Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm not bluffin'

No, I’m not turning into Lady Gaga...

A few weeks ago, I went to see The Maccabeats in concert. They’re a new Jewish a cappella group and they’re fabulous! I love their sound. Being at the concert (coupled with listening to the Warbler’s CD from “Glee”) made me think of an a cappella group I was crazy about in the 90’s and early 2000’s….Blind Man’s Bluff.

In the summer of 1996, I was riding my bike around the park one evening and came across a concert. It sounded like it would be interesting, as there were four guys singing some popular tunes and one of them was from my high school. I sat down and enjoyed the rest of the concert. Then I found out that they were going to perform at my college that winter. I went to see their concert again. Initially, it was the four guys pictured on the left (there may have been one or two changes in the group, but I can't remember). The second one from the right is David, the guy I knew from high school.

The following summer (1997), I must have gone to a ton of their concerts. I lost track of how many. They had this game where they would make up a song based on a word. The more challenging the word, the better. I went to one of their concerts a day after going to “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” (my other “obsession” at the time) and remembered the word “vichyssoise” from one of the plays. I gave them that word and they made a funny song with it. Around this time, they also put out a CD called “Shades.” I recently listened to it in my car and it brought back so many memories.

In January of 1998, they performed at Millikin University, along with an a cappella band my friend Adam was in at the school. I went with a few friends (including one who was from Decatur and whose family’s house was nearby) to see this concert. It was a lot of fun. That summer, I went to see them again a bunch of times, as I would continue to do in the next couple of years. By this time, they had changed a lot. There were a few new faces and voices. At one point, there was a guy who was a Toad the Wet Sprocket fan like me. I made him a TTWS tape and brought it to another concert where he was performing. Around this time, my friend Adam (the one at Millikin) also had joined the group. One of the guys called himself a human beatbox and would do demonstrations of drumming with his face and mouth. It was really cool. (Oddly enough, they did something similar at the Maccabeats concert and even taught the audience a trick...but I don't see myself mastering it anytime soon.)

After I graduated college, I still continued to find out where BMB would be performing and make every effort to go to their concerts. I remember them singing at a bar in Chicago (on Belmont) a few times. I took my friends there to see them each time they were there. The last concert I saw them perform at (as the group pictured on the right) was at Northwestern University. This may have been their last concert ever, as they were going their separate ways. (They had put out two more CDs by this time.) I was just starting out with dating my husband and took him to see the concert. I loved seeing how impressed he was by them. I even got to introduce him to Adam (on the far right of the picture) after the show. (I’ve known Adam since we were kids, so I was glad he got to meet someone who was going to be a big part of my life.)

These days, it seems like a cappella music is making more of a comeback. Will I be as obsessed with the Maccabeats as I was with BMB? Who knows? For now, I just cherish my memories of all the fun concerts I went to in the past and hope that a cappella music stays strong for future generations to enjoy.

I'm not the only movie buff in the house....

My husband has gone to the dark side....I've convinced him to start a blog. :)

You can check it out here! He will be blogging about movies and sharing his spoiler-free thoughts on them. Please follow his blog. Thanks so much!

Star-Spangled!

Remember the blog project I did last year with three other women? Well, Froggie decided to resurrect it with me and we each got to invite another friend to join us. She invited a mutual friend (someone I met through her) and I invited a friend whose blog I really enjoy reading. So now it's Froggie, Mom of Many, Moma Rock and Merrylandgirl. Hope you enjoy the topics that we'll be exploring!

This week, I picked the topic: Share your favorite 4th of July memories.

Before reading ahead, first see what everyone else had to say on this topic:

Froggie
Mom of Many
Moma Rock

It’s no surprise that 4th of July (a.k.a. Independence Day) is one of my favorite holidays. Oddly enough, I don’t even have bad associations with it, considering it is also the anniversary of Mama Mollie’s passing. I guess I see it as her being independent of the shell of her former self (and all her suffering).

I have a lot of fun 4th of July memories. When I was a kid, my family and I would go to carnivals and see fireworks with family friends of ours. We always had a good time. We’d sit on a blanket in a big field and eat watermelon while watching colors light up the sky. The kids (including myself) would get to play with sparklers too. It was fun to draw lines in the air with the sparklers while the flame was still going.

