Monday, April 07, 2014

A bit of catching up to do

Goodness...I haven't posted anything here for two weeks! You may have guessed we've been busy with our new business and you'd be right. It has taken off much faster than we had anticipated. We are thrilled by this and having a blast, but it's also rather time-consuming. There will come a time when we won't be able to attend every performance of our bands but for now we are trying to. 

Saturday before last, Rowdy Folk performed at The FieldHouse. It was a couple of days after my parents' anniversary so we invited them to join us for dinner before the show. I also arranged for a special song dedication. My dad is a big Johnny Cash fan so Rowdy Folk covered one of his songs for my parents. They were really pleased. In fact, they were enjoying the music so much they stayed until after 10:30 p.m. which is unusual for them. It was a fun night and I'm glad we got to share it with my parents. 

#rowdyfolk

After the show we were given free tickets to...wait for it...roller derby. I had no idea we even had roller derby here in town. I was coming down with a cold and could have used a nap Sunday afternoon/evening but how could we turn down that opportunity? 

On Tuesday a blues band auditioned for us. They are still working on getting enough material for a three hour show but should be ready by next month.
Wednesday we had our first show at The Rib Crib. Mandala and Thomas performed and it was so nice to enjoy live music outdoors. There were several children and they had a blast. Two little boys were allowed to "fill in" on the drum for one song and a couple of tiny little girls twirled to the music. Rain had been a possibility but we lucked out. 

Mandala and Thomas

I noticed that these guys were all wearing black, music-related t-shirts so I had to take a picture. They are obviously a very serious bunch.

These guys...

Thursday night we met up with my parents at the McSwain Theater to see one of my favorite movies, "The Long, Long Trailer" starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. It was fun to see it on a big screen.

We actually stayed home Friday night but that was because we knew we'd better rest up for The Dudes. These guys absolutely rocked The FieldHouse Saturday night. By the end of the night everyone was on their feet dancing and singing along. What a fun night!

The Dudes!!! #HMA

Despite not going to sleep until 3 a.m. we managed to drag our bodies out of bed for church the next morning. I have been struggling with yet another asthma attack and my third time on steroids since November. I've really been missing singing with the choir and was so glad to be able to join them again this week. We ate out after church and then slept most of the afternoon. We are probably too old for the pace we've been keeping but at least we aren't bored. 

We received our business cards a few days ago which is kind of exciting:

Our business cards have arrived! #hmagigs

And then there's this guy:

Hi, Mom. Wanna pet my head?

We are leaving for New Orleans Thursday morning so I'm in overdrive trying to get everything ready. We also have a show to attend Wednesday night so my goal is to have everything packed before that. Cross your fingers and say a little prayer! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Shameless promotion

I've hinted at it and now I can spill the beans. We've started a new business. Because those hours between midnight and 6 a.m. were just being wasted. 

Introducing: 

Happyland Music Alliance
musicians  ~   venues   ~   fans

Click on graphic for Facebook page link. 

As you have probably figured out if you've read this blog any length of time, David and I are passionate about music, especially live music. It's one of the reasons we love New Orleans so much and one of the things we pine for when we are back at home. Over the past few years we've had the privilege of becoming friends with several musicians here in our little town of Ada, Oklahoma. Whenever they've been able to find a place to play we've done our best to be there. But it's been largely a hit or miss proposition. Until now.

There is a surprising amount of talent in this town and we have decided to help develop a thriving music scene, as well as promote the individual musicians. Initially we will be focusing our attention on local musicians, developing local venues and booking gigs mostly within a 150-200 mile range. We have bigger dreams but are taking it one step at a time.

We started our Facebook page and Twitter today and the website is almost ready to go live. We have a professionally-designed logo, P.O. Box, dedicated phone number and are registered as a LLC. I'll be ordering business cards tomorrow. We have several bands and have already booked gigs, with many more prospects in the works. It's actually taking off faster than we had intended so we are sort of scrambling to get all our ducks in a row. But that's a good problem, right? The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I think we have really tapped into a need and are so excited to be working with such great people.

