Oh baby I’m hooked on Mayer Hawthorne & The County

A year and a half ago I was listening to Spotify at work when a commercial came on introducing a great musician named Mayer Hawthorne. His music is best described as Motown funk for the 21st century and is fantastic! I was “Hooked” from then on and  bought all his albums from iTunes (How Do You Do and A Strange Arrangement).

I’ve followed Mayer on Twitter (@MayerHawthorne) since finding his music and was so excited when he mentioned that he’d be in Raleigh on May 2nd at Lincoln Theatre. But, I was even more excited when my good friend Andrea (follow her on twitter @drealucia and her awesome blog “Perfectly Mixed Up“) bought tickets to the show as a birthday gift to me (thanks again Drea!)

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Needless to say, Andrea and I had a blast at the show. Our dance moves were on point and we had front row seats.  At the show he sang three of my favorite songs “The Walk”, “Hooked” and “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’”. He put on a fantastic show and had the whole crowd dancing the night away! The opening act, The Stepkids, put on a great show visually and musically as well.

My favorite moment of the show was when Mayer Hawthorne gave me his guitar pick (the tween inside of me was screaming!) All in all, I had a great time and highly recommend all my friends and family to download his music! You won’t regret it.

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Help me Fight the Frack!

Please take a minute to watch this video before reading my post.

Residents of Dimock, PA know the horrors that fracking for natural gas can bring to their homes and community. After listening to their stories it’s hard for me to believe that our state legislators would want to bring this controversial and dangerous practice to North Carolina.

Fracking has potentially devastating impacts like pollution of surface waters, groundwater contamination, air pollution, strain on water supplies, hazardous material spills, heavy truck traffic, and disruption of local economies. In fact, a  Duke University study in Dimock, PA found that some residents’ water wells exploded or their water could be lit on fire and the EPA scientifically linked fracking as the cause of water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming.

I believe that fracking for natural gas is wrong for North Carolina which is why I’ve joined NC Conservation Network’s campaign to Fight the Frack. I’ve set a goal to raise $100 in honor of Earth Week (April 16-22) and I hope you’ll consider helping me reach my goal.

Here are a few of the reasons why I am Fighting the Frack!:

  • I DON’T want our drinking water to become poisonous from the hundreds of chemicals that are pumped into the ground to reach the natural gas.
  •  I DON’T want our drinking water to be so polluted I could light it on fire!
  • I DON’T want North Carolina’s clean air to be filled with toxic smog created from the fracking process.
  • I DON’T want our roadways to be crammed with 18-wheelers hauling hazardous materials.
  • I DON’T want our beautiful natural areas to be overrun with pipelines and toxic pits.

What I DO want is for my family, friends and future children to live and grow in a state where none of these nightmares exist. I believe that fracking is not right for North Carolina, and I want to make sure it doesn’t become a reality in our state.

Please follow this link to my fundraising page  and consider donating $5 (or whatever you can) to help me Fight the Frack!

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Upcycling old candles

Make a new candle from this!

Love candles? Hate when the wick burns out and there is still a TON of candle wax left over? Then you’ll love this new upcycling project I found on pinterest.com.

Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Empty wine bottle
2. Old candles
3. Pot with boiling water
4. Package of wicks (purchased mine from Michael’s for $3)
5. Pencil


Easy steps to upcycle old candles:

1. Grab a empty wine bottle and follow the steps from my last post on how to cut glass bottles.

2. Fill a pot with water and place the old candle into the water. Bring it to a boil and wait until the candle wax is completely melted (this took 5-10 minutes depending on how much wax is left over.)

3. While the wax is melting take your candle wick and twirl the top of it around the middle of a pencil. Lay your pencil on top of the glass container so the wick stays in the middle and does not fall down. (See pictures below)

4. Once the wax is melted, carefully pick up the candle jar with an oven mitt and pour the melted wax into the wine glass. Let cool completely.

5. When the wax has hardened cut the wick to the appropriate length for burning and enjoy your new candle!

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Check out these other upcycling old candle projects:
1. Happy-Go-Lucky: Easy Candle Upcycle
2. Easy Candle Upcycle Tutorial

Comment below and let me know how your candles turns out.

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Upcycling glass Coke bottles

This past weekend was the one year anniversary of losing my Nan. As much as I wanted to mope around the house catching up on Eastenders -  I didn’t. It was the perfect weekend to start an upcycling project with some of the glass Coke bottles I’d been saving for quite some time.

