Thursday, September 30, 2010

Knowing My Limitations...

When I was a kid I wanted to be in the Ice Capades. Our parents would take us every year and after each show I would come home determined to ice skate myself into fame. Unfortunately, the fact I couldn't (and still can't) skate backwards was an obstacle that would forever hinder me from living the dream.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmm.......

Sometimes I wonder if  this stuff comes up in my world just so I have new ridiculousness to ponder upon...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It Began At Applebees...

...when the waitress came to the table and asked, "Ma'am, do you know what you want?"

I looked at this perky little thing with a blank stare and thought, Sister, I've waited my whole life to be asked this question.

Yeah, I know what I want.

Monday, September 27, 2010

And Another Thing...

I have been quiet about this way too long. And I may cross the line of political correctness, so if that makes you queasy, you may wanna get off at the next stop. Still with me? Great! Here we go...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Get Up On This...

I love to dance. All I need is to hear a Salt-n-Pepa baseline or a little Rob Base and I am a freak. Get Bobby Brown yelling about his prerogative circa 1988 and suddenly I'm morphed into a Solid Gold Dancer.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

National Greed

Today I received my utilities bill from National Grid. To say I am shocked (no pun intended) is the understatement of the century.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Situation...

Forget The Millionaire Next Door. Forget anything Suze Orman has ever taught you. According to this morning's Bloomberg Report, America's newest financial genius is none other than The know, that idiot from Jersey Shore. Well, tint me orange and call me Snookie...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It All Started With The Big Bang...

Alright you high-falutin TV executives thinkin' you've got it goin' on...LISTEN UP! I am REALLY angry with you and your gonna get a piece of my mind - so SIT DOWN and PAY ATTENTION! You have been messin' with my chi for way too long and it needs to stop now!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Was I Thinking?

Those little smooshed faces are hard to resist. So are the little eyes peering out from behind bars. This is how I got roped in...again.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lessons On Morality...

It's that time of year again. All the kiddies are back in school and it is time for Faith Formation (Sunday School, Religious Education, Catechesis, whatever terms appeals) to begin.

I am a Catechist (teacher, leader, supposed-grown-up) for a class of ninth graders and have been given this year's theme: Morality. Seriously? Couldn't we take on something a little easier like the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in Latin? Where to even begin?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Caught In A Bad Romance...

I am in an abusive relationship.There is no doubt we need one another, but we simultaneously love and hate one another. They say admitting it is the first step to recovery, so here it is...

Me:   Hi. My name is Beth Hazelton
They: Hi Beth!
Me:   I have been in an abusive relationship with my Blackberry for three months, two weeks, and four days.
They: Applause! Applause! Applause! You are among friends! Let it go!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jake Ryan, Where Are You?

Last month as I reflected on the one year anniversary of John Hughes' death, I had an epiphany. All middle and high school students traveling today's hallways like salmon swimming upstream to spawn should be made to watch John Hughes Filmology 101: Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink. I say this with the utmost of sincerity - there are no movies of value being produced to come of age to anymore.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Too Much Information...

The thought "less is more" is lost on many. The need to share every little detail regardless of whether or not we want to know needs to be examined. Let me just say: I am on a need to know basis and I really don't need to know much.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Read Your Rule Book, Shankapotamaus...

For the most part, I am a pretty easy-going person. However, there are times I wish society came with a rule book. And when we see someone not following the basic rules, the end result is a slap upside the head with said rule book.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name...

I have come to the conclusion that we Americans love our labels. We have a label for everyone for everything. Upon meeting someone for the first time we want to assign as many of these labels as possible to size up who they are going to be and where they are going to fit into our lives.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Go To Your Room!

One day long, long ago my daughter was in a mood. I emphatically suggested she go to her room and take a nap as she was in obvious need of some down time.

As she proceeded up the stairs, she turned on her little heel and demanded, "Why don't the Moms ever get sent to THEIR rooms?"

Oh my stars - REALLY?! I would LOVE for someone to banish me to my room!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You...

During my parents generation, the universal question linking all of them together was:

"Where were you when you learned Kennedy was shot?"

Sadness ensues and an explicit series of events pours forth detailing when, where, how, who, why. Exactly when they heard the news; where they were as it was relayed to them; how they learned it; who told them; and why it has impacted their lives up to and including this day.

