Monday, September 29, 2014

Ups and Downs and today is an Up.

I haven't talked about the PPD in a long time. I'm not at all out of the trenches, but I'm at least to the point now where I can force myself to do stuff I know will be good for me. Sort of. I still don't go to yoga class or anything (I know I know I know), but over the last couple of weeks, I've been saying yes to things.

I used to do that all the time. If anyone had a plus-one anywhere, I was there. It always led to something interesting, even if the thing itself was bleagh. 

Yesterday, someone invited me to the Music panel as part of the Idea Festival MUSIC, and I said yes. My husband wrangled up a babysitter (he had to work yesterday), and I even managed to navigate the annoyingly-sparing public transportation in this town to make it to the Green Building. The point is that I WENT! I even mustered up the moxie to give someone a business card. I probably shouldn't have because it was a crappy old business card. But I did it nonetheless. I spoke in mostly complete sentences. I'm pretty sure I spoke far too much, and I told everyone that I was batshit crazy these days (may have been my exact words). The fabulous Alex Wright gave me a ride home in his swanky car, thereby eliminating another mental breakdown caused by TARC.
(Look at me all out in public and hanging with my ol' pal Dennie, who owns the Monkey Wrench!)

And then ... I, of course, got home and tried desperately to figure out how I was going to go to the Louisville Music Awards show at Headliners. I didn't want to go, to be honest. But going to the music panel reminded me that my work used to be going out to events. I have a public career, and if you don't go out in public, people forget about you. This blog has gotten me a slew of new fans -- but those folks are fans of my writing, not my songwriting. (Hello, dear reader, did you know that I'm actually a performer? That I have sung on A Prairie Home Companion? And once sang backup for Kid Rock? And played accordion with Elvis Costello several times? And my own songs have, like, been on the radio all over the world and stuff? I swear it's true!) 

Anyway, my fabulous neighbor offered to babysit and put the Wee Boy to bed, so I took an Uber to Headliners and pretended I was 29 and kid-free! Well, not really, but I did remember for a few moments what it was like to go out and see friends, particularly musical friends, and enjoy the company of lots of adults.

I was terrified and nervous and really anxious about going, but I reminded myself that I would be glad I went. And I am glad I went. So glad. Thanks to all of you who convinced me to go (you know who you are) and for putting up with my manic ways.

I am very much looking foward to my next uting. What's going on this Friday? I feel the need to be 29 again.

Also: Louisvillians, mark your calendars for THIS WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1. Great Flood Brewing Company at 6:30pm. Great Flood is at the Douglass Loop next to Twig and Leaf. Steve Cooley, and Dan Canon, and I are playing there, and you should really come out, hang out, drink beer, and have a listen. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Chicago on a budget/ Chicago with a toddler.

Little pinterest caption for you! Pin it:)
Travels with a toddler! I got the travel bug big-time recently, and David, the Wee Boy, and I rented a car and headed to Chicago for the weekend. So today, I bring you: Chicago with a Toddler.

I won't even pretend to tell you that the things we did are good for Chicago in January. We were blessed with Chamber-of-Commerce Weather on a September weekend (I swear, one of my superpowers is good-weather-on-trips), but I'd say it would still be good for March to October. Chicago gets crazy-cold crazy-fast (I tried living there for a year, but I didn't make it through the winter -- weak, I know).

Marvelous Suite at the W Hotel, Lakeshore.


Normally, my suggestion is to rent an apartment if you are traveling with a kiddo. There are tons of great places on AirBnB and similar sites, so plenty of options there. This time around, however, we cashed in some of David's many Starwood points (the perk of having a job that requires a lot of travel) and managed to get upgraded to a Marvelous Suite at the W Hotel on Lakeshore Drive. It was a gorgeous modern room -- not ideal for a kiddo, as the bedroom part of the suite was separated only by a curtain and not a door. But the TV in the living room didn't wake him after bedtime, so it was comfortable and definitely felt luxurious. Having somewhere to hang that didn't have a sleeping baby was definitely a bonus.

