Emily French is probably the first friend I made when my husband and I moved to Bartlesville, Oklahoma just over 5 years ago. I’m a very introverted and socially awkward person (although I am getting better!), and if it had been up to me by myself it may well have taken two or three years to make a good friend!

But if you know Emily, you know that she simply loves people, and she has a way of making you feel welcome and loved in her presence. She went out of her way to get to know me… why, I still don’t really know, ha! Maybe it was that my husband plays bass in the worship band she leads at church. Maybe it was that she found out I run a Knitting for Charity blog, and as she calls herself a “craftivist” (she loves to make jewelry and sell it for charitable fundraising purposes), she thought I was a kindred spirit.

Or maybe she just sensed that I may well have never made a friend, a real friend, at our church if I had been left to my own devices, and she thought that simply wouldn’t do.

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My Eyes Have Seen the Glory – a Sunday School Tale

Here’s a little Monday-morning encouragement for you.

As you may know, I lead children’s worship before Sunday school at our church. We call this our “Gathering Time.” This Sunday I had planned for us to sing along to a couple of YouTube videos and one song that we sang earlier this summer during VBS.

After we finished with the second of the songs from YouTube, another song (that I hadn’t planned on our singing) started playing before I had a chance to close the browser. That song was “Glory” by Common and John Legend. This is a song I found a couple of years ago and was so moved by it that I decided to play it for the children during Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend. I’ve since done so for the past 2 years.

It played for maybe a second before I hit the “pause” button, but the kiddos — many of whom had only heard the song once or twice during our Gathering Time — immediately perked their ears up. And they unanimously asked me to play the whole song for them.

A reminder: our Sunday School group is composed of K through 5th graders, with the attending short attention spans. I usually play upbeat, bouncy children’s worship songs because that’s what tends to get them most revved up and eager to sing and worship, as you can imagine. “Glory” is the opposite of upbeat and bouncy! It is a gorgeous song, powerful and soaring, but not at all the kind of song I would normally pick for a normal Sunday. Yet here they were, clamoring for that song.

I made the split-second decision to play it after our VBS song.

When the time came, I warned them that I was playing it because they had asked for it, and that they were not to talk over it or be disrespectful during it. In retrospect I don’t think I needed to. They were spellbound. A few made comments as it played, but nothing disrespectful. One of the children, a black boy that I’ve often babysat, told me his father would love this song. (I said “Yes, I’m sure he would!”)

I’m no rapper (ha!) so I didn’t bother trying to follow with the verses (though I couldn’t help speaking during the “My eyes have seen the glory” line), but I did sing the choruses. And I wasn’t the only one.

I’ve rarely been prouder of our kiddos than I was during and after that song. You never know what will strike a chord with a child at church, but clearly this song does just that. I have a feeling I might be receiving more requests for that song. And I’ll be happy to fulfill them as often as I can.

Just before the kids departed for their Sunday school lesson, the oldest kiddo there — a white boy — said to me, “I think Martin Luther King, Jr. would have something to say about what’s been going on lately.”

I didn’t have to ask him what he meant. I responded, “Yes, I think he would have. That’s another good reason for this song today.”

“Yeah,” he said.

For all the nonsense going on in our country over the past week — if not over the past several years, if not over the past several decades — I feel good about our future. These kiddos, they’re our future. And they have more love than you can imagine.

Graham Colton at Overholser Mansion, Oklahoma City, August 1, 2015

I wasn’t sure I was going to write a recap for this show. I’ve written SO MANY Graham Colton concert recaps, and I think the only people who read them consistently are my husband and my mother. (Love you guys.)

But here’s the thing. Eric (the aforementioned hubby) took a bunch of terrific photos. And I thought, what’s the best way to display those photos? I could put them on Facebook, but then people would have to navigate Facebook in order to see them, and I know that’s not always the nicest prospect. I could put them on Instagram, but then I’d be flooding Instagram with photos.

