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Just for fun, I decided to change the “Versatile Blogger Award” rules so that winners now have a choice of displaying either Kit Harington’s abs or Scarlett Johansson’s pecs. 


Not long ago I was nominated as a “Versatile Blogger” (many thanks, Perry of Armitage Agonistes!). It was a thrill because I used to worry that my blog was perhaps too unfocused to attract a regular set of readers. After all, how many people out there share an interest in all the things I write about, from rapini to Ralph Fiennes to rosé to ancient Rome?

This award gives me a chance to celebrate ten other versatile bloggers (some longtime favorites and a few newly discovered) and invite them to participate, if they so choose. The award is intended to be an honor, not a burden, so if you do not have time, no worries! Just bask in the knowledge that you’re pretty cool in my eyes. (The rules as transmitted to me by Perry are at the end of the post.)

In alphabetical order, the winners are:

24/7 in France: Kim’s blog is a visual feast, a virtual vacation in the south of France. Written by a former French teacher who now lives in that fabled seaside garden of thyme and violets, it is part travelogue and part chronicle of a life well-lived. She posts on everything from fashion to food to the French language, conveying the true flavors of this lovely corner of the world. My favorite post so far is about the Festival of Violets in the medieval town of Tourrettes-sur-Loup.

Cinemattire is a delightful blog about movie costumes. Clara spent her early years watching “black-&-white ’40s swashbucklers [Errol Flynn, this means YOU], Merchant Ivory historical dramas, and pretty much anything in the fantasy realm.” What I most love about the blog is her encyclopedic knowledge of every era in film. For example, her post on white shirt sleeves included not only the famous Colin Firth wet shirt scene from Pride and Prejudice, but also Errol Flynn in Captain Blood and Paul Henreid in Now, Voyager! Not to mention Richard Armitage and Rupert Friend and David Niven… sheer heaven. P.S. Her posts on Jacket Movies are not to be missed…

Conrad Brunstrom is an academic who writes with verve, humor, and an eighteenth-century sensibility. Any blog where you can find elegant-and-earthy posts about Jane Austen, House of CardsAlgernon Sidney, and Dr. Who all in one place (in addition to a moving series about the birth of Conrad’s son Theodore) has the ability to rivet my attention. As a demonstration, I present this excerpt from a dialogue between Jerome K. Jerome and a Victorian publisher:

E. Let me put it another way. Under no circumstances could a firm like J. W. Arrowsmith even contemplate publishing a full length volume about a river unless you’re prepared to drown a woman in it.

J. Why do I have to drown anyone?

E. You need to drown a woman. The plot is impossible otherwise.

J. What ‘plot’ did you have in mind? This isn’t House of Cards?

E. House of what now?

J. Sorry, getting ahead of myself again.

E. Are you sure you’re a Victorian? Sure you’re not a Georgian or an Edwardian? We Victorians know what we like and we like a drowned woman. If we see a river, we expect to see a woman drowned in it.

Crystalchandlyre: You might not think to describe a blog devoted to Richard Armitage as versatile. But you’d be wrong. Crystal has interesting things to say about wine, and books, and dreams… Reading a fan blog is an intimate glimpse into the psyche of another person. In this case, I discovered that we have a certain eerie affinity in all things potable, culinary, musical, literary, and masculine. Plus, it has to be said that Mr. Armitage is swoon-worthy. I have since come to know and love several Armitage bloggers, like Agzy, Perry, and Obscura— all of whom taught me something about fandom in the age of social media. But Crystal’s blog was my introduction.

Expat Eye: This chronicle of an Irishwoman’s jaw-dropping adventures in Latvia always has me laughing and wondering what comes next. I look forward to her wry reflections on the local culture, and especially her ethnographic observations on the strange behavior of Latvian men, all of whom seem to be named Jānis. I also love it that the comments in this blog regularly circle back to wordplay about giant penises.

Kitchen Excavation: Nate’s is one of my favorite food blogs because he’s full of surprises. Chocolate, Pistachio and Avocado cookies! Cranberry Flaugnarde! Homemade Ginger Ale! I share his interest in food history and lore as well as seasonal and locavore eating. Best of all, he has truly awesome technical skills, both in the kitchen and on the blog. He specializes in detailed, step-by-step photos that show you exactly how a dish is prepared. The other thing that won my heart is his love of breakfast…

Lady of the Cakes: Linguistics, photography, razor-sharp wit, and CAKE. What could be more versatile ingredients for a blog? Simone says she doesn’t bake, but she’s a pasty chef of the written word, serving up delectably-written posts interspersed with stunning photographs of sunsets in Toledo, Spanish tapas, and an unbearably cute pug. Don’t miss her vacation in Key West, featuring one woman’s determined search for the best slice of Key Lime pie in the islands!

Peak Perspective: Shelley lives on top of a mountain in the Blue Ridge. Her blog is a beautifully written evocation of a life filled with family, friends, music, laughter, food, and love– all set against the background of the changing seasons in Virginia. What I appreciate most is the poetry in her prose, and her love of whiskey! She’s funny, too. The blog is illustrated with minimalist, charming cartoons by Robin Gott.

The Wine Wankers have been favorites of mine since I first checked out WordPress, and I have followed their blog as it exploded in popularity, as well as their move to Twitter. There’s a reason they have so many followers. It’s fun to read about the treasures they have brought home from wine auctions, how to choose wine for a table of twelve (by new Wanker Ben!), and what wine to pair with Domino’s pizza. The Wankers have a great sense of humor that’s especially notable on their Twitter feed. Plus, the only post I have ever re-blogged was one by Conrad!

Three Generation Watercolourists is balm for the soul. Carolyn and Judy blog from Alberta, Canada about painting (with beautiful images of local fossils), photography, children’s art, and (dear to my heart) miniature books! The color on the blog always catches my eye, whether it’s images of a cute beagle tucked up in bed, a Hawaiian vacation, curly maple cabinets for tiny books, or Alberta in the depths of winter. I am looking forward to seeing spring reflected in this lovely blog.

The Versatile Blogger Award Rules:

  • Display the Award Certificate (cut and paste it from my post)
  • Write a post and link back to the blogger who nominated you – that’s me!
  • Nominate 10 other bloggers
  • Inform them of their nomination via comment on their blog
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself

Now to the Seven [Mildly] Interesting Things. 

1. My first crush was a third-grader named Durwood Reddick.
2. I did not learn to drive until the age of 30.
3. As a girl, my ambition was to be either a cartoonist or an archaeologist.
4. I have had two conversations with Ciarán Hinds.
5. One of my ancestors came to America on the Mayflower.
6. ABBA is one of my many guilty pleasures.
7. I share a birthday with the emperor Augustus.