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Hey, did any of you actually click the link in my YouTube description box to get here?!  If you did, let me know!  If you didn’t, welcome and please let me know what brought you here.  I’m so curious!

So, when I first started posting YouTube videos last March, it was a way to share some of the recordings I had worked on over the years.  I used to post them to MySpace back in the day, but needless to say, that became… irrelevant.  Anyway, my first two songs were more “studio” based, but when talking to some close friends, they wanted to see something a little more raw…  Back in December, I posted the first of my One Take series here.  Granted, I never intended it to be a series, but it was really fun to do.  With studio based recordings, I can record takes over again and cut/paste accordingly.  With this series, it’s like performing live and I really love live performances.

This past Monday, I got a chance to record a song (or two) with my good friend, Tricia.  We used to sing together all the time for church and special events.  She’s got a powerful set of pipes!!  Not only that, but she’s got an awesome, irreverent sense of humor that I love.  We did a LOT of laughing that day.  😀  The other thing I love is that we can talk about stupid stuff, but also stuff that matters in life.  It’s always a joy to have that kind of friendship.

Why did I pick the song, “Take Me to Church” for this recording?  From a musical standpoint, the song is beautiful and emotional, filled with all these gorgeous minor chords that I am forever drawn to.  I guess I like angst-y songs?  Lyrically, my interpretation of the song is that it’s a scathing criticism of religion and how many individuals have taken advantage of others in the name of “religion.”  It also hints at the (ir)relevancy of the church in people’s lives (e.g. – “my church offers no absolutes”).  There was a pretty good read on why people are leaving church here.  I think songs like this are great because they show us how we can all do better at actually being loving, kind, present, and relevant, not only as individuals but collectively.

I hope you enjoy the video.  I’m sorry the audio isn’t that great.  Most of my gear (both recording and video) is in California still, so this was a pretty barebones setup.  Please let me know if there’s a song you’d like me to consider recording or if you’d like to collaborate!  Thanks for reading!

Trying something new!

My roommate and I did Tag video!  Neither of us have ever done one of these types of videos before, but it was super fun to do.  Amber made the background nice and cozy looking.  I got to do Amber’s makeup for the video.  I actually got to use my prime lens since I had a second person around to actually focus my lens.  I think every time I get to edit a video, I learn new skills too. I’ve been loving that, especially in light of all this new found free time I have.  Let it be known, I’m not just sitting around – I’m totally learning new things and new skills!

Here’s the link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqccoLgMQZc

Please like and subscribe if you enjoyed the video!

future ignotem

Future ignotem…  unknown future.

I’m stuck in limbo and it’s not a good feeling.

Remember how I packed up my car and moved to California for a travel job?  It was a great experience and I don’t regret it at all.  I am, however, dumbfounded that I have managed to finish my assignment and have nowhere new (or acceptable) to work.  I could rant on and on about that, but that’s not the point.  I am currently in limbo and it is so very unnerving.  I started asking myself questions like, “Did I make a mistake doing this travel gig?” and “Should I really stay out in California?”  Then, I start remembering how much this whole experience has helped me get a better perspective on how to be a good friend, daughter, and sister.  It showed me how cool people can be, even if they don’t really know you.  I needed the change in scenery to get out of my comfort zone and complacency in Chicago.  It’s a truly humbling experience to move somewhere where nobody knows you.  You become really thankful when someone cares and you don’t take it for granted.

So, will I give up and move back to Chicago?  Not yet.  I think I still have more to learn out in California.  I don’t know what that will entail, but then again, I don’t even know where I’m going next.  This too, is humbling.  I’ve always had a job since I’ve gotten my degree.  I work in a field that is in high demand.  I used to work at a prestigious rehab hospital.  I am a good worker and I’d like to think that I’m damn good at what I do.  At this moment, I am unemployed and in a way, I suppose it is by choice.  I could have started at a job in the middle of nowhere, but after much internal debate, I turned it down.  Should I have done that?  I think I made the right choice, but it prolongs this period of being in limbo.

People keep telling me that maybe God is trying to teach me something.  They’re probably right.  I don’t know exactly what that is, but I hope it gets through my thick skull.  All I know is, this is a time where I need to see what happens next.  Yes, I feel uncomfortable.  Yes, I’m worried.  I totally doubt myself with regularity these days.  BUT – all I can do is be diligent with what I can and trust that the right doors will open.

I don’t like feeling all this discomfort, but I think of these lyrics by Fiona Apple.  They resonate with me, especially the part that says, “I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time.”  This unnerving, humbling time in my life will hopefully change me for the better.