I considered putting them on Photobucket and then posting a link to the album everywhere I could on social media – mostly because I’m really proud of the photos Eric took, and I’d love to let everyone see them.

Then I had a thought. I could just post all these great photos on my blog. Then I could also share a little bit about each photo, and tie them into the show itself.

Well, lookie here. Looks like I’m writing a recap after all.

This will just be a different sort of recap than the lengthy story-hour posts I usually write. Maybe more folks will read it this way, anyway! 😀

This was a Fanswell show. If you want to know what Fanswell is, it’s basically a platform to match up artists who want to book private house concerts with fans who are willing to host them. Graham is actually a co-owner and founder of the company. When I hosted Graham at my house about a year and a half ago (good grief, has it been that long???), it was through Fanswell. It’s a terrific platform, and I encourage everyone who thinks this would be a really cool thing to do to check out Fanswell and register.

Our $35 ticket included dinner, an open bar (more or less – it just had a couple kinds of wine and beer, but still – basically all the booze you wanted to drink), and of course Graham’s show. For an extra $5 you could also tour the mansion, which we didn’t do, but I might have to do it at some point. Maybe if Graham has another show there. The mansion is apparently haunted. If I’d known that before, I might have begged Eric to spring for the tour. Ha!

This was our view as we walked up to the Carriage House, where the show took place, and also the location of the open bar (which was basically one fantastic lady handing out drinks). Minus Graham talking to someone in the lower-right hand corner, that is.

Carriage House at Overholser Mansion

Carriage House at Overholser Mansion

Here’s what we saw inside the Carriage House: lots of cool bits of the history of the mansion.

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Here’s where we had dinner. Well, under one of the trees. It was really great weather, and the trees made such a cool backdrop.


Oh my gosh, you guys. THE DINNER. It was seriously one of the best meals I’ve ever had. It sounds really simple – available were sliders, both burgers and Caprese (tomato, mozzarella, basil, balsamic vinaigrette), pasta salad, potato salad, house-made potato chips, green salad, and cupcakes. But I am not joking when I tell you that every. single. thing. was. ridiculously. delicious. (Well, I don’t know about the burger sliders. I didn’t have one. I just had a Caprese slider. But Eric liked his burger slider.) But the pasta salad and the potato salad were the BEST I have ever tasted. Ditto the chips. And the CUPCAKES oh my gosh they were out of this world. I had a blueberry and a strawberry cupcake, and a small bit of Eric’s chocolate cupcake. They were little slices of cupcake heaven.

I loved dinner so much that I made a point of seeking out the chef – Chef Eric Smith, who I’m told has two restaurants, VZD’s and Sara Sara Cupcakes – and telling him how much I enjoyed it.

Honestly, after that dinner, I felt like our $35 ticket was an absolute bargain.

I also will admit right up front that I probably had too much wine. I had 2 glasses of red wine (a blend) and 1 glass of white wine (no idea what kind it was, but it wasn’t sweet). I should have probably stopped at the red. Oh well, live and learn. The dangers of an open bar…

I really loved this cute little sign at the bar, though.


I also had a Dr. Pepper after the show because I needed a little caffeine boost. I probably should have had what Eric had, which was a Vanilla Float. I had a 10-calorie Dr. P instead. … not a fan. Sorry.

This was Graham’s little stage setup. Cozy.


I just realized there’s a guitar missing. Where did the guitar go??? No idea. Oh well.

Ah, here’s a photo with both guitars in view.


Leaving the Carriage House again, after dinner they brought chairs from outside into the Carriage House. We were given the option of just “hanging out” or touring the mansion. Again, we chose to keep our money in our pockets (sigh) and hang out. Even without the tour, there was plenty to see. Like this cute carriage (which I assume was once kept in the actual Carriage House).


I confess to hearing “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” in my head every time I looked at this carriage. For obvious reasons.


