Tag Archives: holidays

The Phenomenal Mix Playlist Winners Revealed

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Between blog comments, facebook and Twitter, I received 70 song and musician suggestions for the 2016 Phenomenal Women and Cafe Mix playlists – my annual gift of new music for my mom and sister.

Thank you to everyone who shared suggestions and music videos for my search. Several of your recommendations made the final list and I’m excited to share them with you in the new year. Here’s what I’m currently dancing to!

The 2016 Phenomenal Women Playlist

  1. Stranger to My Happiness by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

In honor of this phenomenal woman who passed in 2016. She is one of my favorite live performers to have seen. So much soul. Felt the need to kick off the playlist with a song from her album “Give the People What They Want”. 

2. Best Kept Secret by case/lang/veirs

3. Into the Wild by LP

4. Wild Things by Alessia Cara

5. No Diggity by Postmodern Jukebox featuring Ariana Savalas

6. Million Reasons by Lady Gaga

7. We Break the Dawn by Michelle Williams

8. The Greatest by Sia

I’m a Sia fan. I love her music videos and the unusual ways the dancers move. I think it’s beautiful. 

9. Heaven Knows by First Aid Kit

10. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Postmodern Jukebox featuring Maiya Sykes

Shoutout to Amber West for recommending some Postmodern Jukebox tunes for the mix, which have not been included before and leant a variety of sounds and styles. I loved this cover of a song by The Killers. 

11. Heart of My Own by Basia Bulat

12. Wildewoman by Lucius

13. Tokyo Sunrise by LP

Hands down, my favorite musician this year has been LP. I discovered her last year and included “Night Like This” on the 2015 mix, but since then, she’s released another album and I’ve been playing her nonstop, so two songs made the list this year. 

14. Wildest Moments by Jessie Ware

15. Scars to Your Beautiful by Postmodern Jukebox featuring Sara Niemietz

16. Beautiful Life by Judith Hill

Judith Hill is a musician I have tried to include for the last several years and could never quite fit in. Came across this song off the 2015 album, Back in Time, and fell in love. This music video is a paired down version of the song, but it’s gorgeous either way. 

17. Runaway by Aurora

18. Got Your Number by Serena Ryder

19. Road Less Traveled by Lauren Alaina

20. In the Morrow by Brandi Carlile

The 2016 Cafe Mix

  1. Happiness by NEEDTOBREATHE

The hubs and I are both fans of NEEDTOBREATHE and this is off their new album, Hard Love. 

2. Alaska by Maggie Rogers

3. Red Hands by Walk Off The Earth

4. Trying So Hard Not to Know by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

5. The Walker by Fitz & the Tantrums

6. White Winter Hymnal by Fleet Foxes

7. Unsteady by X Ambassadors

8. Hold Back the River by James Bay

James Bay was a discovery the hubs and I found through an indie artist bio-vid we came across and we loved his sound. 

9. Lost Stars by Adam Levine

10. Growing Things by Shook Twins

11. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac

12. Out of My League by Fitz & the Tantrums

13. I Found by Amber Run

14. Snow by Lisa Hannigan

15. Wicked Game by Chris Isaak

16. House of Mercy by Sarah Jarosz

Sarah Jarosz has been another musician I’ve had in my collection and tried to include for several years, but hadn’t. This year her 2016 album, Undercurrent, was added to my iTunes and I loved this song. 

17. Home Nights by Sugarcane Jane

18. Woodwork by Sleeping at Last

19. Morning Noon & Night by Ryan Shaw

20. Thank You by Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

Here’s another group I can’t help but groove to when I listen. 

***

And now, the winners of the mix giveaways! Thank you all again so much for the song recommendations, I love listening to all your favorite tunes and they are a huge help in making these playlists.

The winners are Serena Dracis and Amber West!!!

 

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The Ultimate Mixtape: 2016 Edition

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Hey Music Lovers,

For the past four years, I’ve called on you to share your favorite songs and musicians with me for a reoccurring nerdy gift I always give my mom and sis for Christmas. A mixtape.

Since 2007, I’ve made them a personal playlist of phenomenal women. Every song is a female musician. And the tunes are typically upbeat. It’s the kind of thing you’d play before going out, or pumping yourself up for some hours in the kitchen or cleaning. Songs that make you move.

When a need arrived to add some more mellow songs, as well as male musicians, I created the Cafe’ Mix. The songs you’d listen to while holding a mug of your favorite warm beverage and gazing out the window, or curled up on the couch while reading a book.

It has become a favorite gift of my mother and sister (partially because they are busy women who don’t have time to search for new music and don’t have smartphones yet – my sis does now though). When they get the new Phenomenal Women Mix and Cafe Mix, they play them all year long.

