July 13, 2017

I've been away for too long....

My last official post was in January of 2015... since then a lot of things have happened...  Here's a quick rundown - and I plan to do a bit more detail on all of these soon!

Greatest Hits REWIND!

Honorable Mentions I never blogged about: Weezer Show in ATL Dec. 2014 and Pearl Jam in Memphis 2014. Sad I didn't write more about these - I may need to do a concert recap!

APRIL 2015
Took a trip to Denver, Colorado
I witnessed my first show at Red Rocks! [Disco Buscuits]
And one more show at the Filmore!  [The Replacements]
Hit up Record Store Day 2015 in Denver, Colorado and also scored some amazing tacos too!

Mike bought a new ride! His name is "Boom" and he's an awesome Jeep Renegade!

HAD A VERY BUSY JULY 2015
We did US Tour so to speak in July - ever single weekend we were going somewhere and doing something. We put a lot of miles on "BOOM" this month!

Celebrated July 4th, 2015 in Washington, DC with The Foo Fighters and a ton of great bands
AND celebrated FF's 20th Anniversary!

Spent the following weekend in Atlanta with Mike and went to see Anthony Bourdain speak!

Went to the first ever Sloss Fest in Birmingham, AL

Enjoyed a family beach trip to Orange Beach, AL.

AUGUST 2015
I survived my first Whole30 and did 4 more after that!

SEPTEMBER 2015
Started to work out again, take up running and purchased a bike all in the matter of months and stuck with the life style through 2016 and well into 2017.

NOVEMBER 2015
As a family effort we took over Thanksgiving in 2015. Helping out Michael's mom.
We ruled at making Turkey, and a ton of the other sides and were asked to bake the turkey again in 2016. It's amazing what some sibling team work and vodka can accomplish!

New Tattoos - for myself and Mike, and his brothers and father.

Discovered Pre-workout and a love for Rosé.
Not at the same time mind you, or mixed together... just a general statement.

DECEMBER 2015
Celebrated Christmas at our home, having Mike's family over for a change of pace after a long fall (see below).

FEBRUARY 2016
Headed home to Maryland for a weekend to have a late Christmas with my father and friends. Experience a great afternoon in Downtown Frederick for their Fire and Ice Festival! Ice Sculptures and shots for all!

Enjoyed a Chili Contest at our favorite Local Brewery [Singin' River Brewery] - Mike was able to judge. Our favorite didn't win, but they should have!

MARCH 2016
Enjoyed a few weekends of day drankin' on patios downtown and just l-i-v-i-n'!
The weather was so warm we actually took our first kayak trip at the end of March!

APRIL 2016
Enjoyed the final day of our favorite local vinyl store Pegasus Records and Records Store Day all in one. We went all out - spent way too much money, got misty eyed, listened to live bands and got some great items from our friends and favorite music store the Shoals ever had.

Fully ENJOYED JAZZFEST 2016 - Full recap to come. This was an extremely special Pearl Jam concert!

JUNE 2015
Our Town held it's first ever Pride Fest - we were there!

Traveled to Denver, CO again in 2016. We travel to visit my Sister-in-Law and her family.
Hiked a mountain, ate great tacos, went to Red Rocks again! [Jason Isbell + the 400 Unit]

OCTOBER 2016
Hit up the Alabama Vs. Texas A&M 2016 game! ROLL TIDE!
We also celebrated our wedding anniversary that day as well!

Had a fun trip to our favorite part of ATL to meet up with my Bestie from back home!

NOVEMBER 2016
Watched and Election unfold in the way I never thought imaginable.
Let's NOT discuss here, m'kay?

Witnessed quite a few great live shows here at home!
John Paul White • Secret Sisters • The Pollies • Red Mouth • Willodeans • St. Paul and the Broken Bones • Space Tyger • Belle Adair (just to name a few).

DECEMBER 2016
I TURNED 40!!! Holy shit! Michael threw me an epic surprise Birthday party!!!

My office acquired a "work cat" - she showed up at our door cold, and starving and he's been with us every since. He was amply named "Buddy" after Buddy the Elf.

