Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013…

What a year. I’m grateful for the life I’ve been given, the incredible people in my life (especially the guy by my side), and the opportunities & adversities I have face this year. I prepared myself for 2013, choosing the word COURAGE as my one little word. I had no idea the ways it would present itself to me.


I took a bit of a hiatus from writing my thoughts in this medium, popping in and out only in moments (really 47 posts for the ENTIRE year??). I had to take a few months to process some very personal things. Rather than spewing my most personal thoughts on the interwebs (like really, who wants to read all of that? who needs to read all of that? I’m not that important.), I took some time to write them the old fashioned way, pen and paper, and loads of self-conversations while running. I probably could have published some of it on here, but it boiled down to a simple concept. I have been blessed with a gift. Rather than use words as weapons to destroy (no matter how vindicated or justified I’d feel in spewing so much snark), I’d rather use words to motivate or uplift (because who wants to hold onto that negativity? I have certainly felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders when I finally released some of my demons. Too much baggage, gah!). Instead of sharing what I saw as my own truth, I opted to contain it so as to not hurt others and myself. It took a great deal of courage for me to come to that decision, especially when I felt like I was being attacked. Then again, when you are in the thick of things, it is easy to latch onto the smallest of things and run with it until you are positively insane. We’ve all been there, consumed by madness! In any case, I wanted to say thank you to all of my friends and family who lifted me up. Many of you reading this had no idea that the tiniest bits of things you’ve posted online, texted me, emailed, written, tiny gestures…meant so very much to me when I was feeling quite low. If you feel compelled to share exciting news or come across a phrase that motivates/inspires you, then share it. You have no idea the ripples you create in doing just that!

I had the courage to embrace my imperfections. I began to appreciate that I was a broken pot, used to water the plants along the side of the road. I hadn’t really understood my own rippling effect, until I was forced to push pause on my life an reflect. I’m gonna own that as a major win. I’m also going to celebrate that I kept on keeping on.

These were the goals I’d set forth and nearly accomplished them all. (We didn’t go camping and I flew on aerial silks instead of a trapeze):

These are my major accomplishments for the year:
  1. I jumped out of a plane and lived.
  2. I ran a half marathon and amazed myself with my finish time. (I even amazed myself with my 5K improvements.)
  3. I saw my eldest off to her first day of school.
  4. I also witnessed her happily read her first several books to me.
  5. I also cried a great many tears of joy after she completed her first 5K with an average pace of 12 minute miles (she’s 5!!!).
  6. I witnessed our youngest master potty training and running her first mile in a race with a 13 minute mile pace (outstanding! She’s 2!).
  7. I also saw her vocabulary expand exponentially. She also knows how to flip off of the ottoman, jump on one foot, dance whenever music is playing, and sings along to the radio.
  8. I went to a great number of concerts, even scoring a media pass to document the experience.
  9. I had a year’s worth of dates with my Beloved (at least one a month). Several of them were overnight dates, too!
  10. I visited California 3 times, dug my toes in the sand, climbed a mountain (twice), and sat under the redwoods breathing it all in.
  11. I got a new car!
  12. I hosted my very own 5K for my birthday (and will be doing it again in 2014).
  13. I survived the health scare of my fractured vertebrae and venous cavernous malformation.
  14. I let go of personal aches, made peace with my past, and found myself better for it.
  15. I began a type of art therapy for myself by incorporating devotions/scripture in a journal.
  16. I drank a lot of coffee. ha ha!
  17. I worked out a lot with my Beloved.
  18. I started to incorporate skills from my professional life and began a new project that will hopefully launch next year.
  19. I had SO MUCH TIME with my bests!!! It wasn’t weeks on end, but hours, certainly, and such good quality hours, too!
  20. I ate a lot of really good food!
  21. I tried to grow a garden, which basically amounted to basil.
  22. I held two new babies birthed by my friends (even helping one of them through pre-labor).
  23. I stood next to my nephew/godson as he was Confirmed this year.
  24. I had my first ever facial…which is big because I don’t like anyone touching my face.
  25. Embraced gluten-free cooking/baking and have had much success!
Whew.

Cheers to 2014! Looking forward to it!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy 1st Anniversary: Samantha & Roy

Last Winter Solstice, a small group of friends and some family members gathered in an intimate chapel to celebrate life, love, and happiness. My husband and I were there to capture these moments. It was our gift to the bride and groom, my sister and her new husband. Happy first anniversary, Samantha & Roy!

