More thoughts on blogging

I have previously written a post about how I feel about blogging, it remains the most read post on my blog, so clearly it struck a chord with readers. That post was written 2.5 years ago, and this morning, I suddenly felt I needed to write some more thoughts on this subject.

You see, after I take a break from blogging, like I did recently, I tend to do the same things over and over again. I quickly write down a few draft ideas to blog about in the next few weeks. And I go on an extended blog surfing trip. Not only am I catching up on the blogs I already follow, I also try to find new bloggers, follow links leading to other links, hook up at a meet & greet (can I recommend again the one at Harsh Reality), check out WordPress suggestions etc. I usually end up with adding a few more blogs to my Reader and more inspiration for my own blog.

This time however I noticed something. Namely that a lot of new bloggers announce in their first blog post that they have thought a long time about blogging and did a lot of research and/or read blog/books about blogging before their first post. I actually can’t remember doing that. I remember that one day I thought, well, why not start a blog and I just started. After that start, yes, I got dragged into the whole blog atmosphere, making connections, monitoring stats and likes, finding blog parties, but nope, all my research before starting the blog consisted of a 15 min look around which blog platform to use (= which one is free and looks easy to navigate) and another hour or so selecting a format.

Naive? Maybe. But then I never set out to be a professional blogger, to make money from it, or to promote a business. Of course, I would be quite happy to be given kitchen gadgets to review, think that could be quite a fun thing to do 🙂 but that’s not why I started this blog. I am also not a writer (I struggle sometimes to get out a coherent sentence) so there is no aim to turn my blog eventually into a (e-)book or into a cookbook. I just want to blog about what I like to eat  – mainly for lunch – and what I like to bake.  And for the last 3 years I have enjoyed blogging, although I do sometimes take a break because of lack of time, inspiration, life getting in the way, or just because I get distracted by other things.

I am actually slowly embracing other forms of Social Media. I still don’t like Facebook and don’t use it, and although I (think I) am on Bloglovin, I never really have gotten the hang of it, nor of Twitter/Pinterest. I do like Instagram though. Often I have made, eaten or seen something I quite like sharing but don’t want to write a blog post about and I do find Instagram is great for that kind of thing. Here again though I am sort of blundering my way through it, finding out how it works after I already pressed the share button, so again a case of “do first – check out how it works later”. The silly thing is that this is not actually how I am. I am a person who very much likes to be prepared, be organised, so just doing things without a proper research is not me.

And that brings me to another thought that kept coming up in my mind the last few weeks which was how impressed I am by some (new) bloggers out there, whilst at the same time realising that their blog style isn’t suitable for me. For example, two of my friends are bloggers, one of them has blogged a bit longer than I have and the other one has recently  started. Whilst both of them are in different countries, and the subject of their blogs is different, they do have in common that their blogs are both well thought out. Well prepped and set up. Their lay-out looks professional. They are clear in the style and message they want to bring out and both have (I assume affiliated) links to products, or give aways. They were both well prepared before they started blogging. More importantly, they both are very personal bloggers. With personal I mean, they blog under their own name, and share photos of their personal life.

I like the anonymity of blogging. Like? I love it. That’s also the reason why I haven’t promoted these 2 blogs or linked to them. Because I like my anonymity. And a little part of me fears that I can be linked to them through their blog. Of course my family and friends know that I blog, most of them do follow or read my blog. And when I meet new people, it sometimes comes up. But – as far as I know – no one else out there can link this blog to me. I avoid mentioning names of friends/family, avoid detailed locations or photo’s that show me. (Yes, I do check reflections in photos). I don’t share too many details of my life. If you would turn detective, I assume that most readers will have figured out that I live in London (given that I wrote a whole blog post about it), that I am female and have an OH. If you dig deeper you might also find out my OH is Welsh and am sure there are more bits and pieces that can be deduced. But there are not many “concrete facts”, nothing that is hard evidence that links Dosirakbento to who I am in real life. I even screen comments…. any comment that uses my real name gets spammed automatically.

Does that make me paranoid? Or fake? I don’t lie on my blog, what I write and post is still who I am, what I think, what I do, what I eat, everything is real, everything is personal in that way. I think the biggest reason for me not to publish my name is that deep down I am a private person. I also don’t like the idea that everything I have typed and posted out there, will remain for eternity (or whatever counts for eternity in blogging land) out there for anyone, anywhere to see and read. So I hide behind the anonymity that blogging can provide.

