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Oil Pulling

I first discovered the joys of coconut oil when Keith and I started our journey into the Paleo eating plan.  It was a recommended alternative in cooking to butter or other fats and so we bought a jar and started using it in our cooking.  Then my mother-in-law mentioned that not only did she use it in her cooking, but she often used it as a makeup-remover or in place of facial lotions.  My love for the stuff was cemented when I got a painful sunburn on our trip to Mexico last year.  I rubbed coconut oil into the burn, went to bed, and it was almost completely gone the next morning!

But then I started to see things online about a mysterious thing called “oil pulling” that was being credited for solving just about everything except world peace.  What could this magical cure-all possibly be?  So the other day armed with some spare time and intrigue, I did some research.  Since the list of potential benefits is high and the cost is low, I decided it was worth giving it a try so this past Friday night I purchased a gigantic tub of coconut oil from CostCo for $14 and Saturday morning I started my regimen.  But I’m getting ahead of myself and you’re probably thinking, what the heck IS it?  I’ll give you a brief run down.

What Is Oil Pulling?

Oil pulling is a practice supposedly rooted in some ancient medicinal practice from Asia.  You swish the oil around in your mouth and it supposedly absorbs or “pulls” all the toxins from your mouth into the oil, then you spit it out.  You’ll want to use the highest quality oil you can find, of course as it is the purest and has the most benefits.  And just what benefits does this practice have?  Well, here’s a list of what I’ve found online:

* Helping to strengthen the gums, jaws and teeth.
* Helping to prevent gum disease, cavities and even gingivitis
* Helping to prevent bad breath
* Provide a holistic method and remedy for dealing with bleeding gums
* Helping to prevent dryness of the mouth, throat and the lips
* Helping to prevent general soreness around the area of the jaw (such as TMJ sufferers)
* Relief for migraines and headaches
* Reducing arthritic inflammation
* Helping to reduce the signs of eczema
* Helping to reduce insomnia
* Reducing the effects of a hangover after consuming too much alcohol
* Helping to support the normal function of the kidneys
* Helping to reduce the symptoms of bronchitis
* May help to reduce pain
* Some oil pullers have even reported that it helped to improve their vision

How-To Steps

  1. Oil pulling is apparently most effective when you do it first thing in the morning before you eat, drink or brush your teeth.
  2. Take a teaspoon (approx) of coconut oil and stick it in your mouth.  (I stick it in there in its room temperature state and it quickly melts in your mouth.  However, it does make me gag a little at first, so if you have serious texture issues, you might want to melt it for about 10 seconds in the microwave.)
  3. Set a timer for 20 minutes (no more, no less) and swish the oil around in your mouth.  (This would be a great time to take a shower, read your morning devotional, cook breakfast check your email, whatever.  Doing an activity makes the time pass quickly!)
  4. At the end of 20 minutes, spit it into the trash can.  DO NOT SWALLOW (remember, it’s got all those toxins in it!).  DO NOT SPIT DOWN THE DRAIN (or your drains will quickly clog.)
  5. Brush your teeth and go about your day.
  6. Repeat each morning.

Opposition and Disclaimers

Because I do my research carefully, I checked out both sides of the story before trying it, or bringing this blog to my readers.  And just as there are millions who claim it heals everything from acne to cancer, there are an equal number of folks who say it’s total malarkey.  I checked out what Snopes.com had to say  (they think it’s neither helpful nor harmful) and also found this blog of a girl who had a crazy-bad reaction after “pulling” for 2 days with coconut oil (she had done 2 treatments a day, so 4 treatments).  Other folks have said that while they had a reaction to or couldn’t handle the texture of coconut oil pulling but have had positive results with safflower, sunflower or olive oil (the blog author referenced above switched oils and did fine!).  However, a note of caution, the Paleo guidelines recommend you avoid safflower and sunflower oils at all costs, so there’s that to consider too.

My Experience

Granted I’m only a few days in and I don’t have any particular horrible maladies.  I’m not sure that it will really affect the dry scalp that I battle in the winter (although I certainly hope so) and while I do think that my teeth look a tiny bit whiter, that could really honestly be the power of suggestion.  But here’s what I DO know.  My mouth feels cleaner than it’s ever felt.  Like straight-from-the-dentist clean.  And it lasts most of the day even after I’ve eaten.  And it’s amazingly relaxing.  I’ve been using the time spent oil-pulling to read my Lenten devotional and pray and that combined with the swishing is such an amazing way to start my morning.  So if I have a super clean mouth and a relaxed mindset going into my day, that’s enough reason for me to keep doing it.

I guess the bottom line is that oil-pulling, like ANY out-of-the-ordinary health practice, probably isn’t for everybody. Listen to YOUR body! If you have a particular health condition you might want to check with your doctor (or dentist as well in this case) to make sure they don’t know of anything that might conflict or react with your medicines or illness.  And know that results can vary….something that cures one person might not cure another, etc.  But so far…my experiences have been positive.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Have you tried it? Liked it? Heard of it? Hated it?