This is where you come in.

I need your help! Tell me your favorite songs! The ones you’ve thumbs up’d, hit replay on, shazam’d, go back to again and again when you hit “a mood”.

Tell me in the comments what your favorite song recommendations are for each album. Last year, you gave me 58 songs to listen to!

To thank you, I’ll draw two random commenters to also receive copies of the cds and post the complete lists in the New Year! 

Thank you all so much for your input. I’ve missed you. Here’s to making the new year…well, phenomenal!

***

Song Ideas to Get You Started: 

Phenomenal Women Mix

Wolf by First Aid Kit

Knots by Lisa Hannigan

Wild Young Hearts by the Noisettes

Cafe Mix

Fare Thee Well by Marcus Mumford and Oscar Isaac

Heart Beats by Johnnyswim

You and Me by Sara Watkins

Call for Music Suggestions: The 2015 Phenomenal Woman Mix

IMG_6738Since 2007 I’ve made my ma and sis a Phenomenal Woman Mix CD at Christmas. It’s a collection of the best songs sung by women. In 2012, I expanded that to include a second CD called the Cafe’ Mix, which basically housed all my favorite tunes heard at coffee shops (which is where I hang out). This CD can have female or male singers on it.

Sure, in the age of ipods and wireless mini-speakers, a gift like a mix CD could be considered outdated, or worse…lame. But this remains one of their favorite gifts and one of my favorite giveaways of the year!

Because this is the part where you give me music suggestions!

And in turn, once it’s completed, I gift the cds to TWO lucky commenters who shared suggestions with me!

To get started, here’s a look at last year’s line-ups. And here’s a few I’m currently thinking of for this year.

Phenomenal Woman Mix

“Hello” by Adele

I don’t really feel this song needs explanation. It’s Adele’s new hit. It’s going on the cd.

“Alive” by Sia

I’m a Sia fan, especially of her music videos. This one did not disappoint.

“Lights and Camera” by Yuna

Yuna is an artist that has crept up the past three years, and I’m happy to add this tune to the mix.

Cafe’ Mix

“Empress” by Morningsiders

I’m loving the piano part in this song.

“Sun Hands” by Local Natives

The final verdict on this one is still out, but I do like it.

“Lost Cause” by Priscilla Ahn

This melody is haunting and beautiful.

****

Now, as Joan Jett says, hit me with your best shot!
What song recommendations do you have for me to add to the
Phenomenal Woman and Cafe’ Mixes? 

I can’t wait to listen! 

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

2014 Collage

Happy Holidays Everyone!

May your homes be filled with peace and love. May you be surrounded by all those you call family. May you enjoy quiet moments and uproarious laughter. May you be thankful for all you have, and share with those who have less. May your new year bring only as much struggle as what will help you grow, and two times as many joys. May you be inspired to create and share your talents with the world. And may you get to sleep in at least once this week.

Love to All this Holiday Season,

Jess & Joe

The Ultimate Mix CD Project 2014

Listening to MusicHey Peeps!

With Christmas just a month away, I’ve got to get cracking on my go to gift for my mum and sis.

The Ultimate Mix CD Project

Since 2007 I’ve given them each a Phenomenal Women’s Mix CD, a compilation of all female artists and the songs are usually upbeat and dance-worthy. A few years ago I added in what I call a Cafe’ Mix – mellow music for hanging at home and which allows male and female artists. Since 2012, I’ve enlisted YOUR help with creating those awesome playlists.

I need your brilliant ideas again now!

And to thank you, I’ll pick 2 commenters at random to win copies of the 2 cds!

I’m guessing no one wants my fake NaNo album – created in a black hole of stress rage. I called it Blames it On the Hormones.

Blames it on the Hormones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No takers? None? Ok.

Then here are some ideas to get you thinking about types of songs to suggest!

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For the Phenomenal Women Mix:

My Silver Lining ~ First Aid Kit

This is the song I keep playing on repeat. Lurve!

Hideaway ~ Kiesza

She did this music video in one take. One take!!!

Enough ~ The Mrs

The ladies behind the magic talking mirror. Had to be included!

For the Cafe’ Mix:

Paper Cup ~ The Shoe

Did you know actress Jena Malone has a band? And it’s awesome! This video is flippin’ weird, but I love this song, and every other song on their debut album I’m Okay.

Poison & Wine ~ The Civil Wars

Haunting and beautiful. Hurt and yet thankful. Haven’t we all felt this way at some point?

Stay With Me ~ Bernhoft

A great male addition to my mix. Love the song, and hadn’t heard much buzz about him before, but found this song via my Songza app.

