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Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Multi-Cultural, Ninja Turtle Christmas

Christmas has come and gone for another year, and I hope you all had a wonderful day with family and/or friends wherever you may have been, and however you may have celebrated it.

This year, our Christmas was a little different, it was a little extra multi-cultural than usual. Having Dutch parents, but being born in New Zealand has meant that there has always been a mixture of Dutch and Kiwi at Christmas time and sometimes as early as the beginning of December when the Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas on the 5th of December, or the feast day of Saint Nicolas who traditionally arrived from Spain in a boat with his Moors bearing gifts. Christmas Day was then more reserved for the celebration of Christ's birth.

As such, our family in New Zealand, mum, dad, my brother and myself, did not celebrate Sinterklaas, but I did have the pleasure in 1974 whilst in Holland, with my aunt, uncle and cousin. By then, Sinterklaas in our family was more a "gift with a twist" occasion, in which you had one person to gift for, but the gift was hand made and personalised in such a way that it told a story. I believe, if I remember correctly all those years ago, that I received a miniature cardboard constructed town, with painted buildings, people and cars etc and snow, because I had wanted a White Christmas. It was absolutely brilliant, and priceless, without a doubt the best gift ever.

To keep up my Dutch heritage and to ensure my children do as well :), I make a few Dutch Christmas and New Year dishes, see last post, and hang ornaments like this beautiful star in Delfts Blauw (Blue).
But as I was saying, we had extra culture this year, introduced by one of my daughters. It came on Christmas Eve in the form of a magnificent, local Argentinian parrilla, or BBQ, to which we were invited.


We were amongst Argentinians who knew how this was done, and it was done expertly may I say! This backyard parrilla was enormous, big enough to grill a butterflied pig and enough chickens to feed around 60 of us! We all sat around long trestle tables and ate our meal of meat, salad and chimichurri off wooden platters. http://www.food.com/recipe/chimichurri-21151

The flavours were wonderful, unlike any I had ever tasted before. Here is a short youtube video of a parrilla so you REALLY get the idea. (paint and right click if you can't access the link)
https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CDQQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D5JccEXUj8yA&ei=TNe8UtH1CIfIlAXJkIGQDg&usg=AFQjCNEwYdTFWY25RDkcEj8I_dWX82UNPA&sig2=-_3uZcB6LhkVhon9x0ml_w&bvm=bv.58187178,d.dGI

It was a very convivial atmosphere with great food, great company and beautiful music. Same time, same place next year? I hope so!

Christmas Day saw us up early to have breakfast with my son and his family. First we collected my mum from the nursing home where she lives. It was already around 27 degrees C at 7.30am so the day was warming up. Mum is wheelchair bound, but we got her inside safely to be confronted by the uproar of 3 young excited boys under the age of 3 (two of whom are twins), Christmas Carols, floor space almost non-existent in the lounge, but the promise of an Aussie breakfast of bacon, scrambled egg, pancakes, berry fruits, pineapple, melon, ice-cream, mango daquiris and champagne.

After all that was consumed and the twins put to bed, the serious business of present opening could begin. (As the boys had already opened theirs from Santa, the twins being in bed was not an issue). As you can see, we had help, expert help.
And, surprise, surprise, this expert help also turned out to be a ninja turtle at one point in the morning. Yes, we have a very devoted ninja turtle fan in the family. Ninja turtle costume, pj's, jocks, figurines, shorts and t-shirts materialised that morning.
By 11.30 it was time to head home. My son and family were heading off to the in-laws for lunch, mum to the nursing home and 4 of us to our own lunch. Although we weren't having an Aussie barbie, our lunch would be a typical Aussie/Kiwi Christmas Day lunch. On our menu were prawns, cold ham and chicken, smoked salmon dip, 2 salads, mango salsa more champagne and pavlova for desert. Yum, yum, As it turned out we didn't eat until 3pm, which is also typical!

After eating and cleaning up, it was time for a movie and total relaxation for the remainder of the day. There was only the 2 of us now, so we settled down to watch Terry Pratchett's "Hogfather".
Christmas on Discworld, an alternate world moving through space supported by 4 elephants standing on the back of a turtle.  Weird? Yes. Wonderful? Yes again, like all of Terry Pratchett's books. He has in fact to date written 40 books in the Discworld Series. Here is his latest.

So that was our Christmas. On to New Year. I usually don't see the New Year in, believe it! Our family is small, the kids celebrate with friends and I find it a real challenge to stay up. However, I wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR, enjoy all the parties you'll be attending, and I'll see you in 2014.

Leonie, Winnie and Hunny, Santa's tired helpers.








Friday, 20 December 2013

A Special Christmas Treat

Every year at Christmas time my mum used to make, amongst other treats, a Kerstkrans (Dutch Christmas pastry), a VERY delicious and moreish almond pastry shaped into and decorated like a wreath. I thought I'd share the recipe with all the foodies out there in Christmas land. There are lots of you right? Thought so, here goes.
KERSTKRANS/DUTCH ALMOND CHRISTMAS WREATH
Oven 220C/400F
Ingredients
500g shortcrust pastry (I use sheet pastry these days, but I used to make my own)
200g ground almonds/almond meal
200g castor sugar
1tsp grated lemon rind
1tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tsp water, icing sugar, apricot jam, mixed glacé cherries (for decoration)
Method
Mix together the ground almonds/almond meal, and the castor sugar. Stir in the salt, lemon rind and juice.
Beat the egg a little to combine the white and the yolk. Reserve about 1tsp of the egg to use as a glaze. Mix the rest of egg into the almond mixture to form a stiff paste. Get your hands in there! It's crumbly at first but then firms up like a ball of pastry. Form the paste into a ball, place into a bowl, cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge until required. Make a few days ahead if possible to allow the flavours to mature.
On baking day, remove almond paste from the fridge half an hour the next step.
Cut a 25cm/10in square of pastry in two to make a rectangle about 50cm/20in long and about 12cm/5in wide, or roll out your pastry to the same dimensions and 1mm/1/8in thick. Join the two halves of the cut sheet by dampening them with water and pressing together to make a firm join..
Dampen your hands slightly to ease formation of the almond paste. Form the paste into a 'sausage' shape about 2-3cm/an inch (no more) thick, to fit on the pastry rectangle. Place along one long edge of the pastry. It doesn't matter if the pastry is too long, it will get trimmed later. Carefully roll the pastry so that the paste is entirely encased. Seal the pastry with egg mixture or water where the edges overlap, making sure there are no gaps for the paste to escape through during baking. Gently roll the 'sausage' so that the 'seam' is underneath and not showing. You need about 2cm/1in of pastry extending beyond the paste at one end, so cut off any excess pastry now there. At the other end, cut the pastry off close to the paste and 'wrap' it over the end of the paste.
Next, carefully curve the 'sausage' into a circle.  Fit the covered end of the paste into the end with the bit of extra pastry and seal well with egg mix or water, again making sure there are no gaps and the seal is firm and smooth.
Glaze the Kerstkrans with leftover egg mix.
Place the KERSTKRANS carefully onto a cold, damp (not greased) baking tray. Make diagonal cuts in the pastry around the KERSTKRANS. Bake in a hot oven at 220C/400F for around 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
Remove from oven and leave on the tray until cool.
Glaze with warmed apricot jam. Decorate with chopped, mixed glacé cherries and dust with icing sugar.
Serve, cut into 3cm/1in pieces, with coffee. Yum, yum. ENYOY!
Zalig Kerstfeest,
Merry Christmas.
Leonie

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Memories of Christmas Past.

