Sing Like Nobody’s Listening

Last night I attended my first Austin Ukulele Society meeting and it was so much fun. It was Valentines Day so everyone learned “Can’t Help Falling in Love”. I can’t remember the last time I felt so completely lost in what was going on and enjoying every moment, without a hint of self-consciousness.

My lack of skill and the fact that my ukulele was not properly tuned (or at all) were of no bother to the two kind souls who sat on either side of me. The man on my left suggested I could always just strum in on the first beat if the fingering was too hard for me. I felt like a 3 year-old who’d been handed a toy steering wheel so I felt I was driving too. Whatever, I felt part of, and I guess that was the point. He must be a kindergarten teacher. 

So there I was, singing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” like nobody was listening with 139 strangers. It was amazing.

Also, the woman on my right with the blue ukulele and a rose tucked behind her ear sang like an angel.

Austin Ukulele Society

Cocaine & Rhinestones

My friend Patti Lou turned me on to this podcast a year ago. Holy guacamole this podcast is pure gold. I sure do hope there is a second season on the horizon. Host Tyler Mahan Coe’s stories about the truth behind some of country music’s tallest tales makes each episode a wild ride.

When looking ahead at the episodes I wondered, “Why are there three entire episodes about “The Harper Valley PTA”? I can tell you now that it’s not the story you thought you’d hear. Not even close.

I come by my affinity for 1970’s country when my family ran called the Golden Spike Inn, a kinda sorta truck stop in Byers, Colorado in the mid seventies. I’d spend the weekend pumping stolen quarters from the cash register into the jukebox to hear Charlie Pride, Dolly Parton, and The Kendalls until it was time to head back to our real life. Stop what you’re doing now and listen to this gem.

Heaven’s Just a Sin Away

I should mention these stories are often violent and of an adult nature so probably not appropriate for a family road trip, unless your family is like my family. In that case, roll down the windows and enjoy.

Oh, be sure to listen to these in order. After the first episode, you’ll see Ernest Tubb in another light, and also be back for more.

Cocaine & Rhinestones

Friday Favorites: Breakfast With a View & Dolly Parton with a Mohawk

Snowcapped Mt. Hood from panoramic viewpoint in Hood River, Oregon. Photo by Stacey Van Landingham.

View of snowcapped Mt. Hood from Hood River, Oregon.

It’s Fall Y’all

While our anniversary trip to Oregon was unseasonably bright and sunshiny, we returned home to a cold and wet central Texas. Go figure.

Once again, I teared up and felt a tug at my heart when leaving the Pacific Northwest… I guess your heart can have more than one home. And perhaps it’s because during this trip I couldn’t help but think about my father and how he drew his final breaths near the Gorge, mostly alone. While in Portland I was able to visit with an old family friend who was always a friend to our father, even when it was difficult for others to do so. So grateful for Ron being in our lives, and being there for our father near the end. Sadly, Ron was in the hospital when we were there so we didn’t have the time to explore the coast and visit as I’d hoped. I had a lot I wanted to hear about, and to thank him.

It seems appropriate that I put pen to paper and write him a letter.

Chicken vegetable soup with cilantro jalapeño pesto. Photo by Stacey Van Landingham.

Chicken vegetable soup with cilantro jalapeño pesto.

Soup’s On!

One of the best things about coming home to soup weather is, you guessed it, soup. I wasted no time making my favorite blustery day chicken vegetable soup. Recipe coming soon. .. don’t miss it! Sign up below to receive this recipe, shop updates, and more.

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Vacation Knitting

I’m getting close to finishing my Find Your Fade Shawl… home stretch! I really love the color blends and am really digging the WS (that’s the wrong side for non-knitters) of this knit better than the right side WS (that’s the right side for the same folks I mentioned earlier in this sentence). The blend appears softer on this side.

Any knitter can tell you, half the fun of going on vacation is planning the projects for the trip and hunting for local yarn stores and yarns. I picked up some locally dyed yarns in Hood River and Portland by Knitted Wit and LavenderSheep in colorways that resemble the gray rocks, bright lichen, and the pumpkin warm glow of fall foliage of the Columbia River Gorge in October. This domestic targhee in Moss by LavenderSheep will be a pair of Appleseed Mitts found in this MDK Field Guide.

View form behind of the Timberline Lodge on a drizzly afternoon. Photo by Stacey Van Landingham

Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge

I have wanted to stay at this lodge F O R E V E R. It lived up to my expectations andante more. You may not know this about me, but I am madly in love with the design of WPA and CCC parks projects. The grounds and interior everything was made by artists and artisans.  Being the homebody that I am, reading and knitting by the huge fireplace in the main lobby was pure bliss, but it the breakfast with a view the following morning was what I was most excited about.