*****

What do you think of these tunes so far?
What other songs should I add? Share your favorites!

Was Santa Good to You?

Happy Early New Year Everyone!

I’m feeling very blessed these last few days of 2013. Joe and I spent Christmas Eve with my family, made it back to La Crosse safely for Christmas day with his extended family, and spent friday night with his family for a Christmas pajama party sleepover! Over the weekend, one of my best friends, who I’ve known since high school, came with her boyfriend to stay the weekend with us!

And bonus of all bonuses, this was the first Christmas in 6 years I didn’t spend in retail during the ho ho horror of the holidays! Yaaaaaaay!

 

*Note: Shopping online is AWESOME!
I know for many of my WANA friends, this has been a difficult year. So many of you have suffered losses in the form of both people and things, be it jobs, manuscripts, and health. I’ve reminded myself often that this was a year for growing. Quitting my job was the right thing to do, and it resulted in a fantastic new job and the time necessary to complete the first draft of my book. But several months of unemployment definitely took their toll. I’m still paying off credit cards and loans I needed to use in order to make do. I often felt (and ok, still sometimes do) embarrassed by this fact, but you all have been so supportive and I must say THANK YOU!
Thanks for being a part of my happiness project in 2013! I mean it when I say that your comments are verbal gold! They fuel my spirit, and definitely give me happiness!
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But enough of the gushy stuff! I want to know what your favorite Christmas present was!!
Who was the person that gave you the most thoughtful gift? Or the funniest one? What surprised you most? Or even what made you cringe?!
My favorite gift this holiday season came from my soon to be sister-in-law in the form of Clue themed espresso cups and matching dish towel!
photo 1
You all know how much I love Clue right?
It was Mrs. Peacock in the Billiard Room with the Wrench!

It was Mrs. Peacock in the Billiard Room with the Wrench!

So Clue, originally called Cluedo, was created in England in 1949 and is quite possibly my favorite board game. A whodunnit mystery with quirky suspects and unlikely murder weapons! Hidden staircases you say? What’s not to love?!!

photo 2

That was my favorite gift this year! What’s yours?
Happy New Year!!!

The First Thanksgiving: It Happened in 1863

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Hanging out with Priscilla Mullins aboard the Mayflower II

Happy Thanksgiving Week Everyone!

As a descendant of  two of the Mayflower pilgrims, I’ve been sharing Thanksgiving stories on my blog all month. If you missed out, feel free to check out:

Starting With Some Gratitude

The Baby Born on the Mayflower

and The One That Fell Off the Boat

This week, I thought I’d share a history of the actual Thanksgiving.

Are you ready for this?

It happened in 1863.

Wait! The pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621! Your date is over 240 years later?!

That’s right my little pilgrims. The first official Thanksgiving happened in November of 1863, when President Lincoln made it a national holiday at the urging of Sarah Josepha Buell Hale.

Sarah was a New Englander who was interested in bringing a war-torn country together. She wrote editorials for a lady’s magazine on the importance of Thanksgiving, in addition to writing the President, all state governors, and every member of Congress once a year for 17 years!

It is Sarah Josepha Buell Hale who can be thanked for our national holiday being credited to the pilgrims. Many New Englanders did observe an annual Thanksgiving, however in 1863, the states were still divided about the holiday. The South believed the North to be celebrating their current success in the war, so many of them opted to celebrate on an entirely different day.

Playing house with the Pilgrims on Plimoth Plantation

Playing house with the Pilgrims on Plimoth Plantation

What the pilgrims really did in 1621 was celebrate their harvest. To truly understand how important that first gathering was for the pilgrims and the Wampanoag native tribe, you need to know that the pilgrims would not have survived without their native neighbors.

A local comedian and storyteller in my town put it like this:

If the pilgrims hadn’t invited the Wamanoag people, that first Thanksgiving would have been an all-you-can-eat barley buffet.

They were still learning how to live off this new land. Much of the food that became staples of their diet was learned through the Wampanoag. And it is a Wampanoag tradition to give thanks throughout the year at harvests. Since they lived off the land, they took time to celebrate it at every season. They knew the peak times for picking berries, fishing in the river, planting the crops, and hunting the forests.

Two native men burning a log to be made into a canoe.

Two native men burning a log to be made into a canoe.

A native woman tends to the fire where a fish is cooking.

A native woman tends to the fire where a fish is cooking.

See that long doughy item laying in the bark? There's a bluefish in there! It's wrapped in clay  and cooked over the fire.

See that long doughy item laying in the bark? There’s a bluefish in there! It’s wrapped in clay and cooked over the fire.

