Monday, 22 August 2016

The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music....

I am about 4 or 5 - we are traveling back to Pretoria from Joburg late at night. In my mind I see the exotic costumes of Kismet/ the dancing in the imagined streets of West side story/ keep singing "I feel pretty oh so pretty" from My Fair Lady...

My parents loved musicals and as an only child I had the privilege to attend many of them from a very young age. Later after the State Theater opened in Pretoria in the hay days of the Performing arts councils I saw many more - Hello Dolly, Camelot, Oklahoma - you name it! In later years Hunter and I saw the unforgettable Cats and breathtaking Phantom of the Opera. Of course there are the movies of the musicals that our kids love - Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins and Annie are firm favorites.

For me the ultimate musical moment has always been Julie Andrews on top of that Austrian mountain spinning around and singing : " The hills are alive with the sound of music". In my head I have sung it so many times. This weekend I at last got the chance to do it - with 401 other singers, an orchestra, soloist and two of the most inspiring conductors I have ever seen.

It's a tough and busy program over a weekend of music. Solid hours of practice after receiving the sheet music and MP3 to practice on your own. I arrive on Friday night, happy to see familiar faces from school and church - even a family member, but very unsure of how well I know the music and words. I am very nervous about the "Les Misrable" medley which I struggled to learn  on my own. Parts of the "Chess" medley merge into a bundle of notes... all the jumbled intricacies of Queen's music are turning in my head - how on earth did I think I could manage this...

But somehow the moment you hear the orchestra and the other voices join things seem to fall into place. By coffee break I feel a bit more sure of myself. By the end of Friday night's rehearsal I am not so sure about all this any more - we struggled through some of the pieces. But we get homework - to watch and listen to some originals of the works on You Tube. That night in my bed "Les Mis" comes together for me. On Saturday morning it is as if things simply fell together over night for the whole group - and suddenly I think, just maybe , this will be great. This could be magic.

On Saturday afternoon we have our first performance. All dressed in our concert blacks with a touch of red we are ready, and I am nervous. After the Cats overture by the Orchestra we launched into Phantom of the Opera. The sound is huge - an orchestra, organ and 402 voices. After all that practice at home and over the weekend it indeed feels like magic. In my mind and in my voice I am Sandy in Grease, Grizabella singing Memory in Cats - Elaine Paige has nothing on us when we sing "I know him so well". Our voices soar to the sky when we sing "You'll never walk alone" and we put our common hats on for "Les Miserables" and cheer to the Master of the House. Proudly South African we sing  from" Ipi Tombi " and "Ons vir jou Suid Afrika". The medley from Mama Mia has us all acting and singing like "Dancing Queens" and we tackle the unforgettable music of Queen from their musical "We will rock you" . We are inspired by solos from the beautiful Magdaleen Minaar that sings with us and I get goosebumps every time I hear two guitars and a violin play "Somewhere over the rainbow"

And briefly for 3 performances I was Maria on top of that mountain singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music..." followed by the song I chose when the original call for suggestions went out - "Climb every mountain". An unforgettable experience of song, soul and friendship. In my heart (and sometimes even physically) I keep singing:

The hills are alive with the sound of music
with songs they have sung for a thousand years.
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing ev-'ry song it hears"

 The Capital Singers is a mass choir initiative by Boabab Music that functions as a project choir. This was the first time I took part in it and I have already registered for the next one. It was mere chance - or maybe Kismet, that the first project I took part in was one featuring musicals.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Tuesday Booksday

I have been thinking about reading and writing - the more I think about it the more I am leaning towards thinking that writers, even if just bloggers, are in general readers too - it seems to go hand in hand. Or what do you think?

I have read 3 great books over the last few weeks apart from the rather large batch of Afrikaans books I reviewed 2 weeks ago. Not all of them are everyone's taste but I do think there is something for all in this batch.

The Husbands Secret - Liane Moriarty

 Cecilia Fitzpatrick has her life sorted - a successful Tupperware business, a household that runs like clockwork, 3 adorable daughters and top school mom. Then she discovers an envelope with the words "For my wife - to be opened only in the event of my death".

Tess lives a seemingly very happy life with her husband, son and cousin and business partner. Her life falls apart in a few sentences and she decides to move to Sydney and her mom with her son.

Rachel's life is centered around her grandson after her daughter passed away as a teen. Then her life gets turned upside down when her son and daughter in law informs her that they are moving to New York.

At first one is unclear as to how these 3 very different woman's lives interact with each other apart from sharing a school and geographical location. As the story progress the connecting points and interwoven fabric becomes more clear.