Here are the rest of the lyrics for your reading pleasure…

Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple

I certainly haven’t been shopping for any new shoes and I certainly haven’t been spreading myself around.  I still only travel by foot and by foot it’s a slow climb, but I’m good at being uncomfortable so I can’t stop changing all the time.  I notice that my opponent is always on the go and won’t go slow so’s not to focus and I notice, he’ll hitch a ride with any guide as long as they go fast from whence he came, but he’s no good at being uncomfortable so he can’t stop staying exactly the same.  If there was a better way to go then it would find me.  I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me.  Be kind to me or treat me mean.  I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine.  I seem to you to seek a new disaster every day.  You deem me due to clean my view and be at peace and lay.  I mean to prove, I mean to move in my own way and say I’ve been getting along for long before you came into the play.  I am the baby of the family it happens, so, everybody cares and wears the sheeps’ clothes while they chaperone.  Curious, you looking down your nose at me while you appease, courteous to try and help, but let me set your mind at ease.  If there was a better way to go then it would find me.  I can’t help it, the road just rolls out behind me.  Be kind to me or treat me mean.  I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine.

Oh, btw, during my trip to San Francisco last weekend, I recorded a video with a little help from my friends.  Here’s the link!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOYIOWOXlRU

I’m a little dumbfounded by how quickly time passes…  I can’t believe Christmas is next week!  I can’t believe I’ve been in Fresno for over three months!  I can’t believe my first travel assignment is almost over!  It’s all a blur.  One big, but awesome blur.

I started this whole thing off with some anxiety and crazy homesickness.  I started recording vlogs for myself so I could have a video snapshot of how I felt.  It was so much easier to say it out loud than to write it down.  I don’t think those vlogs will ever be viewed by anyone else but me, but they are a wonderful reminder of the ups and downs of this current journey.

In the past three months, I have:

* quit my job of 5+ years

* went on a cross-country road trip

* visited the Colorado National Monument, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Sequoia National Park

* went to the Life is Beautiful festival in Vegas

* visited Monterey, Carmel, L.A., San Francisco

* made some friends, especially my room mate and my co-workers

Now, it’s time to pick up and move again, just when I started to get comfortable.  I’m less apprehensive than I was last time.  If anything, this great experience in Fresno gives me the courage to do it again.  I don’t know where I’m going to be yet, but I’m at least hopeful that it will be another growing experience.

Life is Beautiful

Greetings from Vegas!  I’m getting ready for day two of the Life is Beautiful festival and it’s going to be a good lineup.  If you haven’t heard about this festival, it’s happening this weekend in downtown Vegas with music, food, art, and seminars.  So much cool stuff all in one place!  The great thing about this organization is that it’s dedicated to “helping people conquer their fears and chase their dreams.”  This festival is one of the biggest events that they do, but they also have an online forum, meant to allow people to connect and inspire each other.  I can get behind that.  🙂  You can check them out at www.lifeisbeautiful.com

quiet weekend

I think this is my first quiet weekend since the end of August.  I didn’t travel anywhere – in fact, I think I’ve barely gone outside.  My life has literally been a whirlwind these past six weeks and it’s nice that things are actually stabilizing a bit.  I have a place to live.  I know (roughly) how to get around this area.  Slowly, but surely, I’m getting to know people at work.  Things are good.

Things are about to get busy again too.  I have a lot of out of town adventures coming up – it will be so awesome to see friends!   I still need to go to Yosemite too – it would be a travesty if I lived so close to there and didn’t visit at least once!  Need to start thinking of where my next assignment will be too…  I know, it’s only early October, but I think it really has to be that early.  Crazy, right?

Ha, I was feeling kind of guilty for being such a homebody this weekend, but now I see that I just need to embrace and enjoy it.  It will be a rarity, indeed.  Oh, I guess I did something semi-productive – I posted a video update.  Here’s the link:

http://youtu.be/KF-QXu5QNhk

Have a good Sunday!

vlogging?

I made a second YouTube channel…  bold, considering I’ve neglected my first channel, right?  Sigh.  The point of the second channel is to be able to share about some of my travels with family and friends (or anyone else interested).  It’s not meant to be really polished or complicated.  I like that.  It takes some pressure off and I’m excited about that.

If you’d like to check out my first video, here’s the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbxduQXbvvs

On a side note, I have wifi in my apartment now! Seriously, I missed having wifi.  Seriously.  🙂

New things!

So, I’ve disappeared off the blogosphere for quite some time…  there are excellent reasons for that.  I’ll share the updates and spare you the whining, okay?  Okay.

Well, I left the job I’ve had in Chicago for the past five years and I started a new one that will allow me to travel to different locations throughout the U.S.  My first assignment has brought me to Fresno, CA.  I did a weeklong road trip with my mom and visited all these amaaaaaazing national parks.  It was a great time for sure – maybe I’ll share about some of those experiences later, but for now…  this is the first time I’ve been completely on my own.  I don’t really know anyone here yet except those I’ve met at work.  I am lucky to have found a good room mate who is willing to share her apartment with me.  Other than that, I am flying solo.

