Milwaukee Mixed Tape: 11.26.2008

Milwaukee, as you should know, has a pretty solid music scene. We’ve got great venues and some super stars in our midst. (If you’ve ever seen Kramp, Adler, Scott Starr and Kevin Dunphy hanging out at Yield in their ridiculous but perfectly “rockstar” outfits, you know what I mean.) There are a couple shows in the upcoming week showcasing the aforementioned talent. Its cheap, quality entertainment post turkey and family. I’ll be there, tall boy in in hand.

11.29.2008 - Turner Hall @ 7PM, Fever Marlene (supported by Treaty of Paris)

12.4.2008 - UWM Gasthaus @ 9PM Maritime (in promotion of newest album, “Heresy and the Hotel Choir”)

For good measure, a Milwaukee suggestion for your i-Pod…perhaps you’ll relive a bit of your youth, perhaps new memories will be made:

“Go On Drone” by Hey Mercedes (Loses Control, 2003)

Mixed Tape Monday: 11.24.2008

I consider myself a girl for all seasons, but there is something about the first snow of the year. I’ll be tired of it soon enough, but for today the snow is pristine and fleeting.

1. “White Winter Hymnal” by Fleet Foxes (Fleet Foxes, 2008) This song grows on you, like its cyclical lyrics building into a storm of imagery and melody. Fleet Foxes came to The Pabst Theater in October and this song was incredible live, not to mention that they were one of more humble and gracious bands I’ve ever seen.

2. “Boy with a Coin” by Iron & Wine (The Shepherd’s Dog, 2007) Yet another Sub Pop artist, Iron & Wine is perpetually producing amazing lo-fi songs guided by soft-spoken poetry and acoustic guitar. While not entirely a winter choice, it does mention snow. I’ve often imagined myself as the girl with a bird…

3. “Robin in the Snow” by Sonya Kitchell (This Storm, 2008) Kitchell tells a heartbreaking tale of the temporary nature of love, the desperation to be needed and the question of something better. The song is quiet and laced with fragility as her heartache unfolds. It reminds me of a less kitschy, more soulful Regina Spektor.

Hungry Hippo: Shepherds Pie

I make a mean Shepherds Pie. My dad rants and raves about it every other time I’m home. Now that the cold weather has returned, its time for us midwesterners to bulk up by chowing down. Enjoy!

PaperMichelle’s Shepherds Pie
Prep Time: 20 Min
Cooking Time: About 50 Min
Serves: 4-6

Base Ingredients:

olive oil
1 lb lean ground round (or lamb)
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 medium carrots (chopped)
1 stalk celery (chopped)
1/2 C peas (canned, low sodium)
1/2 C yellow corn (canned, low sodium)
1/2 T minced garlic
1 C beef broth
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 T tomato paste
1 T fresh or dried parsley
1/2 T dried thyme
1 tsp cinnamon (or until aromatic)
a splash of red wine (or Guinness Stout)
salt and pepper to taste

Topping: (My mashed potatoes are very light, adapt as necessary)

4 large red potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/4 C Milk or Cream
1 egg white
1 T butter
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Boil large pot of salted water for potatoes. (I add a chicken bouillian cube instead of salt.) When water is boiling, add potatoes and boil for 15-20 minutes.
3. In a dutch oven or oven proof pan, heat splash of olive oil over medium-high heat.
4. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic to hot oil. Cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir frequently.
5. Add ground beef to vegetables and brown.
6. Drain fat from beef/veg mixture and return to medium-high flame.
7. Add beef broth, worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and red wine to mix. Stir thoroughly and simmer for several minutes (4-5.) The liquid will begin to reduce and thicken.
8. Add cinnamon, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper, mix thoroughly. Simmer for an additional 4-5 minutes.
9. When liquid is thickened, mix in peas and corn. Flatten the top of the mixture with the back of a spoon, as the potatoes will be spread on top of the beef/veg mix in the next steps.
10. Drain boiled potatoes.
11. Mash potatoes with butter, milk, egg white, salt and pepper. Potatoes should be creamy but light.
12. Spread potatoes over top of beef/veg mix in a thick layer. Use a fork to add a cross-hatched design to top of potatoes for easier browning.
13. Sprinkle potatoes with paprika, mostly for color.
14. Put dish in the oven, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes (or until the potatoes begin to brown on the tips and edges.)
15. Serve when hot! I usually serve with bread (Texas Toast, biscuits or irish soda bread) and Guinness.

