Bon Voyage! Monthly cruise series ahoy!

Hello me matey’s (too corny?)!

You might remember that earlier in the year I did my cruise series all about my cruise to the Caribbean two years ago, and I am going to use this blog post to get you up to date on my cruise, with a quick refresher and links to my cruise series.

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I’ve just booked myself onto my second cruise, which you might have seen in this post, a cruise around the western Caribbean, departing from Fort Lauderdale and stopping at Half Moon Cay, Cayman Islands, Cozumel & Key West. To say I am excited is an understatement. We leave England on the 11th February for Florida for a few days and will be staying in Fort Lauderdale before boarding our cruise ship on the 15th, just in time to celebrate my 30th birthday on the 16th, which I am lucky enough to celebrate in style on the private island of Half Moon Cay – if you’ve ever been you’ll understand that it’s just about the best place in the whole world to celebrate, so I am incredibly excited.

To catch up with my previous cruise series, click on the links below:

Florida before & after

All Aboard

Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos Islands

San Juan, Puerto Rico

St Thomas, USVI

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Over the coming months I will blogging monthly about cruises – simple hints and tips to help you prepare for your cruise, whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned pro. So stay tuned for my first post coming in August, and don’t forget to check out my post on what to do on your days at sea, which I posted as part of a my Caribbean Cruising series.

Have any questions? Leave them in the comments section on any of my cruise series posts – or send them to me via twitter (@loveamybecca) with the hashtag #bonvoyageloveamybecca and I will do a question and answer post at some point soon!

 

Food: Vegetarian breakfast on the run

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If you need a quick pick-me-up before heading out of the door, today I have a great recipe for a veggie breakfast on the run, and it won’t take you more than five minutes to put together either.

All you need is a plain bagel (or even an onion bagel would be brilliant for this), an egg and some Quorn vegetarian bacon style slices.

  • Just fry up your egg (making sure it’s cooked but leaving a very runny yolk.
  • Grill or dry fry your bacon style slices.
  • Toast your bagel.
  • Put your bacon and egg into the bagel and add sauce if required.

And Voila! A great, yummy, filling breakfast for vegetarians on the run…just be careful of the runny egg!

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Craft: The Crafty Academy

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You may, or may not know that I have my own business, which I run with my mum, a craft business called Blanket Stitch, we made homemade items and you should definitely check out our Folksy Shop *ahem shameless plug* (Who am I kidding, this whole post is a shameless plug).

As well as selling our products online, and running and exhibiting at a local craft fair called Crafty Herts, we also run a craft class academy.

Whether you want to learn how to hand sew, using a sewing machine, Decopatch, Servietten Technique, and much more – then check out The Crafty Academy website.

At the moment we are only offering local classes, however over the coming months we’ll also be putting many of our classes online – so if you’re interested make sure you sign up to our mailing list, it’s the best way to keep up to date with all our news.

Studying: Top tips for writing a scholarly essay

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Writing an essay isn’t easy, and one thing I have noted while doing my undergraduate degree and my MA is how to construct an essay. Today I am going to give you my top tips on how to construct an educational essay. Please remember, my subject is History, therefore the way I work might be very different than for your subject.

  1. Research: This is probably a given, but you need to ensure you’ve done your research, and not just that which has been guided by your tutor. There are loads of educational articles in journals which you can call on, as well as other books on your subject. Use a resource such as JStor to search within your subject. The wider your bibliography is, the better-rounded your essay will be.
  2. Make notes: Whether this be written, typed or just highlighted, having the most important points for your argument easy to access will help you construct your essay.
  3. Plan: As my tutors would say “fail to plan = plan to fail”. Make an essay plan – it doesn’t have to be elaborate, in fact I work well with a simple and basic essay plan and then have lots of plan within my written essay. It looks messy and confusing but it works for me. I will be posting another post soon about how to write a good essay plan so keep your eyes peeled for that.
  4. Get Writing: I always find it comes to a point where I just have to start writing and stop making notes. I never feel 100% ready when I start writing, but for me essay writing is progressive, I start and get down what I have done and from there I can see what more I need, so I go off to find it.
  5. Construct an argument: While telling the story will probably get you a pass, it won’t get you a good pass. You’re going to need to construct a well thought out argument. Why do you believe this is the case? What sources do you have to back up your argument? In History a lot is about interpretation, and as long as I have a strong argument and reasons & sources which back up my work then I am ok. I call this “pick a side and stick with it”. Running through the core of my essays I stick with this argument, although I do have to give a little background I make sure I state why this is my point of view and not that of the opposing side.
  6. Read, Read, Read & then get someone to Proofread: One of the most important things for sentence structure and making sure you’re making sense is reading it out loud, you’ll find all sorts of mistakes and ways in which you can rephrase things. I read out loud to myself, to my family, even to the cat. Also proofreading is essential, print out your essay and get someone else to read through it with a different coloured pen and mark where they think changes need to be made.
  7. Condense your point: Sometimes when we’re writing it can take a while to get to the point we’re trying to make. Re-reading will definitely help find ways to condense your point so it’s short and snappy – getting straight to the point. This will also help if you find you’re over your word count.
  8. Check your references: First check which referencing style you should be using and stick to it. Check you’ve referenced everything correctly, you don’t want to lose yourself silly marks for mistakes, or worse still find yourself under investigation for plagiarism.
  9. Read again: Before you send it off/hand it in have one last read through and make sure you’re happy with it and that it is the best of your abilities.
  10. Submit: Hand it in and give yourself a big pat on the back for a job well done. I always feel a bit like “oh what now?” when I finish an essay – usually while I am writing an essay I can think of a zillion things I want/need to do, once I have finished I can’t focus on anything for a few days. Enjoy your freedom!

