Sunday, April 11, 2021

I haven't killed a plant in MONTHS.

Pic of the Week


My roommate's cat, Seb, was feeling especially cuddly.  

What's going on?

Back to life, back to reality.  Mostly.

It was a pretty chill week around these parts.  A little work, a little reading, a lot of naps.  I did manage to get a little sunburned this week.  I met up with a friend at the beach and forgot sunscreen and a hat.  Luckily it's not a terrible sunburn, but a sunburn nonetheless.  

Honestly, wish I had more to report. I'm honestly pretty content at the moment, but the day to day is a little...mundane.  *shrug*

I have started a gratitude practice which has been really interesting and fun.  Right before bed, I write down 5 things I'm grateful for, and then just spend a minute really thinking and about those things and sitting in the gratitude.  It's added some good perspective, and also during the day it makes me kind of stop and notice things to be grateful for.  Most of them are pretty small - the light playing through the trees, an especially good cookie, a smile from a cashier - but somehow that makes it all the more meaningful.

What I'm watching


This got pretty terrible reviews, but it made me and my roommate laugh a lot.  Don't expect much from it, and it'll be a lovely little romp.  From what I remember, it's even appropriate for the whole family, though I'm probably not the best judge of that as living in LA has desensitized me to many things.  There are plenty of websites out there, though, that'll give you the low-down on what's what.

What I'm reading

You thought it was going to be book 7 this week, didn't you?  DIDN'T YOU?  Well, you were wrong.  I'm still on book 6.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Home prices are great in the middle of nowhere.

Pic of the Week


Me and some friends in front of General Sherman - the largest tree in the world by volume: 52,500 cubic feet!  It's about 2,500 years old, 275 ft tall, and 109 ft around.  Another fun fact:  You can't see it in the picture, but the top of the tree is dead. That means the tree will never get taller, but it's still growing outward!

What's going on?

This has been a friend-heavy week!  At the beginning of the week, my friends Sara and Amy were in town for a little getaway with their other friend Katherine.  I went to spend a couple of days with them down in Hermosa Beach where we got in some beach time, food, Downtown Disney and PLENTY of laughter.  


I got in a couple of regular work days before heading up to the mountains for Easter weekend with some LA friends.  It's been a truly delightful weekend: games, puzzles, movies, enough food to keep us full and happy for a full week beyond what we planned for, hot tubbing, hiking, wild turkeys, and this VIEW:


I'm a bit of an early riser, especially compared to everyone I came up here with, so I had this morning view pretty much to myself every morning while sipping on hot chocolate and doing some morning meditation.  It really has been the most relaxing and soul-restoring weekend. Highly recommend Sequoia National Forest if you've never been.  

What I'm watching

The mountain sunrise. 

What I'm reading


Shocker!  Book 6.  This is the weakest of the books, so far, in my opinion.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Too much TV

Pic of the Week


Babysitting.  The little tyke INSISTED on pushing the stroller.  So.

What's going on?

Pretty chill week this week.  Not much to report.  A little tutoring, a little babysitting, too many donuts.  I went over to a friend's house yesterday to watch some TV (we have a couple of shows we're watching together) and between the shows we watch and a couple of movies (we got sucked into Avengers: Infinity War AND Avengers: Endgame) we ended up watching, like, 9 hours of content.  It's been a long time since I've done that.  To make up for it, I took my paddle board out this morning and the weather was PERFECT.

What I'm watching


Marvel's at it again.  This series is...fine.

What I'm reading


Book 5!  I started reading The Millionaire Next Door, but just wanted to continue with this series, so here we are.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

So. Much. Happening.

Pic of the Week


This is Polly.  She's a giant Story Pirates puppet that now lives in a storage unit because the theater where our office was located shut down (yay Covid!) and so we had to move our stuff into storage this week. Polly, I think, is angry that her horns fell off during the move.  And also angry that she has to live in a storage unit. 

What's going on?

