Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Wonderful Tango Evening and a Portrait of My Daughter

Most of us in the South African tango community have had the joy and pleasure of meeting, dancing with and being entertained by Ariel and Daniela, the visiting tango performers and teachers from Argentina.
They came here on what was supposed to be a working holiday for the world cup, not knowing anybody except some shady promoter person who hadn’t organized anything as promised, then soon got adopted first by Erik and then the rest of the tango crowd following suit.
Within days of their arrival they were wowing us with their fabulous dancing and amazing choreography, those women lucky enough to get a dance or two with Ariel will probably agree that he is an absolute dream to dance with, his skill at leading only surpassed by his creativity on the dance floor. I want to kidnap him and keep him here!
I also had the pleasure of several lessons with them and got to learn some great new stuff.

Then of course, some very lucky and special dancers in our Johannesburg crowd were given the chance to take part in a grand finale show, they were given all the training needed and everything beautifully choreographed by Daniela and Ariel.
The show took place at Cantare in Monte Casino on Sunday night and the place was jam packed with tango enthusiasts.
All I can say is congratulations to all of you for a fantastic show and for managing some of those very tricky lifts. So the timing was a bit out, but nobody cared as the dancing of each individual couple was wonderful to watch.
So, well done Erik, Natasha, Emma, Ryan, Tania and Paddy.
Daniela and Ariel did some lovely numbers on their own too, the best was seeing the connection they have as a couple which for me is what tango is all about.
I took my dad to see the show and treated him to dinner as well, since it was his birthday the following day, and he totally loved it.

I will be sad to see them go home to Argentina, they are such nice people and have made lots of friends all over the country. They are leaving us this coming Sunday morning, but have promised they will be coming back next year January for two or three months.

I will be looking forward to seeing them again and will definitely sign up for more tango lessons.


On a brighter note – I have finally finished my latest portrait of Claire, it is of her aged two, in her pretty white dress my mother bought her last summer. This one is for me – it’s much too personal to sell.
I think I really captured her likeness and personality with this one so I am quite pleased with it.

Hope you like it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hot Off the Easel - New Painting from The Walk Series


Well, I finally finished my latest painting. I have been itching to finish it since yesterday and I think it's done. Either that or I fiddle about with it for days to come.
This is the next one in my Walk series of everyday scenes from my neighbourhood.
This painting is of the top corner of Swaeltjie Road where it meets Kelly Road in Boskruin.

Hope you like it.

Now I can get back to my portrait of Claire.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Where are Your Habits Leading You?

I have started a new habit to help me achieve what I want. I get up at 5am every weekday and put in at least two hours of work before the rest of the family gets up.
This gives me an extra hour or two to do what I love, which is paint and make art.
I started this after reading Jack's book on success.
I subscribe to his free newsletter which comes about every two weeks or so and I received this article in my inbox and wanted to share it.

Where are Your Habits Leading You?
by Jack Canfield

You are an accumulation of your habits. From how you get out of bed, how you shower, how you dress, how you walk, sit, and talk, how you respond to the world, how you act in front of others, and how you think; you're living out your habits.

Habits are necessary.

They free up your mind so you can concentrate on how to survive day to day. You don't have to think about how to drive your car so you can be on the lookout for danger while you are driving. You don't have to think about how to walk so you can concentrate on where you're going.

Unfortunately, habits can also keep you locked in self-destructive patterns, which will limit your success.

Is there something you want to accomplish in life that requires you to up-level your game? Whatever it is that you want to achieve, you will need to drop those bad habits that are lead to a dead-end and develop new ones that are in alignment with the life you want to live.

People don't suddenly appear in the life they want to live... their habits play a large part in determining their outcome.

What are the habits you have that are keeping you from achieving your goals?

Really be honest with yourself here...

Are you always running late?
Do you return phone calls within 24 hours?
Do you get enough sleep?
Do you follow through on your promises?
Do you plan out your day?

