Thursday, December 31, 2009

5 ways to a successful 2010 and a 100th post give-away game!

Ooh la la it's finally the 31st of December. A magic day that tips us over into the start of a new year full of possibility and and promise. Of course you've all got your 'tout doux' lists ready for 2010: me too!
But rather than bore you with my goals for the coming year and the other 1000 50  things I would like to accomplish in my lifetime (as I cross things off one end - the list grows at the other), I thought it would be more 'ME' to share with you 5 quotes that most inspire me and have done so for a number of years - all with a distinctly 'Ange does it in 2010' twist!

When you've finished reading my version ... you'll have a wee task to accomplish at the end. Are you ready? Let's LEAP!

1) Find your Passion and Do What YOU LOVE!

The trick to success is making your vocation your vacation
Mark Twain 
(photo from here)


Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. 
You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps. 
David Lloyd George
(photo from here)


No pessimists ever discovered the secret of the stars, 
or sailed to an uncharted land, 
or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.
Helen Keller 
(photo from here)

4) SPLURGE at least once OUTRAGEOUSLY!

"Anyone who lives within his means suffers from a lack of imagination" 
Lionel Stander ( photo from here)

Was that a bit too much for one year? I suggest we all...


A field that has rested gives a beautiful crop 

Now it's YOUR turn!
It's GIVE AWAY time... 
(or a 'fun' way to Give Back, as Laura says)

To take part all you have to do is leave a comment on this post giving an inspiring quote that moves you, tickles your fancy, makes you giggle, reassures you... and you will go in the prize draw.
What will you win? One of my 'positive planks,' which, as you know, are recycled from French wine crates, with your favourite words of wisdom, in your choice of colours (or as close as I can get to them) to suit YOUR home!

I will have One plank to give away - and two other smaller objects which I am still deciding on, and will share later on today when I am more awake: but all three will be hand calligraphed with each winner's respective favourite words.

The game is open to every one, in all countries with or without a blog and you don't have to sign up as a follower to be in either. I'd rather people hitched along for the ride with me because they like my work and my writing. But I'm big on including every one when it comes to games ... don't like people to feel left out!

For those of you who are nice enough or a wee bit crazy enough to have accompanied me this far, I'd be really thrilled if you'd grab my 'Signed by Ange' button below (a big thanks to Julie @ Being Ruby for the design she made from a few scribbles I had put down on paper - she's amazing!), put it on your side bar and link it to this post...

Hope you'll join me in the adventure!
May 2010 be an inspiring and giggle-full year for you all and your families...
Oh dear - it's 4.27am and I'm still here...
Bonne nuit
Ange xx

OOPS! I nearly forgot. I'll be drawing the winners on Saturday Jan 9th at dinner time with the kids. It's much more fun, albeit more work, to have the wee messmonsters gleefully drawing names out of a hat than doing the old 'random' machine... Although I know how to do it now n'est ce pas Julie ;-) And I will announce them in my Secret Sunday post... on Sunday Jan 10th.

... Bed? Bed? Where are you Bed? Oh I give up - I may as well make myself a cuppa and wait for the sun to come up!

J'ai trouvé ma place ...

... j'y étais tout le long!
Il est 1h30 du matin et je tombe de sommeil. J'avais prévue de vous proposer un petit jeu afin de pouvoir faire un 'give-away' et fêter mon 100 ième article écrit sur mon blog. Je le ferai non pas Mercredi (hier déjà???) comme je pensais, mais tout-à-l'heure - aujourd'hui. Alors n'oubliez pas de revenir voir si vous avez l'esprit joueur ...

Il est temps d'aller retrouver ma place - sous ma couette si accueillante ...
...sans oublier qu'il faut prendre un peu d'avance sur le sommeil avant ... Ce Soir!

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Stillness: The calm before the Storm

It's still 2009... Just!
Before revealing those inevitable goals to you
(N0! Not resolutions ;-)
I'm desperately trying to finish off something
that I started after my last trip to London
A simple quote that touched my soul
and lit my lightbulb
from the programme of a dance performance ...
by a great composer:

"Stillness is our most intense mode of action. 
It is in our moments of deep quiet 
that is born every idea, emotion and drive 
which we eventually honour with the name of action. 

