Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm a little teapot short and stout!!!

The last weekend of June!  Wow! So far a great summer, except for the crazy storm on Friday, but overall pretty cool!  My mom lost 3 trees...maybe 4.  The tree doctor is checking it out, fingers crossed for #4.  She was very VERY lucky, but anytime a tree loses its footing is sad to me.  I know it's a circle of life, but I literally hug trees.  I love trees!!

Ok, done with sad things and on to happy!  One of John's sisters (my future sister-in-law!) graduated high school this year!!  I remember my senior year, graduation, open house....such exciting and yet uncertain times, yet I wouldn't trade that feeling for the world.

As a violin/viola teacher, I get invited to a lot of open houses.  I have yet to be able to attend any!!  My students do a fantastic job of planning their open houses when I'm out of town or playing!  Someday...

***Spoiler alert...I'm going to talk about graduation gifts.  Jennifer, it IS safe for you to read further.

My friend's mom was also a teacher and went to MANY open houses.  She had a really great plan of giving graduates handmade clay pots.  Mine has collected change and small trinkets for the past few years.  Since I received that gift, I wondered, what would my "Olsen Pot" be?  My friends and brother were so excited knowing it was coming.  The closest I've come to something has been an electric tea kettle.  Just like my precious Jet Boil, you can cook so many things in it without the inherent fire risks that a Jet Boil in a dorm may cause.

So friends with lots of teenage friends and family you have a go-to graduation gift for these individuals?  Something special, perhaps useful?  Comment and let me know what you think!!  I'm standing behind my electric tea kettle for now, those things are awesome!!!


Tomorrow night is Johnny and my turn to play at Turtles with Jason Dixon!  This is such a fun show because we all take turns trading songs in a very relaxed atmosphere.  Plus, he always makes us great posters for Facebook.  Here's ours for this time around:

Saturday will be my first of a few summer gigs with award winning songwriter, Jerry Vandiver!  If you haven't seen the promo video, be sure to check it out on last week's post.  If I could link it, I would!!

Sunday FUNDAY!  We don't have the i like you. Happy Gnome gig this week, but The Big Adventure will be joining our good friends Black Market Brass at the Nomad in Minneapolis.  FREE SHOW!  9pm!!  Come dance!!

Happy Summer, everyone!  Take it easy on all that graduation cake!

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Ah, that magical time of the year: Festival, or "Festi" season.  This week I'm not going to talk about gigs for the week because really all I have on the docket is Project Earth.  I'm pretty stoked to be heading down to the beautiful Harmony Park to play music.  I'll be a special guest with "Smokin' Joe" Joe Scarpellino as well as some very special acoustic style jams with i like you later Saturday night.  If you're heading down (or "heading home" as they say), come find me!  However, if you haven't heard of Harmony Park, Wookiefoot, or much about that last paragraph, it's cool.

SO!  Being Festi season and all and with this weekend being my first of the year 2013, I wanted to share some of my favorite festi or camping hacks.  I've seen many more via pinterest and whatnot, but here are some I like and would LOVE if you'd comment with your own.

FIRST of all...packing
At Harmony Park, you park your car and then have to walk in to find your campsite for the weekend.  Portability is key.  I have observed people with Radio Flyer wagons (genius!) and other such wheeled thingies, but here is what I do when I'm there solo.  When Johnny's with me, we pull out all the stops with a camp stove, screen tent, a pop-off camper, and sometimes portable air conditioner and shower.  It sounds luxurious and it is by Harmony Park standards, but in real life, it's pretty interesting!  No matter if I'm solo or duo, my cooler on wheels is great.  It's a little big for just me by myself this weekend, but hey, it makes great campsite seating too!!  Especially if it's going to be hot, I freeze a gallon jug of water to keep it my food cold and I can drink the water as it melts.  Not as soggy and very useful!  I also freeze any meat that will be used the 2nd day and by day 2 it'll likely be thawing and good to go by dinnertime.  I haven't decided if I'm bringing it this weekend, I like to try to keep it healthy and not only eat vendor food, but it may be a dry good weekend this time around.

Get it in there!!!!
While in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad for the summer.  I picked up this awesome REI backpacking backpack for that adventure, thinking the wheely suitcases you usually see would be awful on the cobblestones of the old cities.  Fast forward 8 years (WHAAAA???!?!?!? THAT WAS EIGHT YEARS AGO?!?) and this pack is still just right. 

When flying solo, I get to use the little tent I bought back in 2009 when I had just started playing music.  My little REI half-dome has been many places - just big enough for me and my fiddle.  The bonus is that it is small enough to fit in my backpack alongside my sleeping pad.  I have seen a camping hack where they use those colored padded floor tiles used for kids rooms.  Good idea!

