Thursday, July 29, 2010

COOKIED

I have been away from my desk in a series of meetings this week. Our annual marketing planning sessions. I love to plan, so every day, I’ve grabbed my pink snuggie, a few pens (you just never know what color ink you’ll want), loads of reports/budgets and a pad of paper and settled in for a day of thinking.

The past two years, people have brought tons of food. If you’re going to be sequestered for hours at a time to think, you should have yummy snacks to spur you on. This year, I decided I would contribute my favorite cookies to the cause.

I first stumbled across these cookies in summer of 2002, while visiting an older guy friend who worked in the kitchen at my church. He was making these when I stopped by – total coincidence. I asked him for the recipe and have held onto it ever since. I don’t know where he got it, so I can’t give credit to the source.

I was so surprised that I actually had in my pantry and fridge every ingredient I needed except chocolate chips – that is not usually the case with recipes I want to make. And speaking of ingredients, you can scan this list and infer that these cookies are HORRIBLY fattening, but trust me, they are deeeelicious. Your guests/friends won’t be able to resist them. I made 32 of these cookies and they were GONE in less than three hours. I think I will make some more next week for some housewarming and thanks-for-being-a-good-person-in-general gifts. Cross your fingers that you’re on that list!
Cowboy Cookies

2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar (I like dark brown)
1 cup sugar
1 cup soft butter (2 sticks)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
--
2 cups flour
2 cups oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
12 oz chocolate chips

Cream together all but flour, oats and chocolate chips. Add flour and oats, mix well. Mix in chocolate chips.

I usually chill the dough for a while at this point, because otherwise the cookies will get flat and runny. I think it happened once and I was devastated. Scoop onto a greased cookie sheet with an ice cream scoop. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MCCARTNEYED

Last night was the Paul McCartney concert that I had been looking forward to. If you’d have asked me before yesterday my top 3 concerts that I’ve been to, it’d go like this:

Justin Timberlake
Kanye West
Elton John and Billy Joel

I’m sure if I’d made it to the Spice Girls or BeyoncĂ© concerts in DC with my sister, that list would look a little different. Doesn't matter now -Sir Paul takes the top.

I am SO glad I went. You want me to be honest? I bought these tickets very much for my enjoyment and benefit, but was HOPING “someone” would come to his senses and we could enjoy Paul together. I won’t lie to you – I wanted to take him. But clearly, that’s not the way things shook out. Doesn’t mean I’M going to sit at home and skip out! The problem was finding someone equally as excited about Sir Paul to go with me who would pay what I was asking (Face Value!) for the ticket. It was tempting to give up and just sell them both for a profit, but I knew this would be one for the books and I wasn’t missing it. After lots of asking around, I finally found a coworker that wanted the ticket, so we were off!

There was no opening act, so after a quick bite to eat downtown, Rachel and I found our really good seats and settled in for a full three hours of music. It was UNbelievable. The Wings songs that I didn’t know, I still enjoyed. The Beatles songs that I knew, I LOVED. Come on – the man that wrote Blackbird singing it live? Other Beatles songs he sang “All My Loving”, “Gotta Get You Into My Life”, “Long and Winding Road”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “Something” – which was a lovely tribute to George – “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, “Back in the USSR”, “Paperback Writer”, “A Day in the Life”, “Let it Be”, “Hey Jude”, “Day Tripper”, “Lady Madonna”, “Get Back”, “Yesterday”, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The End.”

It was ALL just TOO cool. The overall experience was worth WAY more than I paid. He still plays just the same way all the Beatles videos and iconic performances show you: knees bent, chin tilted up, straightforward. He was in a great mood and commented several times about what a great crowd we were. “You like your music in this town!” "You little rock and rollers, you!" One of my favorite parts was when he made a joke about why he kept changing guitars (“Just to show off, really. Because we can. We have ‘em, why not?”) then mentioned that the guitar - an Epiphone Casino! - he was about to play was the very one he used in the 60s on the original recording. Cue “Paperback Writer .” Seriously?? THAT is just amazing to me.

