July 31, 2010

the berry patch.

i believe in... goals, dreams, lists. one of my summer goals {along with tubing/rafting the coosa} was to pick blueberries and make fresh, tasty treats. done. and done.
blueberry crumble in the making. 
i have spent the past week searching for a local grower that i might could visit to pick berries. i found just the farm in hueytown {west of birmingham}. you pass a few rail road tracks and there you have it. there is a secret to "the berry patch" but i will let you figure that out for yourself. p.s.- i love secrets. 
after my trip to hueytown i baked a recipe that i borrowed from my girl, our girl, pioneer woman. here it is:


  • ½ sticks Butter
  • 1 Tablespoon (additional) Butter
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 whole Egg
  • ½ teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-¼ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ¾ cups Whole Milk
  • 2 cups Fresh Blueberries
  • _____
  • ¾ sticks Butter
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • ½ cups Flour
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, baking powder, and a salt. Stir and set aside.
Cream 1/2 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter with cinnamon and sugar. Add egg and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until totally incorporated. Do not overbeat. Stir in blueberries until evenly distributed.
Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Pour in batter.
In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients and cut together using two knives or a pastry cutter. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.
Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cut into squares and serve with softened butter.

note: my personal secret is to not add in the vanilla. but, that is simply because i was lacking. improvise, people. 
whole grain flour. duh. 
note: all photographs and adventure laughs compliments of my dearest, georgiaruthcardinal. 
you can ask a few of my closest friends if it was as delicious as it looks. i have spent the evening delaying studying for my summer graduate school finals to deliver treats.
where there is love {and 2 cups of blueberries}, 
there is art. 

she's here!

so i made a move a couple of months ago into a historic apartment in english village {as seen here}. for months i've been waiting expectantly for august to come. and now that august is upon us the sad little second bedroom has now magnificently gone from this
so very sad. 

to this. 
good morning, annie. 

welcome home, annie! anneelizabeth is one of my best friends from growing up. she's one of those that you feel as though you are sisters- you argue, laugh, cry, enjoy life more with them than anyone else. during this post-grad transition into adulthood (oh, wait, we are already there!) i could not think of a better person to live with. i'm excited to see what is to come for the both of us. anne has recently graduated from "the university" (of alabama) and is now hired as a full-time nanny. she is also going to start {more than likely} on her early childhood masters.

so last night we went to cocina's happy hour {we got there about the time happy hour lost it's happy} to celebrate anne and the move. here are some photographs:
anne enjoying her marg. 
chrissy also had reason to celebrate, she began optometry school this week. 
and me- well i'm just celebrating life... per usual. 
where there is love {and celebration of change}, 
there is art. 

July 29, 2010

my friend "mommy."

will i ever feel normal {old enough} having friends that are mothers?
sweet helen weizenecker modeling a hat her mommy knitted. 
perhaps when i join the club {i've got quite a while before that happens}? nevertheless, it is deeply moving to see your childhood best friend with their child. rachel {miller} weizenecker and i played "baby dolls" until an age that was mildly inappropriate. we loved our babies. many moons later rachel now has a living, breathing baby of her own- helen marie weizenecker. rachel is a mother that inspires me. unfortunately, i don't get to see rachel as a mother often as she lives at the foothills of the mountains in lynchburg, virginia. but she is constantly explaining some knew project vis a vis our "supper club emails" {a group of close girl friends from growing up}. and i know how this woman does things. how is one a renaissance woman as they are merely approaching the age of twenty-four? i try to not be overwhelmed, and instead asked "rach" a few questions about her new mommy status. 
very soon after helen marie weizenecker was born.
q: could you ever have anticipated what loving Helen would be like? 
a:No way! There is overwhelming excitement leading up to having your first child, but I could have never anticipated what loving Helen would be like or how much I love and adore her. I have to hold myself back from squeezing her too hard and kissing her too much. I have a two-edged love for her, it is fierce and tender. I stand in awe that she is our baby, branch of my vine. As I hold her, I try to take every bit of her ever-changing self in, her cloud-puffed hands reach for my nose and she opens her mouth as wide as she can to smile. The best way to express my love to her is to kiss her, hug her, and to gobble gobble at her over and over again. I have a hard time putting her down, I want to embrace every moment with her because I know she will only be this small for a short time. 