 

 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fitness Buddy: 5 Keys to Helping Your Partner Train for the NYC Triathlon

If you are like me, you may possibly yo-yo between fitness routines. Usually, when I have a scheduled race with an actual goal in mind, I commit to the race, then the training tapers off and I get back to being a lug until a few months pass by, my pansa gets a bit large, my clothes get a bit tight, and I rush off to find another race. Vicious cycle.
But I am quite competitive, especially against myself. I also like having support and someone who will cheer for me. It’s fun to feel strong, look your best, and you can’t beat those endorphins!
Early last month, my Beloved came to me and told me what he wanted for his 40th birthday. You can imagine my surprise, because he NEVER asks for anything, let alone that far in advance of his birthday (it is in May). He told me he wanted to do the NYC Triathlon. Not only that, but he wanted to commit to raise $3000 for the Semper Fi Fund.
wow.
So, in that moment, I beamed with pride and dedicated myself to help him train for the race. Here’s the breakdown:
1500m swim – .93 mile open water swim in the Hudson River
40k bike – 24.85 miles along Manhattan’s West Side highway
10k run – 6.2 miles of running through Central Park
With that in mind, here are 5 keys to help your partner train for any event, but in my case, the NYC Triathlon.
  1. Meal Planning
  2. Train with Your Partner
  3. Keep them accountable
  4. Encourage your partner
  5. Education
1. Meal Planning…DIET, DIET, DIET
No hormones, no additives, no preservatives, organic (as much as possible), natural…to you, it may sound like EXPENSIVE, but to me, you can’t put a price on your health.
You may have heard that phrase that abs are made in the kitchen. It’s true. Diet contributes 100% to your fitness. Put crap into your body, and you will see the results. I did the vegetarian diet before with great success. However, I have since altered my stance and have become a flexitarian. Freshly caught wild fish (not farm raised), grass fed beef, free range/vegetarian fed poultry, and other local sources are what I aim for. Pay now for better food or pay later for your health-related costs. Plus, not everything HAS to be overpriced! Ethnic foods are more than affordable and quite flavorful!
The Method: Each week on Saturday, I spend about half an hour meal planning. I jot down each day’s meals on our weekly meal plan page. Alongside it is my grocery list, where I check off or list what we will need for each meal.  On Sundays, we go grocery shopping for the week. The weekly meal plan, then lives on the front of the fridge. Sunday nights, we may do some meal prep.
Getting the Goods: We shop at Market Street, Trader Joe’s, and HMart. Market Street for veggies, fish, beef, cheeses, and dried goods. Trader Joes’s for eggs, more veggies, almond/soy milk (Both of our daughters have an allergy to milk--yes, even hormone-free milk--, so we have gone to more soy and almond milk. The evidence of the dairy issue presents itself with certain cheeses, but not Greek yogurt.), gluten-free flour,  canned San Marzano tomatoes, and on occasion flowers (yes, just checking to see if you were still paying attention!)
In the late evenings when I want a snack (especially after a workout), we will make ourselves a juice. This is so much better than nachos, cereal, or even a Twinkie (yes, I’m giving you a side-eye Tracy Anderson because not only do I think the juice has some nutritional value, you have me wanting a Twinkie in the worst way). Also, you still have to be sure you get your fiber!

Daily Routine: Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, juice
2. Train with Your Partner
Creativity lends itself better with twos, and I believe the same could be said when training. Otherwise, why else would all of the group fitness options be made available if people didn’t enjoy the camaraderie. But this isn’t just exercise, it is actual training. Every single day we grind. Every workout is thought out with the idea that we will be better than what we were yesterday and we will keep pushing forward to reach the goals.
“Different physical tasks require different physical adaptations; running 26.2 miles is obviously a different task than squatting 700 pounds, and the two efforts require completely different physical adaptations. If a program of physical activity is not designed to get you stronger or faster or better conditioned by producing a specific stress to which a specific desirable adaptation can occur, you don't get to call it training. It is just exercise.”—Mark Rippetoe
Daily Routine:  This requires that we run together, we lift weights together, we stretch/yoga/meditate together, we cycle together, and we swim together. We also recover together.
3. Keep Them Accountable
Two facts: I am not a great swimmer. I am an even worse cyclist.  When he has to bike or swim, that’s when I mostly focus on myself for things that will not cause bodily harm to me. When he is biking, I am out running. When he is swimming, I’m doing plyometrics or a cardio activity. In both instances, I’m doing something during the time he is doing something. The buddy is putting in the time, so must you! On those days where neither of us feels like doing anything, it is up to me to remind him why he started this journey. If I’m ever in doubt of myself, I just need to lean to my online friends and they do a great job of motivating me and keeping me accountable. I can’t escape it, thus he can’t escape it. It’s a good problem to have. Also, when in doubt, revisit this video:

4. Encourage Your Partner
Be a cheerleader. Cheer yourself for sticking by their side, but also scream your lungs out when you can. Be there for the slumps. Be there for the gains. Either way, give encouragement. If you can be there on race day, make signs, wear the cheesy shirt, and get others to yell with you.