Celebrated Christmas 2016 in Maryland with my dad and Friends!

MARCH 2017
Finally watched Big Little Lies and was instantly hooked!
I'm also obsessed with the soundtrack on Spotify (Thanks Hutch!)

And watched a ton of other shows: Newest notes: Riverdale, iZombie and 13 Reasons Why.
I loved them all - I'm a bit more addicted to television than I'd like to admit.

Didn't celebrate St. Patrick's Day like we had hoped...

APRIL 2017
Discovered a love for puzzles.

MAY 2017
Witnessed Soundgarden for the first, and sadly last time in my life.
Losing Chris Cornell in the music world is a bit unreal to me.

Celebrated a 2nd, successful year of the John Oubre for Antiqua Charity Golf Tournament.
It's hard work, but worth it to raise money for a cause he was passionate about.

My father moved from Maryland here to Alabama to be closer to me and Michael. I think he's enjoying it so far!

JUNE 2016
Discovered Wine in a Can = Life is Good!

And the Hardest Struggles: REWIND!

AUGUST 2015:
Dealt with the biggest loss I've felt since losing my mother, in losing Mike's younger brother John Oubre. The family will never be 100%, he was too important to all of us. We are all still taking this day by day, even though the event happened in 2015. Sometimes you just can't fix a hole in your heart, especially when someone left such a large tear when they left. I've been struggling with a post to honor him for almost two years now. I'm almost there, and hope to share, soon.

FEBRUARY / MARCH 2017:
Also dealt with the joy of discovering I was pregnant this past February. After a little over a year of trying. That excitement was shortly followed by the loss of this joy, due to an ectopic pregnancy and emergency surgery. I have a lot to say about this journey as well, but I will have to complete my post.

------

These past few years have been filled with ups and downs. Most of which I do want to write a detailed post about, so please be patient.

If you're still here after my long hiatus, thanks for sticking around, it's nice to have you back, and to be back!

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July 12, 2017

Music Festival Checklist.

"Better to have that, and not need it, than need it and not have it." - Woodrow F. Call

"Be Prepared" - Scouts Motto

"Better safe, than sorry." - Mom

The best advice in life comes from many places, well I'm about to give you some real world, sage advice about the most important things to bring with you and remember at an outdoor music festival.

via turnedup2eleven

BACK-PACK / BAG + STUFF THAT GOES INSIDE!

Always check the rules and regulations on the festival's website. Some will allow you to carry regular back-packs or bags of a certain size. Some of the newest security regulations have required us to carry clear plastic bags, where all contents can be easily viewed by concert goers AND staff at the security checks. The bags come in all sizes. This is a bit annoying, but at the same time safety is a huge concern in places with this many people so please save yourself some time, read the rules and respect the requests of the venue and concert promoters. Other venues will only allow you to carry a purse, approximately the size of your palm, if it's not a see through material. All items are subject to search - just comply with security, and you'll get through the line much, much faster!

In this bag you'll want to keep some very important items:

SPF / CHAPSTICK / LIP BALM / GLOSS
Sunburns suck, and skin cancer is even worse. Protect yourself. I apply my sunblock before leaving my hotel, and then take a smaller bottle for reapplication as needed. Most venues will not allow aerosol cans, so again, read the rules. Same goes for your lips! I always carry a spare SPF Lip Balm and a gloss.

Tickets
Store these somewhere safe in your bag they are often needed for re-entry, if you are able to leave the festival and come back. If we plan enough ahead Mike and I always laminate our tickets, especially if we need them for two days. Thankfully some music festivals give you a wrist band, if you don't luck out and get a band, please keep your tickets safe, or keep a back up at the hotel.

Band-aids / Blister Block
I can tell you from experience that even in the best worn in shoes, sometimes blisters happen. They are never comfortable but Blister block and band-aids truly help!