Busy week!  This is probably the busiest week I've had in over a year.  It was nice.  Along with coordinating and executing the Story Pirates move, I did some babysitting, directed a Story Pirates show for a school specializing in students with Cerebral Palsy, hosted a volunteer event with Story Pirates with people from all over the world (we had attendees in India, Japan, Mexico, Australia, and the US), pretended to have a collapsed lung for 2nd year medical students for 3 days, tutored, and let some PA students jiggle my bits for science.  I also managed to get in some jogging, cycling, reading, TV, a hot bath, and sleep! 

It almost feels like life is back to normal.  Except for the part where I can't hang out with my friends in large groups, or go to the grocery store without a mask.  Seems like more and more people are getting vaccinated though, which is encouraging.  Plus Disneyland just announced that they're officially opening back up on April 30.  It'll be at limited capacity, and at least for the moment it's only open to California residents, but being a California resident, that's great for me!  I'm not gonna be one of those ultra-dedicated people who have to have a ticket to opening day, but I'll probably try and go sometime before the summer's over.  

What I'm watching



In honor of St. Patrick's Day we decided to bust out this old chestnut.  What a treat.  It's truly a terrible movie, but still fun to watch.  And it was largely filmed in Utah!  Hooray for tax breaks!

What I'm reading


Book 4!  Let's go!  This series still isn't as compelling as other fantasy series out there, but it's engaging enough to keep going.  There are plenty of fun, likable characters, and the storylines are interesting. Plus I'm invested now.  :)

Sunday, March 14, 2021

When you wish upon a star...

Pic of the Week


It's been over a year since I've been down to Disney, and so since I'm vaccinated, a Disney-loving friend of mine (who is also vaccinated) and I decided to head down to enjoy some treats and shopping and magic.  It was a delightful day.  And as you can see, they're keeping the magic alive by making you stand in line!

What's going on?

WAFFLES!

And LIFE!  Work is picking up a bit at the moment, which is fun.  It's keeping me busy.  Along with my standing weekly nanny gig, my old boss at Kidville is having me come watch her kids for a couple of hours a week - which mostly consists of me putting her youngest in a stroller, where she almost immediately falls asleep, walking to the park and reading for a couple of hours, and then going home.  It's chill.  :)

Story Pirates gigs have been picking up a bit too.  I've done a couple of virtual birthday parties recently, which is kind of a new thing for us.  We used to do birthday party shows a few years ago, but we stopped, and now in this virtual landscape, they make more sense, so we're giving them a whirl, and they're going well.  I'm back to directing shows, which is really fun.  It's where I feel most in my element with the company and I'm glad to be back in the saddle that way.

This week has also included plenty of puzzling, reading, TV, movies, and bike rides along the beach. 

What I'm watching


Y'all, this was bananas.  I know a lot of people in Utah are familiar with this story, but I was only 2 when it happened and wouldn't live in Utah for another 4 years, so I had no context and it was fascinating to watch. 

What I'm reading


Book 3.  We're going strong.

What I'm puzzling


The United States 1,000-piece puzzle by Mudpuppy. This one was really fun.  I borrowed it from a friend, but I'm tempted to tell them I lost it and then just keep it.

What I'm cooking


Sweet potato sliders.  As with a regular slider, you can basically put anything on these.  You just use roasted or grilled sweet potato slices as the bun.  Mine included chicken mole, tomato, guacamole, and kale.  They were delicious. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Triple Deke

Pic of the Week


I'm not 100% sure, but I think a garbage can attacked my mirror.  RIP.

What's going on?

I'm getting older.  I mean, we all are, but the evidence has strengthened this week.  I had my yearly checkup and my cholesterol was a little high.  Not higher than normal (for me), but borderline high for the general population.  That combined with a family history of high cholesterol and blood pressure, and other various heart problems means my doc wants me on cholesterol meds.  So.  Here we are.  I was really proud of the fact that I'm in my late 30's and not taking any medications.  But such is life.  Genetics will out, I suppose.

