Caramel Is Decorating!

You may remember that one of the surprise outcomes of me starting this blog two years and ten months ago is that I have ended up writing and publishing a bunch of books! Never expected that when I started blogging! Hardly know what came over me!

The amazing thing is, I managed to do most of the writing and editing before the Pandemic began, which was good because work has been bonkers with this virus. Work has been incredibly taxing and for every right reason, I have had to cut back on the amount of time I spent blogging and writing. But it has always been a hobby I have enjoyed whenever I had the opportunity.

Too often I don’t get a break at work, we are often just too busy. But when I am able to sit down for ten/minutes (or on the rare occasion half an hour) I have pulled out a paperback copy of one of my books and a red pen and circled corrections I needed to make. Slowly slowly I have continued to make corrections and update my manuscript. At last that process is complete! I now feel my books will not embarrass me with really silly mistakes. So I am trying to find a way to add pictures of my books with Amazon links to them to my site.

However, I have realized….I cannot do that with my current WordPress theme. So….I am dreading this….but I am going to start messing around with finding the right theme to allow me to do what I want. That is going to be a complete nightmare! I know it. I should have done it before now. But I could not face it.

There was a stage when I was on top of all the widgets and menus on my site – but I gave up about a year ago when things started getting too busy. But I know that changing my theme is going to be a momentous task – momentous! I am going to be searching for a theme that allows me to stay that blue colour I like so much and that allows me to to have a few simple widgets. I don’t want lots of them. I just want some kind of easy navigation widget (is there one?) and to be able to feature my books.

Playing about with the theme is something I am frankly terrified about. I do believe my site will be a mess for a while. But now is the time it would seem. So…while I play around until I find what I want….I do sincerely apologise for any confusion I cause. Caramel is decorating her site – yikes! This could be one of the craziest disasters ever seen on WordPress – are you ready for this?

A Walk In The Woods

CARAMEL'S CORNER

Today I am reviewing a marvellous book penned by Esther Chilton, the creator of estherchiltonblog. This beautiful story book “A Walk In The Woods” (front cover art work by talented Charlotte Newton) is a book I have admired greatly from the moment my paperback copy arrived.

As I began to read this exquisite collection of stories, my thoughts applauded what I was reading. I just kept thinking to myself, “My! Esther is such a clever writer!” Why do I say that. Well, besides the obvious quality, perfect editing and quality production than shine throughout the book, Esther’s style in her short stories is notable. Each finely crafted story has impact.

Before I started blogging, I never read flash fiction or short stories, I only ever read long dramatic epic novels. I have marvelled at the talent of so many writers who know how to craft a meaningful story in few yet precisely chosen and arranged words and phrases. Well Esther’s short stories in “A Walk In The Woods” are a model of telling a powerful tale, often with an unexpected twist or a pithy veridical conclusion.

As I would expect from Esther, “A Walk In The Woods” excellently showcases her talent as a writer and editor. Not only will readers enjoy her compilation of stories, but also admire Esther’s superb crafting. Esther Chilton really is such a very clever writer!!!

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

CARAMEL’S CORNER 2020

Well….by now you may have noticed that I have taken on the challenge of reviewing the books published by other WordPress bloggers – which was a terrifying prospect before I began, but now I am enjoying! I began publishing reviews back in August 2020 – roughly one every two weeks.

In case you want to check out some of the fabulous books – ALL WRITTEN BY WORDPRESS BLOGGERS! – featured on CARAMEL’S CORNER, I have put together a little list of the 2020 CARAMEL’S CORNER posts:

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/08/climbing-over-grit/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/let-love-speak/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/05/preposterous-tales-from-the-newbury-short-story-teller/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/09/19/managing-the-depression-puzzle/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/03/wish-upon-a-leaf/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/heart-songs/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/07/zion/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/11/21/swinging-sanity/

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/12/05/we-hide-what-we-hate-about-ourselves-2/

There is more to come in 2021 – in fact I have a long list of reviews that need to be completed in my drafts folder. There are books I have read and reviewed from Ritu Bhathal, Stephen Black, Tom Burton, Esther Chilton, Nora Edinger, Sarah Fennell, Iain Kelly, Jenna Kirkpatrick, Gabriella Marie Milton, Frank Prem, Kevin Morris, Julia Tannembaum and more!

