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Review: ‘The Search for Everything’.

John Mayer’s latest album, “The Search for Everything”.

I’m so excited for today – a new semester of my Blog Class kicks off at UT – plus, we’re halfway through the week! I know I was pret-ty skeptical of John Mayer’s latest album a few months ago, when we were only given a measly four songs per month.

But, now that it’s been released in its entirety (I actually got a free copy with the purchase of a concert ticket), and I’ve had a chance to listen to it – in my car and in my earbuds – and have heard a few songs from it live, I think I’ve got a grasp on my opinions.

From the jump, in general: I like it. Is it my favorite album? Nope. But there are definitely some gems that cannot (and will not) be ignored in the entirely of Mayer’s career. Here’s my take.

Best song: In the Blood 

If you’re looking for one of those typical John Mayer songs that’s got genius lyrics and is going to cleverly teach you some life lessons, THIS is the one.

Although we’ve been told from Mayer before that he’s aware of his ways (you know what I’m talking about), this song really seems to drive it home, while also discussing his family life – which he’s alluded to in a few previous songs.

“In the Blood” has been released to country radio stations as his next single.

How much of my father am I destined to become?
Will I dim the lights inside me just to satisfy someone?
Will I let this woman kill me, or do away with jealous love?
Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?

I can feel the love I want, I can feel the love I need
But it’s never gonna come the way I am
Could I change it if I wanted, can I rise above the flood?
Will it wash out in the water, or is it always in the blood?

I still really like “Love on the Weekend”, and it will probably remain to be a favorite of mine – I’ve had too many long distance relationships and understand what he’s singing about all TOO well.

There’s two upbeat tracks that are really fun: “Still Feel Like Your Man” (which Mayer admitted was about Katy Perry), and “Moving On and Getting Over”, which I had the pleasure of hearing live. It was fantastic. Many critics said this album was Mayer’s “return to pop”, but I disagree, and I think these two tracks are fair proof that he’s still going his own way.

And finally, there’s “Rosie”, which reminds me of early 90’s Lenny Kravtiz – loungey blues with desperate love lyrics. It’s catchy as hell, and makes for a good ear worm.

Yes, there’s a few other tracks stuffed in… and they may as well go forgotten. I’m not even going to pretend like a song titled “Emoji of a Wave” is worth my shit. Not even for John Mayer.

It’s no “Battle Studies”, but I definitely feel like we got a lot of hype for this one that was perhaps unwarranted. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll hold me over, but I can’t help but wonder if Mayer is suffering from a little bit of writer’s block.

In albums’ passed, we’ve gone on a journey with him over heartbreak (admittedly the ones we saw play out in the tabloids), his life as a famous person (before moving West), his family, and his struggle with getting older.

But is his journey over? His life is quiet now, and although that’s good for him, it sometimes isn’t good for the art. Been there, done that.

We were spoiled with the release of “Born and Raised” and then right afterward (#blessed) with “Paradise Valley”. It miiight be awhile before we hear from Mayer again, despite his claims that he’s got a vault of songs that were meant for “The Search for Everything”.

Guess we’ll see…

John Mayer’s perfect setlist.

Hello, love.

Well, I’m heading to Vegas on Thursday and aside from seeing the Backstreet Boys, the excitement of the Strip, the relaxation of the Palms’ pool (and bar), I’m also seeing my soulmate, John Mayer.

I’ve loved John Mayer since the first time I saw him live, when I was 16. If you do the math, that was almost 16 years ago – a very long time to be in love. But, like most relationships, we’ve had our ups and downs…

Almost exactly five years ago, I made plans to cross an item off my bucket list: Go to a city I’ve never been to and see a concert.

That city was Las Vegas, and that concert was John Mayer. I bought the tickets, lined up to meet a friend there, and we were SO excited. But about six weeks before our trip, John Mayer cancelled his tour because he had to have surgery on his vocal chords, and would be on rest.

Needless to say, I was crushed. But, my friend and I still decided to go to Vegas, and we still had a lot of fun. It would be another long while before John Mayer went on tour. And when he did, I saw him three times, in three separate states. I’d seen his tour so many times that year, I’d nearly memorized his set list, and could often tell by his guitar choice or chord tuning, what he was about to play.

But that was, like, three years ago – and now the guy is finally back on tour. I’ll be honest, I’m not so sure about this album, “The Search for Everything“. Yes, there’s some songs I like, but it’s no “Paradise Valley” – I absolutely love that album.

When he released “Love on the Weekend“, he promised he was going on tour, and he also said it would be everything we’d ever dreamed of. Whoa, whoa, whoa – big promises! It’s really okay, John, you don’t have to put on a nationwide tour just to finally profess your love for me.

Kidding aside, I got to thinking about what a perfect John Mayer concert would look like. After seeing him at least a dozen times over the years, I’ve heard him play some of my favorites. But what if there was a concert full of them?

