Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I Still Have One Follower?

Wow. I haven't posted on this blog since 2009. And I still have a follower! Crazy.

Well, let's see if I can catch myself up to now. Since 2009, I:

  • Got pregnant and had my [now 10-month old] daughter

  • Changed jobs

  • Stopped exercising (just for now, I hope)

  • Became a huge advocate for breastfeeding and making my own baby food (though, I am buying jarred, organic meat-based foods for quick consumption and less waste)

  • Said goodbye to our long-lived, long-loved pet, Michelle (the wonderdog) *tear*

And since 2009, I have discovered all kinds of good finds that I hope to relay to my one trusted follower in this post (as my initial intention for starting this blog was to talk about the good things that I've discovered).

Because my priorities have shifted, many of the recent good finds I have found are now baby-related (apologies to all my non-breeder or DINK friends). Bear with me, kid-less folks; you might actually find some of these good finds useful.

Holy-effing-useful products, Batman. This website sells so many incredible baby and kid products that it would take me several blogs to encapsulate it all. Some of the more surprising items sold on this website are eco-friendly, reusable products such as these sandwich wrappers and lunch containers. From toys to clothes to safety products, you can't go wrong with this store.

Ahh, Japanese restaurants in the suburbs. You usually leave us wanting, but not this time. Ariake Restaurant in Reston, VA, tucked away behind foliage across the road from an unassuming strip mall, is barely noticeable from street view. In fact, I've probably driven by in a million times without so much as a glance in its direction until a former co-worker friend introduced us earlier this year. From then, it was love at first bite.

Inside its small but cozy interior, the servers and sushi chefs exude friendliness. The simple menu (teriyaki, bento boxes, and sushi, mostly) reassure the skittish 'Merican-folk that they won't be venturing too far off the beaten palette. However, their specials will really wow even the super-critical foodies. They have high-chairs for the kiddies and our server even accommodated our request to heat our daughter's food-from-home in the microwave (total plus in my book). The prices are reasonable, and if you go there for lunch during the work week you probably won't have to wait for a table (at least, in my experience).

I discovered this website while trying to think of creative and funny Father's Day gift ideas for Josh. To date, I've created and bought 5 personalized t-shirts with my daughter's pictures on them. Yes, I'm one of those parents. Don't hate.

Basically, this website allows people to upload pictures and personalize clothing such as long- and short-sleeved t-shirts, athletic wear, hats, mugs, etc. It's very simple to use and the staff at Custom Ink will contact you if they fear that your design might encounter some snags (such as poor pixelation due to picture size, color issues, and the like). I had to pay sales taxes on my purchases because Custom Ink has a store location in VA (Alexandria, I think). You can customize on name brand apparel such as Hanes and American Apparel, to name a couple. You can choose your brand of clothing from their list, though beware-- depending on brand and color, you may have to meet a minimum item requirement (e.g. "you must buy at least 6 of Brand X shirt in this color"), but if you're not too particular it'll work out fine.

Here are some examples of the shirts I've made:

That's all for now. Hope you are still awake.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good Finds Part II

1. Nathan's Dairy Bar in Manassas, VA
Off of Route 28 in the heart of Manassas sits a modest ice cream stand called Nathan's Dairy Bar. It offers only outdoor seating, with front row view of Manassas' many strip malls and auto parks, but its dedicated patrons (and their dogs!) are often seen congregating under the multi-colored umbrellas well beyond Nathan's Saturday night closing time of 10pm.
I've only been there once, but it was memorable enough to add it to my Good Finds post. Their expansive menu and flavors seem to constantly be changing, save their old standards. I had a simple vanilla cone (soft serve; all the cones are soft-serve), but the dips make ALL the difference (I had cherry). Delicious! I remember seeing a sour apple ice cream flavor and a butterscotch dip flavor. The next time I go--and I hope the next time is soon--I will try this combo.

Best. Soft Serve. EVER.

