Some goals for 2014

There is very vew things that I actualy set yearly goals for. In most aspects of goal setting a year is just too long. Through the years I have found that monthly or weekly goals work much better for me.

There is however one type of goal that works for me on a yearly cycle: Reading goals. Maybe it has something to do with the 12 years of school plus another 6 at university. Those usualy work in yearly cycles. Maybe it is because a week or a month is just way too short for propper reading goals.

Now to get to the aforementioned goals for 2014…

Read 18 books. Yes, I know that is a lot less than last year. But this is more of a minimum goal for me. I know that I will read more without even trying. The real goals is the ones that are still to come.

Read 50 short stories. Now this is something that I have never realy done before. I have read the odd short story here and there, but I have never actualy read a whole anthology. I already have three anthologies in mind: Some of the best of, 2013 edition; Dangerous Women (edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozios) and Inheritance (by Megan Lindholm/Robin Hobb). If you have any other suggestions, please give them.

Read some new authors. Well they do not have to be new to the world, they just have to be new to me. It is so easy to get stuck with the same old authors that you know and love, and know you can trust to write something you will like. But I want to push myself off the edge a bit and read some books by authors that I have never read before. Hopefully I will find a couple of gems in there that I will keep n reading for many years to come. I have a list of the 100 best fantasy authors that I would like to work on. I will obviously not be able to work through all of them this year. But I would like to put a bit of a dent in the list.

So, there are some of my goals for this year. I will report back on them as the year goes on. I must admit that I am kind of excited about those goals! I think this is going to be a fantastis year!

Do you have any reading goals set for this year?


Three favourites from 2013

One of the goals that I set for myself for 2013 was to read 38 books. And although the curve was quite steep – just more than 3 books a month – I managed to finish my goal with one day left.

Although I read many different genres, fantasy prevailed in the end. There was also three books that stood out among the rest. Why did they stand out? Well mainly because I found them absolutely brilliant! To make it a bit easier I'll categorise them according to what I found best about them.

Most magically beautiful book – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is a beautifully written book that captures the 'magic' of the circus that is only open during the night. It is a fairytale and romance combined with lovely, almost tangible scenery. My favourite, and most memorable aspect of the book was probably the scenes where the Night Circus was described. I also enjoyed the different characters and experiencing the Circus through their eyes.

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.”

Favourite epic fantasy – The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

First of all, the fantasy world that Sanderson created in The Way of Kings is mindblowing. He manages to bring to life a truely original world that feels totally plausable. The plot also has enough intrigue and action to keep you reading until you feel as though your eyes are going to dry out and then fall out altogether. It realy is hard to put down! Lastly, the characters. Each one feels so real. Some have become almost instant enemies, where others feel like friends and others like a brother or sister. I have truely enjoyed this mamoth book and am looking forward to it's sequal that will hopefully come out somewhere around my birthday. (Happy grin…)

“And so, does the destination matter? Or is it the path we take? I declare that no accomplishment has substance nearly as great as the road used to achieve it. We are not creatures of destinations. It is the journey that shapes us. Our callused feet, our backs strong from carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experiences lived.”

Most captivating fairytale – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

As you read the final page of this book it feels like you are waking up from a wonderful sweet dream. Yes, the dream has been scary and intense, but at the same time it was magical, and wonderful. Simultaneously splendidly real and unreal. As I read this I got reminded of my childhood. Typical childhood hopes and fears and even naivity gets brought to the fore. It is a story about two children, one with typical childhood naivety and the other with wisdom that seems way beyond her years. It has found a solid spot on my favourite book list and is a must read to all those who want to escape into a dream just once more. (Did I mention that the writing was also brilliant?)

“Nothing is ever the same,” she said. “Be it a second later or a hundred years. It's always churning and roiling. And people change as much as oceans.”

If there is one of these three that you haven't read yet, put it on your to-be-read list for 2014. Ask for them as a birthday or christmas or anniversary or just-because gift. Or even better, give it as a gift to someone. And i hope that 2014 will be a fantastical year!


Looking back at 2013

So now that 2013 is thoroughly finished, let us look back at it quickly…

2013, the year that…

  • I had more students than I ever thought possible. 45 at a point. Now of you take into consideration that it is individual lessons…
  • Traveled to Namibia for a wedding just outside Windhoek and extended our stay by visiting the in-laws and taking a trip to Swakopmund.
  • We did the Moneywise course and learnt quite a bit about finances. (Pretty useful things if I might add.)
  • Started blogging properly for the first time, for a while. (Took quite a dip during the last two months of the year.) I must also say that the blog posts helped a lot with looking back at the year!
  • I set a lot of Weekly Wishes this year.
  • Started attending pilates classes for the first time, and still going strong!
  • We went hiking in the stunning Cathedral Peak area of the Drakensberg.
  • We realised that we have completely grown out of our one bedroom garden flat and started to look for a bigger place to live.
  • We learnt a lot about buying a house. Decided to still rent for a while longer and found the perfect (hopefully) place to move into.
  • Celebrating our two year anniversary!
  • Started practising a lot of piano again. (Probably why my blogging took a dip during the last two months.)
  • Discovered the fun and easy boardgame Carcassonne.
  • Cooked my first ever leg of lamb, and it was so delicious I had to do it again for our Christmas lunch!
  • Set a Goodreads goal to read 38 books this year… And finished it in time! I must admit that there was a point close to the end where I thought I was going to fail, but i made it!

