Thursday, September 30, 2010

Throwback Thursday!

Earlier this week, I was listening to the classic country channel on my cable system to try to soothe my sick little one, as well as myself,  when a song came on that reminded me how great Dolly Parton is.  Man, can that woman write!  "The Coat of Many Colors" came on and I started to get teary eyed.  What a powerful song!  What really gets me as how timely the song still is today.  Although a lot has changed since Dolly was a little girl, a lot hasn't and many of us have been facing hard financial times in our country. 

After listening to the song I realized just how blessed I am.  Sometimes I get caught up in the things that I don't have and forget about the things I do.  To think that this song is autobiographical is also an amazing thought.  Look at the life she has made and where she started.  How inspiring! The most powerful line in this song to me is, "one is poor only if they choose to be."  Amen, Dolly.  And thank you, forty years later. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Working Mom Blues

Just when I think I have this whole working mom thing balanced, life throws me a curve ball.  Lately I have been having a blast doing my radio show, blogging my heart out, helping with homework, making lunches packed with love, doing personal appearances, having extra alone time with the baby, and cooking more.  I have been feeling like a rock star! 

It was all wonderful until this week.  Tyler is sick.  Not just a little sick, but high fever-need someone to hold me constantly-can't drink or eat because my throat is so sore-sick.  Of course, the person he would prefer to constantly hold him is me.  And I am happy to do it, but I have had to still work this week.  Now, I have a wonderful husband who is a wonderful father and is home with the baby.  I know that he is doing a great job and is loving the heck out of our little guy.  He has even been doing the night shift with him because he knows I need to get up early and go to work.  He is wonderful!  But, he is not me. 

You see, part of the reason why I work is because I need a paycheck.   Since I had to take a maternity leave this year, however, I have used all of my sick and vacation time.  Meaning...if I don't go to work, I don't get paid.  This means that "Mommy Guilt" has reared its ugly and cruel head.  Luckily, part of the "balance" of my working mom life is that I only work part-time.  Which means I'll only be tortured for half the day.  That is, until I get home and see that pitiful face.   

Monday, September 27, 2010

Food Centerpieces

It is getting to be that time of year when my garden stops producing, which always makes me a little sad.  It is also that exciting time of the year though, when orchards, pumpkin patches, and cornfields become a source of fun and inspiration for down home fall decorating.

I went to the farmer's market last week and did something I have never done before.  I bought a cabbage.  Now, I love cabbage, but I have never bought one before.  This particular cabbage, however, was calling my name!  It looked like it was straight out of Peter Rabbit and I had to have it.  It was beautiful!  AND, it was only $1.50!  I took it home and plopped it into the center of my dinning room table!

This inspired me to come up with more ideas to use what autumn has given me to create some more centerpieces.  Now, we have all placed apples into a bowl and put them on our kitchen or dinning room tables, but I wanted to do something a little different, so I placed them inside a cylinder vase.  I love the way it looks!

I also tried it with some pears, which created a fun twist with the shapes.  I liked how the pear shapes looked inside the cylinder.

I decided I liked the apples better though, and started playing around with the red theme.  I was inspired to place these wonderfully vibrant red sweet peppers in a stark white bowl and showcase their beauty instead of keeping them in the fridge. 

We can't do fall without pumpkins!  Or, at least gourds!  I saw this idea in a magazine and decided to try it out too, since I was in such a food themed decorating mood.  I took that clear cylinder once again and placed some bird seed inside--which my 5-year-old helped me do.  The two of us (and the baby) went looking for a branch in the yard, but my husband saved the day by snagging a very sturdy one off a tree.  We planted it into the bird seed, than used twine to tie around the gourds and then onto the branches' stems.  Now, we have a great pumpkin tree! 

I love all of these ideas, but really love our pumpkin tree.  It is a little bigger than I first anticipated, thanks to Daddy thinking we needed a more sturdy branch, but I love that it has colorful fall leaves still attached.  I think we'll keep this idea around for next year!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Throwback Thursday!

