Monday, October 31, 2011

Lessons Learned From Weddings

I'd never been to a wedding before. The only one I'd been invited to, was during a camp, which made it impossible for me to go. So I had absolutely no idea what they were like, though I liked to try and imagine it.

So my sister Felicity's wedding was a completely new experience for me. Planning a wedding when both the bride and groom are a whole country away, is not easy, but somehow we managed it. And along the way, I learnt several very important lessons.

Weddings are hard work. It's easy enough to work this one out when you're faced with baking, wedding favours, music, a church and priest, dresses and other important details to sort out. After an eight hour shift in the kitchen baking the wedding cupcakes, I never wanted to hear the word 'wedding' (or 'brownie') again.
Groomsmen and bridesmaids do not like to get dressed. By the time we left the house on the wedding morning, the groomsmen had only just managed to get into their suits, and the bridesmaids were still frizzling their hair as they attempted to curl it.
It's hard to sing in a fitted dress. Charlotte and I were two of the five bridesmaid, but I was also greatly involved in the music. A lot of elaborate arrangements were implemented so that I could be down by the organ at the appropriate times. But the church was beautiful to sing in, even if the dress wasn't.
Never wear new shoes to the reception. After the wedding and lunch, it was time for the reception with it's speeches and toast, and beautiful food. But my swollen feet in their new shoes were blistered, so I removed my shoes for comfort's sake. It seemed to start a new trend for, first the bride, then Mum, then Callum's girlfriend removed their shoes.
Weddings seem better when they're over. At the time the wedding seemed like a lot of work. Everything was moving too fast to really be noticed. But, at the end of the day, it's so much easier to see the beautiful parts of the wedding.
I'm glad the wedding is over now, despite how exciting it was. It may sound strange to say this, but I'm looking forwards to normal life and school work. Though how normal life will be with NaNoWriMo starting tomorrow, I don't know.
Have you ever been to a wedding? Have you ever helped organise one? What do you think of weddings?

Mum has also written a post on the wedding, for those dedicated wedding fans

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Miss Elvis

I have always been fascinated by the formality of names in Jane Austen's books. After reading The Jane Austen Guide to Good Manners, Charlotte and I had some very good conversations about why Jane Bennett was called 'Miss Bennett' while her sisters were only 'Miss So-and-so'.

The natural conclusion of this, was our working out our own titles according to the rules of Regency England.
"I'm Miss Charlotte, and you're Miss Imogen," Charlotte said.

"Which makes Felicity 'Miss Elvis'," I decided. "Someday I'm going to be Miss Elvis."

"Yes, but Felicity has to get married first."

Yesterday, Felicity did get married in our little local church. All her friends were there. After weeks of frenzied preparation and miss-communications, the big day had finally come. Charlotte and I wore our beautiful Regency style bridesmaid dresses. The two smaller girl flitted around like puffy clouds. Camera clicked and flashed, capturing the day Felicity stopped being an Elvis.

So, after years of waiting, I am Miss Elvis now. It sounds so grand. I feel ready to bring out the long Regency dresses, tie up my hair, and travel back in time so I can enjoy being Miss Elvis to the full. One day I'll pass on the title of 'Miss Elvis', but for now I'll make the most of it.

"Hello, I'm Imogen Elvis, but you can call me Miss Elvis."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


We filed onto the field for the last soccer game of the season. Shaking hands with our opponents, we prepared to have fun. Our main thought was that we weren't last on the table. Not like last season. No, this season we'd done well.

The whistle blew.

At once the ball flew through the air. A moment later it landed in the net. Wow, our first goal of the night! Where on earth had that come from?
The ball hit the net again, then again. I lost count of the goals scored. Had the other team got more than I remembered? Were some of our goals disallowed? I wasn't sure. All I knew was that finally, after a whole season of average playing, we'd suddenly stopped being six individuals, and become one team, working together and outplaying the opposition at every move. It felt amazing.

The whistle blew. The game was over.

"What was the score?" we all asked the referee.

Our eyes nearly dropped out of our heads when we heard. Where had this game come from? What magic fairy had waved their wand and made us good players?

"Could all the players please make their way to the trophy table."

Trophy table? That sounded exciting. And it was. One by one, the members of each team were called to the table and presented with a trophy, runners up, then us, the B division comp winners!