2. Mediterranean Charm, by China Glaze
Every girl needs a great red nail polish and I think I may have found mine. China Glaze is quickly becoming my favorite brand of nail polish. Their colors, for one, are AMAZING and fun and so varied, but the staying power of the polish is what keeps me going back to it again and again. They come out with new collections pretty frequently and their finishes range from matte to shimmer to downright sparkle. I haven't bought this color yet but I have a feeling that if I find any free time this weekend, this will be added to my ever-growing nail polish collection. I will also buy the China Glaze base and top coats, as right now I'm using Orly's 2-in-1.

I tried this recipe a couple of weekends ago after catching the episode on the Food Network while waiting for my carpets to be cleaned. Fan-tas-tic! *If* you like rosemary, that is. If you don't, stay as far away from this recipe as possible! The flavors of the garlic and fresh rosemary just pop when combined with the ground chicken, and the mayonnaise holds it all together. One suggestion: don't grill these burgers unless your grill has very small spaces between the grates. Because the mayonnaise is incorporated into the chicken meat before cooking, the texture of the chicken changes, softening, and causing the meat to fall apart easier. I grilled them on my first attempt and about a third of the meat fell through the grates whenever I flipped them. I pan-fried them on my second attempt and they stayed in tact. The taste is almost sausage-y; very fresh yet hearty and fulfilling.
4. Trader Joe's Pizza Sauce
I have made at least three homemade pizzas so far using this sauce and every time I do Josh asks, "What kind of sauce is this? It's GOOD." And it is.
If you're like me, you like your tomato sauces more on the tangy side than the sweet side, and you like your sauces a bit chunky. This sauce is both tangy and chunky with just the right amount a sweet in there for good measure. Goes with any topping. Last night I used some leftover fresh spinach and whole-milk mozzarella.
Trader Joe's pizza sauce comes in a small plastic tub and is located in the refrigerated section near the prepared foods and veggies. It's usually placed next to the Trader Joe's fresh pizza doughs (ya think?), which are also very good. One container is enough for a 16" pizza dough.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Good Finds

I've been searching lately for good finds in all categories: health, beauty, gadgets, restaurants, recipes, you name it. This weekend was an interesting one for good finds, as rather than me seeking them out, they found ME. And the best thing about discovering good finds is sharing them with people, so without further adieu...

1. The Creative Habit, by Twila Tharp.
What's this? A book made the top of my good finds list?! Whatever is the world coming to? :)

Seriously, this book is incredible. I can't stop reading it, absorbing it, thinking about its contents, and despite the assumption that it should only be read by people in creative careers, the suggestions and exercises included in the book will benefit people in all fields. For those who don't know, Twila Tharp is a renowned choreographer who has worked on countless ballets, movies, and Broadway shows. She even conceptualized and created Movin' Out!, the Tony Award-winning show based on the works of Billy Joel, something I hadn't known before reading the book. Josh checked out this book from the library over the weekend after hearing about it over a year ago, and after reading the first two pages I was hooked. I really need to post some of the questions she includes in her "creative autobiography," which is supposed to help the reader discover their creative origin and personality. Very, very interesting stuff. I've already discovered so much about my own creative personality that I didn't know before, and I'm only on page 95.

2. O'Connell's Restaurant in Old Town, Alexandria.
A friend of mine and I decided to grab a bite over the weekend in Old Town, somewhere I hadn't visited for pleasure in a very long time. Because we are both incredibly indecisive people, it took us a long time to choose a place and stick with it. Thanks to a bit of happenstance, we landed at this delightful Irish pub. I tend to order unusual stuff at restaurants, just to try it. Lucky for me I have pretty good epicurean instincts because the meal I ordered was simply divine. It was called, "chick pea and wild mushroom casserole," and it was cooked in a creamy Parmesan sauce. But before our meal came out, we ordered an antipasto (something I didn't know they had in Ireland, but whatever). Delicious! I let my friend eat the pork items (as I don't eat pork or beef), but the Irish wine cheese and the chevre were so incredible, and the haricot verts in vinaigrette with mustard and pear jams were so flavorful topped onto the Irish soda bread. Giving the meal a perfect finishing touch was the Irish hard cider (damn, I wished I had caught the name), which tasted more like a light and crispy, appley champagne. Very, very good restaurant.

