Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A spot of vintage, charming, floral tea. The perfect teacup.

In all my music tours of the UK, my favorite part is always sitting down with my host (sometimes an overworked venue promoter and sometimes just a nice family who hosts a few house concerts a year) after a long drive and sharing "a cuppa." Usually I begin my UK trip wishing I'd asked for decaf, and I end each tour blissfully addicted. It's not just the tea itself. It's the ceremony, the tradition, the wait-patiently-and-ponder-while-it-steeps, and: the cups.

I won't pretend they were all charming, floral and vintage. Plenty were the classic white IKEA mugs.
Somehow, even those IKEA cups have a little more oomph to them when served in an English (or Scottish or Welsh!) Cottage Garden. Lately I have yearned to share a proper Clippers Earl Grey (shout out to my aristo friends!) in a perfectly trimmed garden by a stone cottage with a thatched roof with a murder mystery surrounding me (okay, maybe not that last part -- my imagination runs rampant).

Seeing as how my house has vinyl siding, and my hedge maze is still in infancy stages, I decided to create my own magic. My cups needed improving me. I love my Thing 1 and Thing 2 mugs, but they do not scream aristocracy -- or even peasant, really. They scream AMERICAN!.

A few weeks ago, I broke my don't-buy-anything-material-only-buy-dinner-and-plane-tickets rule, and I bought a teacup from Anthropologie. Granted, I talked myself out of the $288 dresses, but still, I bought a $6.95 (50%off!) teacup. I felt guilty immediately. Also, I cannot describe the immense pleasure it has brought me -- to slow down and pop a sugar cube and mix it with my tea with a tiny spoon.

Then it occurred to me that somewhere between my house and my mom's house, I actually had several vintage floral teacups -- the kind that no one is allowed to use because they used to be great-grandmother's or something. And I thought: what is the point? The point should be to slow down and drink tea, not to trap them in newspaper in a box in the basement. I haven't found the majority of the collection, but I was able to liberate a few. And don't they look wonderful??

Now excuse me while I put the kettle on...

Monday, October 27, 2014

DIY Sew Your Own Cloth Training Pants / Pullups Tutorial.

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We cloth diapered. I loved it. When it came time for potty training, we looked into pullups. Cloth pullups or training pants are crazy expensive, particularly for something that (we hoped) we wouldn't be using for very long. A $20 cloth diaper? No biggie, as you'll use it for 2-4 years, and it holds value for resale purposes. But paying that much (or more) for training pants? It seemed insane.

So I made some.
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I am not crafty. But I made DIY cloth training pants for my toddler.

I repeat: I am not crafty.

I hate details. I hate pre-washing or ironing hems. I hate measuring.

But there's something fabulous about sewing your kid's UNDERWEAR because, well, IT'S UNDERWEAR. Who cares if the seam is uneven? Who cares if you can see all the layers? Your kid is just going to pee in them anyway, so as long as they are functional, you've done well.


Target 7-pack boys underwear for $11.99+tax. That is about $1.82 each.

PUL fabric was on sale for $7.79/yard at Joann's. I bought half a yard for $4.

The rest of the fabric was scraps. You can use old sweatshirts, blankets, t-shirts, flannel shirts, etc, if you're into upcycling. You can also scour the remnant selection of the store for difference fabrics. I used a mix of flannel and fleece and straight up cotton.

Sewing machine and thread.

Wax paper


 1. Make a pattern using the wax paper and a marker. Place some wax paper on top of the underwear and trace the shape of both the front and the back. Cut out your pattern -- label which is the front and which is the back of the underwear. Mine wasn't totally symmetrical because the boys' underwear has that weird flap in the front.


2. Use your pattern to cut out what will be your padding -- the absorbent material. I cut two layers, but you can use less or more. I didn't want mine to be too absorbent because otherwise my kiddo just thinks it's a diaper

 3. This bit is optional. I cut two more layers (four total) that were slightly bigger than the pattern, thinking I would make a pocket to put all the layers in. It makes it look neater in the end, but I think it's totally unnecessary. If you are the type who prefers clean lines, then take the extra bit of time and sew a pocket (instructions to follow). If you don't care about a few layers of color in your kid's underwear, than just cut 4+ layers true-to-size of the pattern.