q: what is your most treasured memory of Helen's life thus far? 
a:We live directly across the street from our church. Helen had been fussy the entire church service, so I missed church and was feeling tired and exhausted from a long night the night before. Philip, my husband, volunteered to take her home so I could stay and talk after church for a bit. I get home and go to the sink to get a glass of water. There was baby poop running down the kitchen cabinets, I think “What has happened?!” I follow the trail of poop all the way upstairs and find Helen in her nice Sunday dress covered, my husband’s white shirt is now debatably white, and the room is a mess. Philip could not find baby wipes or diapers, so what does he do? He dumped out all of the drawers, baskets, pulled clothes out of the closet, looking for the diapers and wipes.  I literally couldn’t see the floor or the bed. Philip look a bit frustrated, I looked at Helen and she just started giggling.  Oh did it ever lighten the mood! With a frustrated grin, Philip asked, “Where are the diapers and wipes?” We just all three laughed and laughed and I simply reached right under the changing table (It’s strange they would be there, huh?!) and said, “The diapers and wipes are right here!” Your children can make you exhausted and full of tears, and the next moment have you just rolling on the ground in laughter. Helen brings us such joy, even in the midst of ‘messes.’
rachel and helen (modeling another one of mommy's designs).
q: is there a work of art {painting, literature, song, etc.} that best represents your love for Helen?
a:One of the many songs I sing to Helen {okay, now if you know "Rach" you know that the thought of her singing is sweet but also really funny} quiet often is from the movie Babe when Farmer Hoggett sings to Babe to lift his spirits, “If I had words to make a day for you, I’d sing you a morning golden and true, I would make this day last for all time, then fill the night deep in moonshine.” When Helen was born, I realized more and more that you can never relive a moment you had the day before. And every day she is a day older and different than the day before.  It is the simple moments and memories in time that make life so grand. I always ask myself, “How can I bottle this moment up forever?” Farmer Hogget sings “...I would make this day last for all time...” How I do wish I could make each day we have as a family last for ‘all time.’ 
I also just love Gustav’s Klimt’s Mother and Child painting. The full embrace of the mother for her baby, and the baby is just so comforted by her mother. Her love completely encircles the child.  I once read that Princess Diana said, “A mother’s arms are more comforting than anyone else’s.” Gustav Klimt’s painting helps me express how I feel in that my cup overflows.

q: what is the greatest joy of being a mother?
a:The greatest joy of being a mother comes from hard work in taking care of Helen, the reward comes out in her laughs and chuckles, her falling asleep in my arms, her great need for me. There is an unexplainable connection between mother and baby. I am able to  love Helen because God first loved us. I have taken great comfort in Psalms 22: 9-10 “Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” Knowing that my baby girl I am caring for is God’s child makes being a parent such an honor and a complete joy. Especially when Helen was a newborn baby, I had concerns with if she was eating enough, why was she being fussy, etc... and reading Psalm 22 gave me great comfort that God is in control of every part of our lives, starting from before we were in our mother’s womb
two of rachel's creations- the hat and the baby.
q: tell me about your hobbies and other creative outlets {gardening, knitting, etc.}, you renaissance woman.
a:Besides taking care of my family, cooking, knitting, and gardening consume most of my time. I am actually in the midst of starting a cooking and knitting blog. {I will let you know when I get it up and running!} I am, oh how do you say it, obsessed and madly in love with cooking! Mainly cooking with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients to make scrumptious meals. I am a bit in love with baking artisan breads, I mill my own wheat and bake all sorts of breads. My goal is to have only raw ingredients in our house- you want it, you make it. I make our own bread, crackers, tortillas, kombucha tea, etc. We have our own garden and 5 chickens that give us fresh eggs daily. Our lovely ladies {chickens} names are- Sweet Pea, Petunia, Daisy, Fern, and Rosemary. I do love to get my hands in the dirt, especially when it comes to harvesting. We have had tomatoes out our ears- it’s a good problem to have! We have summer’s bounty: tomatoes, green beans, varieties of peppers, corn, okra, squash, zucchini, watermelon, and basil. I have been making some serious pesto- It’s pesto time! To us, preparing good, wholesome food is a way of honoring the bodies God has given us and celebrating with the delicate wonders he has provided for us to enjoy! 
Rachel informed me that this is Rosemary in her garden.

