Category Archives: Fun Stuff

Vegan Fudge (or Another Super Easy Recipe)

I’ve been testing a few new recipes lately since I’m working on meal planning and cooking at home. I usually am trying one new dinner recipe each week or every other week. I’m trying to find simple recipes since I don’t want to have to buy a ton of ingredients that cost a lot of money or something that takes forever to cook. So my searches tend to be for pretty basic stuff. And sometimes, I need something to inspire me to find a new recipe.

A friend of mine had a loss recently and I wanted to do something nice for them. They are vegan so most of my guilty pleasure foods wouldn’t work for them so I did some searching for good vegan treats. So many of them had lots of ingredients that I don’t have or don’t use. It’s not worth it to buy something that will just be used in that one recipe (the problem I’ve had with cooking in the past) so I just kept searching for something easy to make. And finally I came across the perfect recipe!

I found a very basic recipe for vegan peanut butter fudge that pretty much only had ingredients that I already have! It was so easy and fast to make and so good that I know this will be something I will be making for lots of people in the future! And as I have before, whenever I find an awesome recipe I want to share it with you all!

Vegan Peanut Butter Fudge (from Spoon University)

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup natural nut butter (this was the only ingredient I had to buy because the only peanut butter I had in my house had honey which is not vegan)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, softened or melted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

What to do:

  • Combine all ingredients and stir until combined
  • Pour into a container that is lined with parchment paper
  • Put container in freezer and freeze for 45 minutes
  • Take out of freezer, cut, and enjoy!

That’s it! It’s so simple that I can’t believe that I haven’t made this before! I actually have not been able to get the fudge to my friend yet (so they might be finding out that I made something for them by reading this blog), but I know that they will be a hit!

This isn’t necessarily the healthiest thing to eat, but it’s so much healthier than most desserts that I know how to make. And I’m sure this recipe is easy enough to switch things up so the basic recipe can be used for a bunch of different things. I was thinking that this could be a really good topping to the gluten-free brownies I know how to make. Those brownies are sometimes used as the base for triple layer brownies with brown butter frosting. But I think using this fudge as a frosting could really be amazing! I might have to try it out sometime.

Every time I try a new recipe, I’m so anxious that it’s not going to turn out ok. I had that happen a few weeks ago with a new soup recipe that I tried. I thought it was going to be amazing and I was so excited about it. And then I tried it and it was horrible. I tried to fix it but there was no saving the soup and it had to be thrown out. I felt awful doing that because it is a waste of food and money (and I did try to see if any of my neighbors wanted it), but I knew I couldn’t eat it.

Having a recipe go wrong was a blessing in disguise because it wasn’t the end of the world like I thought it would be. It was unfortunate, but nothing horrible happened because I made something that tasted horrible. I’m not as scared now as I was before that I will do something wrong. And more often than not, the recipes will turn out awesome (like this one did) and it will become something that I will want to keep making!

The trial and error in my kitchen continues each week. But I know that this vegan fudge is going to be something that I make over and over again.

It’s Taxes Time (or Seeing My Hard Work Pay Off)

I don’t think that anyone is excited to do their taxes and owe money. Because of my jobs, I know I will owe money each year. None of my jobs take my taxes out for me, and even though I do my estimated payments like I need to they are usually not enough to cover what I owe. I know this is the situation I’m in so I am as prepared as possible for tax time. I save all my work related receipts (and there are a ton of them) and I save money out of every paycheck to use at tax time. But even with that, I’m always nervous that the news is going to be bad when I get my taxes done.

I went to Daphne at Chuck Sloan and Associates again and I’m so glad I did! First of all, everyone at Chuck Sloan understands actor and creative type taxes and the unique situations we are all in. They aren’t scared by dozens of jobs and the forms and all the weird deductions we need to do. And they understand how stressful tax time can be for us all. But I’m so happy that I have Daphne doing my taxes because she’s extra awesome! We bonded the last time she did my taxes over Disneyland and since I was going to Disneyland after doing my taxes with her I knew we’d talk about that.

Last year, Daphne showed me the worst case scenario with my taxes before she put in all my deductions so that I would feel better about how much I had saved up. I had asked her to do that for me again and once again it was less than what I had saved for my taxes. That’s always a huge relief because I know that no matter what I will have enough money to pay what I owe. But since now I’m feeling more comfortable with that, it was all about how well I tracked my work spending and tracked my deductions.

