Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 list Thursday: Holiday Specials

This is 1 of 3(1) lists for today because I got busy and then forgot the past couple of weeks. SB Fail. So this is the one you would have gotten 2 weeks ago had I been on the ball.

"Ok SB", you say, "the holidays are over so I don't care anymore." Well 2 things A) Bookmark for next year (hahaha) and I celebrate Christmas til Epiphany which is Thursday so it's still (somewhat) relevant.

Here are 10 Specials/Movies/TV Shows that bring the holidays home for me.

1. The Cinnamon Bear. Let me guess, you have never heard of this one right? That's because I am a gigantic nerd. It's a radio show. From around 1935ish....ok just checked Wikipedia, it was 1937. It's 26 short little episodes (would make a great advent tradition), about Jimmy and Judy, two little children who go up to their attic to fetch down their Christmas ornaments and discover that the silver star for the top of the tree is missing. They find a tiny bear ornament named Paddy O'Cinnamon who tells them that the Crazy Quilt Dragon has stolen it and they shrink down and go with the Cinnamon Bear to save it. It's adorable and sweet, and I am burning it to CD to play in the car with the baby. There are so references that most modern kids won't get (like blotting paper) so it can teach them some history too. Listen to them for free here: I listened every night as a kid, and loved it so much.

2. Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. I adore this movie. I can’t even express how dear it is to me. It’s just not the Holidays until I watch it. (Including the bloopers. I love seeing how tiny they are, normally I hate bloopers, cause it ruins the magic for me, but these are cute). So sweet and wholesome and heart warming, it’s classic and unpretentious. Bonus if you can see it with the Kermit bit in the beginning. (Also, did you know that both hand puppets AND marionettes are used in this film? I looked it up, true!)

Ok, 3 and 4 (White Christmas and Holiday Inn) have a particular order to their favorite-ness and I’ll explain why for you.

3. White Christmas. This is actually newer than #4 (1954, whereas Holiday Inn is 1942). I LOVE both these films so much that I can’t even tell you how much. Yeah, and as we know I can certainly talk. So why is White Christmas my favorite? Is it because Holiday Inn has a good old-fashioned racist black face number in it? Nope, it’s not PC, and yes, it’s offensive NOW but I can let it go as an unfortunate artifact of the time. I love classic films and the lessons they can teach us. Is it because I’m morbidly obsessed with the size of Vera-Ellen’s waist? (Rumored to be 21 inches) Well, I am, but nope. It’s because it never ceases to bring me to tears when they honor the General the way they do. It’s so beautiful that it gives me chills just thinking about it. People who say the movies are alike are crazy. Anyway. If you haven’t seen this masterpiece with Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby, do yourself a favor. Watch it.

4. Holiday Inn. The other reason that this ranks justthismuch below White Christmas is only because of Neutral Evil Fred Astaire in it. I never thought of it like that until Pat pointed it out to me. That and the fickle attitude of Lila, what a witch. I love the music, love the dancing, love the costumes and the story. It’s just IF I have to rank them, I’m going to pick the film with the better intentions over the other one. Yes, in White Christmas, Danny Kaye does manipulate poor Bing into a lot, and yes, it’s for his own gain, but he wouldn’t do it if it meant hurting Bing, whereas Fred doesn’t really care in this flick. He thinks he does, but he really doesn’t. See this one too. It’s the film that the song White Christmas was written for and other than that little blackface number, it’s flawless.

5. Ok, no list of favorite Christmas broadcasts is complete without A Christmas Carol. So I’m just going to keep 5 simple and tell you my favorite version. I know most people who know me are going to expect me to say “The Muppet Christmas Carol” because I love me some Muppets, and there are two other Muppet specials on this list. However, those people would be wrong. Some might think the Patrick Stewart version, as I’m a Trekkie. Nope, wrong again. It’s hands down the 1984 version starring George C. Scott. See it.

6. The Christmas Toy. YAY Muppets. Ok, so you know Toy Story? Totally stole it from the 1986 Muppet feature. Although, I’m going to warn you, The Christmas Toy is darker, but essentially the same story, only with cute Muppets. The toys come to life when no one is looking, and freeze when played with. The difference is that if a human (or cat apparently) catches the toys moved from the position they are left in the toy will be frozen FOREVER! It even has the space toy that doesn’t realize it’s a toy in it (although she is very creepy herself, not cute like Buzz Lightyear). I remember loving it as a child, and I like it as an adult, even though adult me wonders how little me wasn’t terrified by it.

7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the animated one, of course. (I finally say the live action one, and while I didn’t insta-hate it as I expected, it was just sort of eh for me.) Pat said as we were watching it and I was singing along with the music “Wow, you really must love this if you know the incidental music by heart” I’m actually humming it as I type this. I will watch this EVERYTIME it’s on. I just love it. (ok, admittedly, if it’s on before the first Sunday of Advent I will not watch it, but mostly because I am stubborn as hell about watching anything Christmas before Advent. Holiday Inn is ok because every holiday is in it. )

8. The Original Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. I don’t even know why I love this so much. I can’t wait for Evangeline to get movies, right now she only likes the musical parts (which is good cause it means she isn’t that interested in TV…but yeah, I’ve always dreamed of watching Christmas specials with a daughter on my lap and I get impatient, while trying to remind myself to enjoy every minute with her.)