where there is love {coming from a renaissance mother}, there is art

happy anniversary, m + j.

to fall in love with your best friend.
how many times have you heard someone proclaim this? has it been suggested to you that this is what you should look for? then there's that weak feeling you get when you hear the lyrics to songs like "lucky" by jason mraz. does this really happen though? well, yes, it does. meet my friends meg and josh mcclung. meg said to me, "you know, hayden, we really do just love being together." how refreshing.
photo by: cary norton
q: so, how did you two meet?
a: The first time we laid eyes on each other was 11 years ago at Cornerstone music festival in Illinois in 1999, when we were both 15. My (Meg) parents and I lived in Budapest, Hungary as missionaries for 2 years and I was home for the summer staying with my sister and her husband. Josh was in the youth group at Shades Valley Community Church where my sister and her husband were youth group leaders. They took a group of youth group kids to Cornerstone during the summers, so I came along. We hung out that week, listening to the likes of Pedro the Lion, Hopesfall, 238, Recess Theory and some hardcore bands (not really my thing). I remember the first moment that I started liking Josh... now that I'm 26 it sounds a little cheesy, but I was standing behind the stage at a Pedro the Lion show and I could see Josh in front of the stage, singing his heart out... It was so sweet to see someone at 15 with such passion. The rest is history... we dated a little in high school (long-distance, which wasn't easy!) and then all four years of college. We got married on July 29, 2006. Time has definitely flown since we first met....
q: meg, what is it about josh that you are most attracted to? josh, what about meg do you find most attractive? 
meg's answer- If we're talking about physical attributes... Josh's eyes are gorgeous. They're this crazy green with dark edges so they change color depending on the light. And they light up when he laughs.... love it. He also has really good hands and feet which is definitely a good thing. I always used to say that the first thing I noticed about guys were their hands. I like strong hands. But the most attractive thing about Josh is the way he loves. He is generous, quick to serve, slow to anger, and he's not afraid to cry. He thinks about things a lot and so he feels and experiences things deeply. 
josh's answer- Well Meg is just gorgeous from head to toe, and she's always been beautiful beyond words both physically and emotionally. I have always loved her smile and her laugh. Hearing her, and especially making her laugh, is really amazing. She's one of the only people I know who will laugh at all the stupid cheesy stuff I say all the time. Meg's got a very loving heart too for all those she comes in contact with and it's amazing to see how she carries herself with such grace and beauty. Plus she's got legs that just don't quit!
q: is there a work of art that best represents your love for one another? 
a: Music has definitely played a big role in our relationship from the start and it seems that whenever our paths crossed during our later years in high school it was related to some sort of music event (City Stages, Furnace Fest, going to shows). Nailing down a specific work of art would be hard... we spent a lot of time apart during our dating years and so I think of the line from "Politik" by Coldplay- "Give me love over, love over this." We were always looking forward to the next time we could be together... Now we're married and we see each other every day! There's this Zales commercial of 2 old people walking through the park together holding hands - I hope that represents us. I think at 80, we'll still be in love and laugh and truly enjoy each other's company.
photo by: cary norton
q:what do you guys think the key to loving is? 
a: A big part of loving well is not being selfish. If you put the other person first, you stop expecting things, and start appreciating them. Of course, it's easier said than done. Also accept that you cannot change the other person - love unconditionally. Be for each other, not against each other. Communicate your thoughts and feelings. Encourage each other and have a lot grace. Really what it comes down to is loving like Jesus loves us - we love because he first loves us. And he does it best.
don't you want to take a deep sigh out now? i do. after all...
where there is love, there is art. 
p.s.- Happy FOUR year anniversary, you two. 
photo by: cary norton

