name='p:domain_verify'/> The Red Accordion Diaries

Friday, July 3, 2015

This week's signature cocktail: The Watermelon Gin Fizz

A couple of months ago, I made a decision to spice up our home life by creating a weekly signature cocktail. I don't get out much anymore, my husband travels a lot for work, and I miss random summer evening get togethers with yummy cocktails and friends. I definitely don't get out to many events that feature signature cocktails -- you know, some delicious drink with a liquor you rarely drink, but that goes down smooth and makes you want a few more. The wedding you went to last weekend may have had a featured drink, described on a chalkboard and served in a mason jar. The difference is that I don't have to buy a new dress or even leave my house: it's Signature Cocktail Summer!

I'm going to bring you a new drink every week.

My genius husband created this week's drink, inspired by July 4th weekend and my favorite food: watermelon.

The Watermelon Gin Fizz

David began with this cocktail as the inspiration, but simplified it and altered it to taste as follows:

Ingredients for pitcher of 4 servings

  • 3.5 cups diced watermelon
  • 8 ounces gin
  • 8 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger ale

Preparation

  1. Use blender to puree 4 cups watermelon. Strain and divide among 4 mason jars, or whatever makes you feel flashy.
  2. Stir in 2 ounces gin, 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1/2 cup ginger ale. 

Go ahead and Pin it because it's kind of amazing. I'll try to post the weekend's signature cocktail every Thursday, so check back next week. xoxo

Brigid

Share if you like!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

3 Biggest Tips to Teach Your Child to Swim

My 2-year-old is a fish. This is kind of a boastful thing to say, I realize, but I'm trying to celebrate my parenting victories (there are many failures, believe me). It's also necessary that he's a good swimmer. You see, I've been a Red Cross certified swim instructor for twenty-ish years. If my kid doesn't swim well, then there goes my reputation.

Last week we visited family in Colorado, where we all enjoyed some time at the pool. Not surprisingly, the Wee Boy was the only small child who would jump off the side, swim underwater and get himself across the pool without help or a flotation device. After a fun afternoon where we all swam in the hotel pool, a cousin asked me straight up: What's the secret? How did you get your boy to swim so well?

She's hardly the only person to ask this. Everyday at the pool, someone asks me for tips, knowing full well that I've been teaching lessons more than half my life. I could go on and on about this (and have written other blogs on the subject), but here are the three biggest tips I can offer:

Take your child to the pool as often as possible.

This seems really obvious, but so many parents write it off. If you only go swimming when you have a swim lesson scheduled, then it's going to take a lot longer to learn how to swim. A huge part of swimming is muscle memory. Give those muscles time to learn. 

Put your own head underwater.*

  If I had a dollar for every parent who refuses to get his hair wet, but then asks me how I got my child to go underwater... Actually, I have many dollars for this because those kids end up taking extra swim lessons! Remember the whole idea of modeling behavior for your children? You can't let your child watch you eat pizza, but insist she eat Brussels sprouts.
  If it's a problem because you're having a good hair day and don't want to mess it up, well, first of all I feel you -- big time. But maybe don't go swimming that day then? Your child needs to see you going underwater, blowing bubbles, searching for treasure (a game we love to play), laughing and having such a good time. Think about it.
*If you don't know how to swim, please sign yourself up for swim lessons first. A good private instructor can teach you, if you put in the effort to practice. Essentially, it's just physics. Floating is easier than sinking.

Avoid arm floaties, puddle jumpers, etc.

  This is the one I'll take grief for. My friends' kids use them, and that's fine -- and not my business, unless they ask. It's not a judgment though. My anxiety is through the roof when it comes to my child, so I understand wanting every sense of security you can get. But if you ask me how to teach your child to swim, the first thing I'll say is, "Lose the floaties."
  Think for a moment: if you follow my second piece of advice and get in the water with your child, then there is no need for floaties. You are right there to hold, comfort and be there for your child.
  Water wings and puddle jumpers keep swim instructors in business. It takes so many extra lessons to unteach all the bad habits that those devices instill. Don't believe me? Ask the child who has worn water wings all his life to use a kickboard properly (arms on the board, not bellies). Children who wear floaties learn to kick with heavily bended knees, almost as if they are riding a bicycle. It's really difficult to unlearn that habit (again: muscle memory!).
  Your child needs to learn what it feels like to float -- to learn where her center of buoyancy is and to relax in the water. Floaties change that center of buoyancy, and that's a critical flaw.
  Another issue is the false sense of security these devices give both you and your child. (Please, every lifeguard in the world begs you, don't just put a puddle jumper on your kiddo and read a book in a lounge chair!)