He liked the posters people brought and ended up bringing two fans on stage per their poster's wishes, one to sing with him and one who wanted his signature to turn into a tattoo. I loved the musical tributes to his fallen Beatles, John and George, and the total swing in presence – him, a guitar and a spotlight for “Blackbird,” and the full band and pyrotechnics for “Live and Let Die.”

So, sorry Justin. Sorry Kanye. Sorry Elton and Billy. Sir Paul valiantly dethroned you all.

The other big announcement from this show is I FINALLY found the camera settings with which to take good concert photos. Compare these to photos from the concerts I linked to above, and you'll see what I mean.

Here’s some video and pictures from the show.

"Jet"

"All My Loving" - all Beatles footage

"Long and Winding Road"

"A Day in the Life"

"Let It Be"

"Something in the Way She Moves" - photo montage of George Harrison

"Band on the Run"

Hey, Tennessee! (beginning of second encore)

"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"

"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make!"

video
"Live and Let Die"

video
"Blackbird" (yes I cried)

video
"Let It Be"

Monday, July 26, 2010

TRENDY

While getting a pedicure on Sunday, I was perusing a recent US Weekly and was so excited to see that one of the newest "IN" trends is men who like cats:

Is that great news or WHAT? Look at all the boys and their cats. I hope this trend sticks around long enough for me to track down one of these cat-loving dudes. Call me!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

STRENGTHENED

When someone with a psychology degree recommends a particular assessment test, I tend to want to think it's a good one. A wedding planner friend who has a psychology degree, which I guess is arguably the best tool to have in your belt if you go into that profession, recommends the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Out of 24 different strengths, here are my Top 5:

Your Top Strength - Capacity to love and be loved. You value close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing and caring are reciprocated. The people to whom you feel most close are the same people who feel most close to you.

Your Second Strength -Citizenship, teamwork, and loyalty. You excel as a member of a group. You are a loyal and dedicated teammate, you always do your share, and you work hard for the success of your group.

Your Third Strength - Curiosity and interest in the world. You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Your Fourth Strength -Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness. You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.

Your Fifth Strength -Humor and playfulness. You like to laugh and tease. Bringing smiles to other people is important to you. You try to see the light side of all situations.

Does that sound like me? I sure think so. Given that my top two strengths are to love and be loved and that I'm a loyal teammate, no wonder this break-up has been a "little" hard.

To take the test (you have to register first), click here. It's 240 questions, so it will take a few minutes. I would be curious to know what your top strengths are!

I also took a What Kind of Animal Are You? test earlier in the week and turns out, I'm a beaver. "Their conscientious attitudes makes them dependable as friends and a commitment from a beaver is like money in the bank."

Friday, July 23, 2010

IDOLED part 4

The Man with the Megaphone finally approached my section. He thanked us for our patience and told us to get out our waivers and our seat tickets. We paraded up and out of the section, down the outer stairs, back into the first level and onto the arena floor.

Have you seen this opening scene in Pirates of the Caribbean 3, where the prisoners are lined up and singing their death song? That is what it felt like. Walking to the guillotine. Slowly inching forward, waiting for your fate…

The kid next to me asked what I was song I was singing. I told him. HE’D NEVER HEARD OF STAND BY YOUR MAN. Really? Unbelievable. It’s only as classic as they come.

Eventually we were at the front of the queue. We were told to head to Table 11. There were two lines ahead of us, so I put down my things and waited. Finally, it was our turn to sing.

Our judges were two very tired females. They look EXHAUSTED. Pretty sure they weren’t sitting on the street at 5 am though.

The first boy sang. One judge held her hand up and stopped him. “Thank you, next.” A girl sang. “Thank you, next.” The kid next to me sang. “Thank you, next.” They looked at me. IT WAS MYYYYYYYYYYYY TURRRRRRRRRRRRN. TWELVE HOURS LATER.

The thing about this particular table was that these judges were stopping contestants after about ten seconds. Earlier in the day, some judges were letting people sing for 20 or 30 seconds. So I didn’t know what point they’d cut me off, if at all. Total crap shoot. But I did my best.

“Thank you very much. Okay, you four grab your stuff and come on up.”

We grabbed our bags and gear and then approached the table in unison.

