Sunday, February 28, 2010

Before there was Veggie Tales

Time for a stroll down memory lane (well, for me anyway). Remember Psalty the singing songbook from the 80s? He was the big blue book/person who starred in a series of Christian Kids’ Praise! albums. I had every Kids’ Praise! record (as in the vinyl kind) and had every line and song memorized. I thought Psalty’s kids (Harmony, Melody, and Rhythm) were so cool. The cast of characters also included Blooper the dog, Charity Churchmouse, Farley McFirefly, and the evil Risky Rat.

Kids’ Praise! clearly was the start of my sophisticated taste in music with songs like, “Arky Arky,” “Sandyland,” “Ha La La La,” and “Jesus Put the Song in My Heart.” If I could somehow post an old VHS tape here, I could even showcase a few of our blog readers singing in a live Kids’ Praise! show when we were 8 or 9.

If you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s a more recent video to prove I’m not making this up (and if you're a fellow Psalty fan, you'll especially enjoy this):

Yup, good 'ole washed up Psalty. I have no idea why I was thinking about this today, but I guess I just wanted to enjoy a look back to a simpler, cheesier time. Wasn’t that fun?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


So how is your Olympic fever doing? Let's just say I'm looking forward to being much more productive (hopefully) beginning next week. I just can't stop watching. Although I've finally stopped trying to shield myself from the results before the events air on TV. Now I check the results and then fast forward my DVR to the good stuff.

Highlights for me so far? Short-track speed skating, Lindsay Vonn's downhill gold, Shaun White's half pipe gold and USA men's hockey defeating Canada. I haven't gotten too caught up this year in my past favorite event of figure skating. And the ice dancing? Wow, that just put me to sleep. What's been your favorite moment so far?

As I've been watching all these inspirational stories of odds overcome and dreams coming true, and I see the pride in the gold medalists' eyes as they hear their national anthem, I get such a peaceful feeling. Sure the Olympics always has its share of controversy, but all in all, it's full of great news, unlike what we usually see in the headlines. I've found it very refreshing these last couple of weeks. I'm sure going to miss the games when they're over.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Just call me Martha Stewart

I did it. I pulled together the few domestic bones in my body and entered a Bake-Off at my office last week, and I even finished with respectable results. Why is this worth mentioning? Well, I don’t bake. I barely even cook. Mostly, I’m really good at eating out.

This was the second annual competition in my department (which is only about 10 people). I think I managed to be on vacation when we had it last year. This year, I wasn’t as fortunate and felt slightly obligated to participate. So, I searched my recipes and cookbooks and decided to give baking another try. Although it meant spending several hours in my kitchen on my one free evening of the week, I was excited to use a few kitchen-related wedding gifts that hadn’t been used in a year and a half. Here was the result:It ended up that my triple chocolate peanut butter minis scored a couple votes in both the originality and best taste categories. Was it worth it? Ehh. Will I bake again? Someday. Nevertheless, I think I would have made my more kitchen savvy friends slightly proud of my progress. And while I realize this was no blue ribbon state fair contest, at least I proved to myself that I’m not completely unqualified to be in a kitchen. So, if anyone has any lower-maintenance, yet scrumptious recipes I should try next time, let me know!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reflecting on...reflection

With Valentine’s Day now behind us, the stores will begin stocking shelves with shamrocks followed by lots of pastel colors. And soon, people will start picking out their Easter dresses (well, after they pick out their Spring Break swimsuits).

I generally start thinking about Easter a week prior when I walk into church and see a bunch of palm branches. But there is one part of the Easter season that I’ve always overlooked. The season of Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. Having gone most of my life to a non-denominational church, I heard plenty of references to Lent, but there was no specific tradition around it. I just remember half my friends got to come late to school Ash Wednesday and showed up with a cross of ashes on their head (small price to pay, I thought, for getting out of school). And McDonald’s advertises their fish sandwiches a lot.

This year, my church will offer weekly Lent services for the first time ever, so it’s actually got me thinking about this observance. While year-round repentance is the norm for me, I suppose there is something to be said about having this focused time of reflection on what Christ did for me.

And then there is the part about giving up one of my vices. I gave up TV for a week in junior high to prepare for a church missions trip. I did ok with that. Last year I heard of several people who gave up Facebook for Lent. (I know a few people who should give up Facebook for Lent!) I guess we shouldn’t have to wait until Lent to give up the things that aren’t good for us. But then I find myself making excuses for my vices too; all in the name of moderation.

So, I don’t know if I’ll do anything special to commemorate Lent this year. Maybe I’ll catch a couple of the church services. But I’m curious, have you ever given up something for Lent? As a result, did you feel renewed or closer to God during that time? Have I been missing out by not commemorating Lent all these years?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Living in the State of Hockey

On any other Olympic Opening Ceremonies night, you’d probably find me at home getting pumped up about the Games in front of my TV. But this year, I have DVR, which is really a better way to speedily watch the athletes parade into the stadium anyway. So instead of watching action on TV (which is my plan for the rest of the weekend), I took in a live version of one of the more popular winter sports by attending a Minnesota Wild hockey game.

I usually get to attend one or two NHL games a year, and Friday was my night for this season (thanks, dad!). Being at the game reminded me that there is something extra special about living in the State of Hockey. By comparison, a few months ago I attended an NHL game in a different city and was a bit disappointed in the fans, who didn't even stand up when the home team first took to the ice. And, it's no secret that St. Paul has what is probably the best hockey arena in the country. And even at the high school level, the state hockey tournaments in Minnesota are still exciting...13 years after my high school days ended.