I hope this was helpful. I have a zillion other tips I can offer up -- and I will in other blogs -- but for now, these are the three biggest factors in learning. I also hope this doesn't offend any of my friends (I see you with your puddle jumpers, and I know you won't give them up!). You know I love you. 


Swim classes this week:
If anyone in Louisville is a member of Lakeside, come drop-in on my Baby Sing & Swim™ class that begins next week, Wednesday, July 8. It's a parent/child class appropriate for infants up to 2 years old, where we'll sing songs and learn techniques on how to play with your child in the water while teaching him valuable skill sets. 
There is also an AquaTot class starting next week ... sign up at http://lakesideswim.com/content/aqua-tot

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Louisville show tonight and on seeing a MOVIE!

This is one of those days where the babysitter will make more than I will. Ah, America! But that is my one and only complaint -- and it's really more of a funny observation than a whinge, I assure you.

First up, business:

Tonight I'm playing at Decca, in the NULU area of Louisville. The event is organized by Mama's Hip, designed as a once-a-month Moms' Night Out -- giving mamas in the community a chance to get together and have an excuse to get out of the house, have a cocktail, a good time and adult conversation. But it's not exactly a private event, so you can come too! It's free. There will be a signature cocktail, and portions of the drink special proceeds will go to Mama to Mama.

I'll be playing a band show, but changing up the lineup a bit just for fun.


Enough business!

Yesterday my buddy Peter Searcy called me and invited me to a movie. I was afraid he'd given up on me, in one of those Brigid-had-a-kid-and-now-I-never-see-her-anymore kind of situations. Shockingly, I had already hired a babysitter because I had about 14 loads of laundry and several hours of business work to do. This time I listened to the voice in my head that said, "Sod the work -- go to the movies!" And I did. Can you believe it?

We saw JAWS -- the 40th anniversary remastering or something to that effect. Peter is shark-crazy, and he regaled me with all sorts of Jaws trivia. I hadn't seen the movie since I was a kid, which was kind of cool because I didn't remember most of it. Still, I'm not sure why I paid $10 to be scared for two hours. I think I'd rather watch a bad romantic comedy. But at least the music is good -- Minor 2nd anyway? #musicnerdjoke

Okay. Lookie there, if I hire a babysitter, I can write a blog. Was it worth it? Hmmmmm....

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day One in New York City.

I took a vacation last week. There were no gigs and no obligations. You see, despite my proclivity for travel, I can count on one hand the number of times I've had an actual vacation in my adult life. David conspired with my parents to fly me up to New York City for a kid-free weekend, which was completely spectacular.

I went to undergrad (saying "undergrad" makes it seem as if I have a Masters, doesn't it?) at NYU, which seems to own most of Manhattan, at least according to the density of purple flags on the lower third of the island. In many ways, it was an absurdly fun place to go to college, but I also rarely ever got to enjoy any of the excitement of the city. 

I'm 36 now, and I am, well, employed AND have a partner who is also employed. Even though we are hardly rich, I felt like we were last week -- at least in comparison to my years spent living in the City.

So what did we do?

We did the things I love doing the most while traveling: EAT and WALK.

Cities are magical. I don't understand a beach vacation, when there are so many different and wonderful cities to explore in this world. 

Here are some highlights of our first day in the city:

My flight arrived at 8:45am into LaGuardia. I bought a 7-day unlimited MetroCard from a machine and was on the Q70 bus within 10 minutes of the plane arriving at the gate. (Never check a bag, people.) David kept insisting I take a taxi, but he is ridiculous. It would have cost $50, taken longer, and I would have puked in the back from the stop-start-stop-start-awfulness that is an NYC taxi. A quick bus to the train, meant I was knocking on David's Soho hotel room before 10am. Ergo, we were out exploring the City right away.

We mostly wandered around the Lower East Side and the Village, while I pointed out my old haunts and things like "the former Tower Records" to David. Then my mind was blown to see that Other Music still exists (is there cock-fighting in the back? Do they own the building? did they get a Genius Grant?). We bought the new My Morning Jacket CD there, which is purely out of support for brick-and-mortar and our friends in MMJ because we don't actually own a CD player anymore. We'll probably also buy it on iTunes, to be honest. MMJ happened to be playing in NYC that night at the Governor's Ball, but the day-tickets were sold out and I didn't feel like pestering anyone for a ticket. Anyway, we were pleased with ourselves in a yuppie/yuccie kind of way and went about our wanderings.