Bandana
Great for fashion AND function. These come in very handy when a festival is held during the dry season or in a parking lot (thinking back to Warped Tour circa... 2002ish? my teeth were caked in dust and eventually became mud, thanks to my silva - yeah it's gross, so do us all a favor and save your lungs and your grill and wear a bandana around your face as needed.

Protection from the Sun - I don't know about you but my forehead is always the first part of my face to show sunburn - I have been saved from a wicked burn a time or two by wrapping the bandana around the effected part of my scalp. You can also wet the bandana and use it as a cool cloth as well at a super hot festival.

They also come in handy when it rains - but a word of advice, if you want to wear one in the rain, make sure you wash it before the festival. In a moment of desperation Mike (my husband for any new readers) and I grabbed some at the Music Midtown fest a few years ago, during a down pour, they were great to keep our hair back from the falling rain, until the red dye bled all over Mike's favorite shirt. Not to mention bandanas are way more comfortable, and soft after a good wash!

Poncho
Weather permitting it may be needed in an instant and who wants to pay the over priced fee that concert places charge for these items. Hit up the camping section at Target and snag one for $4.00 or less, vs. the $7-10 at most venues).

They are also a great way to not only keep YOURSELF dry, but all your gear - covering your backpack will ensure that your bag and items stay dry, AND your merch doesn't get ruined after purchasing it.  We survived the downpour on July 4th, 2015 watching The Foo Fighters 20th Anniversary concert thanks to our ponchos, we might have had a ton of rain fall on us, but our posters and tshirts stayed super dry! My mascara on the other hand was a mess.

Foo Fighters July 4th • 20th Anniversary 2015 • via jamofpearls
Foo Fighters July 4th • DC • 2015 • Worth the rain to catch this show! • via turnedup2eleven

Hat
You can be stylish or functional with these - either way - protect your eyes, and face from harsh rays with a hat! Bonus if it rains and you have a ball cap it will keep the rain out of your eyes so you can focus on your favorite lead guitarist, or drummer. Which ever.

Sunglasses
BRIGHT RAYS equal tired and even often sunburned eyes. Protect your peepers people!
Sloss Fest 2015 via jamofpearls
Small Wallet
Dudes have it easy - they can usually hide a wallet in one of their many pockets. Especially in cargo shorts. Women we have to get a bit more creative. I usually tend to take a smaller wallet, and only carry vital items, ID - Credit Card - Cash - Insurance Cards (Guys, I'm 40, not an animal, I care about my health and well being). That being said - finding a small, secure wallet can be hard. I was lucky enough to find one that had a small strap. I like to put my wallet in my front pocket at shows. The wallet I have is tiny, it fits in the front of most of my shorts pockets - and I tend to loop the strap on my first belt loop then slip the wallet in my shorts pocket. This will keep the wallet secure, and when I head to the port-a-johns also keeps the wallet from falling on the ground in that nasty environment. I can't tell you the number of times I have had that wallet fall out as I hovered, thankfully the strap keeps it attached to me. Most festivals will say NO CHAINS for wallets, this is a small strap, much like some of the cute clutches women carry these days. Another great option I found here. I am ordering this immediately! Sure your boobs will sweat but you will always know where your money, and important items are!

Small Wallet II - Electric Boogaloo
Not saying your pocket WILL get picked, but I'm saying it might. Having your wallet in a safe place - front pocket, hidden part of your backpack (way deep), or even your bra is best. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Be safe... Better safe than sorry my momma always said!

Hand Wipes
Remember those port-a-johns I mentioned a moment ago, yeah, the germ pools! Some festivals you go to have hand washing stations or at least some anti-bac hanging up inside. I by pass those lines and just carry some wipes in my bag. I also frankly like the idea of wiping OFF the germs and dirt vs. just rubbing it in with alcohol.

