Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm Back! Plus a Giveaway!

Image from my instagram
I'm back from my South American adventure & ready to get back into the swing of things! Anyone else find it difficult to get their groove back after a long holiday?

I will be posting my pics very shortly but up first I have a very exciting giveaway to announce in the next couple of days! Art lovers watch this space!

I also have the photos from my bestie's wedding in Fiji to show very soon too. These have been a long time waiting as we had to wait for them to feature on Polka Dot Bride, Bula Bride, and Tamiz Photography's blogs first. Can't wait to share them!

In the meantime you'll find plenty of my holiday happy snaps on instagram.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Guest Post - Keri from Ivy Clad

I'm so happy to be here with you while Clare is on her incredible adventure.

One of my favorite red barns, on last week's Sunday afternoon drive route.

For the last 10 years, with my husband and now two daughters, I've made my home in the southwest part of Missouri, a part of the United States where life runs at a slightly slower pace than you'll find in large American cities. Small farms dot the landscape of outlying areas, and picturesque red barns are easily spotted on hobby farms and acreages just minutes from town. Last weekend, I drove by one of my favorite red barns in the area, & snapped these photos with my phone.

The red barn, above, sits next to a double pond divided by a red & white painted bridge. 

Missourians are, in general, fiercely independent people. They are adventurers at heart, too, and their love for the outdoors is second-nature. I have a feeling Clare would love them. 

Around here, ample rivers & lakes play host to a favorite regional pastime-- canoeing & kayaking. In the last few years, my husband has become an avid kayaker spending hours in winter and summer, even in snow and ice, kayaking on a nearby lake. I am not nearly that committed to the sport but will occasionally go along for a leisurely paddle. If you're a very casual paddler, take these tips from me for a smooth ride: 1) Go in a tandem boat. 2) Sit in the seat that offers the least steering & power capability. 3) Take an avid paddler with you who won't mind paddling double-duty for a few (or more) strokes. 4) Take a camera, even an iPhone will work. When you're showing off your photos to your friends, no one will suspect you were a complete free-loader in the boat.

When I took these photos a few weeks ago, my husband & I were paddling the Passat G3, a tandem kayak made by Seaward Kayaks in British Columbia, Canada. It's a fantastic boat, both swift and stable. We'd made a make-shift seat in the center hatch for our 3-year-old daughter who happily wiggled and danced & generally did her level best to flip us the entire trip. 

From the larger area of the lake where we began, we paddled into narrower, shallow areas that lead to a nature reserve. Here joggers & walkers join the bird watchers and photographers on foot trails hoping to spot white-tail deer & birds, & sometimes the occasional bald eagle during the right season.

This small white-tail doe eyed me while I interrupted her dinner.

The little doe, now hiding from me. You can just see her flank through the brush.

I hope you've enjoyed this little peak into my part of the world as much as I've enjoyed telling about it.

You can often find me here on this blog in the comments section, chatting with Clare. You can also find me at my blog, Ivy Clad.




Thank you, Keri, your pictures of kayaking in Missouri and the red farmyard barn are spectacular! I really hope to visit some day. 

Please pop by Ivy Clad and say hi to Keri. You'll see her magnificent gardens and more on life in Missouri, USA.

Back soon from my South American adventure!

Clare x

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Guest Post ~ Heather from Lost in Arles


While I appreciate where I am, in the ancient town of Arles in the South of France, at times I catch myself dreaming of next door. In this case, that would be a village further up the Rhone, one whose name I am keeping to myself for now, selfishly, superstitiously, as it is a shade of a Secret Provence, one that time forgot. While here I am besotted with weighty presence of the Roman Arena and the Antique Theatre, there I let my hands drift over wildflowers. I push through the crowds of tourists whilst walking my two dogs here and there let them run free.

