Category Archives: link love

Hope is Powerful

Over the summer I had a rather embarrassing, smelly clothing problem. The underarm area of most of my shirts and bras had collected a build-up of deodorant that was harboring body order. I tried everything to get the smell out. I scrubbed and soaked and scrubbed and soaked. In the mean time, I had to go and buy a couple new shirts and bras. It was, in my opinion, an unneeded expense on an already strained budget. And if I couldn’t get the smell out, I would have to get more. I was devastated and really stressed out.

Then as I searched the internet one more time for yet another way to eradicate the odors, I read something in a blurb somewhere that suggested using powdered dishwasher detergent. I pulled out my dishwasher detergent and set to work, scrubbing and soaking.

And it worked.

I had hope.

It seems really silly to be hopeful about such a thing but I learned something about the power of hope. I had been so worried and upset and forlorn about the possibility of not being able to remedy my stinky situation. When I finally found something that would work, the relief, the joy, the hope I felt was utterly indescribable. My entire outlook changed.

Hope, no matter what it’s about or where it comes from, is like dawn breaking through the darkness and making your whole world light and functional again.

Hope is powerful.

Hope heals.

It’s ironic that my simple story of hope revolves around laundry. The folks at Tide have a program called Loads of Hope. The Tide Loads of Hope trucks travel all over the country loaded with washers and dryers and laundry soap. They go to areas affected by natural disasters, hurricanes, floods, weather torn areas where electricity hasn’t been restored; and they let people do laundry.

It’s so simple yet so profound. When you’re having to deal with what nature has handed you, the last thing you want to worry about is how to get  your laundry done and yet there is, stinking up your already stinky situation. Sometimes, people just have the clothes they were wearing left and we all know how long each of can go in one set of clothes before we can’t even stand to smell ourselves!

Life feels much more hopeful when you can put on clean, non smelly clothes. I’m glad Tide knows that.

This week, my friends Megan, Deb and Mishelle are heading down to New Orleans to assist the Tide Loads of Hope people as they set up, once again, in an area that is still recovering from natural disaster. You can join in by posting your story about hope and linking it on the Loads of Hope blog carnival hosted by Blog Nosh and by following the stories on Twitter (follow @TideLoadsofHope and the #loadsofhope hashtag, they will be live updating tomorrow, 12/13 and Monday, 12/14). You can also click on the banner below to find other ways to help out.

{I wanted to end this post with Zane Williams‘s song “Hope is a Flame” but I can’t find a way to post it here. Oh, well.}

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Filed under friends, I blog they blog wouldn't you like to be a blogger too?, life as a domestic goddess, link love

Elegance

There’s not much that’s very elegant about my life. And really? That’s just fine. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. Pizza and beer are a great date night in my book. My floors are unswept and there are always dirty dishes in my sink. As much as I like candles, they rarely get lit around here and our mouths and hands are wiped with paper napkins, not cloth (much to the chagrin of my inner treehugger.) Also, I rock out to the Dixie Chicks when I do get around to cleaning.

But every now and then I like to refine things a little and experience a bit of elegance in my life. I’ll light those candles, chose wine over beer, put on a skirt and heels. And elegance can definitely be found in housecleaning when you’re listening to Joshua Bell.

Joshua Bell At Home CoverWhen I received Bell’s new album, At Home With Friends, I was blown away by it. I think my Facebook status the first day I listened to it was something like, “Joshua Bell’s new album is intoxicating. I just want to melt into the floor and listen to it forever.” A few days later, I put it in the CD player while I cleaned the kitchen and all of sudden I felt elegant and intelligent and enlightened all while up to my elbows in hot water and suds.

I’ve always enjoyed collaboration albums and At Home With Friends does not disappoint. My favorite? “Come Again” with Sting. I will listen to that one over and over again when I’m alone in the car. Oh, which reminds me of another bonus point this album gets. I listen to it when I’m alone in the car. You see, once my children exit the car and all their noise leaves with them, I’m usually loathe to turn on the radio or put in a CD. I like the quiet because I get so little of it while they are awake. So to have found music I willingly turn on during my precious “quiet time” is a very high compliment!

