Quick Update!

I have a few projects and updates that I haven't gotten around to posting here yet, so I'm doing a very quick round-up post...

First up, a few art journal pages that I did last month. The smaller book is a vintage physics book I found at the used bookstore and I've been working on top of the pages. I used the September StencilGirl StencilClub stencils on this page. The page on the right uses the Moroccan Doily stencil, acrylic paint, and lots of Liquid Pearls.

Sept Art Journal PagesNext up, I got the chance to go to see the Black Keys in concert last month at the United Center with my friend Mary. It was SO amazing!!!

Black Keys in Concert

Then I got to play around a bit with some new stencils by Nathalie Kalbach - I used Elephant Parade and Art Deco Wallpaper to do a page in my planner / art journal.

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This last weekend I got out my sewing machine to make a little travel paintbrush holder for my upcoming mixed media classes in Connecticut (there are still some openings in my classes for anyone who's interested and on the fence!) I really just wanted an excuse to buy this awesome Cloud9 dragon fabric. lol. No pattern - I made it up based on some that I've seen. It's not perfect, but it's functional!

IMG_3905A very cool and flattering thing... for those of you who don't already follow him, Seth Apter has a weekly blog series where he highlights various blog posts - it's called the Week Links. This week he featured my post on StencilGirl Talk making the coptic bound books we'll be doing in my class on the 18th. I'm so excited to be included! Awesome inspiration if you haven't checked it out...

Another art journal page... more playing with the October StencilClub stencils! Love them this month... (and if you aren't in the club, if you sign up before the 15th, this is the set you'll start with :D) I had a background of acrylic paint and then used molding paste for the large circles (shaded with PanPastels) and then Wendi Vecchi gold embossing paste for the small circles. Various letter stickers for the message in the center.

October Stencil Art Journal Page

I started a few new classes, including the Paint Mojo eCourse with Tracy Verdugo (I'm already more than 2 weeks behind. sigh.) and my beginning drawing class at SAIC started this week. I haven't been drawing or sketching lately, so this should be a good jump start!

And last but not least, for those who haven't heard but who have been asking about it, I opened a shop at Society6 where you can buy prints, phone cases, decals, totes, stationary cards, and other stuff made from some of my art. I only have some of my doodle / Zentangle pieces up right now, but I may add paintings or other things later if it goes well. For those who are interested, right now there's a free shipping promo that goes through Oct. 12th.

Gwen Lafleur - Society6 Shop Opening

Whew! It's been crazy lately... and that's not even getting into how busy things have been at work! But it's all good, and more fun times and projects on the horizon!


A little Linkin Park love

I love me some Linkin Park... they always put on such a fantastic show!  I met Steph and Rae on Friday night for a little yummy food at the Gateway before the show.  We went to Happy Sumo where I ordered a salad and watched Steph and Rae enjoy sushi... lol.  But after dinner, we went to Kodiak Cakes Bear Country Cookies which I noticed on the way in because of the big "warm cookies" sign in their window.  Sigh. I really could have done without knowing that place was there because wow were those some delicious cookies.  I actually still have some of what I bought tucked away in my kitchen but it's taking all my self-restraint to keep from eating them all at once.  After cookies, Rae headed home and Steph and I walked over to Energy Solutions Arena for the show. 

Prodigy opened and the music itself was pretty good - nice sound which is unusual for an opening act - at least in the shows I've been to.  The stage show... well, they didn't quite understand how to adapt to their Utah audience and as I mentioned to Steph after they got off, I'm pretty sure I saw some of their dance moves in the Breakin' movies back in the early 80's.  Linkin Park, on the other hand, was completely awesome, as usual.  We both texted in our code to get a free download of the concert (waiting for it to be available) and really enjoyed it - the live version of "When They Come for Me" was ridiculous.  I was a bit bummed that they didn't do "Wretches and Kings," but they did my other favorites from the new album and most of the best songs from their other albums. 

A few pics from my phone (hoping Steph got better ones on her little camera.)

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Whew!  Anyway, it was a blast, and thanks to Steph for coming with me!  I had tons of fun.

And to follow that, what better than great food?  I was recently chided for not posting recipes with all of my food pictures, so I'm including the recipe here.  lol.  (The exact quote was that it's "criminal" that I don't post recipes to go with the yummy pictures.  lol. too funny.) This weekend I tried my first recipe from my Modern Mediterranean Cooking cookbook and it was fabulous... my first attempt at a risotto.

Pumpkin-Parm Risotto

This is a Pumpkin, lemon and parmesan risotto (although the lemon is subtle).  You take 4 cups of chicken broth and bring it to a boil and then throw in a good pinch of saffron and reduce the heat to keep the broth warm.  Then, in a nice big pan (I use a 6 qt chef's pan), saute one finely chopped onion and 1-2 cloves of minced garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp butter.  Make sure you don't burn it, but you want a nice golden color.  Once you get that, add in 2 pounds of diced fresh pumpkin and 2 cups of arborio rice (I used a combination of fairytale squash or cinderella pumpkin and acorn squash because that's what I had on hand.  You can also use butternut - it's all good).  You want to cook this and stir constantly for about 3 minutes and then add 3/4C white wine (or in my case, 1/2 cup chicken stock + 1/4c vinegar - no wine on hand) and stir until it's been absorbed.  Then, you stir in 1/2C at a time of your stock that you're keeping warm over about 15-20 minutes.  You want to make sure each 1/2C is totally absorbed before you add the next.  I started tasting and seasoning with S/P at this point.  Once you've added all the stock and the rice is nice and tender, season again with S/P as needed, remove from heat and stir in the zest plus juice of one lemon.  I also added in about 1/2 tsp of fresh chopped rosemary and about 1 1/2oz of fresh grated parmesan (the recipe calls for those as garnish - I prefer them mixed in).  Then serve it up hot with more parm and fresh rosemary on top.  The recipe says it serves 4-6, but I'd say 6-8.  4 gives you ENORMOUS servings.  6 is good sized and works out to 9 points+ on WW.  Dividing it into 8 would give you a nice side dish.