3a. To make the pocket: cut two layers of fabric slightly bigger than the pattern, and sew them around three edges (you'll stuff them, so leave room to insert):

4. Next cut out one layer of PUL fabric -- cut it slightly larger than the pattern. Again, you can use more to make it even more waterproof, but I was going for a pullup that would absorb some, but not as much as a plastic pullup. I traced the pattern because I didn't want to put any pins in the PUL and create unnecessary holes in the waterproof fabric. You don't need to go out and buy a fabric marker -- remember this is underwear, not a wedding dress.

5. If you made the pocket, sew up that 4th side. If you didn't, move on to step 6.

6. Stack your layers up, with the PUL fabric on top. I had white PUL, but if you bought PUL with cute li'l froggies on it or something, then put that pattern side up. You want the white plastic-feeling side closest to where the urine will start to seep through.

7. Sew it into the underwear, with the PUL fabric closest to the underwear. If you cut the PUL larger than the other layers, you should be able to see the PUL making a little border around the other layers -- good for water barriers.

All finished! Good job. Trim your threads and make a few more. GOOD LUCK!

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Greetings from the recording studio! For realsies.

I am writing you from the recording studio. Amazing, no? It has been over six years since my last full-length album release. Sure, I've done some EPs here and there, but they've been import-only (how fancy does that sound?). It's a classic story -- fall in love, get married, travel the world, have baby, stop making art, etc.
Steve Cooley doing recording magic stuff.

It's an excuse, but it truly is still more difficult for a woman to return to work than a man. Hormones, breastfeeding, postpartum depression, sleep deprivation, hormones, hormones, hormones. And when you're not talking about a nine-to-five job, it's even trickier.

I wanted to come into the studio totally prepared, with 10-12 scratch tracks already laid down, ready for my drummer to just hammer it out. But, of course, the day when my elusive drummer is suddenly available, is a day when I'm ill-prepared. I've had six years to prepare, I suppose, so it's entirely my fault.

Anyway, this morning we arrived at 9am ready to go. And of course because of tardiness, missing drum mics, and general the-way-the-studio-goes, we didn't hit record until 11:45am.

But now it's 12:25, and we have two drum tracks down because Andy Brown is killin' it.

Now I just need to trim down the arsenal of songs I mostly like to a number that's reasonable to record in an afternoon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

First trip away from the Wee Boy...

The Wee Boy and I both survived our first time away from each other. He has had a handful of sleepovers over the past few months, but this was the first time I was gone for him for more than an overnight -- and this was four overnights and five full days. And, yes, I am still nursing, so it was a little rougher on both of us.

But repeat the first sentence: we survived.
Look at us, all kid-free and stuff.

Apparently, he slept fairly well for the in-laws, who flew in from Texas to spend the long, long weekend with him, while David and I attended a wedding in the Bahamas. Last night, of course, he paid me back for my four great nights of hotel sleep by waking up every 30 minutes to scream, "I want my Mommy," which made me feel both guilty and awake. So much for that lovely rested feeling I managed to achieve on the island.

I know, I know, it's good for both of us to spend some time apart. A year ago, I wouldn't have thought twice about leaving -- get me out of here was pretty much a daily thought. Nowadays, however, the Wee Boy is kind of my best little pal during the week. We hang out, we chat, we cook meals together, we go on walks, we collect leaves. On second thought, it sounds like we're dating, right? Maybe it was extra good that we spent some time apart...

Anyway, quick updates:

Potty training is going absurdly well. Not an accident since the first day of underwear several weeks ago. I know I'm jinxing it now because I've put him down for a nap in his underwear, not in a pull up. But he pulls his own pants up and down, and he always tells someone when he has to go. He even often wakes up in the night to go -- and honestly, I think that's always been part of his sleep troubles: that he wakes up every time he pees. I have done nothing special, so this is just further proof that there is no rhyme or reason to childrearing.