For a little while, my generation had the same question when asked about the Challenger blowing up. I was taking my 11th grade final exam in Health when Mrs. Bradt came into the room and blurted out what had happened. We knew this was serious because everyone knows there is no talking during an exam and she looked positively shell-shocked.

I remember going home where the media relived the explosion over and over and over while providing voice over details of how Christa McCaulliffe, the school teacher chosen special for this mission, couldn't wait to come back and share the experience with her class. This has stayed with me always as a reminder of no matter how far we progress scientifically there will always be events we not only can't predict, we never even saw them coming.

September 11th is now the indelible event forever marked on all Americans of how something we never saw coming changed our lives forever.

Nine years ago, I was a stay-at-home Mom. Our son was in second grade and it happened to be one of the days our oldest daughter did not have nursery school. As the television was hardly ever on, I knew nothing about the towers when it happened. Circumstances prompted me to call my Mom, who answered the phone in tears. I asked what was wrong and she told me. None of this registered with me until I turned on the TV, when in an instant, the world seemed to stop.

I had never felt so helpless in all my life. Very soon my prayer group of moms convened at my house where we sat in front of the TV all day looking for answers. And we prayed. We prayed for the firefighters, for the police, for the people who could not get out, for the families who couldn't reach their loved ones, for the passengers on a plane who thought it was just another day before they were forced to play a part in history they never signed up for. I wanted my children around me where I could hold them close and wondered how to keep them safe for always.

In the days that followed, no one laughed. It didn't seem right. American patriotism and pride swelled the nation as songs were written, we lit candles, many renewed their relationships with God, children waved small flags, and we went to war.

Since September 11th, we have become a nation living in fear. We fear everything: bed bugs, pandemic flu, running out of Purell, someone carrying a water bottle on a plane, not having the calorie count on the McDonald's menu, losing our jobs, losing our homes, crooked politicians, crooked Wall Street - you mention it and we've been conditioned to fear it.

The New York State Museum in Albany has a 9/11 exhibit. If you have not seen this presentation, I strongly encourage you to do so. Today. Go Now. Though I have walked through many times, it never fails to make me cry and take me right back to that time. While it is heart-breaking to see, it also shows how strong we are as Americans and as a nation. It gives me hope - we will endure.

In memory and honor of Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Song Remains the Same...

As you may or may not know, I love music. My taste is so eclectic I will not bore you with all the details. Suffice it to say I have been known to attend a long-awaited performance of the symphony only to follow it up within 48 hours with a heavy-metal, heart pounding, sing-at-the-top-of-my-lungs-till-I've-lost-my-voice thrash fest. With such music appreciation, I am taking it upon myself to educate our youth of their humble beginnings.

It began a few years ago when my oldest came to me and asked if I had ever heard this really great song by Korn called, "Another Brick In the Wall." Seriously? Not only did I proceed to educate the young lad on the actual true pioneers of these lyrics, I pulled out the quintessential album to play the original for him.

Conversations along this same vein subsequently followed:

"Mom, have you ever heard of "The Immigrant Song?"

I presented him with our Led Zeppelin boxed sets. One would have thought I gave this boy the Holy Grail.

"Mom, there is this group called AC/DC where the lead guitarist is totally amazing and dresses up like Jack Black in "School of Rock!"

Out came all the AC/DC albums as I regaled the young lad with tales of my numerous concert experiences to witness their timeless awesomeness. (Although a personal note to Angus Young: Angus, when you read this (and you will read this) please stop dropping your shorts in concert. It is never attractive seeing a 60 year-old heiney - pull up them drawers.)

Recently Disturbed came screaming across the airwaves to "Land of Confusion." Once again I was there to dash the hopes of my son. Been there, done that ions ago with Genesis.

After he waited with bated breath for Disturbed's newest release, my son was shocked and amazed when I sang Tears for Fears "Shout" right along with them.

He demanded to know, "How do you know this song? IT JUST CAME OUT?!"

To which I replied, "It's because...well...I'm cool like that."

His immediate response was to inform me that just by declaring this statement I proved it undeniably false.

These same conversations ensued as Korn released "Word Up", Godsmack released "Good Times, Bad Times" and on and on and on.

"Isn't "Paradise City" the coolest song ever?" Why yes it was - twenty years ago...

As if this wasn't entertaining enough, my daughter then added to the fray.