There is a moment for everything in life, I suppose. My young adulthood was spent amidst the bustle of Manhattan and I swam in the river of its corpulent energy. That is, until I met a Frenchman named Remi and suddenly, all of the paparazzi spiked nights of clinking martinis didn’t seem so interesting anymore. I just wanted to be where he was. So that is what I did. I picked up and let my love lead the way to Paris, then together we swan-dived to the South, down-shifting in speed as I went. And I think it might be time for yet another release of the clutch.

If I have figured out anything from living under this soupy sun, it is that time is a precious bijou to be flaunted on your ring finger, appreciated by all. It is not that I want more of it but I want the space around me to feel its grace. That is the essence of Provence. Not lavender, not the perfume of rosemary in the hills or a sweaty glass of rosé at an outdoor café.

We shall have to wait a bit to see if we will make a move or not but until then I will keep dreaming…and if we stay put, well then I will just keep remembering…how lucky I am, fortunate to live in any Provence, secret or not.


Thank you, Heather, for gracing us with your presence as I'm living it up in South America! Please visit Heather's blog if you're like me and love to daydream of Provence....

Clare x

Friday, August 2, 2013

Guest Post ~ Ultimate Katie

The beautiful Clare has asked me to share what I love about Australia, while she is off gallivanting around South America on a well-deserved holiday with her hubby. Yes, it goes without saying that I'm well jealous.
I've actually done a lot of international travel myself, but there is something truly special about coming home, especially when my home is such a beautiful country as Australia. It's almost a shame that my particular strain of the travel bug tends to pull me overseas instead of inland, because there really is a lot to offer here, and so much diversity!
Our Home is Girt by Sea
My parents live in a little town called Bargara, on the coast near Bundaberg (where they make sugar and rum!) and it really is a little piece of paradise. It's the start of the Great Barrier Reef, and home to one of the largest natural turtle rookeries in the world. While my husband and I were living back with my parents a couple of years ago, Clare and her hubby came to visit and we actually went to see the turtles laying eggs at Mon Repos. It was so much fun!! All in all, Bargara really is the perfect location of a relaxing holiday, with safe swimming beaches, sunshine all year round and a truly country town laid back mentality.

photos of Mon Repos courtesy of Queensland Blog
Our Land Abounds in Natures Gifts
In 2007, I was very fortunate to spend 4 months living and working in Yulara right in the middle of Australia. The area is filled with natural geological pheneoma including the most famous, Uluru. I recently stumbled on this AMAZING elopement photographed by Ben Adams, which took place in the beautiful outback. I was genuinely taken aback by just how stunning it is. Don’t you agree? You can view the rest of this incredible elopement at Ben's photography blog.

ben adams elopement pics

Of Beauty Rich and Rare
My home today is at the foot of the Blue Mountains, which is an incredible series of sandstone rock formations, waterfalls, rivers and gullies that feature great bushwalking tracks and stunning panoramic view points. This year, as part of my 30 Before 30, Clare and I along with our hubbies, hiked the National Pass from Wentworth Falls and up the Grand Stairway (which nearly killed us, by the way…hahaha!) It was GORGEOUS!! I'm so glad we got to do it, because not only was it another item crossed off my list, practice for Glenn and Clare before they jetted off to hike the Inca Trail, but it was also a great way to experience our home turf. 

Blue Mountains photos by moi
As part of my 30 Before 30 List, I've included a few more experiences here in our home state, as well as a few interstate ones as my "stretch" goals:
#7 Run/walk/skip my way to the finish line of a 5km fun run – The 4 of us are all registered for the Colour Run in Sydney on August 25th!
#8 Play tourist and take a walking tour of my home town, Sydney
#9 Go on the Q Station Ghost Tour in Manly
#11 Hire a van and travel around Tasmania
#24 Explore the Jenloan Caves
#25 Take a wine an dcheese tour
#26 Go glamping on Cockatoo Island
#27 Ride the River Cat
#28 Climb the Harbour Bridge
I can't wait to tick them all off the list…and I'm sure my bestie Clare will be right by my side the whole way! J