Writer, Typewriter, Author, Blogging

If you are a WordPress blogger and you have published your own book – please free to drop by and say hello and please tell me about your book! I am always interested in coming across other bloggers who love to write (as opposed to the countless robots than seem to be following me). I do have my limits, so I won’t always be able to read your book if it is graphically violent or glorifies demons etc. But I do like to support other bloggers, just as I have been encouraged and supported by other bloggers. Please feel free to leave a comment on one of my posts.

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

Switching Positions

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I am very pleased to be reviewing one of the books I have bought and loved, written by one of my very favourite bloggers, Paula Light, the creator of Light Motifs II. Today I am reviewing “Switching Positions”, her romantic comedy set amidst the build up to THE American presidential election.

My biggest enjoyment factor from “Switching Positions” was the humour and energy that started from the very first page and flowed right through to the conclusion. This is why I love Paula’s blog and her books – she has what sometimes seems like an effortless comic touch. I often read just before bedtime when I am very sleepy, but I found when I was reading Paula’s rom-com than my heart was laughing so much as I read the dialogue between characters and the inner thoughts of the main characters, I did not want to sleep – I just wanted to keep reading because it was so refreshing to read such light-hearted clever wit.

White House, Usa, United States, America

So does politics drag the storyline down? Nope, not at all. I don’t even understand American politics, but Paula very cleverly and also carefully painted some of the main political leanings in what seemed like a fair and yet very funny way. I actually found it very interesting that she referred so much to how every day Americans may perceive politics and how their own changing circumstances may perhaps prompt them to weigh up their political opinions. I did feel as if her main characters are very interesting examples of how a young person may at some point ask themselves – are their ideas based simply on that of their family and friends? Or are they using their own mind, researching for themselves and making a decision that reflects their outlook on life, people, work, values?

But I want to repeat, Paula skilfully juggles the scenes in which her characters think over or voice their political opinions so that the story never becomes weighed down. Every internal conversation, and every passage of dialogue gives you a wonderful opportunity to laugh. After watching the media reports of the 2020 election, I think it is an extraordinary feat for Paula to have tackled a political setting and pulled it off in a way that makes this book so joyously playful to read.

I grew very fond of the two main characters quickly and could happily have read another twenty chapters of their developing relationship. Paula captures all the excitement, nerves, uncertainty, and wonder of a couple falling for each other and thought there are some very sweet moments, the humour is always right behind.

2020 has been depressing at times – so if you want a refreshingly playful, genuinely romantic tale, full of clever comedy and a well rounded view of the different political views that people hold in the USA (but all within that light hearted comic framework) – I would heartily recommend “Switching Positions”.

It is a delicious read and great fun! We all need more fun in 2021!

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You can find out what Caramel has been reading in her very own little reading corner, as she published book reviews of books written by WordPress bloggers each Saturday.

If you have any recommendations, please leave a message in the comments below.

CARAMEL’S CORNER

Relax, Read, Silhouette, Woman, Dog, Hang, Tree, Pet

The Bloggers Who Smashed 2020!!!

New Year'S Day, New Year'S Eve

It struck me a few days ago – am I supposed to do one of these HIGHTLIGHTS OF 2020 posts I have seen floating around? Deep breath. Let me say that again…the “highlights of 2020” – aaaaah sigh! Should we laugh or should we cry?

At least there has been one part of 2020 that has never failed to delight us – WordPress bloggers have been amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing!!! So my 2020 round-up is dedicated to the bloggers who have made this year on WordPress one to remember!

THE BLOGGERS WHO BECAME VLOGGERS DURING 2020!

While many of us were tested to the limit of our patience just trying to figure out how on earth to use the new block editor, some bloggers have ventured into the realm of videos to bring something extra special to their blogs. Here are two of my favourite bloggers who have delighted us with video productions:

Jeanne the creator of A Jeanne in the Kitchen has been recording videos of her culinary creations and they are just brilliant.