“First of all, thanks so much for waiting today. You guys all need to work on strengthening your voice, and then please come back and audition again next year, okay?”

Strengthen my voice. I really wanted to ask what that meant? Make it better, or just sing with more power? Did they want me to belt? Because that, I can do. They didn’t let me get to my high note at the end of the chorus! Guess I should have started at a different place.

So with my head held high, I let someone snip my wristband and exited to the left. I even blew a kiss to the camera that was waiting to catch any good “incidents” as people left the arena. Nothing to see here, American Idol. No tears or hard feelings whatsoever.

Later, I found out that the auditions went until just past 9 pm. I also read there were some returning contestants there. I didn’t see any of them myself, but apparently the irritating pageant girl from Florida is back, Shelby from last year is back, and there were more rumored previous contestants that were in attendance. I guess we will all have to tune in to Fox in January to see who makes the cut!

All things considered, I really am glad I did this once. Are there things I wish I had known to do or try differently? Well sure – but isn’t that the case with any big experience? My biggest regret is still my poor Cheerios, and if that’s the worst thing I lost, then I’d say I came out on top. I've been saying for years that Idol is a good show but not a fair contest, so with low expectations, it was hard to be disappointed about anything.

Besides, I don’t care how talented you are, if this guy can’t win, then there’s no hope for the rest of us.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

IDOLED part 3

So there I was, sitting in my seat, when a bevy of staff people came pouring into the arena floor. NOT among them was one Ryan Seacrest. He didn’t even bother coming to town to kick off Season 10 of the show that – let’s face it – made him a household name. Thanks a lot, Tiny Tim.

Once everyone was inside and settled, they filmed lots of crowd shots with the crane camera. We were yelling various things, “I’M THE NEXT AMERICAN IDOL!” and “WELCOME TO NASHVILLE” and so on and so forth. Lots of screaming, banner-waving, and general excitement. They also had us do something kind of cool. They turned off the lights in the arena (cue the 15-year-olds making out) and had us get out our cameras, cell phones, anything that lit up, and turn them all on at once. I’m not sure how they’ll use this on the show, but it was pretty cool to watch. Here’s a link to a snippet I found online.

The crowd filming went on for about an hour. Finally, they called a wrap on those shots and began the Dance of the Tables. Twelve tables, each followed by a curtain partition to separate it from the next table, were whisked out on the floor. It was explained to us that two “judges” would staff each table and four contestants at a time would sing for them ("judges" = various Idol staff, not Kara, Randy, Ellen and Simon TBD. By the time a contestant auditions for those four, he or she is on the third round of auditions). So once the "judges" had delivered their verdict to the group of four singers, they would exit and the next group of four would step up. If you were handed a Golden Ticket, you were to proceed to the right, and if you were not invited to continue on, your wristband was cut and you exited to the left. As I explained in the post from this morning, they started on the bottom and worked their way up. Which meant I had quite a while to decide what to sing – yes, at this point I still had NO IDEA.

They got the first group of contestants in place and we were off. NOW. Remember how I said that some crazies were in line for a wristband well before 5 am on Thursday morning? I even put a little asterisk to remind myself to point this out. I now see that they had the right idea. Because the earlier you get your wristband, the better your seat ticket, which means you are among the first to audition and LEAVE. So, in hindsight, I do wish I'd gotten in line early Thursday morning. There were some people heading on their merry way by 10 am. I was not among them. From my view in the second tier, I could see the whole thing:
You can see that this is more than a couple of hours into the process, what with the empty sections at the top of the photo. The tables and chairs and groups are all in place on the arena floor, and the long line near the bottom of the picture is row after row of four singers waiting to be told which table to go to. It looks like the judges at table 5 (far left) had gone to kill themselves take a quick break. Also notice the doorway circled on the right, where people that got Golden Tickets were taken to receive more instructions and fill out their paperwork.

