Juliette Listens To Country

I grew up in the South, but I’ve never called myself a fan of country music. I’ve never NOT liked it, and in fact, for the majority of my life, I’ve had a best friend or roommate who loves it, but I can’t say that I personally know a whole lot about it. But the past few weeks, I’ve found myself lingering on the country station. I think I enjoy it because if I listen to it all the way to or from work, I feel like I’ve listened to six or seven mini audiobooks. That’s probably my favorite thing about country music– the fact that it tells a complete story in less than four minutes.

So I heard this first. It’s pretty quintessential Texas Forever. Somebody should make a Friday Night Lights montage with this:

Next, I heard this song by Chris Cagle. I didn’t love it– but thought it was catchy, for sure, but I tend to read too much into these things some times and I found myself thinking “It doesn’t matter what kind of gone it is! Quit decidin’ between beer and whiskey and go woo your woman back!”

Speaking of that– let’s talk about how this song made me all teary in the car. And again when I got home and played it for Todd. I mean– it’s awesome.

If you can find me a woman who doesn’t want to man to say those things to her, I’ll eat  a ten-gallon hat.

Finally, there was this song. It was actually the first song on the country station that caught my attention, because while it’s not often I can sing a Josh Turner song and absolutely relate, this song happens to be the perfect explanation for why I’m walking away from my well-paying, enjoyable, room-for-growth-ful job in three short months.

That’s right folks, you heard it here first… come December, I’m gonna be a stay-at-home mom. 🙂 Then maybe I’ll have time to write blogs about things other than what I heard on the radio this week.



Good Music: Kevin Olusola & Karmin

It’s no secret that in addition to the growing laundry list of pop musicians that I loathe, I am not a fan of talent show tv. However the two that I have made allowances for in the last year are The Voice and The Sing-Off.

The Sing Off in particular showcased some of the most remarkable vocal talent I’ve EVER seen/heard. Dani gave them props in her blog too, but I’d like to take a moment to give props once again to Pentatonix. Scroll down to Dani’s last entry and watch the 3rd video for a great rendition of Gotye’s hit single, and then do yourself a favor and feast your ears on the solo work of one of their beatboxers, Mr. Kevin Olusola:

America does indeed Got Talent. But it isn’t anywhere on that show. Anyway, Kevin is brilliant and does a bang up rendition of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” too.

Speaking of Biebs, he is not on my aforementioned list. We are an an unabashedly pro-Biebs household who do enjoy mindless pop in reasonable doses, including the Jepsen Anthem and these crazy talented people: 

I love them. I can’t help it. If you’ve somehow never seen them sing “Superbass” or “Look At Me Now“, watch them immediately. Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown should be fired on the spot.

Now that I’ve forfeited my indie hipster card, please excuse me while I purchase tickets to the Pentatonix show at The Old Rock House.

What You Should Eat

There’s nothing quite like a nice grocery store. It’s amazing what a difference a nice environment makes when you have a mundane chore to do.

In St. Louis, my favorite grocery chain to shop at is Trader Joe’s. Here are a few items currently spicing up our kitchen:

Peanut Butter Oat Bars: Not gonna lie, I’m obsessed with these right now. When I’m in a hurry in the morning, I make a quick strawberry watermelon smoothie and grab one of these and head out the door. I’m determined to find/create a copycat recipe so I can have a whole batch at my house. But it’s probably a better use of my time/money to just buy them. Anyway, these things are SO delicious that you will have to force yourself to ration them, as there are only 6 in a box. They’re not super cheap– but at roughly 50 cents a piece for the best breakfast/granola type bar I’ve ever tasted, they are absolutely worth it.

Pretzel Slims: At just over $2 a bag (unless they’re on sale) these have become a staple in the Genteman house. They are relatively healthy and make a great midday/pre-dinner snack when combined with either of the two things below. (They also come in a spicy flavor AND covered in dark chocolate. I haven’t tried the latter, but I have eaten them with refrigerated dark chocolate cake frosting and they were delicious– so I imagine they’re probably great.)



Tomato Basil Hummus Dip: At the moment, my favorite hummus of all time. If I wasn’t such a savorer, I could easily devour a whole container  and roughly half a bag of pretzel slims in 2 sittings. It taste a little like pizza sauce. Amazing, chickpea-zza sauce. I’m sure it would be great in a number of dinner recipes too, I’ll have to look into that and get back to you.