The arrival of my eldest daughter on Wednesday has brought my family together for Christmas. With the togetherness comes the usual family banter and walks down memory lane. This year memories are particularly strongly focused on books of Christmasses past, as my focus the past 6 months has been on writing books.

I'm not a traditional Christmas person, come to think of it, I don't really do much 'by the book' at all, pardon the pun. I like to do everything slightly differently from the norm. This year I decided, too late, that I needed new tree ornaments and that what I really wanted was old world fairies, elves, gnomes and suchlike. Why, you might ask? Because I love and like them, as well as a vast array of other worldly interesting, alternative history, science, healing, energy, and environments, to name a few. Check out my Pinterest boards to get an idea! http://www.pinterest.com/leonievdvorle/

But I'm wandering and beginning to obsess. Back to Christmas tree ornaments. Living in a small town meant my local stores had nothing, so I began an online search. Dissapointingly, and unbelievably, not much of what I like is available in Auatralia, so my search took me to the U.S and the U.K. It was then that I hit the jackpot, and ultimately a most wonderful surprise with multitudes of memories, books taken off bookshelves, texts and photos sent to my daughters and son and a fairy purchase of $45.

I found a gorgeous Sugar Plum Fairy, but didn't buy her because even though she was only $10 or so, postage from the U.S to Australia is in the order of around $25 to $30, so I decided to pass for the moment. Bother. Looking further I found my treasure. A Cicely Mary Barker Christmas Tree Fairy from Flower Fairies of the Winter book! Now this is no ordinary Flower Fairy. This Flower Fairy is very special. When my children were young in the late 1980's, early 1990's, we had all the Flower Fairy books and the girls in particular, of course, loved them so much I was commissioned to make each of them a Flower Fairy dress. My elder daughter who was 6, chose the Blackberry Fairy, and my younger daughter, 4, chose the Christmas Tree Fairy.

So not knowing these Flower Fairy ornaments existed, imagine my surprise to find them. I ordered the Christmas Tree Fairy on the spot, $45 delivered to my front door, after Christmas, but I didn't care about the price or the lateness.

Off I went to get the Flower Fairy books off the bookshelf. The dust covers had long gone, some pages were more worn than others, but I sat there for an hour, going over every image again. Down came the photo album, and sure enough, late 1992 had photos of my girls in their dresses, with my 2 year old son in an elf costume. I was over the moon with joy and happiness. I immediately mms'd my kids and we all OMGoodnessed over the memories. It's wonderful to be family, and for me it's been great that these memories surfaced at this time of year. They've even given me an idea for a book!

And speaking further of books, I then went and retrieved the Christmas books from the bookshelf. "Father Christmas" by Raymond Briggs, "Letters from Father Christmas" by J.R.R. Tolkien, and, just for fun, "Fairy Book An Anthology of Verse" by Shirley Barber and last but not least, one of my favourite books, Brian Froud's "good faeries - bad faeries".

                                                  
                                             

All of these books are available on Goodreads. So it's that time of year when, after the Christmas feast is consumed and all the guest have departed and all you want to do is curl up with a good book and 'quietly' spend a few hours reading away from the hustle and bustle. Transport yourself into another realm with a browse through the Goodreads Choice Awards 2013 for best voted books of the year https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-fiction-books-2013

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, relax, enjoy the holidays, be safe.

See you next week.

Love and best wishes, Leonie and family from hot Australia.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Views? News? Information? What do readers want?

For the past week I've (naturally) been thinking about the topic of today's post. This is how it usually works for me...it's a process of evolution over several days as it gels in my mind rather than a set plan and structure. Since starting this blog in August, I've talked about several topics, as I wasn't certain where the blog might go.

I started with a little background history, then Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME), because that was the hot topic for me then. Next it was my Doods, ebooks and writing generally. I'm still wavering on direction, and since I don't want to be boring in my posts, but informative, engaging and responsive, I thought to ask you what you like reading the most about my blog.

a) life with CFS
b) life with Labradoodles Winnie and Hunny
c) ebook writing life/progress/pitfalls/tips/
d) all of the above
e) something else you've noticed in my blog 
f) added snippets on my neck of the woods
 
 For example for (f). I live on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef. My background photo is of the supermoon rising on June 23 this year and was taken with my cell phone (not the best device for such a photo I know, but hey, I got a shot). The view is looking over Great Keppel Island from Yeppoon. GKI lies near the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. As most people know, the Great Barrier Reef is World Heritage Listed and is and extraordinarily beautiful natural world treasure. What many people may not know is that it is in serious danger of serious damage from dredging and port expansion. Major harbour dredging already occurs at a large port about 150km from my home and more is planned up and down the reef.


This is a very hot issue in Australia right now, not only for Australia, but for the environment, the planet, for us. Now I'm no political activist, but I live in a beautiful part of the world and what I'm saying is this is going on in my neighbourhood. Maybe there are other snippets I could post about my beautiful neighbourhood, as well as what I otherwise write, that you'd like to read?

Now for those of you who like to read about my ebooks, "Labradoodle Fun and Facts" is near completion. Seriously! It's electronic snail's pace I know, but as you know, I have (CFS) reasons...I've re-arranged the book this week with a better structure, and it's feeling more "comfortable" as a fun and informative read, rather than a mess on my laptop. But that's often how books start out anyway. You start writing from an idea, even if it's a mess and doesn't make much sense or feel right. Better to start and get something on the page than to procrastinate and give up in frustration while trying to get it right from the beginning. It's always a jumble for me.

I SERIOUSLY DISLIKE (hate is a word too loosely used) how at first it's hard to start, but I LOVE how at some point, a warm and fuzzy sensation comes along and I know the book is turning into what I wanted in the first place, that I'm getting my chapters sorted, my headings feel right and everything is beginning to flow. It's a real knowing in my guts that I'm on the right track. And that's what keeps me going. I'm not sure about how it works for other writers though!

AND ta da, ta da!!!! I have some NEWS on my first ebook in the "Winnie and Hunny Speak" Series, Hi, I'm Winnie. It is now permanently $0.99 on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo and Apple. I wanted to make it free, but I couldn't on Amazon without too many changes, so $0.99 was the lowest I could go. Check it out for Christmas, it is a fun read :)

Speaking of Christmas, how are your preparations going? Trees and decorations up? Gifts bought, food sorted? I've done my gift shopping and that's it so far. The tree is still in it's box as are the decorations. I've at least brought them in from the garage! On the food front, I'm waiting for my eldest daughter to arrive next week from Townsville, about 800km to the north. I haven't seen her for 6 months and am very excited to have her home. Then we'll get together with my other daughter and browse recipes. For us it will be cold meats, seafood, salads, as Christmas day is usually a scorcher here. There will also be one or two traditional Dutch dishes that we always have, because my parents hale from the Netherlands.

I hope you all have a relaxed as possible week for this time of the year. Please do leave a comment for me so I can improve your reading time and value. It will be very much appreciated.

'till next Thursday/Friday

Leonie, Hunny and Winnie

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Write 80%, Promote 20%.

These days, with the written word immediately accessible and competition for our voices to be heard growing ever stronger, it's no longer enough to just write. Promoting what we write has become part of the writers' lot, especially when going it alone with ebooks and self-publishing like I am. And that seems right, because I'm unknown and need to establish a platform from which to make my voice heard. Alternatively, I could write 50 ebooks next year, not impossible actually, but no, not for me. 

I have it on the highest authority that the best strategy is to write 80% and promote 20% or close to that. Promotion means making yourself visible, very visible, in the best way possible and social media is the obvious means to that end.

