Wakeboards, Music Festivals and Family! Summer Vaca at its finest

Hey, guys!! I have returned from family vaca, music festival madness and some much needed R&R! I hope you all have had a lovely last couple of weeks! Those that were in Cincinnati suffered from quite a bit of rain and are now entering the hot, humid dog days of summer. We had perfect weather while we were up in Michigan at Walloon Lake so it was difficult to come back to.

The sunsets on Walloon are priceless.

The sunsets on Walloon are priceless.

I have had a crazy couple of weeks since my last post and have a lot to fill you in on! My next official challenge will post next week as I’m just getting back into the swing of things in my normal every day life. It’ll be a good one so be sure to tune in!

I spent 10 days surrounded by my family relaxing at our place on Walloon Lake. I got my cherries, spent time with my grandparents, learned how to drive a boat, fished, watched a parade, cooked, roasted marshmallows and took in some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see. I also stood witness to the most incredible fireworks show I have ever seen, standing directly beneath it!

Just because I took a little vacation from the blog does not mean I did not see my fair share of challenges along the way. For starters, I learned to wakeboard!! I’m a bit of an odd man out in my family in the sense that I am incredibly uncoordinated. Like constantly tripping, bumping into things and seriously injuring myself uncoordinated. My brother, John, and sister, Abbey, are both athletically inclined and are generally successful at everything they attempt. As mentioned before, I’m the artsy one. That being said, I have been wanting to try this for awhile and since water skiing didn’t go so well, I figured I stood a better chance at wakeboarding.

The reason: both legs are strapped to the same board and can’t get twisted all around, spread into splits far more than my flexibility allows and if you catch an edge, your whole body falls in the same direction. These are the same reasons I prefer snowboarding to skiing.

My parents got us a new MasterCraft wakeboarding boat for Christmas so I have been planning on conquering the sport since I first looked at the pamphlet. This thing is pretty sweet. It has more storage than any boat I have ever seen in my life. Naturally, this is to conceal all of the sweet water sports accessories he got to go with it. We have skis, tubes boards, surf boards, knee boards, etc. It has a killer sound system and definitely isn’t hard on the eyes. They said it was for us, but I’m pretty sure it’s dad’s new favorite toy.


Determined to pick this up, I asked my Dad to take me out on the boat and give it a whirl. He had arranged for a pro to take us out the next day and I did not want my first attempt at the sport to be witnessed by someone who competed professionally. I know that sounds kind of backward because he could obviously teach me better than my family members, but whatev. After receiving some guidance from my siblings and reviewing a few instructional videos I found on YouTube (because everyone does that kind of research first, right?) I strapped the board to my feet and got into the lake.

For those that aren’t aware, this is the hardest part for me. There is something about sitting in water where I cannot see what lies beneath me that causes me to become compleeeetely unglued. So after a small fit of squeals and Ohmygodohmygodohmygod’s and a bit of splashing around to scare away lake creatures (like that really works…) I adjusted. Dad put the boat in gear and off we went!

Look how good I am! Just kidding! This is Brett Dense, our pro that showed us how it's done!

Look how good I am! Just kidding! This is Brett Dense, our pro that showed us how it’s done!

Popped up on my first try!!! Sure I face planted 4 seconds later, but the point is I got up!! Feeling slightly defeated, and again floating helplessly in the fish-ridden abyss while the boat circled back around, I analyzed what I thought I’d done wrong, grabbed the rope and gave it another go. Up again. Down again. Followed by a few bouts of being dragged through the wake when I didn’t make it up. I’m a *bit* stubborn so my sister is hesitant to provide criticism on my technique, but I asked nicely and she obliged. We concluded that this kept happening because I couldn’t figure out how to stay within the confines of the wake. For some reason my alignment is off and I pull to the left. I also wasn’t pulling my knees close enough to my chest and instead of letting the boat pull me up, I tried to stand on my own too soon. I tried a few more times and had a few successful 10-30 second rides. And after a particularly wicked wipe out, I mastered the graceful landing by surrendering the rope once I realized I was going down. After the 6th or 7th time I sat defenseless in the lake water, I became acclimated and didn’t mind it so much. It was actually kind of pleasant. I guess there’s an adjustment period for everything. I’d had enough for the day so we boarded the boat and returned home.