In stillness every human being is great; 
he is free from the experience of hostility; 
he is a poet and most like an Angel."

Leonard Bernstein

Nearly finished it...
it's still missing something.
A focal point?
And time is running out...
Later on today
A wish...
and a 100th post giveaway
In the stillness
before the whirlwind of 2010 arrives ;-)

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Dancing through 2009

So here we find ourselves together, you and I in the wee hours of the morning that begins Wednesday 30th of December. Only a few more hours to go and we will all be popping champagne and sparkling and smiles. And dancing! I know I will be ... This year it just feels right again to wear some glittery tights and a girly dress, a tiny speck of sparkle and party with a few close friends.

But 2009 is still hanging in there for a day or so and I have been having a great time looking back at some of the high points. Not just in terms of fun and excitement, but more so with respect to those situations where I got to be the cartoon character with the proverbial light bulb of recognition flashing over my head. Insights! Flashes of Recognition! AHA's! They have often been my most magical moments. So many pennies have dropped over the last 12 months that I find myself now more wealthy than I could ever have imagined ;-)

One other magical moment for me, in terms of intense joy, admiration, fun and ooooh yes, heart pounding exhilaration was seeing this show that I was over-the-moon lucky to have been invited to during a trip to London last March.

If you find yourself floating around the London area, always check out what's on at Sadler's Wells. It will be well worth a look. 
One of the unique aspects about Destino was the involvement of Dance United - a dance company that works with the disadvantaged and the marginalised, including women in prison... Imagine the vision, belief and dedication it must take to bring these projects to life!

"Destino is an ambitious artistic collaboration that celebrates the belief in the transformational power of dance to affect and change lives." The programme said.
Ambitious. A great word. In this case, a slight understatement. As well as introducing young Ethopian dancers Junaid Jemal Sendi and Addisu Demissie to London (if you see their names on a programme anywhere else in the world - buy your tickets quick), Destino's finale was a unique large-scale community work which saw over 130 people aged between 9 and 80 odd, most of whom who had no previous experience in dance, performing to live music by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra! 

The thought of the work, conviction, courage and dedication that had gone into the preparation for this event gave me goose bumps during the whole performance. What will never fail to move and inspire me, is watching (and helping) people transform themselves, push their own limits, find their inner courage, and reach - or even transcend - their goals. What an example this was... sigh. I'm still reeling from the effect and it's nearly time for me to hit London again already! 

Hmm - has anyone heard of a similar concept on such a large scale involving art? If not, surely a worthy project to consider for for 2010... 

One more day or so of this first though... 

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

C'est quoi une Vie Réussie? (it's my French day today...)

Emerson l'a expliqué ainsi :

Laurent Gounelle s'est penché sur la question et nous donne ceci comme réponse:

Une vie que l'on mène conformément à ses souhaits et en accord avec ses valeurs
Une vie où l'on donne toujours le meilleur de soi même
Une vie qui nous donne l'occasion de nous dépasser et de nous consacrer à autre chose que nous-mêmes.
Une vie où l'on apporte quelque chose à l'humanité - ne serait ce qu'un sourire pour les autres...

A travers des siècles et des océans il me semble qu'il n'y a qu'une recette universelle du bonheur..

N'attendons donc pas 2010 pour réussir alors! Commençons de suite!

S'il vous faut un petit coup de boost pour être pleinement heureux, je vous suggère de lire le livre
(MERCI SKIPPY, de me l'avoir passé)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Light the Way ... to 2010

Let nothing dim the light that shines from within...
Maya Angelou

It seems fitting that, as 2009 slowly draws to a close, we finalise old projects in order to make way for the new... Remember these?

You first met them on my blog here when they were still scuffing their toes loafing around in my hallway, waiting for some TLC from me and looking for a bit of purpose in life.

"You must put your best foot forward," I told them, "if you want to move on to bigger things!" So together we decided they would shed a little light on the future. Finally, with an old bike fork, a bit of welding help from my Ferronnier, a thrifted glass lampshade from a  vide-grenier and some deft wiring skills, this is what we came up with:

You will note that I managed to restrain myself from taking to the poor things with a paint brush and my 'patine' effect (Sighs of relief. Applause). My how difficult it is to leave the past behind. I guess it's more about constantly reinventing it so that it molds and shapes itself to the present...