Having a little bit of "nursies" at Navy Pier.

Navy Pier

I know, I know, this is an obvious destination if you're traveling in Chicago with kids. We weren't 100% sold on it, but our hotel looked right out onto the Ferris Wheel. The boy was intrigued, so we walked over one afternoon after nap. The Wheel has fiberglass on all sides, and I think the gates are too close together for him to slip through. I was nervous most of the ride, but he liked it. If I'd been super nervous, I would have insisted we carry him in the Ergo baby carrier, so I guess I wasn't totally paranoid. He like the Ferris Wheel, but in the end perfered the carousel. Each ride is $6-7, but he was free (under three).
Carousel at Navy Pier.

You don't actually need to spend any money at all on Navy Pier -- there are plenty of sights to see just by sitting down and people-watching. We wandered all the way to the end of the pier where we caught a country cover-band rocking some Steve Earle. The wee boy danced, while I enjoyed a froofy beach-style daiquiri drink, and we all got a nice break. We also just sat on a bench and watched sailboats for a good while, which was a nice combination of beach-vacation-mentality without getting sand in your butt. There is a great Children's Museum there, but we didn't bother. The weather was nice, and there was plenty of activity on the pier itself.

Gino's East deep dish cheese pizza.


The line for the classic deep dish pizza places is always insane. Some hotel concierges can get you a FastPass type thing to skip the line, but we forgot to ask. Instead, we opted to skip the line and order carryout from Gino's East, the preferred pizza place of every Chicago native I know. While we were waiting (deep dish takes 45 minutes), we wandered around the block to the Seneca Playlot Park and let the Wee Boy run, climb, and slide with the neighborhood kids. Then we collected our Deep Dish Pie and walked back to our hotel. It would have been fun to just eat the pizza in the park, but we were tired and ready to crash early after a long day of sightseeing.

The private balcony of a swanky suit store.


We were staying near Michigan Avenue and were on a mission to buy David a new suit. I will be the first to admit that I hate shopping. But I love cities, and I love people-watching. Michigan Avenue is must more interesting than a mall, so I had a good time. We brought the umbrella stroller, and the Wee Boy enjoyed popping in and out of stores. Of course we popped into the Lego Store and a few toy stores (none of which blew my mind). We ended up at SuitSupply, where the staff was incredibly nice to us while David tried on several suits. They have an entire outdoor patio that is owned by the store, but only used for special events. The saleswoman allowed me and the Wee Boy to go outside and run around, which was a great way for him to get his wiggles out in a safe space and also get a really cool view of the city, while his daddy tried on suits in peace.
The best thing we did was take our time and take lots of breaks. We popped into cafes for snacks and drinks, making an adventure out of everything, even when it was just to rest our feet.

Ohio Street Beach

If you are uptight, you will hate this advice. Sorry, I'm a crunchy mom when it comes down to it, and probably more laid-back than most first-time-moms. My kiddo love swimming. It wasn't in our plans, or we would have brought a swim diaper and trunks, but he stripped down to his diaper and rolled around in the Lake. It's not dirty or anything (like rivers in the 1980s) -- there were hundreds of people swimming. You'll just inevitably need to clean sand out of, um, all the body parts. We were ill-prepared, so we just walked back to the hotel for a mid-morning shower. But the Wee Boy had a blast, throwing his cars in the Lake, rescuing them, blowing bubbles, making sand angels, and running up and down the beach. So. Much. Fun.
Ohio Street Beach in early September. Chicago.

Vegetarian skillet at Wildberry Cafe. Chicago.