The star power on this album is definitely breathtaking; in addition to Sting there’s Josh Groban, Kristin Chenoweth, Regina Spektor (the previously unrecorded, fan favorite, “Left Hand Song” is on this album!), Marvin Hamlisch, Frankie Moreno and many more. The amount of talent on this album is absolutely mind boggling.

The other really big bonus for this album is that DB also likes it! He and I both love music but our tastes don’t often overlap. (A previous overlap, courtesy of One2One, was Diane Birch. It surprised but delighted me that he liked that album, too!) Knowing that when I turn on At Home With Friends to listen to while doing housework or unwinding, he won’t cringe (like he does when I choose Norah Jones) makes listening to this music that much sweeter.

If you’d like to add a bit of refinement and elegance into your life, I definitely recommend this album. I, in fact, am hoping to add more of Bell’s work to my repertoire of housecleaning music!

At Home With Friends is available for purchase online and in stores.

Disclosure: This album was provided to me, free of charge, by One2One Network

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What happens when a Type-B Mom attends a Type-A Mom conference?

type a mom conferenceOK, that is a blog post title FAIL because I have no punchline for it!

Maybe I’ll come up with one by the time I finish this post. (Nope…not gonna happen as I’ve been trying to finish this post for 2 weeks! Oh, well!)

True Type-A personalities would have been hyperventilating at this conference. The schedule was often fudged, the dress code was lax, the discussions were sometimes messy, the tables were pretty much always messy and the participants (read: bloggers) don’t always like to follow “teh rulez”. So pretty much, it was a perfect fit for me who is so not a type-a personality!

What was “type-a” about it is how efficiently it was planned and how well it was run and organized. Major props, kudos and congratulations to the woman of the hour, Kelby Carr, for putting on a fabulous conference!

Me with Cassie & Nancy (Nancy works for iRobot, makers of the super cool Roomba!)

Me with Cassie & Nancy (Nancy works for iRobot, makers of the super cool Roomba!) Picture from Mishelle Lane

So why would a type-b attend a type-a conference? Because it wasn’t about personality traits or neurosis, it was about growing as a writer, learning new techniques, finding your voice, reconnecting with friends, understanding the ideas and opinions of others, embracing each others differences, picking up a new trick or two, and branching out from four walls to touch a little bit more of humanity.

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Me with the amazing Robin & the fabulous Sugar!

This past February, I attended the BlissDom conference and met some really fabulous people. But, I was mostly a wallflower. I have a really hard time walking up to someone, putting my hand out and saying, “Hi! I’m Malia.” I would much rather stand up in front of everyone as a speaker and address the entire crowd than to interact one on one. I’m just a little neurotic like that. In light of that neurosis, I made myself introduce myself to more people at this conference. And guess what? People were nice! They didn’t bite! They didn’t look at me like I have two heads and then turn walk away! Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy. It meant I spent most of each day with sweaty palms and feeling rather queasy! But, I did it, go me!

IMG_7406_resizeAnd then there was the post conference meltdown. It was an internal meltdown where I started doubting myself, my abilities, my worth, my credentials, and my justification for being at such a conference. Yes, I have a problem with confidence. I always have. I hope that by continuing on with blogging and attending conferences and putting myself out there, I can eventually grow to be the confident woman that others tell me they see.

But all in all, I absolutely enjoyed myself! I met bloggers that I admire, I reconnected with bloggers that I’ve met before and rejuvenated our relationships.

iblogwsis250I must take this opportunity to thank my sponsor. Without them, I could not have attended. So a BIG thank you to The Sister Project for selecting me as a scholarship winner in the “You know you’re a sister when…” writing contest. I was honored to represent you and humbled to be among such an amazing, lovely group of writers.

A few highlights of the conference were:

  • the Asheville Photowalk led by my dear friend, Mishelle Lane. (My favorite picks of the shots I took on the walk are on my Flickr page.)
  • the speaker dinner with the Room 704 girls. I’m a big admirer of these ladies and spending an evening with them and Thai food and wine was pure bliss.
  • the Blogger Town Hall meeting where we were able to speak our minds and discuss issues that involve all of us was pure genius.
  • an impromptu party at a certain chick‘s villa that will bring smiles and giggles when I think about it for years to come!
  • my a-mazing roommates, Heather & Kathy! Having good roommates makes a conference very enjoyable and I’m glad we got the weekend to be together and reconnect.
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Me & my uber cool roomies!