I had to add my signature touch though, in the form of the quote at the top of this post. I've already used it here too. Words always provide a conscious reminder for me to remain in the present and to focus on the positive. No exceptions.

I can see from the exuberant post Christmas posts that you are all full steam ahead already on 2010's projects. Before I get far too ahead of myself, as I am wont to do, I promise myself to take stock of this last year, acknowledge it's highs and lows and objectively observe the results.  This ain't gonna be easy as I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever of the low points. I'm sure there were some, but I seem to have misplaced them somewhere. I must start taking things a little more seriously...

Mostly though, I am going to spend the next couple of days finalising the old projects and consolidating so my next foot forward is not only on solid ground, but REALLY my best! Mind you, how could it not be with the fabulous new pair of snuggly warm slippers I found lounging in a box with my name on it under ze Sapin !!!
Anyway, now that all three of my cherished messmonsters have been lovingly kidnapped by the PiL I am officially on holidays for five whole days. Paradoxically, this means I am free to WORK to my heart's content. Oh Joy! Oh Peace!
Oh Singing Really Loudly to my favourite songs while I 'illuminate' my home!!!

This first lamp is going to help light our very pretty, but rather dark French farmhouse. The next ones will be for sale (at very reasonable prices!). Don't hesitate to email me for details.

More lamps to light your way coming over the next few days
(umm - Mr Ferronnier, about that welding...)

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Paris Episodes : Turning water into wine

You thought I'd never get back to my Paris Episodes didn't you? Ha! Here is the latest installment as I just couldn't let my first Christmas go by without a fond mention. One simple (but never ordinary) day out of 365 taught me a lifetime of lessons!

Etiquette lesson N° l: Always wait until EVERY ONE has been served their wine before you make an innocent comment ...Remember,  mincing your words makes it easier to eat them later!

There I was, rescued by the Ex and his Guardian Angel family for Christmas dinner. Phew! This was no 'mince affair' as Christmas is very strictly reserved for family in France so I was most grateful and priveleged to have been included, especially as the guest of honour. As Mr C, a graceful and stately gentleman, served me a very noble wine (wasted on me at the time I'm afraid), I noticed he'd made a mistake and poured it into the water glass, and not the wine glass. Quickly glancing around, I observed also that, not only had no one else made a remark - but they appeared not to have noticed. So I very brilliantly kept my mouth shut for once and watched as he continued the round... My pride has thanked me for this profusely at every major event that I have since attented in France. (We won't do the 'trials and tribulations of affecting the right attitude for the wife of a military aircraft salesman' till next year... I'm still getting over it!)

When we finally all raised our wine glasses to the 'santé' of those present and absent (that was you Mum and Dad) I had the epiphany that one pours the wine into the SMALL wine glass in France - and leaves the BIG wine glass for water. This was a major revelation for me at age 25! And one I'm still fighting with I assure you, hahaha!

While I was reeling from that narrow escape (5 year's experience in various restaurants between Mooloolaba, Brisbane and Auckland had never taught me THAT), Madame C served the asparagus entrée. Let me warn you now that I did, and still do, have a hearty appetite. And not wanting to be impolite, I of course accepted an extra serving every time the asparagus plate passed by... But there was still room for more (this Aussie girl did NOT survive on cigarettes, lite yoghurt and coffee as most Parisiennes did at the time).  Did I THINK to ask myself at the time why no one else, even the men, accepted a second helping of this? NOPE!

The foie gras was then passed intently in front of my nose.

Photo from here

ALERT ALERT! Animal cruelty!!! Let me tell you: Mr C was a VERY big wig in Nuclear Energy. I was a nobody pacifist who strongly protested against it (Born and mostly raised in NZ - what can I say?). However, I was also smart enough to know that I wouldn't win any friends or influence people with my 'extreme' views on the risks of nuclear waste at the dinner table. Foie gras wasn't high on my list of 'politically correct' foods either but hey, my 'breeding' got the better of me. After all - it is bad manners to bite the hand that feeds you, n'est-ce pas?