I remember waking up on the 31st of December and thinking that I am not yet ready to let go of 2013. As if the year in some way wasn't complete yet. It was a weird feeling. But, luckily, by the evening I was full on ready to tackle 2014.

So here's to 2013 and all that it had in store.


Hiking in the Cathedral Peak area

You might have noticed that I have this thing for the Drakensberg… So a couple of weeks ago we made our own little long weekend and went to the 'berg. Although it was only spring the weather was gorgeous! Nice hot days with chilly evenings. (This fantastic weather also came quite unexpected since it snowed in the Cape just the previous weekend!)

We decided to go to the Cathedral Peak area since this is one of my favourite areas in the Drakensberg. FYI – Cathedral peak is the highest lose standing peak in the Drakensberg. We stayed at Didima Nature Reserve and went for a day hike up to Mushroom Rock and back. The hike was a bit more strenuous than I anticipated, mainly due to my knees acting up on the way down. People usualy struggle with the climb up, I struggle with coming down. But the view at the top made up for all the pain on the way down.

Being on top of the mountain comes with a feeling that is hard to explain. The silence is beautiful. All you can hear is the wind blowing through the grass and your feet on the dirt path. And as I have already said, the view is just amazing in all directions! Here is a couple of photo's of our hike up to Mushroom Rock…

Cathedral Peak

The main attractions in the Cathedral Peak area


The view from halfway up


On top of the Under Berg


A stunning view around every turn

Cathedral peak

The escarpment from another angle

Mushroom Rock

On top of Mushroom Rock. You can see the Cathedral Peak hotel in the distance.


A panorama at the top


Happy anniversary to me, la la la

I guess that your anniversary is the one day of the year where you are allowed to get all mushy about your husband on your blog. Yes, today it has been two years of marital bliss, and I could not be happier! Yes, it just gets better and better, well, for us it does. And that leaves me hopeful and excited for the years to come.

I can almost not believe that two years have passed already! In a way it feels so much longer and shorter at the same time. You know what I mean? In any case, I love this guy and can not wait to spend the rest of my life with him.


Weekly Wishes

This is such a weird time of year – on the one hand most people are tired and feel like they need a vacation, on the other hand the excitement for the end of year and christmas family time is building up. I am in the midst of planning my first half of next year, and all I can say is that it is going to be wild!

But now to get back to this week and my Weekly Wishes…

The last wish that I posted was about taking time each day to play the songs and exercises on the piano that is for me and not my students. Although I did not get to it every single day these last weeks, I managed most of the days. And I must say that it feels GREAT! I do not know if I have ever felt so inspired to play and improve my own skill. It is just fantastic! (And I am going to keep on doing it even though I am not specifically making it a wish of mine for this week.)

For this week's wish I want to get back to the basics of blogging. The most basic part thereof – actualy writing some posts. These last two weeks I have started so many posts and almost finished them, but I did not go through the trouble of polishing and actualy posting. I aim to rectify that this week. I would like to post at least two seperate posts this week excluding this one. I already have the ideas, I just need to push through and do it. So hopefully you will hear a bit more from me this week.

So, lets start this week with a bang! Have a fun, purpose-filled Monday, and remember to encourage those around you who seem a bit exhausted.


The Nectar Collective


Inspire others with your “bland” story

Every now and then you read a book that transports your imagination to a whole new world. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has been such a book to me. I read it earlier this year and I still find myself reliving and reimagining some of the scenes. The storyline in this book has a way of fading into the background in comparison to the imaginative “visuals”. Some other books that also brought alive a whole new world to me was Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy. The imaginary landscape I have cultivated in my mind for those books can not be broken down by any movie rendering thereof. No matter how good the movie may be, my imaginary visuals will be the ones that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.

Today I would like to share with you just one of my favourite quotes from The Night Circus:

“You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.”

This reminds me of the countless times where someone's life story has inspired me to do something, be something and strive towards something. I think we often underestimate the value of our own life stories. We like to give only the accounts of where we have won or achieved something and fail to tell of how many times we had to try, and not give up, before we managed to succeed. We want instant gratification and we want to give instant gratification to others. We want to be something grand without putting in the effort it takes to get there.

I however believe that if more people were to dare tell the true story of how they achieved success. And if we started to value the journey more than the end product, more of us would be successful at what we set out to do. We would start without unrealistic preconceived ideas and get back up and try again many more times once we see that we are not alone in trying.

Everyone has something inspiring to share, even if it does not seem inspiring to you. Put your words out there. “Who knows what they might do because of it…”


Capture the colour

One of the advantages of living in Southern Africa is the photo opportunities when you go on a roadtrip. Here is the thing – the scenery cahnges almost constantly. And mostly it is beautiful! As part of the Capture the Colour photo contest I decided to showcase some of my favourite pics from Southern Africa. But, there is a trick – each photo has to represent a colour. White, red, green, blue and yellow. Five photo's. Five colours.