So there you go!  I've got a few more recipes marked in this book to try soon.  I'm thinking of doing a homemade pasta with bolognese sauce and some homemade baguettes this weekend.  We'll see :)


We came, we saw, we rocked.

A few months ago Steph pinged me to see if I wanted to go to the Nickelback show... it wasn't on a school night, so I thought, why not?  Tonight was the big show and it was a lot of fun.  I met Steph and Mike up at the arena and we were entertained in more ways than one.  You always see the most interesting people at concerts... like the lady in her 50s in front of us who was totally jamming to Buckcherry.  We suspect that recreational Lortab usage might have been involved.  Then there were the guys a few rows down and over who were smashed before the show even started and kept drinking until they were all so bombed they couldn't even stand up and started spilling beer all over the people around them and falling on people.  We shook our heads a lot.

Anyway, the first act was Buckcherry.  I'm not a huge fan, but I do like several of their songs (a few are on my playlists, even) and they played all of them.  While the music was pretty good, we were much more entertained by the stage...er...um... performance.

(Disclaimer... I didn't feel like trying to figure out how to smuggle in my camera since I rode the train up from Sandy so all photos are off my phone.  Therefore, they suck.)

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My absolute favorite were the strategically positioned fans that blew the drummer and guitarist's long hair all over around their heads while they were playing.  (I'm sure it was just to keep cool under those lights... rolling my eyes).  Then there was the lead singer.  While it's true that he can definitely belt a song, the skinny jeans and shirtless tatooed chest, combined with the cool LA hairdo (AKA mullet) were a bit cliche... add to that the Jane Fonda-esque dancing and we were dying laughing.  Especially the step-touch-hip-hip while playing the tambourine.  My best guess was that they bought a series of videos on how to look like / act like rock stars from a late-night infomercial.  But I enjoyed the music.

Next was Three Days Grace.  Steph and I saw them in Dallas a few years ago and they definitely put on a good show.  We loved it when Adam actually took his bodyguard and went out into the seats to get people to stand up and sing along... all while singing the song they were doing.

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He came down and went through the pit before going up the other side and then back on stage.

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Then, 2nd intermission.  Time for the first self-portrait (or selfie as I'm seeing them called now) in many a year.  Taking self-portraits with my phone is definitely an acquired skill.

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And then Nickelback came on.  They about scared us half to death when they started by shooting off fireworks.  They like their pyrotechnics, Nickelback does.  I couldn't get any pictures of the various fireworks and flamethrower effects, though (we could feel the heat in our seats!) since it was too bright for my phone's camera, but it was pretty fun. 

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We had pretty good seats... we were just behind the pit, dead center so we could see their faces pretty clearly - always fun.  The one thing that surprised us was that we didn't know what a showman Chad Kroger is!  I guess Mike probably did since he'd seen them before... the man has charisma and a great sense of humor.  It was like getting a comedy show along with the rock concert... his commentary between songs was pretty funny sometimes and you could tell they were having fun.

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Another benefit to our awesome seats was that they were right across the hall from the main doors, so I was able to get out and grab the first train that came along before the crowds really piled up.  It was so nice to skip all that traffic! (Not to mention saving money on parking). 

Anyway, I'd definitely see Nickelback again... it was a really fun night, so thank you to Stephanie for inviting me!


Matt Bellamy: STILL insanely talented.

I'm still so totally buzzed after tonight's Muse show.  It was ridiculously awesome.  They played for about an hour and 45 minutes and it felt like 20 minutes... all my favorite songs and a sweet stage show.  I also loved when Matt did the Hendrix version of the Star Spangled Banner... he's just incredibly good.  So... here's your advance warning - LONG POST AHEAD!

Starting with... a pretty bad pic from the opening act; Silver Sun Pickups... the lighting wasn't strong enough for good shots.

Blog - Silver Sun Pickups

They were actually pretty good - a little too much reverb, but on the whole better than a lot of opening acts I've seen.  The downer was that Ticketmaster totally screwed up and oversold our section... there were at least four sets of people that came to claim the seats in front of us, not to mention 3-4 that tried to get ours.  Fortunately, my anal need to be early made it so we got to keep the seats and guest services re-seated everyone else (most of them on the GA floor.  bleh).  I was relieved because we had pretty sweet seats - we were probably not much more than 50 feet from the stage - close enough to see faces.  When I zoomed all the way with my camera it was about the same as what we were seeing.  So anyway, there was lots of drama and I think Steph is planning on writing some nasty emails for having to play usher (they still kept sending people down even KNOWING that all the seats were taken!  Whatever.)

So, here's the crew, chilling between acts.(Bad picture - I was trying to keep official types from seeing that I had managed to bring in an SLR while the lights were up. 