5. Education
Research training plans. Establish a baseline, then grow from there. Learn all you can about preventing injury, things to prepare for the event, and training in conditions that will be present on race day. Also, learn the route. If you are going to be on location to cheer them on, come up with points along the way and communicate those places with your partner. It is so much easier for them to spot you, than it is for you to spot them!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review: Stitch Fix – An Online Personal Styling Service

Are you a busy gal? Like, so busy, when you think of shopping, you really don’t want to hassle with getting dressed, then going to several stores, browsing through everything and then not really finding what you were looking for? Or even worse, NEEDING to find something in particular, but coming away unsuccessfully.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way for you to try on several things in the comfort of your own home, pairing the pieces with the shoes you hand in mind, but weren’t really sure about because you didn’t wear them on your outing? Enter Stitch Fix.

They are a personal styling service. It costs a $20 styling fee that is applied as credit towards clothes that were sent to you. This $20 is charged when the stylist picks your items, NOT on the day you schedule your fix. One day out of the month, you are sent a lovely box filled with 5 items (clothing and an accessory). You login to their website, and create your style profile. At first glance, it may seem daunting because there are a lot of questions. No worries, answer them honestly. They are “interviewing” you to get an idea for the things you would like and what would work for you. It almost seems like filling out an online dating profile, but it is fun! Even better if you have a Pinterest board and they can check out your style on there. Ok, style profile filled out, date picked for the delivery. Now what?

Like I said, your box is delivered and you have 3 days to decide what you want to keep and what you want to send back. . In the box, your clothes are carefully packaged and on each tag is a style card, which gives inspiration and ideas for your pieces, very similar to what you’d find on Polyvore. Anything you don’t wish to purchase, you mail back in the pre-paid mailing bag. For the items you wish to buy, you login to your account and pay for what you keep. They have a space for notes as to why you didn’t like the different pieces you weren’t fond of. This helps with future styling. Don’t forget about your $20 credit, also, if you buy all 5 items, then you save 25%!

Stitch Fix is ideal for women from size 0/XS-14/XL. You don’t have to sign up for a monthly membership, but they do have that option. Average price point per item is $65.

In my first fix, I requested blouses. I was sent 3 blouses, a dress, and a necklace. The blouses didn’t work for me, but this 41Hawthorn red wrap dress is DIVINE!! It even has pockets on the side! What?? I love the quality of fabric and how it fits. This was a perfect match. The cost of the dress was $68, which is a great deal for me because most of the work dresses I currently own are $80-$150 range.

I recommend Stitch Fix and looking forward to my next shipment next month. You can click on my referral link and upon receiving your first fix, I receive $25 in credit. https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3222052

What a convenient and fun new way to “shop” for new clothes!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Show Review: Phosphorescent and Shakey Graves–House of Blues Dallas 2013

I stumbled upon Phosphorescent after hearing a recording of “Song for Zula” on NPR back in April. There are times when my heart ached and I would find myself listening to this song. Often, I’d go for a run and my cool down was to this song, watching a glorious sunset. Matthew Houck’s voice, so vulnerable and raw, and how the rest of the instruments meshed together, well, it was beautiful music to me. When tickets went on sale in August, I bought a pair through the presale, anxiously looking forward to what was  to come! I’m a big fan of the Americana/alt-country/electronic thing he has going on.

We had a lovely date down in the Bishop Arts District just before the show. It was nice to feel relaxed and in the mood to absorb some good music for the evening.

We were afforded a media pass and I poked my head backstage (cozy and busy hallways, filled with people going to and fro, which had me nostalgic of my old theater days). They put on a great show, especially for die hard fans. I spent the better part of the opening performance* sharing time with a local surgeon who works miracles! It was so inspiring to meet and talk with a real-life hero there on the little couch in the corner. It had me almost as excited as being at the show.

Unfortunately, the sound was a bit off in the Cambridge Room at the House of Blues. It is a smaller venue, so I guess it could be tricky trying to get it right. But it was quite noticeable moving from one side of the room to the other (I tested every corner several times to see if there would be a sweet spot), with an overwhelming amount of unintentional distortion. However, all that to say, in spite of that, his voice, the instruments, the energy was all wonderful and moving. Everyone in the crowd swayed as he crooned “Song for Zula” and all were clapping along to “Ride on/Right On.” There was such a dynamic group of people there from all walks of life, it was nice to be a part of a very different crowd. If you like indie music, then you next time they are in town, you need to do yourself a solid, learn the lyrics, go to the show, and sing along at the top of your lungs.

