Sep 29, 2017

'Making the Grade'.

Hands up if you remember this logo from your childhood?

It's only just now that I've realized that the circular half of the logo is a stylized image of Australia in white with a black background and the 5 lined musical staff running through it (all the states bar Tasmania from my reckoning).  In all my years of sitting AMEB exams, I genuinely thought that it was, in fact, a friendly black dinosaur with his neck arched towards some music.  At least I got the music bit, I suppose.
The reason I went back down memory lane was because of a BBC News Radio documentary I heard the other night.  It's called 'Making the Grade' and I've linked to where you can hear it here.

Briefly, 'Making the Grade' explores the role of the British system of standardized music examination in Commonwealth nations both now and in the early days of the British Empire.   Trinity College London and the Associated Boards of the Royal Schools of Music currently assess about a million music students around the world.  

In the good old days, chief examiners were themselves both accomplished musicians and composers as well as explorers. They would travel the world for nine months of the year visiting Commonwealth nations to examine students and nurture musical talent wherever they found it.  Schedules often changed at the last minute, transport was unreliable and there could be barely any students to assess when the destination was finally reached but those original members of the board and college persevered and the British system of examination remains the benchmark of musicianship in many nations of the world.  

The Australian counterpart of the ABRSM is the AMEB and I have all sorts of memories of my exams.  Having a half day off from school to attend the exam, the cottage in a leafy part of Perth where the exams were held and the special lunch that mum would buy me to eat on the way back to school.  I'm not terribly musical, the practice was torturous at times and I haven't touched a piano in decades but I do appreciate a bit of classical music from time to time.

Aside from the historical context of standardized music examination within the Commonwealth, 'Making the Grade' also explored the cultural context which I found fascinating.  In South East Asian countries, learning the piano and other classical instruments was and perhaps still is considered the height of good breeding and conferred status on participating families.  Music of the western world symbolized a seemingly more sophisticated culture and lifestyle that could be aspired to and reached through hard work and discipline.  

One candidate recalls sitting her exams in Malaysia in front of British examiners and finding that while she was technically very competent, she lacked the 'all-round package' when it came to presenting herself and conversing with her examiners.  Having not seen the world beyond Malaysia, her frame of reference in a cultural sense was far removed from both her examiners and the countries from which her music programme originated.  These were issues I never really considered having been brought up in the Australian education system.

Another interesting issue raised in the podcast was in relation to the way Western music has altered the music ecosystem in many Asian countries.  With so many Western-educated parents playing their children classical Western music, educators have found that the musical ears of these children have changed to be more attuned to the Western musical pitch and keys than those of their native culture.  This has implications for the future of ethnic musical culture if the young are unable to continue playing the instruments of the generations before them.

Are you musically inclined?  Are you a music teacher?  Thoughts?

Sep 28, 2017

Lovin' Life: Scenes From the Weekend.

It's getting warmer, the days are longer and school holidays have just begun.  It's a potent combination for me.  The weekends seem less hectic and there seems to be more time to just be in the moment.

 I bought a watermelon quarter in anticipation of the weekend's heat and a lime for a salad dressing.

I never knew that lime juice also worked over freshly cut mango cheeks.

Preschooler SSG dressed for the heat in a T-shirt, shorts ... and gum boots.  The boots were actually a visionary addition because we paused during our morning errands to have a ride on the Harris Farm tractor.

Sephora Westfield Bondi Junction finally opened and here's some of the crowd waiting in anticipation.  I'll be straight with you, I'm too old to queue for the opening of a store awning and to then to battle three woman deep crowds to get a look at anything before queuing once again to pay for my spoils.  So we walked on by.

To where Preschooler SSG and I snagged prime positions from which to observe this building site being prepared for something huge.  It was basically like watching the books I read to Preschooler SSG and the toys we play with come to life in front of me.  I'm not usually a construction site person but today I made an exception.

We snacked on White Rabbit candy.  They're a Chinese candy I remember fondly from my childhood.  We bought them from the Asian grocer in Northbridge (Perth reference there) and they taste of milk.  They also have a chewy consistency which Preschooler SSG loves.  It's a special moment sharing the lollies of your childhood with your own children.

As luck would have it, we walked past Sephora again and the line had vanished.

