Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Piano Lessons

I had my first piano lessons last Thursday.  I've said it several times, but I know how to play notes.  This teacher is going to help me learn how to play music. Case in point, the first week I'm working on scales.  C Major, G Major, D Major, A Major, and E Major.  C Major has no sharps.  Starting with G Major you add 1 sharp at a time from C# to F#, to G# to D#.  So E Major has 4 sharps. 

That doesn't matter.  I just wrote that out to prove to myself that I have it down.  I assume these are good things to know.  I even picked a song to practice in A Major and identified it as such.  Not now - I had to look that song up again.  But at the time I did.

I asked my teacher:

"At least how much a day should I be practicing?" (this is a delicate questions because I didn't want her to think that I was already planning to do the bare minimum, but at the same time I want to make a true effort towards my commitment and my money)

"30 minutes a day at least." (reasonable I thought)

So far for the week I might be up to an hour.  Maaaaybe.  Shoot.  I can already see that this is going to take a lot more effort.  Luckily I pick up scales easily.  And I have been doing a lot of visualization at being great so that should help out.

She told me to pick one song from each book I brought.  Here is what I picked.

Number 4 is just for show.  It's the last piece I was practicing before I quit at 18.  It's a beautiful, fun Gershwin piece.  Note all of the penciling.  I could hardly read the notes anymore.  Hey, I didn't say I was good at it, I said I was practicing to be good at it.  But still, I've got a lot of work to go before this piece will come out again.

Really looking forward to week two.  And practicing 30 minutes a day.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Organized Life

The organized life is an efficient life.  A place for everything and everything in it's place.  I long for that life, and am decluttering, donating and tossing with that vision in mind.  And I don't want to buy storage boxes and new crap until I am exactly sure how I am going to use something.  But then how do I organize if I don't get new things to organize with.  It's a vicious cycle that I am sure only comes with experience.  Anyway, in keeping with the goal of total organization (sounds like total domination, or maybe total control) I decided to downsize my lip gloss collection.

What girl can resist a shiny new tube or the latest great smelling lip balm, that new hot color for fall or the PERFECT for you red that you've been searching high and low for, but then after a week or so turns out to not be it either.  Not this girl.  And therein lies the problem.

Step 1) Organize into logical color grouping.

Step 2) Try on and toss.  Which is not so easy because your lips really start to get dried out and the color never truly comes off between back to back applications, so it's hard to tell exactly if that is a perfect color or not.  And I was not going to keep anything that was not perfect.  Also, the lighting was bad in the bathroom and it was cloudy outside so lighting was bad everywhere.  Which are all excues as to why I ended up with this:

I know - it doesn't loooook like that big of a difference, but I bet I got rid of 15 tubes.  (The pile on the left is NOT the toss pile.  Continue to Step 3 for what that pile is)

Step 3) Since I only got about 3/4 of the way through before my lips were swollen and puffy and some of the look-alike colors I couldn't decide which I like the very best, I made a 3rd pile of try-on-later-and-decide.  This is the pile that sits on my counter and when I pull out my usable bag I see if there is anything better in the try-on-later-and-decide pile.  If yes, it can stay and something similar from the usable bag should go.

(Notice I said something similar should go.  I haven't actually tossed anything else.  Nor have I really tried this out, but I am trying to rotate and use the stuff I did keep)

I've also gone through the pen/pencil box, cookbooks, non-fiction books, and general bathroom beauty products (hair gels, shampoos, lotions, perfumes etc.).

Today at Lowe's while I was buying baby latch gates so the dog can't get up or downstairs - oh and I suppose the baby too at some point - I found a nice modern looking basket that we are going to use for our cards throughout the year.  I stole the concept from the neighbors.  From Jan 1-Dec 31 after we are done displaying birthday, thank you's, anniversary, Easter, thinking of you, etc. cards we will place them in the box.  At the end of the year, we'll go through them, decide which ones are sentimental and keep for eternity.  That way we can get more than one read out of them if we want to look back at the year.

Speaking of the keep-this-card-for-eternity box.....perhaps that should be next on the list things to organize.....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cooking Success

Kale-alulia - dinner was a success. I tried the whole baked kale thing and it was much MUCH better than collard greens. Collard greens are yucky. My friend told me so, so it must be true. And she's from the south so she would know. If only I had known before dinner last night.

Collard greens are too chewy and to potent of a flavor. Kale is light, slightly chewier than spinach with a slightly different flavor, but mild and something I can swallow.

I also found a magazine recipe keeper. Chicken with Dijon sauce or something. I went TOTALLY crazy and added mushroom which were not in the original recipe. I know. I should write a cook book.

Then for dessert I modified a recipe for apple crisp into individual cups and used peaches instead. Dinner was so good and warm. I guess I just gotta keep trying.

Here's what's also on my mind. I signed up for a pasta making class in November (1 night only). We have birthing classes every Wednesday in October, piano lessons on Thursdays (which start tomorrow - yiy), regular exercise to fit in and a house to clean. Oh and I'm busy at work. I've really wanted to get a big girl camera (one with a lens and manual/automatic operations) and learn how to use it but 1) they aren't cheap so I better be serious and 2) can I afford the time to take a 2-5 lesson class on using a digital camera? I think this is going to have to be an at-home-study for the time being.