I like to think that I’m a pretty organized person and that I did a good job tracking expenses in 2016. Since I had my taxes done by Daphne once already, I knew what I should be aware of and what can be deducted. There are so many accountants that let you deduct things that aren’t totally on the up and up, so I’m glad Daphne is very careful in her work and tells me when things look weird (like how I accidentally tracked buying my new computer twice). I’m sure that there is more that I can deduct, but I’m still learning how to do the best that I can.

And even though I thought I had done all my tracking without missing things, there were a few things that I totally forgot about and I’m so glad we went over any other expenses I might have had in the year. I forgot that I got a new phone (which I do have to use for acting and my research job) and for some reason I never tracked the money that I spent to produce “Single Parent Date Night”. This is another reason I love having Daphne do my taxes. She knew to ask about these sort of things just in case I didn’t remember to track them on my paperwork (I’m sure anyone at Chuck Sloan would do the same since they know to look for these things).

In the end, I owed less than half of what I had saved for my taxes. This is so much better than I ever could have imagined! The money left over is going to be saved for another trip to New York that my sister-in-law and I are hoping to take next year. I still have more time to save more money, but I think what I have left over from my taxes savings should be able to cover pretty much the entire trip! I was only hoping that I would have about half of what I needed for that trip leftover so having this much is a big surprise to me and it making me relax a bit about how I will be able to afford that trip.

I’ve already written my checks to the IRS and sent them off so I’m now totally done with doing my 2016 taxes. It’s nice to get them done early enough so there isn’t a huge rush to do them at the last minute. And I’ve already started planning on what I can do this year to make the taxes easier next year. I will be paying more in estimated taxes, so that will help how much I owe. But I also now will be tracking my expenses even better because I learned where I was slacking last year that caused me to miss out on some potential deductions.

While it was nice in the past to be very uninvolved in my taxes, that’s not a luxury I can afford anymore. I know that with my current jobs that I will always owe money at the end of the year and I like being able to sit down with Daphne and go over everything so I understand why I owe what I do. I can see what deductions took off what and where I could have done better. I guess being more involved with all of this is just something that is required when you want to be more responsible and acting more like an adult.

Great Days And Not-So-Great Days (or Overcoming Workout Struggles)

This past week of workouts was a series of ups and downs. I’ve been working on doing more 4 workout weeks lately because I know I will be taking a break when I have surgery (and I don’t want that to affect how many workouts I do this year), but I’ll admit that this week I was really debating cancelling my 4th workout in the week. I’m glad I stuck with it, but it was really testing myself if I could do it.

Monday was probably the best and easiest workout I had. It was a power day and we were switching between each block which always makes things a bit easier for me. There were 2 main blocks on the treadmill, 2 main blocks on the floor, and then a partner challenge to end out the class. On the treadmill, the first block started with 30 second intervals and I ran everything even the base paces! I’ve never done that before and I felt on top of the world! The second half of the first block was 45 second intervals but I wasn’t able to run everything so I did my usual plan of walking all the base paces. The second treadmill block was 6 minutes long with 1 minute intervals and I walked the base paces again.

On the floor, the first block was sprint rows with squats and arm work. And the second block was timed work like burpees, medicine ball jacks, and ab work. But then we got to spend the last 12 minutes of class partnered up and that was awesome! We were rowing for distance as a team and we rotated between the floor and rower. The person on the floor had arm work and plank jacks and controlled the pace of the switching. It was a long 12 minutes but I knew my partner was counting on me so I worked really hard. And after 12 minutes, we got pretty far on the rower!

I’m not sure I did my fair share on the rowing distance, but my partner didn’t seem to mind and we were both very proud of what we were able to accomplish together.

Wednesday’s workout was just bad for me. It started out fine but then at the beginning of the class my hip popped out (like it does all the time) but I couldn’t get it to go back. It was causing me some very intense pain and I didn’t want to step out of class to take a painkiller since it usually takes time for them to kick in. So I just did what I could and sucked it up. On the treadmill, I walked everything. It was a strength day so I was able to work on walking hills, but I really was upset that I couldn’t do any running. I’m so stubborn so it’s tough to let myself take it easy when I know I could do better. But my body just wasn’t having it so I had to go with the flow.

The floor work that day was one long block where we did a lot of arm work. I was pretty grateful for that since I could do my usual stuff even with my hip hurting. The arm work was one sided work so that added some extra difficulty in things. But I think that I was still able to keep good form with the heavier weights I was using that day. We also had some spring rows that were 200 meters each. I really wanted to get it under 40 seconds but I did them in 41 and 40 seconds. That’s still pretty fast for me, but again it’s tough when I have a goal and I just fall short of it.