Sylvia the Sick Chicken

This is a post that I was hoping I would get to write with a happy ending…and even though we’re not totally out of the woods yet, I’m going to go ahead and publish this in faith that all is, in fact, well.

Sylvia the Chicken hangs out in the bathtub.

Sylvia the Chicken hangs out in the bathtub.

One of our hens, Sylvia, hasn’t laid an egg in a really long time, but we weren’t too concerned because it’s pretty normal for hens to stop or slow down their egg production in cold weather, and lets face it….even with our fancy heat lamp and all that, it’s been a brutal winter.  But then last week, we noticed something was a little bit off with our beloved black australorp.  She was wandering off by herself alot and instead of dashing across the yard chasing bugs and pecking around for treats she seemed to prefer napping under a bush.  She wasn’t really eating or drinking much and one night, the other hens flat out refused to sleep on the perch with her.  When I went to pick her up, I noticed she was gasping for breath and her poor little body was really really hot.  No thermometer needed to know our girl was running a really high fever.  So we made the executive decision to bring her in for the night and start her on some antibiotics.


The first night was the toughest.  She was clearly dehydrated, but was too weak to drink on her own, so I fed her with a syringe (no needle, of course) and she gobbled down dose after dose of medicated water and some “sav-a-chick” electrolyte water (who knew they made gatorade for chickens!?) and then I put her in a pet crate with a cozy nest of hay for the night.  The next few days were a routine of mixing up antibiotic twice a day, coaxing her to nibble on dried mealworms out of my hands and researching poultry maladies on Google.  After several missed diagnoses, we decided that she most likely was suffering from egg yolk peritonitis, an uncomfortable sounding genetic disorder that typically results in a dead chicken.  Our girl however continued to rally through the weekend (our house sitter Ellen was a champ on Sunday and Monday when we were both gone for work….mixing up bowls of medicine and patiently monitoring how much Sylvia drank).

Resting in her makeshift pen in the upstairs bathroom.

Resting in her makeshift pen in the upstairs bathroom.

Why the quarantine you ask?  A couple of reasons.  First, because she was showing some fairly serious respiratory distress we were afraid it was some sort of airborne pathogen and the last thing we wanted was to loose our entire precious flock.  Second, the temperatures in Nashville were reaching the teens and single digits at night and we figured that just couldn’t be good for a sick chicken.  Third, as her condition was deteriorating quickly, we realized we were going to need to put her on antibiotics if we wanted to try to save her.  But, since you can’t eat eggs from a chicken who has been on antibiotics, we couldn’t let any of our other girls drink the medicated water, and clearly there is no explaining to a chicken which water bowl is theirs, so the only way was to make sure the other girls didn’t have access to her “special” water.

Once we were confident that it wasn’t something that was contagious (we didn’t want our other girls getting sick!), we started letting Sylvia out to play during the day so she wouldn’t loose her place in the flock and so she wouldn’t get lonely.  Louisa, Jane and Beverly Clucky were all thrilled to see their sister again and instead of bullying her like I was afraid they might (we had a tough time integrating Beverly Clucky when we got her, so this was a justified concern), they took her “under their wing” and followed her around, curled up next to her when she needed a nap break, etc.

Birds of a feather......flocking together under a bush.

Birds of a feather……flocking together under a bush.

I think tonight will be Sylvia’s last night in the bathroom as she seems to be almost completely healthy again.  I’m not sure if she’ll ever lay eggs again (and of course, even if she does we’ll discard them for the next few weeks since she’s been on antibiotics so they wouldn’t be safe to eat), but we’re thrilled that she’s on the mend.  She’s also mellowed out a bit which is fun…she used to be a little bit difficult and now she seems to genuinely like being held.  Her whole body relaxes and she snuggles up to me.  So sweet.  I guess she knows I saved her little chicken life.  I’ll leave you with some tips on what to do if you have a sick chicken, and one more sweet photo from this week.  Fingers crossed our girl will be completely recovered in no time!

Sick Chicken Tips

  • Watch for any birds that might keep to themselves, seem lethargic, stop laying, or exhibit other behavioral or physical changes.
  • Isolate the sick bird to prevent the rest of the flock from falling ill.  Even “non-contagious” things like injuries should be isolated as healthy chickens tend to pick on injured birds, resulting in the death or further injury of the ill hen.
  • Research online….there are lots of excellent poultry owner forums online or in chicken raising handbooks that can help you diagnose possible diseases based on symptoms.
  • If you feel like your bird needs medicine, consider a poultry antibiotic power mixed in the sick chickens water.  Remember not to eat their eggs for several weeks afterwards and that healthy birds should not have access to the medicated water.
  • If you need to get serious medical attention, consider finding a vet in your area that specializes in poultry, or at least birds.  Remember though that vet bills can be expensive and won’t always end well (one of our original flock, Gertrude, saw a vet for what ended up being a brain tumor and then had to be put to sleep.  It was a sad and expensive day.)
  • A great alternative to a vet would be your local farm co-op or TSC.  They often carry basic medicines and their staff are typically pretty knowledgeable.  And they won’t think it’s weird that you love your chickens as much as you do.  And speaking of loving your chickens….
Hanging out with mommy makes everything better.

