Friday, February 19, 2016

Bagels and NYC name-dropping tales of yore.

I'm chowing on a bagel this morning, which always makes me get a little wistful for my days in NYC. It also reminds me of all my funny mornings running the Green Room in a major network morning news show. As an intern, I arrived by 5am on Tuesdays and Thursdays to greet the day's celebrity guests and chit-chat with them over breakfast -- usually a tray of bagels and fruit. It wasn't fancy spread you'd imagine, but we always ate well.

Me, in front of my dorm, in 2011.
I lived here 1996-1999.
As I chomp on my bagel today, I'm reminded of how Eleanor Mondale (RIP) taught me to scoop out the inside of the bagel in order to "limit your carb intake" -- a tactic I only ever subscribed to on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in front of celebrity guests. I did appreciate the clear path that a scooped-out bagel created for a moat of cream cheese (I clearly missed Eleanor's point), but, in truth, I prefer a solid bagel.

Anyway ... a few more funny reminiscing moments of name-dropping fun:

That time Martha Stewart sent me all over midtown at 4:30am searching for a particular kind of grapefruit, which I thought was for a television segment, but it turns out was just for her breakfast. Also, I had the grapefruit sliced the wrong way (she wanted peeled pieces, not to scoop it out with a grapefruit spoon!), which angered her. After that -- no, actually after a few other incidents that maybe I'll spell out in my memoirs -- I chose not to do any more errands for her.

There was another time when Bill Cosby grabbed my bottom while I was bending over to refill his coffee cup. No further comments.

Once Jeff Goldblum and I were so caught up in a conversation about jazz piano (he's a very good player) that he almost missed his on-air cue (my fault).

While eating a bagel with Walter Cronkite, I was too nervous to tell him he had cream cheese all over his mustache. Full story here.

Another time I had to interview Colin Powell and try to get him to talk about a potential White House bid. I was barely 20.

Anyway, it seems like I've done some pretty exciting things in my life so far, so maybe I shouldn't be so disappointed that I haven't used my passport in 12 months. I do wish I could get a real bagel in Louisville though.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Podcast, gig, and stressing over silly stuff.

If you'd like to hear me babble about some crazy stories in my past (like that one time I got driven home in a motorcade), then have a listen to Adam Brodsky's excellent podcast called Rhymes Against Humanity

What else is new?

The Birdies have a gig on Sunday, February 14, singing several songs at Keneseth Israel in Louisville. It's a celebration of the American Songbook, with emphasis on songs written by Jewish Composers. It turns out that, like, all of our setlist was written by Jewish composers. Along with most of the hits of the 20th century. Tickets are available here. They've already sold over 200, so should be a good night!

My wardrobe choice is a little limited for this gig because, um, I've been eating a lot lately. I think rather than crash dieting, I'll just focus on my making my hair EXTRA VINTAGE and hope you don't notice the dress isn't as accurate as Laura's.

What else is new? I'm stressing out over the wee boy's Valentines for school. I'm trying my hardest to finish this actual, real album before Leap Day. My voice is still not back 100%, which means I haven't recorded the vocals yet. The master Steve Cooley is working some magic with a drummer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Giving up Paper Towels for Lent.

Looking for something to give up for Lent? I've got the answer: paper towels.

Seriously. I hear you laughing. I hear your "what-ifs." I sense your eye rolls.

What if the dog pees? What if I need to wipe the counter? What if my kid spills milk?

We've been a paper-towel-free house for almost five years now. We moved to Scotland in 2011 and had a hard time finding paper towels for sale. Then we noticed our British friends rarely, if ever, used them. They certainly didn't use them as a substitute for a plate in the way that so many Americans do. At one point in my life I also didn't think much about buttering a piece of toast on a paper towel -- I mean, it saved the hassle of washing a plate later. Honestly, though, with that mentality, you'll go through multiple rolls a month, and it's just a total waste.

So, while in Scotland, we got a few tea towels and that was that. Since we came back to America over three years ago, I haven't missed paper. Everything can be cleaned up easily -- often more easily -- with a proper dish towel. Think about restaurants ... they don't clean up spills with paper towels. What you can clean up with one tea towel often takes 10-15 paper towels. Or would you wash your car or dry off after a bath with paper towels?

