Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, 9-1-2011

Nathan and I, along with some of our closest friends had a great night in Bloomington, IN on Thursday, September 1, 2011. Dinner at Farm and show at the Bluebird was the perfect way to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and we really enjoyed it!

After we made the drive down to Bloomington, in a borrowed Ford Mustang Convertible, we settle into our B & B and then headed to Farm. The food was ok, but the company was great and soon, we walked over to the Bluebird to get a good spot at the show.

We got there at 8:15 pm, got a spot in the front, with only one row of people separating us from the stage. It was worth it to be so close, but standing all night was pretty uncomfortable! (Yep, we’re old!).

Thankfully, there was no opening band to wait through, just Gill and Dave and when they came out, the sold out crowd welcomed them loudly.

They started with the first song off their newest record (The Harrow and the Harvest),  ‘Scarlet Town’ and then right onto a song from Soul Journey (my favorite album), ‘Back in Time.’ The whole show was like that, going from record to record, playing many favorites. Each song gave us rich vocals and seasoned and solid guitar playing. David Rawlings mostly sang harmony and played intricate and thorough guitar solos. Their setup was simple: two vocal microphones, and two microphones for their guitars. There was also a mic on the floor, which we would later see that it was to amplify the sound of Gillian’s boots as she folk danced to “Six White Horses”, a definite highlight! Gillian wasn’t too talkative at first, and she later blamed it on the Kentucky heat, with no offense to Kentucky! But as the show went on, she got more and more chatty and when they came out after the first set and intermission, she let us know that we were in for the better part of the show, since “we’ve gotten to know each other a little bit.” And of course, they didn’t disappoint. The second half included the aforementioned dancing, as well as fun banter between Gill and Dave and three encores, about which Dave said, “The show’s ended! None of this counts!” They finally ended with Johnny Cash’s “Jackson” which had the whole crowd singing along!

We left the show worn out but satisfied, as they played so well and for so long! It was a memorable night and we loved our time in Bloomington! Happy 10th anniversary to us!

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“Mom’s at a birth.” (A celebration of our natural abilities).

This week is World Breastfeeding Week, a week of celebrating while educating about this awesome natural gift.

I call it a gift because even though our female bodies are supposed to be able to do it, not everyone is able to and that is something to remember. I admit, I am guilty of judging a mom that I see bottle feeding their baby, thinking that they probably didn’t even try. But I don’t know their story and I shouldn’t judge. For whatever reason, there are just some that can’t.

There are many things our wonderfully female bodies should be able to do but sometimes don’t. One is give birth naturally. I grew up with my mom labor coaching her friends as they gave birth. She loved talking about natural birth and breastfeeding. She eventually went on to be a Certified Professional Midwife in TN, and now does homebirths and labor coaching in hospitals, as a doula. There are many, many times that my mom works hard to help a woman birth her baby naturally in order to avoid a c-section or other interventions. She is not anti-medicine or doctor, but she knows that God knew what he was doing when he designed us, and wants to give that confidence to other women.
There are times that it doesn’t work out, though. And in those cases, she is thankful for modern medicine.We planned to have a homebirth with our first child, but had a c-section instead. My body didn’t cooperate and forced our son into the world a bit early. But it’s ok. Again, we are thankful for modern medicine!

So this week, in celebrating Breastfeeding and all of its wonderful qualities, I want to also be mindful of those that didn’t make it. I want to be thankful for what my body can do and not judge others for not doing it. We all have a story. Maybe this is the week to share them!

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Where I’m From…

We’ve taken yet another trip down south to stay with my family in my childhood home. Steph and Emily have done these rememberances of growing up in their respective spots, so I thought I would try one too!

