Keeping Instagram Organic

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I have a bone to pick with Instagram. More specifically with the people using and abusing it to make money (not to mention those who allow it to be abused by buying into this BS). We’ve all heard about buying followers aka fake profiles right? You can even buy them from vending machines in Russia and the Czech Republic. However it came to my attention today that there’s another sneaky way of building your engagement “organically”.

I was left a comment on one of my photos today saying “You post great content! I think my services can be of great help for you in growing your Instagram influence with real organic followers. Please check out my website, direct link in bio”.

Now I do on occasion receive messages similar to these and tend to ignore them, but when it mentioned ‘organic’ I was immediately curious. My follower number on @wanderful_simmy is constantly teetering around the 350-400 mark and sure, I would love to reach more like-minded people who may enjoy what I post. So I headed on over and clicked the link in the bio to see what this company were doing differently.

So, this is probably not a new movement to some but I had no idea that it happens until now. It now also makes a lot more sense as to why I receive multiple followers only to drop them shortly afterwards.

Here’s how it works –

These people take hold of your Instagram profile and like and follow multiple accounts with similar interests. This draws interest to your own profile from those you have liked and followed and in turn a lot of the time, people will like your profile back if the content is in a similar niche. Yep, you’ve probably done this yourself when being liked by an account; I know I have.

Well the next bit is the part that really pisses me off. In order for your account not to end up following a zillion profiles, this company or person unfollows all of those accounts after twelve hours. Now having been on the receiving end of the follow-unfollow phenomena I find it really frustrating that someone is actually making money from this method. To call it organic is almost comical because it’s such a dishonest way of increasing your engagement. To the people who get unfollowed by these methods, it makes us feel like crap. It shouldn’t. I know. It’s just social media after all but at the same time everyone should be on a level playing field.

If you put in the work you’ll be rewarded with awesome people and companies approaching you. Don’t do it the easy way where it will wind up meaning nothing at all in the end.

Oh yep, and just checked my account. Lost two followers in the past hour.

Go check out my stuff @wanderful_simmy and if you like what I post, give me a follow. No pressure, but I would really love a steady 400 followers by the end of 2018! Ha.

xo

There will be better weeks

 

What a shit week.

I’m still trying to compile my thoughts into words after receiving some “tough to swallow” information on Tuesday.

At this point I can’t really say much more as it isn’t public information but it’s work related and means I’m heading two steps backwards.

My initial reaction to the news was very matter of fact.

“So this sounds like a demotion.”

My feelings over the next few days didn’t change. Nor did the feelings and opinions of my team. I would be lying if I took this news graciously. I’m upset, I’m angry, I’m completely disillusioned by it all. But I have to make a decision about what I’m going to do.

Do I accept what’s happened and see where the road takes me?

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One question with two very different outcomes.

This weekend I’ll be mulling it all over before I have to give HR my final decision on the matter.

For now I’ll snuggle up in bed and watch Friends on Netflix (yes, I am still watching for the bizzilionth time Netflix) and working out new content for the next few weeks.

I’ve also been posting again on Instagram! Head on over to @wandeful_simmy and give me wave.

Have a wanderful weekend xo

Sometimes I Run

…sometimes I hide.

If you got the reference there then we should definitely be friends. Got to love some Britney!

This post has absolutely nothing to do with the 90’s or pop music but everything to do with running.

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On Monday I ran my very first 10km and I’m so proud that I could shout it off the rooftop if I weren’t too lazy to run up the extra flight of stairs to the roof. There is some irony to that sentence.

To tell you about this run I have to give you some background about my journey.

Before August 2017 I couldn’t run for five minutes. I was out of breath in two. I downloaded an eight weeks to 5km app and went from there. I had quite a bit of extra time so I really committed to the three runs a week and actually stuck to the program. I rarely stick with many things I try so this was an achievement in itself.

A little bit after I had completed this program I kind of lost focus due to sickness and going abroad a couple of times. All of a sudden I hadn’t ran in two months and had felt very worried that I would struggle massively to catch up with where I previously was. So two weeks ago after a long break, I took off at a gentle speed and ran 5km with relative ease. 5km with relative ease. Relative ease. Yep, I never thought that I would say that.

Once again things got busy but I have remained active while we’ve been working on our apartment. Sanding, sweeping and painting and walking to and from our new home every day has been my cardio so I guess it has counted as training in some way.

Monday marked around two weeks since that last 5km and at around 6pm after another busy day I felt this rush of energy and a need to run. I popped on Lloyd’s Bluetooth headphones, found my awesome running playlist and headed out the door.

Once again I ran gently. Composed. I barely even thought about my breathing because everything just felt so good. The goal was to reach Tigne Point and head back but once I arrived I felt like I could continue. So I did. My next goal was to make it to The Love Sign at Spinola Bay.

Everything felt amazing.