My trophy now sits on my shelf, along side a couple of other trophies I've gathered. I'll never have enough trophies for a proper cabinet, but I don't care. Just being good enough to win even one trophy is more than enough for me.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Impossible or Possible?

Wandering around the blogosphere a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon several posts about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Many writers whose blogs I read, have signed up and are eagerly awaiting the start of November to begin this month long challenge.

I thought it sounded impossible. Write a 50' 000 word novel in a month or less? How on earth was anyone supposed to do that? I dismissed the idea as silly, and promptly forgot about it.

But November was creeping closer, and more and more people were preparing for NaNoWriMo. Everyone seemed to be doing it. Everyone seemed very excited about doing it. Intrigued, I paid a quick visit to the official site and had a look round.

Wow! Suddenly I was interested in NaNoWriMo. What a goal! Spend a month writing, and have a book at the end of it. It might be worth giving it a go.

The clincher for me, was when Mum bought No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, one of the founders of NaNoWriMo. I devoured the book in an afternoon. Now I knew I wanted to take part in this years NaNoWriMo. But I still didn't sign up. Would I have time to write that much? What if I didn't? What if I failed? What if I wrote complete rubbish?

When Charlotte came out and said she wanted to do NaNoWriMo, I knew I'd just have to do it now. I'd risk all those fears and go for the goal. No way was she going to beat me!

We signed up together, with the full approval of Mum. Much to our surprise, she was also considering doing NaNoWriMo. We're rather hoping she does. Just think, three writers in the same family, all striving for the same goal.

With the start of NaNoWriMo in ten days, I'm suddenly very enthusiastic about this challenge. I'm going to make that goal, and I'm going to write a book. And most of all, I'm going to enjoy this impossible sounding challenge.

Are you taking part in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you taken part in other years? Do you have any tips for me? Do you think I'm crazy to even consider attempting this?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Organs and Sleeping Feet

I didn't play this organ. Can you tell?

Our organ sits in the corner, its stool tucked away neatly. The keys gather dust. Next to it sits the piano. Every day its keys get a pounding. Its stool scrapes along the floor as we position it for our practice session. We are not a house of organists, that's for sure.

I always meant to have a go at the organ. But without being shown how to play it, I didn't dare to touch it. Every so often I'd look wistfully at it and think 'If only I could play the organ.' But I never did anything.

Then, we went to a homeschooling camp. They had no organist, though they had an electric keyboard. I doubtfully volunteered to play for mass, but only on the keyboard. In the half an hour before mass, I ran through the music for the first time ever, visualising mistake after mistake.

Mass began, and I played the hymns, completely focused on the music. I didn't hear the singers, or the congregation. I only counted the verses, and sighed with relief when mass finished. That hadn't gone too badly. I might be able to handle this.

When I turned up for mass the next day however, it was suggested that I might try the organ. I was nervous. I'd hardly even touched an organ. Surely I'd mess everything up. I slid my bottom along the organ stool and stared at the mind boggling array of switches, buttons and keys. What would I do with two keyboards?

One of the girls gave me a quick run through on how the organ worked, and suddenly I was playing the organ. I concentrated all my mind power on the music. I mustn't mess up. Everyone would hear me on the organ. I mustn't touch the pedals either. They'd make a loud noise.

So I sat on the wooden seat, running through the music in my mind, checking and rechecking that I had the right music, with my feet dangling in mid air. As the last notes of the last hymn died away, I breathed a pray of thanks. It was over. Now it was time to see how badly I'd done.

Much to my surprise, everyone thought the music had been wonderful. Suddenly I was the organist of the camp. Would I play the organ for the next day's mass? I certainly would.

As I slid off the stool after playing for my last mass of the camp, pins and needles shot through my feet. After so long hanging in space, they'd fallen fast asleep!

Now that I've dipped my toe in the waters of organism, I'm eager to go on. Maybe I can play at mass in our parish. Ooh, that sounds a little daunting. I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet. Or maybe I am...

Do you or have you ever played the organ for mass? Do you enjoy it? Or do you find it a bit scary?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I am a Stylish Blogger

As I blog hop around the internet, I'm always very interested in the things people put in their sidebars. Some have music players, or lists of blogs, some have quotes, some pictures. But one thing a lot of blogs have, is an award.

I didn't understand awards at first. What made a person a Versatile Blogger? How were they Stylish? What did giving and receiving all these awards mean? They seemed pretty pointless to me.

