Monday, September 23, 2013

new blog!

I have moved!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Week of Sunshine

 Dearest Bloggins,

This past eight months have been insane and beautiful and BUSY! I went back to college to study singing and music and wound up stepping on a roller-coaster that I just couldn't get off! I enjoyed it, but there are many things that were sacrificed in the name of studying (such as eating proper meals, exercising, reading books, blogs...)

On the whole, life appears to have improved dramatically. I do not believe that this is fully down to external factors changing but because I am full of happiness and contentment. It turns out that in order to sing effectively, you have to REALLY take care of your physical and emotional self. So I've been learning to do that and it has been wonderful!

Now that I am "on holiday," I'm working very hard on watching films and listening to music. Perhaps a little too hard. By August I need to have a new album written, recorded and produced before heading to London to sing and the rigorous schedule of watching Star Trek, Iron Man, Avengers and Captain America is probably not doing too much to get me closer to that goal.

Another major goal for the summer is to lose weight and get fit. I have already started running, but a schedule or routine would really serve to motivate me, as at the moment I am not pushing myself.

As soon as exams finished, the sun made an appearance and I was able to take my study (and yoga mat!) into the garden. I had to prepare for a recital which was a part of my degree and it was so lovely to be able to sit in the sun and learn in the open air! Note to self for next year: Outside is definitely healthier than in!

Some Purcell in the evening sunshine.

The programme for my recital, plus the jewellery I wore to remind me of my friends.

The view from my yoga mat in the back garden.

A few days before the recital I had a barbecue with a few friends to try to relax! It was lovely, we tried to keep it healthy with locally made chicken sausages and salads.
Orla and Jason sitting under the parasol which hasn't been needed in two years because the weather has been so appalling!

The recital went really well! I got a high mark and I was just thrilled to see my family and friends in the audience. It's the first time I have ever been in such a high-pressure situation and been able to stay fully present and enjoy myself. Part of that was all the hours of preparation that had gone in, but I do think that all the yoga I had been doing that week had something to do with it. I really enjoyed the whole thing, it was such a great feeling! I hope I can replicate that in future performance exams!

Once the recital was over, I was free! So I went to the beach with my friend Mary for the afternoon. We had a fabulous lunch before going to the beach. I swam in the sea for the first time in what must have been about five years! It was beautiful - not like being in Ireland at all. We just lay on the beach and chatted for a while before driving around to the harbour to see the boats.

Lunch in a cliff-top restaurant in Myrtelville before heading down to the beach for a swim.
My first time in Crosshaven!
I really will make an effort to blog in the coming weeks! I have missed it soooo much! 

Friday, June 7, 2013



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How To Write a Personal Letter

When I decided to give up Facebook for the month of January, I didn't really make a decision. What happened was that I thought 'Hey! Maybe I should give up Facebook for a while.' Instead of considering how this would impact my life, how much I would miss it or... anything, really, I just typed a status saying I was doing it.

Best idea ever.

In my farewell status, a few friends and I decided to keep up via post. With stamps and pretty stationary and pens and EVERYTHING! I haven't written a letter every single day. They take a surprising amount of time and energy to write. But they have a few advantages.

..::They're personal. No one else has a letter like the one you just received!

..::Handwriting is beautiful. All handwriting! It tells the story of your correspondent's school life and it's a huge part of them.

..::THEY COME THROUGH THE LETTERBOX. The postman comes, and he delivers this special thing that is just for you, tailor-made and for nobody else. That is brilliant.

..::They last forever. A personal letter never gets lost in a backlog of wall posts or tweets.

So here are my tips for the optimal letter-writing experience:

1. Find some stationary you really love. If you love owls, get some owly paper . If you love drawing, doodle a design to make your letter extra special. The page can be out if a jotter, the recipient won't mind. But there's always something you can do to make it look special. (Stickers. ;) )

2. If you have a pen that you like to write with, stick to that. The main thing is not to worry about what you're writing with, just get writing!

3. Enclose things! If you think the recipient might like a new recipe you found, or be interested in a photo you saw in a magazine, include it ! It's one more topic for your letter and is so thoughtful!

4. Buy a book of stamps. Don't buy single stamps. Books of 10 stamps are neatly foldable to put in your wallet for when you need one. You don't want to have to go out and buy a stamp every time you need to post a letter. It's daft. Make sure you have airmail stickers too.

5. Make a copy of your letter before you send it. Take a photo, scan or photocopy it so that you can remember what you said. If you get a response, you may not remember what questions you asked!

So there you have it! Go write some letters! Maybe it can be on your task list for Project Me!


Project Me

Well, the last 12 months have been quite dreadful, in terms of health and happiness. There were many good times, but in between those were many extended periods of colds, the flu and stomach problems. All of these problems are exacerbated by stress, and what could be more stressful than suddenly going into third level education, studying a subject (singing) which relies heavily on your stamina and good health!

