Tag Archives: blogging

Bluebells in woodland

Making More Thyme for blogging …

I can hardly believe it is 10 whole months since blogging was unwillingly squeezed out of my life by other competing priorities.

As a parent, my children always come first. As a home-educating family, we find education is not so much a 6-hours-a-day activity as a way of life. So, last April, when one of our boys needed extra input to achieve what he had suddenly decided was his lifetime’s ambition, my responsibility as ‘education facilitator’ became much more intensive.

I don’t resent the fact that I was suddenly so much in demand. I was secretly rather happy … at least with the Damascene moment one lunchtime that possessed my son with an ambitious drive to learn whatever was needed to get him where he wants to be. But, his new learning momentum meant I too had to work at a corresponding pace to provide the necessary support.

I’m one of those people who always likes to try and ‘do everything’, so for a few months I persevered with my blog, burning the midnight oil and then watching the sunrise … but the limitation of time is always the factor that frustrates and sleep really is a necessity.

Thus it was that I took a reluctant sabbatical from blogging. I missed my blogging and all the wonderful WordPress folk. I thought wistfully about it for a while, but, no. I had to be firm with myself – sleep won the argument! Though, I knew I’d be back at some point – the question was only ever, “When?”

We love walking in our local beechwoods in Springtime when the new leaves are just bursting from their tightly rolled buds
We love walking in our local beechwoods in Springtime when the new leaves are just bursting from their tightly rolled buds

Spring has now well and truly begun springing here in our corner of the UK and I happened to be sowing another pinch of Thyme this week. That same day, a comment on a gardening post I wrote two years ago arrived in my inbox and I went to my blog to reply.

Sowing another pinch of Thyme
Sowing another pinch of Thyme

I saw everyone’s new posts in my Reader when I logged in. The yearning to start blogging again welled up inside of me, like tree sap in Spring. ‘Time’ and ‘thyme’ spun puns together in my head as I sowed my herb seeds and I thought, “Shall I? Can I?”. “Making More Thyme for blogging” germinated, like a little thyme seed.

Mole, Spring cleaning - The opening chapter of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This special centenary edition is illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk.
Mole, Spring cleaning – The opening chapter of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This special centenary edition is illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk.

Just like Mole in Wind in the Willows, Spring always tempts me to get ‘out there’ and explore the wider world – but this time, it’s the virtual world of blogging. So here I am! It’s good to be back – I’ll be dropping by to see you all soon 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

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Hello again!

Mole, Spring cleaning - The opening chapter of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This special centenary edition is illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk.
Mole, Spring cleaning – The opening chapter of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. This special centenary edition is illustrated by Charles van Sandwyk.

I must say, I’ve not been Spring cleaning all of the time I’ve been away from blogging. But I feel a bit like Mole, who’d been working very hard and then flung down his brush and headed for the outdoors. He didn’t want to miss the Spring and all of life that was happening above ground. I’ve missed my blogging … so now I’m back 🙂

J Peggy Taylor

Bluebells in woodland

My Favourite Things for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

“When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.”

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week Cee has chosen the chorus of “My Favourite Things” as the theme. I’ve decided to share some of my favourite things that I have posted here on my blog during my first year-and-a-bit of blogging.

My regular blog visitors may have spotted my new blog header – beechwoods in Springtime are a great favourite of mine and we love to walk in the woods and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Spring. For my post header image I have chosen one of my very favourite Spring flowers, bluebells. I posted about the “Beautiful Bluebells!” in our woods last Spring.

Carder Bee feeding on Common Knapweed
Bee-on-a-flower – a Carder Bee feeding on Common Knapweed

I’m glad to say we’ve never experienced bee stings while spending happy warm Summer hours watching and photographing bees on flowers.

Comma butterfly on thistles
Comma butterfly on thistles

Butterflies are another Summertime favourite of mine. I love the orange of the Comma butterfly against the purple of their favourite food, the thistle flowers.

The cool green tranquility of the river
The cool green tranquility of the river

Here in Northern England we experience all kinds of weather conditions and we have learned to enjoy them all. A rainy day at the river in Spring is always an uplifting experience – you can read my post about this wet woodland walk here.

The old railway path and railway bridge in the woods where we often walk. I think in this misty shot it looks like something from a Victorian mystery story!
The old railway path and railway bridge in the woods where we often walk. This railway was a mineral line carrying coal from local mines. I think in this misty shot it looks like something from a Victorian mystery story!

The old railway path through the woods is a path we have seen in all weathers, from sunny days to Winter snow. The Victorian railway bridge has featured several times on my blog especially as part of my great interest in history in the landscape. The image above is the bridge in colour from my post, “Old rail trails and a bear hunt”, and below it is in black and white for “Victorian railway bridges in black and white”.

Both of these posts were for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which has been my favourite weekly photo challenge here on WordPress. It was from creating the black and white images for the Victorian bridges post that kindled in me an ambition to try my hand at creating more black and white images and taking part in Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge. I do enjoy taking part in the photo challenges and learning from others.

