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Friday, March 20, 2009

Shannon performed so well last night. Unfortunately she wasn't chosen to go through to the finals, but she did her best and sang her heart out. The competition was so tough, I'm glad I wasn't a judge! We realised when we got there that in fact these were the semi finals for the whole country- there were kids from all over, so I think getting into the semi finals was a great achievement on its own, effectively she was therefore in the top 39 country wide and there apparently were 3000 entries! So there's a proud mom here! Shannon is (understandably) disappointed, but after all, this was her first major competition and I think she has learned so much and her singing & performance have improved so much as a result.

Next Saturday is her singing school's concert and she has encouraged so many kids from school to also take lessons, so it'll be fun for her having her friends taking part too.

Back to real life again now- all the hype is over and we have only one week left of school till the kids break for the April holidays! Yay!! I'm so looking forward to our trip to Cape Town! We leave on 4 April, returning on 14th, the day before the kids go back to school for the 2nd semester. I plan to do and see as much as we can while we're there as well as spend at least a few of the days simply relaxing on the beach - weather permitting! Already, the Cape has had a taste of 2 cold fronts - hinting that Autumn is officially here and Winter is approaching.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The BIG day!

Yip, today is the Gauteng & Cape provincial finals for the Dros Kidz Superstar singing competition. As usual, I'm nervous, but I am far more excited. I am really looking forward to this afternoon. There are 37 kids taking part, so it's going to be tough to get through to the Nationals. Shannon is also looking forward to it - she seems to take it in her stride and I think my nerves (tho I try not to show them) drive her mad (I tend to fuss a lot!).
Shan is doubly thrilled as (1) she gets to leave school early today at 12h30 so we can pick up a revised backtrack from Lindy (her teacher) and run through the song again once more, and (2) she has got her Social Scieneces test moved to Tuesday next week- for her and for her faithful groupies, her friend Mégane and her cousin, Scott.

We need to be in Midrand at 15h00/ 15h30 as the competition starts at 16h00 - I guess they just have so many kids to get through that they need to start earlier. Gonna be a long day!
Here she is performing at the Menlyn final on Monday....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Proud mom, nervous mom & excited mom....

Yes I am so proud! My little eleven year-old girl, Shannon, won the regional round of the Dros Kidz Super Stars competition! (For anyone who doesn't know- the Dros is a family restaurant chain) She did the best performance she has ever done! As I watched her, I could not believe it was the same child her started singing 3 years ago. The shyness had completely vanished and she took to the stage like a natural! Even if she doesn't get further than this round, I will still be so happy for her- her eyes literally sparkled with joy when she won!

And oh boy am I nervous & excited now too! She will compete tomorrow night (19 March) at the Dros in Midrand in the semi-finals (provincial round). They select 6-7 kids (as far as I know) to go through to the finals on 1st of April at the Silver Lakes Dros. I am beyond excited coz if she does go through, that happens to be the date of my 40th birthday! My niece says it's fate- and has already decided that Shannon will be in the finals. Well we're all rooting for her of course and praying that she is selected.

Shannon of course is really excited about the competition- especially due to the fact that the winner receives R100 000 in prizes! This includes a recording contract - she dreams everyday of recording her own CD!

So that's our exciting news at the moment!

I have almost finished my "Blue Dancers" painting - I'll glaze it next week and then also start my monochromatic paintings - I want to do two small square portraits in sepia tones of each of the kids. I'm really looking forward to that!

Last week we visited the gorgeous village of Franschhoek for 4 days. Our friends, Neal & Rika, invited us to join them from Wednesday till Saturday at the Franschhoek Country House. We stayed in one of the villa suites. What an absolute treat! It really is probably the most amazing place I have ever stayed in! It beats staying at the Palace of the Lost city by far!
Our friend, Mandy who manages a large liquor store, arranged private tours at two wine estates. What fun! We first visited Haute Cabriere, with its infamous Pierre Jourdan sparkling wine - made in the French Méthode Cap Classique. We ended up having a fabulous lunch in the restaurant there afterwards. Needless to say it was quite an inebriating day! Enough said!

The next day we visited L'Ormorins - owned by the Rupert family. Wow- what an estate! After a vineyard tour, we went on a cellar tour. They were harvesting so it was really interesting. The grapes were being moved in small crates from the vineyard (to avoid being pressed too much) into refrigerators while waiting to be hand sorted (the green stems and over-ripe berries are removed). After that, the conveyor belt moves them through a machine which lightly crushes the grapes as these particular ones had very strong skins and needed help bursting during the fermentation process. Fermentation takes place in new French oak barrels which cost around R9000 each. So the slightly crushed berries are poured straight into the barrels. They also add dry ice which helps to keep any oxygen out the barrel so the grapes cannot oxidise.

The natural yeast on the berries (grey powdery residue on skins) is the only yeast they use at L'Ormorins to ferment the berries. They believe in keeping everything as natural as possible. From not adding minerals etc to the soil and only using the minimum amount of pesticides. In fact they rely on birds to help with insects and feel that even if the birds also eat the berries, it doesn't matter as they prefer quality grapes over quantity. So interesting!

