Tag Archives: christmas

A Christmas Lunch (or The Levin-Levin-Levine Summit)

I hope that you all had a really nice Christmas! I knew my day was going to be pretty low-key, and it was exactly that and perfect! Not everything went the way I was expecting, but I think overall I had the exact day that I needed.

It’s tradition to watch movies and eat Chinese food on Christmas for me. I love the tradition and I was looking forward to it again this year. The only thing that was slightly stressing me out was getting delivery food. I set it as a monthly challenge earlier this year to stop getting delivery food. And with the exception of getting Chipotle delivered from Postmates a few times (which to me is more about being too lazy to go to Chipotle than it is about delivery food), I haven’t had delivery food since February.

I was ok with breaking that streak for Christmas and was planning on doing just that. But then my friend Sarah Levin (technically we aren’t related but there is a study out there that says all people named Levin are 30th cousins or something) asked me what I was doing on Christmas. I invited her over to watch movies and get Chinese food, but she asked if we could go out for food instead. She had a friend (named Sara Levine) with her and wanted to go out for lunch. That sounded perfect to me and we all met up for Christmas lunch!

The restaurant we went to ended up not being too crowded. It wasn’t one of the restaurants that does Jewish comics on Christmas (those were all booked up), but it had good Chinese food and had a large vegan selection since Sarah is vegan. We ordered several dishes to share (some vegan and some not) and it ended up being a really great selection for us all.

And besides great food, we had great conversation! We had so much random stuff we talked about (somehow the conversation took a dark turn, but that was fine with us all) and since the restaurant wasn’t too crowded, we didn’t feel rushed out or that we needed to hurry up. It was a relaxing lunch and all the food was so delicious!

And of course, with Chinese food you get fortunes and I think we all got some pretty awesome ones.

And because we thought it was so funny that 3 Jewish girls (2 named Levin and 1 named Levine) were together for Christmas lunch, we had to get a photo together. We took some normal ones, but I think the silly ones were best!

After lunch, I was planning on going home and resting for a bit before another friend was going to come over to watch movies with me for the evening. I felt fine at lunch, but after getting home I started to have some bad cramps. I thought at first it could have been from indulging at lunch, but sadly they ended up being menstrual cramps. I haven’t had to deal with those in forever because I was on the pill, but now I get to have them again. One of the reasons I was on the pill and took it continuously was because of the horrible cramps I used to get. Now I don’t have a way of avoiding them.

I texted my friend to let him know of the situation and ended up cancelling our plans. I was taking painkillers, but I was still feeling awful (the cramps ended up lasting about a day and a half so I’m doing better now). My afternoon and evening were spent on my couch with a heating pad on my abdomen, fake fire on my tv, and a good book on my Kindle.

I would have liked to have been able to be social on Christmas evening (I was invited to several parties that night), but my body needed me to rest. I’m working on listening to my body even though sometimes I do push through things because I’m stubborn. And my body said that my evening was going to be low-key and that’s exactly what I did.

It really was a nice way to spend Christmas. I have never really celebrated Christmas so all I care about it the few traditions I have been doing that day. Chinese food is only one part of that, but spending it with friends is important. And getting to combine the food and friends that day made things so much better. I didn’t order delivery food, which is a big risk for me to have a binge episode, so I’m glad I found another way to continue the traditions and to make them even better.

Holiday Workouts (or Hills, Hills, and More Hills)

This past week of workouts were really great for me. I had some pain issues, but I was able to push through them most of the time and make the most of each workout. I knew going into this week that I was recovering from a week (and weekend) where I had gone out for a lot of dinners that were splurges. And I knew that on Christmas I’d be getting Chinese food and I wanted to work out in preparation for that.

Monday’s workout was a strength day where we switched between blocks. I knew that I would be doing a lot of walking that day, but I also made it my intention to try to push myself on my inclines and walking speed. And I had extra motivation to do so because JZ, who used to be my Wednesday coach, was on the treadmill next to me! I did run when we had flat road push and all out paces (where were all a minute or under). But when the pushes were on inclines I stuck with walking. I did bump up my walking speed a little bit and my inclines were between 6-10%. I think I might have been able to do a bit better, but for some reason I held back.

For our floor blocks, we did have some rowing. It was a 200 meter row, which is a sprint, and I was able to get those done pretty quickly. We also had some squats and back work that involved weights plus some rowing moves on the straps. We finished that workout with a 5 minute core blast and I thought I’d be fine doing them. But once we started, my stomach started cramping a bit. The sit-ups were tough but I was able to modify things and just do crunches when I couldn’t do what we were supposed to do. And when we had the 1 minute plank hold, I tried to stay up as long as possible, but only made it about 30 seconds before I had to take a break.

