Week on the web


Here are my finds for this week…

What interesting tidbits have you found lately?


Week on the web


Here are my finds for this week…

What have you found on the web lately?


Blog overhaul

Just in time for Bloggiesta, even though I didn’t participate, I need to give my blog an overhaul ONCE MORE. Sorry to all the people who think I am insane and emotionally immature, but this theme does not work the way I want. Feature images don’t show and the line breaks still give me headaches. I seem to have been extremely unlucky with my recent themes. So this time I will be going with a theme by Automattic, which should work perfectly – I hope.


Weekend cooking: Re-arranging cookbooks

I am taking a break from my NEW52 Foodie project to talk a little about my cookbooks. Until now I had my cookbooks all over the place. Some were in the kitchen (window sill, shelves), some were in the living room, some in the clutter-y spare room with books, DVDs and a messy desk study at the far end on the floor under tons of other books. Now that I want to discover new recipes this was no good anymore and I had to re-arrange them a bit. I collected all of them and put them on a table, sorted out the ones I didn’t need anymore (in fact it was only one book I set aside as it was chicken recipes only), sorted them loosely and put them on one big shelf in the living room.

My cookbooks

I know, the collection is not nearly as big as other participants’ but I still enjoy looking at the books all gathered in one place. And it makes browsing for new recipes so much easier. I discovered a few small books that I never even knew we had and already found new recipes to try.

There is nothing like re-arranging books to boost your creativity!
How are your cookbooks sorted? All in one place? Favourites in the kitchen, the rest banned to a secluded spot?

As for new recipes I made another meal I found through a Weekend Cooking fellow blogger. It is a absolutely delicious Slow Cooker Lentil Cauliflower Stew that I found on The Law Student’s Cookbook. Another family favourite from now on.

This post is part of

Weekend cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads. For the other weekend cooking posts please go there.


Sorry for the inconvenience

I am sorry for this – and Birgit will love me for it, I know –, but I will have to change my blog theme again. This theme is driving me insane. I love its looks but it behaves erratically when it comes to font size, line breaks and and and. I am using Live Writer and never know exactly what my post will look like before I upload it and, frankly, I am not uploading a scheduled post just to go into WP to change its looks (especially since I hate the WP interface). So a new theme it is. But I am planning to keep the color scheme and header, so maybe you won’t even notice the difference, Smiley.


Bloggiesta conclusion


OK, I think I am done with actively working on my blog during Bloggiesta. Somehow I didn’t feel like updating my Goodreads; I chose instead to update my reviews list, so all books are on it now. I had neglected it for a long while.

Also I wrote a couple of reviews and another post for Crafty Tuesday and am quite happy with what I did.

Don’t forget you can still join my Photo Editing challenge and maybe you will win a great e-book about Real.Life.Photography from Ella Publishing.

It was a fun weekend, it is evening now where I am and I am done! How is everybody else feeling? Are you happy with what you got accomplished or have you procrastinated like the best of them and spent all time on twitter and browsing other people’s blogs (not that there is anything wrong with that)?


Bloggiesta update 2


Saturday was another good day and I tackled two things:

I really liked this one. Related posts are really a good idea and I am quite happy with nRelate. It is rather good and no work at all. What I did after reading the challenge is install the “Tweet old posts” plugin that automatically tweets older posts to being them back to the attention of twitter followers. I tweeted one immediately (you have no say in what post, but can exclude categories and specific posts from the pool) and it re-tweeted a locations post – good choice, :).

My overall score is 85, which is pretty good, especially seeing that I don’t promote my blog much or that I don’t monetize it in any way (not counting the affiliate links, if I depended on them I’d have starved a long time ago).

What this grader obviously wants me to do is get a Facebook page. Thanks, but no, thanks. I do have a Facebook account but it is rather independent from any other online activities and I want to keep it that way.

It complains about lack of tweets about my content and/or Facebook shares. Well, it IS possible to do that easily from every post, so if people don’t want to do it, I can’t do much about it. I mean, I hardly ever tweet or share other people’s posts so I am not one to complain. 