If you are a blogger and you’ve ever wondered about attending a conference, I’d encourage you to think now about attending either Type-A next year or the upcoming BlissDom conference in February, or both! You will learn a lot, meet so many wonderful people and have fun along the way.

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Filed under I blog they blog wouldn't you like to be a blogger too?, link love

An album review with a life lesson attached

In my less than stellar moments as a parent, I wallow in being unappreciated. Don’t my children know what I do for them? Don’t they realize that without me these things wouldn’t get done? Why must I tell them to pick up their shoes everyday and why must I answer the same questions over and over again?

I have to be careful and not let selfishness get the best of me. Living in the messy, exhausting day to day of life often robs me of perspective. They don’t need to see how they are blessed by me, I need to see how I am blessed by them. They are awesome. They take my breath away. They are precious and perfect and they bring such joy and happiness to my life.

Remembering that is what brings me to tears every time I hear the song “Ghandi/Buddha” on Kenny Loggins‘s new album, All Join In. While I disagree with the theology behind the song (past life karma), the sentiment of our children being so wonderful and getting to have them in our lives is a powerful message.

KENNY_COVER_FINALA few of weeks ago, One2One Network provided me with a pre-release copy of Loggins’s new album in exchange for giving them feedback. When I took their survey, they asked if I’d like to be able to offer downloads of songs to my readers. And guess what? I get to offer you downloads for 4 songs from the All Join In album! In addition to “Ghandi/Buddha”, you can get “All Together Now”, “There Is A Mountain” and “Your Lollipop”.

All Join In is a new children’s album from Kenny Loggins. But you know what? You’ll like it as much, if not more, than your kids!

The album includes fresh, creative takes of classics: The Beatles’ “All Together Now” and “Two of Us” (the latter being his first studio recording in decades with Jim Messina), Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me”, the Dell Vikings’ 1950’s classic “Come Go With Me, “Traffic’s “You Can All Join In” (appropriately joined by the song’s writer and former Traffic member, Dave Mason) and Donovan’s 1960’s classic “There Is a Mountain.”

I keep this CD in my car and play it often. GMan especially enjoys it and has specifically requested that I play it.

So how do you get the songs? It’s fairly simple. Follow this link. Listen to the songs, answer a short survey and an e-mail will be sent to you with a link for the downloads. I hope you enjoy the songs!

Follow Kenny on Twitter | Become a fan on Facebook

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Bloggers & Margaritas

BlogHop-150I have mixed emotions about everything from salad dressing to politics. I see just about everything from at least two sides. I agonize over what I’m going to wear, what I’m going to fix for dinner and which color polish to put on my toes. Too often I second guess myself. Parenting is complete insanity for me because I feel like I’m being either too overprotective or too laissez faire. My life seems to have very little “middle ground”.

Which is why I sit here simultaneously wishing I was at BlogHer ’09 and being glad that I’m not. On one hand…it would be superbly fabulous to get to see my blogging buddies again, attend parties with peeps, get sweet swag and oh, maybe even sit in on a session or six. On the other hand…being home right now with the responsibilities that life has handed me is really the best choice.

Margarit-her_smallBut I know I’m not alone, which is why I’m BlogHoppin’ and gettin’ together with some fellow Nashville area bloggers, who also did not got to Chicago this weekend, for some face time and margaritas.

If you’re here because you’re BlogHoppin’, welcome to my madness! My most favorite thing about blogging is meeting new people! I also hang out on Twitter (ahem, a lot), if you’re so inclined, leave your Twitter handle in your comment. (I’m @justmalia and @wedblissfully!) If you’re a local yokel, some of us lady blogger types are gettin’ our guac on at Cantina Laredo tomorrow night. Hope to see you there!

typeamom-attendeeAnd there’s also this other, smaller but just as fabulous conference know as Type-A Mom Conference coming up in September. It will be in Asheville, NC (great city!) and I’m making plans to attend! Will you also be at Type-A Con?

