Carl Sandburg Poetry Contest

 

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A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to receive the People’s Choice award in the Carl Sandburg poetry contest. The awards ceremony took place last weekend in North Carolina. My family and I drove up Friday morning so that we could attend. While there, we visited the Carl Sandburg house, which is now a National Park. Check out the pictures above and my poem below!

Drawing Hearts with a Pink Flashlight

Another Cabaret!

…and yet another fun cabaret has gone by! This time, I performed two pieces I absolutely adore – America (West Side Story), and Je Veux (by Zaz).  In America, I was honored to have been able to accompany Ms. Ashlyn, a phenomenal dancer. As a surprise, I prepared and dedicated Je Veux to Mme Maryse, my wonderful friend and French teacher.

I was honored that my family and friends came to see my performances! Check out the recordings below.

I cannot wait till the next cabaret! Please comment and let me know what you think.

My New Violin – Sweet Valentine!

I got my first full-size violin just a couple of weeks ago! Woo-hoo! And boy, do I love her – which is very appropriate since I got her on Valentine’s Day. In honor of this, I have named her my Sweet Valentine. Who knows – maybe she will be the violin I take with me through the rest of my life. Check out the pictures – isn’t she just beautiful? And she sounds so wonderful… like melted caramel.

 

Emory Orchestra Concert

Last week marked my second Emory Orchestra concert! I am so honored that I get to be a part of this wonderful orchestra. We performed a very nice program, I believe.  Check out the recordings at the links below! Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Symphony in D Major, op. 11 Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2hm4zxiiok

Fantasia in F Tracey Rush

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeM9CwyiKMw

Unter Donner Und Blitz, Schnell-Polka (Thunder and Lightning, Quick Polka)Johann Strauss Jr.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd51UiqcWg0

Cabaret 2019!

Woohoo! Once again, I got the opportunity to be a part of my acting studio’s Cabaret! I had so much fun playing some fiddle music – I performed Cotton-Eyed Joe! This was a special treat for me, as I mostly play classical music! Special thanks to my wonderful violin teacher Mr. Crane, who arranged the violin music and created the soundtrack.

I also sang I Could Have Danced All Night. This is such a special song and I got to be like Audrey Hepburn aka Eliza Doolittle for a few minutes…😊 I also had the honor of working on this piece with Ms. Ashlyn, a wonderful dancer! Mr. Don joined us for the second performance and made it very funny.😊 Here are the recordings:

 

 

 

I would love to hear what you think!

The Most Magical Christmas

 

 

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I had the most magical Christmas this year, and I would love to share a little bit of it with you!

This winter, I got to visit my grandparents in their little village in the Czech Republic! I usually only go in summer (check out my blog “Adventures With My Grandparents”), but this year we decided to visit for Christmas, as well. And let me tell you, Christmas in the Czech Republic is so wonderful. People spend a lot of time with family and friends. They bake gazillions of different kinds of cookies that they share and exchange with others – it is a very sweet-smelling tradition! We made about a dozen kinds of cookies, and the family thought we were seriously slacking off. I guess we will have to do better next time! 😊 Another and perhaps the most important tradition is watching fairytales. They are loaded with the best actors in the Czech Republic, and no, they are not animated or baby movies. These fairytales are so magical and special.

Most days, the temperatures hovered right around freezing. And the crazy thing is, my grandpa and I went bike riding nearly every day anyway! We would ride out into the woods, and we found lots mushrooms (though we didn’t eat any, as they were ‘edible, but not tasty’)! Check out some pictures of these cool mushrooms in the slideshow.

While inside, I often baked with my grandma. We made lots of yummy treats, most notably gingerbread cookies (there is a picture in the slideshow). But we also made Christmas breads, linzer cookies, and other kinds of cookies. The scent of the doughs and ingredients filled the air with a beautiful, sweet aroma.

A lot of my extended Czech family came to visit us, which was really nice. There is something very magical about having most of your family in one room. I am sure you agree. My relatives would always bring Christmas cookies they made, and quite frankly sometimes we almost ate the whole box in one sitting! Czech cookies are really delicious.

And then there was Christmas Eve (that is when we celebrate Christmas) – the most magical day of the whole trip. The celebration started in the afternoon when we all went to the little chapel in the middle of my grandparents’ village. It was getting dark and really cold but it did not stop anyone from joining in. Nearly everyone from the village was there, and we all sang Christmas carols. We soon returned home and had a delicious Christmas dinner – most people still eat the traditional fish and potato salad that evening. Christmas is not a big culinary feast. It is a day to appreciate the people in your life and things that really matter. After dinner, we sat and more or less patiently waited for the bell to let us know that it was time to come to the tree. Finally, it rang, and we all rushed into the living room where the tree was lit up and wrapped in beautiful packages. We opened our presents and we all were very happy and grateful.

But there was a surprise yet to come. I told my grandparents that I had one more gift – a little surprise I had been preparing for a while. It is a famous song from the most beloved Czech fairytale. I had prepared and recorded the piano part that we then played on their TV while I sang the song for my grandparents. I even had a costume that looked like it was from the movie! My grandparents were shocked! My grandma was so surprised she had hard time breathing when I started, and my grandpa was crying. My grandparents did not know where to look first – at me singing or at the TV where I played the piano! I think they liked it…. 🙂 What a wonderful evening.

P.S. After I sang the song, we watched the fairytale from which the music came! 😊

Here is the recording of this song:

 

 

I was only able to play this thanks to my wonderful piano teacher Ms. Irina. She is an incredible pianist, teacher, and friend to me. Thank you, Ms. Irina!

My grandma’s birthday also falls around Christmas time! We celebrated with a delicious French cake drizzled with raspberry sauce – my Mom made it. The cake was so delicious! Check out a picture in the slideshow.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season yourself. Feel free to share how you celebrated in the comments section! Happy New Year!

CDA – The Charity I Support

Recently, I have picked the charity that I am going to donate all of the proceeds from my book to! It is called Children’s Development Academy (CDA). It is a school that supports early education for children ages 1-5. It is specifically for children whose families cannot afford to send them to the regular pre-k and preschool. Recently, I had the honor of visiting the charity. The director, Ms. DeCan, took me on a tour of the school and showed me where the kids study and play. They do have a wonderful playground to enjoy! Then I had the most wonderful time with the young students in all three pre-k classrooms! The kids were so happy to meet me and eager to hear some of  my poems. They were so engaged in a lively discussion afterwards.

The CDA is such a special place and I look forward to visiting many more times in the future!

I would like to thank everyone who has purchased my books or who has given a donation to this wonderful cause. This would not be possible without you. THANK YOU!

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If you would like to learn more about the CDA and its mission, you can follow these links:

CDA Website

CDA Facebook