Sunday, August 3, 2014


I've finally accomplished a goal of mine (relating to piano), and that is to play an entire piece by memory. I just relearned Scarlatti's Sonata K531. It's not without its flaws, but it's okay. I played this 18 years ago in my senior recital and it came back pretty quickly. Yesterday, I tried to record myself with my phone. I was a little alarmed while watching it back and seeing how terrible my fingers and hands look. I don't think I've always played with *such* collapsed fingers and collapsed hand-arch (knuckle bridge). I know that I have weird joints. All of my joints in my body are hyper-extended and this creates challenges for me. In ballet, I had to compensate for this all the time. In piano, I just let my hands and fingers do what they will. I think perhaps that I currently lack strength in my hands and that maybe as I gain strength through practice, my technique (and hand/finger position) will get better. I know that I use an awful lot of extra energy while playing. Lately, I find that I even get tense in my face/jaw while playing demanding passages. I really think this will go away as I get stronger. Reading articles online about collapsed joints, I am comforted. Everyone's physiology is different. Maybe I don't have to have the perfect, ideal hand position in order to play well. I like the idea of accepting how I am built and working with what I have. We'll see what happens as I continue to practice.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I guess it's time for my once-yearly post, isn't it? ;) My last entry indicated I had too many hobbies, so I went ahead and added another one. Rose gardening (organic). This May, I planted 5 roses in our front yard. I don't know why I tend to pick the hardest thing ... always. I pick the hardest thing. I guess I just love a challenge. 
That is a photo of the first rose that bloomed. It's a David Austin rose called Tamora. This particular rose plant has been attacked by all kinds of gross bugs like aphids and sawfly larvae. A lot of the leaves have holes in them now. But I am trying to get over my perfectionism and just let them be what they'll be (I do spray with neem oil sometimes, but with all the rain this season, it gets washed away quickly). It's fun to learn about rose gardening. I can see why so many rose gardeners say it is addicting! It is! I want to buy more and more roses. Not only are they beautiful, but they smell amazing. I learned that my grandma had many roses in her garden. I think I must carry on this tradition. I'm learning that roses are very high maintenance (I seriously check them at least twice a day). They need a lot of water, some fertilizer, some pruning and they need to be checked for bugs and diseases. Next year my roses will be even more beautiful and full. This year they are little runts. :)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

the piano is back in my life

Sometimes I think I just have too many hobbies. It's like I can't focus on one thing and I just move from one thing to the next. But maybe that is okay. So I started playing piano again... around mid-April? My friend Anna had posted a link to a Ravel piano piece on her facebook and I thought it was just gorgeous. And so, I just decided to plug in my keyboard and get playing again. Yes sadly, I don't have a real piano. I have a digital keyboard, but it's better than nothing. I have been watching so many YouTube videos and get inspired by the virtuosity and musicality of so many amazing people. Yulianna Avdeeva,  Yundi Li, Martha Argerich... oh what do all of these people have in common? They all won the International Chopin Competition, which occurs every 5 years. I've been obsessed with Chopin! And since I am an adult and don't have someone telling me what I should play, this means all Chopin, all the time. :) First thing I am learning is Chopin's Scherzo No. 2. My goal is to have it polished by Thanksgiving so that I can play it for my in-laws as a special surprise. I am also now considering learning Chopin's Ballade No. 1 (mostly so I can have a second piece to work on, so I don't get burned out on just one).

I am also considering taking piano lessons again. This is a big commitment, though, so I really need to decide if I want to do this. One thing that is stopping me is the financial aspect. Lessons are pretty expensive and I really don't have money to spare. But not only am I paying for lessons, I am also paying for opportunities to play for others. I can be in recitals again. I will be able to participate in groups where we play for each other. I just miss being able to share this part of myself. Piano was such a huge part of my life for many years. People that know me now don't even know that I play(ed) piano, and that makes me sad. My husband has never heard me play really well. I am getting better now. It is slowly coming back to me. But I have a long way to go.