The silly thing is, I like reading other people’s personal blogs. I like having a little insight in somebody’s life. I love the thoughts and ideas, the daily, weekly, monthly high lights and low lights in their life. I feel happy for bloggers – who I have never met in real life- when something good happens, or sad when something bad takes place. So I don’t have any issue with them sharing their personal info, just with my own….

Which brings me to a question for my readers. What are your thoughts on sharing personal information like your real name and photos of yourself/family/friends? Where is the line between sharing details of someone’s life but not sharing similar details of your own? It’s not like bloggers are friends in real life but at the same time there is this close blogging community and I do know that some bloggers meet in real life at events and do become friends in real life as well.  I guess that each blogger has the prerogative to make that choice, and has to decide what is best for her/him. At the moment I do feel comfortable with what I do share with my readers but I am interested to read your thoughts in the comments.

And because my blog is after all about lunches and cakes, I’m sharing this recently made cake.

It’s definitely cake time here in London!

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Happy Valentine!

Valentine bento

I know! It has been some time since my last post but I thought today would be a great date to restart blogging again.

Today is actually 3 years ago that I started this blog, and a lot has changed. I can remember how totally obsessed I was with making bento during the first months, I bought loads and loads of bento stuff and spent so much time creating them. Since then my focus has shifted, I discovered cake decorating and a lot of my free time was taken up with that instead of making dosirak/bento. So sometimes I blogged about my cakes instead. Or took some time of blogging because I felt uninspired, my lunches were boring or life got in the way.

Anyway, 3 years later, I’m still there and although I don’t want to make any promises about how often I will blog or how active I will be be, but it’s good to be back again. I would also like to thank again all my readers, followers and people who comment. It always surprises me that even when I don’t have anything new to show, my blog is still being seen and liked.

So this Valentine Day inspired dosirakbento today is to show my love for all of of you! 🙂

In the box at the back, there is some pink sushi rice, which I tried to shape in a heart but not totally successful…, with heart shaped vegetables. The box in the front has some Korean meatballs, and more of the pink rice and heart shaped veggies. And I love how the beet slices are bleeding a bit onto the radish, this was not planned, but it does look very pretty!

The Korean meatballs are my own invention, I used some beef mince and mixed that with Gochujang, soy sauce, garlic and sesame oil before shaping that into small meatballs and frying. They are great to pack into boxes and freeze well, so I made a batch to use in the coming weeks.

I hope that you have a lovely Valentine’s Day, and here are a few links to some of my previous posts that highlight (my) LOVE (for food)!

A cute boy loves girl bento made from onigiri.

I had my first blog anniversary and remade my Bunnies in Love.

Who says eggs are boring? These lovebirds were created with eggs.

And cake can be turned into love too, as these halloween pumpkin wedding couple prove.

 

Carrot men eating my lunch…

imageHelp, my lunch is being eaten by the carrot men!

Made a very quick lunch today and thought to add some fun by punching out these little men out of some carrot disks. I have not really gotten around to make a lot of bento recently. Partly that’s because I am so busy with decorating this year’s Christmas cakes. I made 4 (!) which will all be decorated differently and although it’s fun to do, it does take a lot of time. I’m hoping to post a photo of them all before Christmas. Currently no 2 is finished and have started on no 3….

Another reason why I haven’t been making a lot of bento is because I have been eating a lot less rice in recent weeks. Since winter has started, and temperatures dropping, I have been craving lots of comfort food like stews and oven dishes. Although I did make some Korean comfort food like Sundubu Jjigae, most other food has included potatoes and pasta. My taste buds seem to work that way, some months can go by without me eating any pasta at all, but than suddenly all I seem to want is spaghetti, macaroni cheese and lasagne! The same for potatoes, for the last weeks I’m yearning for mash, mash and more mash!  At some point my taste buds will call out for rice again, but for the moment I am indulging them.

However, even potatoes can be turned into a lunch, and I have packed them in the past, like with this Gamjajorim dish. Today’s lunch had potatoes in the form of a tortilla, always easy to make,  it can be prepared in advance and you can use up any left overs you have.