So we entered bravely and made a beeline for the Sephora branded make up.  There's no time for exploring Rihana's Fenty line (the one whose foundation is breaking the internet with its breadth of perfect colour matches for most of the worlds women) when shopping with a preschooler so I just got my usual in store purchase of a few eyeliners.  There's a new gel liner for $17 that's presented in wind up form.

It's made in Korea and applies so smoothly without skipping.  It's a testament to its waterproof claim that this test swatch I did on my and in store managed to survive an afternoon of food prep and other household jobs.

I made a minor breakthrough with my printer and finally discovered how to copy / scan multiple pages through the paper feeder I found by simply flipping the top lid.  Something I never thought to do previously in all the weeks I've owned it.

And last but not least, a quiet spot of Saturday afternoon laminating.  It really is the simple things in life at times, isn't it?

Has your pace of life changed with the change of weather and the fact that it's school holidays right now?

Sep 26, 2017

LA, Baby!!!! Less Exciting News.

It's a gloriously sunny day outside.  

I've just been for a walk and gotten a starter tan on my legs.

I went window shopping in search of a straw hat for summer but was told that stock won't be in for a few weeks.

It was all so invigorating that I didn't stop to take any pictures for you, sorry so I've hit up Google Images instead.

via YouTube
I'm not quite game enough to embrace the cursive writing on the brim trend on a personal level.

via AliExpress

This is more my style so I hope the store I love window shopping at has these in their summer hat drop rather than the first option I discussed.

I heard a rumour that TK Maxx at Top Ryde had a covetable selection of designer heels for sale.  They do but fortunately for me, nothing was in my size.  These Gucci zebra print Mary Janes were around the $500 mark FYI.  

I'm still trying to establish rapport with TK Maxx, to be honest.  I don't know what it is but I just can't find the will to browse the racks in the hope of finding a bargain.  I've given it some time and I've browsed two branches now but I'm still not feeling the love.  Probably just as well.

Because I'm going to be in LA in 120 days!!!!!!

In the meantime, I'd better walk the talk of new MINISO cutler set and eat a banana.  I just have to bring this with me to LA, don't I?

Last but not least... I have Big News for dry shampoo fans.  Toni & Guy's Sky High Volume dry shampoo is worth every one of its $16 regular price / two for $25 at Woolies dollars.  It's the one dry shampoo that not only makes my hair feel clean, it also makes it look even better than on the day I blow dry it.  'I' being the operative word because my hairdresser's blow dries are in a class of their own.

Seriously, I've actually been using this sprayed at my roots straight after my blow dry.  It adds noticeable volume and makes my hair look salon blow-dried somehow.  Even after I've been attacking it vigorously with my Parlux without any technique.

Run, Don't Walk.

Sep 25, 2017

Life This Week 25/9/2017: Beach or Bush?

For me?  The beach, hands down.

That sense of calm that washes over and through you as you gaze out at the water while the sand yields softly yet firmly to your toes.  Because you must always be bare foot on the beach...

Beach is a way of life.  It's colour, it's pared back chic, it's mix and match, it's full of different textures.  

The glimpse of a beach from between apartment blocks as you stand on the footpath of a busy road makes you forget the chaos and congestion of Sydney.

Finding that hidden gem local beach and then lazing on it is a kind of priceless treat to self after a week of routine, responsibility and yes... Sydney traffic.  I love you Sydney, but you have Traffic and Congestion that even I struggle to love unconditionally.

The beach is a magical place to children too.  You don't really need much more than your own two legs and bucket to have hours of fun when you're there.

The Murray Rose Pool is not technically 'the beach' but it gives me everything I love about 'proper beaches' without the crowds.

Bondi Beach.  How could you not love Bondi?  It's iconic, it's beauty changes with the season and there's always a diversity of people and pets strolling along it.  It's the people's beach.

Over to you.  Beach or Bush?

Sep 22, 2017

A Day (Off) in the Life.

Recently, one of my favourite bloggers, Domestic Divinity pondered returning to blogging.  She decided that updating her Facebook page more frequently was going to be her way of doing it and it's been so lovely reading along about what's been going on in her life.  One of the posts that I've enjoyed the most featured a short video about a day in her life.  There was so much I could relate to in the parenting stakes....

