Monday, March 23, 2009

Great Music & a Worthy Cause

A few months ago, I looked at the tour dates and found out that Dave Barnes would be perfoming in Boston on March 21. I first found out about Dave Barnes from John Mayer's blog a couple years ago. After listening to a sample of Dave's music on iTunes, I quickly bought and downloaded Brother, Bring the Sun and Chasing Mississippi. Sarah loves listening to him too, so she had me add some of his songs to her mp3 player. Since then I bought Me and You and the World, and an EP~ You, the Night, and Candlelight. You can find them here.

Anyway, when I found out Mr. Barnes would be in Boston, I asked Robert if he would like to take me to a concert. Silly question, huh? Love those grown up dates! So I bought the tickets, booked a room for the night, asked the older sibs to watch Sarah & William.

Saturday we drove over to Boston (well, Cambridge for the hotel), checked in, freshened up, and walked over to the Paradise Rock Club, a nice brisk 20-25 minute walk from the hotel.
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We had a yummy meal and some cold Stella in the lounge while we waited for the club doors to open. At 8, we went in and found a nice place right at the front of the stage. Looking around, I realized Robert & I were probably the oldest people standing this close to the stage. Most of the people around us were young enough to be our kids. The opening band came on at 9~ The Gabe Dixon Band. I'd not heard them before; I really have been missing out on a fantastic band! Gabe's vocals & keyboards reminded me of a Billy Joel concert I went to 30 years ago. Amazing. Robert said I need to keep tabs on the band's site to see when they'll be in our area again, because he would love to see them again.
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Before I knew it, it was time for Dave and his band to take the stage. Robert & I were every bit as excited as when we saw John Mayer play a couple years ago.
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I love how it shows when someone loves what they do~ the joy, the excitement, the energy~ just shines.
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A Worthy Cause~

Halfway through the show, Dave took a moment to tell us about The Mocha Club, an organization Dave supports. I have been meaning to sign up for awhile, but things kept popping up and I'd forget. I did sign up that night. Want to know what $7 a month can do?

Afterwards Dave sang 10,000 Children, from Me and You and the World.

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How close was this? Well, he was right in front of me, and Robert thought Dave's guitar was going to hit my head.

These was not posed *wink wink*
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Great voice, great music, great guy.
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For the encore, Dave came off the stage to sing "Until You" with the crowd
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Gabe, Nathan & Dave
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I'm a happy fan!
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Meeting Dave after the show after telling him that it may seem like it, but I'm not really stalking him on Twitter!
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Dave & Robert
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If you get a chance to see Dave Barnes or Gabe Dixon, go! Meanwhile, if you would, please visit the Mocha Club and make a donation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Feeling Fit

Last summer, we bought a Wii Fit to go with our Nintendo Wii Game system. I loved the idea of working out in my own home. We live in the boonies and I think the nearest gym is 15 miles or more away (I could be wrong; I've never looked). I'm not one for working out around other people. I get pretty self-conscious.

In the past year, I gained enough so that my favorite jeans didn't fit me. A few years ago, when Robert & I lost weight on the South Beach diet, I donated the clothes I'd shrunk out of and swore I would never be in those sizes again. When my favorite jeans got too tight, I started doing the Wii Fit workouts, which were going quite well until I banged my bum knee one day and workouts were too painful. Then the holidays hit and I did a lot of baking. And ate a lot of the baked yummies.

When Mariko was home at Christmas, she told me about Coolrunning.com's Couch-to-5K Running Plan. I decided that once the holiday's were over, I would make my health and fitness a priority. I realized that I could make a bunch of excuses why I couldn't exercise, but the one reason to exercise was more compelling.... I want to live a healthy long life (okay- maybe 2 reasons.... a long healthy life and fit into my favorite jeans!). Sure, there were days I didn't want to get up, or I had some aches or pains, major headaches, start of a cold, but I knew if I gave in to one excuse, the next time there'd be another excuse, etc.

So I began the Running Plan, after Robert fixed our 8 year old treadmill. Heh heh heh.. the treadmill.... I have to digress a bit here and tell you about buying the treadmill eight years ago.

When William was nearly a year old, I thought it might be time to try to shed some of the pregnancy weight. After deciding the best option to get some exercise was to buy a treadmill, Robert & I loaded the kids in the car and headed to a sporting goods store. We looked at the various models, compared features and prices, and finally decided on one that was within our price range. We went to the register to pay for it, but our debit card was declined. We knew we had more than enough money in the bank, so the clerk ran it again... declined. Bewildered and slightly embarrassed because we knew we had enough in the bank, the clerk said a code came up that we needed to call the 800 number for the card. While I kept the kids occupied, Robert talked to the customer service person for our account. Fifteen minutes later he walked over and explained what happened. Our purchase of exercise equipment threw up a warning flag on our account because we have never bought any kind of exercise anything since we opened our account many years before. The bank wanted to make sure that someone hadn't stolen our debit card, so Robert had to verify with the person on the phone that he was indeed Robert. What's more embarrassing~ that the card had been declined, or that the purchase had set off a flag because we had been such couch potatoes? Purchase completed and Robert tied the box to the roof of the mini-van. We headed home, laughing that yet again, one of our major purchases would have a great story to accompany it (oh, yes, we've got stories).

So, that's the story of our treadmill. The sad thing is, I really hadn't used it much over the years, and for the longest time, it was being used as either a towel rack or basement coat tree.

Not anymore.

I'm currently on week 7 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan, and have only missed one or two days on the Wii Fit since mid-January, because I was away from home. Recently I bought My Fitness Coach program for the Wii. I love it and I love what all this is doing for me. I'm feeling fit, more energized, less blah about the lack of sun, and I can wear 4 of my favorite 5 pairs of jeans again! My next fitness program for the Wii will be the EA Sports Active, which is due to be released in May. I'm determined to be be down to my goal weight and size by my 48th birthday in June. I'll get there too.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Labor(s) of Love

I finally told Mariko what I was making for her birthday, so I can now share it with you all. I'm excellent at keeping secrets, but not so much when they are surprises as gifts from me. Plus I knew it's going to be quite some time before this will be completed.

Some background first. When Mariko was a little girl, I used to make her a special dress for her birthday each year. The night before her birthday, after she'd gone to sleep, I would hand the new outfit on the doorknob to her room so it would be her first gift of the day. I made other clothes for her throughout the years, and always saved the fabric remnants. From the start, I had planned that someday when she was grown, I would be able to make a special quilt for her.

Someday has come.

First, I needed to find a quilt I could make from scraps, but also knew that I would need to buy some new fabrics for larger sections, borders and backing. I decided to make a queen sized quilt. Next I went through boxes and boxes of my fabric remnants to find the fabrics used for her outfits, then cleaned them thoroughly. I'd moved several times since she was a little girl, so they weren't all in one place. I remembered I had a few sheets of printable fabric, so I chose a few photos to print on them. A trip to the fabric store for the rest of the fabric I needed, some batting, and thread, and I was ready to begin cutting, piecing and sewing the quilt top. After 2 weeks, I was ready to put the quilt top together with batting and backing.

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A closer look at some of the squares DSC08635

The fabrics to the right, left and below this photo of Mariko are remnants from the dress in the picture.
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I had such fun reminiscing while putting this together.
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I printed out some fabric squares of the birthday cakes I'd made for her over the years.
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Originally I was planning to tie the quilt together, but then decided I would rather hand-quilt it, and add some design stitching to the triangles. One of her cakes gave me the idea for this detail.


Happy Birthday Mariko!
Mariko & me