Thursday, September 30, 2010

evolution craft brewing company

Have I mentioned we love us some beer around the Mouse House?  I really don't have only one beer/style I like, which is good for me because it's gives me lots of options. I love drinking local beer when I can and supporting the guys who invest so much of themselves into producing good tasting beer.  

In our neck of the woods, Evolution Craft Brewing Company is the new guy in town. They are a small batch brewery located in Delmar, Delaware. Evolution hosts a Tasting Room at the brewery that offers their mainline selections as well as samples of the specialty beers they currently have in production.  Countrymouse and I haven't made it down to the Tasting Room yet (and there really isn't a good excuse because it's only about 30 minutes away) but we have been drinking our fair share of EVO since they hit the scene.

On our agenda for the evening is a beer dinner at General Tanuki's in Easton.  Tankuki's is one of our favorite places to eat and hang out and doing that around some excellent beer will make for a great evening.  The guys at Evolution brew their beer with food in mind, so a beer dinner is the ultimate way to enjoy a nice cold EVO.  

Chesapeake Foodie paid the guys at Evolution a visit recently and was kind enough to share a little clip with the rest of us.  Have a look and if you aren't busy tonight, join Countrymouse and myself at Tanuki's (410-819-0707) for what promises to be a great evening.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: starlight

Little Apple - EP, The Open Sea

Have you ever had a couple of friends that you knew should get together because they'd just be perfect for one another?  That's how I feel about Rosie Golan and Ari Hest.   I love both of them separately but together they have some awesome chemistry.  I saw them play together over a year ago when Rosi opened for Ari at Night Cat and then joined him for one of my favorite Ari Hest songs, Cranberry Lake.  It was great!

They finally caught on to what the rest of us knew and have produced an EP under the collaboration  The Open Sea. My only complaint about the release is that it isn't long enough!  The songs are tender and sweet but are no way to be considered "throw away" songs.  Have a listen to the lyrics and let the melodies seduce you.  

It's a new release and since it is a side project, they both still have independent careers to promote, so videos of their work together are scarce.  

I'm posting two versions of the same song... Starlight.  One is simply the EP version, which really is a better version.  The second is a live recording of the same song.  Since it is a live version it is more interesting to watch.  Either way, I hope you enjoy the song and will check out The Open Sea.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, September 24, 2010

autumn decorating inspiration

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird 
I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. 

- George Eliot

I suppose everyone has their favorite time of year... without a doubt early autumn is mine.  Autumn begins with my birthday (yay!) and at least in my mind ends with the best holiday of the year, Thanksgiving.  I love the cooler weather and the vibrant colors. There's lots of activity in the fields and in nature as we prepare for the cold months ahead. I always see autumn as a time of reflection.  A new school year, a new year ahead for me. Summer's long, lazy days are behind us and I always feel a renewed sense of energy... time to get busy once again.

I have this silly way of observing my birthday every year. It's nothing big and no one else really is even aware of it. On the weekend closest to my birthday I always go out and buy mums and pumpkins. It's my little gift to myself. Most years I can hardly wait to decorate for fall. I love all my containers filled summer flowers but somewhere along the way I usually loose my interest and my discipline when it comes to taking care of them, so by the end of September they are no longer the happy sights they once were. Fall decorating is my chance for a do-over.

Even though my basic autumnal repertoire consists of the traditional pumpkins and mums, there are tons of decorating options. I like to concentrate on the front of the house. I enjoy seeing my home look cheerful and inviting both to me and my neighbors.  I'll be doing some outdoor decorating over the weekend though I'm not sure what I'll end up doing yet. Here's some inspiration (for both you and me!).


It's a little soon for Halloween decorating, but still a cool idea.  I like the gourd skulls.  One of the great things about fall decorating is the easy transition from one fall holiday to the next.  You really get a lot of bang for your effort.


I love orange!  How cool would it be to have an orange door?  Since my house is butter yellow with green trim, that's not happening any time soon at the Mouse House.  I think swapping out your porch accessories for more seasonal ones is a quick and easy thing to do.


If you know me then you know I LOVE anything that's monogrammed.  I will even buy stuff at flea markets and thrift shops that has someone else's monogram on it.  I think this is definitely a project I am doing this year. (I know this photo looks more Christmasy than autumn, but a simple color switch and there ya go.)


