Little Class   I like this one for its searing truth.
  • It’s Time To Give Up Food   I like this one for its absurd premise.
  • Ten Don’ts For When I’m Dead
  • Bring In Arms Fat Mummy
  • Hula Hoops. Very Proud Of The Queen.   I can’t claim credit for this one as it was from a comment by Debbie.
  • Vasectomy Dog And A Frog Disease Called Awesome
  • Camping: The Art Of Staying Wet Indoors
  • Flying To Spain In A Manky Cardi
  • A Labled Easy To Follow Leg
  • Sandra Bullock Has A Sex Change And Retires To Norfolk

Saving The Planet = Saving Cash

17 Apr
A car boot sale gets its name from the way goo...

A car boot sale gets its name from the way goods are sold out of the back of a car. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I haven’t posted tips for a long time.  I think these bear repeating.  Just because I’m not here, doesn’t mean I can’t make myself useful.

Partly due to personal circumstances; partly due to witnessing people scrabble around in my bins for food when I lived in South Africa; partly due to a desire to save the planet; and partly due to natural parsimony, I am a keen recycler and money-grubber.  Why not join me?

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  • Wash everything except very dirty things on a cold wash; modern powders and liquids are strong enough.  You don’t need to be at 30 degrees
  • Never wash a half-load, only a full one
  • Only fill the kettle with enough water for the number of cups you require
  • Use carrier bags for indoor bins instead of buying bin liners
  • Cut up old sheets, towels, clothes, etc. for dish cloths and dusters
  • Pour unused water  into your plant pots  – better still, buy a rain barrel
  • FREECYCLE/FREEGLE!  You can give away your old junk and receive somebody else’s.  It’s a worldwide thing so there’s probably a group near you.  It’s free.
  • If you are a UK book reader there’s also readitswapit, which is great for swapping books.  All it costs is second class postage.  It’s easy to list your old books (it must be, because I did it).  My one piece of advice would be: don’t list heavy or hardback books unless you don’t mind mortgaging the children to cover the postage.
  • Use rechargeable batteries
  • Buy refills whenever possible
  • Put stale bread out for the birds
  • Save soap scraps and make your own block of soap (having said that, I’ve only managed three blocks of soap in five years, but every little helps)
  • Cannibalise furniture, appliances, etc: when we redecorated our living room, the Hub took apart our old wall unit and used the wood to make shelves in a cupboard; he also took out all of the screws to re-use
  • Defrost food in the fridge overnight, rather than in the microwave
  • Ensure leftover food has cooled down before putting it in the fridge
  • A fridge will work more efficiently if it is well stocked, but not over full or practically empty

And one more: recycle clothes.

  • Swap with friends – my friend and I estimated that on average six children (including our own) shared any one garment.   The more people you share with, the more clothes there are to choose from, and therefore the less worn out each garment becomes.
  • Donate unwanted clothes to charity shops – they will collect if you can’t carry them
  • Sell them by the bag load on a car boot sale or through the free ads
  • If you can’t sell it or give it away because it’s too old, cannibalise it: cut off all buttons, take out cords and shoelaces, then use what’s left as rags
  • Buy from charity shops, car boot sales and jumble sales – the more we do that, the less consumables will eventually be produced

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Many of these tips might seem obvious but you’d be amazed at how few people are aware of them – do your children and the planet a favour, and pass on the message!

Have you got any tips to share?  Despite what the Hub keeps saying, I don’t know it all.

Okay, Tesco: I Forgive You

4 Mar
This is an image of the Tesco store at Kingsto...

Image via Wikipedia

I have a habit of boycotting supermarkets that annoy me.  Morrisons irritated me once too often by not having goods in stock that were advertised as on offer – again.  We started shopping at Asda.  Asda gave us an undeserved parking fine: we didn’t shop there for three years, and never went back as regulars.  That was a dearly bought £20 on their part. 

I shopped online with Tesco for a while but, as I paid by credit card, I found I was spending the grocery cash on frivolous items like electricity bills (rising because I was shopping online; have you ever done a supermarket shop online? It takes three times as long as getting in the car, driving to the next town, shopping for a year, stopping for lunch, spending the night in a hotel because you had too much to drink at lunch, and driving home again next day.  Really not worth the effort), and so I went back to schlepping it in Hub’s taxi.