9. This one is pretty new and for some reason, I find it kind of irresistible. It’s so freaking cute and you’ll all laugh at me about it. Disney’s Prep and Landing. It’s silly and cute, and has a caffeine addicted, type A, control freak, red-haired elf, and I love her. Other than that it’s just a fun heartwarming little Disney romp and I recommend it whole-heartedly (if with a wee-bit of embarrassment, but part of me will always be 5 at Christmas time)

10. If you know me, you knew this was coming. Yep, it’s Shrek the Halls. If it’s Shrek, I pretty much am going to love it because it’s Shrek. This Christmas special though I actually relate to, because I have an obsession with creating the prefect memories and such and well, sometimes forget that the simple being present in the moment is the most important thing. Oh you big gross Ogre, who understands that fart jokes are always funny (what?! I said I was 5!), how you get me sometimes!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ten List Thursday: Holiday Songs

I am a (former?) vocalist and actor married to a music teacher. That being said it's probably obvious to you that music is my favorite part of the Christmas season. I love to sing carols, listen to them, from the first Sunday of Advent to Epiphany I have them on in the house, or in the car, or in my head while listening to NPR or whatever. My church in Utica has a phenomenal choir as well so I learned some awesome Christmas music there too. So for your pleasure, a double list for you of my favorite seasonal pieces. As I am a Christian and a bit of an Anglophile, the first list contains my religious favorites (many are old English and OMG! The order on that one matters, 1 is my favorite piece of all time and so on to 10 my least favorite favorite), and the other list is my secular faves (in no order)

1. The Holly and The Ivy. , this is the Winchester Cathedral Choir, wearing the same chorister robes we used to (ruffs and all, ruffs are cool). My Christmas China (what?! You don't have Christmas china?) is Portmerion's The Holly and The Ivy even. I love it that much. One of the reasons I knew my house was the one was the huge holly bush on the side.

2. Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day. The John Gardner one. That piece just plain makes me happy, and I'll bet most of you don't know it, listen! It's fun: , this is King's College of Cambridge

3. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. I used to love to fall asleep to this one. I've always loved the darker sound of it and the beautiful message of comfort and joy. Such a rich comforting carol.Here's Bing!

4. Still Still Still. Such a gorgeous German song. I remember how hard I worked to learn the pronunciation perfectly to sing to my grandparents (who didn't speak German but oh well) on Christmas Eve. I wish I could say it moved them, but I still love this one and sing it to my daughter.

Vienna Boys Choir this time.

5. Silent Night: I love this both in English and German. Especially with the descant. Oh man I love me some descants. (and Anglican chant, but that's a story for another day). Here's the St. Thomas Boys Choir singing it in German since everyone knows it in English.

6. Ah John Rutter, how I love your Shepherd's Pipe Carol. Light, fun, pretty. Love love love. Give yourself a treat and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing this to you.

7. Oh Holy Night, I don't know why, but this hymn always moves me to tears. (unless it's sung by Eric Cartman) I don't even try to sing it cause I can't do it justice. However, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does just fine.

8. Angels We Have Heard on High. This song is fun to sing, and my favorite version is the one from my copy of A Very Veggie Christmas that a dear friend once bought me to get over my fear of the Veggitales. It's a cool calypso version sung by Palmy and I can't find it online. Ah well. Everyone knows this one I think.

9. Once in Royal David's City, ah, how I wanted to be the treble chosen to sing the solo in the procession. So much. Sometimes being an alto/mezzo at heart is tough.

King's College of Cambridge again.

10. In the Bleak Midwinter I love this carol, even though we all know it wasn't midwinter when Christ was really born, but I love how it starts so well, bleakly, and gets warmer as it goes. I feel the chill, and I can see the scene unfold for me. I love this.

Gloucester Cathedral Choir this time.

Ten (in no order, except for number 1) of my favorite secular holiday/winter songs.

1. Hands down, no question in my mind ever. White Christmas sung by Bing Crosby (of course)

2. Christmas in Killarny. Maybe cause it mentions Holly and Ivy, maybe because it's Bing and I heard it every Christmas of my life? I dunno, just enjoy:

3. The Christmas Song I really think it's the imagery here. I can see every moment of it. I feel warmer just thinking about it. Here's Nat King Cole.

4. I think we're seeing my old taste in music here. Let it Snow I remember curling up by the fire in my Grandpapa's house with a poodle chasing her tail around the room, opening gifts on Christmas eve while this played. *sigh* Here's Frankie:

5. Ok, ok, this one does mention God, but it's not really a religious song so I'm putting it here. I had this on a very old old cassette tape, and I loved it so much that I played it til it broke, it was a compilation of Christmas music and it had Lorne Green (from Bonanza!) singing this song, and I never found it anywhere else until the wonders of YouTube. Enjoy God Bless You, Gentlemen (Christmas is a-coming)

6. I love Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas not just because it's from one of my favorite movies, but because it's such a beautiful message. I especially love the line "Through the years, we all will be together, if the fates allow". Just gives me chills. Here it is by the incomparable Judy Garland.

7. This reminds me of Christmas shopping with my mother, when I was very wee and downtown still existed. Here's Bing and Rosemary Clooney: singing Silver Bells

8. Merry Christmas Darling I fell in love with this one when Pat and I were still at the dating stage where we didn't spend Christmas together. I am so glad those days are over and that we're always together as a family.

Karen Carpenter.

9. OK, a lot of people hate this song, and I was kinda lukewarm on it when I heard it as a child. Then I went to Sage, and (although they rejected me) I fell in love with the Sagettes. (I'm an honorary one now *wink*) and they reintroduced me to their holiday tranditional: Santa Baby and now I love it. Especially re-hearing Etta James sing it. OMG

10. I'll be Home for Christmas I'm a sentimental sap who like the sentimental songs. Especially ones I can sing my baby to sleep with. I love this one. Especially when I think of all the people in my life, and the lives of those I love who can't come home because of all their obligations and duties. So here's Frankie again:

Now, of course, I like almost ALL Winter holiday music. But these rank the highest for me (at least in my current mood hahaha) I hope you enjoy them too.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Ten List Thursday-Wedding Trends

OK, so I forgot to "publish" this post yesterday, so let's pretend it's still Thursday for just a second.