Now, for someone who had never blogged or tweeted until several months ago, I quickly found myself spending more and more time on promotion and less time on writing. For a newbie to the realms of social media, I had no idea how many blogs there were in the world, or how much twitter traffic there was every minute of the day and night, let alone where to start and who to follow. 

I'm not sure if there's a quick-fix solution here unless you're online 24/7 trying to see the wood for the trees. Maybe age is against me, and I came to social media too late, but several months in, I still find it all extremely time-consuming, mind-boggling and wearying!  I was spending 80% of my time promoting...writing this blog, tweeting, reading other blogs, searching more blogs and tweets...and 20% or less writing. 

Promotion was taking an hour or two a day. Not a lot when I "work" from home, but as some of you know, I have Chronic Fatique, and after two hours of concentration, my brain tells my body that it's had enough for the day, go and rest. So I do. I must, or I burn out. Before I started promoting several months ago I spent all my time writing. That was cool, now it's not, as I need to get the balance back. The answer: Write more, promote less. So from next week, this blog will be a once-a-weeker and will be written on Friday. 

I'm sure you'd all agree that good health is a priority in life. I LOVE writing and I FEELING like writing. So stay well everyone, and have a great week.

See you next Friday,

Leonie


Tree of Life.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Abandoned, Abused, Broken and Lost.

I receive posts, tweets, pins and emails about pets in general and dogs in particular because I have two and because I express interest in them. For some reason today, a tweet from Animals Abused and Abandoned http://www.animals-abused.org/ struck a chord and I decided to talk a little about animal rescue.

We all know there are thousands of abandoned, abused, broken and lost dogs, pets and animals. We also know there are many organisations and many more wonderful, caring, loving, giving people who share willingly and freely of their time and expertise, not to mention money, to rescue, love, heal, re-train and re-home these amazing animals which unconditionally give us so much.

To all those people and organisations I'd just like to say Thank You for what you do for our four legged friends that can't help themselves, don't understand what has happened to them or why. And just to prove that even saying thanks works, as I was writing this I received an unrelated thank you of another kind! What goes around comes around!

It seems pertinent to write on this subject at this time of year as we become enveloped in the festive season. Have you added pet gifts to your Christmas Wish List? Every year my family attaches a Wish List to the fridge with our names and wishes, including Winnie and Hunny. Because the family has grown to include spouses and grandchildren, we do Secret Santa for the adults and buy freely for the children. The "children" include the Doods.

Having a pet means that being part of the family, they should receive a gift too. This year Winnie and Hunny can expect, (but don't tell them), a new bed each, some new toys, some tasty dood treats, and lots of Christmas love and attention. They even get to open their own gifts, a very fun time all round.

Also, this year, if you are thinking of a puppy or a kitten for Christmas, why not consider a rescue pet? After all, they have been loved and cared for by people who truly give from their hearts. They have been healed, trained, vet checked, and rehabilitated. Perfect.

Certainly there is one out there just waiting for you. Why not check it out?

Until Friday, when Hunny will be brand new after her grooming sesh tomorrow,

Looking forward to seeing you, Leonie.


Christmas 2008, Lea opening a present.




Sunday, 1 December 2013

Labradoodles or Australian Labradoodles?

Let's say you were to do an online search for Labradoodles. You'd scroll down and soon come across sites for Australian Labradoodles as well. What's going on? Aren't Labradoodles all the same, just like Afghans for example? There IS a difference, and not because some are born in Australia. It has to do with the fact that Labradoodles are a developing breed. Australian Labradoodles in particular are being bred to strict breed standards, which is outlined and explained in my upcoming book "Labradoodle Fun and Facts".

To assist the establishment of the Australian Labradoodle as a pure breed, the Australian Labradoodle Association http://www.laa.org.au/ was created as a guardian organisation in Australia to help breeders and owners worldwide to share information, and to give support and advice for the Australian Labradoodle breed.

Now, you may be thinking that's all well and good, but so what, I still don't know what the differences are?
Well, originally there were none. The Australian Guide Dog Association was approached by a blind woman in Hawaii to breed an allergy friendly dog. Australia's quarantine laws were such, being an island, that guide dogs didn't need quarantine after leaving Australia.

A Labrador and Poodle cross was perfect, and the puppies eventually became so popular with families that Labradoodles became a world hit.

But then a dedicated group of "forward thinking" breeders with a vision for the future recognised that the allergy friendly Labradoodle with its "wonderful disposition and kindness" could be "an all-round great dog". Thus was born the Australian Labradoodle Association, and with it the Australian Labradoodle.

Today, with a governing body for the breed, there are guidelines on genetics, that is, size, coat type and colour. There is a Code of Ethics and a vision for the future. In other word, there are regulations to determine what makes a dog an Australian Labradoodle as opposed to a Labradoodle. For Australian Labradoodles, it's no longer a matter of crossing Labradors and Poodles.

So there's the clarification for you. I'm not saying one is better than the other :), I'm just making the distinction, as it can be a bit of a grey area.

Until Wednesday

Winnie, Hunny and Leonie





Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Best of Health for Fur-Babies

I've just been reading through some of the blogs I subscribe to. The pet blogs from the Northern Hemisphere mention the cold and bluster of the autumn/fall and the approaching winter season. I'm imagining the beauty of snow clad landscapes, warmly wrapped families and pets, hot chocolate and sparkling early evening lights. Having only experienced autumn and winter like this once many years ago, it's a stretch of my imagination as I sit with brilliant sunshine, 30+ degree heat and high humidity, heading into my wet tropical Southern Hemisphere summer.

With our spring comes the waking and movement of beasties such as snakes, paralysis ticks and cane toads which are a real danger to pets in my area. Not all snakes around here are venomous, but we do have one or two of the most venomous in the world, the Eastern Brown Snake and in particular, the Taipan. I have a National Park on my back boundary, and snakes slither through my yard on occasion. This area is also paralysis tick heaven, and because I have a garden pond, cane toads are attracted to my place as well.

Paralysis ticks can kill your pet within days, as can cane toads, which have poison glands on their heads.

I therefore have Pet Insurance, which covers Winnie and Hunny in case of accidents and emergencies. I had started Pet Insurance with my previous dog Lea, and I'm thankful I did, because there were several occasions later in her life when it was a financial life saver. So naturally, when the girls arrived home, cover for them was arranged within a week. And it has already paid off for Hunny, who had a paralysis tick when she was about 6 months old. She had to stay overnight at the vet clinic, and all up with medications and care the bill came to around $500. For a cash strapped writer, that was a big deal!

There are many types of pet health insurance, and many levels of cover. I have Optional Pet Cover with my Home and Contents Insurance, and it costs about an extra $10 per month. It's attached to the premium,  so I don't notice the extra, as I pay by the month. Pet Health Cover is available everywhere now. Through your Vet, Life Insurance, (R)SPCA, online, etc and there are usually basic, medium and high levels of cover.

So whatever season you're heading into, if you have insurance for your own health but not your pet, why not have a look around and see whats on offer? You may be surprised how good it can be.


The Backyard, where Winnie and Hunny Explore, Play and Live. Next week, an update on "Labradoodle Fun and Facts".

Until Monday, have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Leonie, Hunny and Winnie.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

I am Grateful for...

It's nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S. and although we don't celebrate it here in Australia, I thought I'd say a little about being grateful. This year I've kept a gratitude diary - rather, every day, at the top of my diary page, I've written something I'm grateful for. Yesterday I was grateful for wondrous storms. Today I'm grateful for helpful people.

Being grateful is the same as giving thanks, and I'd like to give thanks to the people and groups who have helped me with my writing. As a new writer "coming out" in July (I'd started writing 40 years ago but shelved it until several years ago), I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew I wanted to write ebooks, so off I went. Nothing happened. I wrote a memoir. It's as yet unpublished, thank goodness, as it needs lots of editing I now realise.