He didn't nurse for five solid days, and I wasn't sure if this was the end of our nursing or not. But the very first thing he said to me when I got home was, "May I have nursies, please?" So there's that. Apparently there is still milk in there, even though I only hand-expressed twice on vacation, and only for a minute or so because I forgot how much I hate expressing. So far today, he has nursed four times, which is twice as much as usual. I'd say he's making up for lost time, and he doesn't seem interested in cutting back.

We totally bribed him. The only thing that helped him stop crying when we FaceTimed was the promise of presents. "How many presents do you want?" "Four. Four BIG presents." You got it, kiddo. Anything you say. We are so so so so so sorry to have abandoned you!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Escape to Grand Bahama

Greetings from Grand Bahama island. I know, I know, you hate me. I've had some rough patches over the past few years, however, and this adult-only trip is greatly deserved. (How's that for feeling entitled? I jest, but only slightly...)

We are here for a friend's vow renewal ceremony, and we have had an action-packed itinerary since Friday morning when we left for the Cincinnati airport. We've found time to Facetime with the Wee Boy and his grandparents, who flew in from Texas to stay at our house and babysit. But this afternoon is our first time to sit down and relax.

I'll give you a few images today, but will fill you in on more adventures tomorrow:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Maybe the best thing about cloth diapering...

I packed up the diapers last week. This is not a weepy post about my baby growing up; this is a post about laundry.

Loads of people told me cloth diapers would be a pain "because of all the laundry." I know it's different for everyone, but I honestly didn't find it to be much more laundry than pre-baby. I mean we had more laundry, obviously, because we have an entire other person living with us, but the diapers were rarely a nuisance. The nuisance was the fifth onesie of the day because the first four smelled like puke and poop. I usually ended up washing diapers with the wee boy's clothes, which I would obviously have to wash anyway, so it's not like it was actually tons of extra work. At least, that wasn't our experience with it.

But one wonderful thing about cloth diapers is that it helped me get into a routine with laundry.

I haven't washed a diaper in almost three weeks, since the wee boy potty-trained.

Ergo, I, um, haven't done laundry in three weeks. Yikes.

Now looking for ways to get organized and figure out the laundry room, schedule, etc, aside from going to Target to buy more underwear. I'm sure I could kill some time on Pinterest looking at photos of beautifully organized laundry rooms...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Q&A with Alanna Fugate, whose new album "Ewing" is out next week.

Every so often on my blog, I actually talk about music. Weird, I know. I can't make Alanna's CD Release show, but I wanted to help her spread the word in the best way I know how. So enjoy a little Q&A with her. I asked some questions -- maybe not the hard-hitting journalism from my days at CBS, but stuff I genuinely wanted to know. Maybe you do too. Alanna's got a new CD out, and you should buy it. I pre-ordered it a while back (money, meet mouth, etc).

ALANNA FUGATE is from EWING, Virginia, and has been residing in Louisville Kentucky for 8 years. She's a cowboot-wearin', story tellin', musician', singer, poet, crafter, gardener, cook, and traveler. Join her this Friday, October 10th for her CD release of her new album EWING at Diamonds Pub and Billiards on Barrett Ave, Louisville, KY. Doors, 8pm.

How did you record this new album? Was it a long process? Or did you block out a week and get it done?

I blocked out a week this past December at Kevin Ratterman's AWESOME studio LA LA LAND here in Louisville KY. At first it was a major challenge for me. The previous summer and fall I had spent in Yosemite National Park and other ramblings of the great state of California working and playing by the river side and chapel (which was the only thing open 24hrs. in the park, they had a baby grand and an organ which made for some fun jam sessions) shhhh... don't tell the rangers!! lol But I spent most of those wee hours playing tried and true songs of mine and not really working on anything new... I had written a lot of new songs before I left, but found myself getting lost in the company and the nature surrounding. My original plan was to head back out to the park after visiting family and friends for the holidays, soo... almost 6 months in advance, I blocked out this time to just get it done. I honestly kinda went in cloudy and with a handful of notebooks and just started from the top of the list.  I originally recorded 15 songs. 2 were dumped during the recording process and 1 dumped when I went to master which wasn't until this past august... I over dubbed most of the tracks, all digital, (even though Kevin is kinda famous with his analog wonderfulness). This was my 3rd full length working with him.

