Thursday, December 31, 2015

Paying It Forward, Or Back, Or Something ... Five Favourite Blog Posts from 2015

I read a lot of blogs. Now. But, I was slow to catch onto the idea of blogging. I'd never even read a blog until 2012, when a few months before I was scheduled to retire from teaching, I saw a profile in Vogue of Preston Davis and her very successful fashion blog Keep It Chic. So I started with that one. Then I checked out several of the blogs that Preston recommended on her "blog roll" and hit upon That's Not My Age by Alyson Walsh. I love Alyson's idea of "grown up dressing" for women of a certain age, who want to be current, and comfortable, and still cool. 


scene from Absolutely Fabulous
AbFab shot from Alyson's post "How to avoid looking like a hot menopausal mess."
And on it went. I'd check blog rolls, find links to other blogs that interested me, click on readers' comments on blog posts, if they had a link, to see what I could find. And a whole new community opened up before me. Women of my age who shared my interests were writing, reading, commenting, joking, supporting each other, sometimes chiding each other. Fashion blogs, book blogs, travel blogs, living life and writing about it blogs. 

I'd been toying with ideas for retirement "projects" that would be interesting, fun, and engaging. And employ some of the skills that I thought I possessed, or hoped I possessed, some of which I'd developed as a result of teaching, and others which I had set aside when I started teaching. And the idea of writing a blog struck my fancy. Lots of stuff happened in between the idea and the reality of blogging, and in January 2014 I pressed "publish" for the first time. 

But this post is NOT about me and my blog. I want to talk about those other blogs. The ones that I still read each day, that inspire me, and instruct me, and make me think, and sometimes laugh. So here is a list of my favourite posts of 2015 from my favourite blogs. 


 Materfamilias Writes is one of the first blogs I found back in 2012, and I still read it regularly. Mater writes about travel, books, running, family, and her life as it unfolds now that she's retired from academia. She's a fabulous writer. One of my favourite posts this year is Foggy Thoughts from the Margins, about foggy weather and foggy thoughts, and returning home from an extended trip to grapple with the changes wrought by "this whole retirement gig, one day at a time." 


foggy morning on Materfamilias Writes
Shot from "Foggy Thoughts from the Margins"

Une Femme d'un Certain Age is also one of my daily reads. In the post Is chic passé? "une femme" offers her definition of chic, a word that she feels has become "so overused as to be rendered almost meaningless." She nails it, in my opinion. Which is why this post stuck in my head. 

Is chic passe? from Une Femme d'un Certain Age
Shot from "Is 'chic' passé?"   source
I also love her travel, and packing for travel, ideas. I'd never have purchased my new set of "four-wheeler" luggage if I hadn't read those packing posts. But the post that really surprised me, and which I love, is Beanie Girl where "une femme" shows us her new "do." I have to say I actually gasped when I scrolled down and saw that fabulous new haircut. Now that's chic! 

I'm a long time reader and subscriber of the blog Privilege , and my favourite post that Lisa wrote this year is California Jeaning, North. She plays around, in this post, with all kinds of demin styles... even skinny jeans... which her long-time readers know are NOT her favourites, even though she looks awesome in them. I love the line ... "Then I retired. Refused to wear tight pants ever again," as she goes on to describe her fav style. Boyfriend, baggy, and "faded of its own accord."



California Jeaning on Privilege
A shot from California Jeaning, North
 Lisa writes about style, gardening, decorating, books, and whatever is on her mind at 8:15 (or 9:04) on Saturday mornings. But I really love it when she writes about her "high wasp" heritage, as she calls it. And I really loved this post: Writing The Book On High WASPS, As It Were

Also on my 'daily reads' list is DA Wolfe's wonderful blog Daily Plate of Crazy, about style, culture, women's issues, relationships and more. In fact the blog isn't just about these topics, it digs into issues surrounding them. My favourite post, Looking Askance at Looksism is informative, thought-provoking and very wise. I was excited last summer to be asked by DA to be part of her Makeover Series, and I was included in her post Midlife Make-over: Shake Up Your Make-up.  That was very cool. But I won't go on... having gone on and on so much about that experience already. 

Another blog that I check regularly and love for its quirky raison d'être, is the appropriately titled Clothes in BooksCould there be a better blog for me? Each post features a particular book, and includes an excerpt from the book dealing with clothing or accessories, and then a brief analysis of the excerpt and of the book. One of my favourite posts is Thursday List: More About the Mitfords. Not surprisingly I'm heavily immersed in Mitford-land again these days. But more on that in a later post. 

Mitford girls
Shot from "More about the Mitfords"
Of course Clothes in Books deals with topics other than the Mitford family. I love the mystery novel posts, especially a continuing series this month on the novels of Ngaio Marsh. It's funny, I was attracted to the blog by its name, and by the vintage photographs of dresses and hats, but I keep going back for the wonderful content.