Then, Sue from Sue Elvis Writes awarded me 'The Stylish Blogger' award. I read her post on blog awards, and suddenly I understood what awards are about. It's not really a matter of someone being versatile or stylish. As Sue says, it's a way to show people that you enjoy reading their blog.

So, I am very honoured to receive this blog award. It's nice to feel that someone out there is enjoying reading my posts.

Before I can show my own appreciation for my fellow bloggers, I must tell you 7 things about myself. So...

  1. I love to read. I rarely find a book I can't finish. Once I start to read a book, I can finish it in less than a day.
  2. I absolutely refuse to wear high heels or make-up (though I don't object to other people wearing them).
  3. I have an excellent memory for movie quotes and have a quote for just about every occasion, much to my sisters' dismay.
  4. Despite learning both singing and the piano, I want to study medicine instead of music.
  5. I am the first child in our family to finish year 12 advance maths.
  6. I am often more comfortable talking to adults and people younger than myself than I am talking to people of my own age.
  7. I would never ever want to go to school. Sorry schoolies, but I love homeschooling too much!
And now, to hand the award onto five blogs that I enjoy reading.

  1. Charlotte at Charlotte's Web. Her posts are interesting to read without being long, and I love her drawings!
  2. Victoria at Raindrop and Moonlight. A fellow booklover and Catholic Homeschooler.
  3. JT at JT's Tales. He posts his stories on this blog. I enjoy reading the new instalments to his current tale.
  4. Autumn at Storygirl. Another Catholic Homeschooler. I like reading her posts on diverse subjects such as books, music, and snippets of her own life.
  5. Jessica at Safirewriter. Lots of posts on writing and reading.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beach Art

When packing to go on holiday, I was planning what amusements to take with me. Laptop, ereader, ipod...doodling equipment. Not that I thought I was really going to use that last one. Why, I'd be far too busy to do a mere doodle.
The beach.

In the afternoon of the first full day, I suddenly remembered my doodling stuff. I had a black pen with me, and the little girls had some coloured pencils out. I decided to do some drawing. I finished my doodle that evening. Suddenly I had captured a little of our holiday on paper. I wanted to capture more. So I started another.

Shell hunting by the surf beach.

My first doodle was inspired just by the beach, but my next came from a shell hunting trip. Then I drew one inspired by the hundreds of bluebottle jellyfish washed up on the surf beach. The essence of canoeing joined the gang, and finally, our traditional sand fort.
Bluebottle jellyfish are nasty creatures, but they make nice pictures.

My beach doodles were different from any of my other doodles. Little dots defined the water and the sun. Wavy lines flowed through the picture, ending up as seaweed. My favourite thing about the doodles was that it didn't matter that all the objects, such as shells, didn't look lifelike. It was how the picture was meant to be.
The essence of canoeing. Sun, water and seaweed.

I'm glad now that I decided to take my doodling stuff. We always had plenty of time to spend sitting quietly, reading or drawing. And now I have my own, personal, unique way to remember our wonderful beach holiday.
Our traditional sand fort. We make one every beach holiday.

Have you ever drawn the events of your holiday? Which of my doodles do you like best? I'd love to hear!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back From A Beach Holiday

Four years ago, our family went on a beach holiday. We rented a house up the coast for a week, and had the most wonderful holiday ever. Every day was spent on the beach, or bush walking, or playing on the play equipment. Now we’ve just come back from our second beach holiday.

This time we went down the coast, to a funny little beach cottage by a lake called ‘Swan Lake’. Inside the cottage was cluttered with knick knacks and mirrors. It had a walk through bathroom, and fish in the trees outside. And it was right next to the lake beach.

We’d been looking forwards to this holiday for half the school term. We were packed two days early in our excitement. This would be a great holiday, maybe even better than last holiday. And it was.

Every day was spent on the beach, or around the beach. Sometimes we went cycling. Often we went out in a canoe. Once we even capsized the canoe. We build sandcastle, and watched movie. We bought souvenirs and took photos.

I loved every minute of our holiday. I have so many stories to tell, hundreds of photos to share, and memories I will treasure for a long time to come.