Hanging out with mommy makes everything better.

Paleo Brownie Bites

Wednesday night I got the cooking bug, which is something that I need to get more often.  And although I might cheat on my healthy eating when I eat out (or am on the road), my Paleo experience did change one thing: the way I grocery shop, meaning that cooking at home is my best bet if I want to be healthy.  First, I whipped up a batch of my Squashed Banana Muffins, with two extra bananas instead of zucchini.  It was a delicious variation and I loved having a muffin for breakfast this morning with zero guilt!  Next, I made a beef stew that I’ll post next week.  And then….I made a tasty treat to satisfy my sweet cravings.

Keith had actually found this amazing recipe on the internet the night before and when I saw how simple it was, I decided I needed to give it a try, and was so glad I did.  Normally I alter recipes that I find online, but this one was just so good as it was that there was just no improving it, (although I did shorten the title a bit.)  So all the credit goes to Rebecca Bohl of (PaleoGrubs.com) for this recipe…I just bring you notes (italicized) and photos, and a high high recommendation that this is a recipe you need to make.  Now.  And while I don’t have kids, it’s for sure a kid-friendly recipe as it doesn’t involve knives or the oven!  Kids will love dumping all the ingredients into the food processor and watching it all whir around together and then what’s better than rolling things in little balls like play-dough?

Paleo Brownie Bites

Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  2. Pinch of salt
  3. 1 cup pitted dates
  4. 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  5. 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Instructions
  1. Add walnuts and salt to a blender or food processor. (*I have a fantastic food processor, but I actually chose to use my Ninja blender for this recipe and it worked great!) Mix until the walnuts are finely ground.
  2. Add the dates, vanilla, and cocoa powder to the blender. Mix well until everything is combined. With the blender still running, add a couple drops of water at a time to make the mixture stick together. (*I did about 10 drops of water, and I think it could have used a little more.)
  3. Using a spatula, transfer the mixture into a bowl. Using your hands, form small round balls, rolling in your palm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. (*I let the balls sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes before I ate one, and I’d recommend doing it as they taste really great lightly chilled.)
Rolling out brownie bites.  So so easy and yummy.

Rolling out brownie bites. So so easy and yummy.

Finished and ready to eat!  They may be called "Brownie" Bites, but they are almost more of a truffle!  Delicious!

Finished and ready to eat! They may be called “Brownie” Bites, but they are almost more of a truffle! Delicious!

Travel Guide: 6 Tips To Travel Like A Pro

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As you can tell by the fact that we have an entire post category devoted to it, Mary Hall and I both love to travel.  Alot.  Of course, there was the epic United Kingdom trip that we took together as teenagers, but we’ve both made our way around the world and the country individually on many occasions.  Since I currently work as a road manager and freelance musician, I’m on the road almost every weekend and even though my destinations aren’t always exotic, I’ve discovered that there is certainly an art to traveling no matter if you are going across town or across the world.  While I know that there are plenty of folks that travel way more than I do, I thought I’d bring you what wisdom I do have to you kind folks.  I hope to see you on the road.

1. Loyalty Isn’t Just For The Dogs. – The most important thing I can think of in travel is to choose a chain and stick with it.  It doesn’t so much matter which brand you choose, only that you choose one!  Most programs are created fairly equal, so pick whichever one is most convenient for you based on places you travel frequently.  Choose what program works for you, and then stick with it.  Besides earning points or miles for free travel, most programs have different tiers that provide different benefits such as free upgrades or waived luggage fees that you can qualify for based on your amount of travel, and if you travel alot, those perks can make an exhausting day a little bit better.

2. Join The Club: ALL of Them. – I know, you’re thinking, “but you just gave us this sermon on brand loyalty!”  I know, I did.  And I’m not being a hypocrite.  See here’s the deal.  Sometimes you can’t control every aspect of your travel.  Maybe your boss is in charge of booking rooms or your favorite airline doesn’t fly to the airport where that big meeting is.  But this doesn’t mean you have to miss out.  Not only are most loyalty programs free to join with no annual fee so you can join them all with no worries, but most programs have partnerships with other programs.  Simply log on to your online account and set your earning preference to earn what you want.  I have about 8 hotel loyalty memberships….I’ve chosen one as my “main” hotel chain and that account is set to earn hotel points.  All the other ones are set to earn airline miles on my “main” airline chain.  If I only stay at a specific type of hotel once a year, it would take forever to earn a free night.  But having a few extra airline miles on my favorite airline will go much further to earning a free ticket!