I've picked up another consistent childcare gig.  My old boss from Kidville is having me watch her young'ns for a couple of hours a week so she can have a moment of sanity.  So far it's been a pretty cushy gig.  Her older one is in school, so I go pick up the younger one in her stroller and by the time we get to the park, she's asleep.  She sleeps basically until it's time to go back home and drop her off and I'm on my merry way.  Good way to get a bunch of reading done. :)

Work is starting to pick up a little in general as well.  Babysitting/nannying, tutoring, Story Pirates, Standardized Patient work, teaching improv to kids.  It's fun.  Keeping me busy, but not so busy that I don't have time to enjoy some TV or the occasional hike.

What I'm watching


Did a movie night with some friends and watched this old gem.  Man, 90's underdog sports movies are a TRIP.  And you really can't go wrong with a dreamy young Emilio Estevez.  Thanks, Disney+!  Now if you'd kindly add North Avenue Irregulars to your offerings, I'd be much obliged.

What I'm reading


Book 2 in this series.  This one gets a bit saucier.  It's not as imaginative or inventive as other fantasy series, but it's still engaging enough to keep me going. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

How do I do this again?

Pic of the Week


Hello, beautiful Morro Bay!  This is the view from a hike I took looking out over the bay.  I stayed just a few blocks inland and went paddle boarding in that bay while I was there.  It was perfect.

What's going on?

It was so nice to get away for a couple of days and have no responsibilities.  I ate too much food, got outdoors, saw some otters, bought a plant, somehow injured my foot just by walking, and discovered a delightful new camping location. 

Back in the real world, things are pretty much the same.  I did have my first in-person audition in almost a year.  I've had a couple of virtual auditions since everything shut down, but this was my first time back in a real, live, casting office. I felt a little rusty, but it was fun to get back out there. 

What I'm watching


All of the awards buzz for this film.  It's got everything - drama, laughs, crazy cooks, foul-mouthed grandmas, fire, heart.  

What I'm cooking


Creamy saffron lemon pasta.  It's rich and delicious.  I was lucky that I had some saffron on hand from a tutoring student who gave it to me as part of a gift when I finished helping him prep for a test. I even made the pasta from scratch! Mostly because Trader Joe's didn't have the kind I needed.  

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Staycation. Kind of.

Vid of the Week


I was driving along the other day and came upon this rather large flock of seagulls circling a parking lot.  No idea why, but it was weird.
What's going on?

Today I'm writing from beautiful Morro Bay.  I decided to get out of town for a couple of days and booked myself a hotel room with a capacious bathtub up the coast.  It's a pretty mediocre hotel, but the bathtub is perfect - low water pressure notwithstanding.  I went for a hike this afternoon then took a nice, long bubble bath and will settle in to some tasty food and a bit of dessert later after a walk along the main drag here.  Tomorrow I'm going paddle boarding in the bay and then I think I'll head into San Luis Obispo for a little sight-seeing and some cake from the Madonna Inn.  I think I'd like to start doing this once or twice a year, just to reset and enjoy some alone time away from home for a bit.  

Other than that, it's been a normal week.  A little work, a lot of TV, and puzzling up a storm.  

What I'm watching


Magic and drama and mediocre writing.  Can't really recommend this one, unless you're looking form something to put on in the background.  Just a heads up that there is a little language, and things get a little graphic from time to time because magic deaths are not normal.

What I'm reading


Fantasy series recommended by a friend.  Pretty standard fare so far.  I'll let you know if it gets exciting. 
 
What I'm listening to


Fascinating podcast about a long-running con in Hollywood.  *language warning*

What I'm puzzling


99 Beautiful Places on Earth by Ravensburger. 4 of the places are in New York City. *eye roll* Still.  Fun puzzle.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

*insert heart emojis*

Pic of the Week


Another beautiful view from a hike.  This is actually the start of this hike.  It winds up into the mountains, crisscrossing a charming little stream, to the opening of an abandoned gold mine.  The city you see in the picture is Altadena, just north of Pasadena.

What's going on?