I remember my senior year of high school, I participated in the school's music festival. We got judged and were graded. I remember I played Chopin's Fantaisie-Impromptu (haha! yes I always loved Chopin) and scored 100 out of 100. The judge wrote on the form, "You were born to play the piano." This has always stayed with me. Sometimes I thought of it as a good thing, sometimes as a bad thing. I remember deciding I would major in music in college... because if I didn't, I would regret it! That's what some people would tell me. So I did major in music. I certainly don't regret my decision. I probably would have regretted NOT majoring in music because I would have always wondered what could have happened. As it turns out, I didn't make music my career. I stopped playing piano for about 16 years. But just recently, something clicked in me. I need it back in my life. I don't know why it took me so long, but here I am. Playing again! And I am very excited about it. :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

cooking and running, not in that order

I have two new hobbies lately. Cooking and running. I think it's a good combination, yeah? So let's talk about running first. N and I went and saw "Mission Impossible" on Sunday and I decided that one of my goals in life is to be able to run as fast as Tom Cruise's character, Ethan Hunt. That guy is amazing! So it's true, he probably only had to run that fast for about 8 seconds and then they called "cut" but still. I want to run as fast as a fictional character and I think its doable. Really, I have always wanted to be a fast runner just in case I was ever chased by a murderer. I have to be ready. I have to outrun that scary psycho killer. (I watch too much tv.) But for now, I am a slow runner. I think if i had to, I could probably outrun an out-of-shape killer. Maybe that middle-aged guy that I pass every morning on his way back from the liquor store. So every morning for about 5 or 6 days a week, I've been running 3 miles. My fastest time thus far is 29:11. I want to start running in 5k races, but wish that I had a partner to run with me. N does not want to run in any races. He views running as a solitary event and doesn't ever want to be in a race or run with large groups of people again. We both did it as kids, but it's been about 25 years since i've run in a race! In Spokane, I *walked* in Bloomsday for a couple of years. I don't think I ever ran it. I will be back to let you know what race will be my first race in 25 years!! I am excited! N said that he would watch, so at least I have that.

Now on to my 2nd new hobby, cooking. I have been obsessed with competitive cooking shows for a while now. Top Chef, Sweet Genius, The Next Iron Chef, Chopped... I love them. I am always amazed at how they are able to come up with recipes/ideas off the top of their head and make them look beautiful and apparently taste great. It really is an art. Right now I am reading Tom Colicchio's book "Think Like a Chef" and it's wonderful. I'm also reading "The Zuni Cafe Cookbook" which is very similar. For Christmas, I got a ton of stainless steel pots/pans from my dad and his wife. I was so excited! I do have a secret dream of one day going to culinary school... or becoming a pastry chef... or something. I don't know. I am not sure that I have the ambition or right personality to become a chef. Ah well, at least I could take classes? And just cook. We all gotta eat. I think it's one way I show N that I love him... by cooking him dinner. It is a challenge now with my work schedule, however. I don't get home until almost 8:00 pm and so I really don't have time to cook elaborate meals except on weekends.

Picture of the day, taken by N. It's our bedroom and sweet little angel (not really, but I love her).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh yeah, that Crazy Sexy Diet thing.

So, the mister and I did the Crazy Sexy Diet, but we only lasted 2 weeks. Actually, he complained waaaay more than I did, and supposedly I am the one who hates vegetables. :) But I have done things like this before, much harder diets. I did a 40 day juice fast back in 2001 or 2002. Now that was torture. This wasn't so bad. I was just curious to see how I'd feel if I cut out dairy, wheat, sugar, eggs, meat, pop, and basically anything processed. My two very favorite dinners were "quinoa with black beans, corn, onion, spices, and avocado" and a "buddha bowl" which was brown rice, tofu, carrots, brocolli, onion, avocado and bragg's liquid aminos. LOVE braggs and LOVE avocado. Those were my "junk food" during the 2 weeks. Salt and fat!! And, we were also allowed dark chocolate (70% or higher) every once in a while, but that "every once in a while" turned into every day! As time went on, I got more lenient with the diet. We stopped juicing every morning. For the first 9 days, we had juice every morning that I made in our new juicer. It had cucumber, celery and apple. Sometimes I put in kale, ginger, and romaine lettuce. I also bought this delicious "green powder" which was actually brown because it was chocolate flavored. It was full of vegetables and other green goodness, as well as digestive enymes. We mixed that with hemp milk and this was also one of my favorite things to have! It tasted like a chocolate shake (ok, maybe not as good).  I realized later that the hemp milk had quite a bit of sugar, whoops. :) It was fun to try to make some of the other recipes in the book. I made miso soup with lemongrass and ginger. I made thai vegetables (with an almond-butter coating). I made tahini dressing for salads.