When I was in college, there was one 4th of July (1996) I spent with two close girl friends from college and a guy friend from “Rocky Horror.” We went to Max and Erma’s and then drove over to Big Bear Lake in Vernon Hills to watch the fireworks. We had a fun time talking and laughing together. I also recall screaming in a rather embarrassing way when we passed by Zanie’s and I saw a sign that Jake Johannsen was coming back to perform there. (He was a favorite comedian of mine at the time.) There was a restaurant over there called Tasty Thai and we joked that it was Tasty “thigh.”

My first 4th of July while living in my condo (2000) was fun too. “Will” came over and we went swimming all afternoon. Later, we had dinner at my parents’ house and went to see the fireworks there. We had this joke about me asking my mom in a “Pat” (from SNL) voice about when the fireworks were going to start. The following year (2001), I went to the Taste of Chicago with some girl friends I hung out with all the time. Then I met up with another friend for dinner (back at the Taste) and we saw “Mamma Mia!” together. (My second time in one week seeing it.) I think “Jack” was there, along with another gay guy friend (at the time). We were all dancing to the songs at the end. The bad thing about that night was losing my wallet, but I had such a fun time that day.

When my husband and I started dating, we spent every 4th of July at my parents’ house. They would barbecue or bring in food and have a lot of guests over. We’d all go to fireworks together, as well. The fireworks have always been amazing and they’re timed to music. In the past, they did them all to Disney songs. Now there’s a strange variety. Sometimes good bands from the 90’s came to the park to put on concerts. They had Gin Blossoms and Smash Mouth in previous years. One time, I won a “Mamma Mia!” CD (oddly enough) in a Karaoke contest.

My mom even hosted the 4th of July party when my grandma died, as she wanted a distraction and she knew her mom would have wanted her to celebrate anyway. After we moved away, we still came back for 4th of July and the parties got even bigger. This is the first summer we’re spending 4th of July at our own home. It will be different for us. I’ll miss seeing the usual people who show up at my parents’ house for the holiday. However, we’ll play the day by ear and find something fun to do with the kids. Even so, I hope it will work out for us to come back to Chicago for the 4th next year and the years that follow...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Funny Friday-6/24/11-Barney is no dinosaur!

I've decided to do a new blog theme called Funny Friday. It's basically stuff that I find funny and want to share my somewhat crazy humor with you.

I've been watching "How I Met Your Mother" a lot lately in an effort to catch up. The person who stands out as the funniest is Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris.

I caught this episode out of order, but it's still hilarious knowing what I already knew about Barney. The best part is where they show different "plays" from his playbook. The wink is the best part!:



This was from the first season, where they're sharing embarrassing moments to learn more about Barney's shameful secret. This shows the transition from his hippie days to his "awesome" new image. And wait for the wink. So worth it!:



I was going to add in a video of the suit song, but I couldn't find anything good. You'll just have to watch the series, I guess...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Scenes from a Kosher Restaurant

Remember the blog project I did last year with three other women? Well, Froggie decided to resurrect it with me and we each got to invite another friend to join us. She invited a mutual friend (someone I met through her) and I invited a friend whose blog I really enjoy reading. So now it's Froggie, Mom of Many, Moma Rock and Merrylandgirl. Hope you enjoy the topics that we'll be exploring!

This week, Moma Rock picked the topic: Imagine you are a food critic. Which restaurant would you critique? What food would you be served, and how would you describe it in your critique?

Before reading ahead, first see what everyone else had to say on this topic:

Froggie
Mom of Many
Moma Rock

A bottle of Herzog, a bottle of Carmel....

