The Versatile Blogger Award

My lovely daughter, Jenny Stephens, nominated me for this great award back in late January! Because we were away for most of the month, I have only just caught up with all my ‘to-do’ list, so given that Jen nominated me, I have decided to post my reply in the week of her birthday! Jen and I started our blogs at the very same time, only her posts are about travel. It’s a wonderful blog! She writes so well and her photos are superb! Reading her blog makes you feel like you are there! It has been a wonderful way to share her adventures, including all her thrills, which is at times, quite hair-raising for a parent !!! You can follow her travels at : https://exploreadventurediscover.wordpress.com.

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Here are the Rules for the Versatile Blogger Award

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Share the award on your blog
  • Share seven random facts about yourself
  • Tag 10 bloggers with less than 1,000 followers and let them know they’ve been nominated!

Mind you, having just consulted the following blog site: https://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/vba-rules/, I discovered a few discrepancies! Sorry Jen ! I know you inherited your set of rules from your nominator! The site suggests tagging 15 bloggers (eek!), with no restriction on the number of followers, so I’m bending the rules for me ever so slightly! Even though awards are a terrific way of galvanizing one into searching out other blog sites, given how difficult and time-consuming it often is to determine the number of followers, I’m hedging my bets each way by nominating 10 bloggers (well, eleven strictly, but there’s a reason!) and disregarding the ‘less than 1000 followers rule’, though I will try to give preference to lesser-known blogs!

Seven Random Facts about Myself

  1. If you haven’t already guessed by my recent blog posts (!), I adore Old Roses. My favourite types are Noisettes and Albas, though really I love them all!!!
  2. I am also a keen birdwatcher and love our unique Australian birds.
  3. We travelled and camped all the way around Australia for 6 months in 2008. We climbed every mountain in the heat and lost so much weight! In the Cooktown Winter, I was having 6 cold showers every day!
  4. I relax before sleep with pixel puzzles and know it is time to go to sleep when I start making mistakes or come to a standstill!
  5. I like to plan ahead, both with my blogs, so I don’t panic (!),  and travel, so I don’t miss out on anything and make the most of our time! I could not live without my lists!
  6. I love books and reading and have been a keen library user for all my life. Often, I will borrow 10 books at a time.
  7. I also love film and if I had my time again, could easily pursue a career in film!