And to my absolute delight Kristian, the creator of Tales from the mind of Kristian, has been recording songs and broadcasting them on both his YouTube channel and on his blog. I cannot tell you how much Kristian’s videos have lifted my spirits throughout 2020!

What an inspiration these talented bloggers are! What are you planning for your WordPress blog in 2021? Will you venture into video productions too?

THE BLOGGERS WHO BAKED IN 2020!

One of the highlights of 2020 on WordPress for me was “THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF SUMMER PICNIC” – an entire weekend of baking and picnic creations from our magnificent international blogging community and a huge shout of support from so many WordPress bloggers who joined the party!

It was a pure joy to open up my inbox day after day and see more and more photos sent in from other bloggers. The response was tremendous! I am so grateful to all of the fantastic bloggers who were a part of THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF 2020 SUMMER PICNIC – whether you were baking or cheering on all of those who baked. It was just so joyful!!!

I am so glad to both Gary, the creator of A Dad trying to cope with the loss of his Partner and becoming a single parent, who had the idea originally of a BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF and who injected so much fun and unforgettable baking creations (and please accept our sincere apologies over the soufflĂ© – it has been dealt with by special security forces and is in a nuclear containment facility until it can be safely destroyed) and our marvellous baking guru Jeanne the creator of A Jeanne in the Kitchen, who is the most superb judge!

If I had to pick my personal favourite, I should pick Jack of course, however, as he got to see his family last week, and I did not, I am going to pick another blogger who I was just overjoyed with. You may remember that in the 2019 GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF, Amanda Cade baked a chocolate cake that although clearly delicious had some issues with gravity! But Amanda was not going to give up easily! In 2020, she smashed THE GREAT BLOGGERS’ BAKE-OFF producing not just one but an array of sensational cheesecakes.

Back in July I published a thank you post…

https://crushedcaramel.wordpress.com/2020/07/20/thank-you-for-a-perfect-day/

…but I cannot thank you all enough! What a perfect weekend that was – a real highlight of 2020 for me without doubt! I always choke up when I hear the line of this song “you just keep me hanging on”.

As you may know 2020 for me has meant a lot of work. The NHS like other health services has been put to the test. So many times I have come home from work feeling exhausted and deflated. But it has always been a delight to see the heart-warming and uplifting posts of bloggers on WordPress.

I know many of you have had a very tough year. I know some of you also work for health services or are key-workers in other vital sectors. I know you have had to deal with an increase of stress and frustration from customers as well as adapting to adjusted working practices. I know some of you lost loved ones during this year. I know some of you lost your jobs. I also know that many of you have found it hard to be separated from your nearest and dearest for long periods.

But I also know that the vast majority of you have been brilliant! You have been a positive influence on others. You have kept our spirits up! You have encouraged people to take the warnings seriously, to be diligent in applying the safety guidance issues – YOU HAVE BLOGGED ABOUT WASHING YOUR HANDS, WEARING FACE-MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING AND THE MANY SACRIFICES YOU HAVE MADE TO PROTECT OTHERS.

That is special!

2020 has been a year where unselfish love has been shown on an enormous scale!

During 2021, please keep up the positive influence. We are an international team who can make a difference. We can support and encourage others. That might involve being honest about what we are finding challenging, but also commending others for all of their unselfish sacrifices.

Please remember that some are overwhelmed with their challenges – A LITTLE KINDNESS CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE to a person. Even though you are often interacting with strangers, the power of your words in your posts and in your comment can be constructive or it can be damaging. Please CHOOSE KINDNESS. Do not crush others at a time they may feel as if their whole world is falling apart around them.

What will you do with your blog to encourage and inspire others during 2021?

THE BLOGGERS WHO SUPPORTED MY BOOKS!

Something that was new to me and also very exciting for me during 2020 was seeing three novels and one poetry book leave my WordPress blog and be transformed into real Kindle and Paperback publications available on Amazon.