I have a confession to make.  I'm a geek.  And I sometimes do really odd things that I find hilarious but most people just think are, well...odd.  I've always been this way.  Luckily, I have a couple of partners in crime though, because apparently the oddity is hereditary and my sisters share the same trait.  You see, when we were children we used to pretend we were characters of popular television shows and we used to "play" them.  Yep, we would take on the characters and then pretend different situations.  Unfortunately, my oldest sister was already out on her own when most of this occurred, so she didn't get to participate in most episodes.  The three sisters that were left, though, had a blast. 

Sometimes I got a good "Chris" from Charlie's Angels.  Oh how I loved to play Charlie's Angels!  It was particularly interesting to play on my grandfather's farm.  Most of the time, however, I was stuck with the person my elder two sisters did not want to be.  Ah, the joys of being the youngest. 

I proudly injected feelings and emotions into characters such as "Mrs. Howell" from Gilligan's Island, (you can only imagine the fight over who got to be "Maryann" or "Ginger") "The mom" from One Day at a Time, and "Vera" from Alice.

My absolute favorite show to play, however, was the ultimate Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters Show.  We belted out songs and danced our fannies off after choreographing elaborate routines...which we then forced our parents to watch and applaud vigorously afterward.  Naturally, I was "Irlene."  My mother always insisted that she was really smart and she just acting dumb for the show, but when you are 5, that's hard to swallow.  I just wanted to be Barbara...but of course, I never got to be.  Except when I pretended to be her when my sisters were not around. 

Honestly, it really doesn't get any better than this for me.  I am a Barbara Mandrell fanatic!  I remember taking pictures of the display cases at her museum in Nashville.  What a bond I feel to her and her family.  It is pretty natural actually, I mean the whole sisters thing, and I am sure they helped shape my childhood in some aspect.  What good role models the Mandrell sisters were!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Troy Gentry Is Looking Forward

Despite a CMA nomination for vocal duo of the year, Montgomery Gentry recently parted ways with Columbia Records.  Some industry insiders predicted a change was coming when Montgomery Gentry decided to release a greatest hits project, which hits stores on September 28th. While the split was amicable, when I talked with Troy Gentry, just days before the news broke about the record label split, he eluded to the fact that the duo was looking for a new perspective. 

While the album is probably a transition for the powerhouse duo, Troy Gentry still seems excited about the greatest hits compilation.  Gentry says, "we were in the studio for, shoot, what seemed like forever this time around, trying to create a perfect album."  He says the pair recorded a bunch of songs, but didn't feel like they had a complete album and were "still lacking a little bit of something." 

That's when they brought in Michael Knox.  Knox is a hot commodity right now in Nashville.  He's had success with Jason Aldean and is producing Trace Adkin's new album.  Trace Adkins, of course, recently joined Toby Keith's new record label, which suggests that's were Montgomery Gentry will land.  Gentry says that when they recorded four new songs with Knox, "we finally found what we were missing...which I think was just a fresh set of ears."  Those four new songs are on the greatest hits album.  "It's a great catch up album," says Gentry.  "You can get what has happened with us the last three years and get some great new music as well." 

You can bet that those news songs will have to do with the common man.  Montgomery Gentry has built their career on such songs, which Gentry says is the kind of stuff he grew up listening to. 

"When Eddie and I go looking for songs, that's the stuff we look for, and grew up on.  Stuff like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Merle, Hank, Waylon Jennings, and Cash."  Gentry says that all of  those folks sang about everyday life and situational stuff, like the hard knocks of life.  "That's what we tried to bring to the table when we started recording songs," Gentry says.  "stuff that has some substance to it and, whether it was good or bad, people could kind of feel like they could be that person in the song." 