My Nominations

  1. http://www.shabbychick.me.uk: A delightful site by  Andrea Mynard, who lives in the Cotswolds with her family and writes about growing flowers, herbs and vegetables and then, cooking them! Her site resonates with us, as she shares our love of and belief in Simple Living, nature and creativity. I particularly loved her recent post on Hygge (http://www.shabbychick.me.uk/2017/01/28/hygge-wood-burner-cooking/), a new term for me, having only been recently introduced to it when my daughter bought a Christmas book from us on this Danish form of Simple Living.
  2. Andrea introduced me to Sarah, another keen gardener and cook, who has written two blogs : https://thegardendeli.wordpress.com/ and https://acrowdedtable.wordpress.com , the latter started in October 2015. Both have delicious recipes for cakes and pies, which is great for this fellow baker, but there are not a huge number of posts in the latest blog, so I’m not sure how active the site is! Maybe this nomination will inspire forthcoming recipes!
  3. I leap-frogged from Sarah to : https://aroundthemulberrytree.wordpress.com/, written by a Gippsland cheese-maker and sour-dough baker. Her photographs of her food, kitchen and garden in country Victoria, Australia, are beautiful and very inspiring!
  4. https://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com is another great blog about sustainability and ecoawareness by another country Victorian, with a terrific name, with which I totally identify!
  5. https://circusgardener.com/ has wonderful vegetarian recipes, which will greatly enlarge my limited repertoire and hopefully impress my vegetarian daughter, when she next visits! Its author, Steve Dent, also has some interesting thought-provoking posts on the politics of food.
  6. Emma Bradshaw, of Bradshaw and Sons, writes a delightful little blog,  http://emmabradshaw.blogspot.com.au/. It is all about simple family life and adventures, nature and wildlife, crafty ideas and recipes, photography and holidays, things that interest and inspire them and places they want to visit. If ever I visit London again, I will be sure to consult this lovely blog.
  7. https://jekkasherbfarm.wordpress.com/ is a wonderful informative blog for people like me, who love their herbs, and there are obviously a huge number of them! This nomination DEFINITELY breaks the ‘less than 1000 followers’ rule!! Jekka McVicar runs a herbetum and has an online shop, which sells seeds, books and herbal teas. See: https://www.jekkasherbfarm.com/. Her herbetum, which has the largest collection of culinary herbs in the United Kingdom, can be visited at Alveston, Bristol, South Gloucestershire and she also runs masterclasses in herb garden design, propagation, year round herbs and the use of herbs.
  8. Jekka introduced me to another herb-loving blogger, Lemon Verbena Lady, who also enjoys cross-stitch, another old hobby of mine, though I must admit that I don’t do so much, now that my eyes are not as good! She has some lovely lemon verbena recipes! Her blog address is: http://lemonverbenalady.blogspot.com.au/.
  9. The next nomination is: https://wildlifegardenerblog.wordpress.com . It is such a lovely blog about gardening, sustainability and environment by a kindred spirit! Beautiful photos and very inspiring!
  10. I have recently discovered the blog written by Emily Carter Mitchell at : https://bellaremyphotography.com. Her nature and wildlife photographs are absolutely superb and I have already learnt so much!
  11. And finally, because my second nomination may not be active still and Jekka’s blog has well over the restrictions on the number of followers (!), I have included an extra:  Lia Leendertz, who has written two delightful blogs: Midnight Brambling (now inactive, but can be accessed at : https://lialeendertz.wordpress.com/) and http://www.lialeendertz.com/blog/ . Both blogs have superb recipes, based on produce grown on her allotment, with enticing names like Gooseberry Knickerbocker Glory and Quince Icecream! I would love to be present at her Supper Club meals!!!

I know Jen would too! Happy Birthday Darling! Have a wonderful time in Greece and a year, full of happiness and many more exciting adventures, which I can’t wait to read about in your 2017 blog posts!!!

Sunshine Blogger Award

BlogSunshine50%ReszdsunshineWhat a lovely idea and a great way to start Spring- at least for we bloggers (and gardeners!) in the Southern Hemisphere, that is! I have been nominated for this award by the lovely Lisa, from http://www.fromdreamtoplan.net. Lisa writes a great travel blog and is always so positive, enthusiastic and full of life! She also has a lovely singing voice and enjoys making handmade gifts, so if you love travelling, music and creativity, it is well worth following her blog!

The Sunshine Award is given by fellow bloggers to bloggers, who ‘are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere’, so Lisa certainly deserves her award and it’s so lovely that she enjoys my blog too! I get so much joy from my garden, the beauty of our local environment and the natural world and from developing my creative side, and blogging has been a wonderful way to share that happiness, as well as meet some wonderful, positive, like-minded people from all over the world in the process! So thank you again, Lisa!

Here are the rules for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

Here are my responses to Lisa’s questions:

1.What are the challenges that you face in writing an article?

Keeping the word count down and being selective about the photos I use! Sometimes, I will post an article over 2 weeks, if it is more than 5000 words and can be divided into two logical parts. Trouble is, there is always so much to write about!!! The same goes for the photos and they are even harder! I hope that I am improving slowly!!!

2.What keeps you motivated?

I think that I may have already answered this question in my introductory blurb! I love my garden and seeing all the new growth, especially at this time of year, when the garden is very very slowly starting to wake up after a long Winter! The excitement of the first new leaves unfurling, the first daffodil opening, the first crab apple flower- I pop down into the garden at least 4 times a day to check on its progress, to help Ross out or pick flowers for the house. I love flower arranging- all the scents, colour, textures and forms- and easily lose myself in this other world! Nature, birds, our precious environment and beauty are also strong motivational factors for me!

