Spring Salads, Songs, and Spirit Squads

Spring, I think you’re here. Finally. Why did you make us wait so long? You’re going to stick around for awhile to make it up to us, right? We’ll now be blessed with endless 70 degree days with light breezes and lots of sunshine.

Sweet relief from the cold means I’ve been celebrating in lots of ways. Running in shorts (miracle!) and with the Indy Runners group. I like having running companions to keep my mind of off the actual run some days. Yesterday I showed up for the Tuesday run at Hinkle Field House on Butler’s campus ready to do four, maybe five, miles. Thanks to the girl I ran with, I ended up going six miles!

 

May is Race Month in this fair city and the Mini-Marathon is the kick-off for a month of festivities leading up to the Indy 500. Biggest half marathon in the country, what what? I opted for the role of cheerleader this year instead of runner, which I thought would be very difficult. I’m a pretty competitive person, especially when it comes to races. But I remembered how much I appreciated the support of my friends along the race course last year, and I was excited to cheer extra loudly in the places where I remembered feeling the most tired. My friend Sam and I biked to around mile 9 and then maybe .25 mile before the finish line. Extra perk? En route we go to see the wheelchair racers and the insanely fast top finishers (can you imagine running 13.1 miles in just over an hour?!), a part of a race that I never get to see as a participant. The sheer athleticism of these men and women blew my mind.

 

Our posters (yes that’s Ryan Gosling and Bob Dylan) got plenty of head nods and smiles from random runners, but we cheered extra hard for our friend Marnie and her fiance Jannson and my two other friends that we happened to see run by. We even ran along the sidewalk for the last .25 miles with Marnie, screaming her name the whole way. I am beyond proud of these two!

Can we talk about driving with the windows open and music blaring? It’s one of my favorite warm weather pastimes. Right now I could listen to Patty Griffin’s new album American Kid all day. The first song feels like the perfect summertime folky anthem to me.

Back to running. It’s cool, it’ll lead to epic spring food. In starting to think about training for the marathon I’ve signed up for this fall, I’m considering my diet. I know that the more miles I log, the hungrier I’ll be, but I do not want to just stuff myself with tons of pasta, as amazingly appealing as that sounds. So I’m focusing on fueling with lots of fruits and veggies and healthful proteins like beans and lentils. To kick start this fresh new diet I did a really great three-day juice cleanse from Natural Born Juicers. If you live in Indianapolis I highly recommend checking them out. I’m now a few weeks out from having finished the cleanse and am back to my marathon fueling diet. I’m actually really missing my morning juices and how awake and strangely full they made me feel, so I’m thinking of going in on a juicer.

On top of that spring has brought the most magical produce to the farmers markets. Slowly at first, but surely. A few weeks ago radishes and pea sprouts started to show up, and so I rejoiced. This time of year is perfect for buying lettuce and any other awesome vegetables that catch your eye and making a huge salad.

I’d love to give you a recipe for this, but I feel like that would just be limiting, so here’s a basic guide.

Pile your plate with lettuce (mine, year round thanks to hydroponics in greenhouses, is almost always from Eden Farms). I like a mix of lettuces to give my salad a little more flavor and depth.

Chop up a variety of vegetables, whatever is pretty and bright and catches your eye at the store or market. I went with pretty pink and white radishes and sweet pea shoots from Harvestland Farms. Never had pea shoots? Me either until this salad! They taste like peas, not surprisingly, but before peas come around. Like a pea preview. Maybe add a squeeze of lemon over things now. Add some fresh herbs if you have them on hand.

Any good salad, or meal in my opinion, is topped with a soft yolk fried egg (my eggs always come from Schacht Farm, I love them, eggs and people, so much). Fry one up with a bit of salt and pepper, or poach it in olive oil like Oh Joy, which is what I tried out for this salad. I liked this cooking option, because it a nice amount of olive oil to drizzle over the salad as dressing.

Break open that egg and let the yolk get all cozy with the lettuce. Heck yes, spring!

Weekends. Sanctuaries.

Coming at you with a weekend.

I play music as I do things around the house on this unrushed, mostly unplanned Sunday morning. Lately I think I’ve been trying to catch the wind. Futile most likely, but for some reason I can’t seem to stop. Wind, leave me alone. Come back when you’re a pleasant breeze.