It's getting towards peak engagement season again, people love to get engaged over the holidays, which is awesome. So for your enjoyment or not, here's Ten Wedding Trends that I am totally over.

*disclaimer, that I'm very sad that I have to put here, but people get their knickers in a twist about everything now-a-days. I have seen (most) of these things done really well, and I am not personally attacking anyone who uses them. They just seem to be overdone at this point.*

As usual, in no particular order.

1. Mustaches on a stick. I totally get Movember and all that stuff, and vintage is (usually) really cool but this is a trend that, the first time I saw it, I really didn't get why they were doing it, but it seemed cool and really matched the vintage old timey wedding this couple did. I liked it but filed it away under, quirky and fun, but totally not me. Then about 18 million weddings later, and it's not longer quirky and fun to me.

2. The weird coloration of wedding pictures. I don't know the technical term for this, it's not oversaturated, or sepia, or black and white, it's just weird to me. Brides spend forever picking colors for their wedding and then have all the pictures put into this weird filter. I don't get it. Melissa, do you know what this is called? You know the look I mean, like: the top picture here:
I like it for a couple of poses, but when all of your pictures are like that, it ruins them for me. In 20 years you're gonna want to remember the way you actually looked.

3. Cupcake wedding cakes. Do NOT get me wrong here, I love pre-portioned foods, I love cupcakes. I don't even really mind the cup cake wedding cake, I hate the pretension that some people have that they are the first person who ever thought of it. I LOVED the idea at first, and now I'm over it :)

4. The jump shot. All of your bridal party jumping with joy in the air. I have seen this done well TWICE. That's it. It's hard to pull off and I am so over it.

5. Flip flops under your gown for the ceremony. OK, this is partially biased because I totally HATE flip flops, but anyway. Wear whatever you're comfortable with for the reception and dancing, but if you're wearing a formal full on wedding gown/ballgown style...for the love of Pete, wear nice shoes that match the formality. (and get your dressed hemmed correctly). Nothing ruins the formal portrait for me than the bride in flip flops (if you're getting married in a casual little fun dress on a beach, ignore the above, but get a freaking pedi!)

6. Wearing a fascinator/birdcage veil that doesn't go with the style of dress you choose. I am a costumer, I LOVE fascinators, I love birdcage veils, but only with the right dress. It drives me crazy to see it with the wrong one.

7. Mixing and Matching traditions that mean nothing to you/that you don't understand what they mean. I have seen some beautiful mixed culture weddings, and I've seen wedding where the couple just incorporates whatever they think is cool without understanding the culture(s) they are taking from. Then they look like jerks. Plain and simple.

8. Butterfly releases. To be honest, I considered them myself, then I did the research and found out how irresponsible it is to do it, not to mention the fact that it can end up being really gross and kinda sad. Again, I have seen some gorgeous pictures of it done, but do your homework on this one. Poor little things.

9. Incorporating every freaking hobby and interest that you/your intended/your dogs/etc are into in your wedding. If I see one more freaking Tardis card box I will scream out loud from my desk. I am ALL for making your wedding truly you, I am all for subtle homages to your very favorite things in a wedding. Examples of it done right: Friend Patti using pictures of their pets as table markers. Friend Erin, who got married on the Ides of March, giving volumes of Shakespeare as favors. Friend Beth having a light saber decorated and made as a centerpiece for her sweetheart table. Friend Lisa having "The beatings will continue until morale improves" printed above her seating chart, Pat and I giving our groomsmen polyhedral dice as gifts. Those are lovely nice hints, kinda like the hidden Mickeys at Disney parks. Most people (hopefully) who are at your wedding already know you, they know what your interests and hobbies are. They'd love to play warcraft with you later, but now they don't want to look at your avatars on your WoW cake. Don't hit them over the heads with it.

10. Doing anything JUST to be Offbeat and OMGsooriginal. Be yourselves, have the wedding you want. If those offbeat things are you? Then do it, but don't force it in the name of having a memorable wedding.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ten List Thursday: Thanksgiving

We knew it had to be this way, 10 things I'm really REALLY Thankful for. As always though, not in any order

1. My beautiful daughter, who makes me happier every day, I am thankful for her health, her sweetness, her beauty, her giggles and everything about her. I look at her and have my Faith renewed.

2. My husband, this probably also goes without saying, but he is a wonderful thoughtful man who will always support me, even if he mocks me lovingly anyway. He is brilliant, funny, handsome, and I love him so much.

3. My job, yeah I've made more money in other jobs (pre-econopocolyse), but I've never been happier at a workplace. I have a boss I adore. He's amazingly smart, and fun to be around and is also a great teacher. There are grad students whom I really enjoy working with (mostly :P) and I'm encouraged and pushed all at the same time. I really am blessed to be here (and I know it!)

4. My husband's new job. Seriously, this is amazing for us in so many ways. We are so lucky and so happy that this happened. Walking to work and working in the district your daughter will attend: priceless

5. Having family close by to watch the baby.

6. Our friends. I love that we have a core group of couples to spend time with and share life with. It's great to have them close enough to visit often.

7. My 'online' friends who are really so much more than that. I love you guys (especially my T&C's, past and present)

8. My E-group, even when (as I mentioned before) I want to strangle them :P. As a wise man once said "We'll be friends forever, you know too much" If only the rEtrEat was more than once a year <3

9. Sweet little Tully, I am really enjoying living in our town. I think it will be a good place for my darling to grow up in. <3

10. Knowing that no matter what, we'll be ok. Everything is getting better, little by little every day. I am grateful for the good things, the bad things to make us appreciate the good ones, and having the Grace to know how good we have it, even when things look bleak.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Product Review: Black Box Wines

So I love wine. I love the way it feels on my tongue, makes my tummy warm, and even the way one glass will show up on my cheeks (who needs blush when I can have a nice dry oaky red). Going wine tasting is my favorite hobby. Someday I'd love to take classes to develop my pallet. Therefore when Bzzagent invited me to a campaign reviewing wine and hosting a wine tasting, I was like heck yes sign me up!

