Saturday, July 31, 2010

Maybe I'm Amazed

Usually I do the cooking for my little family of 4- which is really just two if you 're counting humans only.  I do okay with it, and my husband at least always acts like what I've cooked tastes good.

Occasionally though, he gets a wild hair and decides to take over in the kitchen, or more likely, at the grill.

Why is it that food cooked by someone else always automatically tastes better?  Especially when they also clean the kitchen up afterwards?!
steak on top of lettuce and tomatoes- made by him- YUM
potatoes- good, but not as good as the steak (made by me!)


Thursday, July 29, 2010

You and I Both

I just woke up from a restless night of very little sleep.  Normally, I would be complaining about it.  In fact, I feel a little hung over right now, just from the fact that I only got a couple of hours of real sleep.

But I am so grateful for the sleep that I did get.  Specifically, the very real-seeming dreaming I had during that couple of hours...

I dreamed that I was at a Jason Mraz concert.  My husband handed me my guitar, and I started playing "You and I Both" from the audience when Jason started playing it.  He then walked over to were I was-- I of course had great seats, very near to the stage because, well- this was a dream after all!-- and all of the sudden, I was mic-ed and plugged in.  Jason and I were magic together.  Dreamy, I guess you could say! 
Jason was so impressed by me- either by me personally, my guitar playing, or my singing~ it's not clear which- that he had to take an immediate break and have the opening band play a few songs so he could hang out with me for a little off-stage banter.

In real life, I've loved Jason since I heard this song when his first full length cd came out.  Now, several cds later, he's a big huge star and our relationship isn't quite as strong.  I'm not as loyal of a fan as I used to be because I know he has so many others out there.  And they're pretty much all younger than me.

But I was reminded of my original true love for Jason last night.

What does this dream mean? That Jason misses what we used to have together, hence the song choice?

So let me make this clear- Jason, I do still love you.  I bought my latest Taylor Nylon because I loved the sound of yours so much.  Next time you're in Dallas, please give me a heads up and I'll bring it to your gig and play with you.  "Cuz you and I both loved, what (you and ) I dreamed of..."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

This Was Once a Little Gray Piece of Clay...

A few weeks ago, my friend and I took a jewelry class that introduced us to making silver jewelry from PMC-- precious metal clay.  During the class, when we fired pieces, we stuck them in a kiln.  But we knew that once we were turned loose and on our own we would have to learn how to use butane torches to get the job done.

Last weekend, my friend and I successfully made a pendant and earrings.  On our own.  With our torches.

We started out with this:
Then we rolled it, sliced it, and diced it, until it became super cute like this...
Then we dried it out, and fired it up with our torches...
While our husbands did this...
-hours of table tennis in the garage on a 100*F day-
and after hours (we're slow at making all kinds of decisions and we get distracted easily) of intense labor, we came up with this:

We were a little nervous, but we learned a lot and had so much fun!

So much fun, in fact, that the following weekend we made pendants with our clay by using a mold.  Here's mine:
too cute for words, really!
Here are a few things we've learned so far:
1.  Although it's recommended to use the butane torch outside, it's too hard to see the flame in the sunlight well enough to know what is going on.  And it's way too hot in Texas for that right now.  Using the torch in the kitchen is totally fine and we didn't burn the house down or kill anyone.  Yay, Us! 

2.  Certain molds that seem like a good idea... aren't.  The simpler ones are working better for me at this point.

3.  It is not a good idea for me to celebrate our success with PMC by drinking red wine when wearing a white dress.  Oops!  ;)

4.  And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, never drink wine while using the torch!

Friday, July 23, 2010

It's Amazing

I've written over a dozen little songs for my "50 Songs in 90 Days" challenge. 

I really do love the practice of sitting down to write on a daily basis, and I wonder why I don't always do it this way.  As far as this pace of actually writing a "song" in that amount of time, that is a bit nuts.  There's no time to edit things at this pace.  I just write them, record them, and slap them up on the 50/90 website.  But the idea of working on songs everyday, rather than just when I feel inspired...that feels great. 