I’ve refrained from looking up the setlist for this tour, but I’ve put together my own – what would be the perfect John Mayer concert setlist for me? This was tough, but here it is:

Why Georgia

If I Ever Get Around to Living

Moving On And Getting Over

Waitin’ On The Day

Split Screen Sadness

Born And Raised

Love On The Weekend

Clarity

On The Way Home

Tracing

In Repair

Dear Marie

Stop This Train

*Encore*

In Your Atmosphere

Wildfire

…What do you think? We will see how his concert compares… I have absolutely NO idea what to expect! I’ll definitely let you know… (you could also follow me on SnapChat and see for yourself @OrangeJulius7).

 

‘The Search for Everything’.

Okay, John Mayer fans! Tomorrow is the day we get to hear some new stuff, finally! While I don’t really have the inside scoop (as much as I wish I did), we can discuss what we know so far.

1. The title of the album is called “The Search for Everything”, which John said in a Facebook Live feed that the title basically explains his life.

2. The album will obviously feature the single we’ve heard, “Love on the Weekend”, which I love – but John said, also on Facebook Live, that the song does not represent the entire album. Guess we’ll see.

3. The album was among some greats on The Rolling Stone’s list of the 63 most-anticipated albums of 2017. However, the release date isn’t mentioned there, because…

4. John Mayer is releasing his album in 4-song increments, monthly. WHICH IS THE WORST IDEA EVER.

Let’s just discuss this a little more.

Now, I know artists have released their music in increments before. Kanye West did it with his G.O.O.D. Fridays, where fans were rewarded with a free download as long as they kept visiting his new website, and Justin Bieber did it with his “Journals” album, releasing one song each Monday in a “Music Monday” campaign.

When Kanye did it, it was genius because no one had ever done it before; when Justin did it, it was pretty fun.

But, seriously John Mayer? The first reason this sucks is because the initial 4-song drop we get includes the single we’ve already purchased, “Love on the Weekend“, so we’re actually only getting three new songs this month. Here are the tracks we’ll see tomorrow:

  1. Moving On And Getting Over
  2. Changing
  3. Love On The Weekend
  4. You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me

The second reason this sucks is because am I honestly supposed to listen to a 4-song loop for a month and then download another 4 songs? Let me make this clear: I love me some John Mayer, but I’m not going to be putting it in my calendar every month to “Download the next 4 John Mayer songs!!”

Here’s my other question: how many songs are there in total? According to Mayer’s Instagram account, “The album will be released four songs at a time. Every month. There were too many songs to ever get out the door at once.”

There’s several issues with this statement. I hate to be that person, but it’s the digital age, right? So what does it even mean that there’s “too many songs”? Like is it 25? 40? Because anything 20 and under is a pretty standard album length.

This just makes me wonder, what’s the real story? Like are the songs not done? Because if they’re not, don’t tell us there’s an album coming. If they ARE done, well hand ’em over, ’cause frankly, John Mayer, you’ve put the fans through too much! Just hand us the SONGS!

Am I the only person pissed about this? Le sign… I know there are bigger problems. I’m just greedy and want all the songs – besides, I’ll be in the car road-tripping for a minimum of 10 hours this weekend and I could really use some new tunes (more than four, BTW).

At the very least, I have a feeling these are going to be some GOOD songs… I mean, what we’ve heard so far is fantastic. Here’s to “The Search for Everything”!

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‘Love on the Weekend’…

John Mayer's new single.

John Mayer’s new single.

Last Thursday, I had the WORST day at work. It was one of those days I contemplated quitting (do other people do that, or just me?), I had to walk outside and pace the parking lot and get some deep breaths in before going back to my desk, putting in my earbuds, and just doing my work. It was only 10 am.

Although my morning had sucked, I knew I had two things to look forward to that day: 1. John Mayer was releasing his first single in THREE YEARS that afternoon, and 2. I was going to a late-night premier of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”.

So, I got to work and patiently waited until 3pm, when John Mayer did a round of questions of Facebook Live. He talked a lot about writing new music, and said this would be the first album (I’m guessing it’s coming out in January) that didn’t revolve around a single event (i.e. a love affair).

He also said the single, “Love on the Weekend”, wasn’t a representation of the entire album, but he did admit he had lots of fun “dancing in his kitchen” to it. He also confirmed there will be a tour for the album, starting in the spring of 2017.

HALLELUJAH!

And then he played the song…

And then I’ve had it on repeat pretty much ever since then. I freaking love this song! And can I just say what a relief it is? I was worried we might have another “Battle Studies” on our hands.

Couple things to note here: 1. the sound. It’s not as Montana-country as “Born & Raised” (which is one of my favorite albums), but it’s not all the way back to pop, either.

The song is catchy, and frankly, it’s a great reminder of why fans fell in love with Mayer in the first time – his catchy, clever lyrics that paint a familiar picture for so many of us.

Best line?

“And I’ll be dreamin’ of the next time we can go into another seratonin overflow.”

Second best line? 

“We found the message in a bottle we were drinkin’.”

Needless to say, I am really looking forward to hearing this entire album! Hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for that to happen.

A scene from 'Fantastic Beasts'.

A scene from ‘Fantastic Beasts’.

Okay, so later Thursday night I joined a friend for the premiere of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”! Honestly, I didn’t know much about this movie other than that it’s a prequel to the “Harry Potter” series, and it was written by J.K. Rowling herself.

Sounded good to me! Here’s the official scoop from IMBD: The adventures of writer Newt Scamander in New York’s secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter reads his book in school. 