A 301 redirect is a good suggestion. I looked into that already some time ago and somehow – I can’t remember why – I couldn’t do it. I hate messing directly with program files, so I might look into a plugin for it. I will look into that again.

Today I want to update my Goodreads account and then I will be done. Not bad at all! How are you all doing?


Bloggiesta update 1


Day 1 is over, what have I got done so far?

I have already cleaned my Google Reader. What a great feeling it was to unsubscribe from feeds. I came from 128 and ended up at 61, that is quite good going. In the future if I find I don’t read a blog in a week I will unsubscribe from it. I do not want to get into a situation where I have to stare at a list of 867 unread items again.

I went through Joy’s Evernote challenge and decided how to incorporate Evernote into my blogging.

I installed the Tumblr app on my phone and made sure I had my tumblr account activated in Instagram. That should make posting on my Tumblr blog Teleidoscope 2.0 a little easier.

Not too bad for only one evening. Saturday will be a bit busy, but I hope to get to do some more later in the afternoon.

How is everybody else doing?


Bloggiesta kick-off


OK, I am all set and ready to go for Bloggiesta, are you, too?

What are my plans? Well, I am quite happy with the look and behind the scenes of my blog right now, so I don’t feel the need to do much. However, there are a few areas that could do with a little improvement.

  • I need to clean out my Google reader. It collects so many feeds right now that I always am behind, no matter how often I try and read posts.
  • Joy from Joy’s Book Blog offers an Evernote challenge. I LOVE Evernote for my “real” life and am looking forward to reading about Joy’s ideas on how to incorporate it into blogging.
  • I am going to have a look at The Blue Stocking’s Revitalize old content challenge. Sounds interesting!
  • I like the idea of my Tumblr blog Teleidoscope 2.0 but it is sadly neglected. I want to find a way to easily update it with conten on a regular basis which also includes Instagram.
  • If I have time I want to update my Goodreads account with reviews and ratings.
  • And, of course, (you might have noticed it already), I am running my own mini challenge this time about basic photo editing. So I am planning time for that as well.

Bloggiesta is hosted by Suey from It’s all about books and the 1st daughter from There’s a book. You can find more information, a list of all participants and a master list of challenges over there. On Twitter you can find us with the hashtag #bloggiesta. On Twitter there will also be a few twitter parties which are always fun.


Bloggiesta Mini Challenge: Basic photo editing


Hi! Welcome to my mini challenge about basic photo editing.

If you are a blogger you most likely work with images to enhance your blog posts, at least now and then. Maybe all pictures you use on your blog are book covers that you downloaded from the net; maybe you take pictures of your own books, book shelves, book bags, library etc. It doesn’t matter where your pictures come from or whether they were taken with a cell phone, a point and shoot camera or the most sophisticated DSLR camera. Almost every photo can do with a little editing. There is not much work involved, will only take a few minutes and the result is always an improvement.

Today I want to give you some basic photo editing tips that will make the pictures on your blog look so much better than the SOOC (straight out of the camera) ones that you might have used until today.

Don’t worry we will only cover a few easy things that can be done in any photo editing software (e.g. Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Corel Paint Shop Pro, Gimp). After that I will show you a nifty online tool that you can use if you haven’t got any editing software on your computer.
I am doing my editing with Photoshop CS2, so you might have to look around a bit in your software to find an equivalent, but I am sure it is there somewhere.

Before you begin editing, open your image and duplicate it, then close the original. You always want to work on a duplicate, so you have the original to go back to if you don’t like your editing results but accidentally saved them.



Cropping iconThe first thing you might want to do is crop your picture. Is there something on the side or in the corner of the picture that distracts from the subject and you would like to get rid of it? If you don’t need or want to stick to a certain ratio of the image, just get out the crop tool and start cropping.