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Anyway, following the overbooking debacle, Muse!  Tonight's setlist (grabbed from the Muse wiki):

  1. Uprising
  2. Resistance
  3. New Born + YYZ riff + Headup riff + Micro Cuts riff
  4. Map of the Problematique + Maggie's Farm riff
  5. Supermassive Black Hole
  6. Interlude + People of the Sun intro
  7. Hysteria + Testify intro + Back in Black riff
  8. Nishe
  9. United States of Eurasia
  10. Take a Bow intro + Feeling Good
  11. Helsinki Jam
  12. Undisclosed Desires
  13. Starlight
  14. Unnatural Selection
  15. Whistle intro + Time Is Running Out
  16. Plug In Baby
    Encore
  17. Exogenesis: Symphony Part I (Overture)
  18. Stockholm Syndrome + Township Rebellion riff + riff + riff
  19. Man with a Harmonica intro + Knights of Cydonia

And naturally, some pics. 

Opening number (Uprising) - the coverings fell off of the skyscrapers and revealed a sweet set - the bases moved up and down.

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close-up of the band...

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Self-explanatory...

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Then during Feeling Good and Natural Selection...

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I love it when Matt switches over to the piano... he's just so good.

They had pretty sweet lighting throughout the show...

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A close-up of Matt being awesome:

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During Plug-in Baby, they dropped a bunch of enormous balloons decorated like eyes and filled with confetti - so cool!  Whenever they went up onto the stage, the band just kicked them back out again.

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Onto the Encore... Exogenesis Symphony Part 1:  Overture

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Then during Stockholm Syndrome... blurry but I loved it as Matt was pointing right in our direction while I took the picture.

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And then Knights of Cydonia...

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You know you're at the finale when they start shooting out huge columns of colored smoke.

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And finally, the farewells begin.  *sniff, sniff*

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All good things must come to an end (that includes ridiculously awesome things too, sadly).  I'm so glad I got to go and to see Steph, Mike and Rae.  It was amazing and tons of fun, even with the super overbooking drama and the semi blizzard when we came out of the E-Center (I had to clear almost two inches off my car before we could leave.  Joy!)  Anyway, LOTS more photos here... I culled out most of the blurry ones, but left in several that I still liked.

Okay.  I think I've come down from my high enough that I can go to bed.  TTFN!

P.S. - Steph!  I absolutely do NOT have enough pics from the show, so if you've got good ones, I want them!


Muse!

via www.ticketmaster.com

Can I get a woohoo? Tickets to see Muse in SLC just went on sale 8 minutes ago and I scored some pretty good seats... I'm so glad Steph is moving to Utah - I have a concert buddy again! It's not even on a school night... I'm psyched. And dude... it's MUSE. Have I mentioned lately that Matt Bellamy is insanely talented? Because he is.


Resistance

It's here!

via muse.mu

It's a convenient night for insomnia... instead of wasting all that time in fruitless attempts to fall asleep, I'm hours ahead of schedule on getting sucked into the new album!  I've said it before... Matt Bellamy is insanely talented.  Absolutely not what I was expecting and yet completely amazing.  Now I just need to head over to Border's at lunch to pick up the new Dan Brown and the day will be perfect :)


Sounds of the Universe

So I played a little hooky from school tonight, but I think I'm allowed total clemency in the case of all things Depeche Mode.  I just got back from the concert at the E-Center and it was, as usual, absolutely phenomenal.  I came away with complete reaffirmation of the reason why they've been my favorite band for 25 years (yup, I've been a die hard fan since 1984 if you can believe it).  I swear they just get better with age. 

Now, normally I would have taken lots of pictures, but I went to grab my little point and shoot that I've been carrying everywhere for the last 4 years and the LCD screen had cracked since the last time I used it.  I have no idea how it happened, but oh well.  So I took a few pictures with my SLR outside in the parking lot and then left it in the car and just enjoyed the show.

Here's me and my friend Kathryn:

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And the E-Center...

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So we went in and found our seats and enjoyed the opening act, Peter Bjorn and John.  Kathryn and I both liked them - I'll have to listen a bit more and do some downloading... good stuff!  And then the main event.  As I said, I didn't have a camera, but they've been posting pictures of shows on the tour blog and I grabbed a few from Anaheim.  I'll probably snag a few once they post the Utah pics.

Waiting for the Night

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Sigh.  Why do good things take forever to come about and then flash by in an instant?  I sat in the concert wishing it would go on forever... I guess I'll just have to cross my fingers that they make another album (or twelve) and just keep on touring, huh?  One good thing... they record every concert and you can go to their website to purchase and download the one you were at.  I'll be stalking that site to get a copy of tonight's show.  It. was. awesome.

And now, back to reality.  Sigh.

P.S.  There will be a layout.  Oh yes, there WILL be a layout.


Woohoo!

I got the new single when it came out the other day and I love it (duh, it's Muse.  they rock).  Counting down until the new album!

For those who have asked, I'm just finishing up a break on the last day of residency week.  The next two years are going to be hard and I'm going to have no life, but it's also going to be awesome.  My class is great and my learning team is tons of fun.  I love all the professors so far and I'm excited to get going with regular classes next week.  I'll have to give more details later... I need to try and do a back to school layout this week; after I read the 60 pages and do all the assignments for my Corporate Financial Accounting class on Tuesday, of course!  I'm kind of excited to dive in, actually... the reading looks much more interesting than I'd expect from Accounting - especially compared with the class I took as a freshman (many years ago!)  I'm sure the excitement and novelty of homework will wear off quickly, though. ;)

P.S. - Emily - I'm SUPER excited that you signed up for Peru.  That's going to be so much fun!


Look what the Amazon Fairy brought!

