JC Reviews: StripTeas Teatox *

stripteas

The concept of detox is a bit odd. When you look at it from a purely scientific point of view, you have your own perfect organ, whose only function in the world is to detox – your liver. And trust me you can live on about a quarter of your liver so it does a fantastic job. But I think a detox is more of a mental thing, it offers you the concept of resetting, of ‘flushing the toxins’, of ‘renewing’. And that was the main reason why when StripTeas offered me a 2 week StripTeas teatox *, I jumped on the idea. I mean it is January, the month where after the indulgence of December, something which could reset me into a healthier mind set is definitely needed (unfortunately the daily intake of Christmas chocolate, nutella and cheese blocks just could not continue….).

Now although I was ready for a detox, I wasn’t ready for something which would have me running to the toilet. Again, like the liver, if you are drinking and eating right, your digestive system does a pretty good job of moving things along. This teatox doesn’t have any laxatives in it, but just lots of yummy, healthy ingredients to help you hydrate and feel revitalised. It is made up of 3 teas, one for the morning which is designed to wake you up (always a struggle), one for an hour after lunch to help with your digestion and metabolism (always appreciated), and one for before bed to really calm you down and let you get a good sleep (but not too close to bed, don’t want to be getting up all night!).

stripteas teatox

The best thing about this teatox is that the tea tastes delicious! The morning tea is lemony and zingy, whereas the evening is full of vanilla and chamomile. The tea for lunch time you can decide on the flavour, I chose berry which I do really like. It does have a slight licorice tinge which isn’t my favourite, but is still really easy to drink. The tea bags themselves are great quality, and to be honest you could easily get more than one cup of tea out of each bag as they are huge. I thought the mug was very relevant for this teatox..!

Now number one, did I feel I lost weight on this teatox? Not really, I don’t weight myself – there may be a very slight difference but this isn’t a weight loss miracle. But! The teatox really helped me reset my brain into knowing and eating what was healthy (no more nutella for breakfast) – as I was focusing on detoxing and resetting. It has also helped my skin which is looking a lot healthier and ‘glowy’ because I am focussing on staying hydrated.

stripteas teatox 2

I think the best bit of the teatox, was that before I did this I would only drink tea maybe once a day if that. This has given me a tea addiction! I love sitting down and looking forward to a nice hot cuppa when I get to work or before bed in the evening (Is this a sign I’m getting old or just more British? I can’t decide). I like the routine, I just like the way this makes me feel! And to be honest, I am going to buy this teatox all over again and repeat it soon!

Have you tried a teatox? What do you think about ‘detoxing’ in January?

JC xx

JC Tech: How To Choose a Blog Hosting Provider

How to Choose a Blog Hosting Provider

So last week we looked at whether you were ready to go self hosted, this week we are going to look at what the different options are for your blog hosting provider.

First, you will need to decide on what platform you are going to use, the simple answer to this is wordpress. WordPress hosts most self hosted blogs around the world and is perfectly suited to it. I don’t really know of many blogs which are self hosted and not using the wordpress application. This means when you want to go self hosted, you need to look for a hosting provider which runs wordpress (which is most of them!). As I covered in my last post, this hosting provider runs the server which hosts your website, you pay for this space on the server, you then install wordpress on the server which lets you post, edit and run your blog.

Second, you need to pick your hosting provider. I found this really tough when I was moved to self hosted, so I thought I would run through the top 3 I considered.

blog hosting provider

Go Daddy
Go Daddy is known for selling domain names but has now extended into hosting. They give a few different options for hosting but the most basic which is only 1 pound a month is perfect for a blog. It offers a huge amount of storage – 100GB which will fit 22,000 photos, but the amount of traffic you can have is limited to 25,000 monthly visitors. There are also options if you have more than one blog or if you have more traffic.

Positives:

  • Price – only 1 pound a month for a self hosted wordpress is a bargain.
  • Storage – ample storage for your images which can be extended
  • Free domain – if you don’t have your own domain name (.com or .co.uk address) then this comes free with your plan.
  • 99.9% uptime – this means there isn’t much chance of your blog going down making it reliable.

Negatives:

  • Traffic limit – if your blog is popular or is shared a lot then the monthly cap of 25,000 visitors may be too small and you may eventually outgrow it.
  • As go daddy is fairly new, there aren’t as many help guides for setting it up as other hosts.
  • I have read negative reviews of the support and customer service if you do have a problem, but they do claim to have award winning support service, so that one is for you to decide. (EDIT: Since writing this, I have heard some fab stories about the support so seems they have improved!)

bluehost

Blue Host
BlueHost is one of the biggest wordpress hosts in the world and a lot of major (especially US) websites are hosted on it. They are recommended by wordpress and have been providing hosting since 1998. They also have several packages, the blogger package being their most basic at $12 a month.

