Category Archives: Blog Review

Blog Review: ‘Texas Sweet Tea’ by Sarah Morrison

Name: Sarah Morrison
Blog Reviewed: Texas Sweet Tea
Her favourite post: http://texasweettea.blogspot.com/2015/10/what-dressing-like-sorority-girl-has.html

There is something definitely sweet about the look on Sarah’s blog, Texas Sweet Tea, straight from the moment you land on her home page.  The palette is both feminine and unique—where most bloggers choose pink and gold, Sarah went with a couple of tinges of pastel blue, which, combined with the pictures used, the fonts picked, and her signature, combine into an overall feminine, sweet, and unique feel.

Just like with so many other blog however, the site is hard to navigate.  The top menu only includes three options, the home page, an about page, and a contact page.  There is thankfully a widget on the right hand sidebar that allows for navigation directly to posts sorted in seven categories: advice, college, DIY, fashion, Greek life, lifestyle, and OOTD.

I don’t have a particularly favorite category but in this case, it’s for a good reason: I really enjoy Sarah’s writing style.  Turns out that she is that friend that makes just about anything sound fun—the friend you find yourself talking about the most boring topic as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.  It makes for quite an eye opening experience in that readers will be drawn into reading posts about topics they might otherwise have skimmed over.  This puts quite a bit of responsibility on Sarah’s shoulders, but it looks like she is well on her way to fulfilling it brilliantly.

You can also find Sarah on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram.

Add to your blog reader?

Definitely worth a look!

Update: This is the 31st blog review posted on Sahar’s Blog
since the summer of 2015.  I was hoping this feature
would generate interest in the blogs reviewed.
But although a lot of love and energy go into
each review, it isn’t yielding enough
interest by either the bloggers reviewed or
my readers to warrant continuing.  And so, the
remaining seven blogs I promised to review will be the last
ones, of the Blog Review feature.  It’s been a great ride and, should interest be generated again in the future, I will reconsider my decision!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 4 June 2016

Blog Review: ‘Sophistication and Sparkles’ by Alana Robin

Name: Alana Robin
Blog Reviewed: Sophistication and Sparkles
Her favourite post: http://sophisticationandsparkles.com/plan-spring-break-on-a-budget/

There is something both elegant and girly about Alana Robin’s blog, Sophistication and Sparkles, which reflects well her intentions with this project of her.  As Alana explains in her “About” page, she is inviting us to join her on her “journey into finding jobs in the sophisticated world of suits” during which she will be using her time off to “craft us al the sparkly decorations” her room can hold, a duality reflected in the fact that she is riding the fine line between being a grown up and wishing she “would never stop being a kid.”  These are sentiments bound to engage quite a few readers in a blog that seems to be meant as a “coming of age” sort of space in the blogosphere.

I pointed out in quite a few of my recent blog reviews that many of the bloggers whose work I have gone over have not created an easy to navigate blog.  Alan however has made it easy to find posts related to the main topics she blogs about with a main header featuring seven categories, including “Outfits”, “Beauty”, “DIY”, “Food”, “College Life”, and “Travel”.

Blogging since June of 2015, Alana has already quite an impressive collection of posts accumulated under these headings—I think, as of today, a little over 70.  I had fun reading some of her earlier posts and comparing them to her newer ones.  While Alana still sounds pretty much the same, it is obvious that she has already grown in the last eleven months as a blogger, and it makes me curious to see where she is heading to next.

Her tone is also one of her biggest strengths in my opinion.  There are a lot of blogs like hers being launched seemingly daily (perhaps an exaggeration, but it sometimes feels that way!) that have an artificial, forced tone to them.  While I do feel at times that Alana still hasn’t fully found her voice, I feel it’s more a reflection of the whole “coming-of-age” nature of her work than a lack of authenticity.

I’ll be keeping an eye on this one!

You can also find Alan on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Add to your blog reader?

Give it a go!

Update: This is the 30th blog review I have posted on this blog
since the summer of 2015.
I was hoping this feature would generate interest in the blogs
I have had the pleasure
of discovering.  But although a lot of love and energy go
into this feature, it isn’t
yielding enough interest by either the bloggers reviewed
or my readers to
warrant continuing.  And so, once I have fulfilled
my promise to review
the remaining eight blogs on the list, I will be discontinuing this
feature.  It’s been a great ride and, should interest be
generated again in the future, I will
reconsider my decision!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 21 May 2016

Blog Review: ‘SOFIEYAH’ by Sophia

Name: Sophia
Blog Reviewed: SOFIEYAH
Her favourite post: http://sofieyah.com/2015/12/28/december-realife-2015-powerofmakeup/

Blog Review: Introduction

Blogging for a little over two years now, Sophia explains her blog as “[n]ot just the average beauty, fashion, and lifestyle blog with tips about life and love is intermixed with the regular blog posts.”  Rather, she is trying to create “[a] blog that believes in that beauty and fashion does not discriminate based on imperfections, but that anyone can embrace who they are, free of judgement.”