Note: Wine is a hobby for me, I am no expert, I just know what I like and take a lot of notes. As I was hosting here my notes are lacking, so take it for what it's worth. Wine is deeply personal so what I hate, you may love etc. I hope I don't sound pretentious here. :)

Black Box is a company bringing bottled wine quality to the boxed format. Each cute little box has four 750ml bottles worth of wine and it keeps at peak quality for four weeks. It's about $21.00 a box and available in a lot of places: will have a list of where to buy it.

I had a small tasting party and we tried four wines. Here's my opinion on them.

Sauvignon Blanc: They describe it as "fresh, zesty wine boasts vivid tropical fruit and herbal spice aromas and crisp, richly fruity, citrus flavors." I found it to have a lovely light bouquet with a hint of pear, a nice clean finish, just tart and refreshing enough to be a perfect summer picnic wine. I'd also love this wine watching the sun set with my honey on a lake some place. Will definitely be buying this one again.

Chardonnay: The tasting notes for this one made me nervous as I HATE banana (like the smell of it makes me nauseous, so yeah) "Tropical fruit aromas of Pineapple and banana are accented by hints of floral spice and creamy oak. The rich palate of lush citrus, pineapple and mango flavors persists through a long, refreshing finish." I was excited to see that it contains some gewurzttraminer which is becoming a favorite of mine. I'll be honest, it's not my favorite chad ever. I did like it though, it's a nice pleasant lower end chard (sorry Black Box), It's mellow, with a smooth finish, I like a bit bolder mouth feel in a chard and want it to hold up to really spicy food. I don't think this one would, I'll save it for a lovely roast chicken dinner thanks.

Merlot: They said: Its lavish red fruit aromas introduce a plush palate of rich plum and black cherry flavors, with smoky, vanilla oak nuances enriching the smooth, concentrated finish. The problem with merlot is, that I freaking love it. Therefore I am hella picky about it. This one did not impress me. I found it was lacking in body, and the velvety texture was missing for me. I definitely got a hint of vanilla, and I liked the bouquet quite a bit, but just not one I think I'll be buying again. Which is ok. I mean I can't like every wine I taste, and I was dreadfully spoiled with good merlot when I was younger.

Malbec: Now this one was very exciting to me because it's a varietal I haven't tried before. YAY New Wine. Probably because this is a pretty white centric area of the country, we just don't have the climate for reds. I was kinda nervous when they used the word tobacco as a flavour, but it was really well liked by my guests. I liked it a lot too, and will more than likely be buying it again. I'd also love to try more of them. They said "This wine has luscious floral and cherry aromas. The palate is dry and medium bodied with juicy blueberry flavors and hints of tobacco and chocolate. The earthy, robust structure and well bodied acidity lead to a smooth finish. Pairs well with juicy steaks, grilled meats and vegetables, Italian entrees, mild cheeses and tapas" I thought that it had a lovely musky aroma at first, with a lingering cherry at the end. It felt nice and warm sliding down my throat. It was lighter than I expected but not in a bad way. I like a full bodied red, but the medium body of this was a nice change up for me. It left just the right coating on my tongue and I think this will be a lovely wine for many a pasta meal.

Overall, I have decided I want to taste the other Black Box varietals, especially the Riesling as I am really enjoying dry Rieslings right now, I also really want to dry the Cabernet Sauvignon, as a good cab can take you far with a good steak. Yum Yum.

This little at home tasting was a lot of fun, almost makes up for not being able to afford the holiday wine shopping spree event on Cayuga this year. Although my parents leave on Saturday to go and I'm secretly (or not so secretly as I'm posting it on my blog) am hoping for a bottle of the sparkling cranberry wine as a present for watching their dog....

Disclaimer: I am a Bzzagent, I received a discount on this wine in exchange for my honest opinion and sharing it with my friends. All opinions expressed are my own. If you want more information on getting free products to review and share, feel free to ask.

Ten List Thursday: Fitness

So I need to write a real post eventually, but here it is Thursday once again.

10 (of many) things I'm looking forward to about being a healthy weight again:

1. Helping my daughter to have a healthier relationship with food than I have..

2. Wearing clothes that fit, meaning new wardrobe baby!

3. Reclaiming my sweet little sundresses.

4. Not wanting to cry every time I look in a mirror undressed.

5. Not having to worry about friction burns on my legs (aka chub rub)

6. Having more energy (I'm already feeling this).

7. Throwing away my scale. (Once I'm to my healthy goal, I am only going to measure my health by the way I look/clothes fit...ok, and the wiifit...but sticking to BMI not weight on that). I hate cleaning the darn thing.

8. No more stockings/spanx/smoothers in the summer time.

9. Having my outer body be more as I picture it when I'm not looking in a mirror (does this make sense?)

10. Having a longer lifespan and healthspan, so I can enjoy things with my family for longer.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten List Thursday: Fashion icons

A simple one this week, ten people/designers who's style I admire and would love to emulate in an ideal world.

1. Katherine Hepburn: So classic, no one could do undone chic like Miss Kate. So elegant, even in a flannel shirt.

2. Audrey Hepburn: (almost no relation to the above) She was so lovely, and always maintained herself with such grace.

3. Grace Kelly: Her style was perfection to me.

4. My friend Jan: She's like my style sister.

5. Kate Middleton: a new addition, I find her style to be like a modern Princess Grace, so I think that has a lot to do with it.

6.Calvin Klein: Ok, so he's a guy and all, but his classic tailored designs are very me.