I am using a photo of my Harry Potter books that I took to post for the Harry Potter readalong. I know, the quality is not the best and they would definitely look better if they were all one kind of edition, but it is how it is – I took it with my cell and it is rather grainy; that is why I am going to remove the colours later. Things that don’t go that well together in terms of colour often look better without them.

Do you see those ugly robot’s feet on the left? I used them to prop up the books, but I don’t want to show them.


Open your image and choose the crop tool in your software (it normally looks like the icon I posted at the beginning of this paragraph). Start at the upper left corner where you want your image to begin and drag out a square or rectangle until you cover all the area you want to show.


Then commit by hitting Enter or clicking on the checkmark in the menu bar.

There, now your photo is cropped and only shows what you want to show.

Cropped photo



Image sizeNow it is time to resize your image. Unless you have your camera set to the lowest image size your image is probably too big to use online.

Go to ->Image, ->Image size. Change the resolution to 72ppi which will automatically decrease your pixel size. Then enter the width pixel size that you would like to have. For my blog a width of 600 is about the maximum that is shown properly. It totally depends on the column sizes of your blog. For the main content column a width of 400 to 500px is a good medium size. For a sidebar a width of 100 to 200px maximum would be suitable.

Image size dialog

Don’t ever increase the size of the image! You might get away with a small increase (especially on a monitor) but in a lot of cases your image will look pixelated and ugly. If your photo is too small for your purpose, instead consider adding a background and /or frame of some sort to make the whole image look bigger. .

See Pedro at the beginning of this post all nice and crisp? Below is what he looks like when increased in size:

Pedro way too big

Not so pretty anymore, is he?

Whatever width you decide on, it is absolutely crucial that you keep the ratio of the picture! Make sure the checkbox "constrain proportions" (or maybe “keep ratio” or something similar) is checked. Then the software will automatically choose the proper height according to the chosen width to keep your image with the correct proportions. Of course, you can always enter the appropriate height yourself, but that involves some maths, why not let the program do the work for you?
If the ratio is not kept your image will be distorted and looks extremely unattractive.

Let’s take Pedro again. You might only have a 100px sidebar spot for the Bloggiesta button, but Pedro is 152px wide. So you go and change his width, but forget to check the proportions checkbox. Now he looks like this:

Pedro too thin

He is recognizable, but still! We can do better than that!



Color correction iconsNow that you have your image cropped and resized you can correct its colours a bit if you wish to do so.

The two basic things you can do is improve the brightness and contrast of your image, and then you can play with hue, saturation and lightness. If you use Photoshop you might want to do that as an adjustment layer. That is represented by a little button in the bottom of the layers palette. The advantage is that you can always go back and change your settings or remove the adjustment altogether. If you don’t have that option, you just change the values and they change the image for good (unless, of course, you go back with Ctrl+Z).

Go to –>Image, –> Adjustments, –>Brightness and Contrast and move the slider until you like the result. The settings always depend on your image, but do not overdo it. Just play around until you like what you see.

Brightness & Contrast

This makes my image a bit brighter and boosts the contrast. That’s ok for me because I want to give it another tint altogether.

Brighter and more contrast-y


–>Image, –> Adjustments, -> Hue, saturation and lightness is not a necessary editing step, but you might want to use it if you want to change the overall colour of your picture, give it a certain tint or desaturate it to make it black and white. There are other methods to turn a picture to black and white but this is the easiest one. Try it out, move the sliders and see what they can do.

Hue & Saturation

Above are the settings I used to make my image look like this:



This is as far as we are going today. Not hard, is it?

Now, if you do not have any graphics software, there are online tools also that will help you accomplish basic (and also pretty advanced)  editing. The one I am going to show you today is PicMonkey.




Snap_2012.09.07_21h21m07s_001I love Picmonkey. It is easy to use, it is free and it requires no registration.

All you need to do is click on “Edit a photo” and upload your image.