(As an added bonus, when I went to the bathroom, I was treated with sounds from the Mowgli/Walk the Moon show happening in the lower level.)

 

*Opening for them was Shakey Graves, a one man man show who’d rigged up a drum/bass triggered with his feet. Impressive!

**While we were afforded a media pass, in no way did that sway my review. The photos were all captured by my darling and talented husband. I purchased my own tickets for the show and the opinions are my own.**

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gluten Free Bread Machine Bread

DRY GOODS

2 cups almond flour

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour

2 tsp xanthan gum

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons active dry yeast (I used Fleischmann’s dry active yeast for breadmachines)

WET GOODS

1 1/2 cups  warm  milk*

2 teaspoons vinegar

1/4 cup  olive oil

2 extra large eggs, room temperature

extra olive oil and tapioca flour for the pan

PROCESS

  1. Take your extra virgin olive oil and tapioca flour and oil and flour your bread machine pan.
  2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl, then carefully pour into your breadmachine.
    *I realized I didn’t have regular milk in the house. We seldom do these days because both girls seem to have a negative reaction to drinking cows milk. If I have some, it is because I know I’ll be baking or making paneer. I just happened to make paneer that morning, thus using all of my milk. Oops, so anyway I took 3/4 of heavy cream and 1/2 cup of water to make “milk”
  3. Pour (or crack) all of your wet ingredients on top of the dry mix directly into the machine.
  4. Close the lid and set your machine to process for regular white sandwich bread. This will take about an hour and a half or so, depending on your machine and altitude.
  5. When done, take out immediately from the machine so it doesn’t stick to the sides.
  6. Enjoy!

I adapted my recipe from this one here found at the Art of Gluten Free Baking. I also referred to Gluten Free Goddess’ tips for bread machines.

Notes: Xantham gum is expensive. I was lucky to find it in the bulk goods section. I knew I only needed 2 teaspoons, so I took the smallest container and filled it only halfway. This was quite a bit of savings. Also, my all purpose gluten free flour comes from Trader Joe’s. Don has enjoyed everything that I’ve made with it so far, so it seems to be a quality substitute. He prefers it over the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten free. Speaking of Bob’s Red Mill, that is who I used for the almond flour. Going forward, I will use 1 cup of almond flour and 2 cups of the all-purpose flour. This bread tasted nuttier and earthier than I wanted, but it was still good!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mushrooms are Not Only a Funghi, but a Vegetable #Fall4Mushrooms

Ahhh mushrooms! When you look at this photo, you either salivate or you shudder at the thought. Me, I’m someone who salivates. I love mushrooms! They bring all sorts of flavor to any dish, they are packed with Vitamin D, and they work with any meal of the day. From fancy chanterelles, to plain white all the way to oyster, portobello, shiitake, and cremini, larger trumpet and one of my favorites morels, all of them make me smile. September is National Mushroom month and there are sure to be many varieties in the store for you to consume!

To get you started, I will share with you one of the first dishes I’d learned to make on my own. This dish not only made me fall even deeper in love with mushrooms, but also started my love for cooking! Thanks to my Tia Vickie for showing me how she prepared them back when I was 7.

Simple Sauteed Mushrooms

1 package of white mushrooms (pre-sliced or whole, but if whole, you will slice them)

2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

3 pinches of sea salt

In a sauce pan, over medium to low heat, add the butter to the pan and a pinch of sea salt. When the butter has melted, add the entire package of mushrooms. Swirl around the mushrooms until they are sufficiently coated with the butter. Now add your second pinch of salt. Toss the mushrooms in the pan around and let cook until each one has turned from white to brown. Scoop out onto a plate, not trying to add the excess butter. If you like, you can add your final pinch of salt. Serve and enjoy!

 

What are some of your favorite ways to use mushrooms?

**I was selected to participate in this campaign by the one2one network and my be eligible for prizes because of my participation. The statements are my own.**

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Coffee is Like a Hug

The day was brand new, my eyes heavy coming out of the sleep. The room is warm, even though the sun is barely peeking through the the house. El Paso, Texas during the summertime in the 80s, and outside of the window, I hear my grandmother hanging the laundry on the line. There is a bird chirping outside, and I pull the crisp, white linen sheets over my small body. I never knew how those sheets remained stiff, yet comfortable. I take a deep breath and there’s the faint smell that feels so familiar.