3. Light Blue Eau de Toilet, by Dolce & Gabbana.

I had just finished my bottle of perfume from a Christmas gift from my parents, so I was casually looking for a new summer scent when I found one that sounded interesting on It had notes of citrus and flowers (right up my alley) and the reviews on were all favorable, so I decided to give it a squirt while I was running errands yesterday. WOW. This will be my summer scent (and possibly my fall scent, my winter scent...). Even Josh--who is not a fan of perfumes and colognes--nearly toppled over after smelling my wrist. It's fabulous. What's even more fabulous is I found it on for 10 bucks cheaper-- hey!

4. Yankee Candles at JC Penney.

Yes, I admit, I am a fan of the Yankee Candles. Typically I buy them at either an official Yankee Candle store or, the next best thing, Bed, Bath & Beyond. Much to my surprise, JC Penney sells them at reduced prices. They can be found over by the catalog order area. They were having a special on selected scents through May 31st, so I picked up a huge jar candle in the Garden Sweet Pea scent for less than 20 bucks (ordinarily they're close to 30). The only downside to this is their selection is small, but if you're there and they have what you want, it's a steal.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Personal Style

More and more, I am finding myself envious of others who possess (and explore) a sense of personal style and I can't help but wonder how their style was created/born/developed.

Me? I feel like I have no sense of style whatsoever. I know what styles I like, what colors I like, and I'm starting to improve my coordinating skills, but it's a lot of work. It certainly doesn't come naturally to me like I feel it does with others, and still, more times than not I miss the mark completely.

I remember how simple it was back in the 90s when I was a young girl, coming-of-age in the time of grunge, and oversized jeans, flannels, and steel-toed boots were en vogue. Oh how much easier things were back then! The just-rolled-out-of-bed look was not only fashionable, it was considered sexy (huh?!). But then, once I graduated and moved back home to find a job and usher myself into adulthood, I realized that dressing like a scrub wasn't going to help me. I had to admit I was (and start dressing like) a woman. It was harder than it sounds.

I had to buy dress pants and blouses and heels (ack!), and the older I got, the dressier I had to dress. Suits and jewelry and handbags, oh my! Not only does it take a tremendous amount of work, it takes money. It was almost like I was taking all of the money I was making at my job and pouring it back into clothing... for my job. Pretty soon, my work clothes overtook my closet and my casual clothing supply started to diminish.

And beyond clothing, my hair and makeup became yet another focus of my sense of style. Luckily I enjoy makeup, but hair is quite another story. Also, as a product of my gene pool, I began greying prematurely so trips to the salon became frequent and VERY expensive. Between all this fuss over my "look" and trying to spend my hard-earned money more conservatively, my sense of style has had to take a backseat. It's become more of a chore than a celebration of self and it shows.

I know of people who have a FANTASTIC sense of style and they manage to spend very little money expressing it, so I can't use lack of funds as an excuse anymore. I think it also comes down to laziness. I am lazy about my looks these days. I was telling a friend this weekend that I feel like I've lost the "sparkle" I once possessed when I was younger, and I don't like that. We shouldn't let ourselves lose our luster, and it really isn't a matter of clothing or makeup or trend-following. It's an inner joy and light that tends to dim as we get run down with the hardships and monotony of life. It takes more effort to retain that light than to let it darken.

There is a "blogazine" online from a young woman whom I admire greatly. Her name is Xenia. She is a Russian transplant who has carved a niche for herself in NYC adopting many, many titles: model, freelance makeup artist, musician, club kid, stylist, and most recently, makeup line creator. She has so much fun searching for unique finds and expressing her ever-evolving sense of style. One glace at her blog and you can see how much joy she takes in creating her "looks." It's worth a gander. It's also worth a re-evaluation of your own sense of style, and perhaps a little more effort and bravery into the realm of style. Try a new eyeshadow color, or wear your hair up in a side braid one day. Don those hot purple flats, naysayers be damned! (I'm saying these things to myself, don't'cha know.)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Theatre Show Choices

Since I seem to be having a wealth of downtime here at work today, I suppose I'll write about local area theatres and their show choices (or lack of).