Mixed Tape Monday: 11.17.2008

How I envy them…in my next life, I think I’ll play the accordion.

Indie Advertising

The IndieGo ( is an exciting new way for the creative types to see and be seen by cross-promoting. Please check them out.

Etsy Favorites

These are some of the interesting Etsy items I found over the past few days. I’ll try to add an Etsy mini from time to time to showcase what others are doing.

Buy Handmade

Urban Decay: Garbage or Coloring Your View?

Red Sucker

This shiny, heart-shaped sucker was inside a planter outside my apartment. I despise, loathe, detest littering, but for whatever reason this flash of red caught my eye on the way to vote. I stopped to take several photographs of it which made me wonder: did this bit of garbage improve my day? There is ironic beauty in the striking color, the symbolic shape, the idea that someone tossed their “love” away and the fact that the sucker was still just garbage. The point is that there is beauty and history in all things…take a moment to observe your environment. While you’re at it, give a hoot…don’t pollute.

Mixed Tape Monday: 11.03.2008

I had big plans for today’s Mixed Tape since it is the eve of a historic election. I thought I would dig deep and pull out my most “American” tracks…but what does that mean? Maybe you’d expect “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Freebird?” I’ll just say this: I had the unfortunate experience of seeing Lynyrd Skynyrd in Mississippi last year and it will go down as one of the most frightening, anti-American events of my life. So no, absolutely not. Those songs didn’t make my list and I hope to never hear them again. Instead, here are a few songs that are new-ish, nice and nothing more.

1. “J. Smith” by Travis (Ode to J. Smith, 2008) Oh Travis, how I love you. The Glasgow boys never, ever disappoint. I’ve not heard the new album in its entirety, but the tracks I did hear were just as good as anything from their repertoire of poppy melodies and sometimes murky melancholy. J. Smith is a surprising rock ‘n roll triumph filled with noise and energy. It is unpredictable, slightly neurotic but it also has moments of feeling epic, as if meant to be played while you conquer the world.The US release of Ode to J. Smith is tomorrow (November 4) on Travis’ indie label, Red Telephone Box. >

2. “Mirrorball” by Elbow (Seldom Seen Kid, 2008) Another favorite from across the pond is Manchester’s Elbow. Lead singer and guitarist, Guy Garvey has some of the sincerest lyrics and vocals around. His voice has the kind of smoothness and depth that makes you want to cry, it has often made me do just that. Mirrorball is a moody love song filled with poetic imagery and hopeful memory. So lift off love, all down to you, dear.

3. “Crossed Out Name” by Ryan Adams & the Cardinals (Cardinology, 2008) I have a really volatile, love/hate relationship with Ryan Adams. Most of me wants to believe that he is a modern genius, a poet, an artist turned mad by his obsession with creation. Its probably mostly true. The other part of me thinks that Ryan Adams is selfish, annoying and insane. I guess he could be all of these things but it makes it hard to categorize him in my mind. The basic truth about Ryan Adams, like HIM or not, is that he puts out unbelievable music that cannot be categorized into a single genre and he does it at a marathon pace. Crossed Out Name is a gentle ballad about love lost. Its effective in the delicacy of the music and message. On a first listen, Cardinology is solid and bold all the way through. It returns to the Cardinals’ twangy, alt-country roots and the schizophrenic unpredictability of their leader. Ryan Adams has done it again.

Ryan Adams and Chicago