The next day, Brett Dense from Action Water Sports (the pro I mentioned earlier) arrived to show us how it was done. After watching my sister do her thing and learn to jump the wake, it was my turn to show him what I was bringing to the table, which was not much. He was, however, impressed that I managed to get up on my first try. He saw my first run and I pulled off a decent ride, though he told me that my legs were too stiff and my body was too squared up with the boat. We also adjusted the rope. Contrary to popular belief, when first learning to wakeboard, the rope should be as long as possible. My sister put his advice into terms I would understand by comparing my stance to what I would do in Pure Barre. Pelvis in, shoulders back, core tight. This solid gold information proved extremely beneficial when I not only popped up and stayed up, but I also stayed within the wake. We hit a bump that shook my ego and I let go, circling around and sinking gracefully into the water. My brother called this my “pirouette.” Armed with a new sense of confidence and the tips of keeping my arms straight and leaning on my toes or my heels to steer my board, I tried again. I glided along the glistening waters of Walloon Lake like a pro, weaving from side to side within the wake. Then I got a little too close to the waves, caught a wicked edge and ate it. Bad. And my brother caught it allll on film.


My first time wakeboarding!

My first time wakeboarding!

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My brother gave it a go after I did, but he’s been doing this for years- well over a decade if my memory serves me right. He worked on the technique of trying to jump from one side of the wake to the other. He had a few wipe outs, but he had some pretty impressive jumps!! Brett gave us a treat by showing us some pretty great tricks and acrobatic feats that I could only dream of accomplishing. It was a very impressive show.


Wake surfing followed. I have never even seen this before so I was intrigued when they brought out the board. John and Abbey mastered it almost immediately. Wakesurfing is different from wakeboarding in many ways. For starters, you are like RIGHT behind the boat. The idea is to ride the wake coming right out of the prop. The rope is MUCH shorter and eventually, if you get in the right spot on the wave, you can release the rope and continue to surf as your normally would on a regular surf board. Since you’re just surfing, your feet aren’t strapped into the board like they are on a wakeboard. It was pretty cool to watch, but sadly, I was not lucky enough to figure out how to do it.

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Other than that, my dad and I spent some time fishing on what I presume to be is an almost fish-less lake. He hooked one by the fin and I had 2 on, but didn’t bring them into the boat. We spent the week with Belle, all completely fascinated by the little munchkin. She is walking (everywhere) and starting to learn how to talk. She mastered “Mama” while we were up there and my mom seems to think she is now Gaga instead of Grandma. I continue to be completely enamored by her and her development. Since my mom is sick we all took turns taking care of the meals that she normally puts on the table so effortlessly. We celebrated my Dad’s 56th birthday and my twin uncles’ 54th birthday. My uncle brought his kite surfer over to test out on the water to no avail, but it drew quite the audience and was hilarious to watch him try. Becky and I also spent some time tubing in the new three seater that dad got to go with the boat!

Becky tubing!

Becky tubing!

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I returned home for a day and immediately headed up to the bustling metropolis of Ft. Loramie, OH to spend the weekend in a field with 35,000 of my closest country-loving friends at Country Concert. It’s a three day music festival in the middle of nowhere Ohio. People come from all over, set up tents and RVs, camp for the weekend and listen to a pretty impressive list of country music performances.
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This was my second year attending and, let me tell you, it was MUCH better than last year. Last year we camped (yes, I camped) in a tent in 110 degree heat and I woke up each morning expressing my hatred for the entire experience. For $6 a piece you can shower in a semi truck trailer hooked up to a well water line. The lavatories are either porto potties or a similar semi truck trailer offering 6 disgusting stalls a piece. This year, to my delight, my friend Mike rented us a top of the line RV featuring air conditioning, a flat screen TV, a refrigerator and our very own bathroom. I will never camp-camp again. Troop Beverly Hills style from here on out.
Country Concert 2012

Country Concert 2012

Cards Against Humanity: A Party Game for Horrible People

Cards Against Humanity: A Party Game for Horrible People

I even purchased a pool off of Amazon in preparation for the heat. However, mother nature decided to be kind and treated us to a weekend of blue bird skies and 85 degree days. It was magnificent.
Kevin and Mike sitting in my pool! We filled it with well water, which quickly turned an awkward shade of brown. I think the Porta Kleen team drained it because it looked rancid...

