Celebrating the 4th of July With the Help of Tipsy Elves

Who’s ready for America’s Birthday? The 4th of July is coming up in a few short days, and I can’t wait to celebrate with family, indulging in way too many hot dogs, cold beer and more French Onion dip than should be humanly possible to consume.

While I get giddy about all the food, for many Americans, it’s also a day to celebrate our freedom. Those festivities come in the form of parades and fireworks where red, white and blue are the colors du jour. Colors that normally don’t exist in my closet. Every year I drag out the same tired, blue and almost-red-but-border-line-orange shirt I’ve worn for the past seven years and call it a day.

Bo-ring, right?

My kids like getting donned up in festive wear, and when we recently went shopping for summer clothes, they both saw patriotic shirts and begged to get them for Independence Day.

Wanting to join in on the fun, I looked around for a cute USA-themed shirt that was actually some form of red white and blue, but came up empty.

So when the guys at Tipsy Elves contacted me about their Patriotic Line, I jumped at the chance to try out some of their products. I’d browsed their site one Christmas when we were invited to an Ugly Holiday Sweater party, but being that I waited until the very last minute, I didn’t have time to get any of their gems shipped in time for the party.

4th of July Tipsy Elves

The two shirts I received are completely adorable! Here’s me in the Tipsy Elves’ Women’s American Flag Tank Top:

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And this is the Tipsy Elves’ Women’s USA Tank Top:

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I love the soft, good quality of the fabric of these Tipsy Elves shirts, and both hang really well. The cute cut around the arms is perfect for those hot summer days, but are feminine enough to not make me feel like I should try out for the JV football team. And while they’re patriotic, I don’t feel like they scream ‘MERICA!

Now the only thing I have left to do is decide which shirt I’m going to wear for the 4th. So I throw the choice over to you, dear readers. Since democracy is one of the foundations of this country, feel free to cast your vote.

What do you think?

Tipsy Elves

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. 

Delicious New Music For June

I’m on a detox thing and haven’t had any wheat, corn, dairy, sugar, alcohol or caffeine in over three weeks. If you know me, you know that discipline and will power really isn’t my thing, so I’m amazed that I’ve made it this long without biting anyone’s head off in my household.

While my hankering for highly processed foods 24/7 have mostly waned, a nice salty crunchy thing, or a sweet gooey thing sounds pretty good right about now.

There’s a big new batch of family music recently released, though, that comes pretty close to satisfying those cravings.

Delicious New Music For June

For starters, Flight of the Blue Whale from Pointed Man Band is a CD that plays like my favorite snack, popcorn, in that it’s something I could make room for any time of day. It’s music that’s not only upbeat and wholesome, but it also has just the right amount of flavor and bite to appease my taste buds and make me happy. 

Flight of the Blue WhaleThis album is a sophisticatedly crafted narrative that weaves a story about a fox with some pretty spectacular musical composition. Pointed Man Band’s latest release has a great vibe that’s parts Black Keys, Tom Waits, Beirut and Modest Mouse, a combination that’s sure to entice an older listener’s palate.

Notable songs on this album include the first track “Red Fox” with it’s rolling melody and Beatles-esque quality, “Forget the Sea” which displays the clear, gorgeous voice of Kay Elliot like a beckoning siren, and the fun, party-atmosphere track “Apodidae Reggae.” Pointed Man Band’s Flight of the Blue Whale is available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

The Harmonica Pocket is a band that hails from the Pacific Northwest, delivering organic music to grow on with their May 19th release, Sundrops.

hp.sundrops.coverAs refreshing as a summer salad, this album is crisp, clean, and every now and then offers something a bit more savory to bite in to, like a crumbly piece of cheese drenched in delicious dressing, with tracks like “Getting Night Now.” My favorite track on the album has to be “I Like Ukeleles” and its witty play on words that begin with the “you” sound. Sundrops can be purchased on The Harmonica Pocket’s website and is available on iTunes and Amazon.

If you’re looking for something to pique your appetite, like a piping hot bowl of shrimp gumbo, then look no further with the latest album from All Around This World with their release of All Around This World: Africa. These 32 tracks that come on two discs (one for West, Central and South Africa, and then North and East Africa) are full of flavor, soul and variety.

AATW-Africa-CD-cover-by-Sarajo-final-front-for-shop-page-285x300Africa is a fantastic introduction to the vibrant sounds and rhythms of different music from various regions in Africa, and you’d be hard pressed to find something on this album that doesn’t get your soul dancing.

Favorites include the upbeat “Kikalama” and “Sai,” “Carnaval” with its horns and salty tempo and timbre, the ska track “He Motsoala,” “Nanu Nanu Ney” (which makes me wonder if The Police didn’t find find inspiration in THIS REGION’s music), the soulful, almost gospel quality of “Thinantsha” and the lullabye “Atas Atas.”