Recipe: Heat some oil in an non stick, oven proof, frying pan and add your filling of choice. I used onion, potatoes and garlic sausage. Fry for a few minutes until lightly coloured, whilst stirring regularly, and until potatoes are halfway cooked. Preheat oven or grill. Beat 2-3 eggs with some seasoning and add to frying pan, making sure the filing is evenly distributed. Fry for a minute more until slightly set and finish off under grill/in oven until firmly set. Can be eaten warm, tepid or cooled down and cut in pieces for your lunch 🙂

 

Chasing away the rainy Monday Blues…

A cold, grey and wet Monday. Some days I just want to stay in bed! Obviously only with the remote control within reaching distance and copious amounts of tea, biscuits and other goodies 😀…

Unfortunately staying in bed was not an option today so I consoled myself with the second best alternative: comforting Korean food. 

Regular readers will know how much I love Dolsot Bibimbap so what better way to chase away my rainy Monday Blues than treating myself to a lunch out!

A lovely comforting bowl full of rice, veggies, beef and egg crisping up. Spicy gochujang sauce for that extra kick. Some soup and side dishes, the kimchi side will help combat any cold and sniffles the rain might bring on. 

Am feeling much better already 😊

Do you have any food favourites to combat the Monday Blues?

Not an egg roll

Bento with egg

Didn’t know what to call this bento today.

That’s the thing with blogging, not only coming up with ideas to pack for my lunch that are “blogworthy” (looking a bit pretty in a box) but also writing a blog post about it and coming up with a title. Sometimes I have a title or blog post in my head before even making the lunch but often it’s the other way around.

Anyway, my bento today doesn’t have an egg roll in it but it when I was rolling up the green beans in omelet strips it did make me think of egg rolls somehow. Not sure how my brain was working this morning… The egg roll that I was thinking off this morning are the savoury, deep fried ones, stuffed with bean sprouts or vegetables but I just googled egg roll and according to wiki, here in the UK an egg roll can also refer to fried egg in a bread roll. Isn’t language funny?

Aside from the “beans-in-omelet-roll”, I also packed another egg. This one is hard boiled, and you might not be able to see it properly but I “squared” it in my nifty egg cube shaper before cutting it in half to fit into my bento box. I don’t often have fruit in my bento, usually pack/eat it separately but am eating lots of black grapes at the moment and they fitted in nicely. The compartment with rice looks a bit small, but I compressed the rice quite tightly and managed to squeeze in quite a lot.

Although not very pretty, this is one of my favourite bento boxes because it’s so practical.  It has lots of lovely compartments – which makes it easy to pack lots of different items – and they can be taken out to use the box in different ways. And of course the handy chop sticks in the lid.

I posted a long time ago about all my different bento boxes (I have loads – see this post...) and if you are interested in bento boxes, I also wrote a few blog posts about specific boxes in my collection. If you select “bento box review” in the categories you can read more or click here and here.

Happy bentoing!

 

P.s. I just looked back at my post of October 2014 with my bento box collection and I have been quite good! Good in the sense of using most of them regularly and not adding too many new boxes. I did get a few large bento boxes  that are more suitable for a sit down lunch or dinner than for packing lunch, and also one or two other ones. Am currently dithering about whether to get a Monbento one or not. They look pretty (I love the limited edition food battle or floral one) and practical  and have good reviews but am just not sure how much added value they would bring to my collection (size and shape wise) …

Hmm… to be continued 🙂

 

Quick bento

imageNothing exciting, just a very quick lunch from left over rice & meatballs. Although I did “make” a “Japanese Flag”… 🙂

Am a bit busy with other kitchen activities, might post about that next week.

Until then, keep well & take care!

 

P.s. am trying to catch up on posts via my WP reader..but a) some blog posts don’t show up anymore in my WP reader – ie very annoying and b) I need more time!

As I actually commented recently in reaction to another blogger’s post about whether you can be lonely as a blogger, I had to respond I don’t feel lonely at all.

Before I started to blog, I wasn’t that much into Social Media and not aware at all of all the blogger communities, interaction, groups etc etc that exist. Only once I started blogging I discovered all these other people, and now I have a lot of interaction with bloggers all over the world. These are people I would never have “met”  were it not for “Blogland”

Have to say I have also been lucky as almost all of the bloggers I interact with are friendly, and give great feedback or advice on my blog. In my turn I try to make new contacts with other bloggers by finding new blogs (using the WP tag function) and by liking & commenting on other blog(post)s.

So, my blogging limitation (aside from technical knowledge) is more time related. I wish I had more time to invest in my own blog, as there are so many ideas in my head that I want to create.