It’s a good opportunity, I think.  It’s good for me to be uncomfortable every once in a while.  I find that I grow the most as a person during these times.  The last time I took an adventure like this was when I was in Australia for 4.5 months.  It was one of the best experiences of my life.  I’m hoping for more of the same.

Holy hell, I can’t believe how drastically different my life is from one month ago.  The change is astounding.  I’ve gone from driving 3-5 hours a day to get to work to maybe 30 minutes, give or take.  I used to have Sunday and Monday as a weekend, but now I’ve joined the Saturday/Sunday club.  It’s nice to be back to that.  I actually get to work 8 hours a day and leave – no overtime for me!  I’d often put in way longer at work and then drive for hours to get home.  This is a much better quality of life now and my heart is thankful.  I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief.  The past six months have been pretty stressful overall and I realized that slowly, but surely, I had completely cut out all the fun things in my life so I could drive/work/sleep/repeat.  I didn’t have time for fun and I was stuck in my routine.  Things had to change.

So…  here I am.  I left my life behind, at least for a little while.  My assignment in Fresno is only until the end of the year.  Who knows where I’ll end up next?  I’m really looking forward to delving back into the things that bring me joy, like music, cooking, photography, videos, etc.  Hopefully, I’ll have more to share soon.

On a side note, you guys have no idea how ridiculously excited I am to have free wifi at my disposal!!!  I’m at a cafe, drinking a peach lavender honey tea.  I’m wishing it was a bit stronger…  but I admit, I love the internet and I’ve missed it so much.  Sigh.

Anyway, enough geeking out.  I’m glad to be back and reporting happier times.  I hope to post more stuff in the future.  I anticipate having wifi in my apartment soon, but if not, I’ll have to come back to this cafe.  Thanks for reading!

Here’s a recipe of what I made for dinner (and consequently lunch tomorrow).  It would go great with zucchini noodles, but I only had one zucchini…  so, I just ate it with a side of roasted cauliflower.  Yum!  

I apologize that this recipe will be a little annoying, precisely because I measured nothing!  I can’t help it, it’s just how I cook.  I’m giving you my best “guestimations.” You may wonder, why am I posting this?  Because I like it enough to want to recreate it…  this is the template I’m going to use next time. I will make adjustments accordingly and re-post!  I figured, there are probably other people who are similar in how they cook, so maybe they’d like just a template.  Maybe?  Also, I got all my ingredients from Trader Joe’s, except for the bison and herbs. I got the bison at Costco and the herbs from our garden at home.

Sandy’s bison spaghetti sauce (serves 4 with leftovers for the next day)

1.25 lbs. ground bison

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 small can of tomato paste

1 jar of roasted red peppers, diced, no liquid

4 sprigs dried thyme

2 tbsp crushed dried oregano

1 cup of yellow onion

4 cloves minced garlic

~ 2 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. Sriracha sauce

1 tsp. coconut sugar

Sea salt (to taste)

Black pepper, freshly ground (to taste)

2 bay leaves

Peeled tomatoes (I used some we froze from last summer, but you could use one large can of San Marzano’s or something)

Put oil in enameled cast iron Dutch oven and set heat to medium-high.  Put in the tomato paste and let it caramelize, stirring to prevent burning. You don’t want it to char! You’ll notice the color should be a little deeper and the consistency is just a little thicker. It took me about 8-10 minutes.

When it’s ready, I stir in the garlic, onion, oregano, and thyme and let them get fragrant. I made an empty spot in the middle of my pot, added a tiny bit of olive oil in the pan (since it looked dry), and put in the ground bison.  I don’t know why I did it that way, but it just seemed right.  I added some salt and pepper to the meat and then began browning it and beginning to mix it with my tomato paste mixture. At this point, I added the roasted red peppers and let the meat continue to brown.  I added the peeled tomatoes when the meat was almost done cooking and covered it to let the whole thing come close to boiling before I reduced the heat to a simmer.  While it was simmering, I added the bay leaves, fish sauce, sriracha sauce, coconut sugar, salt, and pepper.  Add the sauces and salt/pepper to taste, please. I think it’s personal preference. Simmer until the flavors meld, at least 20 minutes. 

Roasted Cauliflower (my lazy version of Bon Appetit’s recipe, they add onions, thyme, and cheese)

1 head of cauliflower, cut up into bite sized pieces

4 unpeeled cloves of garlic

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

Heat the oven to 425 F.  Cut and wash cauliflower.  Place the cauliflower and garlic in a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and toss.  Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want cheese too, sprinkle on some grated Parmesan or whatever hard cheese you have on hand at the end and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes.  I love this recipe. You can season it however you like and it’s just so delicious!