Cookie Butter: Ohhh, the cookie butter. I’ve never had anything like it. It’s actually made from pulverized cookies and I find it to be tooth-rot sweet in the best way, like sweet tea in a small southern town or strawberry Blow Pops. I feel like I should probably brush my teeth after I eat it, so I don’t eat a LOT of it in one sitting. That’s probably a good thing. For my teeth, my waistline and my wallet. But it is a MUST try, and a versatile, delicious way to eat $4. It goes awesome with pretzel thins, it’s lovely on bread, and if you want to eat more of it, I suggest scooping it with granny smith apples or organic celery.

Annnnd now I’m hungry. Happy grocery shopping!

My Hometown: Mesquite, Texas

As I sit here in the middle of the student center at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, a town just 5 hours North of the city I am still just learning to call home, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about my hometown.

Truth be told, St. Louis is only the second city I’ve willfully committed to, and the first I’ve ever consented to remain in. The Dallas suburb I grew up in was never a place I wanted to settle down. And even though I loved Nashville and moved there because I wanted to, I never really thought I’d live there forever. And truth be told, it wasn’t until I started watching Friday Night Lights, got pregnant and returned to my hometown to take part in a dear friends’ wedding that I started remembering the place so fondly. Home to roughly 32 elementary schools, eight middle schools and five high schools, Mesquite is a bustling, highly commercial suburb that sits 20 minutes East of Dallas proper. The highlights are as follows:

Porter Pond: When you’re under 21 and the conversation starts with “We need to talk.”, you’re probably going to end up at Porter Pond. Located behind an elementary school of the same name, Porter Pond is a small stocked pond with a walking/riding track and a few docks that serves as a local hotspot for kids with fishing poles, adults with weight loss goals, and teenagers with relationship drama.

Chili’s: where do you go for a low key first date when you’re 17? Where do you go after every single football, basketball, baseball or soccer game? Where do you apply to work as soon as you’re old enough to be a hostess? The place like no place else, of course. I can scarcely remember a high school athletic event that didn’t end with a skillet of queso (and someone inevitably stealing the potholder handle to use on their gear shift or blinker.) You can imagine why it was so devastating for everyone in my age demographic when the restaurant burned to the ground earlier this year.

Town East Mall- once a hotspot for this Mesquite landmark has lost some of it’s luster and become more of a gathering place for huge groups of teenagers. If you say it like you’re supposed to, out-of-towners may think you’re saying “Tiny Small”.

Memorial Stadium- filled to the brim every Friday night from August-October, Mesquite’s principal football stadium is home to the State Champion Mesquite Skeeters high school football team (2001) AND the State Champion Poteet Pirate high school marching band (1995, 2005, 2007).

Starbucks on Town East- How can a national coffee chain be such a fixture of this little city known for football, marching band and cowboys? But as you can see, I’m not the only one who thinks it’s an attraction to be noted. (Check out number 10!) The reason this Starbucks is key is because it’s THE place in town you will inevitably run into someone from high school. Mostly because its where EVERYONE meets up when they come back into town. People have broken and rekindled countless romances in that building, met up with long lost friends, said epic goodbyes– shoot, one of my dear friends reserved the whole building after close one night to propose to his girlfriend. (She said yes. 🙂

The Mesquite ProRodeo– It ain’t no joke, y’all. This is Mesquite’s crowing glory and claim to fame. Named Best Rodeo Experience in “Best of Texas 2012”, the Mesquite ProRodeo has been delighting local families with bull riding, barrel racing and other traditional rodeo events for more than 50 years. In middle school, my best friend’s dad worked for Coca-Cola, so we got to go to the rodeo and watch all the fun from the corporate comfort of the Coca-Cola Suite. All I remember was being amazed by Tijuana Stud Poker* and drinking copious amounts of Surge.

I could go on, (and might, tomorrow, but I have to post this before midnight and I’m about of time!) but nuggets like that are why I found myself nearly seven months pregnant, driving my best friend from high school’s mom’s car, listening to the country station (which was playing this song), tearfully reminiscing about what a good time I’d truly had growing up in Mesquite. I won’t be going back to stay, but I must say, it was prime real estate for a relatively idyllic childhood.

