Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dixie Chicks Tinley Park, IL

I'm scheduled to see 3 Dixie Chicks concerts this year! The first was a few weeks ago up in Tinley Park near Chicago. I was beyond excited to see them and even more so because it was the 4th concert on the U.S. leg of their tour.

Then I got to the concert and realized I was seated in the 13th row!!! Now I just needed to pass the time until the Dixie Chicks came on.

Once I found my seat (which was located in the "confetti zone"), I scoped out both sides of the amphitheater to get/signup for any freebies. Thanks to the Illinois Lottery, I won a $25 iTunes gift card.

I've seen vending machines with prizes at fan events like this, but this particular one was logistically challenged. Instead of their booth rep watching you tweet a promo for the IL lottery and then activating the machine, the machine was completely automatic. The "brains" inside the machine was scanning Twitter's hashtags, and once it found your special promo code, then it would dispense an unknown gift.

Sounds like a pretty cool system, but when you get tens of thousands of people bouncing their phone signal off of one tower, it takes minutes for a tweet to go through. Well, that's if you're lucky! Mine technically never went through, but an antsy pantsy person behind me tweeted my code. Thank you!

Anyway, back to the concert... Josh Herbert was first up. He had good music, but nothing that hooked me enough to spend my iTunes gift card right then and there. I don't know how long he's been touring, but if I had to give him advice from a fan, it would be to open up with the audience a bit to create a connection.

Next up was the group Augustana and they shared the stage for a few songs with The Secret Sisters. Definitely a solid group, but the lead singer's voice is just not quite for me. The iTunes gift card was still fully loaded after their set.

After a surprisingly quick bathroom visit in between sets, I made it back to my seat in time for the Dixie Chicks to take the stage. My smile would have looked a mile wide to an ant, and it prevented me from singing along to the first few songs.

It was pretty fabulous to see Emily (left) and Martie (right) playing on stage with huge smiles in response to the ecstatic crowd. I'm sure Natalie (center) felt our love too, but she was just a tad busy belting out some vocals for us. It was such an electric atmosphere!

I don't have many photos because I was bound and determined to stay in the moment, even if that moment included some college age girl puking her guts out in the row in front of me. Luckily my aisle-side neighbors never took their seats, so I was able to scoot 4 seats over to avoid the "smell zone". I shake my head knowing the college girls left 2/3 of the way through the concert and their seats cost upwards of $150. Which reminds me, shout out to Mom and Dad for the adding to my Dixie Chicks tickets fund at Christmas.

Here's a nice glowy photo of Natalie. She's just a powerhouse of vocals. Love it! Anyway, I'm debating on bringing a true camera to my next show, but need to figure out a happy medium between taking better pics and staying in the moment.

Despite the incredibly awesome set list they played, the show ended way too soon. But then again, you can't expect them to play every song they've ever recorded. I've included the set list below thanks to and added a few comments...

  1. The Long Way Around (Great song to start with, considering it had been 10 years since they toured in the U.S.)
  2. Lubbock or Leave It 
  3. Truth #2 (So happy they played this song!)
  4. Easy Silence 
  5. Everybody Knows
  6. I Like It
  7. Long Time Gone (Another absolute favorite!)
  8. Nothing Compares 2 U (A tribute to Prince, beautifully done and Natalie's vocals couldn't have been better)
  9. Top of the World
  10. Goodbye Earl (Gotta say this one had the most known lyrics of the night, I could feel the power of the people on the berm singing along to this one)
  11. Travelin' Soldier
  12. Please Don't Let Me Die in Florida
  13. Daddy Lessons (I guess this was a Beyonce cover. Haven't looked it up yet, but did like the Dixie Chicks acoustic, countrified version.)
  14. White Trash Wedding (Love the bass on this song)
  15. Ready to Run (Fantastic video background filled with cartoonish bobbleheads of politicians from all parties)
  16. Mississippi (Never expected to hear this song. Have loved it since Sheryl Crow recorded it. Shout out to Bob Dylan for writing it.)
  17. Landslide (Beautiful as always)
  18. Silent House 
  19. Cowboy Take Me Away (YES!)
  20. Wide Open Spaces (Thank you.)
  21. Sin Wagon
22. Not Ready to Make Nice (Do not have enough words!!! My favorite lyric of the night as Natalie raises and eyebrow "It turned my whole world around, And I kinda like it")
23. Better Way

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

WWE Live Peoria, IL with Mom!