I understand that many people think we are nuts for our paper-towel-free-household, including my family and David's. For them, we keep a roll of paper towels on hand because it keeps the peace. It does amaze me how quickly a roll is used up when family is visiting though -- something I never would have noticed before we went on our paper towel moratorium.

Anyway, just get yourself 4-6 dish towels and try to make it 40 days.

Benefits of being Paper-Towel FREE:

  1. Save a lot of trees and thousands of gallons of water. (Various sources say it takes 17 trees and 20,000 gallons of water to produce a ton of paper towels ... and 3000 tons of paper towel waster is produced DAILY.)
  2. Paper towels are often toted as being biodegradable, but there are so many chemicals in them that they often don't. Google away to find more discussion. You also can't compost most of them, as they are bleached and loaded with chemicals. 
  3. Start a dish towel collection! It's now my go-to souvenir when I'm traveling. I don't need a t-shirt or a coffee mug. I find a cute tea towel or dish towel. My current favorite is a macaroon towel that some friends brought me from Paris last year.
  4. Brightly colored towels are an easy way to decorate the kitchen. Added benefit here, as I have zero decorating ability.
  5. There are always towels hanging on the stove and by the dishwasher, which makes it super easy for my 3-year-old to clean up a spill quickly.
  6. They are really easy to wash. Just toss in a couple whenever you're doing laundry. I don't feel like it has added to my laundry at all.
  7. Cleaning counters, floors, etc, is easier and more efficient with rags. 
  8. Eliminate the guilt of having gone through half a roll of paper towels just to clean up the kitchen a bit or dust your baseboards.
and a bonus one:
      9. Saves you a trip a Target, which, in turn, saves you hundreds of dollars a year:) 

Anyway, Lent is only 40 days. Give it a try.

What are you giving up? Do you already limit your paper towel use? 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Update on new album. Some new photos. Lots of hot tea.

I do love my Emmylou Gibson.
Hope everyone had an happy Imbolc aka St. Brigid's Day! Don't feel bad if you forgot to celebrate ... it sneaks up on me every year too. I celebrated by staying home and putting myself on voice rest. Hot tea, honey, lozenges, anything to clear up this badly-timed case of laryngitis I have acquired.

You see, I have a goal of finishing my album by the end of this month.

My last full-length album took me 4 days to record. I left town to make it, booked 8 days of studio time, used studio musicians and a producer I didn't know that well. We worked for 4 days in a row and realized we'd finished.

This time 'round has been incredibly difficult. I probably should have just left town and booked a studio, but I have zero budget (and have not been brave enough to crowdfund) and have had to rely on the kindness of friends. Even when friends are kind, the timing is still so tough. It's not just about coordinating a time for someone to push record. It's about coordinating that time with an engineer and a babysitter and time off from teaching and a sober drummer.

Playing The Black Pearl accordion because
Big Red was stolen. I'll share that story one day.
Well, I've not managed to find the sober drummer yet, but I'm close. Today I arranged studio time to finish my vocals -- a task that shouldn't have been too challenging. I canceled my morning lessons (I hate doing that because 1) guilt over my poor students missing class and 2) LOST INCOME), my engineer carved out time, and I had childcare arranged.


I know, I know. Things could be worse. But I swear, I spend enough time frustrated over my inability to blossom in my career while I'm primary parenting, and I thought I'd finally sorted this out.

What is the DEAL, tonsils? Behave!

So today, rather than gloriously finish my record (it was too late notice to find a sober drummer and studio to use the engineer's time for recording drums instead), I am chugging hot tea next to a humidifier, writing a pity-party blog about my lost day.

And now, having typed this woe-is-me blog, I'm giving myself a massive guilt trip for being so self-centered in a world of misery and looking at photos of outer space and rolling my eyes at myself because I know, I know.

I just really need this album completely recorded by the end of February. One day I'll tell you why I set this seemingly-arbitrary goal.

Looking so deep and thoughtful and curly-haired.
At least I managed to get some new promo photos* taken. I'm trying, people, I'm really trying!

Deep breaths (into steam).

*by the amazingly talented Joseph Mays