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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

New song debut: "Once I Had" or maybe "Ballad of Nick Keir."

I know my posts about potty training get a hundred times more views than my posts about music, but today I just don't care. I'm a singer-songwriter-type, and I'm going to show you a new song. I used to really not like those lo-fi videos of people singing new songs in their basements. But guess what? I've changed my mind. I've been daydreaming of Scotland so much lately, and this new song is for an old friend: Nick Keir. For now the song is called "Once I Had."

Slainte, cheers!

P.S. Meant to have this up sooner, but my internet was crazy slow today! Sorry.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Party for the Self-Employed!

Last week I lamented about being sick while being self-employed. Today I shall whinge-first, then take action, regarding one more terrible plight of the solo entrepreneur: NO COMPANY CHRISTMAS PARTIES!

Of course, I of all people should be saying "Holiday" rather than Christmas, but "Company Christmas Party" just flows better. A few years back, I started throwing a little Christmakuh Party where I played music. It was super fun, so we are doing it again this year.

So, self-employed people of all ages, I invite you to the Self-Employed Holiday Party!

Wednesday, December 3
Great Flood Brewing Company
live music from me, @dancanon, and #stevecooley from 7p-9p

Of course, your company is responsible for buying drinks and snacks for its own employees. Sorry, my business is just Brigid Kaelin LLC, and that means hello-I-sing-and-write-for-a-living-aka-CASH-BAR! But the entertainment will be fierce and fun, and I shall bring cookies. You can bring your families.

Allow me to drift down memory lane to the three year period where I attended CBS company Christmas Parties. They never gave me health insurance, but they had open bar for a few hours once a year, which just meant that we young Assistant and Associate producers drank too much and then asked Mike Wallace to take group photos with us. He must have hated those parties. Ah, youth!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The worst thing about self-employment.

I've been sick this week. It's not been a debilitating illness though. To be honest, I've felt pretty good all week. The unfortunate part (for me, anyway) is that I've lost my voice. For a teacher and a singer, this is kind the worst. As a self-employed person, it is traumatic.

(Digression: Have I ever mentioned that in Scotland a self-employed mother gets paid maternity leave? As a self-employed woman in the US, I don't even get a paid sick day.)

So, yeah, this week has been killer on my income, as I've had to cancel over 20 music classes/lessons. 

Somebody set up a gofundme account, please! (Totally kidding totally kidding ... I'll be fine ... We don't need Christmas anyway ... KIDDING CHRISTMAS ISN'T CANCELED!)

I hate canceling lessons though, and not just because of the lost income. I feel like a weakling ... and like I'm not going to get invited to the Perfect Attendance Pizza Party. Harrumph.

Voice is coming back slowly, though, enough that I can teach this afternoon. I better be able to sing by tomorrow afternoon, though, because I'm up to shenanigans with Laura and Su. Check back to see what I'm talking about. 

Also: UK friends, please email me about setting up a show in your town for early March. I don't want anyone taking a taxi 300 miles in order to find me (looking at you Aneil!).

See? Things aren't so bad. I'll keep daydreaming of my upcoming business trip to the UK. Also, I just ran into @benkeeton and blabbed his ear off in my croaky hoarse voice. He always cheers me up. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My favorite new medical office (outside of Scotland).

My new favorite place: The Little Clinic at Kroger.

I love it because it's cheap, easy, quick, convenient, and effective. But I also love it because it reminds me of life in Scotland.

Ah, Scotland's NHS... The house calls! midwives on bicycles! same-day service! free to all! I think my favorite part of all, however, was the sense of community. You see, I was free to register with any doctor I chose, so I, obviously, chose the doctors in my neighborhood. I would pop up the street when I was ill, wandering through the cobblestone streets by India Place and Circus Place (see photo!). So charming.

The Little Clinic isn't quite so charming, but it's just as effective. And isn't that what we want in a medical visit anyway? Outcomes? Health? We don't need to see the world's most preeminent ear canal researcher in order to prescribe antibiotics for a bad ear infection. We need someone with enough training to diagnose. It helps when said person is also kind and a fast-worker.

I, someone who rarely ever goes to the doctor, actually went to the Little Clinic on Sunday (they are open on Sundays!). Part of me regrets it because the diagnosis was "pharyngitis," which 1) I already knew I had, and 2) there's nothing to be done about it besides rest and hydration. But I'm also super glad I actually went to a medical office for myself -- I'm pretty sure I've only done that one other time in my adult life because it's so hard to get a same-day appointment if you're sick, not to mention how long you have to wait here, etc, etc. I'm going to stop talking now because I'm just getting all uptight about our wonky medical system in the US.

Anyway, long live the Little Clinic in Kroger! I'm glad you're there. I feel like I live in a real community when I can walk to the doctor/nurse practitioner's office. Also, I'm glad you're not a Starbucks (except now I want one of those red holiday cups).

Monday, November 17, 2014

Snow Ice Cream Recipe.

It's a snow day here in Louisville! Ergo, I am searching David's company's job postings in Scotland, where there weather is better. In the mean time, I thought I'd re-print my favorite snow day activity for the little ones. I'd never heard of it until last winter, but it's pretty yummy.