Seriously, I have never thought to critique food before. I have somewhat simple tastes and am a picky eater otherwise. Still, if I had to critique a restaurant, I'd find the most expensive and luxurious Kosher steak establishment in the US and get paid to eat there. I know that NYC has a bunch of those. I'd of course want a prime rib. And some garlic mashed potatoes. I'd want the Wildfire experience without actually eating at Wildfire. (Prior to eating only Kosher meat, I loved the prime rib at Wildfire, in Chicago. I can recreate their mashed potatoes, but their steak is really something else.) I'd start with a salad made to my specifications, which isn't much. I like leafy green lettuce with some cucumbers and carrots. A side of Thousand Island dressing in a cold salad dressing "boat" (like a gravy boat, but with salad dressing) would accompany it. I'd also want some of the restaurant's best bread and margarine that melted upon contact with it.

Next would come the soup. I'm a big French onion soup fan. Seeing that this is a Kosher meat restaurant, it would have non-dairy cheese, but if the Kosher Subway can use it, then so can this place.

I’d also want an appetizer, just so I can try a variety of items instead of skipping from soup to the meal. I think I would choose fried zucchini. I am a zucchini fan but only when it’s cooked. I’m sure this restaurant in my mind would serve delicious fried zucchini.

Onto the main course. (I couldn’t wait any longer.) As I said before, I would order the prime rib, medium well. It would come with its own au jus. There would be a side of mashed potatoes and a side of steamed veggies (green beans, cauliflower, carrots, onions, etc.) Everything would just be perfect. The meat would cut easily and not be too chewy or too soft. Just right… It would be flavorful, as well, each bite tantalizing the tongue. The potatoes would be like the ones from Wildfire, if not better. And the vegetables would be really good too. I don’t know how to judge vegetables, but as long as they taste good and aren’t too soggy, I’m happy.

Finally, the dessert would come. I would get a slice of their best chocolate cake. (I was thinking back to the days of chocolate cake from Portillo’s and that’s what I would imagine it to be like, only pareve.) The frosting would be just the right amount to blend with the rich and succulent taste of the chocolate and the softness of the cake as it melts in my mouth.

I’d top off the evening with a blended alcoholic beverage. I’m a big fan of chocolate martinis, but I’d want mint in it for more variety. It would be just the right amount of alcohol to make me feel all right with the world, but not tipsy. It wouldn’t overpower the blend of chocolate and mint either.

If this meal is everything I imagined it to be here, it would get a rave review and I’d definitely be back to try other combos. They’d all be on the house since I’m such a good food reviewer and all…

Now I’m hungry!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Funny Friday-6/17/11-Geography lessons

I've decided to do a new blog theme called Funny Friday. It's basically stuff that I find funny and want to share my somewhat crazy humor with you.

I love these two videos from "Animaniacs." See for yourself and love them too! I may be good with states and capitals, but if I forget some, this first one helps every time!




If I ever needed to know where a certain country was, I would look to Yakko to show me the way:



I hope my kids will appreciate these videos when they get a little older. :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beam me up!

Remember the blog project I did last year with three other women? Well, Froggie decided to resurrect it with me and we each got to invite another friend to join us. She invited a mutual friend (someone I met through her) and I invited a friend whose blog I really enjoy reading. So now it's Froggie, Mom of Many, Moma Rock and Merrylandgirl. Hope you enjoy the topics that we'll be exploring!

This week, Froggie picked the topic: What is your super power? (Or what super power do you wish you had?)

Before reading ahead, first see what everyone else had to say on this topic:

Froggie
Mom of Many
Moma Rock

I seriously don't know anyone who has an actual super power unless they are on TV or in movies. If I meet someone in real life who does, I'll be sure to find out their secret. The only thing I can do that's remotely magical is kiss away "ouchies" when the kids hurt themselves. It seems like with one kiss, they're all better and raring to go on with their play time.

In my fantasy life, I've always wanted to have the ability to teleport myself anywhere I wanted to go. I don't watch "Star Trek," but I did like "Scotty," the device that beamed people to other places. (I don't know if Scotty was the name of the device or the person pressing a button though. Sorry, "Star Trek" fans!)