It's my favorite meal of the day, but it's even more satisfying when your toddler wakes up at the crack of dawn. This means you can get to the über-popular weekend brunch spots before the lines form. I also like eating a huge breakfast, then a light lunch (hitting the grocery store saves loads of money) and simple dinner. We went to Yolk, Wildberry Cafe, and West Egg. All were delicious and family-friendly. Yolk was BYOB, as we learned as the child-free couple next to us emptied their second bottle of André. Wildberry is one of the most popular restaurants in the whole city -- yummy, but wouldn't have waited in the hour-long line that we saw after we finished (again, the perk of rising at 6am). If we'd found West Egg the first day, however, I'm not sure I would have gone anywhere else. The staff was incredibly kind to our rambunctious almost-two-year-old, and the coffee was superb. 

Public Parks

We hit up Millennium Park after a leisurely breakfast at Wildberry Cafe. The Cloud Gate (or "The Bean" as my Facebook friends insist it is called) is a massive and cool public art piece where we spend a good thirty minutes running around, staring up, lying down, taking pictures, and making faces at ourselves. The kiddo was fascinated.

We also spent a good deal of time frolicking in the Crown Fountain (also in Millennium Park) near the Art Institute. (201 E. Randolph St., between Michigan Ave and Columbus Ave). The faces on the fountain appear year-round, but the water is available only mid-spring to mid-autumn. The water was cool and refreshing on a perfect 72* day. Again, crunchy mom here, but it was a blast. This time we were prepared with a swim diaper. We kicked off our shoes, parked the stroller, and splashed with lots of other families.

The Cloud Gate aka The Bean in Chicago.

Playing in Crown Fountain in Millennium Park. Chicago in September.

The Bus

What toddler doesn't love "The Wheels on the Bus"? Seriously, if you're tired or it's raining or you just need to get somewhere, this is a great activity for toddler tourism. We took the bus from Millennium Park to the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The El

Same as the bus, except it's a TRAIN!! The Wee Boy is in a serious train phase, so this was a great ride for us all. 

Lincoln Park Zoo

It's free! It baffles me that the Art Institute is over $20/person, but the Zoo is free. But it is. Free activities are the best because you don't feel bad if you only stay thirty minutes, or if your kiddo falls asleep right after the sea lion training demonstration.

The lion took a snooze. Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago. September 2014

Watching the Boats

We were able to see the boats docked from our hotel window, so that was an easy and relaxing activity. But it was just as easy to walk down to the pier by the Ohio Street Beach and count the boats (I wanted to rent one of those fun bicycle/wagon things, but we opted not to spend the money). Good, innocent fun.

Helpful site:

There is so much more to do, but we were trying to do as much free and outdoors stuff as possible. All in all it was a really easy weekend, but packed with activity. I think the key, as with any trip with a toddler, is to go with the flow and only plan just enough. Naptimes or meltdowns can throw kinks in the best-laid plans.

And before anyone gets on my case, yes, I'm aware that I've only got one kiddo, so life is a lot easier than it could be. But we are still not afraid to travel. Thankfully, my kid loves adventures, and shaking up his routine actually makes him sleep better at night. (Seriously, I'm so thankful for this because routine makes me cranky. Maybe it's genetic.)


Friday, September 19, 2014

If Scotland used the electoral college...

I stayed up late watching the Scottish Referendum results roll in, which was completely mesmerizing for many reasons.

First of all, they counted all of the ballots by hand -- so many images of large rooms, folding tables, and people of all ages just counting and stacking ballot after ballot. It should have been boring, but much in the same way a dilapidated old castle is amazing and full of history, so were these news feeds.

But what fascinated me most of all was: the lack of electoral college.

For you Scottish and British citizens (see what I did there) reading this, you may already know about the electoral college because the rest of the world generally understands American politics better than the majority of Americans. Quick summary, just in case: it's majority wins in each state. Then a certain number of votes, based on population, go entirely to the winning side. Remember the controversial 2000 election? ...  when the controversy was mostly over ballot fraud in Florida, rather than the fact that Al Gore got more votes than George Bush (50,456,002 50,999,897, a difference of 543,895 votes), but Bush had majority in more states. So he won. Yes, America is weird.

