Monthly Archives: May 2010

How Shall I a Bad Habit Break?

I randomly stumbled across the poem below while searching for fun smoothie recipes to try with my fancy new blender. Oddly enough, it has virtually nothing to do with smoothies, and everything to do with the making, breaking, and undoing of bad habits. Seeing as we are all imperfect and therefore struggle with this issue, I figured I’d share. Sometimes we are not aware of our negative tendencies and need them shoved directly in front of our eyes before we recognize them, but oftentimes they are glaringly obvious, and reversing their effects occupies much of our time and effort, ar at least good intention. Bad habits form as such: the doing of a thing once makes it easier to replicate, and this repetition becomes a habit, which becomes ingrained in our lives and a part of who we are. Habits determine our character, and our character determines how we live, where our priorities lie, and to what actions and attitudes we involuntarily resort. We can alter these behavior patterns, but it requires determination and dedication.

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How shall I a bad habit break?
As you did that habit make.
As you gathered, you must lose;
As you yielded, now refuse.
Thread by thread the strands we twist
Till they bind us, neck and wrist.
Thread by thread the patient hand
Must untwine, ere free we stand.

from “A Builder’s Lesson” by John Boyle O’Reilly

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Hanging Out at The Hangout

Our trip to The Hangout Beach, Music, & Arts Festival was a combination of sunshine, sand, dance parties, hilarity, rocking music, and awesome friends. I have been challenged to somehow select some of my favorite memories from the weekend, which is a difficult task considering the amount of laughter that filled our vacation. However, I have attempted to compile a list below for your vicarious enjoyment, presented in random order.

1) Girl Talk. My favorite show of the festival was Girl Talk, who is  a single musician specializing in mash-ups and digital sampling. Basically, he splices together familiar songs to create combinations of music that you have no choice but to dance to. Prior to this weekend, my knowledge of Girl Talk consisted of one song on a mixed CD, and that was the extent of it; by the time we made it through two solid hours of nonstop grooving, jumping, shaking, and dancing, my muscles were sore, I felt like  a noodle, and I had discovered a new artist whose tour dates I will definitely follow. Awesome, intense, dancetastic show.

2) Epic Beach Frisbee. Saturday morning, our crew headed down to the beach (which was conveniently located directly outside our back door) for what turned into the most epic, evolving, adaptable game of beach frisbee ever played. We formed a large circle and tossed around the disk, all the while playing keep away from two people on the inside, monkey-in-the-middle style. The monkeys could get out of the circle only by snagging the frisbee away from the others, which naturally involved body slams, floundering in the waves, splashing through the water, sand burns, and frisbees to the head.

3) Surprise Fireworks. Every evening at the close of the festival, we were treated to surprise fireworks (well, the first night they were a surprise, after that they were just highly anticipated). The firework shows were directly behind the main stage, which happened to be about a quarter inch from our condo. The shows were impressive, both from our balcony and from the beach blanket below. At one point, we were even graced with a sand angel from one of the Local Boy’z.

4) Designated Dance Lane. Our condo was about a half mile walk from the festival entrance, complete with a bike lane painted on the street, which we immediately deemed the designated dance lane. We girls danced our way to and from the festival and asked (a.k.a. demanded) that all pedestrians use the designated dance lane for its intended purpose only. If you were caught dancing outside of the dance lane, chances are you would be the reason we can’t have a pizza party at the end of the year.

4) Elevator Dance Party. Our condo was on the sixth of eight floors, which gave us the perfect amount of time to pile into the elevator and dance insanely while singing/chanting “elevator dance party’ as loudly as possible. We made sure to stop at every floor so we could sing into the hallways, which in hindsight was probably not the most neighborly thing to do. This happened multiple times, and always ended with us hysterically and breathlessly heading into the condo for at least 45 minutes before we could organize and collect ourselves for our next adventure.

5) Apples to Apples. Before heading out to the festival Sunday, we all gathered around our coffee table that was crafted perfectly for board games and played a great interactive game of Apples to Apples. Apples to Apples involves describing words in creative and unexpected ways, which leads to some pretty humorous conversation. My friends are hilarious, I love words, and I’m always up for a fun game, so this was an obvious winner.

6) Farewell Ferris Wheel. As our parting goodbye to the festival on Sunday evening, a group of us rode the ferris wheel while Trey Anastasio rocked the crowd below. Insert another dance party (we were all about the dance parties this weekend). We circled through the air and took in the aerial view of the festival, mourning the end of our weekend.