My abuela always made a little cafecito con leche each morning to start her day. When she would lean in close to me to help me with my napkin, smelling her breath always felt like a sacred secret. After our meal, after the dishes were washed, there she would sit in her chair, affording herself a few minutes to dip half of a bolillo into her café as her breakfast.

coffee1

_______

The house would be busy with shuffling sounds of my mother going from room to room picking things up or organizing. I’d hear the whirr of the vacuum, muffled footsteps on the carpet, and cabinets opening and closing. Then my favorite sound of all, the grains poured into the metal. The water filling the vessel and not many moments later the popping of coffee activating in the percolator. It was my job to fill the sugar container and a small glass with milk. We were having a party, the guests would come over and coffee was always there, waiting to be poured or shared. Lots of chatter, glasses clinking, the spoons hitting the sides of the mugs as their owners stirred the milk and sugar. Daddy never drank coffee.

_______

Amarillo, Texas in the mid-80s, waking up before the sun, I was a little grumpypants. Never in my life have I ever been a morning person. But one Saturday out of every month, I would have to get up much earlier than I would ever have to awake for school. I’d throw on some old clothes and my ten-ees (sneakers) and we’d head to the church. I’d spend the next hour or two polishing the wooden pews in my church. Initially, I’d be angry to be up that early, but for my efforts, I’d be rewarded with a donut and mom would get her coffee: 3 sugars, 1 milk.

_______

Summertime errands, I always wanted to go to the bank with my mother. Not so much because of the free Dum Dum we would get in the drive-thru, but because when she had to walk in, next to the free coffee was a glorious, sparkling sugar cube pyramid. I was allowed to eat two. I’d savor them one at a time, melting that sweet goodness on my tongue. And ever so often, one of the cubes would have a lone drop of coffee on it. It tasted good. It filled me with an unexplainable warmth and happiness.

_______

In high school, hovered over our books, with our calculators and pencils, I’d sit in that booth at IHOP with my buddies. Smelling that coffee and being around my friends would make me smile. I didn’t yet drink it, but I did enjoy the smell. Later, when I was in college, I would go to McDonalds and order a small coffee. Not to drink, but just to enjoy the smell in my room. To remind me of home. To bring comfort me. There were more than a few solitary moments, laden with horrific thoughts of doing harm to myself, and I could be brought back to center with the comfort of coffee. Arms wrapped tightly around my body from within. Reminders that I am loved.

_______

I had my first child. Running on very little sleep, patience low, I was reminded of the the coffee I’d afforded myself during my pregnancy that helped me to stay awake on my commutes home. I would indulge in a saccharine and calorie-filled caramel macchiato from Starbucks, and ZING, I was a new person. Not only did the caffeine activate my brain to alert, but my body was filled with dopamine happiness.

_______

Specialty coffee shops have emerged near my office. I’ve made friends with baristas. That frothy goodness from their skilled hands produced euphoric optimism, which worked in my favor. Has always worked in my favor, especially when I’m trying to slay those demons from within. I heart coffee. I enjoy sharing it with friends. I enjoy it alone. It makes me think of happy times. It also reminds me during those not-so-happy times that there will be sunshine again,  that I just need some patience. Sit. Wait. Sip the coffee.

Do you have a special coffee story? If so, I’d like to hear it.

coffee2

 

**If you are still reading this and there is likelihood that I will ever see you in person, then consider this a coupon for a free coffee. We’ll sit, chat, sipping on our coffees, talking about everything and nothing.**

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Someday Has Come

Said goodbye to our little Honda, “Maggie” last night. The Sugarbean called it “the little car.” Some times we’d be loading up to go some where and she’d say, “Mommy, let’s take the little car.”

In late 2004, I acquired the Honda. My first big-girl car, a 2001 VW Jetta, had taken a nose dive into a pit of engine failure. I was fortunate to have an honest mechanic who warned me of the condition before I went down a rabbit hole of expenses for the car. I needed a car that I could afford and I needed one fast. What I ended up with was my little Maggie, named because of the color she was, magnesium.


We made countless trips out to West Texas and Kansas in her. We trekked all the way out to Tennessee and back in this vehicle. 140,000 miles of memories, dings and dents, snow, rain, hail damage, windows open in the hot summer air, sunroof opened to the Texas country sky. This was the car that met us after we returned from our honeymoon, from our second honeymoon, from all of those other trips and vacations. I drove this car to pick up my wedding dress. We brought our daughters home in this car.