I would say one in every 100 people got a Golden Ticket. These first-level seat holders, again being the crazies, are the ones that were in the front of that wristband line and catching the eye of the producers. Which brings me to the double asterisk in this morning’s post. This USA Today article explains how Idol has some supposedly incredible cross-referencing and filing system. I call shenanigans. When I went and got my wristband, I am 99% sure the guy who checked my ID didn’t even write down my name. And he sure didn’t look at the number on the wristband that he gave me. Maybe after the first 10,000 people were wristbanded up, they stopped keeping great track of whom was auditioning. Or maybe I was just really uninteresting. Seeing as how everyone (except the judges) was wearing earpieces, I COULD get on board with them communicating about which row and section was about to be called to the floor (“Row D, section 121 is up next”), wanting to give someone in that particular section a Golden Ticket (“That’s the row (standout contestant) is in, right?”) and sending them to a certain judge (“You four head to Table 3”). BUT…. that seems like a lot of work. Though it does make sense, because a lot more people were getting Golden Tickets in the beginning of the day, than near the end, which jives with their theory of getting to know the people in line that stand outs and therefore, putting them through to Round 2.

Also, I’ll tell you what else I think – I think some tables/judges are looking for true talent, and others are looking for the William Hungs. How else would they manage that? It’s much easier to maintain the ratio of talented performers and non-talented performers if you know that you are one of only a few tables that are putting William Hungs through to the next round, and the other tables are responsible for the good talent. I saw some “non-talent” getting tickets at the very table where I auditioned hours later (Number 11), so I choose to maintain that I went to a “non-talent seeking” table.

So, conspiracy theories aside, the audition process was a long one. I saw the snail’s pace at which we were moving and felt hunger rapidly approaching. The people in my section that had gone to the food line and lived to tell about it reported that the lines were already incredibly long. I looked at my watch – it was 10:50 am. I knew as lunchtime approached, the lines would only get longer, so I took off to scavenge some food.

Now. Let’s pretend that I am at a sold-out concert. That’s what it practically was anyway; almost every seat was full. And let’s also pretend that EVERYONE at the concert wanted something from the concession stand (because we had to throw our Cheerios away, remember?). So would you find it to be a GOOD idea or a BAD idea that only the first floor’s concession stands were open? And partially staffed at that? Y’all – I waited in line for AN HOUR AND A HALF for food. NINETY MINUTES. It took forevvvvvvvvvvver. And then I completely overpaid for it. I wasn’t sure when I’d see daylight again, let alone food – I had no choice! Begrudgingly, I took what I was counting on being the best chicken finger combo man ever made back to my seat.

At this point in the story, I would like to mention some of what I saw while I was waiting in line. First of all, girls – just because you have long, unruly hair and throw on a skirt and some Keds, does not make you T-Sweezie. Nor does this make you unique, when there are TONS of girls running around this arena dressed just. like. you. Secondly, the Girl in her Underwear. Sigh. Just tune in to Fox next January, because I’m sure you’ll see her on TV. But she had on a bra, some pink ruffled underwear and then what looked like a pink tulle apron over her …front part. Thank goodness I saw her while I was waiting in the food line, because I would have dropped if not thrown up my lunch if I’d have seen her afterward. She was a cute girl – blonde hair, nice makeup, but SHE WAS IN HER UNDERWEAR! And boy were the heads a-turning. Everyone was noticing her. It was hard not to, bra and all. I read on Twitter later that night that she got her Golden Ticket, so her mission? Accomplished. I also saw some people curled up sleeping, heard lots of people loudly practicing, and came across some groups of people just singing their little hearts out – Glee songs, praise songs, herds of kids just singing and harmonizing and passing the time. It was like Woodstock meets a showchoir convention. So, so bizarre.

(Sidebar – seeing how slow the process was going, I am now hearing/reading some people left and came back later in the day. Smart cookies. Considering I had walked to the auditions, them being in my backyard and all, I really should have at LEAST inquired with someone official as to whether or not we were allowed to do this. Oh well.)