When I asked Troy Gentry who he likes listening to these days, he said he is a big Jason Aldean fan.  "He kind of reminds me of us at a younger age, but his music is a little bit more current.  I like his stuff.  He's got a great vibe going on."  He also likes Lady Antbellum. "I like the chemistry the three of them have and the way they vocalize together. Plus their music and message is good-feeling stuff too." 

Montgomery Gentry is playing some shows this fall and "have a bit of a new set" to go along with them.  They will be playing the new songs from the greatest hits album, plus all of those songs that made Montgomery Gentry famous.  You can check out where they are playing on their website.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"She's Got a Redneck Side When You Get Her Agitated"

That's right.  I have a redneck side and every now and then it needs to come out and play.  Once a year my husband's entire family goes to a local county fair on the last day before they close it down.  After riding the rides, checking out the animal barns, and eating elephant ears, we all head to the demolition derby.  This is a long -standing tradition and even though I really do not enjoy the demolition derby, I have learned to grin and bear it.  I, myself, think the derby is a little "redneck" and don't really understand why my husband's family enjoys it so much, because I am definitely the most "redneck" one in the bunch.  While it is really not my thing, I do love being with my family and I certainly do not want to stop any traditions that my husband would like to pass on to our children. 

So, this year, I decided to examine what really bothers me about going.  When we first got married it was simply a minor issue, but now that we have two children, it has complicated things for me.  Let's face it, kids do not sit well for anything and that can drive me up a wall when it comes to events like a demolition derby. 

The bigger issue I have had is that it so loud!  You can't hear anyone else around you unless you scream at the top of your lungs to be heard.  That makes me worry about the amount of damage I can be doing to my children's hearing.  As a "radio geek" I have blared music into my headphones for years and don't think I haven't noticed how high that knob goes these days because I can no longer hear at what others would probably consider a normal level. 

My nephew is also very sensitive to loud noises and can sometimes be so overwhelmed at sporting events that he is reduced to tears.  Not to mention, I have a six-month-old baby, who really has no business being exposed to such noise. 

After doing some research, I discovered Peltor ear muffs.  If you are a hunter, you know what I am talking about.  Or if you watched Drew Brees hold his son after winning the Superbowl last year.  They reduce the noise level so that you do not damage your hearing. 

I had thought about using ear plugs, but I was afraid to use them on the baby.  These ear muffs, however, worked perfectly!  I didn't have to worry about them falling out, or him choking on them.  I bought child sized pairs and while the baby fussed about them at first, he got used to them.  The best part, is that it reduced the noise level so much, that he was able to fall asleep through most of the event!

 My oldest son though he was cool "like Mommy" because they are so similar to the radio headphones he sees me wear at work.  And my nephew kept them on and had a blast watching all the cars smash into each other without a single tear!

These were definitely a hit--no pun intended.  I am so glad I made the decision to use them and I will keep them for use in the future.  You never know when my redneck side will get agitated!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Miss WHAT?!

Just when I thought that I might have heard it kicks me in the gut with a big fat surprise.  Luckily, this one didn't hurt, but intrigued me.  Did you know that there is a Miss Cougar pageant?  I didn't know this until looking over the cast list for the new season of "Apprentice," which airs tonight.  Apparently one of the people vying to be one of Donald Trump's next winner of a six-figure salary is "Miss Cougar California." 

Tyana Alvarado--Apprentice Contestant

The winner of this year's pageant was 36-year-old Amy Roberts of Aurora, Illinois and she was crowned on June 26th.  This is when I scream out in shock, "36????  36 IS CONSIDERED A COUGAR?"  Apparently.  Although I guess if she were dating a 20-year-old, that would make her a cougar.  If that were the case, however, I would probably just call her a sicko, not give her a crown. 

A man named Rich Gosse is the executive producer of the cougar conventions and has written 8 books.  His current book is called "The Cougar Imperative:  Why MidLife Women MUST Choose Younger Men."  Okay, this is getting ridiculous.  So 36 is now midlife?  But I'm still having babies.  Great.  Maybe that kick hurt a little more than I first thought.  Just start calling me Granny.   