Edit a photo button

After you upload you image you might come across this window (which I saw yesterday for the first time when I uploaded a poor quality photo, not sure whether this is a new feature or whether it only turns up in certain cases):

Image setting choice

Since your answer depends entirely on the photo you are using I suggest that for now you just click on “Cance” and use your photo as is.

Picmonkey is rather self-explanatory. You have an auto adjust button that automatically enhances your image. Or at least it should do. If you don’t like whatever Picmonkey is doing just click on the “Undo” button at the top of the screen.

Undo button

On the left you have all the editing options, like cropping, rotating, resizing etc. Hit the apply button when you have adjusted the settings to apply the change (it can be undone with the undone button).

Editing options

But there is more. If you click on the icons on the far left, other menus open. You can add effects, can touch up skin, fix blemishes, whiten teeth and so on.

EffectsTouch up

There are many more options like adding captions, little symbols etc. . Just play around and remember, you can always undo what you have done if you don’t like the result.

Once you are finished click on “Save” to save your image. A dialog box opens on the left, where you can choose a file size, i.e. quality, of the image. The pixel dimensions are always the same, just the size of the file changes according to your settings. Mel is poor quality, Ewan decent and Russell excellent. In my example below the difference in file size is between 500kb and 1.4MB. The file size is down to the fact that I kept my image at its original size and didn’t resize it to web size. If you can afford it space wise always go for the better quality.

Saving the masterpiece

After resizing to a web size my file size difference was only between 22kb and 51kb. And here is my Harry Potter picture after applying the auto adjust, cropping, desaturating and the Lomo effect.

Edited photo

OK, we are done for today.


What is the challenge?

I would like you to go and find an image that you would like to post on your blog and edit it in some way. Crop it, improve or change the colours, resize it, add an effect, whatever you like to do in order to make the picture look better. Then post it on your blog (before and after, please) and come back here and link us up to it, so we can come and have a look.

One thing to consider: Please do NOT just take any image from the net that you come across! Always respect the copyright of people and check the terms of use of images on sites where you CAN take images from. 


What is the prize for one lucky winner?

I am giving away one copy of Ella Publishing’s e-book Real.Life.Photography by Rebecca Cooper. Ella Publishing’s e-books always give excellent advice and easy to follow instructions, plus, they look great! I know them from own experience and highly recommend them.

After Bloggiesta I will draw a winner from all participants who were up for my challenge and posted a link to their blog post with the before and after image(s) in the comments of this blog post.

Also, for everybody who did not win the book but is interested in buying it Ella Publishing was so generous to offer a 20% discount for my readers to buy Real.Life.Photography. Just use the discount code REALLIFE20 when you check out to get 20% off. The code expires on December 31, 2012.

If you come across a problem, have any questions about above editing tips or about anything else related to Photoshop or photo editing in general, please send me an email via the contact button on the left, via my Contact Me page, leave a comment to this post or contact me on twitter. I would love to hear from you and will get back to you as soon as possible.

And now, have fun with your images and with all the other fun Bloggiesta events!

You will find everything you need to know about them at It’s all about books and There’s a book.


Bloggiesta is around the corner


It is almost time for the next Bloggiesta. it will take place the last weekend in September and will again be hosted by Suey from It’s all about books and the 1st daughter from There’s a book.

This must be my 4th time or so that I am participating and – apart from getting a lot of things done – it has always been great fun. No idea what I am going to do yet though. I only changed the blog’s looks six months ago and feel no need to do anything cosmetic again. I might look into a better mobile version or something else that goes into a more technical direction. We will see.

This is what you can expect from Bloggiesta:

  • to spend time that weekend (as much or as little as your schedule allows) working on your blog
  • to create a to do list to share on your blog and link up with other participants
  • to hopefully participant in several mini challenges and learn something new
  • to connect with other participants through blog hopping or twitter
  • to make new blogging friends!
  • to come away at the end of the three days with a spiffed up blog!
    Are you going to join us for a fun blogging weekend? Write your participating post and head on over to There’s a book to sign up!

Week on the web


Here are my finds for this week…

    What are your recent finds?