Readers of my blog are probably not surprised that this kind of statement got my full attention.  After all, I believe that we have been created as noble creatures and are meant to help one another develop as individuals as well as a community—and while putting one’s best foot forward is a coherent, integral part of this process, it should be done in the broader sense of the word.

I mean, just check out this from her “About” page: “I believe in beauty being emitted from actions.  I believe in style being emitted from confidence.  And I believe that everyone is unique in their own way and have the right to hold onto that unique part of themselves.  […]  Just remember, that you are who YOU are, and that make up and fashion shouldn’t be covering up who you are, but should be enhancing yourself instead.”

I’ll stop here, but for more on this topic, you can check out my series of posts on beauty.

Working My Way Across The Blog

There are three main categories in the blog’s main menu bar; with the extra seven sub-categories, it gives us eight categories to explore.  Under “ReaLife”, Sophia discusses various topics many will no doubt connect with, such as the all too real issue of time management.  Posts under “Blogaries” are journal entries of sorts on places Sophia has been and places she has gone.  It’s fun to read about her travels, and I especially liked her post about her visit to San Francisco.  Unsurprisingly, I love the section “Books & Music” (shocking, I know) where I might have added this and this book to my TBR pile.  Sophia also shares her opinion on various movies under the category—you guessed it—“Movies”.

The blog’s “Beauty” and “Skincare” sections include posts on Sophia’s various beauty hauls, her favorites beauty items of the year, and quite a lot of reviews on individual beauty-related items.  And Every couple of months, Sophia goes through all her favorites things of the month, be it life in general, food, what she watched, makeup, etc., which comes off as a great exercise in gratitude.

Final Thoughts

This blog has a lot of potential to balance out both an interest in beauty and fashion with a perspective on the betterment of our real selves and of the world around us.  But I do sense that, just like with my blog, it’s tough to stay on track.  And so I will be keeping an eye on SOFIEYAH with the hopes that both our blogs figure out how to remain focused on our primary purpose in a blogosphere that seems to be carried away easily by the same forces shaping so many of the other aspects of our world for the worse.

You can also find Sophia on Facebook and Instagram.

Add to your blog reader?

Potentially.

Update on the Blog Review feature

This is the 29th blog review I have posted on this blog since the summer
of 2015.  I was hoping this feature would generate interest in the
blogs I have had the pleasure of discovering.  But although
a lot of love and energy go into this feature, it isn’t
yielding enough interest by either the bloggers
reviewed or my readers to warrant continuing.
And so, once I have fulfilled my promise to
review the remaining eight blogs on the
list, I will be discontinuing this feature.
It’s been a great ride and, should
interest be generated in the
future, I will reconsider!

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 14 May 2016

Blog Review: ‘Kitchen JS’ by Khadija

Name: Khadija
Blog Reviewed: Kitchen JS
Her favourite post: http://www.kitchenjs.com/2015/06/21/banana-oats-muffins-no-flour-no-sugar/

Reviews 2016 05 07 Blog Review Kitchen JSBlogging for almost a year now, Khadija explains how “Kitchen JS is a place where [she] share[s] easy everyday meals and favorite classics made healthy and simplified.”  This niche blog is clean and minimalist—just grey on white—and easy to navigate thanks to a simple yet well thought out menu bar at the tope of each page.  There aren’t any sub-categories under the “Lifestyle” tab.  But as this seems like an emerging category, with only four posts to date, it wouldn’t make sense to add a layer of sub-category yet.

Under the “Recipe” tab however is where we can find four well-populated categories: “Breakfast”, “Savoury”, “Dessert”, and “Drinks”.  In each of them can be found beautiful pictures of the final product, a description of why Khadija likes the recipe and other fun, sometimes tongue-in-cheek tidbits of information.  Her recipes are easy to follow—you know how sometimes, big words make their way into a recipe that scare off anyone who uses their kitchen as a magazine showpiece?  I have yet to see any of those in Khadija’s recipes.

While she told me her favorite post is the recipe for Banana Oats Muffins with no flour and no sugar, I am much more taken with the Spicy Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa.  My determination to try this recipe is all the stronger that it looks like something I would love to eat but could only until now think about as something I’d have at a speciality taco place like the ones my friends Mona and Sara introduced me to in Dallas.  But if I can bring a taste of that home…

You can also find Khadija on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Add to your blog reader?