These five blogs have all been around a good deal longer than mine. I've not only enjoyed reading each of them, I've learned so much from them. About books, and life, and fashion... and about how to write a great blog. 

I'm going to add one more blog that I really like: Forage Fashion by Heather Wyancko. I love it simply for the beautiful clothes, beautifully styled, and beautifully photographed. As far as I can see, Heather never puts a foot wrong, sartorially speaking. These are shots from a couple of Heather's posts.

black and white on Forage Fashion
Forage Fashion

outfit from Forage Fashion
Forage Fashion
In the three or more years I've been a part of the blog world, first as a reader, and then as a writer, I've always been impressed by the kindness and generosity of the women I've "met" there. And by their talent, ingenuity, and joie de vivre. I'm so glad that I clicked on that first link back in late 2012.

But, I think it's sad that some of the well established, "big" blogs have moved away from including "blog rolls" on their sites. This seems to me to be counter intuitive, and not very "blogosphere-community minded" ... if you know what I mean. If not for lists of recommended blogs on the first sites I visited, I might never have found the wonderful blogs that I now read regularly. 

The internet is a huge and varied place. There are millions of blogs out there. Blog rolls are just friends helping friends find what they're looking for. Kind of like paying it forward. Or back. Or something. 

By the way, I've been listening to the news of the fires Downunder, and the tornadoes in the States, and the floods in the UK. Hope that you are all safe. And that you have a wonderful 2016. 

And that'll you'll spend some of your 2016 back here with me.








What are you reading on-line these days? Any suggestions?




22 comments:

  1. Sue, Thank you for including me in this smart, sophisticated and sassy list. And.. this gives me some great sites to poke around over the long weekend. Do you think it's important to point others to more blogs and sites that we ourselves enjoyed reading, and your comment about blogrolls makes me wonder if mine isn't clear enough. (It's tucked under the bright red pumps -- 'Hot Shoes, Cool Sites.' Maybe I need to rethink that...)

    It's always interesting to know what posts stand out for people. Some are more interesting to write than others, some are probably harder for others to read, some are more personal, and some are complete and total playtime. (Hello? Makeup makeovers? Soooooooo much fun!)

    One of the amazing things about blogging is the mix of information, entertainment, and personal narrative. And the friendships established are truly priceless.

    Wishing you and yours a FABULOUS new year!

    xo

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    1. Oh... you're welcome, DA. I sometimes angst a bit about the point of my "blog list"... whether it should be about pointing readers to less well-known sites, or whether it should be a true list of what I actually read. And I settled on the latter. I love your whole page lay-out. I aspire to look so cool and professional. But I'm also determined to do it myself. That's part of the whole retirement project thang. And partly my stubbornness.

      I agree about posts and which are favoured by others and which are just fun, fun, fun. I find it interesting that the fashion posts I write are the easiest and the most popular. But it's the book posts or other "opinion" posts that take way more time to research and write that give me the most satisfaction.

      Hope you have a wonderful 2016 and that your back is "shaping" up to have a pain-free (or less) year!

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  2. Susan, thank you so much for the mention and kind words! And thank you for introducing me to Forage Fashion! I agree that the community of bloggers is the best part of this whole endeavor. One thing I will mention about blogrolls, though: I was dismayed to find out when I migrated to Wordpress from Blogger that there is no "dynamic" blogroll available for WP (the kind that displays blogs based on most recently updated). I even asked my genius cousin to write one, but it's apparently a complicated deal. My choice was to either have the 100+ blogs on my blogroll listed on my sidebar, or on a separate page where I could group them by blog theme. I chose the latter.

    Happy New Year to you!

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    1. There are so many more issues around writing a blog that I realized when I first started reading them. I think that grouping blogs by theme is a great idea.
      P.S. Forage Fashion is a lovely blog. Very well done, isn't it?
      P.P.S. Hope you have a restful holiday, Sue. And great 2016.

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  3. Susan, thank you so much for including me in such illustrious company! Were I to pick 5 favourites, you'd be on the shortlist, for sure, and I have to say it's hard to believe you've only been blogging such a short time.
    I've been wrestling with what to do about my Blogroll, because I moved into this community in a similar manner to you, albeit a decade earlier (I read a plethora of blogs for a few years before I began my own, and I actually urged a daughter into one first before I finally admitted I wanted my own -- I started with Paris-focused and knitting blogs first, and then discovered shoes and, eventually Sue B, Une Femme . . .). But I don't maintain my Blogroll effectively, and I want to upgrade but am not sure what's the best way to go about it, so have been avoiding, procrastinating, knowing readers could always check out my Bloglovin' feed (albeit that app/site has many annoyances!). Perhaps you'll start a discussion and we'll find some solutions together.
    Meanwhile, I've added the Clothes in Books to my list of blogs to check out, and I'm looking forward to reading you on the Mitfords (you probably know that I only just got 'round to reading Nancy's four novels this summer. So bring on the bibliography!)
    Happy New Year to you and to your guy, who I'm getting to know through your posts. May 2016 bring you more canoeing, hiking, and gorgeous camel sweaters and beautiful boots. . . xo, frances

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    1. I feel like you are my first "blogger friend," Frances. Ever since you commented so kindly on my very first blog post.