3. Be A Card-Carrying Promotion Hunter. – Another great way to earn free travel or perks for more comfortable travel is to get the credit card.  I have a major credit card (one Visa and one AmEx) for my favorite hotel brand and favorite airline.  Not only do I get bonus points on purchases made at those chains, but I get luggage and onboard discounts as well as enough bonus nights to almost have status right off the bat with my hotel card.  If credit cards aren’t your thing, that’s ok.  There are still lots of promotions out there that you can take advantage of that won’t affect your credit score.  Many programs will send out emails advertising promotions, and if you don’t want any more traffic flooding your inbox, then you can still take advantage of most of these by just logging on to your online account and checking the “promotions” tab.  Marriott for example has a particularly awesome promotion that they have been running 2 or 3 times a year called the “MegaBonus.”  Just register and then for every two nights you stay within a certain period of time, you get one free night.  Pretty awesome deal.

4. Attitude Is Everything: The Golden Rule Still Counts.  – If you’re a frequent traveler it’s not so much a question of IF something will go wrong, it’s more like WHEN.  Flights will be delayed, or cancelled.  You’ll get to the rental car place only to find out that they JUST gave away that SUV you’d reserved.  Your hotel room won’t be ready at check in, and when it is, you’ll quickly realize that someone smoked in the non-smoking room or that your towels aren’t exactly what you’d call clean.  But here’s the thing.  You’re not the first person this has happened to that day and you won’t be the last.  But you can be the NICEST.  Think about it.  If you are a customer service rep and you have a line of angry people with messed up travel plans, and in the middle of it all, up steps a kind, even-tempered person who treats you with respect and understanding, who are you most going to want to help?

Ashamedly, I’ve not always been kind in every single situation of travel-gone wrong, so I understand that sometimes its hard to keep it together.  But I’ve also noticed that the times I have been patient and kind, the folks behind the counter have, in turn, been nicer to me, and I’ve walked away having been helped, but also feeling like a decent human.  Winning, all around.

5. The Only Dumb Question Is One You Don’t Ask. –  Some situations are how they are, and you won’t be able to change them.  But sometimes, customer service reps are able to help you out in ways you wouldn’t have thought of if you didn’t ask.Just today, this particular rule proved itself again.  I’d paid for Early Bird boarding on Southwest for two people, roundtrip which totals $50….and is a fee that Southwest advertises as being “un-refundable” no matter the circumstances.  However, in between the time I purchased the early bird and the actual flight, both passengers earned “A-List” status on Southwest thus getting free-early bird.  So I called Southwest and asked about a refund even though I was aware of their advertised policy.  And you know what?  The customer service rep was super nice and told me that she couldn’t refund my $50, but she COULD send me a $50 Southwest voucher valid on any future Southwest travel and transferable to anyone I chose to use it on.

6. If At First You Don’t Succeed, Then Call, Call Again. – This one is one that I learned from watching my husband, and I’ve used it to my own advantage on a few occasions. For some reason, not all phone customer service reps will tell you the same thing.  I don’t know why this is, but I know it’s true.  So what do you do when the first customer service rep you get isn’t helpful or doesn’t tell you what you want to hear?  You politely thank them and you hang up.  And then you call back.  And you repeat this until you find someone who gives you then answer you want (or realize that your request is unreasonable….you be the judge.)  This usually works the best if you’re trying to change a flight or get a seat upgrade.  And rule #3 totally applies here too.  The nicer you are, the more likely you are to get what you want.

Methuselah

In November of 2012, my dad turned 70.  Since it’s not often that one turns 70, I decided to throw him a big birthday bash and collect as many members of the family as I could.  About twenty of us gathered to eat and celebrate and generally have a good time.  Because my dad loves to fish, I decided I’d loosely theme the party around fishing.  For party snacks, I set out large bowls of Swedish fish candy and goldfish crackers and for the birthday cake, Elizabeth at the Puffy Muffin (who also did my wedding cake) did the most amazing fishing cake ever complete with realistic looking waves, fishing pole, bobber and lures.  We added a few extra guests at the last minute, so I grabbed a half dozen cupcakes while I was at the bakery and added Swedish fish as toppers.

Dad's fishing cake by Elizabeth at the Puffy Muffin.

Dad’s fishing cake by Elizabeth at the Puffy Muffin.  Call her for all your cake needs, big or small.  seriously.

However, finding fishing themed party items that didn’t revolve around Finding Nemo or other characters only suitable for preschoolers, proved to be quite a challenge. (side note, if you ARE planning a kid party, here’s a great party snack from Mary-Hall from our archives).  I ended up going simple and making a happy birthday banner out of burlap and aqua colored felt, serving drinks in Mason jars (my dad’s name is Mason…..clever, huh?) and making two giant fluffy blue tissue paper flowers/orbs/decorative things to put on the food table.

Dad surveys all his Birthday decor and treats.

Dad surveys all his Birthday decor and treats.