I knew I needed help if I was going to make a decent job of my work. So I enrolled in an online writers coaching course with one of the best coaches around. Angela Booth has been in the industry for over 40 years and helps new and established writers and authors with coaching, guidance, classes and courses. She helps small business with creative copywriting and web content. She is a ghostwriter, has info products and several writing blogs. You can find her here: http://www.angelabooth.com/

What I'm saying is that it's enormously helpful and unquestionably important to get help. I've learnt much more about writing, authoring, publishing, creating a platform - all things an eauthor needs to know - than if I had flown solo. Not to mention the personal support and confidence boost I've received. I can say without a doubt that I would be worse of now without coaching. I love doing what I'm doing, and I want to improve what I'm doing. If you're wanting to start a writing career, but a part of you is telling you negative stories, get help. Don't give up if you've started and it's getting a bit tough, get help. And when you've got help, be grateful, because it makes a difference, mainly to yourself.

So, I am grateful for Angela. I am grateful for the information that has come to me from the writing blogs, and not to forget, the dog blogs I follow, the groups I've joined, but haven't engaged in much as yet and I'm grateful for you who read my words.

On that note, I wish my U.S. readers a Happy Thanksgiving. Be safe whilst travelling everyone. See you Friday with more from the Doods.

Leonie, Hunny and Winnie


Beautiful frangipani currently flowering in my garden. Can't you just smell it?











Sunday, 24 November 2013

Labradoodle Christmas

Oh yes, Christmas is only a month away! It does it every year doesn't it, it sneaks up on us? Yesterday I remembered I needed to order my 2014 calendar. I've always had dog calendars hanging in my kitchen, and of course the last few years they've been Labradoodle calendars. The years before that they were Airedale Terrier calendars. Airedale Terriers and Labradoodles aren't common where I live in small town regional Yeppoon, so I've always ordered my calendar from Amazon. That way I know I won't be disappointed if I look in the city and can't find it, which happened once...

I've always ordered a Brown Trout calendar, maybe because that's the one I bought first. I have looked at others and just didn't like them as much. As you can see, I've added several links to the side bar where you can have a browse.

When I looked, I saw lots of other Labradoodle goodies, so therefore there would be other breed goodies. I also ordered a figurine, right at the end of my "Labradoodle Ornaments" search, a cute little chocolate labradoodle at $12.99. There's heaps of Christmas ornaments for the tree, some t-shirts, baby rompers and labradoodles in tea cups :) Check it out for yourself and see what you can find :)

Whilst writing this, Hunny and Winnie have been lying close by. They haven't had much to say lately, so here's an update on them.

Winnie had the beginnings of a hair cut yesterday...this usually happens in two stages. Stage one is when I give her a rough cut with the scissors and get all the loose hair off. She has a fleece coat with very fine, loosely spiraling hair. If I'm not on top of her grooming, her coat can get knotty, especially under her collar. If this has happened, I then tease the knots out, give her a bath then proceed to the second stage which I do the next day. I then use the clippers to even her up and give her a fresh new, short "do".

Hunny's coat is totally different, another "Chalk and Cheese" difference between them. She has a very thick, very curly wool coat, and I take her to the groomer! One fur-baby to groom is enough and Winnie's coat is easier! Once they're both done I'll post some before and after photos, maybe in a few weeks as Hunny won't visit until closer to Christmas.

Other than that, Hunny has been having frequent dips in the garden pond. I don't think I'll ever get it back to it's former glory but hey, it can be a fur-baby pool for a while.They've also been having a great time playing hide and seek around the sofa. Winnie hides before Hunny comes in, thinking Hunny doesn't know, then off they go for a good play. Now they're out having a snack and I'm about to have a coffee. Mmmm.

'Till Wednesday, and more Labradoodle chat.

Leonie


Friday, 22 November 2013

Online on Kobo

Hi everyone,

this morning I received an email with the news that my books are now available on Kobo, and here's the link to my page. http://store.kobobooks.com/en-au/Search?Query=Leonie+van+de+Vorle

This is great, and fast, just a matter of days after Barnes and Noble who published the books online within a matter of hours after I uploaded them to draft2Digital. Here's my page on B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Leonie-van-de-Vorle?store=nookstore&keyword=Leonie+van+de+Vorle

Now it's only iBookstore and that may still take a week. Draft2Digital did say approximately how long it would take for each store to publish. So far I'm impressed. It means, that instead of having to publish separately to up to 6 different stores, any self-publisher can publish to all under one roof. I have only used draft2Digital for the 3 stores I mentioned above, as I had already published to Amazon separately, and will continue to do so.

There's so much to do as a new author/self-publisher. It's not only just writing books, you also have to spend time, quite a lot of time establishing yourself in the writing world. It's great that we have ebooks now as we can reach many more readers, but we have to work harder to make our voices heard among all the other voices and media of today.

Not only am I a newbie author, I'm also a newbie blogger, tweeter, pinner and google+er. I've had to work hard these last few months on everything related to writing, self-publishing AND social media, whilst having CFS.

It's tiring, and often I sit on my bed while I write, like now, or I go back to bed after breakfast, like this morning, BUT I LOVE THIS PROCESS, and I LOVE WRITING and it can only get better, faster, easier, as I gain more knowledge.

From next week I'll be blogging on Monday, Wednesday and Friday only. I need more structure to my weeks...I haven't done any book writing for 2 weeks, it's been all research and sorting social media etc.

Winnie and Hunny say hi, and will have a few words for you next week. Until then, have a great weekend everyone, see you monday.

Leonie


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

An App for Everything

As you know, I have my books published on Amazon, for Kindle devices, which means, up until now you've only been able to buy the books from Amazon. That mostly also means you need a Kindle to read the books, or so you may have thought.

The truth is, these days, there's an App for everything, as well as Kindle. I don't need the App, because I have a Kindle, an older keyboard one, not a touchscreen, but I do have the App on my Android tablet, where I read the most. In fact, you can get the Kindle App for ipad, iphone, Android and PC. All you have to do is go to your store and download it, it's FREE.

Of course, you also need an Amazon account, but that's FREE to set up too.

About a month ago I came across another option which has allowed me (and any self-published author) to publish my books to:
Nook (Barnes and Noble) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/NOOK-Book-eBook-store/379003094/
Kobo, http://store.kobobooks.com/
and iBookstore http://www.apple.com/au/apps/ibooks/

 Draft2Digital has come to the rescue, and today I already have the "Winnie and Hunny Speak" Series available in the Barnes and Noble ebookstore. Kobo and iBookstore take a little longer, but the books should be available through them within a week.

This is excellent news for readers who don't have Kindles, but have other devices such as Kobo, and who don't want to fuss around with multiple devices/Apps on multiple devices. Two friends have Kobos, and up until now they couldn't buy my Amazon books. Now they can. Hooray for innovation!

So spread the word to whole wide world folks, if you've got other ereaders other than Kindle, get your author friends to publish through draft2Digital so you can read their work on your device. Email your favourite authors and let them know about this service too. It works to benefit all of us.

And now that I have my books uploaded to more sites, I can hopefully get back to writing. It's been two frustrating weeks of sorting and fixing "stuff".  I'm in the middle of changing my ISP which isn't going smoothly. I'm tired, and Winnie and Hunny have left muddy paw prints and bits of stick all over the floor. It's hot. I stepped up to air con on yesterday, then drank coffee this morning so now feel wired!

What's a girl to do? Have lunch, it's 1.30pm here, have a snooze, and go and sort ISP out.