Over the last few years, it's become harder and harder for me to talk Mom into attending a concert with me. Outdoor venues can be too hot, fancy stage backdrops shine lights in your eyes, college venues have obnoxious students, and there's always the possibility of blowing out your eardrums. I can't blame her... I just have to be choosy with the potential events I invite her too.

As some of you know, I watched WWF with my brother on weekend mornings way back in the day during the time of Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Junkyard Dog, Andre the Giant and the likes. Recently I had a friend reintroduce me the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), which I have come to greatly enjoy as my sports "soap opera".

WWE was planning a stop in Peoria, which seems to happen every couple years, so I couldn't help but ask Mom if she wanted to be my guest. I promised her very few shiny lights, not too loud, and the potential for some good people watching. To my surprise, she accepted my invite!

I absolutely love the fact that she made a step towards understanding the event prior to us going. The highlights throughout the guide below were topics that we discussed over dinner prior to going. Seriously, so awesome!

This event was live for us in Peoria, but not a televised event. It was my third WWE event, but first event where I'm so familiar with the wrestlers that I can tell who will be coming through the curtain based on their intro music. I was beyond ready for a memorable event!

Fast forward through the hassle of getting into the event...
With the first two notes I heard, I just about popped out of my seat and may have even startled mom. The music for Enzo Amore and Big Cass hit to start off the evening and I was ecstatic. They are so filled with energy... just electric!
I wasn't aware I knew most of the words to their intro.

Then I was crazy surprised when Titus O'Neil's music started. He's been flying solo from the Prime Time Players lately, but still using that music. 

Mom and I did our best impression of their bouncing (seen above at the 15 second mark).

Mom played along with me, not having a clue who Titus was. She's the best!

Prior to the event I mentioned by dislike for a couple over the top characters. One being Tyler Breeze, who has a hint of Zoolander in him. He has a ridiculous fashion forward outfit and walks around with a selfie stick that shows his posing on the big screen. It's hard to tell, but he's laying across the ring roped on the front right corner, and his cell phone screen fills the jumbotron.
Mom's comment during his match was priceless, "He's not such hot stuff without his selfie stick!"

The reason for the comment was that the tag team of Goldust and R Truth dominated the contest. It was a blast to see The Golden Truth, especially after seeing their vignettes over the last few months where Goldust tries to convince R Truth to join him as a tag team. Just ridiculous.

The next great match was Sami Zayn (pictured below) against Kevin Owens. Sami's intro music pulls me in every single time... I can't help but root for him!

We were pleasantly surprised when their was an intermission. I took a brief look at the merch table and decided there wasn't anything I couldn't live without, and then Mom treated us to a couple snow cones. Yay!

The title matches would finish off the night. Natalya "Nattie" Neidhart (pictured below) vs. the current women's champion Charlotte Flair (the biggest cheat/"rule-bender" of them all... although someone does have to bee the heel and Charlotte does a fantastic job).
It was awesome to hear the crowd get behind Nattie and boooo Charlotte. So fantastic!
Unfortunately, this was the only women's contest of the night. They put on one hell of a match! Totally stole the show... So much so that Mom's comment was, "They're nuts!!!"

WWE should have saved the women's match for last, but they decided to leave it to AJ Styles vs the current men's champion, Roman Reigns. Roman's smug look says it all... "I don't have to worry about losing the title tonight... there's no way there would be a title change at a non-televised event in Peoria, IL." Okay, he's probably not thinking that, but I know that in the back of my head. My suspension of disbelief stopped right about there.

It was such a fun experience to share with Mom. Maybe next year we can both attend our first monster truck show or something else? Goodness only knows what I'll find for us to try.

Here's the card for the entire evening:
1. Enzo and Big Cass vs. The Dudleys
2. Titus O'Neil vs. one of the dudes from The Ascension
3. Tyler Breeze and Fandango vs. The Golden Truth (Goldust and R Truth)
4. The Hype Bros vs. Gallows and Anderson
5. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn
6. Sheamus vs. Apollo Crews
7. Natalya vs. Charlotte
8. AJ Styles vs. Roman Reigns

Monday, May 2, 2016

Not Watching My Cubs

Some evenings, all I want to do after work is snuggle up with the pets and watch the Cubs game. Today I checked the broadcast schedule and saw they would be on ESPN. That gave me one of two options, on the ESPN app or crash a friends house who actually has cable.