*Tijuana Stud Poker, in which four cowboys sit at a table while a bull is set free in the arena. The last cowboy to move from the table wins $400.

Most Frequented Film: That Thing You Do!

This was a tough topic for me– do I go with the childhood VHS that I wore out? The junior high Friday night tradition? Or one of the high school staples that I quoted incessantly?

But the more I thought about it, I decided this would be an opportune time to highlight my second favorite movie of all time– one I’m scarcely allowed to watch with people anymore because I can barely restrain myself from quoting it.

That Thing You Do! follows the rise and fall of a fictional late 50’s rock and roll band. Jimmy, Lenny, Chad and their Bass Player (who remains nameless throughout the movie, but is played by Ethan Embry) are a quartet of musicians from Erie, PA, trying to break into the music scene. They call themselves The Oneders. (Because you know how the Beatles use an “ea” as the “Beatles”? They use an “O-N-E” like the ONE-ders.) But when Chad breaks his arm in a freak parking meter accident, the guys are forced to track down Erie’s lone beatnik, a drummer named Guy “Skitch” Patterson to take his place for an upcoming gig.

Unlike a few of the other films mentioned, this one doesn’t necessarily grab you from the opening scene. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of witty dialogue in the first half hour, but it’s not until The Oneders nervously speed through their maiden performance of a would-be ballad at the Mercyhurst College talent show that you find yourself truly sucked into the story of these four fellas and their lovely, faithful band-aid, Faye.

There are so many wonderful scenes in this movie. Signing the record deal in the camper, the post-show conversation at the table at Villapianos, recording with Uncle Bob, singing “Dance With Me Tonight” in the Land of Lincoln, filming Weekend at Party Pier as Cap’n Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters and of course, playing the illustrious Hollywood Television showcase.

But the best part of the whole movie, is right here. I’m convinced there isn’t much in the world more joyful than this scene, which happens about a week after the Oneders sign a contract with their new manager, Phil Horris.

You have to be smiling right now. 🙂

In a time when simple, feel-good films are few and far between, I’m always delighted when I meet a person who missed this mid-nineties gift from Tom Hanks. My best friend introduced me to this movie when I was 15 and I haven’t stopped working it into conversation since. It’s so easy! All you have to do is say something as simple as “Wonderful!” or “Wait, where was I?” or “Any questions?” or “I’m not here with these guys…”  to launch any fan of this movie into a running dialogue of their favorite scenes. It is a delightful, colorful, hilarious celebration of American rock and roll and every one-hit wonder band you’ve ever known and loved.

That Thing You Do!— you are. my biggest fan.

First Impressions

I don’t think I’m alone in this. But when I know and/or grow to love a character, I have a hard time seeing them as a different character. This happens mostly with TV characters, since you grow to love them over a period of multiple seasons.

For example, no matter what the cast of LOST does, it will still be weird for me to see Jin and Locke hanging out with one of the one of the Malloy twins or to see Ben Linus in that show with Jesus. And it doesn’t matter if he’s on Mars or in Mexico with Bridget— Tim Riggins will always be Tim Riggins.

Speaking of “Friday Night Lights”, Kyle Chandler (annnd I almost typed Eric Chandler) is one of the few who successfully traded up to a new, better character. I loved him back in the day when he was Gary from “Early Edition” but quickly abandoned that character to fond memory when I saw him doin his thing so fantastically as Coach Eric Taylor. I can’t say that the transition will be as easy for his TV wife Connie Britton in her new series.  But if Tami Taylor wants to be in a show with little Sheryl Yoast about a place I used to live, I could be persuaded to watch at least one episode. (I also just discovered that Hayden P’s character in “Nashville”? Is named Juliette. So I’ll at least watch the pilot.)

Tami and Sheryl are kind of a weird pairing, but every now and then, worlds collide in a way that’s really just not right. For example:

I saw a preview for this last week. This show has Newman from “Seinfeld” and Turk from “Scrubs” (who in my mind, is very much still Petey) with Sally Solomon from “3rd Rock from the Sun”. That doesn’t make sense at all. I don’t even care who those other people are. I’m weirded out.