Friday’s workout was much better than Wednesday’s. I wasn’t really hurting that much that day so I was able to do running. I did take it easy because I didn’t want to overdo it, so all my push paces were at 4.5 mph and all my all out paces were at 5 mph. We were switching between blocks but all the treadmill blocks were all the same with intervals starting at 1 minute, then going to 45 seconds, and ending at 30 seconds. It was good to be able to run again and even though it wasn’t my hardest running it was still better than not running at all.

The floor that day had blocks that were all pretty similar. Each block at 3 moves in it and they were all mixed up between arms, lower body, and core work. The only bad thing was that because I was still feeling a bit low from my workout on Wednesday, I might have overdone it a bit with the weights because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

And since I overdid it a bit on Friday, when I went on Saturday I was a bit sore. It was mainly in my hamstrings, so that was a nice change from being sore in my hips. And it was a 3G class so I knew I wasn’t going to spend that much time in any part of the room. But I didn’t get to Orangetheory as early as I normally do so I had to start on the rower instead of the treadmill. The rowing started with rowing plus medicine ball jacks. And the second half was rowing sprints with recovery in between.

Next I went to the floor where the beginning of the floor work was all straps. We did triceps, shoulders, and squats on the straps and that wasn’t too bad. But the second half of the floor was timed work and that was crazy. Everything was in 45 second intervals and we rotated between chest presses, shoulder presses, and crunches. We did that rotation 3 times without any breaks and it was so much tougher than I expected. I was pretty tired after that but I still had the treadmill to do.

The beginning of the treadmill was pretty easy for me with 45 second intervals all on 1% incline. I did my usual with walking the base paces but running everything else. Then for the second half of the treadmill time (which was the last 7 minutes of class) we did incline work. We did push to all out paces at 5% and 4% and I did manage to run those. Running at 5% feels so tough, but it’s not feeling impossible like it did before so I know there is improvement. We ended with 2 all out paces, one at 3% and one at 2% which pretty much felt like a flat incline to me after the higher inclines. I really hate doing my treadmill work last because I feel like I’m so tired, but it’s also good to mix things up from time to time.

There were some totally amazing moments in my workouts this past week and some seriously depressing ones. It’s so easy for me to work out when everything is going great, but it’s good to have a challenge to get through to know that I can push through it and still get it done. I’m continuing to do a mental countdown of how many workouts I can do before surgery. The number is getting smaller and smaller so I’m starting to feel like surgery will be here before I know it. But I’m also now trying to think of surgery as just another challenge for me to get through.

Disney Afternoon (or Beauty And The Beast And Rides)

I’m going to write about my Monday this week a bit backwards. I had stuff in the morning that I’ll be writing about next week, but I wanted to write about my afternoon first!

I seem to be getting in a ton of Disney days lately and that’s awesome with me! I know that I’ll have a huge gap of time where I won’t be able to go (I have the summer that my pass isn’t good for and there’s a chance I can’t go between having surgery and summer). So whenever I have a chance to go to Disneyland, I’m going to go!

My friend Erin asked me if I wanted to join her and her daughter Olive at Disneyland when they were there for a girls day on Monday. I let them know that I could join them for the afternoon and I was so excited! I hadn’t been to Disneyland with Erin and Olive in 6 years (almost exactly 6 years to the day!) so I was looking forward to going with them and having a fun afternoon.

I didn’t end up making it to Disneyland until about 3:30 and I rushed into the park to meet up with Erin and Olive. They had been doing a ton of rides, so they were ready to take things a bit easier for a little bit. So our first stop was Toy Story Mania where Olive and I tried to battle each other in the games. I might have gotten a higher score, but Olive had better accuracy so I considered it a tied game.

After that ride, we ended up walking around a bit trying to figure out what to ride next and we went passed the old Tower of Terror. I’m excited that a new ride will be opening up there soon, but because of the timing of it I might not get to ride it until the fall. But it still made me happy to see the sign in front promoting the new Guardians of the Galaxy ride!

That might be the closest I get to riding that ride for a long time, so I have to take advantage of that! After the quick photo stop, we made another quick photo stop for Erin and Olive to take a cute photo together! I love how adorable they look together and was happy to play photographer for them!

Next, we headed over to the Monsters Inc ride. Olive really wanted to ride that, and it’s been a while since I had been on it so I was happy to check it out again. It’s just as cute as I remember it and Olive was laughing at so many scenes in the ride. Sometimes it’s nice to go to Disneyland with a kid who really just loves everything there!

Our next stop was another Olive request. There was a preview for the new Beauty and the Beast movie. In the lobby area, they had a couple of props to check out and that got us all really excited for the preview.

