Sunday, April 28, 2013

Music I'm Digging

I stopped my Monday Music posts a while back, and I don't really intend to start them up again, but it occurred to me recently that I haven't really shared what I'm listening to these days (lots of Keane, of course, always), and...well, I want to. So, here are some songs that have caught my fancy over the last few months, or at least, songs that have continued to be meaningful to me. Yeah, there's a Keane song. But there's also a lot of other stuff!

Fun. "Carry On"

This song is pure cotton candy--fluffy, sweet, a power-pop anthem and ode to friendship and moving forward in life. But it is--as the band's name implies--so darned fun that I can easily listen to it over and over again. And it's my favorite "dance it out" song for those times that I can only rid myself of the grumpies by dancing like the uncoordinated person I am.

Mumford & Sons "I Will Wait"

Bless 'em, those Mumford boys sure have a formula. Start slow and soft. Build momentum. Add a little banjo and BOOM! There you go, boys. The formula works, though, and this song is no exception. And these boys are just too adorable.

Young the Giant "I Got"

A few weeks ago, I asked a few friends for band recommendations, and through this, found some great new music to listen to. Then, while listening to one of these bands, I saw a video on YouTube for the full debut album of a band called Young the Giant. I gave it a listen. WOW. I really liked what I heard, especially this song.

Keane "Silenced By the Night"

This song, off of last year's Strangeland, continues to make me feel good every time I hear it. What can I say? I just love Keane.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Week in Instagram (Week 23)

I found some mini-adventures and reasons to take pics this week. Turns out the used bookstore my mom and I patronize is full of great photo-ops. They look even better with an Instagram filter.

My cuticles are a mess, so I spent some time on Sunday
pampering them.

I swear by these.

Mom and Dad worked in the garden on Sunday. It's
starting to look gorgeous.

They planted all of this.

Millie wanted out SO BAD.

Sunday was a mandated Lazy Day. We watched the
film version of "The Joy Luck Club" and lounged on the
On Monday, I got a lot of little-big stuff done, like
lesson plans. I made a worksheet on rhythm using Dr.
Suess. Such a fun lesson!

Who doesn't love some Suessical nonsense?

I had a little walk around Sac State before choir.

I'm obsessed with this dress. The style makes me look
a bit on the p-g side (I'm not, thankyouverymuch), but
it's soooo comfy.

Sun setting through the trees. Sac State is pretty,
but Chico State is even prettier.
I washed my comforter on Tuesday, so Millie and
Duchess rolled around in my sheets.

My mini-adventure to downtown Loomis.

Unfortunately, the tree doesn't provide a lot of shade at
that time of day.

After my adventure, I went back to Fusion, stopping
by the grocery store nearby and buying myself a
tiny little present.

Mom hosted her sewing group, Sassy Stitchers, on
Wednesday, and we served cold cuts for sandwiches.

Fresh pineapple.


Thursday found me taking some books to the used book
store. This place is amazing and awesome and...difficult.

Ahh, memories.

I can get a little overwhelmed in here, but it's fun to
browse and I always find something to buy.

There's a rather large section on Shakespeare and yes,
they have Cliff's Notes.

This whole, "let's re-imagine Mr. Darcy and Pemberly in
bodice-ripper fashion" trend needs to stop. Why mess
with a classic?

This is behind the counter. Those stacks of bags of books
are taller than me. I shudder just thinking about what's
buried in there.

After the bookstore, it was back to Rocklin, via the old
town, to teach some lessons.

Found this hanging up at Petite School, had a chuckle.
Too cute!

The fourth grade (all 11 of them) put on an Entrepreneur Fair
yesterday and gave everyone money to spend.

My haul from the fair.

Candy Kebobs--so clever! I love these kids.

Saturday morning in the red chair.

In a long break between lessons, I drove to Penryn (near
Loomis and Rocklin) to get some pics.

And that is that. It is Saturday afternoon, and this lady is exhausted. I've got tea, I've got my comfies, and I've got a NASCAR race to watch.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mini-Adventures For the Busy Life

If there's one thing I've been missing lately, it's been that ability to just pick a day and go off for an adventure. I'm basically working in some way six days a week now, whether it's choir stuff, household stuff, lesson planning, actual teaching, or studying to become a personal trainer. My weekly To Do List is insane, and it doesn't leave a lot of time for just hopping in Rosie Pro and going to the beach.