The passenger mirror replaced by Captain America because I drove too close to a concrete column and knocked it off. The rear bumper replaced when we had a minor fender bender. We went through a few sets of new tires, found lots of CDs tucked into the corners of the car, and hidden toddler snacks in the upholstery.

I didn’t like this car when I first drove it. There was no leather, the sound system wasn’t what I’d wanted it to be, but it drove. There were times where I’d sit in it and dream…someday I will have leather interior again. Someday I will sit comfortably in traffic. (How nice would heated seats or climate controlled space be.) Someday I won’t be constantly kicked in the back when I’m driving with my kiddos. (How nice would it be to have substantial legroom.) Someday I won’t have to adjust the mirrors and seat. (How nice would it be to push a programmable button.) Someday I will have enough cupholders. (How nice would it be to store my coffee, my water, juice boxes, ice cream, cups of corn, etc,, without having to balance it in my lap.) 

And then I’d be reminded of the days of my first car. Where I would tell myself that someday I would have a car that was one color, had a sunroof that worked, a gas gauge that worked, a radio that I could tell which station it was on, and one where the shocks would work.

Always someday.

But yes, appreciative that I had the freedom to have my own car. And also the freedom to have had a car that ran, until it didn’t.

When it was time for us to look for a new car, I don’t know what I was considering. Many people have this grand list filled with wants. Me, at the top of my list was comfort. I wanted leather seats, but nothing else was a deal breaker. 4 cylinders would be nice for gas purposes, but wasn’t necessary.  And then Captain America surprised me and we signed the paperwork for this new car…


It is a gray 2013 Chevy Malibu with tan colored leather interior. It starts with the push of a button. (always wanted that as a kid and wondered why cars didn’t start like all other electronic equipment.) The seats are programmable, one for me and one for Captain America. He can sit in the back of the car, with his hat on and his knees don’t brush on the back of my seat. ROOM TO STRETCH!! There is a sunroof to stare out into the Texas country sky. Plenty of cupholders.  It has a hard drive! There is an outlet, a USB port, a couple of ac adaptor outlets, bluetooth equipped, cargo net in the trunk. The seats are heated, I can remote start it to cool for summer or warm for winter.

This is the car that we’ll drive when we drop off our girls on their first day of school. We will road trip to West Texas, to Kansas, and many other places. It is where we will kiss one another when we hit each of our milestone 40th years. And so very many, many other amazing moments.

I had tears in my eyes when we handed over the keys to Maggie. That bit of sentimental attachment to our vehicle. I gave thanks to her for the service, wiped the tears and smiled when I pushed that button, pulled out into the road, I was humbled and grateful. My hubby made this deal happen and gave me a level of happiness that I can’t describe. Took me back to when I was a kid and told that I could pick out whatever I wanted and I would get it. I didn’t want to trust it at first, kept thinking to myself, is this real?

Honestly, when I told people we were looking at cars and I said a Chevy Malibu, all but one person asked, “Why?” You know the way they asked it. Some of you might even be wondering why yourself. I believe in American products. Not that I don’t like foreign products, but when given the opportunity, I try to seek American made first. Chevy has been good for us with our Equinox. The Onstar feature rescued our vehicle. The brand has served us well over the course of the past 5 years. We look forward to seeing their exhibit at the State Fair. Even more than that, their Customer Service is top notch. Any hint of an issue, I’ve jumped onto social media and they have connected with me immediately to address a concern. It’s why I replied back to the naysayers with “Why not.” If you are in the market for a vehicle and hadn’t given Chevy a second thought, I strongly urge you to reconsider!  They have an entire suite of vehicles to suit your needs.

Thank you, babe! I love our addition so much!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fresh Kaufee

Remember when I talked about the Erykah Badu concert? Well here’s a little backstory to something I had mentioned in that post. While we were standing in line, I looked at all of the people around me. So many of them seemed to know each other. I was inhaling their energy, really enjoying just being there and a part of the group. I squeezed Captain America’s hand a little tighter.

We had our big camera (Baby) with us. He prefers to carry the camera backpack when he is shooting. I knew this venue was going to be packed and I suggested he trim down and leave the backpack in the car. When he headed back to the car, that’s when I’d met Joonbug.

Joonbug from Fresh Kaufee on Vimeo.

 

After the show, I made a mental note to go search for him and see what he’d done. After all, I loved the shirts that he’d designed for the show (even though I never discovered where they were being sold) and I noticed “Premium Blend” on someone else’s shirt. You can imagine my delight when I happened upon Fresh Kaufee and saw the words “Premium Blend” on his shirts! This was him: Living the dream! Knowing I’d met the artist, I simply had to own my own shirt!