I can only imagine what the mansion looked like on the inside. The outside was stunning.

DSC03536_DxOHere’s another look at the outside of the Carriage House, a slightly closer view. If you look carefully (toward the back of the photo, right in front of the house and next to the black-covered table) you’ll see me chatting with my friend Brittiany, whom I met at a previous Graham show.


Finally it was time for the performance. Jen of Cellar Door Music (the host of the show) introduced Graham, although he needed no introduction. (According to her. I, of course, agreed.)


A word about our seats. I don’t know if Eric had to zoom in to get this photo, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t. The seats were put into place from the back of the room forward, which meant that basically if you waited long enough before you sat down, you would probably get a pretty good seat. In fact, Eric and I got what we believed were basically the best seats in the house — we were each sitting right in front of Graham, without anyone in front of us. This is probably the opposite of how most shows work, lol, but hey, it worked for us! 😀


Yeah… I’m pretty sure Eric didn’t use any zoom. This is basically what I remember seeing from my seat.

Graham confessed to being a little nervous because “all my friends are here” and “we’ll know if he messed up.” (Whatever, Graham, like we care…) And he added that he planned to play some very new songs along with “more obscure” songs. We have a long-running joke that I know pretty much every song he’s ever written, probably better than he does at this point, and so I jokingly rubbed my hands together and said “ooh, what song can I request…” He shot me a look out of the corner of his eye and muttered, “You’re going to be the death of me.”

hee hee hee


(No, that’s not Graham giving me a death stare. I just thought that was an appropriate spot to drop this photo. 😉 )

So the first song Graham performed was a cover that I have never heard him perform before. In fact, I don’t think he’s ever performed it live before, period! I am so sorry I didn’t get the beginning of the song, but he really caught me off-guard with this one.

Do you recognize it? Yeah. It’s the Shirelles’ “Will You Love Me Tomorrow.” Holy crap, was this an amazing cover. You’d think after I’d followed Graham for the past 5 years he wouldn’t surprise me anymore, and yet…

Graham was truly in fine form regarding “obscure” songs. He also dropped this gem, again surprising me, because when he starts talking about his Mamacita’s roots, I always assume he’s going to perform “Cellophane Girl.” (I’m not saying Graham is predictable, I’m just saying I’ve attended a ton of his shows!) But this time he performed “Summer Stars,” which you can actually hear on the very first CD he ever cut. Assuming you can get your hands on it. It’s that obscure.

Fortunately, Eric was quicker than I was, and he got this video.

He performed three brand-new songs tonight, two of which I had heard because he’d uploaded them to Soundcloud, but one of them I had never heard before ever. I’m pretty sure this one, called “If He Makes You Cry,” is probably his very newest song. To my knowledge, he has not released it in any way, shape, or form. I’m incredibly happy to have grabbed it.

The song that most everyone knows, even if they’ve never heard of Graham Colton, is “Best Days.” For some reason, I’ve heard him perform this song at the last 3 or 4 shows I’ve attended. I do know he doesn’t make a habit of performing it, but I still found it amusing when he introduced it by calling it “a song I don’t perform live much anymore.” Just a funny coincidence.

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I didn’t take video of this song because you can probably pull up about 2,000 performances of it on YouTube. But this seemed an appropriate spot for these really nice photos Eric took.

He performed it right after “Born to Raise Hell,” which he joked that he was changing its name to “There Once Was a Story,” since that’s what it was: a story about a troubled boy who grew up to become a serial killer. I understand why he called it “Born to Raise Hell” (after one of the serial killer’s tattoos), but I also understood Graham’s point. I also thought it was funny when he called it the song in which he’s “constantly having to explain himself.”

A couple of other songs he sang that I haven’t heard him perform in a while were “Love Is Landing,” from his Sooner the Sunset CD, and “Hold on to My Heart,” from Pacific Coast Eyes Vol. 2. They are both songs that I know and love very well, but given the sources, they are definitely two of his more obscure songs.