The preview was pretty awesome! I already knew that I wanted to go and see the movie since I usually love all Disney movies. But this got me even more hyped up for the movie! I know a few friends are trying to make plans to go on opening weekend, and I really hope that we can make that work.

Next Erin and Olive went on Soarin’. They had gotten Fastpasses before I joined them at the park so they went on that ride on their own. But it was ok with me because while they were on the ride I got to watch the amazing sunset!

Erin and Olive were back pretty quickly from their ride (the perks of Fastpass!) and we were all pretty hungry by that time. So we headed over to Cars Land to have some dinner at Flo’s Cafe and then ride our last ride for the night. It was another Olive request, but I was more than happy to go on Radiator Springs Racers! We all got to be in the front row of the car and Olive was loving roller coasters so much that she was riding with her hands up. I really love this photo of us all (even if I have some crazy eyes going on).

The park was getting close to closing time after we finished our ride, but Olive wanted to go back into the Beast Library in the Animation Academy. She loves the magic quiz that says what princess you are like. Since it was almost closing time and not a lot of people seem to go back to the Beast Library, the 3 of us pretty much had the place to ourselves!

Olive was having fun doing the quiz as many times as she could and Erin and I enjoyed having some time to catch up. Erin and I usually only get to hang out when she’s doing my hair or I’m babysitting her kids, so it was nice to have a bit of catch up time while Olive was having so much fun.

But before we knew it, a cast member came in to tell us the park was closed and we had to leave. We all walked out to the gates and then we said goodbye (we parked in different parking lots so we weren’t all taking the tram back to the main parking lot together). I was only in the park for a little more than 4 hours, but I think I got a lot of stuff done in that time!

I’m so glad Erin and Olive invited me to join them for their girls day at Disneyland! We had been saying we wanted to do this for a while but schedules never seemed to match up. So it was perfect that it worked this time! Hopefully I can meet up with them again soon and it won’t take another 6 years before we repeat this hangout!

Watching The Oscars (or Costumes and Twitter)

I’m sure by now you have all seen and read about what happened at the Oscars. If you haven’t here’s a great article about how the wrong film was announced as best picture, how it happened, and what was done to try to correct it. While that is a huge part of what happened at the Oscars, that was only a small time at the party I was at.

I went to Chris and Marie’s house for the Oscars as I have every year for a long time. It’s a great party every year and I’m always looking forward to it. The group of people who go to the party are a mix of those of us who take the Oscars very seriously and those who aren’t super into the awards but love any opportunity to dress up and hang out.

I had an idea for a costume around New Year’s Eve, but it seemed too complicated for me to figure out how to make and I gave up on it. I had another idea for a costume and even went out and bought things for it, but I decided that I wouldn’t be comfortable in the costume. I started researching what movies came out in 2016 (since the only rule for costumes is that it needs to be related to a movie that came out in the past year), and finally found the perfect idea for me!

I went as Anthony Weiner’s twitter account (inspired by the documentary “Weiner”). I had a dry erase board with his twitter profile picture where people could write tweets and I wrote on tape on my body a couple of statements Anthony Weiner had made after his scandals were in the news. It was another easy/lazy costume, but fortunately people at the party found it really clever and fun.

As always, Chris and Marie decorated their house and yard for the party. This year, the theme was Arrival and they did an amazing job making decorations that were exactly like the movie. I especially loved the photo set up they made with the aliens from the movie!

Since there is a mix of people at the party, the viewing areas are split up. There is the quiet room and the regular viewing area. The quiet room used to be much more quiet, but over the years we’ve gotten a bit chattier. We are still very quiet during all the speeches, but we will occasionally talk or say a comment during the show. And of course we are super chatty during the commercials. But my favorite party of the quiet room is that the video is projected onto the wall of a room so we have a giant screen to watch on!

We have ballots to use for the guess the winners contest at the party, but pretty quickly I knew I wasn’t going to do so well with that. While “La La Land” wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, I knew so many critics loved it and I assumed it was going to win more awards than it did. I also hadn’t seen all of the animated, documentary, or short films so for many of those I had to guess. But so many people and films that I wanted to win did and I was really enjoying the show.

Then there was the moment when the wrong movie was announced as Best Picture. I don’t think I’ve heard so much screaming before during the Oscars. We were all so confused (as was probably everyone watching) and we couldn’t believe what was happening. I’m glad that the error was corrected during the show so the producers from “Moonlight” could get up and speak, but I know that it was a moment during the ceremony that will not be forgotten. I know it was an honest mistake, but it was a big mistake.