The characters are beautifully depicted and the development in the book is very clear and defined. Moriarty writes with such understanding and sympathy that  makes the great story line even more enjoyable.

I absolutely loved this book and found it an outstanding read. I will without a doubt find Liane Moriarty's other books and read them too. A must read for all. 9/10 

Broken Monsters - Lauren Beukes
This crime -noir (by lack of other genre description) novel by South African author Lauren Beukes takes place in Detroit - a city marked by dread,  darkness and depopulation - and mostly despair. The whole atmosphere of the book is marked by it's setting.

Detective Gabi Versado is tasked with capturing the quickly named "Detroit Monster" after the discovery of a half boy half fawn body. Her teenage daughter Layla is on the verge of danger while playing a dark game with an online predator and dealing with her best friend's impulsive behaviour. There are plenty other characters and subplots exploring everything from homelessness to online journalism and bullying.

Broken Monsters is a very dark crime thriller bordering in places on the unexplained and unknown world. It is a very unsettling book that is without a doubt not for all. But it is a very well written book and if this is your type of read I will surely recommend it. Not for sensitive readers. 8/10

Recipes for Love and Murder - A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew

Now and again one reads a book that totally absorbs you into it. You can smell, see and even taste it while reading the book. You wish that you can step into the world of the book that is so well portrayed. You can even hear the characters and the tone of their voices.

Recipes for Love and Murder is exactly this type of book. I fell in love with the story and characters right from the first page. Wonderful characters populate it each with their own motives and thinking. Typical small Karoo town it takes all kinds of folks to make it as colourful as it is.

Tannie Maria is the local paper's agony aunt (and recipe dispenser, cook of note and amateur detective). She makes a great if hard headed team with Jessie her fellow Karoo Gazette journalist. She is also cast from the same formidable African woman mold as Mma Ramotswe - not only in stature but also in good rational and clear thinking.  I can picture the two of them sharing a cup of Rooibos tea and some cake on Tannie Maria's stoep or under Mma Ramotswe's big tree . In fact I would love to be Tannie Maria's best friend.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will asap buy the second Tannie Maria Mystery. A book that provides you with the wonderful recipes cooked in it is in any event a winner. And a book that had me buying vetkoek and making mince on a Saturday afternoon because I have been craving it since I read a chapter in it 3 days ago is a winner for sure. A 10/10 for a fabulous easy and hugely entertaining read. My must read recommendation of the moment.

So what are you reading? Are you going to read any of these?

Friday, 12 August 2016

Five for Friday edition 16

All the public holidays have done nothing but increase my workload in the days available so I have sadly not posted for a whole week.

1. Our long weekend was filled with sick kids and later on a sick me (all just a cold but unpleasant enough to boycott any fun events). But we are all better and am looking forward to a happier weekend. Pretoria is really doing that early Spring thing at the moment although we know we are still in for a good few cold fronts.

2. I attended the #Jozimeetup on Saturday and it was just a great one. Great to see some old friends in the computer and great to make some new ones. The goodie bag was great and although every single item is much appreciated the Palladio blusher/bronzer is my absolute favorite and will be a staple in my make up bag from now on.

3. I have had the best service from Totem bags - there has been a stock shortage for a while at the retail outlets so I phoned them directly. They informed me when they received the stock, I placed the order on the website last Friday and despite the public holidays we had C's new school bag on Wednesday. Yes, their bags may cost a bit more than others but they are well designed, safe for backs , approved by medical practitioners and very sturdy. A's bag is almost 3 years old and you can hardly spot any wear and tear on it and it gets washed 4 times a year! They also come with a 3 year guarantee. (I was in no way approached by them for a mention nor received anything from Totem - this post is for the interest of all reading here - my form of "Public service")

4. The magic of zinc! A started having the typical little spots the pre teens get. I chatted to our pharmacist who suggested adding zinc supplements and brewers yeast. And guess what - a fantastic improvement in just two months! Our au pair has given it a try as well and also had a big improvement on spots. 

5. Some times this little blog gives me huge surprises. My Afrikaans book reviews post was just 24 hours old when I looked at the stats - quite possibly my 3rd best performing post ever in such a short time. So it's true - there is without a doubt a need for it.

With this I hope you have a wonderful and warm weekend!


Friday, 5 August 2016

Five for Friday edition 15

Wow Friday - a week with public holidays always confuse me a bit.