This leads into pictures. I want to start experimenting more with picture taking and angles and interesting views. I have a photographer friend who takes AMAZING pictures. While she's a professional and I'll never be at that caliber, I want to take interesting, beautiful, memorable pictures of my future kid. So I need to learn how to use my camera better, perhaps get a new one all together and also learn how to be creative so I can see the "good shots".

Look for these "good shots" or horribly bad -aka learning experience- shots. Practice should help.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cooking failures

I'm so discouraged. I've been enjoying cooking meals at home and trying new recipes from magazines and such and new foods. And. *SIGH* It just doesn't always work out. Recipes from magazines and books are so hit or miss it discourages me from trying new foods and recipes.

Like tonight. I made collard greens. With pine nuts, raisins and balsamic vinegar and oil. Collard greens have a strong flavor. I waaaaaaannnted to like them, but I didn't. Same with bok choy. I tried making it, but I don't get it. I forget the exact recipe, but they also have a certain flavor. 2 strikes on the leafy greens that are supposed to be so good for you; I want to like them. I don't know. Maybe I just haven't found the right recipe. Next up is a bunch of kale for dinner tomorrow. I gotta say: there isn't much hope :(

Also, tonight I tried a vegetable medley couscous dish. I can pretty much sum up the experience in one word: BLECH. Again, so healthy: carrots, zucchini, squash, onion. I think it was the saffron I didn't care for. First time using that too. Maybe my buds are too old to try new flavors. My husband said it was good. Anytime I like something he doesn't and vice versa. Good thing because somebody has to eat all the leftovers.

Guess I just have to stick with hamburger helper, chicken nuggets and corn my whole life.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

End of Season Report

And my running season has officially ended with the Blubber Run 5k. Not much of a running season really, but none the less there are no more races for 2010. I ran for maybe 10 minutes tops and not all at once even during the 5k. Which made me REALLY glad that I didn't attempt the duathlon a few weeks back.

That was really hard, not doing the duathlon. Especially since it was an expensive race and I went to pick up my packet with my husband anyway just to get the spoils. You feel the excitement and see all of the prepared athletes and just want to be a part of it; knowing that I could have been part of it, that I once was part of it. It was tough. But after the 5k yesterday I know there is no way it would have been a fun or good event for me. Good choice; albeit difficult.

Walking has been good. I haven't been to the aqua aerobics class since that first time. Just letting other things get in the way I guess, but I intend to go back. Everything is going great with the baby. We had our ultra sound and we're still on for end of January; ready or not. Pregnancy has been a good time and a learning experience, not just about babies and such, but about myself as well.

In my opinion balance is the key to life. (I know I changed the subject but stay with me - it's relevant) You take the good, you take the bad. You take em both and there you have.....What I'm saying is dealing with the bad helps you really appreciate the good. When I am working the right amount, exercising the right amount, cleaning the house the right amount and doing other fun things I enjoy the right amount, etc. life is better. And pregnancy is sort of like having a bye-week for a few months to understand how the diet and exercise components fit in. No you can't be a sloth and eat crap (that's not balance) but you let yourself indulge more and relax more about diet and exercise. Which makes me remember when I could push myself and challenge my body without worrying about the effects on another being. I think about how good that will feel again in 6-9 months to do again. But I can't always be focused on that because then I'd miss out on the fun things now. So it's balance. You get off a specific plan - rearrange things a bit so you remember why you liked to do the things you did.

Because I'm letting my diet go - something I've always pretended to try and do - I'm actually getting to the point where I don't want ice cream sometimes. Or french fries. I can eat a salad and think, no I just want this salad. Even free food has little appeal when I'm not in the mood for it. Maybe there is something to the whole listening to your body thing, I've just never trusted myself long enough to indulge sans guilt believing in myself I would level off.

Which gets me to a whole other topic. I've decided the best way to teach is by example. I should be everything I want my children to be and secondly correct their behavior when they go astray. So how do I teach them emotionless eating and exercising for enjoyment when I still don't have those things figured out yet. Maybe my kids will help me be a better person because I'll try harder for them. Men (my husband in particular) has never had these issues. He eats fruits and veggies because it keeps him healthy and fit. Simple as that. No - I don't feeeeeeel like an apple, I want a cookie. He just does it. What a concept. What happens that men grow up without the emotional baggage that women have? And how do I get my kids to be like that?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Earthly Pleasures

1) MAC. I love the MAC stores. Not the ones in department stores. Those are usually nice too, but the actually stand alone stores.....wonderful! The employees are so super nice and always willing to help with a new look and you can get palates there. In the department store ones you can only get the eyeshadows in their own case thing. They never make me feel frumpy there even if I go in in sweats. LOVE MAC.

2) Coffee. And boy do I miss it. The smell of a brewing cup. Pressing down on the coffee press. The warmth, the taste. Yes the caffeine is a pick me up, but just the full bodied smell is enough to make me perk up.

3) Sweaters. Being cozy and warm is a top priority for me. Sweaters are both and also fashionable. I love a layered look. Sweater season is HERE and I am happy!

4) Punch pizza. I can only assume this is what pizza taste like in Italy. It is by far my favorite pizza although sometimes I do like the regular American kind. This come piping hot out of a wood burning oven with tons of fresh tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella cheese. And don't get me started on the rosemary focaccia. Yum, yum, yumm.

5) Beethoven. I;m not sure why it started, but I always have loved his music. I walked down the aisle to Romance in F. Absolutely beautiful. I found my Essential Beethoven cd and have been listening to it on repeat for the last week.