7. Kate Spade: I generally really like her silhouettes.

8. Marlene Dietrich: No one could ever make a top hat and tails look as elegant and feminine as she could. I also am in love with her eyebrows

9. Ava Gardner: She knew how to use her elegant curves to the best advantage

10.Barbara Billingsley: June Cleaver, this is almost a joke. People seem to think I am the quintessential 50's housewifey. Even though my home is currently a mess and I work full time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ten List Thursday - uncommon courtesy

10 Items of courtesy that I thought were common (then again, I'm wrong a lot) and wish people would do again.

1. Waiting for people to exit an elevator before entering.

2. Saying "thank you" when someone holds a door open for you. Especially if they had to wait for you to arrive.

3. Saying "you're welcome" or something similar when someone says thank you to you.

4. Asking permission before sharing someone's seat on the bus. Especially if the person already there is busy doing something and may not have noticed you. It startles me when someone plunks down next to me without some warning.

5. Not touching other people's things. If my bag is in the way, simply ask me and I'd be happy to move it. I assume most people feel the same way.

6. Waiting for someone to finish speaking before you enter a conversation.

7. Saying "excuse me" when you need to squeeze by them. Giving them a dirty look for daring to be in your way is not exactly the same thing.

8. Moving aside to let someone pass. Especially if you are walking 3 abreast in a hallway designed for two and someone is trying to get down the hall and can't. Even more especially if they are pushing a cart of molten agar.

9. Not standing clumped in doorways having long conversations. People need to use those doors.

10. Waiting your turn. This includes when the light turns red, that doesn't mean that ONE more car gets to go. This holds everyone up and will possibly get you rear ended. You are not that special.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Believing the Lie: "Nice" Edition

This is re-posted from my livejournal, and I got a lot of great replies to it. A lot of people said that they felt that "nice" and "real" were different things. I don't necessarily think they are mutually exclusive, and that's kind of where my "Bitch" post from earlier this month comes from. I am all for telling people how it is and being "real" as long as you're not cruel and nasty about it.

Anyway, here's the re-post: :)

Believing the Lie: "Nice" edition.
I think there are several "lies" that people willingly happily believe in life. I use the word lie, and maybe I shouldn't because lies are bad hurtful things, and what I'm talking about here aren't. They are things that most people believe and follow on faith and I think these are terribly important and help us get through life. We need them. We preach them, and we despritely want them to be true. They are part of our humanity. I want to write about a bunch of them over time, but let's be honest here, I'll probably just write this post/rant/entry/essay and then forget about the rest of them. I'm trying to be more honest in my expectations of myself. In this post, I probably come across as preachy, bossy, and a bit self-righteous. I probably am these things, but I am just as guilty of everything I say here as anyone else.

So without further ado, my take on the lie of "Nice":

I was scanning Facebook last night after the baby was in bed and my parents had left, and I wasn't quite ready to go to my own bed (Still debating if I was going to match socks, write birthday thank you's, or just go sleep), and came across this status written by a good friend of mine: (Name redacted):So tired of being a nice person and yet still being constantly left out of everything *sigh* I wanted to comment, but didn't know what to say that wouldn't be trite, just placating, and someone else had already asked what happened, so I didn't say anything but it got me thinking.

We are all taught that we must be nice. 'Play nicely with the kitten, Evangeline', 'That wasn't a nice thing to say SarahBeth', 'You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar', etc. That if we are nice everyone will like us and want to be around us all the time, we will have good things in life, we will be given opportunities, we will be successful, etc.

I call Bullshit.

First of all: everyone thinks that they are a nice person. Seriously, when was the last time you thought to yourself: 'Geez, I'm a real wanker, it's amazing that anyone puts up with me' and TRULY MEANT IT? Never right? (Unless you are my husband who sometimes thinks he really is a bad person, but not all the time...he knows that I would never had married him if he was) Now, this could be because if you're reading this, I know you and everyone I know is just swell, but I am willing to bet that almost no one honestly thinks that they are just a suck-ass person. Even truly evil people don't go around saying "I just want to make life miserable for people because I can" They have an agenda to justify what they do (or have a voice somewhere telling them) It's really really easy for people to convince themselves that the mean rotten things we all do on occasion, are justified because "I really am a nice person". I am really mean sometimes in my head and in a snark community to a girl I "know" online who I'll just call NL. I don't like her. I don't like her because she is rude to people and self righteous and kind of a c-word. Is it ok for me to be mean about her (never to her "face", I just ignore her) because I'm a nice person in other regards? No, it's not. I do it anyway, but it's not ok, if it were ok, I wouldn't feel so guilty about it. I try to be a nice person, but when it comes to this woman, I just find myself flailing. Does this negate the nice things I do? Nope, but it means that I'm not quite a perfectly nice, sweet person (I actually think there was a time when I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and was kind, even in my head, to everyone, but that was a long time ago, and life just pushes you sometimes). I knew a guy once, who was the kind of person that would say really mean nasty things to people, or make jokes that were on the cusp of being really rude, and everyone just played it off as "He's just trying to make a joke, and is socially awkward enough that he doesn't realize it's not funny" or "He couldn't have possibly meant it that way" He ended up being a cheat, and said some not very nice things about his (Now ex)wife. Then he moved and some not so nice things happened to him (I don't know details, as I had unfriended him ages before because I didn't want that stuff on my "wall" anymore) and Pat called me over to his computer one day laughing. He pointed to a status by this guy lamenting how "Nice guys like me always get kicked when we're down" or something similar. Um? Him: Not nice, but he honestly thought he was a nice guy, a victim of circumstance.