What started as a short story written in response to a blogging prompt became a series of over one hundred posts. But the story of Annabelle Riley became a three part novel series: LEARNERS AT LOVE.

Back in the spring of 2019, I published a series of little ditties – poetic verses that were expressing the range of feelings I experienced on losing the tiny life growing within me. Well as I wanted a permanent record of such a momentous event in my life, we turned my little ditties into a poetry book.

So many bloggers have been encouraging throughout my journey in starting out with writing fiction to finally holding paperback copies of my books and seeing my friends reading them and hearing their feedback (everyone seems to love rock star bad boy Dean Mathers!)

I am especially grateful to the bloggers who very kindly reviewed my books! Ashley, the creator or Mental Health @ Home who has read and reviewed all of my books has been such a phenomenal support and encouragement. It is so touching to receive that level of support! But she is not the only one. I am also deeply grateful to Iain Kelly and Paula Light, who also read and reviewed my work.

As I am sure anyone else would agree, publishing your writing is a personally rewarding process. I know this is something I would probably never have done without the inspiration, support and encouragement from other WordPress bloggers.

THANK YOU FOR MAKING WRITING SUCH A JOY!

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE TO MAKE WORDPRESS A GREAT PLATFORM TO BE BLOGGING ON! THANK YOU FOR HELPING US GET THROUGH 2020!

Dancing With A Desperado!

Since learning that I would not be allowed to see family, I have tried to think about the kind of food that I enjoy the most. It is always hard for me to pick favourites because I love variety. I knew I would not be able to face a lot of cooking and washing up though.

I have been picking up bits and bobs all week – vegan cheese and crackers, veggies to make a curry with and vegetarian treats. I also thought about what to drink during the holidays. Most of today I have been drinking coffee and tea and water. But I deliberately picked up a pack of Desperados this week. Beer flavoured with tequila – don’t ask me why but the combination works so well. I am not really a beer drinker – but my friends know that I am partial to a Desperado!

Around this time of the evening my family and I would be having a dance. It is so much fun the see three or sometimes four generations boogying together. Not this year! But I suppose there is no reason why I cannot dance here on my own!!!!!!!!

CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL BAR IS OPEN!!!

Did I ever imagine that today I would be hosting a virtual party on WordPress? Nope!!! But the plan changed last weekend when the UK government announced that London and surrounding areas are in Tier 4!! So thousands of people will be alone today – just like me! However, all is not lost, because we know how to throw a party!

So whether you are in London or anywhere else, all alone or just trying to escape the noise and in your household for a few minutes – please drop by today and say hello in the comments below! Tell us what you are drinking at home or place an order at CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL BAR. We serve cocktails and mocktails and the finest champagne!

There will be little nuggets to look OUT FOR TODAY – we have music, comedy and hopefully the games we planned will work too! But whatever you do – please know that if you are alone geographically – you do not have to be alone at all today. There is an amazing bunch here on WordPress who are determined to help everyone get through this cold, dark and perhaps challenging time.

I am going to start the day with things we would love for you to share with us:

  • Can you tell us which songs cheer you up – they don’t need to be festive – we just want to hear music that lightens our spirits and brings a smile to our face. You can leave an artist and song title and I will find a video to link to the comments or if you know how to do it, then please leave a video link yourself.
  • For those of you who have cameras and can load a picture onto your blog. Could you take a photo of something you are eating today – be it a cooked dinner, a cake, or something healthy – can you post a photo and pingback to this post so we can all drool over what you are eating please?
  • Do you have a favourite comedy sketch? It might be classic comedy or a spoof sketch. Could you find a video and leave a clip? Or give me some clues so I can find a clip to post? (Nothing offensive though please – this is an international party and we want everyone to feel welcome!)
  • Are you a poet? could you leave us with a few lines about either cocktails, parties, how to cope with being alone, showing unselfish love, or anything else that warms our hearts on a day when many of us will be missing our loved ones
  • Do you have a favourite blog post from either your own website or another blogger’s site that has brought a huge smile to your face during 2020?
  • Is there a special someone you want to give a shout out to? Let us know who you are missing most and who you would be with if it was not for the pandemic restrictions!