"Mom - there is this song out called "Love Stinks" and it is great!"

Aaargh!! Enough!! So here it is, young ones...listen up!

It is time to give props to those who came before you. Now, as we proceed with the lesson, please know I am not dissing any of these newbies. I am merely pointing out they are not the out-of-the-box pioneers our youth believe them to be.

Lady Gaga: You can thank Madonna, Patti Smith, Blondie, and Cindi Lauper (just to name a few);

Marilyn Manson: Give it up to Alice Cooper, Ozzie Osbourne, and Blackie Lawless (who incidentally scared the stuffins right out of me);

Adam Lambert: You can thank David Bowie for his Ziggy Stardust days, not to mention Motley Crue, Poison, and all the glam eighties hair bands. Oh, and stop tongue kissing your fans instead of just shaking hands with them - you're going to catch a cold doing that;

John Mayer: Give your kudos to Eric Clapton. Incidentally, Mr. Clapton never tweeted or discussed all his love conquests...he gave us "Layla."

Justin Beiber: Bow down to David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, Davey Jones, Donny Osmond and those other bubble-gum-shag-haircut-puppy-love-da-do-run-run-run poster idols from days gone by. (Okay, maybe there was a bit of dissing there...)

Understand some of the best music ever came from the previous generations. So enjoy it and appreciate us older folks who played it, studied it, did not have copious amounts of cash but what we had supported it, and have preserved for your listening pleasure.

Class is go and share what you have learned and I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

When Did I Become Vintage?!

Let me preface these thoughts by saying I LOVE being 41! I welcomed the forties and am not apprehensive about growing older.

That being said, I must admit it was a bit startling to learn some of my favorite items from my younger days are considered "vintage." Um...what? How did this happen?

I recently read how the classic look is back. As I was not aware it ever left I must have been so out of style that now I am back in again. This realization slapped me in the face recently when I was posting some items on Ebay.

During my aforementioned cleaning frenzy from Labor Day weekend, I came across my fitted Express denim jacket donned by yours truly during the late-eighties/early nineties. Being the seasoned 41 year-old woman I am, I determined the time had come to part with this remnant of days gone by, and as it is in great condition, went to Ebay to sell it for someone else to enjoy. Those of you not familiar with this process, Ebay offers a handy little tool for searching similar items to determine what the competition looks like. This is when VINTAGE slapped me in the face and called me Mamma. There it was - my rocking remnants were practically called antiques.

Though slightly disconcerting, this should have come as no surprise. Last winter my oldest daughter donned my leather bomber jacket to wear out and about. When asked where she obtained such awesome threads, she relayed it came from my closet and that I used to wear it "in the olden days." Yikes...

It is not as if my closet is ready for the next episode of "Hoarders." These clothes are classics that are made to endure. Unfortunately, it is not only my clothes bringing the vintage label upon me. 

Boomerang has taken all my favorite cartoons and brought them around again for our children to enjoy - claiming to be the station from the Baby Boomer generation. This was somewhat of a shock to my children as they weren't aware we even had cartoons in the olden days. The idea we didn't have cable until I was in middle school, not to mention only three hours of cartoons per week, seemed absolutely primitive to them. Dare I even admit I have caught myself saying, "When I was your age..." This can't be good.

I suppose the positive outlook would be to recognize all that is old is new again. But please promise if I pull out the Aqua Net and the fringed leather Bon Jovi jacket someone will stop me before I humiliate myself.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Going Au Natural...

I bet that caught some attention!

It was several years ago I decided to go for it...what's the worse that could happen? Someone laughs at me? Makes fun of me? Finds me shocking? Well, I can assure you to date I have experienced none of the above. The only person not pleased with my actions is my dear daddy, but more on that later...

It finally got to the point I was tired of it all. I would obtain fleeting satisfaction only to be forced back for more. Very quickly I found myself going less and less times between fixes. This habit was getting expensive, was not enjoyable, and was not healthy. What to do?

I had a parting of the ways with Miss Clairol. To answer L'Oreal, yes I am definitely worth it. However, the amount I was spending on hair color and touch-ups could buy A LOT of shoes. Plus, how cool did Meryl Streep look sans hair color in "The Devil Wears Prada"? If Meryl could do this, gosh darn it then I could to.