I remember getting to the last stretch just before reaching The Love Sign with There Will Be Time by Mumford and Sons and Baaba Maal playing in my ears (in fact I’m listening to it now, it’s so beautiful that it’ll bring a tear to your eye or fill you with a sense of purpose much dependent on your mood). The lyrics and composition are just perfect. Go and listen. I’ll wait.

I apologise for going off on a tangent there! So as I was saying, I was on the last stretch and still feeling mentally good. Physically my legs could comfortably carry on but my tummy was giving me some iffy signals. Time to get home. I felt good to keep on running but decided to cut the route short and take a different route home. I knew it would be tough but I decided to run up the hell hill that is the one close to The Meridien. It’s hard enough to walk up it let alone run and I had to stop three quarters of the way to take a breather. At that point I wondered whether I should call it a day or just see it through to the 10km mark. Well I guess you all know what I decided by this point! The final kilometre was tough; that hill had taken everything out of my legs and even though my lungs felt good I watched the ticker on my Pacer app reach 10km and I stopped running in triumph.

Where did that energy and stamina come from? The phase of the moon? Who knows! All I know is that it’s given me a boost to keep going.

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You can follow my running journey on Instagram @runnerbeanbaby

 

Our home journey so far

Hello lovely people!

If you’re reading this and know us personally, then you’ll know that we’ve been waiting for what feels like a lifetime to move into our own home.

In October 2015, we officially signed the papers for a home loan with Bank of Valletta after having settled on an ‘On Plan’ property.

Buying on plan takes a lot of imagination and a bit of luck and positivity that everything will turn out alright in the end! We had the approved developer plans on paper along with plenty of ideas of how we wanted our apartment to look. My Pinterest profile has been particularly busy over the past two years whilst I dreamt up every nook and cranny of our future home. It’s honestly been the most difficult project of my life and there have been plenty of times where I have just wanted to throw away the towel so that we could follow our other dreams.

If you’ve ever wanted to test your relationship with another human being then buying an on plan home is the way to do it. We’ve argued about what seems like the most trivial of things such as plug sockets to slightly more aesthetic issues like tiles (I’m pretty sure I remember a moment of standing outside the bathroom store in tears.)

Alas! It’s now 2018 and we’re on the verge of feeling comfortable enough to call ourselves home owners. Finally. My estimate is that by the end of February we’ll be moving in and we can’t wait!

Over the years, I’ve been collecting photos showing our home owner journey so without further ado I bring you our home from it’s very humble beginnings!

2015

On plan property development

The start of something new.

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2016

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The left side is up! Our apartment is on the right which naturally means it will be the last to be built.

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My niece sneaking a peak.

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2017

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What will be our open plan kitchen/living area.

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Master bedroom with ensuite in the works.

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This looks a heck of a lot less scary when there are railings. Funnily it also appears wide now.

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Lloyd being Lloyd.

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One of our many Sunday trips to check the progress.

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The builders left a mess wherever they went (and didn’t tidy up any of it).

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Our front door!

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Although the pole wasn’t obstructing our view, I’m happy to say that it was finally removed last week.

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Applying for our electricity and water at ARMS. We needed SO many documents, it was a stressful time but luckily I had everything in order first time round.

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2018

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First delivery! Also an added stress was that our items were in storage for nearly six months with a deposit placed. I was so worried that they wouldn’t hold them for longer and that we’d lose the products. Top Choice have been amazing!

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Shopping for supplies!

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My super Dad deliberating over scrapers.

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The (what seemed like) infinite process of removing the paint and plaster from the tiles. Still an ongoing job at the point of writing this.

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I have never looked better.

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Kitchen day!

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Our beautiful kitchen. Not finished yet but we’re on our way.

Phew! That was a long post but it’s so amazing to look back on how far we’ve come. I haven’t shared some of the awful work that was done on our place but I may do that on another post because I think it’s important to make informed decisions before choosing a developer and all that comes with it.

 

A Walk around Birgu

Birgu111A few weeks back I spontaneously found myself heading to Birgu to explore the city by myself. I used to go off on adventures alone at every chance I could get however it has become something that I seldom do anymore, so I decided that this needed to change! As well as wanting to get some exercise and fresh air, the act of exploring at my own pace with nothing but my camera has always been something I revelled in.

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Birgu also goes by the italian name of Vittoriosa and makes up one of the three cities situated on the opposite side of Valletta. The city itself played an important role during The Siege of Malta and was the home to the Knights of St John who made it a capital city way back in 1530.

Today, it still holds onto its charm and is well worth spending a good few hours getting lost in the quaint alleyways (it’s easy to find your way back out though I promise!)

Birgu is a mini city of plentiful character and is kind of how I imagine and wish Malta was everywhere. At the same time it makes me appreciate these places so much more now that many parts of Malta have become urbanised.

To get here from Valletta, simply take bus number 2 or 3 from the bus terminus.

One thing I noted that it was impossible to find an atm to withdraw money which was a shame! I would have needed to take a 20 minute walk into a neighbouring city which normally  I wouldn’t mind but it was downhill and a scorching hot day so be sure to carry cash with you in case there are any artisan markets around (which there was on that day).