I ate my lunch, listened to my iPod, read about Carrie's wedding in People magazine, texted with my sister and just surveyed the scene. I have ADD love to people watch, so I was truly entertained. Eventually the first level was clear and they started with section two. Finally, around 4 pm, I saw that I was in the homestretch. They were slooowly but surely approaching my section and I knew I had to decide what to sing and at the very least, go warm up my voice, considering I had not done much talking that day. I roamed the hallway until I found a semi-private quiet area to run through the song I was leaning toward. I called my sister so she could "approve" and belted out the chorus to “Stand By Your Man” as best I knew how. Is it the most exciting song in the whole wide world? Not by a long shot. But by this point, I DIDN’T CARE. I was SO ready to leave. I had been fighting my better instincts all day just to head on home, figuring I’d gotten what I came for (stories!) and was just postponing the inevitable (“thanks but no thanks”). But I had waited this long, so I figured there was no real harm in waiting a few more minutes.

Song choice decided, I went back to my seat, secured my belongings and waited for the Man with the Megaphone to come collect those of us holding it down in section 211.

IDOLED part 2

So as I mentioned, I was sitting on the street at 5 am. This is after I had gotten my wristband two days before. There were about 10,000 people apparently in line to get wristbands to audition when the doors opened Thursday morning. Not wanting any part in that*, I decided to watch the crowd die down from my office/across the street, and then once the coast was clear, I made a quick jaunt up the block, got “registered”** and was squared away. I had a wristband and a seat ticket, but no clue what I was going to wear or sing. You can see how prepared and into this I was (not very).

Somehow, I managed to hide that heinous purple wristband for two full days from everyone in my office. Maybe they noticed it, but no one asked me about it. In fact, it wasn’t until I was at boxing class on Thursday night (yes, BOXING class. Maybe that's what prompted the "angry" post on Friday, come to think of it...) that I was finally asked about it. The trainer was wrapping my hands and asked about it, and since it was a coworker that had let me tag along with her, she heard me explain and freaked out. You see, they had been bribing me with money and lunches to go audition. I don’t know why I was so secretive about it. I think I just didn’t want people to think I was pinning all my hopes and dreams on this, like so many people you see during the audition episodes of the show. Let's be honest. I was there 50% to see how short Ryan Seacrest is in real life, 40% for good stories/blog material, and 10% because I thought I had a shot in hell at getting a golden ticket. But I digress. So I was a slave to that stupid wristband. You weren’t supposed to get it wet, so I showered with a baggie on my hand. I hid it under my watch when I could. Lucky me, no one mentioned it.

Friday night rolled around. I eventually decided I'd better get prepared. So I chose what I wanted to wear (went for comfort, not "appeal") and then packed a bag with a change of shoes, some Cheerios for breakfast and some Cheez-Its for a snack. They had said to be prepared to stay there all day, but clearly I was underestimating what they meant by "all day" if I really thought a baggie of Cheerios and some Cheez-Its were going to tide me over. I figured the concession stands would be open so I could supplement my hunger with a hotdog or something if I had to. I charged my iPod and camera battery. As I packed, I double-checked the Audition Do’s and Don’ts. The list of what you could bring was pretty normal – banners, blankets, bottled water, small bags, sunscreen, cameras, etc. But the list of what you COULDN’T bring was a little weird. Listed among the air mattresses, folding chairs, fireworks and animals, I sadly realized I would have to leave my hibachi grill and my medieval sword at home. The day was already off to a bad start!

3:30 am came all too early. First thing I did was check the weather - if it had been raining, this tale would be over right here. I will do a lot of stuff, but stand around in the rain I will NOT. Luckily it was not raining, so I got ready and grabbed my bag of tricks (aka food and electronic devices) and walked bravely into the muggy morning. They told us to be back at the arena at 5 am. By the time I walked two blocks that direction, the line was already incredibly long. Later I found out that people had camped out overnight despite all the information being posted about that not being allowed. So I found a spot on the pavement about three blocks away from the front of the arena, spread out my blanket and just marveled at the chaos around me. There were tons of people with guitars: some playing them, some not. It was a real hodge-podge of people. Remember the audition ages are 15—28, which is a wide gap in my opinion. And most people (not me) had a buddy (not aged 15—28) with them. There were SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I figured we had to be near the end of the line. I was wrong. They eventually ran out of blocked-off street and sent people back up towards the arena to begin filling new streets and areas that were blocked off.

Which brings me to this important point: there is no one on earth I love enough that I would sit through this again for their benefit. It was a LONG day. Glad I did it once, but if the show is on the air when I ever have kids, their father will be taking them or I’ll appoint another legal guardian for the show. Mama ain’t putting herself through all this again.