Happy reading, writing and playing with dogs,

Leonie

Monday, 18 November 2013

When Blogging/Writing is Slow, check out Pinterest for Ideas.

I'm still in the research stage of "Labradoodle Fun and Facts", because sometimes other things in life come along that need attention before writing. And sometimes blogging ideas are hard to come up with and you grow a little stale, soooooo, I go to Pinterest, amongst other places, for ideas.

I discovered Pinterest only about 3 months ago and I absolutely LOVE it. Here's a link to their page for you to check out. http://www.pinterest.com and of course if you click on the gadget on Leonie's Lives you'll see what I've got on my boards, which I created for my page.

If you don't know about Pinterest, it's a social media site, yes, but, it's purely VISUAL. You get to Pin (post) images, anything you like, within the rules of course, and it's VERY POPULAR because there's no imagination required. Brilliant, and it's popularity out ranks Facebook. Naturally, it works differently, and you'll be pleasantly surprised with what you find.

If you haven't already, start up your own page, it's a whole heap of fun!

Till next time,

Leonie

Saturday, 16 November 2013

My Other, Earlier Books

Before I wrote the Winnie and Hunny Speak series, I published a book of poems. They were published last year, about this time, but they were written in the early to mid 1970's.

I started doodling when at high school, during a boring class which I can't recall, and it evolved into thought and lines and poems which I wrote down in to a very large red covered journal.

I recall it being the time of Woodstock and nuclear bomb testing in the South Pacific, and of course, the Vietnam War. Local University students would march past my school and we would have to pretend not to notice them go past our windows. Yeah, as if!

Several years later I went to Europe and travelled around with a friend. I still wrote poems and when I eventually returned to New Zealand from whence I came, it was to a family tragedy. I wrote one or two more poems shortly after, then only one more about 10 years ago.

I still had my Big Red Poetry Book though, and I had transferred every poem onto my computer thinking one day to do "something" with the poems. That something turned out to be "The Odd One Out - Primitive Poems from the Past. My first foray into ebooks and self publishing.

My poems were the outpourings of a young and lonely soul, a teenager naive yet to the world and her place in it. I didn't think anyone other than myself would be interested in them, let alone want to publish them, so it was up to me. And because I already had a kindle, I heard about self publishing, and the rest, as they say, is history.

So above is the link to my author page/ book list on Amazon which includes all of my books to date. There's also a volume of poems written by my brother Paul. He was tragically killed in a car accident when I was overseas, and was the reason I returned home. He was 17. I never knew he wrote poetry, and only found his work one day several years ago when I was helping my mum shift house. I believe his words are better than mine :) Check his poems out: Salamanca Summer.

http://www.amazon.com/Leonie-van-de-Vorle/e/B00DR8SI9M



Thursday, 14 November 2013

First Storms, Wet Dogs

Hi All,

I can't seem to inset a workable link to Hunny's book cover, at the moment, so what you have in the sidebar works if you highlight it and follow it to Amazon. Then you can see which cover I chose, and of course...purchase the book :)

It's Friday, yay! Yesterday afternoon we had a lovely thunderstorm, the first real downpour of the wet season. I always make sure I'm on my back veranda when storms pass over, as I enjoy them so much!

The dogs had a wonderful time as well. Shortly after the rain began, Hunny went out and stood in it, she was simply enjoying its goodness. She'd had a bath on Monday, so she was clean, however, she just loves the water so much she had to have some of the rain as well.

Then she came back and shook off all over me. She waited a few minutes before repeating her rain and shake adventure and in fact did so several times until she was thoroughly soaked.

Winnie wasn't having any of it at first. She prefers to stay dry, except when it comes to the sprinkler or the hose of course. However, she realised that Hunny was having more fun than she was, so very surprising to me, she joined in.

Naturally, I ended up with 2 wet, smelly dogs that wanted to sit next to me on a small 2 seater sofa on the veranda. The rain had stopped and the air was a little cooler now, so guess who was feeling chilly?

I could go inside and change, but they had to remain out for a while longer. They had muddy paws as well as being wet, so on the veranda it was. After towelling her off, here's Winnie.


Don't you just love dogs?

Have a great weekend everyone, see you Monday.




Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Hunny Labradoodle's Helping Hand online

Hunny's compilation is now online, and this marks the, for now at least, final :) book about Winnie and Hunny. But who knows what a year may bring? Maybe so many more adventures will happen that they'll have to put paw to keyboard - err - dictate for (a) further book(s).
 
I will be concentrating on my next book called "Labradoodle Fun and Facts" as well as finishing my memoir "Broken", about a breakdown I had 15 years ago. That was a rough, tough time.

As you probably noticed yesterday, I blathered on a lot about designed dogs. No more along those lines; more informative from now on.

Originally, Labradoodles were bred as Guide Dogs in Australia for someone who was blind and whose husband was allergic to dog dander. The best was a Labrador Retriever X Poodle. That was in the 1960's, and many Labradoodle's were used very successfully as Guide Dogs. It wasn't until much later that the "designer dog" label was attached and the world went crazy.

So then, part of my new book will look at the fun stuff about Labradoodles, and part of it will look into the road traveled by  them from their early days to where they are now. They have come a long way indeed. For example, there are Associations that have set breed standards, and are in the process of having the Labradoodle recognised internationally as a legitimate breed in it's own right.

I'd vote for that. :)




Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Labradoodle Design

Once upon a time all dogs were just dogs. They weren't Beagles or German Shepherd Dogs or Pomeranians or Labradoodles. Many of our much loved purebreds today are in fact only recently so. Some as recent as 150 to 200 years. So what was all the fuss about when Labradoodles came along?

The fuss was that lots of people got greedy, greedy for the get-rich-quick schemes that sprung up out of "designer dogs" and the puppy mills which grew around them. Now this topic has been done to death and I'm not about to rake it up again, but to me, it does seem unfair to Labradoodles, the innocent parties in the matter.

Labradoodles are wonderful dogs, as are most breeds of dog. We all have our favourites and not so favourites. We choose our companions according to many criteria: size, coat, looks, status, personality, behaviour, ability, etc.

If a new breed is created, which has beneficial qualities others don't, isn't that a great thing? It happens all the time with breeders of many animal and bird species, and nature does it irregardless of what we think.

Don't you just love it? We're not really in control and never will be!

By the way, I've uploaded "Hunny Labradoodle's Helping Hand". It's being published at this very moment and tomorrows post will have a link to it. Hunny is very pleased with herself.

'Till then

Leonie

Monday, 11 November 2013

From Airedale Terriers to Labradoodles

When I first looked for Winnie, I wasn't looking for a Labradoodle. In fact I wasn't going to have another dog after my last one went to doggie heaven.

She was a 12 year old Airedale Terrier called Lea who had a tumour one day, and a month or so after the vet discovered it I took her back again. As I opened the car door to take her out, the heavens opened and we were soaked. It was as if the angels were crying for her.


I stayed with her and watched the light disappear from her eyes as she slipped into her final peaceful sleep. I cried and cried too, and when I came home my children and I held a wake for her. They had grown up with her, it was such a sad day.

So that was it, no more dogs. I was too devastated, and wouldn't go through that again.

Buut, then you get talking to a friend over lunch one day and become enthusiastic about dogs all over again, and what hope is there? And that's exactly what happened, as you can read in "Hi, I'm "Winnie."

First however, I had to do some research because although I adored, and would dearly love to have another Airedale, (she was the second I'd had), I was getting older and found the grooming a bit much. So a smaller dog was the answer.

Second, Airedales had a "non-shedding" coat, much like a poodle's, but it did need clipping, that's really why I wanted to "downsize", as I'd done the clipping too. So my priorities were coat, size and temperament.