Happy Valentine's Day!  Whether the love of your life is a person, or a dessert, I hope you find a reason to celebrate love today.  

What an exciting week around these parts.  I finished and framed a puzzle, potted some baby spider plants, bought some produce at the farmer's market, got lectured by my 22-yr-old roommate via text about how and why to be a good roommate (yes, I later let her know that I didn't need to be lectured about such things), and booked myself a few days away in Morro Bay for next weekend.  Just a thrill a minute.  

At the beginning of the year I signed up for a running/walking challenge.  500 miles during 2021.  So far I'm already up to about 150, so I think I'll be reaching that goal this year.  Yesterday's hike alone was nearly 9 miles.

Along those lines, I took a couple of nice long bike rides this week.  I think I've written before about the bike path near my apartment that goes down to the beach.  I did a little reading and learned that while riding my bike like I normally do, I burn about 10 calories a minute.  So a 90-min bike ride burns 900 calories!  I did that twice this week, but the second time happened to be on a windy day.  I didn't realize how windy it was until I turned around to come home.  I was biking directly into the wind for at least a good half hour.  Killed me.  But then I ate a bunch of delicious things because I could.  😂

Another week of pandemic life down, hopefully not too many of these left.

What I'm watching


A sobering look at the history of voting rights in America.  Highly recommended.  It even has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

What I'm reading


This book is great.  It basically shows how the world we're living in - while still beset with plenty of problems to solve - has vastly improved in nearly every measurable way (crime, education, infant mortality, poverty, etc.) since we started paying attention to such things.  The author makes a point of saying that this isn't a reason to stop improving things, but perhaps it is a reason to take a breath and realize that things have been improving and will continue to do so, so we can keep working on those problems with a brighter outlook.  
 
What I'm listening to


A Thoughtful Faith, Episode 354: The Spiritual Practice of Earth Care. A conversation about how taking care of the Earth is something we should care about as Christians, along with a few practical suggestions about how to do that better.  This is something I have long felt, and I am often confused when Christians are not only indifferent about, but sometimes actively against environmentalism/conservation/etc.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Febrrerarrirriary

Pic of the Week


Beautiful weather for a hike today, so I took advantage.  Always love some nature church.  Another stunning view looking out over the pacific ocean - though it's covered in clouds here. 

What's going on?

Happy first week of February!  This year seems to be flying by already. And every day closer to normalcy.  

I got my second dose of vaccine this week.  I got the Pfizer vaccine, and my second dose was entirely uneventful. I know lots of people who have been knocked out by their second dose, but other than a slightly sore arm, I didn't have any side effects whatsoever.  So I guess if you get a choice, go for Pfizer. 

Other than that, just a regular old regular week. I got to see some friends for park picnics, and it was great to get some social interaction. 

What I'm watching

 
Wasn't necessarily super jazzed about this show, but I heard good things from friends, so I checked it out.  It's pretty clever and lots of fun to watch.

What I'm reading



28 Days of Black History.  "A virtual exhibition of 28 works that celebrate Black legacy in the U.S."  Artwork, plays, literature, poetry, etc. delivered to your inbox daily to give some much-needed perspective to our history. 
 
What I'm cooking



Quick mole sauce. Mole sauce (pronounced mo-lay) is a Oaxacan (wuh-HA-cuh) thing, and it's delicious.  Just put it on everything.  This recipe makes a full quart of sauce, so maybe cut it down.  I adjusted it to have no jalapeno - cuz I don't like spicy food - I added an extra tablespoon of cocoa powder and added in some honey.  So far I've put it on chicken, couscous, meatballs, and potatoes.  Lovely all around.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Yer all wet.

Pic of the Week


It was raining on Friday and it made me really want to be at Disneyland.  *sigh* One day we may be able to return.  Until then, I'll cozy up in my Disneyland sweatshirt.

What's going on?

Copy, paste, repeat.  But this week, add some rain.  In all seriousness, though, time is an illusion and everything is always the same.  I did take advantage of the colder weather and make some soup this week.  :)

AND hard to believe January is over.  One month closer to getting back to normal.