Mr. Scamander is in New York, where wizardry is very much illegal… and he just happens to have a suitcase full of tricks… and fantastic beasts. The film follows him attempts to make it through the city without getting jailed forever or killed, and he makes a few friends along the way. It is simply… for lack of a better word… FANTASTIC!

I got to see it in 3D, which I would recommend, and I’ll say my jaw was dropped for at least half of the movie. The magic was way more intense than what I recall from the Potter films (but I loved those, too).

On a final note, I kept hearing about how Johnny Depp was going to be in the second movie. Eh, he makes an appearance in this one, and it was very unexpected. Keep your eyes open for him!

Celeb Crush: Charlie Puth.

Well, hellloooo.

Well, hellloooo.

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done an edition of “Celeb Crush”! Truthfully, I’ve been doing a little work behind on the scenes on the blog, trying to figure out the best things to write and where the future of this thing is going – don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere, I’m just working through some identity crisis.

But there are so many times when I’m writing a post or coming up with ideas on what to write and I get so inside my head wondering, “Does ANYONE even care about this?” And then I remember that it really doesn’t matter, because this is my blog, and some days we talk about serious things and some days – like today – we just need the fun, lite stuff to keep us going.

So, Charlie Puth. I did not give this guy a lick of attention until… well, until he had the song with Selena Gomez, “We Don’t Talk Anymore“, because I was feelin’ some kinda way about that song! It was hitting almost too close to home, but not to the point where I couldn’t listen to it. I loved it.

Still though, I wasn’t entirely certain just who this guy was. And then he was on “The Voice”, serving as one of the mentors for (my favorite) Alicia Keys. And I was sitting on my couch thinking, “Okay, he is cute!” Even his voice is just so hot. I can’t.

So, WHO the heck is this Charlie Puth guy? According to Google, he’s 24 (turning 25 on December 2), and can thank YouTube for the rise of his success. His debut was on “See You Again”, written, produced, and co-performed with Wiz Khalifa in tribute to Paul Walker. WHOA.

According to Wikipedia, his eyebrow is scarred from a near-fatal dog bite incident. Clearly, he’s a badass. And, random fun fact, when he was in 6th grade, he went door-to-door selling his Christmas album “Have a Merry Charlie Christmas”, which he recorded and produced, and made $600.

tomss_interstitial__300x250OKAY, now this is the inspiration we need on a Wednesday! The kid was recording and producing his own stuff in 6th grade? Time for me to get on my grind here.

His YouTube channel, Charlie Vlogs, was where he got his following, and he used the medium to post cover songs, including Sia’s “Chandelier”, comedy videos, and behind-the-scenes coverage.

At the beginning of this year, he released his debut album, “Nine Track Mind“, which peaked at number 6 on the Billboard 200.

Although he’s a talented singer and performer, I definitely think he’s found his success behind the scenes – writing, recording, and producing, which is respectable. I am looking forward to what comes next from him!

In other music news, John Mayer is releasing his first single off his upcoming album (expected to drop in 2017). The new single, “Love on the Weekend” will be released TOMORROW!!!

I’m not the only Mayer fan freaking out – it’s been more than two years since we’ve heard anything new from the guy. So, I’m anxious to hear what the sound will be – will it be an evolution of the Montana John we’ve gotten on the last two albums, or something new? I’ll be sure to report back.

Speaking of new albums, when are we going to get something new from Justin Bieber? He’s had two new songs out, “Cold Water” and “Let Me Love You”, which are both awesome, so does this mean there’s a new album on the horizon? I haven’t seen any news on the topic, but I’m keeping my eyes open on this one.

What music are you currently listening to, or looking forward to? I am always looking for more things to put into my ears, so let me know!

Yes: ‘Dance Squad’ & Mayer Snaps.

The LA Clippers dance team has their own show on E!

The LA Clippers dance team has their own show on E!

Is it just me or is Tuesday night TV pretty much as good as it gets? Probably just me, given that I’m a complete TV junkie.

While I’m still pretty wrapped up in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson”, and admittedly, “The Voice”, last Tuesday E! premiered “LA Clippers Dance Squad”, as in a completely behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a member of a professional dance team.

Hells-to-the-yes.

I have pretty much always dreamed of being on a dance team in some form or fashion, so watching this is the best of both worlds: I get to live vicariously through the young, hardworking dancers, and I can do it from the comfort of my bed. What more could a girl ask for?

The first episode was a good introduction to a few of the team members as they went through auditions, and you also get a good look at the Clippers Spirit’s new Creative Director, Petra Pope, and she means BUSINESS.

From TVseriesfinale.com: “Petra has an extensive resume in pro basketball, having led dance teams of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets in the past. She’s now moved back to Los Angeles to revamp the Clippers’ dance squad and take it to the next level.”

As far as team members, there are 20 girls to start, and it seems like some of them may get clipped (ha, punny) as the season continues. My favorite girl is most definitely Hannah, as she’s from Louisiana and left everything behind (including a long-term boyfriend) to pursue her dreams in Los Angeles. Go girl!