Yes

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 7 May 2016

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Blog Review: ‘100 Ways to Write’ by Chelsea Thorpe

Name: Chelsea Thorpe
Blog Reviewed: 100 Ways to Write
Her favourite post: https://100waystowrite.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/the-cinderella-project/

Down in the spreadsheet where blog review requests are made by bloggers was an entry that captured my attention from the moment it was added.  One hundred ways to write, I thought to myself.  There are actually that many ways to write?  Yes there are different genres and styles, but one hundred?

Reviews 2016 04 23 Blog Review 100 Ways to WriteNeedless to say, as both reader and writer, I was particularly looking forward to reviewing his blog.  But I stuck to my system of going through the list chronologically until finally, I reached row 26.

My first thought: What?  I have actually reviewed 25 blogs already?  I counted; apparently so.

My second thought: Ouuuuuuh!!!!  THIS blog!  And kissed my Saturday morning goodbye.

Chelsea explains that “100 Ways to Write has not only guided me towards maturity, but has also consistently been around to help and listen to everyone who wants to be heard. The 100 is not a lifestyle blog or a fashion blog or a food blog. The 100 is a mesh of witty voices reflecting on the world and sharing those thoughts with anyone who is willing to listen.”  She delves even more into the reasons behind her blog in a post dated last summer which proved invaluable as a lens through which I explored her blog.

So Chelsea’s blog is NOT a writing blog persay, i.e. it isn’t filled with tips on writing.  With a magazine-like layout to its home page featuring a menu bar with six options other than the “Home” option, as well as a pull-down “Category” widget bursting with options on the right-hand menu (a little low which make it both hard to find an hard to use, but still quite useful), it is one of the easier to navigate blogs I have reviewed as of late.

Under the main menu option of “Topics” are “Advice to Life”, “Guests Posts”, “I like Leftover”, “Love & Appearances”, and “Us + the World”.  It seems like they are, in order of appearance: a broad rand of tips on how to lead a better life; a broad range of guests posts on anything from reflections on the self to dating; what seems to be reflection by Chelsea on her own experiences; a couple of posts about relationships, love, and dating; and reflections on various aspects reflecting the state of the world.

While I’m not sure how to define what is filed on the main menu option “Jubilees”, “Mega-Writing” the fourth main menu option, is pretty self-explanatory.  Chelsea shares poetry under the submenu option “Coffeehouse”, photography under the submenu option of that name, and has a fun word of the day series under the option “WOTD”.

Chelsea explains under “Reviews” in the main menu options that she reviews just about anything she might get her hands on.  From books to music and movies, Chelsea has some interesting and in-depth thoughts to share.  These are not your typical “OMG THIS BOOK/ALBUM/MOVIE WAS GREAT” so-called reviews; these are deeper discussions about what was understood from the media consumed, reminding me somewhat of the wonderful Maeve’s movie reviews.

In a little under two years, Chelsea has put together quite the list of content that one should enjoy on a lazy Saturday morning with a hot cup of coffee.  And be ready to post comments; there is something delightfully conversational about most of her writing.  I found myself focusing more on sharing comments that reviewing 100 Ways to Write more than once!  You can also find Chelsea on Twitter.

Add to your blog reader?  Yes.

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 23 April 2016

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Blog Review: ‘Kate the (Almost) Great’ by Kate Mitchell

Name: Kate Mitchell
Blog Reviewed: Kate the (Almost) Great
Her favourite post: http://katethealmostgreat.com/the-8-things-millennial-with-arthritis/

Reviews 2016 04 15 Blog ReviewLaunched some three years ago, Kate’s minimalist, black on white blog is a reflection of who she is rather than a blog that can be easily filed under one genre or another.  While it is a little difficult at first hand to grasp who she is—the blog, like many others I have recently reviews, isn’t easy to navigate—once one finds a foothold, Kate starts shining through.

The first hint of who she is comes courtesy of a small text box explaining that she is a “20-something living in Boston”, “a graduate student, a writer, and an advocate for people with arthritis.”  This fits quite well with what she told me about her blog: “Kate the (Almost) Great is a Boston-based lifestyle blog focusing on writing, chronic health issues, and my millennial life. I’m a published author with 2 books out and a licensed English teacher, so I hope to help people become better writers. I’ve lived with chronic pain since I was 10 and am an advocate for arthritis and fibromyalgia patients.”

Needless to say, I am quite excited about discovering a blog which is more than about the more often seen fashion, beauty, and lifestyle ones.

