2013 Concert Calendar Updated

I’m super excited to be adding on to my 2013 concert calendar – I just heard about this “Country Megaticket” promotion that Live Nation is doing. It’s amazing – five shows for $149 (for the lawn seats, which are good enough for me!). To make it even better, there are some great performers that I’ve wanted to see for a really long time. Hooray for music in 2013!!!

January 27: Rock of Ages

January 31: George Strait, The Cowboy Rides Away Tour

May 10: Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley with Randy Houser and Joanna Smith

June 2: Les Misérables

August 8: Luke Bryan with Thompson Square and Florida Georgia Line

August 23: Brad Paisley with Chris Young and Lee Brice

September 22: Keith Urban with Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch

October 11: Jason Aldean with Jake Owen and Thomas Rhett

Four The Record

This week I heard a great Miranda Lambert song on the radio (possible “Favorite Song Friday”?) and decided to get her “new” album from 2011. It’s her fourth studio album and is called Four the Record. Catchy, isn’t it? This was a great album – it continues to have her signature style and bounces between sad ballads and upbeat up-yours songs. It’s definitely worth the money. I feel like she’s come a long way over the last few years – to be honest, I didn’t totally love her when she came out. But she’s continued to develop as a singer and songwriter and it definitely shows in her recordings. I’m pretty sure if she toured near here I would go see her!

Four The Record
Four The Record

Favorite Songs: “Fastest Girl In Town“, “Mama’s Broken Heart“, and “Baggage Claim

Winter Minestrone Soup with Garlic Bruschetta

Today I decided to try another Pinterest recipe. I wanted something hearty and wintery. This soup was just the ticket – Mike and I both went back for seconds! The garlic bruschetta was super easy and a really nice addition.


Winter Minestrone with Garlic Bruschetta


olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)
2 cups (1/2-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)
2 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) diced peeled butternut squash
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
26 ounces canned tomatoes
6 to 8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as tubetti
8 to 10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup good dry white wine
2 tablespoons store-bought pesto
1 baguette


Cook the pasta according to directions, set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy Dutch oven. Add the pancetta and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the chicken stock, the bay leaf, 1 table-spoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and cooked pasta and heat through. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Stir in the wine and pesto. Serve with bruschetta.

To make bruschetta, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Slice the baguette at a 45-degree angle in 1/2 inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and bake for 6 minutes, until lightly toasted. Take the slices out of the oven and rub the surface of each one with the cut clove of garlic.

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken

Today I decided to try another one of the recipes from my Crock-Pot-A-Polooza several weeks back. To give credit where credit is due, I got the recipe from Melissa Fallis’ blog via Pinterest. The recipe below is for two bags, so if you’re going to freeze, split the ingredients evenly. Again, one bag is perfect for two, so if you have a family, make the full recipe. Enjoy!

Crock Pot BBQ Chicken
Crock Pot BBQ Chicken


2 green bell peppers, cut into slices

1 red pepper, cut into slices

1 zucchini, chopped

3 onions, chopped

6 red potatoes, chopped (you can also use sweet potatoes)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

4 chicken breasts

1/2 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca

one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire

1 tablespoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt



Cook in crock pot on low for 8 hours.

Serve over rice or egg noodles.


Rock of Ages

One of my birthday presents from Mike was a trip into Sacramento to see Rock of Ages. Neither of us had seen it before, so we didn’t know what to expect. I seriously loved this musical. Shy of Movin’ Out, I haven’t seen any other musicals that really incorporate pop music. Honestly, this was genius. It incorporated all of the 80’s anthems that we know and love (it’s like four hours later and they’re still stuck in my head!). One of my favorite parts of the entire experience was when I heard the lady next to me lean over to her friend and say “Do you think this is going to get much louder”? Seriously made my day. Check out the song list:

Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Journey, except for the fact that it’s going to be stuck in my head for the next six days. Up next on the musical list for the year, George Strait on Thursday. I can’t wait!!!

January 27: Rock of Ages

January 31: George Strait, The Cowboy Rides Away Tour

June 2: Les Misérables

Saturdays with Shadow

I can’t believe it’s already Saturday again – the days seem to be flying by lately! This morning Mike and I decided to finally finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy… my parents own it and let us borrow their copy. Did you know that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is FOUR HOURS AND TEN MINUTES long? Apparently my parents bought the extended version, because why watch only nine hours when you can have eleven? Holy cow. That said, it was a great trilogy, just very time consuming. Shadow wanted nothing to do with it, so he spent the morning playing outside. Now he’s tired and lounging around:

Lounging With Shadow
Lounging With Shadow

Favorite Song Friday

Another fun new feature (for me at least) that I’m kicking off is Favorite Song Friday… each Friday I’ll share the song that has been stuck in my head all week.

This week I’ve had a great little song by The Band Perry stuck in my head, called “Better Dig Two”. I absolutely love the vibe to this song – the banjo part rocks! This is definitely a “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” kind of song! I’ve been very impressed with The Band Perry’s music so far – if you actually listen to their songs there are a lot of neat chord progressions and harmonies. Not to mention they’re super catchy!

Enjoy and happy Friday!

Marathon Marker

After I ran my first marathon last June, I had thought about getting a tattoo… a tiny palm tree on my foot (in honor of San Diego, where the marathon was run) with a 26.2 on it.

Instead, I finally decided to get the car sticker. Way more commitment than a tattoo, right?


In other seriously scary news, I heard the words “Someday I might do another marathon” come out of my mouth the other day. Yikes. I must be crazy!


A few weeks ago I did some serious crock pot preparation with my Crock-Pot-A-Polooza that I stuck in the freezer for a rainy day. Since the weather seems to not want to head back towards winter, I decided that today was a good day for the first test. I started with the Goulash… and it was amazing. Yes, it looks a little like dog food… I can’t help that it’s not very visually pleasing. Trust me, the taste is worth it. The recipe below is for two bags (just split the ingredients evenly between the two before you freeze them). One bag made the perfect amount for Mike and I – if you have kids or a super hungry husband, you might want to make the whole thing at once. I stole this recipe with pride from Melissa Fallis’ blog!



1 green bell pepper, chopped

2 onions, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 pounds beef stew meat

12 ounces tomato paste

4 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Cook for 8 hours on low heat in a crock pot.

About 10 minutes prior to serving, add 1/4 cup (1/2 cup if you’re making the whole recipe) sour cream and stir well.

Serve over egg noodles.


The Dream

Every year on Martin Luther King, Jr. day I like to reflect on his momentous “I Have A Dream” speech. If you haven’t already, take some time to read through the text below. In seventeen minutes, he managed to eloquently reflect on the dreams of many people. In fact, these dreams still ring true today, whether it is because you’re black or gay or just “different”. What I love the most about MLK is that he preached tolerance, love, and acceptance. In some ways our society has made great strides and in others it feels like we’ve taken great steps backward. My hope today is that everyone that reads this gains a little inspiration from it.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”