Tesco Online missed me after a while, even though I visited the local store, and they sent me a £10 off voucher to persuade me to shop with them again.  I thought it was worth the effort so I spent two hours finding £50’s worth of groceries, went to pay, only to be told, ‘This voucher is not valid because you are not a first-time user.’  I don’t swear often.  Tesco has been a dirty word in our house ever since.

However, I am a forgiving girl, and I accepted their recent apology: £10 off a £30 spend, times four weeks.  I may have principles but they can be bought for the price of a full freezer.  Our food budget is small but laying out £20 in actual cash is manageable.  The Hub went alone last week, and got just over £30 in food for a payment of just over £20.  He went alone because I am not allowed to go food shopping: I have a habit of filling the trolley, going over budget, and arguing with him over what is essential (Spud’s French Fancies) and what is frivolous (Hub’s Sensodyne toothpaste).

Yesterday he wasn’t having a good day so I was allowed along for the loading and unloading of groceries, with the occasional side order of whining (But we need olive oil and French Fancies).  The Hub stopped to rest in the fruit and veg section and noticed some stuff being marked down.  He put a few items in the trolley.  He stopped to rest again in the meat section and started chatting to staff member Martin (when he isn’t laying down the supermarket law, the Hub is a sociable guy).  How happy he was to have needed a rest: Martin told him that – and this is such a great tip, I’m going to highlight it in bold –  in Tesco, if you find an item on the shelf that has to be sold that day, you can ask a member of staff for a reduction.  It was like truffles to a pig: the Hub had his nose in every meat shelf and came away with a few items marked down by Martin…by 65%.

In fact, because we arrived around five-thirty on a Saturday, a lot of stuff was already marked down.  We saved – wait for it – including our £10 voucher, BOGOFs and mark downs; but excluding items reduced in price for promotion – I can hardly believe it – £152.80.  I may have wet myself in excitement.

We didn’t spend anywhere near that, though it was a little over £20.  We spent almost £50 on items [see photo] we wouldn’t normally buy, mostly because we can’t afford them.  There was a 3kg piece of silverside: we haven’t bought silverside in sixteen years, never mind three whole kilograms of it.  There was prepared fruit.  We love fruit but buy the cheapest range and prepare it ourselves.  There were luxury doughnuts.  Need I say more? 

I now have enough meat in my freezer to last for months so, even though we went over budget, we saved future grocery money.  I might use a little to buy the Hub some toothpaste.

Thanks Martin: you made a Tesco shopper out of me.  For now.

I’ve Been Re-possessed

26 Sep

As regular reader knows, from time to time I vacate The Laughing Housewife premises to let a real writer talk about their new book.  Today it is the turn of…

…Musician, Nemo James:

Born and based in England, Nemo James worked as a professional musician and singer/songwriter for more than 30 years. He now lives in Croatia with his wife Federika and their cat Jutko, who is becoming intolerable following his rise to fame on Youtube.

The book: Just A Few Seconds.

The story of one man’s experience in the music business. It is an amusing and true story of a successful freelance musician whose gigs ranged from private parties, to the rich and famous, to the roughest London pubs, where playing the wrong song at the wrong time meant the difference between life and death. He takes more twists, turns and knocks than a mouse trapped in a pinball machine.  The ending shows how the road to success can lead us down the strangest and most desolate of paths.

If you are looking for the usual rock star memoirs full of sex, drugs and rock and roll, then this book is not for you; if you are interested in a unique insight into the music business that reads like a thriller, then this book won’t disappoint.

nemo3

Cooking Tips from Nemo James

Since the publication of my book Just A Few Seconds, several people have emailed me to ask whether my cooking has improved since the chapter entitled A Recipe For Shoestrings. In it, I wrote how during a very difficult time in my life, I was living on a budget of £1 a day for food. Some people are able to do wonders with £1 spent wisely on ingredients but I am definitely not one of them. I was not only on a shoestring budget, my meals actually tasted like shoestrings.