Could not have asked for a more perfect way to spend our anniversary.

Lost River Sessions

His rainy week has me thinking of previous press trips to Kentucky, it always seemed to rain in those foggy hills near Bowling Green. One of the best things about western Kentucky, aside from Mammoth Cave National Park, barn quilts, and a Cracker Barrel every exit, was tuning in to WKU radio, the local public radio station from Western Kentucky University, and discovering Lost River Sessions. This series on WKU PBS features mostly local Americana and Bluegrass artists. If you’re a fan of this music as I am, treat yourself and check it out. Here’s one of my favorites with Lilly Mae, who is  like Dolly Parton with a mohawk. Enjoy! I just recently started streaming WKU at home. You should too.

Dreaming of Cracker Barrel’s hash brown casserole now!

Friday Favorites: Perfect stuffing, Local Holiday Shopping & Granny Chic

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful, and you were able to spend time with the ones you love… family, friends or new friends. I’d be remiss to not acknowledge that quite a few friends and loved ones are suffering great losses and illness this week…my heart goes out to them. Losing a family member or beloved pet is never easy, but the loss feels extra heavy around the holidays.

Most Requested Recipe


It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without one of my most often requested sides, Poblano Corn Custard. This recipe is from my days cooking with Lily & Co. here in Austin. It was one of our best sellers, and is always a crowd pleaser. I made notes in the recipe where I make a couple modifications. There are not many, as the recipe is close to perfection. You can buy the cookbook Lilly for Company: Austin Casual Menus for Palm & Plate locally at Anderson’s Coffee or on Amazon. I might also mention that Anderson’s is my favorite coffee in Austin. Family owned, wonderful staff, and amazing selection of coffees, teas, cups, teapots, preserves, candies… great place for gifts.

Dottie Angel

Yesterday morning I woke up around 8, Steve was already on his bike, in the woods. I was able to enjoy my morning coffee and knit away on a gift while listening to Woolful’s podcast Episode 42: Tif Fussell – Aunties, holistic healing, following fiber, and Dottie Angel. Tif Fussell is my spirit animal. I’ve always been so in love with her aesthetic and writing. I was sad when she decided to quit blogging a couple years ago, but have enjoyed following her work via Instagram. She spoke about living in a home with a soul and how that fueled her creativity. That absolutely resonated with me.

Hand-dyed yarn. I’m especially loving Fiber Obsession’s “Endear”, a Suri alpaca/merino blend that is like knitting with butter. Fiber Obsessions is a line of hand-dyed yarns by Susan Fricks, owner of Yarnorama in Paige, Texas. I’d show you the WIP, but it’s a gift for someone.

Sufjan Stevens | Carrie & Lowell. Love this. Listen here.

Small Business Saturday is tomorrow. I do not get excited about shopping Black Friday. But I can get behind this. Of course Small Business Saturday is yet another corporate marketing device… but at least you’re helping out your locally owned business owners.

Some of my favorite local shops:

Austin
Anderson’s Coffee

Elgin
The Owl Wine Bar & Home Goods
G&M Drygoods
Elgin Local Goods Market & Cafe
The Tattered Shutter
Ramona’s Rendezvous
The Lion’s Club Thrift

Paige
Yarnorama!

Taylor
The Nest Box
Cherry Tree Creative

Friday Favorites

Good morning Elgin

It’s Fall! Though it’s still a sad 90º in central Texas, I’m already digging everything fall. Casting on for a new sweater, dreaming of stews, apple pie and ponchos.

I am very much looking forward to the grand opening of Eva Mae’s Kitchen this weekend. They will be serving up such down home fare as oxtails, beef tips, cabbage and yams. Is everyone as excited as I am?

I’ve been listening to this podcast on my bus commute this week. MMMontana is so appealing.

I’ve been listening to Wes Anderson Radio on Pandora while crafting, cooking or commuting. It’s kind of fun staring out the bus window to my own sweet private soundtrack.

Binging on this Hulu series.

And while I’m talking about TV…how on earth did I miss 3 whole episodes of A Chef’s Life last season?  guess I thought it was done and just didn’t tune in again. I’m loving this season. So tomorrow I will be packaging Potluck Tableware and watching this week’s episode and catching up on the current season of The Great British baking Show.