Throwback Thursday!

Unanswered Prayers is becoming a Lifetime movie!  I know!  How stinkin exciting is THAT?!  The news broke earlier this week that the song, which appeared on Garth's second album entitled "No Fences" was becoming a two-hour long film on the network.  The song was co-written by Garth and hit #1 back in 1990. 

The film will air in November and star Eric Close from CBS's "Without a Trace" and actress Samantha Mathis.  The script was written by  Deena Goldstone, who also wrote "Identity Theft:  The Michelle Brown Story" for the TV network and also has a tie to country music.  The part of Michelle Brown was played by Kimberly Williams Paisley--Brad Paisley's wife. 

There are sooo many country songs that would make great Lifetime movies!  In fact, it isn't the first time it has been done, and we all know how "The Gambler" turned into a series of made-for-TV movies.   Reba had a hit with "Is There Life Out There" and a hit with a made for TV movie.  She also had a whole TV series based on the song "I'm a Survivor."  I say, bring it on!  Keep bringing these great songs to life!  How about Taylor Swift's "Should Have Said No" or Suglarland's "Stay."  The list could go on and on!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Holy Apples Batman!

Somehow, apple picking season has snuck up on me.    It didn't occur to me until I saw about a million posts on Facebook about how everyone went apple picking over the weekend.  But surely I haven't gone apple picking until October in years past.  But, that was "sooo last year."  Local orchards are saying that the apples are ready about three weeks earlier this year than normal.  The weather is to blame for the early blooming--which is NOT welcomed by this procrastinator.  In fact, everything has been early this year.  The strawberries, the blueberries, the tomatoes.  Do I dare question whether or not winter will be early too?

There is also not going to be as many apples either...apparently the yield is also down this year.  By about 40 percent, in fact.  Well, isn't THAT just great?  Not only do I have to hurry out to go picking, I might be involved in a "1980s cabbage patch kid fight" over them! 

Jonathan was so cute last year during our trip to the orchard.  He was amazed at all the trees and couldn't decide which tree to pick from, so he just ran from tree to tree grabbing apples and putting them in his basket.  I had no idea if I had Fuji, Macintosh, or Gala when I got home.  It didn't matter, though.  they all tasted so much better than those from the grocery store and we ate them for weeks! 

I'm not sure we'll be eating for weeks this year, but hopefully we at least get one batch of applesauce and a pie out our picking!

What are some of your favorite apple recipes?

Don Henley Is Going Country

Don Henley, legendary lead singer of the Eagles, is making a solo country album.  Henley is currently on tour with the Eagles, but according to "Diablo" Magazine, the Eagles front man is planning to record a collection of country tunes.  The songs will be both cover songs as well as some originals.  Now, the Eagles have always had a mass appeal and particularly with country music fans, so the idea is not that far fetched.  In fact, they have had success on country radio, but this will be a first for Henley's solo projects.  Henley tells the mag that he would even like to collaborate with Merle Haggard.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bringing Out The Fall!

It is here!!  My favorite time of year.  Maybe it's because my birthday is in the fall and it was always such an exciting time as a child.  Maybe it's because it is the prelude to the Christmas season and the beginning of such celebration.  Or it could just be the sounds, smells, and tastes that make me L-O-V-E fall! 

This morning I sipped on my morning cup of joe with my favorite coffee creamer added...International Delight's Pumpkin Pie Spice.  That's when I thought, it is sooo time to bring out the fall!  I have so many fall decorations and today is the day they are coming out of storage!  I like to call my decorating style "country chic."  Or "country couture."  And I really get to go hog wild on that style this time of year! 