Yes, that’s an honest to goodness coffee bag. This was what was sent in the mail. On the back, were the stamps and the addresses. Folks, it SMELLED like coffee!! I opened it to find all of this:

 

Yes, that’s my shirt, a personal bag of ground coffee beans, a creamer and a sugar, with buttons (minus one that I’d already taken off and delicately placed in a special place). My shirt smelled like coffee, and I had coffee, and….well, all of the packaging was premium, clever, and delightful. If you don’t like coffee, then this is not for you. But for me, it was wonderful and perfect.

The shirt is an American Apparel shirt and high quality. So if you want to support local talent or American made products, this doesn’t get any more local. I HIGHLY recommend this fabulous shop. If you want to be inspired and check out his hand written doodles/drawings, check him out on instagram, user name: freshkaufee.

**I did not receive compensation or any thing for this post. This post is merely my opinion and I’m sharing the niftiness of it to get the word out.**

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Red Bull Sound Select Dallas: Dustin Cavazos, Larry g(EE), The Cannabinoids, and Erykah Badu (Prophet Bar)

Hello Bianca, do you wanna go to a free concert?

Duh! I love music, and any chance I get to go to a concert (especially for free!!), I will jump on it. Red Bull Sound Select celebrates local music and the people that push it forward. I signed up on their site and included my social media promotions about music for a chance to win tickets. You can imagine the grin on my face when I received the email letting me know I was one of the chosen!

Let me be honest…I wasn’t a die hard fan of any of the artists. I’d never heard of Dustin Cavazos, Larry g(EE), or the Cannabinoids. I’d known a few of Erykah Badu’s songs, but mostly radio play. Even more honesty, I appreciated her not so much for her artistry, but as a mother. I knew she was a very natural mom, birthing two of her children at home. That’s the side of her that appealed to me. Plus, as a mother, she’s balancing her work with her family. My beloved knew even less.

And so we dressed ourselves and went off to Deep Ellum for our concert. Both of us exhausted from the day because we’d been dealing with car issues. (We were actually researching new cars and went for a test drive.) Oh, and we’d just gotten back from vacation in San Diego (post forthcoming). Oh, and I had this tickle in my throat that was nagging at me. Nevermind all of that, we were happy to have a date and go on a new musical journey, surrounded by many people who would be as passionate about music as we are.

Warming up the night, as people trickled in was DJ Sheka Booker. This girl had me dancing and grooving. I didn’t care if people were staring. They should’ve been dancing!

Next up was Dustin Cavazos. Here’s the thing, I’ve been a fan of Tupac for I don’t know how long. His music, were stories from the heart. Real stories, from real experiences. He was a preacher and maybe I didn’t always agree with everything he said, his words spoke to me unlike any other rapper…until July 26th.  I realized I’d stopped listening to anything new. I played my old stand-bys, only venturing out when someone I trusted would give a solid recommendation. I lamented the loss of ‘Pac, and had since stopped looking for someone to fill the void. Because of that absence, I was wrong to stop my search of poets. I just needed to put my ear to the ground towards the local scene. Then again, isn’t that the purpose of what Sound Select is trying to achieve? His lyrics are fresh, they are real, and his passion is evident when he performs. Check out his videos here.

I popped outside and indulged in a Simply Dosa Paneer Masala Dosa and water because holy moly was it hot!! So humid! That tickle in my throat persisted and I just prayed that I could make it through the night. I parked myself in the center close to where the air flowed. My Beloved to the front grabbing all of the stills in this post.

Next up was Larry g(EE). If Bruno Mars and Michael Fitzpatrick (the Fitz from Fitz and the Tantrums) had a love child, they’d have Larry. He’s so full of soul and that voice paired with the horns, how could I not feel happy and sassy and want to dance. Note to self, must acquire a bowtie for my Beloved, because he makes it fun and classy! Check out his music. It makes you want to dance. It makes you want to grab the person closest to you and just start swaying together. (I’m Your Fool is my favorite!)

After he and his band heated up the place, there was a bit of an intermission as the Cannabinoids set up. All of their Mac computers with the wires, strewn on the stage, I was particularly excited to see what was going to happen. I knew it was going to be something special! Something special did happen! While the Cannabinoids were doing their thing, Dallas based rapper and creative genius –topic and the Team from Nowhere (TFN) jumped up on stage and gave us quite a show. –topic reminded me of Common. He oozed creativity. I’d seen him outside before the show as I stood there smiling and caught the eye of Joonbug, part of TFN. He had this delicate smile, soft voice, and bright eyes. He told me that he’d designed the shirts for the show and I was completely honored to have met him! In that moment, I wished I would’ve been able to have had a coffee with him and sat for hours. One of those moments where you wish you were in school again and this was the kind of person you hoped would sit next to you all year.

tangent, much?