July 27, 2010

monarchs family

if you ever lose your man or your wealth, you will always have the things you built yourself.
- "the things you build yourself" celeste griffin of monarchs
celeste griffin of monarchs. photo by: don vancleave
i first met Celeste not even a year ago, but i remember it distinctly. i remember being caught up in her beauty, it's unique and one of a kind. then i heard her voice at Bottletree for a show around Christmas time. her voice + her beauty = something to marvel at. add in beautiful and thoughtful lyrics and... done. with that combination one could never forget her. here is what celeste had to tell me... 
celeste at age 2. where it all began... 
q: celeste, how did it begin for you, the music that is?
a: well... listening to music goes back as far as my earliest memories.  i always loved dancing to a funky beat... and it seems that music and dance have always been intertwined for me.  we have a VHS tape of 2-year old celeste breaking it down in a diaper to some funky beats at my big brother's skating birthday party.  also, my favorite toy was my Fisher-Price record player.  i used to sit in my room and listen to the records and look at the pictures on the record covers.  i had dance routines to all of these Disney songs and was obsessed with watching Wee-Sing movies and musicals.  

writing and playing and singing music, however, is still really new.  i took piano in the 3rd grade and hated it.  {I am now the perfect example of someone who wishes she would have stuck with piano as a child when her parents were willing to pay for lessons!}  in the 7th grade, i tried out guitar, but it didn't come naturally so i stopped playing it.  it wasn't until three years ago, that i sat down at my mother's piano and a song basically fell out of my mouth and fingers.  i had never sung before... or thought about trying to be a musical artist.  Preston Lovinggood {of Wild Sweet Orange} was with me and helped me finish the song, "Notes on Disease." so song-writing and singing for me is a true gift that came out of nowhere... and i still see my talent as a straight up miracle.
photo by: luke mckay

After that first song, the flood gates opened and I was song writing all the time.... I now can't imagine life without singing or writing.  It's pretty bizarre and amazing.
Monarchs "Miles away" from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

q: what is the story of monarchs?
if you're talking story as in the band, the brief version is that after i wrote my first batch of songs in 2007, i enlisted a group of guys to play a show with me at Cool Beans in Edgewood.  It was a great first show that included Preston Lovinggood, Kate Taylor, and Triceratops- three awesome Birmingham musicians/bands.  the players in the group changed over the course of the year i was living in Birmingham and playing.  in 2008, i moved to Austin, Texas {where I'm living now} to simultaneously pursue my masters degree in Community and Regional Planning at UT and my music career.  my band has also been changing since i've lived in Austin and is now in one of its best forms yet.  Van Hollingsworth {of The Magic Math} is my guitarist/song writing parter, Josh Halpern {of Marmalakes} is an amazing and energetic Austin drummer, and Phil Ajjarpu is a really solid bass player that can also play pedal steel and arrange the most awesome harmony parts... so i finally have a blended Austin-Birmingham band.