Then I met and married Federika who, apart from being amazing and gorgeous, is also a fantastic cook specialising in dishes from all corners of the globe, but particularly from Peru, where she grew up. I am never going to win any awards for my cooking but she has taught me a lot and in particular shared that secret that all you crafty cooks have been keeping to yourselves all these years: The Kitchen Timer

Until I discovered the kitchen timer I used to use a smoke alarm to tell me when my food was cooked. In a terraced house in the UK it was not a problem as I would always put the smoke alarm within easy reach so I could turn it off quickly. But one day, while I was living in Los Angeles, I was heating up a lovely chocolate muffin for my breakfast when the phone rang with a call from a prospective agent. I completely forgot about the muffin until the smoke alarm went off but, being accustomed to this event, I continued talking to the agent whilst removing the muffin from the oven and jumping up and down on a chair, trying to blow cold air onto the alarm. As most of the buildings in L.A. are made of wood everyone is paranoid about fire so just as I thought I had everything under control and had the agent interested the building manager started banging on my door and screaming at me to let him in. I never realised cooking could be so difficult.

Here are a few more tips that I have discovered that I would like to pass on:

  • Using an apron means that cooking doesn’t always require a change of clothes.
  • The oil you use for cooking is different to the type you use in your car.
  • Oven gloves save a lot of pain.
  • Keeping the kitchen floor clean from grease means you don’t have to wear a crash helmet while you cook.
  • When breaking an egg it is better to use the edge of a knife than a hammer.
  • A baguette is not a small shopping bag.
  • You don’t get black eyed beans by punching normal beans.
  • You can’t make white sugar go brown by leaving it in the sun all day.
  • Crab apple is not a seafood.
  • Hitting a halibut with a hammer doesn’t make it a flatfish.
  • You can’t scald pasta by telling it off.
  • Molasses are not moles’ bottoms.
  • Strong currants in Muesli are not dangerous.
  • There is no such thing as Semolina poisoning.
  • If you are running short of Tofu for that special dinner party, try adding half a litre of water to a roll of toilet paper and blend in with one large packet of wallpaper paste. No one will ever know the difference.

If you have a cooking tip you would like to share with others please leave them in the comments.

Nemo James banner

For reviews and other information visit Pump Up Your Book.

Nemo James’ website and blog.

Nemo James’  You Tube videos.

How To Look Like A Hard-Working Housewife While Hardly Working At All

15 Sep
Reinigen van suède schoenen / Cleaning suede shoes

Image by Nationaal Archief via Flickr

 

Some not-actually-cleaning tips for you: 

  • Throw a throw over the couch, chairs, toy box in the corner; you’ll look both clean and as if you have interior design aspirations
  • Leave the vacuum cleaner in the middle of the room; if anyone asks/visits, you were just about to use it
  • No shoes allowed in the house.  No shoes = no dirt = no need to leave the vacuum cleaner cluttering up the lounge
  • If you are expecting guests and can’t be bothered to dust, spray some air freshener and visitors will think you just did
  • If you must dust, laddered tights and socks make excellent cloths; to save time and laundry, dust while you’re wearing them and then throw straight into the bin
  • Women: don’t get married.  According to many studies, once women marry they do twice the amount of housework as their spouses
  • Men: get married (see previous point)
  • Wear the same clothes every day; eventually they will walk off by themselves, giving you an excuse to buy something new
  • Hang creased clothing in the bathroom/shower room; the steam will help remove the creases
  • Wear only nylon – no ironing, plus the excitement/terror of knowing you could be shocked at any time of the day or night
  • Lower your standards; answer all complaints with Studies have proved that exposing children to germs reduces the risk of asthma and similar conditions;  are you trying to turn me into a bad mother?
  • If you can afford it, pay someone else to do it and stifle your left-leaning guilt: you have just created a job in a world-wide recession
  • Only tidy the room you use.  Once all rooms in your home have been used, move

If you have any tips of your own I’d love to hear them. 

On the subject of cleaning, I took possession of a real eBay bargain yesterday:  £2.50 for a mop, bucket, brush, dustpan and brush, cloths & scrubbing brush.  I don’t know when I’ll ever use them, but it’s nice to have them in the house.  

 
 
 

  

 

  

  

  

   

    

  

  

  

     

  

  

    

  

    

 

  

  

  

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