Wednesday’s workout was endurance, strength, and power and it was also a run/row. This was a pretty fun run/row for me. The first round was .5 miles if you were a runner and .25 if you were a power walker, so I did .375 with 2 minutes of running and a walking break. Then I had a 100 meter row which was nice and fast. Then it was a .35 mile run at 3% incline and I did .25 miles at that incline with 1 minute interval. Then it was a 250 meter row. Then the incline got tough and I did a .15 mile run at 5% incline. I wanted to do the entire thing as a run, but I was too tired so I did my 1 minute intervals instead. Then a 400 meter row on the rower. I finished the run/row with a .15 mile run at 3% with 1 minute intervals. It was a tough run/row, but it felt really awesome when I finished it!

On the floor, we had a good mix of upper and lower body work. We had some squats with weights and I was able to use 20lbs for those. Then for the shoulder work, I was using 15lbs. The rest of the floor work wasn’t with weights. We had ab work, bicep curls on the straps (I feel like it has been a while since I’ve had to do those!), rowing on the straps, and plank jacks. It was a really good workout and I was pretty happy with all the work I did that day especially since on Monday I didn’t run for any of the incline work.

Friday was another strength day. I’m not sure how I got so many days with inclines on the treadmill but I did. I’m not a huge fan of running on inclines, but I took this as a sign that I was meant to work on them. We had some push paces at 2 and 4% and I ran all of those. When we had higher inclines, I walked for those. We had 2 sets of 3 minute hill climbs and I walked those entire climbs at 6, 8, and 10% inclines. And all of our all out paces were at 2% inclines and I did run for all of those, but I did it at a slightly slower speed than normal. Overall, I was totally happy with my running at inclines that day.

For the floor work that day, I did struggle. My right arm was bugging me (I think I might have slept on it funny) so I had to use lighter weights than I would have liked to. The weights felt too easy, but when I used the heavier ones I could barely lift them. It was a weird feeling, but I just had to go with the lighter weights and be ok with them. The very last floor block was actually a rowing block for 6 minutes. My stomach was having some really bad cramps while on the rower so I was taking breaks pretty often.

Even though my Friday class ended on a slightly negative note because of the rowing, I still had a smile on my face during class. That’s because my Friday coach, Bruce, was wearing the Santa hat I got him 2 years prior. He’s worn that for the workout or two before Christmas each year and it does make me really happy that he does that.

And since I wanted to get ready for my Chinese food on Christmas, I did a workout on Christmas Eve as well! This workout was a 3G workout and it was the workout where you pull assignments out of stockings to find out what you have to do on the treadmill, rower, and floor.

I started on the treadmill for that workout. My first card said I had to do a 45 second push pace at 4% incline followed by a 30 second all out pace at a flat road for 4 rounds. I was able to run for all of it and did a walking recovery between each round. The next card I pulled was to do .24 miles, 1 minute of walking, and then another .24 miles. I did it as 1 minute intervals and I didn’t get through all of that but I got through most of it with my intervals.

Next, I was on the rower and I pulled a card that said do to 240 meters, a 20 second recovery, and then another 120 meters. That was for 3 rounds and it went pretty well considering how much I struggled with my rowing the day before. The next card I pulled was to do a 2400 meter row. I knew that there was no way I could get that done in the time that I had left, so I just focused on rowing for the rest of the block the best that I could.

My last block was on the floor and for that we either were going to pull a card that said we had to do the coal moves (which were the tough ones) or the present moves (which were still hard but easier). I ended up pulling the present card, but I had to do 24 reps of each move which made it seem harder than the coal ones would have been! The moves I had to do were single arm snatches (I did that with a 20lb weight), full squat shoulder presses (15lb weights for that), squats, tricep push-ups, and full sit ups. I just made it to the end of my second round when time was called. We finished with a 3 minute core blast and while there are still some ab moves that are very tough on me, I managed to do most of it without modifications.

Like I said before, since I know I’m not going to make it to my workout goal for 2016, I’m focusing on the intensity of each workout I have left this year. Even though some things weren’t as tough as I know I could have done, I think I did a pretty good job with my 4 workouts this week! I’ve only got 3 more workouts left in 2016 before I start my 2017 workouts. I know that I’m going to push myself as much as I can this week to end on the best note possible!