Kevin and Mike sitting in my pool! We filled it with well water, which quickly turned an awkward shade of brown. I think the Porta Kleen team drained it because it looked rancid…

Our sweet RV that took us all of 5 minutes to destroy

Our sweet RV that took us all of 5 minutes to destroy

Our American Flag Beer Ping Table really sets the tone

Our American Flag Beer Ping Table really sets the tone

We got up early Sunday morning and hit the road to head back to Cincinnati, exhausted, covered in dust and ready for a night in my own bed in my own house. On the way, I asked Adhrucia to look up the line up for Bunbury, another music festival in Cincinnati that coincided with Country Concert, featuring many of my favorite bands. It was a tough decision but the atmosphere at Country Concert is worth it. The moment she mentioned that The Knocks were going on at 2:45 and I made the executive decision to drive faster and tack on another music festival to the weekend. My friends said I was ridiculous, but Christy Samad, always at the ready, gladly attended! She even got me a free entry bracelet!!
The Knocks are two DJs out of New York, Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “Mr. JPatt” Patterson, that play fabulous jams that I cannot get enough of. Their name references the early days in their career when neighbors would knock on their door for playing music too loudly. Had I been their neighbor, I’d have asked to come in and listen. You should listen to them immediately.
My faves:
Christy and I were charging our phones in the Techbury tent and Ben and James walked by us and Christy was like, “Um Katie…aren’t those the guys you came to see?” I immediately leapt to my feet and ran after them, you know true fan-style asking for a photo and to chat for a minute. They were super cool, totally obliged and mentioned some of the acts they were there to see. It’s refreshing to see artists acknowledge their fans! Thanks guys! Totally made my day! You rock!!
Ben "B-Roc" and James "Mr. JPatt" of The Knocks

Ben “B-Roc” and James “Mr. JPatt” of The Knocks

Bunbury, along with MidPoint Music Fest, have brought some pretty impressive acts to Cincinnati that I might not otherwise have had the chance to see. I am sad to say that I missed some of my favorite bands on Friday and Saturday, like Youngblood Hawke, Atlas Genius and The Mowgli’s. I did have the pleasure of discovering Camera Obscura and Bethesda. Christy and I also caught Night Terrors of 1927, The National and another personal fave, A Silent Film.
In case you haven’t figured this out, I’m a music junkie. Shazam is my favorite app and I use it about 30 times a day. This is also the reason I’ve spent an exorbitant amount of money on iTunes lately…life needs a soundtrack. I sing in my car without shame. Sometimes I dance, too. Deal with it.
And to conclude this summer vaca of amazingness, MY MOM FINISHED CHEMO!!!!!! How cute is she, seriously?! Thank you all for the well wishes and love you’ve sent our way. My family is forever grateful!!
Mom made it to the finish line! NO MORE CHEMO!!

Mom made it to the finish line! NO MORE CHEMO!!

Tune in next week for the official challenge to bring it all back to action. It’s gonna be a good one!!!

Flying Solo

Have any of you seen the movie Almost Famous? Last night inspired me in a way I didn’t expect it to!  Rolling Stone…here I come!

Challenge #10:

Go to a live music performance BY YOURSELF. Dance unabashedly. Feel free and confident.” from Tara Noland. 

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Tara is one of the many fabulous women I have met through my time in the Junior League of Cincinnati. She is actually one of the very first ladies I met in JLC and we became fast friends! After hearing an absolutely hilarious account of how her boyfriend’s mother bought her a tote bag with her “would be” monogram embroidered on it in case she married her son one day, I couldn’t not be friends with this girl!! Since then, she has recruited me to help out with gala planning for 4C for Children, which has been an incredible experience all in itself. And she hit the nail on the head with this challenge for me!!

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This challenge is incredible for several reasons.