I just show up.  I plant myself and write about somethingAnything.  Sometimes I don't even know what I'm writing about.  Sometimes it's a reaction to a news story.  And sometimes, it's just something completely silly that I normally wouldn't write a song about.

I've got a confession.  I've been watching "The Bachelorette".  And not just watching it.  Planning my Monday nights around it.  The Bachelor, or the Bachelorette has now been on about 100 seasons.  It's all been said and done again and again.  In every season, there is heartbreak, double crossing, cheesy romantic lines that may or may not be scripted, and there is usually an ambulance at some point in the season. 

This season's Bachelorette is in it's final two weeks.  I am very thick into the drama of it.  So really, how could I not write a song about it?

The song is called "It's Amazing" because that phrase is spoken an average of about 15 times an episode.  If you tune in, you'll also hear the phrases, "I've never felt this way before", and "I'm falling so fast!" and "I'm so excited" more than you ever thought you could tolerate. 

Sorry for my video images- I swiped them off the Bachelorette website and they didn't look so good once I blew them up.  Anyway, enjoy  my silly little song...

All the lines start to sound the same
And the faces start to look alike
We've heard it before- there are no surprises left
and in the end a broken heart is all you get

But it's amazing how fast we're falling...
It's amazing, I've never felt this way before!
It's amazing!  And I'm so excited!
It's amazing for sure!

I could see myself with you
We could make it all the way down to the end
On a heart shaped island in a fantasy suite
I keep forgetting it's not just you and me


I might get down on bended knee
Or go home crying in that dark limousine


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In The Closet

My friend has a closet I envy.  First of all, it's huge, compared to mine.  She has room for everything in there, and she even hangs art on the wall!  There are many great aspects to it, but the best thing of all is that she painted her ceiling a glittery silver and She. Has. A. Chandelier!

I love chandeliers.  And I have one in nearly every room of my home.  Even where they might seem inapprorpiate.  In my studio, in my husband's office, in our den, in our hallways, everywhere except the kitchen, and my closet. 

My friend's closet and her chandelier didn't really inspire me to go out and get one for my closet.  My closet didn't seem to warrant a chandelier.  It's a pretty small space, and I'm not great about keeping it organized.  I don't spend much time in there, so really, I figured, why bother?

But that's what birthdays are for!  My friend, the one with the fabulous closet, bought me the cutest little chandelier, for me to hang in my closet.  I would've never bought it for myself...and that is what makes the perfect kind of gift.  Something you would never buy for yourself, but that you fall in love with when it is given to you.
And I am in love!  I didn't realize that just hanging something so cute in my closet could make me want to spend more time in there!  But it has.  I'm keeping things where they belong, hanging stuff up, putting my jewelry where it belongs, even vacuuming the floor regularly~making sure that my closet is worthy of my fabulous chandelier.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Living Oprah

This week I checked out these books at the library. A few were recommended by friends, and a few I just saw on the shelf.  That's one of the great things about the library- There's no risk in bringing home a book you know nothing about and might not like.  My plan was to read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett first because I've read other books by her, and because this one was recommended. 

But when I got home and sat down with those books before me at my kitchen table, I read the first page of Living Oprah by Robyn Okrant.  And I couldn't seem to stop.  Now 2 days and 2 baths later, I'm half way through the book and finding it so fun to read.
In this memoir, Robyn Okrant recounts her year of following all the advice that Oprah dishes out in her magazine, on her website, or on her show.   Robyn started a blog all about her Living Oprah project and within 3 months she had over 20,000 visitors.  (Which, of course, I found interesting!)

When I was first reading this, I was wondering if Oprah has had Robyn on her show, since she wrote this book.  But as I'm further into it, I feel quite sure she has not.  Robyn isn't against Oprah, but she does question some things that might rub Oprah the wrong way.

For example, she writes a message to Oprah in the book, begging her to break the cycle of "devaluing women by focusing too much on our bodies", pointing out that Oprah spends an inordinate amount of time asking female guests on her show how they lost their weight, got their muscular arms, etc. before asking them anything about the movie they are promoting, or the real reason they are on the show.