I am from Meeks and Sheehan: a musician/carpenter and a midwife/homemaker. I am a big sister to four siblings: bossy, a babysitter, responsible.
I am from Stratocasters, Telecasters, Fenders and Gibsons; I am from hammers, nails and table saws.
I am from labor coaching, breastfeeding help and talking to pregnant ladies; I am from freshly-baked bread, concord grape jelly and homemade quilts and clothes.
I am from charismatics turned presbyterians turned anglicans and back again.
I am from Big East Fork: gravel roads, five acres, a red tin roof and a woodstove; wading in creeks, fishing in ponds and playing in the woods; fireflies, bullfrogs and honeysuckle in the summer.

I am from chiggars, ticks, wasps, snakes, snapping turtles and coyotes. I am from border collies, cats and kittens; horses, ponies, chickens and sheep.  I am from long bus rides, hillbilly schools and 4-H.
I am from perms, poofy bangs and tight-rolled jeans; flannel, bellbottoms and thrift store finds. I am from the ’90’s, popular and alternative.
I am from a singer, musician and music appreciator. I am from the irish, extroverted, and spontaneous dance-partiers. I am from football games, cool weather, front porches and bon fires.

I am from Yankees trying to pass as Southerners and everything in between. I am happily from the Meeksarosa.

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The Partain Green Smoothie…it’s what’s for breakfast!

In January of this year, I took the Green Smoothie Challenge and failed, miserably. The goal was to try and detox by ingesting nothing but green smoothies & sensible dinners. Hopefully, one would have more energy and would lose a few pounds too. By day 3, I was a mess, tired, and mean. My blood sugar had bottomed out and I could not make it any longer!

So over the last six months, we have tried various forms of the green smoothie and recently, received a good recipe from our friend, Liz Janes.
I think what was missing from our Green Smoothies before was additional protein and carbs. I still want to eat those greens daily, but I also need something to help it stick with me and keep my blood sugar level. So we’ve adapted it to our liking and needs and I think, have finally found a winner.
Without further ado, The Partain Green Smoothie:
~1 cup of plain yogurt (preferably Greek, for maximum protein intake)
~2 generous cups of Kale greens
~1 cup of Beet greens
~1 banana
~1 cup of frozen strawberries, blueberries, mango, and/or pineapple
~1 cup of water
~1 raw farm fresh egg (optional but so wonderful. The egg adds additional  protein and I promise, gives me so much energy.)*
~a drizzle of honey (optional)

(Makes 4-5 cups)

Put them in the blender in that order so that the greens will be finely chopped. I know, it sounds a bit up tight, but I have tried to figure out the best order and this is it!

With adding so much fruit (I usually add at least banana, strawberry and mango), the taste is fruity and refreshing and there’s a hint of the greens in the texture but really, it’s not that bad. My kids drink some every morning now, and love it!

I put it in a special cup (yes, maybe also a little overly uptight, but it works!) that has a lid and straw and carry my drink around with me as I tackle the morning or run errands. It’s an amazing way to get so many good vitamins, nutrients and servings of fruit & vegetables.

Even as I write this post, I am tasting it, and am almost motivated enough to go make one! I can’t imagine mornings without it now and would be tempted to bring along my blender and all the necessary ingredients on a trip! I could be tempted to go on a raw diet, too, but that might get a bit tough. I still do love a good grilled steak!

Let me know if you try this and what you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
*Consuming raw eggs is a controversial subject so one should do the research and decide for themselves what is best. We buy our eggs locally and know that the chickens are healthy and free range. To date, we have never gotten sick but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen!

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TN EP: My review of the new songs from Ampersand

Ampersand  is the official name that Derek Webb & Sandra McCracken give themselves when they play/sing/record together. This is the second EP they’ve released and I think it’s such a brilliant name for its meaning and symbolism.

I was given this new collection of songs on Sunday, when they played at our church with my dad, Kenny Meeks. And while I didn’t know what to expect, I was excited to listen to it.