A couple of years ago, I tried this project and it has become one of my favorite things to display.  Here's how I did it:

A friend of mine had an Uppercase Living party, so I decided to purchase this cute little fall saying to add to my decor. I was a little hesitant to stick any of these on my case I got tired of it too soon. Keep in mind, that I love to do crafts, but I am not the most artistic person in the world. I decided to place my saying on a board, which my hubby put some finishing details to. So, armed with spray paint and my decal...away I went.

Painting the board was not so hard...although I did have to move inside because it was too windy outside and I was getting grass clippings on my masterpiece. (I told you, not so artistic) Anyway, getting these letters to actually adhere to what I wanted them to was rather difficult. It took a lot of rubbing and manipulating. I thought this was supposed to be for the creatively challenged folks. I mean after all, if I could paint well, I wouldn't need these words. After about an hour and a half and many fingernail pull offs and resets, I finally finished my project. While the first and last words came out beautifully, the main lettering looks a little bad. I don't care, however, and have proudly displayed my project in my dinning area.

By the way, no one has ever said anything to me about those imperfections and if I didn't point them out obsessively, it would probably go completely unnoticed. 

I have plenty of projects and fun menu items planned for this year and cannot wait to blog about them this fall!  In the meantime, I'm going to sip some more pumpkin coffee and breathe in that wonderful fall air!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I Will Never Forget

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?

I was in Holland, MI.  I was doing the morning show for a full-service AM station after serving as the station's news director for several years and was having a great time doing it.  It was a great day too.  A lot of listeners called in and we were having a great time!  The weather was just perfect.  A beautiful morning full of sunshine. 

I was getting ready to go into the news and was trying to fill enough time to get to the top of the hour and wasn't paying much attention to the TV in the studio.  The phone line lit up, so without hesitation, I answered it.  "Did you just see what happened on TV?"  the voice on the line asked me.  "No, what?"  The listener frantically said, "A plane just ran into the World Trade Center building."  

I quickly flipped the studio TV onto a news channel and saw the billowing smoke.  What in the world was going on?  How could a plane lose such control that it could run into a building like that?  It never occurred to me that someone would do such a thing on purpose.   

You know, a lot of people talk about how radio folks can never shut up and always have to get in the last laugh, or be the center of attention.  Not that day.  We were all huddled around the TV. Completely.  Silent. 
Another plane hit the towers and yet another plane hit the Pentagon. I thought, "my father-in-law used to work in the Pentagon."

 I finally mustered up enough courage to leave the station, and leaving all the news coverage up to a then rookie radio guy who would later become my boss and is now working in Detroit as "the boss man."  I know he too has quite a story to tell of that day. 
The first thing I did, was call my husband only to find out that he had walked his students to a neighborhood park that day--it was a gorgeous day after all.  He had no idea yet what had happened. 

Then I called my mom and dad, because I just felt like I had to.  I couldn't stand being home alone, so I went downtown to a prayer vigil that afternoon.  I held hands with strangers and we prayed and cried together.  The mayor led the prayer.

I didn't lose anyone I loved that day, but I wept as though I had lost a million.  And I still weep for those lost on that day.  And for those who lost someone they loved. 

I can't believe it has been 9 years already, yet at the same time I can't believe how much has happened in those 9 years.  I could list all the things that has happened in our nation in that time period, but what I think about most is the anniversaries I have spent with my husband.  The birthdays, that I know are dwindling, with my parents.  The beautiful babies my husband and I have brought into this world, and every moment that they bring a smile to my face.  I will never forget those moments, and I will never forget 9/11.

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?

Teaching a class full of innocent children
Driving down some cold interstate
Did you feel guilty cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone
Did you call up your mother and tell her you love her
Did you dust off that Bible at home
Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Speak with some stranger on the street
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Go out and buy you a gun
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watching
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns
Did you go to a church and hold hands with some stranger
Stand in line and give your own blood
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love
~Alan Jackson

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Throwback Thursday!