However, it seems we've failed to spread our reputation far beyond my home state, as evidenced by the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. During my visit there last fall, the store there did not have a single piece of Minnesota hockey memorabilia for purchase. Oh well, maybe our treasure is better kept a secret.

So, while all of my NHL home team is from other countries and most have names I can barely pronounce, it's still the best place to be a hockey fan. And I say this despite the fact that I'm still nursing a broken heart from not winning the Zamboni ride during the second intermission last night.

Go Wild...and go Team USA!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The day the music (video) died

Yesterday, MTV announced it's changing its logo to drop the reference to music and instead feature its reality TV stars. Now, my TV-watching doesn't generally lead me to MTV unless I'm following America's Best Dance Crew, but I still found myself a little surprised by this. In its 80s heyday, I remember watching MTV at my friend Jenny Peterson's house (she used to kiss the TV whenever a Michael Jackson video was on) and I also watched the channel with one of my babysitters (I'm pretty sure we weren't supposed to be doing this). Even in college, you might've found me occasionally watching the top videos and live performances on TRL (Total Request Live).

These days though, you don't need to spend much time watching MTV to know that the music part is fast becoming history. Just sit through one commercial break and watch the shows they promote. And while I think it's sad they're putting a bigger spotlight on "reality" shows, I have to concede that this probably was the right move for MTV.

Who needs a TV network to watch music videos or hear interviews with their favorite musician anymore? Artist websites, blogs, You Tube and Twitter accounts allow fans to follow the music--and the lives--of their favorite musicians anytime. The artists no longer need a TV network's help to showcase their new music, personality or creativity. I would much prefer to seek out this kind information on the musicians I enjoy when I want it instead of waiting for them (or their videos) to make an MTV appearance. Plus, there is only so much Beyonce and Lady Gaga one can take.

MTV has never even scratched the surface of all the great musical talent out there, most of which never gets the powerhouse record company behind it to help push their videos into the top ten. So maybe this isn't all that newsworthy after all. Just another sign of the times!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Happy holidays?

February is a somewhat challenging time of year for me. Not only are we in the doldrums of winter, but there are no holidays in sight. Oh sure, there are days to celebrate presidents, Valentines, St. Paddy, etc. But what I’m really lacking is a holiday that gives me the day off of work. There is something wrong about not having a single company holiday between New Year’s Day and Memorial Day; it must be punishment for taking time off around Christmas. Anyway, while I may not have any company holidays on the horizon, I am trying to cheer myself up with a few zany holidays instead:

  • I just missed Hula in the Coola Day on February 1, which encourages people to party like it’s July, ditch winter wear and don some summer gear
  • Next week is National Jell-O week, so perhaps I’ll celebrate by eating that slightly slimy treat (particularly the weird kind my grandma made with the fruit pieces stuck in the gelatin mold)
  • February 13 is Change Your Name Day, which means all the Jennys of the world can go by something a bit more original. I’m going Hollywood crazy and am choosing the name Poppy Honey.
  • February 14 is known for Valentine’s Day, but it’s also National Call in Single Day. So, all my single ladies should take the day off! (Oh wait, that’s a Sunday anyway…bummer.)
  • February 20 is Northern Hemisphere Hoodie-Hoo Day, where we’re all supposed to yell “Hoodie-Hoo” at noon to scare off winter. (Hey, I’ll try anything at this point.)

So, I encourage you to jump on board and celebrate something silly this month. Is there something you've always wished had it's own holiday? Why not make it so? I think it’s healthy…helping us keep our sanity for another month!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's on your desk?

Yesterday I got my daily e-mail of news headlines from the world of communications and in it was a list of items that colleagues nationwide have on their desks. (We communications professionals need some daily crazy news to survive.) There were green sequined bats, a bottle of tequila and margarita mix, Dwight Schrute bobbleheads and even a pair of squirrel underpants (huh?).

See, anything goes on your desk at work. Whereas, there is no place for a purple fuzzy gorilla on my living room coffee table. Problem is, the whole article reminded me of what is NOT on my desk. Mainly, this:

My desk is lacking an N*Sync bobblehead and I am not happy about it. At my office holiday party in December, we had an intense white elephant gift exchange (it involved lots of reindeer, bowling and yelling). I couldn't care less about the white elephant gifts until I unwrapped this beloved bobblehead. (I know! Who on earth would give that away as a white elephant gift?! Turns out, it was someone who already had an identical bobblehead at home.) Anyway, GAME ON!!!

Team Blitzen (my team) started fighting hard for this prize. A war broke out with Team Prancer and, needless to say, it was not a happy ending for Blitzen. I have assured the new owner of the bobblehead that he'd better watch his back. What's worse is that it now sits next to a UND Sioux hockey bobblehead on his desk. (I'm sorry, but JC Chasez would never cheer for UND.) Not even a fair trade deal--my pig with the light-up snout (a gift during swine flu season last fall) for his bobblehead--would suffice.

How does this whole episode make me feel? Well, I think N*Sync says it best. It’s Tearin’ Up My Heart. I Want You Back little bobblehead…No Strings Attached. I need to come up with a plan, so Bye Bye Bye for now. (Go ahead, insert eye roll here. But I am still awaiting their reunion!)