I have family and friends living all over the place, some as far as other countries. It would be nice to be able to visit whomever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I could drop in for dinner with my family and then go to Disneyland with "Will." I would definitely want to visit the friends with whom I'm doing this blog project. Especially since one of them is my BFF (Froggie) and it would be nice to spend more than 5 minutes with her when I'm in town. I haven't even met Moma Rock, but I've known her husband since 1995. (I haven't seen him in over 10 years though.) It would be cool to meet her in person and see him again. I met Mom of Many last year and would love to see her again too, as she's really sweet. (She even took the time to knit a stuffed elephant for my baby.) I have lots of other friends with whom I am close and would love to spend more time with. Imagine if I could teleport to Chicago anytime I wanted a girl's day out with some of my girl friends living there. I'd also be able to spend more time with my sister.

Since I would love to go on vacations more often, teleporting would save on travel costs and time. I would be able to include my husband and kids in all these teleportations, as I would somehow give them the ability to teleport too. (It's my fantasy; I call the shots!) Say we want to take in a Broadway show...we all teleport to Manhattan for the day. The kids will get to spend time with their grandparents there and we'll be able to see whatever show we want. Say we want to go to Hawaii. We just snap our fingers and we're off. No long and arduous (not to mention, expensive) flight to endure. We can finally visit our friend and her daughter in Amsterdam too. And we can take as many trips to the Holy Land as we wish. Maybe we could spend a Shabbos there from time to time.

It would be great if teleporting were to someday be a reality, even if it were done through some mechanical device. I'm sure the device would cost as much as a house, but it would be so worth it in the long run! In the meantime, we try to visit people whenever we can and we hope more friends and family members will come to visit us, as well. We have a guest room, and we're not far from DC at all. Lots to see and do. (Hint, hint...)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pop Secret

I received a new Daily Challenge over the weekend: Recall a smell or taste that has a happy personal memory for you.

This was a no-brainer for me. I immediately thought of the smell of popcorn when I read this question. I link that smell to the many Saturday nights I spent at the Mundelein Cinema, waiting in the lobby with my friends before we got let in to see "Rocky Horror." One of my friends would buy a big box of popcorn and graciously share it with the rest of us. He's much more generous than I am. I tend to enjoy keeping a whole bag of microwave popcorn to myself; so much that I'll make multiple bags so my husband can have his own. I know it's not the same as movie theater popcorn, but the flavor still is necessary for movie enjoyment at home. Oddly enough, I end up eating candy in the theater these days. But I digress...
The smell of popcorn also reminds me of Capen Cinema at Illinois State University. My friends and I would go there to see second run movies all the time. I couldn't resist getting a bag of popcorn at each visit. It was inside a lecture hall, and we would try to sit in the balcony section whenever possible.
Finally, it reminds me of seeing movies at the Buffalo Grove theater, a place where I also saw a lot of second run films, either on dates or with friends. The popcorn was as reasonably priced as the films (those were the days...) and I actually would buy some from time to time.
Mostly, the smell of popcorn always brings me back to when I was able to go to movies all the time. I go to movies semi-frequently these days. Either I see family friendly movies or I see the latest comedies, provided we have a sitter available. I do love taking my kids to the movies, as long as they can sit back and enjoy it with me. (Thankfully, my younger son is pretty good at staying in one place, provided he has enough food.) The last movie we all saw in the theater was "Tangled." Our cousins joined us for that one and one of them bought a huge box of popcorn, sharing it with all of us.
I hope my kids will continue to enjoy watching movies with me and that I can occasionally get over the cost of tickets and snacks to treat them to the latest movie and a bag of freshly popped popcorn. Until then, it's all about DVDs and Orville Redenbacher....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Funny Friday-6/10/11-Favorite Funny TV characters

I've decided to do a new blog theme called Funny Friday. It's basically stuff that I find funny and want to share my somewhat crazy humor with you.

There's a 30 Day TV Challenge post coming up for Facebook where I have to pick the funniest character. I can't pick just one! Here is my list of the top 10 funniest TV show characters, in my opinion. It's male dominated, for some reason. I do think there are some funny female characters out there, but the men definitely take the cake in this category.