Luckily, we still had an authentic seafood lunch to look forward to the next day. Here I am with my beach beauties just moments before consuming sinful amounts of fresh oysters, shrimp, fish, and crab:

There are countless more stories I could share, and I hope to at some point, but for now I will leave you with this picture of me and my sweetheart at the beach.

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The Hangout Beach, Music, & Arts Festival

Bikini? Check. Flip flops? Check. Sundresses, sunglasses, and sunscreen? Check, check, and double check. My gas tank is full, my beach bag is packed, and my friends are ready. In less than thirty minutes, we are checking out of Memphis and road tripping south to Gulf Shores, Alabama for an extended weekend of sun, fun, and beach bums. Our destination is home of the first ever The Hangout Beach, Music, & Arts Festival, a three-day seaside music festival featuring tons of great artists. Think Bonnaroo, but on the beach. Plus a condo overlooking the ocean. Bliss.

We’re not sure exactly what to expect, but we’re positive it’s going to be a blast. Anything involving sunshine and dancing in the sand with some of my favorite guys and gals sounds like a win to me. As we collect adventures and experiences, I’ll be sure to share them on my trusty blog.

Bonus: In light of the recent oil spill, all proceeds from the festival are being dedicated to coastal conservation and restoration. In fact, the festival has recently been dubbed the “Concert for the Coast”.

Happy weekend, friends! If you are going to be in Memphis, enjoy the BBQ!

 

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How To Save the World in 24 Hours

At Shelby Farm’s Down to Earth Festival, a book entitled New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours was tucked into my recyclable tote. Being the avid bookworm that I am, I delved right in. The authors walk through small, seemingly insignificant changes you can make in your daily life that can add up to have a big impact on our world. It certainly isn’t comprehensive, but it does help one to refocus and become more conscientious. We humans have made such an awful mess out of God’s beautiful creation, and this book gives a little guidance on how to be a part of the solution. They cover all of the behaviors you would expect – recycle, conserve water, donate your oldies but goodies to charity – plus some more innovative suggestions that are worth incorporating into your routine. I have listed a handful below, just to get your mind moving in the right direction.

1) Drive and Learn. Instead of listening to music while driving, why not spend your time in the car learning? Over the past couple years, I have found it quite enriching to spend my daily commute listening to various talk radio programs. I’ve always enjoyed learning about a wide gamut of topics, and squeezing in these extra hours of educational exposure makes me more informed and aware of current events and other crucial topics such as how tidal waves are formed, whether businesses purposely design products to become obsolete, and John Lennon’s climb to superstar status. You know, the important things in life. This isn’t to say that I don’t sing along to tunes occasionally, because that is absolutely false; I just divide my time between the two.

2) Trick Your Plate. When it’s time to renew your license plate, get one supporting a cause you care about. Switching to a specialty license plate is such a simple gesture, and the cost is minimal. It’s an easy way to channel money toward a good cause while making a statement about what’s important to you. For those of you residing in Tennessee, you can browse the specialty plate options here.

3) Reuse Your Bag. Paper or plastic? Ditch them both, and take your long-lasting canvas bags with you every time you go to the store. I keep several in my car and use them every time I’m forced to shop. You can find cute canvas totes at practically any retail store, usually for only a buck or so. They are stylish, durable, can carry much more than a flimsy plastic bag, and help keep waste out of landfills. Sounds like a no brainer to me.

Your turn.

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Mel Takes to the Kitchen

Mission accomplished! I cooked my family dinner, and not only did we avoid any violent physical reactions, but they actually seemed to enjoy it! I give full credit to The Pioneer Woman, who is a delight to get recipes and other cooking advice from. She lays out step-by-step instructions that are perfect for the culinary challenged, documents the progression with gorgeous photographs, and includes hysterical commentary for a fully pleasurable experience. If you haven’t checked out her corner of the web, you absolutely must.

The idea was this: my mother has cooked me thousands of delicious meals in my lifetime, and I decided Mother’s Day would be the perfect time to return the favor. So I rolled up my sleeves, took to the kitchen, and sliced and diced and drizzled and sizzled until I emerged with an edible creation. Below is a picture of my finished product, aptly named Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts and Tomatoes, courtesy of The Pioneer Woman herself:

Picture by Ree Drummond / The Pioneer Woman

For once in my life, mine actually looked like the picture! I modified things a bit and added baked chicken and sautéed red peppers and mushrooms to the mix, but otherwise, there it is in all its glory.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the kitchen and have every intention of flexing my culinary muscles again soon. As in tomorrow night, round two.

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