1. I LOVE music. Love it.

  • I played the drums and the piano in my youth, went to music/arts camp several times and can still tickle the ivories if given the opportunity. Haven’t tried the drums in awhile, though I imagine it’d come back to me pretty quickly.
  • I am CONSTANTLY listening to music and always looking for new jams. A friend of mine has been sending me new bands and songs to check out lately and it is the highlight of my day every time I get a new one. (Thank you!!) As I mentioned a few posts ago, I am pretty sure that my iTunes library can read my mind because it always plays exactly what I want to hear.  (Lately I’ve been running through Phoenix, Tegan & Sara, Passion Pit, Swedish House Mafia, Dragonette, Capital Cities, Bastille, CHVRCHES, Matt & Kim, Metric, Pony Pony Run Run, Ra Ra Riot, Imagine Dragons, Cold War Kids, Night Terrors of 1927, Daft Punk, Atlas Genius and The National. I’m also loving Vampire Weekend’s newest album!)
  • I often envision my life being like a movie and wish it had a soundtrack that followed me everywhere I went. Since that is not possible, I kinda create my own. It inspires me, comforts me and completes me.

2. I love being out of my element.

  • I have no shame talking to strangers. I can talk to anyone about anything at any time.
  • I kind of like being by myself sometimes.
  • The whole purpose of this blog is to try new things.

3. I love to dance.

  • I’m a terrible dancer.
  • I am aware that I am a terrible dancer.
  • This makes me dance less.
  • Except for last night.

Ok so for the challenge.

I was introduced to a band called Passion Pit about two years ago. I remember I was sitting on a barstool playing photo hunt at The E when Sleepyhead came on the Juke Box. My head started bobbing and I was hooked instantly. The electropop sound was pretty unique to me at the time and now I cannot get enough of it! I hadn’t heard anything like it before. I have been listening to them daily ever since.

I would also add that the stripped down version of Sleepyhead is not to be missed…

Their music is inspiring, thoughtful and very well written. I listen to music for lyrics just as much as I listen for the beat. Take Taylor Swift. Sometimes she has some great beats and then she puts stupid teenage lyrics to it and I just. can’t. handle it.  Sorry, T-Swift. You’re off my radar until you grow up. Though you are “feeling 22” these days…whatever that means.

I digress…

Passion Pit is an indie rock band from Cambridge, MA. I believe they all studied music in Boston.  You’ve got Michael Angelakos on lead vocals and keyboard; Ian Hultquist on guitar and keyboard; Xander Singh on synthesizer; Jeff Apruzzese on bass and Nate Donmoyer covering the drums. Their story is interesting in that the band originally formed when Angelakos created a belated Valentine’s gift for his then-girlfriend, which would later become Chunk of Change. He created it entirely by himself on his laptop.  I believe he was approached by These guys are adorable, brilliant and incredibly talented!

In an interview with MTV last year, Michael Angelakos said:

“When I get on stage and I see everyone reacting to the music, there’s a moment where I completely forget (that he does not love live shows and touring) and I get excited and can’t believe people care. Hopefully people will see that and people will enjoy it. I can’t ask for anything else.”

To respond, that feeling is written all over your face and that message is definitely received.  Your energy is contagious. And your vertical is pretty impressive, btw.

My favorite songs:

Sleepyhead (linked above)

Little Secrets

Cry Like a Ghost

Moth’s Wings

It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy

I’ll Be Alright


Carried Away  (Absolutely love this one! Incredibly cheery beat with lyrics that sting. It’s actually about the characteristics he cannot stand in the person. Unexpectedly perfect!)

Ok. So I selected Passion Pit because I went to see them at the Madison Theater in Covington back in November and it was literally one of the best shows I have ever been to. I have been dying to see them again since. They were scheduled to be at US Bank Arena but for some reason  rescheduled and booked the Madison Theater again. I, personally, am glad they did that. It’s a much more intimate setting allowing you to really get close to the band. So I purchased my tickets and planned to attend alone.

Over the past few weeks countless people had asked if I wanted to attend the show with them and I informed them that I would be there, but unfortunately would not be able to hang out with them.  Kind of a bummer because a lot of the people that went are SUPER fun!

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I rode down with my friends Ashley and Briana. Hope that part is okay. I didn’t wanna be late and a cab would have taken forever. Also, I was incredibly nervous and needed someone to talk me down!

The Madison Theater is a smaller venue. When you walk in, all they do is take your piece of paper. You don’t even get it scanned or anything. I could have probably snuck in if I wanted, but that would be dishonest.

