Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Adam Steffey

If you follow bluegrass and country music, this name should be familiar to you. Adam Steffey is one of the best, if not THE best, mandolin players out there. He has recorded with Vince Gill, Dolly Parton, spent a few years with Alison Krauss' band Union Station, and is now currently with The Boxcars. New Primitive is a solo project, however, in which he has surrounded himself with amazing musicians.

These are the songs you probably heard around the campfire growing up and never knew their names. Or didn't even know they had names. I think of walking the streets of Silver Dollar City when I hear this music. It's a flashback in time and just plain fun! You can't help but tap your foot to this music.

It's mostly instrumental which makes great background music. Notable tracks are Cluck Old Hen with a wonderful banjo accompaniment by non-other than his wife, Tina. Squirrel Hunter is a very interesting and enjoyable jam. You will probably recognize the very energetic Big Eyed Rabbit. And speaking of energetic, the opening track Don't Get Drunk Joe is amazing. Who Now Will Sing Me Lullabies is a gentle ballad sung beautifully by Samantha Snyder. And the closing track features Steffey by himself picking out Ways of the World.

This CD should be a delight for those who are fans of old-time and bluegrass music.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Empty Nest Week

The kids were away with the grandparents this week. Bless my mom and dad for sweeping them away for a little while. Sounds good, doesn't it? No nagging or fighting. No demands for dinner. No whining. It's rare to have a vacation from motherhood, and I was really looking forward to it. I started to think about what I could do with all of my free time....

Free time! Oh my gosh, plenty of time for me. I had big aspirations for the week with three things in mind.

1. Resume. Folks, it's time. Actually I'm way overdue. I must resume the workout routine. I spent a lot of time traveling this month; and during this time, the workout routine took a back seat. It seemed I was either too busy or too tired to get it done. I also had way too many excuses (ahem). So Monday, I was determined and ran 2.5 miles on the treadmill. It felt great! I was in a groove and feeling wonderful. But the next morning I woke up extremely sore. Wow, did I ever feel out of shape. What happened to the runner's high I had yesterday? So I took the day off. The next day I woke up kind of late, so I made plans in my head to run after work. But Hubby called me at 4:00; he had plans to take me out. Which would you have chosen? Exactly. Another day off. And that was the pattern for the week. So I was semi-successful with this goal and managed to get a few workouts in this week. It has been really hard to get back into the swing of things. Note to self: never get out of the swing of things.

Peasant Platter at Broadway Brewery
2. Reconnect. Time to reconnect with my husband. It's a prefect time when the kids are away. Every night is date night, right? Um... well, not exactly. We found out we're pretty old and boring! And pretty broke. We had a lot of fun together in Vegas the week before. But we did have Wednesday night out together (as I mentioned above) at our favorite place: Broadway Brewery. I sampled some new beers and had their wonderful Peasant Platter. Doesn't it look delicious? I like this dish because it's always something different. They change what they serve on the platter depending on the season. It's fabulous. We also went out and reconnected with some friends on Friday night. That was a fun time! The weather was perfect for grilling food and chilling on the back patio in front of a fire. You could say I was more successful with this goal. Relationships restored!

3. Relax. Now this goal was extremely successful. I did plenty of this. I actually got really, really good at this. Relaxed with my husband. Relaxed on my own. Relaxed with some good friends. It was very nice. And quiet. Almost too quiet. I miss my kids. Sure there has been no nagging or fighting. No demands for dinner. No whining. I sure didn't miss that. But there were no giggles. No high fives from my son. No singing in the shower from my daughter. No little voices. No little hugs. That's the best part of motherhood, isn't it?

So what did I learn during my empty nest week? To borrow a line from a late-80's power ballad... "You don't know what you've got until it's gone." Ain't it the truth? It really takes the darkness to appreciate the light, and I miss my little stars of the night. My world is a whole lot brighter with them in it, and my appreciation has been renewed.

Mama bird is ready for her nest to be full again.


Monday, July 22, 2013

My Travels of July

I predicted a very busy July and well.... I was correct! It's been a very busy few weeks, and it isn't over yet.

But will you look at all the fun I had?!?

First there was the July 4th holiday. Aren't you glad our founding father's declared our Independence in July and not February?!? I mean, nothing says America like blowing stuff up and kicking back with a cold one. The holiday would take on a whole new meaning if it were celebrated in the winter months.

And then I spent a long week in Washington, D.C. Longest week of meetings that I've had in a while, but the food.... oh my, the food!!!

I ate at some wonderful restaurants. That totally made up for it. The above picture is a Scallop Margarita from Ris - lime marinated scallops with tequila ice. It's one of their signature dishes, and it was delicious!

And then Vegas, baby! I had a couple of presentations to do at a national conference, and my husband went along with me. We played, I worked, and then we played some more. We had a blast. We stayed at the very nice ARIA hotel which was right on the strip. My favorite part was watching the fountains at the Bellagio.

We also went through Red Rock Canyon. It was beautiful!!! Very hot - over 100 degrees hot - but well worth it. Look at that view....

I have to say I'm ready to sloooooow down. I'm totally off my exercise routine (not good) and in fact, I'm not in any kind of routine at all. Priority one! Must have a routine. The kids are away with their grandparents this week, so that's what I'll be concentrating on. Relaxing and getting back into a routine. Time to get focused.

Summer is almost over. Better squeeze in some last minute fun while it lasts! I hope it's been a good one for you.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Patriotic Country

This is a special "Independence Day" edition of New Tunes Tuesday for this week.

If you want to find great patriotic music to celebrate this July 4th, look no further than country music. Some of the best anthems to the red, white and blue come from country artists. I've put together a list of some of my favorites below.

Notable tracks are Made In America, Home, If You're Reading This, and God Bless The USA. Be sure to give those a listen.

"Made in America" is sung by Toby Keith, the patriotic king of country music. He's written a lot of songs in tribute of our great nation. This song is one of three that I have included on my playlist. The lyrics of this one specifically talks about supporting America by buying only American made products.

I was always get chills when I listen to "Home" by Dierks Bentley. Everybody's idea of America is different, and this song celebrates just that. "Free, nothing feels like free / Though it sometimes means we don’t get along / Cause same, no we're not the same / But that’s what makes us strong." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Make sure you get a box of Kleenex before playing "If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw. This song is for the families of fallen soldiers - a letter intended to be read after they have died. It was a surprise tribute sung at the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2007 and was released to radio shortly thereafter.

The classic patriotic song for me is Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA." It was released as a single in 1984. It gained popularity during Desert Storm in 1991 and the 9/11 attacks in 2001. It took on a new meaning during each event, but it's always been about hope, unity, and life in this great nation of ours.

Happy Birthday, America! Celebrate, be safe, and enjoy!

Monday, July 1, 2013

My Year In Pictures

June was a FUN month. Here's how it went:

And that's the end of photo a day on my blog. I have really enjoyed this year sharing my photos with you, but it's time for me to turn the focus of this blog. Feel free to follow me on Instagram if you would like to see more of my photos (see the Photo a Day page here). My Instagram feed is also posted in the menu bar on the right.

And here is the year end surprise!

To wrap it all up, I put together a video to showcase a few of my favorite photos from the Photo A Day challenge. I used Animoto to create the video (super duper easy).



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