Imagine what your life would be like if all your habits were their productive counterparts!

What would your life be like if you ate healthy meals, exercised and got enough sleep?
What if you saved your money, stopped using credit cards and paid cash for everything?
What if you stopped procrastinating, overcame your fears, and began networking with people in your field?
Would your life be different? I bet it would!
So, my suggested action step for you is to write down some productive habits you could adopt and visualize in your life. Step two is to 'act as if' you were living these new habits right now!

I'd like to help you get moving toward creating more successful habits, so I'd recommend you develop four of your new success habits each year, one for each quarter.

Once you pick the new habit you're ready to adopt, next you'll want to create a method that will support your new habit.

Here are some ideas... You could write it down on a card that you keep with you and read several times a day. You could make it a part of your daily visualization. You could also enlist the help of an accountability partner who has habits to change, or work with a personal coach who can keep you on track.

It's important to make a 100% commitment to your new habit, so be specific about the steps that you're willing to take in order to drop an old habit and adopt a new one. Don't be vague about how you will change your habits. Spell it out for yourself so you can recognize situations that motivate you to act out your new habit.

Just developing four new habits a year will dramatically shift your life to be more in line with your vision. And the more in line it becomes, the easier the other habits are to replace because your perspective is shifting and you can see more clearly how your old habits aren't serving you anymore.

Make the decision. Make the commitment. Then watch your new, positive life unfold!


Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Website Launch

Well, I have been a busy bee the last week or two designing and building my own website in my spare time. So I haven’t been doing much painting, though I do have a lovely portrait of my daughter in the works plus another in The Walk series and I hope to have them both finished very soon.
But today I am officially launching my very own website!
I would love to have you check it out at karensteffano.co.za.

In honour of my website launch – I am offering a free copy of Jack Canfield’s book, How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want To Be - The 25 Principles Of Success, to the next four people who buy a painting from me.


I recently bought this book and can’t stop reading it. I am on my third reading. It is so inspiring that I cannot help myself sharing it with everyone.

If you don’t fancy buying a painting just yet, but you still would like the book, you can get it here from Jack’s site.
You can also buy it from Loot – a local SA site for buying books.
If you know anyone who you think might be interested, please share this post with them.

I have written a short note on each painting, so to those of you who already own one of my paintings, you might be interested to read my thoughts on it. You can do this by clicking on the small image.

I would love to collect comments from those of you who have one of my paintings, it would be great to include them under my own.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Shifty Boobs at the Marakesh Lounge

Some girlfriends and I decided that we had not had a girls night out for a while, so Kez ,who seems to be the most organized, managed to get about seven of us to agree to a suitable night.We are all very busy so finding a night that fits all is tricky, especially Maureen, who is the most dedicated and hard working person I know, she even works weekends – she’s nuts but she loves her job.
So Kez booked us a table at the Marakesh Lounge in Bryanston. It was my first visit there – great Arabian nights vibe, with low tables and cushions for those so inclined to lounge on the floor, but I was glad we had a real table because otherwise the jeans cutting into the tummy factor limits the eating possibilities. It’s basically a cross between a bush retreat and a gigantic Arab tent, with the temperature to match.

Luckily they gave us blankets, when I checked my dashboard upon leaving it was 1 degree outside. Which means it was about 3 degrees inside – they had a big fireplace but it wasn’t lit and the three small bar heaters were perfect for my mother’s 50 square meter house, but not doing much in a huge outdoor indoor tent type thing. Plus the five people standing around the heaters, blowing hands and stamping feet weren’t helping because they were blocking the small amount of heat available.
I noticed they had reserved a big table – all laid out with lots of yummy cupcakes.
Hmm – how come we didn’t have any? Seems they brought their own; I didn’t realize it was bring your own cupcake night.

We proceeded to have a fun evening – Thanks again for those blankets and our coats and scarves - Maureen and Helen kept their old man Scrooge gloves on throughout the meal. We are all dance fans in one way or another and were anticipating the belly dancing floor show, but our meal was just about done and nothing exciting had happened – even the cupcakes were untouched.