Blog_amazon_fairy_brings_museMy abiding love for Muse has not diminished... and, to make me totally happy, they just released a CD/DVD combo from their live shows at Wembly last June.  I ripped open the box as soon as I got home last night and watched the DVD.  Have I mentioned that Matt Bellamy is insanely talented?  I'm pretty sure I have, but it bears repeating.  Although I talked to someone yesterday who actually heckled Muse at a show about 5 years ago where they were opening for some other bands.  My reply?  "You heckled Matt Bellamy?!?!?"  Can you feel my incredulity?  Sigh.

Oh, and I was thrilled last night while watching today's forecast on the news to hear that I should be expecting 8-15 INCHES of SNOW by the end of the day today.  My thoughts of moving someplace where fluffy white stuff is fairly unknown have only increased in frequency.  This winter has been brutal.  Please tell me why it isn't over yet... someone?  Please?

And in parting, another group of layouts from the mini album about Ben I'm finishing for my family.

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I'd like to get some more done tonight, but the NHL playoffs are starting so we'll see what happens.  Priorities, you know ;)  Go Avs!!!


Random Wednesday Stuff

Is it Friday yet?  This has been a crazy week already... nutty, even.  And my arms and shoulders are sore.  Is anyone who weighs over 96 pounds capable of doing the crane position in yoga?  I'm determined to master it one day, but I might break something before I achieve that goal.

Melody and I went to one of our LSSs last night for the 2nd Quarter Open House.  We skipped the make and takes, but we did sign up to take a class together in April.  I hardly ever take classes so this should be fun.

On the music front, I mentioned a few weeks ago that I realized I was listening to the same stuff over and over so last week I went on a quest to find some new-to-me music.  For a while I couldn't get my tracks to scrobble on Last.fm (amazing how quickly I've become addicted to that place) but I got it working again last night.  Now that all tracks are scrobbled, here's the new top 10 artist list for last week:

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I really love Beirut.  It reminds me of this group that I saw playing a few times in the Bastille metro stop when I was in Paris a few years ago.  Very Eastern European-esque (although the guy is from New Mexico or something).  I bought a CD from that group in Paris and haven't ever listened to it.  Note to self... get it out and listen!

I found a few more groups last night too... TV on the Radio, Eisley and Cold War Kids (well, Cold War Kids aren't new to me, actually, just finally downloaded their stuff.) 

Hillary_williamsI was checking out Design for Mankind this morning and I found a link to an amazing artist - Hilary Williams.  I'm in love with her work.  Seriously.

I guess that's it, other than the fact that ever since seeing Nicole's pictures from Ephesus, Turkey has been moved up on my must-visit list. It was in my top 10 but it's now a close second to the Spain / Morocco trip I want to take.  Tell me again why I haven't already moved back to Virginia to work for her company?   


I forgot my earplugs.

This is how I know I'm getting old.  I worry about things like earplugs at rock concerts.  Although the fact that I'm still going to rock concerts probably means that I'm not in my dotage quite yet.

Tonight / last night (whatever) was the Linkin Park show here in SLC.  I've seen them twice before (once I was in the pit where we were like 10 feet away from Chester and Mike and it was totally sweet) so I already knew this was going to be an awesome show.  Vic came with me and he loves LP but had never seen them live.  I was excited just to see how much he enjoyed it.  But I'm getting ahead.

First up was a group called Chiodos.  Never heard of them.  I think it's possible that I could like some of their music if heard with proper balance, levels and at appropriate volume.  Either they have a terrible sound tech or they're terrible live.  Or both.  I think my ears were going to bleed if they played any longer.  This is the part where I really missed my earplugs.  Their music seemed to involve a lot of (as in way too much) screaming which I realize is sort of ironic given the fact that I was there to see Linkin Park.  However, LP understands how to make it work (in my opinion, anyway).  And there are other musically redeeming factors when listening to them.  Chiodos heads too much in the Slipknot / Mudvayne direction and I can't stand that.  And now I've officially talked WAY more about them than is warranted.

Coheed and Cambria - I was interested to see them because I like what I've heard from them on the radio.  Their sound tech was better, but they still needed more balance so that it wasn't just loud.  Because it was.  Very loud.  Again, earplugs.  However, there was high entertainment in watching the lead singer / guitarist's hair - he has serious head-banging hair.

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I'll be downloading some of their stuff once iTunes lets me update my CC expiration :-P

Finally, Linkin Park.  This is where I didn't even notice that I didn't have earplugs.  They put on such a killer show.  They came on stage and launched right into What I've Done and from there into Don't Stay.  I need to find the entire playlist.  I didn't want to be bothered with writing it down myself (because as usual, I was taking tons of pictures when I wasn't just enjoying the music.  Hard to multi-task at a rock concert). 

A few of the better shots:

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The finale of the main set was Bleed it Out and there was an absolutely phenomenal drum solo in the middle.  So cool.  The first encore included In Pieces (I think) and Breaking the Habit.  Then they came out for the final encore - One Step Closer and Faint.  Two of my favorite songs.  Then the final bows... here's Chester:

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I think it's possible that this show was even better than the others I've been to.  My ears are still a little sore (but I'm blaming that on the first acts... lol) but it was so awesome.  Just a fabulous show.  I love the absolute high that comes from being in the middle of something like that, you know?  But alas, it's over, and I'm sure as soon as said high wears off, I'm going to crash hard.

So with that, the rest of the pictures are here and I'm going to bed.


