The Joys and Pitfalls of a Blog Makeover!

I did it! My blog make-over is finally complete and I can now welcome you aboard. You can also join me on my new facebook and twitter pages if you like - it's very lonely over there right now!

I have been plotting and planning this for many months now, doing my usual procrastinating and agonising. As I tend to do. The biggest hurdle for me was the name-change ..... more, should I do it than what it would be. I started this blog over seven years ago you see, when my now teenager was only eight years old. A lot has happened in that time and we've both 'grown up', as some may put it.

I think I've outgrown my beloved 'Jazzygal' moniker, if I'm honest. That name choice was influenced by my much-ingrained interest in shows and dancing, and was not intended to belie a more youthful me. Besides I've been continually mis-represented as 'Jazzy Girl' over that period,  which I really disliked!

Yes, time for a name change......

*Out of Service*

After much aforethought and ado about all sorts, this blog is now going: 'Out of Service'.

For a bit of a much-needed over-haul and some prettying TLC, as I reckon it is long overdue. One might even call it a 7 year blogging itch..... given that I'm into my 8th year of blogging.

Wow, hard to believe. I will have to keep re-reading that last sentence......

But this break-in-service is just for a short - I hope - duration, you'll be glad, or sorry - I hope not! - to hear.

Although that very much depends on on my very haphazard techie skills.

My 2016 Condensed to Just One Word .......

I first heard of Susannah Conway and her One Word concept through Kate Takes 5 blog, and it had me quite intrigued. I quite liked the idea of reducing all my hopes and aims for 2016 down to just one word. Quite the challenge for a rambling ruminator such as myself.

Now, unlike Susannah, I not only like structure and schedules I actually need them. More than I realised. In fact I have come to the conclusion that making and following to-do lists - that have elongated time-limits, as necessary - calms the jumble of my disorganised brain. It can be quite the jungle inside my head you see and even when I actually do get 'stuff ' done, it doesn't always register with me. Ticking it off a list however does register, and creates a much calmer environment. For me. Crazy, I know!

Heads Up

It was a bitter cold evening as I stepped from the icy platform and into the Dart carriage that was thankfully steeped in warmth. The train was relatively empty as I began my journey against the rush-hour flow. For into town I was bound, to meet my childhood ex-ballet class pal to go see the intriguing Bolshoi Babylon.

It was a short journey so I nestled into my seat that was pleasantly perched over a heater, and buried my head into my phone; busying myself in the world of emails, social media and Candy Crush. As one does, to shorten one's journey.

Before I knew it I was almost in town and as I raised my head I noticed how full the carriage had suddenly, as it seemed to me, become. With all seats taken it was standing room only, filled with mostly males, of whom some were teenagers, and a sprinkling of women such as myself. And all to a man - teenager or woman - with head buried down into their phones. Much as I myself had been mere moments earlier.

And I tutted to myself, as I silently admonished us all for our behaviour.

#Netflix Nights: A New Year Begins.....

And it began with a rather clever Netflix New Year's Eve idea. A little covert operation designed to get the children to bed at a reasonable hour on New Year's Eve - by having a fun family party to ring in 2016 at 9 pm with their favourite Netflix characters, thereby freeing the parents to celebrate at the more normal midnight hour! For those who didn't mind keeping their children up late that is. Being the parents of a teenager we did the whole Netflix Countdown thing in reverse. In other words, the parents went out early, dashing home to the teen in time to watch an episode of our current favourite Netflix series before ringing in the New Year together at midnight! Whatever works I say, and perhaps it might be something to watch out for at this year's end?
We were also asked to snap and tweet at 9 pm that night so, not wanting to be excluded like, I tweeted my 'Reverse Netflix NYE Countdown' selfie. Taken discreetly and very quickly, so no-one would realise!

A Magical Dublin City, and Beyond......

I quite like living outside Dublin's busy city centre, where I have such lovely views to enjoy; green park lands, scenic sea-views with relatively small yet impressive hills and mountains nearby.

I get to enjoy lovely, peaceful walks that enable me to soak up all the surrounding sights and sounds. When I'm in the mood to get my ass off the couch, that is.

I was in such a mood the other evening. So much so that it was approaching the winter bewitching hour of 5 pm when I finally ventured outside, all cosily wrapped up, to squeeze in a quick stroll around part of our local park. The relatively dry and lake-free part that is, after all the recent storms.

I was instantly captivated by the interestingly, eerie colours of the dusky sky, as the dark night was about to claim it.

Suddenly a flock of extremely noisy birds swooped hither and tither, all across this magical sky. I can only assume they were sensing the imminent darkness and knew they had to bed down for the night. Not unlike some active children at bedtime, some might say!

Clouds gathered ever closer and darkness fell within minutes, the twittering birds were still to be heard loudly nestling into some nearby trees, and the sky transformed into an almost super-natural scene of great beauty.