Though it's been a struggle, I do believe that you can learn from every experience, whether you're having fun or not. I've learned that I have some serious anxiety issues around the singing workload, and I need to learn to cope with that.

I didn't make any new year's resolutions this year, but I plan to make little changes along the way. Big resolutions overwhelm me, and I feel pressure and then guilt if I don't magically transform myself. So this month I have given up Facebook. And each week and month I will set myself small goals and tasks, all centred around making me a happier, healthier person. One week that could be 'make cookies this week and eat them' or maybe it will be 'Run ten minutes every day this week.'

Ultimately, this project will be about listening to myself and trying to do my best to be better. If I am healthy and happy, I know I'll be more efficient! I am also not going to beat myself up if I miss something. This is a positive decision, not another excuse to feel stressed out!

So this week's tasks are:
1) No dairy until next Wednesday. (one week. It makes me ill. No brainer.

2) Walk 60 minutes every day. (I'm not in college every day this week, so my usual tearing around the place has ceased! I miss my daily walking around.

3) Drink 2L of water every day. (Again, being out of the college routine has changed this!)

4) Make soup. (Soup is delicious.)

5) Pick a spot in the house to decorate in a January theme. Take a photo. Feel artistic.

There you have it! Project Me! I'd be thrilled if anyone would like to join in! Leave me a comment or tweet me @amysnow and tell me you're in! Be good to yourself this week/month /year!!

Monday, December 31, 2012

"I Can Never Leave The Past Behind"

My hair was MADE for the 80s.
2012 began with a trip to the 1980s. My friend Estelle had an 80s themed hen party in Clonakilty, West Cork. It was definitely the most fun hen party I have attended! Everyone was lovely, we played games like "make a dress out of toilet paper" and hit the various bars in Clon. I must say, it was much more fun than a night out in Cork, which is always crowded, loud and generally yucky. We accidentally wandered into a 1920s themed club, which was SO MUCH FUN!

This was my background ALL YEAR :)

Of course, next I had to claim back the limelight for my birthday party in mid-January. I was so lucky that so many of my friends traveled from the UK to come and dress up as Disney characters in this house we rented for the weekend. At the time, my ickly doggie Millie was on the cusp of death, which did rather make things more stressful for me, but I still feel so privileged that my friends came and spent the weekend with me!

It was in February that Conor and Estelle got married - what a fabulous day! There was a TONNE of music, from a long lost Baroque hymn to a metal cover band. My sister, Alison played the cello and I made the cake. I can hardly believe it's been nearly a year since the wedding! The cake took three days to make and was comprised of 120 chocolate and red velvet cupcakes, plus one giant cupcake at the top and I made myself a cupcake print dress to wear on the day. Conor and Estelle are such a lovely couple and have so many wonderful friends! A great day was had by all. 

Also in this month, Alison and I went to Cobh to enjoy a night of free dinner and free accommodation thanks to a prize Alison had won! We went to Gilberts and ate until we could eat no more before falling into bed and eating breakfast in their penthouse the following morning!

In March, the inimitable Miss Ellie Murray turned the big one-eight! For a few days, our group entered the episode of Gavin & Stacey which has, up to very recently, been Ellie's life. It was there that Ellie and I embarked upon a walk to Costa, wrote a violin part for our song about Sherlock, watched Father Ted before rocking up to a rugby club to boogie the night away for her birthday party. Pam and Mick took us out for dinner and treated me to a very British pie in a pub. It was delicious. :) 

The in the days after the party, Ellie brought us to Cheshire to a tea room that was IN a cathedral. Not in a room in a cathedral - the WHOLE cathedral was a tea room! I gasped. It was amazing and shocking!

Creepy Amy clone.
We also went to 'The Lady Lever' for tea and a cake. It was there that Kylie and I shared one of my top cakes of 2012 - a delicious carrot cake. (Ellie and Cathrin shared a "chocolate cloud cake" which was also very impressive.) It was here that I came across the painting to the right, which looks UPSETTINGLY like me as a child. I showed the picture to my dad and sister upon returning home and both are as astonished and weirded out as I am. I feel like Homer in the episode with Mr Sparkle...

Torc Waterfall, Killarney.
Martha took a short trip to Killarney in April. It was there that I went on a run that is, to this day, the most special and beautiful run I have experienced. I went just after the sun came up, it was cold, crisp and dry and I ran around a lake into Muckross grounds. There were so many trees and fields, and it was just serenely quiet. On the way back to where we were staying, I walked through the ruins of an old chapel and grave yard that was dappled in sunlight through the trees. Even though I know it was public, it felt so hidden and secret. Definitely one of my stand-out moments of 2012.

