Please excuse our absence for a couple of weeks, but Sam has been stuck in the middle of some fairly major exams (as ever) and once she was done we finally got to escape on holiday together for the first time in a while …. to Iceland!
We are having the most amazing time exploring and putting our feet up for a little while. So, as Sam is sat next to me happily crocheting (the good people of Iceland it turns out LOVE to knit and craft too!) I thought it might be a good time to check in, say Hi ( or Halló as they say in Iceland) and share some cool pics from our travels too.
Being on the road has definitely curbed our ability to get baking so until we are back in the kitchen we thought we’d take the opportunity to sit down and write up a bit of an FAQ. We love our readers, and it turns out you guys have a lot of questions! (and when you have questions we always try to answer them). So, here’s the skinny on the things we get asked most often! In the next few days we plan on adding the FAQ’s as a permanent page which you can access via the top menu bar and we can update when new questions come along.
If you have any other more specific questions which you don’t see an answer too here, feel free to post us a comment or drop us a line a firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t be shy!
Sam and Phil xx
Who are you guys? Why / when did you start your blog?
Well, let us introduce ourselves! We are Sam and Phil, and this is our food/crafting blog where we share our weekend projects, recipes, baking tips, craft tutorials and little snapshots of our life. We started blogging in 2011 as a way of keeping track of all the weekend and down time projects we get up to, and letting our families have a peek (they live very far away). You can find out a bit more about us over here on our about us page.
Are you crafting and baking pros?
Nooooooo no no most definitely not. We are total amateurs. It just so happens that we love baking and crafting and we love trying new things (and we are both a bit stubborn so we keep trying till we get it right). Sometimes projects work and sometimes they don’t (yep our cakes sink in the middle too!) so in the spirit of keeping it real we try to blog about the good, the bad and the ugly. The great thing about our blog of fun projects though is that, at the end of the day it is just cake (or cookies or knitting or crafts) so if it goes wrong it’s not the end of the world. Phew!
How did you learn to do all that stuff?
Quick answer: Slowly!
Sam: I think crafting is in my blood. Seriously! I come from a family where all the women are super accomplished crafters (in fact I’ve more or less never seen one with idle hand in an evening!). One of my grandmas was still crocheting blankets in her 90’s and my other grandma (known affectionately as Grams) and mum are both prolific knitters, crocheters, embroiderers and crafters. Which means that, over hundreds of evenings of my mum patiently picking up my dropped knitting stitches and untangling my tapestry thread, I learnt (slowly slowly) to love being a crafter too! Having learnt the basics as a little girl it is now easy to add in new stitches or techniques as I go along. That being said, I am learning ALL the time. From blogs, and books and other crafters, I learn more constantly! That is one of the things I love most about crafting. I can’t ever have tried or learnt it all.
Phil: I’ve always been a big fan “silly boy projects”. For people not familiar with the term, this is where a boy (me in this case) sees some amazing baked delight/cool craft project on TV/online or indeed invents a new thing, and then said boy (still me) decides everything else in the whole world must be put temporarily on hold until this new amazing endeavor has been mastered. Many, many, many silly boy projects later I think I have gathered the unique set of skills which will see me though a few hundred more and share some of them with you as I go.
If you blog on weekends and evenings what do you do during the week?
Sorry folks but this is the one question we don’t answer! When we started blogging in 2011 we made ourselves a pact that work was work and home was home but only home gets blogged about. We both have the kind of jobs which put us in positions of trust and confidentiality is super important. So, to keep ourselves and everyone else happy, it’s just a no go area.
Here are 5 things we can tell you though!
1) We both do different jobs (vvvveerry different jobs).
2) We the rare kind of people who both love the jobs we do (and we couldn’t be more thankful )
3) Our jobs allow us to support or home, our mini family of two and blog and for this we are also incredibly thankful.
4) We both have to take professional exams all – the – time (yuk!), so if you see us chatting about revision, it’s because we do a lot of it!
5) Neither of our jobs involves cooking, quilting, making or baking anything (sadly).
I’ve posted a comment. How long does it take to moderate them?
We usually manage to approve comments within a couple of hours (less on weekends) but on weekdays when we are working it can take a little longer (usually once one of us is home in a evening we will sit and approve them all) but it’s always usually the same day, so if you check back in a couple of hours it should have popped up there. We always try to reply too!
I’m thinking about starting my own blog. Do you have any advice?
Firstly, just do it! We sort of pretended to start a blog a few years back and got a bit carried away trying to make it look perfect before actually writing a single post. The best advice we can give is just to get sign up for a free blog on a site like wordpress.com, pick a theme which you like and get sharing. You can play endlessly making it prettier later.
Secondly, don’t be deterred by your visitor stats. There are millions of blogs out there in cyber space and when you first start out it can be hard to get noticed. In our first week of blogging I think we only had 40 hits but slowly by slowly things picked up. What’s most important is have fun blogging even if it’s just for you and that one dedicated follower in Lithuania, more people will stop by eventually… we promise!
How can I get more followers to my blog?
Life’s not all about how big your following is but there sure are some good ways to get the word out that you have an awesome blog. For starters there’s a whole world of social networks out there to help get the word out Twitter, Facebook etc.