It also makes this poor little blog feel neglected.

On Tuesday, I drove over to Fusion for my normal line-up of lessons, only to find that the one smack-dab in the middle had called to cancel because she had a fever. So I found myself with an hour-and-a-half to kill. I decided to run a quick errand, so off it was to the local music store to look for some piano books and convince myself that I need to wait 'til my next paycheck to buy that $90 ukelele that suddenly I really think I must have to make me EVEN BETTER as a music teacher.

When I left the music store, empty-handed, I found I still had an hour of free time. I could drive back to Fusion and play on my iPhone, or I could...hey, wait.

Near Rocklin, there's a tiny town called Loomis, and I have been meaning, for ages, to get over there and take some sign pictures in it's cute little downtown main drag. It took ten minutes to get there, twenty minutes to park, walk around with my iPhone, and take pics, and then fifteen minutes to get back to Fusion.

The pictures are in my Instagram lineup for the week, so I'll share them on Saturday, but I found something very valuable yesterday--it's easy enough, in those little bits of dead time I sometimes find in a day, to make an adventure right here in my own community. There's plenty of neat little places to see in Placer County, all within an easy drive.

A lady doesn't have to travel very far to find adventure.

2013 Book Review #5: The Joy Luck Club

Before I start, just a note...I finished this book about a month ago, but before I wrote the review, my niece passed away and I had too many other things on my mind. I'm finally getting around to it now.

So, in my ongoing quest to read and review twenty-five books this year, I picked up a large stack of books at a local used book store that was closing down. Everything was 25 cents, so when I saw The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, I grabbed it before anyone else could.

I have vague memories of when the movie came out, some time in the 90s. I think I even tried watching the movie when it came to video, but it was lost on me then. Now, however, it's a different story.

The Joy Luck Club tells the stories of four Chinese mothers who immigrated to the United States, and their four daughters, born and raised American, with only passing knowledge of the traditional ways their mothers knew. Each mother went through considerable hardship which drove her from China; all they wish for their daughters is opportunity and a happier life. The daughters, in turn, tell their own stories of growing up with their traditional Chinese mothers, and all the ways in which they didn't understand how their mothers viewed the world.

The book is presented in sixteen vignettes, grouped into sections of four that represent the four directions on a mah jong table. The stories of the daughters sometimes overlap, as the four girls grew up interacting with each other in San Francisco, while the mothers' stories remain separate.

If I had tried reading The Joy Luck Club fifteen years ago, I might not have enjoyed it, but with my more recent fascination with Chinese culture, I found it incredibly engaging and interesting. However, it's not only a story about Chinese people--it's a story about mothers and daughters, and it is this theme that makes the story truly shine. Any woman can relate to the trials and triumphs these mothers and daughters experience together, with their generational and even cultural differences. In the end, what matters most in a mother-daughter relationship is the unconditional love a mother gives her child, no matter how it is presented.

Amy Tan put together a gorgeous book that reads very quickly and keeps the reader engaged in the stories she is telling. I am glad I took a chance on The Joy Luck Club; and in future, I may read some of her other offerings.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I'm staring down the month of May right now, giving it the side-eye. It's coming up too quickly and it's going to be absolutely mad.

As for April, I'm just sort of over it. I started this month with news of Echo's death, and proceeded through a hectic trip to Idaho, before going back to work and realizing I wasn't quite as Zen as I'd thought I was. The absolutely boggling events of last week--Boston, Texas, Boston, more Boston, and a huge, deadly earthquake in the very region of China where my awesome exchange students from last summer happen to live (I have not heard about any of them as yet) have left me feeling a little bit beaten up by life right at a time when I need to feel positive and can-do.

My response has been to up the running, which is great. I'm putting in my longer runs again, usually around two-and-a-half miles to a good, solid 5K depending on how I feel. The weather has been perfect for it, and I'm wearing my cute running skirts and tank tops again.

But I have to admit, I've been feeling stressed.