And THEN…..I took a cue from Mary-Hall, or actually from her mom, from long ago.  1996, to be exact. Remember our crazy high-school social club experience?  Well, since I wasn’t inducted as a member until 10th grade, but Mary-Hall had been “kidnapped” in 8th grade, she got to participate in the 9th grade “presentation” while I sat at her “table” as a guest.  The “tables” were a big deal and many a Mama spent hours (and no doubt serious dollars!) decorating their daughters’ tables.  Mary-Hall’s craftiness was directly inherited from her Mom, who had put together a lovely table for MH….complete with vases of water containing live goldfish.  Well, they were live when the program started, anyway.  Apparently the event was more than the poor fish could handle and by the time the program ended, a few of them had gone-belly up.  Sadly, I can’t find the glorious photo of us, at this blessed event, but here’s a photo of Mary-Hall for your viewing pleasure.  I was so sad I didn’t get one of those green dresses.  Seriously.  So sad.  Now…….notsomuch.

Mary-Hall looking classy.

Mary-Hall looking classy.

Fast-forward 16 years and the possibility of decor-going-dead-in-the-water did not deter me from copying this brilliant decoration at my dad’s party.  My friend Amy and I headed over to the “PetSupermarket” (not making that up) about 20 minutes away and for a grand total of $2.14, purchased 20 goldfish.  “Such a Deal!” as my Mom would say.  (In fact, I’m pretty sure she did actually say those very words in conjunction with said goldfish later on that afternoon.)  I filled up several jars with water and goldfish and arranged them festively on the table as centerpieces.  It looked adorable.  People loved it.  At the end of the day, the fish no longer had a purpose, but I didn’t have the heart to just flush them, so my niece’s then-boyfriend took half home in one of the mason jars, and I took the other half, fully expecting them to all be lifeless by the time we arrived home.

Over the next few days, they went on to that great goldfish-pond in the sky at the rate of about one every 12 hours until it was down to one, lone fish.  But he made it through a whole day alone, and then another and another….in fact he sat in the mason jar on the counter for about a week before I moved him to a larger vase.  And then after about two months, I figured I might as well buy him some goldfish flakes and a real bowl and those little rocks you put in the bottom of the bowl.  Keith laughed at my investment, but since the whole deal only cost $5 at WalMart, I figured might as well.  I gave the fishbowl a home on the piano in my office.  We went out of town for a week and I forgot to tell the housesitter to feed the fish.  To my amazement, he was still kicking, er, swimming when we came home.  I gave him a generous helping of flakes and promised to be a better fish mom.  Finally, on when he turned a year old, I decided to name the darn thing.  Since I’m pretty sure no 11 cent goldfish has EVER lasted this long, I dubbed him Methuselah, after all, I think a year and a half (his current age) is probably equal to 969 goldfish years.

The cat occasionally will hop up on the piano and sniff the bowl and Methuselah always swims over to check him out, as he does when anyone approaches him, but no incident has ever occurred.  I think I’m actually going to be sad when the little guy does pass on.  He brings a smile to my face every time I glance over and see him hanging out in his bowl.  Just taking it all in.

Methuselah, the world's oldest goldfish (maybenot, but close).

Methuselah, the world’s oldest goldfish (maybenot, but close).

Let There Be Light

Well it seems like living room upgrades have become a theme around the blog lately as Mary-Hall is painting hers grey and I recently added a new chair to mine.  Although Keith and I gutted our entire 1920’s home about 3 years ago, we still have a few minor things that we’d like to do, mostly in the decor department.  Things like a comfy sectional to replace our couches and built-ins on one of our living room walls.  Another big thing on my list was replacing the fan in the living room with a lightfixture.  The fan that we had there was really nice, but we never used it and it didn’t have a light fixture on it, so it was this big dark looming object hanging on the ceiling.

Our living room ceiling with fan.

Our living room ceiling with fan.

When we were in West Elm looking at the chair a few weeks ago, we saw a particular light fixture that fit the bill of what we were looking for: something bright…simple, but with some sort of pattern or feature, soft light, and preferably a drum style.  At $299+ tax, it was a little over what I was willing to spend on something that we didn’t NEED, just wanted.  But because I knew it was what I wanted, I began to employ all of my furniture-for-less tactics.

Step one was to search for a knock-off fixture that looked like the Metal Honeycomb Drum Pendant, but cost less.  Unfortunately, that was a total bust.  Anything I found either was cheaper, but LOOKED cheaper, or was even more expensive than the original fixture.   Step two was to check out Craigslist to see if anyone was selling one used….which they weren’t.  Step three was to just start watching the prices at West Elm to see if it went on sale.  This past Sunday, my sale-watching paid off.  West Elm was running a sale on lighting…20% off on all fixtures (online AND in-store) bringing the pendant light of my dreams down to $239.  Much closer to the “under $200” category that I was willing to spend.

gotta love a good sale.

gotta love a good sale.

my lamp with the discount!

my lamp with the discount!