I also like Savannah – she’s that Tennessee cool girl I aspire to be in my next life. Some of the show is simply footage from practice (which I enjoy because I love dance practice), but other parts of the show are beautiful shots of L.A. (d-i-e), and of course, adventures and drama these girls get into. Three of them are roommates, so that should be interesting.

On tonight’s episode, it looks like Petra makes a *SHOCKING* decision for co-captain and everyone is pissed! Eeeek! The show airs Tuesday nights on E! at 10 p.m. EST.

So, I know I’ve talked about John Mayer being on SnapChat before, and just to give you an update, he still hasn’t approved ANY of my Snaps yet, but I’m going to persevere!

Regardless, I have still been watching his snap story… and let’s just say that his cute little snaps are only making me like him more.

Hiiii...

Hiiii…

About 75% of the snaps are of course, him playing music or spending time backstage as he is currently on tour with Dead & Company.

But the other 25% of his snaps are absolute nonsense and brain-dumping; i.e. what we know John Mayer to do best, aside from untouched guitar talent.

He talks a lot about making social media personal again, using snapchat for selfies, and his theories on adults owning Pedialyte.

But perhaps my favorite snaps are of him, hand washing his white t-shirts in his marble sink (which has gold hardware, mind you).

Why do I love this so much? Probably because it shows his domesticated side, and his dedication to white shirts. He could very well pay someone to hand wash his seven white shirts, but no, he does it himself, and even hangs each one on a drying rack.

What is my weakness? White shirts and denim. D E A R G O D.

I would actually pay him to hand wash his white shirts. And I would also sit and watch them dry for four hours, just to make sure nothing happened to them. And then I would die happy.

#LifeGoals

Mission: Get John Mayer to Open my Snaps.

John Mayer doesn't know what he's missing.

John Mayer doesn’t know what he’s missing.

About two weeks ago, John Mayer announced he was joining SnapChat. The interwebs completely ATE this up, because: 1. SnapChat is for teens, right? And John Mayer is 38. And 2., What happened to all of that jazz about not making a complete fool of yourself online, Mr. Mayer?

Well, hell’s bells. I’m 30 and on SnapChat, and when I heard the news I about died.

“This is it!” I thought to myself. “Maybe THIS is how we’re going to meet!”

Sure, I have no shame in admitting that I’ve attempting to contact him via Twitter and Instagram (by way of tagging his handle, I’m not creepy enough to send him a DM).

But I am also creepy enough to attempt to send him two Valentines over the years via snail mail. Now, these cards never got sent back to me, but yes, I’m aware of the fact that John Mayer never saw them.

More than likely, they are sitting in dusty boxes in some New York warehouse, and/or some creepazoid steamed open the envelopes and flattened them in a frame from Goodwill.

Now, back to the matter at hand. Personally, I think SnapChat is the perfect place for John Mayer, because he can say his “sexual napalm” realness, and then it disappears in 24 hours.

Leave it to my imagination to try and figure out how I can use this particular social media channel to PERHAPS meet my life’s obsession. But how am I supposed to make this happen?

My friend suggested the spaghetti tactic – you know, throw everything on the wall and see what sticks. Ah, hell, why not?

So, I took a picture of the nearest thing: the Taco Bell drive-thru line, slapped a kissy-face emoji on the sucker, and sent it to John Mayer.

Then just sit back and watch the magic happen, right?

Sure, that’s what I thought, too, until I saw the little arrow next to his name was gray and it said, “Pending”.

Um, what? Here we are, nearly 10 days later, and that sonofabitch is STILL pending.

“Don’t worry,” my friend said. “He’s going to accept it because you’re his #1 fan!”

While I appreciate her perseverance, that’s exactly the reason he’s NOT going to accept it. Because I am an obsessive freak.

But, this is my blog and I’m all about transparency, so let’s obsess more and figure out how to crack this code.

According to SnapChat, the “pending” message is confirming the fact that John Mayer hasn’t added me as a friend on SnapChat. Well, no shit.

SnapChat suggests calling your “friend” and asking them to accept your friend request, so you can easily send snaps to each other.

Um, hello?! It’s 2016, I’m not going to CALL anyone. And D., if I had John Mayer’s phone number then I wouldn’t be trying to stalk his ass on SnapChat! Duh. *Rolls eyes*

So, anywho, in the meantime, I’m just going to go apeshit and snap him some ‘mo. Because I really don’t have anything else to do with my life.

If you’ve got other suggestions on how to get his attention, please let me know. I’m not above flying my personal plane over Montana and writing some messages in the clouds.

Want to follow me on SnapChat and see me make a fool of myself for John Mayer? I’d love to have you: OrangeJulius7

Celeb crush gone too far?

Everyone knows I’m obsessed with John Mayer and Justin Bieber – it’s not like I’ve made any sort of effort to keep that a secret. I was riding in the car a few weeks ago when they said on the radio that Mr. Mayer was spotted getting into a car with Katy Perry on New Year’s.

By now, I’m used to their ridiculous back-and-forth relationship, but people always ask if it bothers me. For starters, it should already be a red flag to myself that people are asking if I genuinely give a fuck about a celebrity and who he is dating.

But, for the record, I have happened to like all of the ladies Mayer has surrounded himself with (minus Swifty. I just cannot). I like Katy Perry. I find them to be an interesting match, but I sort of wish they would just make up their minds.