But I also wish I had more time to interact more with others as giving and receiving feedback/comments is really motivational. 

Onigirazu & Blogs I follow

OnigirazuAnother Onigirazu lunch!

Onigiri or Onigirazu are a great way to use up leftovers. My filling this time was some left over cooked salmon and green beans from dinner + some smoked salmon that needed finishing. I added some radishes, cherries and an apricot towards my five-a-day 🙂

You can find a tutorial on how to make Onigirazu in the post here

So re the title bit that says: Blogs I Follow: I know that some of my readers will see only a limited part of my blog, ie only the blog post itself, but as others will know, I do have some other pages on my blog like Where to buy bento products, Packing and decorating tips and also a page about Blogs I Follow. I don’t update these pages very often, only when I think about it (and when I have time), but I thought it would be a good moment to revisit some of the Blogs I Follow. Not only to see if they still exist… but also to see again why they are inspirational to me.

When I started blogging in Feb 2014, I was quite new to the world of lunch boxes, and I googled a lot to find other blogs about lunches/lunchboxes/bento and consequently followed a lot of bloggers (on WP alone about 300 apparently..) The majority of my bento ideas were & are often shamelessly nicked  ehh inspired by other very talented bento bloggers.  And although I always will try to link back to these blogs, sometimes I forget, or quite often I also can’t remember where I got my idea from, whose blog or lunch inspired me, or whose photo had me grabbing my bento tools to get started!

I also used to be part of a few bento linkup parties, but unfortunately some of these have stopped completely or others are continuing in another format where I feel my blog doesn’t really belong anymore (mainly aimed at children’s food/snacks – whilst my lunches are aimed for me…an adult who occasionally likes cute bunnies in her lunch box.. 🙂

However they are a great way to meet other bloggers and get inspiration, and I will still try to see if there are other (food related) link-up parties I can join, but maybe some that are less bento specific (for example, like Our Growing Edge).

I have been wondering if there was a way for me to “link up” with the blogs that I find inspirational, but my technical blogging skills are limited and I won’t have the time to host a link up party.  But quite recently I dedicated a blog to another bento blogger (Einfach Bento, see this post), so I was thinking, hmmm I could do this, promote inspirational blogs on my blog by writing about them! Also, it would be a great way to revisit and clean up my Blogs I Follow list 🙂

The only problems I can foresee are that it will take me ages (lots of inspirational bloggers on my list!), I don’t want to write a separate post for it – I’d rather include it in an blog post that I am already writing, and I don’t want to commit myself to a “weekly” revisit blog post. But those are minor issues, and the only way to know is to get started!

So, long story, but in short:

  • I will slowly revisit in random order my Blogs I Follow list
  • I will “clean up” the list and add comments to each blog
  • I will sometimes “highlight/promote” a revisited blog in a blog post

to be continued….

Dosirakbento 1 year blogging!

Can’t believe it’s 1 year ago that I started this blog!

My first post featured some onigiri bunnies, so of course I wanted to recreate them again for this anniversary. Because it’s also Valentine, I added some carrot hearts to show that these bunnies are in LOVE…

image

When I started blogging, I didn’t imagine that I would still be blogging one year later. I actually started my blog a bit on a whim, without any clear thoughts or goals. I just thought it would be fun to have photos of the lunches that I was making for myself, partly because the evidence got all eaten 😛 …so a photo diary would keep track of my creations, and partly because I thought blogging about it would challenge myself to come up with some more creative lunches.

I had always been interested in Japanese and Korean food, and after I had seen some bento blogs, I thought… hmmm, I might be able do that :-). Creating bento and dosirak, or at least, my interpretations of them, would also give my blog a sort of theme, namely playing with food in a box.

Well, 1 year later,  with over 160 posts (according to my stats this is post 165, ie an average of 3 per week), almost 18.000!!! views and with more than 825 followers (including email followers), I think I have shown how much fun playing with food in a box can be!

Naturally, there have been times that I struggled to come up with a creative lunch and creative post. As some readers might remember, I did have a bit of a breakthrough last August, when I had a rethink about my blog motivation and decided to stick to the reasons why I started blogging, a diary, my love for Korean/Japanese food and playing with food in a box. That said, not all my posts have been strictly bento/dosirak/lunch/Japanese or Korean related, occasionally other recipes made their appearance, or other subjects caught my attention, and it’s likely that going forward this will happen again. I also still feel I could improve my food photography skills, but am not bothered enough about it to make big changes to what I’m doing now.