Another Grove Adventure (or Dinner And Not A Screening)

I rarely go to the Grove, so the fact that I went last week was unique enough. But the fact that I went back this week is totally crazy! But since it is the time that I get a lot of invitations to screenings, there is always a chance I’ll be back there. Most of the screenings I go to are at the Director’s Guild or other screening rooms, but from time to time the screenings are at regular movie theaters.

This week, I had been invited to a screening of “Sing” at the Grove. I RSVPed right away, but because it wasn’t a screening hosted by an organization that I’m a part of they said that they overbook and seating will be first come first served. I invited my friend Dani to come with me and since we both had that afternoon free we decided to meet up for dinner before the screening.

The screening was at 7:30 and we figured we should try to line up an hour or so early (that’s what I usually do), so we met for dinner at the Grove at 5. We ended up going to the Cheesecake Factory since it is next to the theater and were seated on the balcony. They have heating lamps out there so it wasn’t too cold, and I liked having the view of all the lights from our table.

We had a nice dinner and discussed lots of random stuff. Some of it was about our tickets for Pantages (it was at dinner that we realized our next show was on Oscar Sunday so we started to work on figuring out when to move our tickets to). And of course since she is my workout buddy we discussed Orangetheory. It’s always nice to be able to get together with a friend for dinner and I’m glad we had some time to hang out that wasn’t before a show or on the treadmills during class.

We enjoyed our dinner of salads and cheesecake (you can’t go to Cheesecake Factory without getting cheesecake!) and then headed to the theater next door to line up. The line wasn’t too full so I figured getting there when we did worked out pretty well. Dani has never joined me for a screening, so she was excited to go to one with me. And close to 7pm, the line started to move and we were getting excited to get inside.

But as we were almost at the front of the line, someone from the studio came over to say that the screening was at capacity and that there were no more seats. This is something I know can happen at screenings, but it’s never really happened to me. Turns out, the line that we saw when we got in line was only part of the line. They had been letting people inside the theater for almost an hour by the time we got there because some people were lining up 2 or 3 hours before the screening.

While I was sad that we didn’t get in, it wasn’t horrible. I do want to see “Sing”, but I’m sure I’ll have other opportunities to see it. I know I’m so lucky that I get to go to as many screenings as I do (movies are so expensive!) so I’m not going to be upset that I missed one of them. There were so many kids in line who didn’t get to see the movie and I feel so bad that they didn’t get in.

Since we no longer had a screening to go to, Dani and I decided to walk around the Grove a bit. The Christmas decorations were just as pretty as they were the week before, but it was so much more crowded there!

We decided to wander around Barnes and Noble where I found some new books I wanted to add to my library wish list plus some books that I want to buy as gifts for people next year. It was funny walking around a bookstore since I haven’t really done that in a while. And there were some sections in the bookstore where there were so many books in a row that I have read! I know I read a ton, but since they are usually on my Kindle I don’t think too much about the number of books I get through.

It was nice getting to window shop in a bunch of different stores and see the various holiday decorations that the stores have, but the crowds at the Grove were starting to get a bit overwhelming. It was tough to walk around without having to stop because there were too many people in front of us. So we decided it was time to leave there before the crowds got even worse.

Even though my plans that night were to get dinner and see a movie with a friend, it was just as nice to get dinner and window shop. Taking time to just walk around and check out what is happening isn’t something I do all the time, so it was a nice change of pace from what I’m used to.

Movies And Christmas Lights (or A Busy Movie Week)

I recently had a week where I got to see 3 musicals in one week. And this week, I’m going to have a week where I see 3 movies in a week! Fortunately, 2 of those movies will be free (thanks to the SAG-AFTRA Film Society) so it’s not an expensive week. Movies are really expensive now! And while I’ve only seen 2 movies so far this week (the last one will be “Star Wars” on Saturday), it’s been pretty great.

The first movie this week was “Patriots Day” and that was a screening at the SAG-AFTRA Film Society. If you haven’t heard of this movie, it is about the Boston Marathon bombing. I had recently seen a documentary about the bombing so I was very familiar with the timeline and story going into the movie, but it was still a great movie. I think the woman sitting next to me didn’t know the timeline because she was in shock each time something happened.

It’s not an easy movie to watch, but that’s part of the reason I think people need to see it. This is a part of recent history and it shouldn’t be ignored. I know some people don’t love recent history movies, but I think this one was reported about in a censored way so many people don’t realize everything that happened. I think the movie doesn’t get released for most of the country until January, but I recommend being on the lookout for it.