      I need to make some changes in my format etc too. I did some small stuff a month or so ago. I'm kind of terrified I will make a mistake and botch things. I know many readers are not fans of Bloglovin'... I've read that it messes up a blog's stats when posts are read from within it... not sure this is so. It's clunky to read on my i-pad and takes forever to load. I've found that I use it as an alert when new posts have been written (if I'm not e-mailed subscribed which I prefer) and then I go straight to the blog since I have all my favs book marked on my desktop.

      I should probably pay more attention to my "Blogloviv' profile" and to my "Google+" profile and and and. Especially since there have been changes in Google+ and how readers follow blogs....and I don't really understand how these changes will affect me and my blog. And I find that any "chat" sites which are supposed to answer questions seem to not be geared to the rank amateur like me.

      Ah well...2016 bloggy projects are beginning to pile up already.

      Happy New Year to you and Pater as well. And thanks for your continued reading and commenting. If I'm ever in Vancouver we'll definitely have that glass of wine... or two:)

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  4. Excellent post! I follow the first three blogs you included, but will definitely check out the others! I had no idea you'd been blogging such a short time -- I love your writing and am grateful for the authors you've introduced me to. I have fallen off the blogging wagon myself, but maybe 2016 is the year I'll get back on.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Tricia. Hope you have a great 2016. Now get back on that blog wagon, girl:)

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  5. Happy New Year Sue! My journey in blog reading was similar to yours, ie. adding new blogs by looking at blog rolls. (I went to bloglovin when Une Femme's blog roll was not longer working as before!) However, what really started me on them was my interest in 'French Chic' and 'French Style' - that's when I discovered Mater and Une Femme. I have a huge list on bloglovin because I come across new blogs all the time and add them, but I also regularly weed out the ones that turn out to be just shopping links etc. I much prefer the ones where I feel I 'connect' with the writer - I'll be reading your blog for as long as you care to write it!

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    1. Thanks so much Patricia. Like you I try new blogs all the time, and weed out the ones that on closer inspection don't fit what I'm looking for. I keep reading the ones with quality content, and good writing, and great style ideas. Like the ones I've listed here. Thanks for keeping me on your list. Like Lisa says below, bloggers begin to feel as if they know readers who comment, almost as much as readers feel they know the bloggers.

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  6. Congratulations on making your case for blog rolls and women supporting women. That is one of the things that I hope to do more of this year. You have also made a case for Blogspot. It is a platform that I discontinued after being brain-washed into getting my own dot.com and Wordpress site for professionals. I am going to check out the sites that you mentioned and perhaps, create my own platform there. Thank you for sharing dear sister, Sue!

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  7. Happy New Year, Sue! Love your list: some I read, the others I will soon search out. I particularly value the insights that I read, or deduce, in many of your own posts about the adventure of life after retirement. I have not yet done that, but it is probably not too many years out and I am more than a bit anxious about it. Or is the word fearful? And those two characteristics are not common in my world! So, thanks for your writing, keep at it .... and enjoy next year's trip around the sun!

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    1. Thanks for that Suze. I would say that anyone who had persisted in RIDING up Mont Ventoux isn't easily made fearful! Hope you have a wonderful 2016 too.

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  8. OOh, thanks for the list. I'm amazed because I read 90% of them and love them also. I always love finding new blogs to enjoy so thank you. Fun reading this weekend.

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    1. You're welcome, Sandra. Hope you like the ones you don't already know.

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  9. Most of the blogs that I read I've found through another blog. I love your blog. Thanks

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  10. Am intrigued by your list and plan to check them all out -- thank you.

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  11. Oh Sue THANK YOU! So kind and generous. I remember when I found your blog I thought, "Hey, this woman has it going on!" Your style is so cool but accessible, and your sharing of your thought process so generous. I also admire your fitness/outdoor activities enormously. Here's to 2016, and blogging, and finding like-minded souls around the planet. I think of the bloggers with whom I connect as real friends. The same is true for repeat commenters, people who have been reading a long time, and who make a point of commenting regularly. We are defining new meanings for the word "community." xoxo.

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    1. You're welcome, Lisa. Funny isn't it how we can think of people we haven't met as friends? I feel like I know quite a lot about you and Frances and Sue and Debra. I will often refer to you or to frequent commenters on my blog by first names when talking to my husband ... he will say..oh that's the lady who lives in San Francisco, or Vancouver Island etc etc. Community is right! I remember your generosity in recommending my blog to your own readers. That blew me away when you did that.

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All comments, ideas, commiserations, questions, complaints... are most welcome.