Victorian rural railway bridge in snow monochrome
Victorian rural railway bridge in our local woods
Pastel pink wild roses scrambling over the hedge
Pastel pink wild roses scrambling over the hedge

Wild roses are another of my very favourite flowers. I think I’ve probably said before, I have different favourite flowers depending on the season – there’s always something to look forward too … or in this case, look back at, after the Summer was done and the cooler days of Autumn were with us. I love my son’s photo of the wild Dog Roses. The roses appeared in my “Pastel pink wild roses” post last October.

Blooming Purple Crocuses
Blooming Purple Crocuses

Purple crocuses with their bright orange stamens are one of my favourite early Spring flowers. These one are in one of my back yard pots along with daffodils and some seedlings of one of our ‘wild’ edible leaves, Garlic Mustard. You can see more about my back yard gardening in “My Blooming Back Yard”.

First salad seedlings 2014
First salad seedlings of 2014 on my window ledge

As well as gardening outside in my yard, I also love indoor gardening too and I grow salad leaves and herbs on my window ledges. In the above photo are my first seedlings of last year – a favourite moment in my gardening year. Just today I was photographing my first salad leaf seedlings of 2015.

Juicy fresh raspberries for a delicious dessert
Juicy fresh raspberries for a delicious dessert

A Summer delight for me is picking wild fruit. These delicious raspberries grow in a small patch of woodland not far from our house.

Pink Sweet Peas on willow garden screen

Last Summer I had fun with an interesting vertical gardening experiment in my back yard. I made a jute and willow garden screen and then grew Sweet Peas in air-pruning plant pots to grow on the screen. I shared a number of posts about this project on the willow screen, the air-pruning pots and the Sweet Pea flowers. I was so pleased when my Sweet Peas finally flowered!

Crochet patch and new crochet edging on my jumper
The new crochet border in spike stitch

I couldn’t post about my favourite things without including a crochet project or two. The jute and willow garden screen was crocheted and my recent “Mending a Woolly Jumper Craft Project” involved several types of crochet too.

Turning a shirt collar - before and after
Turning a shirt collar – before and after

Turning a shirt collar is one of those old-fashioned mending tasks that I have always done to extend the life of favourite shirts. The shirt that features in my “Turn a shirt collar” tutorial belongs to my son. He is very fond of this shirt so when the collar began to wear, there was only one thing for me to do …

I decided to post a tutorial on the collar turning process and it has certainly been a favourite among my blog visitors – it is one of the most visited pages on my blog.

A colourful October dawn

To complete my collection of favourites, I want to close with one of my very favourite things, a beautiful sunrise. I am lucky to see a lot of beautiful sunrises and I often share them in my Wordless Wednesday posts. You can see more of my sunrises if you click on the Wordless Wednesday tag on my tag cloud in the sidebar … a beautiful sunrise doesn’t really need many words does it?

I’ve had a lot of fun strolling through my blog photos choosing my favourite things – and I must say I have had to leave out a few too or this post would have gone on forever! Do take a look at what others have chosen for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week for the chorus of “My Favourite Things”.

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J Peggy Taylor

First blog-iversary: a reflection

sprouting acorn in fallen oak leaves
Sprouting acorn

When I started this blog way back on 31 December 2013 I didn’t really know much about blogging. I didn’t even know how to load an image! I thought I’d probably be OK at the writing part – though writing a blog post would be much different to the sort of writing I normally do. This blog wasn’t going to be about complaints or campaigning. This was to be my creative outlet – accentuating the positive aspects of life, particularly around creative projects and sharing my love of our amazing natural world.

Also, not being much of a dabbler in the demonstrative arts of the online social universe, I didn’t know what to do or what to expect from others. Should I leave a ‘like’ on a post? What about a comment? What should I say?

To pick up clues, I studied posts from those helpful people at WordPress. Amazingly, I found Michelle’s very first WordPress Zero to Hero in 30 days. A beginners’ blogging course – just what I needed! Within days I’d learned how to load images! In the days that followed, I learned much more too, including some excellent hints and tips on interactions in the blogosphere. Zero to Hero definitely eased my journey into blogging. I remain grateful 🙂

“If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else!”

This is a quotation I have often found myself repeating over many years in diverse circumstances. For this post I rechecked its originator: Laurence J Peter (1919-1990), a Canadian educator and management theorist. You may have heard of his famous “Peter Principle”. I recalled this useful quotation when I re-read my very first live blog post here on Oak Trees Studio. I had written,

“This blog is definitely a work in progress. I’m thinking that’s really the nature of all blogs. A blog starts like a tiny seed and as we nurture it, it grows. As it grows it develops all kinds of branching off-shoots, reflecting the blogger’s interests and inspirations.

But I think also a blog needs to have strong roots to steady it and hold it firm. I think those roots are borne out of the blogger’s initial purpose for the blog. From the initial inspiration – the ‘why I am doing this blog’ – the blog needs to develop its own persona, its own style and voice.”