So I’m sitting there, the sun’s not up, I’m sweating profusely, and not going anywhere anytime soon. There’s a circle of people behind me singing everything from Jason Mraz to Glee to Colbie Caillet to David Crowder. Honestly, those types of people came across as peeing on their territory a little bit. Sing quietly to yourself to warm up and pass the time all you want. But these people were belting at the top of their lungs… in the dark… sitting on the street… at 5 am. Total twilight zone, right? Every once in a while, a crew member would come running by or driving by on a golf cart, camera in tow, filming how long the line was. Or looking for weirdos. Probably both.

Since I was still pretty far in the back of the line, that was about all of the filming I saw at that point. I could hear but not see the crowd shot filming. Finally people surged forward and I realized they were going to actually let us get this party started. This was the most literal experience of hurry up and wait I had ever practiced. They’d let a certain amount of people move forward towards the doors, and then stop the crowd. Lather, rinse, repeat. You’d “briskly walk” forward (because there was “NO RUNNING!”) and then be stopped. Walk. Stop. Walk. Stop.

I could see the doors. I was almost inside! And now I will tell you about my biggest regret of the whole experience. This will make you laugh. Remember how I had filled up a baggie with Cheerios? Yum. Breakfast of champions. And did you see FOOD listed on the items we couldn’t bring inside? THEY MADE ME THROW AWAY MY CHEERIOS. (Sidebar: does this part of the story remind anyone else of "HE PERMED ME!"?) A whole baggie full. That's at least two morning's worth. Honestly. I was so busy NOT packing my medieval weaponry that I was completely blindsided – and disappointed – when the security guy told me I had to toss them. Harrumph. I wouldn’t have brought them if I thought I wasn’t allowed to. For shame! American Idol 1, LJ 0.

Once inside, I made my way to my seat. The seat tickets are handed out in order of registration. Since I got there at 10 am on Thursday, I was not one of the first people there… but also not one of the last. My seat was in the middle of the pack. See the red circle below? That’s me! The aqua sections were the people were the first in line, and the poor pink people must have flown in town late Friday night:
I found my seat and settled in. Next up: the longest ten hours of my life!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

IDOLED

I mentioned the other day that I did something fascinating over the weekend. Quite frankly I am SHOCKED more of you didn’t figure this out or ask me about it.

Yes, I tried out for American Idol.

It’s something I had wanted to do for years. Rush, work, etc. etc. always kept me from getting to the closest city and giving it a whirl. This year, they were practically in my backyard. I’d have been crazy not to just go check it out, right?

It was a LONG day. I was in place (sitting on the street) by 5 am. There were people who had been doing that since midnight. A lot of nothing went by and then at 5 pm, a full, whopping twelve hours later, I gave my 10 second performance and was on my way. No, I didn't get a golden ticket. No, I wasn't expecting one. What I was expecting, I got seven-fold: some good stories, some great people watching, and a big fat check on the bucket list. Win/win.

I know you all want details, details, details, so I am working on a lengthier post outlining what I saw and what I heard, including the girl in underwear, which returning auditioners were there, how long I waited in line to buy some lunch, and what is my biggest regret about the whole ball of wax. Get excited.

THIS! ....... is uhMERican IDOL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

FREED

While I am working on my post to tell you about what I did this weekend - it's a doozy! - let me tide you over with something semi-related and incredibly cool.

As I've mentioned on here before, I am a library junkie. I LOVE THE LIBRARY. I always have. Summer reading programs with Al the Alligator, weekly library visits during elementary school - I can't get enough. I cannot wait to have my own kids to take and just like my mom did, they can check out as many books as they want or the library will allow, whichever comes first.

So still in my adult years, I use the library. It's so easy to request what you want, choose where you want it delivered and swing by and pick it up. I've rented DVDs (carefully, though; the fines really stack up for those if you go out of town and forget you have three Sex and the City DVDs due until almost five days later don't turn them in on time), borrowed CDs and as if that isn't enough, the Library strikes again!