In the crafty/foody world our little blog lives in we find that picture sharing sites like FoodGawker, CraftGawker and Tastespotting are great for introducing new people to your blog (although be prepared, they can be a little harsh in critiquing your photos)
As well as loosing hours of your afternoon mindlessly staring at all the pretty things, pinning your own content on Pinterest for others to see definitely works a treat.
Finally stop by and say hey to other bloggers, you’d be surprised how quickly they come back and take a peek at what you’re up to. It’s nice to be part of a community and some if not most of our most dedicated readers are bloggers themselves too. Share, comment, enjoy!
Which camera do you use for your photos?
When we started blogging I had a rather sad looking point and shoot camera held together with a band-aid after a bit of a bouncing off a concrete floor incident. It got the job done letting people see what we were up to but we were never going to win any competitions for our photography. In fact when we look back there are some pretty bloomin’ hilarious pictures back in the early days…. look back that far I dare you!
Last Christmas though we decided it was time to treat ourselves and got ourselves a shiny magical amazing camera (not sure that’s how it was described on the box), a Canon EOS 550D, which in the states is called the Canon Rebel T2i (way cooler name for you folks stateside). We’re still learning how to get the most out of it, but are a little in love with the pictures it lets us take.
What software do you use for photo editing?
We take all our pictures as RAW files, which lets us play around with them a little more on the computer before posting them, usually trying to brighten them up and counteract the lack of sun here in a permanently overcast Scotland. All of that fiddling happens in a bit of software which came with our camera and turns them into regular image files.
Next they find their way into a seriously ancient version of Photoshop, where we have a tiny macro recorded which shrinks all our files into a blog friendly size and pops on a watermark automatically for us. The day we discovered a tutorial online on how to record actions in Photoshop and make that all happen at the touch of a button was certainly a happy day…. maaaaany hours of our lives have been saved resizing pictures manually since.
Where do you live?
We live in a snuggley and cozy little flat in Edinburgh. It’s not very big or very grand (and for two people who spend so much time cooking the kitchen is teeeeny …. seriously, if Phil stands in the middle with his arms stretched out he can touch all four walls at once! But it’s home and it’s just right for us right now.
In terms of decor, we don’t really go in for chic or ultra cool or even very matchy. Instead we try our best to reuse or make the bits and pieces we need. Over the years we have repainted and remodelled all our bedroom furniture and made a floor lamp, dining table and ottoman. Its important to us that everything to have a story behind it, so we would rather do without in the short term and make the right thing in the long run, than have something which doesn’t mean anything and fills a space. It’s not everyone’s idea of a good plan, but it works for us!
I heard you guys are getting married. We want details!
You heard right! We finally have a date in summer 2014! (We promise, no one could be more happy or ready than we are ). At the moment we are still in the very early planning stages but you can be sure that as soon as we have fun exciting projects to share (and trust us on this one, we have a WORLD of projects up our sleeves!) you will be the first ones to know about them so stay tuned.
What about kiddies?
Weddings come first! But yep, that’s the plan in the long run, just not yet
What do you do when you’re not blogging or working?
We drink coffee, sleep, eat, read, do laundry, clean our dishes (sometimes while we sing and dance round our kitchen), tidy, spend time with our families, watch films, watch TV box sets, shop, do DIY, go to church, drink more coffee (and tea), listen to the radio (actually, we listen to a lot of radio), ….. just the normal day to day things.
How come you never post about quilting?
Sam: Hmmmmmm, so you noticed huh. Yup, you shopped me. For a blog entitled cook, quilt, make and bake I have yet to post about quilting. First let me assure you, I do quilt! I learned to quilt when I was in my teens and it is one of my favourite crafts (and probably the craft I have spent longest doing over the years and am most practised at). I have one big king sized quilt which I started working on about 7 years ago. It is hand pieced and is 3/4 hand quilted at the moment . Over the years it has probably had more than 1000 hours of work in it. The tricky thing is that quilting is hard to break up into a single post, and anyone who hand quilts knows that the going is slooooow. So, to blog about my quilt I would probably have to write a post which said something like “Hey folks, look I sewed another inch of border” lol, and I think you would all agree that is pretty dull! I suppose I could machine quilt a project for the blog which would come together more quickly, but in my heart I am a die hard hand quilter and I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Sorry (that is not to say I have a problem with machine quilters, its just not for me). I promise the day my quilt is finished I will write the mother of all posts about it, but until then, you just have to trust me that it is coming along nicely
We would like to buy one of your crafts. Do you ever sell them?
We do! If you have seen a craft project on the blog you would like to buy just send us an email and we would be happy to make another one for you (as long as we still have access to the materials and it is shippable etc )
Do you guys use twitter?
At the moment our tweeting is confined to updating our followers when we post a new post, but tweeting and instagram are something we have been thinking about doing more of, so we will keep you posted if we decided to make it a more regular feed.
How can I get in touch with you both?
Post us a comment on the blog and we usually reply he same day!
Email us at email@example.com
Head over to Twitter and tweet us @cqmandb
Post on our Facebook wall, which you can find here .
Tell us an interesting fact about the two of you!
We are both lefties!