If blog posts are a bit sparse for awhile you'll know why. And if you drop by the house try to pretend you don't see the clumps of dog hair on the floor.
~~~~~

I'd love for you to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter:

HMA Facebook page
HMA Twitter 

Friday, March 21, 2014

March Grocery Haul and Pantry Organization

Lisa and I did our big, monthly shopping trip Tuesday. We also worked in a business lunch and afternoon tea to celebrate a dear relative's 80th birthday. It was a full day but lots of fun.

Here is a picture of my grocery haul:

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We got to town around 8 p.m. and David met me for dinner. We didn't get home until nearly 10 p.m. so I just stuffed everything away as quickly as possible. Wednesday I decided to get it all organized. My pantry was sorely in need of help:

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Upper cabinet of pantry (before)

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Lower pantry cabinet - top drawer (before)


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(before)

I took everything out, wiped out the shelves, tossed the expired stuff and reorganized. Doesn't this look better?:

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The bottom drawer/pullout is where I keep various dried beans, peas, some baking supplies in jars. 

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The top drawer/pullout holds crackers, rice and various pasta/noodles:

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While I was in the mood, I went ahead and cleaned out the spice cabinet, too. I wish I had done so before this shopping trip. If I had, I wouldn't have bought more lemon pepper but I would have bought basil. At least now I know what I have.

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As you can see, our fridge is full!

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Here is the list of what I bought:

Homeland:
  • organic baby spinach
  • organic spring greens
  • red pepper jelly
  • Hellman's mayonnaise
  • Bonne Maman cherry preserves
  • Bonne Maman apricot preserves
  • Allegra (my allergies are in full force!)
Total: $30.41

Dodson's:
  • raw honey
  • multigrain squarefuls cereal
  • blueberry walnut cereal
  • whole O's cereal
  • artichoke hearts
  • rice
  • coconut milk creamer (4)
  • cream cheese (2)
  • crackers (2)
  • Tillamook sharp cheddar
  • sweet red chili sauce
  • fish sauce
  • red curry paste
  • stir fry noodles
  • diced green chilies (2)
  • non fat dried milk
  • dark chocolate raspberry orange candy bar
  • dark chocolate coconut cream candy bar
  • garlic 
Total: $96.60

Natural Grocers:
  • bananas
  • carrots 5#
  • Applegate Farms breakfast sausage links
  • greeting cards (2)
  • liquid lecithin
  • ice
  • sharp cheddar (2)
  • colby cheese (4)
  • muenster cheese (2)
  • pepper jack cheese (1)
  • mozzarella (1)
  • maraschino cherries
Total: $74.40

Whole Foods:
  • garlic salt (bulk)
  • course black pepper (bulk)
  • lemon pepper (bulk)
  • Herbes de Provence (bulk)
  • sparkling lime water (for ride home)
  • San Pellegrino water (2)
  • flour tortillas (2)
  • dried cranberries
  • cookies
  • cappellini past (2)
  • ketchup
  • honey puffs cereal
  • marshmallow oaties cereal
  • raisin bran (3)
  • hand soap refill
  • bar soap (patchouli)
  • sliced ham
  • sliced colby cheese
  • pork chops
  • baguette
  • bananas
  • satsumas
  • aged cheddar
  • pastry
  • lemon
  • lime
  • onions
  • artichokes 
  • zucchini
  • iceberg lettuce
  • red bell peppers
  • green bell peppers
  • cabbage
  • asparagus
  • tomatoes
  • russet potatoes 
  • butter
Total: $155.63

Oklahoma Food Coop:
  • eggs (1 dozen)
  • cheese
  • free range whole chicken
Total: $36.67

Azure Standard (will pick up next week):
  • chicken broth - 32 oz. (4)
  • chicken broth - 8 oz. (package of 4)
  • bulk coconut (2.5 pounds)
  • 5 gallon plastic pail and gamma lid (for food storage)
  • raisins (1 pound)
  • brown sugar
  • organic flour (10 pounds)
  • powdered chicken flavored broth
  • potatoes (5#)
Total: $66.89

Grand Total: $460.60

That total seemed high until I remembered that I hadn't done a monthly shop since the first part of January. We will be in New Orleans 11 days in April so I won't shop again until May. Plus, I really need to start using up the food in my freezer in order to have room to put up summer produce. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Like a child...

Welcome back, Spring! I noticed on my walk yesterday that our peach trees are blooming. Today is warm and sunny and nothing makes me happier. Well, unless it's this:

My sweetheart sent me a lilac bush! #love #springtime

My sweet husband had this gorgeous, blooming lilac bush delivered to me today. Lilacs are very special to me. My grandmother had huge lilac bushes at the corner of their house and every Spring she would bring me a bouquet of the first blooms. She and I shared a love of flowers and lilacs are one of my favorites. 

And then there are these:

Daffodils #springtime

We have lots of daffodils but I was afraid I wasn't going to get to enjoy them this year. They bloomed the day before our last snow and the poor little things withered. But fortunately we've had plenty more blooms since. They are such cheery little flowers, don't you think?

I struggle to maintain my usual good cheer during the dark and dreary winter months but as soon as the days begin to lengthen and turn warm again I become positively giddy. I stand outdoors with my face to the sun and simply soak it all in. 

Speaking of happiness, here is what I'm reading right now:

#happinessproject

I listened to the audiobook version of this author's second book, "Happier At Home" a year or so ago and loved it. When I found this at the library book sale recently for only 50 cents I didn't hesitate. 

What about you? Are you happy that spring has arrived? 



"Spring has returned. 
The earth is like a child that knows poems." 
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, March 17, 2014

Weekend in the City

I just realized I haven't posted anything since last Monday. I'll bet you're thinking that I've been so busy actually doing everything I wrote on my schedule that I didn't have time to blog, right? Well, not exactly.

I did quite well on Monday and Tuesday but then I started coming down with a cold. I had taken a very long walk outdoors on Tuesday and began sneezing. At first I thought it was just allergies, and I do think that played a role, but within a few hours I realized it was a cold. Darn it. I immediately began taking what I refer to as "Voodoo Meds" (if you want the recipe, leave me a comment and I'll share it). I didn't run fever or have a sore throat, just an annoyingly stuffy nose and some fatigue. Since David and I had weekend plans I decided to focus solely on getting well. I took my "meds" every few hours, drank lots of fluids - especially hot tea, and just rested. And it worked. Just a couple of days of stuffiness and I was pretty well over it. Except...

Stupid asthma. On Friday morning I decided I should call my doctor and ask him to prescribe a round of steroids for me to take with us to the city "just in case". Well, it was a good thing. By the time we were ready to leave Friday afternoon I was already experiencing asthma symptoms. We picked up the steroids on our way out of town and I took the first dose. Fortunately since I had gotten on it right away my breathing was better by the time we got to the city. Nipped it in the bud, so to speak. I've got three more day's worth of steroids to take and I feel pretty sure that's going to take care of it. I promised myself back in November when it took two rounds and several weeks to recover that I wouldn't put off starting steroids the next time. I cannot remember the last time I had a cold which didn't go into asthma and require steroids. Might as well face it and just start them immediately. See? You can teach an old dog...

We spent Friday and Saturday nights at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City. I don't think we had been there since my birthday back in August so we were both really looking forward to it. These past few weeks have been rather hectic and David was in desperate need of a break. He even turned off his phone each night, something he NEVER does. He gave his assistant my phone number in case of a true work emergency but otherwise he was unavailable to employees who are notorious for calling for the least little thing at any hour of the day or night.

We arrived around 7 p.m. and found this in our room:

I guess being a diamond club member has its privileges. #Skirvin #OKC #Hilton

The upside of David having to travel so much is that he is now a Diamond Club member with Hilton. As they say, membership has its privileges. 

As soon as we got settled we went down to the Red Piano Lounge. David had already warned Amy, our bartender (via Facebook), that he fully intended to leave behind the stresses of his job and was counting on her assistance. We hadn't been sitting at the bar very long before we heard, "David?". Turns out guy who used to be a salesman for a company David buys from was sitting at the other end of the bar. He moved down to join us and we all spent the next few hours chatting. 

Instead of going somewhere for dinner we ate at the bar. They have wonderful food. They now serve meats and poultry which are all natural and have no antibiotics or hormones. I ordered the salt-seared chicken and asparagus; David had the citrus balsamic chicken served over mushroom and blueberry risotto. I am allergic to mushrooms so I couldn't taste his but David said it was really good. The salt-seared chicken might very well have been the best chicken I've ever had, other than the fried chicken at Willie Mae's in New Orleans. 

We ate and drank and chatted with everyone around us, including some guys who bought me a shot of Crown along with theirs. They offered David one, too, but by that point in the evening he didn't need one. ;) I think it was around 1 a.m. when we finally went to our room. We slept in the next morning and ordered room service for lunch. 