If you look closely at this picture you see they have combined mums and pumpkins with what's left of their summer flowers.  If you haven't killed your summer flowers yet, this is a nice way to blend the seasons. I always end up buying red geraniums and they would have looked great with the orange and yellow that's so prevalent in autumn decorating.

I am loving the stacked pumpkin look. I've already seen a few people do it this year and I am eager to give it a whirl. I asked a friend of mine who had done it just what the trick is. (I wondered if you staked the pumpkins together somehow.)  Apparently, all you need to do is find some pumpkins in graduated sizes that will sit nicely on top of each other. It's that simple.  She said Cinderella pumpkins work best.


Very cute Halloween idea that isn't to creepy or scary. I love the flower eyes.

Front porch

This appeals to me because I have a little cafe table on my porch very similar to this one.  In theory, I thought we'd use it more than we do, but since we don't, filling it with some fall decor won't be a problem.  I really like the Indian corn. It adds a nice burst of color and texture. 


When you think about pumpkins, do you only think about the plain orange variety (or maybe a Jack-o-Lantern? ) I think the stacked display is very appealing but I also love the painted pumpkins. I personally find carving pumpkins to be pretty challenging, so painting them opens up so many options.  The metallic paint used here is pretty trendy and would be a fun way to incorporate something like that without a big financial investment or altering your whole interior design.

A very simple but elegant outdoor decoration.  It has height, depth, color and texture.  A real winner.  Plus it is so very simple.

This just makes me want to have a autumn party. I can see my whole backyard lit up with pumpkin lanterns.  Who says that outdoor living ends when summer is over?


I like the lightness of this color scheme.  It's a bit non-traditional but there's no mistaking what season it depicts.  The argyle pattern on the big orange pumpkin is on mark for the fall and my kids would think I was the coolest mom ever if I carved a Jack Skellington pumpkin.

This picture is probably most like my front door and porch and is likely what the Mouse House will end up looking like (maybe minus the corn stalks). I find it very inviting.  Even though it still feels like summer, we all know that in a matter of weeks that will only be a memory and having a welcoming front door will be even more appreciated.

This post is part of LoveFeast Table's Fancy Fridays, where Kristin and ChrisAnn invite you to share what inspires you.  What to you do to spiff up your home for autumn? 


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

17,166 days

Tonight Countrymouse took me out to celebrate the last day of my 46th year.

Not just Sushi
(General Tanukis)


(Out of the Fire)



All of my favorite places...

Tomorrow I will wake up to birthday cake for breakfast and my family singing to me.  A family tradition in the Mouse House and one that always makes me smile.

This year has been filled with happy times and sad times.  All times I will never forget.  Is it true what they say, "Another year older and wiser"?  Either way, I'm looking forward to a new year filled with endless possibilities.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: lovely day

I had a wild hair tonight.  My wild hair even has a name... Bill Withers.  I'm not even sure what made me think of him, but I have spent the last couple of hours listening to everything I can find that he did.  I even went on eBay and bought a "Best Of" CD.

Not sure you know Bill Withers?  I bet you do.  He recorded mainly in the early70's to the mid-80's and was best known for hits like Ain't No Sunshine, Use Me, Grandma's Hands,  Lovely Day,  Just the Two of Us, (sampled by Will Smith for his song of the same name back in 1997) and his biggest hit, Lean on Me.  

The lyrics to Lovely day aren't a work of literary art, but I think they are so sweet.  What woman (or man, for that matter) doesn't want to hear....

When I wake up in the morning


and the sun light hurts my eyes

And something without worning


bears heavy on my mind.

Then I look at you and the world's alright with me

Just one look at you and I know it's gonna be -

A lovely day - lovely day

I know I do!

Here's the song.  Not much of a video to look at (you know it was recorded pre-MTV, after all) but have a listen and tell me if it doesn't put a smile on your pretty little face!

Bill Withers - Lovely day from Anton Blåbärspaj on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Are you creative?  Do you think that creativity is something some people are born with, like mad guitar skills or the ability to throw a ball?  I think we all have a creative flame within us… sometimes we just need something to spark it into a real fire.  