3.What is your favourite travel destination?

This is a difficult one! There are so many wonderful places to visit and we have enjoyed all our holidays! This time, I might nominate Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia- well worth visiting if, like us, you enjoy bushwalking, beautiful natural environments, cycling, swimming and snorkelling and bird watching. It is a pretty special place! For more information, read my post on Landmark Birthdays: Part 1 at: https://candeloblooms.com/2016/05/31/landmark-birthdays-part-1/.

4.Do you speak any foreign languages?

I learnt French at school for 4 years and while I don’t get a lot of opportunity to practise it, I have used it at a very basic level on our two trips to France, as well as translating a book, written totally in French, about one of my favourite  Old Rose gardens in Lyons, which leads to my next question…!

5.List 3 things on your bucket list.

Given Lisa asked the question and is a travel writer, here is my travel bucket list!

  • To visit the Old Rose gardens of Europe, in particular the subject of the book, which required translation: Odile Masquelier’s wonderful garden, La Bonne Maison, in Lyons, as well as Eléonore Cruse’s blowsy rose garden ‘Roseraie de Berty’ at Largentière, Ardeche and of course, the Garden of Ninfa in Lazio, south of Rome, Italy.
  • To visit more gardens in Britain: Sissinghurst, Sarah Raven’s Cutting garden, Great Dixter, the Old Rose nurseries of Peter Beales and David Austin, the gardens of the Cotswolds: Hidcote Manor, Kiftsgate Court, Snowshill Manor, Barnsley House, William Morris’s Kelmscott and Prince Charles organic garden at Highgrove, Montisfont Abbey… the list is endless!
  • And finally, on the way home: the beautiful exotic tropical paradise of Tahiti!

6.What is the favourite thing about yourself?

Another toughie, but I would probably have to say my adaptability! We have lived in a number of different places and led a number of different lives, all involving fresh starts and lots of variety and interest! Life is never boring!

7.If you could have a superpower, which one would you choose?

Probably the ability to time travel, as I love history, as well as visiting new places!

8.What is your favourite recipe of all time?

I love desserts! It’s the basis of my menu planning! And I love tropical fruit salad, so my choice would have to be: Fruit Salad with Ginger Mint, Served in a Carved Watermelon. I have made this dessert a number of times and love it for its variety of flavours, colours and creativity. It is great fun carving designs on the melon bowl and you can vary the fruits used, plus the syrup includes lime juice and orange flower water- always a winner!  See my post on The Sweet Spot at: https://candeloblooms.com/2015/10/01/the-sweet-spot/.

9.Which is your favourite movie of all time?

I love Mamma Mia: The Movie for its joyous music, beautiful Greek island scenery, fabulous dance scenes and just sheer fun! It always makes me feel good!

10.How long have you been blogging?

One whole year on September the 1st!

11.When did you start your first blog and if it’s not the current one, what was it?

Yes, this is my first blog and its a celebration of our new garden, other people’s lovely gardens, stunning seasonal plants, our beautiful local environment and creativity!BlogSunshine20%Reszd2016-08-14 10.51.17Now for my nominations:

  1. exploreadventurediscover.wordpress.com
  2. mybotanicalgarden.wordpress.com
  3. susanrushton.net
  4. afrenchgarden.wordpress.com
  5. bundleofbooks.org
  6. theirisandthelily.wordpress.com
  7. myhesperidesgarden.wordpress.com
  8. thenaturephile.com
  9. brilliancewithin.com
  10. sarahbrennanblog.com
  11. bitesize-bakes.com

And my questions:

  1. What inspired you to start writing a blog?
  2. What is your favourite thing about blogging?
  3. What are the most important factors for a happy life and why?
  4. What is the most beautiful place you have ever visited and why?
  5. What is your favourite book and why?
  6. What is your favourite movie and why?
  7. What are your favourite ways to relax and unwind?
  8. Name 3 people who inspire you and say why.
  9. If you could time-travel, which time period would you visit and why?
  10. What is your favourite garden, apart from your own of course! ?
  11. Before blogging, what did you do with your blogging time?!

