2014: Birthday Month: Giveaway 1

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Giveaway 1: Coffee & Pens

Did you know I visit a coffee shop at least once a week to write? I started a novel back when I was nearing the end of university life. It long sat dormant, but over the course of this past year, I’ve opened up quite a creative tap and have discovered lots of content and characters that will forever be immortalized. Today’s giveaway is inspired by delicious hand-crafted coffee & my favorite pens.

To enter this giveaway, comment with your favorite coffee drink. I will draw a winner on Tuesday evening, June 3. You can comment on the blog and on Facebook. Only two entries per person, unless you were one of the lucky six who have been automatically entered to each of the drawings already! Good luck.


$5 gift card to a local coffee shop. I know all of you have them. If you sign up for this one, let me know the name of the shop you frequent and I’ll get in touch with them to buy you for favorite latte or other fancy drink.


Uniball Vision Elite pen in purple. A pen, really? Duh, you know I love to write! This pen is my favorite right now. Plus, the purple is a bit muted so a black purple. Very chic.



**I will be buying each of the items to giveaway. No product sponsorships were granted to me. I just love this stuff!**

Music Monday: David Gray’s Mutineers

Friday, May 23, 2014

David Gray has announced the upcoming release of a new album, Mutineers. The record is Gray’s tenth studio album and his first in four years. To mark the news, Gray has unveiled the video for ‘Gulls’, the first track from Mutineers to be streamed ahead of release. To coincide with Mutineers, Gray will tour the UK for the first time in three years. The headline tour, commencing at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall on June 23 will include a show at London’s Royal Albert Hall on June 24. The dates follow a run of sold-out US shows across April and May and three sold-out intimate shows earlier this year at Westminster’s Emmanuel Centre. Additional US tour dates will be announced in May.

Recorded in Church Studios, London and produced by Andy Barlow (Lamb), whose brief was to not let Gray “make the same record I’ve made before.” The result is an album that seems to fizz with the joy of its own assembly and finds Gray steering into unfamiliar territory while cultivating a pugnacious but respectful relationship with his own history. “I know I’ve done something here that has an authority that is inspiring me and I don’t have to worry about my past or any of that. The lovely thing about this is we’ve had the time to experiment, and it’s been wonderful,” says Gray.

David Gray captured the world’s attention with his breakout multi-platinum hit White Ladder, the first of three No.1 UK albums, earning him both Brit and Grammy nominations. He has continued to build on this success, with recent albums Draw The Line (2009) and Foundling (2010), both reaching the Billboard Top 10 in the US.

David Gray is one of those artists that when you listen to the music, it is soothing, but then you hear the lyrics and your heart can break. Music can mean something different to each of us. White Ladder was his last album that spoke to me. Maybe you were like me, when you jumped into your car for long roadtrips (because folks, I live in Texas, NO road trip is less than 3 hours) you would pop in the the CD and get lost in your thoughts on those country roads. To be able to listen to Mutineers, I was excited. Hopeful that this music would be different, but very much his. It just so happened that as I listened to this album, I was cooking dinner for my family, I was sitting in traffic driving, I was working on spreadsheets, and I was also looking at beautiful images of one of my favorite photographers, Jonas Peterson. Gray’s music literally takes my mind places. It pulls at my heartstrings. It makes me feel hope. It makes me feel melancholy. It makes me smile because I’ve lived and experienced beauty and defeat. There is great power in vulnerability and seeing someone’s raw and unfiltered emotion put to music, well, it has a tendency to set my heart on fire. If you like good music, then pre-order the album on iTunes or Amazon here:  iTunes- Amazon-

I can’t pick a favorite. I just know that if you have to get your thoughts together and put them onto paper, then listen to this and be inspired. Or at least it inspired me.