Scrolling down a little, we see another box in which four categories are listed.  The first one, “Health”, includes a wide array of health related posts, from Kate’s work as an activist to tips and advice for better health.  You might think that, because of her arthritis, the advice under this category doesn’t suit anyone without her condition—but you would be wrong.  Furthermore, even her posts that are specifically about conditions that you might not have are written in a way that could inspire positive lifestyle changes and/or the adoption of a health-related cause of your own.

The second category listed in the box is “Lifestyle” under which can be found the more often seen beauty and fashion posts, as well as how to organize your life and some fun guest posts.  I personally feel like this section in itself is a demonstration of how life with a painful chronic condition can be so normal and is quite coherent with Kate’s work as an activist.

The fourth one, “Writing & Blogging”, comes in quite handy to anyone who is interested in or who actually writes or blogs, be it tips on how to write or how to increase your blog’s traffic (I’m always up for that).  As for the third category, which I have purposefully left for last, it includes, under the moniker “Uncategorized” such a wealth and breadth of posts that I can’t help but hope that Kate will be further categorizing them so that the various topics they touch upon are easier to find.

A fun blog to read for hours on end, Kate the (Almost) Great is a fun and serious journey in the mind of its author.  You can also find Kate on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Add to your blog reader?  Depending on your interests.

First published on Sahar’s Blog on 16 April 2016

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Blog Review Round-Up: Because Candy Helps With Finals

School is a wonderful opportunity that has been offered to many a young person here in North America.  I never took it for granted, but April was definitely the one month of the year that I wouldn’t practice conscious gratitude about this opportunity.

The only thing I practiced in April while in college was College Finals Survival.

This is usually when my healthy lifestyle went out of the window, and candy in its many forms took over.  Now you might have noticed that I use the past tense—yes, I have graduated!  But I know that many of my dear readers have not and this post is therefore written with you in mind.

I don’t really want to encourage the consumption of candy—it was really not the smartest thing I’ve done.  So I’ll focus on another type of candy that helped me: pretty pictures, mostly those I would find on fashion blogs.

So for your survival pleasure, I would like to offer you three with eye-candy worthy pictures that just might give you that little extra boost you need to get through this month.  You can do it!

ADIMAY, by Aditi

Aditi’s website was the leader of this round-up even when it was only a faint glimmer in my mind.  Her shots are both glorious and gorgeous, and I have found myself revisiting them a number of time—because like actual candy, just one or once is never enough with ADIMAY.

A Wanderlust Dossier, by Nathalie

Just like the name of the blog implies, Nathalie keeps taking readers to various places around the world.  What makes for a great escape are the pictures that accompany her posts; within minutes, you can be thousands of miles away for a quick reminder that there is, indeed, a life beyond college.

Class Meets Couture, by Cat

I said it once, I will say it again: Cat’s picture heavy blog is a delight to the eyes both with regards to style as well as content.  There is a big difference between style and fashion; Cat seemingly effortlessly combines them both and enhances them with great photography skills.

Blog Review: ‘Kayla in the City’ by Kayla Kleinman

Name: Kayla Kleinman
Blog Reviewed: Kayla in the City
Her favourite post: http://www.kaylainthecity.com/2015/11/17/7-reasons-start-blog/

Reviews 2016 04 01 Blog Review Kayla in the CityLaunched almost five years ago, Kayla’s corner of the blogosphere is a minimalist black, light blue, and dark fuchsia on white fitness blog focused on making healthy easy and approachable.  If you are wondering who this person is to have a fitness blog in the first place, you might start your exploration of this blog on her “Race Recaps” page—in the last four years, this lady has participated in eight marathons, including three during 2015 alone!

I’d say that, at the very least, Kayla might have some good personal advice well worth reading, wouldn’t you?

Like many other blogs that I’ve recently reviewed, navigating Kayla in the City is a little difficult.  Other than the abovementioned “Race Recaps” page, the top menu offers six other options: “Home”, “About Me”, and “Contact Me”, as one would expect, and “Class Reviews”, “Workouts”, and “Recipes”.

Under “Class Reviews” are all the fitness classes Kayla has reviewed and I have to admit that she makes attending one sound very tempting despite my current winter-energy-slump, although quite unfortunately I am way too far from Manhattan to afford the commute.  Most of her posts are accompanied by some pretty great shots of her in action, which makes you understand how she managed to run so many marathons in recent years (seriously, eight!).  Some of her workouts are listed here and I look forward to her completing this page to see the full extent of how she keeps up.