Between keeping my mouth shut on the wine glass fiasco, the dangers of nuclear energy and the injustice of force feeding geese in order to eat their livers, the green salad arrived. You may, and justly so, wonder how I managed to eat so much with my mouth clamped firmly SHUT! But EAT I DID! Just when I was starting to feel a bit full - and looking forward to dessert, Madame C brought out the first meat dish. I distinctly heard the word 'first.' You mean there is MORE THAN ONE meat dish??? My wee stomach started crying out to bring in the reinforcements...

Etiquette lesson number two: ALWAYS only take a small amount and politely refuse seconds of ANY dish, even under threat of tears from your hostess! THIS IS A TEST OF CHARACTER! REPEAT! THIS IS A TEST! ;-)

At Christmas especially, you can be deliciously subjected to as many as 6 different dishes before dessert, of which some regions boast thirteen of those as well!! And, as the guest, you will ALWAYS be targeted. This is dangerous even in the face of a voracious appetite, like mine. If you must, mumble some excuse about feeble health or an impending stomach operation so as not to offend your hostess. As an adventure racer and triathlete, this has rarely worked for me but age is now starting to have some pull as a valid excuse. Remember, every Parisienne worth her salt still wears a size 8, even after 15.3 children!!

I have learned many other 'Etiquette lessons' since that very first Christmas (Podge would say it was high time!) - but I'm afraid they'll have to wait for another episode as it's time to go and prepare my own 13 desserts!

Christmas is being held La Rivière this year and it's time to take my revenge ;-). Rejecting the traditional almonds, nougat and marzipan-stuffed dates, I have opted for Pavlova...
...some of those great Panettone adaptations for my FiL who is Italian from Millie's Blog and this Ice cream cake from a very JOYFUL blog I had the good fortune of stumbling across yesterday...

Needless to say - the wine here shall be served in BIG glasses ! I figure that I'm allowed to be a rebel now that I'm nearly 40 and I understand what I'm rebelling against ;-)

Extra big glasses for an EXTRA big "Santé" and this extra special toast to you all and your loved ones (and mine)... wherever you are in the world. Below is my Wishcasting Wednesday wish for YOU this festive season and for the coming year ...

Wish star christmas tree by Cécile Lebert

Le seul fait de rêver est déjà très important
  Je vous souhaite des rêves à n'en plus finir..
     Et l'envie furieuse d'en réaliser quelques uns
       Je vous souhaite d'aimer ce qu'il faut aimer
       Et d'oublier ce qu'il faut oublier
    Je vous souhaite des passions
     Je vous souhaite des silences
                 Je vous souhaite des chants d'oiseaux au réveil
 Et des rires d'enfants
             Je vous souhaite de résister à l'enlisement
           A l'indifférence, aux vertus négatives de notre époque
         Je vous souhaite surtout d'être vous....

Jacques Brel
Merely to dream is already important in itself
I wish you endless dreams
And the furious desire to go and make some of them come true
I wish for you to love what needs to be loved
And to forget what needs to be forgotten
I wish you passions
I wish you silences
I wish you birdsong when you wake
And children's laughter
I wish for you to resist indifference, resignation and the negative traits of our times
Most of all ... I wish for you to BE YOU...
Much love


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Noël 2009 - A Great Vintage

The fire is glowing on this cold winter's evening...
Doucement, l'arrivée du père Noël approche...
Once these old fire-cups (ventouses) were used
to take the winter ills and pains from poorly bodies.
To some extent - they are still fire-cups to me ;-)
Mais maintenant - elles décorent ma cheminée 
et m'éclaircissent avec la lueur d'une petite flamme

There is laughter behind everything at La Rivière
Le rire m'accompagne de partout à Nöel, et toute l'année d'ailleurs... 

Tiny "pampilles" decorate my wreath.
Even the rosehips deserve a bit of Christmas sparkle...
C'est la saison de briller!

We have music playing ... but the violin just listens now.

So come in and share some Christmas cheer...
Promise - the Chateau Guiraud is a great vintage too!
There's a glass waiting just for you...

Joyeux Noël! Et bonnes fêtes de fin d'année...

Noël Christmas banner by my Libellule

More of a great vintage Christmas at Joan's.
And if you would like some tips for making singing angels
with vintage clothes pegs
click here!

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Making peg angels tutorial

A few of you were interested in my little vintage peg angels. So I thought I would show you how to make them...

To start off you will need the following ...