Love these shirts.
Not wanting to fix dinner, I nuked some leftover French toast, invited Mrs. Butterworth to join me and logged on to ESPN. I was naive in thinking blackouts only held true for where the game was being played. With the Cubs playing in Pittsburgh, I incorrectly assumed they wouldn't be blacked out.

As I blog, the game radio broadcast is streaming through my phone. The 20 dollar price tag for subscribing to the radio broadcasts is in a price range I can stomach. Most days cable service could remedy this situation, but I can't seem to stomach or justify the cost. Another option would be to move out of market and get MLB TV. That might be a little drastic though.

Time to sign off and flip the laundry. Try not to be to jealous of my exciting Monday evening.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

When anxiety rears its ugly head.

It's been just over 10 years since anxiety and panic became and unwelcome part of my life. After some counseling and educating myself about my new "friends", I managed to find ways to cope and even discover some triggers that can be easily worked around.

But unfortunately there are times when being stressed unleashes an abnormal amount of anxiety that leaves me feeling edgy. That, my friends, was my February. I did what I could to mellow out, but there were still more days than not that I didn't feel like myself. If only I had a good answer to those who ask if there is anything they can do. Seeing that none of my friends are genies, I will gladly continue to accept their open ears and arms.

It seems like this time of year is always harder... seasonal affective disorder anyone? Can't just be a coincidence that my first panic attacked happened during February. Maybe I should start to consider a Southern getaway each February. Anyway, combine this silliness with too many abnormally stressful work days as of late and you get an anxiety-ridden Jane ready to flip into a panic attack at the drop of a hat. Yep, not exactly my idea of a fun time.

After a super rocky start to March... I know, only two days in... I'm still quite hopeful that feeling like myself again will be just around the corner. There is no logical reason for me to feel panicky during a simply meeting at work or while chit-chatting with friends(more like sisters). The kicker was today... when I couldn't even have lunch with myself. There wasn't a known trigger in sight, just my silly brain misfiring some flight or fight messages. Why couldn't I just relax and people watch during lunch?

Looking back to earlier today, I gotta admit that picturing myself dashing through Metro Center's parking lot trying to eat my Jimmy John's sandwich without losing any lettuce is fairly amusing. Had I given in to the illogical message and taken flight, then I guess some people would have had an amusing story to tell their family.

More than anything, I'm thankful I have close friends and family I can talk to about this because it would only stress me out more to think I was alone. By sharing this blog entry, I'm hoping to release some stress and bring some peace and calmness to what has become a very tired and rundown brain. I need the days of cracking myself up to start outnumbering the quiet days.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Paperweight Making at J. Draper Glass

Mom treated Laura and I to a little adventure at J. Draper Glass this weekend. She signed us up for the St. Valentine Workshop where we each got to make a heart shaped paperweight.

Here's a quick video of Laura rolling the molten hot clear glass into the colored glass, and then returning it to the heat, so the colored glass would melt.

After heating up the glass, we used the gigantic tweezers to pull and mix the glass which had the consistency of a slightly melty taffy. Two hands were needed to manipulate the molten glass.

There was quite a bit of heating the glass. It's a step that has to be done in between each step you manipulate the glass. The key is to keep the metal bar rotating and level, so it heats evenly and you don't lose the glob.

After this step, our teachers shaped the glass into globe, using a hollowed out piece of wood that stays soaking in water. The globe gets heated up again and then squashed and shaped into the heart (the teacher adds the cleavage by notching at the top of the globe).

In order to elongate the base of the heart, it gets heated up again and then you get to swing it around like a pendulum. Now that it looks like a heart, it's time to release it from the metal bar with a swift knock, and then blow torch the jagged edges.

I think it's safe to say our instructors were having as much fun as we were having.
Here's Mom's finished heart which included reds, oranges and mix of blues.

Laura went with an asymmetric blue heart with a hit of yellow and some cool bubbles.

I made a more traditional shaped heart with blue and white swirly twirlies.

Whether you're interested in taking a fun class we did or just looking for a cool piece of art, I suggest stopping by J. Draper's Studio