We parted ways after hitting up the bar for a little liquid courage. I headed down toward the stage and parked myself pretty close to the front of the second landing. Unbeknownst to me, this was right next to a door that led backstage. I had printed up little notes that explained what I was doing and my blog and yada yada and if given the opportunity, was going to give them to the band so they’d read it and I could possibly meet them. That woulda been a nice little addition to this post.

Talk about being oblivious. They walked behind me like 12 times, but I  was so into Cults, the opening act, that I TOTALLY missed each opportunity. Finally, I crumpled one up into a ball and tossed through the doorway as it was closing. I have no idea if anyone saw it. The bouncer covering the door was very kind and tried to let me know when they were coming. Thanks for the effort, Pat!!


Cults, the opening act, used this really awesome lighting effect that doesn’t photograph very well, but looked INSANE in person!  I dig their vibe and will definitely be checking out some more of their music!

After the failed attempts to get in touch with the band pre-show, I popped up to the lobby one more time before making my way into the pit. I ran into a few more friends, said my hellos and then disappeared into my lone-concert viewing evening.

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The best part about going to a concert alone is that I’m the only person I have to worry about! I didn’t have to create a train of hand-holding to get everyone through the crowd. I didn’t have to say excuse me and guide 9 of my closest pals through with me. All I had to do was push my way to the front. And that is exactly what I did.

I made a few friends along the way, most of which were significantly younger than myself, but nonetheless super fun to be around and very excited about my blog. This gave me a great ice breaker to work with and while not all parties (namely this girl below who was a real B) were openly receptive to my situation, most of the people I spoke with were pretty great!

 And I quote: "Look. Your blog isn't MY passion. Passion Pit is my passion and you're ruining it." Ooook.

And I quote: “Look. Your blog isn’t MY passion. Passion Pit is my passion and you’re ruining it.” Ooook.

This girl was there with her younger sisters. Very sweet girl! She let me sneak up close so that I could get some shots of the band. I ran into her post show out in the parking lot waiting to meet the band, as well.


Akayla, one of the other girls I met, was VERY excited about the show and what I was doing for my blog. They’ve sent me a bunch of pictures from the concert, too. She got the guitar pic that Ian through into the crowd at the end of the night.

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So here’s what I learned overall.

Passion Pit has a pretty young following. Look at all the X’s on those hands!!

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Dancing with reckless abandon is WAY more fun than being concerned about what I look like.


Be nice to the bouncers. They can help you out!!


Chris passed my note on to the sound guy and to the band. Hopefully they’re reading this post 🙂

This is the setlist:


Lucky me! I got to hear all my faves!! Though at this point, I don’t know that I have heard a Passion Pit song that I don’t like…

Here are some more shots of the show:

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I think I chose the perfect venue and performance for this challenge. I was able to let loose, really listen to and enjoy the music and jump around with a bunch of 15 year olds for a few hours. I mean, what the hell, YOLO, right?

I went to see The Lumineers the night before at Riverbend and had an equally fabulous time. Lucky me! Two of my fave bands, back to back! I need a super long nap…

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Tara, I had the time of my life. I felt like I was in Almost Famous, minus the whole weird groupie relationship thing. I imagine that I would REALLY enjoy writing for someone like Rolling Stone. Part of the reason I’m doing this whole thing is to figure out my purpose. It’d be kinda cool if that’s what it ended up being!

Overall, the performance was amazing! The energy was up, the lighting was stellar (per usual) and the music was flawless! I was a sweaty, trainwreck of a mess, but I’m not sure I’ve danced that much at a show in my life. I did my absolute best to get their attention to let them know about my blog. I tweeted all of them shamelessly throughout the week, stood outside their bus like a little groupie (did get to talk to Michael for a hot minute) and threw my flyers on stage, handed them to any staff member I could and gave one to one of the roadies. Fingers crossed it was not all for nothing!

Thank you, Passion Pit and Cults, for such a wonderful evening and thank you, Tara, for making me do it! Next time I wanna see a band that none of my other friends have heard of, I won’t be so quick to skip it. This was my first concert I attended solo, but it definitely won’t be my last…

My concert agenda for the rest of the summer includes:

Country Concert


MidPoint Music Fest

part of Bunbury

Earth, Wind and Fire

and possibly Life is Beautiful Festival in October!

I. Am. So. Psyched!!!!


Mic drop.