I wish I knew how to compress a day in my life into an interesting video but I don't so I decided to document a day in my life on Instagram which turned out to be so much fun (to me at least) finding the joy/excitement in the seemingly mundane that I've decided to write a post around the photos.

Without further ado.  Here's what a day (off) in my life looks like right now.

0530: intervals on the treadmill at the gym.  I go to a 24 hour gym that's a five minute drive from home.  It's not fancy and at that hour, most of the guys there are there for the weights leaving me with a free run on the cardio machines.  We all know each other by sight.  There's not much chat but we motivate each other by just being there at crazy o'clock doing what needs to be done.

0630: driven home, parked and off for a walk down the road in search of coffee.  My neighbourhood is basically one large construction site right now.

0636: waited for my coffee and wished everyone Shanah Tova as the Jewish New Year is observed.

0640: walked home with my coffee in my activewear like everyone else who was out and about at that hour.

0641: looked up at the beginning of a beautiful day in Sydney.  I love this time of the year and time of the day.

0700:  my scheduled blog post for the day went live.  It was my review of the Louise M shoes I've been wearing at work this week.

0735: fished my tea bag out of my mug of tea with a pair of chopsticks.  That same cup of tea had been kept warm by being topped up with boiling water while I tried to get Preschooler's breakfast organized.  There's usually around three options and each of these change on the minute.  Not many of them are nutritionally sound either.  The freshly squeezed OJ that I make to accompany it does make me feel a bit less guilty about the food options.

0847: current 'day off' (couldn't resist the inverted sanctimommy commas..) mum uniform.  Uniqlo's cashmere sweaters are the best and seem to stand up to my life better than their woollen knits which have developed holes in them from being machine washed.  Seven For All Mankind skinny jeans... no brainer there.  Looking forward to my next expedition to the outlets in the US next year because I need to get some simple black skinnies from the brand. Will I ever be able to carry a bag to work that's as small as the cross body styles I like using in my downtime?  Probably not.

0947: logged onto the work server to catch up on all the news from overnight and to anticipate anything that might come up today.

1013:  at Chemist Warehouse.  Primarily for Preschooler SSG's meds but you never know what you'll find that you'll then need as you wander the aisles while waiting for the scrip to be filled.

1040: cup of tea and a banana as I read my favourite guilty pleasure read.

1158: love getting the chance to eat lunch before noon!  Bulk lunch prep takes all the stress away from trying to think of a lunch idea on a daily basis.

1246: desk top car racing with Preschooler SSG.  We're supposed to be measuring how far our cars skittle across the desk in centimetres, hence the tape measure blue tacked on the edge.  Preschooler SSG has since added two pieces of paper to our racing pit.  I'm not sure what they're there for but I guess I'll be finding out soon.

1324: attempting to administer Preschooler SSG's eye drops.  He's a moving target, that boy.

1430: you guys, it's going to be somewhere between 26 - 32C in Sydney tomorrow!  That's statement frock weather in my opinion.  My outfit for Friyay has been picked and hung out ready for the get out the door rush that is every morning of the days I work.

1457: home yoga practice.  Who am I kidding?  It's the only way I practice yoga these days.  I'm still sticking to at least two sessions a week and I'm needing less assistance from props in my standing poses.  I still need the belts to help me with floor work.  The best news, though, is that my shoulders, knees and back have all been behaving and working as they should with all the asanas they've found themselves in of late.

1642: the home stretch. Preschooler SSG is on the mend, the housework's been done, fielded calls from work.  Into my PJs with a good inch of miracle working skincare on my face at nanna o'clock.  No shame in my game.

1657: apparently there's some kind of nation wide shortage of T2's Peppermint Tea.  It's been out of stock online for ages and there's none to be found at my local store.  Even the loose leaf.  So I had to ... Try Another Brand.

Later (but not much later): Preschooler SSG's had his shower, dinner and brushed his teeth.  We have time for a book before heading to bed.  A good half hour of talking, prayers and trying to listen to his bedtime CD before sleepytime.

I head to bed, listen to the radio and fall asleep.

And then it starts all over again when the same radio station wakes me up in the morning.

What do your days look like?


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