Monthly Archives: July 2012

Gift Shopping (or For Me, It’s That Time of the Year)

I love buying gifts for people. I love getting big gifts like birthday or engagement ones, and I love buying little things like a bottle of wine for a friend who invited me over for dinner.

Maybe I’m selfish, but I love seeing how happy I can make people with a gift I give them.

This time of the year, there are a lot of family events. In a 3 day period, there is my parents’ anniversary, my cousin’s birthday, my cousin’s girlfriend’s birthday, and my birthday. And that’s not counting my birthday twins birthday or my acting coach’s birthday which happen then too. That’s a lot of gifts.

I’ve also got a dear friend of mine getting married this fall (her bridal shower was this past weekend), and my brother proposed to his girlfriend recently too. Again, that’s a lot of gifts.

So what is someone supposed to do when they are trying to save money to pay off debit but still wants to make everyone happy with gifts? I got creative.

For my friend getting married and my brother’s fiancee, I wanted to get them something cute but something that is more personal. I found these really nice personalized blue garters. They weren’t too expensive, personalization was free, and both of the recipients of the gift loved them (it helped them with their something blue too).

I can’t say what I’m getting my parents for their anniversary because my mom reads this blog. But I can say that my brother and I are teaming up for the gift so we can get them something really nice, but it won’t cost too much for each of us.

One of the most important things I’ve learned about giving gifts is sometimes it really is the smallest gesture that counts. That’s why, for every family and friend celebration, I seek out the perfect card. For my cousin and his girlfriend’s birthdays coming up, I don’t get them gifts (we don’t really do that in my family), but I do spend a lot of time picking out the perfect card for each of them. It’s nice to get something in the mail other than a bill.

So this week before I go to work, I’m off looking for the perfect cards for everyone (and carrying stamps in my purse so I can mail them all off in time).

Fabulous Free Food (or Why I Love My Birthday Twin!)

If you ever want to go and eat out at lots of places and not spend money. Just wait until your birthday! There are entire websites dedicated to where to can eat free on your birthday.

One of the places that I go to each year for my free meal is Truxton’s. For your birthday, you get a free entree and a free dessert! For some reason this year, I got my birthday coupon in July, and it expires on August 14th, so I knew I needed to use it.

Every year, my friend Joanna joins me for the free meal (she also writes a blog). Her birthday is also August 9th, so that’s just awesome. And when we go to Truxton’s, we both get a free entree and dessert.

So this weekend, we went. We made sure that we both had our birthday coupons printed out.

And we enjoyed our meal! I knew ahead of time that I would have a huge dinner, so I planned my earlier meals accordingly. This is one of those times that I am happy to splurge! (In case you were wondering, I had a 1/4 rotisserie chicken).

After we both had our meals and our desserts, we were stuffed! But we couldn’t help but smile when the bill came.

Since we both only drank water, our bill was exactly $0.00. We did leave a $10 tip, so the meal wasn’t completely free, but still.

I’m looking forward to all the free meals and experiences I get to take advantage of in August!

Thank You (or I Should Have Done This Sooner)

I’m feeling so loved after writing yesterday’s post. Thank you all so much.

When I wrote it, I deleted and re-wrote it several times. I wondered if I should really put it all out there. I wondered if anyone would read it. I wondered what people would think.

And what I got was a lot of love and support. Thank you all for the comments, tweets (BTW, you can follow me on twitter, I’m @thejenlevin), Facebook posts, emails, and texts. I read every single thing sent to me, and several of them made me tear up. I know that I made the right decision by being this honest this early in my blogging experience.

I’m feeling so free and energized now. I never knew that by holding that in, I was hurting myself so much.

I hope that I can inspire at least one of you to go and put your whole self out there. Even if you are scared about being judged, know that the person who is judging you the hardest is yourself.

I know that after yesterday, my confidence has grown so much. I feel a lot more sure of myself. I know that it sounds so cheesy saying all of this, but it’s true. And I would have never believed this if it wasn’t happening to me.

Thank you again all so much. I hope that you are going to continue reading my journey. It’s really only just begun.

Sharing the Truth (or It’s Time To Rip Off the Band-Aid)

There are some things that I just love to share with everyone (I mean, hello, I’m writing a blog!). But there are other things that I either keep to myself or share half truths about.

I’ve found that being secretive like this is dangerous. When something isn’t out in the open, it eats you up inside.

