Summer Playlist 2018

While I'm over here half pretending the Fall Semester isn't just around the corner and half trying to get as much work done as possible, you're probably doing something similar, soaking in the last of Summer before things get hectic again. I did a ton of work this Summer (taught an online course, completed an article and started on another one, worked on writing procedures and training for online tutoring which we're in the process of implementing, served on a search committee whose work is ongoing, presented at two conferences, represented our Chapter at Phi Kappa Phi Convention) and inside of all that I tried to take some time to enjoy my "time off". It's a really tough balancing act. And if anyone has tips on how to create boundaries for your time, I'd love to know what you do. I do get concerned over the amount of things I take on and how I manage my mental/emotional health. Music has been a mainstay of self-care, though I wasn't always conscious of it as such.

Music has always been a huge part of my life, of my downtime (if that exists). My father has wide-ranging music tastes and I learned early in life the power of music, particularly for personalities like my own. There was frequently music in my house, much moreso than television. I used to carry my record player everywhere I was allowed. I've recounted the story of receiving my first "boom box" which my father found at a yard sale and the summers spent making mix tapes that my brother and I would skate to on our back patio. 
I think of periods of my life in place and music: where did I live? what was my soundtrack? 

I've been making playlists on Spotify since 2011. I've been making Summer playlists since 2014. I've tried to articulate what a Summer playlist involves and it isn't always just "what I'm listening to now" instead I've cultivated this music to evoke Summer both now and in the future when I'm longing for less structure and more time. If you're interested, you can follow me on Spotify and see past playlists. This summer I've traveled, worked, written, tried new recipes, and spent time at the pool. I think this playlist (in some ways) reflects all of those activities, though admittedly it's more mellow than past lists. 

If you haven't heard the King Princess song "1950" you should listen now! Mikaela Strauss, is a 20-year-old singer/songwriter whose album Make My Bed is out now. "1950" probably has the most radio play on XM but "Talia" is incredibly good, as well. 

Denis Lloyd's "Nevermind" has been on rotation since June and I each time I hear it, I find something new to like. He's an Israeli singer who remixes many of his own songs. I think "Nevermind" has been around a while, but the most recent vision hit airwaves this Summer and was named by Time as a "song of the summer". 

Khalid (not to be confused with DJ Khaled) makes this year's playlist twice! I talked up his album American Teen last year and continue to be impressed with his sound. His song with DJ Martin Garrix, "Ocean" is beautiful and romantic, and a little cliche but it's forgivable because Khalid's voice is so good. Besides, in my Summer music you're going to stumble onto some cliches; that's just how it goes. The other Khalid collaboration here is with Normani. "Love Lies" is all over the radio right now. It's the counter to the romantic ballad of "Ocean". 

The most intriguing song on this playlist is probably "Holding On" by Nashville-based band Nightly. It kept coming up on random Spotify playlists and each time I would stop and see what song it was. I hope they have a new album soon; I'd like to hear more of their sound. 

Donna Missel's "Thrills" is incredible. Her voice is so powerful and the song itself is empowering, sexy,  and once you hear it, you want to hear it again. 

There's definitely a smoother, slower pace to some of this year's tunes but if you're wanting a roll your windows down song look no further than "Burn the House Down" by AJR, which if it isn't getting radio play yet, it will soon. There's also The Knocks' "Ride or DIe" which features vocals from Foster the People's Mark Foster. It also has one of my favorite lines of all summer songs, "Who needs a license when you got no drive?" Clever. 


Devon Ralston
This smoothie recipe is not as weird as it sounds

I am very into smoothies. I think it's because it's so hot and they are refreshing and a way for me to get more protein in my day, plus with the Ninja single serve it's incredibly easy to make with not a ton of cleanup involved. Tasty, easy, cool: that's my kind of drink. 

I discovered this recipe in July of 2014. We were spending the summer housesitting and I was cooking a lot, trying new recipes and figuring out how to actually enjoy the summer, which sounds wild; I know but for so much of my life summers have been about work in some form or another. I talk about this more in a post from #reverb15 . The point is that I was feeling adventurous and had recently gotten the Nutribullet when I saw Sarah's post about a Spinach, Pineapple and Peanut Butter smoothie. It may say something about me that when I first read that I thought, "ooh, sounds intriguing" rather than "that sounds weird," but I'd also tried to make black bean cookies that summer, so this was definitely going to be better than that! 

And it was! 

I altered her original recipe a bit. I use peanut butter rather than almond butter and I don't include chia, but you could do whatever you want with it. I don't really measure the ingredients any more and yesterday when I made this it was a bit more pineapple-y than before but still just as good. 

One thing about smoothies, is that depending on how you're blending it, it may matter the order you throw things in. With a blender, I don't think it makes as much of a difference, but with the Ninja or Nutribullet, you're kind of stacking ingredients so you have to decide what works best for you and your blender/smoothie maker.

If you love smoothies and you're up for an adventure, here's what you need: 

  • 1 cup almond milk (I use unsweetened almond milk and I like to add it last.)
  • 1 handful of spinach leaves (I'm pretty generous with this to give it the nice green color; you don't really taste the spinach)
  • 3/4 cup  pineapple (I use fresh pineapple but you could use frozen. You can also do a little less or a little more, depending on your tastes). 
  • 1-2 tbsps of peanut butter. ( I use Smart Balance Peanut Butter because it's lower in sugar; you could sub almond or sun butter). 

