Friday, January 29, 2010

Book List 2010

We're almost entirely though with January 2010! And my book list for 2010 is already well underway. I just finished reading my 5th book of the year so far.

At the beginning of January, I came across some weird little journal I had on my bookshelf but had never used called Book Notes. It's just a blank book for readers to jot down books they've read and stuff they might want to remember about them. It sounded like a great idea. So since it was a fresh new year, I decided this would be the perfect time to start using it.

I read quite a bit. In the bathtub, every night for about an hour. And if the book really has my attention, I sometimes read in bed before I doze off.

I have on occasion picked up a familiar looking book, and thought, "Hm... Have I read this?" I've even began books, and they read so familiar that finally I realize on about page 50, "I have read this before!"

So this idea of writing down books I've read seems to be a good one. I'm also kind of curious to see how many books I go through in one year's time.

I couple of books I've read this year that are certainly worth recommending:
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Push by Sapphire

What's on your list of books you'd like to read this year? Do you have any great ones to recommend? Please leave a comment and share a title or two.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

14 songs in 28 Days

It seems it wasn't so long ago that I was on my quest to write 50 songs in 90 days. That ended Oct. 1st, and yep, I had 50 songs at the end of the 90 days.

And since that, I haven't written much new material. I instead tweaked the songs I had written during that three month period. And now, some of them are making their way onto my upcoming CD. Yay! I found great value in writing so often and regularly. That kind of pace would be really hard for me to do year round. Mainly because it leaves very little time for editing!

But I'm so excited that February 1st, this coming Monday, marks Day 1 of "14 Songs in 28 Days". It doesn't sound quite as daunting as the 50/90.

So, this blog will be back in major action again. Please check back- I'll be posting up some videos of my songs as they're written.

Thrifty Thursdays- Chai Tea at Starbucks

Welcome to the first edition of Thrifty Thursday!

I'm a thrifty girl at heart. I'm positive I got this trait from my mom. She used to make me shop at the Marshall's by my childhood home, and I thought it was so lame at the time. But I grew to love it. Finding things for a bargain price is thrilling. And these days, it's also necessary. So thanks, Mom, for instilling the practice of wise spending in me.

Ok, so onto today's Thrifty Thursday tip...

I've never been a coffee drinker. But I really like the smell and the social idea of it. "Let's meet for a coffee!" I've never met up with friends for true coffee talk because I don't drink coffee. But several years ago, after meeting up with my family for a weekly ritualistic lunch, my brother offered to buy us all a Starbucks across the street. I said I'd come along, but that I didn't like coffee. But my mom convinced me to try the Chai Tea Latte (with Soy Milk). Mom knows me pretty well, and can be trusted when it comes to recommendations like this, so I ordered my first Starbucks drink. It was around Christmas time, and as soon as I took a sip, I said, "It tastes like Christmas!" I loved it. I've gone on to have many, many days of Christmas since, at all times of the year.

Not only are those teas a little pricey, they have a lot of sugar in them as well. But hey, you only live once, right?

But then, one fantastic day a barista gave me a sample of a hot soy milk with a chai tea bag in it, rather than the chai tea concentrate. Not as sweet as the Chai Tea Latte, but better! AND cheaper! By about a dollar.

I just order it by saying, "I'd like a hot soy milk (no water) with a chai tea bag." Since it's not really a named drink on the menu, each barista rings it up a little differently. I once got it as cheap as 97 cents, although it tends to be about $2.40 usually. The other chai teas lattes I used to order are about $1 more than that.

I know, it's just a dollar. But it's those little things that add up! Less money, less sugar, less calories?!! And still, it tastes like Christmas!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Music Monday- Brandi Carlile

It's a new year, and I'm changing a few things around here. I hope these new changes will give you some ideas, things to think about and a reason to come back to my blog and website regularly.

One of those changes that pertains to this blog is this-- Monday's are now officially (very officially) Music Monday's where I will spread the word of a song, an album or just an artist that I want to give some praise to. It's not called New Music Monday- so although I might offer up something "new", I also might dig deep into to the past and remind you of someone perhaps you hadn't thought of in a while. Basically, I just want to celebrate great music that inspires!

Today I'd like to give a big shout out to Brandi Carlile. I saw her last year at the House of Blues when she was supporting her last CD, The Story, which was fantastic. Her current CD, Give Up the Ghost, just came out a few months ago.

I finally loaded it onto my iPod a couple of weeks ago. Now it is in constant play while I'm on my runs, and since that still wasn't enough, I've also put the CD in my car, where it has stayed for the past week.

The CD is full of great songs. So great that it's hard for me to even speak of just one. Which is why I mentioned the whole CD. I love it so much, and am so inspired by everything about it. Here's one song from it, which is one of my favorites. It's called I Will.

Isn't that brilliant?
I so love the lines toward the end of the song that sing,
"I have to say that I am proud to know you
and I'll never be the same because we met
You might not miss this....
but I will, I will, I will..."