Thursday 13: WordPress plug ins


The Plug in challenge during Bloggiesta made me think about the plugins that I am using and which make blogging life so much easier (or simply nicer and prettier).

The plugin fetches the feed found at a commenter’s site URL while they type their comment and extracts the last blog post title with link and displays it below the comment form. When they submit their comment, the last blog post link gets added on the end of their comment for all to see!
It’s a great way to see what your blogging friends are talking about. The plugin is also available as an Intense Debate plugin for Blogger.

Configurable Tag Cloud
Use this instead of the boring tag cloud that comes with WordPress. It shows all your tags, nut just the most used ones.

Easy Spoiler
I use this for my Quizzical Mondays and think it is fun. People can decided whether they want to read the spoiler or not by choosing to display it.

Google Analytics

Google XML Sitemaps
Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.

nRelate Related Content
I used to use Microkid’s Related Posts where I can manually choose my related posts (which is, of course, the most accurate way of dong it), but nRelate does such a good job doing it automatically that I switched.

Print friendly & PDF
Gives your readers the option to print your posts and delete images or text before they do so. Very convenient.

Stray Random Quotes
I love my little quote widget where I can manually add quotes and have they displayed at random.

Subscribe to comments
Lets your readers do just what it says.

Sweet Captcha
Isn’t that much cuter than those illegible letters where you have to guess what the heck it is supposed to be.

Dynamic WP Contact Form
Contact form so your readers can reach you without you having to display your email address. I kind of like how it is floating on the edge.

My newest plugin which adds this neat box under each post.

WP Mobile Detector
Displays your blog in a mobile friendly way.


What are your favourite plugins? What are your favourite time savers, what adds a good feature to your blog or is simply helpful in daily blogging?

To see what other Thursday 13ers write about today, visit Thursday 13.


Bloggiesta–wrap up

BloggiestaThe last day of Bloggiesta is drawing to a close and I am quite happy with my results. This is the list I started with:

  • Either create another header or at least change the font a bit or the colors or something. It needs SOME sort of change.
  • Slightly change my review template
  • Re-organize blog tags I need to continue changing older posts, but this will take a while.
  • Re-organize categories
  • Re-organize my Goodreads shelves (not directly blog related, but GR keeps my reading somewhat organized so it is important)
  • Visit new blogs and maybe make a few new blogging friends
  • The Goodreads Challenge at Janicu’s Book Blog, especially because my GR shelves are already on my to do list.
  • Plug ins for WordPress at Jenni Elyse. I am sure some interesting plugins will turn up that I have never heard of before. A post with my must have plugins for WP will come soon.

Not bad going, I think. But there is more…

  • By mere chance I came acrosss a post called 10 tools to analyze your website and found Woorank. It told me that my blog was not optimized in any way for mobile devices – unless you clicked on that little link in my sidebar, but you can’t count that. So I went in search for a WP plugin to do the trick for me and found WP Mobile Detector (free version), which works fine as far as I can tell.
  • Then I learned more about Apple Icons and Meta Viewport Tag and viewport basics at Inbound Team and Mozilla. 
  • Plus, I entered the Rafflecopter challenge at The Competitive Bibliomaniac to finally figure Rafflecopter out. I managed to set the thing up, after fiddling about, I might add (WP seems to always duplicate the script if I edit a post, this also happened with Mr. Linkies all the time, pissed me off, that). You can enter it here and win a small gift card from amazon for testing it.
  • From MJ at Wandering in the stacks I got this wonderful tip on how to treat DNFs in Goodreads. I always put them onto the “read” shelf AND on a DNF shelf. so I had to subtract the DNFs from the read books. Not any longer!
  • I joined the Bloggieste chat on Sunday which was great fun. 

What did you accomplish? Are you happy with the results? If you did not finish all your tasks and have enough of working on your blog, remember, there will be another Bloggiesta in September!


Bloggiesta–Rafflecopter challenge


I saw the Rafflecopter challenge at The Competitive Bibliomaniac and want to give this Rafflecopter another try. I used it once but for some reason, entering did not work and I never figured out why.