She also writes about some contradictions Oprah makes.  One that made me laugh in agreement was about when Oprah ran a few pro-planet/pro-green episodes, and right of the middle of them, had her "Big Give" show in which she gave away a gas-guzzling SUV.

By no means do you need to be an Oprah fan to enjoy this book.  But if you are a big fan, that's fine too.  This is really just an interesting little experiment one woman challenged herself to, and in the process, learned a lot about why people have such passionate responses about the Queen of Talk.

So, what are your thoughts on Oprah?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Zoe's Song

Perhaps it's going to be a tradition that during "50 Songs in 90 Days" I write a song for each of my dogs.  Last year, Zoe got one first, and then of course, Scout got one of her own as well.  (You can click here for Zoe's song from last year, and here for Scout's.)

And again, this year, a song about Zoe just sorta happened.  I try not to play favorites, but Zoe seems to be my little shadow all the time.  She follows me around everywhere and I just love that.  She's really the perfect little companion.  Not one mean bone in her body.  Sweetness down to the core.

It's funny- growing up I had dogs that would snap at me, and growl at me and I always wished instead for a dog exactly like Zoe.  My husband laughs at me when I get her face and say to him, "Look, I'm right in her face and she's not even trying to bite me!"

So although my expectations started out a little low, Zoe (Scout, too!) has really raised the bar.  There will never be another dog like her.  I wouldn't even want to try to repeat such greatness.  She is and always will be the dog of my life.

My sweet girls are 14 years old.  A young 14, but I do realize they won't be around forever.  And although that makes me so sad, and honestly sick to my stomach, I appreciate being greeted every morning by them, walking with them every evening, and all the moments in between.

Enjoy the slideshow of my beautiful, gorgeous, sweet-as-can be, ZOE!

There's so many ways that this could have gone, 
but you turned out to be my favorite song
Without even a notion of what was to come
it got set in motion and now it can't be undone
the long walks and the lazy days
the lull of it all chased my troubles away

I think that they broke the mold on you
that got it so right, that nothing after would do
There's no reason to try and even get close
So wherever you go I'll be chasing your ghost
If I hold my breath then can I stop the clock
If I lose my key, will you keep things unlocked?
We'll find our way if we ever get lost
There might be a bridge that will just have to cross

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Treasures I Have Found

My friend has let me start tagging along with her to estate sales the last few months.  Sadly, we are now on about an 8 week hiatus due to some stupid jewelry making class she's taking!  :(

Yes, I could go it alone, or find another estate sale shopping buddy, but she and I have it down to an art that I'm afraid wouldn't turn out as sweet if I tried to do it without her.

Since I'm out of commission for a couple of months, I thought I'd post up some photos of my favorite recent finds...
My sweet broken winged angel-  I love her. And she was only $5!  Are you kidding me?
Our mirror that now hangs over our newly styled mantle that my uber-talented hubby recently completed.
Coo-coo!  Soon to be hung in my dining room.  Only $10!! what???
I love, love, love this very 70s butterfly pendant that I hung on a string of beads.  i've been wearing this a LOT!
Clearly, this was meant for me- a lipstick holder with a sweet little guitarist attached. Don't remember the price, but I know it was a steal, whatever it was!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Uke Duet!

Several years ago, I bought a ukelele while in Maui.  I love my uke, and thought I'd play it a bunch, but I find that just out of habit and familiarity, I always pick up the guitar instead.

I was a little surprised when the Ukelady asked me to play at her ukelele store's grand opening, since I'm really not a uke player.  But she didn't ask me to play my uke.  (Probably, she knows better!)  So I was just going to take my guitar, as I always do, as my accompaniment.

But one day, my friend Elaine called me and said she noticed I was playing at the Ukelady store and asked if could we do a duet together.  I said yes, of course, but I have to admit I was a little nervous about it.  But it sounded fun, and I knew it made sense to play at least one song on the uke at a Ukelady store!

Elaine picked out the song we would play and came over one night to run through it.