When I put it in my discman (yes…) last night, I felt like I was suddenly in a candy store, and not for my taste buds but for my ears. Sweet sounding voices were singing thoughtful and profound lyrics; guitars (6-string, 12-string, acoustic, electric…) were strumming, some here, there and everywhere. The drums were warm and full or sparse and thin, all adding just what was necessary. And then there was a whole other batch of interesting sounds going on, keeping my mind busy so that when it was all over, I wanted to push play and hear it all again.  Since I was listening on headphones ear buds, I could hear everything that was going on, the layers of tones and sounds were coming apart and going back together again and it was a mind trip just to sit and listen to it all.

So yeah, not what I expected, but awesome nonetheless. As I listened, I felt like I was hearing a perfect combination of Aimee Mann & Jon Brion, Radiohead, Wilco, Doves and the Sundays.

At the show on Sunday, Derek pushed back on being labeled as a “christian” musician and I can see why. That label usually (but not always) means that your art is mushy and sentimental, and not very good. But the thing is that both at the show on Sunday and since then, as I’ve listened to the new disc, my soul has been refreshed, ministered to and even inspired. I come close to tears every time I listen to the track, “Last Fool Standing” as I think about the struggles we have in our own marriage. At their show, they mentioned that they celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary this year and every time I listen to the TN EP, I feel like I am listening to the journey they’ve been on. I appreciate that they included the bad with the good, the bitter with the sweet and that they didn’t shy away from sharing.

The rest of the EP is really strong. Sonically, it is solid, through and through and lyrically, it gives me so much to think about and sing along to–the marks of good music, in my opinion. There are a few surprising covers and even though the EP is seven songs long, it left me wanting more! While they don’t plan on becoming a “husband and wife duo,” the music they make together is really really good and I hope we hear more from Ampersand.


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No ingredients? No problem!

Last night, we had a delicious dinner at a new Indy Restaurant, Black Market.

I made the mistake of arriving in a ravenous state, so when Tim and Katy asked if we wanted to do “sharefest” with them, I hesitatingly agreed but reserved the right to order an extra burger.

For starters, our small plates were duck buns, beef tongue and pork belly. All three were so tasty and we were surpised by the way the flavors worked for each dish.
For entrees, we shared herb crusted lamb, dumplins and a burger. Again, they were all so good! All I had to do was taste a piece of the burger with the herbed goat cheese that was spread on it to know that I wanted one all to myself. Nathan got all of our half!
So what made the burger so good? Right off the bat, the goat cheese was perfect: creamy and full of subtle flavor. There were also carmelized red onions and some sort of pickled tomato that had just the right amount of flavor. On the side was some fresh and crispy arugula with a citrus-y vinaigrette dressing and a sort of potato salad that had sweet potatoes in it.

So tonight, with those flavors still rustling around in my memory, I asked Nathan if he would grill hamburgers to see if we could somewhat recreate the burger from last night. (I was ok with not totally recreating it, as it was a special night, with so many flavors and great company!).
So I went down the list:

herbed goat cheese (from Trader Joe’s).  Check.
Carmelized onions…no, but I could make some, I think.
Pickled tomatoes…no, but we did have tomatoes AND pickles, so we decided to try that out. (It ended up not working…the pickles were too strong.).
Arugula…no but after looking through the bag of mixed greens, I picked some out. Yes!
Citrus-y salad dressing…not exactly but a little mixing of Paul Newman’s Oil and Vinegar dressing with some orange juice worked like a charm!
Potato salad with sweet potatoes…um, no, and I had not even the slightest idea of how to make it! So sweet potato fries it was!

The end result was not as good as last night’s, and that was ok. But it was pretty darn good AND, I think that from now on, I’m going to have arugula accompany my burgers, instead of fries.
Bon appetit!

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Awesome giveaway over at Simple Reviews!

This morning, I opened my Google Reader to read about a new giveaway over at Simple Mom Reviews: a bag from Namaste, Inc.

As you can see from their website, their bags are 100% vegan and are also pvc-free. The bags are also in stylish colors and the giveaway even includes a wallet!

So head over to Simple to read more and enter for a chance to win one for yourself!

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