So, here is another go at it. Maybe a few Bloggiesta participants want to help me out and see whether it works or not. Usually I do not require any following and what not, but for the sake of testing I added a few voluntary options to enter.

The prize is only small, but I am sure book lovers will know what to use it for anyway. Thanks for entering and letting me know whether it worked or not.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Bloggiesta update 2


It is Saturday morning, day 2, and I have done quite a lot of stuff already,

  • I changed my header and favicon. Now, of course, my twitter background, gravatar etc. etc. all don’t match anymore. More work!
  • I made some tabs into categories and added some tabs. However, to update all my blog posts will take me a while. I don’t want to spend all weekend only doing that, so this will be a project for the following weeks.
  • I changed my review template.
  • I participated in the WP plugin challenge and will probably write up a post about my favourite plugins and the ones I discovered this weekend.

Still to do:

  • Organizing Goodreads shelves in combination with the GR challenge
  • Visit more participating blogs. I was so busy watching twitter and getting things done that I didn’t focus on that.
  • Join the twitter chat on Sunday.

How is everybody else coming along?


Bloggiesta update 1–challenges


OK, the mini challenges are up and I went through all of them finally. There are a couple that I am interested in…

I am having plenty to do with my dreadful tags and categories, but those two are too good for me to miss.


If you don’t know Windows Live Writer you should check out the mini challenge about Windows Live Writer at The Reading Housewives. If you decide to use it, have a look at my short tutorial about how to use the text template plugin to create templates for either complete posts or only snippets that save an incredible amount of time.


Kicking off Bloggiesta


I have been looking forward to a new Bloggiesta for a long time. The last one was in January last year and a lot of stuff needs to be done again. Apart from the mini challenges posted on various blogs I have my personal to-do-list – admittedly it is not very long but might be time consuming nonetheless. Bloggiesta officially starts tomorrow, but already blogs are buzzing with bloggiesta activity.

For general updates of the event, links to participants and challenges you can either visit the two Bloggiesta hosts  It’s all about books and There’s a book and/or follow @Bloggiesta on Twitter and/or look for  the hashtag #bloggiesta to see all the chatting that is going on. There is also a twitter list of participants.

My to-do-list:

  • Either create another header or at least change the font a bit or the colors or something. It needs SOME sort of change.
  • Slightly change my review template
  • Re-organize blog tags
  • Re-organize categories
  • Re-organize my Goodreads shelves (not directly blog related, but GR keeps my reading somewhat organized so it is important)
  • Visit new blogs and maybe make a few new blogging friends
    Are you participating in Bloggiesta? What are your plans?

Week on the web


Here are my finds for this week…


Bloggiesta time again


I already participated in Bloggiesta a few times and am happy to see that there is a new Bloggiesta taking place end of March.

I already thought about a couple of things I want to fix or change and I am sure my list will get longer every day. This time Bloggiesta is hosted by It’s all about books and There’s a book.

What is Bloggiesta? From It’s all about books:

Bloggiesta is a three day event where participants will spend as much time as they can working on fixing all those pesky blog related tasks…. all those things that you think "some day I’m going to clean that up, or change that around, or add that thing!"

Want to join the fun as a participant or even host a mini challenge? Hop on over to It’s all about books and sign up. It’s going to be fun!


Week on the web #12


Here are my finds for this week…


Now available: List of reviewed books

After the highly successful review-a-thon the thought to create a list with all the books reviewed didn’t sound quite so bad anymore. Somehow it is nice to see a complete list of books that I blogged about. And quite an eclectic mix it is, too….:)

First I was going to embed the Google spreadsheet on a page but the width was too wide, you would have had to scroll down AND right and that would not have been very practical. And it just didn’t look good.  So I decided to just link to the spreadsheet which is one click more but a lot more convenient to read. 

If you would like to have a look, click either here or go to the reviews page in the top menu.