The day after seeing “Patriots Day”, I went to another movie. This time, I went to see “Dr. Strange” with my friend David. David is the person I see all superhero movies with since he knows the story from reading the comics and he tolerates all the questions I ask after the movie is done. I enjoy the movies, but since I don’t know the back story so I tend to get confused.

This movie was the one we had to pay for and we went to the Grove to see it. I usually stay away from the Grove because it is very crowded and touristy. But it was the closest place that the movie was playing and had a time that worked out well for both of us.

We found parking quickly there (which is almost unheard of) and went straight to the movie. It was a good movie and I think the superhero movie that confused me the least. All the things that I thought would be questions for David ended up being answered in the movie! I’m sure that over the next week or so I will think of random questions like I always do, but after the movie nothing seemed that confusing to me. So after the movie was done, we decided to walk around the Grove a bit.

David hadn’t been to the Grove at Christmastime before so I said we had to check out the tree. It’s a pretty giant tree and while they were doing some filming stuff around the tree it wasn’t too crowded over there. We did our best attempt to get a selfie with the tree, but the only way to do it was to hold the camera below us which is really the least flattering angle.

We walked around for a bit longer after that and then headed back to the car. It was a bit crowded there and a ton of families in line to get pictures with Santa (who is in a giant house in the middle of the shopping area) and I didn’t feel like trying to walk through the crowds to see more of the Christmas lights and stuff around.

I’ll possibly be at the Grove again before all the lights and decorations are down, but if not I’m glad I got to check it out this time. I do enjoy seeing Christmas displays even though I don’t really celebrate Christmas myself. And even though seeing 3 movies in a week sounds pretty indulgent, it’s the holiday season so I figure anything goes!

12 Days Of Christmas Workouts (or This Feels A Lot Like Hell Week)

This past week of Orangetheory was the main part of the 12 Days of Workouts that they have going on. Technically last week had the beginning of it and next week will be the end of it, but the bulk of the workouts were during this past week. I managed to do 4 workouts in the week, which I thought would be fine. But I had no idea that these workouts would resemble Hell Week as much as they did!

Monday’s workout was not only super rowing focused, it was a back to back partner challenge class! I love partner classes because there is no way you can slack off in them. Your partner is waiting on you so you can switch, and I never want to let them down. I had no idea that the rest of the week was going to be as tough as it was, so I was pretty happy to go for it on Monday! I would regret that a bit later as I was exhausted at Disneyland later that day, but at the time it was awesome!

The first half of class was a challenge where the person on the rower determined the pace. I got to partner up with my friend Terry (he is one of my Monday workout friends who is pretty competitive). For this challenge, one of us was on the treadmill while the other was on the rower. The rowing segments were 1,000 meters, 750 meters, 500 meters, and 250 meters. When you were done, you switched spots (so we each had to do each of the rowing segments). I know I was slower than Terry, but he didn’t make me feel badly about it. And we actually were able to get through all of the segments before the challenge was done!

For the second half of class, it was a competitive challenge so I ended up with a different partner. I actually ended up in the only 3 partner group so things were a bit easier on us. With everyone else, there was one person on the floor (who determined the pace) and the other person was on the rower. And the challenge was to see how many meters you and your partner could get in the rest of class. With my group, we had one person on the floor, one on the treadmill, and one on the rower. And not everyone was rowing (they used the bike instead) so we didn’t get to track our distance. It was a tough challenge even with the breaks my group got on the treadmill. The floor was squats, push-ups, and ab work and it seemed like we were going at a crazy pace! But I’m proud of the work that I got done that day and that I didn’t let any of my partners down.

Wednesday’s workout was endurance focused and we had a 700 meter row challenge. Normally, I can do 700 meters on the rower in about 3:30 (sometimes 3:15). It’s a longer row challenge and sometimes I push too hard in the beginning and get burnt out before I’m done. This time, I was hoping I could do under 3 minutes and decided to try to focus on pacing myself in the beginning and then increasing my speed and power as the time went on. My focus paid off because I got an awesome row time!

That was below the time I was hoping for! For the rest of the workout, I did my usual stuff. For the 3 minute push paces I did my 1 minute intervals and for all the shorter push paces I ran for the entire time. That’s starting to become more comfortable so I’m happy with that progress. And when we got to the floor, we had a couple of types of squats and arm work.