Once I made the decision to go au natural, the work began. At the time I was growing my hair long (aspiring to beautiful, tousled, blown-in-the-wind, just-rolled-out-of-bed locks that never transpired) and waiting for the color to grow out was traumatic. At one point I was striped! And every woman knows that horizontal stripes are never flattering, especially when framing one's head. So off it came - every bit of it. Constantly aspiring to Audrey Hepburn, I went pixie. Finally, I was getting somewhere!

Now I am at a point where I am pleased with my bold look. I get many compliments on my grey hair which I am happy to accept - I earned every one of them. The only person who has unabashedly told me it is not a good look is my Dad, but I think I know why. I imagine it is not easy to see your child look so old distinguished.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School...

I remember the nights as a child before the first days of school...

Sleep would not come as I envisioned a new year full of promise and possibilities. The new clothes were laid out for my early departure, the supplies were all branded with ownership, and the blank notebooks beckoned to be filled with wisdom and new-found knowledge. Nothing was better than the smell of a brand-new box of crayons!

Would this be the year I finally understand the math concepts that eluded me years prior? Would I have someone to eat lunch with? Hopefully no one else had the same sneakers as me...will I remember my locker combination? The new school year begins with the chaos of trepidation and excitement for all the unknowns, while simultaneously providing the reassurance of a schedule and order in our lives.

As an adult, these same feelings take hold once September roles in. Sadness for the end of summer and laments for all the plans not brought to fruition quickly fade to a time to begin anew. The French have a name for it ~ la rentree. Literally, la rentree is the beginning of the school year. I choose to look at it as "the re-entry." The re-entry to organization, schedules, the crisp autumn weather, and all the unknown possibilities the new year can hold. Garden beds are put to sleep, darkness creeps in a little earlier each evening, and my favorite sweaters come out from hibernation.

I spent the Labor Day weekend cleaning like a crazy woman in preparation of la rentree. Closets were purged, files shredded, floors washed, everything in my way sold on E-bay. (Incidentally, don't knock Ebay - you would be amazed at what some of this stuff went for...and me being the cheap frugal person I am, this was icing on the proverbial cake!)

For some folks, New Years Eve holds this same promise of possibilities and new beginnings. While I have been known to attempt resolutions, I find the ones created on the first day of school are the ones that endure. January is the same cold weather, a let-down after the festivities of the holiday season with too many months of cold weather on the horizon. The first day of school, however, is new...invigorating...fresh and full of promise as an empty notebook and a brand-new box of crayons.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Book is ALWAYS Better Than the Movie...

I am a geek. When I read a book, I devour every little detail of it. When the Harry Potter books were at long-last made into movies, I was right there opening night opining every detail left out and how they really didn't get this or that the way it was in the book. Don't even get me started on "Under the Tuscan Sun." Although I rate this as one of my favorite movies, the only thing it shares with the book is the name.

My previous held belief was this probably only happened once in awhile - but now I am of the firm belief that if you want a true, full-flavored experience you absolutely must read the book. I have read too many amazing stories only to witness their soul lost to the big screen. One possible explanation is that my imagination is more vivid than can be portrayed through film; although, I must admit that Chris Columbus captured Hogwarts exactly as I had envisioned in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Unfortunately, this is rare. Another possibility is I put so much of myself into what I choose to read, often times I come away with a spiritual experience that is subsequently let-down through a) the actors selected to bring the characters to life; or b) the director's failure to relate to what attracted me to the story.

Often times I am following the movie, but it is only with the knowledge of the book's full story-line that the movie makes any sense. "The Da Vinci Code" is a perfect example here, as well as "Perseus Jackson and the Lightening Thief." Without reading the book, how would you know Luke's method of stealing Zeus's lightening bolt or even why? What about what Perseus asks of all the Gods due to Luke's choices? Oops! I probably should have had a spoiler alert, but it doesn't matter - if you haven't read the book the movie won't make sense anyway.

If any evidence is needed to make the case to read, read, read rather than just watch, watch, watch...well, keep reading...