Are the recording musicians the same as the performing musicians? I’ve always used separate performers/recorders in the past. Always curious how others do it.

The musicians for this project are all wonderful folks that have played with me throughout the years. The only returning musicians as for recorded projects were Owen Reynolds, who has played upright bass with me for almost 10 years, and Scott Moore (23 string band) who recorded with me on my last project PINK ELEPHANTS. A very special musician that recorded with me this time around, who has been my right hand man on the dobro and banjo for the past 5 years, is Jonathan Bramel.  This guy is AMAZING!!!! I was soooo thrilled that we were finally in the studio together! Between the chemistry of Jonathan and Owen these songs really, really went to another place.  Paul Culligan threw down on the drums, Steve Sturgill was awesome on the keys, and Brey McCoy added his super special awesomeness on percussion.

What’s different about this album than your previous ones?

This is my 5th full length release.  I stopped worrying about my guitar playing. It was a major focus and possibly distraction from what I'm actually really good at... songwriting.  I stepped back on the guitar this time. No crazy alternate tuning. No flashy crazy shit. I just played the chords (simple chords) and focused on the actual song.  The Story. The real reason I picked up a guitar in the first place. Not to discount my past recordings... I love them for what they are but, this record is very roots americana driven, kinda may even have a west coastish feel to it... but it's not the "ani difranco" ishness that I've been heavily compared to in the past.  It's me this time.

What’s your favorite thing to cook/bake?

OMG... if this music thing doesn't work out I want to open my own restaurant one day!! I love to cook almost everything. I make a really mean green curry, my chili is the 2nd best in the world (my dad's the first), and don't get me around the stove during the holidays. YOU WILL NOT WANT TO LEAVE MY GRAND MARINER TRUFFLES ALONE!!! But biscuits and gravy... that's my strong suit.. :)

Music is your career … so what’s your hobby?

I love to sew, and I love to hand embroider. I'm a huge Grateful Dead fan and have made a bunch of hand embroidered patches and guitar straps. I have a whole room dedicated in my house to crafting... ps: not just crafting Grateful Dead things... I make a lot of my dresses. I also LOVE succulents. I eventually want to grow them from seeds and have a green house dedicated just to that type of plant.

I’m obsessed with Track 4s … it’s almost always my favorite track on whatever record I want to hear. So what’s Track 4 on your new release?

Funny.  Track 4 actually has a great story behind it. The song is called "WORDS THAT WILL BREAK YOU" When I was a young 'en, my dad took me to his work one day and introduced me to one of his co-workers like "Hey this is my daughter... Don't piss her off or she'll write a song about you!" Of course that was when I was like 15 years old!!! BUT, that stuck with me all these years. So I finally wrote the "Don't Piss Me Off" song. He's actually not even heard it yet... Surprise!!!

What’s the best way for people to hear/buy your new record?

The best way to buy or hear my new record is from me. But the new record EWING will be available Tuesday October 14th via www.alannafugate.bandcamp.com for download.

Reminder: Join her this Friday, October 10th for her CD release of her new album EWING at Diamonds Pub and Billiards on Barrett Ave, Louisville, KY. Doors, 8pm. $10. Facebook event info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1020528317973515/https://www.facebook.com/events/1020528317973515/

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Rainy day photos: Pretty pictures of Italy.

It's a cloudy, lazy day in Louisville, and I've got the travel bug again. I've decided my new thing for less-than-perfect weather days, is to post glorious images from vacations of yore. I wanted to upload them to my Pinterest boards, it's weird to upload a picture without a link apparently. So I'll just pin a few later (though I also know it's weird to pin your own images, but whatever). 

Today I'm going to daydream of the mighty adventures I've had -- there have been many. Here are some from our Italy trip back in December 2011. David took the good ones. Feel free to pin this daydreamy photos.

View from Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence, Italy.

Fruit vendor in Rome, Italy

Coliseum at Christmas, nightfall. Rome, Italy.

Enjoying a spritz in Venice, Italy,

View from a gondola ride in Venice, Italy.

St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Rome, Italy.

The Roman Forum. Rome, Italy.

Roman Forum. Garden of the Vestal Virgins. Rome, Italy.