I looked at Welsh Terriers, smaller but very similar to Airedales; Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, very cool; Wire-Haired Fox Terriers, and Labradoodles. For one reason or another, the only one that was perfect was the miniature Labradoodle!

In the month, yes month, of online research, soul-searching, doubting and not telling anyone my thoughts, I found out a great deal of information on Labradoodles and their origins. In my next few posts, I'll tell you some of what I found about these wonderful dogs.






Sunday, 10 November 2013

Hunny Labradoodle's Helping Hand

It's Monday. I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. How is it in your neck of the woods? In my neck of Australia it's heating right up. I'm sitting here in a sleeveless top with the fans on thinking about Christmas approaching. It's always hot here on Christmas Day.

But I'm wandering.

My post today is about a compilation of Winnie and Hunny's 4 books and it will be called "Hunny Labradoodle's Helping Hand". In essence, because Hunny is more Arty than Winnie, she gets the credit for helping me put the series together in one volume, hence the title. All I need is a cover and it will be online.

You may have noticed :), that the "Winnie and Hunny Speak" covers are "homemade". They are photos I snapped with my phone in the back yard and in the house. I did this intentionally instead of doing up fancy covers because I wanted readers to see Winnie and Hunny themselves, in their environment.

But Hunny is a little shy, and prefers not to have her photo taken, so I haven't managed to get the "right" shot yet. But I'm patient, and she's a good girl and will oblige today or tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've also been thinking of putting some posts together on Labradoodles generally. How they came to be originally. There was a plan, not just a designer dog plan either. I'll enlighten you next time. In the meantime, here are some of the photos I took yesterday of Hunny. See you tomorrow.



PS: I'm actually thinking the top photo might do the job. I was very lucky to get this one because Hunny usually turns her head before I capture her image. Anyone game to leave a comment? Please :)

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Another Blogger

Another blogger I really like is Laurie Metzger. Here blog, Dog Foster Mom is beautiful and heartwarming. Here's here blog:   http://www.dogfostermom.com/ .

Before Laurie married, she was not a dog person AT ALL, but her husband tried extremely hard to convince her that they should adopt a rescue dog, a big dog, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ever since, Laurie has been fostering dogs, helping them to rehabilitate from sometimes terrible past situations. She helps them find new forever homes. How wonderful is that?

Laurie had to go back to school to become qualified to do this. She had to move house to help out her new friends. She now lives out of town and drives into her other full-time job in the city. That's right. She has two full-time jobs!

Dog Foster Mom tells the stories of the dogs Laurie fosters and finds new homes for. There are photos of the dogs as well. Sometimes Laurie has a few, often many.

I absolutely love this blog. I know there are other wonderful people out there who do the same; people who care for our deserted, lost, injured pets and wildlife. They have the most generous and compassionate hearts and I think they do a very special job indeed.



Wooof for now, have a grrreat weekend. See you all monday,

Leonie, Hunny and Winnie

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Other Bloggers

I've been reading and following some other dog blogs lately and wanted to share some with you. I've also wanted to say thanks to everyone who has viewed my posts. I'm still new to this game and finding my way around, so it's encouraging to see that I'm getting some views. If anyone feels like commenting on how I could improve my blog, please feel free to do so.



Okay, I said I'd been following some other dog blogs. My fabulous writing coach Angela Booth directed me to 2012's 25 Top Dog Bloggers  http://belrea.edu/blog/the-top-25-dog-bloggers-of-2012/  and I did a little research into the ones I liked best.

My favourite is All Things Dog Blog  http://www.allthingsdogblog.com/ It's No 3 on the list but I like it the best because it covers EVERYTHING dog.

The Blog is written by Carrie Boyko and covers strategies for happy dogs and happy families such as pet solutions. If you or your dog needs a problem solved, or you have multiple dogs in your household with issues, Carrie talks about some solutions. She uses green and organic foods and remedies, which I like a lot.

The blog reviews products, has giveaways, events, parties and competitions. Like I said, it covers everything dog. And you can follow the blog on Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. There's loads of information on anything you'd want to know, so check it out.

After I viewed the list of 25, which covers mostly USA bloggers, I thought I might see what Aussie dog bloggers were up to. I found this site, which is quite similar to Carrie's above, but of course tailored to us Aussies. http://puppytales.com.au/2013/10/11/australian-pet-bloggers-unite/  And guess what else I found? If you have a look at the site you'll find that Four Paws PR are introducing the Inaugural Australian Pet Blogger Awards!!

If any of you are Aussie pet bloggers, hop onto the site via the link and enter your blog. You'll have to be quick though because it ends on the 15th of this month. I'm wondering if I should enter! What do you think?

"Till tomorrow,

Leonie




Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Seating Arrangements

Exerpt from "Chalk and Cheese" Book 4 in the "Winnie and Hunny Speak" short ebook series

Winnie speaks:

...sometimes when we're bored or we want a hug, or for no reason at all, we jump up onto the two-seater where mum sits on the back veranda. That's where she does most of her writing. It faces the garden and it's peaceful.

Usually just one of us jumps up at a time, because it's a TWO-seater, but every now and then, in winter when it can be chilly, we like to snuggle up together.

Some of you may have seen a cartoon which circulated on Facebook which illustrated this perfectly. Erica our eldest spotted it first and sent it to mum. She thought it was hilarious, so did mum. Mum showed us the cartoon on her tablet, and then began explaining it to us.

There's a lady relaxing in an armchair with a glass of wine, her faithful and ever-loving big fur-baby was at her feet. he was thinking that if he was VERY careful, he could ease up onto the armchair and join her without disturbing her. He proceeds to climb up; she queries his intentions with a look. She moves over a little; he carefully climbs completely aboard. She is aghast, entirely squashes into the tiniest space, limbs pointing in all directions, wine long spilled. He is happy saying..."See, she hardly noticed"...


See, this is us. Hunny is on the left, then me, then mum. I think I'm the most squashed. I had to hang my head and front paws over the edge of the seat. It wasn't very comfy and I didn't stay there for very long.

Leonie speaks:

Actually, I was the most squashed. I only had half a cushion to sit on, AND, I don't know how I managed it, but I also took the photo.

And not to be outdone, Hunny wants to post this photo of herself to show off her beautiful colouring and styling too. Isn't she gorgeous! And she's sitting in my spot.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Chalk and Cheese

Today is Melbourne Cup day in Australia, the biggest racing event of the year when punters bet millions, and lose millions on their favourite horse. I bet $2 with my mum, and lost, but that was no great loss, and we had fun. That's what counts.

So here it is, the final ebook in the "Winnie and Hunny Speak" series, and .....ta da..... it's called "Chalk and Cheese" because that's what Hunny and Winnie are. Even their coats are different.

Hunny is VERY cool, calm, collected, and patient. You either have to be around Winnie, or everyone would go crazy. It's because Winnie has such a BIG personality. That's not to say Hunny doesn't, she is such a character herself, but so different. You couldn't have two Labradoodles that are so different.

Hunny loves the laid-back lifestyle, the peace, the quiet, the dignity of living a country-type life you could say. But we live at the beach. It must be because we have a large yard. She is never in a hurry to do anything, except eat, and to tell Winnie when she's had enough of whatever high spirits she's dishing out.

Hunny doesn't care about going out in the rain or getting her paws wet. See, she's a country girl at heart. Winnie hates that kind of stuff. She's a bit more precious about icky things. Winnie is sometimes so boisterous it seems she has enough energy for both of them anyway. so you see, they are perfectly balanced.

At the moment they are both nagging me to serve them dinner. It's bordering on pestering, and it is that time of day.

