And the winners ARE…!
I’m so thrilled with the responses I got for October’s Versatile Blogger Award nominations! Not only did this experience broaden my understanding of the blogosphere, but it also helped introduce me to some fantastic blogs, all of whom will shortly be added to my Blogroll. If you’re new to the world of blogging, as I am, take some time out to peruse these masterpieces – yes, it’s intimidating at first to see such well-established blogs, but it’s also inspiring to see other people’s courage, realism and humor so well documented.
The following list identifies this month’s winners of the Versatile Blogger Award. In order to accept the award, each of these blogs must complete the following steps:
a. Write a post accepting the award and show the award’s image.
b. List seven random, quirky facts about yourself – things that probably haven’t already come up in your blog posts.
c. Pass the award on to 5-15 other blogs, ones that you already follow or for which you solicit invitations.
And that’s it! The goal of the award is not only to highlight the best of the blogging world, but also to bring us all closer together. I’m incredibly thrilled and gratified to have received it, but more importantly, I couldn’t be more pleased that it led me to other fantastic blogs.
Without further ado, your October’s Versatile Blogger Award winners ARE:
1. Flipping Crikey, by Tracey. While her most recent post about the UK citizenship sent my metaphorical American testicles up into my abdomen with fright, the blog itself is tasty, humorous and addictive. Tracey is a UK native now living in Australia and encountering many of the same issues that I am, although she appears to be able to write about them with panache and sensitivity in a way that I have not yet mastered. Even more alarming, after only a couple of years in her new country, she’s become politically active! Follow her blog for understandable and approachable commentary on Oz’s political scene. An expat blog to emulate – my hat is off to Ms Tracey.
2. The Nomadic Family, by Gabi and Kobi, with contributions from their three beautiful children, Dahnya, Orazi, and Solai. I have to confess here that I spent an inordinate amount of time surfing this blog, simply because I could NOT find the courage to navigate away. While the tale of this truly nomadic and brave family is riveting, it also dares to strip bare the actual needs of the human body and soul. Here I am, sitting in my comfortable faux-leather office chair, drinking coffee and enjoying the indoor heating in England and being completely blown away by what these people are doing with their lives. If you have the chance – go look. You won’t be disappointed. Gabi, I would be willing to bet that the soul-cleansing class you teach IS valuable and DOES touch your students, even if you don’t always speak their language fluently. You *live* what you teach and that counts for a great deal.
3. Perking the Pansies, by Jack. Much like the Nomadic Family, Jack and his partner Liam have undertaken a monumental life-shift that leaves me a bit speechless. They are a British couple who decided to eschew all that London life has to offer and move to Turkey, blogging all the way. The sheer degree of courage that this must’ve taken puts me to shame – I was nervous at times being out and about with my beautiful same-sex partner in Canada. Jack also possesses the writing style of a true diarist – he unabashedly lays bares his perspective on large topics and small ones, commenting on the fall of Gaddafi in one post and his encounter with a fly in the next. The sense of humor that infiltrates the entire blog leaves me with a bit of a naughty, lop-sided smile on my face that says, ‘I’ve read something that you haven’t…and you’re the worse for it.’
4.Down-Home South Jersey, by Jennifer. I devoured Jennifer’s blog posts with glee – she hits exactly the same notes that I’m trying to hit, albeit with a bit more sophistication and style than I do. Jennifer has moved to southern New Jersey and made it her home in every way, sharing her discoveries of her new environment with the public via her approachable and honest blog. Struggling with a difficult economy while still trying to create a sumptuous Halloween for your children? Check out Jennifer’s clever and tidy ideas for decorations and sweets. (My personal fave is the pumpkins made of decorative paper and held together with buttons and bows.) She sets challenges for herself via the blog and meets them, sharing all that she learns along the way with us so that we can learn too. This is exactly the kind of ‘I Love My Home’ blog that sets the standard for all others. Your home needn’t be somewhere exotic, Caribbean or dangerous to be beloved, explored and documented – it just needs to be yours. Well done, Ms Jennifer.
5. Sing Like No One’s Listening, by Rachel. A young American woman takes a huge leap of faith to become an au pair for five girls (five!) in Australia. A precocious letter-writer, she wonders how she’ll keep all of her family and friends back home involved in her new life and share the wealth of her new experiences in such a way as to make them feel, taste, touch and smell her adventure. The answer? A beautifully-written, photo-filled blog! Aside from being a consummate professional when it comes to keeping everyone ‘in the loop,’ she also deviously works in reviews of books, movies and the stunning Oz scenery. The result is a beautifully rendered ongoing snapshot of life down under, as experienced by a fearless, peerless American girl. As if that weren’t enough, the very first thing I saw when I logged in was dozens of pictures of baby kittens! No one tell Rachel, but I was sneaking peeks at her blog all day long.