An insanely old drinking fountain. Rome, Italy.

Coliseum and Roman Forum. Rome, Italy.

Il Duomo. The Duomo. Florence, Italy.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

New Music out! Like, from ME. And on iTunes and stuff too!

have new music out! Three people this morning have told me they heard a new song of mine on the radio, and I was, like, "What are you talking about?" 

I have been COMPLETELY remiss in informing you, my dear friends, that I DO have a new song out -- available on iTunes and on the radio and all that stuff like I used to do all the time.

SonaBlast records has just released Belle 100: Steamboat Songs, a collection of tunes from mostly Lousiville artists, in honor of the Belle of Louisville's 100th birthday. The Belle is the oldest steamboat still in operation up and down the rivers of America. She's a gorgeous boat, and surely has some great stories to tell.

My steamboat song, written specifically for this project, is called "On the Avalon" -- "Avalon" being one of the former names of the Belle of Louisville (she was also once called the Idlewild). It's a rollicking 1920s-esque tune that pays homage to the musicians who once played riverboat cruises all night long while people danced and drank their worries away. 

"Well, I'm a squeezebox player on the Avalon..." 

Accordionists will please pardon my use of the term "squeezebox" -- it's art, remember.

You can buy my song here:

Read more about the album here:

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Adventures in Potty Training my 24-month-old.

Parents already know this, but kids make no sense. Like, how is it possible that my kiddo potty trains before he sleeps through the night?* If you're envious, please repeat my new mantra: your successes are not my failures.

The Wee Boy started showing interest in the potty early this summer, but I dismissed it as as fluke -- mostly because I hadn't read any books about it. If I haven't read "the experts," then I'm not prepared to deal with it. Of course, I've read over ten "sleep experts," with no success there, so I'm trying to be more go-with-the-flow re: potty training.

Once he started preschool, however, he was all about the diapers. I stopped thinking about potty training.

Two-year-old in kilt. Perfect for potty training.
Then a little over a week ago, I decided I was over the diapers. Several need velcro replacements (they are cloth, and I bought them used), and though I did finally unpack my sewing machine, I decided I didn't have time to replace the hook & loop. Also, the weather is getting cooler, so there weren't many days left where running around naked would be comfortable.

He had a day off from preschool for Rosh Hashanah, so we went naked (well, he did). He had 1.75 accidents before 9am, and since then (a week) has made it to the potty -- even when we went out to the Irish Fest (he wore a kilt with nothing underneath like a proper Scot). We had a couple of sprinkles before he made it to the potty here and there, but he pretty much always ran to the potty and told us when he had to go.

Except at preschool. He was wearing pullups there, which I guess feel different from underwear or commando. Also, the pullups are disposable and even more absorbent than his old cloth diapers. (I'll have a cloth pullup tutorial for you later this week.)

I kept him home from preschool on Friday last week to start the switch to underwear at home (preschool says they are fine with accidents, but I wanted to see how he would do before just going for it at school).

We had more accidents than not the first two days. Mostly, he would make it to the potty, but go before we got his pants down -- he never pooped in them though, so success there. (And yes, I just talked about poop on my Red Accordion blog. Times have changed. Move along) Sunday morning, he woke up a new boy, and we haven't had to wash out any underwear anymore. We've even taken trips out of the house, in a car, to a friend's house for dinner ... like, normal people, living their lives. And the amazing Wee Man has told us he needed to go to the potty each and every time.

Potty training surely is different for every kiddo (though maybe if I marketed our method, I could make a million bucks), but I'll share our successes/failures:

  1. We did about 3 days of strict nudity, with me being completely vigilant watching for signs he was about to pee (glassy stare, standing still, etc). He made it to the potty all but the first two times, for the most part. One half-accident with a babysitter.