To my friends who are at BlogHer, I sincerely hope you’re having the time of your lives. Have fun, soak it all in, and take lots of pictures! Here’s hoping that next year, I’ll be joining you!

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Filed under I blog they blog wouldn't you like to be a blogger too?, link love, on the other hand

More From the CSA Files

We’re a little over a month into our CSA season. I am getting better about either using or giving away the produce that we get each week. It’s quite a challenge because right now, in the midst of the growing season, our weekly “share” seems to get bigger each week! Unfortunately, there’s a lot coming through that our family just isn’t interested in. Beets and celery mainly. And I keep getting these good sized onions as well. I use onion, just not that much! Fortunately, onion keeps pretty well for awhile.

There have a been a few successes though. For instance, the other night I made a side dish to accompany our evening meal made entirely from CSA produce. It was really tasty and everyone liked it! We had received a half pound of green beans and five small red-skinned potatoes. Separately, not enough to feed the family but when put together with some onion and seasoned with some fresh oregano it was a plentiful side dish! (Many thanks to my mother-in-law for inspiring that recipe!)

I’ve used some spearmint to make a yummy fruit tea that received rave reviews and some bibb lettuce to make a salad that David and I devoured. Bibb lettuce, bacon, boiled egg and homemade blue cheese dressing. (Tonguegasmic as we like to say!) I’ve also done a Leek-y Chicken skillet dish (a Rachael Ray recipe) using leeks that we received. I have more leeks and will be repeating that dish since it was fairly well received by the family. (I make an alternate “chicken” dish for JBelle and GMan ends up just eating the chicken and pushing the leeks around his plate. lol) I got more rhubarb last week and made another upside down cake for the 4th of July. My sister-in-law, who grew up eating rhubarb delicacies, thought it was delicious!

We got 3 cucumbers that would be perfect for pickling, so we need to find a fairly simple recipe for pickling so that those can be used as well. We get carrots fairly often, too. They’re small but pretty tasty.

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I never got around to taking a picture of the final product. Oops!

I made coleslaw, from scratch(!), using a head of cabbage from our share. My prior experience with making coleslaw consisted of buying a bag of coleslaw veggies and a jar of coleslaw dressing and mixing them together. Making it myself was much more satisfying albeit tedious. (I made sure to loudly express my desire for a food processor to my family members who partook of the coleslaw.) I perused several recipes looking for one that used only ingredients that I had on hand (basically vinegar or apple cider vingear, oil and seasonings.) I admit I was quite taken with this bleu cheese coleslaw recipe from the Barefoot Contessa but that will have to wait for another time! I ended up just adding apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to the cabbages and carrots (from the grocer, not the CSA) and letting it set in the fridge overnight. It turned out well, and received compliments at dinner that night though I think it could be improved upon. (And my hearty thanks to Heather for telling me how to prepare the cabbage!)

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Diane Birch – Bible Belt

Edited: I was having some difficulty with the widget yesterday and didn’t realize this had posted without any content! Oops!

glamour MaliaI have two reasons for posting this.

1. I really, really, really, really, really, like this music. Really. I’m not exactly the most fluent music critic (obviously), I just know what I like. I can’t exactly describe to you what I like about this music and this artist, I just feel it in me. I feel good listening to her music. I get her songs stuck in my head and instead of it being annoying, it’s satisfying. I relate to her lyrics. I enjoy the mixture of styles she employs to create her own unique sound. It’s good music, plain and simple.

2. It’s for a good cause. If you like this music too and are compelled to add it to your collection, would you please consider clicking on that widget up there and buying it through that service? For every album purchased through one of those widgets, $1 will be donated to charity. As you can see, I picked the March of Dimes. You can purchase through either iTunes or Amazon.

To find out more about Diane and her debut album, go here.

Many thanks to good folks at One2One Network for the opportunity to share this with you!

disclaimer: A gratis copy of the album was provided to me. My review of it is from the heart, as is my participation in fundraising efforts.

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