One of the two other new songs he performed, currently available only via Soundcloud I think, were “Little One” — written about his daughter Collette but released only after the birth of his second child, his son William — and a truly gorgeous would-be country song called “Lightning in Bottles.”

I didn’t capture video of it, but he also performed my current favorite Graham song called “Hands Untied.” And I’m glad because if he hadn’t performed it, I would have demanded that he had. Hahaha.

This seems like a good place to pop the last of Eric’s terrific photos of Graham performing.

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After the show, we chatted with Graham on and off while he greeted his adoring public. We might have spent more time hanging out than Graham actually spent performing.

In between chats, I amused myself by picking up stray drink cups I found lying abandoned under the chairs. I also danced to the music wafting over the loudspeakers.

Eric, of course, just HAD to take photos. Why am I posting them here? Because I have no shame, that’s why.

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I’ve mentioned before that one of the things I love most about being a fan of Graham is that he, in very short order, makes you one of his friends. I’ll never forget how Graham sought me out for a hug at only the second show of his I ever attended, just because I had come even though I was very sick.

Once upon a time, I would have felt a little awkward hanging around after his show, just waiting for a few minutes of his time to talk. These days, I would have to have a very good reason NOT to do just that, if only because Graham would probably be upset with me if I didn’t! (I’m not joking.)

Quick story time. At one of his shows last year (one of the few I didn’t recap), I didn’t hang out at his merch table after his show because my daughters were dying for food, and there wasn’t a good place to sit near his table to eat. This show was at a fair-type of festival, I think in Norman. Or Edmond. One of those OKC-type suburbs. Anyway, we were at the opposite side of the park from his table. I kept an eye on him as we ate, and I was kind of silently going, “Don’t leave. Don’t leave. Please don’t leave.” Hahaha.

Well… then I saw him packing up his merch and I realized he was going to leave, and soon, and I hadn’t had a chance to say more than a couple of words to him before he performed. I was very torn. Part of me thought, “gosh, if I don’t at least say goodbye to him, I’m going to be so upset. And, he might actually be upset.” On the other hand, I was a very far distance from him. To catch up with him just to say goodbye, I was literally going to have to run after him.

Are you conjuring up images of Beatle-crazed fangirls chasing rock stars? Because I was!

But again, I had no choice. I had to run after him if I wanted to tell him goodbye. So I did. I ran after him. Oh my gosh, I am so embarrassed just admitting this! Feel free to laugh at me. I still do.

Even more embarrassingly, I didn’t catch up to Graham until he was in the parking lot. And I had to shout to get his attention.

(Right about now you’re probably realizing why I never recapped this show. And I’m wondering why I’m telling the world this story. I swear I have a point.)

My point is his reaction. He stopped, turned, and when he saw it was me, he came out of the parking lot, gave me a hug, and said, “I was looking for you!” And he stayed there and talked to me for a good 20 minutes or so. He didn’t treat me like a crazed groupie. He treated me like a friend. Because to him, that’s what I am.

That incident, as embarrassing as it is to recount here, is the epitome of Graham Colton. He values his fans like friends. He treats his fans like friends. I’m not sure he even knows the difference. Or he does, but doesn’t care.

During one of our many chats after his show last night, probably after talking about the upcoming school year for both sets of offspring (Graham’s children are entering full-time daycare in the fall, while our daughters are entering 10th and 3rd grade), Graham said to us, “It feels like we’re growing up together.”

The crazy thing is, it really does.

I’ll leave you with the main reason Eric and I spent all that time hanging out in the Carriage House after the show. I wanted to get this. It’s been a while.


Marching Band and a Fundraising Raffle

So Kiersten has started marching band this year. This has been a wonderful thing in many ways. The two weeks of band camp prior to the start of school helped her get over her anxiety not only about all that marching, but also about her new school in itself. (This is her first year of — *gulp* — HIGH SCHOOL.)