Here's what May is going to look like. In addition to my job teaching private lessons and my Fridays at Petite School, I have all of the following:

May 4: An all-day training in Concord for a summer job I've just been offered. Yay! In August, I'll teach a three-week program to students from China, but it's not the same program I did last year. This time I won't be teaching music, I'll be teaching English, finally using that English credential I have had all these years. This is a fantastic opportunity...but the all-day training isn't my favorite part.

May 11: A fun night in Chico with Summer, having dinner with our friend Amanda. This is all entirely for fun, and I know the night out with friends will do me a lot of good.

May 17: A full day at Petite School, followed by a two-and-a-half hour choir rehearsal. I might as well NOT drive all the way back to Lincoln, but rather plan on taking my lunch and dinner that day. And comfortable shoes.

May 18: A full morning and early afternoon teaching private piano and voice lessons (and hopefully a run that morning), and then, from Fusion, a drive downtown to a 3:30 choir rehearsal. Then a 7:00 concert that night. The good news is I adore the piece we're doing (Dona Nobis Pacem by Ralph Vaughn Williams) so this concert will be exciting. And once it's done, our season is finished until the new one in September, so I'll have a break from my weekly rehearsals. I'll miss it, but then again, a break will be nice.

May 28 & 29: Extra after-school rehearsals at Petite School, on days I'm not normally there, which means extra driving (it's about 45 minutes one way). These will be our hectic dress rehearsals as we get used to the sound set-up and try to keep the kids calm with all the pre-performance jitters and excitement.

May 30: Spring Concert. I have all of my young classes performing, then the musical. I have high expectations for myself for this concert and I'm driving myself insane trying to make everything just right.

May 31: My last teaching day at Petite School for this school year. I feel I've earned the right to show a video. The next day I'll teach private lessons, but then Sunday, I will crash in an exhausted heap on my bed, watching movies and eating chocolate.

Writing it all out here doesn't make it look that bad, but trust me, it involves a lot of extra time in the car, rearranging my day-to-day schedule, and my own silly tendency to not believe that I have it all under control. I'm very fortunate--at Petite School all of the classroom teachers and the principal are offering full support with crowd control, etc. I really love working there, and I create my own stress.

It hasn't helped that I've been a teensy bit morose of late--oh, not to the point where my family and friends wonder what's wrong, just slightly more worried than usual at the state of the world. The Boston thing really gripped my attention, and I've had a nagging worry about my Chinese students in Chengdu, very near where the quake happened this weekend. I'm also trying to keep up with other goals and duties. I've been reading an Anatomy book my friend Matt gave me, and, also on his recommendation, the Pose Method of Running. I've figured out that I already sort of lean towards the Pose Method, in that I don't heel-strike. But this method will supposedly make my running better--faster, less injury-prone, etc. Matt swears by it and he hasn't steered me wrong yet.

To make a long blog post short--I've been busy. I'm going to get busier. I'm still kind of in a weird place mentally after Echo's death and the events of last week, but I'm okay, really. And hoping that all these upcoming adventures will prove blog-worthy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Week in Instagram (Week #22)

What. A. Week.

Am I right?

While cleaning on Sunday morning, I found this pen,
which I love, always. Yes, she does.

This is getting to be a problem. We have Biggie, Tater,
Dottie, Harley, Glossy and the Minions. Not pictured:
Cali (on my desk), Liberty and Flasher (on a shelf).

They taste like cardboard, so I add cucumber and


The clouds and sunset were so pretty Sunday night.

Rose-eye view of the back of our house.


This pretty much had my attention most of Monday.


On Tuesday, I wore blue and yellow (colors of the Boston
Marathon) in my hair to honor the victims and the
first responders. I ran a 5K that morning.


What, don't you practice your choir music at Starbuck's?

Vocal score, check. Book about running (with a Downton
Abbey bookmark), check. Hair scrunchie, check. Yup,
this is Meg's car.

I had Indian food with my friend Sarah on Wednesday
and YUM. This was just the appetizer.


Thursday was one of those busy days where I was
desperate to get my "at least one pic a day" in,

And here. It's butternut squash soup.


Our front yard on a Friday evening.

Millie, in the closet, on #Caturday.

I found this cute little music holder behind the piano
at work.

The book I'm reading (about running) has pictures.

 Here's to the coming week being...calmer.