For the record, I probably didn’t always think that.  I am sure there have been times in my life that I have said, “I’m not creative” (or at the very least thought it). Part of developing your creativity is knowing what areas you have a feel for and enjoy.  I think I am creative but I don’t think I am creative in every category of life.  (And yet another reason to surround yourself with good friends.)

The ladies at LoveFeast Table asked, “Where do you get your inspiration for creativity”.  I talked about inspiration recently in this post and said that my inspirations were God, my family, nature, art and music. These are the things that inspire my life.  They are also the things that inspire me to be creative.  They are the things that I get excited about… I don’t know about you, but when I get excited about something, I’ve gotta release it!  Doing something with that enthusiasm is the next logical step.

While I don't always talk a lot about it here, I have a deep love for God.  My life is blessed because of God's grace and His Word provides me with great freedom and liberty.  I think that creativity is one of the greatest expressions of liberty.  

My family defines me.  I love them more than anything.  My heart overflows because of them and all of that emotion manifests itself in my creativity.  I create because I love them. Whether it is something to make them happy or to enhance our times together, they are the foundation of everything I do. Having that sense of purpose and security gives me boldness.  

How can you not be inspired by nature?  Nature provides us with beauty, peacefulness, detail, color, wonder, life.  I took all of these pictures in my yard this summer.  I am still amazed at the extraordinary artistry that is available right under my nose.  The secret to being inspired by nature is taking the time to allow yourself to be inspired by nature.

(Louis Comfort Tiffany)


(Marc Chagall)

Creating is art.  It doesn't matter if it's in the kitchen, the studio, the craft room or your backyard.  Art fuels art.  The more art you surround yourself with the more artistic you become.  I have a real appreciation for anyone who can imagine something and then reproduce that thought in concretion.  I think our own fears of failing keep our ideas inside way too often.

If you follow this blog at all, you know that music is my soul.  It is interwoven in everything I do and every aspect of my life. Music represents all the sweetness and goodness in life, while at the same time reflects life's sadness and anger.  It is all encompassing.  Music motivates me and lifts me.  It drives me to want to produce something good.  

It's hard to pick just one song to share...there are so many I could chose, depending on my mindset. Have a listen to this one and come back and hear more.

These are my inspirations.  All rolled together, they make me who I am and inspire me to give. What makes you feel creative? What inspires you to want to create, to share the fire within you?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

wild hair

Givenchy once said, "Hair style is the final tip off whether or not a woman really knows herself."  

I made an appointment today to get my hair done.  Now it's time to figure out what I want once I get there. I am notorious for playing with my hair.  It's been very long and very short, blonde, red, black, blue, pink. (And brown... but I was born a brunette, so that doesn't count.)  I always figure that it's just hair... it'll grow back or I can at least pay to have someone fix it.  I really haven't been all that jazzed about my hair lately so I've been letting it grow.  (This makes Countrymouse happier than it should because, really, I could cut it all off tomorrow on a whim and then I'd feel badly.  I'd still do it, but I would feel badly.)

Before my hair appointments, I always peruse the Internet looking for inspiration.  I secretly hope that I will stumble upon a picture of woman who looks just like me, with the same kind of hair, that I can print and bring into my dear stylist, Michael.  Yeah... so far that hasn't happened.  My pictures are of women with different shaped faces and different textured hair or I have to wait 6-months for my hair to be long enough to cut it all off in the desired style.  They are younger or older and almost always have a bigger hair budget than I do.  Sigh.  

While in pursuit of the perfect "do", I stumbled upon these.  All I can say is that I absolutely know myself well enough to know I'll never be coming home sporting one of these looks! (Although Halloween is coming....)

photo/artistic credit

paul hagedorn

The work of Paul Hagedorn.. beautiful and intense.  Isn't that what life really is?

Photo credits

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

tunes i like tuesday: whatever lola wants

When speaking of the great Sarah Vaughn, American jazz commentator, Scott Yanow, had this to say... "One of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century".  Her voice was and will always remain remarkable.  In spite of the fact that her style of singing was usually classified as "jazz", she refused to be labeled as a jazz singer.  She felt that her music crossed over many different musical lines and she wasn't defined by any one style of music  I love that about her.  (I should also mention that one of her nicknames was "Sassy".)

