Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: VENUS by Joy Williams

Thanks to OnetoOne Network (#O2O) I've been listening to this new #JoyWilliams album quite a bit recently.  I am enjoying it very much.

You may know Joy Williams as one half of the four-time Grammy-winning folk-rock duo The Civil Wars. That duo broke up in August of last year, and Joy Williams is set to release her solo album VENUS on June 30th. 

VENUS tells an honest, human story of one woman’s journey out of darkness.  I haven't quite caught all the lyrics, and the one time I checked out the Official Joy Williams website, they were not available.  Even so, I have found quite a few that really grabbed me - "...gather up my fears and throw them in the fire."  "standing in the ache until the levee in my heart breaks."

The breakthrough for Joy in writing the songs for this album came when Matt Morris (co-writer and co-producer on this album) said to her, “You are so afraid to say anything wrong that you are risking not saying anything at all. You’ve got to be brave. If you’re feeling mad as hell, then we’re going to write a mad-as-hell song. If you’re feeling broken beyond measure, we’re going to write a broken-beyond-measure song.”  And so she did.  Joy actually wrote over 75 songs for this album, though only 11 of them made the actual album.  (I wonder will we see some of these in the future?)

I have enjoyed Joy's journey, as she starts with miles to go before she sleeps and finally ends up home.  Along the way she faces pain, heartache, and the impossibility of perfection.  She learns that it's OK not to be perfect, gives herself permission to feel all the things, and embraces the fact that it means so many things to be a woman.  It's a very personal album that Joy hopes people will find their own stories in, too.
The whole emphasis of my new album VENUS is I’m discovering what it means to be a woman. It’s not necessarily the things I was taught. It’s the things I’m learning on my own. The good, the bad and the ugly is all in there. To be strong and to be weak, and to be scared and to be bold, and to be angry and to forgive, and to be broken and to break open, and break through, and to be hurt and to do the hard work to heal. That’s the type of woman I want to be.
It took a lot of courage to expose herself to all of us in such a way - and so beautifully.  I love the haunting quality of her voice in some of the songs and the different emotions that the music brings forth. Overall, a lovely journey that I will be repeating.

Though I found something to like in all the tracks, I especially liked the upbeat, almost tribal feel of this song, Woman (Oh Mama):

Venus is available June 30. Get your copy on Amazon or iTunes.  I think you're gonna love it.

I participated in the Joy Williams Venus album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Coolest Garden Ever

I remember the first time my grandpa came to our first house.  He looked out into the backyard and said, "You've got plenty of room for a garden."  No way!  I was not going to have a garden.  Ever.  I'd had enough of gardening growing up.

Fast forward a few years - we'd moved to a new house, and I decided I'd like to have a garden after all.  Nothing too elaborate, but some fresh tomatoes, green beans, zucchini and other produce would be nice.  My husband built me some raised beds, and I started raising some vegetables. I didn't grow so much that I had lots of produce to can, but we did enjoy fresh veggies from the garden, and I really enjoyed it.  It really is amazing how you can stick some seeds in some dirt and get food!

A couple years ago we moved again, and I left my gardens behind.  Because we moved in the middle of the summer, I didn't really have time to get anything from the old gardens, and I definitely didn't have a chance to plant anything at the new house, even if there had been a garden.  Last summer came and went without a garden either, because we realized that simple beds like I had before just would not work.  Not unless I wanted to share everything with the deer.  Which I don't.

 We never had deer in our yard before.  A simple fence around whichever bed the beans were planted in was enough to keep the bunnies out.  But here we need to keep the bunnies and the deer and the neighborhood cats all out of the garden.

So, my husband designed and built me the coolest garden ever.  This thing ought to keep all those critters out, and look great at the same time. We've got raised beds and fencing all the way around.

And we're gonna have fresh vegetables this year! 

Jason helped me plant tomatoes and peppers, broccoli, beans, and carrots - and some other stuff - when he was here.  After he helped move dirt into the garden.

I'm being amazed all over again watching how seeds in dirt turn into plants and how little plants become big plants.  The only thing the fence can't seem to keep out is the weeds, and those are getting bigger, too.  but I'll get 'em!

For fun we added some hooks and hung my bamboo wind chime and another cool hanging we used to have on the deck at our old house, but with no pergola here we had nowhere for them to go.  We also added a couple solar 'wine bottles' for a cute glow at night

The bigger the plants get, the cooler this garden is going to look.  I can almost taste that zucchini!