Positives:

  • Established in the industry, providing excellent support and ample help online.
  • Allows 100 million visits a month, a huge increase compared to other hosts.
  • Includes your own domain name
  • Speed – Blue Host is considered to be one of the fastest host providers.

Negatives:

  • Only 30GB of storage which is a good amount but may be used up quicker than other providers.
  • It is based in the US and doesn’t have a dedicated UK team which means you will be working to a different time zone to the support teams.
  • More technical – this could be a positive or a negative depending on how technical you are, Blue Host offers a huge amount of customisations which can be overwhelming or can be useful.
  • Pricey compared to the others.

siteground

Site Ground

SiteGround is another well established hosting service which is based in the US but has European data centres. It also offers a few different packages with the most simple being best for a blogger, this is 2.75 pounds a month. SiteGround offers more support for wordpress with specific support for these packages.

Positives:

  • Extremely fast as your website will be hosted in Europe.
  • Specific UK support and website offering better services and access.
  • Free domain name with plan
  • 30 day money back guarantee which isn’t in place with the other options.
  • Best rated support service.
  • Affordable.

Negatives:

  • Only 10GB of space which may be filled quickly if your blog is image heavy.
  • 10,000 visitors a month which is much less than the other providers.
  • Even the larger plans which are more expensive are less in terms of space and traffic options.

These are only 3 of the big providers out there, there are a whole heap of big and smaller blog hosting providers which you can investigate but I think all three of these are good options if you are hosting a personal blog. Eventually I decided to go with GoDaddy, mainly because of price and storage which were important to me.

I’ll be covering actually doing the move from your current blog to GoDaddy in my next installment!

JC xx

JC Updates: January Reflections + London Meet Up!

Jan Reflections
January is almost over! It has gone pretty quickly, I can already feel the mornings growing lighter – the sun peaked over the horizon when I was commuting last week which gives me hope that we are over the hump. I feel a little tired all the time when I seem to live in constant darkness. It’s so hard to motivate myself to move and do things after work – all I want to do is get back to bed.
Things are mixing it up from February onwards. Some really exciting things are coming up, stuff that makes me a little anxious but I know will be so worth doing. But January has been an enjoyable month, so time to do a bit of reflection.
 Photo 16-01-2015 8 53 50 am
opening: Some delicious Whittakers hundreds and thousands chocolate. I could eat this stuff forever.
giving: It was Paul’s birthday last week and I gave him Silverstone F1 tickets – very excited to be going later in the year!
wishing: For sunshine, clear blue days, wanders in the forest and the ocean.
wearing: Christmas leggings. I’m not ready to give them up.
following: A lot of lovely new bloggers – have found some fab lifestyle blogs in recent weeks
baking: A red velvet cake for Pauls birthday.
liking: Eating boiled eggs. I went off eggs for quite a few years, but have been having them almost every evening recently.
dreaming: About holidays which are still a long way off.
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drinking: A stripteas 2 week teatox – will write a full review about this soon!
needing: To cut down on the sugar. My diet has been pretty healthy recently, but need to stop with the sneaky chocolate indulgences.
watching: We have just started suits and have been loving it so far.
smelling: Glazed Apple room spray, I am still obsessed with the scent even after Christmas.
planning: A couple of holidays – the main one will be Scotland in August and maybe a sneaky trip to the Carribean at the end of the year.
thinking: How I wish I could get by on less than 8 hours sleep. Why can’t I be one of those people who is fully functional on 6 hours?
loving: My new Tarte Gifted mascara, may be a little pricey but is fabulous.
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feeling: Excited, anxious, generally positive.
bookmarking: Lots of recipe posts, the cooking every week has been going well.
making : A bit of crochet! I need to pick up some sewing needles to finish it all off though.
cooking : Many, many salads and I have been loving it.
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buying: Not a whole lot, but just got a Hairy Dieters cook book which I am looking forward to using.
anticipating: A whole lot of new things coming up at work soon.
reading: 59 seconds which inspired my last post on 4 reasons blogging makes you happy
wanting: Some new shoes, my boots are looking a bit worse for wear
planning: A London Charity Bloggers Meet Up! A very exciting thing happening in February, find all the details below and do let me know if you want to come along. I am SO excited to meet you guys!
Charity blog meet uptwitter
Edit: I am now also thinking of organising a little blogging meet up in the North – maybe Manchester, also in Feb. If you would be interested then do let me know!
JC xx

JC Writes: Four Reasons Blogging Makes You Happy

four reasons blogging makes you happy

So I was on the train.

Which isn’t a surprise, I sometimes feel I spend half my life on public transport. BUT! although this is slightly depressing, I feel like trains get you in the thinking zone. You know, where you get a wee bit glassy eyed and before you know it you are in zone 6? Much better than the sleeping zone, which also happens far too frequently in my opinion.

