Friday, 30 January 2015

Fitness Challenge

Photo courtesy of Jeff Sheldon
Jon Bear and I both want to get fit this year. We’ve decided to do a fitness challenge for February which will help get us moving. It’s our first time doing a fitness challenge and if we like it we will continue with it. We’re going to start off small to see if this is our thing.

The first challenge we are going to do is a Tricep Challenge for 30 days.


We’re aware that one exercise on one body part can’t make you lose weight so this is really just a supplement to our own exercise regime. Jon likes to jog and take long walks and I like to do yoga and aerobics.  

We will writing weekly blog posts about how we are feeling and I will start first. 

Monday, 26 January 2015

Entertainment Monday: Hozier (Monday, January 26, 2015)



I had been considering doing an Entertainment Monday on Hozier for quite some time now as I liked his sound when his first hit Take Me To Church came out and became a smash success.  His next two songs to get radio play here in the North Eastern United States were even better though and that clinched it.

Hozier, is Andrew Hozier-Byrne who was born in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland in 1990.  This past October of 2014 saw the release of his first album, self titled, Hozier.  I found out a bit to my own surprise that he was part of Anuna from 2008-2012.  I was familiar with Anuna from their version of Winter, Fire and Snow, a song I shared on the last Entertainment Monday I wrote this two weeks past now. I had no idea until reading up about Hozier on Wikipedia that he had anything to do with Anuna.  Off the top of my head I can not honestly recall an artist out of Ireland who's music I really took to since Sinead O'Connor.  So I'm obviously dating myself a bit here.  It's possible there is musician or two I really liked that I never knew came out of Ireland over that time span, but it's not like the Emerald Isle has exactly been churning out a fountain of hit popular music songs or musicians recently.  On edit: U2 has of course stood the test of time and produced a number of great hits over the years, but they proceeded Sinead's brief fame and have since had a number of songs I really enjoy.  On looking into it a bit more I saw that the Coors came from Ireland and I had forgotten about the Cranberries.  Two very successful bands in their own right.  At any rate, Hozier is still predated quite a bit by all of those performers.  So while I have to modify my contention about Ireland and successful performers a bit, it's still been a few years at least it seems since someone took the music scene by storm who hailed from Ireland.

As I already mentioned, Hozier's first song to hit the airwaves and launch him globally was Take Me to Church.


After Take Me to Church I heard Angel of Small Death which is the song that really made me a fan of his. I love the soulful sound of his music. 


This morning driving into work I first heard Like Real People Do by Hozier, which has much more of an Irish Folk sound to it than the soulful sounds of Take Me to Church and Angel of Small Death.  I love Irish, Scottish and Welsh Folk music going back to such classic tunes as Scarborough Fair, Annie Laurie and Loch Lomond.  Like Real People Do, while different, brought me back to my childhood listening to those tunes with my father. 


So I am now unequivocally a big fan and look forward to listening to more music from Hozier, and maybe some day getting to see him in concert. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Blogs of the Month: January 2015

Carlyn: The blog that I pick this month is Pudding Fancy by Renae. Renae writes about her life and interests. What I like about Pudding Fancy is that Renae’s kind and funny personality shows in her blog posts. She has enthusiasm for the simple things in life such as enjoying time with friends and enjoying delicious meals. I’m always hungry after reading her food posts as she appears to enjoy her food very much. I also like reading about her current obsessions about kpop or games which I find to be amusing, cute and a little worrying considering the time placed on such obsessions but who wasn’t that way at that age?

*nom nom* --- Jon Bear nosily eating yummers after checking out Pudding Fancy.

Jon Bear:
My blog of the month for January 2015 is pastemagazine.com's blog which is more of a compilation site of various blog entries.  I linked it specifically for it's 2014 blog post of the 100 best comic book characters of all time There are several of these types of lists out there, ranking various comic book heroes and villains but I liked their post which combined the two on one list and also considered a variety of comic book characters; not just those from the Marvel and DC comic Universe that I grew up with.   I liked seeing characters such as Groo the Wanderer on their list, who was always a more light hearted type comic book character as well at Hawkeye (number 56 on the list) who was my favorite of all time.  Any list has a great deal of subjectivity to it and can/will always be argued.  That's part of the fun though.  I know that Comics and Anime are hitting something of a revival this past decade or so.  It had seemed like popularity had died down for a bit not long after my childhood when you could once find a comic book store on almost every corner.  I think comic books in general are great entertainment and wonderful social relics of their time, even though the literary genre is in it's relative infancy.  I also think that they can be a bridge for younger adults into reading. 

While pastemagazine is a big site and differs from a lot of the small time more personal blogs around the blogosphere that we might typically share, I still think it's a fun place to read about today's popular culture and can appeal to a lot of people with different interests. 