My county library system has teamed up with a site called Freegal (rhymes with legal) to offer FREE MUSIC DOWNLOADS! And they have SO many artists on there. Both of the songs I purchased on iTunes yesterday, I could have downloaded legally and freely through this site. As of right now, each patron gets five free downloads a week, and that could change at any time due to the library's budget or patron usage. You can even preview the song, like in iTunes. And yes, all music is compatible with iTunes and iPods.

If you live in my county, access the site from the library main page (if you're a library member, that is). If you don't live in my county or state, march to your local library and request this.
Yes, they even have GLEE!

I have downloaded 2 of my 5 free songs for this week and plan to use the other three by Friday. Can't wait to get even more next Monday!

Monday, July 19, 2010

IDLE

Woohoo - is it awkward in here or WHAT.

Friday afternoon, some of you got the privilege of reading probably the rawest, most vulnerable post I have written in 4+ years of blogging. Do I regret it? No. So why did I take it down? Meh. I guess it was a limited-edition fire sale post: get it while you can then let's all move on. I'm glad I wrote it and got my feelings out though - make no mistake about that. And thanks for the comments and encouragement. I meant every single carefully-crafted word. Maybe it will sneak back into publication again one day in a less acerbic, Meredith-Grey-ish point of view. I don't know if the subject of said post read it or not. I probably never will.

Moving on though - who wants to guess what I did this weekend? No, three loads of laundry and a cart full of groceries don't count. Here's a hint:
video

Thursday, July 15, 2010

CHATTY

Last night, Evan had Kate and I over for hotdogs and smores. Except it was hot as blazes outisde so we never actually made it to the firepit for smores. I’ll tell you what we did do though – I tried Chat Roulette.

Have you heard of it? It was quite the experience. Basically, it’s a web site where people just chat with each other. Think AOL chat rooms circa 1998 but with web cams and the ability to click the NEXT button if you don’t like what you see.

Evan took a shot of me and Jabba the Hut this old-timer. He was one of the more interesting people I met.
And if you don’t think I reported every “inappropriate” person and/or thing I came across, then you’ve got another think coming.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

DISGUSTED

The person who left this large, suspicious-looking bottle in the middle of an empty parking lot ____________.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

STORED

Over the weekend, I found a little bargain in Target. Well, five little bargains actually.

These little tin containers were $1 each in the deal bins they have right in the entrance of the store. Previously, the bottom shelf of my medicine cabinet had hairbands and bobbypins all willy-nilly. Actually, there are bobbypins running willy-nilly all over my house... not just my medicine cabinet. It's like a little fairy leaves them on every surface in every room. Well those days are over. Ta daaaa:

Now they have a proper home. And so do my rubber bands, Q-tips, cotton rounds that we females use to remove nail polish, and all the other random crap that was lying around in there - tweezers, clippers, floss, etc. Actually, I didn't even store Q-tips or cotton rounds in there but having these little containers freed up so much space, I had room to put more stuff in there.

Also - please notice my other genius storage idea. I know I'm not the first person who came up with the idea of using my toothbrush holder to store my glasses, but how clever is that?

Monday, July 12, 2010

SPONTANEOUS

Friday night was possibly one of the funnest nights I’ve had in a long time. Late in the day on Friday, Evan and I (surprise, surprise) decided that we were going to head to the drive-in theater to see a $7 Double Feature: Despicable Me and Toy Story 3. Holy animation!

Now I could tell you that we went and had a good time and that’d be fine. But, the movies were AWESOME to boot. Despicable Me* was maybe the best movie I’ve seen all year. AND it cost me less to see them both, than it would to see just one at the theater.

AND, as if all of THAT isn’t amazing enough**, let me show you where we stopped for dinner:
Yes – that’s correct. I am 27-years-old and I dressed up like a cow for free Chick-Fil-A. What about it? My food was delicious, I won MORE free chicken while I was there and I even got to see the future Mrs. Waldron, aka the newest recruit to Nashville, about which I could not be more excited.

I don’t care who you are, THAT’S a good night right there.

*Seriously - that movie is amazing. RUN to your local theater (or drive-in!) and go see it!
**We did one other tiny thing that made the whole drive-in experience amazing. Can you guess what it was?