She has already made a bunch of new friends — a truly big deal for my mini-me, who has almost as much tendency to be socially awkward as I do. And I think she’s even more motivated to do well in her classes this year. I’m excited for her, and I can’t wait to start going to football games and seeing her take the field.

There is, however, one small negative to marching band. It is freaking expensive.

Annual fees alone are kind of scary. I’m very fortunate that I’ve done enough freelance work over the past couple of months that I’ve earned enough to cover that hit to our budget. But it barely begins to cover what will be our biggest expense this year: the annual Spring Break trip.

It is so very cool that marching band has a huge Spring Break trip every year. I know it will give Kiersten some amazing opportunities to travel not only the country but also the world. This year, the kids are going to Disneyworld in Orlando, and they’ll actually get to participate in a recording session at Disney. That’s an incredible opportunity.

And it’s going to cost somewhere between $1,300 to $1,500.

I don’t, of course, believe we’ll have to pay entirely out of pocket for this. There is a fantastic Blue & Gold Sausage fundraiser coming up that should help us cover some expenses. Eric’s coworkers have already let him know they’ll be interested when he brings the brochures to work. (And if any of you Bartians out in Readerland would also be interested, please let me know! It’s yummy sausage – Eric bought some from a previous year’s fundraiser.)

I think this will help. But, I don’t know if it will help enough.

So I’m turning to all of you out in Readerland, not just Bartlesville residents.

You see, I’m working on an afghan. If you follow me on Instagram or are friends with me on Facebook, you may have seen a photo of the afghan in progress. Below you’ll see just a bit more progress.

Beginning of the afghan

Beginning of the afghan

I’m making an afghan-of-many-colors out of the ridiculously large stash of yarn I own. (A lot of it was given to me by very generous folks who had too much yarn themselves, lol.) What you see here is one row, and part of a second row, of what will be 18 rows of multicolored rectangles. I’m already really excited by how it’s turning out.

For a better idea of what this afghan will look like when it’s finished, you can see a photo here: http://www.lionbrand.com/stores/lionbrand/pictures/l20376a.jpg

How would you like to own this? Or maybe a pair of handknitted fingerless gloves? Or a behatted teddy bear? Or a set of crocheted coasters or a scarf?

If this sounds good to you, then maybe you’d like to participate in my raffle!

You may remember that a few years ago, I had a charity raffle to benefit relief efforts in Japan after the devastating tsunami. This will work very similarly to that, except that the proceeds will go toward helping my daughter get to Disneyland with her band.

Here’s what I’m going to do: I’ll sell raffle tickets for $1 per ticket. You will buy as many tickets as you like. You can buy as few as one or as many as… well, as many as you want! Obviously, the more tickets you buy, the better your chances are of winning a prize.

The raffle tickets will sell for one week. At the end of the sale time, I will hold the raffle by drawing numbers using http://www.random.org/, a random number generator. I’ll draw however many prizes I have total (I’ll have at least 4 prizes available, possibly more), and then notify the winners. The prizes will go out as soon as possible. Most prizes will have no more than a week’s turnaround in shipping; the afghan may take a little longer, depending on how long it takes me to finish it.

So what do you guys think? Would you be willing to support a raffle like this? I know it’s not a charitable cause. But it would be an opportunity to help create a great experience for my daughter — and you have a chance to win some fun prizes. (She will be helping with the prizes, by the way; I’ve taught her to crochet, and she’ll be crocheting the squares that will become either a coaster set, a scarf, or perhaps even both.)

Please let me know if you’d like to participate! You can leave a comment here, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

My 30 Days of Hustle: Days 15, 16 & 17 (i.e., Still Playing Catch-up)

My lack of blogging about my hustle is because a) I have had a lot of paying writing to finish, b) I’ve had to try and get caught up on my hustle after one day of bliss and 2 1/2 days of other-world living, c) … I’ve just had a lot going on, period.