I was just checking the upcoming show calendars on some of the local theatre websites and, I gotta tell ya, it's slim pickins out there. I realize that the ultimate goal is to get butts in the seats and make money, but c'mon people. What new and exciting things can be brought to overdone shows like Guys and Dolls, Oliver!, and Bye Bye Birdie? Nothing. Would you want to pay $20+ bucks to watch the same show done the same way by the same actors? (Because, as anyone in local theatre can tell ya, the circles are extremely incestuous.)

It's so bad out there that at least two of the local theatres I researched are doing musical SEQUELS (I never knew there was such a thing): Alladin, Jr. and Cabaret II. WTF??

It doesn't stop at musicals, either. I think I saw at least three theatres listing Love Letters and two listing Doubt in their 2009-2010 seasons. Sad, sad, sad.

People in local theatre seem to only want to perform the tried-and-true shows, whether they're classics or "new classic" contemporary pieces. Admittedly, I can't stand most classic plays. Their subject matter, manner of speaking, and overall themes are outdated and irrelevant to me, and many actors these days (present company included) don't know how or can't pull off the very stylized movement and dialogue in such plays. And generally speaking, much of the subject matter is pretty fluffy. In one of the last shows I designed, the main "problem" in the story was that the father hadn't been baptized.

*cricket chirp*

Exactly. Like, who cares? I suppose it helped to enhance the jolly-good, clean fun of the play-- a play which is touted as, "...the longest-running play in Broadway history..." It's a good family show. But I like my entertainment with a hefty portion of meat (and a little grit don't hurt).

The most recent show I have had the pleasure of designing is far from fluffy. In fact, one of the cast members asked me last night if I liked the show (performances aside), and I honestly couldn't answer. Like? The show is based on the true story of a New York Jew living in Atlanta in 1913 who was accused of raping and killing a 13-year old girl, was tried and sent to life in prison, and was subsequently kidnapped and lynched. And it's a musical. It's uncomfortable and racial and sad. The music is haunting. There is no happy ending. Do I like the play? You know, I do. I can say with confidence that I do. It has SOUL, and showcases the very-relevant subject of racism and prejudice in this country. And it was written in 1998, so even though it takes place almost 100 years ago I can understand what the characters are talking about because it doesn't feature the slangs and colloquialisms of a forgotten time. It's real to me. It's gritty and meaty.

More local theatres should take a cue from this theatre and throw caution to the wind in favor of artistic substance. Art doesn't take talent; it takes balls.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Theatre Hair

Between now and May 9th, my attention will involve little else but the show I'm working on, Parade. I'm actually a bit behind. I just bought some costume grey mutton chops today, and there is still so much I have to do to prepare hair accessories and instruct the actors and actresses on how to style their hair. I plan to attend tomorrow night's rehearsal (provided that I'm not coming down with a stomach bug), as well as Saturday's all-day rehearsal. I will also be attending many, if not all, of next week's rehearsals leading up to opening night. However, if the actors and actresses are fairly self-sufficient, then I probably won't have to be there as much.

After this show closes, I am cutting back on my involvement with designing shows until next year when I'll be designing hair and makeup for Scapino!, which I think is a commedia d'ell arte play. I don't know much about that one yet. Auditions for it won't be until November and curtain is in January 2010.

I'm still planning to audition to the theatre-show-that-shall-remain-nameless (for now) if that theatre produces it. I've increased my walking routine, haven't done any weight training at all, but I've modified my diet a little bit and I'm not snacking at work anymore. There's one more thing I need to cut back on/quit: smoking. YES, I am a closet smoker. It increases with stress (which there is a lot of these days), but I rarely exceed a 2-smoke-a-day habit. (Not two packs a day, two cigarettes a day.) Still bad, I know. But not as bad as it could be (yes, I'm rationalizing, okay?).