This weekend, I'll only be there 1 day if that.  With John out of town for work this past week, I kind of want to make the trip back, but since i like you has a late set, perhaps I'll stay.  We'll see.  All excuses aside, here I've packed my pjs (since that's all I'll really need) in the flap pocket.  I roll EVERYTHING whenever I travel.  It saves so much space and when you're going humid places like a music festival, laying stuff out in your tent will steam the wrinkles out.  Besides, have you ever been to a festival?  I think wrinkles are the last thing on people's minds!  Not pictured is the side pockets - If staying longer, there are spots on the side to put more clothes.

I actually don't have a sleeping bag that I can find.  I know there's probably a bunch at my mom's house, but they're pretty bulky.  I usually bring a thin fleecy blanket and a quilt made by my high school friend, Naomi.  The quilt I put down, sometimes doubled and it gives extra padding.  The fleecy blanket gives just enough blankety goodness when its a hot summer night.  Again, rolled, the fleece fits in one of those side pockets.

Bonus!  I managed to cram the quilt into the bag as well!!  DONE!  Backpack now contains all shelter, bedding, and clothing needs.  There isn't any swimming options so no swimsuit, but I would recommend a microfiber towel and a plastic bag in case you pack up with it still wet.  Toothbrush and stuff will go in the pocket on the very top - accessible but separate.

 I can't take credit for the solar lights.  Someone in the God Johnson crew had these last year - they're a MUST if you want to save people from tripping over your tent lines or if you want to be able to see when getting into your tent way late.  Yeah, I know true festi people go to sleep after the sun come back UP, it's ok.

I would be lost without my Jetboil!!!!  I asked at REI for the easiest way to make coffee when camping.  Coffee + Karen = happy fiddler.  I LOVE this contraption, shown in assembly order.  The orange thingy folds out and the fuel snaps in to be stabilized.  The metal piece screws on the fuel and with the turn of a nob and the flick of a lighter, you have a cooking element!  You put water in the canister and it boils SO FAST even when you watch it.  You'd be amazed at what you can make with this and water.  Coffee with the Starbucks VIA things, oatmeal and cream of wheat (a favorite breakfast of mine), pasta, ramen, anything you make with water!  John and I will do the Velveeta shells and cheese because you just make the shells and dump in the sauce, the possibilities are endless!!

I did lose the cover for it and another piece that I don't usually use :-(   However, it still can be used as a REALLY BIG coffee mug which is a necessity some festi days!

HEY!  It has a handle!!  You know how they say if it fits, it ships?  If it has a handle it sips!!

It is also pertinent to have proper beverage attire.  A koozie can let you express yourself and keep track of what's yours.  I need to personalize mine, but I'm kind of biased....this one is really cute!!

When it comes to camping and festivals, I do love some time to relax.  I would HIGHLY recommend a hammock!!  Everyone in i like you has an ENO one that is so great!!!  They are so easy to put up - all with carabiners.  I have a double + so it's big enough for 2 with some room to spare.  I've used it and John took it to summer camp, but we have yet to use it together!!  I hope to change that in 2013!  Check out all the band member's hammocks!!  This was from Plunderfest last year :-)

I have other upcoming things too - 6/27 with my sweetheart Johnny Kozak as our duo, "The Twin Cities" with Jason Dixon at Turtles in Shakopee.  Come see us sing together!!

Then on June 29th...ONE WEEK FROM NOW I get to make my debut with Jerry Vandiver as the fiddle player with the One Match Band!

Cool video, eh?  Jerry gets to MN next week from Nashville and I'll be rehearsing all these songs I've been listening to and working on by myself.  Time to get my country fiddling on!

6/30 with The Big Adventure at the Nomad with our good friends Black Market Brass!!!  I'll sing for you!

i like you. wil be playing Park Rapids on the 4th of July and the Gnome on the 7th.  OK, it's getting late - I have to get out to the Cabooze to go see Arthur with Hyentyte!!  bye!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When the cat's away...

Wow!  What a crazy start to my summer!  In addition to having a BLAST out of town with i like you + Scotty on drums, I've had some very exciting things happen.

Next year, I will no longer be Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion's music teacher.  It was an incredibly tough decision to make :-(  I kept thinking of those kiddos and awesome staff I won't see every day now.  However, I WILL be there 2 days a week as their ORCHESTRA TEACHER!!!  I'll get to see the 4th and 5th grade orchestra students as well as the FUTURE orchestra students.  I am excited to be a different part of the school community...a part that I've trained in and extensively studied!!  I also get to go to Sonnesyn, Noble, and Meadow Lake and I have to say, I'm stoked!

To say this weekend was celebratory would be pretty true.  In the band van and also as I played, I kept thinking about how my experience in many types of music will allow me to teach well rounded students.  I love my performing life and I'll be able to give the skills needed for the opportunity to hundreds of kids a year.  Woah!