I really hope my nominees enjoy these questions. It’s good fun and a great way of defining your own goals and values, as well as getting to know a bit more about your fellow bloggers! Happy Blogging and Much Love! Jane

 

 

 

A Happy Surprise: The Liebster Award

The Liebster award is an online award given to new bloggers or those with less than 200 followers by other bloggers- it’s all about providing support and encouragement and increasing exposure. Thank you so much, Jenny Stephens from https://exploreadventurediscover.wordpress.com.  It was so lovely of you and totally unexpected, especially as you were on a plane to Germany at the time!!! Though really quite appropriate as it turns out, as ‘Liebster’ in German means ‘sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome’ and Jenny is all those things and more!

Apart from being my wonderful daughter (and I’m not biased at all!), Jenny is a beautiful person, whose kindness, sincerity, enthusiasm and vital interest in the world around her shines through in all her posts. She writes so well with lots of interesting details, which make you want to travel with her, as well as great photos, so it is well worth following her travel blog.liebster3

The Liebster Award has been going since 2011 and the rules have evolved over time. The official rules of The Liebster Award 2016, if your blog has been nominated and you have chosen to accept it, are below

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  • Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.  Images you can use for your 2016 Liebster Award can be found here.
  • List these rules in your post.
  • Answer your nominator’s questions
  • Give 10 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
  • Create 11 questions for your own nominees to answer.
  • Once you have written and published it, you then have to: Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.

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My Answers

  1. What inspired you to start writing a blog?

Initially, I decided to write my blog as I wanted to document the development of our garden from its beginnings, as well as write about our new life here in Candelo. Jenny also inspired me, as she was just about to start her travel blog as well, so we launched both on the same day at the same time! It has been wonderful having another fellow blogger in the family for all those queries and moral support and encouragement!

Soon, I discovered all the other benefits of blogging like being an ideal way to use all those digital photos and view them in context, as well as keeping family and friends in faraway places informed about all your news, your home and life in general. I discovered that I loved the writing process and it soon became an addictive habit, one which I would now not be without! For me, the best things about blogging are:

  • The researching process
  • Putting it all together to form the finished article- eminently satisfying, as well as a big relief, knowing that you have made the deadline on time!
  • Meeting new like-minded friends in the blogging community and sharing experiences, queries etc

Writing a blog has :

  • Improved my photography skills- I’m much faster at capturing birds and insects on film and I have learnt so much about my camera, though I still struggle with the zoom. I think more about framing my photos and taking specific photos to complement my text. Having said that, I now take so many more photos than I used to and I probably still have to be a little more ruthless about my selections!
  • Improved my writing and editing skills- I am much more aware about my phrasing and grammar and am getting quicker at spotting errors, though I still find that I have to reread a post several times to pick them all up! And I have produced a few books for a very low cost- I now have a recipe book, an index of my favourite gardens, a management reference for my feature plants and a guide to the local area!
  • It has vastly improved my digital skills, from word processing to reducing photo size with Irfan, managing the Word Press site and Facebook!
  • It has strengthened my self-discipline and my organization and time management skills. I like to plan ahead and try to keep ahead by 2 posts if I can so I don’t panic!
  • It has heightened my curiosity, knowledge and appreciation of this beautiful world we are lucky enough to live in from the in-depth examination of our own garden to our beautiful local beaches, farmland, mountains and National Parks to our wonderful home country Australia with its wide diversity of landscapes, environments and natural history and the wider world beyond. As a relatively new resident in this area, I have learnt so much about the local geology, plant life and birds and the special spots.
  • I have discovered more about myself- what really matters to me, what my strengths and weaknesses are, what I love and I have grown with the process.