  2. We switched to pull ups (disposable at preschool and cloth at home, mostly). Instant problem. He even said, "Pull ups are fancy diapers."
  3. We ditched the pull ups. I tried some commando at home, but that wasn't working for us -- mostly because he was at preschool in the mornings and home at night, and it was confusing.
  4. Then we went straight to underwear, but no pants.
  5. He washed out his own underwear when he had an accident. For a while, I was afraid he actually enjoyed that, since he likes playing in the sink. But I think he understood, ultimately, that laundry is not a prize.
  6. Accidents stopped completely on the third day.
  7. We haven't bothered potty training for naps or night sleeping. He doesn't sleep through the night yet, so I told him I didn't want him to worry about the potty while he was sleeping. I needed him to concentrate on SLEEP.

This one was the thing that seemed to make the biggest difference for him, however:

8.  I stopped sitting him on the potty and stopped asking him if he needed to go. Instead, I asked him to tell me if he needed to potty. I asked him if his underwear was dry. Maybe he has control issues or something (pretty sure it's in his genes), but he just wasn't responding well to being put on the potty all the time. When we asked him to tell us, he started to think about it a little more, maybe became more in tune with his body. Whatever the magic, it worked for him.

9.  We definitely used rewards -- he got a sticker to decorate his little potty with each time he went. And also a sweet treat (grapes, or a fruit rollup, or part of a homemade cookie). We all do a potty dance. He likes to flush it away himself, and he loooooves washing his hands.
10. I lifted my screen-time-rule to watch the Daniel Tiger episode, "Prince Wednesday Goes to the Potty," which now means the Wee Boy shouts "Flush and wash and be on your way!" every time he goes.
Tomorrow he's off to preschool in underwear, which could lead to accidents, of course. I know he's relatively young for this, but he has been telling us every time he needs to go. I'm not going to put him in pullups knowing that he'll definitely pee in them. I'm just hoping he's as comfortable telling his teachers that he needs to go as he is telling his parents.

So potty training seems to be a massive success, whereas every course of sleep training was a massive failure.

BUT, I also made some super easy DIY cloth training pants that I won't be using anytime soon (again: we ditched the pullups) ... but I'll keep them around in case they are helpful for when we start potty training for naps. I'll share that pattern, etc, with you later this week.

*Edited to add that the Wee Boy just started an allergy medicine (the day after I started writing this post) that made him ALMOST sleep through the night!!! Whoo hoo. He still woke up talking, but pretty much went right back to a sleep. I prefer medicine-free, but I really, really, really like this one!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Take your kids to hear music.


10:30am at Mama's Hip, 1559 Bardstown Road. 
Family Music Jam
It's a parent/child class, and it's drop-in (no signup or commitment required). 
We shake eggs, tambourines, beat on drums, wiggle, and dance. I play some stringed instrument (or occasionally the accordion if I'm feeling saucy and I borrowed a car), and I sing a combination of campfire songs and wee-one songs. It's fun. You can come in your pajamas if you want. Sometimes I yodel. Sometimes I sing John Denver. 

6:30pm at Great Flood Brewing Company, 2120 Bardstown Road (next to Twig & Leaf)
Live music. Brigid Kaelin, Dan Canon, and Steve Cooley.
We play all kinds of instruments (seriously, each of us plays at least 10 instruments), so you never know what to expect. But generally, it's lots of things with strings. And we know lots of songs -- sometimes we sing all original, and sometimes we do all requests.

I've made a lot about the fact that this Great Flood gig is kid-friendly. Someone even made a joke asking if we ever do kid-hostile events. I know it was a joke, but seriously, when you think about language and bedtimes and drunks at most live music shows in this town, I'd venture that, yes, most live-music in Louisville is, in fact, kid-hostile. 

Sure, there are festivals and summer shows that you can bring your kids to, but where can you take a child to hear relaxed live music in a less overwhelming setting?

Music is so important to development -- not just memorizing the ABC song, but hearing rhythm, seeing instruments, their different shapes, their different sounds. Playing your iPod at home is wonderful (and super important), but there is nothing like live sound. 

Anyway, I love this gig because it gets me out of the house, but I also love it because I see so many little ones hearing live music for the first time. Or hearing it for the zillionth time (like my kiddo) and still seeing it as a magical show. Last week a young girl asked for "the song from Frozen" or "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," pretty much the coolest request-combo ever from a child. (We played both.)

Let's do more early and kid-friendly shows in this town, please. I want to take my kid out to hear music, not just take him out to hear me.