After going through the cellar, we tasted some wine - and bought some- and then ended off with a tour of the Franschhoek Motor Museum where we saw some 300 cars housed in 3 large barn-style rooms. As much as I have really not much interest in cars, I found the museum really interesting. The cars ranged from some of the first cars ever made right up to the 2002 Enzo Ferrari (I think there were only 3 made if my memory serves me correctly). The cost of each car and the entire collection is simply not up for topic there. We were told that the one particular Mercedes (forget the model now), was bought on auction for R17 million rand on auction (around $1.7 million)- and that's just ONE car!

Reece is sick at home today with a cold-so he is here nagging me, so I'd better go. Will post photos later of Franschhoek and of Shannon singing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Painting; a leaking pipe & the need (not desire) to sort out my Driver's License.....

I have to blog more! I was so good in the beginning, but lately, since the PC went on the blink, I seem to be trying to catch up with so much scrapping that I have neglected my little blog life here.

Today I continued my painting of Edgar Degas' Blue Dancers. I loved this painting last week, this week - well lets just say I am going through a bit of a "love-hate" relationship with it. I am tired of all the blue and flesh colours and really need to get it finished so I can at least move on to a fresh new colour palette - and a different subject matter. Ultimately I think I'll end up loving the painting, but once you have blended 2 blues with black, white and 2 browns- you can expect to tire of these colours!

Here's a peek at the original :
I absolutely love Degas' paintings. I have done one of his 'bathers' before and so enjoyed it.

This one we tried using a more monochromatic colour scheme, but ended up adding more colours than one would traditionally use for monochrome paintings. At the moment it still has much less colours than this one (the original), but I think I will still add the burnt orange touches afterward as I love the warmth it brings to the painting. I will post a pic of mine here once complete.

I saw a lot of Degas' paintings in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris 2 years ago. They are actually quite a bit smaller than I imagined them to be. Also, most either were done entirely in pastel, or a combination of other mediums like gouache, or oil with pastels.
As a result, the paintings are now kept behind glass in an extremely dark room to preserve them by protectiong them from bright light. So my plans to take photos of them went flying out the (non-existent) windows in the museum! No flashes are (understandably) allowed and the room really was extremely dark.
Off the subject of art, but not entirely off painting- this time painting the house! Which is what we're going to have to do very soon as we now have discovered what we think is a leaking pipe on the jacuzzi balcony off our bathroom. The resultant wet walls in the laundry and kitchen are what alerted us to this fact! So tomorrow Leon will call the insurance company - coz hey, we simply cannot keep forking more money out on maintenance for the house! It's now time to call in the cavalry, so to speak.

Tomorrow I also have the unfortunate hassle of having to sort out my driver's license. Yes- not renew- but rather sort out! As it was renewed a year ago and I still don't have a copy of my new license! (Okay, I do leave things until I really just can't anymore!! ) I have been wanting to go eversince we realised that my license was not arriving in the post. Leon & I went together in February last year - stood in the HEAT in a VERY LONG queue!!! FOR FOUR (4!!!) hours!!! Only to have his sent to him, and mine has never arrived!!!

I have prepared myself that I may just have to go through the whole episode again - eyetests and all as I'm sure my application simply landed on someone's desk who threw it into 'file 13' (aka the dustbin!) Okay, I am not going to be pessimistic- let's hope it is filed under H for Hurly instead and I simply can collect it with only a few minutes of time wasted tomorrow! (Yeah, sure - and it might snow tomorrow here too!) Added to all of this, our local driver's license offices are useless and always way too busy, so I'll be driving about 40min out of town to Rayton to collect mine.

So that's my morning. The afternoon will be a case of fetching and carrying kids at different times from school again - I pick Shannon up at 13h30 (no compulsory school sport tomorrow due to a gala), then take her home. Reece must be collected an hour later at 14h30. Then I must take him home. Give them both lunch and get homework going. Shannon needs to be back at school again at 16h00 for a tennis lesson. I'll have to drop her off, and my mom will have to collect her again at 16h30 as Reece has to be at swimming 15 min drive away from the school by 16h30 for his lesson. Have I ever mentioned that I dislike the car intensely?
[Hopefully by the afternoon of loads of driving, I'll at least have some sort of driver's license!]

In between all this, I'm hoping to get Week 8 finished of my Life 365 photo a day challenge. I even missed out on the incentive this week as I simply ran out of time to finish Week 8 in time. I am determined to complete weeks 9 and 10 in time for the next incentive - even though I should already be busy with Week 9 already.
Here's my Week 7 : 12-18 February. (I work Thursday to Wednesday each week as the 1st of January was a Thursday this year).

Gosh, I just noticed that I put 12-19 on here instead of 12-18 February! Luckily I can fix that as I saved the .psd file as well as the .jpeg! (Note to self- don't forget to do this!)
Well that's me all up to date now- except foe the fact that I've skipped a couple of weeks in between LOL! Oh well- one can't do everything!