So I was on this train, and I was reading my book.

And this book which I am still making my way through. It got my brain moving. It’s called 59 seconds, and the whole point of the book is looking at scientific backed research to find things which can improve your life in 59 seconds.

Which is a very interesting concept and one which is right up my street. As mentioned, half the life of the train means time is precious. I was reading the sections on happiness, motivation and persuasion and a lot of the things rang true AND related to blogging.

So I was on this train, reading my book, and I thought I would run through four reasons blogging makes you happy.

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Real life of picture of me on a train, not reading my book. 

1. It lets you reflect on parts of your life which you are happy with, thankful for or really truly enjoy.

Being grateful is one of the most powerful things you can really CHOOSE to do these days. We are constantly bombarded by perfectly curated lives on social media and I know I have been guilty of feeling down on myself because of it. Whether you are a beauty blogger, writing about your favourite looks, a lifestyle blogger writing about happy experiences or any other kind of blogger reflecting on happy, thankful or enjoyable things, you are imprinting those feelings into your life and making yourself happier. 10 happy things are by far my favourite posts to write and to read.

2. It’s a hobby which causes intentional change and is constantly developing

One of the studies in the book looks at circumstantial change, so the happiness you get when you buy something, a house etc – you get a peak of happiness but it is not prolonged. Compare this to intentional change – as in choosing to do something new and different such a blogging. Blogging gives you the happiness of doing something new, but because it is constantly changing it creates peaks and troughs which eventually lead to prolonged happiness. This is much more powerful than just hitting the shops.

3. It encourages experiences and social interaction

One of the big things which I have discovered in the past few years is the power of experience. I no longer really enjoy buying ‘things’ (and will post about this soon), but having new experiences. Blogging encourages you to do and try new things, whether they be blogging meet ups or just something new so you can write about it on the blog. Social interaction even about what is seen as ‘trivial’ things is also beneficial for your overall levels of joy, and I do love having a good twitter chat with some lovely bloggers.

4. It gives you an outlet for ideas and issues 

Not only does creativity and a place to express your opinion benefit your happiness levels. But writing about a problem or an issue has been shown to be much more beneficial for your mental health than talking about it. By writing, you can create a structure and work through a problem in a logical order. I know a lot of bloggers who write a lot of personal posts and I think these can be a good option to bring more happiness to your life.

Seriously, all this blogging stuff it makes you happy as my kitty in this picture. And who doesn’t want to be as happy as a cat which lounges by a pool all day in the sun?

Photo 12-04-2014 10 57 42 am

So, what makes you happy about blogging?

As an aside, I am thinking for February and March I am going to blog just that tiny bit less. I want to spend a bit more time on my writing to really try and inject some more personality and thought into my posts. I have been blogging for a fair few months and had been quite happy with 3-4 posts a week, but I am going to try 2-3 and see whether I am happier with what content I am producing! I mean I actually made a graphic image for this post which was a first. I promise they will get better…

JC xx

JC Explores: Bravas Tapas + the Walkie Talkie!

sky garden 2

I love my job, but it does mean that I travel and work where my projects are. This means it has been a long time since I worked in central London and I do miss it! There is nothing like wandering around London to remind me why I moved here and what I love about the city. On the weekend, Paul was awesome and got us tickets to go to the Sky Garden on the top floor of the Walkie Talkie, after that we went out for dinner at Bravas Tapas over by St Katherine’s Docks.

sky garden 3

The Sky Garden is a new feature at the top of the walkie talkie, now as we know, I am not the biggest fan of heights. However, I really enjoyed this! You wander in the entrance and jump in the lift to the 35th floor. The lift was fabulous as it didn’t really even feel like you moved, so I didn’t get that sick feeling in my stomach and when I arrived on the top floor, I was pretty excited! You wander out into a really huge lobby. It has a couple of restaurants and a sky bar. You can wander around the whole of the building and get a 360 degree view of London and the view is stunning. We went at night which meant that you could just see glittering lights in every direction along with an amazing view of the shard. However, the dark did mean that my photos did not come out very well, but hopefully you get the gist.

sky garden 1

There is also a little garden, with two sides covered in ferns and green plants but it isn’t huge. However, I really liked this touch and you could sit in the middle of the garden with a drink and stare out of the windows. It wasn’t too busy up here as they had timed tickets, so we sat and had a (quite expensive!) drink and stared out of the windows. I would love to go back in the summer!

Once we descended back to earth, we headed over to Bravas Tapas in St Katherines Docks. This is a tapas restaurant which I had heard really good things about. It was pretty dark in here so my pictures are a bit dark but hopefully you can get the gist of the delicious food!