For WHITE I chose a photo from a small ghost town just outside Lüderitz in Namibia. The town is called Kollmanskop and it is a fascinating place to visit!

For RED we are still staying in Namibia, but we are going to the desert dunes of Sussusvlei.

For BLUE I would like to take you to the Drakensberg in South Africa. This is without a doubt one of my favourite places in the world.

Now, to go further South. For YELLOW I chose a photo I took at the Owl House in Nieu-Bethesda in South Africa. This is a small town in every sense and a gem in the heart of South Africa.

Lastly, for GREEN I would like to take you to the mountain passes just outside Knysna, South Africa. For a stunning view around every turn, this is the place to go!

I would also like to tag five other bloggers who's travel photo's I like to take a look at:

I know the competition closes on the 9th of October, but if you rush you might still make the deadline. Otherwise, why not post it in any case? I would love to see the photos you would like to connect to those colours. For more info you could go here.

Happy colour matching!


Rekindling some passions [Weekly Wishes]

“Summertime, and the livin' is easy…” As in the words of Gershwin, livin' has been easy these last two weeks. First we had a 10 day holiday, and then the first week of school flew by. Although the first week of school should have kickstarted my blogging for this term, it did not have that effect on me. So to get back into the swing of things I will start this week with Weekly Wishes. Somehow that has always helped me to kickstart my week.

Before I start with this week's goals I want to take a look at my goals from two weeks ago and how I did on them…

  1. Pick up my new drivers license. Done! It took me an hour in the que, but now I do not have to get it renewed for another five years. Phew!
  2. Buy the new books that my students need. Apart from buying the necessary books, I also rummaged through some of my mom's old music books and found quite a number of usefull books there.
  3. Sort out my desk at home. This wasn't fun, but at least it is done.
  4. Visit some of my teacher friends. This was fun! I thoroughly enjoyed connecting with some of them and sharing stories of the last term.
  5. Read some story books. This was also a lot of fun. Although I am still behind on my Goodreads reading goal, I am slowly but surely catching up.

My happy place - listening to some good live jazz music

Now. To get to this week…

Here is the funny thing with teaching music – although you play piano and sing every single day, you rarely find time to play the things that you like to play. So my fingers are not too out of practice, but I do struggle with the fast technical runs. So for this week my goal is to make time each day to practise the technical exercises and songs that is for me, not my students. I would like to be able to put in at least an hour or two a day. This might be a bit unrealistic, but who knows, if I prioritise it I think I will be able to do it.

Have you been neglecting a skill lately that you would like to hone again? Why not make it your goal for this week and rekindle the passion you have for it!

The Nectar Collective


How blogging has changed me

When I started blogging I never anticipated what it would do for me. For starters, I did not realise how big the blogging community was until I stepped into it. The reasons I started was simple:

  • Practise writing. Being a music teacher I know that if you want to improve a skill, you need to practise it. I wanted to improve my writing, so I needed a place to practise it. Blogging was the simple solution.
  • Dynamic creative outlet. I do not realy like creative endeavours that does not count towards something. For example, when I do mosaic, I need to make something I can use or give away as a gift. I struggle to make something just for the sake of making it.
  • Putting memories to paper. Or let me rather say in writing. I was going through some of my old journals when I realised that life goes by so fast, and if I do not write down the things I want to remember, I will most probably forget them. Or at least forget the details that make the memory profound. The plus side of blogging is that I get to include pictures as part of those memories!

Although I only started to blog seriously in May this year, I have picked up a couple of changes that has happened to me so far:

  • For starters, my spelling has improved. I downloaded a dictionary and every time I am not sure of how to spell a word, I would look it up. I would rather look it up than opting for using the built in spell checker. My reasoning is that I want to learn and improve, and using a spell checker does not help that much. However, if I look up a word, I start to remember the spelling purposefully.
  • My english language use has also improved. English is only my second language, but I am actualy starting to think in english more. Yes I do teach in english, but writing the language, in a way, needs to be more eloquent. In writing I do not have the advantaged of facial expression and body language.
  • But one of the biggest ways that blogging has changed me is in doing something productive without getting any financial gain out of it. I had a big mental block on this issue that has spread to so many areas of my life. For instance, I used to write a lot of songs. Then I just stopped. One of my biggest reasons for stopping was not seeing the use in writing songs if they are not going to be performed. What a load of rubbish that is! Yes, it is awesome when your songs get performed, but writing them, the journey, is also an important part.

So blogging started of as a way to practise writing, but it has changed me in ways I did not expect. And in a way giving me back a part of me I did not realise I have lost. And then there is also another big perk to it – it makes me happy! Putting out a new post just keeps on putting a smile on my face.

Earlier this week I wrote about another thing that makes me realy happy: receiving postcards in the mail. I therefor decided to spread the happiness a little bit further… So, the first three readers to tell me about their favourite Text Sketches post in the comment section will also receive a postcard from me…

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