However, none of this really scratches the surface when it comes to my obsession with Mayer himself. I’ve been a fan since I was 16. He was a whopping 23 at the time, so I felt like he was singing my SOUL – and, I’ve felt that way ever since.

In a sick way, I feel like we’ve sort of grown up together – even though he’s writing songs through a lens of fame and celebrity, and I’m just coming from, well, a single, creative girl’s perspective. I’ve been lucky enough to see him more than a dozen times over the years (one year seeing him three times in under 6 months), and I’ve heard the songs so many times, I can tell which one is coming up by the way he tunes his guitar.

While I don’t have a John Mayer shrine in my apartment or at my office, I do have a framed poster and a framed album cover in various parts of the apartment… okay and the shirtless Rolling Stone cover is in my kitchen (whoops). In my defense, I feel like this is the only time I’ll be able to feature such glorious gems in my home. If I’m lucky enough to get married, I’ll have to hang them… in my closet? We’ll see, and I’ll report back.

On one hand, I of course, would love to meet him, and we could finally fall in love and all of this nonsense I go through with other guys (you know, the pedestrians) would make total sense: because I was meant to be with John Mayer all this time!

But… there’s also another part of me that knows if I actually met him, he’d just disappoint me. We’ve all heard how he’s a douche, and weird,  and probably cocky. And, there’s always that risk with people who are REALLY, REALLY good at what they do – there’s a chance they might be awkward in other areas of their life.

And, there’s one more creepy part about my obsession with John Mayer. Every time I get into a semi-serious relationship (which has been what, two times?), I think, “Well, this could be it…” and in my mind, I’m breaking up with the idea of being with John Mayer. NO, SERIOUSLY.

I know it’s unlikely, but hey, a girl can dream. And you know I love to dream. I guess when Mr. Right comes along we’ll just have to agree that John Mayer is my celebrity “out.”

As for Justin Bieber, yes, I still love him. And I am rather obsessed with the Purpose album (“Comfortable” is my favorite song). But, I had a serious conversation with my friend the other night, the topic being this: if I were given the choice of sleeping with John Mayer or Justin Bieber, and I was forced to choose… I’d pick John.

Don’t get me wrong, this was NOT an easy decision! I weighed the pros and cons, and chose John given that there’s a chance he’d be more of a selfless lover. While Bieber would be selfish, and possibly into Jack-rabbit sex.

So there you have it. I’m obsessed. But I gotta know… who’s your celebrity out?

Psst… Want to create your own blog, just like mine (or better)? My online, Blogging for Beginners course is on SALE through 11:59pm for just $10 (reg. $59). Start 2016 off with a creative, cool class! Sign up here!

Single Girl Recipe: Pumpkin Coffee Cake.

Nearly guilt-free and oh-so-delish.

Nearly guilt-free and oh-so-delish.

Y’ALL. Where has this week gone? It completely flew by, and I’m pretty sure it’s because I kicked things off by making this pumpkin coffee cake for my coworkers.

Originally, this recipe called for sweet potato puree instead of pumpkin, but I wanted to jump on the pumpkin craze, plus, it’s way easier to buy a can of pumpkin puree. But, feel free to alter it to your liking.

INGREDIENTS:

1 box Gluten-Free White Cake Mix (14 oz.) box makes one 8 or 9-inch cake
1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (or sweet potato)
4 tablespoons light olive oil or coconut oil
1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer (made with 1/4 cup warm water) (or 2 eggs beaten)
1/2 cup vanilla hemp milk– or non-dairy milk or orange juice
1 teaspoon mild vinegar or lemon juice
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger, or 2 teaspoons fresh grated, if you prefer

For the topping:

2 tablespoons Organic Spectrum Shortening or coconut oil
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1 tablespoon gluten-free flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the topping ingredients together in a small bowl; rub and crumble it between palms to create a sandy texture.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with shortening and dust lightly with gluten-free flour.
Pour the cake mix into a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients — pumpkin/sweet potato through ginger. Beat until a smooth batter forms; beat an additional minute.
Pour into the prepared cake pan; shake a bit to distribute the batter evenly. Crumble the topping all over the cake batter.
Bake in the center of a preheated oven until firm and tender- about 30 minutes or so. I bake at high altitude, so your mileage may vary.
Cool on a wire rack.

Place a large plate on the cake pan; quickly turn over and release the cake; repeat onto a clean cake plate.

Makes 8 to 10 slices.

…Now, since tomorrow is “Fiction Friday,” I need to go ahead and say this now. Tomorrow, the love of my LIFE is turning 37. My love, John Mayer, I’m sending you a happy, happy birthday!

Pic of the Week.

T-shirts full of memories...

T-shirts full of memories…

Helloooo out there, from the world of boxes, packing, and all things moving-related! I’ve been packing and organizing and cleaning whenever I get the chance in order to wrap things up as fast as possible. It’s no secret that moving is a huge task, but it’s one of those necessary evils in life.

As I’m packing, I’m getting rid of a TON of stuff! It’s a good feeling to let go of physical baggage or just that stuff that’s not useful anymore. For the longest time, I’ve had a stack (okay three stacks) of t-shirts on my closet shelf that really just collect dust.