Monday, 19 January 2015

Entertainment Monday: Teen Beach Movie (January 19, 2015)


After the success of the High School Musical movies, Disney has released a new made for TV musical. Teen Beach Movie is set in the 1960s and plays homage to surf movies of that era as well as West Side Story and Grease.
source
 The film begins in the present day with a teenage couple Brady (played by Ross Lynch) and McKenzie  or “Mack”(Maia Mitchell) who live by the beach. When McKenzie’s mother dies, her aunt suggests that she move interstate with her to attend a school, that her mother would have liked. Mckenzie decides to go the school and wants to break up with Brady to avoid the difficulties of a long distance relationship.


McKenzie goes for one last surf and Brady goes in after her when he sees the water is too dangerous. The pair gets swept up in a big wave and are magically transported into Wet Side Story, a beach movie from the 1960s. It is a dream come true for Brady as it is his favourite movie. McKenzie is not as impressed and tries to get out of the movie.

Australian actress Maia Mitchell

Things become askew when the pair unintentionally prevents the two lead characters from meeting and falling in love. Instead, Tanner (Garret Clayton) falls in love with McKenzie and Lela (Grace Phipps) for Brady. Tanner is a surfer and Lela is biker and their two groups hate each other. Tanner and Lela are the catalyst to a turf war that needs to happen in order for the movie to continue. Brady and McKenzie realize that they must bring Tanner and Lela together otherwise they will be stuck in the movie forever.



I thought the film was very cute as the film is conscious of the silliness of the plot and embraces it. Brady and Mack give off bemused expressions when facing the quirks of Wet Side Story. My favourite example of this, is illustrated in the scene when Mack goes surfing with Tanner. It is obvious that the actors are standing in front of some ocean footage pretending to surf. The scene is a reference to Gidget, the teen surfer character from the 1960s.

McKenzie and Tanner Surfing
I also enjoyed the songs in the movie which were well sung and choreographed. My favourite songs are Fallin’ for ya and Like Me. Like Me is reminiscent of Summer Nights from the movie Grease. The song Like Me, features the boys and girls singing about the opposite sex and ways to win them over. The 60s characters sing old fashioned views about courtship such as waiting for the guy to ask the girl out and how boys should always take the lead in the relationship. Brady and McKenzie try to convince them otherwise.



I think Teen Beach Movie is a great movie to watch with kids and preteens as well as the young at heart. It’s a fun movie for a bit of escapism. I also learnt that the movie was successful enough that Disney have decided to make a sequel. The sequel is supposed to be about the 60s characters being transported to the present day. I think it would be entertaining to watch. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

2015 Goals


I have new goals/bucket list things to do this year and I hope to complete them.  This year, I want to focus on being more active and healthy. I also want to want to do something special for my mother as it will be her 50th birthday this year.
Here are my goals for this year:

Be more productive


Last year, I realized that I spent a lot of time on things that did not matter. I would have accomplished more if I had not devoted so much time on procrastinating. So this year, I plan to be aware of when I am procrastinating as it’s easy to do it without realizing. There is always more worthwhile things that I could be doing instead of watching Youtube or reading useless articles on celebrity babies. Instead of doing those things, I could be reading books, cleaning the house, exercising or spending time with loved ones.

Save 3 Months of wages


This was one of my goals from two years ago that I failed to do because I made no changes to my lifestyle to achieve it. I heard that it is good to have the equivalent of 3 months saved so that if you become unemployed, you can still pay off your bills while you look for another job. I have the terrible of habit of living from pay check to pay check. There is no reason for it other than I spend too much. So this year, I’m not going to eat out as much or waste money on frivolous things. I’m going to save a little each time I am paid so that I can have some savings.

Dress Better


I really want to update my wardrobe. So many of my clothes are outdated and worn. I want to present myself better and hopefully that will give me some more confidence and happiness. I know that image is not everything and my ego is not wrapped solely on my appearance. I think it would just be a nice thing to do for myself. So I decided that I will buy something new at least once a month even if it’s something small like a new pair of socks.

Obtain more qualifications

I think it would be good for career if I gain more qualifications. I am an elementary teacher with no specializations. There are currently too many teachers and not enough jobs. I need to differentiate myself and consider other jobs. I am considering a TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) course and a Training and Assessment course so that I am qualified to teach adults.

Go Green

Recycle, Reduce and Recycle will be my motto for this year.

Exercise

There will be times where I live to regret this goal but I know it would be good for me. I use to exercise many years ago and I remember being much happier and healthier. I know that there will be times when I don’t want to exercise and will stop altogether. The trick is to not be too hard on myself and to start exercising again.