Eventually a gorgeous, voluptuous, young woman came out in a full on floaty chiffon belly dancing outfit, with loads of hip and belly showing and just a sparkly bra on top – yikes! Her dancing was fascinating – how did she isolate all those different body parts?
It was very sensual and very appealing. Her arms and hands were so graceful, very different from my chicken-wing arm styling, and she could do weird things with her boobs – popping them out all by themselves and shifting them left and right without moving anything else – amazing!

She invited us to come for lessons – said we were the only ones showing much interest in her performance, apparently the first one is free.
I have tried it before and I found it quite difficult, and after all the years of trying to get my tango right do I really want to battle with this one as well?
Besides, who will I do it with? Not my husband, who cracked up laughing when I tried out my pole dancing moves a few years ago. Maybe I will do it in front of the mirror and admire myself or something.
Anyway, we were all in high spirits and thought if anything it would be good for a laugh, so have agreed to find one mutually agreeable night and all go together.
Our new belly dancing friend didn’t hang about though – she had a pressing engagement – with her clothes!

So here I am lying in bed trying to read a book to unwind ready for the land of Nod, but them shifty boobs keep “popping” into my mind, so I've decided to write this post instead.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Dad's On-stage Debut at Moyo - Visit to Zoo Lake No. Two

So how was the blues harp sensation’s debut I imagine you are all asking?
Well, the trip to Zoo Lake had it’s ups and downs – we arrived there around 11.30 and spotted busloads of people arriving at Moyo – oops! Turns out we had just missed the Spanish team having their breakfast, and the whole of Moyo was pre-booked by soccer fans wanting to have a nice lunch before scooting off to the big final.
Or maybe they had all read my previous blog posting and were dead keen to see my dad play!

So anyway, after a big fat fight with my latin temperament husband over not having anywhere to sit, we finally got a table for the nine of us and had something to eat. Sadly some of the orders were simply forgotten, my order arrived cold and I had to send it back, but the chicken strips and chips I ordered for my daughter Claire were outstandingly nice and I pinched most of them.
I know what I’m gonna order next time.
Despite the food and the waiting problems, the vibe was great, all the fans were in a big fat party mood and things were generally very jolly.
The real nice thing about this Moyo is the informality – some people had their dogs with them – we spotted a cute bull terrier puppy wearing a pink jacket and a denim skirt! Work it baby!

My dad was in his element – he is a big showman at heart and his playing was very good.
Not sure where the American accent came from but maybe it is a prerequisite for playing blues! Only problem was his microphone got accidently turned way down and we couldn’t hear half of it. The other guys in the band were good too, they have a trumpet player who is fantastic; turns out he used to do some ballroom dancing so I got him to do the mambo with me while he was waiting for the next set.
His Argentine Tango needs work though!

As for the Art Exhibition, we managed to find it this time and I spent a lovely hour or so smooching with the artists. I almost bought a painting from Terenia Butler; it was an exquisite image of two boats, with the sea almost an abstraction of colour rather than actual sea. I don’t have the money to spend at the moment but if I see it again I will be sorely tempted.
I also met Steve Jones, a talented wildlife artist who used to be a factory worker and is now a full time artist. His technical ability with pastels is amazing!
Some of them, like Steve and Terenia, make a full time living from their art, so there is hope!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

You're Cracking Me Up - Another Crunchy Session With My Chiropractor

I went to see my chiropractor, Craig Lyons this week. I have been having a small issue with a sore neck and he has been patching me up, so this was a follow up appointment.
Last week I could hardly move my neck and now I feel great!
He says it is the operation on my foot that is causing it, because I still have to favour the big toe joint slightly when I walk and it is pulling my entire body out of alignment.
He did tell me that of all the bunion ops he’s seen, mine has shown the best result – this is because I am desperate to tango in heels again and have been doing toe joint stretching every day religiously.