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Why we need to go back to New York

StreetsofnycNew York, New York!

Our trip to NYC was jam packed, exhilarating and exhausting. Over the space of those 14 days we walked 190km only taking the subway once and a return train to New Jersey.

It’s impossible to see everything in two weeks. Hell, even a lifetime is a stretch! But we did get a taste of the apple and that just made us want to take another bite. Although we did LOADS (see this for a brief itinerary) there was so much more left to experience.

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Here’s what we’ll try to pack into our next trip (note that there is no if in that sentence!)

  • Ice skating in Central Park
  • Take a trip to the top of the One World Trade Center
  • Staten Island Ferry
  • Coney Island
  • Watch a game at Madison Square Garden
  • Watch another show on Broadway
  • View the skyline from a helicopter
  • Rockefeller Tour
  • Discover more vegan/veggie restaurants and food trucks
  • Spend more time in Brooklyn and Greenwich Village
  • Eat more pizza
  • Watch the world go by
  • Visit the Brooklyn Flea Market and find a bargain or two!
  • Visit more botanical gardens
  • Take the audio guided tour in Grand Central Station
  • Spend a full day in The Met
  • Listen to music in a jazz bar
  • See more street art
  • Fort Tryon Park
  • Museum of Bodies (if the exhibition is still ongoing)
  • See some abandoned subway stations

Ok so it seems like we may need another two weeks after all!

New York, we’re not finished with you yet.

New Yorkers, do you have any tips for getting off the beaten track in the city?

The Journey to a Vegan Lifestyle

Guest post by Lloyd.

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If I were to try and imagine myself at 26 I would never in a million years have guessed I would have stopped eating meat. If my family were to go out for a meal it was always a safe bet that my order would be a big burger, mixed grill or a steak.

Although Simone is a vegetarian it didn’t really have any influence on my own diet to begin with due to the long distance. Even when we were together, if we went out to eat I would order the same meals. However, when it came to making stuff at home I was keen to try cooking up some vegetarian dishes. I was always happy to test new recipes and explore alternative options to meat so I guess it didn’t take much for me to jump feet first into the veggie lifestyle.

I can’t pinpoint an exact time where I made the decision to give up meat for good but the idea certainly developed from the time I watched a documentary film called Cowspiracy. I watched it near the beginning of 2015, but the film has gained a lot more coverage since one Mr. DiCaprio was involved as an executive producer for a new cut of the film later on that year.

It would be very easy to shrug or turn a blind eye to the message the film is putting across but the information really struck a chord with me and has definitely influenced my life choices since watching. The main point I took away from the film was just how drastically our obsession with meat has affected our planet. Now, I’m not posting about this to try and push my personal beliefs onto anyone, but the film is very thought provoking and I strongly recommend giving it a watch.

Luckily for me the change to animal free products and food was incredibly easy thanks to how accessible these were from local grocery stores or online back in the UK. Even though there were plenty of pre-prepared “sausages” and varieties of veggie burgers there is nothing more satisfying than creating a whole meal from scratch, plus – it tastes so much better!

As a starting point those sausages and burgers will be your saving grace. They’re a perfect jumping off point to ease yourself into a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle and are so simple to prepare with a plate of veg, couscous or mixed salad. But it won’t be long until you’re moulding your own burgers or “sausage meat” patties and creating all kinds of culinary delights like stir fries and buddha bowls!

It may all seem like a bit much to begin with, as it is such a huge step. If you were to conduct some research about veganism you may also find it overwhelming to find out just how many obscure ways animal products can be used in your day to day foods and other general ingredients. For example: a lot of companies use bone char during the refining process for their sugars and plenty of wines and beers are processed with isinglass (dried swim bladders from fish).

One of the major issues people seem to have with going vegan is that “there is so much you have to give up” but it needs to be viewed more as an opportunity to expand your repertoire of recipes and take more care with what you’re fueling your body with. So why not create something delicious safe in the knowledge that it’s completely cruelty-free! From personal experience I have cooked a lot more and with so much more variety since changing my eating habits and although there are some traditional dishes with a veggie twist, there are no feelings of nostalgia for those meat eating days.

I can remember at the very beginning my meals were always kept very simple whilst learning more about the lifestyle and finding what worked for me. Breakfasts would generally consist of a toasted bagel with vegan spread or porridge. But you can also mix it up with some smoothies, fruit salad or even some vegan pancakes!

With most other dishes I would cook up a decent sized batch so that there were at least 2 or 3 portions to use for future lunches and evening meals. Those meals would often be falafel, salads and some basic soups and curries.

Nowadays we are a lot more adventurous with our meals and will have a go at pretty much any recipe we find that sounds tasty. Lately we’ve been making a point of working our way through a handful of vegan recipe books we’ve picked up and will have to share our best finds in future posts.

Do you have a recipe or your own story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you too!