Of course one expects someone like Kayla to be very careful with what she eats, and the list of recipes on the, well, quite aptly names “Recipes” page reflects this care.  The one recipe that particularly caught me eye is the one for channa masala with eggplant.  Yum.

Kayla does tag and categorize her posts, so it only takes a bit of time for readers to pick out some tags to make their navigation easier.  I focused on the “Move To The Music” and “No Equipment Workout” which both have encouraged me to up the ante on my personal exercise routine, winter blahs or not.  And I feel that Kayla’s overall energy and natural enthusiasm for fitness will do a lot to encourage many readers to do the same.

You can also find Kayla on Facebook, Bloglovin, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Add to your blog reader?  Yes.

Blog Review: ‘Sweet, Short & Stylish’ by Ruya Kirac

Name: Ruya Kirac
Blog Reviewed: Sweet, Short & Stylish
Her favourite post: http://www.sweetshortandstylish.com/2015/07/grid-dress.html

Established in 2013, Roya’s blog isn’t just a hobby; it literally changed the course of her life, as she explains on her “About” page:

Reviews 2016 03 25 Blog Review Sweet Short & Stylish“I decided to start a blog as a creative outlet where I can talk about all the things that I love with people that have similar interests.  I never knew that blogging would lead me to working with national brands, creating friendships with readers and bloggers from all over the country, and giving me the courage to switch my major and start studying Media Management. Who knew that I always wanted to be working in public relations and social media? This girl didn’t. It’s funny how life has a strange way of working things out.”

The minimalist black on white blog oozes style from the very first glance, what with the beautiful logo and header that first greets readers.

Ruya explains that Sweet, Short & Stylish is “a fashion and lifestyle blog geared towards college girls who have a love for fashion but don’t want to break the bank.”  Four menu options helps readers navigate her online home.

Under “Outfits” are some really beautiful combinations, such as this outfit built around a ruffle jacket, and this one channeling the hope for spring.  While Ruya does seem to have a pretty extensive collection of clothes and accessories, one can easily choose to focus on the different ways she uses the same ones over and over if, like me, you would rather not have a hug closet but know how to use what you have well.  Of course even the most beautiful outfit can look pretty bad if you don’t have the right hair and makeup, tips for both of which can be found under the “Beauty” menu option.

There are pictures under the “Travel” menu option that will definitely make you dream. Roya balances out writing general posts about a trip as well as a couple of in depth ones—for example, she has general pictures of her trip to Paris but goes in depth when it came to her La Durée experience.  Under “Advice” I found quite a few posts on blogging and other topics, as well as this gem of a post that, as someone with a name many cannot pronounce well on their first try, made me grin.

You can also find Ruya on Facebook, Bloglovin, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Add to your blog reader?  If you want outfit inspirations, definitely!

Blog Review: ‘Hydrosupralicked’ by Ally Fiesta

Name: Ally Fiesta
Blog Reviewed: Hydrosupralicked
Her favourite post: http://hydrosupralicked.com/real-dream-a-ceremony/

Reviews 2016 03 18 Blog Review HydroSupraLickedOver the last four years, Ally Fiesta has built herself quite the blog. She explains that HydroSupraLicked “has roots in underground dance music” and that she enjoys “being active nature and dancing and sharing traveling experience.” She describes herself on her blog as “a bass blasting booty shaking, hoop twirling, raw food loving, international traveling Latina telling the Universe how it is.”

This energy of hers can be found throughout her purple and black on white blog. One immediately gets the sense that this is someone dedicated to what she believes in from the amount of content available. I have to admit that just like many other blogs I have recently reviewed, I found navigating HydroSupraLicked a little tough. The only menu bar available, at the top of the page, allows readers to navigate only to a few limited categories that do not span nearly as much as the full range of topics available. Thankfully though each post seems to be carefully tagged, allowing one to choose to navigate to any one that grabs his or her fancy.

Most if not all the interviews Ally has done seem to be focused on music, more specifically on bands or artists. Ally also dedicated one of the items on her top menu to music mixes; there are quite a few of them and one can tell pretty early on that Ally really likes her music.

I particularly liked the posts tagged under active lifestyle, in which Ally’s energy and enthusiasm bleed through. If you are having trouble getting on or keeping on top of a personal physical fitness goal, reading some of her posts might give you a boost. She only has, quite unfortunately, two product reviews, but hopefully she will be able to spruce that section up because I enjoyed reading her opinion on products.

And if, after visiting her blog, you are inspired to put together you own, Ally has listed a handful of resources here that helped her on her blogging path. Hydrosupralicked is an energy packed blog that reflects someone who seems to be thoroughly enjoying life. You can also find Ally’s energy come through on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Add to your blog reader? Potentially.