Friday’s workout was endurance, strength, and power and it was a good one! For the endurance block on the treadmill, I had my usual intervals for the 3 minute pushes and running for the shorter ones. And during the power block, we all 90 second intervals so I could run the entire time. But where I had some great progress was during the strength block. I’ve said I needed to work on my running at inclines and this was a great workout to test it with. We had 2 different hill challenges, the first one where the incline increased and the second where it decreased. For the increasing one, I was able to run at 3% and 5% and then for the higher inclines I was walking at 10% and 12%. We had some flat road recovery between the hill challenges and when we started the declining hill challenge I was actually able to run for 30 seconds at 9% incline! It was really hard, but I made it through. I walked after that and then did the 5% incline at a run again! I’m curious with my next 5K how long I would have to run up the bigger hills. I think it might be more than 30 seconds, but it can’t be that much longer!

After the running on the inclines, I was happy that the floor work was a bit easier that day. We had rowing on each floor block (between 150-600 meters) and mainly ab work to do that day. We didn’t have to use that weights that much and being able to do ab work was a nice rest after the running. It wasn’t easy, but it was easier than having to stand and try to lift weights.

And Saturday’s workout may have been one of my favorite workouts we’ve ever had at Orangetheory! This workout was a power workout and it seemed to be custom-made for me! For the treadmill, with the exception of a 2 minute push in the beginning of the workout, it was completely 1 minute all outs with 1 minute walking recovery in between! This is exactly the intervals I’m used to doing and I took advantage of that.

I started my all outs at 5 mph and was increasing by .2 mph for the first few intervals. Then it was starting to get a bit tough running that fast and being able to recover so I was only increasing it by .1 mph. I was going a lot faster than I’m used to doing especially since when I usually do my super fast speeds it’s the very end of the treadmill time. But when we were down to the last 3 intervals I decided it was now or never to push myself. I had pushed myself the entire week with the workouts and I didn’t want to skip doing that on Saturday. So I did 6 mph for one, 6,5 mph for the second to last interval, and for the last minute on the treadmill I ran at 7 mph. I don’t know if I’ve ever run that fast in my entire life. It was incredibly difficult and I was thinking of slowing the speed down a few times during that minute, but I made it through! And even though this wasn’t the farthest I’ve done on the treadmill in class, it is the farthest I’ve gone in under 30 minutes in class. And technically this distance within this time is faster than what I was doing my last 5K at.

After that running, I wasn’t ready for the floor work that day and it wasn’t an easy one either. There was only 1 long block for the entire time. We had rowing and then we were doing various exercises in between. I’ll admit that I was taking more breaks during the floor work that I probably should have, but it was a tough day and I was having a lot of trouble catching my breath. There were a few times I was starting to feel a bit light-headed (the problem with Saturday workouts is that I usually don’t eat lunch right before going) and I wanted to take it easy on myself. But I still got a good chunk of the floor work done before time was up.

This was a pretty incredible week of workouts for me. I got to work on a lot of my rowing skills including working on my rowing endurance. And I made some amazing progress with my running in my speed and with the inclines. I said that since I wasn’t going to hit my workout goal for 2016 that I was going to focus on making each of my workouts the best one it can be. And I think I really did get that done with these 4 workouts.

Disneyland At Christmastime (or An Evening Of Rides)

When I knew I’d be meeting with the liver surgeon on Monday last week, my first thought was that I should do something fun after the appointment. I went to Universal Studios with Michelle after my first appointment (when I found out it was actually a tumor), so it seemed fitting to do something like that again. I asked Michelle if she was free, and she was. So we planned an afternoon at Disneyland to celebrate whatever news I got.

I knew most of the news going into the appointment (thanks to my OB/GYN giving me an update and sending me the MRI report), so I wasn’t feeling that odd going to Disneyland. I knew surgery would be happening next year and that there is no reason to stress. I did double check with the surgeon that I was cleared to ride rides at Disneyland since I’m aware there are risks of the tumors rupturing. Thankfully he gave me the all clear.

Michelle and I didn’t have a ton of stuff on our Disneyland list. We knew we’d be coming back the next Monday (yes, I went again yesterday) so we were taking things pretty slow. When we got to the parks, it was almost time for sunset so we decided to head over to the giant ferris wheel to try to view the sunset from high above the parks.

sunset

It was a pretty amazing view and we managed to time it out really well!