Later on that month, I began working in Bantry, West Cork. Bantry is far, far away and I taught there two days a week on top of my own teaching in Cork. It was such a strange place and so weird to go and stay in a B&B once a week but it was really fun to get to listen to podcasts and music, and to read in the time I wasn't working. I met a lot of very nice people there, too! :) When I arrived to teach piano, this sign was waiting for me! --->

In May, I was completely delighted to welcome two of my dearest friends, Kylie and Melinda to my home for a relaxing few days. We went into Cork and examined the wares for sale, drank hot chocolate and the introduced me to Spaced for the first time. I also invited them to a special tea party followed by a trip to see Avengers Assemble with Martha and Orla.

In June, so much happened! Far too much for me to recount here, but most of it occurred within one week. Bevin came from America and so we spent a week showing her some of the more more exciting parts of England - like London, Warwick Castle, London, Southend-On-Sea, London and some other places.

Emilieee ♥
Here is a picture taken directly after the moment I got a phone call saying I was being offered a place in 3rd year of a BMus performance degree programme. So glad I was with my friends when it happened! :) It was at approximately the same time that we saw the Olympic flame run past the window, too!

Ellie at Electric for a scone and a spot of knitting.
I was so happy in July because Ellie-Murray came to stay with me for four days! We sat down, we ate yoghurts, we went to see Dark Knight Rises, we went shopping, to Blarney Castle, we drank tea. It was a jolly lovely holiday. We even went to the Cork Food Festival and toured the food, eating our way around Cork, essentially, and basking in the evening sun.

At the end of July (the 31st, to be specific!) Lucy, Mel, Emilie and I went to Leavesden Studios for Harry's birthday. It was lovely, we got to see all the beautiful props from the films and it was awe-inspiring to see even that small portion of all the work that went into the films. At the same time, Lucy and I shot a video for LeakyCon 2012 which meant that by the time the tour was over, we really NEEDED to go to TGI Friday for a cocktail. ;) Emilie kindly invited me to stay with her while in London, and I got to experience London during the Olympics (It was weird and quiet!)

Post launch party, the support team has a breather.
Immediately after our Harry Potter adventure (in August,) I took a train to Macclesfield to stay with Laura and Cathrin for their birthdays. They were also releasing their first Goodnight Astor album. We had a lovely few days of watching Gavin and Stacy and listening to the musical hits of the 80s, 90s and 00s before their show.

Apart from going back to college, September was an important month for me and a few of my friends, as we were fortunate enough to go to the launch of The Casual Vacancy. After an interview and Q&A, the occupants of the Southbank Centre were able to meet J.K. Rowling to have their books signed. Here is the seemingly rather innocuous of the very thing occurring...

October was a whirlwind of college work and teaching. I joined the 21st century and bought an iPhone.

On the 30th of November to the 2nd of December my friends and I travelled to Edinburgh for the Snow Ball and Lucy's 30th birthday. We dressed up as action heroes and villains for Lucy's birthday.

The next day, we went to the Snow Ball. Laura, Cathrin and I were performing with Harry and the Potters, Riddle TM and the Pumpkin Pasties.

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your year was fabulous and you're all ready for 2013! I'm going to have to go off and think about my new year's resolutions! One will definitely be to blog more! :)


Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Minds of Others

Ready to read!
(No spoilers!)

Reading 'The Casual Vacancy' has (thus far - I'm not finished) made me think about how people's minds work. As a longtime hardcore fan of children's literature and, in more recent years, the works of such authors as Dodie Smith and Agatha Christie, I am used to a certain type of thinking. The opening pages were quite jarring to me, as everyone - everyone has an agenda. Everyone's thoughts veer towards the unkind and coarse or selfish with only a few exceptions.

Rather naively, this shocked me. Of course this is a work of fiction and contains heightened characteristics of human nature. I completely understand that, but it has made me think about thoughts and motives. Do people really have such dark thoughts when faces with a sudden death? Thoughts which have absolutely nothing to do with actual death?

At this point I should admit that I am a ruthless self-analyser. I question every thought I have and every action I take. Part of this just a trait of an anxious personality. The idea of causing anyone else unhappiness on purpose is horrifying to me and I'm deeply convinced that something terrible will happen if I ever make anyone suffer, intentionally or not. On the whole, though, I don't have nasty thoughts about people. I'm usually too busy being worried about something.

If someone had asked me sixty pages in to describe the book, I would have said that it's a grotesque depiction of the less attractive aspects of human nature. It sounds strong, but it really did catch me quite off-guard. The topic at the start of the book is sudden death, and how everyone copes or does not cope with it. It's a subject that I have some experience with, and am therefore interested in. Pagford's inhabitants are each self-obsessed, their thoughts are for themselves.

It's a good and very different exercise to be presented with a group of characters with whom I don't immediately sympathise. I'm looking forward to unwinding the rest of the book.