6. Grow Old With Me, by Amy. A gorgeous, family-oriented blog that is truly a celebration. On the surface, Amy is documenting the daily challenges that accompany raising five children, ranging in age from 8 months to nine years old. If you look a bit more closely, however, you’ll find the literature of a love affair – an affair that Amy carries on every day with her family, her home and the Father. Most days the joy she relates radiates from the screen in a way that most people could only dream about. And then there are the pictures! Amy is clearly an accomplished photographer and it shows. Check out When Jack Dons A Jacket, if you don’t believe me. I sincerely hope that one day my love of my subject matter will be so clearly reflected in the photos that I take.
7. Women Travel the World, by Rosemary. I have to confess that when I first saw this blog, I was profoundly intimidated. It is clearly professional-looking and servicing an already-established consumer base. Then I started reading. This is a site run by women, for women – any woman at all. The articles reveal an approachable mindset, reaching out to encourage travel and exploration in every family. Addressing everything from how to pack, where to stay and what activities are well-priced and fun, this site has it all. The awards listed on the home page are clearly well-deserved – I felt humbled reading through it, but excited as well. Travel has become such an important part of my life that it fed my grin to know that there are sites like this out there, designed to bring others like me into the fold.
8. Culinary Hopscotch, by Kyle. I do not consider myself to be a ‘foodie’ in any way, shape or form, but the premise of Culinary Hopscotch hooked me from the very beginning. The idea is this: a young woman approaching ‘a certain age’ (which appears to be 25, judging from the pictures), decided to set herself a massive culinary challenge – to travel about the world and study as many different cooking classes abroad as possible, then translate each recipe into her own culinary language and blog about it. Her trip has ended now, but I thoroughly enjoyed going back over those posts from her trip and soaking up the flavors vicariously. While I have trouble burning water, it’s clear that Kyle is an expert. However, she has managed to produce a series of culinary posts that are both understandable and appealing, even to those of us who don’t know coriander from cardamom. My fiancée has already bookmarked the blog and will be checking back for recipes. (Kyle, if it’s not there already, could you perhaps post the recipes for those Indian dishes you learned with Nikita and Mrs. G? What if I said ‘pretty please?’)
9. The World is Waiting, by Liv. There are hundreds and hundreds of travel blogs out there, believe me. Expats by the dozen want to share their experiences in their new homelands and travel writers/photographers are constantly trying to satiate the public’s need for glamerous pics of exotic lands. The biggest challenge each travel writer faces is to make his/her blog different in some way. For all of you still searching for that mysterious ‘X’ factor, check out the work Liv has done on this blog. Are there exotic snapshots of gorgeous diving trips? Absolutely. Top Ten lists detailing what to do in various locales? Check. But then there is more – this UK expat takes the time out explore the details and explain the cultural differences between her native home and her current home, regardless of where that might be. I found myself reading dozens of posts while my tea got cold, forgotten.
10. Changing Me For the Better, by Eileen. Whenever I feel anxious about a post I’m writing or nervous to share something personal with blog readers, I sneak a glance at Eileen’s work. Eileen is documenting her emotional journey through getting a gastric band implemented, and how that affects her life, health and family. Although this blog is new, she has already taken some big risks in what she has decided to share with the world, and I simply could not be more proud of her. Yes, this Eileen is the same Eileen to whom I refer in my various blog posts – she is my mother-in-law-to-be. Rather than engaging in blatant nepotism, however, I feel the need to include this blog in the award winner list because of the dedication and intense bravery that Eileen shows every single time she sits down at the computer to write a post. Many of us write off the cuff and flippantly at times, but it’s always good to be reminded that there are also bloggers out there who share real pain and genuine struggles. Bravo, Mum.
And there you have it! Congratulations to all winners of this month’s Versatile Blogger Award contest and most importantly, thank you for sharing your wonderful work with me. I have thoroughly enjoyed the days I have spent surfing madly through all of your blogs. It was definitely time well spent.
Before I sign off for the day, I need to say thank you once again to my friend Pete, who passed the award on to me and started me along this path. Pete, I cannot thank you enough for this honor. I’ve had a *wonderful* time getting to know other blogs and starting dialogues with their various authors. I would never have had the courage to do something like this if you hadn’t kick-started the process, and for that I whole-heartedly appreciate your kindness. Your work on Evolution of Insanity and Twist of Hate remain the standard against which I measure all others.