1. Homer Simpson ("The Simpsons")
2. Chandler Bing ("Friends")
3. Cam ("Modern Family")
4. Barney Stinson ("How I Met Your Mother")
5. Jack Tripper ("Three's Company")
6. Michael Scott ("The Office")
7. Karen Walker ("Will and Grace")
8. Wakko Warner ("Animaniacs")
9. Sue Sylvester ("Glee")
10. Kramer ("Seinfeld")

Who will I choose for the post? Decisions, decisions... Tune in tomorrow night!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fridays with Mollie

Remember the blog project I did last year with three other women? Well, Froggie decided to resurrect it with me and we each got to invite another friend to join us. She invited a mutual friend (someone I met through her) and I invited a friend whose blog I really enjoy reading. So now it's Froggie, Mom of Many, Moma Rock and Merrylandgirl. Hope you enjoy the topics that we'll be exploring!

This week, Mom of Many picked the topic: If you could have dinner with someone living or dead who would it be and what would you talk about?


Before reading ahead, first see what everyone else had to say on this topic:

Froggie
Mom of Many
Moma Rock

A while back, I blogged in some detail about my late maternal grandmother, Mama Mollie. When Mom of Many gave us this topic, she's the first person I thought of as my dinner companion. In this case though, she would be my dinner guest...at our Shabbat dinner, of course!

Mama Mollie passed away almost 6 years ago (on Independence Day, oddly enough). She had Alzheimer's and a stroke, and I was impressed that she held on for as long as she did. Up until the time she passed on, she wasn't herself for quite a few years. So I would invite Mama Mollie the way she was prior to getting Alzheimer's. The last time she was really "okay" was during my earlier college years. By the late 90's (time-wise, not her age), she was starting to forget things already.

I would first invite her to light the Shabbos candles with me. Then we'd spend time with my kids while we waited for my husband to get home from shul. The boys would put on shows for her while she cradled my daughter in her lap. She would delight in every performance and kvel over all three kids, giving them each their own special amount of attention.

When my husband got home, we would gather around the dining room table. I'd even take out the china I inherited from her, that she had been saving "for good." I figure that this would be as "good" an occasion as any, if not more. We'd do all the blessings and then she'd get to try my homemade challah and the chicken soup my husband made with my matzo balls (made the way she used to make them). We'd have a joyous time talking and I would catch her up on everything she missed from when she got Alzheimer's until the present day. (She didn't really miss me meeting my husband, as I feel she knew we had gotten married. She would smile at him when we came to visit her together.) I think she would be proud of how observant we had become. She'd also be thrilled that my older son was named after her.

After dinner, we would have dessert. I'd make a cake from scratch, just because she was going to be there to enjoy it. (Lately I've been keeping it simple or using mixes, but I can make an amazing chocolate cake when I have the time to invest in baking.) Then I'd have my sons show off their knowledge of Jewish holidays and other information. We have a game every Shabbos where we ask different questions and they get to ask us questions too. It's a lot of fun and a great way for them to learn new things (or rehash what they already know). No doubt, she would be proud of their knowledge.

Later, the boys would beg her to sleep over, the way my sister and I used to [beg her]. They'd say "sleeeeep over!" Of course, she'd give in, as we couldn't drive her anywhere on Shabbat anyway. After we put the kids to bed, we would stay up late talking with her and catching up some more. We'd show her pictures from previous years, including our wedding album. I'd also apologize to her for not being as good of a granddaughter as I could have been, especially when her memory started going by the wayside. I wasn't patient and got frustrated easily. When I visited her, the visits were very short and I wasn't that attentive. I would hope that she would forgive me, considering what I've given her in other ways.

Overall, it would be an amazing experience to have Mama Mollie back (the way I remembered her best) and be able to talk to her about anything and everything, as a result. Even if it were just for one day, it would be totally worth it. Since this is purely rooted in fantasy, all I know in reality is that I am living in a manner that would make her proud, by carrying on Jewish traditions and fulfilling my role as an observant Jewish wife and mother. It's a legacy she created that I don't want to see die anytime soon, and I hope my daughter can carry it on for me and pass it along to my grandchildren someday. (I'm sure my sons could pass it along too, if they have daughters.)

This was taken when I was about the same age as my daughter is now.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Funny Friday-6/3/11-"What's up, Doc?"