Here's our recipe:

1/2 gallon snow ("not yellow or dirty snow," according to David, as if I was actually going to go collect yellow or dirty snow...)
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 tsp vanilla
a cup of milk

Mix it all together.

It's pretty good. To me it tastes like those strange milkshakes you could buy in the frozen food section back in the 1980s that you put in the microwave to prepare. Does anyone remember those? David thinks I'm making it up, but he's a few years younger than I am.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Packing for a month for you and a toddler -- in one carry-on suitcase. Part 1 of 2.

I took my 18-month-old to Europe for a month, and all we took was one carry-on suitcase.

I don't have a lot of useful skills, but I can pack like nobody's business. Travel is my forte, particularly airline travel. Road trips mean you can toss anything in at the last minute, no matter how lightly you are traveling -- a roll of paper towels, a huge bag of snacks, a few extra sweaters. Airline travel is different, and I love its limitations.

Remember that I am a professional musician, and I have traveled for months at a time, staying in everywhere from tour vans to couches to swanky hotels. I have picked up a lot of tips from my adventures, and lots of it is easy applicable to traveling with a toddler. I'm also not a zillionaire. I love public transportation, and I don't like pre-planned-vacation-packages. I plan out only what is necessary (plane tickets) and keep my options open. This means things usually go as planned because, well, there isn't much of a plan in the first place. 

Truthfully, all you really need is your passport and a credit card, right?

I'm working on another blog about sightseeing and other travel tips, but for today, I'm going to focus on packing.

A few bits of background info:

  • We traveled from mid-March to mid-April in France and the United Kingdom.
  • My kiddo was 18-months on the day we left Louisville.
  • The weather averaged from mid-50s to mid-60s (a few days colder), so cool but mild.


Our Ergo was the best thing I packed.
  1. Think different when it comes to diaper bag. From a thrift store, I brought a turquoise hobobag with three large compartments. It doesn't look like a standard diaper bag, so it felt less frumpy on the streets of Paris (where everything can feel a bit frumpy compared to French women). It looks more like a purse than anything.
  2. A small nylon backpack bag. You know what I'm talking about -- those little bags that are given away at fundraisers and such? I packed two of them, folded flat, for when I wanted a backpack or didn't want to carry the whole hobobag.
  3. A baby carrier. When he was little, we loved the Moby, but we've been an Ergo family since he turned one. He can ride on the front or the back, and he sleeps in it. I wore him most of the trip, even though I had brought along a stroller too.
  4. Ditch the stroller. I brought a stroller, and this was my big mistake. I did use it a few times, but I think in the end it was more trouble than it was worth. It was just a small umbrella stroller, but those wheels are horrible on the ancient and busy streets of Europe. The days where I just strapped him on my back were a lot easier for me -- even though he was 27lbs at the time. The Paris Metro is not stroller-friendly, having sometimes over 60 steps (yes, we counted them because every moment is a learning moment). We climbed Sacre Coeur with him in the Ergo, and it was spectacular. It was nice for talking and bonding because he was at eye level with me rather than facing the opposite direction in a stroller. Anyway, next time I might consider buying a cheap stroller once I arrived to a place I would be for a while. But I value my one free hand more than I value the stroller.
  5. Lace underwear. Obviously, this was not a romantic trip, but lace underwear nonetheless. For you, not your kiddo:) I brought 5 pair, which is 2 more than my suggested minimum. Why? Lace underwear is easy to wash in a sink and dries very quickly.
  6. Disposable diapers. We use mostly cloth diapers at home, but I tried not to think about the pile of garbage three times the size of Texas in the Pacific ocean and went disposable for this trip.
  7. Only pack diapers for the first day. I only brought 10 diapers with me for flight. There are babies all over the world, so obviously you can buy diapers when you arrive at your destination.
  8. Reusable stickers we bought at the airport.
  9. Rent an apartment, not a hotel. Use Airbnb or VRBO or a similar site to find an apartment. Odds are it'll be cheaper, better located, and more equipped (read: a washing machine!) than any hotel.
  10. Don't bring many toys. We brought two small toy cars (he was really into playing "WRECK!" at the time). At the airport, we bought a pack of reusable stickers. The newness of the stickers held his attention, and it didn't take up much room. You'll want to buy souvenirs on your trip anyway. Speaking of...
  11. Check a bag on the way home. We bought a dufflebag from a thrift store, so we weren't worried about collecting souvenirs. We actually ended up bringing an entire Thomas the Tank Engine train set home that we bought used from the 7-year-old boy who lived in the apartment next door. (He also loaned us LOADS of great toys while we were there.)
  12. Black or brown. More on packing clothes later, but choose black or brown. Stick to that color scheme when you are packing, and everything will match.
  13. Wear your biggest clothes on the plane. I brought some knee-high boots. They would have taken up half my carry-on. Wear them on the plane. Yes, you have to take them off at security, but it's not a big deal. You're already the one with a toddler, so you're not in the Expert Travel line. I also wore my coat on the plane, which was good to use as a pillow/blanket while trying to catch some sleep.
  14. Extra shoulder luggage strap. My hobobag didn't have a large across-your-chest strap, so I brought a detachable one. This meant I could strap my toddler in the Ergo, roll the suitcase behind me, place the purse/diaper-bag across my chest, and still have one hand free to roll the stroller (that I wish I had never brought). There is probably a way to strap the stroller to the carry-on without using duct tape, but we weren't able to figure it out (despite several attempts).
So these are my broad tips, but I'm also going to tell you exactly what I packed in our carryon and some tips on the actual folding, etc. Apparently people out there don't believe it's possible to travel for a month for themselves in just a carry-on, much less a toddler's things too. This blog is long enough though. When I finish the What We Packed blog, I'll post a link here. Now, start daydreaming about taking your next vacation.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fine Dining Vegetarian Style in Louisville. Marketplace rules!