And finally, in a world that can seem to be full of doom and gloom, it is a wonderful way to focus on the positive and uplifting things in life and the things that are truly important – beauty, creativity, love and happiness and to share your beliefs and make the world a better place.girl-829183_12802. Tell me three things people might not know about you?

After the previous long spiel, I’ll keep this answer brief :

  • I once did a course in decorating Ukrainian Easter Eggs!
  • I tried learning the bagpipes, but I didn’t have enough puff (or dedication obviously!) to keep the bag up!I am an obsessive pixel puzzler!

easter-eggs-637110_12803. Where do you find inspiration for your writing?

Everywhere! Our beautiful garden and all its inhabitants, other people’s amazing gardens, our stunningly beautiful local environment and our precious fragile Earth, nature and  her eco-warriors, inspiring people, current world events and issues, history, books and films, other blogs. Sometimes, if I’m momentarily stumped, I start from  the photos and the text soon flows.

4. How has your attitude to blogging changed over time?

Because we were so busy actually establishing the garden, I didn’t start the blog till September 2015, so initially I posted twice a week to describe all the developments from  the start of our new garden at the beginning of the year. I really enjoyed  writing my blog, until I started to notice that I was positively gobbling up the amount of storage space allocated for photos, even after I had exceeded my free limit and taken up the premium plan, and it all became a bit fraught! I was staring down the barrel of probably having to give up the blog, as I certainly couldn’t justify the cost of the business plan, but then a friend solved the problem. I had been uploading all my photos in their full size- a big mistake and totally unnecessary as Word Press only requires a size of 800mm x 600mm  max, so he introduced me to Irfan, a great way of reducing photo sizes in bulk at a fraction of the time and I had 2 very busy weeks, replacing my original photos with new photos one fifth of the size. A mammoth job, but well worth it, as I reduced my photo storage space to 3 percent of the free Word Press! So all you new bloggers out there, be warned! Even though I probably didn’t need the premium plan this year after all, it is great having my own domain, I do plan to keep this blog going for as long as I can and it now means I can use as many photos as I like without stress- though I promise that I will still try to be selective!!! I now post just once a week on a Tuesday afternoon and vary each week between a feature plant, a favourite (still on the gardens, but eventually will include books, films etc), a monthly garden update and a special place or recipe! And I still love the blogging- it has become part of my life.

5. What’s one of the best places you’ve ever been and why?

A difficult one, as there are so many amazing places and I have loved every one of them. If I have to choose, and excluding our own wonderful country, I would have to say France for its beautiful countryside, its romance, its stylish elegance, its language and  its love of fine food, family and children, beautiful gardens and above all, its roses!!!

6. Name three things you always put in your backpack/suitcase.

My initial response was : camera, diary and a tossup between a guide book and  my latest pixel puzzle book! The camera was a no-brainer as it always goes everywhere with me and my blog relies heavily on my photographs. I have kept a daily diary forever- very useful for later consultation about events, appointments etc for all those blog followers who thought I must have a photographic memory! As you no doubt realize by now, I am an avid researcher, so guidebooks are my bible when travel planning and pixel puzzles are great to do in short periods of time like waiting at the airport, as well as being very addictive, satisfying, brain-stimulating and a good way to get to sleep! But then I started thinking, what about my mobile phone and laptop? Despite my previous Luddite tendencies, I am now totally hooked and could not live without either! So, given that I can research travel destinations, write my blog, read and send emails, make phone calls, Skype, download photos and even play pixel puzzles online and write my diary on my computer (though I still prefer to write my diary by hand), I would have to say : camera, laptop computer and mobile phone, even though I would love to say something more original and exotic! And there you have it- I’m a modern girl in the digital world and am nothing if not practical!