For the longest time, I’ve been saying I’ll go through them, I’ll do something cool with them, blah blah blah. But I really did it! I sorted through my shirts and found around 25 shirts that I don’t wear, but have such great memories attached to them.

So, I paid to have them made into a quilt! I am so, SO excited about this! I cannot think of a better way to make use of my old shirts, then to preserve them, blanket-style, for me to enjoy while I’m binge-watching House of Cards in my new apartment. AMIRIGHT?

I chose Project Repat to make my quilt. Not only do their T-shirt quilts look fantastic (and contain a fleece-backing), but Project Repat is working to bring textile jobs back to the United States. Not to mention the fleece they use is made from recycled plastic bottles. Perfection!

All I did was choose the size of the panels/quilt squares I wanted, the size of the blanket (I got a Full size/5’x6′), and the color of the fleece (gray). Then, I chose my shirts, and just have to send them off! My custom quilt will arrive in 2-3 weeks.

So, what shirts did I choose for my quilt? Here’s a quick description of my shirts in the above picture; from left to right, typewriter style.

  1. Phi Delt Homecoming @ LSU (Phi Delt is my favorite frat!)
  2. Abercrombie & Fitch shirt to commemorate my years of work there and my everlasting love for it
  3. Back of a high school newspaper staff shirt (2003)
  4. High school dance team t-shirt from ’03
  5. First LSU shirt I ever bought; before I was even a student
  6. LSU shirt from my job there
  7. Dance team t-shirt from ’02
  8. Chasing Daylight shirt from Red Dress Run
  9. Various LSU tee
  10. Uncorked BR — the best event in town
  11. Back of dance team tee ’02
  12. A dedication to my love for the sexiest skateboarder alive: Ryan Sheckler
  13. Back of Phi Delt tee: the IMMORTAL six pack
  14. Newspaper staff tee ’02
  15. Custom tee to represent my single life forever 😉
  16. “Kiss my class” journalism tee ’03
  17. LSU Campaign that I worked on
  18. John Mayer tee
  19. Berkelee tee. Because… John Mayer.
  20. Back of dance team tee ’03
  21. Race for the Cure 2012 (there were pink margaritas)
  22. Back of single life tee
  23. Tailgate team tee
  24. Custom Meriwether tee
  25. Bridesmaid shirt. Always a bridesmaid… 😉
  26. Various LSU tee
  27. Love Purple Live Gold campaign tee
  28. Front of custom Meriwether tee
  29. LSU/UCLA Final Four tee ’06
  30. LSU Fall Fest tee

It IS LSU heavy, but hey, when in Baton Rouge… I’m actually happy with the range of colors and graphics for my quilt, and I’m thrilled at all of the fun memories it will bring when I curl up in it. And just in case you’re not sure who Meriwether is:

On turning 30…

Make a wish!

Make a wish!

I turned 30 last week.

It’s one of those things I sort of never thought would happen — much like winning the lottery or meeting John Mayer — but, it turns out, the unbelievable can happen, and we’ll all grow old and turn into our parents.

Well, maybe.

I grew up believing that age was just a number; life is completely what you make it. And I really did feel that way until my 25th birthday… 26, 27, meh, okay, then 28 hit and I was really starting to feel old. When I turned 29 last year, I was REALLY feeling it.

I was feeling so old, in fact, that I used the space in my weekly column to talk about it:

And it’s not about crow’s feet or what’s on my driver’s license (I still get carded, so that’s a positive), it’s more about what I’ve accomplished.

In Baton Rouge, we judge people on where they went to high school, and then we judge them on their wedding, their spouse, and their kids.

With none of those things (I didn’t go to high school in the South), I start to wonder about my checklist. [Read the entire column here.]

In the weeks leading up to my 30th, I was really feeling the pressure — more than I’ve ever felt it. There were days when I woke up hopeless. It was difficult getting out of bed (more than usual) at times. I felt the regret from financial woes that I felt should have been resolved by 30.

I felt embarrassment that I still haven’t found a good “career job,” and often, I still feel like a kid. I wish I had more in my savings account and less debt. I wish I could actually get a fucking handle on doing laundry and keeping up with the dishes. I long for a day when I can actually relax; perhaps read more for fun or work on the tan (it was looking great last summer).

At 30, I pictured myself living in a place that was at least put together — you know, where the things match, the dishes aren’t from Wal-Mart, and my house wouldn’t be in complete shambles every single day.

But that’s not my life, and sometimes, I don’t know if it will ever be. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t breakdown and cry more in the 14 days before turning 30 than ever in my life. I questioned a lot of things about my journey, and was really looking for answers about the turns I know are coming.

I get a lot of flack for being a diehard John Mayer fan, but the truth is, I feel such a connection to his music. I started listening to his debut album, “Room for Squares” when I was 16. He was 25, and his stories about high school, college, and finding himself hit home for me.