The main reason for this little get-away was my cousin's daughter's wedding. I'm so glad we were able to be there. What a lovely wedding, it was! Christina looked beautiful in one of the prettiest wedding dresses I've seen recently. The sister of the bride sang "Be Thou My Vision". It's one of my favorite hymns but I had never heard it at a wedding. It was a perfect choice and Chelsea sang it beautifully. We then stayed at the reception for a couple of hours visiting with family. It was a truly wonderful occasion. 

We couldn't get dinner reservations at The Mantel until 8:30 so we went to the Red Piano Lounge in the hotel for about an hour and a half until, Mike, our limo driver picked us up. We enjoyed steaks, mashed potatoes and asparagus for dinner. There was a little mix-up with David's entree so our waitress insisted on giving us free desserts. David had crème brûlée and I had chocolate bread pudding. She also comped my glass of wine. 

After dinner we went back to the Red Piano Lounge for perhaps an hour but it had been a long day so we called it a night around midnight. You know how I mentioned those Diamond Club privileges? Well, one of those includes a 2 p.m. checkout. Ah...so nice not to have to rush out by noon. We did a little shopping and had a late lunch on our way home. And then we decided to do something productive. We got all our tax information together so David could take it to our accountant. While we were gathering the documents (most of which I already had together) we spent about an hour sorting through at least a year's worth of paperwork, old catalogs, etc. What I've discovered is that if you ignore it long enough you can just get rid of almost all of it. We now have a big box full of paper to start our bonfire for Happyland Music Fest, plus a bunch of magazines and catalogs to recycle. It felt good to get all that taken care of. We then finished off our weekend with a few episodes of Dr. Who which we've been watching via Netflix. 

It was such a nice weekend and a much-needed respite from our recent busy-ness. It's all too easy to get wrapped up in everything we have to do and forget to make time for each other. That's a mistake we made years ago and are determined to avoid now. In order for a relationship to thrive it requires nurturing. We both make an effort to keep our priorities in order and spend quality time together. Weekend getaways help keep the romance alive. :)

Monday, March 10, 2014

A week-at-a-glance: fitting it all in

Week at a glance #gettingorganized
Free customizable printable available here

I've studied it from every angle and finally had to admit that there is no way for me to have a regular daily schedule/routine. Not only is every day different around here but each week brings new and different activities. Our lives simply do not follow a *normal* pattern and that's all there is to it. 

So I considered my options and am going to try planning a week at a time. I've been looking at various week-at-a-glance printable forms. None are exactly what I need so I'm going to have to design my own. However, I don't have time for that rabbit hole right now (I know I could spend hours making the "perfect" form) so I just found one that will suit the general purpose until I can make my own. 

Here is how I went about filling it in. First of all, David and I discussed the upcoming week yesterday. We went over any meetings and appointments, his work schedule, etc. It's possible (likely?) that something else will come up but at least we have a starting point. 

  • Scheduled activities
I started by writing in anything that has to be done at a certain time - appointments, meetings, choir rehearsal, my piano lesson. I then highlighted those activities in yellow. At one time I had a whole set of highlighters in different colors but I have no idea where they are. Looks like a good excuse reason to make a visit to the office supply store (I'm sure I'm not the only one with a penchant for office supplies, right?). For now I'm just using markers to outline the other types of entries. 
  • Date night
Our schedules have been absolutely nuts lately. David and I have been like two ships passing in the night and that just won't do. Last Wednesday evening we attended our church's Ash Wednesday service together. I had choir rehearsal immediately following so David spent that hour sitting in the church parlor dealing with work and business emails on his phone (whatever did we do before smart phones?). Afterwards I suggested we go to Vintage 22, a local wine and dessert bar. I knew it wouldn't be very busy on a Wednesday night and we could just enjoy a glass of wine and a little bit of conversation. It was lovely and we decided to indulge in a shared piece of salted caramel cheesecake. Delicious! We both enjoyed this little outing and are going to do it again this week. I don't know if this is something we will do every week but we will make a point of doing something special together. 
  • Home projects