One thing that I did during our cleanse, and that has STUCK, is morning exercise. I started getting up earlier and walking about 2.4 miles. Now, I have started slow jogging that same route (this started because I got up late one morning and needed to hurry!). I love walking in our neighborhood in the morning, smelling the wonderful air ... especially before it gets too hot. I am fond of routines and so I do the same route every morning.

I didn't feel that I had more energy during the cleanse, but my stomach did feel less bloated. I went to the bathroom more often (tmi?) and slept better at night. I did lose about 6 pounds, but have since gained back about 3. I never had any sugar withdrawal headaches, which made me think that maybe I never ate that much sugar in the first place. Oh, who am I kidding? Today I ate 4 cupcakes, that should say something right there.

Another wonderful benefit was that my skin looked great! I didn't have one blemish on my face. No itchy bumps, nothing. Funny enough, the day after I stopped the cleanse and started eating sugar and dairy and everything "naughty" I got a couple of tiny little whiteheads. Nice eh?

So, there you have it. My summary of the cleanse. I was pretty obsessed with food almost the whole time. I daydreamed about going to restaurants, looked online at recipes, etc. I was pretty proud of myself, though, because TWICE I resisted temptation at work. My boss bought us all Panera and I said I couldn't have any. Another time, we had pizza at work and again, I said I couldn't have any. Ugh! And of course, there were cookies, bagels, and other treats to resist. I did learn that some things just aren't worth it. I am trying to drink less pop. I am going to try to eat less dairy, because apparently dairy is the worst thing. Ahhhh, cheese I love you so. Come to think of it, I had a grilled cheese sandwich for dinner tonight. Hmm, maybe I need to think harder about what I am ingesting! Anyway, that is all for now. We survived the cleanse of summer 2011. The mister says he's never doing it again! I might, though, ya never know.

Monday, June 27, 2011

starting over

The title of this post is "starting over" because I did write my first blog entry a couple weeks ago, but decided I would just trash it and start fresh. There a few things I think I would like to use this blog for --> 1) documenting changes (hopefully positive changes? haha) in our house, like projects and upgrades, or just artwork; 2) keeping myself motivated to become a healthier person; 3) expressing creativity or just sharing something creative; 4) random stuff, of course!

Today in the mail I got the book "Crazy Sexy Diet" which I got because one of my friends on Facebook is doing it (it's a 21 day cleanse). She was posting these pictures of green drinks, which got my attention, and sounded interesting (drinks that have kale, cucumber, celery, apple, and other healthful things). I also bought a juicer and am very excited to use it! N and I will be starting this after his vacation in a couple of weeks. It will take a bit of planning and of course I have to read the book first so I know what I'm doing. I want to document how I'm feeling during the cleanse, and I want to write everyday so I can stay motivated.

Yesterday, N and his dad and I went to a Tigers game. I realized that I haven't been to a Tigers game since 2008 and that's so sad! It was a gorgeous day and the game was great (and the Tigers won which doesn't hurt). Here is the view from our seats (usually we sit way in the back, and this time we were on the first level):

I really want to try to do more fun things in my life I spend so much time at work, probably 45 hours a week, and I just feel like I don't have enough time in the day just to experience the fun parts of life. When I get home from work, I am often just too tired to do much of anything. I just need to make more effort to plan things on the weekend. I also want to do a lot of my chores before work, so that I don't have to spend my entire Saturday doing housework.

I have a 4 day weekend coming up, and while I do plan on getting a lot of work done (painting the bedroom!!), I also want to plan some fun things. I am mostly just glad to NOT go to work!