Amy Writes: Facebook – Where have all my views gone?

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I’ve had my lifestyle blog for almost exactly 2 years, however have been a blogger for around 8 years, so when it comes to blog promotion I like to think I’ve seen a few things. One thing I have always loved is Facebook interaction. Throughout my beauty blogging days I used to love interacting with my readers via Facebook, posting new content and seeing the likes, shares and comments. It’s great to be able to talk to the people who read your blog (because let’s face it, I still pretend I am blogging to no-one so I am still surprised when I hear people say “I’ve read your blog…”

Over the past 2 years I have worked hard to build up the Love Amybecca Facebook page, posting my content, statuses and photos. Recently it’s been harder than hard to even get a decent amount of views and I know a lot of that is down to the change in Facebook’s algorithms, making it a little more difficult for us content creators to actually share our content. I have over 850 likes on Facebook, and on average I am looking at a reach of between 10-20 per Facebook post…that’s awful.

Now don’t get me wrong, I get the idea of this, Facebook is, afterall, a business first and foremost, and they’ve seen a place where they can earn a little more revenue. You see, now, to obtain the reach of yesteryear Facebook would like you to ‘Boost’ your post, where you set the amount you pay for this boost, and Facebook will then somehow get this information into others newsfeeds, as well as those who already follow you. Great, but we don’t all have limitless money to through at every Facebook post we have.

It seems the day of free promotion on Facebook is gone (and I get it, I really do) but how are the small enterprises and first timers supposed to get word out? How are they going to even be recognised? Sadly the more people I talk to with small businesses/blogs are all suffering, many walking away and giving up and to be honest, I can quite understand it. Facebook has made it very hard work for people with pages, and we already live busy lives in a busy world, maybe Facebook, in a purely business sense, is going to have to become the one social network we give up!

Western Caribbean Cruise – Feb 2015

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Eeek we did it, we booked another cruise! Since coming home from our 2012/2013 visit to Florida and the Caribbean on our Holland America cruise, we’ve been itching to go back and explore some more.

In 2012/2013 we travelled in December and early January to Fort Lauderdale in Florida and boarded a cruise around the Eastern Caribbean, stopping at Grand Turk in the Turks & Caicos Islands, San Juan in Puerto Rico, St Thomas in the USVI and Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.

We’ve just booked to go back at last! Next year I turn 30 and mum also has a birthday (and she’d kill me if I outted it on here – so she’s going to be 21+some years) and we decided wouldn’t it be brilliant to have a big holiday as a celebration and wouldn’t it be brilliant to go back and do a cruise like we have wanted to do. So we talked it over endlessly, did some research and last night we booked it and paid our deposits – we’re officially going, it’ll be me & the Mr in one room and Mum & Terry in another! We decided on the Western Caribbean this time as we did Eastern last time, and this time we’ll be visiting: Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, Georgetown in the Cayman Islands, Cozumel in Mexico & Key West in Florida, leaving once again from Fort Lauderdale. We’ll do as we did before and fly out a little in advance so as we can have a little time in Fort Lauderdale before we leave. I’ll of course be blogging all about the build up, with popular cruise related questions as well as blogging my way round (although that will be up once I home and not while I am there).

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So in the meantime I am looking through everything I want to do, from shore excursions (already got my eye on Chichen Itza in Mexico) to what to do onboard – I remember from last time the food was incredible, so plenty of time in the gym onboard methinks!

