Monday, July 27, 2015

This week's signature cocktail: Strawberry Blood Orange Delight aka Vodka Sangre

My husband's genius knows no bounds. This week he created a cocktail based off my favorite vacation-drink: the San Pellegrino Blood Orange sparkling beverage. We had houseguests last week, and they left four unopened San Pellegrinos in our refrigerator, which was basically like winning the lottery. I don't know why I don't ever buy them when I'm home. It's pretty much my go-to non-alcoholic beverage treat on the road.

David went one step beyond, however, and went from the best non-alcoholic drink to the the most magical tastilicious summer cocktail ever:

The "Vodka Sangre"

to make one:

3-4 strawberries, blended
1.5 oz vodka
Blood Orange San Pellegrino
dash of lime

It's easy to substitue gin or rum for the vodka, of course, but then you'll have to change the name to: Gin Sangre or Rum Sangre, which doesn't have quite the same chilling effect.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Birdies gig & some great photos.

I have been a bit out of sorts lately -- though nothing compared to some -- but I managed to have a spectacular weekend of music and friends. The Birdies had their/our debut appearance at the official LOVEWINS Victory Party, complete with ACLU lawyers, Supreme Court arguers, plaintiffs in the historic case, and some really delicious bite-size Derby pies. I played some background music with my band, and then the Birdies kicked off the celebrations with "Chapel of Love" (oh yes we did!), ending our portion of the evening (and beginning some tearjerker speeches) with "The Star Spangled Banner." Because we're either that daring or that dumb to sing an a cappella version of the hardest song ever to sing on our insanely high-profile first gig.

It doesn't hurt that we're all long-time pros of song and stage. Our 1940s-ish setlist is fun and full of tight harmonies, but also surprisingly rockin' dance music. We are having a blast with it. 
(Book us for your event: we've already booked two Holiday Parties and two festivals just in the past week!)

Here are some spectacular photos of the occasion, captured by the phenomenally talented Joseph Mays of Alien Twilight Photography:

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Rehearsing The Birdies and my mad Homemaking Skillz.

I've got a new musical project THE BIRDIES (click on our Facebook page or Twitter right now, then come back and read!) making its public debut on Saturday at the Marriage Equality Victory Party. In preparation for this high-profile event, Laura and Su and I have been rehearsing quite a bit. The tight harmonies require a little more attention to detail than I've had to worry about, and it takes me back to my days in Atherton's Chamber Singers. Though the music is totally different, the harmonies are close and beautiful.

We have been rehearsing at my house, and the other women work fairly normal-hour day jobs (as opposed to my bizarre teach-all-over-the-place work). Because we rehearse at 6pm, I have been in charge of feeding The Birdies.

This works out perfectly for me because of my recent obsession with TheFresh20. The meal plans serve four, but it's mostly just me and the Wee Boy who have been trying to eat them. Having two extra adults in the house means family dinner!

Also, it means Laura and Su are supremely impressed by my homemaking skillz. On Monday, I even pulled out the large silver platter on which to serve the tortilla bowls because, I mean, why save the good dishes for when the Queen visits? To top it off, yesterday, these words came out of my mouth: I had an extra gluten-free pie crust, so I whipped up a quiche.

Granted, I immediately qualified it with: It might be terrible because I made up the recipe, and I've only ever made one other quiche in my life.*

Still, considering two of my best friends, Colleen and Carrie, can make my hostessing attempts look like a fraternity house, it felt rather nice to be able to serve guests a well-balanced home-cooked meal. (Seriously, I go to Carrie's, and she's like, "Here, I have assorted cheeses, and how about a glass of champagne?" and Colleen is, like, "Look, I just baked a cake and here are some napkins folded like a swan." Okay, I'm slightly exaggerating, but still, they amazingly impressive.)

Something I also said: I've got some parfaits in the fridge
if we need something sweet.
WHO AM I?! (Yogurt, nectarines, honey, pecans.)
Anyway, I've come to enjoy rehearsals in a way I've never really enjoyed rehearsing before. Maybe it's because the music is more challenging, maybe it's because I've wanted to work with these two talented women for 10+ years, or maybe it's just because I've been so isolated on the homefront with my Wee Boy that I'm just over-the-moon to have friends come over to my house.

Whatever the reason, I'm going to keep cooking and always having limes available for G&Ts.

Now to figure out what the weekend's signature cocktail should be. I'm thinking something with either mint (because I have a hundred cubic yards of mint in the garden) or champagne because it's Bastille Day soon.

*Update: the quiche is good. I had it for breakfast. Because I'm so prepared and meal-planned, like that.

Booking The Birdies:
We've already got several private events booked, including two December Holiday parties! Think about if you need a 1940s trio to make an appearance at your Holiday event. We can bring a band or sing to recorded music, and, yes, of course we know "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

Monday, July 6, 2015

Put a banjo on it.

It's summer! Swimming pools, music festivals and tomato sandwiches. I know a few #summerhaters read my blog, but we can still be friends, right?

I did a bizarre thing this year -- something I haven't done in 15+ years of teaching private music lessons: I took July off. On one hand, this means I don't get paid this month (hence, all the tomato sandwiches). On the other, I have some extra time, in between the swim lessons and band rehearsals and gigs and staying-home-with-the-2-year-old-duty.

Okay, maybe I don't actually have all that much time.

Me trying not to puke while SC records some banjo on one of my songs.
We were on a houseboat recording studio. My stomach was weak that day.
No one else was remotely ill. Gotta pull myself together!
But I'm trying to actually make a record. If I don't get it finished this month, then there is zero chance it'll be ready by the time the Americana Music conference rolls around in September, and that means I will cry myself to sleep the rest of the year and probably quit music forever because if I can't get a record finished every seven years, then what good am I?

But I will finish it, right? Because that's a pretty strong last paragraph -- impetus to just do it already??

Eight years ago, I started a Kickstarter campaign application that I never actually hit "submit" on because I still feel like it is a terrible thing to have to crowdsource funding for an album. That said, I have donated to plenty of other Kickstarters and Pledgemusics and Indiegogos, and I have no problem funding other people's albums. Why is it so hard to ask for money for my own projects?

I need some pushing, friends. I need some, "Yes, it's totally okay to be an independent artist and ask for pre-orders." I need some, "We haven't forgotten about you, and your music still makes me smile." And I need some, "I don't need a fancy glossy studio record from you. Just sing your songs and have Steve Cooley put a banjo on it."

Pretty sage advice, if you're gonna make an Americana album. #putabanjoonit Is that a thing yet? Off to google it ... after just one more tomato sandwich, that is.

I grabbed a voice-memo recording on my phone of Steve picking some banjo on a new tune of mine ... check it out on Soundcloud.

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


  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


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