While skimming through pinterest.com I came across a website (listed at the end) that showed how to cut glass bottles with some common household items. After gathering all the tools I needed it was time to make small tumbler glasses out of the Coke bottles I had saved. And, fortunately, the final product turned out a lot better than I expected!

Here’s what you’ll need.

1. Glass bottles (Coke bottles, wine bottles, etc.)
2. Yarn
3. Nail polish remover
4. Scissors
5. Sandpaper (with diamonds in it)
6.
Lighter/Matches
7. Bucket of cold water (or a sink)

Let’s cut some glass!

Step 1: Cut off a decent size piece of yarn. The yarn must be long enough to wrap around the bottle a few times (I found wrapping 4-5 times was the perfect amount.) Begin wrapping the yarn around the point at which you would like to cut the bottle.

Step 2: Take the yarn off the bottle and dunk into a capful of nail polish remover. Once the yarn is drenched in nail polish remover place it back around the bottle where you want to make the cut. When you are ready light the yarn on fire and slowly turn the bottle until the flame goes out on its own. Immediately, dunk the bottle in the cold water and it should break into two pieces. (Click here for a video tutorial.)

Step 3: Carefully remove yarn off the bottle. Pull out your sandpaper and begin to dull down the edges of the glass where it broke off. Make sure the glass is wet when using the sandpaper. When the edges are smooth…you are done!

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Check out these helpful sites for more detailed info on glass cutting:

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Colin Firth: A Cat Lady’s One True Love

This past November 9th  should have been, by all accounts, a normal Wednesday. However, the prior week I received an email from someone letting me know that several roads would be blocked off around my office because a movie was going to be filmed nearby. I skimmed through the email not thinking much of it until I saw the word “Firth.” I immediately began re-reading more thoroughly only to see that COLIN FIRTH would be filming his new movie (Arthur Newman, Golf Pro) right by my office! I promptly notified the entire office that I was not responsible for my behavior on November 9th and attached the info of road closures.

Colin Firth. Photo by Karen Tam, Raleigh Public Record. http://www.raleighpublicrecord.org/featured/2011/11/10/for-the-colin-firth-fans/

Fact: If you’re a woman you know who Colin Firth is and you’re in general agreement with the entire female population that he is a gift from the Gods. Fact: If you’re a woman and own a cat (or 2….or more..) you are likely to be completely, and incandescently in love with this man (read about Tricia Keipper of Wake Forest  here).

I discovered the magic that is the “Firth” in 1995 (at the young age of 11) when he played the one (and only) Mr. Darcy in the critically acclaimed BBC miniseries “Pride & Prejudice“.  My friends and I have followed his career and gone to see almost every movie he’s been in since. So, that fact he would be mere feet from me was mind-blowing!

The morning of November 9th I made sure to put a little more effort into what I was wearing. As I walked into work with my co-worker we noticed that the small plaza that our office building is in was being used as the catering and star “hang out” area. Once I was in my office I promptly loaded Facebook because I knew my downtown Raleigh friends would be updating there status’ with Firth sightings. Within minutes it was brought to my attention that he was literally on the other side of the building I was in.

I grabbed my coat and my co-worker and headed out the door. Once we finally spotted him we were able to watch him film a scene with his on-screen wife (Anne Heche – blech). We watch for about 10 minutes and then the filming ended. As we meandered back to the office and into the plaza I gathered the courage to walk up and see if Colin was near the catering area. HE WAS! After a considerable amount of restraint I couldn’t contain my excitement any longer. I turned into a giddy 13 year old girl and shrieked “I LOVE YOU COLIN!” Mortified that I had just shrieked at MR. DARCY I bolted to the office door before I could be tackled by the police and sent to jail. I did venture out later in the day to try and catch another glimpse but was unlucky.

Now, I’m just waiting for him to come galloping back into my life on horseback with a gorgeous sunset behind him to say:

“You are too generous to trifle with me. If your feelings are still what they were last [Wednesday], tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject for ever.”

In conclusion, Colin Firth is just as dreamy and perfect in person.  What’s your favorite thing about Colin Firth?

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Happy Birthday Nan!

Nan with her plate of goodies!

Old habits are hard to break. Even though my Nan has been gone for almost 7 months I still catch myself stopping to look for a card to send to her to brighten her day. The cards usually contained short messages about how much I missed her, what I was doing, and telling her how much I wished I was drinking a cup of tea with her and watching our favorite soap Eastenders. In fact,  just last week  I found myself in the birthday card section searching for the perfect card to mail her for her birthday. It still makes me sad when I realize that I can’t do this anymore. So, because I can’t send her cards anymore I figured I’d write a blog post about the last time I was with her for her birthday.