Friday, July 09, 2010

CHOOSY

Mirror mirror on the wall, whom should I take to see Sir Paul?

The concert tickets shipped yesterday. It's been pretty tempting to put them on StubHub for 3x the price I paid for each ticket, since that's what they are going for. But I really want to go. Hence, why I bought them in the first place. So maybe I just put the extra one on StubHub and see if someone buys a single?

OOOOOORRR I could take "applications"/nominations for who wants to go with me and buy the ticket at face value?

Applications due next Friday at noon. To apply, comment on this post with your favorite Paul/Beatles song and one reason why I should take you.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

IMPRESSED

In yesterday's post, I briefly mentioned the Art Crawl I attended on Saturday night - but I want to revisit it, particular the piece that I can't get out of my mind.

I did love the mixed media. Very much. There were some stunning mosaics and some collages that used beeswax - that's called encaustic art. But of all the lovely things I saw, a graphic print by Jane Davis Doggett resonated with me the most. Here is a low-res copy I found online - my apologies that this doesn't really do the art justice. When we saw this print, it was probably 10'x6' - took up an entire wall.
Is that not pretty amazing? Star and I both commented that her portrayal of the "valley of the shadow of death" is pretty spot-on. Simple, but brilliant.

Here's a quick write-up of the artist and some of her work (including this one) from the hosting gallery - the Arts Company, located on Fifth Avenue and our first stop on the Art Crawl.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

FOURTHED

Well kids. How was your fourth of July?

In the spirit of full disclosure, mine was tinged with a little bit of sadness. I knew this holiday would pass with at least one pity party. And I was right. It's just that I have really fond memories of the past two fourth of Julys. So this one was a little bittersweet. Mehh.

But enough about that.

Friday night, this girl and her husband rolled into town. We caught up over some good Mexican food. All parties present were exhausted, me from being up since 5 am with only a small nap, and them from being on the road for infinity 8 hours, so we didn't do anything afterward.

They did their own thing on Saturday while I hit the pool. Is it horrible that Saturday was my first trip to a pool the entire summer? And it’s not like I could stay there long – that’s a sunburn waiting to happen. Especially when you make a special trip to Walgreen’s for sunscreen and it won’t spray. And there’s a wasp the size of the bottle of sunscreen. Double fail. I headed home and freshened up in time to give Star, Travis, Star's friend from Auburn and her friend a driving tour of Nashville and then we hit the First Saturday Art Crawl I’d wanted to try for so long. It was so much fun! We saw lots of different kinds of art – the mixed media ones were my favorite by far. I had a glass of wine or two while we browsed the galleries and nibbled on a few of the snacks. Overall – great experience. Already looking forward to August!

Sunday I attempted the pool again – the wasp was gone and so were the clouds. Lordy, it was hot. I couldn’t bear the heat very long at all. Once I realized no one was holding me hostage and I didn't have to sit outside and fry, I decided to head in and put on my party dress. Our Fourth of July plans were to grill out at Evan’s and then check out the big firework show downtown. After a trip to Kroger, we arrived at Evan’s and set to work assembling a 4th of July feast to envy. As if the the food wasn't awesome, it turned out to be a really fun evening. Lots of laughs. Even though we were stuffed to the gills, we managed to fit everyone in the car and made our way downtown to watch the fireworks. Evan brought a radio with him, and I had a great viewing spot picked out… from the 4th floor of my building. Air conditioning + comfy chair + fireworks + symphony + friends = a great time! We went back to Evan’s for dessert and smores before calling it a night.

All in all it was a great weekend! Star and Travis, thanks for braving the rock slides to come see us!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

RED

I am seeing a new man.

He's a little shorter than you'd think. But always smiling.

And I don't mind if he's a little red...

We've spent a whirlwind three and a half days together, and even though we've met many times before., I can't get him out of my head!

I think I'm in love.
(The unused product from wedding reception's candy bar made its way into our office. You may have noticed the jumbo bag of sour patch kids sitting demurely beside the flowers in that picture I posted earlier this week. What a joke. It's only Thursday, and all the red ones are 100% gone. Best. Candy. Ever. In other news, I think I'm going to be sick.)

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