Nice meals out can be, um, not really worth it if you are vegetarian. At the same time, David and I love, like love love love, sitting down to a luxurious and special meal. We still daydream about our hours-long evenings enjoying the tasting menus at The Number One in the Balmoral and The Kitchn in Leith.

I never understand why some restaurants put crap vegetarian options on their menus. The vegetarian of the group is the trump card! Your place only has a portobello sandwich? The group isn't going to eat there, even if the rest of the group is pure carnivore. 

Anyway, that's all to say that David and I rarely treat ourselves to a nice meal out in Louisville because most Louisville chefs don't pay much attention to vegetarians. For our date night, however, we went to Marketplace down on South 4th Street (it's behind the Brown Hotel, just steps from the Palace Theatre). I'm friends with the Dallas McGarity's (aka the Executive Chef at Marketplace) wife. I happen to know that she is a vegetarian. She also loves fine dining, so I would imagine the chef has gotten an earful a time or two about lack of veggie options at most nice restaurants.

We managed to squeeze into a 6:15 reservation, which was perfect for our 8:00 date with Loretta Lynn. (Sidenote: David's co-workers had not heard of her. If you haven't either, please read this and then come back.) Our server knew that we were vegetarians -- it was notated on our reservations -- which saved that awkward moment where the server rattles off the long list of very meaty specials only to be followed by, "We're vegetarians." He went straight to pointing out the lengthy list of vegetarian appetizers on the menu, as well as the two main dishes: one pasta and one entree.
At some point we settled into the exciting idea that we didn't have our toddler with us and we'd taken an Uber downtown, ergo: we could order a bottle of wine. Party! I went with Prosecco because I wanted some bubbly but didn't feel like blowing $100 on champagne. It was totally affordable ($27), and totally delicious. 

Once we toasted our night out, we were surprised with a little treat from the kitchen: the chef sent out some Brussels sprouts. I adore Brussels sprouts, as does David, so this wasn't a stretch for us. BUT these were hands down the best Brussels sprouts I have ever eaten (and yes, I've done that Pinterest recipe before). I'm making this photo super large because I want to live inside of it:
" cranberries, bourbon-sorghum hoisin, almond brussels sprouts" from Marketplace in Louisville
Seriously, I could stop here and talk of nothing else besides these Brussels sprouts. I want them for lunch right now. I want them for dinner tonight. Et cetera. They are so good.

But you're here to read about what else we ate, so I'll move on. We ordered the two vegetarian main dishes that were on the menu. I got the feeling that the Chef would have prepared us something else if we hadn't been okay with those options (most nice restaurants will work with your food restrictions). But they seemed right on target for us -- one creamy pasta dish, and one that was either dairy-free or light-on-the-dairy (we aren't vegan, so we didn't ask).
We ordered the Ricotta Gnocchi (tomato cream, local mushrooms, parmesan  $21) and it was divine. Seriously, so so so yummy. I'm at a short for adjectives because I have mommy brain, but doesn't yummy explain enough? We also had a Black Bean dish (with "polenta & greens, chipotle honey sauce, red cabbage 'slaw'  for $21). It was solid enough to be like a black bean burger, but much thicker and tastier. It reminded me of how they serve the vegetarian haggis with neeps and tatties in Scotland -- a thick bean patty in a moat of polenta. David and I kept trading our entrees back and forth all night, and we were totally happy with our meals. Again -- the vegetarian options didn't seem like an after-thought here, which was so refreshing.

And dessert! Bad blogger here -- I don't remember what it was called, but do yourselves a favor and take this photo with you when you go and order it IMMEDIATELY. It's a chocolate mousse with fresh whipped cream and some sort of little balls of white chocolate and a nut that I can't remember because we INHALED this dessert:

We had a great time and can't wait to go again. The trio that played and sang jazz standards was a lovely touch (tip your musicians, folks!), and we left Marketplace in that perfectly blissed-out combination of wine and the perfect about of food.

Anyway, restaurants, pay attention: there are vegetarians in this world with disposable income who might like a date night. David and I will definitely be back to Marketplace the next time we get a night out. Maybe you'll join us?

Here's what was happening at home while we ate fancy food and heard a living legend sing. It has nothing to do with this blog, but it's very cute:


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