I want to share what it is like to visit Craig.
He is the most affable, friendly, warm guy you will ever meet. He is also very popular, unsurprisingly. I feel good when I go there and even better when I leave, and it’s not just that he is so good at what he does.
He just makes it feel like you are having coffee with a best friend, except without the coffee. Instead I get a massage with his vibrating machine – which always makes me say “Errrrrrrr” – it’s kind of weird lying on your tummy with your head in a hole, and the noise that comes out is hilarious. Well actually, not really, but he made me cry with laughing when he said it sounds like I have Tourettes syndrome.
Then he hits me with a hammer in special spots, and after all that I get some lovely crunchy hugs.

There is a particularly satisfying crunchy crack sound from your bones falling back into place. I love it. Craig says I am addicted to crack. Ha ha!

The only disappointment is the session only lasts half an hour, and I always feel like we have just got the conversation under way. Both of us talk at speed, trying to get everything we want to share in our allotted half an hour.
He is also a fountain of info on the best places to get good deals on furniture – like beds for sore backs. In fact, he is a fountain of information on just about everything and highly entertaining with it.

I started seeing Craig a few years ago when I first went to the podiatrist working with him for my problem foot. Eventually she referred me to him for patch up therapy on it as he is a specialist on feet. So I would do a whole pile of dancing, and he would patch me up for the next round of dancing.
He is not exactly round the corner from me, it’s about 12 ks from my door to his practice, but I won’t consider going anywhere else.
If you need a chiropractor in the future, you won’t regret going to Craig.
You will find him at the Naturally Yours Health Center, just off Main Road in Bryanston.

The only thing is you may need to plan ahead because he gets pretty busy.
The great thing about it though is he is brilliant at structuring his appointments on time; Not once have I waited more than two or three minutes for mine.
In any event he has a marvelous supply of recent magazines that normal people read – no Financial Mail or boring medical newsletters so waiting is actually fun – almost as fun as seeing Craig!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How I Added Three Columns to my Blog

Have you ever seen a blog on the very popular Blogspot.com that uses more space that the standard template they give you?
Well, I managed to update my blog recently to a three column site.
Here is how I did it.
This works with the minima template which is the one I am using and I believe to be one of the most popular.

Step 1
Go to your blogger dashboard and select the Design tab and then the Edit HTML tab.

Then make a backup of your template before continuing by clicking on Download Full Template.

Then select all the text inside the html edit textbox and copy paste it to Notepad or some similar text editor.


Then save this file as MyBlogOld.txt.
This ensures you have the original html to copy paste back if you don’t like the result or make a mistake.
Then save the same file again as MyBlogNew.txt.
This is the file you will work with.


Now, all you will need to do is make some small edits to specific lines in the html code inside the this file, before copying and pasting back to your blog.
Tip – I copied the entire file back into the blog template after each small change and did a preview to see how it was going.

Now, do a search for the following bit of code:

#outer-wrapper {
width: 660px;
margin:0 auto;
padding:10px;
text-align:$startSide;
font: $bodyfont;
}


Change the line highlighted in red to this:
width: 950px;
(NB 950 is about the widest you should go to allow for different browsers.)

Step 2: Change the width of the sidebar
Search for this section of code:
#sidebar-wrapper {
width: 220px;
float: $endSide;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */
}

Change the line highlighted in red to this:
width: 250px

Step 3 : Add a second sidebar
Find and copy this whole section from your file (this is the section we modified in the previous step):

#sidebar-wrapper {
width: 250px;
float: $endSide;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */
}


Then paste this section of code immediately beneath the original set of code. Then change this line in your newly pasted code:
#sidebar-wrapper {
To say this instead:
#new-sidebar-wrapper {
This is because each sidebar must have it’s own unique name.

To get the new sidebar to appear on the left, change the line
float: $endSide;
to
float: $startSide;

when I previewed my blog I found that the post section was too close to the new column. To fix this I added margin-right: 50px;
Underneath the
float: $startSide;
line.