And as if Emeril gave this dish a big giant “BAM!”, All Around this World: Africa is also the basis for an interactive global learning platform, with cultural lessons created for families and teachers by Jay Sand. You can find this network of “1000 Classrooms” HERE.

All Around This World: Africa will be available on their website June 21st.

If Africa is gumbo, Alastair Moock & Friends’ June 19th release All Kinds of You and Me is a scrumptious beef stew – simple yet hearty and satisfying.

AllKinds_WebCulling from the prominent themes of inclusivity in Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be…You and Me, Alastair Moock’s latest album offers cheery songs that are upbeat with great messages for kids.

The jazzy “You Might Be a Girl” challenges the gender stereotypes usually attributed to girls. “My Life (Is a Lot Like Yours)” sheds light on similarities between family lives even though their makeup might look different. “I Am Malala” is a tribute to the Nobel Peace Prize winning young woman and proposes that we are all Malala when we speak up for injustice.

On the track “You and Me,” Alastair discusses his experiences listening to Thomas’ groundbreaking album, and it effortlessly transitions to “This Land Is Your Land”, both songs embracing the power of hope and change for a better world to live in. It’s a perfect finish to the album, like a cold glass of milk, smooth and full of good healthy stuff. Alastair Moock’s All Kinds of You and Me is available on iTunes, Amazon and his Bandcamp page.

Red Yarn’s Deep Woods Revival, marketed as rousing sing-along songs “for everyone,” goes down like the perfect platter of fried chicken – southern flair, rich and impossible to stop after one taste.

Deep-Woods-Revival-Album-Cover-1030x1018A satisfying mix of folk, bluegrass, rock and blues, Red Yarn’s latest album is presented in two parts. The first contains traditional, familiar songs like “Skip To My Lou”, with Andy Furgeson’s charming and alluring voice.

Part Two is a narrative, a popular method of songwriting for family music lately, meant “for brave kids and grownups.” It follows a younger Red Yarn through adventures in the outdoors as he experiences life and loss. The second half of the album is definitely more somber as it delves in to deeper issues of nature and the cycle of life with milder tracks like “Buckeye Jim” (my favorite track on the album) and the slow waltzing “Animal Fair.” “Sourwood Mountain” is grizzly and sweet at the same time. The title track “Deep Woods Revival” is a whopping good time for sure.

Red Yarn’s Deep Woods Revival will become available June 25th.

And you know what sounds good every once in a while? A little animal cracker or a popsicle. Something that reminds me of what it’s like to be a little kid. Lianne Bassin’s latest album Breathe In does just that.

_liannecover-thumbnailBassin has a voice that is sugary sweet, much like Kira Wiley with the upbeat personality of Suzi Shelton, and this album is best suited for children in the 2-4 years of age range. It helps young listeners build confidence and gives them strategies to handle big emotions, conflict resolution and living mindfully.

The airy, dreamy track “I Am” reminds us that we’re all connected with nature. There are several songs on the album that would be great lullabye’s for a daycare scenario, like “Peaceful Place.” My favorite song on the album is “Wishing Tree” with its lovely accumulation of lilting voices.

Lianne Bassin’s Breath In is available on iTunesAmazon and her Bandcamp page.

However, if a hard-core treat is what you’re after, than look no further because Recess Monkeys Hot Air is a tasty one. Like the glorious chocolate cake with hidden motlen ganache inside that you see on the menu and decide to skip an appetizer so you can savor every bite of it.

RECESS MONKEY HOT AIR.72The highly anticipated 12th studio album from Recess Monkey gets released today with a two-disc package. One disc is comprised of 14 original songs, and a DVD that incorporates these tracks into an animated story. The concept album that focuses on themes like flight and the courage to face the unfamiliar. Recess Monkey once again brings their A Game with smart lyrics and even smarter composition.

Some of my favorite tracks on the album include the Ben Folds-ish quality of “Lighter Than Air”, the dreamy “Head in the Clouds” and what is sure to be a crowd favorite, “Oh Lando” with it’s awesome baseline.

Recess Monkey knows how to get your toes tapping, and it especially shows in songs like “Penguinese” (which celebrates the uniqueness of someone who is different and new) and the funky “Hand Me Downs” and the rockin’ “Thunder and Lightning.” The band has a soft side too, demonstrated on tracks like “My Balloon” (about the all-too-familiar tale of losing your grip) and the sweet call and response of “Carry a Tune.”

Hot Air from Recess Monkey is available on iTunes, Amazon and their marketsquare website.

SSoftly_560x358_boiteAnd if that wasn’t enough, what better way to cap off a hearty meal of music than with a night cap? Last month The Secret Mountain released Sleep Softly: Classical Lullabies by Grahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy… and it’s the perfect end to your day. Performed by L’Ensemble Agora, these 16 tracks are like a cozy cup of chamomile tea after a perfect dinner.