It seemed like a good price, plus I had a $50 gift card in my wallet that I’d been given for Christmas (thanks to my awesome in-laws!), but with shipping, it still wasn’t quite the bargain I’d been hoping for.  Fortunately, there is a West Elm store in Nashville, so I picked up the phone to see if they had the lamp in stock.  They didn’t, nor was it on the list of things they would be getting in anytime soon, NOR was it on the ship-to-store list.  (Tip: sometimes retailers that have both online and in-store sales will have a “ship to store” list of items that the stores don’t carry in-stock, but that you can pay for in-store, and have shipped to your house or at least to the store for free).  This was where I played the ace up my sleeve.  I mentioned that I’d seen the lamp in the store a few months ago and asked if buying the floor model would be an option.  Cha-ching.   Not only did they let me buy the store model (which meant no shipping fee), but they also gave me an additional 10% off meaning that my final price after taxes and discounts was $185.  I could not have been more thrilled.  When you consider no shipping, 20% off, the additional 10% off and the gift card, I ended up getting the lamp at over a 40% discount.  And it was even easy for us to install ourselves which was a huge perk.

finished light fixture hanging in our living room!  we love it!

finished light fixture hanging in our living room! we love it!

And we couldn’t be more thrilled with how stylish it looks and the soft lighted glow it emits.  We love our can-lights, but it’s nice to have an alternative lighting solution, especially one that just looks so awesome.

Now if I can just figure out how to get a bargain on the Pearce Sectional that we’re lusting after at Pottery Barn (it’s on sale now, but not in the upholstry that I want, of course), and settle on a design for some built-ins, our living room will be 100% complete.  Well, mostly, anyway.  I’m thinking that nothing will ever be “complete” as I kind of have the decorating bug.

Hipster Transportation

I absolutely adore my town.  Nashville has been making a bit of a splash lately as the next “it” city, even getting some attention from the Huffington Post and other media.  And I love that almost every single place on their list is somewhere that I either frequently dine or, well, frequent, or it’s at least within a few miles of my house.  Lots of good stuff here.

And Nashvillians don’t like to just go fun places, we like to go there in unusual ways.  When I first moved to town, it wasn’t unusual to get stuck in traffic behind a hipster on a giant bicycle.  Sometimes a gang of hipsters on large bicycles.  Something like this:

blg wheelman

And of course during the warmer months, lots of folks in our neighborhood zip around town on one of these.  I admit, I have lots of Vespa-envy.  Some day.

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Also a favorite around town, the classic truck.  There’s one that parks in front of my house quite frequently and I’m often tempted to leave them a note asking if they are interested in selling.  I would LOVE to roll around town in a classic truck.  Think:

640px-Vintage-ford-truck-001-753885

But never….never….in my life have I witnessed anything quite as unusual as this.  Well, not until last Wednesday anyway when I was driving down 10th Ave on my way from a friends house back to my house, and I passed the following:

Sorry the clip is so short, but yes….that was, infact, a man on a razor scooter being towed by a pair of huskies.  Maybe he’s training for the Iditarod?  Or maybe……maybe…..I honestly can’t come up with a second scenario.

Here’s to you, hipster on a scooter with huskies.  May your shirts always be plaid, your records indie, and your dogs mush.

A Stitch in Time

The injury itself wasn’t really that epic.  Nor was the story behind it.  I didn’t get stabbed breaking up a knife fight or get bitten by a shark or fall from great heights whilst escaping danger.  I cut the back of my leg on a broken vase while taking out the trash.  I know.  Lame-oh.  So why even blog about it?  Because you know we’re all about trying new things around here and my little cut wasn’t just a scratch that you could slap a band-aid on and be done with it.  It wasn’t horrible…but it was big enough that it involved a trip to the local ER and five stitches.

Stitches…..

My.

First.

Stitches.

I mentioned this to Dr. Hurt (yes, his actual last name) as he wrote me up for an x-ray (to make sure there were no “foreign bodies” aka glass shards) left in my calf before they sewed me back up, and his response was, “wow.  you must have had a very, um, safe childhood.”  Yeah.  To say I was a cautious child is an understatement.

Anyway.  Back to the “incident.”  I was taking the trash out, accidentally swung the bag with the broken vase in it into the back of my leg, felt an immense pain, cried to the hubby who immediately bandaged it up and drove me to the ER.  The ER is an interesting place.  I could write about ten blog posts of things I saw and overheard in my four hours there, but I won’t because I don’t want to violate any sort of HIPPA laws of any sort.  It took a while to even be seen, and then a longer while for them to get me to xray to make sure there weren’t any glass shards still lurking in my calf.  Once it was time to stitch everything back together, the resident attending me brought in a medical student.

I’d worked as an admin in a teaching hospital for a few years so I wasn’t entirely shocked when they told me that the medical student was going to be cleaning my wound and doing my sutures “if I didn’t mind” but I certainly wasn’t super pumped about it.  I joked with him about “of course….I mean, you’ve totally done this before right?”  His awkward chuckle and suddenly-active facial sweat glands assured me that he had done sutures before…probably on cadavers and old couch cushions…and that we were about to be in this “first stitches” bit together.  After a brief discussion about the best places and angles to inject Lidocane to numb everything up, they helpfully cleaned my wound with some sort of saline solution or something and then threaded the needle.