photo by: rob culpepper photography
if you're talking story as in the band-name, i named the band Monarchs because i was originally writing a lot of songs about my family and stories in my family history, so i loved the concept of a dysfunctional-royal family. royal because i almost considered my old-money Tuscaloosa family to be this royal family and "royal" also, because like many girls, i have always felt like a princess
photo by: luke mckay

the meaning of Monarchs has grown much deeper and expanded and continues to become more significant for me.  i love thinking of Monarchs as a straight up community project or FAMILY where everyone--players, listeners, bloggers (i.e.- ansleyhayden), readers, photographers, videographers, painters---all kinds of people--are giving their talents and time to help push Monarchs along as a project.  it truly is a community and i am alway so so thankful to have so many wonderful people offering me their talent, advice, and now RESOURCES! 
this resource comment gets to me to my current situation/source of thankfulness.  i am recording my first full-length album here in Austin with producer Mike McCarthy (Spoon, Heartless Bastards).  {i have already released 2 ep's: http://www.monarchsfamily.com/shop/}.  in order to record this full-length, i have been raising money through Pledge Music- where friends, fans, and family, serve as a community label by pledging money to the record-making cause.  it's been a pretty amazing process and we have hit 83% of my fundraising goal!  i have a week left of the pledge drive, so folks who are reading and would like a new Monarchs' album, please pledge and I will make your dreams come true!  your pledge secures a digital download of the full-length album, whatever prize you select, and an insider view into the record-making process-  http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/monarchs/
q: do you think austin opens up the opportunities for musicians, such as yourself? or is it overwhelming?
a: Austin most definitely opens up opportunities for musicians.... because music is so embedded in the culture here, an appreciation of artists and music is just built into the fabric of the city:  there are tons of media outlets that feature local bands, there are handfuls of amazing record stores, there are numerous great and varied rooms to play, there is a large audience of listeners of all ages, interested in all kinds of music, there are management companies, lots of studios, lots of players, organizations that provide musicians with low-cost heath care... the list goes on...  i have taken advantage of this rich music scene and have been amazed at how well accepted Monarchs has been and how quickly we have grown as a local band in the city. the flip side of all that richness, of course, is that the market is pretty darn saturated.... so, it's really hard to make a living just by playing locally {not that this isn't a problem elsewhere}. 

photo by: eye candy photography
q: tell us what you do in your other life...
well, i just finished my Masters at UT in urban planning. so i am on the search for a job at the moment.  i'm really interested in taking vacant, old buildings and transforming them into community and artist spaces.  i used my degree to focus on the role of arts and culture in urban growth, economic development, community-building, and revitalization.

photo by: rob culpepper photography
MOST definitely writing.  i am a writer to the core.  though i play the piano and guitar with the band/ write on the instruments, i do not consider myself a player at all.

photo by: rob culpepper photography
q: what inspires you most? 
Relationships.  Beautiful people.  My grandmother.  My mama.  My friends.  And... double rainbows {have you seen that youtube!?}
photo by: eye candy photography
where there is love {of song writing and dysfunctional-royal families}, 
there is art. 

July 26, 2010

happy birthday, mama.

"you know," she said. "even if she weren't my mom, i'd go out of my way to be friends with her." 

it's the 50th birthday of
... so let's start at the beginning
susan and gail, circa 1960. 
susan and gail- thanksgiving 2009.
she's the type of sister everyone wishes for. 
susan and gail before a school dance. 
susan and gail, circle 1961. 

she's a lot of FUN and a good friend too. 
"whoopin" it up during high school. {she's the angel in white}

to williamhunter and ansleyhayden she's the world's greatest Mama.

mom and i on my first easter. 

mom and i, 1987. 
she loves so well. always. 
beautiful mom and i at disney world, 1993. 

mom and i at my high school graduation, 2005. 
she's my best friend
mom and i at the beach in 2010. 

williamhunter, ansleyhayden, mom, and "big bill."
she's the backbone of our {crazy}family. 
ansleyhayden {daughter}, christinareagan {niece/daughter}, williamhunter {son}. 
she loves her kids. 
mom with her painting williamhunter and ansleyhayden gave her for her 50th. 
she's graceful, gracious, patient and loving

you're my hero. 

where there is love (on a 50th birthday), there is art.