Thursday, 21 January 2010

December Catch Up : Advent Calendar

 From this... 

To this...

Its only taken me two years to complete, but I finally managed to finish this advent calendar which I gave to my Sister-in-Law and her family just before the Advent season. I have another one waiting to be done for our family. Hopefully it won't be another two years before we get to use ours!

Friday, 8 January 2010

All Hail the King!! (of Rock 'n' Roll)

So in honour of Elvis' birthday (which would have been today) I'm taking part in the Music Blog Train organised by Helen. If you'd like to follow the blog train from the start go back to her blog here! If you've just come over from Laura's blog welcome!!

We're all talking (in various ways) about our musical tastes and styles... which really got me thinking! I wonder if any of my lovely readers would know about my musical past? No, probably not! It's not something I advertise much because for many years now I had 'fallen out of love' with music. Sure, I still listened to it but I haven't taken part for ooooh.... nearly 13 years now. However, over the past few months I have started feeling a stirring, an urge to get involved again.

I started playing Piano at the age of 6-ish and went to lessons after school for years. At High School I started doing my lessons at school and eventually I got my Grade 8 and sat my Matriculation exams in Music. Several times I had wanted to quit, but my parents kept saying that they "hadn't paid all that money for music lessons just so I could give it up!" During the early  part of High School I started singing in choirs and groups and the latter part of High School saw me involved in the Natal Youth Choir. At the end of High School I was unsure of what I wanted to do with my future and found myself being "guided" into doing Music at undergrad level. I enjoyed the first 18 months of it as I transferred from Piano to Voice as my first instrument. Then, it all went pear shaped. My whole life fell apart for various reasons and I left Uni at the end of my second year vowing never to play an instrument again. I returned to the UK and met my husband. It was at this stage that I realised that my musical tastes were not exactly 'normal'. All my life I had only really ever listened or participated in "Classical" music. After Uni I decided to start 'educating' myself in more modern music. I started at early Jazz and Ragtime and there I fell in love with the arrangements of Count Basie and Duke Ellington. The crooning of the jazz singer's including Ella Fitzgerald and the gravel-voiced Sachmo (Louis Armstrong). They led me onto the wartime years where I fell in love again... with Glenn Miller and Vera Lynn and Nightingales in Berkeley Square. Elvis followed soon after followed very quickly by Cliff Richard and the Shadows. I was lucky enough to see Cliff Richard perform in Durban soon after the sanctions had been lifted in 1993 and was amazed by his energy. I dabbled a bit in the Beatles too, but that is where my musical 'self-education' seemed to stop. It was only after I met and married my hubby that I realised I had missed out on so much. The 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's all held so much that I needed to catch up on!

Now days I can say that I'm a little more 'with it'. I'm enjoying Snow Patrol, Keane, Paloma Faith alongside some of the older bands such as the Rolling Stones, BeeGee's, Pink Floyd as well as some of hubby's favourites like Big Country and the Housemartins. Yup, to the casual observer it may seem that my musical tastes have caught up somewhat... however, the more discerning eye will still catch me putting Classic FM on the radio and enjoying my Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt...  In fact, I'm considering returning to my roots all together as I've raised enough money between my Birthday and Christmas to invest in a Digital Piano . The only question is... am I going to play Classical Music... or teach myself to play more modern stuff? I'd love to play the Blues like Jamie Cullum!

Now, head on down to Tracey's blog for a look at her musical tastes!

New Years resolutions and just one word....

Happy New Year to all my friends, family and random readers! I hope that 2010 is a year of peace, happiness and prosperity for you and your families. I don't know about you, but I'm actually looking forward to 2010 and everything its going to bring with it. I can't believe that we are already a full week into the new year. See? Only 51 more weeks to go until we do it all again!

Seeing as there has been so much snow around this week, I've not been doing a lot of rushing around like I normally would. This forced inactivity gets a person thinking and this week there has been an awful lot to think about. Two things have been the focus of my thinking.... firstly, New Years Resolutions. OK, so if you're anything like me these are a nightmare. I make a looooong list of things that I want to change and by the time the end of January comes along they've all fallen by the wayside and are long forgotten. The last few years I tried not to make any resolutions at all, which was okay-ish, but I felt I was lacking something to work towards. Not really a problem for two years or so as I was too busy dealing with being pregnant, renovating a house, putting said house on the market, packing up, moving, finding a new house to rent, starting eldest daughter in new nursery, moving in and unpacking lots of boxes, having new baby, having too many sleepless nights, finding a new house to buy, organising 4th birthday parties for the same day we got our new house keys, decorating and flooring the new house before we moved in, packing and moving in loads of boxes, changing eldest daughters nursery again to be closer to the new house, having a first birthday 'party' for youngest daughter, getting stuff fixed on the new house that the previous owners had bodged, my own birthday, preparing for Christmas.... and trying to remember to breathe in amongst all that lot! But this year I don't forsee any babies or moving or renovating. In fact, other than the eldest daughter starting 'big school' I don't actually forsee much happening at all. Ah! Bliss! Ok, there will still be the usual day-to-day stuff and routine maintenance on the house... but this year I would like a challenge of some sort. So I'm resorting to New Years Resolutions again! So here they are....

  1. Lose weight. My excess weight is really affecting my health and mobility now. I've had enough of it all and am going to make the change to get rid of it.
  2. Get fitter. 
  3. Create more. I love being creative, but with all that I've been doing over the last two years its taken a bit of a backseat. I would love to increase my creativity... including the painting and sewing I used to do before eldest was born!
  4. Learn a new skill. I still have to decide what I would like to learn. Something creative that I haven't tried yet? Or maybe a new language?
  5. Be more involved at Church. 
  6. Improve my relationship with my kids... basically, yell less and hug more!
  7. Improve my relationship with God... basically, yell less and listen more!
Are these impossible? I don't think so. The key to all of these things is self-discipline. Something I'm not terribly good at. Will they last? I hope so, but only time will tell. Check back at the end of January for that one!
Part of the New Year Resolutions thing for a lot of people, including Ali Edwards , is to choose one word to live by for the whole year. Just one word that will guide your thoughts, actions, goals and dreams for the year. I participated in this a few years ago and found it to be really inspiring. I chose the word Create for that year. And boy did I? It was a great year for creativity, not just in scrapbooking or artistic stuff... but also for creating a home out of a building site, creating a second daughter, creating a calmer environment for all of us as a family etc. This past week I've been thinking about choosing another word for the year. Create came to me easily, but this time I was really struggling. Then, a couple of days ago I suddenly struck on the word Seek. No, its not a generic, feel-good factor sort of word... but I think it will work! It came with a couple of Scriptures attached too....

"Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" Matthew 7:7

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well" Matthew 6:33 

(source: )

So this year I believe that if I seek God in all these things then I will be able to accomplish the goals I have set myself. This year I'm going to Seek a slimmer, fitter body; A more creative life; A new skill; Greater involvement; and Better relationships. 

I don't think they're bad things to strive for... do you? What resolutions have you made?