Second of all: being nice will not get you a job. Seriously, where on your resume or cover letter does it say "Nice person". Go, look, I'll wait...... It doesn't does it? So being nice is not going to land you that interview. Now, being a nice person won't hinder you, unless you come across as a push-over (or a fake), but when it comes down to it, being qualified beyond the other people, and being a good fit with the team/organization if going to get you the job. Your nice-ness quotient probably won't even show in an interview. If it comes down to 2 candidates, both of whom are equally qualified, and would fit equally well, then maybe whomever seems nicer might get the job, or maybe they won't. I used to help my beloved former boss "The chief" with his interviews and resume screening, and the only difference between someone who came across as particularly nice and someone who didn't...was how badly we felt if we didn't offer them the job. To be honest, everyone seems nice at an interview because (hopefully) they're showing their best side. Being nice will not even really help you keep a job. In fact, by trying to be nice, even when someone started to turn on me, eventually caused me to lose a job I loved (now, there was way more to it than that, but there always is). Being nice could get you taken advantage of and still not get to keep your job. A lot of places have a last hired, first "fired"/laid off rule. So nice-ness won't help you there. If you can't do the job/aren't learning fast enough, being nice may get you an extra chance, but it won't save your job in the long run. (Although, it does sometimes help you get better deals from Vendors if they like you). Being nice won't get you into a lab to do your PhD, if you screwed up constantly.

Third: nice is a matter of perspective. Like anything really. I could be nice to a person, and they may be having a really wretched day and think that your nice comment was sarcastic and go off on you. They may think that you are rubbing it in their faces that you are happy and they aren't. You can't control how someone perceives your nice behavior and as I often say "Your perception is your reality" If you are having a dreadful day, and awful things keep happening to you and then you see someone skipping down the road singing to themselves, it can infuriate you. You didn't chose to feel that way, but sometimes it just happens. Another saying of mine is "You can't control how you feel, you can only control your reaction to that feeling" Feelings are reactionary, behavior can be controlled. What I'm saying is that even nice people truly sweet lovely people sometimes go off the deep-end with deeply personal (to them matters) what may have been a sweet gesture in your mind, could be devastating to the person you did said gesture for. Sometimes when you are upset and try to share how you're feeling in a "nice way" to spare someone's feelings and start to repair something broken, they can see it as an attack against them. You never know. So again, nice is a lie.

Fourth, and last as I fear I'm rambling, and not sure this should be a section: Now, some people are nice because they are afraid of karma (I really like the idea of karma, I don't know how much I truly believe in it). I think a lot of people who have had bad things done to us by other people want to think that karma is real. I think people like to think that bad things they've endured because of things/circumstance/health get rewarded for it later too, but that's another rant for another day. We want to know that people are punished for doing rotten things and we are vindicated. However, the people who did bad things, had reasons for them, that they thought were ok, and maybe they are hoping karma happens to you! The problem is that we all want to be good people, and somehow we all can't be. I struggle with this. Why do we need a villain to our hero? Should I watch the movie Unbreakable again? Does SLJ have all the answers? I certainly don't.


As for my friend, She didn't tell what happened in her status, so I don't know what she was left out of. I will tell you though, she IS a nice person, but I'm willing to bet that her being nice had nothing to do with whatever it was. I don't know why she was left out, maybe it was because whomever thought she would be busy packing for her upcoming move, maybe they couldn't provide her transportation, maybe there weren't enough tickets/space/money to have her come along, maybe it was all couples and they didn't want her to feel like a fifth wheel being in a distance relationship, maybe they were planning a bank heist and figured she was too pretty for jail should they get caught. Hell, maybe they just didn't want to see her this time, it could have been anything. This does not negate the fact that my friend is nice, in fact, if she wasn't nice she might not even know the people who left her out. Maybe if she wasn't nice (although admittedly a bit paranoid *wink*) it wouldn't bother her. Her nice-ness has given her a lot of friends, and given her happy memories, and while it can be hard to focus on that when "Nice guys finish last" so often, the times she has "finished last" has not made her a less hopeful, nice person (although, like all of us are wont to do, she does get bitter and disappointed at times).

When it comes down to the brass tacks of it, being nice makes YOU feel good, and I find, makes you an all over happier person, which makes it easier to be nice, and so on, not to mention, when you are nice to someone, they (not always, don't I know it) tend to feel a little nicer as well. However, it can really really be hard to continue to want to be nice/do nice things for others when your efforts are not reciprocated or even seem to go unnoticed, so remember to write those thank you notes (I'm still a tad behind on mine), appreciate those in our lives who are really good to us and remember to pay it forward. "Nice" is something that helps us get through the day, makes us happier in our lives, and helps us initially meet like minded people. Nice will make people think about you when they are away from you, make people want to do you kindnesses when they can. Nice will light up someone's day but unfortunately, in the vast unfairness of life, it will not solve all our problems. Hopefully though, it will help us bare them better. I'm gonna end with a quote from Jerry Springer, just for irony's sake "Be Good To Yourself…and Each Other!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ten List Thursday - pregnancy/motherhood changes

So I know I haven't posted anything in a week, I need to and have a couple posts started, but it's Thursday and I have time for a quick ten list.

10 unexpected things that have changed for me since I got pregnant/had the baby. I did a lot of research when I was pregnant, so I'm not gonna talk about those changes that I expected, or the obvious ones. These are the things that surprised me.

1. My stick straight hair now has a definite wave to it. Having trouble getting used to dealing with it in my bangs.

2. Turtle necks. I used to love them, all warm and cozy and they cover up my icky thyroid scar. Now I can't stand them, to quote the late Mitch Hedberg "[it's] like being strangled by a really weak guy, all day".

3. Coordination, I has it. Ok, so not entirely, but all of the sudden I can catch things. I never was able to before.

4. I no longer enjoy most episodes of Law and Order:SUV or anything else that involves a child getting hurt/lost/losing a parent etc. I always thought I was way beyond all that. I mean I always cry at humane society (Damn you Sarah McLachlan, I hate you) and hallmark commercials, but this is crazy.