Mutineers Track Listing:
Back in the World
As the Crow Flies
Beautiful Agony
Last Summer
Snow in Vegas
Cake and Eat It
Birds of the High Arctic
The Incredible
Girl Like You
Nearly Midnight (bonus track)


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**By participating in this review for the One2One Network, I received a free digital download  to review, and I am eligible to win a prize. I was in no way influenced by my eligibility to win these prizes. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.**

Thoughts on 2014 Suburbia Music Festival

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hello, hello! What? Another music review? Why yes, yes indeed! Look at me go! First off, I was not awarded a media pass for this one. There were loads and loads of big time media types in full force for this one, so it wasn’t a tremendous loss. Why??? Because I got to fully enjoy it with my daughter without having to make sure I documented each part. This was a treat!

Suburbia Music Festival is a two-day event held in my current home city of Plano, TX. It is in the total ‘burbs hence the name. They actually held it at a Nature Preserve that I frequently do my training runs. It was nice to feel “at home” in my figurative backyard. This year’s line-up:
  • David Guetta
  • J. Cole
  • Third Eye Blind
  • Tegan and Sara
  • The Dandy Warhols
  • Violent Femmes
  • Alabama Shakes
  • Slightly Stoopid
  • Blue October
  • Surfer Blood
  • YelaWolf
  • Needtobreathe
  • Hoodie Allen…had to cancel due to illness
  • Midlake
  • Big Gigantic
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • Reverend Horton Heat
  • Hayes Carll
  • American Authors
  • The Devil Makes Three
  • Smallpools
  • Delta Rae
  • Alpha Rev
  • SoMo
  • Echosmith
  • GTA
  • Shakey Graves
  • Run The Jewels
  • The O's
  • Add
  • Meg Myers
  • Ume
  • Wild Feathers
  • The Rocketboys
  • The Unlikely Candidates
  • Ishi
  • Reignwolf
  • Basic Vacation
  • Sons of Fathers
  • Yung Nation
  • Larry Gee
  • Sol (US)
  • Veridia
  • Larry G
  • Sol Roots
Impressive, huh? I thought so, especially for it being the inaugural year. When presale tickets were announced, I scooped mine up in a hurry not really looking at the calendar. As it was, my hubby wasn’t available, so I had a spare ticket for a friend for each day. It was my goal to take my eldest with me because the music was acceptable/age appropriate for her to hear.

I wore a maxi skirt, flip-flops, a tank top, and packed a hat. She had on her maxi dress, fashion sandals, a daisy halo (I’d made & not pictured), and her “ears.” (See further below for tips on what to bring)

In Texas, Summer arrives early. We know this. I was surprised and slightly put off that we could only bring in 1 bottle per person, plus no outside food/drinks were allowed. They did have a station to refill water bottles, but it wasn’t working. I was glad when they handed out free water to people at the Medical tents. They did a great job by announcing that, but I think for some people it might have been too late. That was better than being forced to pay $4 for a bottle of water that I was going to throw away---why no recycling containers?
I get no outside food/drinks allowed, but I really wish there were real snacks. Like fresh fruit, picnic foods, raisins, things like that. Nada. Nothing. At least nothing I’d noticed. If you wanted chocolate, pshhh…yeah, not gonna happen. Who wants chocolate on a hot day anyway? Me. Yeah, that would be me. Moose munch would’ve been outstanding! Yeah, I rely too much on food.

There were so many kids. When we walked in, there were volunteers handing out these smaller beach balls with the city of Plano logo on them. There was lots of room for the kiddos to run around. There was the occasional curse word  and waft of herbal delights here and there, but overall, really cool. There was a bounce house, but I guess it was too hot to keep it going. The Kona Ice truck & corn dog vendor were big hits with my kiddo. I liked the corn dog stand for their fresh lemonade. YUM!

There was ample parking! At $20 a spot, you were granted a free shuttle on the yellowdog to the walkway to the festival. You still had to walk just under a half mile to get to the entrance from where you were dropped off, but hey…workout! The shuttles for drop off were SUPER easy. The shuttles for pick-up seemed ok, too. It wasn’t good for anyone who was really drunk, though. They didn’t seem to understand the system, I guess.
My complaint had to do with no come/go parking. I’d extended bedtime by an hour for my kiddo so she could stay a tiny bit longer. I had to run home, drop her off, get her down for the night. When I left, they said I’d have to pay $20 to park again. What? Instead, I found parking on the residential area that seemed to have been flagged off. Other cars were parked there, so it was all good. I didn’t get my free shuttle, so the 1.5 mile trek (and 1.5 mile back) was another workout for the day. Lucky I still had my water from earlier. Also, there wasn’t always a sidewalk leading up to the festival gates and it isn’t as well-lit. I was grateful for other walkers and for remembering to pack my flashlight.