I've been trying to be more mindful of what I'm eating the last month or so - paying attention to calorie intake, making sure to get tons of vegetables in my meals, avoiding treats etc.  It's been really great.  Yesterday I did the long bike ride again - it's 36 miles round trip - with a friend.  With my calorie goals for the day, and the expenditure of calories on the bike ride (I burned somewhere around 1,500), I had 4,000 calories to play with for the day.  That's a lot of food!  I went a little wild, and my body was like..."What are you doing?!" and gave me heartburn in the middle of the night.  Super fun.  Anyway, it's nice to know that my body is responding positively to the healthier lifestyle.  Let's keep it up, y'all!

What I'm watching


Haven't seen the original Avengers in a hot minute.  It was fun to revisit it. 

What I'm cooking


Crispy gnocchi salad with spring vegetables.  This recipe was SO good.  Especially the fennel seed lemon dressing that you put on it.  TASTY.  I will say that cutting the zucchini into ribbons was a bit of an unnecessary pain in the butt, and if I make it again - which I almost certainly will - I'll just chop them up like I would when sauteing or roasting them.  


15-min mushroom and tarragon stroganoff.  If you like mushrooms, this was quick and super delicious.  If you don't like mushrooms, it's still quick!  I added some bacon on top just for fun.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Hail to the Chief

Pic of the Week


The end of the bike path.  Took a little ride this morning and it was a perfect day.  There is a bike path along the beach and this is where it ends.  It's about a 36-mile round trip from my apartment.  Took me about 3 and a half hours with a snack break here.  

What's going on?

We have a new president!  Cue the collective sigh of relief. I know not everyone agrees with his politics, or even thinks he's a decent human being, but you have to admit it's nice to have someone in the white house who at the very least believes in science. 

These pandemic weeks are all starting to blend together.  Ya know?  Since Monday was a holiday, the weather was unbeatable, and I had nothing going on, I decided to take the ol' paddle board out again.  This time I went for a good couple of hours and it was a delight.  

The rest of the week was...entirely uneventful. I did find out that I qualified for unemployment, so that'll be nice until the work opportunities pick up again. Other than that, I'm trying to get outside, not stare at a screen too much, and continue to wear a mask.

What I'm watching


Can't necessarily recommend this one to everyone, but it was delightful fun. Kind of a mish-mash of 80's over-the-top horror, power rangers, and bizarre comedy. 

What I'm listening to


This week's episode of the Criminal podcast features Sister Helen, a well-known nun who has found herself at the forefront of the death penalty.  She shares some incredible perspective here.

What I'm reading


This is the second book in the Shadowshaper series.  It's about a girl in the Bronx who can put the spirits of the dead into artwork.  Pretty good read.

What I'm cooking

Couple of recipes caught my eye this week:


Broccoli Soup with Mac and Cheese.  This was actually really tasty.  And a much healthier option than just a giant bowl of mac and cheese, while still delivering that comfort food feeling.  I made enough soup for two meals, but only enough mac and cheese for one.  The next day I added sauteed mushrooms and zucchini and a little chicken apple sausage to the soup and it was equally delicious.


Rice Cooker Pancake.  Stumbled on this beauty on Instagram. Basically, you make pancake batter and put it in the rice cooker, then set the timer and go about your business.  I did mine in my Instant Pot and it was a little smaller, both because I have the Instant Pot Mini and because I did a smaller recipe, but it was tasty.  It does take 45 minutes to cook, so for me just making a stack of pancakes would be a lot faster, but it is nice to set it and forget it.  I think I might try a bigger one this week.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

A decade!

Pic of the Week


I went paddle boarding yesterday because it was 80 degrees and, though you can't see him very well, I ran into a giant bull harbor seal.  I didn't want to get much closer because I'm all about not disturbing animals and what not.  

What's going on?