 1. On Tuesday we voted - for the first time in many years it actually felt as if your vote may mean something. We went early and on Hunters' suggestion took coffee and rusks for the 4 police officers that manned our station. It was such  feel good moment when they were thrilled with such a small gesture. They work really long hours during elections.
 2. If you thought it was a bit colder than the weather report looks this week I think you were spot on. The whole cricket pitch cover was covered with a layer of substantially thick ice yesterday morning. Brrrr.
 3. I have started another drawings challenge with a bit of a difference called Zentagles. I am loving it even more as it is so close to the doodles I always used to draw. If you want to join have a look at my Instagram feed. Below is days 1-4 and 5 in pencil.
4. A friend and I went to see "Me before you" on Saturday night. I went with an open mind trying not to compare with the book and just thoroughly enjoyed it. It is such a beautifully made movie - almost every scene is breathtakingly beautiful. And the characters were perfect. Nathan is such a hunk though! A solid 9/10 for entertainment. We cried buckets full of tears.
5. We had such a lovely blog drop from My Little Ponies this week. When A cleaned out her toys she kept a few things - among them every single pony she has and played the rest of that day with them . She was delighted to add the beautiful Rainbow dash to her collection. Watch Nicktoons from this month on channel 308 for all that Pony magic.
I hope you all had a great week and enjoy the weekend. Any 5 for Fridays?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Tuesday Booksday - Afrikaans book reviews (Afrikaanse boek resensies)

  My third most viewed post in 9 years and1447 posts is a called "Afikaans book review" and reviews an early Chanette Paul book. Therefore I am 100% sure that there is a demand for Afrkaans book reviews. I have read an extraordinary percentage of Afrikaans books over the last 2 months (for me) so today's Tuesday Books day is devoted to Afrikaans books. 

As jy hier is en Afrikaanse resensies soek is jy welkom om deur my ander Tuesday Booksday posts te soek - hulle is so tussen die Engels ingesprinkel. Jy kan ook op die "Afrikaanse book review" tag kliek. Ek het ook Tags vir van die skrywers

 'n Goeie dag vir Boomklim - Jaco Jacobs
Jaco Jacobs doen dit weer 'n keer! Skryf 'n jeugboek wat net so heerlik lees vir die bedoelde gehoor se ouers. Ek lees gewoonlik 'n jeugboek as my leesverslaafde 11 jarige hom my in die hand stop met 'n "jy gaan van die ene hou". En ek het - sommer baie.

Marnus is 'n gefrustreerde middel kind - in elke opsig. Die Desember vakansie is ook die slegste een van sy lewe ooit - lank en sonder hoogtepunte strek dit voor hom uit. Tot Leila een oggend die deurklokkie lui met haar petisie om 'n boom in die parkie te red. Voor Marnus sy oe uitvee is hy 'n eco-stryder, hoog in die boom saam met haar. In die proses oor die volgende 3 dae leer Marnus van menswees, meisies, protes, dapperheid, familie en bo alles om homself te laat geld.

Wonderlike (letterlike) kleurryke karakters gee lyf aan die boek - van mevrou Merriman met haar pienk hare, pienk poedels en pienk kombers tot die sober standvastige Caretaker - my gunsteling karakter in die boek.

Dit is 'n heerlike boek vir oud en jonk. Lees hom gerus as jy van jeugboeke hou 

9/10 vir lekker lees

Oorlewingsgids vir 'n Bedonnerde Diva - Sophia Kapp

Simone trek terug na haar grootword dorpie in die Vrystaat na haar tweede huwelik rampspoedig einding. Saam met haar is haar tienerseun met wie sy 'n nuwe lewe moet uitbytel tussen die mense in 'n klein dorpie. Tipies klein kunstenaarsdorpie is daar iets van alles en almal en word Simone deel van die gemeenskap so op haar eie manier. Iewers in die jaar ontdek Simone weer haarself en haar menswees en werdwees vir ander - en boonop 'n romanse.

Diva is 'n heerlike boek en werklik sonder gelyke. Ek was mal oor die oorlewingsgids gedeeltes wat vir almal onder ons lekker , soms tong in die kies, raad gee.

'n Heerlike leeslekkerte wat ek vreeslik geniet het.
10/10 vir 'n deurbraak boek vir Divas

Snoeiskêr - Piet Steyn
Snoeisk√™r is maklik een van die grusaamste boeke wat ek nog ooit gelees het. Dit is op die vlak van die Skandinawiese skrywers se boeke waar geen grafiese detail verswyg word nie. Dit net eerstens vir 'n waarskuwing - dit is nie 'n heel eintlik mak Deon Meyer boek nie. 

Lyke word geving met hul duime afgensy en soms heel seremonieel op hul borste geplaas. Eers is die plekke en persone so wyd uitmekaar dat daar nie ooreenkomste gevind word nie maar weldra word besef dat hul hier met 'n reeksmoordenaar te doen het. 