The two main things I’ve been secretive about in the past are my issues with food and my credit card debt.

I kept my credit card debt a secret because I didn’t know anybody else with debt. Maybe student loans, but not credit cards. Nobody in my family really has credit card debt. I was taught to always pay off the full balance each month. And I did do that for a while. But then I found myself without a job. And I still had bills to pay. So they went on my credit card. And now, I have debt.

But I’m working my way towards paying it off. It’s going to take some time, but I’ll do it. And once I started telling people I had debt, I started hearing from other people that are in the same situation as me. For some reason, people don’t like to talk about it, so it feels like something to be ashamed of. But it’s not. So here I am saying that I have credit card debt, it sucks, but I’m working on paying it off.

My issues with food is something harder for me to discuss. This is something that I’ve dealt with my entire life, and I’ve only been honest with myself for the last few years. For those of you who don’t know me that well (or I just haven’t told you this yet), I have an eating disorder. I’ve probably had it most of my life, but it was only properly diagnosed when I was in college. The thing that sucks the most for me is that I don’t have anorexia or bulimia, I am a binge eater. And that seems to be the eating disorder that isn’t as studied or as common to hear about. Most people are pretty secretive about having it. So as I’ve tried to get treatment, it’s very difficult to find someone who understands my disorder and doesn’t try to treat me as a bulimic.

So revealing this to you all is a big step. And I only had the courage to do it after something that happened yesterday. I was out at happy hour at Bodega with my best friend. She and I have been friends for 20 years, so she’s more than just my best friend, she’s my family. We were deciding on what food to order for dinner when I had mentioned that I hadn’t really had too much food that day. I was saving my calories for happy hour. I wanted to prove it, so I got out my phone and showed her my food diary I keep on My Fitness Pal (which is an awesome app). We were laughing about it and she mentioned that she uses the app too. For some crazy reason, in my head I only thought that people who use the app are people struggling to lose weight. But my friend doesn’t have a weight problem. She’s super in shape and has even done a marathon before!

And then it hit me. Keeping track of your food is something that normal people do. Just like how I’m not the only one with debt, I’m not the only one who tracks my food and workout calories. Somehow, this made me feel so much better. I don’t need to be ashamed of tracking my food and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. This is what I should be sharing with everyone.

So I am.

Shoes! (or The Most Fabulous Items in My Wardrobe)

I love shoes! I don’t know many girls who don’t (although my friend Emily might love them more than most).

One of the best things about shoes is no matter what size you are, your shoes will almost always fit. So those are the one fancy item I can have in my closet like everyone else.

But I do still try to get my shoes on the cheap. I love websites like Zappos because they have a nice selection and good deals. But there’s something about going to a shoe store and seeing all the shoes lined up and waiting to be taken home (I know, I make it sound like puppies waiting to be adopted). As much as I would love to have an unlimited budget for shoes, that isn’t my reality (yet).

Near me in LA, I love Off Broadway Shoes and DSW. Those seem to have the nicest selections with the best deals. And I love that whenever you shop at Off Broadway, at the bottom of your receipt, there is a coupon for 10% of what you just spent to use the next time you go.

I realize that writing an entire blog post dedicated to shoes might show how obsessed I am, but that’s ok. I think every girl, no matter what size she happens to be, needs to have a category of clothing or accessories that makes them happy all the time. And for me, that’s my collection of shoes.

Fabulous Lunch Food (or Enjoying Champagne on a Beer Budget)

I’ve mentioned previously that I pack my lunch for work most days. This is for two reasons. One is that we only get 30 minutes for lunch, so I don’t want to waste time going out and getting food. The other reason is that I’m cheap.

I can’t afford to spend $8-10 four days a week for lunch. I’m trying to save money, and one of the easiest ways is to not go out to eat. If I’m going to splurge, it’s going to be on something wonderful, like my dinner at Magic Castle last week.

But bringing a lunch to work can be boring. I do have a fridge and microwave there, but there are only so many ideas in my head for lunches. I’ve gotten bored of sandwiches, even if I add lots of veggies and use nice bread and lunch meat. I’m currently bringing picnic style lunches: some yogurt, a little piece of cheese, some crackers, some fruit or veggie, and something sweet to end the meal with. I haven’t figured out the cost per lunch yet, but I know it’s cheap. And I know that the calories are under 500.