Our next stop was a quick dinner (soup in bread bowls again since it was so cold out!) and then off to ride Radiator Springs Racers. Walking through Cars Land during the holidays is so fun with all the cute decorations and every year it makes me smile.

cars-land-tree cars-land

I love Radiator Springs Racers at night since the outdoor part of the ride looks so beautiful then. And I tried to get a fun picture on the ride, but I forgot when you sit in the back your arms may get cut off in the photo.

radiator-springs-racers

Before our next ride, we made a quick shopping stop. I had been looking for some cute Disney ears for a long time. I had some I loved and ended up losing them about 12 years ago when I moved from one apartment to another. But I found some that weren’t too expensive (and the headband part didn’t hurt) so I decided to treat myself! And right by where I got them, they had a really cute photo backdrop setup!

new-ears

Our last stop before going into the other park was Tower of Terror. They are doing a really fun thing at nighttime where they don’t have the effects or sound happening. That makes the ride so much fun! And while we were in line, we noticed a man who was getting a bunch of hugs from various employees. Turns out, he had just done his 200th ride on Tower of Terror! I told him how cool that was and he let me know he was actually known for riding Radiator Springs Racers over 8,000 times! Everyone on the ride thought that was amazing.

tower-of-terror

When we walked into Disneyland, I was just so happy with how beautiful the park looked with all the lights on the trees and buildings. But Michelle commented how the castle didn’t look that nice. She said that it usually has more lights for the holidays. Then, as if someone in the park heard her, we heard an announcement to please stay where we were because they were going to dim all the lights so they could properly light up the castle for the night! I had never seen that before and it was a lot of fun to watch.

castle

Next on our adventure was to ride Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster. Michelle and I have forgotten who is in the lead with wins on that ride, so we decided that we are going to start a new count since we have no clue who is ahead of not (so this ride didn’t count toward the new tally).

And of course, we had to go to Space Mountain. I wanted to make sure my new ears were in the photo, but I knew I couldn’t wear them during the ride because they would fly off my head. I held the ears by my legs for the ride and then grabbed them and held on just before the photo. I put them on backwards, but they still look cute!

hyperspace-mountain

As we were leaving Space Mountain, it was about time for the fireworks to start. We knew we’d probably be watching them again in a week, so we watched a bit with an obstructed view and left to try to get in at least one more ride.

fireworks

Our original plan was to go on Indiana Jones, but just as we walked up to the line they announced it was closed due to technical difficulties. So we ended up going on Jungle Cruise which is all decked out for the holidays. The jokes were as corny as ever, but I love seeing the lights around the ride. And at nighttime it really is beautiful.

The fireworks were done by the time we got off the ride and there wasn’t a huge crowd by the castle. So we decided to wait a bit so we could get some photos in front of the castle with nobody else in the photo. That was something I don’t get to do that often.

nighttime-castle with-the-castle

By that time, the park had been closed for a bit and we didn’t want to miss the tram back to the parking lot. So we headed out and waited for a tram to take us back.

We ended up doing some planning at Disneyland for our adventure we did there this Monday. This week, we went to celebrate our friend Dani’s birthday! And that post will come later this week!

My Christmas Eve and Christmas (or A Late Night Target Run)

My Christmas plans were pretty low-key this year. I was going to have some friends over to watch movies and we were going to order Chinese food. Nothing too special, but I was looking forward to a fun and relaxing day at home with some fun company.

On Christmas Eve, I enjoyed a workout in the morning and then really didn’t have much as far as plans go for the rest of the day. I went to the grocery store (where it was insanely crowded!) and then spent the afternoon reading and watching some stuff on Hulu and Netflix.

Then just after dinnertime when I was watching a show on tv, my tv died. I’m not sure what happened. All I know is one second it worked and the next the screen was black. I could turn the tv on and off, but the screen stayed black. I couldn’t get the menu to come up or the input to change (so it wasn’t a reception issue). I looked up what I could online and nothing looked good to me. It seems like one of the graphics cards inside of my tv might have broken but I wasn’t going to spend money trying to find out.

So at 10pm on Christmas Eve, I headed to Target prepared to deal with all the last minute Christmas shoppers. I picked Target because they were pretty much the only ones open that late and they had a tv that would work for me in stock (and I needed a working tv for the movie day the next day).

To my surprise, Target was emptier than I’ve ever seen it. I’d guess that maybe there were under 10 shoppers in the entire store. So it was pretty easy for me to get to the electronics section and get a new tv.

Target

Not only was the store empty, but the tv was about 30% off! I wasn’t expecting that at all based on the prices online so that was a nice surprise. I used the money that I had leftover from paying my 2014 taxes to buy the tv (it wasn’t an expense I planned for or really had in my budget). That money was originally going to go toward another acting class, but maybe after I pay my 2015 taxes I’ll have leftover money to do that.