At the end of the festival, it seemed there was an issue getting cabs out there. I think if an Uber rep/booth would’ve been made available to schedule pick-ups, they would’ve been great. Kudos to the pedi cab workers. They were polite when they zoomed by the people. While it was a direct shot on that path, they probably would’ve benefitted from using the other side of the lake. Longer, but no pedestrians. Other cyclists could’ve ridden down that path too, only it wasn’t as lit as the main one. Oh and a big compliment for having complimentary bike parking.

I did like that the festival allowed you to come in and out if you’d bought the 2-day pass. That was really great! When you walked in, they would search your bag and were quite thorough with the search as well as pulling anything you couldn’t bring in. On the website, it said no umbrellas were allowed, but by the time we’d arrived, they’d changed that. It would’ve been good to know, but if you weren’t glued to their facebook page, you didn’t know. I don’t really know of a solution to this other than just deciding what you will allow and stick with it. It’s Texas, there’s gonna be sunshine, just allow the umbrellas!
Overall, I will say that the music quality sound was great. Some of the performers surprised me in both good and bad ways. It was nice to really hear and see clearly (with the video screens that flanked the Meadows Stage). Sitting in the back gave you a real summer festival experience and that was quite happy! This was especially true as the sun was setting and even in the evening sky. The most perfect crescent moon, the stars in the Texas sky, the cool wind, it was great!

Everyone was friendly! The limited vendors available were really great. I appreciated the general store that supplied sunscreen, lip balm, fans, bandanas, pop rocks!! (my daughter’s first-ever foray into pop rocks) and so many other assorted sundries. There were many porta potties, and the stations to wash your hands after were great. I would suggest having an attached anti-bacteria bottle hanging at the same station, too. I would also suggest that a hair academy make an appearance and do hair braiding.

Helpful Items:
  • Water bottle…maybe even a reusable one at that for drinking water
  • Sunscreen…this is just a given
  • Hat…protect your skin!
  • Camping Chair…the grass is nice, but it is even nicer to have the chair
  • Blanket…for when you want to kick off your shoes and don’t want to prop your feet on grass
  • Book…in between sets, if you are a reader, have your book
  • Cell phone charger…there was a charging station, but it is always good to have your own
  • Lip balm…you need to protect your lips from the sun, too
  • Wet wipes…you may not be able to get to where you can wash your hands, these are great to have
  • Bandana…dip it in some cool water and put it on your neck
  • Bug spray…just in case
  • Sunglasses…again, a given
  • Earplugs…if you want to get closer, go for it, but don’t risk your hearing
  • Cash…all of the vendors took cards, but it is always good to have a bit of cash on hand, especially if you take a pedi cab and need to tip him
  • Umbrella…if umbrellas are allowed, bring one to shade yourself
  • Fan…those tiny motorized ones are great, even better if it has an attached squirt bottle
  • Scarf/Hoodie…at night, if you are just relaxing in your chair while listening to the music, you might get cold
If you have kiddos:
  • crayons/coloring books
  • frisbee/hackey sack
  • notebook/pen
  • ear protection
  • water guns…I saw that kids had this and I could see where they were helpful
  • change of clothes…if they
Be prepared to walk. Be prepared to be thirsty. Be ready for the long haul. Be ready for a good time. If you have the 2-day ticket, they slip on a fabric wristband that could be slipped off for comfort if you don’t accidentally tighten it, like I did. This is how you can get in and out. If you can’t make the 2nd day and can’t slip off the wristband, you are out of luck.  Sorry to the some of neighborhood neighbors who thought the music was too loud. But that was a testament to the music, I suppose. I don’t live out there and it is typically VERY quiet. Natural acoustics are quite magical and boy howdy were they working!

In the words of Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins, “All we have is this moment…” It was a great set of moments to be a part of. Looking forward to next year!
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