Even though I’ve been away, I didn’t forget you, my readers. I scheduled some posts to come out while I was gone so that my blog wasn’t inactive. And now I have lots of posts to catch up with. Thank you to everyone who left comments while I was away. It was so nice to come back and read them all. It’s good to be back.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Manners According to Jane Austen

I thought I knew Jane Austen's stories. I thought I understood everything that was going one. Certainly I knew enough to enjoy her books. But recently I met a book that took my understanding of Jane Austen's books to a whole new level.

Recently Mum bought Charlotte a book about manners in the time of Jane Austen. Charlotte, being the dedicated Janite she is, at once read it from cover to cover.

"You have to read it," she told me afterwards. "It's really good."

"Of course I'll read it...later."

And so, the book waited until this holidays, when I decided that I had better read it, and find out why it was so good.
I sat down with the book and opened its stiff, white cover. The first thing that jumped out at me was the beautiful watercolour illustrations. Then, as I started to read, I became lost in the writing. All forms of manners were addressed in the book, accompanied by the worst 'Blunders' and various quotes both from Jane Austen's books and her letters.

The book gave me a whole new insight into the world of Jane Austen's books. Suddenly I realised why Lydia and Kitty's chasing the soldiers was so improper, why Mr Collins didn't have good manners, and why, when Marianne Dashwood wrote to Mr Willoughby, her family all thought she was engaged.
Jane Austen's Guide To Good Manners is a must read for any true Janite who wants to fully understand the intricate social manners of the regency period.

Charlotte also wrote a post on this subject for those who are interested.

Which of Jane Austen's books have you read? Have you read any good books about her life and writings? Have you ever read Jane Austen's Guide To Good Manners?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fear of Photos

I was looking through the photos on my computer other other day, trying to find one of me. Then I checked through the photos on Sophie's camera. Nowhere could I find a recent photo of me. I know the reason, I won't let people take pictures of me. I'd much rather be the person taking the photos. But why?

Gemma-Rose has no problem with be photographed. She worms her way into most photos, this little blond head popping up in the most unexpected spots. She loves to have her photo taken, and I have to admit, she looks really good in them too.

On the other hand, I know a girl who refuses to have any photos taken of her at all. Point a camera in her direction, and her hands fly up to cover her face. The only way to get a picture of her is to take her by surprise.

I'm not quite as extreme as that. I just don't particularly like having pictures taken of me. I dislike looking at myself. Somehow, even in the good pictures I find myself thinking "Oh, I look so bad. I really need to get that deleted. No one should see me looking like that."

However, photos are a record. Nowhere in my photos is there a record that Imogen Elvis existed in this period of time. Did Imogen go to the park with her sisters? Was she present at Duncan's birthday? Going by my photos, no.

If I wait to have a good photo taken, I'll never have a photo taken. I'll never have a record that I was in this place, that I did these things. And after all, I don't even have to look at the photos if I don't want to get embarrassed.

So, I am resolved to be less of the strange photo shy girl, and a little more like the photogenic, camera loving Gemma-Rose. Because one day I might like to have photos of me at sixteen to show to people later on.

Do you like having your photo taken? Or are you camera shy? Somewhere in the middle? Do you prefer to be behind the camera? I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Playing On Picnik

Mum came hurrying out of her room. "Come and see what I've done!"

We followed her back into her room, where she proudly pointed to the computer screen. We looked and saw an amazing blog header made up of photos of us. "What do you think?" she asked us.

"Wow. That's so good. How did you do it?"

"I used Picnik." Mum clicked the mouse and opened the program. "I made a collage. See?"

I was amazed, and at once resolved to try making some collages myself. So, as soon as I left Mum's room, I grabbed my netbook and sat down to work it all out.

Half an hour later, after much downloading of photos, working out how to use things, and general dithering, I had the most amazing collage. It was specially for Charlotte and the theme was pink, of course.

I was hooked, and soon another picture, fully edited and played with, joined the collage in the 'saved' folder. Again it was of Charlotte, and I'd made full use of the softening feature and frames.
I just had time to play with one more collage before it was time to stop. By this time my three sisters were all leaning over my shoulders watching me put it together. A grid, four photos, a frame and several stickers later, and it was finished. A lovely collage of us four girls together.
Now that I've discovered the wonders of Picnik, I'm hooked. Ideas for new collages are buzzing in my head. I want to play more, try out more of the many, varied features. Of course, some of the features on Picnik are only available if you upgrade, but even at the basic level there are enough to make your photos fantastic.

Have you ever used Picnik to jazz up your photos? What do you think of my photos?