It was an extraordinary few minutes of nature that I was lucky enough to witness. Who needs the hustle and bustle of a busy city centre, I mused to myself?

Then one day later, I had cause to travel right into the very heart of Dublin City's hustle and bustle, where this adult and her teenager enjoyed pizza and chats with another adult and her teenager. Said teenagers, with camera and camera phone in hand, wandered off just after the meal, for a short picture-snapping stroll alongside the River Liffey, which was very close by. After some time we followed suit and I noticed the very same colourful, dusk-approaching sky settling in around our urban city life; casting the same magical spell around the city's sights and sounds as it had around the more rural scene a mere 24 hours earlier.

The symbolic harp-shaped Samuel Beckett Bridge was looking splendid as usual.....

We saw the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship again, a replica of the ship that transported Irish emigrants to America through famine ravished times. It is therefore colloquially known as the 'Famine Ship' that is now a kind of history museum during the day and available for events at night.  The museum part is now firmly on our 'must-see' list for our next town meet-up.

    The Famine Memorial (and World Poverty Stone) situated close to the Jeanie Johnston

Next up to grab my attention was, strangely enough, a bank building. I think it was the interesting architectural shapes, somehow blending in with the surrounding buildings, with the backdrop of a magical sky, all shimmering in the river before it that did it for me....

And finally I was totally captivated by the lights reflecting from Butt Bridge, also shimmering on the waters below.

Two days and two completely different sights and sounds - from one city and surrounding area - captivated by the same magical sky. And all within a short distance by Dart.

There is so much more to Dublin than always meets the eye, isn't there?

Note: If you'd like more information about Dublin's many bridges, and  historical events, check out some of Annette Black's interesting and concise Bridges of Dublin stories

Reflection and Forward Optimism: Happy New Year 2016

It's that time of year again. Time to bid farewell to the year that has been and to greet the new one with hope and optimistic appreciation. Time also to reflect a little on the year that is just about to pass and to maybe savour a few of the positive moments, while letting the more negative ones float away having learned all we can from them.

I do hope your year has been a good one. When I look back on mine, as reflected here on this blog, 2015 really has been pretty good to me. I start each year by listing some aims and aspirations - not to be confused with resolutions! - for the year to come, finding that it's interesting to look back at year-end to see what's been achieved, with no recriminations whatsoever for what is not. I like ticking off lists I guess!

Me being me I have somehow misplaced my written aims for 2015 - it's most likely in my 'safe place' along with all my other misplaced items! However I can remember some of them. For starters I achieved my recovery goal last April by being finally 'Over The Hill',  eventually going on to getting back dancing again - even if it is Honky Tonk dancing! And while it may have taken the whole year I did get my version of a Healthy Eating Plan in place, finally reaching my much desired goal weight just before Christmas! Admittedly I kind of abandoned my regime over the last week or so but am pleasantly surprised to see, now that I'm back on track, that any 'damage' has been relatively minimal. Phew! 
I'm also very pleased to have completed some knitting and crochet projects in 2015; most notably the crib featured below, which was some months in the making!

The Teen Wonder has had a great year with some fantastic achievements too I must say, and we're naturally very proud of him. He put in the work for his Junior Certificate getting great results, built his own PC from scratch and had some independence-building trips away without his Parents!

This year we've been very lucky to enjoy some lovely little trips away, including my Netflix prize-winner launch trip to London last March! Our trips this year were mostly in Ireland and I share some photos here highlighting some lovely scenic moments forever etched on our memories.

     From l to r: Gold Coast Dungarvan,  Lanzarote, Sligo, Glendalough and the Cliffs of Moher.

No year goes perfectly for everybody and there are always things concerning us and people we worry about, floating away in the backs of our minds. But we cherish the good and try to learn from the not so good.

Personally I have been very lucky to have mostly enjoyed this year 2015, and I do indeed look forward to 2016 with much hope and positivity. As usual I have some things noted to aim for; most notably to finally solve my penchant for losing things and to reconnect and meet up with friends more.

On a global level 2015 has brought some great hardships for people in this world; from the new generation of homeless in Ireland (including entire families), to the terror reigned upon Paris, Belgium and other countries, to the awful, unfathomable situation in Syria.

But we must always remember too that there is much, much good in this world.

So, as the sky colours up for the final descent of the sun this year I give you my wish for all in 2016....

It is relatively simple: understanding and tolerance of all our neighbour's beliefs and traditions, be they in the house next to us or the village, town or country. With education and compromise delivered where necessary. If we all practice this, and return this tolerance and understanding to each other then hopefully some form of peace will grow?

Or to put it more succinctly in twitter-speak ......

#NewYearsResolutionsIn5Words : Education, Understanding, Tolerance, Compromise, Peace.

May 2016 be good to you all and bring you much joy and peace.

Take care......