Some vintage pegs (I finished my stock and was lucky enough to find some copies in a local store). 
Gesso (found in most art and craft stores),
Ink (I used my favourite red ink from the Calligraphe and a mix of acrylic ink with grey gouache for the hair and face),

A paintbrush
A fine nib for drawing the eyes and mouth and what ever words you would like on the body
An old, irreparable book if you find it a bit too tricky to write the words on yourself
Here we go!

Start by painting a 'dress' onto your angel with the white gesso. You could use an acrylic paint if you like ... or even stick on some fabric instead...

If you are sticking on words from a book, place them while the gesso is still wet as it works great as a glue.  If you click on the picture, you'll see I used a vintage prayer book - seemed more fitting for angel messages...

If you are writing the words on, wait until the gesso is really dry (about 1/2 an hour) before you start or your nib will get clogged up.
Next, paint in the hair. I painted a 'playmobil' style as the pegs had a similar shaped head :-)

Then draw in the face. I like them with eyes shut and mouth open as if they were singing...

Draw your wings onto a piece of fabric like 'tarlatane.' Mine is from a ham curing bag that I found at our local supermarket in the preserves section. It's easiest to fold the material in half and draw one wing only - guarantees they are even on both sides once cut out.

Then make a line of glue along the middle crease in your wings and stick them on to the back of the angel.

Let your wings dry for at least half an hour before you turn your angel over and pick it up. Oh yes, these ones roll so prop something solid next to them so you don't ruin your work.

They are wonderful for closing a special package, decorating your tree or as a gift in itself with a wee Christmas message on it! My hand written ones are singing the chorus of 'Deck the Halls.'

If you would like to find out more secrets - don't miss Seth's Secret Sunday where more than 200 artists reveal their techniques and inspirations. You can find the SECRET SUNDAY button on my sidebar.
Blessings to all...

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Ce n'est pas un petit travail...

... d'accorder sagesse et musique.
(But Dino, you do it so well!)

How can you tell when a girl has been spending too much time in the virtual world, and not enough time brandishing (or in my case calmly holding) her 'plume?' The answer may be found above.

I have been learning 'l'Anglaise' now since mid September and I am still fighting with the slope and the angles. I have tried changing my 'plume,' changing my ink, adding medium to my ink and changing my paper.

Looks like I just can't get away from the evidence... more PRACTICE!

Well dear FiL - You will have to settle for this for now as it is leaving tonight come rain, hail or (in this case) snow with your son, unbeknownst to you, in order to be added to the Golden Book that will be offered to you at the surprise fiesta that is being held in your honour tomorrow in Digne les Bains.  Vive la celebration of the 50th anniversary of l'Académie de l'Accordéon in the Alpes de Haute Provence!

Just as you still do with your beloved music, I promise to diligently practice every day to get better so I can re-write that phrase, which so aptly describes you.

My FiL, with your charming smile and silver white hair, you can still bring a sparkle to the eyes of the Provence folk when you play your waltzes and tangos on that well-loved and worn accordeon. Dino, your calm, quiet wisdom influences all who cross your path. "Better to practice 15mts every day than 1 hour at the end of the week" you say. They are words I would do well to remember and ... implement. If you can do so, and even brave the pain, after chopping the tops of all your fingers off with the rotary trimmer and being told that you would never play again, well then, I can do so too with no excuse other than ... lack of time.

I am safe in letting the secret out a day early. I am safe because I know you won't read this, given that you have sworn to remain faithful to the real world of touch, taste and smell - another wise decision on your part as we do have a tendency to become, ahem, diverted from our primary tasks just a tad when the Blog takes on a life of its own.

So from my perch on the hillside at La Rivière I raise my glass to you dearest FiL and try to imagine your face, a mixture of joy and shy humility, when 50 years of challenges and joy reunite in the form of an orchestra of accordeons comprising many of your still devoted 'élèves' and favourite classical pieces from right back in that very first year. Even your son has taken up the accordeon again over the last two months, for the first time in 20 years ...

Horizons Bleus ... to you Dino for ever more...

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Chasing Happiness...

...with the colours of l'Ile d'Yeu (my favourites).

For Karine's papa, to whom I wish a très joyeux Noël...

On the seas, on the tracks ... We chase happiness.

But happiness is here, where we are...

May this bring you happiness...
wherever you are

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