I spend the rest of my Christmas Eve night getting the new tv set up and the old tv out of the living room. It’s a much bigger tv than I’m used to, but I think it looks nice.

New TV

On Christmas, I started my day by baking some cookies to bring to all of my neighbors. They are super easy meringue cookies and they are very fast to get together (they just take a long time to bake).

Christmas Cookies

Then it was time for the traditional movie and Chinese food day. It was perfect and lazy and exactly what I wanted to do.

The last thing I had to do after Christmas that related to my last minute tv purchase was to get rid of the old tv. Obviously since it was broken I couldn’t sell it or donate it. So I had to go to the e-waste disposal site in LAX to get rid of it. It isn’t super close to me, but the drive has a pretty awesome view so I can’t complain.

Ocean View

While I would have rather not had to get a new tv suddenly, it really did work out well for me. I’m sure that any other day I would have been at Target anytime soon it would have been very crowded. And I doubt that the discount I got on the tv would have lasted much longer (I think it might have been a deal leading up to Christmas). So if my tv had to break randomly, it was a pretty ideal circumstance for me and now I have a nice big tv for all my future movie days/nights at my house.

Lazy Christmas (or Cleaning And Chinese Food)

I hope that you all got to celebrate Christmas exactly how you wanted to yesterday!

I spent the day at home by myself, which was fine with me. Spending time with my family on Christmas isn’t something that usually happens and last year was the first time that I was there on Christmas in possibly 10 years.

My day started off by sleeping in. This is something that I rarely get to do, so it was very nice to sleep in past 7am (I was still up by 8, but that’s an extra hour of sleep).

My entire day was unplanned, so I just relaxed. I started by hanging out reading on my couch. After a minute, I realized that one of the tv stations has the fake fireplace airing during Christmas morning, so I put that on and pretended to be reading by the fire.

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After reading a couple of chapters, I decided to work on doing a big clean up of my house. It wasn’t necessarily dirty, but to do a good cleaning job takes time, and I usually don’t have the uninterrupted time to do it.

After cleaning, I went through my kitchen to do some rearranging. While doing that, I realized that I had way too many water bottles. I get them a lot in swag bags and I have just been storing them. I counted 27 water bottles when I really only use 2 of them. So I bagged the extra ones up and will be making a stop to donate them (along with some other items) next week.

After cleaning, I decided to work on some decorating ideas. My parents gave me a teak tray back in August. They have had it for a long time but don’t use it. And I figured I could do something cool with it. When my parents were here for their layover visit, they bought me a cube ottoman and the tray has been living on that ever since.

But it had been empty since I had no idea what to do. But yesterday, I was inspired. I put some candles on there along with a driftwood candle holder my dad made and the pine branch bouquet I made at the event at the mall. I want to replace the pine branches with some flowers (the branches are dying and dropping needles everywhere), but I think that it looks pretty good so far!

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After all of that housework, I spent the rest of my day watching movies and tv shows on Netflix. I didn’t really feel like driving anywhere and was just happy spending a day being super lazy.

And of course, for dinner I ordered some Chinese food from my favorite place. It’s a big calorie splurge for me, but I think that on special occasions it is worth it!

All in all, it was the absolutely perfect Christmas for me!

Getting “Wicked” (or Santa, A Sunset, And A Perfect Show)

This past Sunday was the next show in my season at The Pantages. I was finally seeing “Wicked”!

“Wicked” had been in LA several times before, and sometimes for very long runs. I always wanted to go and see it, but there was always an issue. Tickets were pretty expensive so I wanted to enter the ticket lottery. But there never seemed to be a good day to do it. And when my sister-in-law and I went to NYC, I already knew that “Wicked” was part of my Pantages season so we didn’t see it there.

The group of us going to the show decided to go early to meet up for dinner first. On my drive, there was a ton of traffic. I couldn’t figure out why until I pulled up next to this vehicle.

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Santa and one of his elves were riding on the back of a truck blasting Christmas music! It was pretty crazy to see but made my drive entertaining.

I got to dinner a bit early so I hung out outside the restaurant waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. While waiting, we had another epic LA sunset.

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When we finally went inside to eat, I ran into someone who grew up down the street from me! I hadn’t seen her since I moved to LA and while we each knew the other lived in LA, we hadn’t seen each other. It was so crazy to see her and great to catch up!

After our quick dinner, my group walked over to The Pantages for our show. I’m loving having season tickets since our seats are in the same place for every show.

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We are pretty close to the stage and even though we are off to the side we don’t miss too much of what is on stage.