Anyway, I need to stop that while I'm in training for this show. I really, really, really hope the theatre does this show. I'm listening to the soundtrack every day in the car on the way to work.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Okay-- that entry title is a little misleading. It should say, "Healthspiration," or, "Strongspiration" or something like that, because I'm not just looking to get thin, but I'll leave it as-is. It just sounds catchier.

I caught wind recently that a certain-theatre-show-that-shall-remain-nameless (for now) might be produced at one of my most favoritist local theatres this year. The theatre's website still says "TBD" under its fall show heading, but I'm hopeful that whatever rights or fees required will go through in time to allow this show to be produced, because it's FABULOUS.

Although I received my BA in Theatre and English, I am no avid theatregoer by any stretch of the imagination. I kind of wish I was. Then, I would be privy to all the theatre inside jokes and one-liners that fly around dressing rooms of the shows I work on-- not to mention being able to join in when a spontaneous rendition of "Can You Hear the People Sing?" breaks out.

Alas, the only reason I majored in Theatre was because I wanted to be a television actress; more specifially, a TV actress on primetime sitcoms. Sitcoms were and still are my favorite TV show genre. My childhood is littered with memories of Three's Company, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, and on and on. Now that I'm obsessed with shows like 30 Rock and Arrested Development, I can do without the canned laughter of yesteryear in my sitcoms. But that same comedy--that same glee that comes after hearing a fantastic joke or cutting quip--still gets me going today.

Despite having worked on at least 20+ shows in my life, I'm still very green when it comes to theatre. Sometimes theatre is not very fun to me. I even grimace and whine when I have to read some of the plays that I'm designing. For me, seeing some plays is a snorefest; reading them is total bore! I guess it's just not my favorite medium, having grown up on a strict diet of ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox.

But this play--the certain-theatre-show-that-shall-remain-nameless--is an exception. I saw this show in NYC back in 1998 with Josh when we were first dating. It was a very emotional time for me, as I was falling in love with someone I was almost certain I wouldn't really see again after he would inevitably transfer to CSLBU the following year and I would move to LA to become a staaaaah. Watching this show with him, at that time, was so moving and beyond words. I bought the soundtrack on CD, we would sing the songs to each other in the months that followed. I was totally theatre-geeky about this show, even though I've only seen it that one time. It's the only show that would bring me out of my self-imposed performance retirement; that is, if I was able to get a part. If I was able to get the part I WANT-- now, that might just hook me back into performing for good. :)

So this show is the reason for my "thinspiration." I need to get healthy again, voice and body. I need to be able to comfortably dance and sing simultaneously without getting winded, I need to be able to belt and hold notes like I used to when I was performing regularly with the wedding band, and I'd like to be more flexible and limber. Losing a few pounds wouldn't make me cry in my soup, either. I'm looking into local gyms, as well as amping up my walking/running routines and being better about the foods I eat. I should track my progress on this thing. I think I will.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Some Pictures of Hair for Parade

Parade is one of the theatre shows I'm working on. It premiere's at St. Mark's Church in DC on May 9th, and it's a VERY large show that--believe it or not--is based on the true story of a girl who was raped and murdered in Atlanta in 1913, her accused murderer (a Jew in the racially-tense South), his relationship with his wife, and finally, his wrongful death by lynching after his death sentence was lifted. Google "Leo Frank" for all the details. It's extremely heavy, which is why this play (a musical, actually) is extremely unique. One usually thinks of musicals as fluffy, happy, fun things. Yeah. Not this one. But the story and music are extremely moving and profound, and I anticipate this cast will do a phenomenal job as they are all very talented.

So anyway, I'm designing hair which is somewhat nerve-wracking for me. I feel more comfortable doing makeup, honestly. But researching the periods and learning about how to do hairstyles is becoming really, really fun-- especially when I figure it out enough to feel like I did a kickass job.