Create An Energy Efficient Garage

Sectional-type overhead garage doors in the st...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you're thinking about remodeling your garage, you can make it a great, energy efficient space with a few simple steps. Whether your garage is attached or detached, you can create an energy efficient space for a workroom or storage. Take a look at five remodeling tips to make your garage more energy efficient.

  1. Insulate the Garage Walls - Exterior walls in most garages don't have insulated walls. Usually, there's an exterior material wood siding, sheathing, and particle board that act as the barrier between the garage and outside air. By adding a layer of insulation with the right R-value between the joists, or using a blown-in insulation in the drywall, you can increase energy-efficiency.
  2. Caulk Between the Garage Wall and Floor - Over time, structures begin to settle. In garages, the joint between the walls and concrete floor swells or shrinks as your house or garage begins to settle, and this creates air flow from outside. By applying a simple bead of silicone, latex or foam sealant between the garage walls and concrete floor, you can prevent loss of warm air in winter and cool air in summer.
  3. Seal Floor Cracks - Both attached and detached garages typically have poured concrete floors which doesn't provide much insulation to begin with. If the concrete floor develops cracks from normal settling or the weight of your cars, outside air can enter your garage through these cracks. Sealing all floor cracks with a concrete sealant will prevent air flow and provide better energy-efficiency.
  4. Insulate Your Garage Door - Your garage door creates a lot of opportunity for air flow when it's raised and lowered, but insufficient insulation can also account for outside air entering the garage all year. To properly insulate the door, you can purchase an easy-to-install insulation kit from a home improvement store, or install a new energy-efficient garage door for your home.
  5. Change Your Garage Lighting - If you have incandescent light bulbs in your garage fixtures, changing them to energy efficient LED or CFL light bulbs will increase energy-efficiency. These types of light bulbs use between 12 and 15 watts of electricity per bulb, as compared to 60 watt incandescent bulbs. The amount of light output (lumens) is the same as a conventional 60-watt light bulb.
For more information or to find a contractor today, visit

Sunday, June 14, 2015

How to Remove That Sticky Residue

I saw something on Pinterest recently for a homemade 'Goo Gone' which is supposed to work well to remove the sticky residue from labels and price tags.  But when I had a label to remove recently, I couldn't remember what the recipe was, and realized I hadn't pinned it.  So, I reached under my sink and grabbed my handy can of Bar Keepers Friend®.  Guess what?  It worked wonderfully!

There was no scrubbing involved or trying to figure out if cold water would work better than hot.  I just sprinkled some on my sponge, added a little water, and wiped the gunk off.  It was awesome!

Of course, I've only tried this twice, once on plastic and once on glass, but I really need to remember this in the future.  That sticky, gunky residue is always such a pain.

Have you found anything that works for you?  If you have some of this stuff, give it a try.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

How to Travel When You Have a Baby on Board

I know so many people who have just had or are going to be having babies soon, so when I saw this list, I thought it would be worth a share.
New parents love staying at home with their new babies, but sometimes a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered. Getting out of the house and out of town can re-energize you and your children.
  1. If you’re traveling by car, feel free to overpack. While you may not use everything you bring along, you’ll have peace of mind that you have everything available should something go wrong.
  2. If you don’t want to bring along your regular baby monitor, apps like Presence work on two video-capable devices, like your iPhone and tablet. You can set one up with your baby and keep the other on you to monitor them when you’re not in the same room.
  3. Be prepared to carry a lot more than you used to, both during the actual travel portion of your trip and when sightseeing, going out to restaurants, taking a walk, and whatever other activities you have planned.
  4. Try to stay calm, no matter what’s going on. Children take cues from their parents. If you’re calm during a stressful situation, you’ll help your child stay calm, too. When you save money on hotels in Boston, it’s easy to feel at ease throughout your trip.
  5. Make sure you have extra diapers in your carry-on, plus a few changes of clothes.
  6. If you’re traveling somewhere sunny, don’t forget the baby sunblock! When you’re not used to being on the beach, in the ocean or out in the sunshine, it’s easy to forget sun protection essentials.
  7. Always pack a baby emergency kit with medicine, bandages and anything else you may need.
  8. Get your child amped for the flight by talking to them about what an airplane is and what they’re going to do to keep busy during the flight.
It can extremely hard in the early months to get out of the house. Rest assured that many travel vendors are accommodating to new parents. By vacationing in a family-friendly place, you’ll have the benefit of having plenty of resources and things to do nearby.

Do you have any great travel tips for new parents?