The CD comes with a beautifully illustrated book that gives information about each song and its composer, facts about composition, orchestration and instrumentation. Some of the tracks on the album are familiar melodies (like Johannes Brahms “Wiegenlied (Lullaby)”), some of them are not quite as familiar (“Feuillet d’album (Album Leaf)”, but all of them are gorgeous. It’s the perfect accompaniment to ride off to sleep with. I’m partial to Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 1” and Franz Shubert’s “Ständchen (Serenade),” but there are many lovely lullabies included in this album.

The Secret Mountain’s Sleep Softly: Classical Lullabies by Grahms, Schubert, Satie, Debussy… is available on Amazon.

There you have it, some new family music to sink your teeth in to. Is it as good as a vat of queso and tortilla chips, chased by a delicious margarita and finished with a giant bowl of ice cream? Good God no. But these new releases come awfully close.

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!

My Solution For Indecision

Decision making is not in my wheelhouse. I will hem and haw over the simplest of choices for what feels like years. The title of this post? Yeah, I grappled with that for hours.

Get my husband in on the mix, and something as simple as what restaurant to eat dinner at becomes several rounds of “I don’t know, what do YOU want?”

I don’t know what makes me so indecisive. Perhaps it’s the fear of making the wrong choice. Or it could be that I like all of the choices laid out in front of me that I can’t just pick one.

And if the price tag or consequences of my choice is greater? My indecisiveness reaches a fever pitch of spreadsheets and pros and cons lists.

My Solution For Indecision

Recently my husband and I booked a family vacation for the summer. Several calls with travel agents narrowed down our choices to two all-inclusive resorts that, on paper, looked pretty much identical.

I could have picked either one and we’d probably have a great time, right? Except, I stressed out over each choice, second guessing myself every time I narrowed down a reservation. The internet doesn’t make this kind of decision any easier, providing reviews that run the gamut from “This is the best resort ever!” to “There is no amount of alcohol that can make this resort a great place to stay!”

So when I had to title a dance piece I’d been working on all semester, I went in to a total panic.

What if this title says the wrong thing? What if it’s too cheesy? What if it sucks so bad the audience won’t even bother coming back from intermission to watch it?

One of the dancers suggested I create a Doodle survey to get their advice. And it was the best thing I’ve ever done.

If you’ve never used Doodle, you need to. I think the Doodle website’s primary function is to make scheduling meeting times with large groups of people easier. But there’s this fancy polling option that I’m now in love with.

I had about eight choices, threw them in the poll, sent them all emails, and within an hour, I had crowd sourced my title selection. How freakin’ easy was that?

And now? Yeah, I plan on Doodle polling every decision I need to make from now on.

Imagine the possibilities!

When I can’t decide what should I cook for dinner? Doodle that, yo!

Not sure if I should wear this black dress or pants and a shirt? Poll, baby poll.

Undecided as to whether I should start binge watching Scandal, The Walking Dead or The Last Man Standing? DooooooooOOOOODLE!

I mean, I could NEVER have to make a decision by myself again!

Of course, this wouldn’t work for major life decisions. Doodle polling a house or how many kids you should have sounds like a recipe for disaster. Or a new Fox reality show. I’m not sure which one yet.

But if it means I don’t have to hem and haw over decisions that cause my head to hurt, I’m all in.

I think. Maybe I am. I don’t know yet. Let me send you a Doodle poll link.

The Pop Ups New Webcast Series

As a child of the 80’s, I vividly remember the birth of MTV and the music video. I remember being surprised at how the artist’s vision for their song either matched up perfectly with what my tween brain imagined, or differed so much that it changed my view of the song forever.

Videos are like that, right? They provide insight in to the musician’s views about a song and enhance your experience of their music and mission.

Some of my favorite family musicians, The Pop Ups, are doing just that.

Pop Ups New Webcast Series

Starting today, The Pop Ups are debuting a new webcast series on their YouTube channel. In their latest endeavor, duo of Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein serve up a delicious mix of educational and musical videos that range from cooking, crafting (like puppet making), informational (including helping kids write their letters) and, of course, animated videos to their hits.

One of the first videos to launch is “Robot Dance.” The look is crisp and bright, with a vibrant landscape and quirky characters. It’s everything you’d expect from The Pop Ups. I imagine the rest of the videos to continue in this vein of the bands’ strength – the right mix of humor, whimsy, art and smarts.

If I were you, I’d subscribe to their channel – they’ll be debuting a new video to their series every few weeks through the end of 2015!

You can check out the trailer below, and be sure to check their new series out to experience The Pop Ups on a whole new level!

Follow The Pop Ups on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

 

New Family Music For Spring

I know, I know, it’s been a while since you’ve seen me ‘round these parts. To say that I have been extremely busy would be an understatement. I’m trying to make my way back, I promise. I’m like that pathetic red maple tree in my backyard. Eventually I’ll make myself shown, but in the meantime, you might think I’m dying.