Can't believe I forgot to write about this last week, but I have now officially been in Los Angeles for 10 years!  10!!!  That is bananas to me.  I don't know what I imagined long-term when moving to LA, but the last 10 years has certainly been an adventure.  😂 I have never lived anywhere longer.  Consecutively, at least.  Technically I lived in Salt Lake for 11 years, but that was split between two very different times in my life. And what a decade it's been.  In the last ten years I:

Lived in 4 different apartments with 7 different roommates.
Bought a scooter.
Put nearly 70,000 miles on that scooter.
Was on 3 TV shows.
Was in 14 commercials, that I remember.
Worked 14 part-time jobs, that I remember.
Auditioned for hundreds of projects.
Had 4 different primary care physicians.
Crashed my scooter twice.
Broke one bone.
Worked with a Goonie.
Lost my mom.
Learned to paddle board.
Discovered SO MANY places to get a good cookie.
Gained 25 pounds.
Stopped going to church.
Visited 9 countries outside the US.
Rode the world's largest rope swing.
Rode a boat on the Nile.
Rode a camel around the pyramids.
Watched flamenco dancers in Spain.
Pet a tiger.
Swam in the Indian Ocean.
Saw the sun rise over Machu Picchu.
Lived through a pandemic.
Landed and shortly thereafter lost the job of my dreams.
Toured to 9 states with Story Pirates.
Built furniture.
Voted in 3 presidential elections.
Created and performed a show with the Utah Symphony.
Watched Elton John in a private concert in a random back yard in Beverly Hills.
Bought a Movie Pass and milked it for all it was worth before the company went belly-up.
Volunteered with 6 different non-profit organizations.
Got SO MANY gray hairs.
Grew a handle-bar mustache.
Discovered that I do not like coffee.
Slept in a hammock for 5 years.
Had 8 birthday beach bonfires (I think).
Had my first root canal.
Ran a half marathon.
Got into house plants.
Had three sets of head shots.
Got two celebrity phone numbers (Elizabeth Berkeley, and Don Swayze).
Sold my condo.
Established some new traditions.
Pretty much continuously had an annual pass to Disneyland.
Performed in 5 plays.
Joined the Screen Actors Guild.
Entered my 30s.
Got into podcasts.
Made a bunch of friends.
Built a life.
And oh so very much more.  

Only other event of note this week is that I got vaccinated!  I technically work for the UCLA medical school (in one of those numerous part-time jobs I have) and somehow that got me in line, and who am I to say no?

What I'm watching


This was VERY good, but not for the faint of heart.  There's a twist ending, and the film doesn't go in the direction you think it will, and they don't pull any punches, but I think it's going to start some important conversations.  

What I'm listening to


Jameela Jamil is a POWERHOUSE and I cannot get enough of her.  Even though I hate her just a little bit because she's one of those people who just sort of feel into a successful acting career with essentially no pavement pounding.  She decided to move to US from London for a change of scenery and her very first audition in LA was for The Good Place.  Regardless, she is changing the world.  I highly recommend following her on Instagram if you're not already.  Anyway, her podcast deals with body image issues, diet culture, societal expectations etc.  This week's episode is with Celeste Barber who has one of the funniest Instagram accounts around.  She parodies photos and videos of models.  Language warning for this one.  Regardless, it's worth a listen.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Emerging like a butterfly

Pic of the Week


Discovered this little guy while out for a walk.  Nature's pretty cool.

What's going on?

Honestly?  Nothing.  I currently have one tutoring student, and the kid I nanny and that's about it for work. Outside of that, I'm reading, watching TV, exercising, and trying to stay away from people as much as possible because Southern California is apparently THE COVID hot spot at the moment.  They say 1 in 10 Angelenos has now tested positive for COVID. What a dream. 

And how about that unrest in the capitol, eh?  If only we could have seen that coming. What a time to be alive.  

What I'm watching


This was entertaining, but not very good.  

What I'm reading


This is like, mystery, crime, and a little sci-fi all rolled into one.  Intriguing premise that I don't want to spoil because of how it unfolds in the story.  But if you're into crime novels or podcasts or TV shows, check it out!