I've decided to do a new blog theme called Funny Friday. It's basically stuff that I find funny and want to share my somewhat crazy humor with you.

I talk about how much I love Moving Violations and these next two scenes are the reason why. Classic hilarious misunderstanding. And I'm not showing the third part of this hilarious situation so that you'll watch for yourself. It looks like the entire movie has been posted to YouTube in small sections, so you have no excuse now. Watch it and prepare to laugh so hard that you'll be unable to see straight!

Watch starting at 4:52



Watch starting at 4:03

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Remember the blog project I did last year with three other women? Well, Froggie decided to resurrect it with me and we each got to invite another friend to join us. She invited a mutual friend (someone I met through her) and I invited a friend whose blog I really enjoy reading. So now it's Froggie, Mom of Many, Moma Rock and Merrylandgirl. Hope you enjoy the topics that we'll be exploring!

This week, I picked the topic: What TV show, movie or book is most similar to your life?

Before reading ahead, first see what everyone else had to say on this topic:

Froggie
Mom of Many
Moma Rock

I originally thought my “show” would be “Modern Family,” but after seeing Froggie’s post from last week, I think she wins that honor. However, I still believe that Claire and Phil were created based on the writers spying on my husband and me.

Then I did some more thinking and realized that the show most similar to my own life is “Desperate Housewives.” I’m not desperate and I’m only a housewife when on maternity leave, but the women on the show have not always been “housewives” either. I’m also not saying that my life is full of crazy drama. It’s more about how I can relate to each of the women on the show and have qualities similar to all of them. I will elaborate further.

I am like Susan (Teri Hatcher) in that I am clumsy and can’t cook anything complex (I can bake though). I also care a lot about my friends and will help them out in any way I can. I even try to help strangers and people I’m not as fond of from time to time. I love my kids and will do anything to ensure they have a good life.

I am like Bree (Marcia Cross) in that I love baking for my neighbors (challahs, in my case). I also love being a hostess and throwing parties and gatherings. I sometimes get uptight over things and strive for perfection. I love that Bree was entrepreneurial with her food business and I tend to be the same way with my book blog (even though I don’t make money from it).

I am like Lynette (Felicity Huffman) in that I’m the “bad cop” in the family. (Similar to Claire from “Modern Family,” oddly enough.) I like to be right about a lot of things and usually do most of the planning and scheduling in my home. I handle stress the same way she does, as well. I’m also very assertive like she is.

I am like Gabby (Eva Longoria) in that I’m very girly and a total shopaholic (thanks to the thrift store, in my case). I love buying clothes and making myself look pretty. I try to be an individual, even while raising kids. I also get along well with gay guys. :) I’m loyal to my friends, as well.

Finally, I am like Mary Alice (voice of Brenda Strong) in that I will do anything to protect my family and look after them. I wouldn’t take my own life, but the well being and safety of my family is very important to me. I also care about what is going on in my friends’ lives and focus on them more than myself, sometimes. Since Mary Alice is the narrator of the show (still an integral part after she killed herself in the first episode of season one), she is always concerned with everyone’s lives and coming up with philosophical thoughts for the way things are. I could almost see her being a blogger, if people could blog from beyond.

In the opening theme of the show, there is an image of all the women under a tree and they’re catching the apples that fall. I thought it made sense to my subject line, as the idiom “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” means there is a lot of similarity from one person to another, usually within a family. In my neighborhood, there’s a family-like atmosphere. We all look after one another, as well as each other’s kids. Everyone can be counted on for different things amongst my group of friends. I’m usually the one who hosts gatherings and makes challah for everyone at different times. My husband volunteers at our shul on the tech committee. There’s a great sense of community throughout, which is something that is also apparent on “Desperate Housewives.” No one is related within the community of Fairview (or on Wisteria Lane, to be more specific), but they all help each other out with babysitting, cooking, taking care of someone who is sick, consoling each other over a bad day, etc. They end up being like family to one another. That is truly the core (excuse the pun) of the show, regardless of the crazy situations from outsiders and other soap opera like scenarios that come up. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in terms of similarities between the lead characters and me, either.