Sunday, August 18, 2013

You Gotta Have Heart

It's no secret,  John and I appreciate good music.  Over the years, we've seen A LOT of bands.  Everything from Chuck Berry, to the Punch Brothers, to the Black Keys and everything in between.  We've seen bands that have been around for 50 years and bands that are relatively new (at least as far as we know).  

About a year ago, we pulled all the ticket stubs we've saved and put them in an open frame (to add more).  Sadly, John didn't save a lot of his from Way Back When, but being the pack rat that I am, I saved most of mine. 

Looking at the ticket stubs from some of the concerts we've seen, the first thing that strikes me is the price tag.  Seeing The Who in 1982 cost $15.00.  Fleetwood Mac in 1980 - $13.00.  Elvis Costello in 1989 - $16.50. 

Guster in 2012 - $36.00.  Bodeans in 2012 - $46.00.  Train this year - $46.00.  Black Crowes this year - $70.00.  Roger Waters doing The Wall last year at Wrigley Field - well over triple digits a ticket.

Heart, in 1979 - $6.00.

Ann and Nancy Wilson's band has always been one of my favorites.  As of last night, I've seen them 4 times over the course of 34 years.  When I saw them in '79, it was at the Purdue Elliot Hall of Music - a place literally engineered for acoustic quality.  I remember Ann's voice giving me goosebumps all night long.  I saw them later with Joe Perry.  Good concert, but not a remarkable one at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis.  I saw them there again with an up and comer from Indiana for an opening act - John Cougar.  All the tweens from southern Indiana showed up to see him and left after he was done.  My friends and I moved from the nose-bleed seats to the main floor and watched Heart put on a great show.  

Fast-forward a few decades.

I always liked the fact that John and I never "got stuck" with our musical taste.  I don't begrudge anyone who still deeply appreciates Rick Springfield and Donna Summer, but I like to think I can file the old stuff in the "Listen To This When You're Feeling Nostalgic" folder and enjoy new, unique and wonderful tunes. 

Then John told me that Heart was coming to St. Louis and he got us tickets.  Really good tickets.

We got to meet them, ever so briefly.  But I brought my ticket stub from 34 years ago, showed it to them, and told them I like them now as much as I did then.

After seeing them live again, I have to they they haven't skipped a beat.  (Pardon the pun.)  Nancy is still a guitar goddess and proverbial showman.  Ann's voice is still spot on.  The range she has at the age of 63 is incredible.  She sounds the same now as she did 34 years ago.  I don't know of any other singer who has come close to doing what she has done for that length of time.  

(My phone takes lousy photos of concerts.  Nancy looks much better than the white blob in these photos.)

Heart's opening act last night was Jason Bonham, and his band performed some Led Zeppelin's best - his dad's band.  After Heart's set, Bonham came back out and the whole encore was Ann singing LZ songs better than Robert Plant could 2 decades ago.  

As far as Heart is concerned, yes, I admit it.  I am stuck in the 70's and 80's.  And with Ann and Nancy, I'm happy to be there.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hoosier Boil

Since we are mostly empty nesters now, we are thinking of vacationing when (hopefully) a lot of other people are not - September.  We went to Cape Cod last September and had an absolute blast.  Sure, it was a little too cold to go swimming but we really didn't care about that.  Kathy and I spent an afternoon on the beach, absorbing some rays through our sweaters and letting the sound of the waves carry us away to a virtual place of peace and relaxation.

This year, John and I are thinking coastal again, but to the south.  Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia sound like pretty interesting places and both look very promising in one important factor in all our vacation choices - food.

We've been researching the food in the part of the country almost as much as where to stay and what sights to see.  We discovered Low-Country Boil or Frogmore Stew.  Like any recipe that has been around a long time and is meant to feed a large number of people, the variations to this dish are endless.  But we found one that looked pretty darn easy and tried it a couple nights ago.  Thank you Trisha Yearwood.

We'll see if we make it to the Low-Country or if we end up somewhere else.  We're still contemplating.