If last night's Scottish election had been electoral college, the Nos would still have won, but it would have looked like a landslide victory -- like the Yeses would have only won the electoral votes from four (out of thirty-two) areas: Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Dundee, West Dunbartonshire. Here is a breakdown of the votes by region.
The referendum numbers for the popular vote were 45%-55%, but still the difference was only 383,937 votes -- less than the population of Edinburgh (if you're American, less than the population of Omaha).

Yeses: 1,617,989
Nos:    2,001,926
I'm not going to spend time researching the populations of each areas and assigning imaginary electoral votes to each region because, well, I don't get paid for this blog. But if anyone out there wants to do that math, I would be interested.

My point was that it seemed a real possibility of the YESes winning because it was majority rules, which made the ballot-counting all that more interesting to watch -- and made me feel all the more hopeful. At one point when there were only about 1000 votes separating the Nos from the Yeses, my blood pressure got all high and I was wide awake. Then Glasgow came in -- as a Yes, but not by enough of a majority -- and I sighed heavily and went to sleep.

Anyway, it was a very exciting moment in history, and I am very glad it is over. For my son's sake, I wanted independence -- I want him to get a Scottish passport. But moving forward, right?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What to Do About Other People’s Parenting (or How not to be a Dick): A Handy User Guide

by Molly S. (guest blogger)
As a mother I am practically legally obligated to participate in many online forums and discussions regarding parenting. Typically things sail very smoothly on most of the ones I participate in until someone posts about the dreaded topic of “other people’s parenting”.

Some (mainly fictional) examples include:

I saw this mom at the park today, she was just sitting on the bench checking her iPhone and her two year old was just running everywhere, I felt so bad for him

My niece’s step-sister’s aunt posted this picture on Facebook of her 18 month old in a car seat and he was FORWARD FACING! Ugh, some people just don’t even care about their kids

My friend Bertha is still breastfeeding her three year old, I mean I’m all for breastfeeding, but come on!

How should I tell my coworker that the baby Bjorn she has is probably going to damage her little one’s hips for life? I mean I showed her the custom made Tula I got for my son and she acted like it was too expensive, I guess some people just put their kid’s health second.

What do you guys think about cloth diapering? I’m SO grossed out that my daughter’s teacher said she is doing it. Also, why add all that laundry to your life?

These posts are typically followed by many parents who feel personally judged by these comments. Then fights ensue, people dig in their heels, feelings are hurt and the administrators start deleting posts. (And as an administrator on a rather large Facebook group- I make myself a White Russian. Circumcision debates alone have caused me to kill a bottle of Kahlua.)

So, in order to stop these fights I have made this handy user guide on what to do about other people’s parenting. Let’s pretend you are at the mall playground, and you see Annie do/talk about something that you would never ever ever do to your little Jimmy.

  1. Is it an emergency? And I mean real emergency. Is her kid about to be set on fire? Did she pass out and her son is now trying to eat unidentified purple pills from his diaper bag?  Then call 911. Do not stop to update your status or take a picture of little Sam leaning over her pale limp body.

  1. Is her child in serious danger? Did she confess that she is selling him over the internet in order to finance her Beanie Baby addiction? Did she throw him in the trunk when she left to take him home. Then call either the police or Child Protective Services. I don’t want to diminish the seriousness of child abuse or the necessity of people reporting it -- in fact I wish more people would report it when they see something happen to a child. But please remember that many actions (such as not vaccinating, feeding them rice cereal at 4 months or letting a five year old play outside unsupervised) are not usually actionable, for good reason. So please really consider what serious danger is. Also, notice I said report it, not solicit advice from 25,000 strangers on Baby Center.