But those picnic lunches are starting to feel a bit tired. I think that I can only do the same type of lunch for like two weeks before it gets boring. So I’m asking you all for some fabulous lunch suggestions. I don’t normally have leftovers because when you get home from work at 9pm, the last thing you want to do it cook dinner.

So please, comment with some lunch suggestions! I can really use them!

Blogs That Inspire Me (or Yes, I’m a Copycat)

One of the reasons I wanted to write a blog is that I love reading blogs so much! Maybe I’m a nosy person, but I love hearing about other people’s lives and the cool things that they come up with.

So here is a list of blogs that inspire me:

The Spohrs Are Multiplying (Heather is the one who convinced me to start my own blog!)

Matt, Liz, and Madeline

Daily Garnish

Wan Life to Live

Keeping Up With Katie

Keep It Up, David!

The Actor’s Diet

The Working Actress

Letting Go (or Why I Want to Keep a 14 Year Old Driver License Photo)

The current photo on my driver license is the original photo from my first driver license. But that picture is even older than that! The picture is actually from when I passed my learners permit test! So when I got my renewal notice recently and found out I had to do a new picture, I was pretty upset.

First of all, I love my picture on my license! I look cute, happy, and I was thinner back then.


I still know exactly what shirt I’m wearing (my “Peter Pan” cast t-shirt). I had to do a new passport photo earlier this year, and I hate my new picture. I think part of the reason is that you can’t smile in passport photos, but still, that’s not the point.

Getting a new license photo for the first time since I was 15 is tough. And I know it’s because I still want to think that I’m that 15 year old girl and I can fix all the times I’ve screwed up in my life. I want to still be able to tell myself then that I wasn’t so horribly fat. I could get the body I want so easily. Instead, here I am, with over 100 pounds to lose.

So today, I’m going to try to look super cute, do my makeup really nicely, and wear a cute top. Because I want to remember that this photo is at the beginning of what I hope will be an amazing journey.

Girls Night Out (or How to Find a Cute Dress When You Are Bigger Than a Size 18)

Last night, my Girls Night Out group got together for an evening at The Magic Castle! It was awesome! I had been there one time before, but that was with my parents, so this was a whole different type of evening!

Two of the girls in my group were chosen to be volunteers in the main stage show, so that was awesome. And we met some pretty cute guys there too!

One of the rules of The Magic Castle is the dress code. Guys have to be in a coat and tie (which might make them look cuter!), and ladies have to be in dresses.

I love a good excuse to dress up. In LA, an evening out normally means jeans and heels (or Uggs if it’s under 60 degrees out). But this was a formal evening!

In general, there are not too many places that I can find clothes at my current size. It seems most stores either have old lady clothes or slut wear. I have found one amazing store for dresses (Kiyonna), but unless I have the time to drive down to Anaheim to try on the dresses, I have to order them online, which I hate.

But somehow, I found a super cute dress for last night at Torrid, and of course I got a new purse to go with it. But to find that super cute dress, I tried to find a dress at at least 6 other stores first with no luck in my size.

I know it’s a struggle to find things to wear right now, and hopefully I’ll be able to change that soon. But I think every girl can agree that when you find a dress that you love, you feel beautiful no matter what size the label says.


Day to Day Life (or What I Do All Day)

I mentioned yesterday that I’m packing my lunch for work each day. So I thought that I should mention what exactly it is I do.

Mainly, I’m an actress. I have amazing agents who loves me and push really hard for me. I’m not the typical actress, so auditions don’t come to me as often as some other people. But I love it, and I know eventually all my hard work (and my agents’ hard work) will pay off.

In the meantime, I have to have a day job (or a thrival job as some of my friends call it). In the past, I’ve worked at a major theme park, been a substitute teacher, been a temp, nannied, been a receptionist, worked data entry for credit card disputes, and so many other jobs that I can’t even remember. Currently, I work 6 days a week at a performing arts center selling memberships and tickets. I actually enjoy this day job. Working 6 days a week is tough, but it’s needed because this job is only seasonal.

The toughest thing about this job is the schedule and trying to eat healthy and work out. 3 days a week, I work 12:30-9. That’s great for getting a workout in in the morning, but not so great for an eating schedule. I normally eat breakfast at 11am, lunch at 4:30pm, and a snack when I get home. 1 day a week I work 9-5:30. That’s great for food, but I’m normally too tired after work to workout. On Fridays I work 9-1 and Saturdays 10-2. Those days are pretty neutral. I don’t work out in the morning, but there’s plenty of time after work.

At least I’m busy!