The whole CD is masterful. Great melodies, thoughtful songs, and beautiful production.
Brandi Carlile- Give Up the Ghost
AND she'll be back at House of Blues in Dallas in March! Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


My girls, Zoe and Scout, are sweet, sweet, sweet. And really, there are few things in life better than loving on my doggies. If I'm ever in a bad mood, all I have to do is spend some time with them and I start to feel better. They have been free therapy for me for years and years.

As the ladies are getting a little older, they are also getting leaky. I think the technical word for this is incontinent. I guess it happens to a lot of aging folks, which is why there is such a thing as Depends.

There's a medication we've tried before, which maybe it works and maybe it doesn't. I've never been so sure because I'm not very good about consistently giving it to them. It is such a battle to get them to swallow the big pill. I can wrap it in cheese, peanut butter, or whatever, but they are very skilled and love the food part, but spit the pill out, often times, when I'm not looking. Then I'll find a pill on the floor later in the day. And I don't know which one of them it belongs to. So the only way to effectively get them to swallow it is to push it down their throats. And all 3 of us hate that.

So lately, I've just let it go. And they, in turn, have let it go as well.
They share a pillow they sleep on at night on our back patio. Yesterday morning when I went to wake them up so they could have breakfast, they got up from a soaking wet pillow. And it was so stinky. Not just the pillow but the patio. And not just the patio, but Zoe and Scout. So stinky that I couldn't even stand to pet them. And that got me in a very bad mood!

It's a relatively new pillow. We bought it just a few weeks ago. But as I took the case off to wash it (ewwwww), I noticed they have torn their pillow up! You know how dogs scratch around getting their bed just right? Well, they've done that so much, that is is now very, very wrong.

And stinky.

The case was so stinky that when I put it in the wash, my laundry room was stinky. The fumes were leaking out of the washer I guess. It was a smell so bad that it made our eyes burn!
By the time my husband got home from work, I was just about to lose my head over the whole thing. I think the fumes got to me. I just kept saying, "Something has got to be done!"

So both last night and this morning, I gave the girls their pills. And they were compliant and didn't spit them out. Baths are happening either tomorrow or Saturday. And a new, fresh pillow will be either made or bought within a day or two. Something has got to be done. And it will be.

My girls are too sweet to smell this stinky!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hollywood Madam Gone Bad

Whew! I got my laptop back, in case you were wondering.
The mouse is clicking just as it should now and I'm back in action!

So I must report to you my latest guilty pleasure-- So pleasurable, in fact, I don't even feel guilty about it!

And that is Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. There's quite a few people on it you've probably heard of: Dennis Rodman, Mindy McCready, MacKenzie Phillips, and a few others. But for me, the most alarming of them all is Heidi Fleiss.

You may remember her from the 90's as the infamous Hollywood Madam. She ended up serving about 3 years in prison for "tax evasion".

Well, that innocence of the 90's is gone and she is now addicted to crystal meth. (Or at least she was at the beginning of the filming of Celebrity Rehab.) And it is not pretty. She has the face that should be shown to people considering trying meth. This is what meth can do- and does do- to a person. I'm so glad she's on the show and getting help from Dr. Drew. If anybody can help her, I think and hope maybe it's Dr. Drew!

Anyway, I'm not sure why all these "celebrities" agree to go on T.V. during one of the lowest points of their life. I hope it's to send a message out to the masses of how destructive drug use is, and even though it's usually used as a mask to cover something they don't want to face, it in and of itself becomes an even bigger problem.

Watching these kinds of shows makes me realize how many sad people are walking around out there. Even the people who seem to have it all, that many people envy and think, "I wish I had their life!" We never know what someone's life is really like just by watching them onstage, or on the court, or on the big screen, or in the tabloids. Life can be hard, no matter who you are.

Friday, January 15, 2010

CD Titles

Initially, I had it in my mind that this upcoming CD of mine was going to be called "Naked".

As I got my songs lined up for it, I also threw in the possibility of naming the CD "Lost and Found". That phrase showed up in a couple of songs, and really, digging through all the songs and figuring out which ones belonged and which ones didn't sorta felt like digging through the Lost and Found.

But then today I wrote a song with a title that I also think would be good for this CD.

Just out of curiosity, I put all 3 CD titles in both a Google search, and the iTunes store search. There were lots of "Lost and Found"s- here are some of them:

... and even more "Naked"s- here are some of those, too:

but surprisingly, my new title idea hasn't been used, from what I could find. No songs or CDs popped up with this name, although that seems pretty unbelievable because the phrase seems simple and basic.

I'm keeping it under wraps for now. I keep changing my mind anyway.

Titles usually come last for me when I'm writing a song. That's probably the best idea for when to name my CD. Once all the songs are recorded and I'm sure they're in a cohesive grouping, then I'll firmly decide on my final answer!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Laptop, Please Come Home!

I pride myself in thinking I'm not as dependent on all things technology like so many people. I sneer at people who text more than they interact in real life. I get annoyed by people who walk around with an iphone up to their ear. I have always thought people who rely on their crackberries to know when, where and with whom they're going are a little pathetic.