  1. Are they doing something that is unsafe or not the best practice? These are typically the actions that don’t require a call to an authority, but maybe aren’t the best for their kid. Are they forward facing a 14 month old in a car seat? Are they giving their five year old only soda to drink? First recognize that oftentimes you are only given a snapshot of anyone’s parenting. Maybe the soda was all that was left in the house that morning and their food stamps don’t come in until next week. Maybe the only carseat they have is forward facing. These are the situations where you have an awesome opportunity! You can help! And by help, I don’t mean publicly shaming them on Twitter. I mean you can sweetly send them a private message (or even better mention it to them over drinks that you are springing for), you can loan them a better car seat, you can tell them you didn’t know about how dangerous it is to put a Bumbo on your kitchen counter until your friend sent you an article. Now this is a risk, anytime you call attention to something a mother might not be doing right they can feel judged or attacked (mainly because as mothers we often feel judged or attacked for our personal decisions for our family). If the mother snaps back at you or ignores your well intentioned advice then do the hard thing: walk away. People have a million different battles they are fighting, and what might seem significant to you, may not be something that they have the time or energy to address at the moment. So walk away. Don’t post about them, don’t take pictures of their kids and ask what to do. Just walk away and say to yourself “Not my monkeys, not my circus.”

  1. Is your child impacted? Is your child being bit by their blood thirsty toddler? Did their teenager tell yours he can drink at his house, because his parents allow it? The best option is to remove your child from the situation. You can do this by just leaving, ending a friendship or calling the parent and setting some firm boundaries. Soliciting advice on what to do personally to protect your child is in my opinion totally fine. But when soliciting advice it is important to say something like this: “I do not want my child to consume the amount of candy that he does when he is at my cousin’s house, does anyone have any suggestions on how to bring that up with her?” NOT “My cousin allows her kid to go sugar crazy! They eat so much I know they are going to get ADD. What should I do?”

  1. Are they doing something you feel passionately against? Do you truly believe that kids should never eat red dye? Do you think that disposable diapers are ruining the environment? Then by all means be an advocate for your cause! I personally run into this issue often because I feel very passionate about ensuring that children are vaccinated. So, I post articles with research on vaccine safety, I join groups where vaccines are promoted and I donate money to vaccine outreach. What I try really hard not to do is this: “All of these dumb parents who don’t vaccinate should really just sign over custody of their kids to the state.” Why? Because that is just being a dick and parenting is hard enough without having to deal with dicks.

  1. Are they just doing something differently than you would do it? Would you have removed your daughter from the park while they are having a tantrum, instead of waiting it out? Would you have pumped instead of switching to formula when you went back to work? Would you never homeschool your kids? Well then notice they are doing something differently and wish them well. There are 7 billion people on this planet and they all required 7 billion different types of parenting. To assume that what works for you or your kids would work for theirs is presumptuous at best, judgmental at worst.

After following this handy guide you can see that it is almost never necessary to post online about other people’s parenting. This parenting shit is hard, and most of us don’t know what we are doing. And if by chance you do find yourself violating one of these rules and get called on it (I certainly have), instead of digging your heels in, try listening and learning. When you know better, you do better. Oh, and really try hard to not be a dick.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Yellow Submarine Birthday Party and Cake. For my two-year-old.

We threw together a last-minute birthday party this weekend -- just some family and neighbors and some of the wee boy's babysitters -- and it turned out so spectacularly wonderful that some of the attendees may have been fooled into thinking I've got my act together.

To be completely honest, it was all our friends Beth and Kris who pulled it off. Until one night last week when our husbands went out to "the game" together, the party was maybe going to happen and the theme was going to be: birthday. But then we stayed up late talking, and I mentioned that the Wee Boy had actually asked to have a "Yellow Submarine party" and wasn't that funny because he's almost two and knows all of the lyrics to a Beatles song, and then suddenly Pinterest was involved.

And this happened:

  • We also had a Make-Your-Own-Sub-Sandwich Bar, complete with meat (again, thanks, Kris and Beth!), which is a weird thing for us vegetarians. We also had roasted vegetables, five kinds of cheeses (thanks, GrandDude!), garden tomatoes, and several kinds of pickles. For the kiddos, we had hot dog buns available instead of the giant subs. There was a brief discussion of Helmann's vs. Duke's, but that is for a future blog.