Speaking of spring and things blossoming, I decided to step back in to the blog to introduce you to some pretty fine family music that is blooming this spring.

New Family Music For Spring

First up, right on time for Earth Day comes a new release from Earthworm Ensemble.

If you’re looking for upbeat, sweet music, look no further than this group, who releases Backyard Garden today.

EarthwormThe thirteen tracks that appear on this critically acclaimed group’s latest album spans a broad range of music genres, and with its focus on nature, this CD feels like the perfect accompaniment to spring.

Animal lovers will devour songs like “Ladybug,” and “Bees Make Honey” and the ode to the herbivore dinosaur with the pop track “Sparko the Stegosaurus.” I love the witty dueling tracks between the underground mole and the sly coyote. These are two songs with distinct sounds from distinctly different perspectives, one slow and lopping (“Mole vs. Coyote,” in which singer Sherri Nourse really shines) and the rocking track “Coyote vs. Mole.”

An introduction for young ears to ecological and sustainable practices can be found in the tracks “Compost” and “Chicken Coop,” and you may even find your kids helping you with landscaping this summer after hearing “Backyard Garden.”

“I Didn’t Give Up” emphasizes the importance of persistence in the face of everyday challenges. “Picture This You’re a Fish” sounds like the light punk I grew up on. “Reduce Reuse Recycle” is a slow, dreamy track to finish the album that emphasizes recycling and is one of my favorite tracks on the album.

Also included the album is the airy “Invisible Wind,” and the adorably cheery “I Like You.” Want to feel all warm and joyful? Check out their video for the track here:

 

Earthworm Ensemble’s Backyard Garden is available on iTunes, Amazon and their website.

In the music industry, I feel like there are two kinds of songwriters, the poets and the story tellers, and Keith Munslow is a fantastic story teller through and through. He’s back with his latest album Tiny Destroyer, which was released April 7th.

Munslow has a knack for storytelling injected with spot-on humor. His tune “Leftovers” was a big hit around our house, and his latest album has provided some new family favorites.

Keith MunslowLet me just start my mini-review about this album by stating that we’re obsessed with a few tracks on this album. My kids adore the title track “Tiny Destroyer” about a toddler who destroys the place (with a musical hint of “Final Countdown.”) The song reminded us of my daughter when she was a toddler, a phase we affectionately called her Godzilla phase. This is one of those songs I gladly wake up playing in my head in the morning.

Another favorite of the kids is “Coffee Breath”, a scenario they are all too familiar with. My personal favorite is “The Last Chicken Wing.” It begins with a lovely piano melody that makes you think the song will go one direction, but heads in a completely different direction. Consider it a torch song for the fight that occurs over the last remaining food item.

Munslow’s brilliant storytelling appears on the spoken word tracks “Old Joe’s Bones” and “Princess Pepper’s Story.” Kids will relate to tracks like “Too Much Sugar” and “Dad Is Takin’ a Nap.” And parents will nod their heads to the closing track “I Can Still Say I Love You.” Other tracks on the album include “Intelligent Clam,” “Seeing Monkeys,” “Magic Bike,” and “Get Along Little Kitties.”

Keith Munslow’s Tiny Destroyer is available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and his site.

Lloyd H. Miler, who leads The Deedle Deedle Dees (“Ah Ahimsa”) released Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!, a collection of original and traditional songs about the Civil War April 4th.

Think Schoolhouse Rock for the next generation.

Recognizing the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War, Miller covers topics ranging from slavery to Civil War heroes to abolitionists. Geared towards those who relish in historical information (adults and kids can even download a PDF curriculum guide from his website), this album serves as a great list of talking points for this country’s history and the abolishment of slavery.

Don’t let the historical references turn you away – the album offers catchy tunes in tracks like “John Brown,” “Henry Box Brown” and the funky track “Baldy” (about the Civil War’s toughest horse with a sound similar to The Imagination Movers).

The Underground Railroad spiritual “Follow the Drinking Gourd” and the war ballad “Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground” are traditional songs with beautiful melodies. The touching track “The Gettysburg Address” is even more poignant for my family, as we just returned from a trip to DC and read this at the Lincoln Memorial.

Other tracks include “Marching Through Georgia,” “Trapped in the Attic,” “Weeksville,” “Keep the Hate Mail Comin’,” and a setting of Walt Witman’s “O Captain, My Captain!” to music.

Lloyd H. Miller’s Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! is available on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

 

Disclosures: I was provided a copy of these products for review purposes. All opinions are 100% completely my own. Full Of It is a participant in the iTunes Affiliate Program. If you click on some of the product links above, I will receive a small commission which in turn helps run this site. Don’t fear, I only recommend tunes that I think you’ll love!