After an attempt to go to the Tenement Museum -- which has gotten a completely makeover/upgrade since I lived there -- we ended up at Doughnut Plant. The Tenement Museum's tours were sold out for the next three hours, and it was $25 a person anyway. Doughnuts are cheaper, plus it was National Doughnut day, which meant a cute tiny free doughnut with every purchase. I like that Doughnut plant bothers to spell out the entire word. Support! The doughnuts we wanted (creme brulee and tres leches) were all sold out, so we got these instead. I don't remember what they were, but they were good.
We had reservations at Cafe Boulud, however, and I did not want to be nodding off during that. It's a swanky French restaurant on the Upper East Side that requires super-in-advance reservations, which David thought ahead enough to obtain. I'm pretty sure we were the only people in the place who arrived by subway, but that just mean that we had more money to spend on pre-dinner cocktails (also fairly sure that we were the only people in the place who were on a budget, but whatever.) We both did the vegetarian tasting menus -- six or seven courses, maybe? I can't remember.
David asked the server if the sommelier had any advice on wine, which apparently translated into "we would like wine pairings." When the sommelier arrived with two glasses and a "lovely white I've chosen to go with your amuse bouche," it was too late to ask how much this was going to cost. We had to just pretend we knew what we were doing and went with it. It was an expensive choice, but completely wonderful and the most vacation-like thing I've ever done (I am normally SUPER BUDGET CONSCIOUS on vacation). I got chummy with the sommelier during the sauvignon blanc course by asking him if anyone ever referred to it as "savvy B," at which point David, mortified, kicked me under the table. The 24-year-old sommelier sort of choked a little, but then grinned and said, "No, but I like that, and I might start using it." You're welcome, wine world. Oxford English Dictionary, TAKE NOTE.

I did not take photos of most of our food, but I didn't care by the time the dessert came out. LOOK AT THIS MAGIC.


After consuming all the food and all the wine, we took a taxi (we were LATE!) down to the West Village to meet up with some friends at The Duplex, a cabaret club where I played piano on occasion during my NYU days. Check out the insanely-talented Christina rocking out to some Carole King while the piano player works the keys AND the lights. Also, enjoy a photo of Adam, our singing server, entertaining the crowd from atop the piano.



I ended up singing "Crazy," because that was the only country-esque tune that the pianist knew. I forget how karaoke is totally different up north. 

Anyway, that was just Day One, so you can see what kind of weekend we had.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Old airplanes, vintage hair, and talented women.

On Sunday two of the most talented people I know and I did hair and makeup (well, the magical Carrie Chastian did my hair and makeup), played dress-up and did a photo shoot for several hours. Don't let anyone tell you modeling isn't work. But it's a lot of fun too.

They are promo shots for our new Andrews Sisters throwback band -- website and such to be revealed. We are already getting lots of booking inquiries (we are PERFECT for festivals or corporate events), and I'm super bummed we had to say no to a glamorous affair this weekend (I will be out of town).

Joe Mays of Alien Twilight Photography is a photographer extraordinaire, who also managed to get permission for us to shoot by this amazing old airplane that has been at Bowman Field at least since I was a kid. Its door may be held on with duct tape now, but Elizabeth Taylor has flown on it. That's legitimate enough for me. 

Here are some pics for your entertainment:
I think I'm gonna make this one a sepia headshot for signing photos when I use that time machine.



Monday, June 1, 2015

Fresh20 Meal Plan Review - overview of various other meal planning sites.

A few weeks ago, I said I was going to use this blog to tell you all about the various meal-planning websites I was going to try out. It turns out the very first one I tried is exactly what I was looking for. I'm not wasting my time with the others.

I did some research, looked at websites and their week-long free sample menus. After sampling TheFresh20.com, I looked to eMeals.com next. The first annoying thing is that it requires a credit card to sign up for the free trial. In the name of blogging, I made an account and downloaded the first week's menu -- they do have a vegetarian plan.

My initial reaction was horrible, entirely based on their signup question: How did you hear about us? Some of the options to click were "Dr. Laura" and "Dave Ramsey" which immediately made me want to puke. (I'm sorry, I know many of you love Dave Ramsey, but I think his budgeting plans are just plain common sense. And it's not Jesus who helps you out of debt, but, whatever I digress...) So, yeah, I was turned off my that, but I went ahead and got the menu.

I could tell just by looking at the grocery list that I was not going to like eMeals.com. Like many vegetarian menus planned by non-vegetarians, this one was heavy on the carbs and the dairy -- definitely not a well-balanced, healthful meal. It was also 3-4x the $$$ amount of groceries than TheFresh20 and included lots of processed foods.

I checked out a few other sites. But...

David and I have a lesson we've learned on our many travels. If you see a restaurant that looks good that you think you would enjoy eating in, go on in. Don't walk around for another hour until you get lost and hangry and wish you had just gone on in to the first place you liked.

As I'm a grownup now, which means I take my own advice (most of the time), I'm going to just stop hunting for the perfect meal plan.