Die storielyn is baie spannend en die karakters heel interessant. Sommige is baie stereotiep maar ander heel interessant.. Ek het egter die "twist in the tale" heel vroeg besef so dit het effe van die verassingsfaktor weggeneem.

Ek sal beslis sy ander boeke lees soos wat ek hulle in die hande kry. 8/10 vir 'n lekker storie

 Openbaring - C Johann Bakkes
Dit is baie moeilik vir my om die regte woorde te vind vir hierdie boek. Johan neem ons op 'n reis na die koudste en warmste plek op aarde - sodat mens nie lou word nie. Hy ondersoek sy (en ons ) strewe na voluit lewe ten spyte van soveel. Om warm of koud te lewe - met ander woorde voluit, maar tog asseblief nie lou nie - nie sonder oordenking en oorgawe nie. Die boek gaan baie dieper as 'n reisvertelling - dis meer 'n vertelling van die lewe en voluit lewe ten spyte van baie.

Hierdie boek het my ook op 'n reis geneem en weer laat dink oor hoe mens lewe en beleef. Dit is beslis in die "moet lees" kategorie. 10/10

Friday, 29 July 2016

Five for Friday edition 14

Gosh, Friday already . The week has flown by in the wink of an eye.

1. We have completed our Checkers Little Shop collection yesterday with the help of a very friendly cashier at the till who squeezed a few packets and declared she had the two items we needed. Lo and behold she was spot on! Now I will help out whoever I can. Interesting enough grown ups seem to love them a lot. The office is all abuzz with swapping out. And more than any other item the kids are very careful not to get them stolen at school.

2. I am one book ahead of my 36 books reading challenge on Goodreads. I have no idea when last I was actually on target or lo and behold over at this time of the year. It's making me very happy right now. I am reading this wonderful surprise of a book right now:

3. I have found so much joy in drawings again with the doodle challenge that I fined myself just drawing now - doodling like I used to. It's like I have re discovered a bit of myself. This is day 13 - 26 of July

4. On Saturday afternoon I rounded up the boys and we did the big boys bedroom clean out. 4 Big black bags for charity full of toys. It makes such a huge difference. And they did so well in helping and being patient about it. We were all exhausted after - but it was a great very needed bit of de cluttering.

5. The good people at Lifebuoy has sent us a little hamper to try out with their new Moisture Plus soap. Their well known germ killing soap with the added bonus of moisturisation - so important here in the winter. They also have great advice to stay healthy  - remember to : Not get too close and avoid contact with sick people, to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, cough wisely, nourish your skin and wash your hands frequently with germ fighting soap.

With that - I hope you stay healthy and warm this cold weekend. What is your 5 for Friday?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Loving right now....

Gosh it's cold at the moment! The weather is rather crazy with tornado's and hail yesterday in our part of the world. And some rain - which is so appreciated. I am not going to lie - I am not a fan of the cold. But I am loving some of the little things that make the cold a bit more bearable.

I am loving going to the gym  during lunch times. It warms me up totally - especially those 5 minutes I spend in the sauna after exercising. I used to hate going ot the gym in winter - now I love it.

Citrus - all the glorious citrus. Oranges, mineolas, naartjies.... name it. I love it. Not a fan of pomelo though.

Electric warm water bottles - every night they get heated and placed in beds with little (and not so little) bodies to keep us all nice and toasty. I also think that it aids in falling asleep - I get that nice warm sleepy feeling if my feet are nice and warm.

Boots - I love love love boots. I found the perfect Jeep boots this year and promptly bought it it black and brown.

Scarves - I love pretty soft scarves. They keep you warm but also add a splash of colour to any outfit.

So what are you loving despite the cold or because of the cold?

Friday, 22 July 2016

Five for Friday edition 13

1. Remember the cauliflower shrubs that did not want to make heads? Lo and behold just before I thought to take them out we have one tiny head and a second plant seems to be on his way to make one. You learn every day...

2. Third term started with a BANG! Monday morning at 6:15am A had hockey skills test, followed by cricket trails for C and hockey trails for A on Tuesday afternoon. And this afternoon C is playing his first proper cricket match for the school. He looks super charming in all that white. A has also in the first week back at school written two maths and one science assessments. And there is a History one on Monday.

3. On Wednesday afternoon Saving the Survivors visited the Voortrekkers for the term opening. It was incredibly interesting to hear the survivor stories and those tiny little rhinos are the sweetest little things possible. The very famous Hope, the rhino that lost most of the top of her face in a poaching incident is their PR rhino and was saved by them. It was magic to see the progress on her healing. Please "like" their Facebook page in the link and support them. They (and many others) do amazing work.