Recently, I parted with about $15 to see "Eat, Pray, Love." Well, actually I parted with $7 to see the movie; the rest was for carrot cake and a seltzer from the out-of-this-world snack bar at the Spectrum. Anyway, I absolutely love, love, love this book. Elizabeth Gilbert is approximately 48 hours older than me - we were born the same year, the same month, the same week. I could really relate to this woman's memoir and her journey. Now I must admit, I was forewarned. A recent article in Vanity Fair did advise the movie focused more on a love story than the spiritual aspects of the book. And while I did enjoy the movie, I constantly found myself mourning the passages they did not accurately relay; more so the ones sacrificed for total fabrication. While the scenery was beautiful and brought me to lands I can only dream to one day visit, the characters who so positively impacted her life were never developed. I implore everyone who sees this movie to please, please, please read this book.

And - try the carrot cake. It's divine!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Blessings for the Bounty - Tomatoes! Tomatoes! Tomatoes!

"If you like to talk to tomatoes..."

This is the opening line to "Veggie Tales," a wonderful children's series based upon scripture - although you were never preached at to the point of guilt-ridden eye-rolling and head-bashing. It is very funny and although my children haven't watched it in years, we still catch ourselves belting out one of the tunes now and again.

This song came to mind today as we harvested our third bushel basket of tomatoes from our garden. After last year's blight-ridden waste, we have been blessed this summer with an incredible bounty. Let it be known that while I love to cook, I am NOT the boil-the-canister-remove-the-skin-boil-down-the-tomatoes-canning kind of woman. This can be summed up in a very simple explanation...I'm lazy.

Luckily, I have a wonderful library of cookbooks that I draw inspiration from. Starting with a Patricia Wells recipe for roasted tomatoes, I embellished to create what I share with you herein. I can tell you, the results are amazing! I have frozen several batches and have a unanimous, "This is really good!" from the family.

It is a great utilization for the tomato bounty we have been blessed with and will be most welcome in the cold months of December. Bon Appetite!

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Remove the core from the tomatoes.
Cut the tomatoes in half (you will have a top and a bottom).
In a roasting pan (a 9 x 13 will do if you don't have enough tomatoes) place both halves cut-side up.
Do not worry about removing the seeds!
Section two onions, pull apart the sections and scatter them among the tomatoes.
Slice two cloves of garlic and scatter amongst the tomatoes and onions.
Sprinkle with italian seasoning.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Pop it into the oven for 50 minutes.
When it is done, put it in a food processor and puree.

It blends beautifully - I added some parmesan cheese when I served it. Delicious!

Please share your favorite recipe for fresh tomatoes - I am always looking for new ideas!

The Real Housewives - No Really, For Real This Time

Here is a confession - I have actually watched and read all the blogs and viewer comments for Bravo TV's "The Real Housewives of...(fill in the blank - I watch 'em all.)" Yup, every table flipping, backstabbing, couldn't-actually-sing-a-note-if-your-life-depended-upon-it, shop-til-you-drop moment. It is a guilty pleasure that has believe it or not taught me some very, very valuable lessons.

1) Money cannot buy class;
2) I have been blessed by some AMAZING women in my life - you know who you are - who have been there for me no matter what and didn't need to tell the world or become a martyr for it;
3) My children are great, well-rounded young people who did not suffer from our lack of millions;
4) Gossip always has a bitter after-taste with the possibility of inducing vomit;
5) We all have baggage - some of us just carry it in Prada bags;

6) Despite my best efforts, I can't sing so I will refrain from proving it on national television;
7) At the end of the day, I want my children to see Christ through me; not think I need an exorcism.

Despite these life-lessons, Bravo TV doesn't want me. I don't possess the "Oh no she didn't!" effect they are looking for. Truthfully, I'm not that deep. How many times could you film a woman yelling at two pugs to stop eating rabbit droppings out of the grass while freaking out because the school bus is here and her oldest is running down the road in his socks to catch it ? Not really "Must See TV"... but it suits me just fine.

Welcome to My World!

After many years of hearing, "You should be blogging!" I finally jumped into the deep end of the pool with my hair on fire. I have so much I want to share with you and encourage you to do the same. We may see eye-to-eye, we may disagree - but we will always have something to talk about!

As I mentioned, I am a practicing Catholic who relies on my faith to lead the way. HOWEVER, the caveat being, like many Catholics, I am not sure I actually have my finger on the pulse. So, I just keep on keeping on. Somethings have a way of getting on my last nerve, while other things just roll. Depends on the day...

So let me know what's on your mind - it's all good! In my world, the sky is always blue and everybody like me.