What I LOVE about TheFresh20.com (and no, they are not giving me anything to promote them):

  1. Vegetarian menus that are vegan or easily-made vegan. Translation: it's not just pasta and cheese every night.
  2. Inexpensive grocery bills. My weekly bill has been $50-60
  3. It's generally non-processed. The most processed food that has been on the list has been tortillas and cans of beans -- both of which are very easy to make/soak at home should I choose to. 
  4. The shopping list. (Every meal site has this, but for you newbies to online-meal-planning-sites, they give you a shopping list every week. It's a basic perk, but saves me so much time.) It prevents impulse-buys, wasted food, and also means someone else could do your grocery shopping for you (in my dreams, I send the nanny to the store on Monday mornings).
  5. The meals for the week are designed to eliminate wasted food. You don't have half an onion in the back of your refrigerator because if one recipe uses 1/2 an onion, a later-that-week recipe will use the other half.
  6. The variety -- sometimes it's Mexican, sometimes Asian, sometimes classic America, sometimes a one-pot-meal, sometimes a salad. I've cooked three full weeks worth of menus, with no repetition.
  7. There are only five meals in the weekly menu (each serves four). It's perfect for my family of 3, with a husband who travels a lot. We just buy some eggs and bagels and fruit to improvise breakfast, and all of our meals are covered.
  8. It's seasonal. The veggies are based on what's in season ("Fresh" 20, I suppose), so lately it's been lots of peas and asparagus.
  9. It's delicious. Even my 2-year-old has loved every single meal we've made. I felt kind of like an ass when we brought a risotto to the pool for dinner last week and he told a nearby adult, "I'm eating risotto, it's not macaroni and cheese. It's risotto made with peas and mint that I picked from my garden." But I'm thrilled he's loved the meals.
  10. It's balanced nutrition. They have nutritionists who look at their meals to design balanced meals. So I feel good about what I'm feeding my kiddo.
  11. The meals are quick and easy. Nothing has taken over 35 minutes to cook so far.
  12. The time-saving. All the sites have this in common, but I can't emphasize enough how much I have loved it. I don't constantly think about what in the world I will feed my boy. Dinner is not a total surprise anymore.
I only bought a 3-month subscription because I wanted to see just how long I would stick to it. But honestly, the fact that dinner isn't stressful, that I have enough leftovers for lunch and that it helps me stick to a budget, has relieved so much mental-chaos from my life ... well, I think it's going to stick.

Friday, May 29, 2015

A quiz to the Wee Boy.

Because I want to have written a blog, but I'm too swamped to actually write anything, I present to you a funny thing that I copied from the Facebook status of a friend. The Wee Boy is hilarious and fun and charming and such good company.

WITHOUT ANY prompting, ask your child these questions and write down EXACTLY what they say. It is a great way to find out what they really think. When you re-post put your Child's age. 
The Wee Boy, 2.5years old
1. What is something mom always says to you?
I don't know, Mommy. Why?
2. What makes mom happy?
Scratching your back. But I didn't scratch your back when you woke up, so you were not happy. But now I  scratched your back, Mommy. And you're happy. Awwwwww, you're happy now. I made you happy. 
3. What makes mom sad?
I don't know, Mommy. Babies crying? That makes you sad, mommy. When babies cry, that makes you sad. 
4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Ha ha ha ha, like that! 
5. What was your mom like as a child?
I don't know. A baby? You were a baby.  
6. How old is your mom?
I don't know. How old are you? 
7. How tall is your mom?
This tall (raises arms). 
8. What is her favorite thing to do?
I don't know.  
9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
She pretends to be a starfish. 
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
I don't know. 
11. What is your mom really good at?
Guitar. 
12. What is your mom not very good at?
You're not good at playing cars. Play cars with me right now. 
13. What does your mom do for a job?
Mommy, I want to hide from you. Count to ten and then say, "Ready or not, here I come." 
14.What is your mom's favorite food?
Please stop asking me these questions. 
15.What makes you proud of your mom?
Can you find me now? I'm hiding. 
16. If your mom were a character, who would she be?
Mommy, go to the sunroom and say, 1, 2, 3, and then say, "Ready or not here I come. All right mommy? Mommy, do that. Mommy go in the sunroom and count right now.
17. What do you and your mom do together?
We sing. We don't cook. Sometimes we cook. 
18. How are you and your mom the same? We both have blue eyes. 
19. How are you and your mom different?
Mommy, I'm going to hide from you again. Can you cover me with the pillow? The pillow that you're sitting on? Can you move and cover me with that pillow? 
20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Mommy, I said I don't know. 
21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
Mommy, I'm finished with this game. 
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
I don't know. Maybe the movies. 
23. How old was your Mom when you were born?
No more questions, please. No means no.

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