With each album of his, I feel we’re aging at the same rate — so many of his songs hit my heart right when they need to. And no, I don’t need any religion other than that. So, while right now I’m incredibly living by his track, “Stop This Train,” one from his latest album, “Born and Raised” is also describing my life right now:

“If I ever get around to living, I’m gonna put my things away, in the drawers and in the closets, and there I’ll stay… If I ever get around to living, it’s gonna be just like my dreams” (If I Ever Get Around to Living)

In my head, I know that my life is taking the course it was meant to take. But I just have to get that through my heart and soul. I know I can’t compare my life to that of my parents’, my colleagues, my friends, or really… society in general. My path is my own.

Each week for me brings new adventures, new challenges, though my schedule is always quite packed. This week, I’ve got 40 hours of my retail job, two “career” interviews, and three freelance deadlines. Perhaps I’ll hit the gym; maybe I’ll get some sleep, or read a few pages for fun.

So, what did I do for my 30th birthday? I’ll save that adventure for a post later this week. But I’d love to know how YOU felt at 30, or what birthday made you get the FEELS?

Pic of the Week.

Sunday night, I posted on Instagram saying I’ve been living off a diet of John Mayer songs (yum!) lately. And while that’s been true for a majority of the last 14 years, my relationship with music ebbs and flows just like any other.

At times, I’m so happy I want to sing and dance to any song. And there are other times, when I need songs that reach far into my soul, that it’s like the singer/songwriter lived the moments of my life, and took the words straight from my brain before I even understood a word that would even fit the way I felt.

I know that soul searching is a life-long journey, but I sure as hell feel like I’ve done a bunch of it over the last six months. I’m finally realizing just how creative a space I’m in right now… and it’s pretty cool. In this headspace, sometimes I feel like the only people I can relate to are the ones in my playlist. So, pretty much everywhere I go, I’ve got music on — in my car, in my apartment, and anywhere in between (I’m addicted to my headphones).

I wish you places that still so still, where people never ever change and never ever will.”

—Marc Broussard, Gavin’s Song

Many years ago, Daniel Levitin (a prominent psychologist who studies the neuroscience of music at McGill University in Montreal), wrote a book, “This Is Your Brain on Music,” which has been on my reading list for years. But seriously, what DOES happen to our brains when we hear a song?

Don’t worry, I found an article on CNN.com that has some cool facts. One, listening to music lowers anxiety (YAS!). It also mentioned a study that proves how music has the power to unite all sorts of different people.

The kind of music I listen to definitely depends on how I’m feeling or what I’m going through at any given time. In general, I love all sorts of different music.

I love listening to John Mayer, well for several reasons, but for one, I feel his sound and his lyrics have matured at the same rate as my life. His music was pop-heavy when I was in high school, and over the years, the music has developed into blues, and even grazing western sounds, and his lyrics have covered self-discovery, love, marriage, family, and life expectations. He sings my soul, y’all.

Music combines my two loves: dancing and words. I love to dance (even though I’m not good at it like I once was) and I love words, and words that go together in a way that make sense to the masses.

What kinds of music have you been listening to lately? What songs, no matter how old or new, really make you feel some type of way?

“So scared of getting older, I’m only good at being young.”

—John Mayer, Stop This Train

 

Survival Guide: Road trip!

Wahoo! The open road!

Wahoo! The open road!

In just a few weeks, I’m heading on a road trip! It’s been years since I’ve hit the open road for a trip that lasted longer than 4 hours, but I can easily say that I’m looking forward to it.

About a year ago, I took a 19-hour train ride (read about it here), which was fantastic (though I did sleep for quite awhile), but I know my road trip will give me some mental clarity — time for me and some music. After all, the first half of my trip involves just me.

So, how do you accomplish a road trip of a lifetime? Don’t worry, I’ve got some tips for you!

  1. Plan (a little). You don’t want to hit the road with no plan at all — trust me, running out of gas mid-Mississippi isn’t the type of adventure you’re after. Have an idea of where you’re going and places to stop, whether it’s an interesting food stop or for a place to sleep. Don’t over-plan to the point of it being rigid and stressful, a road trip is supposed to be freeing!
  2. Pack the snacks. Nothing beats truck stop snacks, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to pack a cooler of drinks (I like to pack energy drinks and La Croix) and snacks (nuts, chocolate, fruit, cheese. Oh hell, pack a meat plate, too). Packing snacks and drinks means stopping less, and the ability to eat as you please instead of getting stuck in a drive-thru.
  3. Get entertainment. Because the first 15 hours of my trip, it’ll just be me (which I’ve done before), I’ll definitely be packing some great music (Sam Smith, John Mayer, Marc Broussard, among others) and possibly an audio book. I also have Sirius radio in my car (I could live off 90s on 9).
  4. To sleep or not to sleep? If you’re with a group, you can sleep in shifts (unless you’re all awake at once) and keep the car on the road. If not, you might have to break the trip up and plan to stop to sleep — don’t drive when you’re tired.
  5. The return. Heading home is typically less-exciting, so make the trip back something to look forward to. Maybe you plan a different route back, or stop at different places, catch a sunrise, listen to new music. Make the entire trip an adventure that’ll be worth your while!

When I was in college, I took a few road trips from Louisiana to Indiana all on my own. The first time I did it, I was so excited. Well, until I realized that driving up the entire state of Mississippi is quite a task. But, I listened to music, saw a sunset, and it was mentally refreshing. I’m looking forward to taking a very similar trip in two weeks. If you’ve got music or audio book recommendations, I’d love to hear them. And as always, follow me on social media @OrangeJulius7 to catch all the roadie pics!