Sunday is pancake day. This morning pancakes broke me. (Sorry Joy the Baker, I cannot get your single lady pancakes to work!) In one stupid moment pancakes almost ruined my entire day. Just breathe, though, right? Turn to a favorite pancake. Funny how the same food that brought me to tears one minute, is perfectly golden and doused in maple syrup the next. Sometimes it’s good to stick to our favorites.

Sunday needs to relax, because Saturday was spent being busy. When one of your best girls is getting married in August some Saturdays are busy. Find bridesmaids dresses, have margaritas and beers, accidentally make off with diamond bracelets from my parents’ jewelry store, visit the reception location.

This is The Sanctuary on Penn.

Stained glass windows everywhere.

Even the bathrooms were lovely.

Have you ever been somewhere that just breathes a person? The Sanctuary on Penn fits my friend and her fiance perfectly in the history, the stories, the details, the scuff marks, the light, the many rooms, the leather chairs and dark wood bars, the fact that I can say bars plural.

Good luck penny floors.

Perfect. Wandering around this old church and picturing it filled with their guests was easily my favorite part of the day.

Dreams.

Dreams are funny. Where would you be if all your dreams had come true? Obviously you’d be in a million places. These things change a lot.

Ever since I started riding horses at 9 years old, I dreamed of having a horse. In middle and high school I dreamed of being a vet. My friend at the barn was going to be an Olympic rider and I’d be her vet. That dream was dashed when I realized you had to be good at math to go to vet school. Faaaack.

I dreamed of leaving Indiana for college. I wouldn’t trade those four years for any other college experience in the world. Then I had a dream of going into the Peace Corps. I was even accepted, but I chickened out. My life would be pretty dang different if I had spent the two years after college in Mongolia or eastern Europe.

I dreamed of making a permanent life in North Carolina after moving down there for a year after college. I tried so hard to find a job. I never, ever dreamed I’d be living back in my hometown, making it my home.

I dreamed that I’d marry a certain boy. That would’ve been hilarious.

I heard this song the other day on Pandora. I actually stopped what I was doing (sweeping up clouds of dog and cat hair that float around my house with reckless abandon) and had one of those “that’s it, you speak to my heart” moments with the lyrics … “Where would I be right now if all my dreams had come true? Deep down I know somehow I’d have never seen your face. This world would be a different place. Darlin, there’s no way to know which way your heart will go.” (Which Way Your Heart Will Go, Mason Jennings)

What if even one of those dreams had come true? I wouldn’t be here, making a huge pile of black and white hairs (none of which came from my head, thank you very much. I’m so not  in complete denial about my growing number of gray hairs.), that’s for sure. I wouldn’t know the faces, the important ones, in my life, at least not in the same way. Maybe I would’ve had great experiences abroad, met fantastic friends making a life in North Carolina. Hell, maybe I could’ve been a damn good vet. Funny how you take certain turns, certain dreams don’t make the cut, and that all puts you where you are now, surrounded by the people you love.

Right now, I’m pretty much living the dream. The Dream. The one I never knew I had, but that’s dang good.

Love.

 

I’m certainly no expert on love. Who is, really? I do know what not love is, the platonic variety and the passionate lustful variety. Maybe you don’t know what love is until you thought you had it and then you realize you were wrong wrong wrong. Love does not betray you.

It sets you free!

Those Mumford and Sons, they know, I think. Their music sets me free, so I suppose I love them, right? Yes.

They totes inspire me, and as such, I like their new single. “I Will Wait.” I sure will wait, I’ll wait for you. Hey, that’s what love is!

 

Fun.

We Are Young, Fun. You’ve probably heard this song if you’ve had the radio on for more than five minutes this summer. It’s gotten so much air time that I dare say it’s been over-played. But that doesn’t stop me from singing at the top of my lungs every time I hear it, or even purposefully looking it up on YouTube on my drive home so I can rock with the windows open.

This song beeped onto my radar awhile ago actually. Maybe like late fall of last year. I was immediately struck by how the chorus sounds like an anthem, this wild declaration, “Toniiiiiight, we are young. So let’s set the world on fire, we can burn brighter than the sun!” Can’t you just hear bars full of college students joining in song together, their Bud Lights raised in the air? I make Fun., but like I said, I love it.