Of Tears

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I think this is possibly my favorite song by The Lover Speaks.  At least right now. Obviously, my CD came today and the first thing I did when I got inside was drop my bags on the floor and go to the stereo.  The recorded version of Of Tears has no words; David Freeman felt that singing a falcetto to the music felt more of tears than the actual words.  It's just beautiful.  This record might be 22 years old, but has resonated inside of me from the very first time I heard it.  I'm glad this was waiting for me tonight.

(Oh, and I'm so proud of myself for figuring how to add the html for the audio player :D  Although, posting this is a risk... I may find that I'm the only one who appreciates this.  lol.  Oh well!)


Apparently, I really like Arcade Fire.

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I think this is the first time in months that Muse has NOT been #1.  That being said, I'm seeing a lot of consistency here.  Not good.  It's time to diversify.  (Except for Muse, of course, because they're seriously amazing and they also have a new live CD/DVD coming out from the last tour that I'm all giddy over.) 

Since I've already been geeking out over the Avs for 2 days, I might as well add that I was feeling like a kid in a candy shop yesterday when they announced their trades to bring back Adam Foote and get Ruslan Salei from Florida.  I LOVE that Foote hopped on a plane and showed up at the Saddledome as they were already starting, got suited up, and jumped out on the ice with the team before he'd even met most of them.  I love even MORE that they won. Can't wait for tonight... Salei should be playing and Forsberg will be in the building.  This is the first time in a while that I'm not watching the games with a book handy.


I have succumbed at last.

So there's this album from a very little known British band that I've been looking for for years.  YEARS!  I'm not exaggerating in the slightest.  I have a cassette copy that I copied from someone else's copy about 17 years ago and a few mp3s that I found on different volumes of Rare Hits of the 80s.  Aside from that, even in this age of digital downloads, that's the limit of what I've been able to find so I'm stuck looking for the CD.  (If it weren't for the fact that I don't have a turntable in my car, or anywhere other than my bedroom, I'd probably settle for vinyl.)

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The thing is, when you do find a copy of the album on CD, it costs an arm and a leg.  Sometimes also a firstborn child.  Tonight, though, I finally found a copy for a price that I could live with.  I bought it.  And honestly?  Considering the fact that it was kind of an impulse purchase, I'm not sorry now and I'm sure I'll be even less sorry once it shows up in my mailbox.

If you've never heard The Lover Speaks this might help - Annie Lennox covered one of their songs; No More "I Love You's". Of course, her version is nowhere NEAR as good as the original.  Most people don't even know there IS an original.  But there is. And it's amazing.  The entire album is fabulous.  And now, I've already talked myself into being super happy about my purchase. :)

P.S.  Despite the fact that the Avs totally gave a point to Phoenix tonight by giving up a goal with 2.8 seconds left, the 12 rounds of the shoot-out (including a win) were pretty awesome.


Did you see that girl with the mohawk eating a giant pickle?

Well, we're back from Dallas.  It was a great weekend!  The weather was wonderful (I didn't mind the humidity... Steph, not so much), the food was great, the rodeo was a blast and the concert was amazing.  And, if you're wondering, the title comes from Steph's blog posting about things that we heard or said this weekend that would make perfect blog titles.  There were many; we forgot a lot of them. 

A few things we learned. 

1.  NEVER, and I repeat NEVER visit to the Dallas/Fort Worth area without getting a GPS.  Thank you random Budget guy!  When Steph asked him how hard it was to navigate Dallas area streets, he answered "We can rent you a GPS system for $10 a day."  Money well spent.  We named it Susie.

1A.  The roads are weird.  Even after extensive study of an aerial map, we still wouldn't have gotten it.  Susie was our new best friend.

1B.  The roads are highly condusive to motion sickness.  We bounced.  A lot.  Not a great experience after the unhappiness that is eating raw broccoli salad on a plane followed by a rough descent and landing.

2.  Never eat raw broccoli salad on an airplane no matter how good of an idea you think that box lunch you got at SuperTarget so you didn't have to spend $8 on an airport sandwich seems to be.  The broccoli will come back to haunt you.  Over and over and over.

3.  Remember... Dallas is in the Bible belt.  Dallas on a Sunday afternoon is boring.  Everything is closed, no people.

4.  Any aquarium that only charges $4 to get in probably sucks.

5.  Wearing earplugs at a rock concert does not make you a wuss.  It makes you capable of hearing the next day.  lol.  (I learned my lesson after Muse and brought some.  Everyone else was jealous.)

There are probably more lessons that we learned, but that works for now :)

So Saturday, we checked in to our hotel in Irvine and started planning.  We decided to do Fort Worth that afternoon and hit the rodeo at the Stockyards that evening.  So much fun!  First on the list, however, we ended up near the TCU campus because Steph found out, courtesy of Susie, that there were Potbellies sandwich shops in the Dallas area.  The broccoli was still bugging me, so I skipped a sandwich, but I have to say, their cookies are AMAZING!!!  I could really have done without finding that out. 

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Next, we wandered around Sundance Square in Fort Worth and then went over to the Stockyards.  It was so old west looking!  I'm not sure how much is historical and how much it tourist trap, but it was all fun.  Steph wanted to stop at the old-west saloon looking biker bars on the way in.  We turned down the street and there was a whole string of them with a long line of Harleys out front.  Too funny.

We wandered the Stockyards, popping our heads into little stores (I got a saddle Christmas ornament for my collection) and then we went to Riscky's for some Texas BBQ dinner.  Of course, neither of us had BBQ.  lol.  But I had a nice Angus burger!

After dinner we went to the rodeo.  That was so much fun.  I'd never been to one before but I really enjoyed it.  Although I have to admit, during the calf roping, I was cheering for the calves.  I hated seeing them get thrown around and tied up like that.  But the bronc and bull riding were amazing.