Water Jug
Most festivals will allow you to bring in 1, factory sealed 12 oz. water bottle with water in it, others will request that you bring an empty bottle of your own. This a MUST in my book. I don't care how much you would rather have vodka or beer, STAYING HYDRATED is a must in hot weather months. I mean, I can't tell you the number of times it's been around 8 pm at a fest and I've seen men and women face down in their own muck, and their friends are pissed. Don't be the person your friends have to babysit and the one other concert goers laugh at and often post on instagram with a funny hashtag. Trade off. One drink, one water the entire day. You'll be way happier you dropped a ton of money to see your favorite band if you actually REMEMBER it.  If you aren't having to go to the bathroom a lot - it's great if you're up front waiting to see a band but honestly, it also means you're dehydrated... you might want to drink some water, rather than pass out during your favorite band's set.

Gum
Outside food and beverages are usually prohibited. Unless you're at Red Rocks which is strange but nice. I always carry some gum to help freshen my breath and often times handle the dust issue (refer to the bandana section). I mean, after a few IPA's, then sweating and being thirsty no one has fresh breath kids.

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit • Red Rocks, CO 2016 • via turnedup2eleven
Camera
Please again, see guidelines for cameras and recording equipment it would suck to get yours confiscated or be told you have to take the item all. the. way. back. to. your. car!  It's great to catch your favorite band live, and you want to document it. Cameras on phones have come a long way, I suggest using that. And I also suggest taking maybe 2-4 photos, but don't spend the entire time looking through your phone and missing everything happening around you! ENJOY the moment, not just the memories.

Pearl Jam • Music Midtown • ATL, GA • 2014 • via jamofpearls
Long Sleeve Shirt / Jacket
Depending on how hot it is, you may not need either of these but I have always found it helpful to have a light weight long sleeve shirt or button up shirt in my bag for an all day music fest. Once the sun goes down, if you've had too much sun it can help keep you warm. And in turn also protect you if you do get burt before the sun sets.  It is also helpful when and if you are caught in a down pour to have a warm, dry shirt in your bag to make you feel better.

Sloss Fest 2015 • via jamofpearls
Portable Phone Charger
Most festivals have charging stations, but why chance it? If you know having a full battery on your phone is important to you - do this. Mike and I usually travel together and stick together, so we have one or the other to use, but if you plan to distance yourself from your crew at any time, please try to have a full phone charge to get back with them. *** Keep in mind often times in a busy festival setting, text messages might not send as well, and there is rarely wifi available. (See below for my note about Meeting Places).

Your Phone
This is an obvious thing to bring, but I always suggest to bring it and download the festival APP if available. Not only will you be able to check the schedule, but also have access to a map. Some apps allow you to create your own schedule alerting you to when your next chosen band is ready to hit the stage and where.

Festival Map
If you're a bit more old school and would rather conserve your phone battery for important stuff like photos and videos - I would suggest checking at the information tent at the festival and getting yourself a printed out map, or brochure. Most festivals, like Sloss Fest will have people handing out maps as you walk in the gates. This might seem like trash to some of you but it's helpful to get a lay of the land before you commit to where you want to stand for the day. Important things to note are restrooms, hydration stations, merch tents as well as vendors for food and drinks! Most of these will be available to view on your phone, but I like having a larger version, that's easier to read, and let's me keep my phone in a safe place most of the time so I don't drop, or lose it. Or chance digging in my bag and leaving pockets open accidentally (see also be safe and wise about your belongings).

Plastic Bag
It's helpful to have a plastic bag in your bag - sometimes you'll get one at the merch tent, others you won't. It's great to have them to protect your new shirts or items you buy, or simply cover items you want to KEEP dry, like your phone, or a shirt for later.  Music festivals that get hot are notorious for spraying fans with water, you don't want that bit of water to ruin your phone or other items.

Ear Plugs
Heading up to the front of the line? Want to be close to the action? Great, you'll also be close to the speakers blasting loud enough to get to the folks in the back. Prolonged exposure to this type of noise can cause serious hearing damage. Trust me, if my husband and I can go almost deaf for almost 24 hours after being front row a friend's show in a local bar, AND an AC/DC concert in an indoor venue FAR from the stage, you can totally do damage up front at a show outdoors! Just get some cheap ear plugs, no one will judge, everyone is beginning to wear them, including all our rock and hip hop idols!