But while I was making this stew the other night, it occurred to me that my mother used to make something very similar back in the day, when I was growing up in Indiana.  I think she made it mostly on Mondays (wash day) when she didn't have time to put much effort into dinner.  I always liked it and it became a comfort food for me over the years.  It's very easy and one thing I could make when John and I were first married.  My Chicago boy looked at me like I had 2 heads the first (and only) time I prepared it for our dinner.  That recipe was quickly filed under "Make only when John is out of town."  Later, the kids liked it or at least tolerated it for my sake.  So here is my Midwestern answer to Frogmore Stew--

Hoosier Boil

Potatoes (whatever kind you have, cut into chunks if they are large)
carrots, cut into chunks or baby carrots
onions, cut into chunks
green beans
smoked sausage (The real thing with all the fat.  None of that turkey stuff - what are you, nuts??)
garlic powder or salt

Throw the potatoes, carrots and onions in a pot with just enough water to cover the vegetables, cover and boil until everything is almost done and tender.  Add the green beans and sausage and simmer until everything is tender.

There you have the gist of it.  The quantities of the ingredients can be whatever you like.  Add other veggies and spices if the mood strikes you or if you have anything sitting in the fridge that would work.  (After making Low-Country Boil, I'm going to add corn on the cob pieces next time.  Everything from Indiana needs to include corn.)  I always smash up the potatoes and spoon some of the broth on them.  It adds a little of the smokey sausage flavor.

It is nothing fancy and it's pretty basic, but isn't that the way with most comfort food?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I'm Ready For My Close Up

Remember a few weeks ago when I was taking photos with my niece's marco lens?  The lemons?  Obviously you don't have to go far to get great shots with that baby.  We wondered around her neighborhood, capturing Spring, up close and personal.  Here are some a lot of my favorites.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Tao of Pez

People will collect anything.  My husband's childhood stamp and coin collection is gathering dust in the basement. My kids used to collect pressed pennies from places like the Field Museum and Santa's Village, a small (and relatively unsafe) amusement park.  I recently heard people collect gift cards with no money left on them.  No wonder people are hoarders.  You can't throw anything away because some fool might deem it valuable.  

My grandniece introduced me to the wonderful world of collecting Pez.  If you're going to collect something, it may as well be fun and whimsical, right?  There was a Pez convention in town last week, and I had the pleasure of attending with her and her family.  

Fun fact:  The original Pez dispenser was shaped like a cigarette lighter and the candy was peppermint.  They had retro Pez at the convention.

They even had a real Pez girl!  They made these replica uniforms to celebrate the company's 75th anniversary a few years ago.

It was a fascinating morning.  I saw Pez dispensers that were priced at $1,  $2,000, and everywhere in between.   

I'm convinced that my grandniece will insist that these little gems top her wedding cake.  (The bride and groom.  Not Santa and his buddy.)

They not only had Elvis Pez, they had Army Elvis, black-leather-wearing-hot Elvis, and Vegas Elvis!  Frankly, they should have made Vegas Elvis a little wider and with fringe down both sides like his sleeves.  I obviously missed my Pez dispenser design calling.

Orange County Chopper Pez.  Another fun fact:  These were the first Pez made representing living people.  Sad that Elvis never knew he was immortalized in plastic.

Last fun fact.  Promise.  Wonder Woman with "soft side" hair is more valuable than the regular plastic dispensers.  

You name it, they had it there.

But my favorite by far - Paul Frank monkeys.  

We discovered there is a larger convention in Cleveland later this summer.  It's a long way to travel, but it might be worth it.  Nothing says pure joy like being surrounded by colorful plastic and candy.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

At the Flea Market

A couple weekends ago, I went to a flea market while visiting my niece's family.  (I realize the time delay.  I have become a very lazy blogger.)  

We discovered that a flea market is a GREAT place to take photos.  Nothing speaks to me like a bunch of "treasures." 

We saw the wall 'o license plates...

We discovered that we needed spiky, yellow, round things.  What we would do with them, I have NO idea, but we coveted them nonetheless.  

We discovered people still need wood rulers...

...and we discovered "art".

We found out how patriotic we can be...

...and how fun toy tables are.  

I was reminded to search through boxes of old stuff in the basement to look for pins...

...and that knowing how to merchandise your wares is a good thing.

Printers tiles are cool, no matter what.

But the ABSOLUTE BEST THING at the flea market that I did not purchase...

True Pulp Fiction.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons

My niece and I received the same wonderful camera for Christmas a few years ago.  Since then she has  acquired new equipment, including a macro lens.

Oh Baby.  That thing is nothing but fun.

At this point, I'm pretty sure it will be the one and only thing on my 2013 Christmas list.

Anywho, she let me use it last weekend.  With all sorts of trees and flowers blooming in her neighborhood, we did not have to go far to find things to photograph.  I'll post pics of flowers later, but today I present my favorite photos from that day.

I give you...  lemons.