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Sunday.

First up, we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast at the hotel.  You have to love a state that has so much pride they make their own Texas shaped Belgian waffle makers.

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Next, we thought we'd go to Dallas.  Allow me to refer you to "things we learned" #3.  Dallas is boring on Sunday.  The Farmer's Market was a real one and not one of those touristy ones.  Having no need for loads of produce in our hotel room, we moved on.  Fountain Square would have been lovely if the fountains had been turned on.  Heh.  So we decided to go to the aquarium.  This brings us to "Things we learned" #4.  Granted... we figured it couldn't be that great for $4, so we weren't too disappointed.  We were able to find great amusement in standing in front of the alligator and trying to figure out if he was alive or stuffed.  He never moved!  Finally, on our second round of standing in front of him looking for signs of life, I saw him blink.

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The aquarium was on the grounds with the Dallas State Fair Park which was, surprisingly enough, closed.  But!  There was a beautiful walking area with a floating sculpture and lots of turtles.  We spent some time walking, exploring and enjoying such beautiful weather in November.

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By this time we were pretty hungry.  We wanted TexMex for sure.  We were in Texas, right?  Must do.  First try was a texmex place called Mattitos that had won Best of Dallas 4 times or something.  When we finally found it and realized that it was PACKED for brunch and that there were lots of Porsches and other expensive cars going to the valet, we decided to make another pick.  El Fenix, one of the original texmex restaurants... closed.  Greek food!  Closed.  So we figured at this point we should just get out of Dallas.  We went back near our hotel and found heaven:  Mi Cocina.  Delicious!  We had chicken flautitas, enchiladas, tamales and lots of other tasty food that could still be sitting in take-out containers in the fridge of our hotel room for all I know.

As we were driving out of the parking lot after lunch, Steph looked up and this is approximately what I heard: "Oh. my. Goodness. That's the Holy Grail of Food! Quiet! It may run away!"  There in front of us, housed in one building, were Potbellies and Chipotle.  I thought Steph was going to faint.  So, is it any surprise that after a little resting up at the hotel, we went back to Potbellies for dinner before going to the concert? lol.  I had my first sandwich there and I have to admit, it's pretty good stuff!  But the cookies are better.

So.  Finally.  The point of the whole weekend, The Concert.  Four amazing bands, two amazing seats.  We were 13 rows back from the pit, dead center.  All four were amazing - they all do such a great live show.  I could go on and on about them and the songs they played and when members of different bands came on with other groups to jam (like when the guys from Seether and 3 Days Grace came on and did the a cover of the Deftones "Change" while Ben from Breaking Benjamin was down in the pit throwing out water bottles... so sweet.) and all that kind of thing, but this post is already way too long.  So, I leave you with pictures.

Red (only played 4 songs, but they were much better live than we expected.  Love their stuff and love that people in the crowd who weren't familiar with them were going out to buy their CD between sets.)

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Seether - I've heard a lot of their music on the radio but didn't really know them well.  I now need all their albums.  They were, as Stephanie had already told me they would be, absolutely amazing live.

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Breaking Benjamin - the main reason they were there.  Long gone are the days when we saw them in little clubs in DC while they were nearly apologetic for being on stage and having us cheer for them.  Ben has become a rock star.  But the show was still awesome.

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Three Days Grace - another band I knew and liked from the radio, and I now need to get their albums.  They were great!

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It was awesome.  Worth even having to fly back to Salt Lake via Atlanta yesterday (hey... for a free ticket, like I should be complaining!  lol). :D

Happy Birthday Stephanie!  The rest of the pictures are here.


Matt Bellamy is insanely talented.

I mean, seriously.  Muse was AMAZING.  Unbelievable.  One of the best shows I've ever seen, and I've seen some great shows.  And Matt is a sick guitar player.  He and Chris and Dom would just go off at the end of songs or in between and just jam or Matt would do these amazing riffs... my ears are still ringing.  At the end of the main set, they were playing Plug in Baby and from the side came out all of these giant white balloons that bounced out into the crowd and as people hit them they popped and showered paper confetti all over.  It was very cool.  They played all my favorites and I was *thrilled* to finally get to listen to their music as loud as I wanted to.  My ears are still ringing, but it was totally worth it.

Rob and I were totally laughing as we looked around and we were saying that it was kind of incredible that a band like Muse would be playing in such a podunk venue.  I have nothing personally against the McKay Events Center - it was nice, and I loved being in such a small place with such an amazing band.  But these are the same guys that headline Glastonbury and sell out Wembley on multiple nights.  I guess America is still catching on (Heh.  says the girl who's been a Muse fan for how long?  lol :)  Whatever the reason, I'm so glad they came to Orem.  And Rob, who came with me for kicks, is now a fan :D  Although he claims Muse will be a mood thing for him.  Pfft. 

They were checking purses at the door, so I had to smuggle my camera in (although I don't think they were looking for cameras judging by the number of other people taking pictures... lol).  We were in the front row of our section right by the guards that kept trying to catch jumpers going into the GA section.  So I didn't use my flash just in case.  Most of the pictures are a bit blurry as a result, but I got some decent ones.  Here are a few :)

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More photos here.

And now, bedtime for me... I have to be back down in Provo by 8:15 tomorrow morning in order to carpool from the office to the Marriott for our company meeting.  Bets on whether or not I make it on time?  lol.