It was an odd sensation knowing that someone was literally SEWING MY LEG TOGETHER and yet I couldn’t feel anything but an occasional mild tug or pressure.  Keith helpfully photographed the event (I vetoed his earlier idea of adding eyes and a nose above the wound so it could be a face) and I’ve included a little collage below.  Don’t worry.  I’ve posted a cartoon PG version on the front page here, and then if you want the guts-and-gory version (complete with actual blood) click through.  I’m grossed out by blood, so if you are too….don’t click the photo below.

PGstitches

the “clean/edited/PG” version of my night. I’ve had several people interested in photos of the gory details (Erin and Caroline) so I’ve provided those on another page…just click on this photo and it will link you through.  Warning: not for the squeamish.

This whole crisis took place two and a half weeks ago on Sunday, January the 12th, but I’m bringing you the story now because I wanted to wait for the exciting conclusion….you know…where the stitches come out as well!  The night of the incident, I texted my sweet friend Cassie, a nurse who’d gone to Brazil with me back in June to get a recommendation on where to take my injured leg.  In her response, she said she’d be happy to take my stitches out when they were ready.  I mean….that’s friendship right there, ladies and gents.  Although I guess once you’ve lived on a boat on the amazon for 5 days, hunted for caymen, visited with villagers, shared two hotel rooms and argued with the airlines over your obliterated luggage together, your friendship is sort of automatically skyrocketed to the level where taking out stitches seems like the next logical step.

Cassie and me on several of our adventures in the Amazon!

Cassie and me on several of our adventures in the Amazon!

A week ago, after a yummy girls night out at the local burger joint, Cassie checked out my wound and decided that those little stitches weren’t quite ready to come out.  So we left them there for another week.  Which is why this past Sunday night, Cassie once again swung by the house to take a look at my leg.  This time, she pronounced them “just right” and carefully snipped them out of my leg.  Getting the stitches out was every bit as odd a sensation as getting them put in.  She’d snip then pull and while I felt them all come out, none of them hurt.  It really is the oddest thing.

So I guess I can check that off my list.

Cassie uses her careful precision to remove my stitches.  That's friendship right there.

Sweet Cassie pulls out my stitches.

Framing the Hens….

Don’t worry.  Despite the title, there’s no “fowl play” going on.  Nobody is blaming my girls for crimes they didn’t commit.  But they DID get framed recently.  Confused?  Let me explain.

Back in June, Mary-Hall got all crafty and painted four lovely mini-portraits….one of each of our original four hens.  She said the paintings were intended to bring a little lively decor to the inside of our henhouse, but I just couldn’t stand the thought of these lovely little works of art getting potentially ruined over time due to the elements….or….well….the chickens themselves.  (They are sweet little ladies but not exactly careful critters all the time.)  Although I’d looked many times, I couldn’t decide how to frame the paintings, couldn’t find ready-made frames that fit, and couldn’t quite justify spending money on custom framing. So, for months the canvases have been sitting on my desk where I look at them daily and smile at the thought of the sort of friendship that makes one paint pictures of the other one’s pet chickens.

chicken_portraits

L to R: Gertrude (now deceased and replaced by Beverly Clucky), Jane, Sylvia & Louisa. Paintings by Mary-Hall.

But then a few weeks ago, two things happened: one, I had a day of super clean-out mood and cleaned everything off my desk leaving the paintings displaced, and two, on a late-night JoAnn’s run for something work-related, I located the perfect framing solution!  Behold….a shadow box!  Intended to frame anything that isn’t flat (such as seashells, or paper embelishments), the shadowbox frame is about an inch and a half deep, and comes in several standard sizes, one of which, 8in x 8in, was just perfect to from my 4, 4in x 4in canvases all in the same frame!  Although the frame was originally $19.99, I had a 50% off coupon and paid just over $10 including tax…and when I looked the product up to link it here for you guys, it looks like it’s currently only $8.00 online, so get it while you can!

Screen Shot 2013-11-22 at 10.32.01 AM

This shadowbox frame perfectly fits the four 4in x 4in mini canvases of my chicken portraits!

The next decision was where to display this tribute to our feathered friends.  Certainly the paintings are adorable and sentimental, but the fact remains that they are of, well, chickens and therefore slightly comical.  I needed a place where everyone would be able to enjoy their charm, but I wouldn’t be the girl with the chicken paintings hanging in the living room…..then it hit me.  There was an empty shelf in the downstairs bathroom just begging for something happy, so I brought the chickens in and bingo!  Perfection.

Our bathroom shelf.....

Our bathroom shelf…..don’t the chickens look so perfect all together in their little frame?

The downstairs bath.  Its so tiny....truly one of my favorite rooms in the house.

The downstairs bath. Its so tiny….truly one of my favorite rooms in the house.

What’s that book on the shelf next to the chicken pictures you ask?  Yes!  It’s a copy of “I Could Pee On This: And Other Poems By Cats.”  If you don’t have it.  You need it.  Trust me.  It’s so hilarious you might pee your pants though, so best to read it while you’re already planning on heading to the bathroom…..Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Keeping it classy.

Keeping it classy.