Photo 17-01-2015 7 14 36 pm

Bravas Tapas 1

Paul isn’t a fan of fish so we chose 3 meat tapas and 4 vege tapas. I started off with sangria which was ideal as it really reminded me of Spain and Barcelona! We started off with potatoes bravas which were delicious, tiny crispy bits of potato with a tomato salsa and aioli. This was quickly followed by Toasted Baguette with tomato and olive oil which were thick slices of crunchy bread with a tomato salsa on top which even though I don’t like raw tomato I really enjoyed.

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We had some croquetas spinach which were little spinach balls, crispy on the outside but full of creamy flavourful spinach on the inside. These were very more-ish, I wish we had more than 3! Our last vege tapas was the roasted peppers which was probably my least favourite dish as I almost expected red bell peppers but they were of course the traditional Spanish peppers (not sure why I didn’t figure that one out!), these are still really good but get a little bitter after awhile and would have been good with some sauce.

Photo 17-01-2015 7 38 38 pm

 

bravas tapas 2

As for the meat tapas, we started with quail stuffed with foie gras – look how lovely this is presented! With a little egg in the middle filled with sauce, I loved it. The quail was really delicate and the sauce it came with was delicious, almost Asian inspired as it tasted like soy. I couldn’t taste much of the foie gras but it was still nice and moist. We also had the sliders with apple slaw – I thought these would be a bit too much bread but they were so good! The slaw was delicious, fresh crisp and creamy apple with a thick beef patty – this was probably one of my absolute favourite dishes! We finished with pork belly with crispy skin and a sticky glaze.

Photo 17-01-2015 7 44 18 pm

Overall, we really enjoyed bravas tapas, we had just the right amount of food and I felt very stuffed afterwards. I love tapas restaurants as I always enjoy trying little bits of different things. It was a fab evening out in London, and I recommend both Bravas Tapas and the Walkie Talkie sky garden!

What is your favourite tapas?

JC xx

JC Tech: Are You Ready to go Self Hosted?

are you ready to go self hosted

I haven’t decided exactly what to call this, but JC Tech is a start. As some of you may know, I work in technology as a consultant and Paul is a software developer who is constantly teaching me new things about tech. So I thought it was high time that this got included on the blog, I have learnt so much about html, building websites, domain mapping, plugins and a whole lot of other stuff since I started blogging so I thought I would share it!

This edition, I want to focus on something which scared me for a long time – self hosted wordpress. Let’s go to super simple basics, usually when you start blogging, you will go with a hosted service, such as wordpress.com, or blogger. This means your blog is hosted on a server which has all your blog data on it, so when someone visits your site, it gets the data off that bit of the server. When you are on blogger, the server your blog sits on belongs to a company (such as google), which means that they can set restrictions and regulations on how you can display your blog and what you can add. When you go self hosted, you are buying your own bit of space on a server somewhere which does not (mostly) limit you in anyway, this gives you more freedom to do what you like on your website.

There are a few things to consider before you go self hosted, and this is a good check list to ask yourself before you think of going self hosted:

1. Are you feeling constrained and unable to customise your blog as you want to?
This was a big one for me, in that I felt very constrained on wordpress.com as you can only use the themes in the wordpress store, and you cannot upload and customise your own. If you are at the point where you are getting sick of not having your blog look the specific way you want with your current platform then it is probably time to go self hosted.

2. Do you want to advertise on your blog?
This is a big one for a lot of people. When you are on wordpress.com, you cannot advertise at all on your blog. On blogger there are some limited advertising options but you don’t have much freedom to edit this. If you are getting serious about your blogging and want easy and multiple ways to advertise through your blog then you need to go self hosted.

3. How is that technical knowledge? Do you have some technical support?
I think that if you aren’t from a technical background or don’t have interest in the technical side of blogging then you may find the switch and keep up of a self hosted blog a bit of a pain. You will have to do the migration yourself, you need to manage your own spam and your own domain and you can guarantee something will go wrong. I will go through the ins and outs of moving to self hosted, but it is good to have someone you know who you can run to crying when something doesn’t work (as will invariably happen). If you don’t have any tech support, then you do have the option of paying someone for it, but I don’t think that it is worth it!

4. Do you have your own domain name?
I think one of the great benefits from going self hosted is that it forces you to get your own domain name. It usually comes free with your plan so a bargain as well.

5. Do you want to spend a little bit of money on your blog?
If you are at the point where you are willing to chuck a few pounds into your blog then that means it is a fab time to go self hosted! You can do it pretty cheaply, but if you want new templates and other additions then it might be worth a little investment.

I think those are good questions to ask yourself, if you find yourself answering yes to most of these then I think going self hosted will really help you enjoy and grow your blog! I will be going through the process of actually moving to a self hosted blog next time.

JC xx

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