Just remember on the way home, 
That you were never meant to feel alone.
It takes a little while, but you’d be fine:
Another good time coming down the line.

—John Mayer, On The Way Home

Me & my bullshit, part two.

Drop the mic, bitch.

Drop the mic, bitch.

Read part one of “Me & my bullshit.” 

I find a tiny bit (okay, a medium bit) of comfort in recognizing the fact that the road many writers, amateur and professional, travel is one that’s alone.

The craft of writing is introspective — even fiction writers often say their stories come from some place real — and looking within isn’t something that happens at a conference table or in a room full of cubicles.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what success means to me — not in terms of money, but in terms of what every day is like for me. I’m still working to get where I want to be.

While Ryan’s words really, really hurt me, I know that I cannot change who I am to please him, or anyone. I have always promised myself and my readers that I will remain honest, even if that means I’m not the most popular person.

I also know that there’s a big, big difference between someone like me who works every single day, chasing my dreams, and someone who sits at a job, letting the days pass them by. Complacency is not for me.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about successful people, and I’ve noticed that many of those people, who are SO successful in business, are also misunderstood in many other aspects of their life. Perhaps that’s just how it goes.

Take Steve Jobs for example. Chances are you’re reading this from a device that he invented. I’m writing it on one. And I’ll Tweet about it on another one later today. In his biography by Walter Isaacson (a genius writer that I’ve been lucky enough to interview), there are many mentions of how Jobs went against the grain in nearly all areas of his life — even in unflattering ways.

At the root of the reality distortion was Jobs’s belief that the rules didn’t apply to him. He had some evidence for this; in his childhood, he had often been able to bend reality to his desires. Rebelliousness and willfulness were ingrained in his character. He had the sense that he was special, a chosen one, an enlightened one.

— Walter Isaacson, “Steve Jobs” [119]

There are other successful creatives I can relate to — Amy Winehouse and her broken heart (and the ability to turn that into beautiful music), John Green in his writing processes, and of course, my love, John Mayer, in his ways of being so, so introspective and insecure, that it gets him in trouble socially.

And while I know (haters, this is for you) I’m not nearly as genius as those people, I do know that I’m not a dumb ass. I’m not the girl who lost her job. I’m not someone wishing to be a writer. I’m someone just trying (and often succeeding) to make it. And by it, I mean my dreams a reality.

My past is littered with guys like Ryan. Guys who tell me how great I am, and then disappear for no valid reason. One of the biggest questions I had when Ryan sent me his douchey text was this: Why are we so quick to cut people off?

It’s that easy, especially hiding behind a fucking phone screen, to write someone a message and cut them out of your life forever, because you don’t feel like dealing with a human. Another question I had? If my behavior was so scary, why didn’t he ask me if I was okay?

And that’s the difference between being selfless and selfish, my friends.

I know I won’t stop writing — let’s be honest here, there’s nothing else I’m really cut out for. And I know it’s not going to be easy. But when the road gets tough, and the guys continue to be assholes, I’ll probably just write more of these posts about my “bullshit.”

You know the greatest thing about that guy at the gym who thinks my column is bullshit?

He read it.

If you’re nice to me I’ll never write anything bad about you. 

—Amy Winehouse

Celeb Crush: Justin Bieber.

I know, I know, everyone hates The Biebs. But I just can’t! Truthfully, when Bieber came on the scene, I wasn’t falling for it — even though he did have a cute face. But then, I went to see “Never Say Never,” the Bieber tour documentary (I love a doc), and it was then that I realized Biebs has talent, and sure, he’s cute.

But now, NOW, he’s growing up a little (still got that boy face) and I must say: DAMN, that boy is fine! People have always given me grief over my Bieber crush, but I pay no mind. I get it, he’s a punk, and sometimes he tries to act like a badass, when we all know he’s not.

But, as with any celeb crush, I try not to let their personal mistakes get in the way of my fantasies. As Augustus Waters says, I’m not really in the business of denying myself pleasure. So, don’t try to convince me that I shouldn’t crush on Bieber. He’s in my heart to stay — you know, along with the slew of other celeb crushes.

Justin Bieber concert.

Justin Bieber concert.

The thing is, none of us know what it’s like to grow up in the spotlight. Considering how much I want to hie under the covers when I get a mean comment on the blog or a salty Letter to the Editor, I would imagine it’s pretty fucking difficult. And if you know anything about most celebrities, chances are, the people around them aren’t great (seriously, watch Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of and tell me you didn’t want to punch a few people).

Really, I’ve always been a fan of pop music. And I love that Biebs has Usher (also a hottie) to provide that slight hip-hop feel to his songs. His tunes are fun to sing and really fun to dance to — stop by the shoe store when they’re playing Roller Coaster and I’m probably dancing across the tile floor.

I had the pleasure of seeing Justin Bieber in concert (within 24 hours, I saw him and John Mayer, best 24 hours of my LIFE) on his “Believe” tour, and it just proved how talented he is. If you dare, check out the video of his entrance. And yes, that’s me screaming. And I was sober.