My main thought now is, that after 1 year, I still love blogging! What I couldn’t have imagined a year ago, is that I would not only enjoy being creative with my own lunches, but that I would actually feel proud showing them to all the lovely readers that have taken the time to view, read, like, comment, pass on and follow my blog. I think that without all the interaction with other bloggers, the connections made and lovely feedback received, my blog might not have been here today.

So, a big big thank you to all you out there & happy blogging!

Dosirakbento

A basic Dosirakbento and thoughts on blogging

Basic dosirak bento

A basic dosirakbento

A few days ago I was talking with a friend about my blog and she remarked that my recent blog posts have received a lot more likes than before. We tried to pinpoint the blog post where my “followers” and “likes” count suddenly started to go up, but couldn’t really decide when it happened. After that conversation, I actually went to have a look at my stats and saw that in July the numbers trebled from 522 (June) to 1465 views (July)!

But my stats are not the reason why I wanted to bring up the subject “thoughts on blogging”. Because during that same conversation I said something along the lines of “well, yes, I’m very happy that I have new followers and likes, but I do sometimes feel obliged to make sure I create nice and interesting looking lunches / blog posts”.  Her response was to ask ” But why do you blog? And for whom? Yourself or your readers?”

Since then, I have been thinking a lot about this question, because I actually wasn’t sure how to answer it.

I started my blog  in February of this year with this Bunny Bento post  and this About Dosirakbento post. The last post explained the difference between  dosirak / bento and also my reason for blogging (to keep a photo diary of my lunches). The Bunny Bento post was my first, actual lunch photo blog post.

This might be familiar to other new bloggers, and other bento makers, but the first few weeks, well maybe months, of blogging I got sort of “taken over” by my new hobby. I couldn’t stop talking about blogging, connecting with other bloggers, showing off my blog to friends, family and colleagues and in general being a nuisance about it. I also spent a fortune on bento and dosirak accessories.

Now, about 5 months later, it has slowed down. Not  stopped though. I still buy the occasional bento box but don’t order any longer for lots of ££’s at my favourite shops. And I continue to love blogging and reading other blogs (especially about food, Korea and Japan but not limited to those subjects only). But I stopped talking non stop about my blog.

However, having a blog did “take me over” in another way.

The more likes I received, and the more followers I gained, the more I felt I had to offer creative, well written, blog posts showing different lunches, new recipes, kawaii (cute) character lunches, food art, explanations on what I make, and why, and how, and so on. I have been pondering about getting a proper camera so I could make better food pictures.  I have been feeling guilty about not taking the time to properly thank for (and accept) the nominations I received from some lovely other bloggers  (HotDish, MsWuKitchen and lefthandedchopsticks, please accept my apologies. I truly appreciate your nomination, really).

Basically I have been lured into the thought of not wanting to disappoint my readers.

The questions “Why do I blog? And for whom?” from my friend, made me realise I need to go back to the beginning. And that is  going back to why I started blogging: keeping a diary of the lunches I make. Enjoy playing with food in a box. Learning about Japanese and Korean food.  And to enjoy blogging.

That doesn’t mean that I will stop making occasionally kawaii bento or trying out new dishes.  I will still do so, but only because I want to, not because I feel I “have to”.

And I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t like having new followers and receiving likes :-).  I will  always try to visit back the blogs of my followers, like back (when I truly like it) and respond to your comments.

I also love finding new blogs and reading the stories shared by other bloggers or being inspired by recipes and ideas.

But I won’t accept Awards. I do appreciate being nominated, but just don’t have the time to truly accept and reciprocate the appreciation in the spirit these Awards are being meant, given and passed on.

I will stop worrying about the quality of my photo’s and whether my punctuation is right or my writing style interesting, constructive or good enough.

Finally, and most important, I will stop feeling guilty for posting a picture of a “boring” daily dosirakbento such as the one above.
Because this is how most of my daily lunches look like. Nothing fancy, nothing creative, just rice, veggies, protein. OK, and a cute food pick. Those ££’s spent on Bento accessories shouldn’t be wasted after all… 😉

I’m not sure if the above makes sense to anybody other than myself, but I’m sort of glad to at least have said it (written down).