5. I no longer feel the same way about work at all. I never thought having a child would change that. Now all I want is to get home to her. Love my job, love the students, love my boss, but if I could afford to stay home with Evangeline, you bet your sweet bum that I would in a New York Minute. I hated being home when I was unemployed so I assumed I wouldn't want to stay home with the baby.

6. I see babies and pregnant people EVERYWHERE. I'm sure there were just as many before, but I think it's kind of link when you first get engaged and you start noticing other people's rings all the time.

7. I worry about making sure I still talk about other things besides the baby, because I know people get sick of it. I kind of never even considered this pre-baby because I thought me as a mother would be just like me before only well, with a baby.

8. I'm suddenly a morning person. Ok, not quite true, I'm a fake morning person. Meaning I am awake instantly when she calls me in and can be chipper and act like I've been up forever. For someone who had insomnia for most of her life, and has ALWAYS been a night person. This change threw me off big time.

9. Itchy! I am seriously itchy someplace all the time. WTF?! Now I live in the country, so get spider bites, but this isn't bites. It's phantom itches. I hate this.

10. I've joined the club. Apparently having a baby gets you into this exclusive club. People who have never spoken to me before stop me in the hall to talk about my baby and their children/grandchildren etc. It's bizzare, they somehow KNOW I'm a mother even though to my knowledge we've never met. People who I thought didn't like me stop and ask to see pictures. People I haven't seen in decades send gifts. It's a nice weird, but still not something I expected.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ten List Thursday - if I had a million dollars (1)

I'm not one to keep to a theme much, but I'm always making ten lists in my head, and I thought instead of mentally playing with them and then forgetting them, I'd make it into a feature post instead.

This first one is a favorite one for me to imagine.

10 things I'd do if I had a couple million dollars, after I paid off all our debts, tithed, caught up on missed gifts, and gone to Disney with our friends. (Priorities people)

1. Buy a really nice wedding gift for my favorite security guard (I overheard that she was engaged, she doesn't know that I know which would make it all the more awesome)

2. Buy groceries and warm winter coats for the 2 homeless guys that I like [not coffee-snob-man (because I don't believe he's really homeless), or touch-people-before-soliciting-them-lady (because not punching her out of shear panic because no one touches my back so I assume every time that she's going to hurt me is enough of a reward for her, she scares me a lot)]

3. Drop a hundred dollar bill in the case of the awesome guys who plays show tunes on his sax in the afternoon some days on Marshall Street. He makes me smile.

4. Treat my favorite baristas to mani/pedis, just because they remember me and always smile at everyone even when the lines are long or people are rude.

5. Send something lovely to each of a certain group of girls I love more than they know and haven't been able to give them the attention they deserve lately.

6. Have professional organizers help me re-do the costume rooms of two high schools in which I have a vested interest. Completely with filling in missing pieces and new storage systems.

7. Randomly pick and go into a restaurant and pay for everyone's lunch.

8. Send Kelle Hampton (Enjoying the Small Things) and her lovely family something special just to say thank you for how much she influences my day for the better.

9. Give a stranger a make-over. (I do this mentally a lot, it would be so much fun to actually do it)

10. Restore French House (this is the only decent pic I could find, the main house is to the left in that picture, and my room is cut out) at my college Russell Sage College for Women where I lived for 3 out of my four years and especially to restore my room, which was original to the house (a tower room) that they removed for "safety reasons" thus the restoration was really just a cheap-o renovation. (Bitter? yes I am! That room was where I became the woman I am, it means a lot to me and I have many many happy memories there, and they tore it out like it was nothing)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipe Review: Homemade "Reese's" Eggs

I am a Pinterest addict. Let me know if you want an invite because it is awesome. While waiting for a digest to finish yesterday I was browsing and re-pinning and came across this: YUM!

OMG! First Pat (my husband) adores anything that Reese's makes. He particularly loves the eggs and other holiday themed treats because there is thinner chocolate and more of the peanut butter heaven. Up until I saw this I had planned on making Evangeline (our daughter) a dress out of a onesie last night after she went to bed, but this changed everything. I was only missing shortening (made one too many pies, oops), and peanut butter (had chunky not smooth), and got some extra chocolate chips just in case.

As I was cooking dinner (mmm, sausage ravioli) I mixed up the peanut butter dough. I ended up melting the butter and softening the peanut butter in the microwave to make measuring/mixing easier. Of course I used my trusty kitchen aid mixer so I saved a ton of trouble. I did end up needing 4 tbs of milk though (maybe because I never shift powdered sugar). I was a bit disapointed when I first tasted the dough because it tasted a bit too raw powdered sugar-y to me, but I kept going and attempted to form eggs, then gave up and made disks instead. I didn't have room in my freezer (damned french door units), so I figured 2+ hours in the fridge would work just as well. I covered them with wax paper and left them until after Evangeline went to sleep.

Once she was in bed, I melted the chocolate, I ended up needing almost 2 tbsp of shortening to make the chocolate the right coating consistency so use your best judgment with that. It's also a damned good thing that I bought extra chips cause I burned the first batch. Pro tip: Do not forget and leave a metal spoon in your chocolate in the microwave, I got distracted because The Mentalist was back from commercial. Simon Baker *swoon*. Anyway, I brought the chilled disks and the chocolate into the living room to dip them in front of the TV (I so need a kitchen TV), and tried to use a chopstick as a skewer. Bad idea, way too thick and it kept breaking the disks. I ended up putting them in the bowl, flipping them, then holding them by the edges so they could drip off. Then I put them on the waxed paper again. They set up nicely within a half hour but this morning they were perfect.