I know the story of “Wicked” and I’ve heard most if not all of the songs in the show. But even knowing as much as I did I was super impressed by it! The actors were all so amazing and the show was really really good! I’m even considering trying to go see the show another time while they are still in LA (they are here for a couple of months) if someone wants to go with me..

After the show when I got home, I went through my Kindle and found my e-book of Wicked. I bought it a while ago but never felt motivated to read it. But now that’s I’ve seen the show, I want to read the book that the show is based on.

I’m so happy that I’ve seen “Wicked” now. And it’s probably better that it took me this long to see it. If I had seen it before, I probably would have gone to see it at least once every time it was in town. That’s a lot of money on tickets or a lot of lottery attempts.

Since “Wicked” has a longer LA run, my next show at The Pantages isn’t until April. That’s a while to wait for another musical but I’m super excited for the next few shows in the season!

“Into The Woods” (or Christmas Came Early For Me This Year)

On Monday evening, I got an email from Women In Film letting me know that people who are a part of the mentoring circles have been invited to an advanced screening of “Into The Woods”.

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“Into The Woods” is one of my favorite musicals. I saw it for the first time at a small production in Santa Barbara and have owned a DVD of the musical for a long time (and watch it pretty frequently).

When I first heard that the musical was being turned into a film, I was pretty nervous. Historically, the movies haven’t been my favorites and they seem to miss a lot of what I feel makes the musicals special. But even though I was scared I would hate the movie, it was one that I had been looking forward to seeing. And since it was opening on Christmas, my plan was to see it that morning.

But when I got the invitation to see it this week, I jumped at the chance. I emailed my RSVP quickly and hoped that I would get it. And wouldn’t you know it, I did!

The screening was held at CAA. If you aren’t in the entertainment industry, you might not know about CAA. They are the biggest agency in town representing the biggest and most famous actors out there. Pretty much, they are the top of the top of the agency game.

The invitation said that there was valet parking provided (since there really isn’t any street parking near CAA), and since it was raining I tried to get there early. But even with being there on the very early side, the line to valet park was a little crazy.

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Once I got out of my car, there was almost no line to check in. I grabbed a program and followed a CAA employee to the front desk to have my parking validated. Then she led me and 2 other ladies into the screening room.

She told us that we could sit anywhere that it said reserved, and I chose to stick with the 2 ladies who walked in with me. The 3 of us found seats pretty much in the exact center of the room.

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The screening room was amazing and very nice! I had previously seen the screening room at UTA (another agency) when I had one of my mentoring meetings. But this might have been a little nicer.

I started to talk with the ladies I sat next to and found out that one of them is a member of the Academy (as in the Academy Awards). This screening was an Academy screening so the members could view the film and decide if they would like to nominate it for any Oscars!

I believe a majority of the audience was Academy members and I felt very lucky and honored to be invited to such a cool event.

Jane Lynch (from “Glee”) was one of the people responsible for the screening, so prior to the movie starting she said a few words about how much she was looking forward to the movie.

Then, it was time for the movie to start.

For those of you who know the musical, you will not be disappointed. It stays very true to the original material and in some cases, I think the format of it being in a movie actually improves it. I was smiling pretty much the entire time that I was watching it. The performances were incredible and I think that the costumes and makeup were impeccable. I would be shocked if this didn’t get a ton of nominations for various awards.

The highlight of the movie for me was the song “Agony”. I think this is the funniest I’ve ever seen it done. And Chris Pine did a great job singing (I didn’t realize he was a singer).

Overall, this was so much fun to watch and I highly recommend it for everyone! I can’t wait until it comes out (or I get a screener for it) so I can watch it over and over again!

After the screening, there was a reception upstairs. I followed my seat mates (and new friends) to check out the reception (I wasn’t planning on staying, but how many times will I get this chance?).

The reception was held on the top floor of the building, and I just couldn’t get over how beautiful the building was!

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I didn’t eat or drink anything at the reception (the lines were long), but I got to chat with some very nice people and even had the chance to thank Jane Lynch for putting on this event. She was very gracious and when I was saying goodbye I said my usual thing I say to industry people (pretty much along the lines of “I’m sure we will see each other again in the future”) and she said something that rally made my day. She said that she was sure that we would see each other again because our careers are following the same path. That meant so much to me.

I left the reception on cloud 9 after that!

Sometimes, I really have to stop and pinch myself because I never could have imagined that this would be my life. I have so many amazing opportunities and I really do see my career taking steps forward. If I couldn’t imagine this a few years ago, I can’t wait to see what my life will have in store for me in the next few years!