But OMG.
I am feeling a little lost this week with out my little laptop!

I got a sweet MacBook Pro for my birthday last summer. I have loved it, but I didn't think I loved it too much-- just the right amount. However, from time to time, the mouse would freeze up and not allow me to click on anything. Each time it did this, I made an appointment at the Genius Bar at my local Apple store, and each time, by the time I made it up there, my computer's mouse was back in action exhibiting no problems whatsoever.

The same thing happened Monday morning. Yes, of course it was Monday morning! I was officially done with Christmas, New Year's, and Hubby's Birthday celebrations and vacations. I was fully planning to get serious and catch up on my emails, update my gig calendar on my website, follow up on some new venues I'd like to book soon, etc. But I was stopped in my tracks by my uncooperative mouse. So, I made my 4th appointment for this same problem at the Genius Bar.

And of course, by the time I got up there- clickity-click!! The mouse was working just fine.

But it was suggested to me for the second or third time by one of the Apple guys that I should send it off, and have it checked out. I had a feeling they were going to say this, and figured this was just as good of a time as any. As I said before, I thought that unlike so many other people, I was pretty dependent from my modern technological devices.

I thought I was prepared. I thought I could handle a little time apart my my laptop. I realized after leaving the store and my computer behind that I didn't have anyone's email address without my computer. I also can't update my website without that computer. And honestly, I'm just a little lonely and lost without it...

But, good has come of it too.
I've spent a lot more uninterrupted time in my studio working on my upcoming CD. There's very little distraction in the studio without that laptop sitting beside me.

Apple told me I should get my laptop back in 5 to 7 business days. That means, at the latest, I'll have my computer back one week from today. The only update I can do on my website is blogging- but without pictures or any postings from my Flip video camera.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Oh, how I miss my laptop. Laptop, please come home!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twenty Ten

Well, here we are... a good solid 5 days into the TENS.

It doesn't seem so long ago when I was unsure about how we were going to refer to the ONES.
The 70's, 80's and 90's were so obvious I never even gave it thought. But as the calendar approached 2000, I remember wondering, what are we gonna call the first year after that? "One"?

It ends up, we just kept saying "two-thousand..." and stuck the number in the one place at the end.

Because we got used to that, a lot of people are going into 2010 saying "two thousand ten". But other people are trying to change it up a bit and saying, "twenty ten". It's nice to have some options, but at some point, it seems we all need to jump over to saying the "twenty" part, rather than "two-thousand". Otherwise, we're going to have a big mouthful before we know it. "Two-thousand seventeen"-- that just seems like too much to deal with. It's equivalent to saying "I was born in one-thousand nine-hundred and sixty-nine." But as you can probably recall, back in the olden days, we used to just say, "I graduated in nineteen eighty-seven." See? Isn't that better? Rolls right off the tongue.

So let me encourage you to jump into the Twenty-Tens. You'll thank me in Twenty-twenty!

Here to There

This song is an older one- from my Wide Open Book cd.
Video-ed with my brand new FLIP video camera that my brother gave me for Christmas!
I thought the message of this song was a good one to wish everyone a great start to a new year...

I am jumping for joy
as I breathe out a sigh of relief
I've kept my fingers crossed
and I've been so excited that I can't sleep

Free fall 'til I get there
I don't care if I'm scared
I'll jump on the next bus
It's gonna take me from here to there

All the way
Take me from here to there
All the way
I want it so much I don't care if I'm scared

It can throw me off balance
With everything else getting so out of focus
It's all in the backseat
Behind me

I'm whistling all day long
Can't you hear? It's my favorite song
I can't help but smile
I have wanted to for so long


So I am jumping for joy
And I am taking a leap of faith
I know that wherever I land
This is the path I was meant to take


Monday, January 4, 2010

What's Old is New Again

There is certainly a process of learning my new songs. Not just learning them, but making sure they're the right tempo, and that I have all the lyrics just how I want them. They're my babies. It's my job to nurture them as best I can.

Once the songs are on a cd, they're pretty well set. But just because they're set, doesn't mean I'll remember them...

The other day when I was riding with my husband in his car, he had one of my older cds playing. A few of those songs I still play when I'm out performing, but some have fallen along the wayside and have been forgotten. Occasionally, someone will request one of those songs but because it's been out of the rotation for so long, I no longer know it off the top of my head.

But after hearing these songs the other day, I decided I'd like to start playing them again. So I spent some time yesterday figuring out how I had tuned my guitar for each song, my chord progressions, and re-familiarizing myself with the lyrics. It fell into place quicker than I thought it would, but it certainly wasn't automatic. You'd think all the time I had spent with those songs, they would be etched deeper into my memory.

I've played my new songs- the ones that will be showing up on my upcoming cd- out just enough to be sure that they seem ready to go out into the world. But my intention is to have them mostly be a surprise, even to my most regular listeners. So those are going on the backburner until the cd is out. For a while, I'll be bringing those old songs back into the rotation.