You'll notice on the video, our ukes don't seem to be in tune with each other, or perhaps I'm just hitting lots of wrong chords.  But I LOVE this video anyway.  I was completely out of my element, and playing in front of a lot of uke players, but it's a very sweet memory I'll always have with my friend!

And I am going to get my uke out more regularly.  It's an easy little instrument to play decently.  And now, I've got a cool shop near my house that's going to have Uke Gatherings!  If you live in or near Dallas, you should most definitely swing by and check things out.  It's the only shop I know of anywhere near here that carries really nice ukeleles. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Sinking Feeling

I've written 4 songs for the "50 Songs in 90 Days" challenge.  I love that there is no pressure to write a "good" song, just to write a song, period.

Here's one of them... 

i've got a sneaking suspicion
i've got a lump in my throat
like i'm in the deep of the ocean
all alone without even a boat

i've got a sinking feeling bubbling up
our troubles are making their way to the top

i'll look for a note in a bottle
a message someone else tossed out to sea
maybe they had all the answers
and they wrote them all down just for me


the tide it rolls in and the tide it rolls out
the sun and the moon really stir things around
these forces of nature they come and they go
they are beyond me and can't be controlled
oh no...


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Do NOT Say Cheese

Most of my life, when posing for a picture of any sort, I look at the camera and smile.  I think as a little kid it must have been ingrained into me, "Look at the camera and smile!"  And apparently, my husband was taught at the same school of modeling. We have millions of pictures together and we always look the same- Smiling, and looking straight at the camera.

And there's nothing wrong with that.

But sort of by accident, while we were on our vacation to the Oregon coast, somehow, my friend snapped a picture of our husbands and they both sort of sneered and didn't look the camera.  And magic happened!  We laughed so hard at the result...
Don't be fooled. This is not an Abercrombie ad!
From that point on during our trip, every time the camera was taken out someone would say, "Don't look at the camera and don't smile".
and completely uninterested.
Usually, this approach to picture posing seems to work.  Sometimes though, you might end up looking a little stiff and mannequin-like.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fifty More

In just a few days the "50 Songs in 90 Days" online challenge begins.  This will be my 3rd year to participate in it.

It's a songwriter's equivalent to running a marathon.  I've got to keep a steady pace of writing at least one song every 1.8 days over the next 3 months.  There will be times when I'll hit a wall and think there's just nothing left in me.  But I know from experience that there is always something left.  I know from experience that if I make myself sit still long enough with a guitar in my arms, and a notebook out in front of me, a song will eventually be written. 
My brand new songwriting notebook!
Scartlett, who will be doing most of my co-writing!

I'm not even sure what the rules are, other than we're all striving to write 50 songs between July 4th and October 1st.  There is no judge or jury rating the songs as good or bad. This is really just about quantity, and not so much about quality.  Hopefully, there will be a few keepers, but there's no pressure for that to happen.  All 50 songs could be horrible, and really, that would be okay.  That little fact allows the creative juices to flow all the more freely.

Lately, I've had lots and lots of ideas- lyrically and otherwise.   Last year, I mainly wrote with a guitar in hand.  I think I wrote a song or two on my ukelele.  Maybe this year, I'll try writing one on the piano.  That would be something different but not too far out of my comfort zone. Maybe I'll even whip out the banjo and see what happens!  I feel like the pump is primed and ready to begin this endeavor.

Here's the final song I wrote last year-  It's called "50 Different Ways".  This is the song in it's raw and original form, although soon, when my new CD comes out, you'll hear it edited, cleaned up, and with percussion, cello, and piano thrown in to spice it up.

Summer has fallen away, there's a chill in the air and it's starting to rain
I'm ready to go back inside, I've been overexposed and now I just want to hide

I have nothing left to say
All that's left in my head is an ache
I've said all I came to say
In fifty different ways

I've talked 'til I'm blue in the face, but maybe no ones been listening to anything
The well of my my words has run dry, now the only word left if this lonely goodbye


I have spent hours on end working these puzzles and making amends...