  • There weren't many kids there (we honestly aren't mentally prepared yet to have a for-real kids birthday party that has loads of two-year-olds running around), but for the few we had, we had a little coloring table for coloring your own submarine. I downloaded a printable image and the kiddos made submarines of all colors. This picture is of some of the aftermath, so try to imagine the table without juice boxes and sub sandwiches and applesauces:

  • My big triumph was, of course, the cake. You may not remember this about me, but I love to bake. I was feeling super happy about the party, and I honestly think a lot of that was because I took several hours and baked things from scratch. So very much from scratch that I knew all of the ingredients -- enough so as to ensure a peanut-free-mom that the cake was safe.

The recipe was a simple yellow cake with a 4-ingredient buttercream frosting. It was so so delicious, if I do say so. There wasn't a single piece leftover, so I guess people liked it. Yay!

Also, there is his name. I haven't mentioned it in the blog yet because
I'm weird about stuff like that. But I want you to see the cake, so oh well.

  • How to put an image on the cake: I printed out an image of the yellow submarine and cut it out. Then I lightly put it on the top of the frosted cake and traced the image with a toothpick. When you peel the image off, it will take a lot of the frosting with it (but that was okay with me because it meant the paper wasn't actually touching the final frosting). I outlined the toothpick tracing with red frosting, then freehand drew the rest of the design with an icing tip.

Voila! And feel free to pin this on the Pinterest, hee hee.

For those interested, his absolute favorite gift was: a suitcase. He had asked for his own suitcase for about two months now, and I wasn't sure he meant it. But he opened up that suitcase, ignored everything else (including a PILE of yet-to-be-opened-gifts), and rolled that suitcase away telling everyone he was going "to the airport." He walked down the stairs and rolled it all over the yard, then back up the stairs. He even packed a book, a toy car, and a pouch of applesauce for the road. That's my boy.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Baking with the boy.

Earlier this week I wrote a really snarky and angry blog, and then I did not hit publish. Impressed? I am. The world has enough snark and anger these days -- especially these days when we are quick to comment, like, attack, etc. Anyhoo, it was just a whingy post about how some of my friends seem to think I don't work for a living, which is infuriating on many levels because it's amazing that some people don't understand that "music" is actually a career for me -- whether it be teaching music or playing music. But whatever, I'll just listen to that new Taylor Swift song and think how many more haters she has than I do...  Hmmmm, I guess I just snarked a little after all. Forgive me.

Today I am basking in the fun, exciting thing that is BAKING WITH MY CHILD!

I'm baking him his first birthday cake. Well, technically it's his 2nd birthday, but I didn't make last year's cake, so it's his first cake made by me. And I am soooooooo excited about it. I'm not Pinterest-crazy -- well, let's remember that I am not a detail person, so anything I may attempt is more likely to end up on Pinterest Fail -- but I'm just super excited about making baked goods for a little boy who loves baking things with his mommy.

Yesterday, all of my appointments were canceled (full moon, happens every month) and rather than growl about all the lost income, I decided to bake. I know you shouldn't eat away your troubles, but you can bake them away, right?

Here is The Wee Boy experiencing the joy that is licking the batter off of the mixer:

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The guilt of parenthood.

My kiddo goes to preschool now. It's the greatest thing in the world. I'm telling you this because you probably think you are supposed to sob and cry and fake misery at the thought of your little creature growing up so big and being gone from you for a few hours each day. Guess what? Not all parents feel that way ... remember, don't believe what you read on Facebook.

I'm starting to feel like myself again. I completely adore The Wee Boy, and I LOVE going to pick him up, and I love our snuggles (yes, he still sleeps in our bed), and I love playing trains, and I love going on walks, and I love when he helps me cook (boy can crack an egg one-handed and not get any shell in the bowl!), and him at almost-two is pretty much the cutest thing in the world, and I'll be sad when he has to shave one day and doesn't want to snuggle. I swear I'm appreciating the now, gathering my rosebuds, etc, etc.