Do something awesome for mum’s 50th birthday

My mum is turning 50 this year and has told me she wants to do something cool for her birthday. I’m still thinking of what to do. She wants to do something she wouldn’t normally do but nothing too thrilling. Mum doesn’t want to sky dive nor does she want to do something tamer like ride a hot air balloon. Mum’s birthday is in July so I better come up with something soon.

Read 36 books this year

To a book blogger 36 books is laughable but I think it’s a realistic amount for me. It’s double of what I normally read per year. I’m really determined to be more disciplined about reading and get through my reading lists. It also means that I’m going to watch less TV and not spend so many hours on nonsense.   

I’d love to hear your goals for this year.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

2014 Goals Reviewed


Initially, this blog was created by Jon and I to record and share our goals and it has morphed into other interest as well. Every year, we always start new goals so that we can enrich our lives. We also evaluate the success of our goals and reasons for the outcomes.

Read new books and finish old ones.


I did read new books and finish old ones. I would have liked to have read more books and finished my booklist but that did not happen. The reason why I didn’t finish as many I would have liked was that I procrastinated and sometimes I was busy. I drew up a table to see how many books I had read from 2012-2014 and it turns out that I have read a total of 45 books in three years. In 2012-2013, I read exactly 16 books which was surprising as I didn’t set a quota for that amount. In 2014 I read 13 books.  
I am still determined to read more books and this year I will be more diligent. One of my goals this year is to be more productive. I’m going to cut out the time wasting activities that I do such as spending endless hours watching youtube videos and reading useless articles.
Grade:D

Be more adventurous in fashion.


Nope! This one did not happen at all. I didn’t focus on clothes much on clothes last year. Updating my wardrobe has been a priority of mine for some time but I still have not completed this goal. I actually need more clothes and I’m not the type of person who has a closet stuffed with clothes.
Grade:F

Put myself first

I’m getting better at being assertive and making my needs a priority.
Grade: A

Eating Healthy


I definitely had eating healthy on my agenda in 2014, especially after my dad had a heart attack.
Grade:C

Monday, 12 January 2015

Entertainment Monday: (January 12, 2015) Snow Tunes!



No, I did not misspell Entertainment Monday's title this week.  With it being the heart of Winter here now in the greater North East Region of the United States I figured I might share some "Snow Tunes" with just a few songs about or songs that mention snow which I like.

I have never been someone who really takes advantage of Winter in the North East as I do not ski, skate, snow shoe or partake in any outdoor Winter activities per se.  I do love the look of snow, and I think a snowy day is quiet and beautiful.  I even enjoy shoveling for the most part as long as I am not in a rush or late for something.  I do not enjoy driving in the snow, but who does?  Except for those crazy and fool hearty drivers who believe their four wheel drive vehicles will successfully navigate them across any road condition.  Yes, I'm taking to you truck driver who was riding up on the tail end of my vehicle this morning as I drove my little slip sliding car the 25 mile drive in to work.

I think that a lot of people in the North East are grumpy about snow because it makes them slow down and they risk accidents on the roadways.  Plus it's just downright cold.  I try to enjoy it though for what it is, much as I like to enjoy a good rain storm in the Summer Time now and then.

So without further ado here are the Snow Tunes I wish to share:

Valley Winter Song by Fountains of Wayne:



Yes, the group who is famous for the song "Stacey's Mom" actually has some really good music.  I love Valley Winter Song, because I live very close to New England (generally considered Massachusetts and Vermont and New Hampshire and Maine) on the boarder of New York and Vermont.  The song also mentions New York City.  So I feel close to home when I listen to Valley Winter Song, even when I'm far away.


Winter Snow by Audrey Assad and Chris Tomlin




While it is a Christmas Song: Winter Snow, written by Chris Tomlin and sung by Audrey Assad (Tomlin plays piano and does back up vocals)  is a song that I associate with the Winter and of course with Christ.  I can listen to it all Winter long.  I love the message and metaphor of Christ's arrival as a Winter Snowfall.  It also happens to be one of my favorite Christian songs of all time.

Winter, Fire and Snow by Orla Fallon




Winter, Fire and Snow is a Celtic Song, sung here by Orla Fallon.  It's a nice little tune about a mother who is waiting for her son to return home.  I am never sure if the information I read on line is entirely true or not, but I've found the songs authorship credited to Brendan Graham and Macdara Woods on the interweb, so hopefully they were the original writers.


Snow (Hey Oh) by the Red Hot Chili Peppers




There are times when I think some of the Red Hot Chili Peppers songs can sound a lot like one another and it bugs me a little.  Not sure why I added that, but it's more of an editorial note than anything, because on the whole I love a lot of the Red Hot Chili Peppers music, including Snow (Hey Oh)!  A quality band and a quality song for those long dark Winter afternoons and evenings!

So while they are all rather different stylistically, those are some of the songs I think of and like to listen to in Winter time, hopefully you will enjoy them too! =)