7. Name a few favourite books (preferably travel-related) – I’m always looking for new recommendations!

Sorry Jen, you may already have read these. Can’t get away with much  in a family! Here are my 3 selections:

  • ‘Wayward Women : A Guide to Women Travellers’ by Jane Robinson: I have always loved this book. Lots of short extracts and  interesting history about intrepid women travellers, very inspiring and can be dipped into at random.
  • ‘Full Tilt: Ireland to India with  Bicycle’ by Dervla Murphy: my first travel book I ever read and  so inspiring! A true traveller in every sense of the word, she has written a number of fascinating books, of which this one is the first! Tim Severin and William Dalrymple are also brilliant travel writers.
  • ‘The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel’ by Rachael Anthony and Joël Henry. Delightfully quirky and zany, this book is unique and offers a number of alternative suggestions to exploring and getting to know a place from different angles, especially if you are on a tight budget! In fact, I think this is the copy I gave you, Jen!!! Keeping it safe while you are travelling!!!2016-06-28 13.05.328. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in a new place?

Read all the local literature over a cuppa, then collect vast numbers of brochures from the local information centre!2016-06-28 13.01.26

  1. How will your blog look in 5 years time?

Now that’s a tricky one. I know I like to plan ahead, but that far?!! I may have experimented with a different layout, although I really like this one (Penscratch) and I tend to be a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to less familiar territory, especially when I have found one I like! I may have managed to curb my photographic tendencies, but am not promising anything!

  1. How would you describe your travel style?

Organized but flexible, well-researched, intensive. Even though I plan well ahead, I still like to allow extra days for spontaneity, unexpected opportunities, sickness or just the need to relax and take a breather! I like to read everything I can lay my hands on before the trip, so I don’t miss anything I might later regret, but having said that, it all makes much more sense once you have actually visited a place! No matter how long a trip is, I still like to make the most of every day and fit in as much as I can, because we may never return!

11. Any travel goals for 2016?

How I wish! We probably need an income first! Probably local camping trips, garden visits further north when the weather warms up, family visits to Qld!

10 Random Facts about Me

  1. I was an amateur oncologist as a child, swopping shells with collectors in Qld and New Zealand
  2. I grew up on 3 acres in the foothills of Mt Wellington , Hobart, Tasmania with a menagerie of peacocks, pheasants, ducks, chooks, Anglo-Nubian goats, dogs (Irish and Gordon Setters) and bees and there was even a platypus in our creek!
  3. I was an adventurous eldest child and have already used up 8 lives!
  4. I’m a dodgy poet when the mood strikes! I love puns and word play!
  5. I love camping , bushwalking and exploring.
  6. Beauty, creativity and simplicity are important to me
  7. I am fascinated by the time period 1900-1910 just before the First World War, when so many new things were happening and the world held so much promise. I also love the fashions from that era. Maybe there’s another blog post?!
  8. I love the Art Nouveau period and the Arts and Crafts movement and
  9. If I had my time again, I would be a wildlife photographer!
  10. I am a keen environmentalist and believe we need a major shift in our thinking and the way we do things to conserve our beautiful planet and make it a fairer place to live.

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My Nominations

1.https://wildlifegardenerblog.wordpress.com/

2. https://backyardnotes.com/

3. https://byrondreamer.com

4. https://ellieholmesauthor.wordpress.com

5. https://750metres.net

My Questions

  1. What inspired you to write a blog?
  2. What are your favourite things about blogging?
  3. What are your tips for new bloggers?
  4. What do you think are your 3 most important qualities in a person?
  5. If you were to make yourself a mood board about yourself, what are 3 core beliefs or loves, which you would include?
  6. If you could time-travel, which time period would you like to visit and why?
  7. If you could meet 3 famous people, who would they be and why?
  8. What is your favourite book or author?
  9. What is your favourite garden and/ or plant?
  10. Name 10 things which make you happy.
  11. What are your favourite hobbies/ pastimes (apart from blogging, of course!)BlogLiebster20%ReszdIMG_9009