French day by day


Challenge: Practice/study 1 language everyday (French)

Date: December 16, 2014.

Location: Several different countries (reporting on the final day from Orlando, Florida)

Being Canadian, I’ve had a small degree of exposure to French fairly often in my life, but I’ve never become fluent. This year I took on practicing each day. Many days I only did one lesson online or read one article in French (a mere 5-10 minutes) but I definitely feel way more comfortable with the language.

A small amount of consistent effort can result in something substantial over time. I am pleased to have seen this over the year. Especially when my former workplace became more officially bilingual over the course of the year, I was delighted to be able to follow along with meetings, read correspondence, etc.

Learning French was also confronting to my ego (fearing looking silly in front of others). However, any time I put myself out there and used French, I was met with excellent support.


So here were the strategies I employed to learn French: (excellent website to use the language is several different ways)

-learnfrenchbypodcast (short lessons by podcast)

-Drive Time French cds

-reading news in French

-lessons on YouTube (free, easy to find)

-practicing with friends and family

-reading The Atlantic Co-operator magazine in French then English (helped me learn language that was used in my workplace)

-listening to French radio

-Met a tutor every couple of weeks for a 1 hour session on skype or in person to learn new vocabulary and practice grammar


Bonne chance à tous!


I will continue to practice and study French. It’s a great way to challenge my brain and it’s useful in so many ways.

Thanks to everyone who supported me! Merci!



Geography feat: Africa


Challenge: 5 feats of the mind (5 of 5)

Date: December 15, 2014

Location: Daytona Beach, Florida

This year I’ve made a big effort to do geography games, study the world map and get familiar with global geography. Maybe it’s my early rural education or maybe geography is a subject that just never stuck like I wanted it to, but now I’m on a mission to improve my knowledge of the globe. I can now correctly identify which country is on which continent and roughly where everything is. Did you know about Tuvalu, Suriname or Brunei? These are all countries (for some of you this is obvious).

Although I’m much more familiar with the whole globe, for this challenge I’ve memorized the continent of Africa specifically.



(The Peter’s World Map – meant to be more accurate than other maps)

So now I can take a blank map of Africa and identify where each country is. Below see a photo of my final test (an online game on the sporcle website) where I correctly identified all of the countries (although sometimes I’ve seen a map where 56 countries are recognized, but in this one only 54 are recognized as distinctive countries). All good.  I’ve also got a near perfect score on this website on their full global geography game…so I’m not far off of my ultimate goal of knowing the full geography of the world.


Gettin’ on the guitar


Challenge: Learn 17 chords on guitar (14-17 of 17)

Date: December 12, 2014.

Location: Savannah, Georgia

Ok, I finally got there with my goal to learn 17 guitar chords. Today I learned: B6, C min, D maj 7, and F min (movable). The journey is by no means over. I have just put in a request to take guitar lessons while in Orlando for a couple weeks (heading there at the end of this weekend). I’d love to learn a few songs and continue to strengthen my fingers. My ultimate goal is to bring music to future parties, camp outs, times with friends, etc. So longterm I’d like to be comfortable enough with guitar to be able to pick it up, play along with others and even write some songs. It doesn’t need to be perfect and I accept it will take time, but the progress is immediately evident each time I pick it up. So it’s a very satisfying hobby. Tips and song suggestions invited.

Simple party trick with cups


Challenge: Learn 12 party tricks (12 of 12)

Date: December 8, 2014.

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

I remember back to my camp days in my youth and lots of kids knew little routines with clapping and tapping cups around the lunch hall. I also liked seeing a similar routine in the Pitch Perfect movie as the rhythm accompaniment for a song. I learned this trick.

Check out the video… Better understood by watching it:


Almost there with guitar chords


Challenge: Learn 17 chords on guitar (11-13 of 17)

Date: December 8, 2014.

Location: Charleston, South Carolina

My guitar practicing is coming along – slowly but surely. Today I learned E min 7, E sus 4 and G dom 7. Hopefully I can post myself playing a song before I turn 31. I plan to keep it up into 31 and see if I could write a couple songs. After spending a few weeks travelling around in a van with my husband, he deserves a couple songs for putting up with me.


Friesen language


Challenge: Learn a phrase in 25 languages (25 of 25 – miscounted earlier)

Date: November 27, 2014.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia

While visiting my friend Dan outside of DC, we shared many meals with his inlaws who were visiting for American Thanksgiving. His father-in-law knew some Friesen – a gaelic language from the Netherlands. “Dat het sucamaya” (how it sounds) is something you would say before a meal just like bon appetit (that’s how it was described to me).

Living in a van by the beach


Challenge: Learn 17 chords on guitar (9-10 of 17)

Date: December 4, 2014.

Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

This continental US road trip has been turning up sunnier these days thanks to heading south and getting away from the frigid northern weather. We found a sweet spot to park our van right beside the boardwalk at Myrtle Beach. It’s off-season so there are no crowds, no lines, no traffic and no trouble finding a parking space. Waking up right next to the boardwalk and being able to enjoy a morning coffee and jog has been the van living I’ve been looking forward to.


I feel a natural part of van living is being musical in some way so practicing guitar has been feeling just right. Each day before I learn new chords I test myself on the ones I previously learned. This week I’ve been doing some chord progressions as well. I learned A min 7 and D min 7 today.