I think I was right with my “work in progress” notion of blogging. A blog is like an ongoing ‘live event’. We add further ‘acts’ to it on a regular basis. I think trying to keep in mind the question, “Why am I doing this blog?” has helped me put down the roots of my blog and helped me shape its own persona. Some things I have tried and then changed – different themes, different posting techniques. Other things I have adopted as more regular features of my blog: I aim to join in at least one photo challenge a week (Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is my favourite 🙂 ); I aim to write at least one post a week on a current creative project – from crochet to gardening; nature’s art usually features strongly in my weekly offerings too.

Through the Zero to Hero course I learned that as well as writing posts, there was another Very Important Element to blogging – other people! I have really enjoyed visiting your blogs, reading your posts and looking at your photographs. I have learned so many new things, seen some amazing nature close-up and ‘visited’ so many new places. It’s been fabulous!

Suddenly, here I am, a year of blogging later. My 142 posts have collectively received over 6,000 views! “Thank you”, to all my regular visitors and, if you’ve maybe just dropped by to learn how to turn a shirt collar, “Thank you also – I hope you found what you needed”. (Did you know 4 people needed to know how to turn a shirt collar on Christmas Day! Wow! 😀 ) I want to thank you all so much for joining me on my blogging journey. I truly appreciate your support.

Winter-walk-in-woodland
Winter reflections

Here’s to another productive year of blogging in 2015!

Happy New Year 😀

J Peggy Taylor

Support Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang

Can You Help Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang?

Since I started my blog just two short months ago I have had the pleasure of meeting some creative and inspiring people here in the WordPress blogosphere. I am writing this post to help one particular inspirational blogging friend spread the word about an amazing campaign she is currently running.

Megan S - My Chronic Life Journey
Megan herself suffers from a combination of invisible chronic illnesses

Starting this Sunday (2nd March) something special is happening that can help those who suffer with invisible illnesses. I learned about Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang from their creator, Megan, of My Chronic Life Journey.

Approximately 1 in every 5 people around the world suffers from some form of chronic pain but most people haven’t even heard of the illnesses causing it. Megan herself suffers from a combination of these chronic illnesses. Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang was developed as Megan’s way of putting some distance between herself and her symptoms and for describing these symptoms to those that asked about them. When she couldn’t find any simple picture books about her illnesses, Megan decided it was time to share Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang’s story. Since their creation, Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang have been used by multiple people suffering from chronic illnesses like Fibromyalgia and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) to describe their symptoms to their loved ones.

Megan is now reaching out to the community to help bring her unique picture book, Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang, to the world. On Sunday, 2 March 2014 at 2 pm CST (Adelaide), a Kickstarter campaign will be launched to raise the $7,500 necessary to publish and distribute Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang worldwide to those who need help explaining or understanding the symptoms faced by those with invisible illnesses. Once launched the campaign has only 27 days to raise the $7,500 or they won’t receive any of the money. So if you can, please help by visiting http://bit.ly/FoggyFrog after the launch on Sunday 2nd March to pledge your support and share the project through your social networks.

Support Foggy Frog on Kickstarter

All people deserve to have their story heard, and those suffering invisible illnesses deserve to have theirs heard too. This picture book tells the first part of that story without leaving people out because their illness isn’t recognised or they don’t have a name for it.

Let’s help Megan get this book out there! I have known people who suffer from one of these chronic conditions, ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) and I have seen first hand the devastating effect it has on their lives. I feel many communities would find Megan’s book very beneficial, and it would assist many people with gaining a better understanding of invisible illnesses. The more coverage and support we can generate for the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang Campaign, the more likely it is this book will reach the world-wide audience who could really benefit from it.

To follow the campaign, be sure to find them on Twitter (@ChronicMeg) and Facebook and please do spread the word to your social media networks. Even donating as little as $1 can help to bring Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang to the world. Please do support the Foggy Frog and the Pain Gang Campaign if you can.

Many thanks.
J Peggy Taylor

Turning a new page, planting a new seed

a new year … 2014
a new enterprise …  http://www.etsy.com/shop/OakTreesStudio
and a new blog to go with it … hello world

This blog is definitely a work in progress. I’m thinking that’s really the nature of all blogs.  A blog starts like a tiny seed and as we nurture it, it grows. As it grows it develops all kinds of branching off-shoots, reflecting the blogger’s interests and inspirations.

But I think also a blog needs to have strong roots to steady it and hold it firm. I think those roots are borne out of the blogger’s initial purpose for the blog. From the initial inspiration – the ‘why I am doing this blog’ – the blog needs to develop its own persona, its own style and voice. The individual persona or brand of the blog helps us to root our blog posts, articles and whatever else we decide to add to our blog,  helping us make sure that what we write is relevant and connected to this particular blog.

You’re probably already a blogger, so you know all this. I’m telling myself really – getting my blog-head into focus, as it were.

…  so here’s to a productive 2014!