Pulse until well blended and enjoy! 


one part wisdom: a relaunch

For those of you who have been reading my writing online, you know the spaces in which I've written have had many iterations. There are many things I know now about design, about web hosts, about malware and hacks that I did not know I should even be concerned with when I began blogging almost 15 years ago. 

Because I research social media, I spend a great deal of time online, which means I'm spending much of my days sitting behind a computer screen. I needed a break. Or I thought I did. But the further away I moved from blogging toward Instagram, mostly, the more I felt the pull to return to writing, here. I've created drafts of posts I never published, and last week said "I should blog about x". I'm a reflective person by nature and I think I'm better at life when I have an outlet. 

For the past year, I've rolled around ideas in my head about the kinds of things I want to say and how I wanted to frame and brand the new site. I made a list of the posts people favorited. I made a list of the posts I like to write and the kind of longform expressions I long for that don't fit inside an Instagram or Facebook post. And hopefully, I've landed on something that feels like a conversation, a connection, a point of contact where readers can say, "I know what you mean." 

The title of the blog comes from a tag line I used on my old site: You Had Me at Neurotic which read 2 parts neuroses, 1 part wisdom, all parts true. While this sentiment accurately represents my thinking, "one part wisdom stuck" with me over the course of the year where I worked off and on on the blog design. It feels more fully aligned with the place from which I want to write. One thing I learned in moving content across platforms is that I'm the worst at file organization. I've lost many images along the way as I made the move away from Wordpress. There are many reasons I returned to Squarespace, but mostly it was because I hated the recent WP platform. I had many security problems, though some of that is blamed on my webhost. If you want to nerd out about blogging platforms, let's have coffee. 

You're likely to find broken links and images as you navigate through the site, though I'm working on cleaning everything up. (It's not like I have a team of people over here at  Ralstonia helping me). If you find something you think I should know about, use the contact link at the bottom of the page and let me know. 

In the next few days, you'll start to see posts about food, music and things that are on my mind. I'm working on the yearly Summer Playlist post, so you can stop holding your breath. 

Summer Playlist 2017

The best playlists (in my opinion) are ones that are eclectic but somehow loosely tied together either by sound, mood, theme, occasion, or something else, entirely. I could cop out here and say, "well, this is the stuff I'm listening to right now" and that would be true. But a Summer Playlist requires a little more care. I want my Summer playlist to serve as the backdrop, the soundtrack to the things I do. Lately, "what I do" has been traveling, driving, walking, sometimes working, sometimes relaxing. Summer tends to call up a sense of freedom, of days with very little planned, of hanging out with friends. Not all songs on this playlist were released in 2016 or 2017. Many of them were but I culled much of my monthly playlists for sounds, lyrics, songs that stayed with me. Playlists serve all sorts of purposes and making them is one of my favorite activities. If you're interested you can check out past playlists here and follow me on Spotify. I realize that I have a very specific aesthetic for what I like to listen to, but then again these playlists are for me. I share them because it's fun and because I discover music from many sources, so maybe you'll like something, too. Summer Playlist 2017's songs reflect the mood of Summer or at least give you a chance to imagine what this particular "playlist kind of Summer" would be like. 


Maggie Rogers "On + Off" sets the tone for the playlist. This may be my favorite song on the whole playlist though SOHN's "Artiface" is a close second. Both songs have strong vocals over repetitive, thrumming that shifts and moves, Rogers over piano and SOHN over drum beats and synthesizers. It creates an electronica blues mix that I can't resist. SOHN's "Conrad" also makes the playlist, which is an even stronger blues song with soulful reminders, "I can feel it coming/we can never go back." And if that doesn't represent a summer moment I'm not sure what does. 

Look, if Calvin Harris' collaboration Migos and Frank Ocean isn't the Song of the Summer, I'll be surprised. It certainly has the catchy pop quality of a summer song but there's also something in its synthy rhythm (technical term) that doesn't bug you when you hear it everywhere you go. 

If you haven't listened to Khalid's American Teen you've been depriving yourself. Rolling Stone listed it on the 50 Best Albums of 2017 So Far . I particularly like "Location" and "Young Dumb and Broke" and while there are other excellent songs on the album like "Cold Blooded", these two have a specifically Summer vibe that allow lend themselves to more than one listen. 

The Tame Impala remix of Miguel's "waves" is pure Summer playlist material. I'm a huge fan of Tame Impala and the lead singer Kevin Parker's producing talents show just how much of a musician he is. 

"Wish I Knew You" by The Revivalists is a tough song to describe. It's got mournful lyrics about seeking connection layered with brass and funk guitars with some dub thrown in for a rich, stomp your feet feeling. Just listen to it and thank me later. 

"Slip Away" by Perfume Genius is incredible. It has a celebratory vibe that makes you feel like you can take on a Summer night with the perfect amount of vulnerability and kick ass attitude. 

If you're looking for a song to sing out of your rolled down window as you drive look no further than HAIM's "Little of Your Love".