P.S.  Have I mentioned that I really really REALLY love Muse?  Oh.  Yeah.  I guess I did.  :D


Pointless Posting

I admit it.  I'm posting just to post.  I have nothing to say, really.  lol.  Okay, there are a few bands I'm loving lately that deserve a call-out... I added them to my new handy-dandy list of stuff I'm listening to on the right.  Totally loving:

Since October

Black Light Burns

Armor for Sleep

and liking Arctic Monkeys a lot too.

So, I spent some time updating my iPod last night (it's an obsession lately, I admit it) and also working on another scrapbook layout.  I didn't really get too far, but I did have an awesome time playing with PhotoShop and my Silhouette... I tried to do my own version of the new KI Memories lace paper that was released at CHA last month.  Despite the obvious problem that I can't do a 12x12 sheet, it was pretty successful.  I'll post when I'm done :)

That is all.  Return to your regularly scheduled blog surfing ;)

P.S.  I updated my color scheme and banner today (notes on the obvious).  I'm trying to decide if the black and white is a mood thing.  I loved my Africa banner (and still love it, really), but I was pretty tired of my "safari" color palette.  So, one going with the other and all... anyway.  We'll see how long this one lasts.  If it stays up long enough, I won't even have to update for Halloween!  Bonus. :)

P.P.S.  Has anyone noticed that I'm doing a lot of PSs on my posts lately?  What's up with that?  I have no idea where it came from.  I just noticed that it's becoming a habit.  Might have to do something about that.


Self-Entertaining

Although I have not yet seen Becoming Jane or The Bourne Ultimatum (both on my list of definite must-sees), I think this is going to be my entertainment for this weekend.  Hello.  Colin Firth, Arthurian Legend... what more do you need?

Now, as hard as it is for me to choose, I think this is my favorite Muse song right now.  Seriously awesome.

And, I finally managed to finish that Moulin Rouge layout this weekend.  Of course now, every time I look at it, I think of ways I'd like to change it.  Sigh.  I'm such a perfectionist sometimes.

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Addictions.

EclipseOkay, so I have a lot of them.  I admit it.  But I have 2 fairly recent ones.  I've mentioned my new addiction to the Twilight book series, but I don't think I've admitted previous to this that it really *is* an addiction.  I'm coming clean.  My name is Gwen, and I'm totally and completely addicted to these books.  I picked up book 3, Eclipse, on Tuesday at lunch.  I had put a copy on reserve on a whim, and I'm so glad I did!  I got into the store and got into a long line where, I'm not kidding, EVERY single person in line was picking up a reserved copy of the book.  There wasn't a single copy available if you hadn't reserved one, and they were hauling them out by the cartload.  lol.  I actually got an email from Borders this morning highlighting a discussion group who was debating whether Eclipse is the new Harry Potter.  I don't know about that, but I'll put Harry Potter down to re-read one of these.  I've read Eclipse twice since I picked it up and I just love it.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  I LOVE good books!

Addiction #2, partly caused by current addiction #1.  Muse.  The music group.  Stephenie Meyer has credited Muse for inspiration in all 3 of the Twilight books (is anyone else amused (haha, no pun intended) by the irony of a band called Muse being someone's muse?  Maybe that's just me ;).  I already liked their music, but after reading these books (and chatting with my cousin Ryan, also a fan), I started giving them a closer listen and I LOVE their music! 

So, that is all.  Two new addictions.  I just needed to share :D


Minutes to Midnight

41rn8mqhhmlWoohoo!  Love me some new LP. I know what I'll be downloading on iTunes tonight ;)  Nothing like some awesome new tunes on a long airplane trip, right?

Right now I'm plodding through some reporting and watching last night's AOL concert in a little corner of my screen.  Nice.  Can't wait until their next tour! 


TGIF!

I'm so glad it's Friday!  One of the guys I work with and I were talking yesterday and he mentioned that it's been one of those weeks where you're asking... is it Friday yet? and where did the week go? all at the same time.  I totally agreed.

I love living someplace where I can actually listen to the radio and hear music... good music!  I've been downloading again recently as a result :D  Top 5 recent downloads:

1.  Stolen - Dashboard (okay, I DL'd this quite a while ago, but it's still pretty much my favorite song right now)

2.  Ladies and Gentlemen - Saliva

3.  Paralyzer - Finger Eleven

4.  Dig - Incubus

5.  Can't Let Go - Landon Pigg

Finally, I just opened my gas bill.  I'm going home to turn off my heat.  Eeeek!  It's like $40 more than the highest bill I had in VA.  I guess the fact that I'm heating a townhouse instead of a condo explains some of it.  And here I've been wandering around in a sweater with socks under my slippers and wrapped in a blanket when I watch TV (see #2 under idiosyncrasies... lol) thinking that I didn't dare turn up the heat any more.  I'm glad I didn't!  Oi vey!  Steph, you mentioned your gas bill a while ago.  I'm now feeling your pain.  But hey, it's Friday.  Nachos and hockey, baby!


The Benefits of Insomnia

Yes, it's a silver lining day here in Gwen-Land.  I'd like to thank my insomnia, along with Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, RED, Evans Blue, iPod and Precor for an awesome workout this morning.  Of course now I'm sore, tired and have the perpetual dull, throbbing headache that also comes with insomnia, but I count it a small price to pay.  LOL.  Mostly, I'm just psyched about finding some cool new bands that are not only a good listen, but most excellent for dancing... I mean exercising.  (sorry, I needed my Bill and Ted reference this morning :D). 