In case you’ve been under a rock for the last few months (it’s OK, don’t feel ashamed, sometimes I, too, live under a rock called I hate the radio and pop music.), here’s the video, which actually really makes me uncomfortable. Why is everything in slow motion?!

Then one day, I branched out from this one song. I typed Fun. into Spotify and lo and behold! This band has two albums! And they’re all bright and fun and poppy without being annoying. They lyrics actually say something. I can listen to these songs over and over. Let’s not even talk about what happens when you create a Pandora station based on Fun.

One of my faves from their album Aim and Ignite is Light a Roman Candle With Me. It’s sweet, and when I first heard it, I pictured a couple walking down a grassy lane, hands entwined, arms swinging. Upon closer listen I realized it wasn’t this idealistic song, much more realistic in fact. Give the two of us, give this thing, a chance, and maybe it’ll work out. You never know until you light the roman candle and let it fly.

Listen to some Fun. this weekend. It’d go well with cookouts, day or night drinking, dancing in the kitchen, bike riding, state fair going, summertiming in general.

A Very She & Him Christmas

I have a major girl crush on Zooey Deschanel. Like out of control major. She’s super cute, has a great sense of style, I love her hair (maybe, just maybe, I wanted bangs because of her.), she has a funny TV show, she thought she invented rinsing after toothbrushing, oh yeah, and she and M. Ward have this great band called She & Him. I’m pretty sure we could be best friends since we had the same American Girl dolls as kids (see above-linked video).

It’s a good thing Michael loves Zooey too, otherwise he’d probably start getting jealous.

So back to She & Him. Why do I enjoy them? The songs on their two albums are sweet and so easy to listen to. They have this great throwback retro 60s and 70s sound. M.Ward’s music has that simple quality for me, deceivingly so I think, because upon closer listen his songs are a bit more complex. And Zooey’s clear voice sounds retro and fresh at the same time.

So this October She & Him released a Christmas album. I love Christmas music, but I hate how cheesy and done up it can be. So I really appreciate the genuine holiday cheer in every song on this album. I just want to put it on a record player and decorate the crap out of  my house with little lights, homemade garlands, and candles.

Sleigh Ride is my favorite song on the album. One it features both the She and the Him on vocals. Two I’ve always loved this song. It paints such a romantic scene of winter fun. And as I listened to it today this line jumped out at me

These wonderful things are the things we’ll remember all through our lives.

Sold. That’s what the holidays are about guys. These wonderful things, these little moments that the holidays give us a chance to find ourselves in. We’re all forced to hang out with our family and our dear friends extra this time of year, because that’s just what you’re supposed to do. And while this time of year may be exhausting and expensive and stressful, and sometimes we just may want a river to skate away on (sorry, can’t help it, that song’s also one of my faves this time of year, even though it’s so not a Christmas song and is really kinda sad), we’re put into these situations that are just made to remember if we just freaking breathe. I know breathing is hard, trust a girl. So I’m gonna make this time of year A Very She & Him Christmas because these songs remind me to chill the eff out and enjoy simplicity.

Listen to it. Get into the holiday spirit. After all we’re mid-December now and up to our ears in the holidays. Do yourself a favor.

Because we’re talking holidays, I’m going to give you a second song like a gift – Silver Bells.

 

All the Good Music

I watched the second half of the Grammy’s Sunday night. The Grammy’s always make me sad because they recognize a lot of crap music that’s being played on the radio and sold on iTunes these days. Only a handful of real, honest, musicians get nominated and even fewer win. So today I had every intention of writing an angry post about how music today is crap and how most mainstream artists don’t know how to even put on a good live performance.

And then I got into work Monday morning, sat down at my computer, and found so many inspiring songs, so many talented musicians, and I wasn’t angry anymore. (Well, not angry about music at least.)

So I’m just going to share all of my happiness with you. And hopefully these songs and these people who seem to love what they do will change your day and make you smile.

Iron & Wine, Naked As We Come. One that I can’t quite decide if it’s incredibly sweet or really depressing. Either way, I adore Iron & Wine’s soft, ripply, guitar-picking style.