So in act of gratitude, the pilgrims invited Chief Massasoit to their harvest. He brought with him some 90 men, and the harvest feast lasted for three days.

The only known description of this first harvest was found in a letter written by pilgrim colonist, Edward Winslow. He was a key person who helped foster the friendship between Wampanoag and pilgrim. He wrote:

Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their great king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.

Clearly Edward Winslow didn’t care about run-on sentences.

Eh-hem. So there you have the first harvest, which we now refer to as the first Thanksgiving.

Other noteworthy topics of conversation you can toss around the turkey table this week with family, include…

  • The first Thanksgiving had no forks. They used knives, spoons, and their fingers. Forks were not yet invented.
  • Eels were considered a delicacy and lobsters were lower class.
  • Venison was the main course served, followed by turkey.
  • The Wampanoag word for “time of harvest” is Keepunumuk.
  • Beer was considered a normal drink regardless of age, gender, or class.
  • Both cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies came years after the first Thanksgiving.
  • In the 1800’s celery was the featured vegetable – pricey, but available, it was often laid on the table in a fine silver bowls filled with cold water to let the stalks crisp up.
  • Sports have always been present at Thanksgiving. After dinner was over, the men would go to the fields to play ball or pitch horseshoes.
  • It was President Franklin Roosevelt who made Thanksgiving a truly official holiday, signing the Congressional bill that made it law in 1941.

How will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year?

The Redhots: A Picture Says A Thousand Words

(image from zazzle.com)

Happy Redhots Day!

It’s another month’s edition of The Redhots and Marcia Richards and I are back and bolder than ever!

*crickets*

Ok, you caught us, we’re both crazed madwomen right now!

Let’s face it, the holidays are stressful!  Believe me, I work in retail.  I’ve put in an insane amount of days and hours for the past month – hence the disappearance of me from the blogosphere.  But I’ve missed you all and wrote you a little poem while I was away.  So settle into your pajamas, kiddos, Jess is going to read you a story!

*****

The Sale Before Christmas

It was the sale before Christmas
and all through the mall
the customers were shopping
for gifts big and small!
 
The registers were ringing,
the managers running.
And somewhere in their temporal lobes –
a constant, steady drumming!
 
This coupon! That special!
Lines the length of trains! –
Had this particular manager
wracking her redhot brains!
 
There were gifts to still wrap,
Heck presents to buy!
Not to mention the store potluck,
that dang peppermint pie!
 
There was severe lack of sleep
and a small bought with the flu.
But Christmas was coming!
What’s a girl to do?
 
The dishes began to pile at home,
and the laundry was crawling the walls.
Is this what Kris Kringle had in mind
when he said “Deck the Halls?”
 
At last the day came and went,
though short, it was full of cheer.
With family members, grace and thanks
I can wish you a Happy New Year!

*****

Your turn!  This Redhots edition we want to hear YOUR holiday stories!  Marcia and I are each posting a picture about the holidays and we’d love to hear your reactions, stories, perhaps poems (who doesn’t love a good limerick or haiku?) all about the holidays!  Thanks for sharing and we hope you all had a very happy holiday!

(image from shutterstock.com)

Holiday Yum: Pumpkin-Curry Chicken and Blue Cheese Bread

Hey Everyone!

I know, I know, I’ve been completely MIA in the blogosphere this season!

Forgive me.  I work in retail.  You won’t see me in full swing until January.

However, doesn’t mean I can’t play along with…

art by Ellen M. Gregg

See the Full Holiday Yum Schedule – Tasty Treats You Won’t Want to Miss!

 

  • On November 17th, Jenny Hansen kicked off the hop with her Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Meal.  There are lots of great tips for folks who need to eat GF, including some sneaky foods to watch out for!
  • On November 19th, I shared the salty-sweet, super-easy Spiced Pecans appetizer.
  • Ellen M. Gregg has us all drooling with The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake – Evah on Monday, November 26th.
  • Jenny Hansen introduces us to her luscious Almond Roca, famed of song and story, on Wednesday, November 28th.
  • Estee Lavitt shares her mouth-watering Baked Latkes on December 2nd, just in time for Chanukah!
  • Natalie Hartford starts us off on a cookie binge with her fabulous French Lace Cookies on December 5th.  Mais Oui.
  • I’ll be back on Dec 10th with a Christmas cookie staple that’s yummy and versatile – butter spritz cookies.
  • And if those last two posts aren’t enough “cookie” for you, Ellen M. Gregg will also be making her Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Sugar Cookies, along with Bulldog Punch, on December 14th.
  • Natalie Hartford continues the yummy sweets with her favorite cheesecake recipe on December 17th.
  • Jenny Hansen teaches us not to fear candy-making with her super-easy, super-yummy Holly Candy recipe on December 19th.
  • Jess Witkins is still plotting and planning, so we will either be treated to a comfort food or appetizer recipe on December 23rd.
  • On December 26th, I’ll be posting about my super-easy beef rib-eye roast with currant jelly brown gravy that I make every year for Christmas dinner.  Hope my holiday guests don’t mind me taking more pics of the food than of them, LOL.
  • And, finally, to help us ring in the New Year, Natalie Hartford will share some festive and delicious Mocktail recipes on December 28th!