Note: You can add a left or right margin to your right hand column as well as your main section. Once you start adding elements to your new column you may decide to play around with these settings.

The main section code is as follows:
#main-wrapper {
width: 410px;
float: $startSide;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */
}


You can also try changing the width of the main section to
width: 450px;
I decided to leave mine as is.

Now the really nifty bit – how can I add new gadgets to this new column?
Find the following piece of code :
< id="'content-wrapper'">

< id="'crosscol-wrapper'" style="'text-align:center'">
< class="'crosscol'" id="'crosscol'">
< id="'Image1'" locked="'false'" title="''" type="'Image'/">
< id="'CustomSearch1'" locked="'false'" title="'Search" type="'CustomSearch'/">
<>

!—New lines here
< id="'main-wrapper'">
< class="'main'" id="'main'" showaddelement="'no'">
< id="'Blog1'" locked="'true'" title="'Blog" type="'Blog'/">
< /b:section>

And insert this piece of new code where I have indicated in red above.

Save your text file and then copy – paste the entire contents to your html code box on your blog.

Click preview to see how it looks before saving.

Once you are happy, save your changes.
Then go to the Page Elements tab and you should see three columns like this



Important note:
Do not load heavy java script type gadgets to the left hand column, as this column gets load before the rest of the blog, which slows the loading of your page to the bit that counts – your posts!
Things like simple file links are ok.

I got the How to for this from this really informative site which goes into a lot more detail and also explains many other ways to change the look of your blog.
Things like changing the width of your header and header picture to match the new width of your blog, which I haven’t tried yet.

Thanks also to JohnDeereMom who led me to this site.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Zoo Lake

Last week I had a brainwave and decided to look up Artists Under The Sun on the internet. For those who don’t know, this is an organization of artists that exhibit once a month in the park at Zoo Lake in Rosebank. I last went to this exhibition when I was still at university over twenty years ago. It was quite big, lots of artists and consisting of mostly fairly traditional art – South African landscapes, portraiture, still life work etc.
I don’t what it is like now and decided to go along last Sunday to check it out.
I took my daughter Claire and my dad along and we had a pleasant morning strolling around the lake – but no art was to be seen anywhere. Maybe I had got the dates wrong?
Anyway, we went past Moyo – the African themed restaurant there and decided to sit down in their outdoor breakfast area for tea and muffins.
What a great venue, the day was sunny and the vibe relaxed but with a kind of arty African feel about it – the waitresses had these fascinating headdresses on and the Moyo painted face look – very cool.

We sat on couches next to the music platform set up for live music and before long my dad was chatting up a storm with the musicians who were standing around waiting for their gig to get going. Those who have read one of my previous posts will know that he is a keen harmonica/mouth organ player – for those in the know it’s really a “Blues Harp”.
I took Claire to buy a ball from one of the vendors hanging around and we had some fun kicking it around. By the time we got back to the couches my dad had exchanged numbers and made some new friends. They invited him to play his harp with them, but he didn’t have it with him so he returned later in the afternoon. I got a very chuffed father on the phone that evening to tell me he played some blues numbers on stage with them and even got a couple of encores from the appreciative audience!

I have yet to see him perform so still can’t tell you what I think but it can’t be too bad because they have invited him to perform with them at Moyo this coming Sunday 11 July.
As it happens it’s the same weekend the art exhibition is actually on so I have invited a couple of friends and we will make a nice day out of it. Possibly some other family members will be joining us too.
So if you haven’t got anything better to do and yes I do know it’s the same day as the Big Final of We All Know What, but we plan to be done and dusted in time for that, then come on down to Zoo Lake and support my dad in his first actual music gig.
I hear that the other musicians aren't half bad either and I can recommend the Moyo breakfast (well judging by the plates going past me it looked yummy) so I think I can safely say you will have a good time.