Just to conclude, I have a photo of trendy Winnie. Here is her ear hair. See how it is layered and coloured? And she hasn't even been to the stylist. Isn't she a lucky girl?

Tomorrow, an excerpt.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Winnie and Hunny's Top Tips for Parentcare

Today we finished our fourth and last ebook in the Winnie and Hunny Speak series. It's called "Chalk and Cheese." Mum uploaded it to Amazon for us but it's not online yet, it will be tomorrow. Then we'll tell you a little about it.

In the meantime, we'll give you our top 5 tips for parentcare. We noticed that mum's a bit exhausted after her effort of helping us get the books out so we thought it would be a good idea to give others a few tips on how to look after their mum or dad.

Tip #1 Diet. Always make sure they are well fed and watered. Provide wholesome and healthy food, not junk, and never give them too many treats. One a day max. Always remain close at paw when they eat in case of crumbs or crusts which may fall to the ground. These may need vacuuming, if you know what we mean. Be helpful and offer to clean up any leftovers after meals. Green inside is clean inside.

Tip #2 Exercise. Exercise is a must and is as important as a good diet. It is appropriate to exercise daily, 20 minutes as a rule, more is preferable. Parents usually like walking, so if your leash is accessible, make sure you sit by it, bring it to them, or give hints with that certain look or gentle nudge. If that fails to get their attention, do whatever you have to to get them off their butts. Fit is well.

Tip #3 Helping. Ensure that home is cosy and comfortable for them. Sometimes they may need a cushion fluffed up, or a bed made. Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping aren't beyond your abilities, nor is window cleaning, or gardening. Many paws make light work.

Tip #4 Be Happy. There's nothing better for a fur-baby than a happy parent. The way to keep your parents happy is to be happy yourself. Do funny stuff like tricks and getting the "sillies", or being cute, even if you're having a bad day. Soon enough you'll have them laughing and patting you, and you'll be feeling better yourself. What goes around comes around.

Tip #5 Love. This is the most important tip of all. You can do without all the other tips but you can't do without love. You can show your love in so many ways, including the above, but here are some special ones. Give your parents lots of hugs and kisses. Sit/lie next to them, near them, on them. Make eye contact often. Bring them toys and other stuff to play with. Always be super enthusiastic when they come home from work/shopping, get up in the morning. Love is all you need.

These basic 5 tips should keep any parent well cared for. By following these simple tips you will have a loving and faithful companion for many years. If you have trained them well, bonus.

What more could a fur-baby want.

Bye for now,your pals Hunny and Winnie

Friday, 1 November 2013

Yeppoon is where I live...

Just a slight diversion...I thought I'd tell you about where I live.

The background photo you see looks east from Yeppoon towards the "Supermoon" rising over Keppel Bay on the evening of June 23rd this year. I took it with my phone, so the moon doesn't look so big, but hey, I like it.

Yeppoon lies about 50km north of the Tropic of Capricorn on the Capricorn Coast, and that particular full moon was a Capricorn Full Moon. I like such things also.

My home doesn't have a view of the ocean, but I'm about 500m, as the crow flies, from it, with a hill in between. I do have a great backyard though, and that's where I mostly sit and write, Winnie and Hunny never far away. That's where we all are now. It's about 30 degrees, with a warm easterly blowing. Quite humid.

Yeppoon is a small regional town with a VERY laid-back lifestyle. Imagine shorts and t-shirts almost all year round. We have a dry-tropical/subtropical coastal climate with offshore Keppel Islands which make Keppel Bay very shallow and sheltered.

Twenty minutes up the coast are rainforest and pristine beaches, some only accessible by 4WD, they are spectacular! You can go camping, hiking, fishing, snorkelling, diving. The Great Barrier Reef is close by as well.

I don't do any of those (anymore)! If you've read my earlier blogs, you'll know why. But I do love my garden, which is about a hectare, (roughly half an acre I think) and gardening. I manage a little every now and then. Australia has some amazing and interesting native plants, and I used them as much as possible when I started the garden. I now have one that's fairy maintenance free, except for some weeding, re-mulching and fur-baby-disturbance maintenance!

Winters are dry here in Yeppoon, and the garden has to look after itself, so I plant low water-requiring plants. Summer is the wet season, which officially started on the 1st. If you'd like to check out my garden, have a look at my Pinterest Board: My Garden:Dry Tropics. http://www.pinterest.com/leonievdvorle/boards/

Next post, more on progress with the "Winnie and Hunny Speak" series.

Bye for now

Leonie












Wednesday, 30 October 2013

I'm an Aries

Exerpt from "Hunny Love" Book 3 in the "Hunny and Winnie Speak" series.

Aries born fur-babies are described as energetic, enthusiastic, independent, enjoy the outdoors, and are brave and fearless.

"I was born on the 29th of March," says Hunny, "so I should be all of the above. Let's have a closer look."

Energetic: In short bursts only. I'm not interested in sport much. I like a game of tug every now and then and tag occasionally. Chasing geckos in the backyard is about as energetic as I get. Basically I prefer the laid-back lifestyle.

Enthusiastic: For belly rubs, food, walks, swims, hugs and lots of kisses., and not necessarily in that order at any given time.

Independent: Yeeeeeees, but I like to stay close to mum.

Enjoy the Outdoors: Swimming, walking, the beach, the garden,sniffing new smells, checking out more geckos, echidnas, snakes (native Australian wildlife). Who doesn't?

Brave and Fearless: I bark at everything.

One-Person-Dog: I love my mum. I love to lie next to her, on her chair, on her bed, on her. I hold her hand, the hem of her skirt even.

Dignified: I always cross my paws. It's my speciality.


So what do you think? Am I an Aries? I suppose I am.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Hunny Love

Now it's Hunny's turn. Her book "Hunny Love" is book 3 in the "Winnie and Hunny Speak" series. Of course, she only enters the scene at this point, Winnie being an only fur-baby until now.

Hunny's name comes from the Winnie the Pooh stories as well. Do you remember Pooh's honey jars and how he spells honey? Hunny. Winnie loves hunny (Hunny), and that's how she got her name. It all made sense at the time.

Hunny was born on the 29th of March 2012 so that makes her an Aries. She's enthusiastic, energetic, independent, forthright, enjoys the outdoors and is brave and fearless. All in her own unique way certainly. She loves my backyard pond. It used to have a fountain, waterlilies and goldfish in it. Now, because Hunny loved to swim in it so much it's completely dry. I tried everything to keep her out and eventually bought her a swimming pool of her own. I'm still deciding on the best strategy to keep her out of my pond.

And this is why she needed a pool of her own. Each time Hunny went in to cool off she stirred up the sediment on the bottom. The fountain became clogged, the water level dropped and she ended up being one very smelly fur-baby.







Monday, 28 October 2013

Little Winnie

These days Winnie is really sporty. She began training at an early age. As she says...I love running and jumping. My all time favourite sport is fetch and catch. I'm very fast and accurate now and often get to the spot before the ball does.

First thing in the morning I get the ball ready for mum so we can begin our day of play, but she usually ignores me until after she's had her breakfast. Then if I'm lucky we'll have a round. Sometimes she teases me and only pretends to throw it. Being the athlete that I am, I'm all primed, concentrating, waiting for the moment when she first moves her arm.

"Are you ready?" she says.

I'm on full alert now, solely focused on the ball.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm ready, throw it, throw it." I can hardly stand it. If she doesn't throw it now I'm going to snatch it off her...

Of course, from my point of view, this is a great way to keep my fur-baby amused, happy and healthy. I can toss the ball over and over  without her missing a beat. I can sit even, it's that simple, ideal "sport" for me too! Often I get up and throw the ball though so it's not all easy! I do have a lot of fun with my doods.