I think everyone was in shock after the awards were done, but we all headed to the backyard to start the costume contest. We all go around and announce what our costumes are so we can vote. When I announced my costume, I got a bunch of laughs, but I knew that my costume wasn’t going to be a winner. So many people had amazing costumes and I was just happy to see how creative other people can be.

I loved my friend Regan’s Hidden Figures costume (she was with some friends who played other characters from the movie). Their group got first place in the costume contest.

And the funniest costume I saw was actually the costume I was originally thinking of doing! When I went to see Dr. Strange, I immediately thought how cool it would be to go as the cape from the movie. I was trying to figure out how to make a cape look like it was levitating in front of me, but I never could figure out a simple enough solution. But my friend Andy figured out a really easy way to do it and I think his costume looked so much better than anything I could have done!

After the costume winners were announced, the party started to wind down pretty quickly. Most of the people at the party had to work the next morning (I had an early workout the next morning) so a lot of people were trying to get home. I left pretty early too, but since that’s when most people were leaving I didn’t feel like I was missing too much of the party. I went around saying goodbye to all of my friends and walked out to my car.

On a random side note, this was the first party since my car died on New Year’s Eve and it was a little stressful driving home. Even though I have a totally different car, I was still paranoid something would happen on my drive home. I’m sure I’ll feel like that for a while because things like that stick with me. But I got home safely and I’m so glad that I have a car that doesn’t have any problems!

Overall, it was yet another amazing party for the Oscars. I love getting together to watch the show and it makes me feel a part of an amazing community. Most of us know at least one person who works at the Oscars (I know 3 or 4), and we love getting to celebrate movies and be proud of our friends who are there. Hopefully one day I’ll get to attend the show in person, but I know if that happens I’ll probably miss going to the party since that’s what I look forward to each year!

Meal Planning and Learning French (or Monthly Challenge Time)

The start of a new month brings the end to one monthly challenge and the beginning of another! Of course, I’ve kept doing almost all of my monthly challenges beyond the end of that month so it’s really not the end to anything this time. First, a quick recap on my February challenge.

My challenge for February was to work on weekly meal planning. This is something I’ve tried to do multiple times and I was hoping that this time things would finally stick for me. Meal planning is something I know I should do for both my health and budget, but it has never been easy for me. I’ve tried different methods of planning and nothing felt right for me. So this past month, I decided to give myself the month to test out different things and to see what I could come up with.

I started with trying a couple of meal planning apps. I was only trying the free ones because I didn’t want to pay something that I wasn’t sure I would like. I know that some people love the apps, but for me they just didn’t work. I couldn’t see things the way I wanted to and it felt like more work than it was worth. I really wanted an app to work because it seems to be what so many people like and have success with, but I can’t force myself to work with something that doesn’t work for me.

After that, I did various versions of writing down a list for the week. I’m still testing out a couple of options, but I’m finding that having this list system is going ok for me. I can work on the week’s list on Saturday or Sunday (whatever day I can go get groceries), see everything that I have for the week, and make a grocery list based on that. I’m not buying things that I don’t need, so I’m saving money. And I’m finding that if I can cook one night at home, that covers me for 3 meals and I can eat something home cooked most days.

I’m not 100% perfect with following my plan, but I’m doing much better than I expected. If nothing else, this has helped me get into a schedule with my food and I’m not having problems with not having something in the house for lunch or dinner. There is still room for improvement with this, but I would say this challenge is a success!

Moving on to March now. It was a struggle for me to think up a challenge for this month. I ended up doing some searching online for inspiration on what could be a good month-long challenge. There were so many good ideas, but many of them are similar to things I already do so it wouldn’t be enough of a challenge for me. But I kept gravitating toward some of the educational challenges so I decided to look more into those. And I finally found something that seems good to me.

For the month of March, I’m going to work on learning a new language every day. More specifically, I’m going to work on learning French every day. I’ve wanting to learn French before and I’ve tried it a few times (sound familiar?) but it’s never been a habit that I can stick with. But I know that doing something educational every day will be good for me and learning another language will be a tough challenge for me.

I’m planning on using the Duolingo app to do this, which is something I tried before. But now, I have reminders set up for me to work on this every day and I’m connecting it to my social media so I can have friends checking in on me. I’ve liked the app before, I just wasn’t consistent with it. But that was before I got really into my monthly challenges, so I’m hoping that the motivation will be with me this time and I can stick with it.

I don’t expect to be great at French within a month. I know that it will take so much longer than that to be able to learn another language. But in 30 days I can learn some basics and get into the habit of working on this. Maybe by the end of this year I can feel comfortable with how much I know. I don’t have any reason I need to know French right now, but I’ve got some motivation to learn it in the long run.