But being gone from him a few hours a day is so so so so so so so so nice.

I'm still getting caught up from the past two years of getting absolutely nothing accomplished (read: two years of business receipts, bookkeeping, taxes, accounting, emails, phone calls, and all that fun stuff I needed to do for my businesses, but simply couldn't manage while being on kid-duty), but I see a light where soon ... very very soon ... I might be able to actually concentrate on, not just the business of my business, but the ART of my business.

As in, I might actually be able to book a few days in a recording studio and finish the album that is five years overdue.

I keep reminding myself of a conversation I had almost two months ago with my most-famous-friend, whose name I will not drop here, but anyone who knows me or reads my blog could probably figure out to whom I am referring. Anyway, he told me that his wife, who also happens to be a musician, sometimes also hires a babysitter so that she can play piano, and that I should not feel remotely guilty about doing just that. I think that's pretty good advice. And now I don't feel guilty.

So here's my advice: don't feel guilty. Especially, don't feel guilty for not feeling guilty, people. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Talking to grownups.

I'm saying yes to things these days (exception: no-pay gigs). Last night I went as a guest to a swanky cocktail reception and dinner down at 21C to celebrate the opening night of the new Actors Theatre of Louisville season. I used to go to those sorts of events all the time, but it's been years and years. I left the country. I had a baby. I haven't put out a new full-length album in an embarrassingly long amount of time. And I have fallen off the radar it seems.

But I said yes! And I ran into lots of people I knew, and even a few people who recognized my name (LOVE a name-tag event). I also met a long-lost cousin who happened to be getting honored at last night's event. So now I'm looking forward to a family reunion of sorts.

Most important of all: I talked with adults. I admit completely that I have forgotten how this is done. If anyone I spoke to last night is reading this, then allow me to apologize for forgetting how conversation is supposed to happen. I felt like a child allowed a the grownup table for the first time, trying desperately to use at least three words from my most recent vocabulary test. But I survived. And I had a really, really nice time.

Enough about me, though, right? (Hey, it's a blog ... what do you expect?)

A few links for weekend reading:

See? I told you it was cheaper to use Uber than own a car.

I'm playing a set at this event on Saturday ---------------->

Oh, I give up. I'll get you some more fun links next week. I used up my smartitude talking to adults last night.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Scottish family recipe: The Clootie Dumpling!

Back when I was living in Edinburgh, I made good friends with a lovely woman named Marianne, aka The Crafty Granny (it's on her business cards, and yes, she is very crafty). She is a staple in the Leith Folk Club, one of my favorite venues ever, and she adopted me as her own during my time living abroad. As someone whose grandmothers died when she was very young, I loved having The Crafty Granny in my life (okay, okay, so she's not actually old enough to be my grandmother, but it's okay to pretend, right?).

Not long after we moved there, Marianne invited me over to her flat to learn how to make a special Scottish dessert she'd grown up making -- a recipe she tells me (and many others confirmed) that very few people nowadays know how to make.

Marianne hails from the Isle of Barra, grew up looking out on a castle in the sea, and has the most beautiful and lilting accent you've ever heard. She's also an amazing cook. What she shared with me that afternoon (and evening too, as it takes a while to cook) was an old family recipe for: the clootie dumpling.
Rather remote, no?

Unless you are Scottish, you are probably wondering what in the world a clootie is. It's an old Scots word (yes, "Scots" is a language) meaning cloth, specifically a rag or strip of fabric. "Cloot" is the original word, and "clootie" the diminuitive form. (I guess maybe it's a particularly adorable piece of rag, that it should deserve a diminuitive.)

Anyway, a clootie dumpling is a dessert -- or pudding, if you're British -- and research shows that recipes vary from region to region.