My weekend plan is to finish packaging all my Potluck Tableware and get it on the shelves for the holiday season. And for those not fortunate enough to live in central Texas… I plan to hold a few items back to sell in my etsy shop.

Enjoy your weekend!

Lady of the Canyon

Joni in Laurel Canyon by Henry Diltz

Joni in Laurel Canyon by Henry Diltz

I love this picture of Joni Mitchell so much…her youth, the buttery California light. I love it all. There are only a few days a year in Texas where the light has this golden quality, and those moments  always remind of my days in California. Okay, enough about the light, but it never fails to strike me how different the light is between the two places. For some reason, she’s been on my mind this month, and then I read recently that she’s been very ill since March. In fact, listening to “Ladies of the Canyon” as I plink out this post. I’ve always felt a connection to Joni, and I’d like to tell you why she was such a big part of my adolescence and early twenties…but that’s a long story to be saved for another day. A very long story.

This image is from this piece. I originally came across this link on Alicia Paulson’s blog .

syn·chro·nic·i·ty with a twang

Earhart


Today being the 115th birthday of Amelia Earhart had me thinking of a song my father used to play (written by Red River Dave McEnery), titled “Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight”. I have always been in love with this song and for some reason during my mid twenties I was on a quest to find a recorded version of this song.

At the time I was living in DC and stepped into a small record store in Silver Spring, Maryland, just to browse. I picked up a copy of Freakwater’s 1993 Thrill Jockey release Feels Like the Third Time.  My youngest sister, Jess was with me, saw what I had in my hand and said, “oh, I think you’d like them, I saw them at Iota.” I flipped over the CD to see the track names and right there on track #10 there it was… my song! My heart flipped and I’m pretty sure I squealed. I could not wait to get home and listen to it.

What happened next is that I also fell in love with the band. I was so pleased that my quest for a peculiar, seldom recorded song led me to find a band whose weird voices definitely struck a chord. Synchronicity. 

Fw

Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean have voices that are pretty in a Mary McCaslin, Alice Gerard and Hazel Dickens, Lucinda Williams, Victoria Williams kinda way. To me they are as crystalline and lovely as Allison Krauss and Patty Griffin, just a lot more honest, whiskey smoked and hard working. They are the voice of a woman who’s tired like she’s been waiting tables all day, has had it up to here with your shit, and has better things to do with her time. 

I remember going to see Catherine Irwin at a SXSW daytime show and recounting that very story of stumbling across her music while looking for the Amelia Earhart song that my father used to sing… she smiled.

Awkward.

This reminded me of a night years before when I waited on Lucinda Williams at the Ausitn Grill in DC and told her that I’d just seen Darden Smith the week before at The Birchmere and he was raving about her just released Sweet Old World, she stared at me with her heavily-lined eyes without blinking and said, “Can I have a Dos Equis?” 

Again, awkward.

You Say Harvest, I Say Blue

Bill-Monroe-Bluegrass-Ramble

There are two things that I will forvever be grateful to my father for. One is for perfectly seasoning my cast iron skillets, and the other for taking me to see Bill Monroe & his Blue Grass Boys at Woodstock Opera House in Woodstock, Illinois.  Their gray suits, ties and white Stetsons just killed me. Because I had musician parents my musical tastes have always been eclectic, but that summer night in Illinois, I fell in love… with Bluegrass. I really did.

I named my teensy stationery biz, Bean Blossom Press, after his Bean Blossom Festival.

Today would be the centennial birthday of Bill Monroe.

Tonight when you're gazing at the harvest moon, give a little nod to Bill's Blue Moon of Kentucky

 

Finally…ready to play (ahem, learn)

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It took more than a couple trips to the hardware store for me to realize I needed to mix my own stain color.

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 The inside of the resonator is glossy cherry red. I'm sure noone will ever notice it, but I know…and it makes me happy.

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After staining I stamped these blossoms with silver ink on the back. I had to do this twice, because I rushed the first coat of poly finish and smeared the ink. Smile to frown in 2 seconds… what am I, five?  Imaptience rarely pays off.

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ready to play learn

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This is a boring photo of my boring bumpy grey laminate kitchen countertops. Yawn.

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Here is the new laminate color to be installed soon. I know, it's hard to believe I want laminate countertops when my husband makes concrete countertops, but this is much more in harmony with the warm, cozy retro vibe of my kitchen. He's done so much of the heavy lifting on our home remodeling projects, that it's nice to actually pay a professional when you can. The wisdom of choosing battles wiesly comes with age.

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