4. I have without realizing it read so many Afrikaans books in the last while that I am planning to do a complete Afrikaans book review post on Tuesday. I used to read very little Afrikaans but there is an explosion of good crime/thriller writers in Afrikaans with the usual great writers. and I just had to read some of them. I promise and English book (or maybe two) the week after. But if you read Afrikaans I suggest visiting on Tuesday.

5.I received my stunning prize that I won on the relaunch of Bird & Design. Every item is a joy and I love the items she designed herself to bits. This has certainly made my weekend - much much joy! There are so many things in that box that I totally adore....Thanks you Andrea - I am beyond thrilled and it feels as if it was specifically designed just for me.

I hope you have a great weekend - care to share your 5 for Friday? Here or on your blog?

Monday, 18 July 2016

Movie time

We go to the movies a lot - a result of our Discovery Vitality membership as the kids really movie for free most of the day and we at a great discount. We have also trained the kids not to expect a full combo of refreshments at the movies - and they understand that we can see as many as their age allows if we stick to this. So we share popcorn, only get drinks or sometimes skip the whole lot. But we enjoy our movies to the full. We have seen all 3 the kids movies available these holidays and I thought I will give you a run down on them.

I saw the movie with the kids in the second week of the holiday. Firstly it is incredibly beautifully animated mixing live subject with super realistic animation. Secondly the tale is stunningly told - not 100% as per the book but close enough to satisfy a Rolad Dahl fan like me. I thoroughly enjoyed it as did the kids. The scary parts however are very scary and I think a child under about 6 might find it overwhelming. The funny parts are some of the funniest I have ever seen - gosh, that scene in the palace is hilarious!
The kids gave it a unanimous 10/10 and as to enjoyment for adults - I give it a well deserved 10/10 too.

ICE age 
The kids saw this one with our Au Pair during the last week. The general feeling was that it was very funny indeed and quite entertaining. A did mention that the bit of the little guy with his acorn is getting a bit too much but that is purely a personal opinion.
The kids gave it a 9/10 (two of them) and a 10/10 from Mr C. Out Au pair gave it a 8/10 for adult entertainment value.

Finding Dory
We  saw the movie yesterday for a last little holiday treat. We all really enjoyed it but it is not "Finding Nemo" - but still a great adventure. I loved Destiny - a great character added with her friend Bailey and it is in the end still a great Disney/Pixar movie with all the elements we expect.
The kids gave it a 10/10 (A) 9/10 C and 8/10 (L). I give it a good 9/10 for adult entertainment value.

We had a little discussion in the car on our way home yesterday afternoon and the kids all give the BFG as their favorite with two of them voting for Finding Dory in the second place and one for Ice Age in the second place. For me there is really no contest - the BFG is a MUST SEE (as The Little Prince was) for adults - even if you do not have kids. Just go - it is stunning and simply beautiful. I would really love to see it again.

I hope this helps for your movie selection with the kids - please tell me which ones did you see or are planning to see.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Five for Friday edition 12

It's the last day of the school holidays - on Monday it's back to school for the kids and earlier rises for us all. Back into routine. I loved being able to only get up at 7 for the last 3 weeks. We have had a good holiday - a lovely break at the sea, some quiet time at home, movies, a trip to the zoo for the kids and lots of cricket and hockey practice. It seems as if every mom has been trying to organize a last day before school starts play date for their kids. Without me initiating a single one all 3 my kids are spending the day with friends for one last play date before school starts.

Marcia tagged me a while ago on Instagram to a sort of meme where you are given a topic for the month with subtopics every day to draw or doodle and post. It was just what I needed to get me drawing again and I have completed my firs two page spread. Check out #ptldoodles if you want to join too. No need to be an artist - it is about exploring being creative and practicing your drawings

I have taken part in The Winter Book Swap organized by Cupcake. I loved my parcel of goodies and book received but loved it even more that the recipient of my box was so happy with her box of goodies.

Guys you need to shop around for everything. Mr C bought this same Lego set at City gifts and toys for R359 4 days before we saw this price at Reggies. I am wondering how the big shops can justify the difference of a whole R91!

I have joined a project choir for a set of performances in August. I am extremely excited about this - it is the first time in years that I will sing in a proper choir. This one is huge too - they are aiming for 400 voices with both the soprano and alto parties full, they are now looking to fill up the male numbers. We are singing songs from the musicals - some of my favorite music ever.

With that - I hope you have a great weekend and why not join in with your Five for Friday?