12 years ago, my mom and I went to France and Italy together. We had a great trip and have said that we wanted to go again. And if we go back, we’ve said that we’d like to go to Disneyland Paris. I know you don’t need to speak French to enjoy Disneyland Paris, but I think knowing it would be helpful and would make that trip even better. My mom and I don’t have any travel plans any time soon, but we know that we want to go back one day. And when that happens, hopefully I will be able to speak a little French and understand it as well.

I’m excited to see how a brainy challenge will go for me because many of the ones I’ve done before aren’t as much about learning new things. But I know I should be doing more things to keep learning every day, and this is a great way to add that to my daily habits!

Finding Neverland (or An Unexpected Musical Experience)

This past week was time for another show in my Pantages season! And this time, we were seeing “Finding Neverland”. I was looking forward to the show for a couple of reasons. First, our season picks up now and we have a show almost every month now! Also, our group just decided to renew our season tickets for the 2018 season, so I know that we have so many musicals in our future. Going to the shows make me so happy, and I’m just glad I have an awesome group of friends to go with me.

Originally our tickets were for this past Sunday. But since it was Oscar Sunday, none of us wanted to drive to the theater (close to so many road closures) and we all had plans that day. We tried to find a date that we could switch our tickets to that worked for all 4 of us, but we weren’t able to make that work. So 3 of us went together this time (the 4th person went the day before the rest of us did). None of us knew what to expect for the show. I think the most that we all knew was the show is about JM Barrie, the writer of Peter Pan.

Since we didn’t go on the night our tickets were originally for, we had slightly different seats. We were still off to the side, but we were much farther back than normal. This might have been the furthest back I’ve sat since getting season tickets, but it was still a good view and I think we didn’t miss anything by sitting in the back.

We were talking about how much our friend had liked “Finding Neverland” the night before, but we were all pretty curious if we would enjoy the show as much and what would happen. And once the lights went down, I know all of us were excited to see how we would feel about it.

I have a connection to Peter Pan that made me extra excited about the show. When I was in high school, I was in the show (although I don’t think we did a musical version of it). I really wanted to play something awesome in the show, and I ended up being cast as the dog and crocodile. It was an interesting experience having to act while in giant mascot suits and not being able to say anything. I had some really fun memories of doing that show, and because of that Peter Pan has always felt special to me.

Seriously, this show was incredible! It was so magical and I was not expecting it be enjoying it nearly as much as I did. I’m probably a bit spoiled when it comes to musicals. I’ve gotten to see so many shows and have so many experiences. So to impress me takes a lot. And this show impressed me beyond anything I could have expected! There isn’t as much about the show Peter Pan as I thought there would be, but that is part of what made it great. There wasn’t much that I knew about before so it was all new to me!

During intermission, all of us turned to each other and I think we were all pretty speechless with how much we were loving “Finding Neverland”. I always hope that I will love a show I’m seeing, especially if I don’t know the show or what it’s all about, but it’s not always like that. But this show was just breathtaking and the cast was doing an amazing job. And we were all so excited to see the second act and couldn’t wait to see what else would happen.

And the second act didn’t disappoint at all. It was so emotional and it was a perfect ending for the show. We were all crying at the end and didn’t care that we might all have mascara running down our faces. It was the perfect musical to see and I’m sad that it’s only in LA for a short time because I would love to go see it again! There’s a chance I might make it to the show again, but I have to double-check the schedule and my budget to see if I can make it work.

I’m so glad that I got to see “Finding Neverland” and was so surprised by it. Many of the shows this season and next at Pantages are shows that I don’t know well so I’m hoping that I’ll have more pleasant surprises coming up. I know that not all shows can affect me the way that this one did, but I’m so glad that I had such a reaction to this show. I’ve loved so many shows in the past, but this one moved me more than possibly any show I’ve seen and I really appreciate that I got to experience it.

Cheesecake Dinner (or A Half Birthday Outing)

I’ve written about the traditions that my birthday twin, Joanna, and I have been doing for a while. It’s tradition to go to Truxton’s for our birthday and then we started doing Cheesecake Factory around the holidays. But lately, we’ve changed our Cheesecake Factory dinner to be more of a half birthday thing. And since it was just our half birthday, we made an effort to do our dinner close to the right time.