Well, the band van AND trailer did awesome this weekend.  It is so nice to all ride together and be a part of all the funny happenings, music discussions, etc.  Plus, if not for the band van and trailer, we wouldn't have had a chance to witness this solution to the scraping trailer hitch:

...why must I make such awkward noises SO CLOSE to the microphone of the camera?

Coming up next!  Lots of rehearsals this week which is awesome!  On Saturday, I'll be playing a double header - one at St. Paul Summer Beer Fest and one on the Cabooze-Joint patio as the pre-show for Katey Bellville, The Boys N the Barrels and The Big Wu!!  However, Johnny is out of town for work...which leaves ME MYSELF AND I in charge of all this.  Uff da!

The plan?  Eldon Hagen will be joining us for the Joint/Cabooze show and I'll be needing to sing my little heart out more than normal at both.  Of course I'll have my amazingly talented future father in law on dobro, Joe Sheehan of i like you. is going to hold down the bass stuff, and who knows who else may join us!  Both shows should be super fun if not for the music, but for seeing how I handle leading a band.  Please come cheer me on for moral support!!!!!!

OH!  Plus it's Happy Gnome week!  I love telling people about this wonderful magical place and how relaxing it is to play there every 1st and 3rd Sunday.  Come on out, rain or shine, it's always a good time!!!

I'll have to likely learn a bluegrass standard to sing.  Any suggestions?!?!  If you come out to one of the shows and I pick your tune, come see me for a prize!'s probably going to be handmade and awesome :-)

See you this weekend!
- K

I ALMOST FORGOT!!!!!  Humdinger AND The Regulars!  debut albums are now available at all local Down in the Valley stores!!  A HUGE thank you to them for putting our work in ALL locations and just being super nice to work with.  Go pick up your CD today!!  Remember, The Regulars' album is in limited quantity AND all of the proceeds from Humdinger go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  What a deal!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Last time...I PROMISE!!

Oh goodness...I've done it again!  Here I am posting way more than a week after my last post.  I did some thinking while I was on the sandy, beautiful beaches of Emerald Isle, NC and realized that I'm an adult.  No excuses.  Life just happens and I hope you all are ok with it!

I was so lucky to get to see my college roommate get married on the BEACH!  The combination of sun, sand, ocean, great friends, and chiropractic adjustments made for an amazing recharge session before powering through the last few days until summer vacation.  Thank you Jacci and Kyle for inviting me to be a part of your day....and thank you for meeting so many great friends along the way....who just so happen to be chiropractors too....and then move to beautiful North Carolina.   Really, I can't get over how wonderful the whole experience was.  I can't wait to see you two and Jessie + family in MN in October!  Let's have another wedding! ;-)

Wow, since that beautiful vacation, I've come back rejuvenated and ready to tackle the end of the school year at Robbinsdale Spanish Immersion.  The kiddos are certainly excited for summer and it's rubbing off on me!  Just 2 days left!  WOW!!!

Also, since that trip I've had a chance to jump on stage with The Burbillies at the 331 to play some crazy 80s bluegrass style.  What a blast!  Friday I had off from gigs, but I got to see my future sister in law graduate.  It was fun cheering her on!  The rest of the weekend was full as usual, on Saturday I had the first of many voice lessons which is going to be so helpful over the summer and beyond.  After that, I went to set up and soundcheck with The Big Adventure and then off to the Nicollet with i like you.  The Nicollet was a cool space, check it out sometime! I hope to play there again soon.  The next stop was the Heart of the Beast Theater to raise money for an amazing organization called Secondhand Hounds.  It is a dog rescue organization that saved the lives of over 1,000 furry friends in the last year.  Definitely worth a party!!!!  I really hope we were successful in their fundraising efforts and BE SURE to check them out!

OK!  Coming up...first the 5th grade farewell AND the last day of school.  Such a bittersweet time of year, but I'm looking forward to summer deep down ;-)  I will be starting off the summer with a great run of shows.  On Thursday, June 6th, I get to play at one of my FAVORITE local venues: The Cabooze!  The line up includes Kind Country, i like you., and Useful Jenkins.  There may be some surprises as well, so come on out and celebrate VERANO!  The next day, we head up to play the Reef in Duluth.  After the Reef, we head to Hayward, WI to play at the Park Theater!  I LOVED playing there last time so if you're anywhere near Hayward, come on out!

I have to admit, it's pretty cool when your students ask "Srta. Krueger, what are you doing with your summer vacation?" and answering "well, I'm kicking it off with a nice Northern loop mini-tour."  Definitely stoked for all the other great things in store for this summer!  Stay in touch!