I tried to give one to my husband so he could taste one and let me know what he thought, but when I turned around to give it to him, he was passed out on the couch. High school students wear him out even more than the elementary ones did! So as of right now he can't tell me what he thought. I had one last night and 2(yes 2) for breakfast this morning. (This is why you're fat). So here's my take on them: The filling needed that time in the fridge, not only to firm up but to let the flavors marry well. This morning the filling tasted almost dead on. The chocolate coating was amazing because it was the perfect thickness for the amount of peanut butter and you could (if you wanted) double or triple dip to increases the thickness if you like them that way.

What would I change? I think next time (and there will be a next time)instead of free forming them, I will roll them out and use cookie cutters for fun, I think the coating will be more even that way too, a couple of them I had trouble coating the nooks and crannies with the chocolate.

Final thoughts: It made about 25 of these (big ones) and are cheaper than buying them pre-made. This would also be an awesome recipe to make with kids as they could either cut them out, or form them into their own shapes. They could also eat the "raw" dough because it doesn't have eggs or anything in it. (An adult should do the dipping though, at least until the chocolate cools a bit). I'll let you know what Pat thinks tomorrow! (in an edit)

EDIT: Pat says they look kinda gross (irregular lumpy shape, which will look better when I roll them out and cut with cookie cutters), but tasted on par with real Reese's! Score!

I'll probably edit this to add a picture of them at some point, because an entire blog with no pictures is boring right?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On being a Bitch

This will be a sister post to one I posted on my livejournal a while back that I will repost here later. I was going to repost it first, but I figured Melissa deserved something new to read.

Bitch, Please.

I want to know when "Bitch" became a badge of honor for women. Seriously, I do. When did being outspoken to the point of cruelty become more desirable that being kind? I'm not saying that women should be simpering spineless drones wandering around with false smiles on their faces pretending that all is right with the world, far from it in fact. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have bitter, catty, mean or snarky moments. I personally happen to love being a bit snarky here and there, if a situation calls for it. You also better believe that I'm gonna stand up for myself when I feel it's warranted. I just happen to chose my battles (and chose them probably more carefully than most because I have a way over active guilt complex and I hate that feeling). I see things like "You say bitch like it's a bad thing" well, I think it is. I have friends who think they are bitches, have told me they think that about themselves, but in truth, they aren't. They're regular women who occasionally say something in a snarky or even painfully blunt way. I do know women who embrace this "bitch" mentality. I have worked with them, my mom still works with women like this. They take pride in being as mean and nasty and back-stabby as they can because they like the drama this causes. These people start nastiness, gossip, and strife that turns people against each other and then sit back and come out smelling like a rose. This kind of thing is what gives women working together a bad name.

I know that I'm not going to like everyone I meet. Far from it, especially people I meet online (hello people in weddingplans that I want to hit *waves*). However, there are ways to deal with it. I can call or text my friends and vent about things. I can join snark communities where I can complain about a person until I calm down enough to handle something with grace and without hurting their feelings. I can come up with ways to confront people that aren't bitchy, especially if I don't think the person meant to piss me off. (Although, this backfires a lot for me, people tend to be so used to me backing down and choosing my battles that they over react like WHOA when I stand up. Once I'm up, I don't back down.). I understand the occasional bout of the bitch within. Especially if it's a straw that broke the camel's back type thing. I definitely am not going to spread rumors, talk trash (even if it's true) with people who are going to get the person in trouble, just cause I don't like a person. Even if a person stabs me repeatedly in the back (or front for that matter), especially because being sickly sweet can be the best revenge in this case (see, I'm no angel).

Now, I know this post sounds a bit really preachy, and there's nothing quite as insufferable as a preachy blogger, especially one making her second post ever. I'm also just as guilty as being an accidental bitch as anyone (I have a bit of a temper, although I'm better at controlling it now). The thing is, this rant comes from a place of pain for me. I lost a job I loved, partially because one of these women decided she hated me enough to call me a name that eventually lead to my boss being forced out of his job, and the resulting new boss getting rid of me for reasons I won't go into. I also hear my mother, a woman who is incredibly strong and rarely displays negative emotion, getting so upset at her co-workers behaving like this because they think she's a snob due to of all things, her vocabulary. Anyway, I promise to make entertaining non preachy posts as well as ones like these. Sometimes you just have to speak what's in your heart ya know?

Friday, September 30, 2011


One of my dear friends (Hi Melissa!) has been urging me to start a blog for some time. I do have a locked down livejournal, but that isn't quite the same thing. My husband has a blog in the works, so I should be a good example to him and do this as well.

A little about me. I'm SarahBeth (don't call me Sarah unless Lady is attached ^_~)I'm 30 years old, a first time mother to a little girl. She's 14 months old and the light of my life. My husband Pat and I have been married for 6 years and together for almost 12. We have a small house in a tiny village in Upstate New York, and a cat. We're a pretty average family, he's a jr/sr. high music teacher and I'm a lab technician at a nearby university.

We're on the geeky side of the spectrum but we don't let that consume our lives. I'm obsessed with Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes, good wine/wine tasting, am interested in the ABJD hobby, and play Dungeons and Dragons with my husband and our friends. I have a crazy group of friends from college whom I adore (and sometimes want to strangle) called the E-group, and some of my dearest friends I have met on the internet. I love acting and all things theatre (yay stage combat) I am a costumer for a local high school (maybe soon to be 2), and also teach an occasional workshop.

I tend to write in a pretty stream of consciousness manner so I'm sure my posts won't always read well. I hate editing, so I tend to just type and leave things as they are. This is one of the reasons I've hesitated to blog before now, I know my posts will never be polished and pretty to read. Despite the best efforts of my English major friends, a writer I am not. I love commas (especially the Oxford one), long sentences, parenthesis where I should use foot notes, and the word "also". I can't promise that this will be a regular thing or that I won't lose interest in it in a month. I'm also a bzzagent so I may occasionally do a product review in here, but I promise it will always be my honest opinion, and I'll try to keep it relevant. I also promise to change this layout as soon as I find the time. :)