We ended up going this past Monday after I had my screening. Joanna was actually at the screening the week before at my film festival, so she didn’t have to go to this screening. But the timing worked out really well between us to go to dinner after my screening so I was excited to get to discuss the screening with her. I was so nervous going into the screening and still feeling a little bit anxious after, so it was nice to know I would be able to talk it through with a friend to calm me down.

So many times when we go to Cheesecake Factory, it’s so crowded that we have to wait forever for a table. This time, I got there just before Joanna did and our table was ready a few minutes after she got there. For some reason, we always get seated outside on the patio (thank goodness they have heating lamps), and we were seated out there again!

I knew what I was going to order right away. I always get the same salad because it’s delicious! It also isn’t too massive (like many of the items there are) and the calorie count isn’t too bad since it’s on the skinny menu. But it is so good and a nice balance to getting cheesecake so it’s the perfect thing to order. I know that there are recipes to make this at home, but I like having this as something special that I get when I go to Cheesecake Factory.

Over dinner, Joanna and I did a bit of catching up. I had just seen her the week before so there weren’t a ton of new updates in our lives. We did discuss my surgery and Joanna was telling me about some awesome trips that she’s got coming up this year. And we also started to plan what we wanted to do for our birthday this year. We said we should do a combined birthday party since then we don’t have to worry about having parties at the same time. And we have a couple of ideas for what that party could be.

And of course, because politics and current events are unavoidable right now, we did discuss some of that. We pretty much are on the same side with everything, but there are a few things that we aren’t 100% together on. But we are able to have some really amazing and respectful debates and I know that I learn a lot from those. Most of the time, we do agree on everything. But when we get to play devil’s advocate regarding something we disagree on, it’s always interesting.

But as always in our Cheesecake Factory outings, the highlight for us wasn’t necessarily getting to hang out but getting cheesecake! I love getting to hang out with Joanna, but I know we both are thinking about what types of cheesecake we are going to get as soon as we plan our dinner. I learned recently that you can ask your server to cut the slice in half before bringing it to the table, so that made things so much easier for us. We each had a half slice of the red velvet cheesecake and a half slice of tiramisu cheesecake. It’s a lot of cheesecake, but it’s so good and worth being a big splurge!

Neither of us could finish our slices, but we enjoyed every single bite. It’s a treat for both of us and I know we both look forward to our cheesecake outing each year. It’s a good thing that we only do this once a year because it is such a splurge and we both probably go a bit overboard with the food. But it’s something nice that we do and great way for us to celebrate our half birthday!

6 more months to go before my next tradition with my birthday twin when we go out for our free birthday dinner!

Another Screening (or Enjoying A Film Festival)

I just had the film festival that I run, and the film that I did last year was part of the comedy programing. It was cool to have us in the festival and to get to share our film with more people. It wasn’t the first time we screened publicly, but it was our first film festival. And while it did feel a bit odd to have the film in a festival I run (I have nothing to do with programming so it’s fine), I was still so proud to have a film festival laurel on our movie poster.

We have been busy submitting our film to multiple festivals, but many of them won’t let us know if we got in or not for a while. But we did hear back from another festival besides the Beverly Hills Shorts Festival and we found out that we got in! We got into the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival and we screened there this week!

This screening was held at Regal Cinemas at LA Live, so it was going to be another screening on a big screen. And we were going to be in a block with other short films, so I was happy to see what other films were in our programming block and to support other filmmakers.

There was a pretty decent turnout for the screening. We were worried because it was on a weekday afternoon, but the theater was over half full and everyone was so excited to see the films. We were toward the end of the program, so I tried to relax and enjoy the other films that were screening.

I’m not sure if we were a block of short films or comedy short films, but it was an interesting mix of films. Some of them were a bit more out there than our film is (ours is pretty down to earth and realistic), but there were things that I really enjoyed with each of the films that were in the hour long program with us. When our film played, I couldn’t focus too much since I still don’t love to watch myself act. But I was very happy that we got a lot of laughs and some of those were in spots that we hadn’t gotten laughs in before.

Once the program was done, we headed out of the theater quickly since the next screening was going to start right after ours ended. There wasn’t a Q&A or anything, but most of the filmmakers were gathering right outside the theater. There was a step and repeat set up so of course I had to get photos with my writer/co-star and my director!

When we were taking our photos, we had some people coming up to us to tell us that they enjoyed our film. That was really nice and I wasn’t expecting it. I am really proud of our film and would be happy even if it was just for us and nobody else got to see it. But to know that other people are enjoying the film is amazing and really made my day!

I wish that I could have stayed at the festival longer and seen more films, but my schedule did not allow for that. I know there were so many short films to see and I really wanted to support my fellow filmmakers. I know it isn’t easy to get people to see short films and I wanted to see as many movies as I could. Hopefully if we get into another festival I can attend more programs and see all the films. It just wasn’t mean to be this time.