Update: Keith thinks that Mary-Halls paintings formatted the way I have framed them is very Andy Warhol a la Marilyn Monroe.  What do you guys think?

marilyn-monroe3

Getting the Boot….(ies)

Remember when we last talked about footwear and I was lusting after the Sonic Bootie by Bed:Stu?  Well, my husband and my cat took note and teamed up to purchase an Anthropologie gift card for me for my birthday this past August and I am happy to report that I’ve worn them practically every since day since!  They are possibly the most comfortable boot I’ve ever put on, are fabulous traveling shoes, and don’t even set off the metal detector at the airport (like most boots do) so I can whiz through TSA Precheck no problem.  (When you fly almost every weekend, it’s the little things in life, people.)  I recommended them so highly that my friend Rica even bought herself a pair for her trip to India this past December.  Midway through the trip she sent the following photo and message: proof that these boots are both glam and practical.

Rica and her sonic booties go global!

Rica and her sonic booties go global!  I’m thinking Bed:Stu should hire her to model……

“These boots were made for walkin’!  Thanks for sharing your great find…they are soooo comfy!  Our silly guide totally made me pose that way, but it did highlight the boots!”  (of course Rica could make anything look amazing, and having the Taj Mahal in the background doesn’t hurt….but still….)

So here’s the thing though.  I love my boots so much that in addition to singing their praises to my friends…I kind of wanted more of them.  When I find something I like, I stick to it.  And comfortable boots, well, that’s a big win in my book.  So when my sweet in-laws gave me an Anthropologie gift card for Christmas, I started watching the boot sales like a hawk.  And sure enough, the other pair of boots I’d set my heart on went on sale…with my size left!  So I placed my order for the Luminous Sliced Bootie….sort of a cousin to the Sonic bootie…similar in design, but with a slit in the front instead of a side zipper and in a fantastic vintage white color that will pair well with basically anything and that I plan on wearing well into the summer.  As my friend Ellen said once, “booties….don’t you just love them?  I can’t stop buying them.”

I’m happy to report that my boots came in the mail on Monday….and I’ve barely been able to take them off my feet since.  They’re made by Holding Horses, not Bed:Stu, but I’m wondering if there is some sort of licensing agreement going on there, as they look and fit suspiciously like my beloved Bed:Stu boots….and have the exact same size label inside…but I digress.  Bottom line, two thumbs, er, toes, up.

Everything I love about the Sonic...but with a twist.

Everything I love about the Sonic…but with a twist.

There’s been one more addition to my boot fever this year though.  For Christmas I’d told Keith I really wanted a pair of black boots.  As a musician, I’m often faced with the need to wear all black and I’ve never really found a pair of black footwear that is comfortable that I’m in love with.  And black boots proved to be a tricky thing to choose.  As you can see by my previous boot choices, I love a slightly vintage leather look and lots of black boots just looked too shiny and new.  I’m picky about adornments too…where they are, what they look like, etc.  After several failed attempts at finding the boot of my dreams, Keith was the one that ended up finding them.  It was Christmas and we were in Nordstrom and they were having a HUGE  boot sale.  Hundreds of boots were literally hanging on giant clothes-pin like hooks from long metal bars across the length of the shoe department.  As I pawed through the tall black boots in my size, Keith came around the corner holding the most incredible black boots I’d ever seen….that were about 4 sizes too small.  However, I tracked down a sales clerk and crossed my fingers figuring it never hurts to ask…and sure enough…somewhere in the back room lay a box containing the Drover boot by Freebird by Steven Drover  in my size!!  They are as comfy as they are awesome looking (and the rope part is removable if I ever needed a completely black boot for a show.)

Drover boot by Freebird by Steven Drover

Drover boot by Freebird by Steven Drover

So I think what we’ve learned here is that I might have a boot problem.  I had to laugh because I realized that two of the previous three Christmases I’d also asked for, and gotten, boots from Keith.  Last year, it was a pair of Joan of Artic boots (in “Shale”) by Sorel and then three years ago, I got the Weatherby Rain Boot by JCrew (in black).  But I’m not the girl who wears heels…..ever….so for me, boots are everyday wear…I dress them up, dress them down, use them for work, for social occasions, for hanging out around the house.  Heck, I even recycle them when they get past their prime.  And recently, when I needed a new pair of slippers……..yup……I even got boots for that.  I bought the Kamar Genuine Suede Shearling Style Boots by Xhilaration® on sale at Target for $10.  Perfect for shuffling around the house on a cold day.

The Joan of Artic boot by Sorel.  Nothing keeps your feet toastier on a cold day!

The Joan of Artic boot by Sorel. Nothing keeps your feet toastier on a cold day! (and the faux fur is even detachable!)

The JCrew Weatherby rainboot.  Love the stylish yet useful look...and they fit great with or without a liner!

The JCrew Weatherby rainboot. Love the stylish yet useful look…and they fit great with or without a liner!

The Kumar boot from Target....I call them my "Fuggs" because they are totally "Fake Uggs" but they make the best slippers!

The Kamar boot from Target….I call them my “Fuggs” because they are totally “Fake Uggs” and not something I’d wear out of the house…but they make the best slippers!

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