PLEASE DROP IN TO THE COMMENTS BELOW WITH ANY COMMENTS, VIDEO LINKS OR PINGBACKS

WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO SHARING TODAY WITH YOU!

When I say “we” I mean the royal we – as in me. But I know Jack and some of my other friends will be checking all the comments too.

To give you an idea of some of the amazing bloggers who have been making WordPress a sensation throughout 2020 here contributions from two of my favourite bloggers:

The incredibly talented Roberta Cheadle, the creator of Robbie’s inspiration has created an entire village from chocolate and gingerbread!!!!

https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2020/12/24/gingerbread-and-chocolate-christmas-diorama/

One of the bloggers who warms my heart and makes WordPress an absolute joy for me is Kristian, the creator of Tales from the mind of Kristian, has been recording songs that have certainly cheered me up right down to my toes!

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2020/12/21/silver-bells-some-christmas-music/

This one is special – for all of us who are physically ALL MY OURSELVES – we can be united and connected with the people dearest to us and the most fabulous bloggers through WordPress and YouTube and Zoom and Instagram. I am not always a social media fan and truth be told – I am a bit of a technophobe – but when technology is used to warm hearts and be a positive influence on each other – kudos to that!!! Thank you Kristian!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TOMORROW – CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL CLUB!

Wow! Thank you to everyone who has come up with ideas already and plans to drop by to CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL CLUB tomorrow! I am am very excited now!

If you have any ideas that you want to bring along to the party – music, poetry, stories, foodie photos, jokes, or anything that will entertain other bloggers and cheer us up on a day when we might be feeling sorry for ourselves – you are oh so very welcome to get involved.

Many people will have been heartbroken this week when they had to cancel their plans to see their family or close friends (as was I!) but we are going to make sure that Friday is a day when we can still connect and have fun! After all, we have made sacrifices to protect our loved ones – we deserve a party!

THIS FRIDAY – CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL CLUB!

You may have heard about the London lockdown which started on Sunday and will mean that thousands like myself will be all alone throughout the holidays. Well, in response I am hosting a virtual party. On Friday – CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL CLUB will be open and very glad to have you drop by!

Until then I am working every day, but I am very excited that there are so many ways we can connect during a time when we would normally be with our loved ones. The theme for CARAMEL’S COCKTAIL CLUB is simply FUN! We want you to bring music, laughter and anything that will warm our hearts and cheer us up at a time when many of us are all alone!

If you are anything like me you may have shed tears on realizing there will be no hugs and games with family and close friends. But we are going to rock being alone over the holidays with one spectacular virtual event!

Remember everyone – we are doing the right thing! We are protecting our loved ones! So we are going to make sure we have the kind of party that we deserve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ARE YOU READY TO PARTY?

London – We Can Do This!

I know….I know….this is not what we were expecting or hoping for. London and surrounding areas – we are grounded, exiled to home. No seeing any family or friends outside our own household for the foreseeable future – that’s right – all on our own throughout the holidays!

You have to laugh or you would cry hey!

So here I am raising my hands to make it clear I will be one of the many thousands of people who live alone in London who will literally be all by myself from Friday to Sunday! My support bubble (Jack) had already left London before the Tier 4 announcement! He is obviously going to stay up in the Lake District for at least a week.

We spoke on the phone earlier and he said “you will have to host an event on your blog inviting anyone to drop by and chat throughout the holidays” – with special guests anyone who is like me – all on our own!!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it?

So….look out for a post on Friday – Caramel is running a special event this year. I have decided to open up Caramel’s Cocktail Club and I will be inviting you to drop in and say hello, tell me what you are drinking or what you would like me to mix up for you. Jack is trying to help me set things up for some online games on the blog if anyone wants to join in the fun. Feel welcome to drop in songs, funny videos to cheer us up or leave anything to help the thousands like me who will be ALL ALONE!!!!!!!!!