An absolutely mind-blowing Grammy performance from last night by Mumford & Sons and the Avett Brothers, and a somewhat mediocre performance by Bob Dylan. Though I can’t blame the man. He’s older and his voice has always been pretty raspy (which is part of his charm). Mumford & Sons tore it up with “The Cave.” A great song from their debut album. And the lead singer, how cute is he? Avett Brothers never fail to disappoint me and I like their choice of song, “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promises.” And everyone played with Bob Dylan on “Maggie’s Farm.”

Continuing on the Grammy’s theme, I had no idea who the Best New Artist Esperanza Spalding was until thankfully NPR enlightened me this morning. She plays this huge double bass and has a sweet, clear, jazzy voice. This video is a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR. I like the smallness of this concert series always.

Adele. She’s amazing, gorgeous, fashionable (hello, is that a cape in this Tiny Desk Session?), and has a freaking powerful voice. Like the kind of voice that could blow you over but never screams. She has a new album coming out February 22. You may still be able to get a peak on NPR’s site. This is another Tiny Desk Concert. I love that she does the whole thing a capella.

And, lastly, a song for Valentine’s Day, “Fearful” by Beat Radio. I know, I know, it’s a video montage. But it’s of Jim and Pam! I love Jim and Pam. I cried when he proposed to her at the gas station in the rain and I bawled during their wedding episode.

Happy listening!

Bright Friday Links

I was suddenly inspired to share some links with you today because it’s Friday and I want to try to brighten your day and remind you that yay, the weekend is almost here!

Just a little reminder! Get the print here.

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade peanut butter cups? Why not!

Dog & Panther. A band you should check out. Bright. Spring-like. Sweet. Oh and you can download a free song, “Giant Hands,” here.

Because Monday brings the silliest holiday of the year: Valentine’s Day By The Numbers.

Kitties getting down like woah. I know I could use a little free falling and dancing this weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m looking forward to a weekend of testing chocolate chip cookie recipes, getting some new SmartWool socks (yes that excites me. It’s almost as good as buying new underwear.), going for a couple of runs in the warmer weather, and rehanging some things in my house with Miss Jen. What are your weekend plans?

Song of the Week

I’m a little bit worried that this song of the week thing (which is more like a song of whatever week I remember it) should become Music Recommended by Carol instead. The song I have stuck in my head right now is from her most recent set of mixes. She sent me three and they’re all amazing. In fact, I’ll probably post a few more songs from them in the coming weeks.

So, considering this, I’ve asked her to do a little guest blog for this song. Ladies, and gentlemen, my stalker.

So- You and I (it’s by Ingrid Michaelson).

I love this song—who wouldn’t? Except my mom I guess—the first time she heard it, she thought it belonged on a Target commercial.

This song is such an innocent little diddy but also kind of more. I love the lines “so I will help you read those books if you will soothe my worried looks and we will put the lonesome on the shelf”. It’s this kind of child-like lyricism sung by an incredibly mature voice and totally not pretentious. I also love how the song builds from one voice to a duet to a chorus/percussive kind of thing. Maybe that’s too much analysis- I just love Ingrid Michaelson- thanks to YOU.

And here’s the song – You and I by Ingrid Michaelson

Song of the Week

Hi! Hi! Hi! I’m going to North Carolina today!!!! I’ll have been to North Carolina three times this year!!!

I just realized my keyboard is embarrassingly dirty. I’m so glad only my cat and dog can see it.

Anyway, I’ll be off reveling in the joys of Charlotte, one of my best friends in the world, the mountains, camp, and horses. This is a vacation to clear my head.

And this is a song for my weeks. Maybe for yours too. I have this friend Carol. She’s a freshman at Cornell. And despite the fact that she’s 8 years younger than me, she gets me in a pretty awesome way. She’s a very insightful girl. She posted this song on my wall on Facebook about a month and a half ago. I love her.

And right now I love this song. Noah and the Whale is a good band from the few songs I’ve heard. And this one, well, blue skies are definitely calling. I’m so ready for them. I’m so ready to leave this slightly crappy year behind. So listen to this song. I think it’s hopeful.