Even though I've got a lot of other things going on, being a good homemaker is still a priority. I want to make sure I'm including some of the things which are important to my sense of accomplishment as a homemaker. For instance, this week I am going to bake bread, make granola and spend some time cleaning and organizing the laundry room. Baking bread takes 2-3 hours from the grinding of the wheat to pulling six loaves of fragrant bread from the oven. Obviously I don't have to spend that entire time actually working on the bread but once I start the process I can't leave the house. In looking at my schedule this week Tuesday looks like my best option for bread baking so that's where I wrote it in. And since I'll already be in the kitchen I can make the granola, too. The laundry room, on the other hand, will most likely have to be tackled in short bursts of time here and there. 
  • Exercise
I am determined to make regular exercise a priority and a habit. For that reason I have scheduled it at the same time each morning. It also gives me energy so it's good to do it fairly early in the day. I'd love to be one of those people who jumps out of bed and exercises first thing but that is just not me. I have to start my day slowly, quietly and with copious quantities of hot tea. It does no good to try to be something I'm not. I must be true to what works for me. 
  • Meditation
This is one of my priorities for 2014 - making meditation a habit. I'm still trying to figure out when to fit that in each day but since today and tomorrow are going to in the upper 70s I'm going to meditate on the front porch mid-afternoon. I love the smell of incense but since I don't burn it in the house I've missed it this winter. I'll bring the Bose outside, put on my Spotify meditation playlist, and enjoy the quiet time outdoors. 
  • Piano
I'm having such a wonderful time learning to play the piano. It's not a chore for me to snatch a few minutes here and there to play but I also need larger blocks of time to really focus on new material. At this point I don't see a consistent daily time for it, although I do often play at night, so I'm just scheduling it in each day where I can. 
  • Work
I'm including committee/board work, blogging and other writing projects, as well as our new business in this category. Some tasks only take a couple of minutes and I can sandwich them in throughout the day or even from my phone when away from home. However, I also need some blocks of time devoted to specific tasks. I'm going to try to spend the first hour of my work day - after getting well-caffeinated and spending a little time checking emails, responding to blog comments, and taking a quick look at Facebook - on our business. I've put together a Facebook list which includes my close family and a few very close friends which I can skim through quickly rather than getting caught up in the Newsfeed. 
  • Cleaning
After plugging in everything above I realized that my dreams of a perfectly-clean-at-all-times home is just not realistic at this point. I'm good at keeping things picked up and I do have some regular habits and routines which keep things at a reasonable level most of the time. I'm just going to have to accept that this is not the season of my life for detailed cleaning lists followed on a set schedule. For many, many years Monday has been the day I wash our sheets and remake the bed, do a few loads of laundry, water the houseplants and generally get the house back in order after the weekend. That will continue. I'm also in the habit of cleaning the kitchen immediately after dinner each night, making the bed each morning, throwing in a load of laundry nearly every day, and straightening up as I go about my day. I'll just have to work in dusting, vacuuming, mopping and cleaning bathrooms when and where I can. I've tried to avoid major cleaning on Saturdays when David is home but I may have to do an additional hour of serious cleaning at least some Saturdays. 
  • Other tasks
Pretty soon it will be time to start getting ready to plant my garden and some flowers. I'm also hoping to get chickens again this Spring. When it gets warm and the days get longer I'll probably have to do these outdoor activities early in the morning or late in the evening.

Okay, now I'm tired. Ha! Figuring this all out is going to be an ongoing process but I feel like I at least have a handle on my priority tasks and how to make sure the most important things get done. I'll let you know how it works this week. 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Giving it up for Lent


David and I are getting ready to head to church for the Ash Wednesday service in just a bit so this will be short. I'm giving up chips and French fries for Lent this year but as usual there are more important things I'll be doing, pondering and focusing on during this Lenten season. They are too personal to share here or at least too complicated to explain in the couple of minutes I have for this post. I may share more as the season progresses, though.

Do you observe Lent? If so I'd love to hear how you do so. Leave me a comment.