Mini First Aid Kit
Along with the band aids mentioned above, you may want to carry a small First Aid kit with items like ibuprofen, or your choice of headache cures. If you have allergies or any other medication you need to remember to take, I would suggest to take it before you leave for the show, but sometimes you have to take these things at certain times. It's nice to have a small bag in your pack to tend to these needs a head of time.  Another option might be eye drops. I wear contacts and my eyes tend to get really dry and irritated during a dusty, or allergy ridden time of year. I carry drops to help with this. Maybe toss the Gum in this pack as well. Ladies it's nice to also have some type of a bag to carry your "firecrackers" if ole Aunt Flow rears her ugly head on the weekend of your festival as well - and the hand wipe will help with this issue as well!

MEETING PLACE

As I stated, cell phones are often rendered useless at music festivals. Not only is LOUD and hard to hear, text messages tend to send really slow, and batteries die.  It's always great to have a "meeting place" in case you get lost, or can't find your crew after running to get a drink. Mike and I always have one, in case we get separated. Find a good landmark upon entering and tell your crew to meet there after the show ends - especially if you are the driver it's your responsibility to get there and make sure ALL your friends are ready to roll before leaving, yes even Sally, she's been drunk all day but you have to be sure she gets home safely - even if that hoe was talking to the guy you were interested in all day!

TOTEMS

via turnedup2eleven
I hate that most music festivals are starting to crack down on these items. Huge signs, or long tall poles with flags, although a bit annoying if they are up front waving in front of your view, they are VERY helpful in keeping crews together during a busy show.  I can't tell you the number of times we were able to find friends of ours just by following their floating Husky head of their beloved dog Russo [pictured above].  Check with the concert rules, if they are allowed, I say go big or go home! It's so much easier to find your friends when you know what flag they are hanging under!

My only note of consideration is this - during the show if are up front and center and NOT waiting for a friend to get back up to meet you - maybe keep the waving down to a minimum for the folks in the back. Everyone is there to enjoy the show!

FASHION

Basically be smart, but let your freak flag fly!
BOHO, ROBO, DON'T KNOW? Follow your instincts, be comfortable but enjoy getting dressed. If you like comfort go for the old school t-shirt and shorts. Want more flare, go ahead and wear the flower head crown, when else is that going to be socially acceptable, am I right? Some shows are during Halloween, others are in the dead of the summer, the bottom line is, you do you. Be comfortable and enjoy yourself!

Proper Shoes
I've seen this time and time again... a young woman walking like a baby deer for the first time. She's wobbling and having a really hard time getting around on the grass in her platform shoes. I envy her shoes but not her situation because girl, they cute, but you are having issues. And in turn I've seen dudes walking around with a broken flip flop, searching for his friends.

I can't stress enough to wear COMFORTABLE and PROTECTIVE shoes. If you are a guy or girl that likes to sit on the sidelines, or a nice blanket in the back then YES by all means wear those flip flops. If you want to be up front, or in a pit, you should probably opt for sneakers or boots or something with a closed toe. I've had my foot stepped on before and it's painful, especially if the person doing it was dancing or jumping to the beat of the music.  I usually opt for something like a slip on sneaker, or high top (Vans) or hiking type sandal like a (Teva) - or Keen - the closed toe in the Keen is great for times like this. They are a bit more expensive but hold up great over time. I've had mine for about 8 years now and other than fading in color, they integrity of the shoe is still intact. [Note: I had my last pair of slim strap Tevas for about only 2 years and they broke after Jazzfest last year - too much walking and dancing]. Basic sneakers, lace up boots, nothing too heavy. Remember you'll be walking... a lot. Sometimes more than you realized (again, Jazzfest 2016).

Jazz Fest 2016 • Pearl Jam • via turnedup2eleven
Make-up
To each his or her own on this part, but at a festival if it's going to be 100+ degrees, I tend to go light on the make-up and wear as much water proof, and sweat proof items as I can. Unless you are going to an Alice Cooper Show or heading to 'The Gathering' to see ICP, it's really not a great look to have make-up running down your face, unless that's the exact look you're going for. Or it's VoodooFest in New Orleans, but again, to each their own.