I think my morning routine is finally back on track, though, I’m happy to report. The Evening Must-Dos are back into place. I’m hitting most of my to-dos for the morning. My days are back to feeling productive. I’m just relieved that my Post-Concertitis didn’t permanently derail me. (For a while, I feared it might have.)

Now that that is out of the way, let’s dive into Fearless Leader Jon’s directives.

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My 30 Days of Hustle: Playing Catch-Up

I had forgotten a little something about concerts.

I love live music, as most of you who know me are very much aware. So it’s not uncommon for me to attend anywhere from 2 to 8 shows a year. Last year, for instance, I attended… wow, 7!

Actually, maybe attending so many shows last year caused me to forget this, a little phenomenon I like to call “Post-Concertitis.” I’ve heard others call it “post-concert depression,” but for me that doesn’t quite explain what happens after an unforgettable concert, especially when it is incredibly memorable and basically seared into my head forever.

I love nearly all the shows I attend, but some of them are just that special.

Well, Saturday’s show was just that special. I mean, of course it was — how often do you have your favorite musician play in your home? This is a once-in-a-lifetime sort of event, and even today, three days later, certain parts of it continue to fill my head.

What I call “Post-Concertitis” is a phenomenon in which I cannot stop reliving a show. I suffer from this after nearly every show I attend, but most of the time I relive only a few key moments. But when one show is chock-full of “key moments,” details tiny and large that have been branded into my brain, it becomes much harder. I basically feel like I’m walking around in a fog.

It’s a little scary, in a way, because when you’re reliving one day over and over, it doesn’t give you a whole lot of consciousness left to live the day you’re actually in. It’s almost like an altered state of consciousness that hasn’t been created chemically.

What I’m saying is that I am in the midst of Post-Concertitis, and it has really thrown a monkey wrench into my hustle, which up until now had been moving very well indeed. Combine my state of Post-Concertitis with the Australian Open that started two days ago, and I’m kind of a mess.

I’m not ready to give up, though. I’m trying to offer myself a little grace, remember that it’s not easy to regain one’s composure after having a truly unforgettable experience, and do the best I can to climb back into the proverbial saddle.

I haven’t blogged about Fearless Leader Jon’s e-mails in a while, and so I’m a little behind. A quick peek at my recent posts tells me that I last did a Hustle blog for Day 10. It’s Day 14, so I definitely have catching up to do.

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Graham Colton, the Eclectic Homestead, Bartlesville, OK, January 11, 2014: The Concert That Did Happen

How do you write about a dream come true? Honestly, I’m not sure. This could turn out to be a mess of a recap. But I’m giving it the ol’ college try anyway, because an evening this special demands documentation.

Now that I’ve finished writing it, I will warn you that this is the longest recap I have ever written. Take the amount of time you usually spend reading one of my recaps at my music blog at http://capsandviews.wordpress.com (Nicole Eclectic’s ‘Caps & ‘Views) and double it.

I have given each part headings to help you out. “The Dream” offers a little background; “Fanswell: Making Dreams Come True Since 2013” explains a little about the booking process; “The Hiccup” touches a little on the show’s postponement and rescheduling; “Graham Colton Is Coming to My House When?!” refers to preparations for the show; and I think the remaining headings “The Big Day,” “Our Guests Come Marching In (Including the Guest of Honor),” “Graham Colton Is Performing in My Living Room – Somebody Pinch Me” and “‘Let’s All Hang Out!'” are pretty self-explanatory.

If you would rather not read certain parts of this recap and want to skip to what appear to be the most interesting parts, go right ahead. I promise I won’t be offended.

(Edited to add: I’m excited to share that I have made significant changes to this post. Graham has given me permission to share with you all the five best audio recordings I took of the show, so they are now posted here. I’m also sharing with you an incredibly adorable video taken by my friend Berkley.)

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