Anyway, they were performing a song called “Chips on a Plate” while throwing out chips to the crowd. Yeah, I caught some Cheetos. It was the final pack of chips that were thrown into the crowd. I haven’t opened them. The energy in that room was palpable. Everyone was on their feet, dancing, moving, sweating, smiling. It was like being at a rowdy house party filled with beautiful people. I loved it! Love, love, love, loved it!

An hour passed before Ms. Badu graced us with her presence. My throat was all kinds of angry at me. The various smokes in the room were irritating me and I was praying I could make it through the show to see her perform at least one song. The vibe in the room had gone from electric to a dimmed hum. Everyone was standing around, eyes glued to the stage, necks craning to catch a glimpse. During that time, we were treated by DJ mix beats that had me in a bit of a trance. By this time the entire room was packed, barely enough room to sway side to side. Glimpses of LED lights flashing faces as people texted, tweeted, posted instagram pics of the night. After all, they were all noticed to be there through social media. It was only fitting that our smart phones were present members as well.

At 12:45 her band started playing and after several minutes there she was.

I haven’t the words. Everyone seemed star struck for just a moment, the murmur of the crowd quieted, cellphones in the air attempting photos to preserve the moment and to immediately brag to their friends. I snapped one image, stood there and let her voice soothe my sore throat. I felt alive. I felt sensual. I felt womanly. And when she sang On and On (my favorite of hers), it took me back to the summer of ‘97. The crowd swayed like dancing jellyfish tentacles in the sea. We were all connected and feelin’ the music. She continued to turn it up even higher, the crowd falling deeper and deeper in love with her and that moment. It was well after 2 before she would finish, but I expired much earlier than that. I was already at home gargling hot water with lemon in my jammies. Smiling at the gift I’d been given that evening. Grinning at the conversations I’d had, the ones I’d overheard, and just watching everything and everyone.

Yes, the music was a real treat in and of itself, but it was those moments in between that acted as the thread to weave the music and the people. I’ve discovered that often when you suck it up, the reward is that much greater and on this particular evening, it certainly was.

**I was awarded two free tickets to the show and a media pass to capture the images. Thanks to my husband for capturing these images.**

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review: Court Yard Hounds Amelita

Hello, hello, hello friends!

I have so much to share with you, but first, I need to write about a new album: Amelita by the Court Yard Hounds.

Emily Robison and Martie Maguire are the two sisters from Dixie Chicks. After a few years away from the limelight and the Dixie Chicks, the two sisters were ready to get back into the studio with the creation of Court Yard Hounds. Amelita, out now, marks the Court Yard Hounds' second album.

The first couple of years of my college life soundtrack were filled with sounds from the Dixie Chicks. I always loved the instrumentals, so you can imagine how excited I was to listen to the Court Yard Hounds. I had no idea that the two sisters had a whole entire band of their own. 
“We’re a band, not a side project. We like our sound, and we’re going to continue to do this, and share something new this time around.” Emily Robison couldn't be more clear about the game plan for the Court Yard Hounds, the group she and sister Martie Maguire head up, as they get ready to release their second album, Amelita.
Containing 11 new tracks, Robison and Maguire took a different approach with Amelita than their debut album in 2010. This album contains a new perspective, which is due in part to time passed since Robison’s divorce. “I’ve been freed of all of those time-heals-everything kind of things,” says Robison. “Now, I’ve opened up to other ideas and ways of looking at life and the world. I think it’s not only a more hopeful album, but it’s more… well fun."

The Court Yard Hounds’ new album is a clear statement of who the girls are as artists, defining their sound as a band, with soaring songs that are personal, yet familiar and widely relatable. This is so very true on so many levels. Listening to this music, I want to pop in an old fashioned CD, and take a long road trip with my windows down, the hot Texas sun beating down on my skin as I loudly sing along. "The World Smiles" and "Aimless Upward" are a prime examples of the kinds of song I would sing along to. I like the harmony and the lyrics. I can see my bestie in the seat next to me as we harmonize together.

I know some of you may not "be in to Country music," but you should give these gals a chance! Make yourself a glass of sweet tea, sit in a rocking chair, and give the album a listen. You can find them at: Twitter & on Facebook. Or you can buy their album at: iTunes & Amazon


I participated in this campaign for One2One Network. I received a free copy of the CD to facilitate my review. By posting, I am eligible for incentives. All opinions stated are my own.

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