Check out these pictures. I took them just now in my office garage. :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shopping Follow-Up

I received the items I wrote about in this post last week, and I gotta say, those bone earrings are HUGE and HEAVY. Since I've already worn them, I can't send them back so I'm stuck with them. I thought they were a lot smaller and daintier when I saw them online. Note to self: ALWAYS READ THE DESCRIPTIONS.

The tops are nice, but sheer as all get out. I have camis, but I may need to pick up another one or even two so that I can ensure that none of my unspeakables will show through. They'll be good for those hot and muggy summer months, though.

I also bought (but didn't post pictures of) 4 pairs of Gap pants for summer. Some are more casual, others more work-appropriate. All fit me well but I discovered something: I am between a regular and long inseam. I have to be careful because many regular inseams look like highwaters on me. Unfortunately for me, two of the Gap pants will need to be tailored. Which means I need to measure how much to take off the legs. I hate measuring. It's so precise.

I recommend the Gap trouser jeans and the hipslung pants to anyone who has bottom-half issues. They're super-comfy and they don't make me look pregnant, which is a must these days for some [very frustrating] reason...

I also bought some new Asics running shoes (on sale at Dick's for $39.99!) because my other ones were making my knees hurt. Because of the rain, I haven't even had a chance to try them out. Wah. I hope that changes soon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Bye-Bye Globe

The Globe, otherwise known as 94.7FM here in the DC area, is no more. I made this discovery earlier this week while driving to work. It saddens me because it was one of the last classic rock stations left in the area; everything now is either pop, soft rock, Latin, or talk radio, with the exception of a couple hip-hop stations. But all stations--regardless of format--play the same damn songs over and over again. And now that consumers have switched to satellite or HD radio or take their iPods and MP3 players in the car with them, there is less use for what Howard Stern calls, "terrestrial radio."

Me? I like terrestrial radio. Always have. I remember, back in the 80s, staying up late on school nights listening to 105.1 WAVA and B106.7 just waiting to hear the new Whitney Houston or Madonna song. I would take my hairspray bottle and sing into it as if it were my microphone, or I'd hold my cassette player up to my speaker to record a song and play it back repeatedly so that I could memorize and imitate all the vocal inflections (this actually helped me become a better wedding singer, as I would find out decades later).

What I would also do with that cassette player--which is kind of embarassing to admit now--was pretend I was a radio DJ and record intros and commercials and then record the songs from the radio. It was fun. Hell, it was all a little kid could do when there was nobody around to play with. I suppose at one point I probably wanted to be a DJ, among many, MANY other things. I actually did become a DJ in college for a couple of years, until partying was more of a priority on Friday nights. Well, actually, sometimes I would party first and THEN do my radio show. But that's another story altogether.

So this Globe thing: the main reason I'm so sad about it is it was one of the only radio stations that had a cause-- the environment. Its studios had included "green" options, such as energy efficient lighting and solar power, plus in-between songs and commercial spots they would give green tips about recycling and saving water. It was really cool, and necessary in my opinion. The radio station, which had always played classic rock since I can remember, switched to this "greener" format within the last year or two. Not only that, the DJs seemed more in control of the playlists, playing not only the classic rock but also current rock done by classic rock artists. And they'd give little tidbits and factoids about the songs and artists because their DJs, like Cerph and Weasel, have worked in radio for a long time. I remember Weasel from WHFS 99.1 (which is now a Spanish station, but it used to be a great "alternative" station back in the 90s that played The Cure and Nirvana and stuff).

And now it's all gone, changed to a "light, adult rock" format playing Natasha Bedingfield and the Goo Goo Dolls and crap like that. All the good DJs left back in October 2008. I guess that's when management informed them of the impending changes. I actually stopped listening to that station in the mornings when Weasel was no longer the morning DJ, replaced by a former hip-hip station DJ named Albie Dee.

So sad. I looked around the dial to find something comparable I could replace 94.7 with. Nothing. *sigh*