Whatever Lola Wants is one of my favorite Sarah Vaughn songs.  The song, originally from the 1955 play Damn Yankees and performed by Gwen Verdon , has gone to be recorded by a long list of artists.  Sarah's rendition outshines them all (although I am especially fond of The Gotan Project's version that includes the Vaughn vocals with an electronic tango beat. Have a listen here.)

I think it's important to be open to all music, regardless of era and style. What about you?  How do you like Sassy Sarah?

Monday, September 13, 2010


A merry heart doeth good like a medicine. Proverbs 15:13

A friend of mine shared this list with me today. I'm not sure where he got it from, but I thought it was worth passing along. I especially like #2 and 10.  There's a lot of truth there. It's hard to stay grumpy, ugly, sad, mad, etc when you're smiling. Have you ever done something reluctantly and ended up having a great time? It's the same principle. Life is so much sweeter with a positive outlook.

Of course being more attractive, healthier, younger and successful aren't bad by-products either!

Ten Reasons to Smile

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive
We are drawn to people who smile. There is an attraction factor. We want to know a smiling person and figure out what is so good. Frowns, scowls and grimaces all push people away but a smile draws them in.

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood
Next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile. There's a good chance your mood will change for the better. Smiling can trick the body into helping you change your mood.

3. Smiling is Contagious
When someone is smiling they lighten up the room, change the mood of others, and make things happier. A smiling person brings happiness with them. Smile lots and you will draw people to you.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress
Stress can really show up in our faces. Smiling helps to prevent us from looking tired, worn down, and overwhelmed. When you are stressed, take time to put on a smile. The stress should be reduced and you'll be better able to take action.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System
Smiling helps the immune system to work better. When you smile, immune function improves possibly because you are more relaxed. Prevent the flu and colds by smiling.

6. Smiling Lowers Your Blood Pressure
When you smile, there is a measurable reduction in your blood pressure. Give it a try if you have a blood pressure monitor at home. Sit for a few minutes, take a reading. Then smile for a minute and take another reading while still smiling. Do you notice a difference?

7. Smiling Releases Endorphins, Natural Pain Killers and Serotonin
Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural pain killers, and serotonin. Together these three make us feel good. Smiling is a natural drug.

8. Smiling Lifts the Face and Makes You Look Younger
The muscles we use to smile lift the face, making a person appear younger. Don't go for a face lift, just try smiling your way through the day -- you'll look younger and feel better.

9. Smiling Makes You Seem Successful
Smiling people appear more confident, are more likely to be promoted, and more likely to be approached. Put on a smile at meetings and appointments and people will react to you differently.

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive
Try this test: Smile. Now try to think of something negative without losing the smile. It's hard. When we smile our body is sending the rest of us a message that "Life is Good!" Stay away from depression, stress and worry by smiling.

This seems like a great opportunity to share Uncle Kracker's video for his song Smile.  It's a sweet little love song that makes me smile.

Friday, September 10, 2010

living in a dream

It is the city of mirrors, the city of mirages,
at once solid and liquid, at once air and stone.  ~ Erica Jong

Of all the places I've traveled, only one place is always tugging at my heart... Venice.  

Venice is magical.  It exists where no city should exist.  Built centuries ago on wood piles.  It floods horrifically.  It threatens to disappear into the sea.  And yet it remains.

It is a city of love, great and small.  I fell in love with Venice on a trip with my sister.  I needed to share it with Countrymouse. We went for Carnival.  It was February 2004.  It's been way too long.  I need to go back.

We walked. We played. We ate. We drank. We loved.  

Venice is a mystery.  It's narrow streets wind and weave a maze throughout the city.  A city where one must navigate on his own accord to arrive at his destination. The ghetto. The piazzas. The Canal.

It's inky winter skies are both a cloak and a blanket.  The summer is bright and warm, much like the Venetians.

Venice's history is long.  It was a major maritime power throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. It's artistic influence during the Renaissance is still felt. Walking on streets that are so ancient and filled with so many stories is thrilling.

Why is Venice my favorite city? There's so many things I could list. There isn't simply one thing.  I think mostly it is how I feel when I am there. I feel enchanted.  It's the external manifestation of all my dreams. And for now, Venice remains in my heart and in my dreams.

Thanks to LoveFeast Table for prompting this post as part Fancy Fridays.

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