Evans Blue (kind of A Perfect Circle-esque)

RED (Chevelle meets Linkin Park meets Breaking Benjamin)

Enjoy :D


Back from Utah :(

So, I'm totally jet-lagged and sitting at home waiting until my 2pm conference call.  I just got back from Utah this morning; a red-eye flight that landed at about 8:15am.  NEED SLEEP!  lol.  The fact that my insomnia has been back for the last few weeks isn't helping, but the weekend was totally worth it :D

Rewind... all airplane trips necessitate an iPod update.  My top additions:

1.  Breaking Benjamin - Phobia (the entire album ROCKS!)

2.  R.E.D. - End of Silence (found them somehow browsing iMixes and LOVED them immediately.  Entire album is awesome.)

3.  30 Seconds to Mars - Capricorn (another older but still amazing song).

4.  Keane - Is it Any Wonder?

5. Michael BublĂ© (jazz, love it.  Entire album is awesome.)

So... iPod fully ready for the journey, I flew out to Utah Friday morning and Mel met me at the airport.  We picked up her sister and her daughter and went out to lunch and did some shopping to get ready for Lola's (Mel's sister) baby shower the next day.  Friday night, Melody, her husband Vic, and Dustin and I went out for dinner.  We ended up at Buca di Beppo's and had an absolute blast.  We were so busy talking that I think it took us about 20 minutes to actually look at the menu, and then we kept distracting ourselves.  Ali, our very patient waitress, came back at least 3 times to see if we were ready tP8110006o order.  LOL.   And, of course, I took pictures. 

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All I have to say is, I hope Paris is ready for us!

Saturday we had a great baby shower for Lola and then Mel and I visited another scrapbook store.  That evening, the four of us got to have our planning session for our trip in October.  #1 on the to-do list:  the Louvre Steeplechase.  I'm bringing my running shoes.  After that, we went and picked out a movie, ordered some pizza, and kicked back to relax with Glory Road.  And I got to remember exactly how much I LOVE Mountain Dew.  Mmmm.... 

Sunday was interesting.  I went to church with Mel and Vic and as I sat in Sunday School I felt like I was in one of those cheesy church movies.  I suddenly realized that the depictions of church meetings in those movies weren't just bad acting or over-dramatization... it was just reality.  Of course, as I realized this, I also realized that they were some of the best church meetings I've been to in a long time.  And I LOVED relief society.  (Steph.  Stop laughing.  I mean it!)  It was a really great meeting.  I was half convinced to come home and immediately start sending out my resume to contacts in Utah.  I'm seriously thinking that I'll eventually do this.  Not right now, but I don't think it's too far off either.  We'll see how things work out.  It just felt great to be there and I'm totally bummed to think that I won't see Mel, Vic or Dustin again until October!  Oh well, it's always good to have something to look forward to, right?  :D

So, in conclusion, two numbers:  34.  The number of days until the NHL pre-season begins.  And, 56.  The number of days until we all meet up in Paris :D  I can't wait!


DM Rules!

Okay, here I am, late at night, and so absolutely and completely giddy in the aftermath of the most fabulous concert EVER that I just HAD to sit down and post about it.  Tonight was the long awaited Depeche Mode concert.  While I know that there Pc080022are those who would disagree with this statement, I'm going to make it anyway.  Depeche Mode is the greatest band in the WORLD!!!!!  LOL.  (for those who  know my buddy Jim, picture me saying that in his voice... that's how it comes out in my head, anyway...lol).   They've totally regained their concert-master status with me.  I have to admit, last year I had put Linkin Park into top concert slot after seeing them in two very excellent shows.  After tonight, however, their short-lived reign on top of my list of favorite concerts came to a very definitive end.    So... Stephanie, Rachel and Amber met me at the Patriot Center where I had arrived early along with my trusty camera.  I knew from previous experience that the security check would consist of checking my purse only, so ladies, you all know where the camera went :D  I think it will take a few weeks to get rid of the bruise it left, however.  In any case, I refuse to own up to the number of photos I took at the Pc080072concert... let me just say that I drained both of my camera batteries in the process, and I wasn't even using the flash!  I think I got some great shots, though, considering that I kept the flash turned off.   All I can say is, thank goodness for digital!  But enough of that... back to the show!

Dave is still my all time favorite performer.  Love the charisma!  He sounded great, too... they look the same now as they did when I first saw them in concert um... let's just say it was a long time Pc080155ago and leave it at that, shall we? 

The setlist:

> Intro
> A Pain That I'm Used To
> John The Revelator
> A Question Of Time
> Policy Of Truth
> Precious    
> Walking In My Shoes
> Suffer Well
> Damaged People
> Home
> I Want It All
> The Sinner In Me
> I Feel You
> Behind The Wheel   Pc080145_1
> World In My Eyes 
> Personal Jesus
> Enjoy The Silence
  encore
> Somebody
> Just Can't Get Enough
> Everything Counts
encore #2
> Never Let Me Down Again
> Goodnight Lovers

Anyway, it was an awesome setlist... I loved every single song they played, and they had some killer arrangements.  They could have played for hours without running out Pc080160of concert-worthy material, but they played my all time favorite (World in My Eyes) along with Steph's (Personal Jesus) and Amber's (Enjoy the Silence), so we all left happy.  I wish my second camera battery hadn't died in the first encore... Goodnight Lovers was awesome... they way they all gathered together at the end to take a bow made me just hold my breath and hope that it isn't the last time I see them on stage.  I've been a fan for over 20 years, it can't stop now!!!  Long live the Mode :D

(And, in case you missed the first link, here are the best of the photos I got at the show.)