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Food: Vegetarian Chicken & BLT Style Salad with Feta

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Summer is a great time to eat great salads, and although we are big salad eaters all year round there is something very refreshing about a salad when it’s hot outside. With my Mr being Vegetarian we are always looking for dishes which are usually ‘meat eater’ dishes, and find a way to make them vegetarian without removing the main idea too much. When I found a recipe for a Chicken BLT salad (and I can’t for the life of me remember where I actually found it) we decided to change it up a bit, swap the meaty parts for a vegetarian substitute and make a great salad based on an all-time great.

Food: Vegetarian Chicken & BLT Style Salad

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 2

Ingredients

  • 3 Quorn Chicken Style fillets
  • 4 Quorn bacon style rashers, cooked and chopped
  • Enough Iceberg lettuce for 2 people
  • 8 Cherry tomatoes, cut in half or quarters
  • Half a cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 30g of Feta cheese, cubed
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • Honey & Mustard dressing (see other recipe)

Instructions

  1. Grill quorn fillets for 10 - 15 minutes until piping hot and browned.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Grill quorn bacon for a couple of minutes.
  4. Slice both quorn chicken and bacon.
  5. In a bowl combine the lettuce tomatoes and cucumber. Serve onto plates/dishes.
  6. Add half an avocado to each bowl.
  7. Arrange the chicken and bacon cubes to each dish.
  8. Add the cubed feta cheese evenly amongst the bowls.
  9. Sprinkle on some dressing.
  10. Serve.
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This great tasty salad is a great alternative on the classic chicken BLT for Vegetarians. If you give this a try do let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!

What is your favourite dish designed for meat eaters that you’ve turned into a vegetarian alternative? Leave me a comment below and let me know and may I can feature it here on Love Amybecca.

1 Minute Memory #1MinMem – fighting Dementia 1 minute at a time

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Dementia. Alzheimer’s.

These are words we hear all the time, in newspapers, on the news. It’s such a tragic disease with no cure and it’s on the increase. With an ageing population over 670,000+ people over the age of 65 are living with dementia.

My Nan has Alzheimer’s, a disease which causes memory problems due to degeneration of the brain. Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease which has no cure, which means people with the illness can’t and won’t improve, not until we can find a cure. People with Alzheimer’s disease find they cannot find the right words for things, forget appointments or where they have put things, and have trouble with short term memory. As the disease progresses people will need help with their everyday tasks and may find they unable to do things they used to do as they simply just forget how to do them. One of the most important things we try to maintain is to enable her to keep her skills; Reading, Writing, Drinking from a normal cup, using a knife and fork, all things you and I take for granted and can be so easily forgotten if it’s taken away.

The Alzheimer’s Society do amazing work, with medical research ongoing to find a cure for this awful disease. A friend of mine once said that it’s a disease which although awful on the person, is even more awful for the family, the family who have to sit by and watch their loved one slowly disappear. So this is why I am supporting 1 Minute Memory, you can find out all the information you need on the 1 Minute Memory website and check out ways you can start making your #1MinMem – Me & Nanny took a selfie last week and I donated my £1 to the Alzheimer’s Society – and will be doing many more 1 Minute Memories (and will document them either on here or on social media – so make sure you’re following me) all with the hashtag #1MinMem.

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Make sure you head over there and get involved and don’t forget to donate – whatever you can and maybe we can help starting beating Dementia today!

Website: http://1minutememory.com/

Twitter: @1MinuteMemory

Where I have been…

Sorry I’ve been a bit awol, it’s been the craziest of weeks, and I really needed to focus on real life more than my blog and social media, and it’s not slowing up yet so its looking like another week off from the blog so that I can focus on everything that is going on.

Firstly it was essay time, and I had to submit my third MA essay – can’t believe I only have 1 more TMA to go, and then my end of module assessment eeeek! Where has the time gone! Anyway, that was long winded and took me a great deal of time to actually get it done (due to being quite unwell), but I needn’t of worried as I passed with 73% – pretty stoked with that grade to be honest!

Also, while all this has been going on I’ve not been well, with having to take a great deal of time off of work, suffering with chronic headaches and migraines, with numerous hospital appointments, doctors visits and blood tests – we’re still not much closer to finding out why I am feeling so rubbish I do have some new medication which I am hoping will do the trick and I have clear test results (including a brain MRI) so that’s a relief.

Also I have some family unwellness going on – which is taking up all of my time, with hospital visiting.

With this in mind, I don’t think I am going to post this week on the blog – real life is taking over and needs more of my attention, so I will be taking another week off from the blog. In the meantime, be sure to check out my previous posts – there is a lot of content here for you to browse in this little downtime.

See you all a week tomorrow – when I hope to be back and posting again x