I still can’t believe that the film that we made is getting recognition. It started out as such a small project and it has continued to grow and grow. I am so proud of the work that we all did and I’m really hopeful that we can continue to get into film festivals so more people can see it. We are already discussing working on another film together because we had so much fun with “Single Parent Date Night”. But until we do, I’m just going to enjoy having a great film out there and being able to look back at the hard work that we did.

Disneyland Adjacent (or Downtown Disney)

This past weekend was a bit of a weird one for me. I ended up being in a bad mood on Sunday (for reasons I’m not sure about) and was planning on spending most of the day moping around and feeling a bit sorry for myself. But my plans changed when my friend Michelle texted me to see if I wanted to go to Disneyland for a few hours that evening!

I’m always down to go to Disneyland and even if we could only spend a few hours there I knew it would make my day amazing! I got my stuff together and got into the car to drive to Michelle’s house. But on the drive to her house, she called me to let me know that our passes were blacked out because of the holiday weekend (since we both have Mondays off we sometimes forget about 3 day weekends). We thought about going to Universal Studios instead, but we were blacked out there too.

I got to Michelle’s house and we were trying to figure out what to do. We both wanted to go do something and were torn on figuring out what to do. Finally, we decided that we should go to Disneyland anyway but instead of going to the parks we would get some dinner at Downtown Disney and try to watch the fireworks from between the parks (so we don’t have to pay to get in). And since there is 4 hours free parking at Downtown Disney (a long as you get dinner), we wouldn’t have to pay to park!

We headed down and got to Downtown Disney pretty quickly. We headed over to Tortilla Joe’s (which I love!) and put our names on the list. It was going to be over an hour for a table, but we had time to kill before the fireworks and were happy to walk around Downtown Disney do shop. There are so many things that I would love to buy, I just don’t have the money for it. But it’s always fun to look and there are some ideas of things I want to put on my wish list for the future and maybe to put on a list for my birthday.

We were done window shopping and it was finally time for us to get dinner. As much as I want to drink alcohol right now (and my surgeon said I could as long as I didn’t drink too much), I’m trying to be good and not drink. I really wanted a margarita, but I had to settle for a virgin strawberry one.

It wasn’t as good as a real margarita, but it was a nice change from just drinking water and made dinner feel a bit more special. And as always, the food there was awesome. Michelle and I might have eaten too many chips because we were both so hungry for dinner, but the chips were really good! And I had a tostada salad that I’ve had before there and it was the perfect dinner for me.

And besides just having a good dinner, it was so nice to get out of the house. I’m usually such a planner and having a spur of the moment adventure was a great way to get out of a rut. Plus, Michelle and I wanted to work on planning our next Disney day (which will be in a few weeks) so hanging out at dinner was nice.

After we were done with dinner, we walked over to the esplanade between Disneyland and California Adventure so we could watch the fireworks. I’ve watched the fireworks from there before so I knew while it was a slightly obstructed view it would still be fun. It was a bit weird to be at Disneyland but not to be at Disneyland, but it was still nice to feel like we there that night. We thought about taking a funny photo at the gates of the park trying to reach through, but we ended up just doing a selfie by the gates and were very happy with how our photo turned out (not bad for the selfie camera on my iPhone!).

We were waiting around and knew it was about the time that fireworks were going to start, but nothing was happening. We checked the website to see if we got the fireworks time wrong, but then we just thought that maybe they were a bit delayed. Since we weren’t in the park and couldn’t hear the announcements, we weren’t exactly sure what was happening. But about 10 minutes after the fireworks should have started, someone who was just inside the park walked by and said that the fireworks were cancelled that night.

It’s a bit sad when the fireworks were cancelled, but I understand why they have to do it. Sometimes it’s super windy higher up where the fireworks go and they can’t have the show happening with the wind like that. Or the clouds are too low and they know that nobody will be able to see much. I’m glad that someone told us all because we probably would have waited out there a bit longer to see what was going to happen.

So after that, we walked back to the car and made the drive back to LA. Even though we didn’t get to go into the park or see the fireworks, it was still a fun Disney adventure. It was the perfect thing to do when I needed something to boost my mood. I felt so much better being out at Downtown Disney than I would have if I stayed home. I got a nice dinner with an awesome friend, and I got a lot of walking in that I probably wouldn’t have done.

It really helped to make my Sunday a great day and I’m so glad that Michelle texted me to go on yet another adventure with her!