Ricky Van...The Man!  I don't think there wasn't a wall in my room that was not covered in Ricky Van Shelton posters in the late 80s early 90s!  I was absolutely in LOVE with him!  Here's one of my favorites!

Yes, they are doing the "Tush Push" in the video, a dance I know all too well....AH, the good ole days!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fun in the Mud!

For the past several years I have interviewed a gentleman responsible for putting on a local mud bog and every year he gives me tickets to give away on the air and always invites me to come out and enjoy the fun.  I graciously accept the tickets and have a ton of fun giving them away, but have yet to go to the actual mud bog.  I can honestly say that I have always had a prior commitment on the weekend of the event, but this year is different, I have no commitments for the day.

Now, to be even more honest, I wasn't exactly upset that I always had something else going on and could never attend the "bog."  You see, I am only country to a certain extent--let's face it, this sounds like it leans a little redneck.  A mud bog doesn't really sound like "me."  In fact, I didn't even know what it was when I did the first interview three years ago.  After learning that a mud bog is basically where a bunch of pick up trucks, modified or not, try there darnedest to make it through a huge mud pit, I flashed back to high school.  One of my guy friends (who may or may not have been trying to ask me out on a date) turned to me in Econ class and said, "Do you want to go muddin' with me this weekend?"  I think my exact response was, "Do I want to go WHAT-ING with you this weekend?"

That has pretty much been my mindset on the whole "mud" concept.  After all, I had hogs growing up can't I call it good on the whole "mud" thing?  BUT--a certain male in my life just my change my mind.  A very cute and very influential little man...Jonathan.  I am sure that he would love to go and watch a bunch of souped up pickups run through the mud.  So, this year, I say, "bring it on!"

Or, at least take these really yummy mudslide brownies and try to grin and bear it!  Now THAT, I can handle!  Enjoy!

Sandra Lee's Mudslide Brownies:

• Butter-flavored cooking spray

• 1 (18.3-ounce) box fudge brownie mix (recommended: Betty Crocker)

• 3 eggs, divided use

• 2/3 cup vegetable oil

• 1/4 cup pre-made mudslide drink (recommended: T.G.I. Friday's)

• 1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals

• 1 tablespoon hot water

• 1 (8-ounce) block cream cheese, softened

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with butter-flavored cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine brownie mix, 2 eggs, vegetable oil, and mudslide drink. Mix well to combine. Transfer to prepared baking pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine instant coffee and 1 tablespoon of hot water. Stir together until all the coffee has dissolved. Add cream cheese, sugar and remaining egg. Using an electric mixer beat on low speed until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread over brownie mixture. Use a butter knife to cut cream cheese mixture into brownie mixture for a marble effect.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Adding To The Collection

If there were only dinosaurs, rocks, and Colby cheese in this world, my 5-year-old would be just fine.  In fact, his rock collection is quite impressive.  Every year we head to the gem and mineral show at our local fairgrounds and Jonathan gets all kinds of treasures to add to his collection.  It is amazing that they just give kids all these really cool rocks and teach them about all the different types of minerals.  I feel like Jonathan has already far exceeded my knowledge in this area and it amazes me the material he can retain. 

This year, my little budding geologist had a different prize in mind, however.  You see, you might have noticed that I have been M.I.A. for about a week now.  That's because I had a minor surgery to remove my gall bladder.  It seems I had a stone that was creating some issues for me.  (Do you see where this is going?)  So, I opted to have the problem removed, but had to take some time off. 

The moment Jonathan knew that Mommy had a stone inside her, he was fascinated.  You would have thought I was a superhero!  Everyday he would ask me, "Did you get your stone cut out today, Mommy?"

While I was in surgery, my parents were kind enough to watch the kiddos for me.  And were kind enough to stay a few days to help out around the house, and in particular, with the baby.  Apparently, while they were waiting for me to come home, Jonathan told Grandma, "I sure hope they bring that stone home so I can add it to my collection!"