On With the Food!!!

Today, I’m sharing a comfort food dish that I tried this year and loved!  And working in retail, I’m all about the little comforts when I get home!

Here’s what my roommates said about the meal:

If you wanted to make this again, that’d be alright.

and

This is f#$@ing good!

But don’t take their word for it!  Try it yourself!

Pumpkin Curry Chicken

Found in Simple and Delicious Magazine, Contributed by Aysha Schurman from Ammon, Idaho

2 cups uncooked jasmine rice

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

4 tsp. curry powder, divided

1/4 tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup apple butter

1/2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

1/3 cup chopped cashews, toasted

Minced fresh parsley

Cook rice according to package directions.  Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken with 1 tsp. curry powder and pepper.  Heat oil in a large skillet; saute chicken for 5-6 minutes or until no longer   pink.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.

Curry Chicken

Stir in pumpkin, broth, raisins, apple butter, five-spice powder and remaining curry powder.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-7 minutes or until heated through.

Stir cashews into rice and serve with chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with parsley.

Pumpkin Curry Chicken

Blue Cheese Herb Bread

Found in Simple and Delicious Magazine, Contributed by Janet Allen from Sarasota, Florida

1 tube (12 oz.) refrigerated flaky buttermilk biscuits

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

2 Tbsp. crumbled blue cheese

1 Tbsp. dried minced onion

2 tsp. dried minced parsley flakes

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. dried tarragon

1 tsp. minced chives

1/2 tsp. celery seed

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Separate biscuits; cut each into quarters.  Arrange into an 11 inch long loaf on a greased baking sheet.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients; brush over loaf.

Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Blue Cheese Herb Bread

Voila!  Gourmet comfort food without all the fuss!

Pumpkin Curry Chicken and Blue Cheese Bread

Cheers to you and yours this holiday season!  May each of you celebrate with all those you love, and take a little comfort in some homemade treats!

ROWmodels: The Lessons Learned From You

Hello ROWers and Readers!  It’s December 5th and this round of ROW80 is wrapping up (pun intended) this holiday season!  And I am sooo impressed with the hard work you all have done!

I think there are several of you deserving of a round of applause, so let me introduce this week’s…

ROWmodels!

Kat Morrisey had me giggling with delight at her very upbeat post about completing NaNoWriMo – I Didn’t Win the Lottery, But I Did Something Better!  That girl is a dancing fiend now that she’s finished her novel draft!  And she’s inspired me to create some new goals for myself this ROW round.  Thanks, Kat!

Nicole Nally is another NaNo winner!  She completed her novel draft and is anticipating the edit process.  I’m excited for her and the thrill of completing such a powerful word goal!  Go rock those edits and keep us posted, girl!

I hope all of you have come to know Ryan King because he has been a fabulous ROW Sponsor!  Seriously!  This guy has been leaving many comments of support and I know how much a kind comment means to me on my posts, and Ryan leaves aplenty!  Kudos to you, Sir, on your successes with writing projects and weight maintenance during the holiday season.  I am envious.

Ruth Nestvold’s post about her plights and processes as an indie author is post you CANNOT miss!  She’s got some interesting info out there about our industry, what she’s tried, what’s she trying, and shares the successes she’s achieved along the journey.  I found this post particularly interesting and really appreciated her sharing.  Thank you, Ruth!

My ROW Goals this week:

Inspired by many of you, but knowing I’m COMPLETELY strapped for time, I’m making my end goals very manageable.  I hope.

  1. Clean my desk.  Find the wood underneath it.
  2. Clean my room.  Find the carpet underneath it.  🙂
  3. Finish reading The Language of Flowers, On Writing, Football Sweetheart, and Geek Love this month.
  4. Journal at least twice a week.

A Couple Announcements:

Long overdue is the announcement of the comment/twitter winner of a free copy of Come Sunrise, reggae album by TUGG.  Thanks to all who left comments and tweeted for my musical guests !

The winner is Jenny Hansen!!!

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And it’s another edition of the Holiday Yum blog fest today featuring Natalie Hartford’s French Lace Cookies!  What are you waiting for?!

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