Recreational Drugs + Booze
Basically carry and use at your own risk. That goes for you trying to sneak in that flask too. I'm not here to harsh your buzz, man I'm just saying... I'd rather not get kicked out of a festival and miss my favorite band for something as silly as that. Did you know they make tampon flasks now? Insanity!

I tend to like to be as clear minded as possible at a show. Mike and I have a few drinks before hand, but it's minimal, compared to any given Friday night. I paid good money to see a band that I love, and I don't want my mind clouded and I certainly don't want a black out to ruin my chances of seeing something epic.  My point is, I would have been really, really sad if I was too drunk when I saw Soundgarden this year. I will never get to see them live again and I'm glad I can remember EVERY moment I had with Chris Cornell and the guys on stage.

Soundgarden 2017 • Tuscaloosa, AL • via turnedup2eleven
Did I miss anything? What would you add to the list?  Let me know!
It's FESTIVAL SEASON - LET'S ROCK!


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July 11, 2017

Summer's here and the time is right for dancin' at the festivals.

That's right everyone... Summer is back in full force here in the south. My soul is happy but my sweat glands want to die. Seriously... how is it this hot.

That being said, in these hot Southern months there are only three things that can be done for me to personally tolerate this time of year.

1. Kayak

2. Drink cool beverages.

and

3. MUSIC FEST MY ASS OFF!

Mike and I are excited to be attending the SLOSSFEST this year. We went to the first ever SLOSSFEST in 2015 and LOVED IT!  It was hotter than hades that weekend, but the music, food, drinks and location were amazing. Located at the historic Sloss Furnace in Birmingham, AL, the industrial area and buildings are a great back-drop for a Music and Arts Festival such as this one. I think the only true complaint we had that year was the lack of water stations. This has since been resolved to my knowledge so we are looking forward to another amazing (and hydrated) year at the Sloss Furnace with just a few 1000 of our closest, not yet met, friends.

This year promises to be a great one! Check out the line-up! 
(PS Tickets are still available).

slossfest.com
We're really, really excited to finally be able to witness the wonder that is The Alabama Shakes! They have always been on our radar, but they are a crowd favorite here in the Iron State, and sometimes it's hard to snag tickets.

Our first year at Sloss we were able to catch St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Both bands are local Alabama favorites, and since that festival we've been able to witness St. Paul in a much more intimate setting, here locally in our home town! And it was amazing!  It's nice to see a band play ANY venue like they are at Madison Square Garden, and playing for royalty, even when it's just every day people like us.

This year seems to have a great mix of artists. One we have seen before, Sturgill Simpson (Sloss 2015), and even more we haven't and that we've been DYING to see live for a few years, such as the Alabama Shakes, as mentioned and Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats!

I'm personally excited to witness Odesza and Run the Jewels and both Mike and I are curious about Widespread Panic - we have loads of friends that tell us great things!

This year promises to be a wet one, which I'm not sure if I'm ready to deal with, but, with a prepared back-pack and some clever dressing, I am pretty sure it should still be an exciting weekend in Birmingham, AL!!!

What is your favorite music festival to attend?



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April 24, 2017

life after the mic drop.

Hello?  Is this thing on? Is there any body out there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone home?... wait, no, put down your lighter, let's get back to business.
It's been a while. A long while. 1 year and 4 months to be exact, since I posted anything here. Somewhere along the way I lost my love for blogging. My desire to care about it, but it's slowly coming back to me. I've spent this time reading other women and men write these great stories, and in the process, forgot to tell my own.

A lot has happened in the past two years. So many things I haven't even written about. Lots of heartache, and just as much joy. Milestones as well as disappointments, and frankly, near death experiences. I'll get to all that in the next coming months, I promise.

I'm not sure how many of you are still following, but I'm going to try to get your attention again, very soon!

If you're still around, thanks for hanging in there! I'm looking forward to hanging out again!

ox Kelly
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