I was able to spend my Nan’s 84th birthday with her in 2007.  I remember being able to smell the roses my Grandad had planted as I left her house and headed towards Waitrose  (the local grocery store) to pick up a cake. When I got to the store I wasn’t sure what kind of cake she liked and after much thought I decided to buy her a chocolate eclair, a jelly filled doughnut and a tiny cake. I thought for sure at least one of these sweets would hit to mark!

When I got home and presented the sweets to her she was thrilled. I remember her giddily laughing at the plate full of all sorts of different treasures! I quickly snapped a picture of her and sang “Happy Birthday”. She loved each of the birthday treats but decided on having the jelly doughnut as her birthday cake. In typical Nan fashion after her second bite she quipped “Well, I can’t eat the whole bloody plate!” and pushed it away. This line forever cemented the fact that my Nan was obviously a badass and I’m so glad I was able to spend her 84th birthday with her.

Happy Birthday Nan! In honor of your birthday today, I’ll have a cup of tea in one of your old teacups while I whistle the theme song to Eastenders.

For all those reading – do you have a favorite birthday memory with your Nan?

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The Cowboy in Tim McGraw: Broken foot saga

“We ride and never worry about the fall. I guess that’s just the cowboy in us all.”
Cowboy In Me – Tim McGraw

I’ve been a Tim McGraw fan since I first heard “Don’t Take the Girl” in 1994 and last nights concert in Raleigh, North Carolina solidified my admiration and respect for him as a performer. 15,000 fans including myself witnessed the cowboy in Tim McGraw as he powered through his concert on July 8th, 2011 with a freshly broken leg apparently from Luke Bryan (McGraw jokingly put the blame on Bryan during the show).

The Band Perry opened the show with a short set of songs that included their most famous “If I Die Young“. They did a pretty good job and engaged those in the crowd that weren’t already drunk. Next up was Luke Bryan who sang a longer, more energetic and frisky set which included his most famous songs “Rain Is A Good Thing” and “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)“. He is definitely a character and had no trouble grabbing the attention of the females in the crowd that night. Bryan’s teeth are blindly white though – props to his dentist!

Finally, after setting up the stage Tim McGraw made his appearance in the middle of the crowd to one of my favorite songs called “Somethin’ Like That“! It was pretty evident about 3 songs in that his voice was a bit hoarse and once he made it to the main stage it was clear (I had lawn seats) that he had a cast on his right leg and was using a cane. The worst part though was watching him hobbling around like Grandpa McGraw when it was obvious he was in a lot of pain.

About 6 songs into his set he began singing his song “Unbroken” and was in a lot of pain as he was struggling to sing the lyrics. During the first verse he abruptly stopped singing said “…I’ll be back” and began to hobble off stage. Ironic that he had to leave the stage on a song called “Unbroken” because of his broken foot. :) The  Dancehall Doctors continued to play the song without anyone singing until about a minute in when one of the back up singers Luke Bryan awkwardly took over the song. After the song ended the lights went dark and the curtain closed. Shortly after Jeff McHahon (keyboard player) came on stage  and sang a few of his songs. He handled the crowd well and in return the crowd seemed to enjoy his unplanned performance. He said Tim would be back out but just needed to “catch his breath and regroup.” The Band Perry came out on stage and sang a new song they would be releasing on the radio soon along with a medley of American classics like “American Pie” and “Jack and Diane”. The crowd enjoyed the impromptu performance but was ready for Tim to get back on stage.

About 20-30 minutes later Tim came back out to 15,000 cheering fans who chimed in singing every word to “Back When“.  Luke Bryan joined him on stage for this song and helped get the crowd even more pumped up. The rest of the concert was great. Though he struggled at points with vocals I thought he did a fantastic job performing for his fans through the pain of a broken foot. The night ended with performances of “Live Like You Were Dying”, “Indian Outlaw” and “I like it, I love it”.  Even with all the mishaps it only made his status as a country superstar that much more prominent. It can’t be easy to perform on a broken foot.

However, I’m not going to lie… I wish he had decided to use the stools they put out for him. I’m sure I’m not the only one that wished he would’ve sat down! Every step he took looked increasingly painful but the tail end of the show was phenomenal as he put 110% into his performance.

Check out this footage of one of his encore songs “Live Like You Were Dyin’”:

For those that were also there .. what did you think of the show?

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