And here's a cute photo of Winnie when we first started training, way back when.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Inspiration

Before I began writing the "Winnie and Hunny Speak" series, I had no idea the books would be a series. The 'doods' as I call them sometimes were on a long list of book topics I wanted to write some day.

One day about the beginning of August I was browsing Amazon's ebook section on dogs and came across one called "Archie's Diaries. Tails from the Dog House" by Jane Palombella.

Archie is a golden labradoodle, hence my interest, and he lives in Wales. WELL, I COULDN'T STOP LAUGHING! This book, with photos, was so funny in Archie's description of his life. I loved it and highly recommend it to anyone wanting a good laugh!

I immediately hit on the idea of writing something similar by Winnie and Hunny. After all, I had lots of material. So I read several more dog ebooks. "A Lonely Dog on Christmas" by Patrick Yearly is also very humorous and a good read, as is the lovely "Rescue Dog" by Alexander S. Bauer.

So began a book that turned into a series. I have now begun the final book in the series "Chalk and Cheese."
It will be out in a week or two.

Winnie and Hunny are giving me lots of hints that it's dinner time. ie they are being very naughty.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Winnie's World

Winnie has written her first ebook, isn't she clever, seeing as she is a 2 year old Labradoodle! Now, she's written her second, which is about some of the daily challenges she faces.

For example, when she first came to live with me, her mum, she was barricaded into a small area of the backyard. There was a fence challenge that needed completion before she was allowed onto the BIG grass.

Next was a water challenge. Winnie loves water, as most fur-babies do, but for some reason what came out of the hose or the sprinkler caused epic warfare.

And what fur-baby and mum or dad don't have obedience challenges?  Winnie and I had a mostly smooth ride through this time of trial in life except on one very notable occasion. It occurred at the beach and involved a whole lot of running.

And after all the talk of running, Winnie and Hunny are having a quite rest, and I'm about to. Yesterday Hunny finished her first ebook, "Hunny Love", the 3rd short ebook in the series "Winnie and Hunny Speak". That's why we're all exhausted.

Little by little, and making sure I rest, I'm finding I can write with CFS. It is my personal challenge at the moment, as I am following a writing course with a wonderful coach. The course is intense, but extremely valuable. Thank you Angela.


Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Third Time Lucky

Third time lucky they say. Well by now I should be an expert! Here it is at last, sorted, done and dusted, the link to Winnie's book. Do I hear cheers and loud clapping? Thank you, thank you.

I have to say, I've used a computer for years, but never had to make links until I began a blog, which was  VERY recently. So I'm just a baby blogger learning a whole bunch of new tricks.

I have now finished the third book in this series as well. "Hunny Love" will be available from Amazon next week. But first I will post about the second book, and I will do that over the weekend as I work "out" tomorrow, Friday.

I must also say that it has been an intense month (not over yet) on the writing front with all the new things I have learnt. Moreover, I have had to look after myself especially so as not to become over tired, which I came close to on one or two occasions.

It's all about balance after all, and knowing ourselves.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Excerpt and Fixed Link

After I posted yesterday I realised my links didn't work. It had been such a day, so I drowned my sorrows in Pinterest and I felt much better! I LOVE Pinterest!!

Today I've done some more writing on the third book "Hunny Love"...didn't do any book writing yesterday hence my frustration. Never mind, yesterday is done and dusted.

Here is an excerpt from the first chapter of "Hi, I'm Winnie". Enjoy.

...The story goes, mum told us, that one day about two years ago, she was having lunch with her friend Elaine. They were joking about being "techno-grannies" which is a bit of a joke really. Mum and Elaine are alternative lefties into natural ways of doing things, not mainstream at all.

Elaine is a granny to a fur-baby too, and they were having fun at their own expense as they often do when together. At about that time Elaine had just bought a new iphone 4 and mum had a new android phone and they were comparing notes. They were talking texting and things techno which I'm not really interested in, but since this story related to me, I was all ears. One thing lead to another and next thing they were talking about having "designer" this and that.

"Haha, as if that was them!" I've only met and sniffed Elaine once and I knew something was up....

Hopefully, the link to the book works now :) You can find it on the sidebar. Next time I'll talk about Book Two.

EDIT: I noticed straight after posting this that if you highlight either today's or yesterday's link then right click on the link it will take you to Winnie's page on Amazon. If someone would be so kind as to let me know if this is how it should work :) I'm new to blogging and it's taking me forever to sort this out. Thanh you very much xx

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Hi, I'm Winnie

It's been a while, but I'm back with very exciting news! I've settled myself down and have published the first short ebook on Amazon in the series "Winnie and Hunny Speak" Its called...."Hi, I'm Winnie." Winnie tells the story of the first day in her forever home. It starts with talk of "things" designer, and ends with a big bad smell. 

All of the books are told in Winnie's and Hunny's voices and are amusing and engaging tales of their everyday lives.

In my next post I will talk about Book Two in the series "Winnie's World or The Fence and Other Challenges.

My memoir "Broken" is not forgotten either. It is still forthcoming. News on that shortly.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Achieving

Last week was hard. I had gone way beyond my physical and mental limits for a month or so without resting. Last week nearly saw me burn. I could feel it and it scared me.

Pacing has become a real challenge, and is probably the hardest thing for me. I was always active, a do-er, and when I had the idea to do something, I did it. Not only was I physically active, but mentally as well. So I began to wonder about being driven, about achievement, about "getting things done" against simply "doing".

I fall into the first half of the equation and it wasn't until I was talking with a friend recently that I fully realised how much of an "achiever" I am. I don't particularly like the word, it smacks of "performance" and "competition", two other words I don't like :-) , but it opened my eyes a little more to me, again.

Constantly "achieving" means I've got tons to do, and it also means I'll never get to do it all. In my case I believe it contributed to acquiring CFS. And it's not only me, there are lots of other people like me. So what do I/we do? As challenging as it may seem, we MUST pace. There's no other way with CFS. I get sooooooo restless and frustrated though!!! I love doing stuff! Resting, and pacing activities really is necessary however. Last week I had no choice. I did rested. This week, I'm pacing and resting.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Fear

This beautiful image came to me on Facebook a few weeks ago. I LOVE it! It struck a deep chord within me when I saw it. The image as well as the words.

We all have fears, known and unknown, ones we can easily overcome and others we never want to deal with. Some things are too scary after all aren't they? Hell yeah! And that's okay :-)  For me, a lot of things have been scary. I always wondered why. Maybe because of when I was a baby in a bassinette in the back seat of my parents' car. Dad was teaching mum to drive. We were going downhill and something happened to the steering. Mum no longer had any control. We ended up at the bottom of the hill narrowly missing a tree. As the story goes, I was thrown from the bassinette and was inconsolable for some time.

Could I say that fearful event set the tone for the rest of my life? Maybe. I certainly was shy as a child and have always been cautious. As an adult I came to understand how fear was behind much of what holds us back in our lives. I had 'known' that for many years. My breakdown made that clearer still. But then sometimes, something comes along which wakes us up a bit more to what's going on and why, and another piece of life's puzzle falls into place. 

So when I saw this image I had to laugh! Laugh because it felt so good to see it and read it. What an inspirational and memorable image to help dispel fear! It certainly helped me on a recent, notable occasion. I decided I was NO LONGER going down a particular, familiar, habitual fear path I had gone down in the past. And guess what? At that moment I FELT something within me change. Then wonderful things began to happen! 

So now I keep this image close, because it's beautiful and it makes me happy, even after this hard week with fatigue.