Also, what in all the WORLDS is Dean Cain doing on the abomination that is The Choice? Poor Dean. How the mighty have fallen. But it doesn’t matter what Desperate/Situation they find themselves in– in my mind (and in wranglerdani’s mind too, I can assure you), this will ALWAYS be Lois and Clark.

This will also always be Clark.

And this will always be Lana.

My parents died in a meteor shower… I don’t want to talk about it.

Even if she’s making out with Chuck Bartowski. (And even if last season, Chuck Bartowski was making out with Summer Roberts… while his ex-girlfriend was making out with Superman. Why is that show so good at cocktailing every nerdy thing that I love?!)

Speaking of Chuck, this is a tough one.

I wish I could say that my mind immediately went to Jayne Cobb when I see Adam Baldwin, but I’ve been watching so much “Chuck” lately that when me and the hubs sat down for our first Independence Day viewing of Independence Day in years (having forgotten entirely that Adam Baldwin was in it), the moment he popped on screen, we both yelled “John Casey!”.

The only time Adam Baldwin is not John Casey is when Summer Glau (annnd I almost typed River Glau) guest stars on “Chuck”.

Then he’s Jayne. (But come on, they’re pretty much the same person.)

As far as ensemble casts who are, in my mind, eternally bound to their characters until they come up with something more brilliant (and sometimes even then), they are as follows. I give you, the Unchangeables:

  • The Huxtables
  • The cast of Chuck
  • The cast of LOST
  • The cast of The O.C. (yes, even you, Olivia Wilde)
  • Most of the cast of Firefly/Serenity (but not you, Julie Cooper)
  • The cast of Smallville
  • The cast of Friday Night Lights

That’s right. You fellas can pretend to be Doctor Saracen and Officer Atwood all the live long day– but QB1 and Kid Chino you will remain. That goes for you too, Jason Street. You can hang out with Seth and Chuck’s ex-lady on “Hart of Dixie” till the cows come home, but you will still be the guy Lyla cheated on with Tim Riggins.

And SPEAKING of people in wheelchairs. This guy?

Will ALWAYS be this guy.

Don’t gimme that Young Money crap, Jimmy Brooks.

I think I’ve made my point. Who are your favorite Unchangeables?

Several Thousand Words

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that if I could draw, it wouldn’t have taken me till age 26 to settle on a career. (I use the word settle very loosely.)

What I mean is, if I could draw AND write? You couldn’t tell me anything. And I would almost certainly have completed at least one children’s book by now.

But, since I am not gifted with a pencil by any stretch of the imagination, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight two people with incredible artistic talent; one is a friend, and the other I just recently began to admire from afar.

Amy Rose Pennington is a friend of mine who I met at August Gate. She specializes in drawing the most delightfully whimsical illustrations, usually based on people she knows. I think she is the IDEAL children’s book illustrator (and I’m already attempting to woo her to collab with me– if I can ever get the text of the story completed!) Anyway, our exposure to her art began with a birthday gift portrait of our little family:

And has since expanded to dozens of similar portraits of our friends and church family. You’d be hard pressed to find an August Gate covenant member without an Amy Rose portrait in their home. Here are a couple more pieces that she did for two of my bridesmaids when THEY got married:


Amy’s style is so unique and her skill improves with every piece. I’m amazed by her ability to capture emotions and personality in such a simple and spirited way. Check out some more of her work on her blog and her etsy store!

The other artist, Sarah Mensinga, is a bit more established. In addition to her original pieces, she’s worked on a few feature films– and you don’t have to look at her site for more than five seconds to see why. She makes stories come ALIVE. I wish that some of her pieces were for sale, because I could certainly fill a room with them.


She’s written a graphic novel (her style is PERFECT for it) and several short stories too. This one, called Fish, is especially lovely. I could talk more about how talented she is, but your time would be better spent on her website seeing it for yourself.

Clearly, I’m extremely jealous of these women and their talents. But I’m also so grateful for them and their willingness to share their work with the world.

There’s one more artist I could highlight, but he and I are currently collaborating on something and I’d rather wait to tell you about him and his work until we have something show. But, I will tell you that he specializes in superheroes– and I will show you this piece, which he gave Todd and I as a wedding gift:

Yup. That’s me and my husband, back when we were young and fancy free and I still had weave in my head. We plan to tell our daughter that superheroism was our gig before she was born.